Welcome to the real estate market of 2014, where in many places sellers are scarce and buyers are plentiful. The competition for listings is fierce.

Just a few short years ago, I was getting emails from companies offering to sell me buyer leads. The story was always the same. There would be this company that had hundreds of buyers who were looking for an agent to help them.

It was never clear to me where they got the buyers, or why these buyers could not find a real estate agent when there are, like, a zillion of us.

We had a much larger inventory of homes on the market back then, and sometimes I wonder if it wasn’t because all of these potential buyers were stuck in some lead capture system, and could not find an agent to help them.

Now that we are in more of a seller’s market, there are people selling listing presentations. Apparently, the reason there are not more homes on the market is because we don’t have good listing presentations. We can easily solve this problem by paying for a presentation.

When I first started in real estate I was taught how to do a listing presentation. Back then, listing presentations had to be in a three-ring binder, on this special stationary that had the company logo and color-coordinated graphics.

We were encouraged to practice our presentation over and over until we got really good at it. Agents obsessed over it. Some bragged about having the best presentation. Others were totally intimidated by the idea of creating and giving a presentation.

My first listing appointment was with an experienced agent so that I could observe and learn. The agent looked at the home, gave the sellers information about home sales in the area and then gave a verbal overview of his services.

The only thing he left behind was a business card, and carbon copies of the signed listing contract. What I learned from this is that there is more than one way to get a listing.

But it wasn’t until I gained a lot more experience that I really began to understand and appreciate his approach. He had a conversation with the homeowners. It was all about them, not about him.

I have heard tales of agents who put together 30- to 40-page proposals for prospects, and who need at least an hour to give a formal presentation. I know brokers who insist that a formal presentation is the only way.

Yesterday I got an email about a prelisting package that I could buy. One agent claimed to get five to 10 listings a week because of it. I’ll be honest — I would not know what to do with five to 10 listings a week. I have no idea if I have ever lost a listing because I did not use a prelisting packet.

There is no magical way to get a listing. Right now most of us need to focus on getting more listing appointments if we want more listings.

Agents who have a lot of listing appointments but are not getting the listings may need help with a presentation. The rest of us just need more appointments so we have the opportunity to do a formal or informal presentation.

Most of the time when I get a listing I find out I was the only agent interviewed. Maybe that is why I get listings. If I were in more situations where I was competing with other agents, maybe I would lose out because I don’t have much in the way of marketing collateral.

When I go on my appointments with potential sellers, I’m armed with facts, figures and numbers. I am prepared to answer most any question. I know my market inside out and upside down.

My approach is consultative. I try to focus on listening instead of on presenting.

It isn’t about me; it is about the homeowners. I use my iPad to show examples of my Internet-based marketing strategy, using actual listings as example. Like my mentor, I rarely leave anything behind. But I do send a recap of what we talked about in an email, and sometimes include links to blog posts.

I always end the appointment by thanking the sellers for their time and by asking for the listing.

Why go through all of the trouble and then walk away without asking for the business?

Teresa Boardman is a broker in St. Paul, Minn., and founder of the St. Paul Real Estate blog.

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