By Dave Robison
Marilyn Wilson with the WAV Group has been visiting brokerages and state associations with data that her company compiled about our industry. While attending one of her recent presentations, I snapped a quick photo with my phone of one of her graphs.
She said there are two different types of companies listed on the graph. The companies with the massive revenues are companies that the public loves. The companies with the lower revenues on the graph are companies that could be viewed as a commodity. One broker yelled out during Wilson’s presentation, “That’s why we are all not profitable! No wonder why we are having a hard time, we are all the bottom companies.”
Wilson explained that the brands people love have the most revenue, and as a result, the most room for profit, while other companies will fight to be profitable. The room was filled with “a-ha moments.” She then stated that the WAV Group conducted a survey in the Houston area where they asked members of the public to “name the first company you think of when you hear ‘real estate.’” Can you guess what company ranked No. 1? Wilson claims the same company was named more than 90 percent of the time when the question was asked. The public said, “Zillow.” Wow! When people hear real estate, that is the first thing that comes to their mind? She proved her point that our industry doesn’t have a brand that people love.
Here’s an example: What comes to your mind when I say, “Nordstrom?” Continue reading »
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 Scott Newman
Your business is on the way up, and everything is perfect because you’re making more money, right? Wrong! As the Notorious B.I.G. once said, “Mo money, mo problems.” One of the biggest as a real estate professional is how to spend your money wisely to continue to grow your business.
Today’s blog will focus on when it’s the right time to bring in an assistant or other support staff. Here are 3 signs you’re ready:
1. Promptness is becoming difficult.
If everyone got what they wanted right when they wanted it, you’d be out of business. I get that, so I’m not expecting miracles. However, if you’ve built a reputation on being fast to respond, easy to reach, and quick to get people information, then you risk doing major damage to that reputation if you can no longer live up to those expectations.
If you are finding that you’re no longer able to get people a comparable market analysis the same day you meet with them to preview their home, then it might be a good time to think about what portion of your daily tasks could actually be handled by an administrative person. If there are too many A-level tasks to finish by their due dates because you’re constantly bugged down by B- and C-level tasks (which never seem to end), then it’s definitely the time to consider staffing up.
2. Things consistently slip through the cracks. Continue reading »
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 Scott Newman
So you’ve made it through the worst of the real estate bubble, you’ve developed a nice client base, and you’re taking over the entire industry – great! If that’s the case, then this blog isn’t for you.
Instead, this blog focuses on what we as veterans of the industry can share with the newbies to shorten the learning curve and help create another reputable professional who gives our industry a good name.
The following are my top three “I wish I knew that when I first started” tips to make your transition into a real estate career as painless as possible.
1. Simple Math
So many real estate agents come into this business thinking of the riches they’ll make selling homes for a living. Many even come up with lofty goals for themselves, “I’m going to make $200,000 my first year in the business.” Does that sound familiar?
Well, the problem is that most agents don’t stop and break down the math behind creating that kind of volume. They end up focusing on the big picture when it’s the attention to the little details that will create the success they desire.
For example, let’s say you’re new to the business and don’t know a lot of people, and that the average home price in your area is $200,000. Simple math tells us that you will make $3,500 per transaction at that price, assuming you have a 70/30 split. At $3,500 per deal, you’d need to complete 58 transactions a year to make your $200,000 – that’s more than one house a week, which is a large volume even for a veteran real estate pro. 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 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 Scott Newman
Many agents forget that barriers to getting deals to the closing table exist in both good and bad markets. We are seeing a lot of appraisal issues in the Chicagoland area as over-regulation and timidness on the part of appraisers to push values — despite undeniable appreciation — has resulted in many deals dying at the financing stage.
How do you avoid becoming one of the statistics? Follow my 3 practical tips below…
Know Thy Appraiser
The biggest mistake an agent can make is not meeting the appraiser at the property.
To assume that your appraiser is a true expert on that particular neighborhood, city, property type, etc. is foolish. You know what they say about people who assume!!
You need to be there — both agents should be present, in fact, to show solidarity. Make sure you walk that entire property with the appraiser and give him or her the comparables you feel best reflect the true value of the home. Also, follow up with them afterwards to make sure things are going smoothly.
Remember, lenders are no longer allowed to speak to the appraiser on their file, so you are the first and last line of defense in making sure someone who’s under-qualified doesn’t blow up your deal .
Know Thy Lender Continue reading »
By Sammer Mudawar
Let’s face it, in the eyes of the consumer, especially the internet shopper, all real estate agents are the same. In fact, they don’t even know why you get paid since they find properties on the internet themselves. Does this sound familiar?
Regardless of experience level, 6 months in the business or 16 years, most agents are insecure when discussing income with clients, especially on the buying side. Why? We work nights, weekends, and holidays to earn their income, but if you cannot demonstrate value in yourself, the consumer will not see value in your service.
First, let’s separate seller representation from buyer representation.
Most agents have less difficulty discussing compensation when dealing with sellers. I’m sure many of you are thinking the opposite; the buyer side is easier because there is no discussion, you just accept MLS offered compensation and the subject is never brought up. So let me explain, this industry has trained sellers to understand two things: 1.) A listing agreement will be required; 2.) A percentage of the sale price will be paid as compensation. In a listing presentation, the expectation of payment is already there, half the battle is already won, now it’s a discussion of how much.
However in buyer agency, the consumer doesn’t expect to pay or they don’t even know how compensation works. Continue reading »
By Jason O’Neil
Sit tight. Last week mortgage interest rates jumped drastically. Some say without warning, but then again, most have been preaching for months, if not years, that rates can’t stay this low. Can they?
Why did they rise? Is Wall Street fed up? Was the Federal Reserve testing the market’s tolerance with some well thought out comments? “The downside risks to the outlook for the economy and the labor market have diminished,” said Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke on June 19. Will the Fed begin to unwind its efforts? Time will tell the answer to all of these questions. But I do assure you that the ride is not over. As we’ve seen in years past, there is always a secondary action to the immediate (usually over-reaction) reaction.
Rates will likely dip again and level off in a somewhat upward trajectory. We have likely seen the record low rates come and go.
This happens. It is the cycle. It is not doom and gloom. Rates are still low and people are still interested in buying houses. In fact, I typically see an uptick in home sales immediately after an interest rate rise as homebuyers fear further increases.
As real estate professionals, we don’t have all the answers when it comes to the future of interest rates, but we owe it to our clients to partner with mortgage professionals who are pro-active and knowledgeable about their industry. Rates will be what they will be, and while they have an impact, they certainly are not the largest reason that someone should or should not buy a home.
Jason O’Neil is an associate broker with Encore Sotheby’s International Realty in Indianapolis. Connect with him at jasononeilrealtor.com.