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

Seminars are great tools to educate prospective home buyers and sellers in person while showcasing your local market expertise. Host a seminar with these simple suggestions for success:

Topic selection:  Topic selection is critical and should focus on the real estate needs in your community/area. Do you have a lot of vacation properties or first-time buyers? Or, perhaps you work in an area where many people are retiring and thinking about selling their homes.

Timing:  The day and time of your seminars are important as well. Consider doing a “lunch and learn” if you are partnering with a company. Wednesday and Thursday evenings are the best days and times to hold seminars. If you’re focused on first-time buyers, hold these seminars about one month after tax day — these younger buyers might have received refunds and have cash for a down payment. If you’re working in an area with lots of vacation properties, hold a seminar at the end of the season, when people are thinking about purchasing versus renting.

 Clarify your purpose:  Seminars aren’t for selling — they are for educating. Be sure to clearly differentiate yourself from and provide something of value. Give homebuyers access to tools they can’t find anywhere else.

Partner with someone else:  Find a relevant partner to hold your seminar with.  Doing so helps you attract more attendees and makes your seminar more interesting. For a retiree seminar, consider having a downsizer attend. For first- time buyers, have a financial planner or accountant join you.

Open your portfolio:  Stretch your contact reach by way of personal interests. Connect with your gym, your place of worship, or a local community center that may be interested in hosting a seminar. Start with a local business’ lunch-and-learn to reach a wider audience.

Follow up:  Print and hand out powerfully visual take-home swag and be sure to follow-up to set appointments with interested attendees. Don’t loose those contacts – references are crucial to building a successful business.

Extra credit Video promotion:  Film your seminar for marketing purposes. Add it to your email signature, send it to prospective buyers, and promote it through traditional media. Today’s homebuyer is visual and will respond to something they can consume quickly.

Build a valuable reputation in your market and gain customers in the process by hosting a winning seminar today.

And, be sure to place any seminar referrals that don’t make sense for you to work into ReferralExchange! We’ll match them with 3 agents from our network, handle all of the paperwork and processing, and pay you a 25% referral fee when the deal closes.  

tax-time

Tax time is just around the corner. If you haven’t already done so, here are some tips to help you get started – and to get you better organized for next year! And, of course, always work with a Tax Advisor or Accountant:

1) Use a Money Management Program: Organize, track and manage all expenses with finance tools like Quicken, Quikbooks or Mint.com. Automatically integrate these platforms by adding personal bank accounts to categorize spending habits, so you can track details year round.

2) Reference last year’s tax returns: Reference last year’s returns to make sure that you don’t miss any deductions. You can also ask your Tax Advisor for a list of items you’ve deducted in the past.

3) Check your figures and any changes: It’s key to remain as accurate as possible for deductions and tallied expenses to ensure you don’t have any erroneous data entries, and in order to protect yourself from being audited.  Also, make sure that comply with current deduction requirements, formulas and amounts. Your Tax Advisor can help you determine how much and what you can/cannot deduct.

4) Track/Manage your deductions year-round: Over the course of the year, track your expenses and keep your receipts organized. Try to set aside some time each month to catch up.

5) Savings Accounts that also help you save on taxes: Work with your Tax Advisor to determine which retirement account makes the most sense for you.

 

With today’s technology, working with out of town buyers isn’t as difficult as it used to be. Here are a few simple tips to make remote buyers feel like they’ve seen a property in person!

  1. Get Interactive: The video and photo quality on most smartphones – as well as the variety of video apps currently available make it easy to show a property to a remote client. Take your client on a live, virtual tour of the home using FaceTime or Skype and point out signature features on-the-go. You can find a list of the top 10 video recording apps for real estate agents here.
  1. Virtually Tour the Neighborhood: Even if your client can’t drive down the street to see the area themselves, you can provide a comprehensive list that includes local highlights and points of interest. Since you’re familiar with both the neighborhood and the client, be sure to personalize it based in their specific needs. For a young family, you might want to include nearby schools, parks, and the number of children living on a particular street.  For an outdoorsy couple, you can provide information on trails and hikes. If there’s a cute shopping area close to the property your client is interested in, make a video of that too!
  1. Provide Resources at a Glance. Make a list of crucial contacts that your client will need. Nearby professionals like doctors and dentists, as well as recommendations on the best mechanic or shoe repair shop will make your client feel more comfortable about moving to a new area.

Working with out of town buyers can be challenging – but following these tips will help you become a trusted resource to your clients and help you close more deals as well.

And, ReferralExchange can help with any buyer outside of your preferred area.  Simply place a referral into “The Exchange” and we’ll take care of the rest.

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.

Work_Life_Balance

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!

work.life.balance

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.