Think your market’s bad? Tupper Briggs probably has it even worse. The economy has hurt demand for the high-end mountain homes that he sells as a broker associate for RE/MAX Alliance Evergreen, just west of Denver, Colo. Besides that, buyers shied away during two devastating summers of fires. Colorado’s Hayman fire burned 138,000 acres in his area in 2002, with a loss of 133 homes, followed by another fire in 2003.

“No one wants to live in an ashtray,” he said.

Briggs is hopeful that the economic downturn, which hit the Denver area particularly hard in 2003, is beginning to bump the bottom, but in the meantime he’s had to use all of his skills to keep his listings moving. Briggs is a high-performing “Star Power Star,” who learned many of his 60-day closing techniques from the Star Power training systems. With a team of four licensed partners and four staff members, he completed 142 sides in 2003 for sales volume of $52 million. That’s a slight dip in transactions from 2001, when he completed 149 sides on sales of $50 million, “but we’re holding our own,” Briggs said. 

He credits his success to an ongoing dialogue with his sellers about price. Last year his listings were on the market an average of 65 days. That’s a remarkably fast turnover, considering that in his area there is more than three years’ supply of homes on the market.

“A lot of Realtors take a listing and hope and pray it sells,” Briggs said. “What makes us different is that we watch the market and keep a dialogue with the seller about it, so that when we hit them in 30 days with a recommendation to drop the price it doesn’t come as any surprise.” If the sellers are unresponsive, Briggs suggests they take the home off the market and try again later. “We’re not afraid to lose a listing if the price isn’t right,” he said.

Here are his tips for selling homes quickly:

1. Price competitively and educate sellers about supply and demand–the bigger the inventory of homes in a given price range, the more attractive the price has to be.

“In our market, we have a 42-month supply of homes in the $900,000–$1.5 million price range,” Briggs said. “We ask sellers if they want their home to be the one that sells now or if they want to get in line behind all the others and wait 43 months for a contract.”

2. Stress the condition of the home. When buyers can choose from dozens of similar houses, your listings must be the most attractive-looking.

3. Don’t wait. Convince sellers to drop the price ahead of the market.

“Agents tend to avoid the uncomfortable call to their seller to explain that they are not getting any showings, so they procrastinate,” Briggs said. “However, if you wait, you are just walking in step with the market, because everyone else is dropping their price at the same time.”

You must act quickly and decisively to obtain price reductions before everyone else does.

4. Turn down listings from unmotivated sellers. This frees time and advertising dollars for the serious sellers. Sellers on a deadline make the best prospects. Even if they price the home too high initially, they will drop the price as the deadline approaches.

5. Hunt for buyers. Contact other agents who have listings in the same price range or area as yours, and find out which agents are showing and selling those listings. Then call the showing agents to encourage them to show your listing to their buyers.

After 32 years in real estate, Briggs also suggests keeping a cool head about the market. Less tenacious agents will get out of the business, more timid agents will stop spending on advertising and promotion, and home sellers will take more notice of the sold rider on your signs. This is an opportunity to increase market share while the market inevitably runs its course to the next upward cycle.

Howard Brinton is a real estate sales motivational speaker and the founder and CEO of Star Power Systems, a sales training organization that offers tapes, books, videos, conferences and a club that distributes selling techniques from the nation’s top producers.

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