By Christian Zarif
I almost didn’t answer my phone. I was in San Francisco for our national REALTOR® convention and rushing to get out of my room to an engagement (running 5 minutes late, of course). The strange number called twice in a row so I figured it must be urgent. When I answered, I could hardly make out the gurgled voice on the other end. I understood that the caller was inquiring about my new listing. I later learned the caller, Richard, had suffered a stroke a few years ago that affected his speech, among other things. I made out most of what he told me: He and his wife were interested in seeing the home I had listed as well as a few others in the area. They had called four other agents and all of them either wouldn’t return his calls or refused to show them any homes since they didn’t have a pre-approval letter. He was positive he could get a loan and was approved for a VA loan, but just waiting on his eligibility paperwork. I told him I was out of town until Monday but would be happy to set up a time Tuesday to show them homes.
Over the course of the weekend they called a handful of times to make sure I was still willing to meet them…you could hear the strained optimism in their voices. Each time they called, they had eliminated another home (they drove by all of them daily). We were down to only seeing one: my listing.
Tuesday rolled around and having just arrived back in town, you can imagine how insane my calendar looked that day. Driving the 45 minutes each way to show them one house wasn’t ideal, but I made it work.
The first time I met Richard and Connie in person I couldn’t put my finger on it, but I knew there something absolutely special about them. At 70 years young, they still had the twinkle of first time buyers. I spent about an hour with them (much longer than I had planned given the home was a small three bed/two bath ranch). They wanted to check out every nook and cranny. I learned they had owned a home about 10 years ago but the neighborhood had become overrun with a gang. After pouring everything they had into that home to fix it up, they were forced, by gun point out of their home in the middle of the night and told to never return unless they wanted to be shot. They had lost everything. I also learned that Richard had served in Vietnam and was a POW. And Connie shared with me a picture of their 40 lb. cat…Baxter. They had moved into a local retirement community about a year ago to be near Richard’s ailing mother. She passed away last Fall and they decided it was time to live out their American Dream and buy a house they could enjoy in their golden years. One problem: they had very little money and a fixed income. However, they had done the math and knew owning a home was far less expensive than the outrageous rent they were paying (in the end, they are saving almost $900 a month!). Continue reading »
By Sam DeBord
When I started out in the real estate business, my biggest fear was probably the same as many other agents’: “What if they ask me how many homes I’ve sold?” There was an almost inescapable fear that every new client I met would find out that I hadn’t been selling for very long, and abandon me for a more experienced agent.
The interesting part, looking back, was that I’ve probably only ever been asked that question a half-dozen times by the hundreds of clients I’ve worked with. Those that did ask, always kept working with me, whether it was in my first year, or after five years. The fact that I didn’t lose clients over that single question isn’t nearly as satisfying today, though, knowing how much mental stress it put me through in my first year, as well as how it was detrimental to my ability to concentrate on my clients at the start of my career.
Being experienced in real estate is a big advantage. To downplay it would be disingenuous. However, a calm, practiced response to questions about experience can make the real estate transaction much more relaxed for the new agent and to the clients. More importantly, it allows the agent to focus on what the client really wants – a partner who is easy to work with, listens to their needs, and follows up professionally.
It’s very easy when you’re new in the business to try to craft the perfect answer to every client question. You may feel you need to know everything, and if you can’t answer a question about a certain home or property type, you’ll be exposed as inexperienced. In reality, most home buyers and sellers would prefer that you have an affable personal relationship with them, and let them know that you’ll “look into it a bit and get back to them.” While your knowledge is important to the client, your ability to make them feel comfortable is even more important. Nobody likes to spend their day with a fidgety, nervous wreck of an agent. Continue reading »
By Lynn Minnick
When I was a new agent back in 2000, I took a rental call. It was a young couple, around my age, looking for a rental in town. Once we started talking, they told me they could spend $1,400 per month. That was higher than my mortgage payment at the time, so I asked them if they’d considered talking to a lender about being approved for a mortgage. It hadn’t occurred to them that they could be homeowners for the same payment…and so our relationship started! I got them into an adorable little house by the lake and they began to build equity.
Fast-forward to 2014, when this week I’m starting my ninth transaction for them (including all of the referrals they’ve sent me). There’s a possible tenth transaction on the horizon if I can find the dream home for a friend of their family. (Challenge accepted!)
I call them my “A+ Clients.”
We’ve been through a lot together – births and deaths, good markets and bad, and even though they’re now in their “forever” home, I know that all of the time and work I’ve put in with them will continue to bring business my way. I’m happy to help anyone they refer, because I know they are quality referrals.
As a side note, if my A+ Clients hadn’t been able to qualify for a mortgage, I would have put them into a rental and kept in touch, because eventually (as Laura Rubinchuk Schwartz points out in a previous Lounge post), they would have become buyers. It’s a mistake for agents to place renters and forget about them. They just may be your next A+ Client.
By Brooke Wolford
In the past year since I started my real estate marketing company Organamx, I’ve noticed one growing trend: Many people have the notion that you can pay to somehow prove that you’re successful.
While you can pay for an amazing website, for placement on Google, and even for leads, spending money will never prove that you have experience. Your experience is at the heart of everything you do – how you conduct your business, how you behave when you interact with clients, and the value you provide.
If you want to get ahead and get the highest ROI for the dollars you invest in advertising, your website, and leads, then you have to prove to everyone around you that you can truly back up any claim you present.
Being honest is the greatest thing you can do. People like to deal with people who speak from the heart. Honesty creates trust very quickly. The most obvious way to do this is to not misrepresent your experience.
Some of the most successful people I know get the majority of their business from past client referrals. Referrals prove that you can provide a good experience. Nothing you pay for can ever prove that.
Your No. 1 priority should be working to create the best possible experience for your current clients. If you do this, your clients will be compelled to talk about you and use you for other transactions. Then use everything else (your website, online advertising, and social channels) to promote that you have the experience to get the job done.
Brooke Wolford is a real estate practitioner with Coldwell Banker Burnet in Woodbury, Minn. Follow her blog at www.thehousingword.com.
By Scott Newman
So you just found out your buddy got a big promotion and is now ready to buy a sexy luxury condo in downtown Chicago. He’s your boy–you’ve known him since grade school–of course he’s going to give you first crack at the business, and you’ve already started spending the commission check. But before you blindly agree to be his agent, stop and think of the potential consequences of working with close friends and how you can make sure it’s a positive experience for both of you.
Treat Them Like Any Other Client
Many real estate pros go one of two ways when they work with friends – and both are bad. The first is when all their professional experience and training goes out the window and they act super lax and unprofessional thinking it will be OK because they know the client.
The other is the agent who takes things so seriously that they literally suck all the fun out of the entire process for the client, who then ends up never wanting to work with–or refer anyone to them–again.
What’s the lesson here? Forget about the personal relationship you have with this particular client and give them the same high level of service and overall experience you provide to all your other clients. If you follow that golden rule, you virtually eliminate the risk of damaging the personal or professional relationship with the client.
Expect To Go Above and Beyond
I have literally seen agents arguing with close friends they are representing while in the hallway outside the closing office. The expectations the client had vs. the expectations the agent had might as well have existed in two separate universes. Continue reading »
By Dave Robison
In the midst of the government shutdown, we are still working with our clients to get their deals closed. Yes, the FHA is still committed to getting loans processed, but other government entities are closed, including the IRS. Lenders require a 4506-T form, but the IRS is now unable to fulfill requests. So what does this mean? If your lender requires this, the loan won’t close until the IRS reopens, thus putting your deal at risk. Some lenders are waiving the 4506-T requirement, with income verification to follow later. But you can be proactive and help your clients. Here are some tips:
1. Contact any buyers you currently have under contract and talk to their lender about this. Evaluate your buyer’s current situation and determine if they have the ability to close or not.
2. If the lender needs the 4506-T and doesn’t have it from the IRS, then your buyer’s earnest money may be at risk. Check your due diligence deadlines and possibly extend them.
3. Talk to your sellers and warn them of the potential issue of delayed closings. Be proactive right now so your sellers don’t pack up and then their home doesn’t close. Show them you are a professional and proactive in helping alleviate stress.
4. Renegotiate with sellers on closing dates, if possible. The odds are in your favor, as the only way a seller can close with a different buyer is if they find a cash buyer.
6. Stay up-to-date with the government shutdown and its impact on real estate here: www.realtor.org/articles/government-shutdown-updates
If you are seeing any workarounds regarding this issue, please post a comment. Also, if you are experiencing other issues related to the shutdown, let us know!
Dave Robison, known as “Utah Dave,” is broker/owner of UtahDave.com Neighborhood Experts.
By Sammer Mudawar
Buying and selling residential real estate is one of the most emotional transactions consumers conduct. Understanding client psychology, managing expectations, and using effective communication are the three most valuable skills that a real estate professional needs to develop for a successful career with less stress.
Understand the psyche of your client and your chances of a smooth transaction increase dramatically.
Is the client a standard seller who has lived and raised their family in the home for the past 25 years, but has not done many upgrades? Perhaps prepping this client for the possibility of offensive offers from cash investors will be important to making sure they don’t take things personally, or worse, become unreasonable sellers.
Understanding client psychology is important, however, equally important is they understand your psychology. It is vital to the client relationship that they understand your goals are in-line with theirs, and as a fiduciary you will only represent their best interests. Breaking down the walls in the beginning is one of the best ways to get on the same page as your client.
Here are two examples of how to manage expectations with buyers and sellers. Continue reading »
By Dave Robison
My brokerage had one crazy month a few months ago. We had five buyers who failed to perform on a contract and lost their earnest money. Now in Utah, getting the buyer’s earnest money is supposed to be as easy as the buyer’s broker writing a check in about 24-48 hours. But in all five cases it was a fight, with hours of discussions and arguments. In the end, our sellers received their checks — although, in some of the cases the buyers and their agents were very bitter about turning the money over to the seller.
In the midst of the stress, there was one agent in particular who shined through. I believe this person will always be more successful than others (and he is, actually). His attitude reminds me of the attitude held by one of the most successful people I have ever met: Bill Child.
Bill Child sold his furniture store called RC Willey to Warren Buffett. Bill met with me and several friends and told us his story. I also read the book written about him: How to Build a Business Warren Buffett Would Buy. The great thing about Bill is that his attitude toward working with others never changed from the time he took over RC Willey to when he sold it.
Bill took over the business when his father-in-law died. He didn’t realize it at the time, but the company was laden with customer service problems, debt, and tax burdens. Bill turned all that around. For example, the company had sold an appliance that later became known to have a defect. There wasn’t a manufacturer warranty or guarantee on the product, but Bill wasn’t about to let his customers down. He took on the responsibility himself to do the repairs on all the units, even though he knew it would make his company go in the red. Most companies would just blame the manufacturer and keep their money in their pockets, but Bill’s customers were his No. 1 priority and he took the responsibility himself when legally he didn’t have to. He cared more about his relationships and his customers than he cared about profits.
Now, I don’t know the details about all the conversations the agents had with their clients regarding deadlines and earnest money, Continue reading »
By Scott Newman
Every real estate professional has experienced it: those slow times, the off-months, the hot streaks that suddenly go cold… call them what you will but when things turn sluggish at the office, it can not only be a confidence and momentum-killer but also a disaster for your business plan. So how do you avoid the roller coaster of income fluctuations typical of our industry? For me, that question can be answered with one word: networking.
But merely handing out business cards or posting flyers to community bulletin boards won’t put money in the bank. To really make networking your solution to spotty earnings, I propose thinking outside the box. With a little creativity, you can truly use the practice to generate a more consistent flow of business.
As REALTORS®, we all love to schmooze. It’s basically written into the job description. It’s also one of the best ways to meet new people and generate leads. Who’s to say you’ve got to wait for the next Facebook invite to come through before you have an opportunity to stretch your schmoozing skills? Imagine for a moment that you were the one organizing the party instead of just being an attendee. In fact, why wait for an event when you can plan one of your own at the very time your business needs a little boost?
Along with some referral partners, I’ve been hosting a quarterly networking event for the past year that’s gotten rave reviews. Setting up the event is relatively painless; I partner with a local bar or restaurant and bring in sponsors to cover the bulk of the costs. Then, I invite a wonderful mix of local prospects, business connections, and past clients. Everyone has a few drinks and a bite to eat and it’s a great way to stay top-of-mind when it comes time for people to recommend your services. In fact, I have closed several deals with people I’ve met at my networking events already! Continue reading »
By Paul Everett
The first indication from many home owners that they are seriously considering selling their home is often through a free listing on Zillow, Trulia, Craigslist, StreetEasy, or other regional and national For Sale By Owner sites.
With the expansion of FSBO advice companies as well as online listing tools—particularly Zillow and Trulia—an increasing number of home owners are feeling empowered to take a spin at selling their homes on their own, in order to cut out the potential fees associated with agent sales. As we all know, FSBOs most often learn after a few weeks that selling a home is hard work, and best left to professionals! Placing yourself and your real estate services in front of the home owner during this moment of realization is the key to securing listings from online FSBOs.
When the home owner starts feeling the frustration of selling on his or her own, this is the seed of your opportunity. Unfortunately, you won’t be the only one who knows the time is ripe. Rest assured that many like-minded and hardworking agents in your area will all be thinking the same thing at the exact same time. Therefore, timing and approach will mean everything if you want to be the one who gets the listing. Here are five tips for putting yourself ahead of the pack: Continue reading »