Monday
February 8, 2016

Speaking of Real Estate

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Updated: 1 hour 56 min ago

8 of the Best Insights from Real Estate Superstars

Thu, 01/28/2016 - 14:26

Real estate experts at Inman Connect share their best tips and tricks of the trade.

Over the course of the Inman Connect conference, there have been a number of quotable soundbites from powerhouse speakers from across country. Of course, it’s hard to fit them all into the content we’ve been bringing you from the scene in New York, so here are eight quotes from the speakers meant to help you think about how to spin your business forward. Some of them are smart business tips, some pontificate about the future of technology, and others are simply inspirational.

I have 4.5 stars instead of 5, and people tell me that makes me look more believable and real.
–Jill Biggs, sales associate at Coldwell Banker in Hoboken, N.J., on why a bad customer review doesn’t necessarily impact your business negatively

We talked about Redfin and their value proposition and if they’re a threat to the market, and we found that talking about the disruptors demystifies them and allows us to focus on our own value proposition. We were able to create vocabulary around our core values.
–Thaddeus Wong, co-founder of @properties in Chicago, on how brokers can use competition to create culture in their companies

If there’s a piece of technology that’s so important to you, you probably shouldn’t rely on the vendor to offer the education. You want someone in your business who has used it and can educate from first-hand experience. Provide training at the agent’s level.
–John De Souza, president of Cressy & Everett Real Estate in South Bend, Ind.

It is impossible to be ready because ‘ready’ means you’re sure it’s going to work. You’re in the business of experimenting.
–Seth Godin, marketing expert and author, on how marketing to niche groups can net practitioners more business

There are a lot of lists out there about the top 250 agents and so on. A consumer can’t choose an agent based on just productivity. What agents need to do is go out and tell stories of their success. We too often just put a number out there.
–Sherry Chris, president and CEO of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate

The narrower your niche gets, the more successful you become because those people feel like you were sent to serve them.
–Marguerite Giguere, sales associate at Windermere Real Estate in Tacoma, Wash.

When you say, ‘I’m too busy,’ that just means, ‘I don’t think that’s important enough for the time that I have.’
–Leigh Brown, ABR, CRS, broker-manager of RE/MAX Executive Realty in Concord, N.C., on why professionals should be more willing to help each other rather than criticize each others’ mistakes

Real estate is going to be profoundly affected by on-demand services. Your home becomes even more important in the on-demand era. It’s not just about delivering meals. It changes the home experience because how you travel and live changes dramatically.
–Kara Swisher, executive editor of technology news site Re/code, on what real estate can learn from services like Amazon Prime

Press the ‘Ignore’ Button

Thu, 01/28/2016 - 12:26

Morguefile.com

In between sessions at the Inman Connect conference in New York, everyone’s on their phones in the hallways. They’re bound to be conducting business in one way or another. If I know real estate people, they’re checking messages, sending contracts, and negotiating deals in what free time they have. But now in the third day of the conference, I can count on one hand the number of people I’ve seen over the last few days put their phone to their ear and actually talk.

We all know technology has changed the way we communicate, and we don’t have to be face-to-face or talk on the phone to get things done. But it’s not about whether you have to; it’s about whether you should, even if you don’t have to. Practitioners constantly make the point that this business is built on relationships, so I would have expected to see more attendees step out to make a quick phone call — to make a personal connection to someone who’s relying on them back home. But instead, they’re texting, scrolling, tweeting, or doing whatever else the whole time. If they are, in fact, doing business from their seats, it speaks volumes to how they choose to connect to their clients.

I don’t mean to sound accusatory. Technology has made real estate an amazingly efficient business in many respects, and practitioners have been wise to take advantage of that. But, man, it’s a sign of the times when all these real estate folks — some of the most social people I know — can go days on end without talking on the phone. Doesn’t anyone — especially a client — need a voice on the other end of the line anymore?

Leigh Brown mentioned having the same observation when she spoke at Inman Connect on Wednesday. “There are things in real estate that don’t change despite technology: Those who hustle succeed,” she said. “They pick up the phone and call people. I’ve seen only a handful of people doing that in the hallway. People are allergic to their phones.” (She meant talking on their phones.)

To be fair, it’s not just the younger crowd I see operating in this manner. Yes, attendees at Inman Connect skew younger, but there are a fair number of older practitioners here, too. And they’re all texting instead of talking.

For all I know, they could be going back to their hotel rooms at the end of the day and spending hours making phone calls and catching up with clients, friends, and family. But I doubt it. It’s become easier to stay connected in a disconnected way, and to some extent, we’re all guilty of it. But this conference has provided a moment for me to reflect on how so many of us have made convenience the priority in the way we operate. And I’m not going to press the “ignore” button on that.

Press the ‘Ignore’ Button

Thu, 01/28/2016 - 12:26

Morguefile.com

In between sessions at the Inman Connect conference in New York, everyone’s on their phones in the hallways. They’re bound to be conducting business in one way or another. If I know real estate people, they’re checking messages, sending contracts, and negotiating deals in what free time they have. But now in the third day of the conference, I can count on one hand the number of people I’ve seen over the last few days put their phone to their ear and actually talk.

We all know technology has changed the way we communicate, and we don’t have to be face-to-face or talk on the phone to get things done. But it’s not about whether you have to; it’s about whether you should, even if you don’t have to. Practitioners constantly make the point that this business is built on relationships, so I would have expected to see more attendees step out to make a quick phone call — to make a personal connection to someone who’s relying on them back home. But instead, they’re texting, scrolling, tweeting, or doing whatever else the whole time. If they are, in fact, doing business from their seats, it speaks volumes to how they choose to connect to their clients.

I don’t mean to sound accusatory. Technology has made real estate an amazingly efficient business in many respects, and practitioners have been wise to take advantage of that. But, man, it’s a sign of the times when all these real estate folks — some of the most social people I know — can go days on end without talking on the phone. Doesn’t anyone — especially a client — need a voice on the other end of the line anymore?

Leigh Brown mentioned having the same observation when she spoke at Inman Connect on Wednesday. “There are things in real estate that don’t change despite technology: Those who hustle succeed,” she said. “They pick up the phone and call people. I’ve seen only a handful of people doing that in the hallway. People are allergic to their phones.” (She meant talking on their phones.)

To be fair, it’s not just the younger crowd I see operating in this manner. Yes, attendees at Inman Connect skew younger, but there are a fair number of older practitioners here, too. And they’re all texting instead of talking.

For all I know, they could be going back to their hotel rooms at the end of the day and spending hours making phone calls and catching up with clients, friends, and family. But I doubt it. It’s become easier to stay connected in a disconnected way, and to some extent, we’re all guilty of it. But this conference has provided a moment for me to reflect on how so many of us have made convenience the priority in the way we operate. And I’m not going to press the “ignore” button on that.

Is Anyone Getting Tech Fatigue?

Thu, 01/28/2016 - 10:24

The showroom floor at Inman Connect.

For a conference that partially serves as a launching pad for new innovations in the real estate industry, there’s a sense at Inman Connect this year that someone needs to push the pause button on the rapid technological shifts taking over the industry.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of new tools being presented here that sincerely promise to simplify the real estate process for both the agent and consumer, with the emphasis heavily on the evolving app world rather than gadgetry. But much of the discussion around forward-looking tech is focusing on the evolution of things like virtual reality, artificial intelligence, and how on-demand services could impact real estate in the future — things we won’t see come to full fruition for another 10 to 20 years or even longer. In the past, a lot of tech presented at Inman Connect had more imminent implications for the industry. There’s this feeling right now that, hey, the industry has been through a lot of change and much more is coming, but let’s just take a breather for a minute.

In sessions with team leaders and brokers, they talk about how they’ve created culture, and instilling a sense of technical know-how by offering cutting-edge tools and education is definitely a part of that. But many of them have been vague about the specific tools they use and more detailed about how they encourage agents to find their place in a brand and uphold the values of customer service. It’s not that the tech piece of the puzzle is somehow losing importance — I think everyone can agree it’s as important as ever. But the industry has been talking about it so much lately that there’s a danger we’re glossing over what is still the most valuable part of working with a real estate agent: the relationship aspect. And I think people here at Inman are trying to do their part to remind their peers of that.

There have even been somewhat contentious moments around tech talk that haven’t been well-received by the audience. Thursday morning, Kara Swisher, executive editor of technology news site Re/code, was talking about AI when she mentioned its potential ability to replace real estate agents in the future. That inspired more than a few murmurs in the crowd. (To be fair, though, Swisher was one of the more engaging speakers overall and earned points when Brad Inman said Rupert Murdoch had been sitting in her chair last year. “Did you clean it?” she said, followed by an uproar of laughter from the audience.)

The showroom floor, where there are booths for a few stalwart tech ventures along with many newcomers, has also seemed to have lighter traffic this year, too. It’s definitely had its traffic peaks, but I’m seeing more conference attendees stopping in the hallway to talk to each other than vendors.

Some bright minds in the industry have been warning professionals for a while now not to run wild with every new innovation they come across. It’s bad for their wallet and potentially bad for business if they’re constantly adding new technology layers to their routine. I think we’re seeing the tech hangover set in now. We all know practitioners like to party it up when they go away to conferences. But I don’t think the slight sluggishness I’m sensing from the crowds here at Inman Connect is because they went out drinking too late the night before.

Is Anyone Getting Tech Fatigue?

Thu, 01/28/2016 - 10:24

The showroom floor at Inman Connect.

For a conference that partially serves as a launching pad for new innovations in the real estate industry, there’s a sense at Inman Connect this year that someone needs to push the pause button on the rapid technological shifts taking over the industry.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of new tools being presented here that sincerely promise to simplify the real estate process for both the agent and consumer, with the emphasis heavily on the evolving app world rather than gadgetry. But much of the discussion around forward-looking tech is focusing on the evolution of things like virtual reality, artificial intelligence, and how on-demand services could impact real estate in the future — things we won’t see come to full fruition for another 10 to 20 years or even longer. In the past, a lot of tech presented at Inman Connect had more imminent implications for the industry. There’s this feeling right now that, hey, the industry has been through a lot of change and much more is coming, but let’s just take a breather for a minute.

In sessions with team leaders and brokers, they talk about how they’ve created culture, and instilling a sense of technical know-how by offering cutting-edge tools and education is definitely a part of that. But many of them have been vague about the specific tools they use and more detailed about how they encourage agents to find their place in a brand and uphold the values of customer service. It’s not that the tech piece of the puzzle is somehow losing importance — I think everyone can agree it’s as important as ever. But the industry has been talking about it so much lately that there’s a danger we’re glossing over what is still the most valuable part of working with a real estate agent: the relationship aspect. And I think people here at Inman are trying to do their part to remind their peers of that.

There have even been somewhat contentious moments around tech talk that haven’t been well-received by the audience. Thursday morning, Kara Swisher, executive editor of technology news site Re/code, was talking about AI when she mentioned its potential ability to replace real estate agents in the future. That inspired more than a few murmurs in the crowd. (To be fair, though, Swisher was one of the more engaging speakers overall and earned points when Brad Inman said Rupert Murdoch had been sitting in her chair last year. “Did you clean it?” she said, followed by an uproar of laughter from the audience.)

The showroom floor, where there are booths for a few stalwart tech ventures along with many newcomers, has also seemed to have lighter traffic this year, too. It’s definitely had its traffic peaks, but I’m seeing more conference attendees stopping in the hallway to talk to each other than vendors.

Some bright minds in the industry have been warning professionals for a while now not to run wild with every new innovation they come across. It’s bad for their wallet and potentially bad for business if they’re constantly adding new technology layers to their routine. I think we’re seeing the tech hangover set in now. We all know practitioners like to party it up when they go away to conferences. But I don’t think the slight sluggishness I’m sensing from the crowds here at Inman Connect is because they went out drinking too late the night before.

Wickr, Snapchat . . . They Raise Novel Record Keeping Issues

Thu, 01/28/2016 - 08:25

Apps whose messages self destruct after a few seconds offer a new way to communicate with clients. For that reason, you might see an increase in the use of apps like Snapchat and Wickr in real estate. Although the messages go away, they can still be copied and saved, by both the sender and the recipient.

Courts in California and Missouri have recently ruled that these communications don’t have to be kept as part of one’s business record keeping. As Finley Maxson, senior counsel at the National Association of REALTORS®, says, “Both states have made it clear that these are not the type of correspondence licensees are required to retain in their client files.”

The rulings are a top story in The Voice for Real Estate for the week of January 25. Another top story looks at the surge in home sales, which increased almost 15 percent in December. NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun says the jump confirms the slowdown in sales the previous month was caused by the closing rules that took effect in October.

“The decline back in November we attributed largely to the rule on mortgage closings, the Know Before You Owe rule,” Yun said when he released the December sales figures last week. This latest data “is confirming that it was mostly delays and not cancellations.” Under the closing rules, lenders have to give borrowers a certain amount of time to look over documents before the closing, so finalizing the documents at the last minute is no longer possible. And if certain changes are made to the terms between the time the loan estimate and closing disclosure are issued, new time frames might kick in.

The video also looks at two other important developments in the industry: the life sentence handed down to the man who took the life of an Arkansas real estate professional, Beverly Carter, and the role a new NAR tech lab is playing in the design of smart home devices. NAR tech analysts at the lab are testing devices such as temperature and air quality sensors with the aim of helping manufacturers and research institutions make these devices more useful from a real estate perspective.

Watch the video on YouTube. 

A Risk Worth Taking

Wed, 01/27/2016 - 18:35

Panelists at the “Strategies for Standing Out” session speak about how they became leaders in their markets.

At a session during Inman Connect on Wednesday called “Strategies for Standing Out,” the common theme was that you have to be willing to take risks in order to be viewed as a local leader. Marguerite Giguere, a sales associate with Windermere Real Estate in Tacoma, Wash., who has built a niche in the city’s downtown market, told a personal story about a situation she’s facing in her business today that’s posing a lot of risk to her image. However, she’s rising to the challenge in hopes it will force conversations that will enlighten her community more about what she does. It serves as a good example for the kind of risks worth taking for real estate professionals. Here’s what Giguere had to say:

“I launched a website last March called MovetoTacoma.com, which is a way to reach buyers outside the city. I really didn’t expect it to get a ton of attention because it’s just a real estate site. And then it was written about by NPR, Business Examiner, and all these other publications, and some people in my community responded with ‘eff you. We don’t want our rents going up or our home prices going up, and you’re the face of gentrification.’ I was really surprised by that reaction, but that’s sometimes the other side of standing out. I’m a leader in my community, and part of that is having really difficult conversations. This issue is something that I’m still working on, and I might end up looking like a jerk. But if I do it right and do my part to engage with and have conversations with my community, I could end up being really successful and changing the way people look at our city. When challenges come your way, you have to break it open and get in there and talk to people about it.”

A Risk Worth Taking

Wed, 01/27/2016 - 18:35

Panelists at the “Strategies for Standing Out” session speak about how they became leaders in their markets.

At a session during Inman Connect on Wednesday called “Strategies for Standing Out,” the common theme was that you have to be willing to take risks in order to be viewed as a local leader. Marguerite Giguere, a sales associate with Windermere Real Estate in Tacoma, Wash., who has built a niche in the city’s downtown market, told a personal story about a situation she’s facing in her business today that’s posing a lot of risk to her image. However, she’s rising to the challenge in hopes it will force conversations that will enlighten her community more about what she does. It serves as a good example for the kind of risks worth taking for real estate professionals. Here’s what Giguere had to say:

“I launched a website last March called MovetoTacoma.com, which is a way to reach buyers outside the city. I really didn’t expect it to get a ton of attention because it’s just a real estate site. And then it was written about by NPR, Business Examiner, and all these other publications, and some people in my community responded with ‘eff you. We don’t want our rents going up or our home prices going up, and you’re the face of gentrification.’ I was really surprised by that reaction, but that’s sometimes the other side of standing out. I’m a leader in my community, and part of that is having really difficult conversations. This issue is something that I’m still working on, and I might end up looking like a jerk. But if I do it right and do my part to engage with and have conversations with my community, I could end up being really successful and changing the way people look at our city. When challenges come your way, you have to break it open and get in there and talk to people about it.”

Leigh Brown: You Won’t Like This, But I’ll Say It Anyway

Wed, 01/27/2016 - 17:33

Leigh Brown talks straight at Inman Connect.

Leigh Brown has something to say that you probably won’t like, but she’s going to say it anyway: Stop bragging so much.

Real estate professionals are big on projecting an image of success at all times and publicly announcing every one of their triumphs on social media — particularly when it’s a high-priced listing that nets them a big commission. It’s OK to celebrate the good times, but there aren’t too many who are willing to acknowledge their mistakes as openly. And if they do, they’re often shunned by their peers.

The best-foot-forward culture that has developed in the industry doesn’t allow practitioners to be human, Brown said at the General Session during Inman Connect on Wednesday. When you can’t own your mistakes, that makes your successes less meaningful.

“We’ve all overpriced a house, and if you say you haven’t, you’re either a vendor or a liar,” Brown quipped. “But we don’t want to say that because we don’t want to get uncomfortable, do we? … You’re going to have as many fans as you do enemies, so you might as well be honest with people.”

Brown turned the mirror on the audience, forcing practitioners to take a look at themselves and calling out those who act like “eighth-grade mean girls.” She encouraged less shaming of those who mess up and to spend that energy reaching out with a helping hand to someone you see who is in need. “I’m the first one to admit we have a bunch of jacklegs in real estate, but what happened to showing a little bit of grace to each other?” Brown said. “Do you take the time to reach out to somebody around you to help make them better?”

It’s worth examining why the expectation is so high to appear in control and at the top of your game, not just to change how we treat each other but also to appear more authentic to consumers. “Wanna know why consumers don’t trust us? Because we brag about how much money we make and tell them lies about their properties to make things look good,” Brown said.

Tough words for sure, but does she have a point?

Leigh Brown: You Won’t Like This, But I’ll Say It Anyway

Wed, 01/27/2016 - 17:33

Leigh Brown talks straight at Inman Connect.

Leigh Brown has something to say that you probably won’t like, but she’s going to say it anyway: Stop bragging so much.

Real estate professionals are big on projecting an image of success at all times and publicly announcing every one of their triumphs on social media — particularly when it’s a high-priced listing that nets them a big commission. It’s OK to celebrate the good times, but there aren’t too many who are willing to acknowledge their mistakes as openly. And if they do, they’re often shunned by their peers.

The best-foot-forward culture that has developed in the industry doesn’t allow practitioners to be human, Brown said at the General Session during Inman Connect on Wednesday. When you can’t own your mistakes, that makes your successes less meaningful.

“We’ve all overpriced a house, and if you say you haven’t, you’re either a vendor or a liar,” Brown quipped. “But we don’t want to say that because we don’t want to get uncomfortable, do we? … You’re going to have as many fans as you do enemies, so you might as well be honest with people.”

Brown turned the mirror on the audience, forcing practitioners to take a look at themselves and calling out those who act like “eighth-grade mean girls.” She encouraged less shaming of those who mess up and to spend that energy reaching out with a helping hand to someone you see who is in need. “I’m the first one to admit we have a bunch of jacklegs in real estate, but what happened to showing a little bit of grace to each other?” Brown said. “Do you take the time to reach out to somebody around you to help make them better?”

It’s worth examining why the expectation is so high to appear in control and at the top of your game, not just to change how we treat each other but also to appear more authentic to consumers. “Wanna know why consumers don’t trust us? Because we brag about how much money we make and tell them lies about their properties to make things look good,” Brown said.

Tough words for sure, but does she have a point?

To Be Successful, You Have to Be Weird

Wed, 01/27/2016 - 12:44

Seth Godin speaks about marketing to outsiders at Inman Connect.

There’s nothing more boring than being “normal,” and if you’re trying your hardest to fit in, then people won’t care what you’re doing.

That’s the idea marketing expert and author Seth Godin was getting at during the General Session at Inman Connect in New York. He said more and more people are falling outside the box of what’s considered normal, and if you plan to stay relevant to consumers, you have to be willing to cater to the weird and unconventional — and promote yourself that way. Basically, that means you have to find a segment of buyer you can connect with, but you can’t be the “every man” agent anymore because that doesn’t resonate with people.

“There’s all this pressure to be normal, have normal clients, drive a normal car, have normal listings,” Godin said. “And now something is changing. There are more people who are outside of normal than inside normal. What you’ll find is that normal people are ignoring you because they don’t care. People who care are outsiders, and you’ll be forced to segment to them.”

Godin used motorcycle company Harley as an example of a business that found loyalty in a fringe market. “Harley takes disrespected outsiders, gives them a badge, and makes them insiders,” he said.

What this means for you is that you won’t find the greatest success in targeting the “typical” buyer, however that applies to your market. Everyone has an idea of the type of client they want to attract, and for many real estate professionals, it’s the same kind of person. So don’t be like that. There’s a whole group of prospects your competition isn’t trying to reach, and those are the people who are looking for someone like you to work with. As Godin put it: “You must plants the seeds where they will grow and walk away from the places where they won’t.”

Does that sound weird?

The ‘Facebook Moment’ Is Over

Tue, 01/26/2016 - 17:27

Panelists talk about the latest tech trends at Inman Connect on Tuesday.

Wherever real estate falls in its transformation to a high-tech industry, it’s somewhere between Facebook and Snapchat. That analogy is meant to point out that Facebook, now so commonly used that it’s considered a basic element of modern life, represents the minimum technology standard consumers expect of real estate professionals. Snapchat, on the other hand, is a bit newer, with its applications still evolving, and represents a higher bar that more tech-savvy agents are rising to.

But we’ve moved beyond the point where practitioners can cite Facebook and Twitter as examples of how they stay relevant with technology — because there’s nothing new about either platforms, Anne Jones, a sales associate with Windermere Real Estate in Tacoma, Wash., suggested during a tech forum at Inman Connect in New York. “Stop talking about tweeting and Facebooking,” she said. “We’re passed the Facebook and Twitter moment.”

Does that mean Snapchat now represents a new standard for where pros should be with their technology skills? Not quite yet. We’re in a period now where practitioners need to delve deeper into the technology they’ve become comfortable with to understand how it’s actually working for them before adopting more ambitious advancements, said Seth Dailey, co-founder of Keller Williams Gateway in Baltimore.

That starts with understanding the analytics generated by the tech you use. The analytics on Facebook ads, for example, are misunderstood by way too many professionals who use the the tool, Jones said.

“You can only improve what you measure,” Dailey said. “Everyone here is about getting homes bought and sold, and if you want to improve that, you have to measure your success.”

The ‘Facebook Moment’ Is Over

Tue, 01/26/2016 - 17:27

Panelists talk about the latest tech trends at Inman Connect on Tuesday.

Wherever real estate falls in its transformation to a high-tech industry, it’s somewhere between Facebook and Snapchat. That analogy is meant to point out that Facebook, now so commonly used that it’s considered a basic element of modern life, represents the minimum technology standard consumers expect of real estate professionals. Snapchat, on the other hand, is a bit newer, with its applications still evolving, and represents a higher bar that more tech-savvy agents are rising to.

But we’ve moved beyond the point where practitioners can cite Facebook and Twitter as examples of how they stay relevant with technology — because there’s nothing new about either platforms, Anne Jones, a sales associate with Windermere Real Estate in Tacoma, Wash., suggested during a tech forum at Inman Connect in New York. “Stop talking about tweeting and Facebooking,” she said. “We’re passed the Facebook and Twitter moment.”

Does that mean Snapchat now represents a new standard for where pros should be with their technology skills? Not quite yet. We’re in a period now where practitioners need to delve deeper into the technology they’ve become comfortable with to understand how it’s actually working for them before adopting more ambitious advancements, said Seth Dailey, co-founder of Keller Williams Gateway in Baltimore.

That starts with understanding the analytics generated by the tech you use. The analytics on Facebook ads, for example, are misunderstood by way too many professionals who use the the tool, Jones said.

“You can only improve what you measure,” Dailey said. “Everyone here is about getting homes bought and sold, and if you want to improve that, you have to measure your success.”

Try This: Use Emojis in Client Communications

Tue, 01/26/2016 - 16:18

Photo illustration: REALTOR® Magazine

The whole room started chuckling when Linda O’Koniewski, CEO of RE/MAX Leading Edge in Melrose, Mass., made a peculiar suggestion for improving agent-client relationships during the broker segment at Inman Connect in New York. She said agents who use emojis — hearts, smiley faces, animals, if it’s fitting — sometimes have stronger communication with clients.

Go ahead and laugh; get it out of your system. But I’m telling you: Once I let it sink in a little deeper, it kind of made sense to me.

“When my agents put hearts on their texts and e-mails, it’s like they’re sending a little bit of love,” O’Koniewski said. It sounds silly at first, I know. But think about how you communicate with your friends and loved ones. When you have something particularly exciting to share, don’t you sometimes send a happy face with your message? Or if you want to show you understand that a friend is down, don’t you send a “frowny” face?

It’s in the little details where we show people that we are connected to them and empathize. That’s what real relationships are all about. So if you’ve spent time getting to know your clients, building trust, and forming a real bond, then they’d probably receive an emoji from you in the same manner they would a trusted friend. And isn’t it your goal to be seen as a trusted friend to your clients?

I know that I share dumb little smiley faces with REALTOR® sources I’ve developed for my stories over the years. We have a business relationship, but there’s nothing I view as unprofessional about fun emoji expressions in our communications. It makes me feel more like I can be myself with them. I think that’s what O’Koniewski was getting at.

Of course, the notion of communicating with emojis may not suit everyone, and at least it’s good for a little laugh. As session moderator Sherry Chris, president and CEO of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate, said: “I usually put skulls and martini glasses in my texts. I don’t know what that would say to a client.”

Are Inexperienced Recruits Better Hires?

Tue, 01/26/2016 - 12:41

Opening sessions touched on hiring new agents at Inman Connect on Tuesday.

Brokers and team leaders are putting their focus on recruiting new agents at the Inman Connect conference in New York, and the theme emerging on opening day is that they’re ready to infuse the industry with some younger blood. Making the business attractive and relevant to younger people is a familiar problem, but brokers came to morning sessions on Tuesday ready to share why the inexperienced have often made better hires for them.

“I love hiring someone right out of college,” said Mark Spain, CEO of Mark Spain Real Estate — a company with 85 agents — in Atlanta. “It’s nice to have someone who hasn’t been in the business and who learns it the right way. I’m really looking for talent — the Lebron James-type people. And talent is about much more than knowing the job.”

Gwen Daubenmeyer, CEO and associate broker of The Integrity Team at RE/MAX Defined in Rochester, Mich., said she has focused on recruiting inexperienced agents for her 13-agent team and immediately sent them to cutting-edge education and training courses. “We run a 90 percent referral business,” she said, “so I’m after longevity. Young people with talent are looking for something to belong to — not just a job.”

None of this is to say that experienced agents don’t play a vital role, particularly when it comes to helping the next generation of real estate practitioners develop into their own. When speaking about how to form rock-solid real estate teams, team leaders spoke of the need to have a core group of experienced agents in the office to hold newer agents accountable for their progress and education. But let’s be honest: With 57 being the median age of all REALTORS®, it’s incumbent on leaders in the business to build a pipeline of fresh professionals.

Brokers could get in that mind frame by beginning to recognize the value of younger agents to their individual business. “I like new agents because they haven’t developed bad habits,” said Linda O’Koniewski, CEO of RE/MAX Leading Edge in Melrose, Mass. “I’ve created a litmus test to test them before I hire them. Make sure they drive by 100 properties and get a feel for the day-to-day business. Those who can’t hack it won’t go further than that point. But if they’re still hungry, we hire them.”

How Are Closings Going?

Wed, 01/20/2016 - 13:14

Home sales in November 2015 saw a big drop and although it’s too soon to know definitively what’s behind the slowdown, it’s possible the  new closing rules that went into effect October 3 had something to do with it.

NAR researchers say closings on average are taking five days longer than they did before the change. If that’s the case, then some transactions that would have closed in November would have been delayed until December, and that could account for some of the drop, which NAR says was about 10.5 percentage points, from a 5.3-million unit sales pace to a 4.8-million pace.

NAR will be releasing its December existing-home sales numbers later this week and that will give a good indication if the November slowdown was a one-month blip, perhaps caused by the new closing rules, or something else.

The November sales drop was a top story in the latest NAR news video, The Voice for Real Estate. The video also looks at the bright prospects for foreign investment in U.S. commercial real estate. At the heart of foreign investors’ interest in retail, industrial, office, and other commercial property types in the U.S. is its relatively stable markets, especially when looked at in comparison with other parts of the world, including Europe, where geopolitical and economic issues are contributing to investor caution.

But Congress also helped boost prospects for foreign investment by passing end-of-the-year legislation that includes provisions easing 35-year-old restrictions on foreign property investment. One provision allows foreign pension funds to own U.S. real property interests without triggering a withholding tax, and another allows overseas investors to own up to 10 percent of a publicly traded REIT, an increase from 5 percent.

All told, some $30 billion more in U.S. commercial property investment is expected this year from foreign buyers. More on this and other issues is in the latest Voice for Real Estate video, above.

 

Two Ways Crowdfunding Can Boost Your Real Estate Business

Tue, 01/12/2016 - 10:16

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is coming out with a rule in a few weeks that will make crowdfunding a more mainstream way to raise money. There are two reasons this development applies to you as a real estate professional. First, it can fuel the growth of companies you do business with that want to expand but are having trouble getting capital to do it. Through crowdfunding, they can get the money they need to move into a bigger space or otherwise expand their real estate imprint. Second, if you’re looking to grow your brokerage business, it might be a way for you to do that.

Right now, when you think of crowdfunding, you might think of tech start-ups using the Internet to bypass Wall Street to reach hundreds or thousands of small investors. The SEC rule that comes out in late January will build on this framework by standardizing the rules of the road. The idea is to increase the transparency of the offering and set limits on how much one individual can invest, among other things. That opens the door to companies that might otherwise balk at crowdfunding to give it a try.

Last year companies raised $16 billion in capital going directly to small investors; this year, the number is expected to get quite a bit bigger.

One company that is wasting little time in this new environment is Generation Income Properties in Tampa, Fla. The real estate investment trust (REIT) is reaching out to small investors to generate $20 million in capital and go public. David Sobelman, the company’s founder and CEO, says it’s simpler and less expensive to go public this way than to go through Wall Street and reach out to institutional investors. “It would cost us between $1.5 million and $2 million just for legal fees,” if they were to go the traditional route, he says.

REALTOR® Magazine asked Sobelman to answer a few questions about his company’s crowdfunding plans. You can hear his answers in the two-minute video above.

More from NAR Government Affairs. 

Other crowdfunding video coverage:

7 Tech Game Changers for Your Business

Mon, 01/11/2016 - 15:13

One of the technology industry’s hottest shows wrapped up last week in Las Vegas, where we got a peak at some items that have the potential to drastically change the way real estate professionals do business. From virtual reality headsets to driverless cars, CES 2016 offered plenty of insights into how staying connected and marketing listings may evolve.

REALTOR® Magazine was on the show floor this year at CES 2016, and we were on the hunt for the tech trends that could break new ground in your business. Check out our highlights video above as we countdown the seven coolest tech trends we saw.

Take Our Poll
What tech has you most excited for the future of your real estate business?

For REALTOR® Magazine’s full coverage from CES 2016, click here.

When Presidential Candidates Talk Real Estate

Mon, 12/21/2015 - 10:32

As the presidential nominating process moves into 2016, don’t be surprised if candidates from both parties talk about real estate and the federal issues that affect it. After all, the industry accounts for roughly a fifth of the U.S. economy. It’s too big to ignore.

Already some of the most important issues impacting real estate, including tax policy changes and secondary mortgage market reform, are on lawmakers’ agenda. Tax policy changes, reform of the secondary mortgage market: these are critical issues that candidates will likely have something to say about, if they haven’t already.

NAR doesn’t get involved in presidential politics, but even so, the association carefully weighs everything candidates say about issues impacting real estate. If a candidate proposes a plan for, say reforming Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, NAR will look at it closely. Same thing if a candidate talks about changing the mortgage interest deduction or other tax provision that affects real estate.

Of course, it will be a long road before any proposal brought up on the campaign trail gets to the legislation stage. Regardless of who becomes president, lawmakers in both the House and the Senate, and on both sides of the aisle, must consider any proposal that gains currency. There will be hearings, drafts, alternative proposals, and votes. NAR will be a big part of the process at this stage, because lawmakers know the association has been working on these issues for years.

NAR Deputy Chief Lobbyist Jamie Gregory talks about the long road to legislation for any proposal that is brought up on the campaign trail in the latest Voice for Real Estate news video. “Candidates are saying what their ideal plans are, but even if try get elected, they can’t do it alone,” Gregory says. “They still have to go to Congress. They have a partner in this process.”

Gregory’s remarks are one of the top segments in the video, which also looks at two research reports NAR just released, one on the value of remodeling projects and the other on households’ attitudes about home ownership. The video looks at two recent legislative wins as well. The first is the association’s success at protecting guarantee fees from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac from being used to offset transportation program costs. The other is the success at getting important tax provisions extended. Among the tax provisions are mortgage debt cancellation relief, which helps households who’ve had mortgage debt forgiven, and 15-year depreciation of leasehold improvements, a commercial priority.

In addition, the video looks at two legal issues. One involves a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision affecting temporary signs; the other looks at the use of images online.

Access the video:

When Presidential Candidates Talk Real Estate

Mon, 12/21/2015 - 10:32

As the presidential nominating process moves into 2016, don’t be surprised if candidates from both parties talk about real estate and the federal issues that affect it. After all, the industry accounts for roughly a fifth of the U.S. economy. It’s too big to ignore.

Already some of the most important issues impacting real estate, including tax policy changes and secondary mortgage market reform, are on lawmakers’ agenda. Tax policy changes, reform of the secondary mortgage market: these are critical issues that candidates will likely have something to say about, if they haven’t already.

NAR doesn’t get involved in presidential politics, but even so, the association carefully weighs everything candidates say about issues impacting real estate. If a candidate proposes a plan for, say reforming Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, NAR will look at it closely. Same thing if a candidate talks about changing the mortgage interest deduction or other tax provision that affects real estate.

Of course, it will be a long road before any proposal brought up on the campaign trail gets to the legislation stage. Regardless of who becomes president, lawmakers in both the House and the Senate, and on both sides of the aisle, must consider any proposal that gains currency. There will be hearings, drafts, alternative proposals, and votes. NAR will be a big part of the process at this stage, because lawmakers know the association has been working on these issues for years.

NAR Deputy Chief Lobbyist Jamie Gregory talks about the long road to legislation for any proposal that is brought up on the campaign trail in the latest Voice for Real Estate news video. “Candidates are saying what their ideal plans are, but even if try get elected, they can’t do it alone,” Gregory says. “They still have to go to Congress. They have a partner in this process.”

Gregory’s remarks are one of the top segments in the video, which also looks at two research reports NAR just released, one on the value of remodeling projects and the other on households’ attitudes about home ownership. The video looks at two recent legislative wins as well. The first is the association’s success at protecting guarantee fees from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac from being used to offset transportation program costs. The other is the success at getting important tax provisions extended. Among the tax provisions are mortgage debt cancellation relief, which helps households who’ve had mortgage debt forgiven, and 15-year depreciation of leasehold improvements, a commercial priority.

In addition, the video looks at two legal issues. One involves a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision affecting temporary signs; the other looks at the use of images online.

Access the video: