Tuesday
February 21, 2017

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Updated: 58 min 14 sec ago

Tips for the Spring Market

Mon, 02/20/2017 - 08:00

Drew Heasley

By Drew Heasley

The spring market is traditionally the hottest real estate market across the country. For my area in Pennsylvania, the busiest parts of the year are early spring and then again when school lets out. As an agent, you need make sure you and your clients are prepared for these annual peaks.

Sellers

Your sellers will be asking for a lot of advice to get their home ready to list. My best suggestion for sellers is to not rush to list. You only get one first impression, so tell your clients to take the time to paint that room, replace that carpet, mulch that bed, or de-clutter that basement. Curb appeal is an obvious must-have to get top dollar in the spring. If you have a good eye, you can make these suggestions on your own. If not, the internet is full of ideas, expert landscapers, tips, and before-and-after pictures you can find with a quick search.

Pricing in the spring is also very important. If you overprice, the home may sit and you may have lost out on your best buyers. Clients are always afraid to under price the home, but in a strong real estate market, this can be a great play by creating multiple bidders. Use your local expertise and do your research. Some clients think listing in the spring is an automatic sale. While we may have the largest supply of buyers in the spring, we also have the most competition from other listings. It’s important for clients to understand upgrades that add value and upgrades that help your home sell fast. For example, a finished basement with a wet bar and walkout patio adds value. Hardwood floors, fresh paint, and granite countertops help a home sell fast. If your seller can only focus limited resources on a few areas, this is where your local knowledge will come into play. For my area, the best seller return is on kitchens and baths. Do your research, set your clients expectations realistically, and you will have their home sold in no time.

@image4you, 2017. pixabay.com

Buyers

For your buyers, the best thing you can do is educate them on the local and seasonal market, and make sure you have everything prepared ahead of time. Pre-approvals and conversations with the lenders must be taken care of ahead of time. Financial information forms should be prepped, and consumer notices and other required forms signed and ready. You know you buyers’ price range, so you can run some closing costs estimates when you start your search. Have them looking at sellers disclosures for other properties they are touring so they recognize them. Go over the agreement of sale before you find a property they like. Most of this can be done with a buyer consultation and referring them to a lender you trust. They will have lots of competition so you need to have them prepared, you will have no time to deal with these things when that perfect listing comes up.

Little things will matter when making an offer, like having a larger down payment, having fewer contingencies, and being flexible on settlement date. Find out as much as you can about the sellers. In some cases, buyers have “won” a home because they wrote a personal letter to the seller saying why they loved the house or how they could see starting a family there.

Lastly, please use an escalation clause in multiple offer situations. This is another blog for another time, but if the agent calls for “best and final,” and you don’t send an escalation clause, you are not doing your clients any favors.

Yourself

As an agent, you have a lot to do to get ready for the spring market. Get your systems in place — some of us rely on systems more than others, but everyone has some things they can do to prepare for what is hopefully the busy season. I like to get my signs in order, prep open house packets, update marketing, restock office supplies, update wardrobe, clean out the car, etc. But the most important thing to do to prepare as an agent for the spring market is to get business. This is a great time to find new clients and help clients who didn’t accomplish their real estate goals the year before. I like to focus on listings in the spring, they sell fast and for top dollar. Also, listings turn into buyer clients via sellers buying another home, open house leads, sign call leads, etc. There are plenty of buyers and lots of sellers out there, so go get ‘em!

Drew Heasley is an agent with Keller Williams Exton/West Chester in Pennsylvania. Connect with him on Facebook: facebook.com/chestercountyrealtor, or through his website: searchchestercountyhomes.com.

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Creating Shareable Real Estate Graphics

Thu, 02/09/2017 - 08:30

Kyle Hiscock

By Kyle Hiscock

When people ask me what I do for a living, the easiest response is to say I’m a real estate agent. If I really wanted to get into great detail, the answer would be something along the lines of, “I’m a digital marketing company that happens to help buyers and sellers with their real estate needs.”

With more than six years of experience as a REALTOR® in Irondequoit, N.Y., I’ve watched firsthand how the real estate industry has changed significantly over the past several years. When I first started selling real estate, there was still a fair amount of value in using print media, direct mailing pieces, and other traditional advertising strategies.

Fast forward to 2017; I won’t be the first real estate agent to tell you that marketing has changed significantly. Nowadays, buyers, sellers, and other real estate professionals are heading to the internet to get their questions answered. It’s critical that when these questions are being asked, you’re the one who’s answering them.

Whether you’re found through search or through social media, you have one opportunity to “WOW” consumers or other real estate professionals and leave a great lasting impression.

So as you’re creating helpful content, what should you be focusing on? What is one of the best ways to leave a great lasting impression on buyers, sellers, or other real estate professionals?  Simple…awesome graphics.

You want to be creating interesting, useful, and eye-catching real estate graphics that will actually get shared on social media.

First, think about what type of graphics work well on certain platforms. Here are some easy tips for getting started.

Why Do Certain Graphics Get Shared?

As a digital marketer, I’m constantly reviewing the content I’m putting out there and looking at how it’s performing. One of the best indicators is the total number of shares a piece of content receives.  If an article I write has hundreds of shares on Pinterest, I know the graphics were a success!

Recently I wrote an article on how to use Pinterest for real estate.  I included in this article a detailed infographic and a few additional graphics.  The graphics have performed extremely well, why?

Simple, because the graphics were memorable!  Graphics (and content) are shared on social media by people because they found the information helpful or thought others would enjoy as well.  Anytime you create a memorable graphic in an article, chances are, it’s going to get shared.

I recommend trying to create graphics that’ll make people laugh, fit the topic of your content, and last but not least, are attractive and well put together!

What Type Of Graphics Should You Use On Social Media?

Graphics are typically not a one-size-fits-all marketing medium. The social media network where you’re planning to share your content should play a big role in the type of graphics you’ll want to create.  If you plan on sharing your content on several different social networks, you may want to consider creating a few different types of graphics.

  1. Pinterest – The best graphics for Pinterest are long graphics. Graphics that perform well on Pinterest are at least 1,200 pixels long.  Generally, the longer the better. A detailed infographic can sometimes be as long as 3,000 pixels or more. As for width, typically I aim for my graphics to be somewhere around 800 pixels for Pinterest.
  2. Facebook – On Facebook, the best graphics are wider than their length. Long graphics don’t share as well onto Facebook as they tend to get cut off in the news feed. Typically, you’ll want to shoot for graphics that are no longer than 800 pixels long.
  3. Twitter – There are many varying opinions whether graphics make a difference on Tweets. I’m a believer that including graphics in your Tweets can only help engagement. On Twitter, like Facebook, you’ll want to aim for wider graphics. I find that graphics that are 500 pixels or less in length share better on Twitter than long, vertical graphics.
  4. Google+ – On Google+, graphics that are no longer than 1,200 pixels long will share well. Infographics don’t look very good when shared into Google+ because they’re typically reduced to fit a post.

To see a real life example of the different type of graphics, check out this comprehensive guide I wrote on the steps to buying a house. You’ll notice throughout the article there are few different sized graphics. Take a look at one example infographic on the right.

How Do You Create Awesome Graphics?

Try, try, and try again!  The best way to learn how to create awesome graphics that share well on a variety of social networks is to keep trying and experimenting. The first graphic you make for your Facebook post will be much worse than your fiftieth, that I promise. As you continue to try new things and sizes for your graphics, you’re going to learn quickly which type gets the most engagement from your audience.

I use Canva to create my graphics. Canva is a fantastic website that allows you to create free graphics and offers images and stock art that you can purchase for as little as $1 per image. Canva is very user-friendly and also allows you to pick the dimensions of your graphics.

As you’re creating graphics, make sure you keep in mind the rules of using stock images and the copyright laws. While there are a few websites out there that offer free graphics, I personally prefer paying a small amount per image to keep myself out of trouble.

Kyle Hiscock is a Rochester, N.Y. real estate agent with RE/MAX Realty Group. He is the founder and owner of his website, Rochester Real Estate Blog, where he frequently publishes helpful real estate related content. Connect with Kyle on Twitter @KyleHiscockRE, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.

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Great Leaders Exhibit Gratitude

Fri, 02/03/2017 - 16:31

John Blom

By John Blom

Last year I blogged about my experience as president of my local association, so it seemed right to wrap it all up with a grand finale — a seminal description of the lessons that I learned as part of that experience.

I sat down last week to write that post and ended up staring at my computer screen for 30 minutes. I tried again the next day with same results. Certainly there were plenty of lessons learned: the importance of planning, getting people on board with your vision, and dealing with a crisis, but none of those got my creative juices flowing.

Then last night it hit me — gratitude. Sustainable success can only be built on a foundation of gratitude.

The success of an organization depends on the health and happiness of its people. At their core people want and need to feel appreciated. As a leader, you can only appreciate the people around you if you recognize that their success is your success.

During difficult situations, it’s often easier to recognize the valuable contributions of those around you. Our association hired a new executive the month before my year as president began. The new AE rose to the demands we placed on her time and time again throughout last year, and I think the board members and I did a pretty good job of letting her know how much we appreciated her efforts.

I don’t say that to pat ourselves on the back. As I look back at the year, I’m not sure we would have shown that same appreciation had our previous AE still been in the position — not because she wouldn’t have done the job well, but because we’d come to expect it and perhaps take it for granted.

@TukTukDesign 2016. pixabay.com

No one ever gets tired of being appreciated, and leaders that consistently show gratitude to those around them will establish a high level of trust and loyalty. Leading from a place of gratitude extends beyond people to situations and opportunities. Over the course of the last 18 months, my involvement with the association has opened the door to some incredible opportunities.

In part, because of my involvement with the REALTOR® Party and the relationship that allowed me to create with our local congresswoman, she shared with me her single guest ticket to last year’s State of the Union address — a truly once in a lifetime experience.

During the NAR Leadership Summit in the summer of 2015, I got to see the San Francisco Giants, who I’ve cheered for since I was 5 year old, play the Chicago Cubs at historic Wrigley Field (that experience might have been better if the Cubs hadn’t swept the Giants in that series).

But, being involved in leadership has also had its costs: business opportunities lost because of travel, bedtime stories with my kids missed due to meetings, and the extra stress of trying to do what’s best for our association’s members, our clients, and our communities.

It’s easy to be grateful for the fun times and good experiences, but finding gratitude in those challenging times is important as well. Of course you won’t be grateful for missing bedtime with your kids (unless your kid is a 2-year-old going through a brief stage in which every bed time is a 60-minute World War II reenactment). Rather than feel resentment or frustration in those challenges, be grateful for the opportunity to make a difference.

Leadership skills can be learned and developed. But, gratitude is the multiplier that can take those skills and propel you to heights far beyond your expectations. As leader in your association and your community, be thankful for the people you have around you, the opportunities with which you are presented, and the challenges that you will overcome — then there is no limit to what you can achieve.

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

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Get Off the Hamster Wheel

Tue, 01/31/2017 - 18:40

Lee Davenport

By Lee Davenport

What were your sales goals last year?
I… I didn’t have any.

Were you happy with your sales results?
No, I wanted to sell more!

What are your sales goals this year?
I… I don’t have any.

How are you going to have a better sales year?
I’m so frustrated because I just don’t know!

It breaks my heart when I meet some real estate sales professionals for the first time, and this is how our conversation goes.

Most agents are selling to earn a living — to fund their children’s education, care for ailing parents, have a roof over their head, or perhaps to find financial freedom from crippling medical debt. Yet, too often I see folks busy with little or no results. I call it “losing the hamster wheel race.” This happens when you do the same business activities day in and day out with no movement. Sure, these activities keep you busy and give the illusion that you’re making strides. However, in reality, you are in the same place even after a flurry of work. If this describes you or someone on your team, know there is no shame because today can be the start of your new year.

Then there’s the “sales spaghetti method.” Do you remember that old way to test whether or not spaghetti is ready to eat? You’d throw it against the wall to see if it sticks. And it worked…for spaghetti. However, in real estate sales — where each new sales method, tech tool, or system may have a massive price — trying to see what “sticks” can destroy your effectiveness, energy, confidence, and wallet.

If you are not seeing your desired productivity, I want to encourage you to start fresh today with a plan that can salvage the rest of the year. To help, I want to offer you an exclusive item used in my one-on-one and group training sessions. Feel free to download a complimentary copy of my planning worksheet: Plan to Win the Year. It will walk you through goal-setting, identifying your strengths, connecting with your sphere, and tracking your leads.

I would love to hear from you. Give me a shout on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Google+, or by visiting LearnWithLee.Realtor. And, be sure to tell the real estate agents you know to get a copy of the 5-star rated workbook, Plan to Win!, to transform their 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.

Resolve to Stop Losing Listings

Mon, 01/23/2017 - 08:05

Lee Davenport

By Lee Davenport

Listing Leader — Is this title on your New Year’s resolution list? How about on your business plan for this year? I’m here to tell you, that you can make it happen. Here are four considerations to help, but only if you’re willing to subscribe to the notion of “out with the old, in with the new.”

Out With the Old: Doing the Same Thing But Expecting Different Results

Are you frustrated with the number of listings you win? Are you really? I ask again because my next question will be very telling: Have you changed or improved your presentation after each failed listing appointment? If you say “no,” or “not often enough,” you may have fallen victim to what I call the “hamster wheel chase.” You do the same things when connecting with sellers, expecting to end up with different results. The first step is to improvement your listing appointments, and really, any area of life. Then, debrief with yourself (or team) after each listing appointment, good and bad.

@Goumbik, 2017. pixabay.com

In With the New: Reflection Time

These questions will guide you through refining your listing presentations. Feel free to add on to them.

1. What do you typically include in your listing presentations?
2. Does your presentation include strong answers for typical objections (including your rationale for your pricing strategy and commission)?
3. Have there been points where you could tell the seller was “checking out”? Think back to presentation points when you noticed the seller was fidgety, distracted by their phone or surroundings, eyes glazed over, yawning, etc.
4. What do you think is needed for a captivating presentation?
5. How much time do you think it takes to make a good impression with each seller?
6. Is its current format, is the look and feel of your presentation memorable?
7. What changes can you make to be more memorable? Do you need to find help to achieve this?

Out With the Old: Not Differentiating Your Listings’ Marketing Plan From Others

Sadly, many people think all a residential real estate salesperson does is snap a few photos for online sites and put a lawn sign in the yard. Even greater is the tragedy that this is, in fact, all some salespeople do. Yikes! But this creates a great opportunity for you to stand apart.

In With the New: Reflection Time

These questions will help you analyze your current marketing strategy and ways you can make improvements.

1. How do you promote your listings (including the resources offered by your realty firm)? How does this meet the needs of a seller?
2. Do you have a visual tool (i.e. a visual map in your listing presentation, etc.) that amplifies your marketing strategy without giving away the “secret sauce”? The “secret sauce” is how you market (that’s your trade secret – do not share this!) rather than what you use to market. When you give away the “secret sauce” the next logical step is you will not be needed.
3. How else can you express the intricacies of your marketing to sellers (again without giving away the “secret sauce”)?
4. Have you included glowing, five-star testimonies in your presentation that speak to your marketing prowess? If you’re a new agent, use reviews from your team or firm. What additional resources can you add that speak about who you are?

Out With the Old: Not Asking for a Decision Until You Receive One

You wait a few days to give the seller time to think.  You call back and hear, “I thought your presentation was great, and you’re my second choice, but I have listed my home with…”

What the what?!

You calmly respond, “No problem, feel free to call me if it doesn’t work out,” never to hear from that seller again.

When I coach agents who are superstars at all of the above, we often find they just do not ask for a decision AND follow-up. Two, three, four days go by without a peep from the home seller — OR from you. That allows Sally Sales-A-Lot to swoop in and win the listing instead of you. It’s time for you to change that.

In With the New! Reflection Time

1. If the seller is not ready to commit during the listing presentation, do you immediately schedule a time to follow-up? Hint, hint: You should! This simple step can often be the difference in winning the listing or not.
2. Do you know the seller’s timeframe to list and sell? Once you have this information, mark on your calendar D-day so that you give yourself a deadline for following up within the timeframe that they are open to entertaining salespeople.
3. Have you asked sellers how and when they prefer communication?
4. Are you using an app or software system (aka CRM) that helps you to automate follow-up?
5. If CRMs are too complicated or pricey for you, do you have someone who can help you with follow-up? This would include college interns, family, realty office staff who are allowed to work on agent projects, virtual assistants, and the like.

Sections of this post include excerpts from my book Plan to Win!

I would love to hear from you. Give me a shout on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Google+, or by visiting LearnWithLee.Realtor. And, be sure to tell the real estate agents you know to get a copy of the 5-star rated workbook, Plan to Win!, to transform their 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.

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YPN Event Ideas to Kick Off 2017

Wed, 01/18/2017 - 11:28

Are you looking for new, fresh ways to connect and engage with your YPN members? Get 2017 off to a solid start with these event ideas for your YPN group.

1. Go for a strike.

The Greater San Antonio Board of REALTORS® YPN is hosting bowling/networking event, which is sure to be a strike (in a good way).

YPN’s Sips and Stripes bowling night is Friday, February 24th, mark your calendar! #YPN #SABOR #RealtorLife pic.twitter.com/TRylOhXC7V

— Greater SA YPN (@YPNSA) January 17, 2017

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2. Hit the high notes.

The West San Gabriel Valley Association of REALTORS® YPN is kicking off the new year with a karaoke mixer.

 

3. Get fancy for a cause.

Dress to the nines for a good cause. Pikes Peak Association of REALTORS® YPN is hosting a winter formal later this month to benefit Habitat for Humanity.

YPN Winter Formal! 1/28/16 at Mining Exchange. 6pm. Tix $49 & benefit Habitat for Humanity! Tickets online https://t.co/PxFhEeLkyy #PPARYPN

— PPAR (@PPARMembers) January 6, 2017

 

4. Start the year right. 

Get members energized for the new year by making your kick off event an annual affair, like the Chicago Association of REALTORS® YPN.

Don’t forget! Get your tickets to the annual YPN Kick-Off Mixer on January 19th! #YPNKickOff #networking #realestate https://t.co/yDyomsMgrc pic.twitter.com/njVehqr9ya

— ChicagoREALTORS (@ChicagoREALTORS) December 30, 2016

 

5. Host/co-host an interesting speaker.

Invite a guest to speak to your members, like the Houston Association of REALTORS® YPN did with its economic forecast event earlier this month.

Things change! Don’t miss this Economic Forecast w/ Dr. Ted C. Jones on 1/11/17 at 11:30am. https://t.co/ay22ZIDSOt #realestate #HAR #YPN

— HAR.com (@HARMembers) December 29, 2016

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Nailing Your 30 Under 30 Application Video

Tue, 01/10/2017 - 18:11

As we enter the final week to apply for the 30 Under 30 class of 2017, we’ve been receiving many questions about the inclusion of a video with a candidate’s application.

Submitting a video is not required to apply for 30 Under 30. However, you should consider a video as the cherry on top of your stellar, well-written application. Including a video can be a compelling addition to your application, as long as you keep these tips in mind.

1. Make sure your video is specific to 30 Under 30 and not a generic marketing video that you produced for your business.

2. If you have a compelling story, whether it be an innovative business strategy or a personal experience that can be brought to life on video, we strongly encourage you to use this medium. It’s the place where you can show rather than tell.

3. Your video does not need to be professionally shot, however, it should be polished and clear. Make sure your audio is adequate and viewers can hear what you’re saying. Consider writing a script or talking points.

4. Try to not repeat everything you write in your application. This is the time to build upon your answers or say something you couldn’t quite fit in your application.

5. Keep it to two minutes maximum. All videos reviewed during the in-person judging meeting are cut off at the two minute mark so that every applicant gets equal time.

6. It doesn’t have to be just you on camera. Past applicants have included clients, colleagues, and others in their videos to help tell their story.

The deadline to apply for 30 Under 30 this year is Tuesday, Jan. 17 at noon CT. If you’re looking for more tips on how to create a standout application, read our article “Do You Have What it Takes?” Below are two application video examples from 2016 30 Under 30 honorees. For more information, visit realtormag.realtor.org/30-under-30.

 

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