If you’ve been doing what seems like the same listing presentation over and over again, maybe it’s time to see what the experts are doing and tweak yours appropriately. Or maybe you’re a rookie and need help with your listing presentation. Here, Chicagoland agents offer their tips and suggestions on how they perform listing presentations and how they will tweak those presentations for 2011. By Sandra Rodela
Understanding the Market
No matter if you’re taking a listing for a condo in the city or a single family home in the suburbs, agents across the board maintain that knowing the market through and through is absolutely paramount to a successful listing presentation. Missy Jerfita of Koenig & Strey believes thathaving the most current market information is one of the main components of a great presentation. “All of this information, and knowledge of the competition will let you accurately price the house.” She wants to avoid price drops as much as possible, and this can only be done with accurate knowledge of the property and the current state of the market.
Paige Dooley of the Hudson Group breaks it down into macro and micro issues: the macro is knowing the market itself, and the micro is how the house relates to the bigger picture of the market. But this schemata has only recently come into play for her. “The interesting thing about today’s market is I used to start with the evaluation of the house within the context of the market,” she says, “but today, the market itself and all the external factors are more important to start with because they’re impacting
the house because of the [volume of] inventory.”
The market dictates, and agents have to accommodate that notion and respond accordingly. Curtis Hunt, an agent with Coldwell Banker Residential Park Plaza, contends that it is important to work beyond the four walls of an office in this business. He spends much of his time “in the field,” visiting the homes of the potential clients and looking at comps so the homeowners know that he is hands-on and personally knows the properties.
The agents are also quick to say that not only is it your job to know the ins and outs of the market, but it is also imperative that you take on the role of advisor in order to educate your potential clients about the market and how their home fits into the greater scheme of things. “There is no time to test the market,” Jerfita says, “so the property needs to be priced ahead of the market. We can’t afford to be chasing the market, so it needs to be the best value in that price point.”
Finding your Personal Presentation Style
Much of the trial-and-error portion of the presentation comes about with the dynamic between the agent and the clients. Many believe in mirroring the demeanor of the client. If they are ready to talk pricing right away, don’t hesitate with the numbers and statistics of the comps you’ve researched. However, after a few listing presentations and talking to colleagues in the first formidable years, an agent eventually finds a method that works. For example, Jerfita believes that a professional appearance and wardrobe are important to showcase her level of professionalism to show that she is confident in being able to take on the listing.
Hunt, however, believes a more casual and friendly demeanor suggests that he is accessible. “I’m not a suit and tie guy,” he says. “I want to be approachable so that they feel very comfortable asking what they may think is a silly question. I, in turn, want to be able to ask personal questions about their house.” This informal relationship is what Hunt feels sets him apart from other agents.
Dooley considers her personal style to be extremely collaborative, with the client as well as with the real estate community. She notes: “ You market to the consumer, but also to the trade. And part of being collaborative doesn’t mean being in full agreement. You were hired for your expertise to advance their cause. In the end, it comes down to realizing you are all working towards a common goal.” She also has a long-term orientation, making sure that nothing is done as a Band-Aid solution. Sometimes that means sacrificing a listing, but if that is best for the long run, she’ll do what is best for the client.
Pricing Expectations – Give the Sellers What They Want: Buyers!
One of the toughest parts of a listing presentation is going over pricing expectations. In today’s market especially, this is the part of the presentation where sellers won’t like what they hear. But prospective clients need to know the value of setting the right price and the risks of overpricing the home.
The best way to show this is to do your research, perform a CMA and bring the data that will back up your findings. Use recent local market statistics to illustrate prices for comparable properties. This will help sellers to start thinking about pricing realistically.
A good strategy, many agents say, is to not only be honest with the seller, but also tell them what competing agents will say. There will be an agent that will try to promise they can sell the home for more than it is valued, and sellers will probably be tempted to go with that agent. However, if the sellers look at the CMA and supporting data, the realistic selling price range will be clear – and that number might be lower than what other agents will say to try to get the client. While it’d be great to promise the seller a grandiose price, under-delivering isn’t something any agent wants to do.
Sellers want to see how an agent will market their house. They want it to be the agent’s priority, and in the listing presentation, materials that show you can get the job done right – direct mail literature, colorful brochures and flashy websites – are big selling points.
As stated earlier, providing data for accurate pricing analysis is important – but so is how it is presented. Photos, Google Earth shots and MLS information that’s shown in graphs and charts looks clean, sharp and organized. Leaving behind sheets that include your company website, personal website and any others that give you glowing reviews and show off your marketing reach is good to do, too. List – and show – the many places in print and on the Internet where their home will be listed. Some agents prefer to use less materials, some love to create nice packets and color copies to leave behind with prospective clients. Whichever side you fall on, it is necessary to have materials with you during your listing presentation that show you have a vast knowledge of and expertise in this business, and to prove you are the right agent who can sell their house.
A listing presentation’s success is often dependent on how well the agent clicks with the sellers, and if the seller thinks the agent will be able to sell their house quickly and get a decent price. Materials presented during the presentation have much to do with both of these things. Think about it: if your seller isn’t in tune with technology and doesn’t understand the point of online marketing, they won’t be that impressed with your fancy laptop presentation and online marketing materials – they’ll want to see more print brochures, ads and direct mail literature. In an ActiveRain forum about listing presentations, some agents even commented that when they did a presentation with a laptop, their numbers dropped. Some sellers are looking for a personal connection in addition to a reliable agent.
On the other hand, if they are up to date with technology, laptops, social media marketing skills and an agent’s understanding of analytics of hits on a listing on the agent’s website will be impressive. Feeling out how the prospective client is before the listing presentation can save you time looking for what will impress them.
Using Technology and Social Media to Gain Exposure – Getting Interactive
After you deliver your presentation, your work doesn’t stop there – now you have to deliver everything you said in the presentation including marketing the seller’s house every way possible. Besides traditional print ads and listings, the Internet has morphed how business is conducted. With smartphones, personal websites linked to brokerage websites, Flickr, ActiveRain, Facebook, Trulia and YouTube, agents are more accessible than ever. And this is exactly how they want it.
One of Jerfita’s goals for 2011 is to provide her clients with the market analysis on her computer, instead of just a paper copy. Not only does this coincide with taking advantage of the efficiency of technology – with a computer, she can post links to her listings and offer a better scope of pricing – but it is also in step with conducting business in a “greener” manner, cuttting down on wasted paper. In the past few months, Hunt has nearly completely switched his presentation to the iPad, citing its versatility and easy usability as reasons for the switch. It also functions as a marker of his position on the cusp of technology. He doesn’t exclusively use the iPad for all his presentations, but it shows his technological savvy is yet another tool he can offer his clients.
Jerfita and Hunt agree that videos and business YouTube Channels are going to become important marketing tools in 2011. Gone will be the slow, oscillating views of each vacant room in a listing. Instead, Jerfita says that videos will act as a guided tour, welcoming viewers into a space and describing the features, appliances and amenities. Coldwell Banker will have its own YouTube Channel where agents can upload video tours of their listings, which they can then link to on their personal websites.
As Dooley notes, these are all measures of cross-advertising that can only help promote the listing. “While all of the media, social or otherwise, is important, it can’t replace the hard work and specific insights we provide on our client’s behalf.”
Ultimately, listing presentations are not about sway and persuasion, so to speak – they are about educating the client and honest communication. There is no sugarcoating in today’s market, and agents make it their priority to let clients know that. Even though the listing presentation is the possible entryway into a business relationship, it is important not to forget the human element behind the physical property. A home is a big investment, and selling a home can often be a very emotional undertaking. The success of a listing presentation can often be found in how an agent chooses to navigate that line.
In a listing presentation, it’s more important to let your prospective clients lead the discussion about what their needs are and then, matching their personality styles and their need for details, try to convince them that you’re the best person for the job. C.A.
»Are you outshining your competition when it comes to listing presentations? Do you often hear “yes” from sellers, or is your record still hit or miss? Take our quiz to see if you’re in tune with what makes a great listing presentation.