Active Rain June 11, 2011

How Can a Little Office in Briarcliff Sell so Many Homes All Over Westchester?

Prospective clients (and occasionally, colleagues) often ask how, if I am in Briarcliff Manor, I will be able to sell their home in <not Briarcliff>. We sometimes aren’t even in Westchester, but in Rockland or Dutchess. 

While I like to keep the tone of my blog more on the informative side, I have to admit that the most common question I am asked has an answer that is going to sound brazenly self promotional. 

And you know what? I am OK with that. 

When I started the firm in 2005, selling 20 homes in my own zip code seemed like it could take forever. BUT…selling one home in 20 zip codes? We did that our first year. And since 2006, I have been ranked in the top 10 out of over 7000 agents for total homes closed, despite having a new firm and a crummy market. And I did it because I grasped how buyers buy in the 21st Century

How-and why- people buy real estate today vastly differs in many ways from when I began in 1996. 

  • Main Street is the Information Highway. In 1996, if a person wanted to buy real estate, they had to walk into a real estate office or cruise the supermarket magazines. Today, everyone I work with looks online for the immediate feedback it provides- granular searches, photos, layouts, instant answers galore. A guy in Korea can search homes on my website the same as someone in Manhattan or Briarcliff. We made our online marketing a priority from day 1, and the results show it. 
  • Neighborhood experts have limited value if they don’t master technology…and a few other things. If you think that a buyer, who more than likely has an agent with the very same information, cares that your listing agent knows all the diner gossip, when the farmer’s market is, or the name of everyone on the PTA, you are sadly mistaken. It’s all online already anyway. If your agent isn’t thinking about you when they are in the shower, answering emails at 10pm, or returning phone calls promptly, your sale prospects suffer. That can get expensive. We have built a strong, streamlined organization that flat out hustles. 
  • Buyers care about their needs, not who the listing agent is. Does this need explaining? And this has been consistent since long before 1996. Buyers care about one thing: if a house they see meets their needs. 
  • The Boycott is BS. I see a huge irony in a Wall Street executive or a Westchester physician suddenly reverting to a nervous person worrying aloud that if they list with an “outsider” that the local firms won’t show the listing. Nonsense, and agents who suggest such a thing (“I would never boycott, but some agents…”) in desperation to secure a listing are compensating for unflattering issues. If a buyer tells an agent in this economy that they are interested in a house, that agent will work for their commission. If a buyer likes a house, they’ll check it out on Google Earth, Zillow, and plenty of other online venues and verify any derogatory information an agent passes to them. And if that agent lied or exaggerated, they lost their client and commission. Buyers are too smart for that. 
  • Niches matter. I have listed and sold millions (and MILLIONS) worth of real estate in areas where the client has told me flat out that if they didn’t have a specialized need, that they would have worked with someone more local. But I filled the need. We serve international markets (we have agents that are fluent in probably 10 tongues), urban dwellers from Manhattan, where I have another office, and a slew of other unique needs and market niches. 
There is more, but the point is that life in 2011 moves fast. I continue to study buyer habits, trends, and what works to create a meeting of the minds on home ownership between buyers and sellers. As my pal Matt Dollinger said the other day (brilliant guy, follow him on Twitter @Mattdollinger), we are in a constant state of being in “beta” on meeting client needs, because every time we got to 2.0, needs change and technology improves to meet needs better. We are revamping our home page. We are improving our home search.
In the past 30 days, 209 homes have expired off the market in Westchester, and probably triple that number have re-listed and remain unsold. Huge numbers of those sellers didn’t look very far for a solution, and they could well be doomed by the adage that if you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten. For some, the solution would be a visit to our little office in Briarcliff that gets the big results. Better yet, I can come to you.