Every week, we ask a Houston real estate professional for their thoughts on the top three stories from the week before. This week, we spoke with Brad Carlson, a Realtor with Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Gary Greene.
Houston Agent (HA): One of the most important parts of being an effective real estate agent is understanding the nuances of negotiating, particularly in regards to assertiveness. How do you strike a balance between being a push over and being too aggressive?
Brad Carlson (BC): Prior to becoming a Realtor, I was director of operations of 75 plus retail stores, ran over $100 million P&L and had to negotiate with an entire board of directors for things like new items and capital improvements. With that background, I’ve learned it’s a give and take when it comes to negotiations, meaning that when all is said in done you want both parties walking away with the feeling that they accomplished something. You’re not always going to get 100 percent of what you want.
Personally, I’ve never been overly aggressive in the sense that I tell clients “take it or leave it” because, as a negotiator, you need to understand that both parties are working to get the best deal they can for the client they represent. One thing Realtors need to do to position themselves well in a negotiation is do their homework – come with facts, know with the comps say, if it’s your listing, know why it’s priced a certain way. Also, it’s important to know who’s on the other side of the table. When you know whether the agent is new or seasoned, it helps you know how to approach the situation.
HA: A popular article this week discussed the importance of keeping clients satisfied by showing them appreciation, like giving them public praise. What things do you do to make sure your clients feel appreciated?
BC: Truthfully, I don’t think my clients are looking for appreciation as much as they are a consummate professional who will listen to their needs, give them honest and sound advice and, most importantly, provide open communication. A quick look at my customer satisfaction rating on HAR will give you an idea of happy my clients tend to be with my services.
In my experience, the No. 1 thing customers are looking for is regular communication. The No. 2 is market knowledge. Clients want to know that you understand their needs and can translate those into suitable, available housing options, or maximizing the dollar amount for their for sale property.
In a nutshell, clients just want to know that they’ve hired the right person for the job.
HA: A recent infograph from Sensational Color talks about the role curb appeal plays in selling a home, revealing that more than 75 percent of homeowners rate curb appeal as either “extremely” or “very” important to them. When you’re preparing a home for sale, what do you do, if anything, to maximize curb appeal?
BC: It’s very rare that we don’t change something in the way of curb appeal, because when a person’s lived in a house for any substantial amount of time, it’s easy for them to grow accustom to the surroundings and not notice where things are lacking. There are certain things you can’t easily change, like brick, stucco or siding, but we do focus certain key areas, such as the garden. It’s very important to have a well-maintained yard, which includes professional edging, power washing the driveway, trimming and raising trees, and most importantly, black mulch in the beds and, if you can, plant some flowers. It doesn’t have to be lavish, it doesn’t have to be too expensive, but the money you do spend you’ll get back ten fold.
The last thing is the front door. It needs to be spotless. If it’s wood, it needs to be re-varnished. When you take a potential buyer to the house and you’re walking up to the front door and then unlocking the place, that’s a good 30 seconds to a minute their looking at that front door. The condition of the door tells the buyer what kind of condition the house is in, and what kind of care the owners have given to the house since they moved in.