Posts Tagged ‘Listing Presentations’

posted by on Consulting & Compensation

Last week we did a little teleseminar show in the SWS Virtual Studio called “Using a Consultative Approach with Expired Listings,” where we discussed a better way (IMHO!) to work with frustrated homeseller wannabe’s than the traditional pushy, salesy nonsense that’s preached as gospel in our industry.

By “consultative” I mean that you go in with an attitude of “What Went Wrong and how can we fix it?” as opposed to an attitude of “please sign this here listing agreement so I can put MY sign in your yard for another six months and oh, yeah, you were overpriced, that’s why you didn’t sell, see ya in six weeks when I show up with a price reduction amendment for you to sign.”

During the show I described an approach that helps both the agent and frustrated homeseller wannabe figure out exactly What Went Wrong and if it CAN be fixed to maximize the likelihood of a better outcome this go-around. I asked the audience to take notes and at the end of the show, tell me which tip or strategy was their favorite of the day…

And here are the results!

Favorit-est Tip #1
Approach the homeseller wannabe with a list of questions about their prior (unsuccessful) listing experience (including asking them why they think the home didn’t sell) instead of coming in with a fancy-schmantzy presentation and sales pitch.

Favorit-est Tip #2
Go in with the heart of a detective (i.e. a consultant) with the goal of discovering What Went Wrong instead of a goal of Getting a Signature.

Favorit-est Tip #3
Related to #1 and #2, have a CONVERSATION with the homeseller wannabe instead of making a presentation; listen more and talk less.

Favorit-est Tip #4
Use a multi-step process – your first visit is solely to gather information, and on the second visit you present your analysis of What Went Wrong.

Favorit-est Tip #5
Take a close look at the prior agent’s MLS listing looking for red flags that might have impeded the sale of the home. Examples of red flags include: important fields not completed properly, the listing describes showing restrictions, the buyer agent co-op isn’t competitive, the home is priced just above a natural threshold, or the listing description overpromises.

Favorit-est Tip #6
You can actually CHARGE to perform this “What Went Wrong” analysis as a separate service and offer to rebate the fee at closing if hired to list the property.

Favorit-est Tip #7
You might discover when doing your analysis that the property simply isn’t sellable right now.

posted by on Prospecting & SOI

I was listening to some ho-hum non-real estate-specific sales training seminar a few weeks ago – don’t know why I was listening to it, considering it was as ho-hum as they come; maybe I was subconsciously looking for material to blog about!

And voila! I found something!

During the seminar, the speaker was spouting traditional numbers game fluff. Basically, the same old “The more people you touch with your sales pitch, the more you’ll sell of whatever it is you’re pitching.”

One of the examples he used was actually from the world of real estate. He was talking about real estate agents procuring listings and made the statement that: “If you could go on 10 listing appointments this month, that would be good, wouldn’t it? But what if you could go on 100 listing appointments, wouldn’t that be even better?”

Hmmmmmmmm.

Really? 100 listing appointments this month?

Oh, I get his point and since he’s not a real estate agent, perhaps he doesn’t realize that going on 100 listing appointments in one month would be nearly impossible for a normal human being. But he seemed to know enough about the real estate industry to understand what a listing appointment entails and the reason for doing them, so I’m going to assume that, practical considerations aside, he believes that MORE is always BETTER when it comes to prospecting for business.

I disagree.

Here’s the thing. Regardless of the number of appointments you shoot for, if your primary goal is one of QUANTITY over QUALITY, I personally think you’re wasting an awful lot of time and energy. I mean, think about it. Let’s say that it’s possible to do 50 listing appointments a month – that’s about 2.5 appointments every week day. Now, I’m assuming that if you’re going on 2.5 appointments a day, you’re doing very little preparation for each appointment and basically going in with your well-rehearsed presentation followed by an expedient pitch for signature.

Hold that thought.

The speaker who was espousing the quantity over quality approach proclaimed that one of the great things about his approach was that when (not if) you get turned down, you won’t really care that much because you have plenty more fish in the kettle – that is – another listing appointment or two later that day, and 2.5 more tomorrow.

Hmmmmmmmm.

That sounds exhausting.

But how about the other approach – the one the speaker implied was “just okay?” Where you “only” have ten listing appointments a month; therefore every one of those appointments is going to be far more important to you and much more disappointing to you if you don’t get the listing?

BINGO!!!

D’ya see where I’m going with this?

posted by on Consulting & Compensation

I’ve been watching and commenting on Leslie Rojohn’s fine blog called “Time is Money– Unless You’re a REALTOR” – about charging retainer fees. Maybe you saw it, too, since it was Active Rain’s headliner of the day last Thursday or Friday.

As typically happens when any topic of non-contingent compensation is featured, the comments came in fast and furiously, most Questionalong the lines of “Sounds great, but it will never happen. If buyers (or sellers) can get it free down the street, why would they be willing to pay for it?”

Indeed. Why would they?

Hmmmmmm?

That’s not a rhetorical question – I’m asking it. Assuming you like the idea of getting a retainer or upfront fee, WHY would a buyer or seller be willing to pay one for your real estate service?

Hmmmmmm?

No answer? Well, then there’s the problem!

Unless you’re some super-duper salesperson who can sell the proverbial snow to an Eskimo, you need to believe that what you’re selling is good for your customer. Great, even. AND IF YOU DON’T BELIEVE THAT ABOUT YOUR SERVICE OR YOUR FEES, no one else is going to believe it either!

Of course, this applies to any product or service someone might be pitching, but for our purposes here, we’re talking about non-contingent (aka retainer or upfront) fees.

“Sounds great, but it will never happen. If buyers or sellers can get it free down the street, why would they be willing to pay for it?”

Well… in the last few years of my active career, I offered my sellers the choice to pay me $500 upfront… and most took me up on it – happily. Was the guy or gal down the street also charging $500 upfront? Nope. Were my seller clients so filthy stinkin’ rich that they had an extra $500 lying around they wanted me to have? Nope. Was I such a super-duper salesperson that I was able to overcome their objections with a masterful script and a mega-watt smile? Oh, heavens NO!

Most of my sellers paid the $500 upfront fee because I made it a good deal for them to do so. And they recognized a good deal when they saw one and cheerfully wrote the check. And because I knew what I was offering was a good deal for them, it was no problem at all for me to “sell” them on the idea.

So… instead of moaning and groaning about how unfair it is that we Work for Free (which we DON’T) and that “no one will ever be willing to pay us non-contingently unless everyone else does it, too,” get out of your own way and think about how you could make getting what YOU want also be a good deal for your customers. And you’ll be able to sell it All Day Long.

posted by on An Exceptional Agent

On Thursday, December 15th, we convened in the SWS Virtual Studio for the last time of the 2011 season for our final show entitled “Are You the Best Real Estate Agent You Know?”

Fun was had by all (well, I had fun anyway), as we discussed the reasons one might WANT to be the best agent they know and HOW to tell if you are, indeed, an exceptional real Bestestate agent.

By exceptional, I should probably explain that I don’t necessarily mean “top-producing,” although you certainly may be. I don’t mean that you have a gazillion For Sale signs around town (unless the majority of them have SALE PENDING riders on top of them). I don’t mean that you have a well-oiled machine in place to efficiently “care for” your current clients so you can devote 80% of your time to prospecting for new ones.

No, by “exceptional real estate agent” I’m refering to someone who is competent at managing a complicated process (i.e. a real estate transaction) with its many moving pieces and parts and personalities and emotions, and who consistently EARNS rave reviews from his (or her) clients for his (or her) exceptional client service and satisfactory results.

(Whew, that was a mouthful).

So, to put it more succinctly: Competence + Compassion = Exceptional.

Anyway, during the show I described three reasons one might strive to be an Exceptional Real Estate Agent, aka, the Best Agent They Know.

Reason #1
Confidence. When you’re great at what you do and you know you’re great at what you do, that confidence will be apparent to others. You won’t have to come up with a compelling elevator speech, create clever business cards or use magic trigger words or gestures to inspire people to trust you; the people you meet will be able to tell that you are capable of handling their (or their friends’) real estate needs. No sales pitch required.

Reason #2
When you’re a great real estate agent, your current clients will notice – and they won’t be able to help themselves from singing your praises to everyone they know. Unfortunately, the bar in our industry is set rather low in the customer satisfaction department, so if YOUR clients are satisfied and they talk nicely about you behind your back, referrals will come. I promise.

Reason #3
The third reason you might want to strive to be an exceptional agent is a very practical one. More paydays. Exceptional real estate agents enjoy more visits to the closing table because they know how to get the job done. They know how to put and hold real estate transactions together! Their contracts don’t fall apart when things get sticky because 1) they’re keeping a close eye on things as opposed to chasing after new business and 2) they know what to do to solve those potentially deal-killing challenges that inevitably arise during the contract-to-closing period.

So… how does one become an Exceptional Real Estate Agent? Well, it’s not a class or a certification or an event; it’s a process. It’s making the commitment to BE great at what you do and then DOING what you need to do to be great.

posted by on Working with Sellers

smaller_daisy

I just got off the phone with one of my consulting clients. Poor guy. I nearly took his head off with my impassioned rant about the priorities of the real estate industry. He handled it well, I must say, although I could tell his patience with his trusted mentor (that would be me) was wearing thin. But I just couldn’t help myself…

Nothing like a good rant to re-energize your day!

We were talking about the pursuit of expired For Sale Signlistings. My client has all sorts of ideas on how to approach expireds (I really hate that label, but shall use it here in the interest of clarity) with promises of doing a better job than the last guy, and getting the house SOLD.

I innocently asked how he planned to do that. “Do what?” he asked. “Do a better job and get the house SOLD,” I answered.

He seemed a little stumped by the question. Perhaps even confused as to why I asked it. So, I attempted to clarify.

What, specifically, are you going to do differently from the last guy to assure a different outcome? If you’re going to tell a seller you can do better, what ARE you going to do better? I mean, you don’t want to go in just saying ‘My sign is prettier than HIS sign,’ do you?”

My client thought a moment and came back with “Well, I don’t want to criticize the other agent and say that I’m a better listing agent than he was – that would be rude.”

And I agreed. It might be rude, even unprofessional.

BUT… I disagree with all my heart that he shouldn’t be able to say, with all sincerity, that “I am the best listing agent I know.” That’s not arrogance and it should be the truth. Anyone who pursues the business of homeowners who want to sell their properties should feel, no, KNOW in their hearts and souls that they are the best thing that could ever happen to that homeowner. If they don’t feel that way, they should not pursue his business.

So, if you’re pursuing expired listings – or any listings, really – what IS your differentiating factor? What makes you “better” than the agent who didn’t sell the house, or anyone else the seller might be talking to?

That’s not a trick question! It’s a question every agent should ask him or herself before venturing out the door to pursue business.

So… HOW are you special? WHY should a seller hire you over the other guy or gal?

posted by on Working with Sellers

I wrote two unrelated blogs yesterday – one about how I would rule the (real estate) world and another about how we real estate-types are put in an awkward position when negotiating our commission with sellers.

After a day and night to ponder my blogs and the commentary, I realize that these two blogs are indeed, very closely related!

To summarize blog #1 – I am currently negotiating a contract for a book deal. The person I’m negotiating with will also be my editor, if we come to agreement. So, this guy has to first wine me and dine me (cyberly-speaking) to pique my interest, then he has to put on his a&&-hole hat and negotiate against me – but after that, we have to work closely together over the next year to produce a killer product (my book). So, he has to build my trust, then shatter it, then build it again.

queenBlog #2 was a little ditty about how if I were Queen (that is, a managing broker), I would require my agents to convince me that their listings are worthy of my sign in the yard. Thus, any seller who wants to be honored with my sign has to sell US on HIM! Instead of the other way around.

So here’s my point.

We real estate agents are in the exact same position as my potential editor. We have to build the rapport that encourages our prospects to like us and trust us. Then we have to risk trashing that rapport and trust while we negotiate our commission and list price. If the seller hires us, we have to somehow rebuild the trust and rapport so that we can work together to get the home sold. It’s a tough job description.

What might be really cool would be to apply the car dealership technique of requiring management approval on any deal struck between buyer and seller, that is, listing agent and seller prospect. Here’s how it would work…

Agent meets with seller and builds rapport. Once rapport and trust are established, the financial discussions begin (commission and list price). Agent and seller work TOGETHER to come up with a proposal for the Queen to approve. The agent cannot accept a listing without that approval. Together, the agent and his new best friend, the seller, create a marketing plan which includes the list price, the agents’s commitments to the seller, the seller’s commitments to the agent, along with a proposed commission to be paid upon success. Both parties know that they have to present a reasonable proposal to the Queen or it will be rejected.

Let the Queen be the bad guy! It lets the agent off the hook, while bringing the seller more into the process of selling the home. Best of all, the agent never has to switch hats!!!

Under this scenario, I, as Queen, would be tickled to market the hell out of any listings that are deemed worthy.

I love it. Do you?

posted by on Working with Sellers

Got a note from a SWS reader who is dismayed by her listing ratio – that is – the number of listings appointments she goes on versus the number of listings she gets. She described her listing strategy as such: 

I deliver a pre-listing package that is first class. I just created a Comparative Shopping analysis where I compare my company to the 2 others that I always am competing against. I give it to the seller and tell them to use in their other interviews.

I do my presentation with my last question to these sellers for my close; ‘if we agree on price will you let me handle the sale?'”

Here was my response…

I don’t know you personally, obviously, but some of the things you mention sound a little pushy and counter to your personality – therefore, perhaps you don’t sound sincere or “real” when you say them. I never try to “close” anyone during a listing appointment unless I can tell they’re ready to be closed. I think it puts people off – at least it would put ME off and any warm fuzzies I was feeling toward that person would fade. I try to go into listing appointments with the attitude that I’m there to help them, that I’m the best man for the job (if I am, I’m not always!) but it’s completely their choice as to whom they feel comfortable with.  

As far as offering a comparison of the other two companies – I dunno. A few things come to mind. First, sellers hire individual agents, not companies. By bad-mouthing another company (even subtly), you’re not doing anything to make the seller love YOU; you’re just putting down the competition. In my market, every agent offers something different, even agents in the same company. I know that my listing services blow away what the guy next door to me offers, but we both get plenty of listings. It’s really more about an emotional connection between the agent and the seller.

Another thought I had about this is that by insisting that your company is better than the other, you’re almost insulting the seller’s judgment for even considering the other company and no one likes to feel that someone is questioning their judgment.   I think that having the competitive information organized in your brain is good, in case a seller asks you a specific question, but using it as a sales tool sounds risky.  

I hope this isn’t too harsh – I don’t mean it to be. I just think that sometimes we agents get so focused on the goal (GET THAT LISTING) that we forget we’re dealing with human beings who have their own sensitivities and opinions. Just be YOU, reliable, competent, knowledgeable, lovable YOU and you’ll win more than you lose!  

posted by on Working with Sellers

Y’know, it’s tough being a listing agent. No matter how good of a job you do, the margin for error is huge. If you sell the house too fast… you blew it on the price and “cost your seller money.” If the house takes too long to sell… well, we all know what happens then. We didn’t live up to our promises and we disappointed our seller.sold

I’ve decided that the best time for a house to sell is about two weeks after listing. Unfortunately, I don’t know of any way to make THAT happen with any regularity, but if I come up with something I’ll let you know.

Anyway, I just had a listing go under contract with multiple offers. Fortunately (for me), a good friend of mine had the same thing happen to him just a few days earlier and (unfortunately for him), his seller wasn’t prepared. She blasted him for underpricing her home and told him, rather snottily, that she had no intention of making any repairs at inspection.

So, Miss Smarty Pantz me, I warned my sellers up front about what I just named “Seller’s Regret.”

Here’s the thing. In today’s market, almost every seller will experience Seller’s Regret. But it’s their choice (sort of) which type of Seller’s Regret they’ll experience.

Type 1:  “Damn! We underpriced our home! We should have priced it higher! That darn Realtor – she cost us money!”

Type 2:  “Crap. I wish we’d listened to our Realtor upfront. We should have made the repairs, staged it right away and priced it lower. Now, five months later, our listing is stale, we’ve paid $9000 of interest-only mortgage and are fair game for low-ball offers, if we get any at all. Let’s look into renting it out (heavy sigh).”

If your seller is lucky enough to experience Type 1, he may never know the pain and angst of Type 2 and he may always wonder if he should have/could have priced it higher. My sellers admitted they had a twinge of doubt when the offers started coming in, but said that because we’d talked about it ahead of time, they felt pretty good about the outcome.

Whew. It’s tough being a listing agent!

 

sws  www.sellwithsoul.com

posted by on Consulting & Compensation

Have you ever heard the commission-negotiation-avoidance strategy of creating a menu of packages for a seller to choose among? For example (all figures are illustrative only), you might offer a 4% package which includes minimal services; a 5% package which has a moderate level of service and a 6% package that includes a kitchen-sink level of service.

Sounds good, doesn’t it? After all, it demonstrates to the seller what you actually DO to sell a house and probably reduces the likelihood of his asking for a discount. If he wants to pay less, he gets less. HIS choice.

Sorry, but I think this is a lousy idea. Why?menu

Oh, let me count the ways…

You want to sell the house don’t you? Yes? Well, then why are you asking your SELLER how to market it? As the expert in selling houses, YOU know what needs to be done and you, as a professional, should do those things.

You should also know what doesn’t sell houses in your market. And you shouldn’t be offering and charging for those services if you (as a professional real estate agent) know they aren’t effective.

When I get a new listing, I really want to sell the damn thing and I spend a lot of time and energy figuring out what we need to do to make that happen. By “we,” I mean me and my seller. I don’t market every house exactly the same, nor do I advise every seller to do the same things. It’s part of my service to analyze each situation individually and proceed accordingly. Some listings will benefit from Open Houses, some won’t. Some (most) homes need staging, some don’t. Some listings will benefit from newspaper ads, most won’t. It’s my job to know these things.

Besides, you want to provide exceptional service to all your clients, don’t you? Don’t you want their future business and referrals? By purposely limiting your service (especially if it affects the marketability of the home), you may be blowing your reputation and credibility with this client and potential source of future business. And of course, you may also be blowing your chances of getting a paycheck if your seller doesn’t pick the right package and the house doesn’t sell.

I do offer two commission options, but they aren’t priced according to the service provided; they’re based on whether or not the seller pays an upfront marketing fee. You can learn more about this strategy on my website…  and yes, I tell the world what my commission is – which is a topic for a different blog, but it works amazingly well!

Be a professional real estate agent and do what it takes to sell your listings. That’s your job.

posted by on Working with Sellers

I was cleaning out old files this morning and came across this little blurb I wrote years ago and used in my listing presentations. If you like it… feel free to use it! 

What does a Real Estate Agent DO for all that money?
Many people think that the main reason you hire a real estate agent is for MLS exposure.  And, unfortunately, in some cases that may appear to be the primary service some real estate agents provide.  However, a GOOD agent provides much more than simply a For Sale sign and a listing on an online database.

Connections
A good real estate agent has great connections in the real estate world.  She has a readily available list of home improvement contractors (heating, roofing, structural, electrical, painting, plumbing etc.), one or two good handymen, a cleaning service, legal referrals and lawn service providers. You should never have to go to the phone book to find help during the marketing process.

Systems
A good real estate agent has systems in place to sell homes far more efficiently than a homeowner ever could.  Selling or buying a home within the established real estate system is incredibly efficient compared to selling or buying a home outside of the system.  Real estate agents have (or should have) a 7 day/week showing service, MLS access, a contracts library, lock boxes, signs and Internet sites.

Expertise
Obviously, one important reason you hire a real estate agent is because you expect him to know more about selling homes than you do.  Selling real estate professionally requires a license and continuing education, but in reality, 99% of a real estate agent’s expertise comes from on-the-job experience.  And, the more experienced the real estate agent, the more expertise he has.  Every real estate transaction is a little different, with its own little quirks, glitches and special circumstances.  The best way to get in trouble is when you don’t know what you don’t know! 

Time
Your real estate agent will spend a lot of time managing the sale of your home.  There is far more going on behind the scenes than holding open houses and attending closings, although due to the above factors (connections, systems and expertise), a good real estate agent will be pretty efficient at their job. The time your agents spends handling the sale of your home will save YOU lots of time… and money!

posted by on Working with Sellers

I don’t believe in price reductions. Never have. I believe that just about any home can sell in 30 days or less, in any market, if it’s priced properly on Day One. And no, by “properly” I don’t mean “under” although that may very well be the case in many markets. If a home sells in the first month of marketing, it WILL sell for market value and the seller will almost certainly obtain the highest possible price. We all know that extended marketing times do nothing positive for the eventual sales price, not only due to the perceived stigma of a high DOM statistic, but also because the seller is darn tired of cleaning the litter box every day and wiping up his toothpaste spit in the morning!

My goal was always a 30 day sale.

However, lest you think I’m Miss Perfect Smarty-Pantz who never lets her sellers take the upper hand, au contraire! I’ve been convinced more than once, more than twice, more than 100 times to “Try my price for awhile, we can always reduce it later.” But, as we all know, this clever little strategy doesn’t work. Ever. It always backfires on the seller AND his agent. The seller walks away with less money in his pocket and the agent … well, we know all the pitfalls of having an overpriced home languishing on the market. Ugh.

But we do it. We agree to “try” a price for awhile, against our better judgment. Lotsa’ reasons for this, some good, some not-so. And on paper, it makes sense, doesn’t it? Especially to sellers who don’t mess in the real estate market on a daily basis as we do. In fact, when you sell your very own home, you’ll have a tough time convincing yourself to price aggressively from Day One. The words “I don’t want to leave money on the table, let’s try this price for a while and reduce it later if necessary” will flow effortlessly from your mouth. Or better yet, the classic “Buyers can always make an offer!”

Ah well, we’re not perfect either.

A lot of agents recommend adding an automatic price reduction provision to listing contracts, stating that the price will be reduced by a nice tidy percentage at pre-determined intervals. I never used this provision; it just sounds unprofessional to me. A market can dramatically change in 30 or 60 days. In 90 days, we may have an entirely new market. It seems to me that our sellers deserve a little more personal attention than that. As real estate professionals, doesn’t it make more sense to actually review the market and provide real DATA to our sellers instead of relying on the convenience and expediency of a built-in price reduction?  

So let’s look at the pricing pickle in a different way. Howzabout if you, during your pricing discussion, explain to your seller that you will review the market every 30 days and provide an updated CMA to him. Then, CASUALLY mention that due to the unstable market (or even declining if that’s the case), the seller needs to be prepared that your 30-day CMA may show a lower market value. That your 60-day CMA may show an even lower value. You just want him to know this ahead of time so that he isn’t surprised or blindsided.

Then BE QUIET.

Don’t draw any conclusions for him, or try to summarize your pricing strategy. Your seller is no dummy; if you respect his intelligence, he may just come to the right conclusion himself. In fact, he probably will. However, if he feels you are beating him over the head with your agenda, he may dig in his heels and start throwing out those objections we’ve heard over and over. BAM! You and your seller are suddenly adversaries.

But if HE asks YOU how to avoid the price reduction game … suddenly YOU’RE the expert in his eyes! It’s a beautiful thing. If he asks, feel free to demonstrate your expertise and brilliance. Talk about the 30 day sale, the market value death spiral, how the DOM statistic affects buyer perception of appeal. But again, let him draw his own conclusions. If you LET HIM, he will almost always choose the right path.

What think you?

posted by on Working with Sellers

QUESTION: “Should I try to enforce a “pre-qualified buyers only” requirement on my listings? If so, how?”

JA’s ANSWER: Every once in awhile I’ll hear an agent say that he (or she) restricts showings on his listings only to buyers who are already pre-qualified for the purchase price. His rationale is that it’s inappropriate to inconvenience a seller by allowing showings to buyers who in all likelihood cannot or will not purchase the property.do not enter

I disagree – I think it’s simply a matter of setting appropriate expectations with a seller. In 12 years, I have never had a seller ask me to screen buyer showings, probably because I warn them upfront I have no control over who looks at their home. Some will be real buyers, some will be agents previewing the competition for their upcoming listing and some will be buyers out for the first time who won’t buy for six months. 

However,” I continue, “any activity is good activity, even if it doesn’t result in a sale, because the home has been exposed to one more (actually probably two or three more counting the Realtor & buyers) and exposure is always a good thing. We should do everything we can to encourage showings, rather than look for ways to trim them down. I’d much rather risk your being a bit inconvenienced by lookie-loo’s than miss a previously lukewarm buyer who suddenly turns into a red-hot one.”

My sellers ALWAYS say – “Of course! We want as many people as possible to look at our home!”

As a wise (wo)man once said… “Unseen is Unsold!”

posted by on Working with Sellers

Why do we put such stock in the Average Days on Market (DOM) statistic in our MLS’s? I suppose it might be meaningful if YOUR average DOM is much less than the overall DOM, but otherwise, I believe it’s a totally soldmeaningless number.

If I were to run a market analysis of all the 1920’s Bungalows that have sold in my market (NW Denver) in the last three months… (okay, wait a sec, I’m going to do that right now… BRB).

Okay, I ran my analysis. Had to go back six months ’cause the last three have been kinda quiet around here.

The DOM of my subject search ranged from 2 days to 171 days. The average DOM was 53. However, out of 21 properties, seven sold in under a week (five of those in less than 3 days), eleven in less than three weeks, while five took over 100 days to sell. Only three of the 21 properties had a DOM of anywhere close to 53.

So, when a seller asks me what the average Days on Market is in Northwest Denver, I tell them “I don’t know” and explain why. I then explain why my goal is to sell their home in 30 days or less (obviously it’s perfectly do-able in my market), and how I’m going to do that.

But maybe that’s just my market. Do you feel that the DOM statistic is meaningful in yours? If so, please explain!

RELATED BLOGS
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Seller’s Regret – Which would you prefer?

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posted by on Consulting & Compensation, Working with Sellers

For those who haven’t encountered a “listing exclusion” yet, it’s simply a request from a seller that if a certain person or persons buy the home after it goes on the market, your listing commission won’t apply. For example, perhaps the seller knows a guy at work who says he’d be interested in purchasing the house, but he’s still thinking about it. Your seller doesn’t want to wait for him to make up his mind to go on the market, but neither does he want to pay you if the guy actually ponies up. So, the seller asks you to “exclude” this particular person from your listing agreement.

Should you do it?

My advice? Sure. Don’t argue, don’t explain, and don’t make a big deal out of it. Write in the exclusion and get on with putting the house on the market. The chances that this guy is actually going to purchase the house are slim, but if he does, the seller will probably need your assistance to get the contract written and to closing. For which you most certainly may charge a reasonable fee.

No reason to go to battle over this. Save your energy for bigger things!

posted by on Working with Sellers

On Wednesday evening, Loreena Yeo joined me in the SWS Studio to talk with me (and a few hundred of y’all) about “Pricing it Right – Helping Your Seller See the Light!” Well, I graciously let Loreena go first, thinking I’d get *my* turn soon, but it wasn’t to be. Not that Loreena was a microphone-hog or anything – not at all, but the audience clearly wanted to hear more from her than the time I’d allotted was going to allow.

So, being the primary decision-maker here in the SWS Studio, I made the executive decision to save my thoughts for a later day and let Loreena continue to wow the crowd for the entire 75 minute show.

As the title implies, the topic of the seminar was how to persuade a reluctant seller to price his or her home properly so that it will sell. Sure, KNOWING what that right price is is important, but being able to communicate it effectively might be even more so.

Loreena shared some great strategies and while I won’t describe all of them here, here are some of my favorites.

1. Come in armed with your stats
Loreena’s listings enjoy a way-below-average DOM, a higher-than-average list-to-sold price ratio and an extremely low fall-out rate (listings that don’t sell). In her early conversations with a seller prospect, she shares her statistics with him or her, which accomplishes several things. First, it clearly demonstrates that whatever she’s doing is working, which inspires sellers to want to know more. Second, it lends credibility to her CMA and pricing recommendation and third, it helps her turn down overpriced listings because she can respectfully say that her record is important to her and she’s not willing to risk it taking a listing she knows she can’t sell.

2. Spend quality (and quantity) time preparing your CMA
Being oh-so-efficient is way over-rated. Loreena spends several hours poring over her CMA reports so that she is intimately familiar with exactly what those facts and figures are telling her. When she is in front of a seller, she knows her stuff and it’s obvious to the seller that she knows her stuff. This gives her tremendous personal power when talking about price.

Conversely, if you wing it, a seller can easily fluster you with his protests that: “The house down the street sold for way more than THAT!” or “The other agent we talked to gave us a much higher price than THAT!”

3. Don’t try to be “listing specialist”
I’ve been singing this song for years. If you work with buyers, you’ll be a far better listing agent. After all, who buys listings? Buyers, right?! If you don’t hang out with them (buyers) on a regular basis, how will you know how they think, what they want and how much value they place on certain amenities over others?

4. And my favorite from the evening… After you’ve presented your data, sit back and smile sweetly
Loreena described how she comes armed with lots of paper – charts, graphs, lists, reports, summaries, etc… which she spreads out on the table for the seller to review. Once she’s delivered her analysis of all this paper, she sits back and smiles sweetly, and lets the seller take it from there. Numbers don’t lie and she just presented a lot of non-lying numbers. With her body language, she subtly forces the seller to acknowledge them.

posted by on Working with Sellers

no

God Bless ’em, sellers just want to help. They have lots of opinions on how their homes should be marketed, advertised and promoted to agents and buyers, and they LUV sharing those opinions with us. And of course, they expect us to agree with their opinions and implement their ideas immediately!

And sometimes they’re right. Hey, our sellers are intelligent human beings, and at times, they have great ideas we’d never thought of.

But sometimes, um, they don’t. No disrespect to homesellers around the world, but we DO (or should) know more about selling houses than they do. We DO (or should) know what works and what doesn’t work.

Now, truth be told, there are things we do simply because they make our sellers happy and there’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, there’s a lot right about it. And many of these things we do primarily promote ourselves more so than the property, and again, that’s just fine. Open houses, color brochures, single-domain websites, Craigslist postings and virtual tours might fall under one or both of these categories.

But what about ineffective marketing that is expensive or time-consuming? How can you tell your seller “no” without sounding cheap, lazy or disrespectful?

Before I answer that burning question, here are some examples* of marketing I “refuse” to do:

  • Enhanced Realtor.com listings
  • Broker open houses
  • Magazine advertising
  • Newspaper advertising
  • Talking House sign riders
  • Flyer distribution to neighborhood
  • Flyer distribution to real estate offices
  • …. feel free to add your own

*If, in your market, any of these marketing approaches actually work, please do them – don’t accept what I say as gospel. In some markets, broker opens are effective. In resort markets, magazine advertising might be worthwhile. Know your market and adjust my advice accordingly.

So, how do I respectfully say “Just Say No” to a seller’s suggestion?

Ready?

“Well, Joe, here’s the thing. I want to sell your house as much as you do, so if I thought a particular marketing venue would work, I’d be all over it.”

Very simple. It reminds the seller that you’re on the same team, with a common goal of getting the home sold. And it’s true! If you believed that having an enhanced Realtor.com profile would sell the house, you’d do it, right? If you thought that advertising the listing in the newspaper would bring in buyers, you’d advertise in the newspaper all day long, wouldn’t you?

Of course, you certainly may do any and all advertising suggested by your seller; nothing I’m saying here advises against it. Doing these activities certainly won’t hurt the chances of the home selling, but if you want to say “no” and haven’t figured out how, give this a try. If said calmly, confidently and non-defensively, the seller will usually understand and agree!

posted by on Working with Sellers

bus

Ahhhh… back from vacation… and I must confess it’s awfully darn cool to GO to the beach and then come HOME to the beach!

Anyway, here’s a follow-up to my last pre-vacation blog about the show Loreena Yeo and I did together in the SWS Virtual Studio about getting listings sold FAST.

One of more memorable messages conveyed during that show was Loreena’s utter and complete commitment to walking away from a listing that doesn’t meet her requirements. If the seller refuses to price properly and/or to follow her advice on preparation and staging, she does not want the listing. Period.

Many listeners commented to me afterwards how refreshing it was to hear a real estate agent so secure in her value and confident in her abilities – that you couldn’t help but FEEL the control Loreena takes of her business and her clientele, and be a bit awed by it.

Perhaps that’s a bit melodramatic, but only a little bit. Seriously, it was impressive.

Well, so maybe everyone wasn’t so impressed. A few listeners contacted me afterwards chiding us for making it sound “so easy to walk away.” That we were being unreasonable and irresponsible to advise agents who are not yet “there” to turn down business. That it’s fine for us fat & happy established agents to be selective about which clients we accept and which we don’t, but for the average new-ish agent, being selective is simply not an option. After all, new agents NEED the practice; they NEED the experience, and perhaps most of all, they NEED those For Sale signs to generate calls from buyers.

Whoa, let’s back up here a minute.

QUESTION: Under what circumstances does Loreena respectfully walk away from a listing? Hmmmmm?

ANSWER: She walks away because the seller refuses to do what Loreena knows needs to be done to experience a successful home sale.

Loreena knows what it will take to sell a home in her Frisco market. And presumably, that’s what the seller wants and therefore, it’s what Loreena wants to deliver. If the seller is going to stand in the way of that goal, Loreena feels duty-bound – both to herself and to the seller – NOT to acquiesce and allow the seller to fail.

That’s her job. And she takes it seriously.

To allow a seller to call the shots – to “drive your bus” as Loreena calls it – is to neglect your fiduciary duty to your seller. Your personal needs for experience, practice and sign calls are not remotely relevant to your responsibility as a licensed real estate professional who is being considered for the honor of listing a home.

I have a friend with high blood pressure. When his doctor discovered it, he prescribed a blood-pressure-lowering drug. My friend balked, saying he didn’t want to be on a prescription medication the rest of his life. The physician calmly replied “Well, then, that’s your right, but I have to tell you that if you refuse treatment, I will no longer accept you as my patient. I feel that strongly that you take this drug for the sake of your health.”

And guess what? My friend takes his medicine and is grateful his doctor respectfully insisted. We owe our sellers (and ourselves) the same respect, don’t we?

posted by on Consulting & Compensation

Picking up from yesterday’s blog about my agent friend Sam who was referred to a seller who “has a friend who will list it cheap,” let’s talk about how Sam should handle the whole issue of commission, knowing that his competition is in all likelihood going to charge less.

The question I signed off with yesterday was something along the lines of should Sam address the issue of his competition’s lower commission head-on?

In my opinion, no. He should not. Why?

Because, the only way to “address” it would be to criticize it. And that’s not cool. Any overt attempt Sam makes to come out on top in a battle of commissions is going to make him look bad.

First, Sam would be criticizing the seller’s friend, which in all likelihood will not endear him to the seller, even if he happens to be right in his criticisms. But not only is he criticizing a friend of the seller; he’s also subtly criticizing the seller’s own judgment! After all, the seller is considering hiring this friend, so if Sam tries to argue him out of it, he’s basically telling the seller he’s wrong… which rarely goes over well.

Besides, Sam has no idea what level of service the seller’s friend will provide. Maybe she’ll cut her services, but maybe she won’t. Coming from a background of owning a full-service discount brokerage, I can say with all sincerity that it IS possible to run a profitable, full-service real estate business while charging less than the competition. Unless Sam has full knowledge of the other agent’s marketing plan, he has no business putting it down.

So, what should Sam do if he wants a shot at this listing? Well, it’s pretty simple. He should go into the listing appointment with the heart of a consultant. He should ask a lot of questions and really listen to the answers. He should show empathy for the seller’s situation, and be able to provide solutions to any problems they uncover. He should be intimately familiar with the seller’s neighborhood and conversant about local market activity. He should demonstrate an ability and willingness to help the seller get his home ready for market.

In short, he should do his best to win the seller to his side by being friendly, helpful, creative and knowledgeable.

And… what if, after all this friendliness, helpfulness, creativity and knowledgeability (?) the seller chooses the friend anyway? No biggie. Sam can walk away with honor, knowing he gave it his best shot, and that he made a positive impression on one more human being on the planet! And you never know when that will come back to bless you!

posted by on Working with Sellers

A few weeks ago, I started writing about the Go-Giver real estate agent – how we in our industry can apply Go-Giver principles to our business. To read earlier posts, see the links at the bottom of this blog!

Here’s a quote from the introduction to “Go-Givers Sell More” by Bob Burg and John David Mann:

It’s not about you, it’s about them.”

Mr. Burg and Mr. Mann explain that success in sales is not due to “mastering the close” or having a “dazzling presentation” or the ability to “shoot holes in any customer objection from fifty paces.” It’s about being a real person – a person who “enriches, enhances and adds value to people’s lives.” As the Go-Giver fictional Realtor(R) Debra Davenport says “You want people skills? Then be a person.”

Okay, so this is where today’s blog begins…

“Listing Presentations, How to Lose them from Hello!”

Yes, I watched Jerry McGuire recently.You Had Me at Hello

Real estate agents always want to know how to do a better job at their listing presentations, especially if they’ve lost out on a listing or two recently. They wonder if perhaps their presentation materials need to be fancy-schmantzy-ed up, or if they need to do a better job explaining why they’re better than their competition.

After all, isn’t that what sellers want to know? How totally awesome WE are? And, the better we are at telling them how awesome WE are, the more likely they’ll be to believe us?

Um.

No.

As counter-intuitive as that may sound, a seller prospect probably doesn’t care much about how awesome we are. He may not even care if we’re better than the competition, at least, not at first.

What’s that old saying? “No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care?”

That applies perfectly here. When you waltz into a seller wannabe’s home, say “hello” and then whip out your Power Point presentation, three-ring binder and put on your presentation face, you’re sending a pretty clear message that you don’t care much about your audience. It’s all about YOU.

No, it’s not, Jennifer! I’m there to help the seller! My fancy Power Point presentation and three-ring binder are all about the seller and his needs!!

Um.

No. Nice try, but… No.

Think about it. Your “audience” (the seller wannabe) has a Problem. He is considering hiring you to Solve that Problem. But if you don’t have a clear understanding of his Problem, you can’t possibly address his Problem. And you can’t have a clear understanding of his Problem unless you take the time to learn about it. And you can’t take the time to learn about it if you’re doing all the talking!

Besides, no one believes you when you tell them how great you are, anyway.

Wanna stand out from your competition? Let them go in with their fancy-schmantzy Power Points, three-ring binders and presentation faces (and subsequently bore the audience to death).

YOU go in with a sincere desire to help. Your competition won’t stand a chance.

RELATED GO-GIVER BLOGS
P
rospecting – If It Feels Wrong, Don’t do it!
Mr. FSBO – You’re An Idiot and I’m Not!
Have You Read the Go-Giver? You oughta!

posted by on Working with Sellers

Charts

Had an interesting email dialogue over the weekend with a SWS reader – I’ll let him identify himself here if he likes – about the use of charts and graphs and data and statistics in a listing interview. He asked the question during my “Helping Your Seller See the Light” teleseminar on Saturday whether or not I use, or recommend using statistics like “absorption rate” and “days on market” and “average list-to-sold,” and if so, what exactly IS the best use of these statistics?

Well, my superficial, off-the-top-‘o-my-head answer was that no, I don’t use charts and graphs and statistics because my brain doesn’t work that way. I’m not a numbers gal, so when I look at charts and graphs and statistics, they don’t mean much to me. And I don’t want to go into a listing interview armed with information I don’t fully understand.

And I highly recommend that if you’re like me, not a math-nerd (I say that with respect and affection for math-nerds), don’t try to become one when talking to sellers. Provide the information in a format that makes sense to you, and that you can easily and conversationally explain.

But if you ARE a numbers guy or gal, and you love your charts and graphs and stats, how can you best use this data when talking with a seller prospect about pricing?

Veddy, veddy carefully.

Here’s the thing. The problem with graphs and charts and numbers and statistics is that they give the impression that selling a house is a random event, governed by those numbers and statistics, and not influence-able (?) by the agent’s or seller’s efforts. To present a chart that shows an 8-month inventory, for example, implies that it takes 8 months to sell a home. To present a graph showing an average list-to-sell ratio of 92% implies that a seller should build a margin into his price to account for being negotiated 8% down.  

But is that REALLY what the numbers are saying? In most cases, NO. Not even close! And again, do you really want to give a seller prospect the impression that neither you nor he is capable of affecting the outcome of your home-sale adventure?

To me, that’s what depending on the numbers says to a seller. That THESE are the cold hard facts and there ain’t nothing we can do to change them. We, Mr. Seller, you and I, are at the mercy of the market.

GraphAND THAT’S NOT TRUE.  

Because you know what? Whenever you come up with a statistic, that statistic is based on a range of outcomes. Some houses didn’t take 8 months to sell. Some houses sold higher than 92% of list price. And were these better-than-average outcomes simply the result of chance? Luck? Random events?

Of course not.

Okay, Ms. Smarty Pants, but that’s not how I use my graphs and charts – I use them to demonstrate the reality of the market to my sellers to persuade them to price properly. If they see those cold, hard facts, they’ll realize that they need to listen to me and my pricing recommendations if they want to have a hope of selling.”

Fair enough, and I’m inclined in theory to agree with that strategy. But as I said earlier, it must be done veddy, veddy carefully.

You only have so much time in a listing interview to say everything you want to say. At some point, your seller’s eyes are going to glaze over and they’ll check out. I’d rather spend their valuable attention span talking about what WE (he and I together) can do to maximize the chance of sale, at an acceptable price.

Besides, you know what? If your seller prospect is interviewing other agents, they’ve probably gone overboard with all the doom & gloom and already handled that part of the conversation for you! If YOU come in, not with a bunch of dire warnings, but rather a plan and a smile, you’ll be a breath of fresh air, won’t you?