Category Archives: Marketing Tips

Resolutions: Love ‘Em or Leave ‘Em?

baby-new-year1Well folks, it looks like another year is in the books. And as we await the arrival of baby new year, we all tend to ask ourselves: are we going to resolve anything from 2015 for the prospect of a fantastic 2016? Chances are, that answer is yes. There is always room for improvement and it’s this time of year that brings to light all the changes we feel need to be addressed. Health, personal relations, and money are generally at the tops of said changes.

We all know that business for us in the real estate industry slows down in the colder winter months, so this is a perfect time to take stock in what we currently have, and what we need in order to fine tune our business practices to ensure continued success. As a real estate agent, this isn’t your typical 9 to 5 career. There are three arenas that we use in everyday business: an office, the field and an online presence. We can’t let one of these areas slip through the proverbial cracks or our production will suffer. So why not take a moment to re-evaluate what resolutions need to be put into place to make sure you will begin into the new year ready for anything.

First, let’s look at your office. Does your office project a confident, well-organized agent? Is finding necessary documents on your desk simple or more like a game of Marco Polo? Every professional needs to have a clean, organized office to conduct business in. Start with your desk and move outwards. There are literally tons of organizational equipment at your disposal. A desktop organizer, file cabinet and a little shelving will not only present your skills in a professional light, but a good filing system will also make you seem ready for any situation. So take advantage of the newest technologies available to give your office a bit of a makeover. Streamlining your equipment will only improve the daunting task of keeping up with client paperwork.

Speaking of clients, the next area to consider streamlining is how you conduct yourself out in the field. An agent’s on-the-go lifestyle makes running back to the office for forgotten necessities an impossibility. You need to have everything you need within arm’s reach at the drop of a hat, and before technology, it meant lugging around lots of lots of paperwork in the trunk of your car. Today, this isn’t the case. Now everything can be in the palm of your hand if you have the latest equipment. But it isn’t just about a smartphone and a lightweight electronic notebook. You will always need brochures & flyers, a digital camera and who knows? You may even enjoy writing your notes down with a pen & paper. What you need is a fantastic case to carry along with you to showings and client meetings. It should be roomy enough for all of your basic needs, but organized enough that it doesn’t end up looking like a child’s backpack at the end of the day. Having all of your specific tools with you at all times will make any meeting go smoother and will present you as a capable real estate agent ready to help your client any way you can.

Lastly, consider where you’re storing your business. These days, it seems as though everyone is working off of the internet, in something called the “cloud”. What is this cloud everyone speaks of? Well, it’s basically a more efficient way of keeping all of your records electronic and at your fingertips. Having contracts, forms and digital signatures electronic takes all of the thumbs out of flash drives, misplaced emails and backup storage devices. Everything is online and easily accessible, thereby making any document you need ready at a moment’s notice. And when your business revolves around always being on the go, considering these online tools really is a choice worth considering. It isn’t as complex and scary as it looks. So as we are days from the beginnings of a new year, consider stepping out of your comfort zone if it means a stress-free prosperous 2016.

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Funny Business

realtor-sign-doritoWe all know that there is a lot of competition when it comes to the real estate game. There are always new homes going up for sale, buyers looking to find themselves a new place to live and plenty of agents working hard to land some of that business. As a buyer/seller, where do you even begin? All of these decisions make the process not only overwhelming, but extremely stressful. As an agent, it is your job to help alleviate these worries. So ask yourself…what do you do to stand out from the sea of agents ready to help? And once you get the business, what do you do to help your clients rest at ease during this tumultuous time? Lots of agents use their arsenal of knowledge to navigate thru these stormy seas. Sure, it’s incredibly helpful; everyone needs information and knowing what you’re doing is always necessary. But is it really the most ideal approach? Studies have said not quite.

There is an age-old adage: laughter is the best medicine. Apparently, this doesn’t just pertain to doctors. According to a study conducted by Baylor University’s Keller Center, when asked to choose a real estate agent, clients were more likely to choose the agent with a sense of humor. You heard it right…in a day and age where society is looking for humor in their news (ala Jon Stewart & Steven Colbert), people are asking for someone to lighten up stressful situations with a bit of humor, not just facts and statistics. And the benefits are two-fold; not only do you help your client calm their nerves, but you also build a reputation for being a well-rounded agent, thus bringing in more business. It’s a win-win!

But is real estate a funny business? From the surface, one would say no. There’s nothing all that hilarious about the process required to turn structures into homes. The key is to look deeper into the industry and process itself. It’s not about turning into a clown. It’s all about the subtlety of the delivery. Throw a pun or two into your marketing tactics and listings. Add some funny cartoons or YouTube videos to your social media pages. Make light of a tough situation by spinning a whopper of a tale to relax a stressed out client. Keeping things short and sweet for a quick chuckle is always going to bring a positive result. It’s all about building a rapport and making yourself relatable. You don’t need to be a comedic genius, you just need to be able to make a client feel comfortable in your hands. Keeping a smile on your clients’ faces will not only help the homebuying/homeselling process, but chances are, you will have a client for life.

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Mr. DeMille, I’m Ready for My Close Up

closeupThere is an idiom that has stood the test of time: seeing is believing. And when it comes to spending money, it is a rarity that we ever purchase something based on description alone. Not only do we check on the product reviews of others, but we rely on a visual picture in order to be fully convinced to part with our hard-earned cash. Nothing proves this truer than when it comes to buying property. According to the 2014 NAR® Home Buyers and Sellers profile, buyers rank listing photos as the number 1 most valuable website feature – even higher than the listing’s description! These days, 92% of people looking for a new home rely on the internet to begin their process so it seem only natural that photos are preferred over just a written description. And now that you have found yourself a home to sell, it’s time to get it ready for that photo shoot.

First, you need to speak with your home-owning clients. You have already walked through the home with them, giving suggestions to make things ready for the future showings. Now it is time to give everything some final touches so that the photo shoot goes smoothly. A great tip is to ask your professional photographer (because you shouldn’t be taking the photos on your own) for a checklist your clients can reference in order to get things camera-ready. In fact, this list can also work double-time as a handy tool for those upcoming showing days.

When it comes to the interior of the home, the added touches are all pretty simple. Keep the toilet seat down, clothes in the hamper, toiletries and other personal products hidden from view. One way to give your clients a point of reference is to have a quick tour once a housecleaner professionally cleans the place so everything has a place and the home is picture perfect. As for the exterior, you should have your clients keep the yard clean as a whistle. Keep cars in the garage and/or parked from view, landscaping tidy and trash cans & toys picked up and out of the way. The cleaner the property is kept, the easier it will be for you to photograph and show to prospective buyers.

When it comes to the actual photo shoot, the only proper way to go is with a professional photographer. Find one that understands the business and express exactly what it is that you’re looking for. Before each shoot, show the photographer certain aspects of the home that should be featured in the photos. The more you can show these special features to your prospective buyers, the easier it will be to book showings and, ultimately, sell the home. Build a relationship with them so that you can move through these shoots like a team and make the photos the very best they can be.

After all, a picture is worth a thousand words…

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Life on the Farm: The Urban Farmer

Backyard-Farming

As we get closer to the end of long summer days and begin our courtship with autumn’s harvest moons, it is worth mentioning a new trend appearing in the housing market: the backyard farm. With society becoming more and more health & environmentally conscious, folks are beginning to take matters into their own hands, or yards. Fresh fruits and vegetable gardens are sprouting up, bees are being cultivated and there are even a few instances of livestock where you aren’t used to finding them – the city.

Having a backyard farm is not something to be taken lightly. A lot of work goes into creating this type of backyard. There are rules that need to be followed and making sure it’s all up to code with the city and/or an HOA takes some time and effort. Of course, then there’re always the neighbors. If having things like bees or chickens is something that suits your fancy, making sure it’s good with everyone surrounding you is something that must be done. No one wants to be shocked awake every morning by a rooster or stung by a bee while swimming in their pool on a warm day. Keeping everything kosher may involve some bribery, like a BBQ or some home-brewed beer as a token of appreciation for being so cool with things. But once all of the politics are cleared up, the fun can begin.

But what does that do to the sale of a home? How does a buyer see this built-in responsibility? Is it a perk or a deal-breaker? I suppose, it all depends on the buyer. What you need to do as a realtor is show the upside of having this type of yard. Mention the fantastic condition the soil is in from seasons of use and how much money could be saved by growing their own. Make sure the hives or coops are in good condition so it is seen as a pleasure rather than as a hassle. Stage the home with the fruits from the garden. Create a centerpiece of tomatoes or squash blossoms and make sure to highlight areas where vegetation grows best, like an herb garden windowsill. Features like chicken runs and raised garden beds have not only been cared for, but can also be repurposed to suit the new owner’s needs, for example turned into safe place for a dog to exercise. Those that are into sustainable practices, will be excited that steps were already taken before they have even moved in and those with pets could be excited that there is a designated place for their pet to run without disturbing the overall landscape.

The point is to focus on promoting these landscapes as lifestyle-friendly features that can be easily modified to fit needs of new homeowners. In fact, knowing in depth the rules and regulations that may affect the sale of a property will only benefit your business, as a real estate agent. Having knowledge a client can use when deciding on a new home purchase is a win-win situation. Put tips about seasonal vegetation or an article on how to keep a garden vibrant into your newsletter. Even folks that have a plant or two can benefit from this facet of your real estate repertoire.

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Rebels without a Cause: The FSBOs

rebel-without-a-causeIn the real estate agent game of drumming up new listings, there is one group of folks that are the most difficult nuts to crack. These are the FSBOs, or for sale by owners. For one reason or another, this particular group of sellers believes that a job done right is a job done themselves. And under a lot of circumstances, this may be the case. But in the world of real estate, that is more likely false than not. There are lots of reasons why they believe that they are best suited for the job. So how do you convince them otherwise? Crack the code as to WHY they think they’re best suited for the job.

More times than not, it’s a money thing. In fact, the majority of FSBOs will say that money is the main reason why they do not elicit professional help. It could be that they do not want to lose money by paying a commission. Some don’t mind the commission, but they don’t want to pay a commission to an agent that has given them poor representation. The key is to find out the actual motive. Then present them with information they need to get them on board. Show them what resources you have to represent their home; many times the seller’s range is very limited. Show them what they could actually list the home for; many believe tacking on an additional cost to their listing price will make it impossible to sell. Prove to them that your help is only going to end up beneficial to them selling their home quickly and profitably.

Some sellers would just like to stay hands-on. As you learn more about their reasons why, you will find that many of these sellers end up just being disgruntled by past experiences. Your job is to convince them that you are more than capable of earning their trust, and their business. They need to be assured that you are going to lead them down the correct pathway to closing the sale. This is a very stressful time in a seller’s world. The uncertainty of the market, and the selling process in general, can lead to more problems than they are aware of. Alert them of the risks they face by selling on their own. Make sure they understand some general pitfalls to going FSBO. Sweeten the deal by offering the services of professionals you have relationships with, such as lawyers or lenders, for free. Have a variety of pricing structures for these types of situations, or offer to work without a long-term agreement if it makes them feel more comfortable. The more you show that you are on their side, the more they will be willing to sign with you.

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