By Melissa Krchnak
I’ve had a few friends over the last couple weeks who have pledged to stay off social media for a day or longer. While I applaud their restraint, I’m not sure I understand the motivation behind this extreme social media diet. For me, Facebook and Twitter simply fill in the gaps of a day rather than being a thief of my valuable time.
In all fairness, I will admit that I’m completely in love with Instagram and that it’s my go-to whenever I’m in need of a quick social media fix. But despite my penchant for grainy filters and pictures of my friends’ latest meals, I’m not at the point of needing a social media intervention because it hasn’t cut into my productivity at work. This isn’t the case for my friends though; I often see them struggling to get anything done because they’re too busy perusing posts or else creating status updates of their own. For these addicts, breaking up with social media—however temporary the split—is a necessity and the practice becomes a zero-sum game: Either stay off all social media sites completely, or else get nothing accomplished during the workday.
Are you your biggest hindrance? If so, it might be time for you to take a breather. I’m not saying you should abandon social media altogether; it’s still an important way to target potential clients in your market and increase awareness of your personal brand. What I’m advocating for instead is to give yourself the required space away from the “like” button to re-think your social media strategy. Instead of seeing social media as a hindrance, focus on getting more purposeful with the content you share so that you can view it as a benefit. Especially if social media is one of the major ways you connect with clients, make sure all information coming from your accounts is useful and interesting. By making social media more of a mindful business practice and less of a productivity inhibitor, you won’t be wasting time on the sites because really, you’ll be working.
So I ask: Is it time for you to have a social media intervention and change your ways?
D. Scott Smith, CCIM, Signature Series Speaker, talks to host Steve Lubetkin about his start in commercial real estate and his advice to students on creating and activating a social media strategy.
The scenario happened like a perfectly-scripted movie: a Keller Williams team based in Plantation, Fla. decides to play their odds at the lottery. For just $20 each, the 11 co-workers could have the chance to win a $338 million Powerball jackpot. Through a series of group text messages and e-mails, the team organized their efforts and collected $240—or 120 tickets—for the March 22nd Powerball. Everyone at Keller Williams Partner Realty participated, except for Jennifer Maldonado, the newest member of the team. “I just started work,” the administrative assistant told team leader Laurie Finkelstein Reader. “I think I can spend $20 on something else.”
Finkelstein Reader warned Maldonado about the consequences of her choice. “Jen, if you don’t pay we’re going to win,” she said, staring her co-worker straight in the eyes. “Don’t worry,” Jen answered with a slight laugh. “I’ll take the fall for you.” (Yes, we all know where this one is going…)
Cut to Saturday when the Powerball numbers were announced. Finkelstein Reader got back on the group text that night—her husband was too tired to stay up for the results—and inquired about whether or not anyone had checked the winning numbers. “We only got five out of six,” one co-worker replied with the nonchalance of someone unaware that the team had just won $1 million.
They celebrated until dawn—even Finkelstein Reader’s husband jumped out of bed screaming, “I’m not tired anymore!”—and chatted for hours about their good fortune, which would amount to $83,333.33 per person, after taxes. “We all got on the phone and it was just ten of us completely freaking out,” Finkelstein Reader says.
But festivities quickly came to a halt the next morning when the team realized that Maldonado hadn’t participated in the pool. Maldonado, who had been carefully monitoring her spending, was happy for the team but visibly shaken by the news.
“The next thing I did was what would come naturally to anyone on my team: I asked everyone what they thought about including Jen in the earnings,” Finkelstein Reader says. “Of course, they were all on board.”
After receiving unanimous consent, Finkelstein Reader handed over what she describes as “a fat stack of cash” to Maldonado, who was brought to tears by the thoughtful gesture.
And that may have been the end of this story, if not for one little Facebook post about the altruistic act that went viral faster than you can say, “cats singing on YouTube.” Within hours, word spread far and wide about the jackpot-winning team and their decision to include the ill-fated admin. Soon national news programs like Dateline, Inside Edition, The Today Show, and more all clamored for a chance to cover the philanthropic feat.
Even Hollywood has been calling, though the team isn’t willing to answer quite yet, that is unless the right offer comes along. “I would go to California if Ellen asked,” Finkelstein Reader admits. “I tell everybody I just want to dance with her!”
Fame and foxtrots aside, Finkelstein Reader says the money has only cemented the already cooperative atmosphere synonymous with a real estate team. “Before this happened, we were every bit the way you see us now,” she says. “The only thing different is that we won a million dollars.”
By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR(R) Magazine
A favorite real estate tip: When prepping a home for a showing, whip up some chocolate chip cookies to fill the home with that rich, inviting, tasty smell. Who wouldn’t want to sit back and stay awhile?
Well, you may want to put down the mixing bowl and turn off the oven. Research now says that chocolate chip cookies are one of the worst scents to have in a real estate open house.Researchers used a sample size of 402 people in a home decor store in Switzerland to find out which scents were the most pleasing to customers. The researchers say the findings could provide some insights into the most pleasing smells during open houses too.
One of the author’s of the study, Eric Spangenberg, dean of the college of business at Washington State University, recently told The Wall Street Journal that baked goods are a complex scent that can distract potential home buyers, even if the scent is pleasant. Buyers will subconsciously devote time to trying to figure out the scent, instead of devoting the time to determining if this is a place they really want to live. (Or maybe it’s really that they devote time and energy to finding where in the world you stashed all those cookies!)
Other distracting complex smells that researchers also suggest could distract customers: Potpourri, gourmet foods, and baked goods.
So if you want an inviting smell to fill a home for your open house, what home scents should you reach for? Simple scents — like pine, lemon, cedar, and vanilla — all which can be easier for buyers to process and less distracting, Spangenberg says.
For example, Chris McDonnell, a real estate professional with Coldwell Banker Distinctive Properties in Vail, Colo., told The Wall Street Journal he’ll prep a home for an open house by cutting fresh pine branches or picking fresh lavender and mint from his herb garden — scents that mimic the outdoor lifestyle he’s also trying to sell.
By Jennifer Klein and Derek Sandoval
FHA mortgage insurance premiums rose on April 1, 2013. Placer County Association of REALTORS® YPN members Jennifer Klein and Derek Sandoval discuss exactly what has changed as well as what these changes mean for real estate professionals and those applying for a loan.
Jennifer Klein is a REALTOR® in Northern California who is experienced in short sales, investments, and property management. Connect with Jen at RosevilleAndRocklin.com, JenKlein.com, and @JenKleinSac.
Derek Sandoval has worked for Keller Williams Realty in Roseville, Calif., since 2009, and specializes in residential, REO, and short sales. Find Derek at www.dereksellshomes.com and dereksellshomes.featuredblog.com.
By Charlene Storozuk, Dezigner Digz
Spring is in the air in some parts of Canada and the U.S., although it hasn’t quite reached my little corner of the world yet. This is the time of year when thoughts turn to spring cleaning; whether or not you’re selling your home. Of course, if you are listing anytime soon, you’ll want to be even more meticulous.
The busy spring market will be upon us before you know it, so here are some tips for getting the exterior of your home shipshape:
1. Remove glass from light fixtures and take out any little critters that may have found a home over the winter. Be sure to use glass cleaner on the panes before replacing them in your fixtures.
2. Clean your mailbox. If it hasn’t weathered well over the winter, it’s probably time to replace it.
3. Clean and polish, if necessary, your front door’s hardware. Replace it as well if necessary.
4. Check your house numbers. Are they still in good shape and visible from the street? If not, replace them.
5. Wash down your front door and garage door. If you find that the previous summer’s sun has faded the paint, consider repainting. (Your garage door should be painted a color that blends in with the brick or vinyl siding on your home.) Before painting, check with the paint manufacturer to see what the optimal outdoor temperature should be. You don’t want to paint when it’s still too cold outside.
6. Wash the windows. If this isn’t your strong suit, hire a professional.
7. Hose down the porch and driveway to remove any excess salt left over from de-icing.
8. Sweep the porch, driveway and patio to get rid of any rogue leaves etc. left over from the fall.
9. Check your porch, driveway, and patio for any cracking or lifting of patio stones that may have taken place during a deep freeze.
10. Check your roof to make sure no shingles are missing or were damaged during the winter.
11. Remove debris from your gutters and drain spouts.
12. Rake the lawn. However, before doing that it’s very important to check with your local garden center first to be sure it’s not too early. If raked too soon before the ground thoroughly dries, you could potentially damage your lawn.
13. Remove winter displays from your urns. For a burst of color, plant spring flowers as soon as weather permits.
14. Tidy up your gardens in preparation for planting season.
15. Organize the garage. Put away shovels, snow blowers, toboggans, and any other items that made their way into your garage over the winter.
16. If you don’t use your barbeque year round, it’s time to bring it out. If it’s a built-in unit that will be staying with the house, be sure to clean the grills and wash down the lid. If you have a cover for it, replace it if it’s worn.
17. Remove the cover from your swimming pool and clean your pool as soon as your pool service company advises that it’s OK to do so.
18. Bring out your patio furniture and set it up. Although it may be too cold to sit outside just yet, you want potential buyers to see your outdoor living space’s potential.
These are some suggestions to get your started. What else am I missing? Feel free to add to the list!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Charlene Storozuk is the owner of Dezigner Digz, a professional home staging and interior decorating company based in Burlington, Ontario. Her work is featured in the book FabJob Guide To Become A Home Stager, 2009 edition. Sheserves as regional vice-president, Canada for the Real Estate Staging Association and is a past recipient of the North American Leadership Award for her work as founder and president of the Halton & Hamilton-Wentworth RESA Chapter.
NAR Treasurer Bill Armstrong updates members about progress on lease accounting, as well as new legislation introduced in Congress to reauthorize terrorism risk insurance for commercial properties.
According to the 2012 NAR Commercial Member Profile the median age of a full time commercial real estate professional is 57 but don't tell these professionals. In this issue of Commercial Connections ask some young agents who have made an impact in the commercial world how they have been able to learn from and keep up with their more experienced colleagues.
It’s one of those days, the kind when the sky is just a stretch of turquoise blue and a smattering of cotton-ball clouds. To the right, tall wisps of wheat and grass, to the left, towering hills shaded purple and green, cut in places by thin, glistening streams…
No, this isn’t a description of the backdrop for a soon-to-be released Western film. It’s the scene Greg Fay, founder of Fay Ranches brokerage, sees all the time while showing premium ranching and sporting properties to his clients. And with price tags ranging from $1 million to $100 million, Fay likens the complex process of taking a ranch from due diligence to the closing table as nothing short of real estate combat. But if this is a battle, Fay — whose gross sales for Fay Ranches topped $180 million last year — may have already won the fight.
“It’s not an investment prone to the vagaries of human whimsy like the SEC having a bad day and the stocks responding to it,” Fay says about the motivation behind the increasingly popular ranch ownership trend. In fact, for Fay’s clients — many of whom he describes as among the most successful businessmen in the world — ranch real estate is more viable an option than dealing with the fickleness of today’s stock market. “When it comes to ranches, my clients are very bullish,” he says, perhaps with pun intended.
But beyond the financial benefits, there’s a recreational and familial aspect to ranch ownership too. “You can just watch clients’ shoulders drop as they get to the ranch,” Fay says. “Then they get to see their kids or grandkids running around, skipping stones in the pond or riding 4-wheelers or a horse.” For Fay’s clientele, it’s about giving their children these “non-Nintendo moments” — like observing a bull moose ramble in an open field or listening to an elk bugle on a quiet night. “You can’t get those same experiences from stocks,” he says. “All you get from stocks is heartburn.”
However, convincing potential buyers that ranch ownership is an investment worth making still takes work — and a little bit of creative marketing. “Catching a big fish can be one of the strongest sales tactics we have,” Fay says, adding that many times, a “showing” consists of fly fishing, hiking, or even floating clients down the river on drift boats so they can get a better sense of the expansive landscape as they leisurely cruise on the water.
One of Fay’s favorite moments happened with two of his longtime clients: They were interested in purchasing a property but weren’t quite convinced. At dusk, Fay brought them to a particularly beautiful vista boasting panoramic views of the hilly, lush terrain. As the sun set between the mountains, Fay arranged a twilight happy hour, complete with folding chairs and margaritas for all. “My client’s wife was hurting a little the next morning,” he says, “but they bought the ranch!”
REALTORS® who are interested in specializing in ranch and land sales can learn more about becoming an Accredited Land Consultant at REALTORS® Land Institute.
By Scott Newman
So here’s where you currently stand: Everyone and their mother has been telling you to blog. They say, “it’s so important to connect with the potential clients in your market.” Or more generally, “put yourself out there!” Even asking, “Why aren’t you blogging already? You’re the best writer I know!” (This last one from your mom).
But what’s a newbie blogging REALTOR® to do? Where do you start? What do you say? What don’t you say?
For these questions and more, I hope this blog post and the tips it contains will provide answers. Because while a blog is arguably one of the more daunting personal marketing tools out there, it’s also one of the most effective. Starting and maintaining a blog is an important endeavor for any real estate professional looking for more ways to reach potential clients and—drum roll please—generate business.
Being yourself is the best advice you’ll probably ever get about almost any problem you’re having in life—how’s that for a tip?—but it also holds true with blogs. People want genuine experience, and if you can’t give that to them, they won’t give you their precious time and they’ll go off searching for another blog written by someone who has the realness factor they seek. Oh yeah, and then, when they’re hooked on some other agent’s blog, they’ll wind up buying a home from that agent and not you. Trust me, it can happen.
When you write, do so in an honest and genuine tone that is reflective of the witty, interesting, and insightful person we know you are. Also, think about verbiage, word choice, grammar, and all the other small details that go into good writing. Your reader should be able to walk away with a distinct sense of you as both a person and a professional, and not get tripped up by sloppy grammar or poor spelling along the way.
Know Your Audience
How well you target a specific audience is directly related to the effectiveness of your blog. Before you even sit down to write, think about who you’re trying to cultivate relationships with and focus with laser-like intensity on owning that demographic.
If you’re trying to appeal to first-time home buyers in a blue-collar suburb, writing about high-end kitchen makeovers will completely miss the mark. On the other hand, an honest and compelling piece on the pitfalls first-time buyers should avoid, or a post about how large down payments are not always a requirement when purchasing a home, would be exponentially better received. Further, both topics would invite follow-up questions and open communication between you and potential clients reading and relating to the post. Don’t underestimate the power of the comment box to connect with those in your niche.
Nothing is worse than a boring blog that just regurgitates the same facts available anywhere else on the Internet. Don’t try to compete with Google because spoiler alert: you won’t win. Use videos, humor, props, guest speakers, anything that makes you stand out from the countless other blogs out there. The more creative your content, the more likely readers will be to keep coming back for more.
Again, figure out what your audience is looking for and then take the extra step to think outside of the box and deliver information so you’ll get a positive response. Always keep your posts relevant and up-to-date; there’s nothing worse than a blog full of yesterday’s news or focused on a tired topic. Remember, you’re competing with social media, e-mail, cell phones, and about 10,000 apps. (Yes, you are now in direct competition with angry birds and animated farms).
So finally, armed with enough advice to begin your blogging adventure, my last tip is this: Don’t be afraid. Blogging is really no different than being in a room full of people handing out business cards. The advantage of a blog is that you have the chance to carefully edit and develop your message before taking it public. If done right, you will be rewarded in the best way possible, with an entirely new referral source you wouldn’t have had access to before.
By Lucy O’Neill, Improvement Center Columnist
Courtesy of: ImprovementCenter.com
In this edition of the Commercial Intelligence Briefing, Bob McComb, Signature Series Speaker and owner of Top Dogs Commercial Real Estate Training, will share some tips on how commercial agents can prepare to be successful in today's market.
Real estate is as cutting edge as it is traditional, and the same thing goes for the English language. Just think: When you’re calling a prospect on your cell, you might “dial” in their number, just as you might also “hang up” when you’re finished. But is there a rotary dial on your phone or a cradle within which you can hang the mouthpiece of your telephone? Nope.
As a word nerd, I love these contradictions that flavor our everyday speech. In I Love it When You Talk Retro: Hoochie Coochie, Double Whammy, Drop a Dime, and the Forgotten Origins of American Speech (St. Martin’s Press, 2009), author Ralph Keyes calls these contradictions “retroterms,” or “verbal artifacts that hang around in our national conversation long after the topic they refer to has galloped into the sunset.”
I Love it When You Talk Retro is a fascinating book by all accounts, and worth a read just for fun. But for Book Scan readers, I pulled out a few of the more real estate-related items for which you might want to know the origins.
Ever encountered an actual skeleton in the closet of one of your listings? Probably not nowadays, but in nineteenth-century England you may have. In the beginning of the era of modern medicine, doctors found that dissecting corpses was a very good way to learn about the human body and disease. However, doing so was illegal. So doctors had to hide the results of such experiments in closets, for fear of punishment. Now, of course, a “skeleton in the closet” is more likely to refer to family secrets than any frightening open house surprises.
Some of the best deals are struck on the front porch. Yet, back when political candidates William McKinley, Benjamin Harrison, and Warren G. Harding used front porch campaigns to connect with fellow citizens, they were derided as lazy by opponents who crisscrossed the country for votes. It was not particularly impressive to give speeches from one’s own front porch, but effectiveness is another measure altogether. Though each front porch campaigner experienced success from their efforts, the phrase is still used as a way to describe lethargic efforts to win people over. Or maybe it’s just a soft sell technique? You decide.
Next time you’re showing off the backyard of an early 20th-century home, don’t offer to take house hunters on a trip to the woodshed. Back when these sheds were used to hold fuel, they were also reportedly a good place for parents to discipline their children. To this day, a trip to the woodshed often refers to being dressed down or punished. Keyes notes that the euphemism has even been turned into a noun, as in “s/he was woodshedded.”
You’d better hope your farm area doesn’t include a Potemkin village, or else you’ll have a lot of explaining to do once the facade recedes. See, this descriptor comes from a tour Russia’s Catherine the Great made of Ukraine in 1787, shortly after her country annexed the area. The Ukrainian governor was so eager to please that he created structures specifically for the event and decorated the place to give it a little more curb appeal. Catherine’s adviser, one Prince Potemkin, joked that perhaps the entire village had been constructed merely to impress the throne. Thereafter, any fake construction created to impress could be referred to as a Potemkin village, or Potemkin-like.
Finally, next time a picky city slicker derides one of your listings as located “out in the boonies,” you can take a moment to educate them on the meaning of the term. A shortened version of “boondocks,” this colorful word comes from U.S. soldiers fighting in the Philippine–American War during the turn of the 20th Century. The Tagalog language’s word for hinterlands was “bundok,” which Americans picked up and brought home.