What It Takes for Success in the “New Normal”

Illinois REALTOR® Magazine | July 2012

Top Producers:

What It Takes for Success in the “New Normal”

It has been a long road to a housing market recovery. Are we there yet?

Illinois REALTOR® talked to several top-producing Illinois REALTORS® who remain at the top of their game post-recession to find out what they’ve done to adapt and thrive.

Interviews by Ann Londrigan, Director of Association Outreach & Marketing

1. How have you adapted your business to the “new normal” in the housing market?

Tammy Kaspar: “I have adjusted to include more suburbs that have a higher average sale price to improve my average closed sale price and increase my income. Also, I am a short sale specialist with the SFR (Short Sale and Foreclosures Resource certification) and ADPR (Accredited Distressed Property Representative designation) with more than five years experience closing short sales successfully, so I market my services and expertise to homeowners experiencing hardship. The distressed property market is here to stay and we have to adapt to selling these properties in order to continue to be successful and professional real estate brokers.”

Carol Weinert: “I am moving to paperless and use my iPad to demonstrate the charts and graphs…showing market conditions, foreclosures and shadow inventory. You can adapt your presentation to the question or concerns of that seller. When you talk about foreclosures and the seller says ‘That doesn’t happen here,’ you can pull up the slide to show how often it does!”

Judy Doyle: “This has been the time for education. In the past year, I attended classes to earn the National Association of REALTORS® certifications SFR (Short Sale and Foreclosures Resource) and BPOR (Broker Price Opinion Resource) to be ready to work with short sales and the broker price opinions. Short sales have been getting more prevalent in our marketplace. Also, being involved in the REALTOR® association has helped us through. My son, Chad, is on my team and we are very involved in the REALTOR® association so we can stay on top of the issues and meet more colleagues in real estate.”

Duey Hoff: “I do a lot of networking and 95 percent of my business is still referrals. You have to go after it. There are a lot of negatives these days, a lot more listings and not a lot of buyers. Short sales and foreclosures are not going away with the shadow inventory; I prefer not to have them make up a large percentage of my volume. I have not changed my style and the fundamentals remain the same: Go to work and be there for your clients, continue networking in different organizations, send professional mailings. I let people know I’m still in the business and continue to market myself and our company.”

Lexie Lyons: “I believe that in this market, the public needs a REALTOR® more than ever. Mindset combined with action is the key to anyone’s success, so I start every day thinking, ‘Who can I help today?’”

2. Where have you found success focusing your efforts to grow your business?

Tammy Kaspar: “I specialize in short sale transactions which I list at a higher brokerage fee than regular sales, and I actively target homeowners experiencing hardship to help by listing and selling their property. My website offers assistance to distressed homeowners and assistance for renters as well. I receive a high percentage of my business through referrals and word of mouth so I have continued my efforts to increase business through referrals by using tools such as my email newsletter, personal notes, social networking and face-to-face conversation. I work closely with investors to identify and purchase properties to rehab and add to their rental property portfolio. Single-family homes are a growing part of the rental market since many people have sold their homes in a short sale or distressed situation and prefer to rent a home similar to the type they previously owned. The rental market is active and there is demand for properties other than apartments. As a property manager and Certified Apartment Manager (CAM), I have increased my business by pro-actively working this growing market in the Chicago suburbs.”

Carol Weinert: “I’m aggressive about initial pricing to price things very realistically from the start and sell quickly. I am making sure the sellers understand that when the market is in a decline, every month you wait the more it will cost you. I’m also a believer in selling the difference as it relates to commission, so I offer an aggressive co-op commission. I want people to look at my listings first otherwise they might not get to them. In some subdivisions 50 homes are for sale, 30 in the same general price. I don’t want to be last.”

Judy Doyle: “Going away from print ads in newspaper and focusing more on the Internet for the listings and search engines. Really it’s back-to-the-basics with calling past clients and customers, not waiting for the phone to ring. For the past eight years we have invited 500 to a client appreciation party to go beyond their expectations related to service. They don’t all come, but they remember that we offered it.”

Lexie Lyons:  “I believe scheduling is a key. There are only so many hours in the day, so I try to make sure I prequalify any buyer or seller I work with to be sure they are motivated to buy or sell. If I spend a lot of time with an unmotivated buyer or seller, then I don’t have enough hours in the day to help the public who are serious about buying or selling now.”

3. What do you see other successful agents doing? Is there a common denominator? 

Tammy Kaspar: “Successful agents are working hard! We are working smart. We are pre-qualifying prospects and doing our follow-up. Communicating and monitoring transactions, staying in contact with all parties.”

Carol Weinert: “It’s hard work, for sure. Being responsive to customers and clients. Younger people in particular are not patient. You have to recognize the consumer is different today with different expectations.”

Judy Doyle: “Great customer service. Like Nordstrom or Disney, you make them feel special.”

Duey Hoff: “I see our top producers are people who have worked for a long time, they are good people who are available. You have to be more flexible with scheduling and have a professional attitude.”

Lexie Lyons: “I believe that the agents who are most successful are willing to put in the hours. Clients need to count on you to be professional, to be at the office or on appointments during business hours. I believe successful agents also take time off. If you work all hours of the day and night, seven days a week, you get burned out, and do not provide the quality help to your clients. Successful agents are also not afraid to tell their clients the truth: if a buyer wants to offer less than market price for a property, they are not likely to wind up owning the property. If a seller will only take more than current market value, they will continue to own that property, and not get it sold.” 


Copyright Illinois REALTORS®. This content cannot be reprinted in parts or in its entirety without expressed written consent to Illinois REALTORS®.