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Sunday, September 9, 2012

Super Agents: Real Estate Elite Share A Few of Their Secrets

Jill Mendoza knows that even a highly desirable home like hers — an 8,382-square-foot custom house on 3 acres in one of Nashville’s most exclusive neighborhoods — won’t sell itself. For help, she turned to one of the city’s top-selling Realtors.

“We’re downsizing and don’t need as much space,” Mendoza said of her family’s decision to sell the house and park-like yard at 1031 Battery Lane. The property is listed for just under $2.3 million.

It turns out that the process of marketing a million-dollar home and a less expensive house are remarkably similar, said Laura Baugh, Mendoza’s agent at Worth Properties. There’s a lot more to it than putting a sign in the yard and waiting for buyers to schedule showings

“It’s really important that an agent have a business plan for every property they are selling and a quarterly advertising plan for each property,” she said. That’s crucial “whether it’s a $200,000 listing or a million.”

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Baugh and several of the Nashville region’s top-selling Realtors recently shared some of the steps they take when helping clients successfully buy or sell a home.

Sometimes success means stopping a deal before it is finished, even if that means losing a commission, said Steve Fridrich, owner of Fridrich & Clark Realty.

He recalls advising a couple not to close on a house they really wanted but that Fridrich realized didn’t fit their lifestyle. They eventually bought a less expensive property, which meant a smaller commission, but Fridrich has no regrets. “I feel good about what I did,” he said. “We’re only as good as our last deal. We’re only as good as our reputation.”

Selling real estate, he said, is about more than selling real estate. It’s about forming close relationships.

“It’s not just a transaction. It’s very emotional for your client,” Fridrich said.

The steps it takes to get to a successful closing aren’t always glamorous, said Baugh, who insists on personally showing all of her listings to potential buyers. “Otherwise the lights won’t be on. We make sure the toilets are flushed, the beds are made and the dishes are in the dishwasher,” she said.

The average homeowner moves every five or seven years and needs the assistance of someone who does real estate deals every day, said Kendra Cooke, a Realtor with Bob Parks Realty in Brentwood.

“Really, it comes down to service,” said Cooke, whose seven-person team closed on transactions worth almost $14 million last year. “We take the commission check and divide it in a lot of ways,” she said. “People think you made multi-millions, but that’s total closings.”

Every Thursday, a member of the team calls every homeowner who has a listing with Cooke to provide an update.

“We don’t want them to have to call us. If there’s an issue, we get it out of the way,” she said.

Keeping in touch
Advising and communicating with clients is something top-selling agents have in common. Terry DeSelms, founder of the DeSelms Team, stays in constant contact.

“One of the biggest complaints from sellers is ‘I never hear from my agent.’ They’re going to hear from us, probably more than from their family,” he said.

The market is still recovering from the downturn that began in 2007, but DeSelms is on track to surpass his previous record of 445 closings. The team has had 370 closings so far this year, an average of 46 a month. In August, they closed on 72 sales.

DeSelms believes that an essential ingredient of success is confidence. That’s why he expanded his team during the downturn, hiring two more people. He knew he would need them when the market improved.

“Sometimes Terry didn’t make as much money,” he said of the expense of expanding during down times. “But I made sure the staff was there. And it paid off.”

As she goes through the process of selling her home, Mendoza said she’s been impressed by the behind-the-scenes work done by Baugh, who arrives early at showings, follows up with other agents to get their feedback about the house and has created a marketing plan.

“I feel like she makes me her priority,” said Mendoza.

By Bill Lewis
Contact Bill Lewis at 615-262-5862 or

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