Real estate agents need to have an unwavering focus on customer service to succeed not just in 2014, but in any year, said a North County broker who's been in the business 22 years.
"If you come from a place of service, that's the No. 1 key," said Bopi Villarino-Moises, manager of Windermere Real Estate's Solana Beach, Carmel Valley and Carlsbad offices. "People want to do business with people they trust. If you're providing a service for them and taking yourself out of the equation, they're going to want to work with you.
"The most success I've seen with agents is pick three main areas of business that you're going to work on and keep doing it consistently," she said. "It's time and consistency that are going to get you results, whether it's door-knocking with comps or open houses or something else. You don't want to bounce around. You just want to be consistent in your activities."
The more than 75 agents she manages heeded her advice last year.
"We ended 2013 pretty strong," Villarino-Moises said. "We were profitable. Sales volume was up. Inventory was stronger in that we have a little less in certain markets, particularly in our area, Solana Beach north."
Villarino-Moises is cautiously optimistic about this year.
"2014 seems to be shaping up OK," she said. "The market has come back strong. Interest rates are staying stable. From what the forecasts say, they won't be going up anytime soon. Last year, buyers and sellers seemed to be on the fence. Everyone wanted a deal, so they were pulling back. Trying to get buyers or sellers to do anything was really tough.
"It seems like things have been loosening up quite a bit," she said. "We're having multiple offers on properties right now if they're priced right. Buyers are getting off the fence. Sellers are being a little bit more reasonable with their prices. People are recognizing their equity. They're motivated because they didn't know what interest rates were going to do, and that makes a difference on the sellers' end because it inhibits the buyers. Sellers are more willing to sell because if the interest rates go up, that diminishes the amount of buyers that can buy.
"It's too early to know if it will last beyond 2014," she added. "I wish we all had a crystal ball. Wouldn't that be nice? If we did, we'd all be millionaires -- or billionaires!"