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Agents find success, stress in frenzy

Barbara Marquand

Dickson Realty agent Colleen Barrett recently put a client’s northwest Reno home on the market at 10 a.m.

By 6 that evening, eight offers had come in, including one for $20,000 over the list price.

Sound great? Sure, but while the rewards in real estate may be rich now, the frenzied residential market comes with its share of challenges, and the process for agents can be wearing.

Agents representing sellers are sorting through multiple offers on many properties, and those representing buyers have beat the bushes just to find homes and then encourage clients when they lose out to higher bidders.

“The market is tough,” says sales associate Amy Lessinger of The Lessinger Team of Remax Realty Professionals in Reno.

“Sellers feel like they’re leaving money on the table, and buyers feel like they’re paying too much.”

The hottest segment is entry- to midlevel priced homes.Turnkey homes are selling in days, and some properties aren’t even hitting the market, Barrett says.

Word gets out that someone wants to sell, and a buyer makes a great offer before the house is listed.

Attracting the best offers still requires strategic marketing so sellers can take full advantage of the market, Lessinger says.

But that’s just one step in the sale.

“The real work comes in negotiations, follow-through, financing, keeping a transaction together and meeting deadlines,” says Dickson Realty Realtor Jenny Kottel.

With the market moving so quickly, everything moves into higher gear.

“People are bidding up prices on homes and some get rather inventive and aggressive,” Kottel says.

“In the past month I’ve had seven offers on one home and eight on another.”

It’s not just about picking the highest price.

Identically priced offers can yield varying bottom lines due to differences in contract language or financing, so whittling down the offers requires diligence and keen negotiation skills, Kottel says.

Years ago when buyers ruled the market, clients could choose among dozens of homes and shop for detailed preferences, such as wood versus vinyl floors.

Now agents have to bring buyers into today’s reality, and that can be tough.

If a buyer comes in with a long list of picky demands for a home, Lessinger must break the hard news: “I have two or three homes in that category, and you will likely be competing against 10 other people.” Kottel says today’s market requires more direct communication with clients than ever before.

Operating on clients’ preconceived notions of how real estate works such as always bidding below list price is a recipe for disaster in a sizzling market.

Buying a home is about more than finances, though.

It’s an emotional process, too, and agents feel for their clients.

“You want the best for them, and to see them not get into the house they really want is tough,” Lessinger says.

The market is especially challenging for people moving from other states.While trying to get a grasp on the community they must be prepared to bid on homes hours after the properties have hit the market.

“It’s like being thrown into a pool of cold water,” says Lorie McDonald, a broker for Ferrari-Lund Real Estate in Reno.

“A lot of them have real sticker shock.”

Barrett says she’s heard of buyers from out of town purchasing homes sight unseen.

But a tough market is not an impossible one, and that’s what keeps agents going that and old stand-by remedies for occasional disappointments, such as M&Ms or “any kind of chocolate,” Kottel quips.

Savvy agents know they ultimately will succeed.

“We carry around a lot of hope.We know if we missed out, it wasn’t meant to be.

You have to philosophize and keep your spirits up,” McDonald says.

And put in long hours.

“Very long hours,” she adds.