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 Lynn Minnick
You’ve done all the prep work for a successful open house event: Every online venue has your open house details posted, signs are up, packets for buyers and potential sellers are prepped, the music is picked out, refreshments at the ready, you’ve thought about what questions buyers are going to ask, and you’re ready for them to arrive in droves.
What do you do when those buyers don’t materialize? (Yes, it actually happens sometimes!) Please, don’t spend those 2-3 hours playing Candy Crush, like a new agent recently confessed to me! It can be a really productive time if you plan and make the most of it. Here are some of the best uses of my downtime during open houses:
- Follow up and reach out to recent clients and/or sphere of influence. Either call, email, or write a note. Last February I sent Valentines to a list of my clients. My client list is my most valuable source of business.
- Expand your education via webinars or online continuing education. I finished my GREEN certification and CIPS classes online during quiet open houses. I only took the timed exams at home so I wouldn’t risk being interrupted.
- Execute or fine-tune your social media marketing. I’ve done blog posts, posted new photos, tweeted, posted to Instagram, Facebook, and even made videos of the houses I was hosting while onsite. I also read other real estate blogs, make comments, and look for new ideas to implement.
- Follow up with the buyers who did come by the open house right away. Continue reading »
By Lynn Minnick
I’ve just come back from an amazing summer in Europe with my young family. The time had come again to get off the continent for vacation, because we all know that if you’re somewhere reachable, it’s going to happen that clients and other agents will find you. In the past 10 years or so, doesn’t it seem like everyone feels they can still contact you when you’re clearly not at work? I blame technology.
For the first week I admit I didn’t think about work for even a nanosecond. By week two, a few stray thoughts crossed my mind (mostly about buying a little castle and staying forever), and I was drunk on British architecture. I had my business well-covered by partner agents, so there was little to worry about. I started taking photos of “estate offices” in Great Britain — “The Guild of Professional Estate Agents” struck me as particularly nice. We strolled through Notting Hill and Kensington in London and picked out several apartments that would suit our family.
In France I started to pick up my favorite glossy real estate magazines. French real estate ads read like poetry and their romantic descriptions made me fall in love with several properties sight unseen. I took more photos of charming houses. I sought out offices and delighted in finding those with specializations like in the Champagne region, where one exclusively handled vineyards (and I imagined how glamorous that must be!). I watched the French version of “House Hunters,” which I loved because it portrays a more honest reality, where sometimes the buyers don’t actually find a house or apartment they like, and their agents pout and shrug and admit it would take a miracle to find them something in their budgets. The French buyers bring their friends along for approval and offers are scribbled on a piece of paper or made verbally and the notaries handle the rest of the transaction. Everyone drinks champagne. Continue reading »
By Lynn Minnick
Late this past spring, fellow Connecticut YPNer Carl Lantz had the opportunity to be on HGTV’s popular series House Hunters. To celebrate the episode, Carl hosted a huge viewing party, and I’m sure he’s added something along the lines of, “as seen on House Hunters” to his marketing! I sent him House Hunters Bingo cards as a fun party favor. It was a really memorable experience for him that brought a lot of attention to his business and brought additional exposure to listings from other agents. He was kind enough to share his experience with me in a quick Q&A session:
Q: How did you get involved? Many agents tell me they’re always applying but don’t hear back.
Lantz: I got involved vicariously through my clients who were on the show with me. In general, House Hunters picks the buyer clients. Then the agent working with them gets to be part of the production. My clients had applied months earlier, and were picked finally around early November. The production company asked me to make a demo video and share it with them. Then about a week later, they gave us an episode number and told us we would be filming in late January.
Q: What was the process and how long did it take start to finish?
Lantz: Once I heard from the producers, we started talking about the two houses beside the one my people already had a contract on. They do their best to pick other homes the clients had seen, and liked, to make it more like the actual process. We filmed for a week in Connecticut and then they filmed a couple days in San Antonio with my clients at their home there.
Q: How were the homes picked? Did the buyers choose them or was it you or the producers? Continue reading »
By Lynn Minnick
This post follows along the same idea as Cory Brewer’s last post about relationships. My office has a new office leader/manager and she recently put together an event that I thought was pretty genius AND helped build relationships.
She asked each of us to provide her with a list of the different real estate service-related vendors we use and would recommend (home inspectors, exterminators, electricians, septic installers, radon guys, landscapers, mold specialists, handymen, home stagers, etc. — all the professionals we turn to on a regular basis in my market.) Then, for a small donation to our company charity, The Sunshine Kids, she offered each of them a table at a vendor fair we hosted. She invited all of the REALTORS® in our town and surrounding towns, and served refreshments.
The event itself was only about two hours long, but it allowed us to meet face-to-face with these professionals, make introductions, and network. I suppose it was kind of like speed dating. Some of the businesses were more experienced with vendor fairs and came prepared with lots of handouts, giveaways, and raffles, while others greeted us with simple business cards and conversations, relying solely on their long-standing reputations.
The event was easy to organize and very well-received. A win-win-win, really, for us, the vendors, and our favorite charity!
By Lynn Minnick
I was lucky enough to have been picked to participate in NAR’s Leadership 200 and 300 classes this week at my association. I say lucky enough because we’re the largest association in our state and there were only 35 seats open. Last summer I was involved in our two-day strategic planning session, which was a first for me and pretty much blew my mind. (Rumor has it we “younger” members have an in because they’re grooming us to become the future leaders of the association!)
While the courses are definitely aimed at becoming leaders in your association, the information and experience was much more than that, as it should be if you’re going to take an entire day away from showing and listing appointments, right? The classes covered topics such as how meetings are run, Robert’s Rules, strategic and operational planning, conflict resolution, and more.
1. Always keep your association’s strategic plan at the top of your mind in committee meetings. For those who are serving on association committees, how is what you’re doing going to advance your association’s strategic plan? If it isn’t, it shouldn’t be on the agenda at all. Shouldn’t we be keeping that same focus in our own personal work agendas? Also, do we have the metrics in place to track our progress?
2. Plan more, worry less. Continue reading »
By Lynn Minnick
I recently found myself thinking about how the changing market has forced us to change, to adapt, to constantly improve on the skills necessary to survive and succeed in this business. Then I realized that as the years have gone by, the cast of characters in my real estate career has also changed. Sure, there were some I was happy to distance myself from, but there are others I’ve been sorry to see go, and other people new to the scene who are influencing the way I view and run my business.
Do you think about how the people you choose to surround yourself with affect your work, your success, your attitude? I believe those people can motivate you, support and help you, slow you down, or suck up your time and energy, among other things.
Since the changes in the mortgage industry and the consequent onslaught of short sales and foreclosures came upon us, I’ve found certain key people (lately it’s been other REALTORS® and attorneys) have been instrumental in helping me navigate my way. Just like knowing the better home inspectors and lenders, septic guys and termite guys, I’m stacking my deck with winning cards and they’re my aces.
It’s in your best interest to cultivate relationships with those who can have a positive influence in your career, but I also believe in give and take…that you get back what you put out there. (Are you the kind of agent who supports other agents in your community by attending their events or broker’s opens and follow up with feedback after showing their listings? Do you serve on committees or volunteer in your community? Believe me, those good relationships you’re building will help you!) Reputation goes a long way in real estate.
If you’re reading this, you’re probably building your social media village too. Are the rules the same? Probably. Are you working with those people in your day to day business? Generally speaking, I’m not, but they are there inspiring me, sharing new ideas and positive attitudes, and for that they are an important part of my village as well.
By Lynn Minnick
Although I’ve been in real estate for 10 years now, I just closed on my first HUD foreclosure. We haven’t had that many in my market (yet!) and so far I’ve somehow managed to avoid them. I almost fell out of my chair at the closing when the HUD attorney handed me a survey to complete regarding my experience selling the property! Really? I had a lot to say about not getting answers from the transaction management company when I asked, but mostly my beef was with the additional expenses incurred by the buyer.
1. When the information lists a repair escrow, it’s not the same as you’d think. In this case, it meant the buyer has to mortgage the amount listed ($2,000 in our example) which is held in escrow by their lender, and paid out to the contractor upon completion after the closing. This was unclear to me, the buyer, the lender and the attorney involved. There really should be some type of disclosure/explanation attached regarding this on the offer documents or somewhere in the paperwork.
2. In the case of a condo, as mine was, HUD does not provide resale packages. At $100 a pop, this was another surprise expense to the buyer, and there is no clause for condo document review. There was no ability to add such a clause either.
3. Not only are there no keys to the property, which of course I expected, but there was no remote garage door opener, and no mailbox key. (Looking back, I suppose none of that should have come as a surprise – we imagined we’d be able to get an extra mailbox key from the association – that wasn’t the case – the buyer has to install a new lock there as well. That’s more of an annoyance than an expense.) Continue reading »
By Lynn Minnick
I’ve been marketing the crazy out of a high-end listing. (Yes, I’m fairly sure I just made up that expression…but this is about getting creative, right?) This is easily the hardest I’ve ever worked to sell a listing. In this market, I went in knowing it would be a challenge, armed with an arsenal of creative ideas and a full social media marketing plan. Taking a partner on this project was necessary because I knew I would be traveling abroad for an extended time during the listing period, but it has been great to have someone to bounce ideas around with. Because of this, we’ve done some interesting things that might give you a few ideas.
We started off with hosting “An Evening With Monica Seles” in NYC through the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, R.I., and by sponsoring the Campbell Tennis Tournament. We did this because the property has a Har-Tru tennis court overlooking the Connecticut River. (See, Monica is such a good sport – having her picture taken with our sign!) Sure, we had broker tours as well as the requisite broker’s open house, but we made it memorable by creating a micro-cocktail named after the property (we called it “The Knowles”), sushi and seafood appetizers, a wine and dessert tasting by the river, and an amazing door prize giveaway (tickets to the U.S. Open!).
We’ve been in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and on every online venue we should be. We’ve targeted the agents selling high-end waterfronts with glossy mailers and e-mails. Continue reading »