Top Performer: Young Kim

November 1, 2000

I’m a family practitioner,” says Young Kim, a salesperson with InvestMark in Dayton, Ohio. “About 90 percent of my business is referrals. I sell a house and the buyers introduce me to their family and friends. I’ve known some of my clients since they were two years old.”

When talking with Kim, a Korean immigrant who moved to Dayton in 1973 and began selling real estate shortly afterward, one has a sense of a world far removed from the go-go national real estate market of the last few years.

“We don’t have the kinds of extremes that you find in big cities,” she says. “Prices don’t appreciate all that much, nor do they decrease. Inventory isn’t a problem.”

What counts are qualities that have always been important in sales--friendliness, honesty, and a sincere desire to be of assistance--but that sometimes get overshadowed in a red-hot market.

Kim’s strategy is turn-key service and a low-key manner designed to ease a client’s jangled nerves. “Buying or selling a house is a very stressful event,” she says. “My job is to make the process as smooth and trouble free as possible.”

The kind of personalized service she provides is possible only because she limits the number of listings she carries at any one time to no more than seven. “I’m not a big-time, high-number lister,” she says. “My goal is custom-tailored service.”

And it works. Kim says that 80 percent of her listings sell in two to four weeks. A good example is a listing she took on several years ago that had been on the market for two years. During that time two different salespeople had had the listing, and the price had been reduced from $230,000 to $210,000 to $189,000.

“When I went to see it, I saw the problem,” she says.

“The owner had moved out two years earlier, so the house was empty. The yard was full of weeds, the living room was painted pink, and the whole place was dirty and full of spider webs.”

Kim asked the owner, who was living in Rhode Island, for $2,000 to make some improvements. “I hired painters and cleaners and rented some furniture for the living room. Then, because it was the end of the season and I couldn’t find any annuals at the garden center, I dug up some of my own flowers and planted them in the front yard.” The house sold in a month for $186,000.

Once a listing is in shape, Kim creates a 10-page marketing brochure and sends it to other practitioners in town. She’s also a big believer in open houses. “About 70 percent of my listings get sold to buyers whom I first met during an open house,” she says.

With her own buyers, Kim’s strategy is succinct. “First I get them preapproved by a lender,” she says. “Then I take them out for three or four showings. During the first showing, we look at seven or eight homes in different price ranges, and I listen to what they say about each one so that I can get a sense of what they’re looking for. During the second outing, we look at homes that I think will fit the bill. Usually during this outing, we’ll find one or two they like. The third and fourth outings are more of the same. It shouldn’t take longer than a few weeks.”

Young Kim
InvestMark
Dayton, Ohio; 937/435-2611
E-mail: ykim@investmark.com
Web address: realtor.com/dayton/young/kim

1999 gross production volume $4.8 million
Average sales price $150,000
Average number of listings 4–7
Hours per week I work 45–60

Robert Sharoff is an architectural writer for The New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, and Chicago Magazine. With photographer William Zbaren, he has produced books highlighting the architecture of Detroit and St. Louis. He is a former senior editor with REALTOR® Magazine.

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