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Says new Board prez:
Real estate not as easy as it looks
By Doug Snover

February 4, 2006

Put up a sign. Hold an open house. Sign a few papers. Collect your commission and do it again. Some people get the idea that selling real estate in a “hot” market like Tempe and Chandler must be a no-brainer.

After 28 years in the real estate business, Linda Berg knows better.

Associate broker and manager of the Coldwell Banker office on Warner Road, Berg is the newly elected president of the Southeast Valley Regional Association of Realtors, or SEVRAR.

She also knows that passing the state licensing exam is just the start of becoming a good Realtor.

Notice that Berg says “Realtor,” not merely “real estate agent.” It’s a distinction that she and other Realtors take great pride in.

Passing the state licensing test and the requisite background check, “You can be a real estate agent,” Berg said. “There are real estate agents and there are Realtors. Realtors are part of the national association, and we have a code of ethics that we adhere to as a Realtor.”

“A real estate agent can do everything a Realtor can, but they don’t have to abide by rules and the code of ethics. We have grievance committees where the public can come in if they have a problem with a Realtor and file a complaint. If you are a Realtor, you have to adhere to the decision of the Professional Standards Committee.”

“The code of ethics is the big thing that differentiates Realtors from real estate agents.”

The code says that we will protect the public and property rights and we will treat other Realtors fairly. Just ethical issues. That National Association of Realtors requires that you have a three-hour ethics class every four years. Our association, SEVRAR, requires that we take three hours of ethics when we join the association.”

There are approximately 11,000 East Valley Realtors just in SEVRAR, which is the 16th largest board in the country.

They include “all different personalities because we’re dealing with all different people,” Berg said.

“You have to have very, very good customer-service skills, because that’s what we do—customer service.”

Other desirable traits include good marketing skills, outside sales experience, good computer skills, time management, follow-up skills, she said.

Communication skills are key, Berg said.

“If I were to list your property, I would at least every week get in touch with you and talk about what was going on and give you feedback from anyone who showed the property. I would let you know what kind of advertising we were doing. I would update your marketing analysis to make sure we were right on as far as price was concerned. Open houses. These are the things you and I would discuss.”

“Then we would decide on which program. Then the follow up is the customer service, where you constantly have to keep the client in the loop.”

Customer service, Berg stresses, “is huge.”

“For the buyer, too. The buyer comes in and tells you what their wants and needs are. You really have to be able to listen to them and find out exactly what their motivation is for their wants and needs. Then you have to try to match them up with that property.”

Buyers’ concerns about finding just the “right” property are indeed justified.

“It’s a huge investment for people—probably the most important investment they are ever going to make. And we have to walk them through the lending process and the title process … there’s a lot of hand-holding.”

What traits are required to be a successful Realtor?

“I think you have to be extroverted. Although that’s not always true. I have some agents who are a little bit introverted. But they worked well with introverted people.”

“But I would say it’s easier if you’re extroverted.”

Even though SEVRAR has one of the country’s largest membership bases, it pales compared to the rest of the booming metro area.

“I think Maricopa County now has about 46,000,” Berg noted. “But we’re growing by 130,000 a year.”

Business is slower today than last summer, but not to panic, Berg said.

“I don’t think we have a bubble. I think we are in a period of adjustment, a little correction period. It certainly is not the market that we had in July, where we had 20 and 30 offers on one piece of property....We’re back to the normal market. Average time on the market is 30-60 days. Very normal market. But we still have lots of buyers. A lot of people changing their housing needs.”

“My company and a lot of companies out there have excellent training (for new Realtors). We teach them how to make a business plan, how to work with buyers and sellers. And lots of other things.”

“Our training takes about a month. It’s two or three days a week for about a month. Then we have a mentoring program. We assign that agent to a mentor who’s going to help them with their contracts and that type of thing. I think it takes about two years really to be up and running. Two years of hard work.”

“It is hard work. You know it’s very competitive when you have 11,000 just here in this area.”

“I think there is a misperception that the job is easy. I think a lot of people go into the business thinking I can sit in open house and somebody will walk through the door … and I’ll make lots of money. But it is a very difficult business and people should go into it with their eyes wide open.”

“I counsel a lot of people that you’re a business within a business,” Berg said.

“It’s all commission. We’re independent contractors. You have to go out and prospect and find those clients and obtain those listings. … If you don’t have a ‘sold’ listing or sale, you don’t get paid. We’re paid on results.”

 “Unfortunately, I think the statistic is that about 80 percent of the people who get their license this year will not renew it in two years. We have a huge dropout. And I think a lot of it is unrealistic expectations.”

Berg said she relishes the challenges.

“Every transaction is different. It never gets boring. You’re dealing with different buyers, different sellers. Different homes, different lenders, different title companies. Just different personalities. It keeps it very exciting.’

“And when do get that person in the home that they want, it is very satisfying, very gratifying.”

Her presidency of SEVRAR is not merely honorific, Berg said. “There’s a lot of work involved.”

One of her duties is collecting donations for SEVRAR’s political action committee. “We’re way ahead of where we were last year,” she said.

She works with SEVRAR’s Affordable Housing Committee raising money for Habitat for Humanity. “I’ve been on the roof several times” helping build homes for low-income owners, she noted.

Then there’s the SEVRAR “Rookie Society,” a new program that Berg wrote for beginning Realtors.

“It’s a monthly meeting for new agents,” she said. The speaker list includes the Arizona Real Estate Commissioner, someone from the Arizona Department of Transportation, a real estate lawyer and others, she said.

It’s not all boring meetings, however. There is travel.

“There’s a lot of travel,” Berg said.

And to appealing destinations: Washington, D.C.; Santa Fe; Prescott; and New Orleans all are on her SEVRAR travel schedule.

As they say in real estate, location, location, location.








































































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