By Robert Sharoff, REALTOR® Magazine
David Rathgeber’s Agent’s Guide to Real Estate (John McLean, Va.: Realty Research Group; $16.95) is mainly a primer for beginning real estate salespeople, but also includes a great deal of basic information that more established salespeople need to keep at their fingertips.
Rathgeber, a popular speaker on real estate topics as well as a salesperson with Century 21 Laughlin in McLean, Va., starts off by listing the skills and equipment needed to be a successful real estate salesperson. “Listening, understanding, and being able to analyze, simplify, and translate” a client’s wishes are the most important things, he says.
Getting started is never easy, he says. “Most sellers dutifully interview three salespeople. If you’re a new salesperson, you’ll find that most sellers are looking for precisely the experience you lack.” The answer, he says, is to sign on as an assistant to an experienced salesperson or “if you’re masochistic, you can keep slugging it out on your own, citing your enthusiasm and willingness to spend time” until you finally snag a listing.
From there, Rathgeber describes the ABCs of working with sellers. These include everything from doing a comparative market analysis to establish the right price to advertising and open house strategies. He also includes a comprehensive checklist of simple repairs and presentation tips that improve the salability of a house.
Rathgeber divides buyers into four categories—incoming transferees, move-up buyers, move-down buyers and first time buyers—and includes strategies for working with each group. When working with transferees, for example, he recommends a five-day house-hunting trip and includes a sample itinerary that–if followed–should result in a sale at the end of the week.
Rathgeber also provides an overview of financing methods along with questionnaires salespeople can use to establish how large a loan buyers are eligible for.
When showing houses, Rathgeber is a proponent of the “more is more” theory. “It’s best to show your buyer all homes that might meet his needs, the bad ones along with the good ones,” he says. “Without this knowledge, he can’t comprehend his segment of the market.”
A concluding chapter on the art of negotiation is one of the best things in the book. The secret of negotiating, he says, is control. “To control the negotiation, control yourself. Never let the tone reach a state of emotional strain. To do so will always cost time and money.”
About concessions, he says, “Give little and give slowly. Rationale will be required to explain the basis of each offer or counteroffer. Be prepared.”
Finally, “In general, a seller should never accept a price lower than 90 percent of the asking price unless he is in dire straits. By settling for too low a price you bypass an entire segment of the homebuying market who never saw the home because they never dreamed you would give it away.”