By Andrew Janos
As the real estate market continues to be fast-paced, the need to prepare your buyers is growing exponentially. Making sure buyers have a grasp on the market conditions and purchase process will allow you to manage expectations through the entire purchase. Here are three tips:
Get pre-approval: Preparing a buyer financially ensures that they do not fall in love with something they can’t have. In order to even put in an offer, the buyer needs a current and accurate pre-approval. Routinely, buyers push to see houses without a pre-approval, but you must resist the urge to show them without it. Your client’s buying power might be lower once a loan originator runs through all of the qualifying questions. In our fast-paced environment, one buyer could lose to another while obtaining approval to buy the house of their dreams if the other party is already prepared. It’s tough to turn down the opportunity to take clients out that call, but its important to screen them and make sure they are ready to purchase. After talking to them a bit, you might find out that they should wait until next year based on their situation. It’s not just about the type of house they are interested in, but also the right fit for their life goals and current situation.
Educate them on the market: We all know that real estate is location, location, location, but the other important ingredient is education. Take the time to explain current market conditions and what your clients can expect. They should be informed about current sales frequency and volume in conjunction with prices of sold homes. If your buyer drags their feet, they may miss out while inventory and mortgage rates are low. If a home is priced competitively, there could potentially be multiple offers made. Making sure your buyers are comfortable with the purchase process will allow for a smoother transaction.
Set the stage for first-time buyers: You are the one repeatedly facilitating sales, and if you are working with a first time buyer, they have no idea what to expect. This could be as simple as explaining the importance of mortgage contingencies and home inspections. It could also be managing expectations for counter offers on a low bid. Either way, the more that your client knows, the less stress you feel and the buyer will have more trust in you.
In the end, make sure you are following our No. 1 rule as REALTORS®: to protect your client’s best interest and allow them to have an exciting purchase. They are, after all, buying a home, which is one of the biggest decisions they will make in their life.
Andrew Janon is a vice president and salesperson with U S Spaces in Philadelphia. Connect with Andrew at andrewjanos.com.
By Brandon Doyle
My Matterport Pro 3-D camera system arrived on Thursday, and agents who are early adopters of new technology will see the benefits of being able to offer your clients something that no one else can do.
Matterport is the equivalent of HD Google Street View for the interior of a house. It provides consumers the ability to virtually tour a property in 3-D from anywhere in the world. Scanning is done with the 3-D camera ($4,500), which rotates 360 degrees on a tripod, as well as an iPad app. Typically, this process takes anywhere from one to two hours for an average-size home. As you complete scans, the iPad mapping images fill in until the entire property has been mapped. At that point, the file gets uploaded to Matterport’s cloud system and is rendered into a 3-D model. Users can go online and interact with the doll house view, floor plan, and even walk through the property at their own leisure from any desktop computer. Agents are able to syndicate the link through the MLS similar to the way you would with slideshows and videos.
These 3-D virtual tours could be great for new construction, allowing the builder or agent to continue to show the home and provide examples of their work even after the house has been sold – without inconveniencing the current owners. It gives potential buyers a feel for the layout of property, which they can share with friends and family online. This technology could cut down on time that sellers need to be out of the home, and buyers’ time spent in the car.
After my team completed our first 3-D rendering, the home owners were blown away. It was something they had never seen done before and they told everyone they know.
Here is the example from listing in Maple Lake, Minn.:
Please note: Matterport tours are not yet mobile/tablet compatible; they must be viewed on a desktop computer. Matterport also has plans in the future to allow editing of finished renderings, such as changing paint colors, finishes, and possibly even doing full virtual renovations.
By Rob Reuter
Yesterday was a special day for YPN. More than 90 YPN chairs, vice chairs, and staff liaisons convened in Chicago representing networks from 31 states and Canada in what I expect to be the first of many annual YPN Leadership Retreats.
Whether a member of YPN since its inception in 2007 or representing a network less than two weeks old, the group engaged in a full-day workshop on how to run stronger networks and build better real estate businesses.
The format of the day catered to the typical YPNer: high member participation and engagement with discussion moderators rather than the traditional classroom-style education. Emceed by 2014 YPN Advisory Board Chair Matt Phipps and Vice Chair Bobbi Howe, the day produced an atmosphere of energy, professional education, and fun. Three 90-minute tracks focused on YPN, technology, and the REALTOR® Association were broken down into three 30-minute small group discussions. Each topic was introduced by either a YPN Advisory Board member or industry thought leader, discussed in small groups for 15 minutes, followed by 10 minutes of idea sharing with the group at-large.
A water battle to raise funds for RPAC? Food trucks plus real estate? There was no shortage of creativity from this group. Traditional topics such as direct mailing, door knocking, and geographic farming were also discussed. Another popular topic: the difference between having a client database and truly leveraging it by contacting people and growing it daily.
When the day was done, many of the attendees rushed off to catch their flights, but not before exchanging one last business card or adding one more friend on Facebook. The overall feedback was extremely positive with the primary negative being that the event was too short! Looks like we’ll have to extend the event next time.
We look forward to seeing the group back in Chicago in August 2015.
By Brooke Wolford
I have watched all of the changes occuring in real estate lately, and there’s a lot of speculation about what might happen in the future.
You see, real estate has been evolving over the past several years, and I, myself, have gotten sucked into all the drama. I remember spending hours on message boards and in online groups complaining about one thing or another, then getting drawn into other people’s complaints. I decided to step away and focus on what really matters – people who buy and sell houses!
Looking back over my history, from the time I began my real estate career I’ve come to notice one very important thing: everything changes. CONSTANTLY. Change is routine in real estate, and no matter what you do, you probably can’t – or shouldn’t – try to stop it.
If you can embrace change, you’ll be valued highly in real estate. You’ll be seen as a flexible and adaptable. This reputation can open up many opportunities. If, however, you consistently resist change, you’ll be seen as “part of the problem,” and you’ll get left behind.
The fact of the matter is that our jobs are hard. VERY hard. We have lots of complications and obstacles, and we always have to be on our toes. Yes, we have transactions that cause us to wonder whether or not it’s worth it, and then we have the easy transactions that make up for every bad one. Regardless of what you may think, we get paid well for what we do. Some of the most admired entrepreneurs have had to make sacrifices to get to where they are now. Why are we any different?
There’s never going to be some miracle advancement that is going to take place of the relationships we build. The fact of the matter is this: If someone is buying a home, they need us. We are the experts.
Welcome change as an opportunity. Focus on what’s important: Your clients. When almost 90 percent of buyers use an agent in their transactions, there is clearly still a need for what we do. It’s time to calm down and focus on them…because if you don’t do, someone else will.
Brooke Wolford is a real estate practitioner with RE/MAX Results in Eden Prairie, Minn. Follow her blog at www.thehousingword.com.
By Erica Christoffer
A natural disaster can bring a community to its knees. But with the help and hard work of NAR members, the REALTORS® Relief Foundation (RRF) is there to help pick up the pieces.
RRF is holding its second annual online silent auction Nov. 7–9 – coinciding with the REALTORS® Conference & Expo in New Orleans – to raise funds and increase awareness of the foundation’s mission: “Bring Help Home.” A full 100 percent of all donations goes directly to victims of tornados, hurricanes, floods, fires, and other disasters that result in the need of housing-related assistance.
In addition to participating in this year’s auction, YPN members can also support RRF by donating auction items such as gift baskets, gift cards, electronics, trip packages, hosted events, and more. The deadline to submit donated items is Sept. 15. All companies donating items will be showcased with their company name, URL, and logo. Download the silent auction donation form.
Last year’s auction raised $55,000 for RRF. This year’s fundraising goal is $100,000. Here’s how it works: Online bidding will take place over 48 hours, opening Nov. 7, at 3 p.m. CST, and closing Nov. 9, 3 p.m. CST. Anyone can bid via computer or mobile device from anywhere in the country. Go to the auction site, www.biddingforgood.com/rrf to register to bid. Registration is required to bid on items. Items will be available for preview before the bidding period opens. Winning bidders will be notified via e-mail at the close of the auction. Not interested in bidding? You can show your support by clicking the “Donate Cash” link on the auction site to make a tax-deductible contribution to RRF.
The REALTORS® Relief Foundation started in response to the 9-11 terrorist attacks. REALTORS® and others raised $8.5 million for 1,300 families who lost a loved one to help offset their mortgage or rent. Since then, the foundation has raised another $16.5 million to provide mortgage and temporary housing assistance to nearly 9,000 families in 41 disasters. Most recently, $1.4 million was distributed to those suffering severe damage or total loss of their homes caused by Hurricane Sandy, massive flooding in Colorado, and EF4 tornadoes in Illinois and Arkansas.
Erica Christoffer is a senior editor for REALTOR® Magazine and manager of the YPN Lounge. Connect with her at email@example.com.
By Charlie Allred
Pinterest boards are the second most important part of your Pinterest account. Last month, I talked about optimizing your Pinterest profile in the kickoff of my series on using Pinterest in your real estate business. The goal of your profile is for a Pinterest follower or potential client to be able to quickly get to know who you are and what you do in one glance.
Now let’s dive into using boards. Each Pinterest board is a collection of one topic, think of it as a cork-board where you are “pinning” information for safe keeping. However, on Pinterest, it’s all about others finding the valuable information you are providing.
Your Pinterest boards should be a mix of your personal interests and real estate related topics. Here are the four categories a real estate professional should have in their top 12 boards.
- Interests: e.g. cooking, recipes, exercise, fashion, kid stuff, etc. Be authentic!
- Real Estate: This screams “I sell real estate.”
- Home related: organization, kitchens, home decor, home staging, etc.
- Community: neighborhood parks, stuff to do around town, local restaurants, etc.
Why are your top 12 boards so important?
Your top 12 boards are your prime real estate in Pinterest, this is what a potential follower will see when they give your profile a glance. So you want the top 12 boards to be a good mix of the four categories above.
Here’s a glance at my profile:
And my top 12 boards:
From my top 12 boards you can see that:
- I sell real estate in Arizona, specifically the Phoenix area;
- I have community boards for Scottsdale, Tempe, and Chandler things to do;
- I have kids;
- I like healthy recipes;
- I’m involved in Pinterest for real estate.
The statements above need to reflect you. What do you want someone in one glance to know about you?
Remember, the largest category of pins on Pinterest is “Home,” so you have the opportunity to include all kinds of home related boards.
Here are my home related boards – some are also real estate related:
- Home Decor – Bedroom Furniture
- Home Decor – Living Room
- How to Paint – Home Makeover
- Home Storage & Organization
My boards that reflect real estate:
- Arizona Real Estate
- Best Phoenix Neighborhoods
- For my clients (Phoenix area Real Estate)
Community based boards – these drive potential clients from my local market. When they search Pinterest using keywords from my market, my boards and pins show up:
- Scottsdale Fun! Best Things to Do With Kids
- Chandler Fun! Best Things to Do With Kids (I have several of cities, I’m only mentioning two.)
- Arizona Stuff to Do!
Boards that reflect my personal interests:
- Kid’s Healthy Eating
- Healthy Eating- Smoothies
- Kid’s Rooms
In next month’s Pinterest article, I will talk about the importance of keywords in Pinterest. In the meantime, if you want to get a good list of real estate keywords for your Pinterest boards, you can head over to www.pinnablerealestate.com, I have a free list of keywords that are perfect for real estate professionals.
Charlie Allred a Phoenix based real estate broker with Secure Real Estate, and is the author of the upcoming book “Pinnable Real Estate: Pinterest for Real Estate Agents.” Learn more at her blog: www.PinnableRealEstate.com.
By Sam DeBord
Online home valuations have a rocky history. From automated valuation models (AVMs) used in lending during the mortgage boom to consumer-focused products like Zillow’s Zestimate, the accuracy of these valuations has always been an issue for real estate professionals. Despite online valuations’ inability to consistently provide an accurate home value on an individual basis, one thing is clear: They’re very popular.
While the misinformation creates fairly regular confusion for consumers, the regular annoyance to many real estate professionals has simply become an opportunity for others. Consumers gravitate to online valuations in droves, so many professionals are starting to offer their own versions.
There are plenty of online valuation tools for agents and brokers available, and although they’re not a brand new concept, the number of companies offering them is growing. The simplest versions are standalone websites that do just one thing: get home sellers to enter their address and contact information, and deliver them an estimated value report.
Companies sell these websites directly to agents, and provide some training and networking online with other users to learn to drive traffic to them. We tested the product from Home Value Leads in California. Facebook ads and Google pay-per-click campaigns are used to attract home sellers who are curious about their home’s value. The sellers click on an ad about home prices in their neighborhood, fill in their address and contact info, and receive their value report. The agent can follow up to explain the inaccuracies that are inherent in an online valuation and offer a personalized follow-up or CMA to better educate the consumer.
Full-service website vendors are integrating the home valuation tools as well. The most recent one we tested was from Real Geeks in Hawaii. Customers simply add it to their current Real Geeks website with a call-to-action asking sellers “What’s Your Home Worth?” They can also drive traffic with paid ads. The same follow-up and personalized explanation with a consumer makes the process educational for the home owner and valuable for the agent. It’s tied in to the back-end of the agent’s current website, so the leads from sellers and buyers exist in the same database.
While it might seem like a simple form on a website could generate the same leads, the simplicity and single focus of encouraging a user to enter their address is the beauty behind these products. Conversion rates are far higher on these tools than when simply asking a user to fill out a form on a regular website. They’re built to prod each user along to the next step, and they do it well. Even without all contact information, simply getting an address from a consumer might be reason to send a postcard to the homeowner who might be thinking of selling.
Many of us roll our eyes when we hear “But Zillow says my house is worth X.” It’s a professional annoyance, but if we’re honest about it, it’s a genius marketing tactic. These new tools create an opportunity to get past being frustrated with the tactic, and to use it yourself to create some new customer contacts. With consumers now on your website, you can start the education process about home values right away.