6 of the Summer’s Hottest Marketing Tips for Realtors®

Summer is upon us! The hottest time of the year for listings differs based on your market, but it’s safe to say that the end of spring and beginning of summer are very active just about wherever you are. Families are desperate to get moved before the school year starts and those in cold climates don’t want to deal with moving in the dead of winter.

Now is the time to boost your marketing efforts to try to get a piece of the last big wave of sales that are likely coming in June, July and August. Here are a number of things to consider.

Contact past clients

Anytime you’re thinking of spending a lot of time and money trying to expand your network, remember that the most efficient way to gain new business is through your existing contacts. Reaching out to former clients for referrals is the most effective way to land leads. A satisfied former customer does not need any convincing to direct a friend or family member to you –– but he/she does need to be reminded.

Personal emails to former clients is a good bet. A one or two line message asking how the new home is going and reminding them to direct anybody in need of REALTOR® services to you will do the trick. Firing off 50 emails like that shouldn’t actually take that much time –– a few hours, perhaps. But it’s time well-spent.

Buy Facebook ads

Facebook ads are likely one of the most effective way to boost your name recognition. If you do your Facebook marketing right, not only will you gain some leads directly from people clicking through the ad to your site, but many who don’t click on your ad will nevertheless think of your name when they do need a REALTOR® in the future.

Use GIFs

If you want your paid and unpaid social media content to grab more people’s attention, just think about what the most successful websites do to get clicks and shares. Come up with some funny GIFs that make light of subjects that you are an authority on: house-hunting, mortgages, renovation etc.

Create a listicle of fun summer activities

If you do this one right, it should get shared like crazy on social media. Come up with the best things to do in the area –– swimming pools, festivals, state parks –– and try to tie as many as possible to different neighborhoods where people might be seeking a home.

Create a local real estate quiz

Another way to grab people’s attention is to develop a quiz based on the local real estate market that you put on your website and share on social media.

Matthew Bushery of Inbound Marketing described two different types of quizzes that can draw in potential clients: A light-hearted one focused on fun facts about the area or one that tests the quiz-taker on the intricacies of buying and selling a home. The first showcases your connection to the area while the second type shows potential clients that the real estate business might not be so easy to navigate without assistance.

Create video series profiling different neighborhoods

One of the best ways to become a recognizable brand online is to regularly produce video content featuring –– you guessed it –– yourself. One compelling way to showcase your appreciation and understanding of the local market is to do a short video profiling each neighborhood, showing the different types of houses, businesses and public amenities. Any history or other insight you can add to make it more interesting and less blatantly promotional is a plus!

What other marketing tactics are you planning on unleashing this summer? Leave a comment below or reach out on Facebook or Twitter!

7 Reasons Pre-listing Inspections are an Absolute Must

Just as a buyer needs to do their due diligence, a seller needs to do theirs so that bad judgement calls don’t derail their deal
By Cara Ameer for Inman

Cara Ameer, a top-producing broker associate from Northeast Florida, writes about working with buyers and sellers, sticky situations and real estate marketing in her regular Inman column that publishes every other Wednesday.

After several days (or weeks) of negotiating, an agreement between the buyer and seller is finally reached! The buyer is excited that they’ve found their new home, the seller is glad they will be able to move on to whatever is next and the agents are glad that their goals for that listing have come to fruition.

Contrary to what might be depicted on television or what many real estate agents think, when a contract is executed is not the time to begin celebrating. It marks the beginning of a long and uncertain process to a potential closing. There are almost always inspections to go through as well as an appraisal, if the buyer is getting financing. Much can go wrong with so many hands in the pot, and the fear of the unknown is real. Murphy’s Law is alive and well in real estate, and if the other shoe can drop, it will find a way.

The best way to increase a seller’s chances of crossing the closing finish line is to have a prelisting inspection done before ever coming on the market. Here are seven reasons why:

1. What you don’t know can hurt you

Knowledge is power, and surprise is never a good thing. It is easy for sellers to have a superficial and inflated view of their home. What could be wrong, they think? They’ve lived there for x years and if there was something seriously wrong, they would know it. Or, they just bought the home four years ago and had it inspected then — why would they need to do this now?

You see, it is those very thoughts that can come back to bite sellers. When was the last time your sellers went on their roof, looked in their chimney, crawled around in their attic or basement or under the foundation? Do they know how old their water heater and HVAC are? If they live in an older home, what about the plumbing and electrical systems?

This is exactly why you should have a pre-listing inspection. So you can get a grip on the physical health of your home.

2. You might not have to fix everything

Having a pre-listing inspection does not mean your sellers have to fix every item that comes up — but they do need to disclose everything. This is where you — the agent — come in to strategize with your seller on a plan of attack and what makes the most sense given the market, your competition, time frame for moving, etc.

Some things might need to be fixed in order to give comfort to a buyer or to qualify for the kind of financing they might be doing. For example, if there are buyers obtaining FHA or VA financing on homes in your area, any wood rot or termite damage will need to be fixed before the buyer can obtain the loan.

There might be items that are major vs. minor that you and your seller will need to take into account when pricing the home as they can definitely have an affect on what a buyer is willing to pay. Homes with older roofs, HVAC’s and water heaters on top of other repairs, coupled with a home that needs cosmetic updates can be viewed as “a money pit” in the eyes of a buyer.

If you are faced with a multitude of expensive items nearing the end of their life, you might need to consider replacing at least one and be willing to offer a home warranty to provide some coverage to the buyer for the first year of their ownership. The 15-year-old HVAC might be working great now, but that does not mean it won’t fail in the near future.

3. Disclosure is not an unpleasant surprise

Many sellers fear that by having an inspection, they will then have to disclose everything to a buyer which may cause them to pay less for the house. The truth is, a buyer is going to find out anyway, but it will be after they’ve already agreed upon a price and terms that they might not want to pay after the outcome of that inspection.

Avoid buyer’s remorse by shifting the knowledge of the home’s condition to the front end of the transaction rather than after the negotiation. Although a buyer will still have the property inspected by their own inspector, the information found will not be a surprise.

All houses have “things” that are found on an inspection. Even new homes that are under construction or nearly complete have items that need correction by the builder after they are inspected — this despite having a project manager who oversees the subcontractors working on the house.

4. It can keep the deal together

Back to the “surprise is never a good thing” concept, when you leave discovery of the home’s condition entirely to the buyer is when problems arise. The seller has already agreed upon a price and terms and depending on your home and the time of year it is on the market, the actual time to go under contract may have taken longer than what you thought.

You will have grown weary from numerous showings, second showings and “almost offers” that have never materialized. Now, you finally have a buyer and the transaction may be in jeopardy because of the outcome of the inspection.

The buyer wants to renegotiate the purchase price and/or ask for all repairs to be made or a huge concession to account for what was found. The sellers don’t feel like giving anymore, especially when they might be selling for less than what they thought (which is how most sellers often end up feeling). They could be paying closing costs on behalf of the buyer in addition to agreeing to leave certain appliances, such as the refrigerator and/or washer and dryer.

Everyone goes into full-on crisis mode trying to obtain estimates for the repairs and it is a hurry-up-and-wait game trying to get contractors over to look at the findings and then even more waiting to get their written quotes.

Keep in mind that buyers and their agents don’t always have a realistic handle on the true cost of repairs found from an inspection and might inflate or over-exaggerate the potential costs on purpose as a way to beat down the agreed upon price or force the seller to make repairs. Buyers might seek opinions from overpriced vendors trying to upsell, and sellers will find themselves running interference with this information trying to get their own quotes.

All of this chaos ensues while the clock keeps ticking on the inspection time frame as set forth in the purchase contract. Most contract time frames never take into account the real world of waiting on repair specialists.

Although most transactions are handled this way, it doesn’t mean that they should be. By being proactive, you can help your sellers avoid the stress of the unknown and level the playing field between them and the buyer by recommending a pre-listing inspection. Wouldn’t it be better to have done your homework, know what you will or won’t fix (or in some cases have already tackled it) and obtained estimates on all else?

What is unknown is simply an excuse most times for not taking the time to find something out ahead of time rather than after the fact. Sticking your head in the sand like an ostrich and being in denial of any inspection issues is not going to help get the home sold.

5. Incompetent inspectors can ruin a sale

This one is starting to become a serious problem in our industry. Just as the swell of real estate agents has increased as the market has improved over the last few years, so have the number of home inspectors.

What is required to become a home inspector varies from state to state and just because some states require licensure does not automatically grant that inspector sound judgement and the ability to legitimately diagnose/interpret a home’s condition. A license is never a substitute for competence — ask any seasoned real estate agent who has listed properties the amount of times they have had to run interference with an inspector’s report that was full of misdiagnoses.

The prospect of rookie inspectors who have only been functioning as an inspector barely a year or two — and who are running their own shop with virtually no support system and a more experienced inspector to mentor them — is cause for concern. They are crawling through someone’s largest investment and they don’t know what they don’t know and only know enough to be dangerous.

Newer inspectors often discount their fees as a way to build their business, and so what looks like a bargain compared to what more experienced and savvy inspectors charge is often at the expense of the transaction. Buyers might shop by price alone or an agent gives them a “coupon” that the inspector sent out in an email blast to agents hoping that it would generate some referrals. The agent might be newer and might have not vetted the inspector and doesn’t realize all inspectors, like agents, are not the same.

I have run interference with incompetent inspectors more times than I care to remember. It has been as simple as claiming a microwave in a newer home was not operable to the more serious: an allegation that a metal roof was improperly installed on a home that was located across from the ocean and was literally one good storm away (inspector’s wording) from being blown off. The roof was installed when the home was built, and it was a newer home.

After that buyer walked away, a few months later a category 2 hurricane hit(it was projected to be much larger on impact to the area) and the home sustained no damage whatsoever, and the roof was still standing. A roofer came to examine the roof after the first inspection and determined it needed some minor repairs but was properly installed.

An inspector with little knowledge of metal roofs made a bad judgement call. This not only scared the buyer but also the seller who was in “shock and awe” by the discovery and went into a tailspin calling the original builder, the county building department, etc.

My favorite inspector misdiagnosis was an inspector who had barely been licensed about a year claiming a nine-year-old house with a three-tab shingle roof, located 20 miles from the ocean and a 40 minute drive away, needed the roof replaced, because in Florida, those roofs have a shorter life. After that happened, two other home inspectors checked the roof along with a roofer and concluded no such thing.

There were some shingle repairs that needed to be made largely as a result of solar panels that had been installed on the roof about two years ago. That buyer walked after wanting to find a way to claim “hail damage” as a way to get a new roof installed, trying to push the seller to contact their insurance company. We did get another buyer and the second buyer did their own inspection, after which their inspector determined the roof did not need to be replaced.

Although buyers have the right to choose whatever inspector they want, having your own inspection done by a vetted, experienced, adequately insured and credible inspector can be a huge asset when you run into situations like this. That inspector will be available to consult with you during the home sale process and can assist with running interference should an incompetent inspector cross the home’s path.

6. You’ll have a smoother transaction and a faster closing

All parties want a purchase and sale process that is free of hitches and can close within a reasonable period of time. By getting a pre-listing inspection, the risk of the unknown is eliminated and the parties will enter a negotiation feeling confident and empowered.

If a seller is unable or does not wish to take on repairs, the property can be priced accordingly. At the same time, if a seller has replaced a big ticket item, like a roof or HVAC, it might help the home sell faster as the buyer might be willing to make an offer and pay a higher price because of it.

A significant portion of time that is normally eaten up by the inspection period and all of the back and forth trying to resolve repairs is reduced since everyone is aware of the issues and has a handle on what will or will not be done.

7. The home will be more insurable

Some repairs might have to be made for the next buyer to get insurance or they will likely need to have them done within the first 30 days of owning the home in order to get a lower insurance rate. If a seller has an an older home with knob and tube or aluminum wiring, for example, a buyer might run into a snag getting insurance or the quote might be much higher than anticipated.

The seller might have lived with older electrical or plumbing and not had any issues, however, this can become an issue for the next buyer. It is easy for sellers to become numb to issues that don’t concern them. Unfortunately, real estate transactions don’t work like that, and these are serious concerns any buyer would have before sealing the deal.

Buyer’s are often hesitant to take on significant projects, like a whole house rewire or re-plumbing, unless they can get it at the right price or a seller is willing to pay a significant portion of their closing costs to offset the amount such a project will cost.

Why risk a seller’s home sale while an unknown inspector could potentially wreak havoc on the home’s condition and ultimately thwart the entire transaction?  Knowledge is power. Just as a buyer needs to do their due diligence, a seller needs to do theirs so that bad judgement calls don’t derail their deal.

Cara Ameer is a broker associate and global luxury agent with Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. You can follow her on Facebook or Twitter.Article image credited to SpeedKingz / Shutterstock.com and Inman

4 Secrets To Effective Communication in Real Estate

Would you agree what you say and how you say it really has an impact on any agents effectiveness in real estate sales? Effective communication is a critical component of mastering success in business and in life. By mastering the art of communication, you’ll increase every level of performance in your life. I’ve often said if you just communicate, you can get by. But if you communicate skillfully, you can work miracles—miracles in your family relationships, your business relationships and your friendships. Take advantage of every opportunity to practice your communication skills so when important occasions arise, you will have the gift, the style, the sharpness, the clarity and the emotions to affect other people. What a unique opportunity to touch others with something small but powerful—our words.

Now before we get to the fundamentals of effective communication, there’s some groundwork to be laid. You see, preparation is the key to good communication. You’ve got to make deliberate, consistent effort to keep putting into your head, and putting into your heart and soul, valuable information from your business experiences or from others in the industries experiences. You can’t speak of that which you don’t know. You can’t relate what you don’t have. You can’t give out what hasn’t come in. So the first key to good communication is a consistent way to gather information, knowledge, experiences and then remember it, store it and have it available so you can use it. Preparation is the key. Now to prepare for good communication…

Interest – Sharpen your curiosity and your interest in life, people and real estate. Those are the big subjects: life, people and real estate.

What about life?

The questions you might have about life and the mysteries of life.

What about people and the human behavior?

What about real estate and the ins and outs of the business?

Everywhere you go around the world, from South Africa to Northern Ireland, people are the same. What they want is the same. They would like to be employed. They’d like to have something to do. They’d like to have a way to earn their way. They’d like to make a good living. They’d like to supply incredible values for their family, and plan for the future—not only for the next generation but the next generation after. They’d like to make a contribution to the community and to their country. They’d like to be valuable in more than one respect. They’d like to be good parents. They’d like to leave a legacy.The list is the same whether you go to Siberia or Australia. It doesn’t make any difference. We all have those kinds of ambitions. In some countries, of course, the opportunity to do so is a lot better than in other countries that are struggling with just survival, let alone succeeding. You should sharpen your interest and keep a journal of your impressions when you visit another region.If you go to Australia they have estate property auctions and call themselves estate agents. They’ve got all these unique real estate words. So when you go to Australia, when you go to other countries, you pick up on this because it’s interesting. It’s interesting conversation, and if you know a little about this, it’s fascinating. The key is to just sharpen your interest in life and people, and region and country, and nation and ceremonies, and style and expressions.You just pick up all of that flavor and the style and the language and the idiosyncrasies of where you go. You pick all that up as preparation so your conversation will be more interesting to someone else. And you can flavor it with the color of your experiences of where you’ve been and what you’ve seen and what you’ve heard.

Fascination – Go from interested to fascinated. Interested people want to know, Does it work? Fascinated people want to know, How does it work? What goes on below the surface? I can see that it works, but what makes it work? Kids have this extraordinary ability to ask questions. They can ask a hundred an hour. It’s amazing. It’s because they want to know. Their minds are just zinging all the time.Questions about what’s happening and what’s

going on and how does it work and why is it this way and how come it works like this? That’s so valuable in preparing to store in your mental bank and your bank of experiences more and more information, more and more experiences, colored and flavored by your own emotional content so when you get ready to speak, you have something valuable to say.Day by, let life fascinate you. Let life interest you. Substitute fascination in place of frustration. I used to be frustrated, now I’m fascinated. I’m telling you now, it doesn’t work every time. Nothing works every time. But every time you can get it to work, let something fascinate you instead of frustrate you. Be curious how life works. That’s how you gather more from your life experiences and prepare for good communication.

Sensitivity – The next word, and this is an important word in preparing for communication, is sensitivity. Try to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. Try to feel what they feel. Try to hurt like they hurt. Have sympathy and compassion.Being in real estate for more than two decades we quickly forget the emotional impact our business has on people’s lives and we almost become desensitized and insensitive to our clients feelings, fears and emotions when buying and selling. We should all as agents buy and sell every year just to remember the stress, anxiety and emotions that are affected in our business for all our clients.Sensitivity is trying to understand where someone might be at the moment. The reason they’re angry may not be obvious. Maybe the IRS just knocked on their door a couple days ago. That’s why they’re upset. You can’t just go by what’s obvious because there might be some reasons behind the reasons.So you’ve got to learn to be a little more sympathetic, a little more understanding. This is vitally important. Sometimes it’s difficult, unless you are like that person, to sympathize or to have sensitivity. But here’s what you must do: You must try. People know when you try. When I go to Costa Rica and try to speak a little Spanish. If you try to understand, try to speak a few words, it goes such a long way in identifying with people, in building a bridge of understanding and getting something started toward good communications.

Knowledge – So we’ve got interest, we’ve got fascination, and we’ve got sensitivity. Here’s one more word: knowledge. You just have to know. Collect knowledge in your journal, from your ongoing education. Fill up your mental and spiritual and emotional bank so it becomes like an unending reservoir to draw from. That begins to help you prepare.Do your research. Gather up stories. Learn scripts and dialogs. Keep the flow of knowledge going into your journal, as well as into your head and into your heart. Become a student of real estate, life, business and take courses. Find a coach or mentor and ask as many questions as possible to gather all the knowledge and insight you can.If you want to grow your income it starts by growing yourself. Take the time to learn the business at your desk, training room or classroom and not by trial and error out in the field at your clients expense.

So there you have a few secrets to becoming a more effective communicator. We are story tellers. We are advisors. We are counsellors. We are relational. All these things are parts that make us an engaging, fascinating communicator and become more attractive and valuable to our clients and this industry.

Top 10 Activities Top Agents Do To Kick Start 2019

It is that time of year when you feel a little holiday hangover and the motivation levels are not what they should be. It is the time of year when an agent cannot control what the market or their client is doing but it is essential an agent control what it is they are doing in January to kick start their year off right! This week we want to share the top things an agent can do at the start off the year with a bang to ensure you got a good jump to 2019.

Top 10 Activities for Realtors© To Kickstart 2019

1. Happy New Year / Gratitude Message – create a message for everyone expressing your gratitude for their support for you and your business in 2018 and wish them all the best in 2019. Let them know none of your success would be possible without them and you appreciate them all. Create a video, letter, email, Facebook social media post and share the happy new year – gratitude message to everyone you know!

2. Re-branding Launch 2019 – time to reinvent and relaunch your brand with a new photo, new logo and a new slogan and re-brand your old real estate self and create a fresh new look and start for 2019 and your business. Ask for your clients for input and poll their feedback on your new photo, new logo and new slogan over social media and build up the hype for your new branding launch in 2019.

3. 2018 Market Review and 2019 Predictions – create a message for everyone reviewing the past year and what the real estate market did in 2018. What did price do? Inventory? Sales? List to sale ratios? Recap and summarize the past years market and let them know what is trending and share your bold predictions for the market in 2019. Create a video, letter, email, Facebook social media post and share this with everyone in your community!

4. Pop by gift – always a great time of year to pop by and say hello to everyone you know with a jug of window washer fluid with a tag message “I’m happy to provide great clients like you with a clearer view of our local market.” Courtesy of Buffini and Company. 

5. Checklists / Procedures – time to get the systems, checklists and procedures created or upgraded. Do you have a process in writing for every activity you perform in real estate? The greatest challenge for all agents in their business is they are consistently inconsistent. Having written checklists, processes and procedures for each activity in your business will make a huge difference for implementation and execution in 2019.

6. Database Touches – the highest R.O.I. source of any top producing agent is repeat and referral business. Having an intentional value added process to engage and deepen your advocacy with people that already know, like an trust you is absolutely key to any agents success in 2019. Spend more time money and effort keeping them than we did getting them!

7. Lead Generation Funnels – the top reason for agents not doing well enough is due to the lack of leads. Without enough leads we are forced to work with anyone and everyone. Without enough leads we can’t generate enough appointments and then enough listings and sales in 2019. Focus on the “FAB 5” lead generation funnels of the industry in 2019. 1. Database 2. Geographic Farm 3. Expired or FSBO 4. Open House 5. Online Leads

8. Tools In Your Tool kit – do you have a pre appointment package for buyers or sellers. Do you have a marketing tool you can deliver to the clients in advance that sets you apart from all your competitors before you even meet them? Pre listing and Pre Buyer packages deliver that punch in 2019.

9. Presentations and Process – do you use professional dynamic presentations with your buyers and sellers? Presentations that share with them the benefits of doing business with you vs. the rest? Does your process set you apart from the competition? Do you show them why they should sign with you a listing contract? Buyer agreement? Price their home properly the first time? Or do you just wing it?

10. Complimentary Market Analysis – provide a package of listings, sales and expired comps for the last year to every client and person you have a relationship with. Provide them with enough information they can get an idea themselves of the value of their property. 3 days later follow up and ask them if they have any questions? Ask if they have other real estate properties you could evaluate for them? Ask if they know anyone else you could provide them with this complimentary service as well. This usually leads to listing appointments for agents in the new year and a great jump on spring listing inventory!

So there you have the top activities for kick starting 2019 off on the right foot! Don’t sit around and wait for real estate to happen. Take steps to create real estate in January 2019!

What Top Agents Never Do Again

Insanity: “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different result.”

So what does that mean? The things top agents never do again. From my observations of successful agents they tend to have moments in life and in business. That once they have them, they never go back to the old way of doing things and when that happens, they are never the same.

In short, they just get it!

Years ago, a bad business decision of mine led to an interesting situation. I had learned a valuable lesson the hard way and assured myself this was a good thing once I learned that lesson, I would never go back. Trust me you never do it again. So what are the key moments successful agents go through that forever change how they do things, which propel them to succeed in business, relationships, and life? I began to look at these moments and here is what I found. Successful agents never again…

Return to what hasn’t worked for them in their real estate business or personal life. Whether a job, or a broken relationship that was ended for a good reason, we should never go back to the same thing, expecting different results, without something being different.

Do anything that requires them to be someone they are not. In everything we do, we have to ask ourselves, Why am I doing this? Am I suited for it? Does it fit me? Is it sustainable? If the answer is no to any of these questions, you better have a very good reason to proceed or stop it and be your authentic self.

Try to change another person. When you realize you cannot force someone into doing something, you give him or her freedom and allow them to experience the consequences. In doing so, you find your own freedom as well. You can only change yourself and really cannot change others.

Believe they can please everyone. Once you get it truly is impossible to please everyone, you begin to live purposefully, trying to please the right people. They realize they are the most important person in their life and the family and friends are the next important people in their lives. They stop basing their choices on people pleasing and choices that are best for themselves and those most important to them.

Choose short-term comfort over long-term benefit. Once successful people know they want something that requires a painful, time-limited step, they do not mind the painful step because it gets them to a long-term benefit. Living out this principle is one of the most fundamental differences between successful and unsuccessful people, both personally and professionally. They have the courage to leave their comfort zone in order to gain long term.

Trust someone or something that appears flawless. It’s natural for us to be drawn to things and people that appear “incredible.” We love excellence and should always be looking for it. We should pursue people who are great at what they do, employees who are high performers, dates who are exceptional people, friends who have stellar character and companies that excel. But when someone or something looks too good to be true, he, she or it is. The world is imperfect. Period. No one and no thing is without flaw, and if they appear that way, hit pause. Don’t be misled. Learn how to read people.

Take their eyes off the big picture. We function better emotionally and perform better in our lives when we can see the big picture. For successful people, no one event is ever the whole story. Winners remember that—each and every day. The top agents always have their eye on the prize and know their why and purpose and love the impact they have on people and the ones closest to them more than the selling real estate part.

Neglect to do due diligence. No matter how good something looks on the outside, it is only by taking a deeper, diligent and honest look that we will find out what we truly need to know and the reality we owe ourselves. The best reality comes from an honest self-assessment. Top agents always make educated decisions on everything personally and professionally they do.

Fail to ask why they are where they find themselves. One of the biggest differences between successful people and others is in love and in life, in relationships and in business, successful people always ask themselves, What part am I playing in this situation? Said another way, they do not see themselves as victims, even when they are.Don’t make excuses for who and where you are.  Top agents don’t live below the line in blame, denial and excuse. They are above the line and take ownership, action and learn from their mistakes.

Forget their inner life determines their outer success. The good life sometimes has little to do with outside circumstances. We are happy and fulfilled mostly by who we are on the inside. Research validates that. And our internal lives largely contribute to producing many of our external circumstances. Become a better you and the outward becomes better. The converse is true. People who are still trying to find success in various areas of life can almost always point to one or more of these patterns as a reason they are repeating the same mistakes.

Remember everyone, including me, make mistakes… even the most successful people out there. But, what achievers do better than others is recognize the patterns that are causing those mistakes and never repeat them again. In short, they learn from pain—their own and the pain of others. A good thing to remember is this: Pain is unavoidable, but repeating the same pain twice, when we could choose to learn and do something different, is certainly avoidable. “We don’t need new ways to fail… the old ones are working just fine!” Our task, in business and in life, is to observe what they are, and never go back to doing them again.

Finish Your Year Before It Begins

Jim Rohn, the legendary business philosopher always said to “Finish your week before it begins.” He meant that we take control of our schedule and real estate business and plan for the week ahead before it even happens. If we don’t take control then someone else or something else always does!

So when the year begins to wind down you should not wait until the very end to start planning for next year. This means having a crystal clear understanding of the successes and challenges of your current year, how it impacts your upcoming year, and developing a vision of what you want to accomplish, and how. Many agents aim for nothing every year and most hit it with amazing accuracy!! You should always start working on your next year strategy months in advance of the new year. This awards you enough time to make an impact on your final quarter, and lay the groundwork for making sure your next fiscal year starts off on a solid footing.

For agents who want to achieve greatness, push the envelope, and grow their business through market share, market penetration, paying down debt, increasing sales, profits and cash flow, get going now! If your business isn’t growing, pushing the envelope, thriving, and maximizing profit, then all you’re really doing is suffering a slow death. Believe me, your competition is fighting the fight every day, and they didn’t wake up in the morning and say “Gosh, golly, I hope I stay even in 2019.” They want to eat your lunch, take your business, absorb your market share and steal your customers away.

Some people might ask me if they should start planning by looking at their competition, and the answer is NO. Why focus on the competition, instead of focusing on yourself? When it comes to my business, you should not care what others do.   Care about what YOU do. Recognize your competition for what and who they are, and then put your best foot forward by pushing the envelope in your business. You should approach the new year as if you are going to battle, and for that you should develop a strategic plan.

Business Plan – a written document that describes in detail how a business, usually a new one, is going to achieve its goals. A business plan lays out a written plan from a marketing, financial and operational viewpoint.

FACT: LESS THAN 3% OF REAL ESTATE AGENTS HAVE A BUSINESS PLAN

FACT: ESTIMATED 3% OF REAL ESTATE AGENTS IN NORTH AMERICA DOING 97% OF BUSINESS

“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” Writing a business plan may seem a daunting task as there are so many moving parts and concepts to address. Take it one step at a time and be sure to schedule regular review (quarterly, semi-annually, or annually) of your plan to be sure you are on track to meet your goals. It is that time of year again when we begin to build our plan for 2019 so let’s look at the key areas of the agent’s solid business plan.

Business Plan for the Successful REALTOR©

Step 1) “Success and history always leaves us clues.”   began by looking back to identify the clues that have been left for us and the business.  Look at the real estate market first and search for the following clues.

  • What have the number of sales been doing the last year? 2-5 years? Up? Down?
  • What have the number of listings been doing the last year? 2-5 years? Up? Down?
  • What have the average and median prices been doing?
  • What price ranges are experiencing more activity? Less activity?
  • What neighborhoods or areas are experiencing more activity? Less Activity?
  • What property types are selling more? Less?
  • What buyer types are buying more?
  • Where are the buyers coming from? Local? Next state or province? Over Seas?
  • Imagine the targeted and strategic plan you would be able to build for you and your real estate business with this kind of information?

Now you are not just winging it. You really know where and what to focus on.

Step 2) Looking At The Present State of Your Real Estate Business

  • What have my sales been doing? Up? Down?
  • What have my listings been doing? Up? Down?
  • What is my average price? Can I raise my average selling price?
  • What is my Gross Commission Income doing?
  • What is my average deal worth?
  • Where are my listings and sales coming from? Sources of business?
  • What types of buyers do I represent?
  • Where are the buyers coming from? Local? Out of area?
  • What are my pending sales?
  • What do I have for potential buyers and sellers?
  • Strategic Business Planning for Your Real Estate Business

What if you took the time to really track and measure and reflect on your business at a deeper level and see your strengths, weaknesses and opportunities?

Step 3) Activity Plans – Take the time to lay out your activity plan calendar a year in advance. Focus on the activities you know you are good at and you see a return on your invested time and money. For most agents it would be your sphere of influence, referrals and face to face or voice to voice activities.

Step 4) Budgeting – Profit is the goal in business. Knowing what your personal life and your business world cost you monthly is so important. Expense management is just as important as your income and earnings. Have a clear picture of your expenses and measure all of them for their return on investment or if they can be reduced in any way.

Step 5) Goals – If your “Why” is big enough the “how” will take care of itself. What is your purpose? Vision? Values? Mission Statement? Taking the time to know what it is you want and why you want it is a game changer for us all. Nothing gives me more joy than impacting and improving people’s lives personally and professionally every day.

In my own real estate business, taking the time over the last 25 years to create a business plan has been so incredibly beneficial for me and I know it will for you as well.

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

We are approaching the single most important time of year… As the listings and sales season start to temper we have the tendency to want to take it easy and relax but I am here to say… NOT JUST YET!!!

This was the time of year where you should take full advantage of your time and make the most of the market season. This time of year can be for some a difficult time in real estate or a time where the market gives you the greatest gift which is TIME. The time for you to do the things you know are important but the year has just been too busy to do those really important activities. One of the most impactful and meaningful activities for your business is what we call the “Holiday 100” The holiday hundred is your goal to personally visit 100 of your best clients and see them during the holiday season. 3 clients a day for 33 days.

So in November, sit down and write out your year in review letter. Make a list of all the events and activities personally and professionally that happened to you and your family. Write about hobbies, travels, children and their activities, your  wife … Find a favorite photo and place the photo and letter on holiday letterhead for your upcoming visits.

Think about it, we are in the relationship business and this letter will invite your clients in to your personal and professional life. This can help deepen relationships and find more items you have in common. They will love to read the letter every year. The next item is to have all your calendars delivered into the office by the middle of November to put you holiday letter and a calendar into large white envelopes. Then  would take your database and make a list of names and phone numbers of all your A and B clients. These are the people you would want to personally see from Mid-November until Mid-December… Print their address labels out and place them on the envelopes with the holiday letter and their calendar.

If you prefer it also works well to write a Christmas Card or order a Day timer instead of a calendar with your year in review letter. Keep in mind the calendar is not the secret weapon to success. Feel free to be creative too… it’s all about the relational contact and something to put in their hands to be Top of Mind. The final item was to find and purchase a hundred small holiday gifts. Poinsettia flowers or homemade spiced apple cider mix, scented candle, bottle of mini bailey’s, holiday scratch and win ticket, homemade peanut brittle or Purdy’s chocolates… Try to maintain about a $10 item budget. Now you have you Santa client pack ready and then comes the most important part of all…

…Booking the appointments.

Take the time to personally call and set up a “pop by” holiday visit to their home in hour segments and stay for 45 minutes per client. Let them know when you arrive that you have another visit within an hour so cannot stay too long. TIP – when booking appointments let them know why you are coming.

The 33 day festive client visits can be amazing. Clients will be so surprised and many client think they will never see you again after our last real estate transaction. They will be so pleased with the letter, calendar and small gift but most important was the gift of my time!! Ken Blanchard wrote in the book “The Generosity Factor” that we all have gifts to give. Our Time, Touch, Talents and Treasures. Never underestimate your greatest gift of “TIME”… your most precious commodity. Don’t just swing by and drop the items off. Stop and give the client your gift of time. This activity alone would set me up for a good month.

I can’t tell you enough what this will do for your business but most important your relationship with your clients.

How Do I Finish 2018 Strong?

Ugh!! This is the time of year and season in real estate that is typically slower and consumers tend to not be as much in the buying and selling mindset and that my friends is out of our control! What is not out of our control is what we do, what we think, what we say and what we believe is to be true. I love the photo of the small goldfish with a shark fin attached to the top of itself. It kind of reminds me of real estate agents at this time of year. We are either the gold fish and being eaten or we are the shark fin and we are the one that is eating. Right now ask yourself, which one do I see myself as the goldfish that is being defeated and eaten or the goldfish with a shark fin and is rising up and taking what it deserves? What is your mindset? How do you see yourself right now? What do you believe about yourself? What is your inner voice saying about you and real estate? What do you hear others saying about yourself? If I can encourage you to take control of one thing at this time of year about yourself personally and professionally, then take control of your mindset! If you can’t buy you then who will be able to buy from you?

There was once a story about a British shoe company that sends two shoe salesmen over to Africa. They wait a few days and call the first salesman and he reports back to head office that it is a waste of time here because nobody here is wearing shoes and I am heading back. Then they call the other salesman and he is so excited because the opportunity is beyond belief because literally nobody here is wearing shoes! It is the same for us in real estate at this time of year. We can think it is over and this is it for me and my business or you can think this time of year is the greatest gift and that the coming year is going to be my best as agents leave the industry and it moves to a professionals market. Now that we have our thoughts and mindset in check for the balance of 2018 let’s look at activities that will help us finish the year strong!

How to Finish Strong in 2018

1.)    Low Lying Fruit – What would help me get paid today??

a) Get A Listing
b) Get A Price Reduction
c) Present A Reverse Offer To Interested Buyers
d) Find Something For My Hottest Buyers To Buy
e) Get A Buyer To Sign An EBA
f) Get A Private Seller To Sign A Fee Agreement or Exclusive Listing and find them a buyer

2.)    Now More Getting Lucky – Time to work on

a) Seller Counselling Skills
b) Buyer Conversion Skills
c) Questioning Skills
d) Presentation Skills
e) Pre Listing Packages
f) Pre Buyer Packages
g) Closing Skills
h) Advisor Skills

3.)    Full Contact Sport –

a) Present Offers Face To Face
b) Present Counters Face To Face
c) Get Signatures In Person
d) Take Clients Their Paperwork In Person
e) Meet Your Clients At The Office For Advisement Session

4.)    The Gift Of Time –

a) Coffee, Lunch, Breakfast
b) Pop By gifts
c) Calls, Texts
d) Calendars, Christmas Cards,
e) Hand Written Notes
f) Client Event g) Complimentary CMA
g) Business Directory Book
h) Santa Visits

5.)    Face To Face Activities –

a) Open House
b) Mall Kiosk
c) Door Knock ( Just Sold, Bona Fide Buyer )
d) Networking
e) Volunteer

6.)    Planning 2019 –

a) Business Plan
b) Marketing Plan
c) Budgeting
d) Track, Plan, Measure
e) Implementation Execution

7.)    Make a list of activities that generated your business this year. Now go do what already has made you money and do more of it!

Let us recap…..Change Your Mindset ( Hunt or be hunted! ) Worry about the things you can control and not the things you cannot control. Get Face To Face, STP (see the people), Implement & Execute ideas are useless. Do what you already know works. Back To Basics. Practice Your Skills vs. Being Lucky. Be Intentional, Strategic and Planned. Do More Of What Worked. Give Others Your Greatest Gifts (Time, Touch, Talents and Treasures).

 

Is Your Real Estate Business Unshakeable?

It is time for North American real estate agents to accept the fact this is our new normal real estate market. Real estate markets are shifting all over North America and this is now the market agents are needing to be comfortable working in. The nice part about this new normal market is it is not a global recession or not a global housing crisis but it is also not the record breaking sales and increase in values we have seen over the last number of years either. Currently we have about 1.3 million real estate professionals in the U.S. and about 110,000 real estate professionals in Canada. Last year only 3% of the agent population sold more than 25 homes. Almost half of the agent population sold no homes last year. The forecast is 78 million people will move in the next four to five years. Ancillary companies invested 5 billion dollars into the real estate industry this year to capture a piece of the 100 plus billions of commission dollars that will be generated in real estate sales in the coming years. So how much of that pie do you want to capture? What do you need to do to ensure you capture a piece of that pie? Here are my top tips for you to create an unshakeable real estate business and to capture the biggest piece of the pie in the coming years.

Tip to Create an Unshakeable Real Estate Business

  1. MINDSET – The most important factor to any agents success is their identity and how they see themselves in their own marketplace and how the marketplace sees them as the trusted expert in their community. You need to fall more in love with the fact you can change lives with your real estate business and what you do truly does matter. You need to have the mindset that this is my business and not a job or a hobby but this is my business! How I treat my business matters. How I run my business matters. How I step up my business matters. How the community sees me as a trusted real estate expert matters. Change you own identity and your communities identity about you and your business today!

  2. STOCK PILE CASH – The biggest reason for so many agents leaving the industry in 2007-2008 was the fact they had not saved any of the money they made in the previous real estate boom. Having capital and some access to cash to live personally and to run your day to day business is critical. Start now and save. Begin to pay down debt now. Look at ways to consolidate your debt personally and professionally now. Get a business line of credit or inquire about increasing your existing business credit line now while you can. Remember in any economic correction cash is king!

  3. TOP LINE REVENUE –  My first question to high producing agents is to get them is make a list of the top 10 activities they did to generate all the business success the had. Then tell me all the business activities on your list you are presently doing. The session is over and the light comes back on. There are so many ways to drive sales and revenue into an agents business. Create your list of top line revenue drivers in your business and get at them and double the amount of times you normally do these activities and watch what happens to your top line revenue.

  4. REAL ESTATE IS MATH – Your business is just math and all agents business really breaks down to knowing exactly three numbers that will get you to any real estate income goal. The first number is the number of people a day you need to speak to about buying and selling real estate. That is your DAILY number. The second number is the number of bona fide listing or buyer appointments you need to attend a week. That is your WEEKLY number. The third and final number is the numbers of transactions or sales a month you need to perform. That is your MONTHLY number. Those three numbers equate to any agents annual income goal. Easy as 1-2-3 numbers to determine your income success!

  5. TECH ENABLED – The biggest challenge with our on demand world is the agent who is struggling with the tech enabled business world we live in. You either need to learn it or get someone to do it for you that is tech enabled. The real estate business cannot be done to the speed of expectancy from the customers without technology. Apps, CRMS, Digital signatures, The Cloud, Paperless transactions, Email, Text, Video and on and on and on.

  6. MARKETING – You just can’t be the one trick pony agent and be able to manage in the new normal market and economy. Agents need to have at least four to six marketing funnels generating buyer and seller leads a day for them to be able to cope with any correction in the market. If agents don’t have enough funnels then they don’t generate enough leads. Without enough leads there are not enough appointments. Without enough appointments there are not enough listings and sales. Get those four to six marketing funnels firing on all cylinders now before it is too late.

  7. CONVERSION – The greatest problem in our industry is the inability of real estate professionals not being able to convert a lead to an appointment. You need to be a lean mean appointment setting machine in this business to survive. Lead conversion 101 is simply asking the consumer engaging thought provoking questions that allow them to discover the challenges, difficulties and pitfalls a buyer or seller may face in today’s market place and then having a system or process to help them navigate those challenges. After that all we need to do is L.G.T. “Let’s get together”

  8. SCALE THE BUSINESS – We all have in some way shape or form issues with control. We have convinced ourselves we just cannot let go. The issue today is we only have so many months, weeks, days, hours and I don’t care who you are, you cannot do it all alone. Finding help and automating, systemizing and delegating allows an agent leverage and them a chance to really focus on what they do best and that’s people! Let go! It will change your life! Take it from me the president of the control freak club!

So there it is, 8 powerful ways to help navigate and crush it in this new normal market.  All that is left is you and making the choice to get at it! There is a huge pie of commission income available and you need to decide how much pie is going to be yours!

7 Breakthrough Strategies for Your Real Estate Business

No matter how good you are at running your real estate business, there will come a moment when you start to feel your business levelling off. Maybe it’s a lull in your sales, maybe you aren’t bringing in as many leads as before, or maybe you simply don’t feel the energy, drive, and creativity to move forward. Now is a great time of year to work in your business and develop some strategies for a fall breakthrough for your business and bust through those plateaus in business finishing your year strong.

7 Breakthrough Strategies for Your Real Estate Business

1.  A Rebranding Strategy – One of the most effective ways to break through a plateau is by rebranding. However, this is only a viable option if you’re truly in need of a brand refresh. If your current branding is old and outdated; starting new and designing fresh ideas can spark the creativity you need to drive more sales. However, beware of alienating clients with something that comes totally out of left field. Your new vision should still stay true to your core values while elevating the overall perception of your company.

2.  Invest in a New Website – A new website is an investment. However, it is one of the best ways to drum up business and carry your company into the digital era. Today’s real estate agent needs a sleek and sophisticated website with bright, clear photos, enticing content, and persuasive call-to-actions. Working with an established website designer is hands-down the best way to go about launching a new website, as they will take care of every bell and whistle to make sure the website functions in today’s fast-5.  paced tech world while also looking elegant and beautiful for customers.

3.  Add to your Team – If you are worried your team is starting to feel stagnant, it might be time to switch things up a bit. ISA (Inside Sales Associate) departments are the new big thing in real estate, but the idea has been around since the beginning. Essentially, an ISA team is your sales team. These independent sales agents work all day on the phone following up with and scrubbing leads in order to hand them off to a selling agent. They’re ideal for growing teams and established teams alike because they take away all distractions and focus solely on sales. ISAs don’t do administrative tasks or any other daily work other than lead generation and conversion.

4.  Change Some Processes – If you currently have an ISA team and you feel they are starting to lose momentum, you can always change up some of the processes to keep things fresh. For example, re-negotiating commissions, implementing new software, or adding tracking to your current processes are all ways to “light a fire” and inspire teams to try something new and exist outside their comfort zone.

5.  Adding A New Lead Gen Layer – So many agents don’t seem to have enough lead generation sources to their business and have been putting off adding another lead generation process or system. Don’t be one dimensional or have too few ways of generating leads and prospects in your business. Do you have all the “Fab Five” lead sources running in your business?

  1. Database touches
  2. Online leads
  3. Expired – FSBO
  4. Open House – Door knock
  5. Geographic farm?

6.  Pre, During, Post Sales Service – Do you create certain customer service experiences for your clients pre, during and post their sale?  I call these critical non essential’s like a one day, one week, one month post sale check in call? Providing a moving day meal for the clients and more. “People don’t remember what you said but they remember how you made them feel.” Take the time to increase the consumers experience with you and your business and wow and awe the clients.

7.  Set New Goals – Maybe you have met your goals for the year and you really have nothing to shoot for the rest of the year. Maybe you didn’t really set a goal for the year and now is the time to set some goals and have a vision or target for the balance of your year. Most agent’s aim for nothing and hit it with amazing accuracy. Don’t be that agent!

There you have a few simple and practical ways to create a breakthrough for you and your real estate business to finish 2018 strong. Take the time to rekindle the fire and really go for it! To your success!