How to Deliver a Seller Success Quotient When Selling a Home in Northern Virginia


Realtors® Are Not Created Equal
There are over 16,000 member Realtors® in Northern Virginia between three associations; the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors (NVAR), the Realtor Association of Prince William (PWAR), and the Dulles Area Association of Realtors (DAAR). The largest association being NVAR with over 12,500 members. Buyers and sellers should know the only common denominators shared among practicing agents in Northern Virginia is they have passed an exam to become licensed in the state, activated their license with a supervising broker and joined one of the three Realtor® associations. That’s where the similarities generally end.

Real estate agents can vary meaningfully in knowledge, expertise and commitment. Varying capabilities mean sellers can receive a completely different level of service from agent to agent. Likewise, this can also mean seller satisfaction between agents can vary widely. This is not unlike any other product or service offered to consumers where many choices or perceived substitutes exist. Most sellers are shocked to learn that approximately 50% of all real estate agents account for no production each year – $0 in sales – not even one transaction. Few agents within the remaining 50% who do transact business are considered top producers. In fact, less than 15% of agents exceed (12) transactions a year and less than 5% are among NVAR’s Top Producers – Platinum Member Awardees. To be sure, agent production matters and is generally tied to the agent’s ability to deliver exceedingly high qualitative and quantitative results to sellers. I call this a Seller Success Quotient.

What is a Seller Success Quotient?
The fundamental task of a Listing Agent agent is to sell your home, but some agents aspire to a much higher bar of achievement beyond just performing the fundamentals. Seller Success is my business methodology of ensuring sellers achieve their desired outcomes while using my services. My Seller Success Quotient is a relationship-focused interaction that achieves maximum seller gains and contract protections while minimizing transaction risk. Ultimately, my commitment is to deliver a profoundly preferred experience in real estate.

What Factors Create an Exceedingly High Seller Success Quotient?
I focus on three functional areas when working to produce maximum seller success – Maximizing Gains, Minimizing Risks and Negotiating Superior Contract Protections. Some examples are described below.

Maximizing Gains typically run to monetary benefits – seller net proceeds at settlement. I work with my sellers to establish and market a selling environment that induces multiple offers and achieves a maximum net sales price. Maximum seller gains are also achieved by the relative speed in reaching a contract and avoiding excessive time on market. Excessive time on market deteriorates seller gains in multiple ways. First, time is money and a vacant home produces carrying costs for sellers. Second, and more importantly, excessive time on market is usually the cause of the largest transfer of potential gains from seller to buyer. When a home is listed for sale it has a limited time frame to be considered new to market. It’s during this time when important psychological advantages can be leveraged for seller benefit – a buyer’s fear of losing the home to another buyer and the element of competition. Competition is one of the most powerful forces in human nature. Competition can propel buyers to offer more than a seller’s listing price. Competition reduces the probability a buyer will ask for a seller subsidy (contributing money toward the buyer’s closing costs). When buyers compete they will often opt to seriously dilute a home inspection contingency if not waive it altogether. These types of gains produce serious benefits to sellers. However, they are at risk of being lost after a home accrues excessive time on market.

Minimizing Risks is an important part of the Seller Success Quotient. I find much of the risk mitigation is performed with my sellers as we prepare for the listing before we even go active on the market. I thoroughly analyze and investigate home condition, sub-market and comps to arrive at a maximum estimate of value. The listing price should be one that helps create competition among buyers. We discuss and evaluate home condition and consider the potential rewards of targeted improvements. This pre-listing work goes a long way in minimizing the risk of pricing errors, seller price reductions after going active or even failing to sell the home. Once my seller’s home is listed and active for sale, I regularly evaluate competing homes that enter the market to ensure our strong positioning is unaffected. Over 90% of buyer offers require a mortgage loan. Agents must fully investigate lender competency and the financial strength of the buyer (borrower) to minimize financing risk. After the seller and buyer are under contract, exceptional agents have strong management skills to reduce settlement risk. I regularly communicate with the buyer agent, lender and settlement agent to monitor escrow activities and minimize closing risk.

Maximizing Contract Protections is a vital part of rounding out the Seller Success Quotient. Real estate is a business of contracts. Contracts are serious, complex, legal documents and that’s no different when selling a home. In fact, sellers are confronted with over 50 legal documents during the process of a typical home sale and settlement. Agents must have a thorough understanding of the contracts and expertly write and negotiate them in a manner that protects a seller’s best interests and money. My goal is to establish a selling environment that positions the seller with a strong set of advantages that can be leveraged into the contract negotiations.

Delivering an exceedingly high Seller Success Quotient is an intentionally organized outcome. The first step is a seller interviewing and selecting the right agent with the requisite expertise and skill. Then it becomes a collaborative, relationship-focused interaction between seller and agent as the agent carefully plans and executes seller objectives in the home sale process. A strong Seller Success Quotient becomes the inevitable outcome of an effective partnership between seller and the right agent.

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