October 13, 2015

YPN Lounge

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Updated: 1 hour 25 min ago

Three Leadership Takeaways

Mon, 10/12/2015 - 12:15

John Blom

John is president-elect for the Clark County Association of REALTORS® in Vancouver, Wash. This post is the second entry in a series sharing his experiences in that role.

By John Blom

When elected president for a state or local board, the “presidential year” really kicks off in August with the National Association of REALTORS® Leadership Summit in Chicago. The two-day event brings together local and state association president-elects as well the association executives. For me, the highlight was two keynote speakers: former U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team captain Mia Hamm and Former U.S. Navy Blue Angels lead pilot John Foley, and the surprise guest, former boxing heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield.

These three individuals all took the childhood dreams many of us have and made them reality. I’m confident almost every kid who has seen the Blue Angels perform thinks, “I’d like to do that when I grow up.” My 4-year-old daughter told me several times this summer during the Women’s World Cup that she wants to play soccer. (Although now we have discovered she only wants to play when the sun is out and the other team doesn’t try and take the ball from her).

I’m 31 and while watching the Mayweather vs. Pacquior fight, I still think, “I would be OK getting beat up for 15 rounds for that kind of payday.”

During the Summit, Foley described the importance of planning and execution: “Dreams hit you in the heart, not the head, but you have to connect the strategies to the objectives.”

That’s my first big leadership takeaway.

1. You have to have a vision of where you want your organization to go. This is true whether it’s your local association, your company, or your own real estate business. The architect and driving force behind the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, Daniel Burnham, said, “Make no small plans, they have no magic to stir men’s blood.”

Whatever your leadership position, know where it is you want to go. That’s your dream and you won’t be effective without it. But, you will be equally ineffective if you don’t have a plan and a strategy to get there.

Once you have the vision and the plan, you need to execute it. Mia Hamm drove this home, saying, “Some people might be the first to arrive and the last to leave, but nothing happens in between.”

This is my second takeaway.

2. Focus on the quality of your work, not just the quantity. This comes back to being purposeful – know what it is you want and how to get there, then focus on the activities that will move you toward that most effectively.

One of the funniest moments during the Leadership Summit was listening to Evander Holyfield talk about how he got started boxing. He begged the boxing coach at the local Boys and Girls Club to let him join the boxing team. When the coach finally let him, the coach quickly recognized the potential Holyfield had and told him, “You could be a champion someday.”

Holyfield, only 7 or 8 years old at the time, responded, “OK, but I have to ask my momma first.”

Few, if anyone, truly lives on an island. We all have people we count on for strength and support, and putting yourself in a leadership role will require you to ask more of those people. This brings us to my third takeaway:

3. Make sure you have people in your life who will support you during the highs and lows of your leadership journey. 

Selfie with NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun.

In addition, I also have a few tips to help maximize the value of the Leadership Summit for future attendees:

  • Identify a couple people in NAR Leadership, people you follow on Twitter, or just names you have heard around the industry who will be in attendance, and make a point to meet them. I’m a stat nerd, and getting a selfie with Dr. Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, was another highlight of the trip for me.
  • Use the time to get to know your local and state association executives. The better your relationship is with them, the more fun and more productive your year will be.
  • Get to Chicago early and do some sightseeing. The architectural river cruise is cool, Wrigley Field is a magical place even if you don’t like baseball, and the pizza is fantastic.

John Blom is a broker for the Hasson Company REALTORS® working in the Portland/SW Washington market. He is also the 2016 president for the Clark County Association of REALTORS®. You can find him on Twitter: @johndblom, LinkedIn, on his website www.johnblom.com, or e-mail him at johnblom@hasson.com.


Building a Successful YPN Strategy

Mon, 10/05/2015 - 12:50

Leanne Goff

By Leanne Goff

Standing on the edge of doing something big, especially when you have never been there before, is a daunting task. It may feel insurmountable and possibly even dangerous. Because who wants to fail? Nobody! We all want to see our passions and our dreams flourish, especially when leading others.

I felt that uncertainty and confusion when the Boulder Area REALTOR® Association asked me to lead their fledgling YPN in 2012. We didn’t know where to begin or what our priorities would be. How we overcame this initial confusion and disorganization is what I hope to share with the readers over the coming months.

I want to offer you tips that can be implemented at your associations to help your newly established YPN and long-standing networks thrive. I hope you will find some tips here that you want to implement with your YPN teams. I also welcome your e-mails, tweets, and comments if you have something to share. If you want, I would be thrilled to present your feedback about successes and challenges overcome in future messages.

So what did our YPN group do when we were standing on the edge of the preverbal cliff trying to figure out our next move?

Leanne Goff speaking to members of the San Antonio Board of REALTORS® YPN.

First, we determined what our goals would be. Using to the YPN Mission statement, we found our core values, which focus on leadership at our board, as well as community service in our area, and, of course, social activities – because that’s what REALTORS® do best!

After we outlined our goals, we did what well organized and methodical business people do best; we made a plan. This took form as an annual outline that lays out our goals on a monthly basis. We hope to engage the larger group of REALTORS® at our association in activities that are led by the YPNers.

The Boulder Area REALTORS® system starts in January with a meeting about business plans for the agents. Then February is a social event. Each month we rotate between business development activities that YPN leads the greater association of REALTORS® through. Then the next month we have a fun social activity.

Another awesome activity that I recently learned about and participated in comes from the San Antonio Board of REALTORS® YPN group. They reach out to other boards to bring in YPN speakers. Rick Alcorta sets up Skype-style speaking engagements with YPN leaders from around the nation to inspire their local network of YPNers.

If you have a well-established YPN group, it would be great to hear from you with regards to what is making you successful. Please post below, tweet me, or e-mail with what has been successful for your group. Likewise, if you are a new YPN group and have questions, or want to see our annual plan for the year, I welcome your comments as well.

Leanne Goff is a managing broker with TrailRidge Realty in Boulder, Colo. She has been licensed since 2008, and is active with the Boulder Area REALTOR® Association. Her work with BARA’s YPN led to achieving NAR’s Small Network of the Year Award in 2014. Connect with Leanne on Twitter: @leannegoff, or on LinkedIn.

Starting a Leadership Journey

Tue, 09/29/2015 - 09:00

John Blom

By John Blom

Most, if not all, of my original thinking takes place in the shower. Between being a dad of two kids under the age of four, managing an office, running my own sales business, and other community stuff I’m involved in, it’s the one time that I can get 10 uninterrupted minutes to think. My one-year-old just figured out how to open doors, so I may soon be losing that as well.

This particular morning, I had received an e-mail from NAR asking for feedback on the Leadership Summit in Chicago (which was awesome, but I’ll get to that). It started me thinking about keeping a “leadership journal” for the next year when I have the privilege of serving as president of my local association.

@pippalou, 2013. MorgueFile

Right about this time, my wife opened the door and informed me that one of our kids had thrown up all over his room, so I had to push my mental “pause” button on my thoughts.

When I came back around to the idea later that day, I realized it would be nice as an incoming president to have the opportunity to learn from someone else’s experiences, mistakes, and victories in their term. If I was going to journal my experiences, it made sense to do so in a way that might allow others to benefit from those. I ran the idea past the cool folks in charge of the YPN Lounge and they shared my vision.

One of my goals in life is to be deliberate and intentional with my actions. So many people live life by accident, spending too much time reacting to situations and not enough time creating better situations. Agents do this all the time by spending their day “putting out fires” in a transaction rather than put in the effort to create and execute systems that would make those fires less likely to break out in the future.

So what’s my intention for these posts? My hope by the end of the next year is to have accomplished three things:

  1. Provide practical takeaways for other leaders.
  2. Encourage leadership involvement, particularly from the YPN audience.
  3. Start a dialogue about leadership recruitment and development.

There is a tremendous need in our communities for new leaders to step up and start making an impact.  It’s amazing to me how many organizations have a need for board members. Some of my friends who are involved with local non-profits serve on four or five different boards because there is a greater demand for people willing to serve than there is supply. In my opinion, leadership development should be on the strategic plan for every organization.

I’m passionate about leadership – but I’m not an expert. My internal goal for this journal is that by taking the time to reflect on the year as it goes by, I’ll come out of 2016 with some thoughts I might not have had otherwise. And who knows, maybe some of them will come outside of the shower.

John Blom is a broker for the Hasson Company REALTORS® working in the Portland/SW Washington market. He is also the 2016 president for the Clark County Association of REALTORS®. You can find him on Twitter: @johndblom, LinkedIn, on his website www.johnblom.com, or e-mail him at johnblom@hasson.com.

Working With Hispanic Clients

Tue, 09/22/2015 - 14:35

Erika Villegas

By Erika Villegas

Are you leaving money on the table by not working with Hispanic clients?

I am still surprised to hear an answer of “no” when I ask agents from different parts of the country whether they work with Hispanic customers. I help buyers and sellers from all walks of life and with many different backgrounds and ethnic groups, but at least half of my business is comprised of Hispanic clientele. This is, in part, due to my office being in a heavily Hispanic populated neighborhood of Chicago. But I am also a bi-lingual Mexican-American who has lived both in the U.S. and in Mexico. I can relate to many of my clients.

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to be Hispanic or speak Español to work with such clients. There are many Latinos who only speak English or who prefer to do business in English since it is the primary language of many first- or second-generation immigrants.

Hispanics are the largest minority in the United States. As of 2013, there are an estimated 54 million Hispanic people living in the U.S., according to the Census Bureau.

@dharder, 2008. MorgueFile

The 2014 State of Hispanic Home Ownership Report, published by the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals, finds that four out of 10 new households between 2010 and 2020 are expected to be Hispanic. And Hispanics are expected to comprise 50 percent of all new home buyers by 2020. NAHREP has published this report for five consecutive years and it’s a must-read if you want to be better informed about the Hispanic market. It can be downloaded at nahrep.org/report.

The 2013 Fannie Mae National Housing Survey found that nearly half of all Hispanics (48 percent) say this is a good time to buy a home and that they are more likely than the general population to prefer owning, particularly for lifestyle reasons. At least 84 percent see home ownership as the best investment plan, a way to save for retirement, or a way to build wealth.

I know that many Hispanics have home ownership at the top of their goals, and are very optimistic about one day achieving this goal. The challenges that I see are similar for buyers across the board, a lack of affordable housing inventory and credit hurdles.

If I can give you one piece of advice about working with Hispanic families, it’s be prepared to work with the “whole” family. If a daughter is buying a home, she will most likely bring her parents and her siblings and vice-versa. It’s a common practice, especially if they’re purchasing their first home. Working with multi-generational families was especially challenging early on in my career because I had to explain terms that were not only new to them, but new to me as well. I didn’t know many of the real estate terms in Spanish. I took the time to translate terms and make a glossary both in English and Spanish, which I now have readily available as reference that my clients can take home, read, and discuss with their families.

I have helped many clients since becoming licensed 10 years ago, and my Hispanic clients refer me at least three times more often than other clients. I have gained their trust, and because of that I will be their practitioner for life. Yes, you will be invited to share a meal at their home, or even attend a wedding or quinceañera; then you will know you are part of the “familia.”

Hispanic clients will always be grateful because you helped them with the most important purchase of their lives, which will allow them to build wealth, or send their kids to college, or maybe even open a business.

How will you grow your business by working with the Hispanic market?

Erika Villegas is a broker associate with ERA Mi Casa Real Estate in Chicago. Connect with Villegas at www.erikavillegas.com.

Work Your Website, Not Your Nerves

Mon, 09/14/2015 - 09:00

Lee Davenport

By Lee Davenport

Approximately 65 percent of REALTORS® report having a website for at least five years but only 2 percent of their business come from those sites, according to the National Association of REALTORS® 2015 Member Profile. Yet more than 90 percent of home buyers start their search online. Does anyone else see the problem with these numbers? They do not add up.

I am all for referrals and repeat business, but what if you could connect with home buyers more frequently and in better ways? The numbers don’t lie: Home buyers and sellers are online, and it may be easier to get them on your website than you think.

I coach agents, and one of my favorite ways to get real estate buyers and sellers to visit an agent’s websites is by using Facebook ads. Why?

Image courtesy of Lee Davenport.

Since more than 70 percent of adults online use Facebook, and Facebook ads can target whomever you want for as little as $1 a day, it would be a flagrant foul not to use Facebook ads to drive traffic to your website.

You can target Facebook ads based on a person’s hobbies, alma mater, city, career, or employer. You can even target Facebook users searching about home remodeling (because they may want to sell), and anything else that suits your fancy. More importantly, ads are not limited to your friends list. You can connect with people across the world who use Facebook; people who may be moving to your town in the near future.

If you have ever been on Facebook, then you know that most people over-share about their lives. Facebook tracks that information and makes it available for marketers to sort through (I know, this is too much like Samaritan in Person of Interest). It’s there and someone will use this data, even if it’s not you. Why not use it while Facebook is selling it so cheaply – at a minimum of $1 a day? This really is a no-brainer! Watch how easy it is:

Not sure what your Facebook ad should feature? Click here to request complimentary access to our idea guide.

If you have traffic flowing to your site but you’re still only getting about 2 percent of your business from online leads, then there may be a secondary problem with your website. It might be ineffective on a usability level. Does it have outdated listings? Does it look like a site that was created when the internet first became a thing? Your website may not offer engaging reasons for people to contact you or leave their information. And your site must be mobile-friendly, bottom line.

This brings us to my next tip: Get website visitors to leave their contact information by creating a fun and compelling offer that is tied to a prominent data-collection form. Why? This will help convert site surfers into actual leads.

None of us like spam, and most home buyers and sellers are savvy enough to know if they complete your contact form, then they may never get off your e-mail list. As shocked as we may be when it comes to prospects’ reluctance to sign up on our business’ lists, we know this is the very reason why we do not sign-up on most retail websites (mmmm hmmm, you know I am telling the truth). Unless, of course, the website offers us something we want. This is intuitive when we visit various retail sites, so why do we expect our real estate site visitors to think or act any differently?

Hopefully it is now settled that you need to have compelling offers on your website. Create offers that you think will resonate with your ideal clients. The key is to connect the offer to a contact form (such as one that can be made in MailChimp).

Need ideas to give your site visitors an offer they can’t refuse? Click here to request complimentary access to our exclusive infographic to help you get started creating your own attention-grabbing offers.

Have more questions about real estate technology? Ask away by following me on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Google+, or by visiting LearnWithLee.REALTOR. And if you sell real estate, get a copy of the five-star rated workbook, Plan to Win, to transform your real estate sales game plan. Here’s to your success!

Lee Davenport is an Atlanta-based real estate broker and business doctoral candidate who trains agents and brokerages on how to use today’s technology to work smarter. Join Lee’s free RE Tech Insider’s Club by visiting www.LearnWithLee.REALTOR.

Leadership is Like Mortar

Tue, 09/08/2015 - 17:59

Nico Hohman

By Nico Hohman

When you look at a brick wall, what do you see? You probably see the bricks first and the mortar second. In fact, you might not even notice the mortar at first glance. You might only notice the mortar if there is something wrong with it, or if you know what to look for.

The same can be said for leadership.

Leadership is like the mortar in a brick wall. You should never notice that it’s there, yet the mortar is the most crucial part of the wall. Without mortar, the bricks would simply be stacked on top of one another with no support. A gentle push of the wall or the removal of a handful of bricks would make the wall come tumbling down.

The same can be said for leadership.

Without leadership invisibly holding the pieces of a family, a classroom, a team, or an organization together, then the slightest push can cause the entire family or team structure to implode.

Without mortar, a brick wall fails. Without leadership, your organization will fail.

Let’s imagine you see another brick wall, but this time the first thing you notice is the mortar. That usually means there is something wrong with the mortar or there was something wrong with the way the mortar was installed. The masons may have put too much mortar on one brick, or not enough mortar on another. This might cause the mortar to overflow on to the front face of the brick wall. Or, over periods of time, the elements may have simply eroded away the mortar. Either way, the mortar is no longer invisible.

When it comes to leadership, the best leaders are invisible.

A good leader knows that for his or her team to succeed, he or she must do everything within their power to place the team above themselves. They must set aside their own ego and let the agents or employees shine. When you look at an organization and the first thing you see is the leadership, you might as well be looking at a brick wall with the mortar overflowing the bricks. While the brick wall may be standing, it certainly doesn’t look right.

Finally, unlike the bricks, the mortar is pliable and easily molded to fit whatever shape it needs to fit.

The same can be said for leadership.

The individuals on your team, in your classroom, or within your company are the bricks in the brick wall. While one brick by itself may not be remarkable, as a whole, all of the bricks can make up something remarkable. However, the bricks can only make remarkable things when the mortar has the flexibility and pliability to fit into the areas where the bricks cannot. Together, the bricks and the mortar can make remarkable things.

The leader within you must be forced to take various shapes – invisibly – in order to make your group stand out and be the best it can possibly be.

So the next time you look at a brick wall, consider what will you see.

Nico Hohman is a Tampa-based real estate pro with an emphasis on renovation and rehab properties. Learn more about Nico at hohmanhomes.com or connect on Twitter: @thenicohohman.

Under the Sells-scope: Canva for Work

Wed, 09/02/2015 - 13:55

Lee Davenport

By Lee Davenport

I’m a huge fan of Canva, the easy-to-use, affordable website that allows you to author amazing marketing materials in minutes. So I was elated to hear that they have recently released a 2.0 version for busy professionals called Canva for Work.

Canva for Work now offers options to upload your brand’s personal specs, such as a logo, colors, type font, and the like. This is a wonderful time-saver if you work with a team and you want to make sure all agents and staff members nail design pieces that speak to your image and reputation.

Canva for Work also offers the ability to let your agents and/or assistants log in with separate usernames, but you can choose which of your projects your team can access.

Canva template

Brokers: You can offer Canva for Work to your agents as a complimentary service at your real estate office. This will help your agents market their listings and create social media posts while producing quality marketing materials that fit your realty firm’s brand and level of excellence. If your agents are using outside designers and printers, they’ll potentially save hundreds of dollars a month, while you pay only a fraction of that cost. Additionally, if you have a large brokerage, it’s probably unrealistic for you to monitor all of your agents’ social media posts to make sure they align with your branding standards. But Canva for Work makes monitoring, along with brand consistency, something that’s now attainable.

You’re probably asking yourself this question: “Is Canva for Work right for my business and worth the investment, or can I simply stick with the original version of Canva?” It depends. To answer this more in-depth, I placed Canva for Work “Under the Sells-scope,” so check out my full review in the video below:

Want more tips and techniques? Then follow me on FacebookInstagramYouTube, and Google+ or by visiting LearnWithLee.Realtor. And if you sell real estate, get a copy of my five-star rated workbook Plan to Win to transform your real estate sales game plan. 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.

8 Reasons to Get Your Library Card

Tue, 08/25/2015 - 17:45

Nico Hohman

By Nico Hohman

While it may be 2015, there are still several reasons you should get your own library card. Whether you’re a business owner, inventor, designer, employee, student, or retired, your local public library has many resources at your disposal – and almost all of them are free. Benjamin Franklin founded the United States’ public library system almost 200 years ago, but here are eight reasons why the library is still relevant today.

Free Audiobooks

When you’re consumed with everything you have to do as a real estate practitioner, it can be hard to find time to read a book. This is where audiobooks come in handy. Download the free audiobook using your library card from your audiobook app (also downloaded for free with your library card) onto your phone or tablet and listen on the go. Plug-in during a car ride and listen to a chapter or two while you’re traveling between showings. Plug-in while you exercise. Instead of listening to the same 10 songs on your running playlist, try learning a thing or two.

Image courtesy of Nico Hohman.

Free Language Learning Software

Ever wanted to learn a new language? Your public library offers language learning software. And yes, it is completely free of charge. Use your library card to sign up in person or online to learn one or all 71 different languages offered (my vary by library).

Free Work Stations and Wi-Fi

Sick and tired of going to the same loud, busy coffee shop to open up your laptop and answer a few e-mails? Check out the public libraries. They have plenty of space to spread out, either on large tables or in comfy chairs, and do your work. It’s the perfect remote office for those who appreciate peace and quite while they work. Need to focus on a big project coming up? Reserve a free private room at your local public library.

Free Digital Studio Space

Image courtesy of the Hillsborough County Public Library in Tampa, Fla.

At the Hillsborough County Public Library system in the Tampa Bay area, the libraries offer free access to “The Hive,” a studio space with modern tools and technologies for entrepreneurs and creative designers. These recording studios are available for making videos, podcasts, and more. Simply reserve it for free – all you need is your library card! Plus, take full advantage of the digital media center with interactive programs available for you and your team.

Free Books, Magazines, and Movies

Yes, this is what libraries are most commonly known for, but that doesn’t mean this benefit should be overlooked. You can get your library card and check out a book for approximately two weeks before returning it to the library. It makes you wonder why you even bother buying books any more. Don’t have time to read a book within two weeks? No problem, just check out the DVD version of the book.

Free Access to 3D Printers

Image courtesy of the Hillsborough County Public Library in Tampa, Fla.

Think that libraries are stuck in the past with antiquated practices and technology? Think again. Some of the coolest gadgets and technologies are now available at your fingertips at many public libraries around the country. Some of the best new programs revolve around the 3D printer technology. Have a design ready to be printed? Want to learn how to set up a design? Just bring your material to the technology center and see the printers in action.

Free Classes and Workshops

Through various city, county, or state programs, there are several free classes available for anyone with a library card. Are you just starting your real estate business? Do you need help setting up your taxes? Are you looking to do your own graphic design work and want to learn how Photoshop works? Do you have a product idea but need to get funding for its production? These are just a few of the many different classes and workshops that are available every month at your local public library. And the best part? You guessed it: all free.

Your Wallet Never Looked So Good

Tell people you have a library card. Go ahead, do it. I’m sure you will get some very interesting looks. Whether young or old, most people do not appreciate their public libraries like they used to. Instead, show off your library card proudly. Carry it in your wallet just like you would any other card. Make your wallet proud.

Yes, it is 2015, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore all the great benefits of having a library card. Just share these useful tips with the people and agents around you, and see how you can become a better person and business owner – all for free!

Nico Hohman is a Tampa-based real estate pro with an emphasis on renovation and rehab properties. Learn more about Nico at hohmanhomes.com or connect on Twitter: @thenicohohman.