In today’s market, many homeowners think they can sell their home without an agent and get more money than it’s really worth. This week on The Walkthrough, Barrett Spray says you can overcome those hurdles by projecting an image of success throughout the listing appointment and having a candid talk about home values and pricing strategies. This is part two of a two-part series.
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(SPEAKER: Matt McGee, Host)
Matt: If I were to ask you to describe your pipeline of upcoming listings to paint a picture for me of the next three months, what would you say? Would it sound more like this?
Or would it sound more like this?
No one likes that sound, especially not when it’s describing your business.
Welcome to Part 2 of our series on getting the listing. You’re gonna hear more from a team in Florida that wins about 80% of their listing appointments. How? Well, they’ve figured out how to stand out from the competition, and they’re telling you how you can too. So, if you’re ready to make sure your listing pipeline is filled with happy clients, you’re in the right place. This is “The Walkthrough.”
Hello there, how are you? My name is Matt McGee. I’m the managing editor of HomeLight’s Agent Resource Center. Welcome to “The Walkthrough.” This is a weekly podcast. New episodes come out every Monday. This is the show where you’ll learn what’s working right now from the best real estate agents and industry experts in the country. At HomeLight, we believe in real estate agents. We’re here to explore how great agents grow their business, stand out from the crowd and become irreplaceable.
I don’t mean to put any extra pressure on you, but competition for listings is tighter today than ever. When inventory is as low as it is right now, you have to make the most of every chance you have to get the listing.
One agent who’s doing that is Barrett Spray. Barrett runs a small team in the Orlando, Florida market. Today, they’re a team of eleven– six of whom are agents. Last year, as a team of just 3 agents and 4 support staff, they did 120 deals and earned almost $1 million in GCI. One reason the Spray team is so successful at getting the listing is that they go out of their way to be different from the competition.
Last week, in Part 1, you heard Barrett talk about the pre-listing box that they send. It sometimes convinces sellers to sign the contract before the actual appointment. Here’s another way his team is different: They always send two agents to every listing appointment. Barrett explained why they do that.
Barrett: More often than not, the consumer will connect with one of us better than the other. And if there are two consumers, say husband and wife, we pair off better that way and they’re not kind of tag-teaming one agent. We have found over the years that when we go as a team, the two of us together, and it’s not just me and him, it is two of us, period, our chances of success are much greater.
Matt: So that’s a quick recap of Part 1 last week. We covered all the things Barrett’s team does from the time they get a competitive seller lead up until the listing appointment. It also sets the stage perfectly for Part 2.
On today’s show, we’re gonna focus on the appointment itself. You’ll hear Barrett talk about how his team aims to stand out by being more professional than the competition, why he wants his team to be the seller’s first listing appointment. Barrett is also gonna share his six-plus-minute script for talking to the seller about home value and pricing. In this market, it’s a really, really important conversation to get right.
All that is coming up. Stay tuned to the very, very end of the show. One More Minute is back again in Season 3. Today, I’m gonna share some thoughts on real estate conferences and focus.
But first, let’s dive into Part 2 of our series on “Getting the Listing.” Today is all about the listing appointment itself. And we’ll pick up the conversation with Barrett talking about making a good first impression.
(SHORT MUSIC TRANSITION)
Barrett: This may seem silly, and it’s not. My lead listing specialist drives a Porsche, and so do I. It shouldn’t matter, and it does because sellers want perceived success. They want perceived success for them. And we show up, not in suits, but in sports coats and dressed well. When we get out of our car, or cars, they recognize there are two successful business people walking up to their house. We’re not in, you know, old beat-up Pintos, and we’re not in shorts and flip-flops.
We live in Florida, and it’s crazy how many real estate agents wear shorts and flip-flops to appointments. And I will crush every one of them. Even if they’re a personal friend of the seller, I will take that listing away from them from a sheer professionalism perspective. They do not want to hire a beach bum. And it’s no disrespect to shorts and sandals, I wear them all the time–not when I’m going on a listing appointment.
Matt: Right. First appearances matter.
Barrett: First appearances matter. God doesn’t judge us. People do. They will every single time, and they want to see success walking up to their door.
Matt: Okay. So let’s talk about the appointment itself. Say you’ve got…it’s a Wednesday evening 7:00 appointment. How does it go? What happens?
Barrett: We show up at about 6:50 into the neighborhood to make sure we’re early and not show up late. I learned early in my career. I called the gentleman from the highway and said, “I am stuck in traffic. I’m gonna be a few minutes late.” And I showed up at the door, and he answered the door, and he handed me a card that said,” If you’re early, you’re late…I’m sorry… “If you’re early, you’re on time. If you’re on time, you’re late. If you’re late, don’t bother showing up.” And he said, “Thank you very much. You can go.”
And you show up early on listing appointments every time. We get out, we do a quick walk around the front of the house. Sometimes, people will come out to greet us and sometimes not. I wanna know the general curb appeal, the construction. Do I see any major deficiencies on the outside on the front? Knock on the door, “Hi, our appointment was at 7:00. It’s 7:00. Can we come in?” We do a tour of the house, both inside and outside.
And I can’t tell you how many listings I have won over the years because the sellers have told me, “You know, you’re the only one that actually walked around the outside of the house?” So, as agents who are listening to this, walk around the outside of the house, too. Look at what’s going on out there. Some people are really proud of it, and if you don’t ever walk outside, you’re not winning that listing.
Matt: You walk around the outside of the house with them or by yourself?
Barrett: We do it with them. We’re building rapport at that point. And if there’s two people, sometimes they go off in different directions, we go off in different directions. We meet the dogs. You know, we play with the dogs. We meet the kids. It is 20 minutes of rapport. It doesn’t take super long unless it’s a very large house. And it is a face-to-face rapport meeting.
The goal is to get to a table at that point. We sit down, we ask, “Do you have any questions about the process? Do you have any questions for us?” And we let them ask whatever questions they have. Everybody has different concerns about the process. We learn a little bit about, you know, any history of what they’ve done, and it always comes down to “Okay, let’s talk about value for a minute.”
Matt: Let me interrupt here because the home value conversation is always important. I’d argue that it’s more important than ever in today’s market. Look, homeowners see the headlines about home prices skyrocketing. They see your social media posts about all the times you got over-asking price for your listings.
And a lot of them have dollar signs in their eyes because we are all guilty of thinking our stuff is worth more than the neighbor’s stuff. That’s the endowment effect at work. If the house on my block sold for X, well, my house must be worth X plus $50,000, or X plus $100,000.
So, when you’re dealing with sellers who probably, not always, but probably think their home is worth more than it is, you have to have a good talk with them. So, as we get back to the conversation, I’m staying quiet as Barrett spends the next six minutes or so sharing his script for home values and pricing strategies.
Barrett: I’m probably not telling you anything you don’t already know, I just package it a little differently. There are four things that determine value in real estate, and it doesn’t matter if the house sits here in Orlando, in Los Angeles, California, or in Florence, Italy. It’s the same four things: location, location, location, location. And everybody kind of chuckles with that. And I say that’s the first of the four things because it’s the biggest determiner of value.
If you take this exact same house, and you back it up to the Atlantic Ocean, all of a sudden it’s worth a million dollars. Take this house and back it up to a sewage treatment plant, and all of a sudden it’s not very valuable. Location is the biggest determiner of value. You can’t pick it up and move it.
Most of Central Florida is built in little walled-in subdivisions. That is your location. That’s how we compare it. And even in that little walled-in subdivision, if your house backs up to the lake in the back, or your house backs up to the busy road in the front, it can be the identical house and there could be $100,000 swing in value based on location, even inside the subdivision.
Next is size. Size of the house, size of the dirt. Size matters in real estate. That’s where price per square foot comes from. Please do not use price per square foot when it comes to value residential real estate. It does not work. If you have the exact same house, one sits on a ski lake, one sits right across the street from the ski lake, it’s the exact same square footage, it’s the exact same house, there can be a $500,000 difference because of that ski lake. And the price per square foot goes completely sideways.
Third is amenities. What kind of stuff is there? Is it a two-car garage? A three-car garage? Does it have a pool? Does it have granite? Does it have travertine? Does it have grandma’s old green carpet? All that stuff that matters.
Fourth thing is condition. How nice is that stuff? Because you can put granite on the countertops and travertine on the floors and gold plate the walls, move a college fraternity house in there for four or five years, and all that really nice stuff is worthless. “You, Mr. Seller, have control of two of the four things: amenities and condition. You can redo your bathrooms, you can, you know, make it really nice, or you can move a college frat house in here. Those choices are up to you.”
So those four things: location, size, amenities, and condition, give you a range of value. It’s worth somewhere between way up here and way down here. Economics say the higher you price it in the range, the longer it takes to sell. The lower you price it in the range, the faster it sells. “You, Mr. Seller, have control of where you price it in the range. Not where it sells, just where you price it.
There’s three theories on how to price a house to sell. Some say price it at the very tip-top, let them bid you down. Some say pricing at the bottom, let them bid you up. Some say put it right in the middle where you think it should be, and that’s where they give it to you.
In today’s market with as strong of a seller’s market as we have, if you put it in the middle where it should actually be priced, they will bid you up. And they will probably bid you up higher than what it should have been at the very tip-top. However, if you price it at the very tip-top because that’s what you think you want, you may not get the competition and the frenzy that happens if you put it in the middle. And you may only end up with one or two bidders that may still bid you down. And I don’t know if that’s what you want. Is it?
So, all that being said, you have control of amenities, condition and where you price it in the range.” So, here’s where we [are],” and I break out my computer. I don’t take printed materials on value. I say, “Did the other agents actually show you this on the computer, or did they give you printouts?” “Well, they gave me printouts.”
“Okay. So let’s look in real time and look at the pictures that other people are seeing for the stuff in your neighborhood.” [I] pull up the computer and I go, “Okay, there’s one active for sale, there’s four pending, and there’s six sold in the last six months.” And we go through them. “Have you seen any of these houses for sale?” “Uh no, I’ve seen some pictures of this one.” “Okay.” “Oh, actually, I’ve seen this one, that’s my friend Bob’s house.” “Okay. How does Bob’s house compare to yours? Is it nicer, or is it not as nice?”
And we go through, and we look at all the comparables, all sorts on the computer. And then, I bring it down to “Okay, Mr. Seller, what do you believe the range is on this house after looking at these comparables?” And I used to get, “Well, that’s your job.” And I go, “Okay, wait, just a minute. So I’m going to…” and I pull out a piece of paper and I write down my high and my low on the piece of paper, I fold it, and I stick it under my computer.
And I say, “Whatever you say is not going to affect my range because that’s my range on that piece of paper. I’m just curious from your perspective. What do you think the high is? What do you think the low is? What do you think it should be?”
Matt: You wanna find out, at this point, how reasonable they are about what they’ve just seen and what they think their house is worth.
Barrett: Exactly. And at that point, most people are pretty close. They really are. They’re realistic at that point because you’ve, literally, shown it to them in full color, not just, you know, one-line printouts, $400,000 to $425,000. “Okay, Mr. Seller, my range is actually $425,000 to $450,000.”
I, literally, just had that happen. Today is Monday– Friday afternoon, where he thought it was $400,000 to $425,000. And I said, “No sir, it’s actually $425,000 to $450,000 because of where we are in the market.” And the smile came across their faces as large as it could be. And they’re like “Really, you think it’s that high?” And I said, “I do this for a living. I would not be here to overprice your house. That does nobody any good. And I think your middle number is actually for $430,000, maybe $435,000. But I think if we listed for $430,000, you will have massive competition, and we’ll probably end up somewhere around $445,000 or $450,000.”
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Matt: Tell me what the conversation is like when they aren’t on the same page with you as far as listing price, price range?
Barrett: It comes down to questions, “Okay, based on the numbers that we just saw, where do you come up with that price?” “Well, you know, this one sold for $500,000.” “Okay, that one’s 1000 square feet bigger than you are. So yes, I understand that one sold for $500,000. How do you get $500,000 being 1,000 square foot smaller?” And it’s understanding where they’re coming from. And sometimes, they’re just unrealistic.
In this market, if they’re within about 10% of my top number, I’ll list it for them. If they’re nowhere close, I will simply say, “Unfortunately, I don’t think I’m the agent for you. And I appreciate your time tonight. However, if you’re really wanting, you know, $550,000 for a house that I believe is worth $450,000, I would rather let you down now than let you down, you know, months from now when it doesn’t sell, and we’re not a fit. I appreciate it.”
Matt: Yeah, you have to be willing to walk away if you’re just not on the same page.
Barrett: This listing is mine if I choose to take it.
Matt: Now you’ve shown all the comps and you’re are on the same page with the homeowner, what is your script for getting the signatures, assuming they haven’t already signed, which, as you said, some folks have already done the paperwork. But what’s the close?
Barrett: So, as we are going over values, and we are talking about ranges, when we get to the point of price ranges, we are taking the listing folder out of our briefcase that already has pre-typed in, filled-in listing paperwork, and we open it up on the table. So they, literally, see the listing paperwork come out as we’re talking about value ranges. And it is, specifically, at that point every single time. And when we are on the same page, or if I’m above what they were like last weekend, it is simply “Are you ready to do some paperwork?”
The top page that comes out every time is called a conveyance form. And it’s a form that we use that says this is what stays, this is what doesn’t stay, this is negotiable, we don’t have it. And the only thing they have to do is checkbox it. Yes, it stays. No, it doesn’t stay. And we slide that over the table to them and say “This is a super simple form. All you have to do is tell us what stays and what doesn’t stay, and what’s negotiable.”
Matt: You start with that every time?
Barrett: That single page every time. It is the top page in our listing paperwork. It’s safe, it’s easy, it’s not complicated. There’s not a lot on the page, so it doesn’t look like a contract. It doesn’t look like a listing contract. It’s a series of maybe 15 checkboxes and a signature at the bottom. And they’ve already thought about what’s staying. Are they keeping the refrigerator? Are they keeping the washer and dryer? And if they haven’t, that’s where that conversation starts.
And it’s slid across the table to them. And it’s done at the same time of asking the question, “Are you ready to sign some paperwork?” I’m sliding that across the table to them handing them paperwork to sign. Usually, they’ll just go, “Yep,” and I’ll start filling that page out. Sometimes they will look at each other and go “Should we, you know, honey? This is up to you. Do we really wanna do this? We do have that one other agent that we’re supposed to interview?”
And it is our favorite thing to do on the planet is to say, “You know, I’m happy to call that other agent and let them know that you really wanted to, you know, meet with [them] but you did meet with us and decided we were the right agents. And I’m happy to make that phone call for you.”
Matt: You will say that? You will make that phone call for them?
Barrett: All the time.
Matt: Oh my gosh, I love that.
Barrett: My lead listing agent, Ed, is super competitive. He wants to make that phone call. We were on a listing appointment last Wednesday when they said that. And they didn’t say that until after we had signed all of the paperwork. They were like, “Oh, we do have that other listing appointment.” And Ed’s like, “I’m happy to make that phone call for you. I’ll let them know.” He’s like, “When is your appointment with him?” And they went “Five minutes,” and he went, “Really, five minutes?” And they went, “Yeah.” He’s like, “Then he better be sitting outside this house waiting on you because, you know, it’s supposed to be in five minutes.”
And we walked outside, and as soon as we walked outside, a truck pulled up and a car pulled up behind him. And he walked over to him and said, “Thank you for your time. Unfortunately, we have taken this listing. They will not be needing to meet with you,” and they drove off.
That’s the competitive nature of the business. Yeah, I’m gonna take it away from you before you ever show up. My goal is to be first on a listing appointment almost every time because my goal is to not let anybody else take it away from me. And I’m happy to make those phone calls to say, “Unfortunately, they’ve listed with us.”
Matt: And I assume, if it is a situation where they wanna sleep on it, or they wanna go through with, you know, whatever it is, another two or three whatever interviews with other agents, you’re putting them on a drip campaign. You’re gonna go into follow-up and all that?
Barrett: Of course. “We wanna think about it.” “Okay, I can certainly appreciate that. May I ask, specifically, what it is that you wanna think about?” We’re not letting them off the hook quite that easily. We’re gonna close six, seven, eight times before we say, “Okay, they’re not signing this paperwork.” And at that point, yes, absolutely, they go on a pretty constant drip.
We have a postcard campaign that, for the first month, they get two postcards a week that show “Just Sold”. So they are hammered with all of the stuff we are selling. All of that, we could have sold that stuff two years ago when it’s not needed. And email drips and phone call follow-ups. And that pretty consistent follow-up lasts for six months. They’re hammered on pretty hard.
Matt: In the big picture, your listing appointment system, very intentional. If you had to boil it down to two or three things, why does this work as well as it works for you?
Barrett: Professionalism. Consistency. We do the same thing again and again at a very high level. We answer most of their questions before we ever show up at the door. If they’re an unrealistic seller, we’re not showing up at all. We show professionalism before we show up. We show professionalism while we’re there, and we are very good at objection handling.
(SHORT MUSIC TRANSITION)
Matt: Be professional, be consistent, and handle objections. And I’d add one more thing too. Be different. In this series, you heard probably four to five specific things that Barrett and his team do to be different from the competition, to stand out from the crowd. And it is clearly working.
I’ll have a One More Minute segment coming up at the very end of the show. But first, here are your Takeaways for episode 82, Part 2 of “Getting the Listing” with Barrett Spray.
Takeaway number one: First impressions matter. you can stand out from the crowd by showing up early and dressing professionally. Barrett says showing up in a Porsche also makes a strong first impression. No matter what kind of car you drive, the bigger point is to project an image of success.
Takeaway number two: Tour the home inside and outside. Barrett says touring the outside will separate you from a lot of agents who only wanna go in, and sit down at the table to make their presentation.
Takeaway number three: Barrett gave us his six-minute script for the home value and pricing conversation. He talks to the homeowner about the four things that determine value in real estate. He explains three theories on how to price a house to sell. And then, he shows live comps on his laptop to help the seller see where the home should be priced.
Takeaway number four: When it’s time to sign the paperwork, Barrett always starts with what he calls the conveyance form. It’s the part of the contract where the sellers indicate what stays behind after the sale. He says they start with that form intentionally because it’s not intimidating. It helps the seller kind of ease into signing all of the papers. And those are your Takeaways this week.
One More Minute is coming right up. But if you have any questions or feedback, I’d love to hear from you. You can get in touch a few different ways. Leave a voicemail, or send me a text. The number is 415-322-3328. You can send an email. The address is walkthrough[at]homelight.com. Or just find me in our Facebook Mastermind Group. Go to Facebook, do a search for HomeLight Walkthrough, and it should be the first group that comes up.
That’s all for this week. Thanks so much to Barrett Spray for joining me, and thank you for listening. My name is Matt McGee, and you’ve been listening to “The Walkthrough.” At HomeLight, we believe in real estate agents. We’re here to explore how great agents grow their business, stand out from the crowd, and become irreplaceable. Go out and sell some homes. I’ll talk to you again next week. Bye-bye.
(SHORT MUSIC TRANSITION)
Matt: Welcome back, and welcome to another edition of One More Minute. Today, I wanna talk about focus. Conference season is underway. Back in 2017, I went to my first Tom Ferry Summit. My wife was in his coaching program back at the time. I attended as many sessions as a man could possibly attend, and I ended up taking like a gazillion notes.
When we got home from the conference, I put together a four-page marketing plan for things Cari should be doing: past client outreach, mega open houses, Facebook ads, Google ads, geographic farming, direct mail and postcards, email marketing, a video series, calling expireds and FSBOs, radio ads, etc., etc., etc. Does that sound familiar? Have you ever done that at a real estate conference?
Well, in the end, we didn’t do all of that stuff. And thank God, we didn’t. Here’s the thing: trying to be great at everything is the surest way to be great at nothing. You have to focus. Figure out what types of marketing you love and are good at, and that’s where you focus. I’d rather be great at one or two types of marketing than mediocre in many.
That’s One More Minute. I’m Matt McGee. Thanks for listening. See you next week with another Walkthrough.
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