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Seeing the signs, realtors adjust

Posted: November 12, 2008 10:43 p.m.
Updated: November 13, 2008 4:59 a.m.
Employees walk out of Realty Executives in Newhall which recently shifted gears and is focusing on foreclosures. Employees walk out of Realty Executives in Newhall which recently shifted gears and is focusing on foreclosures.
Employees walk out of Realty Executives in Newhall which recently shifted gears and is focusing on foreclosures.
Bright orange and yellow banners hang in the windows reading "Distressed sales," "Short sales" and "REO properties."

A large sign that used to read Realty Executives now reads "Foreclosure Center" in bold lettering.

The Realty Executives on Lyons Avenue want to make sure their new status as a "Foreclosure Center" is loud and clear.

"It's a sign of the times," said Phil Nordella, owner of Realty Executives and manager of the new Foreclosure Center. "It was like Muhammad going to the mountain. There was a mountain of foreclosures and we had to go."

The market has changed and Realty Executives wanted to stay ahead of it.

"Everything has changed in the real estate market because of the wave of foreclosures and short pays," Nordella said.

That wave now dominates 70 percent of the real estate market, he said.

"It's cutting edge," said Mike Davis, sales manager and broker associate. "It's where the market is and where it will be in the next year or two."

The change in market demanded a change in focus, and for a team of 60 agents the shift was inevitable.

"That's what people want these days, they want specialists, not just another realtor," Nordella said. "This is not just business as usual because people can really get stung in this market.

"You really do need an expert and unless (agents) get special training, who's to say who's an expert?"

For the past week, the 60 agents attended foreclosure education and training classes and will continue training in foreclosures, short pays, loans modifications and negotiations with banks, said Nordella, who runs the training sessions.

The agents understand being part of the Foreclosure Center and training is a privilege and not a right, he said. Nordella has imparted a three-strikes rule for the trainings.

If agents are late or dressed unprofessionally, for instance, they receive a strike.

Realtor Greg Wolf is prepared for the transition.

"It's where the market is and it's where the market is going," Wolf said. "I can be more effective for buyers, especially first-time buyers looking to take advantage of market conditions and get a foreclosure at a more reasonable price."

It was a fast transition for agent Sheila Natera as she and the others only found out three weeks ago, but it is a "great thing for Realty Executives," she said.

The idea for the transformation came about when Nordella and other realty professionals went to a convention in Las Vegas.

"One of the offices there who is about the same size as us called and said you should see what we're doing because this seems to be happening all over the country," Nordella said.

Once Nordella and others saw the foreclosure center working successfully in another area, there was no question they had to do the same.

From the inside out, the center is focused to meet the needs of the new market. In the entrance, a flat-screen hangs, continuously flashing listings.

If all goes well in the Newhall office, the company will consider transforming one of the other three Santa Clarita locations.


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