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

Referral Gold in 2018

Our VP of Marketing, Lisa Fettner, recently returned from speaking at the Xplode Conference in Oklahoma City where she shared tips and ideas for boosting your referral business in the New Year.

If 2018 is the year you want to increase your referral business and make the most of your network, keep reading — and take the Referral Challenge.

Think “any” and “every.” ANY contact, conversation, or connection can be a referral opportunity, so it’s important to always wear your name tag or branded apparel EVERYWHERE. When you are recognizable as a real estate agent during your daily routines, the possibilities of who you might meet are endless.  Have some conversation-starters ready in advance.

Use your expanded sphere. Posting on social media (e.g., Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn) to keep in touch with your friends and family is great, but what about your sister’s husband’s cousin’s brother? Their friends and family should know what you do so you can be their “go-to” real estate resource as well. Think of different ways to reach this extended sphere. Examples include sending out an email about creating a family tree (be sure to send it out from your real estate email address), or sponsoring a family reunion event.

Make it relevant. All of your marketing/communications and lead gen efforts should be relevant and personalized. If there’s a new single-family home for sale near a great high school or a new neighborhood park, send that information to the families in your network vs. a young single person. Simply put, people value information and resources that are relevant and tailored to them.

Be prepared for not-so-chance encounters. Not-so-chance encounters can happen anywhere — a neighbor’s picnic, in line at the grocery store, during a flight, the hair salon, etc. When you meet someone new, you can often pick up on their interests and lifestyle. If it comes up that they may need a real estate agent, don’t shy away from offering to help — even if it’s simply sending them a market report or adding them to your monthly newsletter.

Connect with your local contacts and vendors. Everyone has their “go-to” electrician, plumber, painter, etc. These are vendors that you trust and have worked with for years. Also, partner with your local professional contacts such as doctors, dentists, etc., or personal contacts such as hair stylists or drycleaners. Having a list of reliable businesses and preferred vendors you can recommend to your clients is invaluable, especially clients who are new to your area. It’s a win-win-win because you get a happy client, maintain your reputation, and send business to these local vendors.

You have to give to get. As mentioned above, referring clients to vendors who you trust, and know will take care of them, is key. An added bonus — sending referrals to these businesses will help you stay top-of-mind and prompt them to send referrals back your way. Create a flyer of local vendors to hand out at Open Houses, use in listing presentations, or send to your clients.

Network with your organizations, association, and groups. This may include your book club, alumni association, health club, homeowner’s association — the list goes on. Each person from these groups or association should know you’re the local expert in your area. Host a seminar for these groups or offer to write an article in their local newsletter.

People like people like themselves. It’s true — people like working and spending time with people with whom they share similarities. Make sure when you are posting about yourself, you are sharing your real, authentic self. Don’t be afraid to share that you are an avid hiker, love your two corgis, or enjoy taking cooking classes. It shows you’re relatable and will help others connect and engage with you. It doesn’t have to be all business all of the time. If you have a client or prospect who you know likes to cycle, invite them to a Soul Cycle class with you. A little thoughtfulness goes a long way.

Be the relo resource for corporate relocation/partnerships. Many companies or organizations (e.g., military base, small colleges, regional retailers) don’t have an “official” relocation department. Get in touch with their HR department to offer your services. You can be the relocation resource for everyone and these companies can offer an added benefit to their members and employees. Consider holding “office hours” at the company so you can be available to help as needed, and hold Lunch-and-Learn seminars for first-time and move-up buyers.

Always be advertising/marketing. As an agent you should always be marketing yourself, and in today’s world there are a ton of ways you can do so. Consider Facebook, web advertising, quarterly mailings, local radio, and just sold/listed postcards as all opportunities to showcase your knowledge and experience in the market.

Lead gen can be a referral opportunity. Your marketing and advertising will likely generate a wide variety of leads — and some may be out of your price point, property or location. If you don’t wish to work a lead, consider referring the client out to another agent so you can still earn a 25% referral fee.

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.

Managing your digital landscape has become a necessity to succeed in the real estate industry today. Amy Chorew, technology trend expert, author, speaker, and VP of Learning at BHG Real Estate recently joined us to share how to focus your online presence and marketing efforts.

During the webinar, Amy shared how to track your digital presence, showcase yourself and your brand, and determine which channels and platforms are best for you.

The digital marketing landscape includes awareness (video, social, network display), consideration (targeted display, SEM, lead providers), action (retargeting, reputation, CRM) and retention (retargeting, email).

Step 1: Define your market by knowing your market. To define your market, you must first determine the market geography of where you help clients buy and sell.  Draw this on a map and list your zip codes — doing so will help you target your online marketing.

Next, refine and narrow down the zip codes on which you really focus. Understand your market by assessing market demographics, economics and home sales. You can get this information from your MLS or BrokerMetrics. Start looking at this information monthly so you can identify trends to share with your clients and find new areas on which you can focus your marketing strategies. Being able to review your geography, area home prices, and average income all together will influence your business plan.

Step 2: Find your clients (and know how they are finding you). It’s just as important to know how to find your clients as it is to know how they are finding YOU. Start by looking at your company website, your branded website and your CRM. Request the list of referring traffic sources for the past three-month period so you can review the website analytics and identify which websites and social channels your traffic is coming from — these are sites you should put money towards. In addition, create a report from your CRM to quantify the top lead sources for a three-to-six-month period. That will tell you where the majority of your leads are coming from — for example, your brokerage’s lead gen efforts or external sites like,, etc.

Organic acquisition: Optimize your website and social accounts for your local market. A good website must have a call-to-action, lead capture, and a place where clients actively come for real estate information. Amy emphasized that your website should make consumers say, “I do want that report, I do want to be on this email list, I do want to setup a home search on this persons’ website.”

  • Off-Site SEO: These include links to your website such as social profiles, 3rd party profiles, reviews, and citations.
  • On-Site SEO: This includes text, rich media, links, and regular updates.

Reviews, Reviews, Reviews. Based on your website and CRM analytics, identify which real estate websites are the most visible to your target audience. Amy shared that “85% of online real estate shoppers evaluate/select agents based on reviews. Additionally, “Consumers are 2x as likely to select agents with 10+ high rated (top 2 rating positions) reviews.” Reviews are more important now than ever, as we live in a world where we use reviews to help choose restaurants, hotels, real estate agents, etc.

Google and Yelp are important locations to place reviews as well. Having a strong presence on G+ and Yelp improves rankings in search engine results and, second, Google displays ratings on agent searches (this also applies to Zillow, Trulia, and some brand sites). You don’t have to go overboard with reviews Amy notes — try to get a least five to ten reviews on these sites.

When creating your profiles on these sites, make sure they are written entirely in your own words, and be consistent. Include your company name, industry focus, and market areas. Keep them between 600-1200 characters. Sites where you can garner client reviews include Zillow/Trulia,, RealSatisfied, Zap, Yelp, LinkedIn, Google, and Facebook.

Citations can = SEO. Local directories, or citations are 3rd party sites such as Google My Business, Facebook, Yelp and YP. For SEO purposes, it is important to consistently display agent information and maintain a strong network of links between your website and 3rd party sites. Whichever website you choose will receive the ‘SEO juice’ generated by citations. Amy recommended BrightLocal who, for a one-time fee, can link you to all of the citation sites.

Maintain a social balance. Maintain a social balance on your website and social media channels by including a mix of community happenings/events, local news, company updates, market news, household tips, and listings. The more local knowledge and news you can share, the better. Remember, your community is local, your listings are local, YOU are local.

Amy also emphasized the importance of establishing a core site — that is one site where you send all your SEO. This could come from community data pages, blogs, directories, profiles, community news, reviews, listings, and lifestyle posts. If you start doing this on a regular basis, your link network will continue to grow exponentially and, in return, generate new leads, resources, and business.

For more tips and advice, follow Amy on Twitter @amychorew and watch the full webinar here.

6 Easy Steps to Relax at Home

A day in the life of a real estate agent can be chaotic, unpredictable and stressful. You spend most of your days showing or touring homes, but at the end of the day, your home is where you can escape it all.

If you still think there is something missing in your living space to make it a real home, keep reading. You would be surprised how easy it is to turn a residence into an oasis of relaxation, simply by changing a few things in your daily routine or paying closer attention to the design of your interior.

Cool down

Like with an exercise, a cooldown is necessary after an intense day. After coming in through the door, maybe you decide to make yourself a well-deserved snack, or spend a few relaxing minutes in front of the TV, or turn on the computer to watch lighthearted videos. Consider switching this up for some alone time, where you can let your rushing thoughts settle down. Choose a quiet, almost meditative room to sit down, focus on slow, deep breathing, and let your body relax. Also, eliminating the use of electronic devices an hour before bed can help increase the quality of your sleep.

Reflect the exterior

One of the best ways to freshen up your living space is to let in some daylight and the outside air. Unless you live in an extremely polluted area, chances are that simply opening a window will greatly help with your relaxation. However, if you are unable to do this, there are other options. Buy an air freshener, turn up the AC; get some new and easy-on-the-eyes wallpapers, curtains or roller blinds. Shopping through your computer has made the search for these items even more accessible and stress-free. Make this interior redesign into a fun project that you can share with your loved ones.

Create your own oasis

If you browsed any lifestyle blogs in the past year or two, you might have noticed the increased popularity of houseplants. Succulents, orchids, even fruits, and vegetables are being grown indoors, both for their functionality and decor. Try and grow your own oasis, even if you don’t have a garden because it is a proven stress-relief treatment. There are plenty of websites where you can read on various plant families, other user’s reviews and decide which plants will suit you best, based on your daily schedule and the level of attention they demand.

De-clutter your room

Undoubtedly, one of the biggest problems of every household is the clutter that comes with the chaos of everyday life. Quite often, people don’t have the time to clean up on workdays, due to being overworked and exhausted. However, this can actually help them recuperate. To come home, close the blinds, go online and spend the rest of the evening hypnotized in front of a monitor is hardly going to clear your head. Setting aside a couple of minutes every day, simply to make your bed or clean out your desk can do wonders for your mental state.


It’s as simple as that – color. There is no need to get into an elaborate explanation on how colors affect the mood; there are entire case studies are based on this topic. But what we can emphasize is to use color everywhere, not just on walls – on furniture, picture frames, carpets, bookshelves, lamps, and so on. Unobtrusive, subtle shades of blue and purple have been proven to have a calming effect. Use yellow to simulate sunlight and bring warmth to a room. Green is the color of nature, so you might want to utilize it in places with wooden furniture.

Play with the lights

There are two ways to go about the lighting in your home:

  • Natural light – if you’re lucky to have a window on the sunny side, throw aside the curtains; adjust your shutters to create unique mood lighting. There are countless stores that offer a wide array of window-related products, online. Blinds and shutters of different colors and designs will certainly freshen up your room.
  • Artificial light – this is where you can get especially creative. Install a light dimmer in the rooms of your choice, or try out light bulbs of different colors. Orange and pink are the usual choices over the intrusive white or yellow. Candles are also a welcome option, with a scented bonus!

Selling or searching for a new home can be stressful for your clients as well. Don’t hesitate to share how they can make their new or current home a relaxing, comfortable place. Perhaps the best thing you can do is take a page from your own book, your own experience. What made your childhood home feel like a home? Was it the smells, the sights, the people, or perhaps all of those things together? Take some time to reflect on what you need in a home. And then find the best way to ensure it becomes a truly relaxing place – a safe haven where the chaos of the outside world disappears.

BIO: Aside from primary area of interest and expertise in business consulting with Supercheap Storage Central Coast, Ian Pearson could be tagged also as a passionate sports fan, nature and photography enthusiast, always trying to keep up to date with tech innovations and development.

So many news stories, so little time. Keeping up with the news these days is just plain overwhelming. By the time you’ve caught up on a breaking news article, it’s already old news.

As an agent, your day is unpredictable and time is limited. So, how and where do you keep up with the latest news, trends, and resources in the real estate world? We’re sharing our ‘go-to’ news sites and blogs to help you keep calm and stay ‘in the know.’

Inman News: Real estate industry professionals from around the world turn to Inman first for accurate, innovative and timely information about the business. For full content access, you can become a Select Member. Check out their upcoming industry events.

RISMedia: RISMedia delivers the latest real estate news and trends, best practices, events, social media and technology for agents, brokers, and their clients and prospects.

Realtor Magazine: The Official Magazine/Website for the National Association of REALTORS, covering real estate trends, real estate news and data.

ActiveRain Real Estate Community: An online community of real estate professionals who write blogs, exchange best practices and share information. Check out our blog posts here.

Realty Biz News: Find topics in real estate marketing, real estate technology and social media for realtors, smart home technology, housing and real estate resources for consumers, and the latest real estate housing trends.

Realty Times: Trusted source of local market conditions, buyer’s advice, seller’s advice, Realtor advice, and real estate news.

Wall Street Journal Real Estate: Latest news on real estate, homebuying, houses for sale, luxury homes, mortgage loans and interest rates.

Forbes Real Estate: Leading source for reliable news, updated analysis and top headlines in real estate. Our VP of Marketing, Lisa Fettner, recently joined the Forbes Real Estate Council to contribute articles.

HousingWire: Nation’s most influential source of news and information on U.S. housing finance, covering lending, servicing, investments, and real estate.

The Real Daily: News for real estate industry insiders. Valuable information on tech, data, and business tips for brokers and associations.

Curbed: All things home, from interior design and architecture to home tech, renovations, tiny houses, prefab, and real estate.

The Lighter Side of Real Estate: Brings you the best real estate social media content and humor on the web.

These are only a handful of the news sites out there. Bookmark the ones you like, compile a list in a Google doc so you can add to it, and quickly skim them at least once a day to stay up-to-date.

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.

You’ve been there before and you’ll be there again—whether you’re working through a rough patch or in the thick of your slowest season—you still need to drive sales and attract new clients.

If you need a budget-friendly way to drive more clients, we have three ideas to try. Whether you plan to partner with a home stager or put your Twitter skills to the test, you’ll be one step closer to closing your next deal.

Cross-Promote with Other Agents and Partners.

A simple but effective way to broaden your reach and attract more clients is collaborating with like-minded agents or companies that offer complementary products or services. “Collaborating on your marketing efforts is a fast, easy way for both organizations to slash costs, expand each other’s marketing lists, gain referrals, and eventually generate new sales,” says Darrin Rayner, EVP of Sales and Client Services at Xpressdocs.

Connect with complementary professionals in your industry. Think: home stagers, contractors, investors—who could recommend you to potential clients. Make the partnership mutual so they’re more likely to hold up their end of the bargain; you send clients to them and vice versa.

Consider ways to promote one another via social media, email marketing, and in-person, with clients as well. Tagging one another on Facebook or promoting each other at local events helps everyone reach a wider audience of potential clients.

Head to Twitter.

Finding clients on Twitter may sound crazy, but it’s not out of the question. Bernice Ross, an author and Inman Contributor, suggests searching for hashtags with the word “Moving” in them along with the name of the city where you live and work (i.e. #MovingtoSanDiego) to find tweets from potential house hunters. When you find an appropriate Tweet, follow the person and comment with something valuable or interesting. Instead of saying, “That’s awesome, I can help you find a house!” say something like, “That’s awesome! X neighborhood has some amazing new properties for a great price!” If they aren’t looking for a house now, this sort of interaction still bodes well for you. When it comes time to look, they’ll remember “that agent” who tweeted them when they first moved. And, if they’re looking for something out of the price point, property type or location you service, simply submit them to ReferralExchange and collect a referral fee once the transaction closes.

Note that you can manage this lead process manually, or use your social media tracking tool to automatically find posts on Twitter and even Instagram. Check the hashtag feed once or twice a week to interact with potential clients. When commenting, share tips, insights, and even pieces of content from your site to drive traffic.

Set Up a Lead Funnel.

If your website gets traffic, it’s time to turn visitors into subscribers, and then into clients. With a list of potential buyers or sellers, you can start emailing tips and deals—when someone is ready to buy, they’re more likely to come to you because you’re top of mind, and easy to get a hold of (they can just reply to any of the emails you’ve sent!). Not to mention, Marketers consistently ranked email as the single most effective tactic for awareness, acquisition, conversion and retention, reports Outbound Engine.

If you already use an email service, like MailChimp, all you need to spend is time. If you don’t, the main investment will be paying for an email service account. Note that most platforms offer a free tier if you don’t have a lot of subscribers. With the platform set up, it’s time to create your funnel, which is a multi-step process:

Step 1: Create gated content.

To access this content (usually an eBook or guide, like: “5 Ways to Find Your Dream Home in San Diego”), requires visitors to input their email address, which then goes into your subscriber list.

Step 2: Set up the funnel for that piece of content.

Funnel emails are often called “drip emails” because they’re automatically sent based on actions or pre-determined settings. For example, your funnel for the dream home content could include four emails, one sent each week for the month after they download it.

The funnel might look something like this:

  • 1st email: Introduce yourself and attach the guide you created or allow them to download it using a button.
  • 2nd email: Mention something in the eBook and offer more “exclusive” info or a complimentary download that’s not included in the original download.
  • 3rd email: Suggest meeting for a cup of coffee to talk about their home needs.
  • 4th email: Send another piece of content and include a link to your calendar for them to set up a call.

Step 3: Drive traffic to your content.

You can drive traffic to your new piece of content with organic marketing, sharing on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and the other platforms you use. You can also put as little as $5 to $10 behind an Instagram and Facebook ad, which is highly targeted and effective.

Now all you have to do is monitor your email waiting for a response, question or calendar invite.

When you’re in the thick of a slow patch, it can feel impossible to find new clients. Use these tips to spend minimal while gaining subscribers and referrals—with everything working together, you’ll be busy again in no time.

BIO: Jessica Thiefels has been writing for more than 10 years and has been in social media and content marketing for five5. She’s currently a full-time blogger and has written for Lifehack, Inman, Reader’s Digest,, and more. Follow her on Twitter @Jlsander07.

Lead generation is a lot like online dating. It’s important for agents to create a virtual online relationship with their clients and prospects if their programs are going to be successful. There’s no “magic bullet,” but with focus and planning, online lead gen can definitely boost your business.

Below are five ways to make your lead gen efforts more successful.

1. Be trustworthy. Make sure your photo is current and that your information is consistent on all business-related sites.

  • You might prefer your photo from 10 years ago, but a prospective client MUST be able to recognize you at a coffee shop based on your photo — so if the picture doesn’t look like you anymore, be sure to swap in a current one.
  • Make sure all posted information is up-to-date and consistent. Prospects often search multiple online sites and social media channels, so it’s critical that your sales data and testimonials are current. Keep a record of all sites where your name appears, and pick one day a year to update everything.
  • Always tell the truth. It might be tempting to embellish the facts a bit, but given the availability of online data, chances are, you’ll get caught.

2. Show prospects that you careEven though your lead gen efforts might be geared towards a mass audience, your responses need to be customized and personal.

  • Create a library of content based on lead type, which you can repurpose as needed. For example: first-time buyers, or baby-boomers interested in downsizing. Information can include testimonials, neighborhood or area inventory or price points.
  • It’s generally preferable to make your first response in the same medium as the original request. For example, if you received an email, email the prospect back. But don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and call if appropriate.

3. Inform, engage and interact. When developing a relationship, you first want to inform, then engage in a dialogue and finally interact. Doing so helps you evolve and cement a relationship.

  • Informing the prospect can simply be a specific answer to a question — property information, price points, or something else they want to know.
  • Engaging with the prospect involves a dialogue with the objective of setting up a meeting or an appointment. A phone call, Skype or FaceTime call can work, but in-person is always preferred.
  • Interacting with the prospect is the last phase in the process, and this is where you truly have the chance to shine — wow them with a listing or buyer’s presentation. The goal is to cement and focus the relationship.

4. Be patient and flexible. Building relationships takes time, and prospects often contact you at the very beginning of their property search. It’s important to keep in touch on a regular basis. That way, you’ll be top-of-mind when the prospect is ready to act.

  • Be responsive and persistent, but don’t nag — and always have a reason to contact the prospect. Perhaps a property near them has sold, or there’s a new listing in a preferred neighborhood.
  • Flexibility is key because needs often change. Be ready to address any new concerns or issues that arise. If a preferred market is too expensive or inventory is too low, suggest a similar neighborhood nearby. An initial downsizer might suddenly decide they want a dream home, so it’s critical to be able to adapt.

5. Make a plan and stay focused. Managing your lead gen efforts can quickly become overwhelming. Be sure to have a process in place to make it easy for you to respond as needed. At a minimum, you’ll need all of the following:

  • A testimonial library: Always ask for a testimonial at the end of every transaction.
  • Drip campaigns: Set up drip campaigns for the different buyer/seller types who you work with.
  • Listing/Buyer presentations: Create the framework and then customize as needed.
  • Annual assessments of your buyers and sellers to identify trends and help make your marketing efforts even more effective: Are you a first-time buyer specialist? Do you help a lot of military clients? Capitalize on these client types in order to garner future business.
  • Ask for referrals: If your clients like you, chances are their friends and family members will too.

3D technology and virtual reality can be powerful marketing tools when working with both buyers and sellers — but it’s often expensive and complicated to use effectively.

Steve Bintz, Director of Sales at immoviewer — an app and tool that makes it easy for agents to take high-resolution pictures and 3D virtual tour of properties, recently joined us to share how to:

  • Use VR to create powerful listing and buyer appointments.
  • Learn how to integrate VR into your everyday business.
  • Find less expensive and easy-to-use solutions.

3D technology and virtual reality are not just a trend. According to NAR research, in 2016, 82% of homebuyers rated virtual tours as useful, and 70% of agents said consumers expected virtual tours to be made available. In addition, consumers interact with 3D and VR content on a daily basis — e.g., VR content from the New York Times, attending virtual concerts via iHeart Media, and Play Station VR gaming on YouTube’s platform.

“For the buyer, 3D tours are a more convenient way of looking at lots of houses in a short span of time in the initial research phase of their purchase. This is because the video quality is HD, and you can totally immerse yourself in a panoramic 360-degree view of the property. For sellers, 3D tours are a safer and more convenient option,” says Bintz.

Virtual reality vs. video. The biggest difference between VR and video is that VR is completely customizable to what the viewer wants to see. In a video, everyone has the same experience, and you can’t pause it or choose where you go next in real time.

You need to start integrating 3D and VR into your business today. It’s estimated that 171 million consumers will be using this technology by 2018 — across all industries. The reality is, that most consumers will be expecting to use this technology at some point in the homebuying or selling process.

Only 2.4% of listings have true virtual tours. This is largely due to the fact that traditional VR tours can be time-consuming, difficult to implement, and expensive, so they’re used primarily for advertising high-end listings.

In response to these challenges, immoviewer has created an easy and affordable DIY solution for real estate professionals. With immoviewer, there is only one shot required per room and the only hardware you need is one 360-degree camera, synched with the immoviewer app on a mobile device. This means that you can seamlessly capture a 2,000-square foot house in just 30 minutes.

Using virtual reality for listings mean you will be able to:

  • Differentiate yourself in the market — look good before, during, and after the sale.
  • Show your clients you have all the latest tools and technology to generate qualified showings and sell their home (i.e., premium service as part of a full-service marketing plan).
  • Leverage for exclusive buyer representation by using VR (e.g., buyers who are out of town, too busy).
  • Easily embed 3D virtual tours on your website and share on social media.
  • Use as part of a pre-listing/lead generation campaign to show potential clients how you are different from other agents.
  • Capture leads from listings — potential buyers are more likely to explore listings when they have better content.
  • Lock rooms to generate leads, allowing you to require a prospect’s contact information prior to unlocking the rest of the tour.
  • Show properties to anyone, anytime, anywhere by inviting up to 25 participants to view properties in real time.
  • Instantly access VR mode from any mobile device’s browser (no app needed).

With immoviewer 3D virtual tours, you are able to save time by easily creating, sharing and managing tours, make money through lead generation for listing and buyer’s agents, and grow by developing new business relationships with tech.

Watch the full webinar here and learn more at

Maintaining a successful real estate business means treating your clients with five-star customer service. A great way to do that, while celebrating the sale is to give your clients a closing gift. Gift ideas can be tricky—you want something personal but not too personal, that’s also functional and shows you care about them and their new home. Bonus points, if your contact information is included on the gift somewhere.

We’ve compiled eight thoughtful and unique gift ideas for your favorite clients. Consider how you can swap out your typical gift ideas with these.

  1. Digital Home “Assistant”

Whether you’re considering an Amazon Alexa or Google Home, home digital assistants are fun and surprisingly practical.

“There’s an ever-so-slight learning curve in figuring out what Amazon’s Alexa can and can’t do, but once that’s passed, the Echo Dot can forecast the weather, read an audiobook, order a pizza, tell Dad jokes, or any number of things they should find charming,” says Kelsey Mulvey, with Business Insider.

  1. Compost Bin

A kitchen counter compost bin is a great place for the new homeowner to keep kitchen scraps before taking them out to be composted. Many retailers sell attractive kitchen countertop bins that close tightly to keep odors from seeping out while adding a decorative element to the room. With so many people trying to reduce their carbon footprint, this is a great way to get your clients started. Outdoor compost bins can also be found for reasonable prices if you want to set your clients up with a complete composting system.

  1. Designer Fire Extinguisher

A fire extinguisher falls into the category of “a gift no one wants, but everyone needs.” You don’t normally think of fire extinguishers as being sleek and modern or decorative, but the company Safe-T is out to change that with designer extinguishers that go with any home style or motif.

Consider your client’s home décor and match it accordingly to the variety of styles available for the perfect gift that will surely never be duplicated.

  1. Personalized Stationary

Help your clients say “Thank you” and “Thinking of you” to their loved ones more often with a personalized stationary. “One of my own favorite gifts to receive is personalized stationery and cards that I can use for individual thank you notes and special messages,” says Alyssa Gregory, The

  1. A Personalized Pet Portrait

If your client is a pet owner, a personalized pet portrait is a great gift to commemorate their love for the family pet. There are many places you can have this done, with a local artist that you know of. Otherwise, head online to work with a company like Paint Your Life or “commission” the work with a creative professional on Etsy.

  1. Wireless Home Security System

New security systems are simple to install, easy to monitor, and affordable. After purchasing the basic wireless “kit,” your clients can customize for their needs: “Motion detectors, glass-shatter alarms, and gate sensors are all compatible with these DIY kits and you’ll never have to worry about paying for equipment you don’t need,” explain home security experts. Best of all, this inexpensive system can provide your client with peace of mind in their new home.

Wireless options are also portable, meaning it’s a gift that your client can take with them if they need to, for vacations or extended stays away from home.

  1. Gift Cards

You can’t go wrong with a gift card. “To help alleviate the stress of being house rich, but money poor, get the new home owner a gift card,” says Jonathan Chan with Many homeowners find items that they weren’t planning on needing once they move into their home. Gift cards can take the sting out of having to make some of those big and small purchases.

  1. Framed Historic Local Maps

Unique and personal, a framed map of the area that your client lives in is just the type of gift they’ll appreciate for years to come. An aerial photograph is an alternative if you can’t find the type of map you want, or even a custom painted image of their neighborhood or the downtown area of their new city.

BIO: Jessica Thiefels has been writing for more than 10 years and been in social media and content marketing for five. She’s currently a full-time blogger and has been written for Lifehack, Inman, Reader’s Digest,, and more. Follow her on Twitter @Jlsander07.

As many know, social media is not just a platform to keep up with distant relatives and high school friends, but a way to strategically promote your business and garner more referrals. Recently, social media expert, author and speaker Katie Lance of Katie Lance Consulting, and our VP of Marketing, Lisa Fettner shared how agents can maximize social media channels such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram to build a powerful referral network.

During the webinar, Katie and Lisa shared tips and strategies agents and brokers can do with social media to establish a nationwide presence while still being the local expert. They also shared best practices on how to use social media to promote your nationwide expertise and let friends/family members know you can help them with any real estate need.

Here are some key takeaways:

Choose your channels and strategy. It’s important to choose your social channels based on what your clients – and future clients are using. Don’t be afraid to simply ask your clients what channel they like the best and use the most. In the famous words of Benjamin Franklin, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” If you’re not able to manage everything yourself, it’s okay to hire someone to help – whether it’s a copy writer, video editor, etc. When it comes to social media, remember: quality over quantity. It’s better to use one or two social channels really well than all of them somewhat scarcely.

LinkedIn is the first place to connect with new and potential clients. LinkedIn may not be as fun as Facebook or Snapchat, however it is a great place to start if you’re looking to generate more referrals from your professional network. First and foremost, make sure your bio is current. Sounds like a no-brainer, but many people leave their profiles untouched, collecting dust for years. This includes updating your photo, skills/expertise, relevant photos/videos and most importantly, your contact information. Publishing new content (e.g., top mistakes homebuyers are making, biggest piece of advice I give my clients) and blogs on LinkedIn is a valuable way to share your knowledge and expertise.

Another great way to utilize LinkedIn is to give and ask for 5-10 recommendations. Remember, you have to give to get. One agent who Katie works with makes a point to give one or two recommendations on the first of every month whether it’s for a stager, lender or past client.

Lisa also added that, if you have a common name, putting it in ALL CAPS will push you to the top of the search results.

Facebook is still the #1 social network. With close to two billion users, Facebook is a mix of personal and business content, so it’s important to find a balance. We live in a mobile first world (1 in 5 mobile minutes are spent on Facebook), which means you have to consider how people are engaging with your Facebook content on a mobile device. It can be challenging to cut through the noise on Facebook, so when you’re creating your content, ask yourself:

  • Is my content thumb-stopping?
  • How do I win when there is so much content from their friends and family?

The best way people will connect with you is when you share who you are beyond business. Creating private lists (check out for clients (current and past) and potential clients is an effective way to connect with your sphere on Facebook. This will allow you to filter out your other Facebook friends so you can engage with their posts and see what they’re up to. Perhaps they’ve just had a Birthday or one of their kids just graduated high school – these are all opportunities for you to reach out and connect.

Using Facebook ads to reach more people is another great way to generate referrals by boosting posts that have to do with your business (e.g., new listings, a picture with your client after closing). Pro tip: start small and make sure you have a link to a landing page.

Instagram is one of the fastest growing social media platforms. Katie emphasized that it’s important to think beyond the listing photo and the front of the house. Every home has a unique story, and Instagram lets you share it in a creative and fun way. Highlight the best amenities of the home (e.g., cozy fireplace, pool with a diving board, spa-like bathroom) versus the boring old shot of the home from curb. Check out Orlando ReferralExchange agent Nicole Mickle’s Instagram page for inspiration at @iorlandorealesate.

Instagram is always updating their app to incorporate new features. Most recently they’ve made updates to allow users to upload several photos in one post that you can swipe through to see. Additionally, Instagram makes it really easy for other users to find your posts through hashtags (up to 30 for each post). Find popular and trending hashtags by selecting ‘Tags’ in the search bar and check out to search for relevant hashtags for your area. Instagram stories (similar to Snapchat stories) is another way to share “behind-the-scenes” videos and pictures that showcase your everyday meetings, appointments and activities you do to help your clients with their real estate needs.

Regardless of which channels you choose to use for your business, don’t underestimate the behind-the-scenes content (people love it!), cross pollinate your content, be consistent, be relevant and don’t be afraid to have fun!

Watch the full webinar here and grab a copy of Katie’s new book #GetSocialSmart

“How to stop resisting and start persisting.”

Are you looking for better balance and resilience in your personal and business life? If you nodded your head, keep reading. Bernice Ross, CEO of and author of The PQ Factor, recently joined us to share how to stop procrastination, be more successful, live longer, increase your emotional resilience, and truly make your dreams a reality.

During the webinar, Bernice shared how to apply the seven steps of the PERSIST model to improve your business and your life, become more persistent by increasing your emotional resilience and “Walk in the solution” to get the best possible outcome in any situation.

Here are some key takeaways:

Sync your brain for peak performance. If you’re ever down or having a bad day, Bernice recommends listening to music you like with a good beat that makes you want to snap your fingers or tap your feet. This allows both sides of your brain to get in synch which is associated with peak performance. Another way to reach peak performance is to anchor a positive feeling. For example, tapping your shoulder three times when you are laughing anchors that feeling — and you can then bring it back at any time by tapping your shoulder again when you need it.

Use the seven steps to PERSIST (perspire, embrace, resilience, self-ish, internal, service, timing).

Perspire: You naturally attract people who are similar to you. If you want clients who are fun, be fun. If you want clients who are honest, be honest. Often, we say “yes” to business that we should really say “no” to. If that little voice inside says a potential client is not a good fit, listen to it!

Embrace: No one ever got to the top by working on their weaknesses. Identify where you’re strongest and build from there. Top producers often specialize in one or two areas and delegate what they don’t do well to others. In addition, schedule your most difficult tasks or project during a time when your energy is at its peak. When it comes to your weaknesses, find the workaround.

Resilience: Optimism can help your business by helping you remain resilient. A Seligman research study found that optimistic salespeople outsold experienced salespeople by 56 percent. Additionally, your degree of optimism can also impact your health including reducing the risk of heart disease and cancer.

If you are facing a serious illness, remember that, “You are NOT the situation…walk in the positive outcome that you want to achieve.” When you can separate the situation from who you are, you can overcome major life challenges.

Self-ish: Self-ish in The PQ Factor is about caring for yourself so you can help others. You can achieve this by upgrading your self-care. For example, schedule 30 minutes to an hour a day where you do something for you (e.g., reading, gardening, cooking). Promise to give your body healthy food, plenty of water and an extra hour of sleep each night. Make sure to take time to unplug every day so you can recharge and be prepared for tomorrow.

Internal: Having a sense of control in your life is very important, especially for your resilience and health. You can become rejection proof by becoming more internally anchored. The next time someone asks you what you’d like to do, give a specific answer. No matter what happens to you, remember that while you may not be able to control the event, you can control how you respond to it. To help curb procrastination and end struggle, commit to doing one thing a day — whether it’s doing one push-up or walking five minutes. The point is that it’s a start, and once you get started, it’s easier to keep going.

Service: Bernice explained how to build your “Karmic” bank account. When you smile or laugh, you build up a reserve of strength in your body, which strengthens your autoimmune response. When you share a smile or laugh with someone, you’re giving them that same gift of strength. Also, it’s not enough to give; you must also be willing to receive. When someone offers to pay for your meal or do a favor for you, make sure you say thank you. It helps keep the pattern of giving and receiving going.

Timing: Time it right — when the timing is right, the doors open effortlessly. When you decide you’re going to implement something new in your business, you need to stick with it long enough to see if it really does work. Decide what the top three things are that matter most to you, and focus on those.

What is the one action step that you will take to stop resisting and start persisting in your life?

Watch the full webinar here and grab a copy of Bernice’s new book The PQ Factor.