Every week, we ask a Miami real estate professional for their thoughts on the top three stories from the week before.
This week, we talked with Carole Smith, one of the most respected names in South Florida real estate for over 20 years and among the top one-half of 1 percent within EWM Realty International. She’s been named “Realtor of the Year” at the BEST Awards, sponsored by the Builders Association of South Florida, and a South Florida mega-broker by Unique Homes magazine.
Miami Agent (MA): Renting was a more convenient option for many consumers during the years of the housing downturn, but with rents rising and mortgage rates at historic lows, owning is cheaper than renting in many housing markets; is that true in your market?
Carole Smith (CS): For some people, renting will always be a preferred means of gaining shelter. They are just not up to the demands of homeownership and are happy to pay a premium for a rental. That being said, with rents rising and mortgage rates so low, more and more people resumed their interest in homeownership after a dry spell, particularly in South Florida.
MA: Do you find some clients who are surprised by the affordable owning options out there?
CS: A lot of my buyers come from the Northeast and California, so Miami’s prices are still considered to be a bargain. For many of the buyers from the remainder of the country, this is not the case; many are still surprised at our prices compared to the prices in their market. We also have a huge international market in South Florida and they, too, think Miami’s prices are affordable; the vast number of sales in the condo market on Brickell Avenue, Key Biscayne and Miami Beach certainly attests to that.
MA: Achieving top-producer status is a main goal for many real estate agents; as a top producer yourself, what tips would you give agents for rising to the top of their profession?
CS: Providing concierge service has been key to my success. I believe that personalized, comprehensive service may seem obvious, but I assure you it is lacking in this industry. Take the time to understand your clients’ needs and remain a trusted resource throughout the entire process. Our work does not end with a final executed contract. Take on the role of project manager and drive the transaction. Ultimately this will result in trust, repeat business and referrals.
MA: Finally, what forms of online marketing do you find the most effective?
CS: I prefer employing online tools that spread the word, whether it is social media or old-fashion email. When I have a new listing, I want as many prospects and colleagues to know as possible. Search engine optimization also plays a big role in my strategy. I invest in resources to improve my rankings and monitor trends in this arena fairly closely.
MA: Do you utilize syndication sites, or have you found more success through other methods?
CS: I don’t use syndication sites. The main players – Realtor.com, Trulia, Zillow etc. – are fed through my firm’s automated feed and the MLS efficiently, but not without its issues. For this reason, I make it a priority to check my listings weekly across several key real estate websites. Rarely is the data perfect. It’s tedious but invaluable when representing sellers’ properties.