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July 30, 2015

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Expand Your Client Base in 5 Minutes

Fri, 07/24/2015 - 16:20

Lee Davenport

By Lee Davenport

Does selling on social media intimidate or frustrate you?  I can understand if it does.  Maybe you focus on one social platform, doing the obligatory thing of posting your listings. Or you’re promoting your real estate business through several social media accounts. Either way, if social media has has not become a big bread winner for you yet, then you might be slightly miffed at this time zapper.

One main way that you can start correcting this today is to stop speaking to an empty page or site. It makes total sense that if you walk into an empty room (that is not adjacent to anything or anyone and has no cameras, mics, telephones, etc.), no matter how loud or long you scream, there is no one there to hear you. Believe it or not, many of us make this same mistake on social media. We post on pages and to accounts where no one is listening.

Stop waiting for potential home sellers and buyers to come to you; you need to go to them. You may be thinking, “I want to do that, but with the millions of people on social media, it just seems impossible.”  Au contraire, mon cher! In today’s technological age, there is an app, site, software, or something else that can help you with that.

Here is one of my favorite tools to help get on the offensive and make social connections that boost your likelihood of converting clicks to clients to closings to commissions (which are the vital 4 Cs of online real estate sales): Mention.com

Mention offers a more extensive search on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube than Google Alerts because you can find out what’s being said about your topic/keyword on just social media rather than on the Internet as a whole where it may not have the same level of engagement and interest. (Another alert system I favor is Talkwalker Alerts because it too retrieves intel from social media sites.)  This means that you can find people chattering about your target area (or farm area) where you want to become the agent of choice (like Cherry Hills Village in Colorado, El Cerrito in California, Woodridge in Washington, East Atlanta in Georgia, Palmer Woods in Michigan, and so forth).

I have found that home buyers and sellers may not go online looking for you specifically, or even a REALTOR®, but they are posting their housing dreams and concerns in hopes that help will find them. Mention allows you to do that more efficiently. You’ll spend less money than sending postcard mailings, and you’ll likely create more authentic connections if you actively pursue people posting about your real estate niche or area of interest. Check out the image at the right for an example of an alert I recently received of someone sharing an article I wrote for Huffington Post. You better believe I connected with this person, who is a “raving fan” but whom I had never met. This shows the power of using Mention.

In addition to following topics of interest relevant to my business, I also follow myself and my brand, which I recommend you do too.

Are you multilingual?  You can create one alert that searches social media and the Web in the different languages you speak – I love easy automation.

Imagine what would happen if you could easily locate people who share and comment on articles and topics germane to your sales area. It all starts with creating an account and an alert of your choosing in under five minutes. I hope that puts a smile on your face.

If you are not convinced this can be done in under five minutes, watch me setup an alert from my phone. (My only qualm is that Mention.com is not as mobile responsive as I would like. You will see in the video how I have to scroll to see everything on the webpage).

Once you start getting alerts (which you can send to your email), make sure to review them in short order, and connect with the person that posted it as soon as possible. These alerts will all be in vain if you do not do anything with them.

Also, there should be a method to your posting madness. Make sure you do not become a creepy, cyber stalker – there has to be finesse in your approach to connecting with people you don’t already know. Check out this past article or grab this workbook to help create strategic posts to build your sales. Here’s to your success!

Lee Davenport is a licensed real estate broker, business doctoral student, trainer and coach.  Learn more about the training and 1-on-1 coaching programs that she offers by visiting www.AgentsAroundAtlanta.com.

Google My Business, Google+ Builds SEO

Tue, 07/21/2015 - 16:16

Bill Gassett

By Bill Gassett

There is no question that using Google Plus is important for a real estate agent looking to capture business from social media. What is often overlooked – and probably even more important – is using Google My Business (formerly Google Local) to tie your business in through search.

When someone does a search for a local business using Google, the search engine will often deliver what is called the “7-pack,” which includes seven local businesses based on geographic location. Google chooses seven lucky business websites that have been optimized to appear in these kind of searches. The 7-pack is grouped together, slightly separated from rest of the search results.

Hopefully bells are starting to ring in your head, telling you that this kind of search is important. In the real estate sector, you want your information to come up in a local search like, “Realtor Portland OR” or “real estate agent Miami FL.” Keep in mind that getting into the 7-pack is free, you just need to know how to do it.

Are you interested in how an agent or broker can get themselves into the Google 7-pack? I am sure you are all nodding your heads as you’re reading this.

Let’s use me as an example. I’m a real estate agent from Hopkinton, Mass., and you can see what I’m are talking about by going to Google and entering the search term “Realtors Hopkinton MA.” You are more than likely going to see my websites, massrealestatenews.com and maxrealestateexposure.com, in the 7-pack. As a real estate pro, this is a very valuable position.

Here is what you need to do to increase the odds of appearing in the 7-pack. First, you need to get a verified business page with Google. Once you have followed the steps and created your business page, then you will need to create a foot print around the Web. Local SEO is similar to traditional SEO in that there are a number of factors that will determine how high a website will rank in search results. It’s a little less difficult, however, to achieve high local SEO.

While links online are still really important in local SEO, citations are also vital. Citations are mentions of your business online. A citation is formed by having the name, address, and phone number (NAP) of your company appear on other websites. The quality of your citations is especially important. For example, you want to see your citations coming sites that everyone is familiar with, such as Facebook, Yelp, Merchant Circle, Manta, Bing, Yahoo, and others. The more quality sources where your website and NAP appear, the better.

One thing I cannot emphasize enough is that your NAP needs to be identical to what you have on your website. When I say identical, I mean identical! If the address of your business is 50 Main Street, Lubbock, Texas, when you add your business to Facebook it has to match that address exactly. The address is not identical if you’re using “50 Main St.” instead of spelling out the word “Street.” This would work against you appearing in the 7-pack. The same holds true if you use a different phone number. Your NAP must match perfectly.

You may be wondering how to find local online directories where you can add your contact information. Here is a list of some of the most important local directories to help your business appear in the 7-pack. If you add your site to these directories, not only will you have picked up 55 new links pointing to your website, you will also receive local citations from important sources.

Why would a real estate agent want to be in the Google 7-pack?

If you are a practitioner who gets their website and contact information into the 7-pack, I guarantee that more local customers will be calling you to potentially interview you for business. Sellers who are not already connected to a real estate agent will commonly search Google to find someone they think can help them. While these types of inquiries are not high volume, they are “money searches.” What I mean by money searches is that the person who is doing research is ready to do business. They are seeking out the services of a real estate agent who can help them immediately. When your information comes up in the 7-pack, your odds of being called by those motivated sellers increase. This advice works whether you are an agent, mortgage broker, lawyer, electrician, or any other business for that matter.

Why you should be use Google Plus.

What most people don’t realize is that Google Plus is not just another social channel like Facebook. Google Plus is a social site that is integrated with Google search. When you share content on Google Plus, people who follow you are more likely to see your content in search results when they are logged into Google. Keep in mind that most people stay logged into Google all the time. What this means is if you gain a large following, the content you produce is more likely to be seen.

Additionally, the posts you create and share on Google Plus can be found as standalone search results in Google. So when you share an article or post from your own website, not only is that article itself getting a boost in SEO from Google Plus, but the post you create has the potential to show up in search results as well. Like any other site, the more you use your profile, connect with other people, and share content on Google Plus, the more likely your information will appear in search results.

There is no one who explains this better than Mark Traphagen from Stone Temple Consulting in his article on why real estate agents should be using Google Plus. Mark carefully provides all the benefits a broker or agent receives when they take time to become a well-engaged authority on the Google Plus platform. If you are a real estate agent, I would highly recommend taking the time to read this article and bookmark it.

Similarly, it is important to understand how Google Plus profiles gain search authority. This is yet another excellent contribution by Mark over at Search Engine Land on how the strength of your profile influences your visibility on the Web.

As a real estate agent, mortgage broker, lawyer, or any other businessperson, you should be taking the time to learn how to gain more visibility online. We live in a world where people utilize the Internet more and more to find what they are looking for. Social media is an avenue many businesses are not utilizing to its fullest potential.

What should be made clear that there are no magic bullets in social media. There is quite a bit of misinformation being passed around on how social signals can boost your position in an online search. For example, there are some SEO pundits who will claim that having a lot of Facebook shares or likes will put your business higher in Google search results. There is no evidence that this actually occurs, but you will see all these fancy infographics along with correlating studies that cite Facebook (and others) as a driving force for SEO. Unfortunately, a couple people write about it and then the next thing you know it becomes truth on the Internet. Fortunately, there are some renowned SEO experts who will actually explain that not everything you read on the Internet is true. Eric Enge, owner of Stone Temple Consulting, is an SEO expert I trust. He took the time and did a carefully designed analysis showing that Facebook does not increase your SEO. Take a look and you be the judge. Correlation does not equal causation, my friends!

One of the amazing things about the real estate industry is that there is a low percentage of repeat business. In other words, many real estate agents will not be hired again when a past client is ready to sell their home. There are so many reasons why this happens, but the bottom line is that many of these people will use the Internet as a tool to find their next agent. Don’t be left off the train! Take the advice here and use Google My Business and Google Plus to become the next highly visible real estate agent on customers’ radar.

If you liked this article on how to use Google as a real estate business builder, then be sure to also read my piece on mastering real estate social media marketing where you will learn more tips on how to use the top social networks properly for your business. I provide guidance on Google+, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and Linkedin. This is one you won’t want to miss.

Bill Gassett is a nationally-recognized real estate leader and one of the top RE/MAX salespeople in New England. See all his real estate articles at www.maxrealestateexposure.com.

The One Minute Huggy

Tue, 06/30/2015 - 08:30

Anand Patel

By Anand Patel

Every night while tucking in my now six year old daughter for bed she asks me for a big hug. She says the hug has to be for exactly one minute. If I walk out of her bedroom forgetting to hug her, she is quick to remind me “Daddy, give me a one minute huggy!” During this “one minute” as I squeeze her tight, she squeezes back tighter while asking periodically throughout the embrace: “Is it one minute yet?” If I say no, she’ll yell, “Don’t let go then, it’s not one minute!” These one minute huggies really are no longer than 15 or 20 seconds but they means the world to my daughter.

It got me thinking about real estate…

As an industry, we spend a lot of time, effort, and money on generating leads. There is a small percentage of practitioners who actually focus on converting those potential customers, and even smaller number who intentionally spend time reaching out to stay top-of-mind with clients after the closing.

According to the 2015 NAR Member Profile, the typical REALTOR® earned 20 percent of their business from repeat clients and customers and 20 percent from referrals from past clients and customers. This means that the average member earns more than 40 percent of their business from their current and past database of customers. Many agents I talk to say that number for them is even higher than 40 percent.

So what does any of this have to do with hugs?

Once you leave the closing table, how do you keep in touch with (“hug”) your customer? Do you give them a call, periodically send a note or gift, send a video e-mail message, or drop by to say hello? Knowing the stats above, wouldn’t it be in our best interests to embrace those we have worked with? You’ll be surprised how many of your current and past customers would really appreciate a quick “one minute huggy” from you.

What are some creative ways you use to give your customers a “one minute huggy”? Would love for you to share them in the comments below!

P.S. I originally started writing this article a few months ago and just now got to completing it, but since that time my daughter has negotiated up to a five minute huggy. She drives a hard bargain!

Anand Patel is the founder and president of residential brokerage NextHome Discovery and commercial brokerage Pangea Realty Group, both based in Tampa, Fla. Connect with Anand: @anand_tampa, facebook.com/discoveryourplace, or linkedin.com/in/anandpatel1.

The Best Worst Sales Call I Ever Received

Wed, 06/24/2015 - 17:58

Charlie Allred

By Charlie Allred

Here’s the scene: I’m driving home in my car after showing houses, and my phone rings. It’s an out-of-state number, not atypical since I regularly get calls from home owners wanting to move to the Phoenix area (I have blog posts on “Moving to Phoenix,” “Move to Chandler,” and “Move to Scottsdale“). So I answer my phone and it’s a sales call. Ugh. I’m almost never rude to sales representatives calling because I’ve done my fair share of cold calls, mostly when I worked in commercial real estate.

I listened to his sales pitch. He’s trying to sell me the number one spot on Bing.com for “new homes in Chandler AZ.” I ask several questions and being polite I ask if I can call him back. He says, “No, I can’t take incoming calls,” and he’s really pushing the “I can get you the top spot on Bing for $99.” I end up hanging up after a while.

Thank goodness this sales representative called me because it gave me keywords for my next blog post. I’ve been writing more articles about Chandler, Ariz. My office is in Chandler and I’m active with the Chandler Chamber of Commerce (which is the third largest Chamber in Arizona). I often struggle to find new article ideas, so this was a great help.

Here’s what I did:

    1. I Googled “new homes in chandler AZ” to see who was on page one of Google’s results. They were all big companies, mostly home builders. So my initial thought was, I can’t beat out these big websites with a blog post.
    2. “No Video?!?” I noticed there were no YouTube posts that popped up. Google loves to add YouTube videos to the first page of its results.  Google owns YouTube, and if there are applicable videos (they have to include the keywords), they will be front-and-center in Google’s search results.
    3. I decided to make a video for the topic. First, I was a little stumped because there are tons of new homes in Chandler. How could I make a video that includes all the new homes? The list of homes for sale would be huge. Here’s the video I made: https://youtu.be/N2Iuij_z8bk

  1. I looked up the keyword volume on Google Adwords. The best long-tail keywords were “new homes in Chandler AZ.” At first I thought, “new homes Chandler AZ” would have the highest search volume, but it didn’t.
  2. My choice was to make a “Must-Know” video about buying a new home in Chandler, Ariz.  I even inserted a big warning intro image.
  3. I made the presentation in my Google Drive. I just inserted some photos and text (see right).
  4. My plan was to record myself talking while I flip through the presentation.  I thought about adding music, which is what I do in my Genius Home Videos. But this topic is very important, so I thought I should add a voice-over even though I don’t love my voice in videos. I tend to get a little overly excited.
  5. Lastly, I wrote a blog with the same information. This way I could link to the blog post from the YouTube video, which drives more potential clients to my website. At my site, the potential client can get valuable information on homes in Chandler and learn more about me.

This is the first time I’ve ever used a sales call to push my online marketing. I am sometimes stumped by what to write about on my blog, mostly because I have tons of posts on my blog already. How many times can you talk about Scottsdale homes or Chandler homes?

My next goal is to make a video made for this topic using a whiteboard video. You know those videos that look like someone is writing on a whiteboard with amazing narration?

I hope you can use this information to propel your blogging and online efforts. For more details on this process, head to charlieallred.com. As always, I hope you are succeeding.

Charlie Allred is a Phoenix-based designated broker for Secure Real Estate and author of the book “Pinnable Real Estate: Pinterest for Real Estate Agents.” She leads the Killer Online Mastermind for real estate agents; you can learn more at charlieallred.com.  She is a Pinterest expert who coaches agents on how to gain more leads, followers, and clients by using Pinterest. Learn more at her blog: www.PinnableRealEstate.com.

4 Considerations to Negotiate Like a Ninja

Wed, 06/17/2015 - 10:25

Lee Davenport

By Lee Davenport

I remember getting my real estate license and thinking I was ready to make my first commission check. Little did I know that I had much to learn about generating leads back then. Perhaps you feel the same way, whether you are new, returning, or revamping your business. Well, check out this excerpt from my latest workbook, “Plan to Win! Transform Your Sales Game Plan,” which is available on Amazon.com.

The Epsilon Playbook: Negotiating Like a Ninja

Are you intimidated by the sea of agents in your local area? You won’t be when you develop a competitive edge by negotiating like a ninja.

The Greek letter epsilon means elasticity (Gachette, 2008), and that is exactly what you need if you want to be a skilled negotiator – or what we call a Ninja Negotiator. Hundreds if not thousands of books have been written on negotiating. But what these books may not readily and overtly tell you about is how to negotiate with unmotivated, reclusive appraisers, head-strong lenders, or obnoxious or incompetent agents.

Negotiating in real estate is different than most industries because often times you will stumble across and be in the predicament to work with the same lenders, agents, appraisers and other industry professionals again and again. Because these practitioners typically represent either your client or those on the other side of the closing table, it becomes a necessity to advancing your clients’ best interests while understanding the art of “catching more bees with honey” as opposed to “burning bridges,” despite how obstinate the other professional may be.

Your state may require you to provide a minimum level of services, including basic requirements to help negotiate, to present and receive offers, and to answer questions relating to real estate property (Nanda and Pancak, 2010). But you must do more to create an unstoppable game plan for sales success. Ask yourself the following questions BEFORE your next negotiating face-off.

My Training Journal

1. What is your mindset when entering negotiations (can do, I am scared, I am a bull-dozer, etc.)? Why? What are the positives of this attitude? What are the drawbacks of this attitude? How can you lessen the drawbacks?

2. When you represent the buyer, what are the typical needs and objections of the seller? Appraiser? Lender? What solutions can often mitigate these objections and appear as a win-win (although you are protective of your client’s best interests)?

COACH’S CALL: The key with negotiating like a ninja is being steps ahead of the other party so that you can answer their needs and questions while showing that your client’s request is not in conflict and will not jeopardize the other party from being satisfied.

3. When you represent the seller, what are the typical needs and objections of the buyer? Lender? Appraiser? Home inspector? What solutions can appease these objections while still endeavoring to meet the ultimate need of the parties (i.e. what are possible win-win outcomes)?

COACH’S CALL: These tentative solutions should not be written in stone, never to be changed again! These are just to give you a guide so that you minimize unpreparedness as much as possible, which is critical to negotiating like a ninja. These are a starting point that should be developed over time with each transaction you encounter.

BONUS: Preempt problems with appraisals by meeting the appraiser with contract, comparable solds and a list of home features in hand. Prevention is still better than a cure! These are a starting point that should be developed over time with each transaction you encounter.

4. What is your DiSC profile or Myers-Briggs Personality Type? What are the most effective negotiating tactics for this profile?

Strategy Replay

A good negotiator can make all parties to a transaction feel as if they have won. Be sure to consider objections and complaints from all parties regarding the real estate transaction before entering into negotiations in order to more effectively understand the best strategy to promote your client’s best interests.

Remember that you are given two ears and one mouth for a reason. You should let all parties speak to you twice as much as you speak in order to effectively assess their needs and strategize a game plan that is as much of a win-win as possible, keeping in mind that your client’s best interest is your supreme guide. This will allow you to better handle and persuade even the most unyielding parties like a professional, and become a ninja in negotiating real estate transactions.

*This was just an excerpt so get your copy of “Plan to Win! Transform Your Sales Games Plan,” which will help you plan to generate more leads, sell with social media, win listings, wow buyers, and much more. I hope to “see” you in the social-sphere: Follow me on Google Plus and Facebook for more tips and techniques. Here’s to your success!

Lee Davenport is a licensed real estate broker, business doctoral student, trainer and coach.  Learn more about the training and 1-on-1 coaching programs that she offers by visiting www.AgentsAroundAtlanta.com.

7 Must-Know Ways to Kill It Online

Fri, 06/05/2015 - 09:00

Charlie Allred

By Charlie Allred

With more than 90 percent of home buyers searching online for their new home, how are you capturing these online buyers?

Here are my seven absolute must-know tips for becoming a killer online real estate agent.

1. A Vibrant Blog: Having a vibrant blog means you post consistently, which is once a month at minimum, but I suggest between two and four posts per month with posts that address your real estate specialty or niche neighborhoods. The key is to make sure you are consistent.

2. Answer FAQs: You know your niche, so you know they ask similar questions all the time. Answer these questions on your blog/website. You already tell your clients these things individually, so why not share it on the Internet and let your expertise work for you?

3. Share Your Content: If you want your blog and articles addressing your niche to be found, you must share them. Choose your social media platforms and be consistent. Share every blog post, you can even share an older blog post with a new graphic or put into a new context.

4. Nichify: Make sure you are always talking to one niche market or audience at a time. Don’t try to write an article including every neighborhood you specialize. Write a separate article for each neighborhood. Make your niche feel understood; be the expert of your neighborhoods! Here’s an example of a new article I wrote about moving to Chandler, Arizona.  This area is a new niche for me, so my first article is broad but the next articles will touch on topics that are more and more narrow.

5. Offer Something: You need to offer something on your website or blog to gain opt-in e-mail addresses. This list of leads is a great source for potential clients. You can offer something as simple as “a list of homes in Scottsdale 85250.” I also offer an MLS search for free on my site. The goal is to offer something that will entice people enough to sign up with their contact information.

6. Your List: Once a potential client opts in for your free resource, you need to have systems in place to keep in touch with this buyer. Auto-responders are perfect. You can create an e-mail drip campaign with small offers throughout the series. Here are some simple examples:

  • A welcome e-mail
  • A tutorial on the MLS search
  • An offer for a personalized search
  • Your latest blog post

You can send e-mails to your list as often as you like, but I suggest no more than once a week and make sure you are sending good information.

7. Detailed Resources: Once you start talking to the prospects on your list through your automated drip campaign, you can then reach out by sending more detailed resources. This could be a buyer’s checklist (or a seller’s checklist for your list of seller leads), neighborhood statistics and market reports, or whatever you think is most important to your niche.

Keeping things simple and think about the big picture. Always be useful when you talk to your potential clients, focus on one niche at time, and be yourself.

I have this information in presentation form as well.  For a more detailed version of this article, head to www.charlieallred.com.

Charlie Allred is a Phoenix-based designated broker for Secure Real Estate and author of the book “Pinnable Real Estate: Pinterest for Real Estate Agents.” She leads the Killer Online Mastermind for real estate agents; you can learn more at charlieallred.com.  She is a Pinterest expert who coaches agents on how to gain more leads, followers, and clients by using Pinterest. Learn more at her blog: www.PinnableRealEstate.com.