re you ready to take your listing presentation from the minor leagues to the majors? At our most recent Member Outreach event, the Chicago Association of REALTORS® Foundation brought together three brokers from across the country to teach you how they hit a listing grand slam, every time. Start warming up, as we have the scoop on how to get more opportunities, convert them to exclusive listing agreements, get the commission check and generate referrals from past clients.
GET INSIDE THE BATTER’S BOX
You are no longer just a REALTOR®. You are a marketer. You are a marketing REALTOR®. What are you doing outside of the box that will get you inside of the batter’s box? Kristin Smith, Dave Perry-Miller Real Estate in Dallas, Texas, shares how her marketing strategy sets her apart from other agents.
94 percent of homebuyers start their search online, and video is the name of the game. Over 1.2 billion videos are watched on YouTube every single month, and this number continues to climb. Consumers are oftentimes doing more research than the agent. They want video, so why would you not give that to them? Happy client, happy agent.
Kristin’s team provides top notch media production on every single listing. Each listing is scanned and turned into a 3D model, which her team then puts online for buyers so they can virtually walk through the home. They can turn around in full 360-degree motion and see if their couch or table will fit in a room, or if the secondary bedroom is big enough for a king size bed. Potential buyers can visualize the floor plan before scheduling a showing, which allows them to sort through the homes that they do and don’t like. The result has been more quality showings – even, essentially, a second showing, because the buyers have already walked through the home via the 3D model.
Sellers love this because they don’t want you to list their home; they want you to sell it. When you put this kind of virtual reality out there for consumers, it means less foot traffic for your sellers. It is hard to keep your home clean, gather up the animals, hide your valuables and leave your home constantly – at certain price points, you might as well get a hotel! The quality of showings increases because it is a real buyer who already has heightened interest in this property.
Video, 3D walk-throughs, drone footage and short, mixed media videos for social media — these are a few of the things that we do to set ourselves apart. What seller doesn’t want to see their listing being circulated online via social media ads? Forget your standard, rigid listing presentation that is a hook, line and sinker. Today’s market is all about online presence, innovative advertising and creatively communicating value.
GET ON BASE
If you’re Craig Wilburn, Keller Williams Gainesville Realty Partners, a lot of what you do at the listing appointment depends on what happens before you get in the door. The information you gather during the getting process dictates the flow of the listing appointment, as well as your level of preparedness. But regardless, there are still a few simple steps to follow.
Step 1: Ring the doorbell. You can’t get in the door if they don’t know you’re there!
Step 2: Say hello. Greet them graciously, and try to offer them some form of compliment, if there’s an opportunity – “I love your landscaping – who maintains it?” or “I see why you love your home. There’s so much curb appeal!”
Step 3: Take control of the appointment. After they’ve invited you inside, it’s natural for the homeowner to invite you to see the rest of the house. Don’t – at least, not yet. Instead suggest that you first sit down with them and talk first.
Remember: the owner has likely only been through this process a few times, if ever. By subtly taking charge of the appointment and dictating the flow of information, you can help them understand what’s happening and how the process will work.
The homeowner will likely suggest the living room or family room, but Wilburn prefers a kitchen table or breakfast nook – someplace that the homeowner will feel at ease, but isn’t overly comfortable. A table also helps you present yourself and your services in the best light, as you can use the table for your laptop or tablet and any papers you may have to present them.
Step 4: Gather information and build the relationship. If there are any questions that haven’t been asked beforehand, be prepared to do a needs assessment. Here, you want to gather the answers to questions like
- How much do you owe on your mortgage?
- Why are you moving?
- What’s the reason that you’re looking for a change in your housing?
- What will happen if the house sells quickly?
These type of questions help to build the foundation of your relationship. In building rapport, you’re also demonstrating your professionalism – you’re systematic, organized, and ready to help the potential client accomplish their goals.
The more questions you can ask, the better. Once you get a good estimation of their needs, you’re ready for the next part of the appointment.
Step 5: Explain the process of the listing appointment. You want to make sure you give the potential clients a good overview about how this process works. Give a brief overview of your real estate business – who you are, if you have a team, who’s on it and what their roles are, what services you offer and the different values you bring clients.
Wilburn recommends sending a pre-listing packet with this information to help clients get comfortable with the information quickly.
Step 6: Take a tour. This is your opportunity in the listing appointment to ask for a tour of the home. During the tour, share your initial thoughts and preliminary strategies. Ask more questions. All of this will inform your next step.
Step 7: Share your Market Evaluation. The most important question to your clients is likely, “What is my house worth?” Wilburn half-jokes, “Your home is worth what the buyer is willing to pay” – an important point to make. How does any buyer make that determination? Know your market and what buyers in your area are interested in. Continue to ask more questions of the seller. This conversation shows whether you’re on the right track and the same page.
Step 8: Ask the important question. Are you comfortable signing an exclusive listing agreement with me? If they say yes, the listing is yours to lose. If they say no, then you need to ask more questions.
The most important starting point is not about selling or convincing anyone – It’s about communication and education. If you’re communicating clearly, they will trust you with their biggest asset, their home. Each step of this process provides the homeowner clarity and answers; it puts you in the role of consultant. When you start to build this relationship, this is a good place to be in. If they trust you, they will want to work with you.
For Shay Hata, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Koenig Rubloff Realty Group, the preparation is key. The more you prepare upfront, the faster the listing will sell and the fewer problems you will have when under contract.
PREPARING THE LISTING
Walk through the property with the clients. Usually that requires, at minimum, some handyman work, including:
- Touching up paint
- Re-caulking showers and baths
- Adjusting cabinet and closet doors
- Replacing light bulbs
- Servicing HVAC and furnace
Take note of any odors – like smoke or incense – as you can bring in someone to use a special paint to cover them up and replace window treatments. Ensure you have a preferred vendor list, and take care of the scheduling for your client as long as they agree to pay the bill.
It’s good to know going in where there are potential inspection issues. If it’s a single family home, it’s good to do a pre-inspection, so that you know before listing if there are any major problems that need addressed pre-market and lessen the chance that a deal will fall through during the inspection time period.
If there are concerns that the property won’t appraise for the listing price – if it’s an unusual property due to size or other factors – Hata often brings in an appraiser to do a pre-appraisal. She recommends understanding ahead of time, particularly in our current market where multiple offers are common, where there may be appraisal issues; then when looking at offers, you can look more seriously at the ones that waive the appraisal contingency or those that agree to bridge the gap between the appraised price and the final price.
If the property is vacant, Hata highly recommends staging – and not just using one company, but having a relationship with several stagers in different niches so that the furniture aesthetics show the property in the best light possible that makes the most sense for the space or the target demographic. If you can’t get the seller to agree to stage the listing, then virtual staging to ensure the pictures look fantastic is essential.
Hata also recommends doing a floor plan – many people skip this, but a floor plan paired with a great photographer is key. She also does single property websites for every listing, complete with neighborhood information, videos of the house and Matterport 3D tours, which are then advertised with paid Facebook ads.
She also experiments with pocket listings, if the seller agrees to it. Places like Top Agent Network are a great place to test pricing. If she finds they aren’t getting interest, then she knows that the price may be too high or there may be another issue; it’s a good warning that the property may be a tougher sale. And, if there’s a lot of interest or it goes under contract on Top Agent, then it means that, even if it was priced aggressively, it was the right call for the property and clients are happy because they don’t have to deal with weeks of showings.
Hata provides her clients with a marketing calendar ahead of time that breaks down the actions they will be taking to market the home by the day, including staging and photography.
Often, before the photography takes place, she has her clients take pictures of the home and send to her team, so that they can identify further decluttering that needs to happen ahead of time. She also does an additional walkthrough before the photographer comes, so that everything is as perfect as possible. And, she makes sure that someone from her team is at the shoot so that they are examining every frame and can make adjustments as needed so that the house is photographed to perfection.
In terms of photography, she makes sure to photograph laundry rooms, storage spaces and garages, because the typical buyer doesn’t read the listing description. That way, a full picture of the unit is available and buyers have a more accurate picture of what they are looking at.
SELLING THE LISTING
Putting in place all these marketing items before the listing goes live ensures that the moment the listing hits the MLS, it’s ready to go and it makes the most of the five-day window of time a property is marketed as “new” on the MLS. Hata recommends putting a property on the market either Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday, as at the end of the week, no one is paying attention. They then restrict showings until Saturday or Sunday to build anticipation through the week, when they hold open houses. Then, potential buyers see multiple groups touring the home and realize they need to make an offer – it’s an effective strategy she employs to drive multiple offers.
Talk to client ahead of time about any stress points that could be problematic for them, like nap times for children. Work that showing schedule around those stress points, then – your clients will appreciate it, you’ll keep your sellers happy, and the property can be shown in the best light possible.
Hata is also a big fan of using Sentrilock lockboxes on properties, unless it’s a really unique property that requires she be there. Otherwise, clients would have to work around her schedule, rather than trying to get as many buyers into the property as quickly as possible. Her clients understand this ahead of time.
After the listing goes live, she is in contact with her clients almost every day to help them understand what she’s doing to get the property sold and demonstrate that she’s working hard for them.
Monday: Call & check in with each listing to report on open houses
Wednesday: Wednesday update showing online lead traffic, marketing efforts & showing report
Friday: List of competing properties that came on market that week + any properties that went pending or contingent (helps client understand the competition and be more open to price reductions, if necessary)
Once the contract comes in, Hata lets everyone who showed that property know that there’s an offer, so that if their clients are interested, they have an opportunity to also put in an offer – therefore, driving a multiple offer situation.
At each point of the contract process, Hata provides her clients with blogs explaining next steps: Inspection Process, Appraisal Process, How to Hire Movers, etc. She finds the more she can inundate her buyers with information, the fewer concerns they have about how the process is going
Then she reaches out to the lender, to ensure the lender is competent, the buyer is a strong buyer without red flags and all the documentation is together. This ensures there aren’t last minute problems with the loan last minute. Her team then checks in every Tuesday with the buyer’s lender to see what the status of the loan is and if there are any issues. This also ensures that the lender stays on top of things and is less likely to fall off track.
Also, be sure to attend the inspection and appraisal for your clients – this is also a good time to then provide floorplans and comps, so that there aren’t any value issues, and bring in your preferred vendors, with client approval, to make repairs.
Hata prides herself on her clients care. Not only is she available at every step of the process, and working as the project manager for the listing, she also makes sure that she’s showing her clients her appreciation for their business in other ways, too.
- Under contract: Flowers, champagne or a gift certificate for a dinner out
- Pre-moving day: Moving boxes
- Moving day: Offer to arrange cleaning services and babysitters, provide a meal
- Closing: Nice gift for their new home or a gift certificate for a dinner out
- Post-closing: Make a charitable donation to an organization of your clients’ choosing
GET IN THE BATTER’S BOX: Kristin Smith
GET ON BASE: Craig Wilburn