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
“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
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
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
“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
“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
“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
“But I would say it’s easier if you’re
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
“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
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
“And when do get that person in the home
that they want, it is very satisfying,
Her presidency of SEVRAR is not merely
honorific, Berg said. “There’s a lot of
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
As they say in real estate, location,