Thoughts about real estate, referrals, technology and big data.

Last week, our VP of Marketing Lisa Fettner spoke at the annual CRS Sell-a-bration and offered tips for managing your online presence. Lisa stressed how important it is for agents to keep their profiles current and fresh, and shared the following six tips to help you do just that.

1) Make sure you have a professional and current photo. If your client can’t recognize you from the picture on your business card or website, it’s probably time to get those new headshots. It’s also best to save the selfies for your friends on Instagram and Facebook.

2) Keep your profile clean, crisp, typo-free and forget the agent-speak. If you tell your client you did “150 sides” last year, they will most likely look at you sideways. When it comes to your online profiles, it’s important to always be professional, always tell the truth and always be current.

3) Know your unique selling proposition. Think of it as your 30-second elevator pitch. Ask yourself, “who am I and what do I do better?” “Why am I an agent?” Write it down and back it up with data. Here’s an example: With 20 years of experience, Amy Agent has become Anytown USA’s “Go to” agent with a reputation for tenaciously protecting her clients’ interests. Savvy negotiation skills, cutting-edge marketing efforts, and uncompromising integrity have made her the top-producing agent in her area 10 years in a row.

4) Google yourself. Have you done it lately? There’s a good chance your client will. Make sure the information and images that appear are what you want them to see. Pro tip: If you put your name in all CAPS, LinkedIn will list you first among other users with the same name.

5) Content is key. Lisa shared 11 types of content that will help make a great online profile: a professional photo, a concise and impactful headline, your “who am I?” summary, your professional experience highlights, skills & designations, recommendations/testimonials, involvement in groups or organizations, education, additional languages, and projects and awards.

6) So many sites, so little time. Make a point to update your online information once a year when work slows down a bit. Keeping all your information in one central place (e.g., Google doc) and maintaining a master spreadsheet with links to all of your profiles will save you time and stress when making these updates.

Yes, managing your online presence is something we all have to do, but it doesn’t have to be hard. Remember these three takeaways: it’s about reputation not vanity, virtually show your customers who you are and be professional, but human. Access the full presentation here.

Your real estate business is bigger than you think. ReferralExchange matches your clients with 3 great agents and pays you a 25% referral fee at closing.


Need more help? Has becoming a broker ever crossed your mind?  If so, where do you start?  Who do you hire first? There are a lot of questions and details involved when building a real estate team. Knowing where to start and how to maintain long-term success will make building a successful team easy.

Know what’s important

Every agent has their own strengths and weaknesses, and your team should be built around members who are able to fill in those gaps. You want quality team members who are a good fit for what you’re trying to accomplish and share your values and overarching business goals. Creating a trial period of several months can make it easier for you should you decide to part ways. The wrong choice can create more work for you, and a bad experience for your clients.

Who you hire first

Some agents feel that they should start with hiring a buyer’s agent and most of the time those agents are new to real estate or have a lot of time on their hands. The first person you hire should be an assistant or transaction coordinator. The transaction coordinator can be licensed or unlicensed, however an unlicensed assistant can’t answer questions related to property, show homes, or do any property related tasks. When you hire an assistant, you free up time to focus on appointments and more client-facing issues that impact your bottom line.

Hire a Buyer’s  Specialist

Your next new team member should be a buyer’s agent who will help with the additional leads and business that you have. Typically, buyers take much more time and effort than sellers. Buyer’s agents can support lead generation, consult on needs, show properties, submit offers on homes and work with lenders to help buyers get approved for financing. In addition, they can help manage the closing process by negotiating the inspection and executing the final walk through. Eventually this agent can train, mentor and assist additional buyer agents that you add to your team.

Find a Listing Agent

After you have hired a buyer’s agent, it’s time to find a solid listing agent. The listing agent prospects to generate leads, prepares Comparative Market Analyses to determine fair market value, makes listing presentations to prospective clients and converts them into listing agreements. It’s important for this agent to keep a close eye on how the listings are progressing and whether or not a price needs to be adjusted. The listing agent will also need to negotiate all contracts and manage the closings.

Bring in the right Marketing Guru

There are a few things to consider when you look for a Marketing Director for your real estate team. You want to make sure you have someone with a broad range of experience and knowledge. Find someone who is an expert in everything from traditional marketing to social media. The marketing director will manage your CRM to make sure the proper follow up is executed with Drip Campaigns and Direct Mail initiatives.

Having a marketing expert on your team is important because this person is responsible for promoting both active and previously sold listings for your clients and potential clients. Your marketing director will also implement open house marketing strategies to ensure as many potential buyers are brought in as possible. It’s important that your marketing efforts are attracting the correct demographic to your open houses. A lot of real estate teams also have their marketing director send thank you gifts, and holiday and gift cards to help their referral business.

Ultimately, you will be able to scale and improve your overall business with a solid real estate team. After you start your team, it’s going to be very important that you or a team leader nurtures and develops your team members. These practices will keep your team members happy and will lead to long-term success.

Your real estate business is bigger than you think. ReferralExchange matches your clients with 3 great agents and pays you a 25% referral fee at closing.

Organize Your Way to Success


Getting organized is a popular New Year’s Resolution for many of us – but probably one of the hardest to accomplish. Especially, when it comes to updating information and profiles on the myriad of CRM systems and websites you’re a member of. Making these updates can be laborious and time-consuming. Not only do you need to make sure that your information is consistent across all sites, but sometimes it’s a challenge to simply remember where you have posted profiles or information in the first place. Having all of your important data in one central, master document makes updating your information a breeze.

  • To make the process easier, create a document that contains all of your stats, key phrases, professional headshots and information on it – you can do this in Word or Google Drive. List all of the different websites, groups, social media channels and organizations that you’re affiliated with, as well as a link to the login page, your password and the date that you make an update, for each. Every time you join a new group or create a new profile, be sure to add it to the master list.
  • Consider managing your document throughout the year with a note-taking app like Evernote. This will give you the accessibility to make notes while on the go that you can later refresh the document with.
  • At the beginning of every year, update that document – years in the business, memberships, group affiliations, sales data, certifications/designations, etc. If you’ve expanded your business to cover a specific buyer/seller type, property type or a new neighborhood or city – make sure you include that information as well.
  • Next, click on each profile link and copy/paste your information as needed. It’s as easy as that. No more having to search for current data each time – or worrying about what you put where.
  • Having all of your important information and data in a single, master document seems simple, but makes updating your information – and achieving one of your New Year’s goals – a breeze.

Your real estate business is bigger than you think. ReferralExchange matches your clients with 3 great agents and pays you a 25% referral fee at closing.

7 Ways to Keep Clients for Life

You’ve spent months and months helping your client look for their dream home. Finally, the papers are signed and the keys in their hand. Your job is complete – so what happens next? It’s easy to become consumed by the next buyer or seller, however it’s equally important to maintain relationships with former clients. After all, a happy client will likely use your service again and is often the best referral source for future business. Below are seven easy ways to maintain relationships with your old clients while garnering new referrals.

  1. Send them a closing gift. There’s no better time to give your client a gift and help them celebrate than after a transaction ends. Keep your name top of mind by giving them a thoughtful gift such as a monogrammed welcome mat or painting of their house they can enjoy and use in their new home.
  1. Be their resource. In the real estate industry, it’s natural to develop relationships over time with landscapers, roofers, plumbers, electricians, locksmiths – the list goes on. Connecting your clients with these reliable and trustworthy resources will save them time and proves you are valuable beyond closing. Ask your loyal vendors if they would consider giving discounts on their services to your clients. You’ll have happy clients and they will get new business and referral opportunities. It’s a win-win.
  1. Tell them about your upcoming open houses. Even if your former clients aren’t in the market to buy a new house, consider inviting them or giving them a heads up that you will be in their neighborhood to host an open house. Often times neighbors will pop into open houses to see how it compares to their house. You never know when a former client may have a friend or family member who is ready to buy.
  1. Call them occasionally. A simple gesture such as a phone call is an easy way to check in and catch up with old clients. A quick call from time to time to ask how things are going with the house is a great reminder that if they ever need anything – or if they know of anyone interested in buying or selling a home – you are just a phone call away.
  1. Add them to your holiday contact list. If you send out holiday cards each year, make sure to include your former clients. This can help you stay top of mind as they enter the new year. Find personalized and practical holiday gift ideas here. Also, don’t forget to include a couple of business cards.
  1. Host a client appreciation event. Hosting an event for your clients such as an outing to a baseball game or picnic is a fun way to reconnect with them. For your clients who have just moved to the area, it’s a great opportunity for them to meet new people. And, it’s a great way for you to catch up on their status – or if they have anyone to refer.
  1. Send them a handwritten note. In a world full of texting, tweeting and emailing, sending your former client a handwritten note may seem old school, but it won’t go unnoticed. Including your business card in the note can help ensure they have your contact information handy.

Your real estate business is bigger than you think. ReferralExchange matches your clients with 3 great agents and pays you a 25% referral fee at closing.

As a real estate agent, you know building relationships with your community, family, friends and former clients is one of the best ways to expand your business. So what do you do when you move out of an area you’ve been living in and servicing for years? Relocating your business can seem daunting, which is why we’ve put together a few tips to help you hit the ground running in your new city.

Use your current network. Before you move, make a list of your current network of clients, family and friends and get in touch with them. Not only will this give you the opportunity to let them know about your upcoming move, but you can also ask if they know anyone in the new area where you are moving. A simple phone call to an old client can help you spread the word and make new connections. Don’t forget to keep in touch with them! Although you may be focused on attracting new clients, keeping in touch and continuing to market to your former clients may prove to be one of the best ways to meet new customers.

Update your online presence. Early on, make sure to update your website and social media channels with information about your new city so others are aware that you have moved. Blogging or posting on social media about relevant topics in your new area such as local housing trends is a good way to learn about the area while spreading awareness online. Crowdsourcing local information and tips on social media such as asking your Twitter followers what the best parks or cafes are in your new town is another great way to learn and engage with locals online.

Get to know your new city. Once you’ve moved, it’s time to explore and educate yourself on the area. Touring different neighborhoods and properties with other agents from your brokerage, eating at local restaurants, and visiting notable landmarks are easy ways to familiarize yourself with your new locale and learn information that may be useful when working with clients. If you have time, research local contractors, lenders, appraisers, etc. Making those connections and having your “go-to handy man” will be invaluable when working with buyers or sellers. In addition, attending local professional networking events or getting involved with different organizations (e.g., civic clubs, chamber of commerce events) are also fun ways to meet potential clients and feel a part of your new community.

Get back to basics. Even if you’ve been in the real estate industry for several years, it may help to get back to the basics and implement old strategies (e.g., cold calling, floor time) that helped launch your business in the beginning. Hosting open houses or offering to host one for another agent in your office is a simple way to meet people, network with other agents and gather contact information and leads. Consider passing out your business cards at local businesses you frequently visit such as your dentist’s office, coffee shop or dry cleaners. You never know when they or one of their customers may be looking for a great real estate agent.

Establishing yourself in a new city may feel overwhelming and challenging, but it doesn’t have to be. Make sure to pace yourself, set expectations, be patient and remember, you once started your business from scratch in your old city – you can do it again.

Your real estate business is bigger than you think. ReferralExchange matches your clients with 3 great agents and pays you a 25% referral fee at closing.

4 Mobile Apps to Boost Your Business



As of July 2015, Android users could choose between 1.6 million apps for download, while Apple users could choose between 1.5 million, according to The Statistics Portal. Pretty overwhelming if you’re trying to decide which apps are best for optimizing your real estate business. Lucky for you, we’ve done the work for you! Below are four free mobile apps to help manage and grow your business while you’re on the go.

1) Evernote Scannable

Quickly scan, save, and share important real estate documents such as contracts, receipts, or business cards with the Evernote Scannable mobile app. This app also lets you convert high-quality scans to PDF or JPG files, save business cards to your contacts list, and send documents to your team via email or text, with ease. Save yourself a trip back to the office and download Evernote Scannable on your iPhone or iPad here.

2) Waze

Increase your chances for on-time arrivals at open houses and client meetings with Waze – the world’s largest community-based traffic and navigation app. Waze lets drivers share real time traffic and road info so you get alerted before approaching accidents, hazards, police traps or road closures. The app can also quickly reroute you to improve your commute and sends your ETA to those you’re meeting. Skip the traffic and download Waze on your Android, iPhone, iPad or Microsoft phone.

3) Buffer

Looking for a way to better manage your social media channels on the go? The Buffer app allows users to automatically share Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest and LinkedIn content from one place and on one schedule. This app also provides content analytics and lets you add updates from other apps or via email. Start sharing awesome content with your friends and followers by downloading Buffer on your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch or Android phone.

4) Adobe Photoshop Express

“You don’t take a photograph, you make it.” –Ansel Adams. Whether you’re snapping a pic for a flyer or tweeting one for an open house, a photo-editing app in your back pocket can be extremely valuable. The Adobe Photoshop Express mobile app gives you the power to easily edit, crop, touch-up, filter and frame photos. Once you’ve edited the photos of the beautiful home you’re selling, you can share them on your social media sites or save them to your camera roll. Put photo magic at your fingertips by downloading Adobe Photoshop Express on your iPhone, iPad, Android, or Microsoft phone.

Did you know ReferralExchange has a free iPhone app too? If you’re a ReferralExchange member, the app helps you make the most of your referrals, allowing you to place, accept or decline referrals, make status updates and send messages. Submitting a referral through the mobile app is as simple as taking a picture of a business card. Download it on your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch here.

Your real estate business is bigger than you think. ReferralExchange matches your clients with 3 great agents and pays you a 25% referral fee at closing.

Stress-Free Holiday Giving


Finding the “perfect” holiday gifts for clients can be as easy as thinking personalized, practical and charitable.

The holidays are quickly approaching, and finding the perfect gift for your clients can be stressful. To make the most impact this year, think personalized, practical and charitable.

1. Personalized

Monogramming is a great way to make an everyday item special and meaningful. For example, personalized return address labels or a monogramed welcome mat marks the purchase of a new home, and can be put to use immediately. Using the image of your client’s new home can make your gift special enough to cherish over their lifetime. Creating a painting from a picture of their new home, making an engraving of their new home and framing a copy of their new house key in a shadow box, all highlight this milestone in an unforgettable way. The more you know about your client, the better. For example, remembering if they’re a coffee or dog lover can help make the gift even more special and memorable.

2. Practical

Nothing will keep you in the forefront of your clients’ minds more than giving them something they will see and use regularly. Personalized pens and luggage tags or travel coffee mugs with a picture of their new home are all useful items which will likely be used on a regular basis, and will keep your clients thinking of you. Consumables are a special treat which can also highlight your client’s new area, such as locally made artisanal chocolates, dessertspastries or wine.

3. Charitable

Giving to a local charitable organization in your client’s name can be a great gift this season. You can even personalize their donation by choosing a cause close to their heart: animal shelters for pet owners, a children’s hospital for families, third world entrepreneurs for business moguls, etc.

We give gifts to show our appreciation and gratitude for our clients’ business and hope they bring us referrals in the future. Keeping these guidelines in mind for your holiday shopping will help you find the perfect gift for each client on your list!

Your real estate business is bigger than you think. ReferralExchange matches your clients with 3 great agents and pays you a 25% referral fee at closing.

As we head towards the home stretch for 2015 and the market starts to slow down, it’s time to take advantage of the quiet and update our online profiles and bios.  Many websites utilize your stats to assign agent ratings and rankings, so it’s more important than ever to make sure that your information is correct. Given below is a quick “top 6” of items to update/double-check before the end of the year:

1) Update Your Photo:  If you haven’t changed your photo in five years, or if you’re still using a quick “selfie” you took at your desk, it’s a good idea to have a new one taken.  While you don’t need to use a professional photographer, be sure to dress professionally and avoid taking pictures against a busy background.  A “head and shoulders” shot is best – especially for smaller profile photos.

2) Update Your Sales and Transactions: Make sure your sales and transaction data – as well as property types – are current. 2015 was a great year — and you should showcase your success!

3) Coverage Area:  If you expanded your business to cover new zip codes, towns, neighborhoods, or cities this past year, make sure your online profiles reflect all of the areas you cover. You don’t want to lose prospective clients because they don’t think you have expertise in a particular market.

4) Specialties: Do you speak another language? It’s important to list this information. As more foreign buyers enter the U.S. market, additional language skills can make the different between whether or not you retain a client.

5) Awards and Designations: If you’ve obtained any new realtor awards or designations, make sure to add them to your website to show your successes and qualifications.

6) Be Consistent: Make sure that your information is consistent across all profiles. A prospective client will often check multiple sources when looking for an agent, and inconsistent information makes you appear less organized and professional.

Your real estate business is bigger than you think. ReferralExchange matches your clients with 3 great agents and pays you a 25% referral fee at closing.

Affordable, accommodating, accessible—these are just a few of the favorable attributes used to describe and explain the rising housing trend of multigenerational homes, which has become increasingly popular for a myriad of reasons. According to a Pew Research report, “a record 57 million Americans, or 18.1% of the population of the United States, lived in multigenerational family households in 2012, double the number who lived in such households in 1980.”

If you have clients interested in purchasing, building, or selling a multigenerational home, here are a few tips:

Know the family members and their needs. Multigenerational homes can accommodate several types of family members in one household: adult children, aging grandparents or elderly relatives, special-needs children, live-in nannies, home-based-business owners or immigrant family members. Before showing your clients different houses, sit down with them to determine how many will be living in the house and their individual needs or preferences. This will help determine the types of home layouts and features they may need, such as first-floor bedroom suites, private entrances, home offices, full bathrooms and guest houses.

Encourage open communication among the family. Challenges are inevitable when accommodating different lifestyles living under one roof. If your client is purchasing, it can be tough for families with different opinions to agree on important decisions like who is contributing to the finances or getting the master bedroom. That’s why it is key for families to be able to compromise, communicate and discuss expectations with family members beforehand. Encourage your client and their family to discuss boundaries, finances, the home layout and whether it makes sense to move or renovate a house first, to help make the transition go more smoothly.

Remind your clients of resale. If your client is interested in building or renovating a multigenerational home, remind them to keep in mind the resale value of their home. For example, adding an unattractive chair ramp to the home may turn off future buyers, and will cost them money if they have to remove it. Instead, encourage your clients to work with a good designer and architect to include universal and integrated designs – while keeping in mind potential buyers down the road.

Highlight key features when it’s time to sell. If your client is selling their multigenerational home, highlight features that may attract other multigenerational families when marketing their property. Homes with first-floor bedroom suites, multiple full bathrooms, private entrances and finished basements are all marketable assets that will standout to families looking to buy a multigenerational home.

Your real estate business is bigger than you think. ReferralExchange matches your clients with 3 great agents and pays you a 25% referral fee at closing.

6 Tips to Improve Your Website


Your website is often a first impression for a buyer or seller—which makes its appearance, personality, and effectiveness critically important in today’s real estate environment. At its most basic, your website is a place for buyers and sellers to view your listings, find your contact information, and quickly refer friends and family by sharing your website address. But at its best, your website is a reflection of who you are, how you work, and your success in business.

To guarantee your website works as well as you do, consider employing the following tips:

1) Make it mobile friendly. With the continued rise of mobile users, it’s more important than ever for your website to be easy to navigate on a mobile device. According to a 2014 analysis by Smoke of comScore Media-Metrix data, millennial real estate mobile usage grew 81% from May 2013 to July 2014 – and has continued to rise in 2015. What’s more, in an effort to encourage others to adapt their websites to mobile devices, Google favors mobile-friendly websites, e.g., improving SEO, so it’s smart to make sure your website is easy to view from a hand-held mobile device.

2) Include your social media channels. Social media is an easy and effective way to market yourself and connect with buyers and sellers in real-time. If you’re active on social media, make sure you include social media buttons at the top, bottom, or sidebar of the page to encourage visitors to follow you and share your content. You never know when a tweet might lead to a referral or the perfect buyer.

3) Create a call-to-action. Encourage visitors to sign up for your newsletter or email list. This is a simple and yet very effective way to grow your audience. It also allows you to build and maintain your relationships with clients and prospects by consistently sharing valuable tips, resources, or news updates.

4) Feature your photos. “A picture is worth a thousand words.” This is especially true in the real estate industry where stunning photos are key to attracting buyers. Because many buyers often search online for properties before contacting a realtor, it’s important that your website is oriented around your most fetching hi-res images. Consider having a featured slideshow on your homepage to highlight different properties.

5) Share your kudos. Remember when your client said you were the most efficient agent they ever worked with? Share it! Include client testimonials on your website and update them frequently. It’s a great way to show how you’ve successfully helped buyers and sellers, and makes you look even better to prospective clients.

6) Keep it fresh. Whether it’s your contact information, profile photo, or coverage area, make a note to update your website content and information every 4-6 months. In addition, if you’ve obtained any new realtor designations or certifications, make sure to add the badge to your website upon completion. If you’re a certified ReferralExchange member, you can embed the badge on your website here.

Your real estate business is bigger than you think. ReferralExchange matches your clients with 3 great agents and pays you a 25% referral fee at closing.