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 Toni Schrager, the founding partner of Avatar Real Estate Services. A 23-year veteran of the real estate industry, Toni has sold homes in the Cayman Islands, worked with commercial real estate with Southeast Investment Realty and served as the director of residential sales with Green Companies, in addition to her unique niche in the luxury market. She has won dozens of sales awards and overseen hundreds of millions of dollars in residential and commercial sales.
Miami Agent (MA): What are your predictions for Miami real estate in 2014?
Toni Schrager (TS): The trend is still that Miami is undervalued compared to other international cities, such as Monaco, London and Paris. So we still have that advantage going for us.
International traffic, then, will remain strong, and local traffic will compete with the international buyers. Some locals think that it’s unfair that some of the international buyers will come in and pay whatever to buy something because they want it, but they can do that because they have unlimited money – that’s who local buyers are competing against, so the prices keep going up.
It’s a fact of life, but the locals do not think it’s fair…they do when they’re selling, but not when they’re buying.
MA: We recently published a blog on why follow-up is so critical for real estate agents. Can you tell us why, in your view, follow-up is so important?
TS: Follow-up is one the most important thing you can do in the business. It’s very important, and people don’t respect you if you don’t. Even if they don’t like you and don’t want to hear from you, they still still hold it against you if you didn’t follow-up. People expect and demand that their Realtor be professional, and when you don’t follow-up, it’s not professional.
I’ve been doing this for 30 years, and 20 years ago, I was the only one with a phone and I was ahead of the game. You would have a three-day turnaround on a contract, sometimes a week, and to see a property was one, two or three days – now, it’s one, two or three hours. If someone calls you in the morning, and you don’t call back until that night, that’s not acceptable anymore.
MA: One topic that always gets attention on our site is real estate tech. With your business, what kinds of real estate technology do you find to be the most beneficial?
TS: Of course the smartphone and the iPad, or any platform that you use to show listings. The next thing would be your website. It’s your calling card now, and you’ve gotta have one.
I don’t know too many people who don’t utilize technology. There are a couple old-timers who still use word-of-mouth, but most people just recognize that technology is becoming more prevalent, and that they must get with it. Years ago, this question could have been answered differently, but I think today, the answer is much different.
Long ago, Neiman Marcus decided they were going to do hand-written receipts on an order form, instead of computers and scan codes. That lasted about a year, and then they embraced scanning. That was so backwards; it would take a long time and you’d have people waiting in line at the register. They proudly displayed their “personal touch,” but it backfired on them, because there’s just no way around technology anymore. You either have to get with it or get out of the way, because it’s going to pass you by.