Understanding the real estate market can be difficult. The market is forever changing while buyers and sellers are constantly being bombarded by information from the media. McGuire’s Top Producers Roundtable (a four-part series appearing in 7x7) strives to make sense of it all with a quarterly perspective from some of the city’s most success agents. McGuire Real Estate, as a luxury real estate boutique firm, emphasizes the importance of high quality property photography.
What marketing standards do you offer sellers that set you apart from other agents?
Robin Dustan (RD): For the properties that I market, I always have them professionally photographed. The key to a successful marketing plan is to integrate great photographs that represent a property’s best qualities, especially given the importance of the web presence of properties in today’s market.
Julia Bivins (JB): The presentation of a home to qualified buyers can be likened to a “beauty contest” where appearance has a direct affect on price. My background as an interior designer and hobby photographer enables me to work with the best photographers in the business to make sure the visual presentation of a property with completed staging translates to the best possible photos on the web.
Leslie de Bretteville (LdB): I recognize my client’s needs and give them my direction on a marketing plan for their property. It includes development of custom print postcard mailers, ad placement in McGuire branded showcase features in local publications, and online presence through mcguire.com, McGuire’s syndicated websites, as well as my own website lesliedebretteville.com.
Tina Bartlett Hinckley (TBH): My business partner and son, Ted Bartlett, and I have been forerunners in using professional photography and glossy brochures to illustrate our property descriptions. In addition to the resources of McGuire’s marketing department, we have the advantage of having our assistant, Mary Meeks, upload exceptional photographs onto our personal website, the MLS, and 21 affiliate websites.
Chrissie Emmons (CE): I carefully prepare each of my client’s listings for marketing by paying close attention to all details. Together with the client, we choose the best photographs that convey the “true” feeling for their property. The property is featured on sophisticated and high quality marketing materials such as Just Listed cards, deluxe property statements, and full page ads in real estate publications. Each property listing is independently showcased in all printed and electronic advertisements. The main focus is selling the home and not a promotion for the agent or another property.
In today’s market, what are your strategies in pricing a property? What should your clients know when working with you?
RD: Successful pricing strategy requires indepth research of comparable properties, understanding if recently sold properties were priced to entice or if there were other conditions or terms that factored into the closed sales price. Evaluating how long a property was listed before it sold and obtaining detailed information from the other listing agents is critical in accurate pricing of properties. What clients should know when working with me is that I will take time to do the research to counsel clients on the sale process and work with them to obtain the highest price the market will bear.
LdB: I want my clients to know that I want the best for them. Of course, I like to price a property close to the price it should sell for. If the asking price is too high, buyers generally do not make offers. Sometimes a conservative price brings the best results, as some buyers don’t seem to mind paying over the asking price.
JB: We are in a “new world” real estate market and approaches to buying and selling properties have changed dramatically. Sellers have to weigh their options carefully in getting their properties ready for sale; while buyers, faced with tremendous choices of inventory, weigh their options carefully for best value. For sellers, today’s market is NOT the time to “test the market” with price. I focus seller’s comps on what has sold in the last four weeks (not 3 months) and focus on the sales price, not the list price, on inventory that has actually sold recently in those 4 weeks. I advise sellers what is worth doing – and not doing – to prepare their homes for market that will bring them the best payoff in the sale of their property. With buyers, I’m able to point out future equity potential with the “not-so-perfect” properties that can be gained over time.
CE: The San Francisco real estate market is highly about property type and location specific. The city offers a wide variety of unique neighborhoods. Within each of these neighborhoods there are an even greater variety of property types; single family homes, condos, lofts, TIC’s etc. This variety in neighborhoods and properties makes “proper pricing” very important. It’s more than just comparable sales, it involves knowledge of the area, timing, current activity for similar homes, and most importantly “positioning” of the list price. Pricing a home just before coming to market is always the best approach.
TBH: Today’s market is segmented, and is a moving target. I feel that it is important to have a candid dialogue with clients regarding price range, and then “refine” the list price immediately prior to marketing.
What lead generation strategies are you using in the current real estate market?
LdB: As a San Francisco native with over seventeen years experience in real estate the majority of my business comes from past clients and referrals. I work with all-in-thefamily customers – generations of them.
CE: Fortunately and thankfully all of my current business is referred from past/present clients.
JB: Staying in contact with past clients.
RD: Most of my leads are referral based from former clients or agents whom I’ve worked with from other areas.
TBH: After having been in the real estate business at McGuire for twenty years, most of my business comes from networking and from referrals from clients and friends. Ted has a wide network as well. He is the next generation, grew up here and is active in San Francisco.
How do you stay current with your real estate education? What was the most recent course that you attended?
TBH: I am a Broker Associate and I participate in continuing education. On a regular basis, I participate in the valuable inhouse training McGuire offers on many technical aspects of the business.
LdB: I just renewed my license last year and also took five real estate courses. I stay current by reading the weekly practice tips from Broker Risk Management consultant Bill Jansen, and subscribe to real estate trade magazines.
CE: I stay very active in the market and preview many types of properties. I track their market performance from listing to closing. It is important to know “how” the market is performing on a weekly basis. I constantly evaluate market activity throughout San Francisco’s many districts. I regularly attend seminars such as 1031 Exchanges, Landlord/Tenant Issues and Economic Market Forecast discussions.
RD: In addition to my association with McGuire I am affiliated with a networking group that meets monthly to discuss current trends, legislative updates and web based marketing innovations. I am currently in the process of obtaining the E-PRO designation.
JB: Certified as a Luxury Home Marketing Specialist, I attend 2-3 conferences each year to ensure I stay up-to-date on leading edge approaches to marketing luxury properties, as well as technological advances on featuring client homes on the local, national and international real estate markets.
What is your outlook for the local real estate market for the rest of 2008?
CE: I think San Francisco will continue to be a strong market compared to what has happened nationally. The inventory is narrow and the demand is strong. San Francisco is highly desirable and historically the city has maintained a growth in real estate appreciation. I think that buyers will be the deciding factor for the strength of this market.
TBH: I am optimistic about the San Francisco real estate market for the rest of 2008. We have a wonderful city and people want to live here.
LdB: I don’t have a crystal ball.The market is very steady in San Francisco. There is usually a shortage of good properties for sale, and there are more buyers than sellers. I agree that the rest of 2008 will be good.
RD: I am optimistic about the market in San Francisco. I believe that the Fall market will be strong and good properties in good locations will continue to sell.
JB: Historically, the market surges with new inventory right after Labor Day. Properties currently on the market will be competing with new inventory, which will bring buyers forward – cautiously – until after the elections in November. The abundance of inventory at flattened prices will be tempered with rising interest rates. I think there will be a surge of buyers returning to the market that will create multiple offers for properties – especially San Francisco properties and particularly anywhere near and around the key transportation
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