“Do you consider yourself more of a listing agent or a buyer’s agent?,” my client asked. This could have been a trick question, as I’ve been working with them as buyers for the past three winters, or it could have been a rhetorical question, since I’d just apologized once again for taking a call from an agent wanting to show one of my listings.
However, my client happens to himself be a top Realtor in his home town. So, I took it for what it was, the beginning of a stimulating conversation about business models, how to best serve sellers (we’d seen some really poor examples as we viewed dozens of properties), and what makes a great listing agent. In fact, the conversation was so rich I realized it could turn into a whole series of blog posts, which I’ve chosen to call “seller savvy.”
The simple answer to my client’s question is that when I joined Hawaii Life in May 2009, I did so in large part because I realized the company’s business model offered something genuinely different, and I hoped better for sellers. As I explained this to potential sellers (and will explain here in another post later this week), my book of listings grew exponentially. Even as listings sold, that just resulted in referrals and even more listings!
By the end of that first year, it had grown to the point where I realized I needed to rethink my business model if I wanted to be a selling agent rather than just a listing agent. What I am saying is this; I understand you aren’t really hiring me to LIST your home. You are hiring me to SELL your home. And in most cases, you want me to sell it fast!
As our Oahu Broker-in-Charge, David Buck, has pointed out in an earlier article for sellers, just having a lot of listings does not define a successful agent. Some successful agents prefer to work with buyers exclusively. Other successful agents take only a few listings at a time and put all their focus on getting them sold.
There are also agents whose business model is essentially a numbers game. They put a lot of money and energy into taking a huge number of listings. Whether they pay attention or not, after the listing agreement is signed, a certain percentage will sell. And in addition, they will get calls from buyers interested in their listings, and work with those buyer clients to produce sales. Customer service is not their focus, but from the standpoint of the commissions they earn, they are among the most “successful” agents. And that is how they will sell themselves to you when they try to earn your business.
I wanted to do both: have a lot of properties to sell in my core markets, and at the same time, provide what Hawaii Life calls “smart marketing and solid representation.” The only way I could do that was by leveraging Hawaii Life’s marketing and internet professionals, and teaming up with other experienced agents on the ground.
For example, many agents don’t think it is necessary to be present to show a condo or raw land for sale, but many sellers, particularly of luxury properties, expect that their listing agent will be present for all showings, and I agree that is the best way to get those listings sold. I hand sell. I overcome buyer objections.
Being only human, I can’t possibly be two places at once. That’s why it was such a blessing for me to discover that Pam Deery had the professionalism, negotiating skill, and knowledge of the Kohala Coast Resort communities to be an ideal listing partner. As our business continued to grow, we expanded the team to include Catherine Klug, Erik Hinshaw, and Jana Kaholoa’a.
Now, I never have to worry about turning down a showing, or providing less than the level of attention my clients deserve because I’m already booked…or because I’m away on an infrequent vacation.
I love working with buyers (who so often turn into friends). Assisting buyers is also a great way for me to be able to see my own listings through prospective buyer’s eyes. But my answer is, “Thanks to my team, most of my time is spent serving sellers.”
Plus, I’ve had some really good mentors in the art of selling homes (and land). Since it is still a buyer’s market here on the Big Island, the rest of this Seller Savvy series will pass along tips for those of you who want or need to sell your property in a challenging market.