So what’s the big deal about Ultimate Service?

Gary and I have blogged many times about Ultimate Service®, outlining what it is all about, and also highlighting some of our sales representatives that have been recognized as being exceptional service providers.  Maybe some of you are wondering why we make such a big thing about this.  Well, even if you don’t wonder, I am going to try to explain why I think Ultimate Service® makes Coldwell Banker and our sales force that much better than the rest.

We work in a profession where the average satisfaction rating is about 74%.  Our survey results over more than 15 years confirm that Coldwell Banker has a 98% customer satisfaction rating.  I think this is significant for a number of reasons. First, on every transaction that is completed by a rep from our company, we ask the consumer to tell us how that sales representative performed.  When we receive feedback that is not all positive, Gary or I make a phone call to find out what went wrong.  Consumers are always surprised that we actually read what they write, and care enough to follow up.  Only by finding out what went wrong, can we improve our service. Also, by having a written guarantee that accompanies a list of 22 performance guidelines, the consumer knows what to expect as a minimum level of service.  Our sales representatives are trained to provide more than just the basic 22 points, and our clients are appreciative of the level of service they receive.

Our real estate market offers a variety of levels of service, all at different price points.  Consumers sometimes ask ‘Why would I pay you __% commission when I can do it myself?”.  Buying and selling homes can at times look like it takes no effort or expertise.  Sometimes, that’s just because you are working with a professional, highly trained sales representative who knows exactly what they need to do to get the job done.  Our clients have told us many times that they did not know all that our sales rep was going to do to get their home sold.  Our Ultimate Service® guarantee helps our reps better explain why they can often help facilitate a sale that takes place quicker, nets the home owner more money in their pocket, and eliminates the everyday hassles of selling a home.

On the home buying side, Ultimate Service® ensures that the buyer will be made aware of all properties that meet their specific needs and wants.  Our reps search out properties that are not necessarily on our MLS® system to help buyers find that perfect property.  That’s just the tip of the iceberg, our reps are trained to be highly effective negotiators, assisting their clients in making the best possible purchase.  These are just examples of a couple skills our reps bring to the buying process.

These are just a few of the things that I believe make us better than the other service providers out there.  If you are thinking of buying or selling a home, take the time to talk to one of our reps. There is no obligation attached to hearing how we can help you make the right buying or selling decision

Do It Yourself or Hire A REALTOR® – It’s Your Choice

One question I get asked quite often by homeowners is “Why shouldn’t I sell my house myself?”

Well, the fact of the matter is, a REALTOR® can likely put more money in your pocket, even after paying their commission, than selling it yourself. What many homeowners lose sight of is the amount of money they end up with after their house is sold, because they are concentrating on the amount of commission they are paying.

According to the National Association of REALTORS® 2011 Home Buyers and Sellers Survey, the private sale transactions account for approximately 10% of all sales. The law of supply and demand plays a big part in the value of your home. Everyone knows that the more buyers that are interested in a property the more value it may have. Therefore if your home is only exposed to 10% of the buying market as opposed to 100% of the buying market, there is a greater chance of you not getting top value for your home.

One thing Sellers need to realize is, if buyers pass on all the homes listed on MLS® and all the free services and assistance a Buyer Representative provides, and buy a private for sale home, they do so, because they think they can purchase the house for less money since the seller is not paying a commission. So, as a home seller, you will always be paying a commission. If you sell privately you pay it to the buyer in the form of a reduced price, or to your REALTOR® if you choose to sell it through the MLS®.

What amazes me is that some home owners are willing to risk what is probably their largest investment, and rely on the expertise of someone that has possibly never sold a home before, themselves. Yet they will spend their hard earned dollars to make sure their car is being serviced by an expert auto mechanic.

Statistics show that 7 out of 10 For Sale By Owners end up listing and selling through a REALTOR® or they don’t move forward with their plans. Many home owners add additional expense to their home selling process by attempting to sell on their own first. For example, there are classified advertising costs, printing costs for feature sheets, maybe they buy a do-it-yourself home selling kit from a For Sale By Owner marketing company. These costs can be anywhere from $200 to $2,000.

For all you home owners out there thinking of selling privately, talk to a professional REALTOR® and ask them to show you what your net proceeds will be after all the selling expenses. This is the amount of money you will have available to you to move forward with your plans. When you really think about it, isn’t this one of the first steps you should be doing when selling your home?

Good luck to all the home sellers out there and I hope all your housing dreams come true!

Real Estate Designations: What the heck do these mean, and why should you or I care?

ABR, SRES, ASA, MVA, FRI, CRES, E-PRO… the list is endless.

All the time you see REALTORS®, and others for that matter, that need lines of type to include all the letters after their name for the designations they have earned. While a lot of time and study can go into these designations, not all of them truly affect how your REALTOR® will help you with your real estate needs.

When you are ready to buy or sell, take the time to interview 2 or 3 REALTORS® before you make your final decision. You should consider these interviews to be job applications. Many times, I think buyers and sellers take more time deciding what colour to paint the front door than they take to decide who will best represent them, and negotiate the best possible terms for them.

When you interview a REALTOR® you should ask them questions about their track record.
• How long have they been in the business?
• What did they do before they became a REALTOR®?
• What is their list to sell ratio? (how many of the listing they take actually sell)
• What is the average number of days they require to sell a home?
• What are they going to do that is different from everyone else?
• What special qualifications do they have that will help you? (this is where the initials after the name may mean something)
• Why should you hire them? If they don’t have a good answer to this question, what is their answer when a buyer asks “Why should I buy this house?” or you ask “is this a good house for me to buy?”

The answers to these questions are not rocket science, nor is there the right answer to every question. Consider the first question, ‘How long have they been in the business?’ A REALTOR® who has just completed the courses may be the best choice you can make. They are up to date on the legal matters regarding a real estate transaction, they are eager and will work very hard for your success. Also, consider their background. That’s where the second question comes into play. A strong sales or marketing background can make up for lack of time in the real estate profession.

If a REALTOR® cannot answer questions about their production, such as list to sell ratio, or average days on market, be wary. This individual does not look at buying and selling homes as a business. They are looking at real estate as one sale at a time. That may be a good way to focus, but it does not always lead to long term success.

I hope when you are thinking about your next real estate move you will call one of our Coldwell Banker Pinnacle Real Estate professionals. Yes, we have many that have initials after their names… ask them why they decided to earn the designation. Maybe they are uniquely qualified to help you. If you chose to hire one of our sales representatives, always remember, you receive the Ultimate Service® Guarantee.

By the way, our sale representatives will gladly answer the questions I have outlined above. You be the judge of the answers.

ULTIMATE SERVICE® WRITTEN GUARANTEE – DO YOU HAVE ONE?

A few of weeks ago Ann and I were talking about our Ultimate Service® Award Winners and our Ultimate Service® Listing Presentation and as promised today I’m going to explain how we at Coldwell Banker Pinnacle back all this up with our Written Guarantee!

I know, I know, you’re thinking another article about great customer service. Well folks, we’re just trying to get the message out that all service providers are NOT the same.

At Coldwell Banker Pinnacle our mission is to “Provide 100% Customer Satisfaction…… Everytime!” We have achieved a Customer Satisfaction rating of 98% for the last 10 years which is amazing considering the industry average is about 72-74 per cent.

So, how do we do it, you might ask? By providing each and every client our Ultimate Service® Written Guarantee and following up with our Customer Service Questionaire.

Upon reviewing our 22 Point service plan with our clients we listen to what they say to enable us to develop a customized program that suits the clients’ real estate needs. Then we put all this in writing and the client and the sales representative sign the written guarantee. This guarantee also has the name and telephone number of the sales reps’ Broker/Manager in the event the client has concerns and needs to discuss an issue with the Manager. And remember these written guarantees apply to both Buyers and Sellers.

If our client has an issue that cannot be rectified by management within 24 hours the representation agreement will then be terminated. Like Ann has indicated in a previous post these situations are few and far between.

So all you buyers and sellers out there before you decide on which REALTOR® to use check out the Ultimate Service® Guarantee – you won’t be disappointed!!

Who’s Looking Out For You?

Is Your REALTOR® Really Working for You?

I am sure if you have ever bought or sold a house, you have asked yourself this very question.

When the offer has been accepted, all the conditions removed, and the emotional roller coaster ride over with, many wonder if they really got the best deal (aka representation) that was available.

When you hire a real estate professional, you should be absolutely clear on what your representative is going to do for you and on your behalf, and equally clear on what they WILL NOT do. This goes for both buying and selling property.

When you have listed your property for sale through a real estate brokerage, there are duties and obligations that your REALTOR® owes to you.

Some of these you not doubt are quite familiar with, such as providing you with an opinion of the current market value of your property, and developing an effective marketing plan to ensure you have success in your sale. In addition to these, your seller representative should also:

• Keep you up to date on properties in the area similar to yours that have been listed and sold
• Prior to receiving an offer, determine a strategy to get your property sold on your terms
• Ensure that full disclosure is made of all material facts and any other legally required disclosures. In this way, help minimize expense and trouble for you that might result from needing to correct deficiencies.
• Make arrangements with you, the Seller, to show your property. They should counsel you on how to present your property in its best light.
• When you receive an offer, assist you in evaluating the terms and conditions included in the offer, and formulate and evaluate any counter offers you make or receive.
• Help you determine if seller financing is appropriate, if requested.
• Help you obtain the best (highest) price, on the best terms for you.
• Assist you in completing the necessary steps up to closing, to ensure completion of the sale.
• NOT SHARE INFORMATION ABOUT YOUR CIRCUMSTANCES, MOTIVATION, OR LOWEST PRICE YOU WILL ACCEPT.

I have emphasized this last point, as I believe this is the most important duty, and one that I find not all REALTORS® provide to their client. At the same time, it is one that can have the greatest effect on your sale.

On the flip side, when you are buying a home, you have a choice of being represented by a REALTOR® or of receiving ‘Customer Service’. The difference in these two methods is huge. If you decide you don’t need or want to be represented, you need to be aware that the REALTOR® helping you with your purchase is working for the seller, focusing on the seller’s needs, and sharing any information you may provide to them, to the seller, to assist the seller in obtaining the highest price possible for their home.

On the other hand, if you decide you would like the assistance of your REALTOR® and enter into a Buyer Representation Agreement, your REALTOR® will help you find the right house for you, and negotiate the best possible terms on your behalf. In addition to these activities, your Buyer Representative will also:

• Act as your advocate, putting your interests first.
• Provide you with information on properties that meet your needs, and present a realistic picture of the current market, from your perspective.
• Make arrangements for you to view properties, and point out to you the pluses and minuses of the properties viewed.
• When you select a property to buy, they will prepare a Market Evaluation of the property to help you formulate an offer, and help you determine strategy for counter offers.
• Present your offer, in person, in order to best negotiate on your behalf.
• Obtain the best (lowest) price and best terms for you.
• Counsel you on types of mortgages, terms, and financing available to help you make an informed decision regarding financing.
• Discover as much as possible about a property. Recommend inspections; prepare contract conditions; advocate that deficiencies be corrected at the seller’s expense.
• Assist you in completing the necessary steps up to closing, to ensure completion of the sale.
• NOT SHARE INFORMATION ABOUT YOUR CIRCUMSTANCES, MOTIVATION, OR THE HIGHEST PRICE YOU WILL PAY.

As you can see, there is a long list of duties your representative should do, but unfortunately not all REALTORS® are fully aware of their responsibilities to you, or chose not to perform all their duties.

As a buyer, I know sometimes people are leery to enter into an agreement with one REALTOR® as they believe they can maybe get a better deal working with the listing representative, or want the freedom to look on their own until they find the right house.

I hope that in reviewing the duties that a professional REALTOR® performs for their clients, that you see value in entering into a Buyer Representation Agreement. Keep in mind, when you work with a Coldwell Banker real estate sales representative, you will also receive the Ultimate Service Guarantee, so you don’t need to worry about being tied to someone who won’t do their job. You can fire them! It’s in writing!

I hope this has given you something to think about when you start your next home buying or selling adventure. Be sure you get the representation you are entitled to, and the best possible service available.

The one sure way to do this is to call a Coldwell Banker Pinnacle sales person. They will meet with you, and spend the time to find out what you need and want, and demonstrate to you why they are the best possible choice for you.

Are You Receiving Ultimate Service?

I would hope so! Buying or selling what is potentially your largest asset should be done with the help of a proven professional who puts your needs first.

One way to assure yourself of the highest level of service is to select a Coldwell Banker Pinnacle sales representative. Coldwell Banker recently acknowledged the Ultimate Service providers working under our brand, and I am pleased to say that we had a very high level of sales professionals recognized in our company. In fact, our company was also recognized as providing the highest level of service throughout our entire sales force.

You may wonder why we make such a big deal of this, but consider this. Our profession has an overall satisfaction level of about 74%. Our company has a 98% customer satisfaction rating. Our reps provide a written guarantee of their service which includes a guarantee that you will be released from your buying or selling contract if they don’t provide the promised level of service. As the Broker of Record for our company, I can tell you that in the 10+ years that the Ultimate Service program has been in place, I have been asked to release very few contracts (you could count them on one hand).

I may be a little biased, but I think our sales reps are the best!

So, I want to say Thank You to our sales reps that consistently provide the highest level of service, ensuring we continue to be recognized as a company of top level service providers.

If you are thinking of buying or selling, be sure to call one of our reps. You will not be disappointed with the service and results you receive. And remember, “we keep our promises, or you don’t keep us”!

Being Part of a Brand – Why it’s good for you and me

Back in November, Gary blogged on the choice of brands, whether it be the furniture store, or your REALTOR®, and I want to build on that, and shall I say explain why I am part of a brand and why I think that is good for you and me.

A successful brand builds an awareness of what they stand for, and what a consumer can expect from them every time. With a real estate company I think that is especially important since we rely on our customers and clients to refer us to their friends and family. Each of those clients refer us based on their experience with each of us individually, and expect that the service they received will be the benchmark for the service their friend will receive. By being part of a brand, I have been offered the ability to create a business model that is supported by the experience that Coldwell Banker has had in the real estate market. Nowhere else will I have the chance to draw on over 105 years of experience as to the best way to serve my clients.

An example of this is Ultimate Service, a program created by my brand to ensure that my clients receive the best possible service. But, not only that, my clients benefit from the fact that this program has been tested by thousands of homeowners, and found to work. So, I have an outline to work with that we all know will work.

Another example is, should a client be looking to relocate to an area that I do not or cannot service, I have the ability, through my brand, to refer them to a qualified REALTOR® at their destination. I know that my client will receive the very best service, because I have referred them to someone who shares my values and ideals. This makes the move that much easier for my client who can be confident of the same level of service they would have received from me.

Any one who is looking for the service of a real estate professional, should know what the brands stand for. I know that Coldwell Banker Pinnacle Real Estate stands for full service, from knowledgeable professionals, with a high degree of ethics and integrity.

Just a thought…

They say that doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity. I wonder what doing the same thing over and over again knowing you will get the same result is? Perhaps Brand Power!