Here’s how to avoid the most-dreaded new agent question


New Agent In ArticleFebruary is New Agent Month at Inman. Follow along as we go deeper on the tools, tech and tips you’ll need to survive and thrive in 2024. For curated content crafted just for first-year agents, be sure to subscribe to our weekly newsletter, The Basics.

You’re a new agent, and you just received a great listing lead. The challenge is that the sellers are interviewing other agents. What do you need to do to beat the experienced agents, win the listing, and avoid that dreaded question new agents fear most: “How long have you been in the business?” 

What does it take to win the listing even against the most experienced agents? First, you must be prepared to conduct a “listening consultation” rather than a “listing presentation.” Second, you must be prepared with robust property reports and pricing data. Third, you will also need a premium marketing plan that provides the property with maximum exposure to the marketplace, resulting in the maximum price.  

1. How to conduct a ‘listening consultation’ rather than a ‘listing presentation’ 

A “listening consultation” is based on asking questions rather than “presenting your services.” Here are four key questions that help you quickly build rapport with the seller while also increasing the odds that you will get the listing. 

1. What have you enjoyed about living in this property?

This is an excellent question to use at the beginning of your listing appointment. Instead of doing a “listing presentation,” ask about the seller’s experience with their home, especially about what they enjoyed most about living there.  While they explain, take notes. This sends a nonverbal message that you care enough about what they say to write it down and that you have heard what they said. 

2. Will these features be important in your next home?

This sets up the closing process in two different ways. You can offer to search the Multiple Listing Service for properties that meet their criteria for their next home. By doing this, you increase the probability of getting the listing plus representing the sellers on their next purchase. 

If the sellers are moving outside the area, offer to locate three potential agents they could interview. If your company does not offer relocation services, you can go to RateMyAgent.com to locate top agents in the area where the sellers will be moving. 

3. Would you like to obtain the highest price possible for your property in the shortest amount of time? 

Virtually all sellers will answer “yes” to this question unless there is a divorce or some other unusual type of dispute. This question helps you transition into discussing your Premium Marketing Plan that will help the sellers obtain the highest possible price for their property. Generally, it’s a good idea to discuss three or four unique ways that you will market their property. 

For a list of seven ways, you can help the sellers obtain maximum exposure to the marketplace that results in the maximum price, check out the following article that explains these concepts and tools in detail. Make a list of these items and share the list with the seller.

4. Which of these services would you like to use in marketing your property?

Once you have reviewed the services that you provide, then ask the seller, “Which services would you like me to use in marketing your property?” The sellers almost always answer, “All of them!” 

This question will assist you in defending your commission should that topic become an issue later. If the seller does ask you to lower your commission, follow up by saying, 

“This is my Premium Marketing Plan. If you don’t want premium service, I’d be happy to put you in contact with a limited services agent who charges a lower commission and doesn’t provide this level of service.” 

Since most people love discounts, always use “limited services” to describe agents who discount their commission since almost no one wants “limited services.” 

2. Nail your CMA 

The most important step in doing a CMA (comparable market analysis) is choosing the right comparable sales. There’s a simple guideline that you must follow if you want to come up with the right pricing on the property. It’s called the “10 percent rule.”

Here’s how it works: When you’re selecting your comparable sales, only select properties where both the square footage of the improvements and the square footage of the land are within 10 percent of that of the subject property. 

For example, if the house is 2,000 square feet, and it’s located on a 5,000-square-foot lot, the comparable sales you should use would be 1,800 to 2,200 (plus or minus 10 percent) for the improvements and 4,500 to 5,500 square feet for the land. 

Assuming all the comparable sales you select meet the “10 percent rule,” you can determine the price per square foot by dividing the selling price by the square footage of the improvements. 

The next step is to determine if this property is in the top 20-25 percent in terms of its amenities and location, is it “typical” of the area (average), or is it in the lowest 20-25 percent in terms of price and location? 

If the property is a top-tier property, you can use the highest comparable sales. If it is “typical” (never say average) for the area, use the average price per square foot. If it is in bad condition and/or in a less-than-ideal location, use the lowest price per square foot sales. 

3. Put the portals to work for you

One of the most common comments you will hear from sellers, especially if your CMA comes in lower than Zillow’s Zestimate is, “But Zillow says my house is worth more.” 

To be prepared for this contingency, check the Zillow Zestimate for the property, but you should also check Realtor.com’s RealEstimate. 

Here’s an example of what this looks like — you can show the sellers this online or do a screenshot. It’s important to note that these numbers go back to 2019 and about three months into the future. Consequently, you and the sellers can see exactly how their house has changed value over time. 

Screen Shot 2024 02 20 at 2.52.43 PM

In terms of understanding the numbers, Collateral Analytics has 12 AVMs (automated valuation models) that are used in residential, commercial, appraisal and mortgage valuations. CoreLogic relies primarily on MLS data to calculate their values. 

What’s important to note is that the Quantarium AVM is the only AVM that factors in up to 900 of the interior features (cabinets, flooring, lighting, counters, etc.) into the price. 

As an added benefit, Realtor.com also provides you with a list of nearby comparable sales. Simply click on the “Nearby home values” tab, directly below the RealEstimate. 

With all these different numbers, this raises the question, “Which price is right?” In most cases, when two or more of these estimates are close, especially if they align with your CMA numbers, those numbers are usually a good estimate as to where this property will sell. 

4. Create your ‘premium marketing plan’

When you’re first starting out, you may not have a lot of money for marketing. To compete with more successful agents, have professional photos taken of the listing if possible. 

You can also use a company called BoxBrownie to make your listing photos look more attractive, remove unwanted items, and/or virtually stage vacant properties. 

In addition, here’s a list of the other things you will need to do. 

1. Go to NARRPR.com, and download its property reports

One of the most important benefits of being a member of NAR is its Realtors Property Resource (RPR) reports. These highly detailed reports can include up to 25 or more pages of data on the property.

Print them out so the seller can see them or an even better choice is to download the RPR app on your phone and order the reports you want. You can then show the sellers what you’ll provide to buyers looking at their home, at an open house, and in response to sign calls or other inquiries. 

To better understand exactly what these reports provide, listen to this video that explains how these reports work. 

2. Use QR Code 

Rather than hassling with print brochures, a much better approach is to obtain a QR code that can be used not only on your brochure box, but on your print marketing, on your signs, at open houses for information, etc. 

I asked ChatGPT to evaluate which companies are best for real estate agents who would like to use QR codes, and it gave me these three companies as its top recommendations: QRListings, RealBird QR Code Studio and Flowcode

3. Instant lead conversion at open house

In my opinion, Spac.io is the best lead conversion tool for open houses. One of the major benefits of doing an open house is that it puts you face-to-face not only for buyer leads for the listing but potential leads for other listings as well. 

Prior to your open house, load your RPR report into Spac.io, and you can share it with your open house visitors. All you have to do is ask the open house visitor for their cell phone number or email where you can send them the property information. Spac.io automatically thanks them for attending your open house and makes the lead follow-up simple — it’s well worth the $25 per month. 

4. Create your digital and social media marketing plan for little or no cost

When you explain to the sellers that your goal is to help them achieve the highest possible price for their property, it’s important that they understand that “maximum exposure to the market results in the maximum price.” 

There are a wide variety of ways to maximize your listing’s exposure. For a detailed discussion, check out seven great options that cost nothing and definitely increase the property’s exposure to the market. 

If you do everything listed above, there’s a high probability that you will not only get the listing but also never even be asked that dreaded question, “How long have you been in the business?”

Just in case the seller does ask, “How long have you been in the business?” here’s what to say:

“Not that long, but compare my comprehensive reports, my premium marketing plan, the pricing tools, and the other services that I provide against the services any competing agents may provide. At that point decide, who has the best game plan to help you get the highest possible price for your property.” 

Take the time to follow these simple steps on every listing appointment you go on and watch how many seller leads turn into signed listings — just make sure you deliver what you promised. 





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