(This is Part 3 of a three-part series. See Part 1: Understanding your strengths, weaknesses and Part 2: Personality holds clues to real estate success.)

The difference between top performance and mediocre performance is often quite small. To see how you measure up, examine your business and personal skills in light of the 13 tips below.

1. Do you have at least one specific niche you service?

Top performers normally have two or three niches where they are the recognized expert. If you haven’t “niched” your business, now is a great time to start. Niches can include geographical areas or a specific market segment such as relocation, probate, estates or new homes.

2. Can you accurately price properties without looking at the comparable sales?

Top performers normally have a strong grasp on market conditions and pricing. They can rattle off the best buys in every price range they service. To improve your pricing skills, pay special attention to the comparable sales, as well as checking for new listings daily. Make a point of seeing as many homes as possible in your service area. When viewing property, estimate the selling price before looking at the information sheet. Track where listings sell and how accurate your predictions were. Remember, knowledge is power.

3. Do you price your listings close to where they sell?

Top performers price properties accurately. To evaluate your performance in this area, look at the last 10 properties you listed. Did at least eight houses sell within 5 percent of your initial asking price? If not, strengthen your pricing dialogue. The longer a listing stays on the market, the lower the price. Show the seller the financial benefits of selling in 30 days rather than in six months.

4. Are you obtaining a full commission on at least 80 percent of your listings?

Top performers earn full commissions. To increase your commission rate, determine what services will motivate sellers to choose you over competitors. Some ideas include 800 Call Capture (IVR or Interactive Voice Recognition technology), pay-per-click Web advertising, and online open houses.

5. Are you strong enough to stand up to the attorney, business manager or accountant when they are wrong?

Top performers recognize that they are the real estate experts and speak up when necessary. If you feel uncomfortable doing this, consider taking an assertiveness training class.

6. Are prices in your area increasing, decreasing, or flat?

Top performers know the market statistics cold. To determine what type of market you are in, look at how much inventory is on the market. If there is less than six months, you are in a seller’s market with upward pressure on prices. If there is seven to nine months of inventory, you are in a flat market. If there is more than nine months of inventory, you are in a buyers’ market with downward pressure on the prices.

7. Do you have a written business plan?

Virtually all top performers have a written business plan. They know how many listings they must take and how many buyer sales they must close each year to hit their goals. They also monitor and control expenses. If you need help creating a written business plan, consider hiring a coach.

8. Do you give sellers a written marketing plan as part of your listing presentation?

Top performers have a written plan for selling their listings. They create a “profile” of the seller’s ideal buyer and then target their marketing efforts to the profile. Their marketing plans include both print and Web advertising strategies. If you do not use a written marketing plan, try using one on your next listing presentation.

9. Do you contact past clients and your sphere of influence at least six times per year?

Top performers stay on top because they leverage their contacts. If you are having challenges in this area, consider using a technology solution such as My Homeowner’s Club that allows you to reach your client base 36 times per year. While technology is important, don’t forget the importance of face-to-face contact at least twice per year.

10. Do you have excellent problem-solving skills?

Top performers have excellent problem-solving skills. When they need answers, they know whom to ask. Most are also good at being the calm in the middle of the storm. If you lack strong problem-solving skills, find a mentor who can help you strengthen this skill.

11. Do you follow up on all leads in a timely fashion?

Top performers seldom let a lead get away. They respond to e-mail inquiries on the same business day. They also call back all open house leads. If you are poor at lead follow-up, consider hiring a virtual assistant.

12. Do you delegate?

Top performers recognize their strengths and weaknesses. They focus on what they do well and delegate everything else. If you are too busy, ask yourself what you could have someone else do. Easy places to start are using a transaction coordinator, having someone drop off keys and brochures, or having a personal assistant who handles errands. Use the time you save to prospect for new business.

13. Do you actively prospect for new business at least four days per week?

Top performers are proactive in their approach to business. They do not expect leads to come to them. Instead, they door-knock, call on expireds and FSBOs, and regularly prospect their referral database. If you are waiting for the business to come to you, you will never be in control of your business. Ultimately, top performance is about controlling your lead generation and lead follow-up activities.

Most clients want the best. If you want to be top performer, work on developing your market knowledge, improving your negotiation skills, doing a better job of marketing, and keeping in contact with your referral database.

Bernice Ross is an owner of Realestatecoach.com and can be reached at bernice@realestatecoach.com.


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