Every week, we ask an Atlanta real estate professional for their thoughts on the top trends in Atlanta real estate.
This week we talk with Leslie Edwards, the broker/owner of Leslie Edwards Realty in South Metro Atlanta. A full-time agent since 1978, Leslie is a Certified Distressed Property Expert, Certified Residential Specialist and graduate of the Realtor Institute. She is a noted expert on real estate, and she speaks and participates on panels at national events.
Atlanta Agent (AA): What method have you found the most effective for gaining referrals?
Leslie Edwards (LE): Real estate agents typically attend classes and seminars in their own market with a room full of agents who are competitors. For years, I have done 95 percent of my education outside of my own market, where I will be in a room full of agents who might send me a referral. Metro Atlanta covers a huge area with several different markets where a lot of people move from one area to another. I am often the only agent in the room from the South Metro Area, and my goal is to meet every person in the room.
Unlike most agents, when I travel to a real estate conference, I travel alone. I watch agents sit with agents from their own company in sessions and at meals. When I enter a room, I start looking for a table or seat where I don’t know anyone. If I have a roommate, it is someone from a different state who will introduce me to all her contacts, and I will do the same for her.
AA: What negotiation techniques do you utilize most often?
LE: We were taught to go through the contract in detail with the seller before discussion the net. Years ago, I started talking about the money first, which makes the details of the contract easier to explain. I don’t want the seller to decide they won’t pay closing costs before they know what it means to their bottom line at closing.
If I have explained the net and the contract, and the seller is unrealistic about their counter offer, I use a last resort negotiation technique. If we are on the phone and the seller is adamant that they will not budge and I know what they want will not work, I say, “Think about that some more and call me later,” and then I hang up. I’ve found that when I hang up, people will rethink their response to the offer and call back with something more reasonable.
AA: What should agents focus on, when showing a home?
LE: Talking less and asking more. I was taught that there should be a question at the end of every sentence when showing property. No one cares about the agent’s opinion on the house or the décor. If the showing agent expresses their personal taste, and the buyer has different taste, it can cause a disconnect between the agent and the buyer, and the buyer may stop telling the agent what they like and don’t like.
So instead of talking, ask plenty of questions. Instead of saying “I love this floor,” try “How do you feel about this floor?” If the buyer hates the floor, agents are too quick to offer to ask the seller to change the floor in the contract. The problem is, they never asked if the buyer wanted to buy the house.
Buying a home is an emotional purchase, so unless the buyer wants to buy the house, the details don’t matter. For most buyers it has to “feel right” first.