A number of pesky obstacles get in the way of real estate success in Westchester County these days: sky-high home prices, exorbitant property taxes, tons of competition, and that little thing called the housing bust, to name a few. But none of them stopped Susan Strawgate Code, associate broker at Houlihan Lawrence’s Briarcliff Manor office, from reaching total home sales of more than $20 million in 2012.
In more than 20 years as a Westchester real estate broker, Code, a Briarcliff resident and former matrimonial attorney, has seen her fair share of up and down times in the housing market. But her own success has not wavered. Code was one of the top three producing agents for the Briarcliff branch from 2001 to 2012 and is a seven-time Houlihan Lawrence Platinum Award winner—a distinction given each year to the top 10 percent of the company’s more than 1,000 agents.
Her secret? Good, old-fashioned communication. “Communication is the key. It’s a basic skill that every salesperson should perfect, but many people forget just how important it is,” Code says. With good news, bad news, or even no news, Code is sure to quickly call or email clients and transaction partners like attorneys, mortgage brokers, and other real estate agents. Because there are so many parties involved in a sale, constant communication is essential to ensure that mistakes and misinformation don’t kill the deal, she explains.
Code also credits her communication skills with helping to boost her sales. “I try to turn every call into a sale,” she explains. Potential buyers, for instance, may inquire about the tax rate on one of her listings. “When I call or email them back, I don’t just tell them how much the taxes are. If the taxes are high, I explain why, or let them know the taxes are being contested. I will also tell them about other, similar houses that they might be interested in,” she explains. “Giving buyers additional information may entice them to call me back, and it shows that I’m willing to spend time helping them find the right property.”
Code also touts the importance of long-term vision in a sales environment. While closing a sale may bring instant income today, being too focused on the sale at hand may impinge on future successes. “Doing everything you can to make sure clients are satisfied—and not just pushing them for a sale—goes a long way toward repeat business and referrals,” she says. “If every sale was dead-ended at that sale, I would be out of business.”
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