DSCN0141How DO you pick a broker anyway?

The real estate business has long been burdened with the image of a profession in which people with little or no training, limited experience, a relaxed work schedule and little or no investment make big money fast. Does real estate, or any business, ever work that way? Not very often. This is a highly competitive business and as in any competitive business you get out of it what you put into it. The National Association of Realtors estimates that 1% of the people in the United States are licensed to sell real estate. The practical effect of that is that some salesperson is related by blood to every piece of land that can be sold. What reasons could make a seller ignore a relative and list with Huey Real Estate? Here are a few:

Training & Experience

I offer a wealth of real estate know-how, the product of 40+ years as a broker, 20 years on the Board of Directors of one of Michigan’s most successful banks, countless seminars, a half million miles of driving and countless miles of walking “in the bush” in the UP.

The CCIM real estate designation I hold was harder to earn than my Masters degree from Stanford. I deserve your confidence because I have spent the time and paid the price to acquire expertise in lakes, wild land, land planning, tax free exchanges, financing, sales, and innovative marketing. That helps me expedite and add value to transactions. Information is never static and I learn every day. I draw on invaluable people resources: contacts in timber companies, foresters, DNR personnel, biologists specializing in lake sampling and fish stocks, local officials, attorneys, CPA’s, and many others. My focus on lakes and waterfront land gives me insights into the reasons why a buyer should want your land, and why they should want to come to the UP in the first place.


Huey Real Estate’s advertising budget has been $30,000 to $40,000 since 1989. That money buys expensive color ads, Midwest and national, that features our listed properties (not Huey Real Estate.) The product of that investment is names, addresses, phone numbers and email for people who are “in the market” and want something. Often they do not know exactly what they want.

It is a truism in the trade that prospects rarely buy the property they first call on. I maintain a database of prospects. Last year more than half of my sales were to people who had been on the database for three to five years. I invest in the equipment necessary to do a superior job: top of the line computers, software, cameras, video cameras, GPS, an extensive collection of maps and lake resources, a toll free phone line, a big monthly phone bill, several web sites, and a good car that gets prospects to remote property in comfort. In spite of all the high tech equipment and supplies, it remains a people business.

Work Schedule

I tell prospects “I am available by appointment seven days a week in daylight hours.” This is a service business. I prefer to give every prospect a personal tour, not a map and a set of directions, and that goes for both vacant and developed properties. Prospects have questions and the most important ones deal with lifestyle. Until a prospect knows the answer to the question “Why do I want to own in this area,” they may look but they will not buy. Once they answer the “why,” the “where” is the simpler problem of picking out the best alternative from the property listings that are available. Buyers need information to make business decisions. It is my job to provide it while they are here.

Aerial View of the Lake Superior Shore and Saux Head LakeBig Money

The average licensed salesperson in the U.S. earns less than $10,000 a year. The top few percent of the brokers do 95% of the business, just as in any other field. The best brokers add value. We make money the hard way. We earn it. Look for a record of success in good markets and bad, and very happy customers.


Selling a properly priced property is usually more of a marathon than a race. Real estate is an asset that tends to be expensive, sellers want to maximize their return, and buyers want a deal. Both need to understand that with few exceptions property trades at market. Sellers attempting to sell at above-market prices will usually wait a long time, and when the property finally sells it will be for less than the price it would have gone for if it was property priced in the first place. Buyers looking for properties offered at prices below market will spend a lot of time looking with rare success.

Fast sales happen, but except in hot markets, real estate by its nature rarely sells fast. People responding to an ad and looking for the first time rarely buy. They have not yet built up their own value system and cannot answer the hardest question in real estate: “What IS a good deal.” The best prospects have been looking a long time and that is one reason keeping a database of prospects who are “in the market” works. The test of a broker is not how hard he works a “fresh” listing, but how well he stays the course and the creativity with which he adds value to sell listings when nothing works and they have not sold.

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