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

Organize your way to success

Having all of your important data in a single, master document makes updating your information a breeze.

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 is simply remember where you have posted profiles or information in the first place.

To make the process easier create a document that contains all of your stats, key phrases, and information on it – you can do this in Word or Google Drive.  List all of the different websites, groups, and organizations that you’re affiliated with, as well as a link to the login page 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.

At the beginning of every year, update that document – years in the business, memberships, group affiliations, sales data, etc.  If you’ve expanded your business to cover a specific buyer/seller 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.

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, a monogramed welcome mat marks the purchase of a new home, can be immediately put to use, and has that personalized touch. 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.

 

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 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, pastries 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!

Smart Technology in the Luxury Market

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ReferralExchange CEO, Scott Olsen, spoke at Inman News’ Luxury Connect event in October on the “Putting Networks and Technology to Work in the Luxury Market” panel. He and fellow panelists emphasized that luxury clients use technology just as much as standard clients do – perhaps even more. The key to success is to provide technology that also offers a high level of service and support.

ReferralExchange CEO, Scott Olsen, spoke at Inman News’ Luxury Connect event in October on the “Putting Networks and Technology to Work in the Luxury Market” panel. He, and fellow panelists Greg Schwarts, Chief Revenue Officer with Zillow; Russ Cofano, SVP – Industry Relations with move.com; and moderator Jennifer Berman Holt, General Manager with Hilton and Hyland, emphasized that luxury clients use technology just as much as standard clients do – perhaps even more.  The key to success is to provide technology that also offers a high level of service and support.

Given below are some additional takeaways from the event that you can use to help grow your luxury client business:

 Online Exposure

Foreign clients constitute a sizable share of luxury property seekers which makes an expanded online presence essential. Often by necessity, these foreign and other luxury buyers will purchase a property, or at least significantly narrow their search, sight unseen. By providing an enhanced and comprehensive online experience that includes an expansive photo portfolio to truly showcase each property, you’ll increase interest in your listings.

 Comprehensive Resource

High-end clients are smart, business savvy and have plenty of options. Position yourself as an all-inclusive agent who can provide useful resources beyond their real estate needs:

  • Referrals to attorneys, tax consultants and other agencies versed in U.S. reporting regulations, tax requirements and security laws, especially those applicable to foreign buyers
  • Referrals to education consultants, doctors, decorators and designers, painters, staffing support, etc.
  • Additional information on the property and surrounding location, including neighborhood photos, statistics, entertainment, restaurants, transportation, shopping, even current trends!

Leverage your Network

Luxury home buyers are often in the market for more than one property. For example, your client searching for a high-rise in Manhattan may also find themselves in the market for a Miami beach house. Part of providing an enhanced, full service experience should include being able to provide reputable agents in your clients’ other regions of interest. Finding them a quality agent in another market who will provide equally excellent service, via a service like ReferralExchange, can help increase your value to clients.

Luxury home buyers and sellers have most of the world at their fingertips. Bringing extra effort to the table to create a holistic, integrated experience gives you a competitive edge, especially with foreign and out-of-area buyers who have limited reach into your market.

Do you have more ideas how to provide your high-end clients with a full service buying experience? Let us know in the Comments Section.

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We recently surveyed the 12,500 agents in our system. More than 50% said that maintaining a work/life balance was one of their greatest challenges.

We recently conducted a survey of the 12,500 agents in our system.  Not surprisingly, more than 50% said that maintaining a work/life balance was one of their greatest challenges​. They are not alone: according to a five-year study of the American workforce conducted by the Families and Work Institute, 30% of the workforce often or very often feel burned out or stressed by their jobs, 27% feel emotionally drained from their work and 42% feel used up at the end of the work day.

So, what to do?  The nature of the real estate business is serious hustle means better results, so the concept of “just work less” isn’t always the solution.  While it might sound ironic, applying a little discipline with a few simple changes to your daily routine can make you both more productive and feel more refreshed — and in turn, free up more of your time for friends, family and yourself.

Start by Working Smarter

Focus on those clients with whom you want to work, and refer the others.  Actively ask your favorite clients to keep you in mind for new opportunities, as it’s more likely that the clients you’ve enjoyed in the past will refer clients that you will enjoy in the future.

Maintain a focus on those properties in your preferred price point and property type.  Be picky– you don’t need to take on everything.  You can offer referrals for the rest of them, and you’ll feel more satisfied that you’re not stretching yourself too thin.

Hire an assistant (or assistants) to handle administrative or mundane tasks that can be delegated.  For example, putting up postings on social media or placing referrals into a system (like ReferralExchange).  You might even be able to find a high school or college student to assist you for a few hours a week.

Take Time for Yourself

Schedule time on your calendar every day to do something for yourself.  This “me time” should be an actual appointment – make a promise to yourself to keep it daily and schedule other appointments around it if possible.

Begin and end your day with a five minute meditation. At the beginning of your workday, visualize what you want to accomplish that day.  At the end, spend that time congratulating yourself for a job well done (no negativity!).

Get up and walk around.  Studies have shown that getting up from your desk every 30 minutes or so and walking around can benefit your health and actually lengthen your life.

Know when to STOP

None of us can work 24/7, so it’s okay to turn off the phone and step away from email, especially after your last appointment.  If you are trying to close a big deal that’s one thing, but if it’s a regular day, then disconnect yourself from your electronic devices.  And, be sure to charge your devices outside of your bedroom!

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Social media marketing can be a great tool to promote yourself and get more referral business.

In part three of our series on “Everyone Should Know What You Do,” we acknowledge that seeking referral business alone isn’t always enough to augment a real estate career.  Social media marketing can be a great tool to promote ourselves, but it needs to be used wisely to get maximum benefit.

Social media has transformed marketing. The connected real estate agent will use Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, will have a website, and possibly a blog.

  • Consider featuring your listings or those of colleagues in your brokerage on Facebook, Twitter, your site, etc.
  • Always tweet and post when you close a deal. Got the sellers above asking price? Tell the world! Worked an amazing deal for your buyers? You have every right to brag a little.
  • Pin photos of great houses you encounter in your business: great kitchens, pools, amazing bathrooms, etc. This could be a regular feature potentially drawing limitless audiences.
  • Tweet to your community when you have a buyer looking for something specific. A fellow agent may have a matching listing.
  • Use a blog to post things relevant to your local community and beyond. You could update readers on lending laws, interest rates on loans, new construction projects, etc. You could solicit input from members of your professional community and link back to them when you share their insights, thereby referring business to them. They in turn are motivated to refer business back to you.
  • Ask former clients to write testimonials for you, which you use on your site and post to your various social pages. Referrals like these carry a lot of weight with today’s Internet shopping generation, even when shopping for a real estate agent.
  • Update your website and blog regularly as this draws attention from search engines. Use keywords like “homes for sale” and “fixer-upper,” categories buyers and sellers may be searching for.  Be sure to include your location so the leads are relevant.
  • Develop ways to refer business when you get leads out of your location or area of expertise.

For more ideas on developing your business and making sure that everyone knows you are a Realtor, see part 1 and part 2 of this series.

One of the keys to new connections is just making sure that everyone you come into contact with knows what you do. Being prepared for planned and unplanned contacts can garner new clients. Read below to learn how.

Previously, we looked at ways to increase your business by referral, simply by reaching out to your communities and making sure everyone you know knows what you do. We continue that theme with two more areas to cultivate clients: both planned and unplanned.

Regularly scheduled events through your organizations and associations

All of us wear many hats aside from the one labeled “REALTOR.” The best business though comes when you can seamlessly merge you business with other parts of your life. Given below is a simple list of groups you may belong to, or places you go to regularly in your life, that you might not have realized offer a chance to network.

  • Religious groups: church, synagogue, temple: a trusted place could yield life-long clients
  • Your sports team: network with your team mates
  • Your kid’s sports team/Little League games: help the parents in your community with their real estate needs.
  • Your fitness/country/golf club: tell the people you see so often what you do. Pack your business card in your gym bag!
  • Local sports games: your city’s soccer, basketball , baseball regulars could become future clients
  • Charity groups: like-minded people who share your own concerns and passions are natural clients
  • Parent/teacher/school groups: Your kid’s teacher, coach, fellow parents, all of these people could bring you business
  • Book club: as with any group that meets regularly and shares an interest, a book club can be a great place to network

Any of these organizations may have newsletters to which you can contribute an article on real estate or place an ad. You may also be able to hold a seminar/workshop, such as a new buyers workshop, or sponsor an event.

Unplanned events and occasions

Not all of your time is scripted, and even the most random event can be a place to grow your business.  For example:

  • Garage sales or estate sales: many times someone at these events is moving, thinking of buying, or thinking of selling
  • Shopping: anytime you enter a store, you meet potential clients, whether they’re employees or fellow shoppers.
  • When traveling: even though you may not be licensed in the area you’re vacationing in, you create an opportunity for referral networking.  The same applies for business travel.

Whenever you go out, consider advertising yourself as a real estate agent. A shirt or cap with your company’s logo, a nametag with your name and occupation– these do a lot of the talking for you.

These are just a few more ways to “make sure everyone knows what you do,” a major factor in your successful real estate career built on referrals.  Next week, we’ll look at a few more.

Where do you find your referrals?  Feel free to share them in the Comments Section.

ReferralExchange makes it easy to find the “right agent’ for these referrals – even if they’re outside your area.  ReferralExchange has over 12,500 top-performing REALTORs nationwide.  

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One of the keys to new connections is just making sure that everyone you come into contact with knows what you do. Here’s how to do so!

As a Realtor, you’re constantly looking for ways to connect to new clients.  You may consider ads, bulk mailings, postcards, cold calls, but one of the keys to new connections—and it’s an easy one that doesn’t cost you anything– is just making sure that everyone you come into contact with knows what you do.

Family

Your close family already knows you’re in real estate, but do your cousins? Do your sister-in-law’s parents? Not only should family both close and far flung know you’re an agent, they should have you contact information so they can refer you to their friends, family, and associates.  Consider a holiday card or family newsletter you send out occasionally that reminds everyone what you do and that includes your website, email and phone number.  Use Facebook when you get an amazing listing you think family would enjoy, or share a fun story about your profession. Use family reunions, birthdays, and similar get-togethers to offer your expertise to anyone who needs it.

Professional Network

As an agent, you probably already have relationships with lenders, home inspectors, contractors, etc. that lead to referrals.  But other professionals have potential as leads as well. Attorneys, accountants, insurance agents, financial planners: the people in these industries deal in real estate on occasion. If you’ve made sure all the professionals in your circle know you’re willing and able to serve, you open the door to new clients.  Provide these individuals with business cards; check in with them monthly via email or phone; take them for coffee to brainstorm how you might help one another’s businesses grow.

Casual Network

Don’t forget your more casual associates: The cashier at the grocery store. Your hair stylist. Your children’s daycare provider.  Your dry cleaner.  All of these people could become clients, or may refer you on to their own networks—but they can’t if they don’t know you’re an agent in the first place. Carry business cards with you wherever you go, and don’t be shy about offering your services in return even as you gratefully accept the services of these individuals.  And in places like coffee shops, libraries, and community centers, consider posting a flyer with business cards attached to reach people who are considering buying homes in your area.

These are just a few ways to “make sure everyone knows what you do,” a major factor in your successful real estate career built on referrals.  Next week, we’ll look at a few more.

Where do you find your referrals?  Feel free to share them in the Comments Section.

ReferralExchange makes it easy to find the “right agent’ for these referrals – even if they’re outside our area.  ReferralExchange has over 12,500 top-performing REALTORs nationwide, and you’ll receive 25% of the referred-side commission when the deal closes.

Bidding wars

In multiple offer situations, a competitive, well-written offer is always the best offer. Here are four tips to help your buyer compete in — and win — a bidding war.

In multiple offer situations, a common phenomenon these days, you can help your buyer by writing an offer that stands out from the rest. And though speed is often of the essence, a strong, competitive, well-written offer is always the best offer. Here are four simple ways you can help your buyer compete in —and win—a bidding war.

Write a clean, complete offer

  •  Make sure you have spelled every name right, filled in every date, that your buyer has initialed and signed everywhere needed. The time it takes to make corrections may knock your offer out of the running.
  • Get all documents completed in advance: If the listing agent has requested signed addendums or documentation of any kind, include them.
  • Include a pre-approval letter for the offered amount, or if a cash transaction, proof of funds

Communicate with the listing agent:

 Initiate a conversation with the seller’s agent –before writing the offer –in order to find out what the sellers really want and need. Here you can find out things that will make your offer more appealing—even perhaps, more than simply offering more money.

For instance, knowing the preferred closing date: If the sellers need time to find their next home, your buyers can offer a longer than normal close, a rent back, or even a free extended stay as long as they stay within the lender’s guidelines.  On the other hand, sellers may need a quick close for a fast release of funds. You can’t know if you don’t ask.

Sweetening the offer:

Beyond offering an over-asking price, which is likely to be the case with most offers in a multiple-offer situation, your buyer can:

  • Agree that earnest money is non-refundable to show commitment and  seriousness
  • Not ask for any help with closing costs
  • Not ask for any personal property beyond what’s clearly stated on the MLS as included

Inspection:

As detailed in the Washington Post this year, desperate buyers in tight markets can be tempted to do just about anything to get the house of their dreams, including waiving their right to inspection. But waiving the right to inspect a house is dangerous prospect for a buyer and one you may regret advising.  A better bet is to shorten the inspection period, allowing less time for the offer to be contingent, and indicating real motivation on the part of the buyer to close the deal quickly and cleanly.

 

These are just four tips to strengthen an offer and beat out the competition. What do you do to help their buyers compete in today’s tight market?

 

Managing Seller Expectations

Keep your listing clients happy by managing their expectations as you guide them through the process of selling their home.

Last week we offered simple ideas for managing buyer expectations in order to cultivate successful relationships that lead to life-long clients and the referrals that come with them. This week, the focus is on sellers.

 Manage Price Expectations

  •  Have good documentation on other comparable listings in your clients’ area with tangible items for them to compare against.  Base the recommended sales price on features that buyers care about, such as cost per sq foot, condition of the home, landscaping, size of lot, garage size,  high-end fixtures, wood floors vs. carpet, staged vs. non-staged, painted vs. not-painted, etc. Some of these things can be addressed before going to market. Others may not be worth the expense. Having a frank discussion about these factors goes a long way in establishing trust with your seller.
  •  Set-up potential price reductions in advance: For example, after X weeks at X price, we should consider an X percentage reduction. This way, when and if you need to cut the price, your seller is well prepared and on board.

 Make Your Role Clear

  • Develop a marketing and sales plan. Just as with buyers, each seller presents individual needs and challenges, but as an expert, you know how to organize a plan of attack that works. Provide your client with a visual representation of the process. Then, as you work through the stages, provide clients with an update after each activity.
  • Be visible.  Call or visit listings regularly, provide an updated market analysis every 2 – 3 weeks, solicit feedback from agents who have visited the home and provide it to your clients. Update them on any activity on their home.
  • Be supportive and understanding, but also be the expert. Be prepared to support your assertions with market data.
  • Surround yourself with other experts as well who may be needed during the process: home inspectors, lenders, contractors, roofers, plumbers—the more people who can provide help during the process, the better. This network also provides you with referrals in return for your business.

Make the Relationship Last

Ultimately, you want not only this deal, but all future business from these clients.  Ask for referrals throughout the process. Follow up after the transaction with occasional postcards, holiday greetings, phone calls, etc. This way, you make these sellers clients for life.

If a referral from one of these clients is outside of your preferred price point or property type, give ReferralExchange a try.  We’ll match the prospect with 3 great agents, and you’ll get paid a 25% referral fee once the deal closes.  

Managing Buyer Expections

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Keep your buyer clients happy by managing their expectations as you guide them through the process of buying a home.

As a successful Realtor, the majority of your business comes from referrals. So, one of your major responsibilities is keeping clients happy, a task that largely depends on managing their expectations as you guide them through the process of buying a home. Here are a few simple ways to educate and prepare your buyer for a smooth transaction—and one that leads to a glowing referral.

 Motivation:

  • With a simple interview, you can set the tone for this transaction. Ask questions that allow you to assess buyers’ motivation and desire to buy. This helps you gauge how often and how much to contact these buyers, as well as how you can help, specifically, meet their current needs.

Affordability:

  • Buyers need to know not only what they can afford, but what they really want to spend. These numbers aren’t always the same. As a team, you should identify a low and high price point to work within.
  •  Team with a trusted lender for a solid pre-approval before you start showing property. Getting this up front means less chance of lending snags later in the process. It also creates a referral system between you and your lender.

 Type of Property:

  •  Many new buyers like the idea of a fixer-upper. Watching HDTV has convinced many a prospective homeowner that home renovation can be accomplished in the space of a half-an-hour TV show. In reality, buyers need to know if they can afford this kind of property. And if you have resources (referrals to contractors, electricians, plumbers, etc.), you can provide a more realistic idea on estimated costs. And again, you set up a reciprocal referral relationship between yourself and these other professionals.
  •  Get specific needs/wants up front: number of beds and baths, of course, but also things like stairs or no stairs, school districts, walkability or access to major highways. The more details you get before showing homes, the more likely the ones you see will be a good match, saving all involved time and energy.
  •  Manage expectations of available inventory and what buyers can purchase in their price point.

Organization

  •  Have a game plan and timeline for the buying process. Though this will shift with each client, it will be enough like other transactions for you to develop a flow-chart template you can tweak and provide to each client. The more they know about the process, the more confident they feel.
  • Regularly update your clients: set them up with RMLS reports on available properties, send market updates, and apprise them of any new developments relevant to their home search.
  • Coordinate your schedules (yours and the client’s) so your buyer clearly knows how, when, and how often you will tour homes.
  • Develop a system that lets buyers take notes, photos, and record questions as they tour. This lets them keep track of properties viewed as well as gives you an avenue for meaningful, regular contact as you obtain answers to their questions on each home.

 Making the Relationship Last

Finally, you want not only this deal, but all future business from these clients.  Ask for referrals throughout the process. Follow up after the transaction with occasional postcards, holiday greetings, phone calls, etc. This way, you make these buyers clients for life.

And, if any of these referrals are outside your preferred price point or property type, ReferralExchange can help you service these prospects!