By Cynthia Gregory
According to Mary Opfer, a RE/MAX agent in Cary Grove/Crystal Lake, while marketing is important, nothing beats what clients truly want – a knowledgeable professional who genuinely cares. Opfer credits her success as a top producer in large part to remaining in touch with former clients. “They are your best resource for future business,” she says.
In fact, one couple, whose home she’d sold when they moved away, contacted her a few years later. They wanted to buy a home in the same area they had lived before. It was a hot market, and when the perfect home appeared, Opfer immediately notified the couple. They were unable to make a quick trip to see the house, but they trusted Opfer’s judgment. “They had me look at the house and negotiate the purchase by fax without them seeing the home,” Opfer said. “I treated it as if I were buying it myself. When they saw it, they were thrilled with the home as well as with the price.”
Opfer does more than simply depend upon past successes to provide for the future, however. While referrals and repeat business are her foundation, the ability to ride each new technological wave as it rises is equally important. A Realtor with 25 years of experience, Opfer has ridden plenty of those waves.
“If you don’t learn new technology and invest in the right tools, you’ll have a harder time capturing leads,” she advises. “My first cell phone was a car phone that cost a small fortune. But I could be reached immediately, and sales increased because consumers were so impressed with the quick response. When the Internet became available, I immediately got a domain name.” That early Internet presence paid off. She also pursues traditional marketing approaches such as advertising and courting neighborhoods where she’s recently sold. On average, she budgets between $3,000 to $5,000 annually.
Keeping abreast of new technology and catering to the evolving needs of clients intersect in education. Opfer firmly believes that learning is essential to adapting to the ever-changing real estate landscape. She practices what she preaches, too, as a member of the International Association of Home Staging Professionals, with specialist certifications in residential, new home, short sale and foreclosures. “We have to be able to advise the public with the right information,” she says. “You need to be constantly learning.”
Opfer credits experience as the greatest teacher. She sees deals that turn sour as opportunities to learn the skills to handle similar problems in the future. “Sometimes things don’t work out the way you plan,” she says. “You can’t let it get you down.” Another lesson learned through experience? “Delegating! I used to micromanage, but I’ve learned to focus my productivity where it does the most good.”
The skills Opfer has gained over years of selling real estate were equally useful in her former role as a managing broker. “Agents need advice and reassurance, just like clients. If they have questions, you better have the right answers, because they depend on you.”