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May 25, 2015

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Updated: 1 hour 34 min ago

World’s First Virtual Broker Open

Fri, 05/22/2015 - 16:04

Brandon Doyle

By Brandon Doyle

Last month, the Minneapolis Area Association of REALTORS® Young Professional Network presented the first ever virtual broker open. Architech 3D Imaging was on hand to talk about 3D mapping and virtual tours, including Matterport as well as a new service they’re now offering. I spoke about how virtual tours can help market properties and save time for both buyers and sellers. Meanwhile, attendees were able to experience virtual reality demonstrations with Samsung Gear VR platform and a version Architech 3D Imaging’s new product for Google Cardboard that is under development.

Photo courtesy of Brandon Doyle

The virtual tours we’re creating can be displayed on a computer, tablet, or mobile device. They’re able to be syndicated out to thousands of websites including Zillow through an MLS data feed, so consumers can access them from their couch anywhere in the world. Not only are buyers now able to visualize the home on a flat screen surface, they can also use virtual reality devices to experience the properties as if they were standing right there in the home.

A Samsung Gear VR retails for about $200 and requires the use of compatible Samsung phone. While an agent or a builder may invest in one of these units, it is unlikely that most buyers will have one anytime soon. Enter the Google Cardboard! For around $20 you can fold together a piece of cardboard with a couple of lenses, allowing you to use almost any smartphone to access the virtual tour.

I’m not suggesting that virtual reality will replace a real life showing, but it is a great way for buyers to get a better feel for the layout and finishes of property before visiting. It also allows them to share the home they’re considering virtually with friends, family, or a decision maker who may not be able to attend an in-person showing.

Video captures a property and tells a story, but virtual tours put the consumer in the driver seat. Virtual reality headsets take it to a whole new level of realism.

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.

Get Your Own Wine Social Started

Wed, 05/20/2015 - 09:00

Erika Villegas

By Erika Villegas

When writing my first blog for the YPN Lounge in March about the marketing success I’ve achieved from putting on wine socials, I truly didn’t have any expectations about what the response would be – I wondered if anyone was even going to read the post. But after it was published, I was blown away by the number of inquiries, comments, and responses I received. All of the emails with questions and phone calls requesting more information on how to get a wine social started has motivated me write this follow up piece.

My personality is very upbeat and I love meeting people but I am not a pushy businesswoman, so organizing a wine social is perfect for me. It’s very casual and it allows me to couple my marketing with one of my passions – wine. Here is how I got started:

First, I made wine socials part of my marketing plan for 2015, so I budgeted $4,000 total at the beginning of the year and it seems that I am on track with my spending unless the events grow faster than I anticipated.

My second step was to decide who my target audience would be and how to reach out to them. I decided to target neighborhood moms, so I created a Facebook group called “Women’s Wine Social.” I invited friends, family, past clients, and neighborhood friends to join, then asked them to invite others. I also shared my group with other Facebook groups from the neighborhood and on my personal page. (The group now has more than 150 members and it continues to grow every day.) Then I created an invitation to help further promote the wine social. The invitation is posted on social media, particularly on Facebook pages from the neighborhood and mom groups in the local area. I also text and email personal invitations every month and connect with past attendees to remind them about the upcoming event. The attendance has been consistent at about 35 to 40 women every month.

Once you’ve sent your invitation, you need to buy the wine, and lots of it. I purchased wine from a local liquor distributor at a very cost effective price. I purchased enough red and white wine to cover the first six monthly socials, and I purchased wine glasses from IKEA, which I found to be the best price around. It’s more work to have to reuse actual wine glasses, but I don’t like to drink wine from a plastic cup and it’s a nice touch; people notice it. I also purchased cups for water, napkins, and small plates in bulk. Don’t forget to buy raffle tickets and name tags in bulk too. I did spend more the first month because I needed to buy the initial supplies but now I don’t have to worry about purchasing these items for the entire year.

I then asked local businesses to host the wine socials. The January event was held at a restaurant, then at a beauty salon in February, and at a cell phone store in March – and every one of those businesses is woman-owned in my niche neighborhood market. I mixed things up a bit for the April event and called it “Whiskey and Wine.” A soccer store hosted the social and I invited men in my neighborhood to attend as well. You can customize your own wine social to the needs of your community by taking demographics into account. I found what works for my community.

Some of the businesses agreed to provide some appetizers and I provide a few as well. There are also a few attendees who have graciously provided an appetizers or dessert at no cost to me. I reached out to affiliate businesses and a mortgage lender agreed to help sponsor the events and provide goody bags with a small gift. I’ll add some personal marketing materials such as a pen or notepad too.

At every wine social, I introduce myself and thank everyone who helps me make the wine social possible that month. The list usually starts with the host business, the caterer or restaurant providing the appetizer(s), the lender or whomever provides the goody bags, and any anyone else involved that month.

The idea of a wine social was intended for me to meet more people in my neighborhood, get my name out in the community, and support local businesses; I have accomplished that. The wine social has already helped me grow my business by generating new clients, plenty of leads, and word of mouth recommendations. The most exciting part for me is that I am also helping other women grow their businesses as I grow my own, and we’re having fun in the process.

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

How to Select a Brokerage

Tue, 05/12/2015 - 10:49

Lee Davenport

By Lee Davenport

As a new real estate agent, it may be hard for you to decide which real estate brokerage firm to “hang your hat.” From having a friend who works at XYZ Realty to remembering the agent who sold you your home with ABC Realty to seeing all the brokerage lawn signs, commercials, and billboards, it can be an overwhelming and stressful process.

​But have no fear! (LOL – I’m being a little corny, but hopefully that put a smile on your face during this time of deliberation.)

Here is a short yet informative guide that will help you to identify and recognize the features you desire most in a brokerage: The Rookie Roadmap to Selecting a Real Estate Brokerage

Once you have identified the type of place you want to be associated with, the next step will be to schedule meetings with as many realty firms as possible in order to interview the managing broker and chat with agents who may be in the office at the time of your appointment. This will help you see which office meets your standards.   ​ ​

I ​want​ to encourage​ you to​ not settle or cut short ​the ​interview process. The time, effort, and energy you put in now finding the right realty “home” can save you potentially thousands of dollars in lost revenue later. Be selective and inquisitive so that your first real estate firm experience is a good one.

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.

9 Features of a Great Real Estate Website

Thu, 04/30/2015 - 12:44

Charlie Allred

By Charlie Allred

Ninety percent of home buyers search for their new home online. Knowing this statistic, how is your online presence?

Most real estate agents have the website their broker provided them, however, these are merely a page on the brokerage’s website that bring absolutely no leads to the individual real estate agent. I think of most static real estate websites (meaning the information never changes) as a yellow pages ad – it sits there online, no one sees it, and therefore the agent gets no leads.  I refer to my website either as my website or my blog, I use the phrases interchangeably because I believe every real estate website should have a blog.

I’ve created a list of nine must-haves for your real estate website to be a killer online real estate agent.

1. Address Your Niche: Instead of addressing all of Phoenix on my website/blog, I address specific niche communities. I mostly feature south and central Scottsdale on my website. However, I have blog articles covering the Chandler, Tempe, and Ahwatukee real estate markets as well. I don’t talk to all of Phoenix at once because it hurts my chances of showing up in a customer’s search results. I’d much rather show up in the search results for “McCormick Ranch,” a Scottsdale neighborhood. By addressing my niches one at a time, the reader sees that I’m an expert in the area and that I understand their needs. I encourage real estate agents to have blog posts on each neighborhood where they specialize. Don’t try to fit too many neighborhoods in one blog post. If you do want to address multiple neighborhoods in a single post, try something like my Guide to Scottsdale Zip Codes, which gives a Scottsdale home buyer the big picture.

2. Easy to Navigate: Make sure your site is very easy to navigate for your prospective clients. I want a Scottsdale home buyer or seller to easily find the information they want on my website. I have a featured topic of “Scottsdale Real Estate” and a drop down for the best Scottsdale articles. You could do this with your niche neighborhoods. I also link within blog posts to other blog posts that the reader may find interesting.

3. Keyword Driven: You want your website to be found by your prospect, right? Make a list of your ideal prospects, the area of town they want to purchase or sell their home. What is the price range of this home? What neighborhood is this ideal prospect’s home? These are all great keyword ideas you’ll want to use in your headlines, posts, and in blog categories or tags to help make sure your prospects find you.

4. Use Categories: To make your site very easy to navigate, use three or four content categories regularly, such as neighborhood names or local information. Then you can rotate through the categories when writing your blog posts. If you decide to write one article a week, you will have one new article each month in each category. Again, make sure you use focused, specific categories rather than broader city information, otherwise your posts will never find their way to the top of search results.

5. Home Search: Most template websites for real estate include a home search component, and your site should of course contain this ability. There are tons of ways to make this happen. On my website, the prospect has to sign up for access, it’s free and I start by sending an auto-email sequence to the prospect. You can give it away for free without a sign up required, that’s up to you.

6. Home Page: What is your goal of your home page? My home page features my “genius home video,” which is one of my signature marketing tools. I make a video for every listing regardless of price. The luxury homes have much fancier videos, but the premise is always the same. I want my listings to be found on first page of Google search results, and I accomplish this by using YouTube. Recently, I’ve started to take this further by installing riders on my real estate signs that say “Google ‘address’.” My online presence is my marketing strategy, and my clients hire me because of the power of being found on page one of Google.

7. Lead Capture Tools: You want to have the ability for your prospect to sign up for a free resource on your website.  This free resource could be searching the MLS, a seller’s guide to your area, a buyer’s guide to your area, or whatever other resource you believe is important to your potential clients. All they have to do is sign up in order to receive the information. This provides value for your prospects and creates a way to help you build a list of potential home buyers and sellers.

8. Responsive Design: Your website should be viewable on mobile devices, this means your site needs to be responsive and mobile friendly.

9. Above the Fold: The first thing a prospect sees when they first land on your site is what’s considered “above the fold.” Make sure your visitors to know what site they are on and why they are there without having to scroll down the page.

If you are just starting your online marketing, check out my article on developing a Killer Online Strategy.

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 who coaches agents on how to gain more leads, followers, and clients by using Pinterest. Learn more at her blog: www.PinnableRealEstate.com.

 

The Biggest Social Media Fails in Real Estate

Thu, 04/23/2015 - 09:00

Bill Gassett

By Bill Gassett

It’s no secret that social media is a must in the world of real estate. Today’s buyers and sellers turn the to various platforms and make snap judgments on what you have to offer. You do get points for actually having accounts on all of the main platforms (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and Pinterest), but if you’re not seeing the results you had hoped for, chances are you’re making one or more of these common social media mistakes. These blunders not only cause you lose business, but you quickly gain a reputation as the person nobody wants to see when they log in.

Social Media as a Whole

Before I get into the social media fails in specific platforms, let’s talk about the main purpose of social media. I’ll give you a hint: It’s in the name. Yes, it’s about being social. Getting to know your audience, providing them with information that is useful, and building trust. If you are more focused on promoting yourself than you are about genuinely helping your followers, then it’s no surprise nobody wants to do business with you.

What many agents fail to understand is that social media is not about direct selling. If this is what you are doing, it’s no wonder you’re not getting anywhere! Just like having a top real estate blog, your attention should be focused on helping others and answering their questions. When you do this, sales will naturally come your way.

@Mlphoto, 2014. Morguefile

Twitter Turmoils

It’s a fast-moving, hashtag-loving, 140-character-limiting social media site, and it’s a must-use for all real estate pros. However, you better not be making these mistakes:

  • Blast your message directly to people – This is not something you should do. This is akin to receiving a spam email. Nobody wants to receive sales pitch notifications in their stream from someone they don’t know.
  • Ignore notifications – Just because there’s not a direct feed under every tweet, doesn’t mean you don’t need to reply. Make sure to review your notifications regularly to see if anyone has re-tweeted something, replied to you, or mentioned you. If they have, say something back, or better yet, re-tweet their content. This is one of the best ways to say thank you. Reciprocation wins big time in real estate social media. Learn how to use Twitter for real estate in this handy guide. Build an engaged audience by following the simple tips.
  • Blast nothing but listings – Hello? Can you say annoying? Folks, people do not go to Twitter to buy houses! If all you do is post listings – and they are not owned by the rich and famous – you will command nothing buy yawns from your followers.
  • Use random hashtags – Hashtags are a must for Twitter because they put tweets in a relevant context and make your tweets more searchable. However, you better be sure that your hashtag is what you think it is. If you just choose whatever sounds good, you may end up accidentally aligning yourself with something that can hurt your reputation. Use hastags that are connected to the business like #realestate.
Facebook Faults

This giant social media platform is undoubtedly the most popular, so you would think real estate agents would have the strategy for this site perfected by now. Unfortunately, these errors are seen all too often:

  • Post at the wrong times – It’s true that Facebook posts do have longer staying power than Twitter, but posts are usually surfaced in the news feed with the most recent first (unless it makes it into your friends’ news feed “top stories.”) So if you post late at night, by the time your audience wakes up, there is a high chance they won’t even scroll long enough to see what you had to say.
  • Skip follow through – If you post something, stick around long enough to see if anyone has anything to say about it. And if you must go, don’t forget to check back in and reply to any comments made.

    ©Bill Gassett, 2015

  • Use only a personal page – If you don’t have a designated business page for your real estate business, you better fix it now. Not only is it technically against Facebook’s rules, it puts limits on how many people can find you and follow you, and it’s just not considerate to your friends.
  • Skip the foolish event invites – One of the most silly mistakes made by real estate agents is not inviting appropriate people to events. When you have an event you want your contacts to know about don’t check off your entire list of friends. Pick people who are local that will want to attend your event. There is nothing more annoying than getting real estate agent Mary’s invite to her kid’s bar mitzvah. Mary, you live in Texas. I live in Massachusetts. Other than a few Facebook posts, I really don’t know you personally. Sorry, I won’t make it. Maybe next time…NOT!
Pinterest Problems

No, this site is not just for housewives; it’s a huge marketing tool that every real estate agent should be taking advantage of. When you do, just avoid these errors:

  • Pin in bulk – The site is addicting, which often results in an abundance of pins in a short amount of time. This is fine, as long as you are organizing them on boards accordingly, but you can’t just disappear for a week or two afterwards. A better option is to pin to a secret board, and then slowly unveil them to the public over several days. When you have a lot of pins to share, a better strategy is to post them every 60 minutes instead of all at once. You won’t annoy your followers, and you’ll spread out your presence over the course of the day. This simple trick can lead to more followers. See how to use Pinterest for real estate exposure. Keep in mind that Pinterest has the longest shelf life of a link shared than any other platform.
  • Skip descriptions – Whether it’s a re-pin or an original, you need to take the time to write a description. It should be precise and engaging and let your followers know exactly why you think it will benefit them. Use appropriate keywords so your posting has a better chance of showing up in search.
LinkedIn Lapses

While LinkedIn is great for job hunting and recruiting, there is a lot more to it. Essentially, it’s a place where you can grow networks and increase profits, as long as you aren’t making these errors:

  • Connect only with personal contacts – Anyone on LinkedIn is fair game, you absolutely do not have to know them from the real world. Think of the six degrees of separation!
  • Overlook the feed – Yes, LinkedIn has a news feed just like Facebook. Read it, respond to it, and throw in a post or two yourself on occasion.
  • ©Bill Gassett, 2015

    Post your listings into groups – Most real estate groups on Linkedin are for discussing relevant topics. They are NOT for sharing your latest listing on Nobody Cares Street USA. So many real estate agents make clueless mistakes like this that make them look foolish in front of their peers. See how to use Linkedin for real estate for great tips on how to use this social channel properly.

  • Forget about keywords – People use the search feature on LinkedIn more than on any other platform. You need to make sure your profile and company pages are keyword rich so that you get found.
Google+ Goof Ups

Google+ is very much still in the game, and if you aren’t getting any traction from it, perhaps you are a victim of one of these common oversights:

  • Forget the public circle – Every post you make should include the green circle, meaning everyone can see it. If you skip it, only those in the designated circles will see your posts.
  • Use plain text – Google+ is the only platform that allows you to bold and italicize your posts, so you need to be using these tools to make your posts stand out.
  • Write short leads – On Facebook, you are only supposed to write a sentence or two before you share a link or photo; however, Google+ users expect more of the story. It’s not uncommon to include quotes from the article, a short summary, or questions to the reader asking for their input.
  • Misuse the email function – One of the more common problems with newbies or marketers on Google+ is using the email function improperly. For those that don’t know you can email those you have put into a circle. The problem is the people you have in a circle are people YOU follow not the other way around. So when you email your latest and greatest post to someone who doesn’t know you and has never had any dialog with you, it can be pretty frustrating. In fact, it is no different than getting email spam. See how not to share a post on Google Plus for a complete explanation.

There you have it; all of the worst mistakes made by real estate agents. If you can tweak your social media strategy accordingly, you will soon see what all the hype is about. Think of social media as a place to build relationships with people and not where you will make your next sale.

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

Are You a Real Estate Misfit?

Tue, 04/21/2015 - 09:00

Lee Davenport

By Lee Davenport

Are you on a hunt for more leads? Whether you’re new to real estate sales or a veteran interested in reinventing your lead generation strategy to keep your sales pipeline full, if you said yes, then you may be interested in hearing how top producers are leading the pack.

One sales leader suggests using Instagram and advertising on Facebook. You try the exact steps given but you don’t see the same results. Then another leading sales agent encourages you to go back to sending postcards and having open houses.  Your results after several months are still less than noteworthy. Others propose methods that have been “tried and true” for them, but you still do not see the same level of closings.

What is going wrong? Are you just not cut out to sell real estate in today’s marketplace?

Answer: You probably are not using lead generating tactics that complement your natural behavioral tendencies and personality. In other words, the suggested prospecting activities are personally awkward for you and it shows in your sales (or lack thereof). As a result, you are a misfit in real estate – but there is help available.

Of course, there can be issues if you do not give a lead generating approach enough time to work (i.e. you have to try it more than twice), your work ethic is lackluster or the “winning” technique inadvertently is “missing” a few of the critical steps (hopefully that was not purposeful but there can be stiff competition in sales). If those are not your qualms, then check to see if you are working against how you are wired to sell.

Have you ever seen a toddler try to place a square peg into a round hole?  The toddler persists to the point of frustration (i.e. a temper tantrum) and then may move on to another toy, never to again return to the peg and hole. Or, the toddler may force the peg to fit, not realizing that the toy may become inoperable. Unfortunately, I have seen agents do the same with lead generation: They either force it to fit but it just does not work properly, or they walk away from it never to return. Both scenarios end in nerve-wracking, career-altering, confidence-shaking frustration.

Understanding your behavioral personality (I like using DiSC for this, but there are others) and the lead generating activities that support your natural inclinations can be like finding the square hole in which to place the square peg.

Do you think you are currently a real estate misfit or match? Take my short three-question survey below to weigh in and discover how you can best profit with your personality:

If you are the steady type (meaning you are introverted but someone who is very dependable and oriented towards people instead of tasks), you are doing a disservice to your business if you are cold-calling, which is more appropriate for those with dominant or influencer as their prominent traits. Instead, as a steady type, you should look to cultivate one-on-one relationships with people from your sphere of influence, social media networks, past clients, vendors, and even other agents (who can refer business in times of illness, bereavement, travel, holiday, you name it).

Those with dominant traits who are extroverted and task-driven should focus on prospecting that allows them to track, quantify, and share results (e.g. cold calling, door-knocking, online ads, buying leads like with SmartZip, sharing monthly market updates through social media, mailings, or email campaigns).

Influencers, like our beloved Chatty Cathys who are extroverted and people-focused, should seek lead generating activities that allow them to socialize. Some ideas include vlogging about their community, having open houses, hosting community fair booths (with titles like, Are You Ready to Sell?, How Much House Can You Afford?, etc.), throwing client appreciation parties, and so forth.

The conscientious folks (those who are introverted and task-driven, get the job done well but are put-off by crowds) would best serve their time by focusing on written marketing endeavors such as blogging, mailing postcards, or writing buying and selling guides to post on your website or mail.

Tip: Keep in mind that many of us exhibit all four of the DiSC personality traits, but the key is to focus on the lead generating activities that mesh with your most prevalent characteristic. No matter your DiSC profile results, be sure to always ask for business. And as your business grows, hire staff and recruit team members who have different strengths/personality profiles, which will maximize the amount of lead generating your growing team can accomplish. Also, check out my upcoming free webinar series where I will discuss this further.

In the coming months, be on the lookout for my scientific study and white paper that will provide a more in depth examination of the correlation between sales success and lead generating activities that complement one’s behavioral profile.

By the way, follow me on Google Plus and Facebook for more tips and techniques. Here’s to your success!

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

Always Be Delivering Magic

Tue, 04/14/2015 - 14:25

Alyssa Hellman

By Alyssa Hellman

In real estate, agents are constantly trying to find new ways to standout in their market. Will this gadget make me look techie? Will that car magnet attract business? Should I advertise on this portal or that? But when you take away all the gadgets and hoopla, real estate is rather simple. The purchase or sale of shelter is an indispensable need for the public. We are a valuable asset. The real question is, are you conveying that value to build your business?

Sure, a home is the largest investment that most people will make throughout their life, but a home is so much more than the windows and walls that complete the structure. A home is about the people within those walls and their stories that weave the fiber of a home. Think on this for a moment…people tend to buy or sell homes during big moments in life – getting married, having kids, starting a new job, downsizing as children move on, and that’s just to name a few. As agents, our ability to understand the life events of our clients is without a shadow of a doubt the most valuable asset we have.

@violetdragonfly, 2015. Morguefile

There are a lot of surveys that talk about what buyers and sellers want in a home, but what those surveys don’t always say is that buyers and sellers want  someone who they trust to be one their side as they navigate this next stage of their life. In my personal real estate business, I always called this “delivering magic.” At Go Realty, we define it like this: “What raises the eyebrows, waters the eyes, and makes the lungs draw air?” It’s magic.

Throughout the transaction, there are a million little ways to find and deliver magic. Find those. Show up at your clients work to deliver flowers and news that they are under contract. Surprise them on moving day with dinner from their favorite restaurant. Send their kids a birthday card. When you deliver magic, your business card is unnecessary because the moment is remembered. Closing a transaction is the expectation, delivering magic is remarkable. So, find a way to deliver magic to your clients. Heck, find a way to deliver magic to the people who haven’t yet done a transaction with you. Because if there’s one thing people value, it’s the unexpected moments of unforgettable experiences.

Alyssa Hellman is the director of the Go School at Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate, Go Realty based in Cary, N.C., serving Raleigh-Durham and surrounding areas. You can find Alyssa on Twitter @AVHellman or visit her website, www.alyssahellman.com.

3 Real Estate Cliches That Stunt Growth

Tue, 04/07/2015 - 11:39

Sam DeBord

By Sam DeBord

We love to give advice as real estate professionals, and often that advice is to our professional associates. Over time, we accumulate catchy sayings that are supposed to sum up and answer other agents’ questions in short fashion.

Like in any industry, the advice can be good or bad. There are a lot of great coaches and advisors in the industry. Most new agents will benefit greatly by being trained by a serious, thoughtful mentor.

Unfortunately, there are also plenty of ego-driven personalities giving bad advice. The amount of misinformation new agents get from gurus, speakers, and “thought leaders” is staggering. Many are so caught up in having a great tagline that they’re willing to sacrifice good, thorough advice to the folks who are listening to them.

We spend a lot of time with our team pushing back against counterproductive one-liners that our agents hear so often. These are just a few of the clichés that new agents should avoid if they’re hoping to learn the business quickly, and get a head start on where it’s going:

“If they won’t sign a buyer agency agreement, they’re not worth my time.”

There’s a time and a place for buyer agency agreements. Relocation and referrals are often that place. Your first interaction with a potential client who contacted you via the Internet is not the place.

Many traditional agents will protest, but as a new agent, you need to learn to deliver some value to clients before you ask them to sign a contract for you. Asking Internet leads to sit down in your office and sign an agency agreement might make you feel like you’re only working with serious buyers, but in reality you’re only working with a tiny minority of the buyers who you could’ve been selling homes to.

This isn’t to say you should run out and show a property to an unknown person. Meet them at an office or a public place and verify their identity. Talk about the real estate process and how you get paid. Just don’t balk at showing them a few homes and letting them see the kind of service you can provide for them. Your job is to earn their business, not expect it.  Self-righteousness won’t fill up your bank account.

“If they don’t want to work with me, I don’t want to work with them.”

This classic cliché plays on the ego of the agent. It’s a perfect way of doing business for a seasoned agent who has a full book of business and wants to maintain a work/life balance.

For a new agent, it’s an excuse to avoid the more difficult parts of the job. It’s also often a misreading of the clients, a mistake that can be financially costly.

Anyone who has been in the business for a while has had some difficult clients. Even those who start out a transaction in good spirits can turn adversarial in the wrong circumstances. Of course, if a client is abusive or threatening there’s reason to end the relationship. Most of the time, though, working through a difficult transaction with clients who may not be your best friends is a learning experience that you’ll benefit from—and undoubtedly repeat later in your career.

You’ll be surprised at how many of today’s Internet-educated buyers and sellers start out in a standoffish manner, but become your friend by the end of the transaction. By giving them so much information online, we’ve trained them to think they know almost everything already. They often think, “I don’t really need an agent. I just need the door opened.”

Don’t blame them for that pervasive mindset. Get comfortable with that being a common misconception, and learn to work through it. It’s not that they don’t want to work with you, they just don’t know that they need you yet.

Show them what you know, and what you do, that no website can replace. Understand that your job is to provide the experience that changes their minds.

The Internet know-it-all is only going to become more prevalent in the future. Learning to work with these clients is essential to being prepared for a long-term career.

“I’m just going to be myself.”

@mconnors, 2010. Morguefile

This is a job. It can be a great, flexible career with plenty of room for individuality and differentiation. It’s still a job. Your ability to freely express yourself exists within the confines of acting and looking like the professional that the public expects. Outside that box, you “being yourself” equals smaller paychecks.

You don’t have to wear a suit and tie if that’s not appropriate for your market. You don’t have to stodgily rattle off statistical reports about your market if that’s not what your clients prefer. But if you’re not dressing up to the appropriate level, preparing yourself with research, speaking as if you’ve been trained for this job, and getting to your appointments on time, you’re just being lazy.

Dress up if you’re unsure. It doesn’t matter what you’re most comfortable in, it’s what your clients think that matters. If you’re in a denim shirt and pickup truck market, then don’t show up in your t-shirt just because you’re in a rush. If your clients work in a white collar office, show up in a jacket, suit, or something similar. You are your own boss, and you should hold yourself to some professional standards.

Your clients may say they don’t care what you wear, but subconsciously peoples’ perceptions of you are based on image. No one is going to fire you for being overdressed. If you look young, dressing professionally is a tremendous asset, especially on a first meeting (don’t give it up just because you got a 2nd meeting). It’s a minor inconvenience for a career that allows you unlimited upward financial opportunities and independence. Any client who hires you and closes a transaction is paying you well, so act accordingly.

Don’t just recite, think it over.

Listen to the advice of the experienced brokers and agents in your sphere. Take in what the latest real estate speaker has to say about the industry and your job. Just take it with a grain of salt. If someone is getting paid to give advice, they’re helping their listeners make more money, and/or saying things that are quotable enough to propel their future speaking business. They’re not always doing both.

Approach your real estate career knowing that not all of the advice you receive is sound. You’ll allow yourself to gain more broad experience and get past some of the unnecessary hurdles of starting out as a real estate agent.

Sam DeBord is managing broker of  Seattle Homes Group with Coldwell Banker Danforth, director for Seattle King County REALTORS®, and state director for Washington REALTORS®. You can find his team in Seattle and Bellevue.