Expert Interview Series: Victoria Carter of Weichert Realtors About How Real Estate Professionals Market Homes in the 21st CenturyPDH Staff
Victoria Carter is one of the top real estate agents in northern New Jersey and the country, and was ranked the #1 real estate agent for Weichert Realtors based on transaction volume and total units in 2015. We had a chance to speak with Victoria about modern marketing techniques and technologies available to realtors, and also learned about some of the desires and obstacles of today’s home buyers and sellers.
Tell us a bit about your background. Why are you so passionate about being a realtor?
After graduate work, I began a career in retail and rose to become a senior corporate executive at Saks Fifth Avenue. The negotiation skills that are an essential part of corporate management prompted me to consider the real estate profession. When I started my own family and went through the process of buying a home, I came to believe there could be a whole different level of service offered by realtors. I began working in the real estate industry in 1998, and it is my full-time profession today.
I am passionate about being a realtor because my success is my client’s success. I enjoy meeting and interacting with people and the challenge of always optimizing outcomes for my clients. If a family is selling a home, I strive to attain the highest possible sales price. If I am representing potential home buyers, success means helping them find their dream home. About 60% of my business is either repeat or referral business. I believe this high percentage reflects both my unwavering commitment to prioritizing client outcomes and my passion for the work that I do.
What are some of the priorities for home buyers in your market that might not be as important as those in other parts of the region?
In northern New Jersey, home buyers prioritize communities that are directly on or within very close proximity to the Midtown Direct train line. These towns are within a one-hour commute to New York City, door-to-door. As a result, the communities are commuter havens and magnets for families looking to access New York City while maintaining a high-quality life in the suburbs.
Another priority for many home buyers in my markets is town character. In particular, people are looking for towns with a strong sense of community and ones that include great parks and recreational facilities, like the South Mountain Reservation. Many of these communities have an urban feel and are culturally progressive. Another essential characteristic of these towns is their outstanding school systems, most of which are nationally ranked. Families moving into one of these communities want the benefit of easy access to New York City and outstanding K-12 school systems.
What kinds of cutting-edge technologies are available today for realtors to help them buy or sell homes?
Some of the cutting-edge technologies available for realtors today include virtual 3D tours, drone photography, and beacon technology to alert potential homebuyers of a nearby open house or property for sale. Streaming video is also an important technology for real estate agents because it is interactive and helps agents show a property to someone who cannot physically be on location. These technologies provide home buyers with a high-quality user experience and give sellers the opportunity to broaden the potential pool of buyers far outside their immediate area.
What are some of the innovative and modern techniques and tactics for marketing a home that didn’t exist even ten years ago?
Video is an innovative tool for marketing a home because it allows potential home buyers to take a virtual tour. Also, social media is now a critical platform for getting information about properties out to a broad audience. In particular, the ability to geo-target social media posts to a location or radius around that location was not possible just over a decade ago. People forget that Facebook was only available to the broader public starting in 2006.
The Internet is where over half of home buyers actually start their search. I have an expansive commitment to multi-channel digital marketing which even includes multiple websites. It is also imperative that marketing strategies for realtors be mobile-friendly because so many people use mobile and want the ability to pull up information (like the directions to a property) at the push of a button.
Finish this sentence, “For first-time home buyers, the entire process can proceed so much more smoothly if they just take the time to learn more about…”
…the financial complexities inherent in buying a home. Although buying a home is a long-term financial investment, it still involves many expenses every year such as mortgage payments, repair and maintenance charges, property taxes, and homeowners insurance. The financial acumen required for homeownership should not be underestimated.
Which technical aspect of the real estate purchase or sales process seems to be the most confusing to your clients?
For buyers, the most confusing aspect of the real estate purchase process is the home inspection. It is very overwhelming, and buyers are often baffled as to the next steps and the scope of the seller’s obligation.
For sellers, the most confusing aspect of selling their home is the logistics and timing of selling one property while trying to move into another – the classic “sell first or buy first” dilemma. It’s a balancing act which can be very disruptive to a family’s routine and life when it does not go as planned.
Why are professional development hours (and keeping up with them) so important for realtors today?
Professional development courses are an essential component of remaining a knowledgeable and ethical practitioner in the real estate industry. A realtor is a critical resource to his or her client and must be well-informed on all aspects of the buying and selling process. The 2015 TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure Rule, for example, impacted disclosures and transparency for borrowers and realtors. It was an important source of information for clients confused by the changes. The evolving role of social media as a marketing tool in real estate also requires continuing education.
How do you expect the needs and desires of home buyers to change over the next ten years or so?
I see a trend towards smaller homes and believe this shift will continue over the next decade. Millennials are the new generation of home buyers and are cognizant of affordability. They still prioritize excellent schools, but the “McMansion” trend is waning. I also think that Millennials, in particular, do not want to be dependent upon two incomes; rather, they are happy to be a one-income family and opt for a smaller home. Therefore, I expect home buyer needs over the next ten years or so to be characterized by a move towards smaller homes in communities that are culturally progressive and have an urban feel.
Are you behind on your realtor professional development hours? Contact us for more information.