California Real Estate - September 2013

Signing Sellers: From Lead To Listing

Marcie Geffner 2013-08-27 01:25:47

Creative methods in a tight market Reluctant sellers and eager buyers are creating what might feel like a shortage of forsale homes in many California communities. This so-called tight inventory has put a big fat premium on listings, prompting savvy REALTORS® to devote more time to seller-prospecting activities. O Signing up sellers takes time, savvy, and skill. Here's how four REALTORS® do it. Superior Service The best way to generate listings is to "outperform and provide superior service," says Linnette Edwards, associate broker at Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate in Piedmont. "What agents need to realize is that although they have a listing and it's easy to sell, you always need to be thinking About your pipeline. How is this listing potentially going to yield more listings?" She says. Edwards' strategy involves a full-blown, highly systemized marketing campaign for each listing, including exclusive marketing materials and a customized website that tells the story of the house and the lifestyle of its inhabitants. The goal, she explains, is not only to sell the house, but also to make the listing "shine" so other owners in the area will want to reach out to her to sell their property, too. Referrals from agents in nearby areas are also a successful strategy, Edwards says. "If you meet an agent who is a producer-it's producers who are able to deliver more referrals-then developing that relationship, taking them out to lunch or helping them out with information, can yield more leads," she explains. Networking groups in adjacent markets can produce results, too. "The hairstylist and financial advisor in the next market over have a lot of REALTORS® in their network, but they don't know REALTORS® outside the neighborhood they're in," she says. "That has been getting me leads." Edwards turns those leads into listings by presenting a net sheet that shows sellers how much more money they'll get for their home if they make certain improvements. "I've been explaining to sellers that if they put a little bit more money into the house, they can get a much higher return than if they sell the house as-is," she says. "Sometimes I have been able to give them a temporary loan upfront, and that has snowballed into my getting more listings." Blogging Advice Jeff Dowler, a REALTOR® at Solutions Real Estate in Carlsbad, says REALTORS® who want to list homes need to combine multiple marketing strategies and use an array of messages targeted toward different types of sellers. One of his successful strategies is blogging. These days, that means writing posts that educate sellers about the home-selling process. "I am writing more about how to deal with multiple offers, how to prepare your house for sale, how to correctly price your house, how to prepare for an inspection-all things you need to know to be a competent seller in this competitive market," he says. Online, an immediate response is essential. Dowler says he follows up as soon as possible with general information and market data. "You want to quickly give sellers the sense that you have a hand on the pulse of the market and you want to be able to direct them to information online, whether it's your blog or website or wherever you have information they can quickly look at and determine if you are a competent agent in this market. You have to educate them and let them know what this information Means to them," he explains. Dowler says homeowners who have equity and a reason to move often become highly motivated once they're informed about current market conditions while homeowners who are upside-down might be more inclined to wait in hope of further price rises, unless they're in imminent danger of foreclosure. Owners who have equity, but no motivation to move, sometimes called "discretionary sellers" or fence-sitters, can be the biggest challenge, Dowler says. "The problem you have to educate them about is that, yes, they can wait and maybe sell their house for more money, but then they're also going to pay more for their next house. The other thing they aren't necessarily thinking about is where interest rates are going," he says. Data Mining REALTORS® today "have to really work" to get listings, says Marguerite Crespillo, president and owner of Sellstate Realty First in Rocklin. "You have to get creative," Crespillo explains. "Find more innovative ways to structure transactions. Get in there and dig in to find ways to help people." One of Crespillo's strategies is to use PropertyRadar, a real estate information service, to locate homes that meet a specific buyer's needs, then approach those sellers with that buyer in mind. She says one of her recent searches turned up 11 single-story houses with 2,500 or more square feet and owners in a positive equity position in a particular neighborhood. "I sent 11 letters to a specific area. Three people responded, and we have appointments coming up with two of them. It was a great response," she says. Still, Crespillo says, many sellers are "holding out" because they remember their home used to be worth more and they're not willing to sell it for less. Some discretionary sellers and holdouts might be motivated by the prospect of buying a larger replacement home or the opportunity to achieve other financial objectives, she suggests. "If they have some equity, maybe they have other things they've considered doing with it. It might be something as simple as taking a vacation, making other investments or helping out kids in college," she says. Caring Contact Lori Bowers, broker/owner of The Lori Bowers Group in La Quinta, also says REALTORS® "have to work for listings." Her primary strategy is to stay in touch with past clients through frequent e-mail and text messages, phone calls and social events, so she can connect with people Who intend to buy or sell a home within the next 30 days. She says her first meetings with prospective sellers are an opportunity to find out more about them and their needs and dreams. "I take with me information about the price of their home, some of my marketing materials and a listing agreement ready to be signed, but most of what I focus on is them," she says. "Sellers don't care about the agent. They want an agent who cares about them." Some sellers worry about finding a replacement home they like and can afford, Bowers adds. A contract contingency that gives them a few weeks to choose another residence can mitigate such concerns. Buyers will accept this approach if they feel confident they'll be able to secure the property after the delay, she says. Focusing sellers' attention on their next home can also move the sale of their current home forward, Bowers adds. "I spend time talking to them about why they want to sell, where they see themselves moving and how soon they want to be there," she says. "If they really aren't ready, I say, 'How about if I come back in a week, and we talk further, after you have a chance to think about it, and then we'll put a plan into action?'" Marcie Geffner is an award-winning freelance reporter. Follow her @marciegeff.

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