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February 8, 2016

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Updated: 1 hour 20 min ago

Don’t Give Up. Don’t Ever Give Up.

Wed, 02/03/2016 - 14:53

Nico Hohman

By Nico Hohman

We have all failed at some point in our real estate careers. We didn’t get that listing, we lost a client, or one of our clients didn’t get the house they wanted because of failed negotiations.

But people are not failures; we are not failures. Failure is simply an event that adds to our learning experiences. Failure is just the first step on the road to long term success. Let me give you an example to show you what I mean.

In my free time I play on a slow-pitch, co-ed softball team with my friends. We play in a recreational league, and we mostly play for fun. That being said, I am competitive – super competitive – and I always want to win. Which makes what happened in my last game even more miserable.

I struck out swinging.

I struck out badly. The pitches I swung at weren’t even strikes. The last pitch was a good foot above my head and outside the plate by a country mile. Plus, we had the bases loaded with two outs, and we were down by three runs about mid way through the game.

I was mad. I was upset. I felt defeated, even embarrassed. How could I strike out swinging in slow-pitch softball?

@Penywise, 2009. MorgueFile.

Once I had time to stew over my personal defeat (I still had to go play in the field in the next inning after all) I realized why I did what I did. I also knew exactly how to fix it. I lost sight of my goal. I lost sight of what I needed to do in that situation. My job was to get a hit and bring the runners home to score. Instead, I tried to be a hero and swing for the fences.

The next time I was up to bat, I was the first one up in the inning. There was less pressure since my team was leading by a few runs at that point. I took a deep breath, dug my foot into the batter’s box, and then, PING! My hit sailed over the fence for a home run.

Before that second time up to bat, I remembered my fundamentals. I remembered my training, and realized that just because I struck out in an important part of the game, it didn’t mean I was a failure. It didn’t even mean that the game was over and we were hopeless to win. The strike out was just an event. It was the first step on the path to long term success.

In real estate, we should all refocus our mindset to realize that while losing out on a listing presentation or potential transaction is not a big deal. It does not mean we are failures. It is simply a learning experience. We take a deep breath and examine what we did right and what we did wrong. Then, we take these learning experiences and apply them to the next time we step up to the plate.

We don’t give up. We don’t ever give up.

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

Build a Real Estate Business, Not a Job

Mon, 01/25/2016 - 15:04

Ryan Fitzgerald

By Ryan Fitzgerald

Let me ask you a question: Do you want real estate to be the only job you have for the rest of your life?

For some, the answer might be “yes.” For me, the answer is easy: “No.”

I don’t want real estate to simply be my job; I want to operate a real estate business. If you share in this goal, then here are seven ways to build that business.

1. Build a Strong Foundation

If you’re going to build a successful real estate business, you need to start with a strong foundation. It’s similar to building a house, your foundation is going to be what your real estate business is built on.

Everyone has a different foundation, whether it’s through networking, honing in on a certain market or niche, cold calling, door knocking, social media, direct mail, buying leads online, or a combination of methods – there are many different types of foundations. My foundation is my real estate website.

A strong foundation for your real estate business sets your path toward creating a memorable brand and generating leads.

@FlashBuddy; 2014. Morguefile.

2. Branding

Your brand should embody the personality of your business and what people can expect from you.

If you’re building someone else’s brand, you have a job. If you’re working to build your own brand, you’re building a business. And every business decision you make is going to have an impact on your brand. Always ask yourself, how will this decision improve my brand and does it line up with my company values?

In the end, a successful brand will help you generate more leads.

3. Generating Leads

What are your strengths? If you’re a great networker, networking will generate leads for you. If you’re great on the phones, cold calling will generate leads for you.

There are different strategies and ways to find leads, just don’t waste time on something that isn’t your strength. Tap in on your natural abilities. For instance, if you’re really good at social media, don’t make cold calls. Generating leads through social media is a skill; it takes work and don’t let anyone tell you differently.

Part of the reason people fail in real estate is because some brokerages continue to promote outdated real estate marketing techniques. I know this all too well because it nearly cost me my business. I was told the only way to be successful in real estate is to make cold calls. That was simply not true for me.

Be the best at what you’re already good at.

4. Lead Conversion

You should always be working on your lead conversion and follow up process. Don’t expect to convert every lead you generate. You need to set proper expectations for yourself and your business.

It’s wise to underestimate your lead conversion percentage (from lead to closed transaction). This is one of the most important business metrics you’ll come across because it allows you to reverse engineer the lead generation process.

If you have 3,600 leads per year, and you are converting at 1 percent, you are closing 36 deals per year. Now figure out where/how you’re converting the most leads and look at where you’re losing leads. Maybe you need to tweak your lead follow up process. Monitor your successes and connect that to your daily, weekly, and monthly prospecting activities and goals. If you go from converting 1 percent to 3 percent of your leads, you’d then be closing 108 deals per year.

Carefully and consistently monitoring your lead conversion will help you determine what results you need in order to accomplish your goals.

5. Systems and Processes

You need to be documenting everything you do – especially when it comes to your systems and processes for generating leads. You should also find ways to automate your lead generation tasks – such as through your CRM. Plus, easier tasks will slowly begin to fall on the shoulders of others as you hire assistants and eventually grow your team. You need to be OK with this. Letting go will allow you to grow your business because it gives you back a valuable asset: time.

6. Customer Service

Customer service is everything in real estate. None of these previous points matter if your customer service isn’t impeccable.

Whether you’re generating new clients with your time, money, or effort, finding business is expensive. What’s not expensive is providing great customer service so that your clients stay with you for life. If the experience your client has is 10 out of 10, they are going to promote you to their friends as being the best local real estate agent.

If your customer service takes a backseat, you will reach a tipping point and never be able to grow your business any further. Without great customer service, even a lead-generating machine is only going to grow as big as his or her “new clientele.”

7. Be Patient

This is something I struggle with personally. Sometimes I find myself wanting to press fast-forward on my business so I can get to where I want to be. Then I realize that pressing fast-forward takes away from the joys (and process) of getting there.

Don’t allow a lack of patience to control your decision making early on in your real estate career. Stay true to what you’re trying to accomplish and understand what is in your control and what is outside of your control.

The best views come from the hardest climbs; appreciate the struggle.

Ryan Fitzgerald is the owner of Raleigh Realty in Raleigh, N.C. Connect with him on Facebook, Google +, LinkedIn, Twitter, or Pinterest.

Millennials, Markets, and Housing Mobility

Wed, 01/20/2016 - 11:35

Lauren Campbell

By Lauren Campbell

According to a recent Urban Land Institute study, most millennials are not living in the urban core – though the research shows that they would like to be.

Millennials – the generation that bore the brunt of sluggish hiring cycles during the recession only a few short years ago – are not bringing home salaries comparable to what their parents did at their age. What this means for millennials, then, is compromise. They rent instead of own in trendy downtown settings. They live on the fringes of downtown, soaking in what they can of the live/work/play model while often struggling to pay for it.

So, who is buying downtown? Surprising to some, it is empty-nesters and retirees who have found walkable urban cores so attractive. This quasi-retirement style living appeals to them on many levels. Amenities, downsizing, and proximity to entertainment and work all play a role in their exodus from the suburban ring to the big metropolises. In contrast, many millennials cannot afford the high prices of ownership in a downtown setting, and worse, rents have begun to skyrocket as well. This is pushing many a young renter out of the downtown core.

Downtown Chicago; @clarita, 2009. Morguefile

With this, the recent success of urban neighborhoods outside the downtown ring can be seen across the country. In Greenpoint (Brooklyn, N.Y.) 14 percent of the residents are age 25-34. The same goes for South River City (Austin, Texas), Clarendon (Washington, D.C.), Wicker Park (Chicago), and North Loop (Minneapolis) – all showing 14 percent to 17 percent of their residents are millennials. The success of these areas is proof that the younger crowd are landing just outside the core of downtown centers.

Or, if they can’t afford that, they move to nearby suburbs that are more or less considered sub-urban rather than entirely suburban. This is something you may want to take note of in your market.

While the vibrant resurrection of these often-historic suburban neighborhoods is absolutely beneficial to the overall success of the local real estate market, it is worth noting that perhaps the neighborhoods would not be as attractive to the millennial generation if home/condo prices and rents were attainable in the downtown core.

As with all real estate, and throughout history, balance is key – an overpriced market will eventually correct, and an overly saturated one will too. Millennials are finally able to access jobs that can afford them the ability to survive on their own and even buy, this will eventually lead to a dramatic increase in new households for many regions in the U.S. These salaried positions point to stability, which will allow the millennial generation to choose how they want to live instead of their living situations being a product of necessity.

The question is, what will they choose? Will millennials buy condos? Continue to rent? Or, like their predecessors, will suburban communities with fences and yards and space away from neighbors still draw them to the outer-ring suburbs? Only time will tell.

Lauren Campbell is a commercial real estate agent working in Tampa. Connect with her online at www.tampabaycre.wordpress.com.

 

#Y4YPN From Cape Girardeau, Mo.

Wed, 01/13/2016 - 08:05

The #Y4YPN campaign is a video series celebrating what makes YPN valuable to its members. Learn more.

Leanne Goff

By Leanne Goff

Joseph Magsaysay is the second YPNer who stood up to announce his #Y4YPN at the REALTORS® Conference & Expo in San Diego. His enthusiasm and passion for the Young Professionals Network is founded in his appreciation for all that he has learned about the real estate profession and industry through his involvement.

Joseph is a REALTOR® with Realty Executives of Cape County, and his primary market is the Cape Girardeau community and surrounding areas of Missouri. After meeting in San Diego, I learned that his decision to go into real estate was based on his desire to get closer to home. He was living five hours away from his family and wanted to find a career that would bring him back to the people he loves.

Joseph was 32 years old when he became a real estate professional. Today, he has been in the business for 18 months and has been involved in YPN at the state level from the beginning. Joseph is also a member of the Missouri REALTORS® Member Network Mission Committee, and he serves on his local association’s membership committee. He plans to start a YPN at his local board, the Cape Girardeau County Board of REALTORS® this year.

In his volunteer work with the Missouri REALTORS®, Joseph has enjoyed a multitude of activities. There was a scavenger hunt during the April business conference in Kansas City that facilitated both fun as well as bonding among agents, he says. Another event that he appreciated being a part of this year was “Keys to the Heart,” where association members raised money for the Ronald McDonald House.

Joseph’s secret to success is to get out and let everyone know that you are a REALTOR®. He says, “You should not be a secret agent. Do not be scared to ask for business. Do not be intimidated to ask someone if they know anyone who wants to buy or sell a house.” Because it just might work. We know it does for Joseph!

Interested in joining the #Y4YPN campaign?  E-mail me at leanne@trailridge.co.

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

Market Your Real Estate Business Like It’s 2016

Tue, 01/05/2016 - 18:02

Ryan Fitzgerald

By Ryan Fitzgerald

This isn’t 1999, so why are you still marketing like it is?

There are two methods to market your real estate business online: chase or attract. You can either chase your online leads or attract them.

Chasing Business Online

Have you ever received an e-mail that you didn’t ask for? An e-mail that was obviously an attempt to solicit you, which was sent to your personal inbox without your permission?

How did that make you feel?

@Yoel, 2014. Morguefile

Spamming prospects’ e-mails with drip campaigns or their Facebook inboxes with solicitations is what I consider chasing leads. Agents who spam their listings on people risk losing credibility and business. It’s intrusive, it’s a shortcut, and it’s an invasion of privacy.

If you want to risk your business playing a short term game, then this strategy might work for you. But there are a lot of cons with this approach. You risk losing a lot of unrealized opportunity because you’re going to annoy a lot of people along the way. Plus, Facebook is now giving its users the ability to turn the chat/messaging feature “off” for certain people without unfriending them.

Attracting Business Online

Attracting prospects requires a lot more effort, creativity, and patience. This method is a long term play. You need to begin with the end in mind. It’s not going to happen overnight, and you are not going to make as much money in the early stages as those who opt for the short term chase. But the skills you learn from attracting people to do business with you will help you grow fruitful in the long term.

Attracting prospects requires you to be out in front of them at the exact moment they need you. You can do this by creating, publishing, and sharing valuable content that is going to help consumers.

How to Attract Real Estate Leads

Give and expect nothing in return. Build up a library of valuable content on your blog or website that helps consumers in your market. Create a great experience for them whenever they see your brand name online.

Just keep one thing in mind: This takes time.

I almost gave up on this method when I first started out. After six months of publishing blog articles, YouTube videos, infographics, and more, I had little to show for all that content. Other people were having a lot of success around me. Veteran agents told me to get back on the phones. I almost did.

But I stuck it out. In August and September, I was receiving three to four leads each day, only I was requiring people to give me their information to use my website. For every three or four people who were willing to be forced into registration, I was probably losing eight to 10 people who would never come back.

Unforced Registration for Real Estate Leads

Today, I use a new approach: unforced registration. I currently get about 300 people on my real estate website daily who search homes for sale in Raleigh, or come to learn about the real estate industry through my blog articles, infographics, and videos. About one to two visitors willingly give me their information on a daily basis without being forced to do so. These are solid prospects. When a person chooses to reach out as opposed to being forced to make contact, it strengthens the initial relationship.

I realize that 300 people per day isn’t a lot, especially when you compare that to some of the big real estate websites. Just keep in mind that every real estate website starts at zero visitors per day and grows over time through hard work.

At this time last year, I didn’t have a website.

Whether you use YouTube, Facebook, or any other online marketing methods to attract people to your real estate business, you’re going to begin at zero. Exponential growth starts small by nature.

There’s No Overnight Success in Real Estate

Your end goal needs to be clear before you start your real estate business, and everything you do needs to be intentionally directed towards that goal. This is also relevant for seasoned agents who are making tweaks to their yearly business plan.

Be patient and work harder than everyone else. When everyone else is taking a day off, it’s your opportunity to push ahead of them.

I also highly recommend that you check out Gary Vaynerchuk‘s highly entertaining YouTube channel for lessons in business growth.

And with that, I’ll leave you with this quote: “A dream without a plan is just a wish.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery.

Ryan Fitzgerald is the owner of Raleigh Realty in Raleigh, N.C. Connect with him on Facebook, Google +, LinkedIn, Twitter, or Pinterest.

Market Your Real Estate Business Like It’s 2016

Tue, 01/05/2016 - 18:02

Ryan Fitzgerald

By Ryan Fitzgerald

This isn’t 1999, so why are you still marketing like it is?

There are two methods to market your real estate business online: chase or attract. You can either chase your online leads or attract them.

Chasing Business Online

Have you ever received an e-mail that you didn’t ask for? An e-mail that was obviously an attempt to solicit you, which was sent to your personal inbox without your permission?

How did that make you feel?

@Yoel, 2014. Morguefile

Spamming prospects’ e-mails with drip campaigns or their Facebook inboxes with solicitations is what I consider chasing leads. Agents who spam their listings on people risk losing credibility and business. It’s intrusive, it’s a shortcut, and it’s an invasion of privacy.

If you want to risk your business playing a short term game, then this strategy might work for you. But there are a lot of cons with this approach. You risk losing a lot of unrealized opportunity because you’re going to annoy a lot of people along the way. Plus, Facebook is now giving its users the ability to turn the chat/messaging feature “off” for certain people without unfriending them.

Attracting Business Online

Attracting prospects requires a lot more effort, creativity, and patience. This method is a long term play. You need to begin with the end in mind. It’s not going to happen overnight, and you are not going to make as much money in the early stages as those who opt for the short term chase. But the skills you learn from attracting people to do business with you will help you grow fruitful in the long term.

Attracting prospects requires you to be out in front of them at the exact moment they need you. You can do this by creating, publishing, and sharing valuable content that is going to help consumers.

How to Attract Real Estate Leads

Give and expect nothing in return. Build up a library of valuable content on your blog or website that helps consumers in your market. Create a great experience for them whenever they see your brand name online.

Just keep one thing in mind: This takes time.

I almost gave up on this method when I first started out. After six months of publishing blog articles, YouTube videos, infographics, and more, I had little to show for all that content. Other people were having a lot of success around me. Veteran agents told me to get back on the phones. I almost did.

But I stuck it out. In August and September, I was receiving three to four leads each day, only I was requiring people to give me their information to use my website. For every three or four people who were willing to be forced into registration, I was probably losing eight to 10 people who would never come back.

Unforced Registration for Real Estate Leads

Today, I use a new approach: unforced registration. I currently get about 300 people on my real estate website daily who search homes for sale in Raleigh, or come to learn about the real estate industry through my blog articles, infographics, and videos. About one to two visitors willingly give me their information on a daily basis without being forced to do so. These are solid prospects. When a person chooses to reach out as opposed to being forced to make contact, it strengthens the initial relationship.

I realize that 300 people per day isn’t a lot, especially when you compare that to some of the big real estate websites. Just keep in mind that every real estate website starts at zero visitors per day and grows over time through hard work.

At this time last year, I didn’t have a website.

Whether you use YouTube, Facebook, or any other online marketing methods to attract people to your real estate business, you’re going to begin at zero. Exponential growth starts small by nature.

There’s No Overnight Success in Real Estate

Your end goal needs to be clear before you start your real estate business, and everything you do needs to be intentionally directed towards that goal. This is also relevant for seasoned agents who are making tweaks to their yearly business plan.

Be patient and work harder than everyone else. When everyone else is taking a day off, it’s your opportunity to push ahead of them.

I also highly recommend that you check out Gary Vaynerchuk‘s highly entertaining YouTube channel for lessons in business growth.

And with that, I’ll leave you with this quote: “A dream without a plan is just a wish.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery.

Ryan Fitzgerald is the owner of Raleigh Realty in Raleigh, N.C. Connect with him on Facebook, Google +, LinkedIn, Twitter, or Pinterest.

Leading in a Time of Change

Fri, 12/18/2015 - 12:22

John Blom

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

By John Blom

Successful leaders view change with an eye toward the potential. When a person takes on situation and emerges from it better than they were before, it shows true success.

Change recently came my way when my local association executive called and asked me to stop by the office at the end of the day. Something in her tone told me this was not going to be great news – and I was right. She informed me she had accepted a position at a larger association nearby, a move up in her career that would not require relocation. Of course, I gave her a congratulatory hug, but I knew this meant the transition from our current president to me as the 2016 president would not be the smooth process we had all hoped. It would  be interrupted by the formation of a search committee, a rush to complete next year’s budget, the finalizing of the 2016 calendar, and getting as much locked down for the next few months as possible.

John Blom with the departing Clark County Association of REALTORS® AE, Michele Holen.

One of the first things I learned while working through this transition period is that you can gather incredible knowledge by tapping into the experience of past presidents. We have two former association board presidents on the search committee and the perspective they bring to the conversation has been invaluable.

Coincidentally, when I found out our AE was leaving, I was reading The President’s Club, a book that describes how past U.S. presidents provide both moral support and tangible aid to the sitting president. The club extends beyond party lines. President Clinton told the authors that the death of President Nixon was like the loss of his mother. He is quoted as saying: “Just today I had a problem, and I said to the person working with me, I wish I could pick up the phone and call Richard Nixon and ask him what he thinks we ought to do.”

In changing circumstances, there is a temptation to view the new reality as something totally foreign. The odds are, however, that it’s not as ground breaking as it might seem to be. Trying to hire a new AE seemed like a tremendous challenge, until we realized this was not the first time the association has had to hire a new AE.

When leading in a time of change, talking to individuals who have been through similar circumstances can make the challenge seem more manageable.

President Clinton’s comment reveals another important leadership lesson that is particularly important during transition: include people who think or process events differently than you. Despite being members of opposing political parties and approaching problems facing the U.S. from different perspectives, Clinton recognized there was value in Nixon’s counsel.

When making appointments or participating in a nomination committee, it’s tempting to stack the leadership team with people you like, who operate in the same manner as you, and probably possess the same strengths and weaknesses you do. But when dealing with a change, you need people who can think differently from you to raise concerns that you might not have considered.

Here’s a specific example from one of our search committee discussions:

My personality leans toward strategic thinking and problem solving activities. I like to come up with solutions, but I’d prefer someone else go ahead and implement those ideas so I can move on to something else. At home, this translates to grand visions for home projects that get 70 percent completed before a new idea sends me in another direction. My wife loves it when I do that.

Meanwhile, one of the past presidents on the committee is very much a “doer.”  She will take a plan and run with it, and when she does, you don’t want to be the person who gets in her way.

This does not mean she can’t come up with a strategic plan, or that I can’t finish a task, but we have different strengths.

When discussing an ideal candidate, she raised a good point – due to the size of our association, our AE cannot be someone who is so strategic or abstract that they’re not willing to set up a room for an RPAC event or clean up after a board meeting. That is an aspect of the job I would not have necessarily thought about when interviewing candidates.

The final lesson about change I have picked up during the last few weeks is the importance of taking it on with a positive attitude.  Change is coming, whether you want it or not.

Just this year, our industry has seen the marriage of two former competitors, new TRID guidelines, and evolving market conditions. Outside the industry, but nearly as important, NBC moved The Blacklist from Monday to Thursday night and the Chicago Cubs actually won a playoff series.

As a real estate professional, YPN member, and leader (or future leader) of your local/state association, you need to collaborate with those around you to craft a vision for the future, create the plans to make that vision a reality, then work tirelessly until the job is done.

That’s where this post should end, but it doesn’t feel complete without expressing my sincere thanks to Michele Holen, our departing AE, for her many years of service. You truly are a rock star in our industry, and I wish you all the best.  You’re still dead to me, though.

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