In an industry full of titles and designations, perhaps no phrase is more desired than that of the “top producer.” Indeed, all one has to do is view the numbers to see why. According to Houston’s MLS, the 10 highest-performing agents in the Houston area – in other words, Houston’s top producers – had a combined total volume of $1,406,355,127.
Such jaw-dropping numbers lead to an inevitable question: how did they do it? Through what means are top producers able to put up such spectacular numbers? The answer, it turns out, is a varied one, encompassing every aspect of the real estate profession. From marketing, to communication, to market analysis, attainting top-producer status requires expertise in no less than every step of the homebuying and selling process, and in expressing that mastery through unique, creative means.
One major way that top producers distinguish themselves from other agents is through their complete mastery of their real estate market. From landing the listing, marketing their listings as well as their own business and negotiations to multitasking, keeping up with market trends and information and providing invaluable customer service, here’s how top producers always bring their “A” game.
Knowing the Market
Knowing the market and market trends plays directly into everything an agent does when it comes to pricing a property, preparing listing presentations, negotiating and, ultimately, selling a property.
The vast majority of the time, agents will be able to produce a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) with active, pending, sold and expired properties within the same neighborhood that are also of the same size, age and quality of the property, but going back further than six months keeps CMAs from being accurate.
“I feel it is best to price a client’s home very close to what the appraised or selling price will be,” Chris Domangue of Coldwell Banker United, Realtors, says. “This will ensure the most amount of traffic through the home, and when priced competitively, you may get multiple offers, which could result in a possible full price or, in some instances, slightly over the full price offer.”
But, Domangue adds, pricing also depends on seller motivation. If they are not all that motivated or have an urgency to move, they might want to price their home at the top end of the price range Domangue gives them. If the sellers are motivated, they will opt for closer to the bottom of the range, usually, and if they feel their home is “special” and think it’s worth more than his data will support, Domangue thanks them for the opportunity, but declines listing their home. “I would rather let them down at the listing appointment than have them mad at me later because I could not accomplish their unrealistic goal,” he says. “I have been called back on several occasions to be the second listing agent, due to another agent telling the seller what they wanted to hear, listing the home at an unrealistic price, and not selling the home during the agreed upon listing period. The only thing sellers do by over pricing their home is help sell their neighbors’ homes.”
Top producers are known for their stellar reputations, and this is due to marketing themselves well. In addition to taking advantage of the best avenues for promoting their clients’ homes, they also promote themselves. This is done not only from marketing, but also through customer service. While Zillow, Trulia and Realtor.com are the top ways to promote listings today, and client testimonials and online reviews are some of the best ways to promote agent services, word of mouth referrals are still the No. 1 way agents obtain business.
Diane Mireles, branch manager of the Pearland office of Better Homes and Gardens Gary Greene, takes her clients seriously, and looks at every transaction as a lifelong relationship. “After each transaction, I tell them that they can’t get rid of me – I’m theirs for life,” she says. This means while her work for them is done, she makes sure to call them every year to ask how they are, and if she has tickets to an event or something she thinks they would like based on their interest, she’ll offer them. Things like remembering clients’ interests and just calling to see how they are can go a long way – clients love to feel like a priority during the transaction, and after, it’s nice to not just be shoved aside when the transaction is over.
“I make them feel like I haven’t forgotten about them,” Mireles says. “I have a client that sends me pictures of their dog every so often. That’s their baby, and during their transaction, she would show me pictures of their dog, she even called me up and had me come over when they got a new one. With that kind of relationship, I can’t blow them off — it’s a longtime relationship. My slogan is “Realtor for Life,” and it’s true.”
But while customer service is impressive after the transaction is over, it’s most impressive during the transaction. How you handle clients and treat their concerns is what they will remember. “It all starts with understanding the client investment,” Mireles says. “You have to be able to realize that no matter what, they’re going to be making a purchase for a large amount of money, and you have to treat that with respect. This is a big investment for people. This is often the most important investment they make. If they want to be in touch on a daily basis while I’m their agent, I will provide that service, and some sellers only want to hear from me every five to seven days. I tell clients to call me at their convenience. I have a client who calls every night at 9 pm because that’s what’s convenient for him. If you’re in this career, you need to work 24 hours a day to be there for your clients at their convenience, not yours.”
Domangue agrees, and to this end, uses technology to help him multitask and balance his many clients. “Busy agents always have to update their calendars with appointments and tasks,” he says. “You develop a good sense of how to prioritize over time, but never procrastinate. You should have a checklist for all homes under contract and the timelines for things like inspections, appraisals, surveys and turning utilities on, and stay in communication with the lender and title company to make sure the home closes on or before the agreed upon closing date.”
Besides multitasking everything necessary for your clients, even things your client might not think of, as a top producer, you need to manage everything so it appears that you are prioritizing every single one of your clients – as if each one is your only client who has your sole focus.
“Do everything you can to make the client feel like they are your only customer,” he says. “Response time is important, and even if you have bad news or no news, don’t hesitate to communicate to your clients and let them know that you are always on the job.”