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November 23, 2014

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Scientifically Develop the Habit of Lead Generation: Part 1

Wed, 11/19/2014 - 08:50

Alex Cavelli

By Alex Cavelli

“First you make your habits, then your habits make you.”
Lucas Remmerswaal

We all have good intentions. Early in my career, I set a lofty goal. My intention was to prospect Monday through Friday and speak with 25 people each day about their lives and real estate.

For about six months, Monday and Tuesday were strong days for me.  I was feeling productive.  Best of all, I was setting appointments and winning listings at a rate I was happy with.

But by the time Wednesday or Thursday hit, I lost my motivation. I went from making 25 contacts on Monday and Tuesday, to 15 on Wednesday, to maybe 10 on Thursday. By Friday I was down to zero. Not only did fail to measure up, I also started questioning my commitment and abilities—not good for the psyche.

What happened? Regardless of my skill level, there had to be an explanation of why it was so challenging to finish a full week of lead generation. So, I spoke with willpower scientist Colin Robertson. Robertson runs a company called Willpowered and has devoted his life to scientifically determine what it takes to win our mental battles.

After explaining my situation to Robertson, our conversation went like this:

Robertson: Would you expect to run 25 miles your first time out?
Me: Of course not.
Robertson: Why?
Me: That’s not realistic. I can’t finish that without training.
Robertson: So then what would you do?
Me: I would start at maybe three miles and build up from there.
Robertson: Why three?
Me: Because three miles is challenging, but I know I can finish.
Robertson: Alex, have you ever talked to 25 people for five straight days about real estate?

See? Makes sense. Robertson says that, as humans, we tend to be overly optimistic about our abilities when attempting to develop a new “keystone habit”. It’s sort of like the New Year’s resolution effect. We get super excited early on but soon our willpower fades and we are back to square one.

Starting at 125 contacts per week, at least for me, was like running a marathon on day one. I was setting myself up for failure. Instead, we had two choices: We can start with that New Year’s resolution type of goal that ultimately fizzles out, or we can approach the problem scientifically.

“Do Not Fail.” Robertson’s very simple and manageable “Do Not Fail” philosophy is the starting point to creating great habits. We tend to approach goals like I did – wanting big results right away. But when trying to create a habit, consistency is what we should be aiming for. Here’s how Robertson helped me determine the right goal for me:

Robertson: How many people can you talk to consistently each day that guarantees you will finish?
Me: I can probably make 15 contacts on a consistent basis.
Robertson: “Probably” won’t work. What is the number that guarantees that you will not fail?
Me: I see. That number is definitely ten.
Robertson: For the next four weeks, talk with ten people each day. No more, no less.

Here’s the science. In making ten contacts/day, there are no days where I don’t make any progress. Every day my client list is growing no matter what. And with every day that I make ten contacts, confidence grows that I’ll be able to make ten contacts the next day (and the next day) as well. When I’m ready, I can increase that number to 15 or 20 – just like a runner would gradually increase his or her mileage when training for a marathon.

The end, for now. Our career is not comprised of one sprint. It’s rather about running with a steady, consistent pace and then increasing that pace over time. If you want to run a marathon, then start with a 5k and pace yourself. In other words, to start the habit of lead generation, set aside one hour each day to make anywhere from 5-10 contacts with your sphere, past clients, FSBOs, or expireds. The point is to be consistent and start with a goal that guarantees you will finish.

Next week we’ll connect with Mr. Willpowered again to discuss the next step to scientifically develop the habit of prospecting: “The Seinfeld Method.”

In the meantime, if you’re curious about my progress and would like to discuss a lead generation plan that works for you, please contact me. I can be your first contact of many.

Alex Cavelli is a REALTOR® with Keller Williams Greater Cleveland Northeast. Connect with Alex via linkedin.com/in/cavelli or Alexcavelli@kw.com.

Be Professional to Be Successful

Mon, 11/17/2014 - 11:05

By Brandon Johnson

There’s a real trick to appearing, communicating, and performing like an experienced real estate professional. And, as a 23-year-old agent who got his real estate license in June of this year, I want to share how I transformed myself in less than half a year on the job.

Only 3 percent of licensees are under the age of thirty in my local association, and I am the second youngest overall. Still, I can proudly say I have started off strong as the youngest agent in our brokerage to make the top producer’s list my third month as a licensee. The key to my early success is that I quickly adjusted to the demands of being a real estate pro in three key areas.

Looking Like a Professional. I look young. When people initially meet me, many are inclined to think I’ve just graduated from high school. Therefore, the hardest part of working an open house the first few times was not answering questions about taxes or square footage. I realized that customers came in assuming that I am not an expert, a professional, or in some cases not even a real estate agent. I needed to change that, so I started to experiment with my attire. When I started to wear a shirt, tie, blazer, and slacks, clients started to ask real estate questions and not questions asked about how much experience I had. I realized I had to change my appearance to stand out compared to other agents. If a customer attended a dozen open houses on a Sunday I wanted to be the agent that stood out so that when I followed up they would remember me. As a result, my open house activity directly contributed to thirty percent of my closings.

Speaking Like a Professional. Of course, a clothing change isn’t going to stop everyone from asking about my boyish looks. But when clients did ask, I realized I could simply state that I am working in my first year under our company’s mentor program and get back to the real estate questions. But when a customer seriously questions your age as a negative factor of being a real estate agent, you cannot let them leave your presence without proving that your age is actually an asset. I tell clients that since I am younger I have fewer commitments, allowing me to spend more time focusing on my career. When you explain that you have devoted your life to a new career and that you are passionate about working in real estate, people will understand that you truly want to work for them. When I tell them of my early successes, I am not boasting. I am telling them that I am qualified to represent them as a real estate expert. The best advice I received about communicating like a professional was not to rush into answers to sound like you know it all. If a customer asks a question that you cannot answer with certainty, tell them. I respond by saying they asked a good question and I would like to ask the listing agent or my manager to provide the most accurate answer in a timely manner. If I’m at an open house I tell them that I will respond to them Monday afternoon and ask for their contact information. Because I was honest, I usually am able to turn that short interaction into a lead.

Goal Planning Like a Professional. I told our managing broker that I wanted to close a million dollars’ worth of deals before the end of the year. Her response was not negative, but it was not optimistic either. I entered into real estate clueless of what an average first-year agent produces. I wanted to be a top producer, and that led to me working like a top producer. I noticed that the most experienced agents in our office started working around 8:30 in the morning. I made it a goal to beat them into the office every morning. I noticed that many agents work an open house every Sunday but the best agents work two, so that’s what I do. I can honestly say the amount of time I spend in the office is the reason that I have generated most of my leads. Lead generation aside, my time spent in the office impresses the more experienced agents I work with. I tell my clients that I have 100 years of experience because of the network I have built in our office with my fellow real estate agents. I tell them that my company will not let me fail, and that my goal is to build a relationship with them that will be converted into a closing.

Brandon Johnson was born and raised in Rockford, Illinois. He graduated from Keith Country Day School in 2009, graduated from the University of Illinois in 2013. During his time there studied Spanish linguistics and international relations, became a member of Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity, and expanded his family’s business. He became a licensed broker in June 2014. Brandon is a council member of Rockford Illinois’ Young Professional Network. Also, at the age of 23 he is one of the youngest licensees in the Rockford Association. Outside of real estate Brandon is a certified IHSA Basketball official and enjoys being involved with the community.

6 Twitter Rules for Real Estate Agents

Thu, 11/13/2014 - 15:45

By Bill Gassett

You know you need to be on Twitter, and you have even heard other agents talk about how much traffic the social media giant can garner, but you have given it a go with nearly zero results. So what gives? Well, chances are you aren’t using the site correctly, and you aren’t alone. Twitter is confusing at first, but once you get the hang of it, it can actually be both fun and worthwhile. Start out with these Twitter rules every real estate agent should be following.

1. Keep it Interesting

One of the biggest mistakes that real estate agents make using Twitter is tweeting their listings. Bo-ring! It’s also ineffective for two reasons. First: People are not using Twitter to search for their next home. Second: A user’s Twitter feed is constantly moving, so your tweet needs to stand out from the crowd.

Instead of listings, share important news stories and helpful articles, with a variety of videos and pictures. The best-case scenario is pointing to useful content on your own site. One of the first things I do after posting a piece on my Massachusetts Real Estate Blog is to tweet the article out to my followers.

Bottom line: You only get 140 characters, and you better make them count.

2. Use Hashtags

Hashtags are everywhere these days, but they began on Twitter and it continues to be crucial that you use them there. A hashtag will increase your reach tremendously because it makes your posts searchable by everyone, not just your followers. Try popular industry tags, such as #realestate, #home, or #interiordesign. Or give one of these calendar-based hashtags a try:

  • #TBT – Every Thursday, Twitter will be flooded with this hashtag, which stands for Throwback Thursday. Just post a picture from many years ago with a clever comment (and the #TBT hashtag, of course).
  • #FF – On Fridays, this hashtag will be prevalent. It stands for “Follow Friday” and it’s a way for you to recommend other people on Twitter who you think are worthy of more followers. Watch the #FF posts of industry folks you admire and you’ll also find this hashtag is a great way for you to make some lasting connections beyond your sphere.

3. Be Relevant

Twitter gives you many tools to stay up-to-date on what everyone is talking about, so use them. Employ the search function to see what the hot topics are in the real estate world and your local area. Also, pay attention to what’s trending so you can add your two cents on the popular subjects of the day.

4. Always Proofread

…no matter what. You are never too busy to re-read your message before you hit the Tweet button. Yes, you can always delete it after the fact, but it’s likely someone has already seen it by then.

5. Use Formatting to Your Advantage

Even though you technically get 140 characters, it’s always smart to aim for 120. Why? If someone wants to re-tweet your post but add their own comments, they need the space to do so. You want to make re-tweeting as easy as possible for them.

6. Stay Positive

Keep your messages cheerful, don’t get involved in Twitter wars, and always maintain a professional appearance. Many people turn to Twitter to vent, but that’s not the vibe you want to give off here.

Bill Gassett is a nationally recognized Real Estate leader who has been helping people move in and out of the Metrowest Massachusetts area for the past twenty seven plus years. He has been one of the top RE/MAX Realtors in New England for the past decade. In 2013 he was the #1 RE/MAX agent in Massachusetts. See all his real estate articles at www.maxrealestateexposure.com.

3 Ways to Earn More Business than 99% of Your Competition

Tue, 11/11/2014 - 11:39

By Jay O’Brien

I recently had the pleasure of receiving an e-mail from a new agent in Washington state asking me for advice. Being roughly the same age as one another, he examined my results at a glance and was eager to know what caused them. I had a great discussion with this individual and felt the dialogue was worth sharing publicly.

It’s not uncommon for me to receive a phone call like this, or have a conversation with a new agent who has been told it will take several months/years before earning an income in real estate. This is absolutely flawed thinking, and if this is the advice you’re being given from your new brokerage or “mentor,” RUN.

See, we often witness consumers gravitating toward the big names in the industry within our local areas. “This person owns that city” or “that person has been around for decades.” But let’s rewind for a minute. Zoom out. Why is it that these top dog agents are earning so much business? Is it because of the innovative ideas they have, the new resources they use, the sweat equity they pour into each deal? Maybe… but too often that’s not the case. Chances are much higher that the marketing techniques that they used decades ago are yielding the results they are still benefiting from today.

So if a seasoned agent hands you a phone book, or encourages blasting a neighborhood with postcards to get new business, it may be time to reconsider who you’re surrounding yourself with. However: There are three things you can do to make damn sure you are selling more real estate than 99 percent of the agents in your area.

  1. Add more value than your competition. Anyone can provide a “free home valuation” or a “free market analysis.” You need to think of other ways to really add value to someone’s life, whether they’re looking to make a move or not. How about evaluating their property taxes to see if they’re paying too much? How about handling the entire appeal process with the county on their behalf? You just essentially found a way to put money in their pocket with nothing expected in exchange. I’m sure you can think of other selfless acts that homeowners could benefit from that might have nothing to do with selling their home. This will earn buy-in and ultimately create a level of trust. And that’s what will really form a sustainable business.
  2. Think like a consumer. Do you read postcards? Do you like when people waste your time with useless information? Probably not. Find the common denominators that connect you to your audience and get out of the business mentality. The relationships you’re after are not transactional. First, build a foundation of trust and get people to simply know and like who you are. Be subtle with your successes and don’t advertise open houses and new listings to people who couldn’t care less. If you want to share with someone else that you’re a REALTOR®, simply ask what they do for a living. They will almost always reciprocate the question, and will be much more interested in your answer because they asked and you didn’t project it on them.
  3. Always do what you said you were going to do. Follow up constantly. You’d be surprised how many people lose business simply from a lack of communication. If you said you’re going to call, pick up the phone. If you said you were going to send listings, do it. Even if you over-promised, figure out a way to deliver rather than back-peddling. It will go a long way, and it will be remembered.

Jay O’Brien began his real estate career as the first agent for RE/MAX Prestige. Within the first year of being a full-time real estate agent, Jay completed more transactions than 99 percent of agents in Orange County and earned his way into the RE/MAX 100 Percent Club. A large part of Jay’s business is generated through leveraging technology for his clients and has been specifically recognized in the nationally-published RE/MAX Above Magazine. With a degree in economics and business, Jay enjoys producing forecasts of the market and delves into the numbers with his clients to help them better understand the current conditions prior to signing a contract. He has written articles for REALTOR® Magazine, Facilities Management Magazine, and Real Estate Marketing Magazine as well as been heard on Clear Channel’s Patriot 1150AM to cast out advice to buyers, sellers, and other real estate agents. Jay owns and operates RE/MAX Prestige in Costa Mesa, CA and runs the Mentor Program for new agents.

In Their Prime: YPNers Celebrate Wins

Sun, 11/09/2014 - 15:48

YPNers cut a rug at Generations Hall in New Orleans on Friday night during the announcement of the Networks of the Year.

It seemed more than fitting that the rising young stars of real estate joined some of their older, more-experienced brethren at Generations Hall in New Orleans on Friday night. The reception during the REALTORS® Conference & Expo crowned the best and brightest from REALTOR® Magazine’s Young Professionals Network.

Age was nothing—not even a number—to the partygoers as they put aside their business stresses for an evening of mingling, dancing, and celebrating another year well done. Boulder (Colo.) Area REALTORS® Association YPN earned the Small Network of the Year award; Birmingham (Ala.) Association of REALTORS® YPN took home Medium Network of the Year; Scottsdale (Ariz.) Area Association of REALTORS® YPN won Large Network of the Year; and California Association of REALTORS® YPN was named State Network of the Year.

Check out all the fun from the raucous night below. (No one was present from Scottsdale to accept their award.)

The California Association of REALTORS® won the State Network of the Year.

The Birmingham (Ala.) Association of REALTORS® YPN took home the Medium Network of the Year.

The Boulder (Colo.) Area REALTORS® Association YPN snagged the Small Network of the Year.

It was a packed house at Generations Hall for the YPN reception.

Geo-Farming Part 2: Big Data

Thu, 10/30/2014 - 14:44

Brandon Doyle

By Brandon Doyle

By now, most of us know that establishing a geo-farm can be an excellent way to gain listings over the long run. In March of this year, I posted an article titled “Geo-Farming to Build Your Business,” in which I describe strategies for identifying an area to farm and tactics for building your brand and reputation. While these methods are still tried-and-true, a new technology has emerged to make geo-farming more effective and easier than ever before.

Statically, home owners will move every seven years, on average. This is very easy to track using public tax records. This also allows us to also look up how much they paid, and mash that data up using an automated value system to get an idea of what the home might be worth now. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to market to someone who just bought their home, or someone who is completely upside down on their mortgage. We want to focus our marketing efforts on those who may be ready, willing, and able to sell.

Consider the reasons people decide to sell, whether it is a job promotion, marriage, new addition to the family, job relocation, graduation, divorce, or death – most real estate sales occur because of a major life change. If you were able to know when these events occur, in theory, you could get in front of the sellers at just the right time.

Enter the world of big data and predictive analytics. There are companies out there now that gather massive amounts of data about homes, and the people that live in those homes, and run algorithms to identify patterns and behaviors that could lead to a future listing. Sound crazy? I thought so too. After all, how can anyone know when a job loss is going to occur in the future that may require downsizing? Or, how would they know a family is growing and just ran out of bedroom space? While these companies can’t learn everything about a household by compiling data, they do know a lot. The information is out there – such as Internet searches, mailing lists, social media, and other public records – it’s just a matter of who is compiling it to make sense for us as real estate professionals.

There is one company in particular, SmartZip, which has molded its technology into a high-tech version of geo-farming. With their backbone in real estate data, they have accumulated so much information about neighborhoods and transactions that they can help real estate clients choose the most optimal area to farm based on expected turnover in the next year. You can actually look at neighborhoods side-by-side and decide which one to focus your time on. After you choose an area to farm, they call it their “SmartFarm,” you then get exclusive access to the home owners most likely to list in the next six to 12 months. The list is ranked, with the idea being that you should focus your marketing efforts on the top 20 percent.

They also offer a multichannel marketing approach, which includes post cards, hand written notes, and social media ads. The marketing is designed to drive traffic to a splash page where the home owners can get an estimated value, similar to Prime Seller Leads program.

Once you’ve identified that a home owner is curious about their value, it is your job to get in front of them. By now, you should have been marketing to them on a fairly regular basis. As with any marketing beyond your sphere group, it will take time for your campaign to be effective, and for you to earn the trust of your neighborhood. Once you’re recognized as the expert in the area, all your hard work will pay off.

Suffice to say, geo-farming just got way better.

Brandon Doyle, ABR, e-PRO, is a second-generation real estate pro with RE/MAX Results in the Twin Cities. Learn more about Brandon at www.doylerealestateteam.com.

 

Pinterest Marketing Part 4: Blog Content

Mon, 10/20/2014 - 08:00

Charlie Allred

By Charlie Allred

We have all heard the statistic that 90 percent of all home searches start online. So how do we capture this online business?

My answer to this question is always: “You need a blog; your website should be a blog.”  I use the words website and blog interchangeably because a website without a blog is a static site, there is no new content added to it and it’s basically a yellow pages ad. For your website to be found by your potential client, you need to be adding new articles (blog posts) regularly.

I know this sounds daunting, you sell real estate and now you have to also write articles about selling real estate.

The goal of this post is to make your blog/website easier to manage. I know that maintaining a blog can feel very overwhelming and it’s often the last priority on your to-do list. But just think, when you need to find a location, a store, or a service provider, where is the first place you go to search? I’m sure your answer is the Internet. Real estate agents’ marketing is moving more and more to an online platform because that’s where the potential clients are searching.

In last month’s article, I emphasized the importance of keywords for your Pinterest boards. Let’s take a step back: The purpose of Pinterest is to drive traffic to your real estate website. I define “regular Pinterest users” as those who are browsing Pinterest for fun. These regular users are your potential clients and are potential traffic for your blog/website. If you are a “power Pinterest user,” you always have purpose in your pinning and your main goal is to drive traffic to your real estate website.

In a previous post, I mentioned the four categories of Pinterest boards you should include in your top 12 boards.  These categories are:

  1. Your interests: cooking, exercise, kids, etc.
  2. Real estate: this is all about helping buyers and sellers.
  3. Home related: home organization, storage, home decor or anything home related.
  4. Community: this is everything local. You can, of course, niche it down to “Scottsdale parks,” “Scottsdale festivals,” “Scottsdale kids,” – anything related to community events that bring value to your potential clients.

Once, you’ve done your keyword research for your Pinterest boards, you will have a ton of keywords that can all be used on your blog too. Keep a list of these keywords at your desk to refer to when you’re writing your blog posts.

It’s best to choose four or five topics that you will cover each month on your blog. If you write one article a week, you will cover each topic once a month.

Make sure your real estate blog topics are very similar to your Pinterest boards. If you are regularly pinning to your top 12 boards, you will notice some pins are more popular than others, these popular pins should become blog topics for your blog. Here are some examples:

  • Local real estate: I write a Phoenix and Scottsdale market report each month.
  • Community/Local happenings: An agent that I coach in Pinterest marketing writes about upcoming neighborhood restaurants in her area.
  • Your interests: Utilize your pins that perform well as the topic.
  • Home Related: Another area where you can utilize pins that are heavily shared.

If you use a pin topic that is popular to create a blog post, the best part is you can send traffic from Pinterest to your blog post. This creates instant traffic to your website and that particular blog article.

The next step is keeping the potential client on your website.

For example, if a potential client came to my website from a “Scottsdale restaurants” pin and it went to my blog post on the “5 Best Restaurants in Old Town Scottsdale,” I could then direct the visitor with a link to my post, “Districts of Old Town Scottsdale,” or “Top 7 Restaurant Patios in Scottsdale.” These other articles will likely be of interest to this potential client. Since you are writing on the same four or five topics each month, you can link to previous articles on the same topic within your blog.

For a quick starter guide to keywords, you can head to Pinnable Real Estate and download a free list of my favorite keywords in three topic areas (all home related categories): home staging, home organization, and home decor. These top six to eight keywords in each topic will give you a good starting point for using keywords on Pinterest.

If you want to learn more about Pinterest for your real estate business, head to Pinnable Real Estate to register for the Newbie Pinterest Online Course or the Advanced Pinterest Online Course (both are free).

Next month, I plan go more in depth on the topic of blogging. I’d love to hear your struggles and successes in blogging as well.

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 is a Pinterest expert coaching agents on how to gain more leads, followers, and clients by using Pinterest. Learn more at her blog: www.PinnableRealEstate.com.

Choosing the Right Brokerage For You

Tue, 10/14/2014 - 08:00

Brandon Doyle

By Brandon Doyle

Whether you’re new to the business or in a growth stage, at some point in your career you’ll need to pick a brokerage to associate with (or start your own). There is no “one size fits all” answer, and there are many factors that go into this major decision. It is important to understand what stage of your career you’re in, how much training, mentorship, and supervision you need. Many of the larger brokerages will have training courses available to you, either paid or unpaid. If you’re in need of more hands-on training, a company that promotes teams and mentorships may be the best route.

Brand awareness is important in the marketplace when you’re going after business outside your own sphere of influence; it lends credibility. You should choose a brand that does business in the style and niche you’re focusing on. Research the area you’ll be selling in, and see who has the most listings and sales. If relocation and out state referrals are important to you, a brand with national presence may be a better fit over a smaller shop. Ideally, your brokerage will have offices in the areas you intend on working, even if you plan to work from home.

Visit multiple brokerages to get a feel for the culture; talk to the brokers and agents. Sit in on a meeting or training if possible, that way you can put together a pros and cons list. Fee structure is important and varies by experience and annual sales volume. Oftentimes, newer agents will only get 50 percent of the commission earned, whereas experienced agents will get 90 percent or more. There are additional fees that your broker will pass along to you, and it is important to find this out before making your decision.

At the end of the day, there are great agents who will do a lot of business at any size or brand of brokerage. No one brokerage is better than the other, you just need to find the one that works for you. And don’t discount your competition, because you’ll never know who has the buyer for your next listing!

Brandon Doyle, ABR, e-PRO, is a second-generation real estate pro with RE/MAX Results in the Twin Cities. Learn more about Brandon at www.doylerealestateteam.com.

Free Marketing Webinar With Guy Kawasaki

Fri, 10/10/2014 - 15:02

Bobbi Howe

By Bobbi Howe

This past July, I met Guy Kawasaki on Twitter while he was speaking at Inman Connect. Leigh Brown, broker-owner of RE/MAX Executive Realty in Concord, N.C., and I were having a conversation about our love of Canva – and he just joined in. I was completely star stuck. You may know him as Apple’s former chief evangelist who was an early adopter of Twitter. I mean, Guy can tweet! He was also an advisor to the Motorola business unit of Google and he has written 12 books.

Anyway, we got to talking about real estate and how he could help more agents like Leigh and myself, so he agreed to host a live webinar exclusively for YPN on how to use Canva to make visually stunning property brochures, blog and newsletter graphics, and more.

I’m hoping our YPN members will take advantage of this exciting webinar co-hosted by Guy and Peg Fitzpatrick, the social media team behind Canva. I’ve been using Canva since January for marketing my listings. The results have been phenomenal. The finished product looks like the work of a professional graphic designer, and yet, it is so easy to use. I can literally put together a property brochure in less than five minutes. I do want to note that Canva can do so much more than just real estate flyers – it includes templates to make almost anything. Also, Canva is completely free. Some graphics are $1, but most are free, and you don’t have to use any of their graphics – you can upload your own.

Here are the webinar details:

I hope you will all tune in. The webinar will be available for download and playback shortly after the event.

Bobbi Howe, CRS, is a REALTOR® with RE/MAX Professionals in St. Joseph, Mo. She currently serves as vice chair of the 2014 YPN Advisory Board. @bobbihowe

How to Avoid Legal Issues in Real Estate

Fri, 10/10/2014 - 08:00

Sammer Mudawar

By Sammer Mudawar

First, I would like to start by making it clear: I am not an attorney and nothing herein (legal word) should be construed as legal advice. This is a simple narrative on how common sense and sound business practices can help avoid some very common situations that can lead to legal problems in our profession. These opinions and observations come from my experiences as a working agent, managing broker, and active member of the grievance committee at the Pacific West Association of REALTORS®.

Communication

Communication, or lack thereof, is by far the most common and easy mistake to avoid. It can snowball a simple problem into a mountain of chaos. Real estate transactions (especially residential) are emotionally charged and sensitive by nature. When agents fail to properly communicate with all parties, it can easily lead to frustration and make people feel hopeless, which can lead to desperate actions. Eventually, clients will feel the need to get involved or get their legal advisors involved and that is typically not a good thing. Do not avoid phone calls, e-mails, texts, or Facebook messages when there is a problem. Address the situation promptly and make sure everyone knows what is going on. Remember, bad news early is good news and most problems can be solved with open lines of communication.

Ego

It is not uncommon for real estate professionals to become personally offended when issues arise during a transaction; and they often feel the need to prove they are right or know more than the other agent, whether by knowledge or experience. Many times the battle of the egos starts with simple mistake in our choice of words. For example, instead of saying “my client” we say “I” or “me”, insinuating we actually have the ability to make choices on our clients’ behalf. Mistakes like this can create an adversarial relationship between the agents, jeopardize a transaction, lead to a lawsuit, and create liability for yourself. In theory, there really shouldn’t be issues between agents because the contract is between buyer and seller; agents should be weary to interject themselves. So don’t create unnecessary problems for yourself by letting your ego get the best of you. Remember your role in the transaction and that the issue is typically between buyer and seller not the agents.

In closing, much of our income comes from our ability to solve problems before they become legal in nature – consider it compensation for pain and suffering. Sometimes it’s better to answer that annoying and untimely phone call, let your ego suffer a bit, or not respond to an emotional text if it’s not going to move things forward or be in the best interest of your client. Lastly, there is a time for the attorneys to intervene and you and/or your broker should know when to make those recommendations to the client.

Sammer Mudawar is the owner of RE/MAX Prestige located in Anaheim Hills and Costa Mesa in Orange County, Calif. You can learn more about RE/MAX Prestige by going to www.joinremaxprestige.com and consumers can visit his personal site at www.liveoc.net.

REALTORS® Discuss Safety on Today Show

Tue, 10/07/2014 - 17:41

Tamara Suminski, 2011 California YPN chair and 2014 president of the South Bay Association of REALTORS®, appeared on Today with 2015 NAR President Chris Polychron to discuss safety precautions REALTORS® are taking in wake of the horrifying kidnapping and murder of Arkansas-based real estate practitioner Beverly Carter.

Among the changes to how Suminski conducts business, she has committed to never hosting an open house alone. “REALTORS® everywhere are having significant conversations about safety,” she told Today correspondent Hallie Jackson.

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Learn more about Beverly Carter and the legacy she is leaving behind.

For broker-owners, managers, and agents looking to make safety a priority at your office, here are seven tips to create security routines and procedures. Download NAR’s agent information, agent itinerary, and prospect ID forms and adapt them for brokerage use.

To learn more on how to stay safe in the field, visit REALTOR.org/safety.

REALTOR® Recruiting and Retention: The Non-MLS Value Proposition

Mon, 09/29/2014 - 11:30

Sam DeBord

By Sam DeBord

Compulsion is the crutch that lulls our organization’s recruiting and retention capabilities to sleep. When real estate licensees are compelled to be members of a REALTOR® association because of their need for MLS services, we often fail to aggressively sell them on the broad spectrum of REALTOR® benefits, most of which lie outside of the MLS sphere.

The MLS is integral to our members’ businesses, and will continue to be important to our industry. Legal, financial, and technological shifts have significantly changed its role over time, though, and we should be prepared for the inevitability of future changes.

As a member of Washington REALTORS® and Seattle King County REALTORS® Board of Directors, I believe the long-term danger for REALTOR® associations is in resting on a value proposition that relies almost singularly on the benefits of compulsory MLS membership. Building apps and services that complement the MLS can reinforce the board/MLS’s value, but without member appreciation for non-MLS benefits, a REALTOR® board is putting all of its eggs in one basket.

The organization’s reputation has to be built on more than just transactional services.

Political advocacy, legal protection, corporate partnership benefits, and education are all services that can and should be relayed to members regularly to create a more consistent and broad picture of the value derived from membership.

NAR has made a significant investment this year to define the REALTOR® Value Proposition, and our local boards nationwide could benefit greatly by sharing our successful strategies with one another. YPN members who serve on their local or state REALTOR® board, take note: More collaboration between REALTOR® boards could streamline the identification of the most effective messaging strategies to be leveraged in membership-building campaigns across the country.

I’ve had the opportunity to chair a communications task force for Seattle King County REALTORS®, and we’d like to share our first steps in reinventing our value proposition.  Our president, executive committee, staff, and creative agencies have been working for over a year to audit our communications and messaging strategies. This is our first concrete value proposition piece, which going out this week to members alongside the annual dues invoice.

The annual bill is the single piece of communication between boards and members that will be delivered without fail. We’ve added our benefits brochure this year, with the front giving a quick visual highlight of most concrete REALTOR® tools available from NAR, the state board, and local board. The back side highlights timely advocacy issues and the specific financial ramifications for the member’s bottom line.

This is the most poignant moment to clarify member benefits. Educating members on the wide range of protections and services we provide should happen year-round, but we should be especially vocal on the day that we ask our members to recommit another year of financing for the organization which supports their businesses.

The impetus for Seattle King County REALTORS® to create this kind of messaging was greater than most boards would have – our regional MLS is not REALTOR®-owned.  Our local licensees have to find enough value in non-MLS services to justify REALTOR® membership. Despite that challenge, our board continues to retain the majority of local full-time agents within our membership, and our members do the bulk of the total sales in our market.

This kind of messaging, with a few local tweaks, should be applicable to nearly any board and a great complement to those providing MLS services as well.  We will be redesigning our entire platform of communication this year to make certain we’re contacting our members with timely, engaging, and useful information every chance we get.  We’ll be sharing more as the process moves along, and we’d invite you to invest in the development of the REALTOR® Value Proposition by sharing your most successful communications campaigns as well.

Sam DeBord is a director for Washington REALTORS® and Seattle King County REALTORS®, and managing broker with Coldwell Banker Danforth. Connect with his team, Seattle Homes Group, at SeattleHome.com and SeattleCondo.com.