For Real Estate Professionals

QUIZ: 3 Clues that Your Real Estate Sign Bites and How to Fix It

Melissa Zavala
May 22, 2015

I’m sure you’ve heard the old adage, “It’s better to give than to receive.” Well, believe it or not, that turn of phrase may not apply to the use of yard signs for selling homes. When placing a sign in the yard, that sign has two purposes: One, it should deliver information and, two, it should receive (leads, that is).

With today’s active markets, there are waves of “for sale” signs going up. But, are they really up to snuff?

Take this quick 3-question quiz to evaluate whether your signage bites and consider the suggestions below so you don’t miss out on your opportunity for a fast sale: continue reading

6 Facebook Listing Shares People Don’t Hate

Jovan Hackley
May 19, 2015

Facebook’s unofficial rules are even harsher than the Terms of Service. While the site will shut your personal page down for hardcore business promotion, what happens if you become the annoying over-sharer is even worse. With every share, your brand, reputation and potential client pool are at stake.

If you’re looking to use today’s most popular social media site to move a property, here are a few listing shares your friends and followers won’t hate:

1. The Awesome Listing

Facebook isn’t a property search site, which means any share needs to feed into it’s original focus – sharing interesting content. One clear way to get ignored, unfollowed, and unliked is to share a listing that has no stellar qualities. continue reading

6 Signs You Need to Grow Your Team this Season (and Alternatives If You Don’t)

Melissa Zavala
May 15, 2015

In my neck of the woods, there are several real estate teams whose For Sale signs seem to be on every corner. To some, lots of signs implies a lots of business and they may ask, “What’s this team thing all about?” and “Is joining or creating a real estate team something I should contemplate?”

Unfortunately, the answer is not as simple as a quick yes or no. There are several things to consider before growing your single-agent operation into a full-fledged team.

Do You Really Need a Team?

Here are 6 signs that you may need to consider partnering up or growing your operation this season:

  • You spend the entire day resolving problems on your current transactions.
  • You lose valuable time doing paperwork.
  • You are not dedicating time to lead generation daily.
  • Your regimented marketing plan has gone by the wayside.
  • You’re up until the middle of the night catching up on activities and emails.
  • You have piques and valleys in your volume and your income.

If any of these six cues apply to you, then it may be time to grow. If not, there are several ways to take your business up a notch, and not all of them involve going from being a single agent to leader of a team.

3 Team Alternatives for Growing Your Business

1. Hire an assistant.

If you spend the entire day on paperwork or putting out fires, then you may want to hire a licensed assistant. There are many new licensees that want to learn the business and there are many experienced agents who are ready to slow down and stay at the office all day. Consider hiring a licensed assistant to manage and respond to emails, input data into the MLS, order flyers and promotional materials, and generate the paperwork required for the real estate file.

2. Partner Up.

Perhaps you are really great at face-to-face appointments and there is another agent at your office that is great on the phone. Join forces with an agent whose style and skill set complements your own.

3. Outsource administrative tasks.

There are many time-consuming activities that take you away from what you like to do, and you can outsource those activities. You don’t have to use an in-house assistant. You could hire a virtual assistant (e.g. “task rabbit), or multiple support people—each to work a separate aspect of your business. Hire a social media specialist to work on your online presence, a transaction coordinator to manage your paperwork, and a graphic designer to create your flyers and marketing materials.

The first indicator that you may need to partner up this season is you. If you are running around like crazy trying to be all things to all people, then it is time to take a look at your business and see where you could make a change. Do you need an assistant or partner? Are you ready to create a team?

It takes time to get from being a one-man band to the conductor of a large orchestra. Whatever growth model you choose, take it one step at a time.

5 Open House Bad-Habits to Break Right Now

Jovan Hackley
May 12, 2015

Traditional tools of the trade come with the danger of repeating the same old, bad habits. Open houses may be a routine part of your marketing process, but here are a few bad habits you can break to make them more effective.

1. Neglecting the “Neighbors”

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Download the Trulia for Agents App and You Could Win $5,000!

May 11, 2015

Trulia’s Agent App for smartphones is the first of it’s kind and allows you to be the first to respond to your leads. The app also lets you contact prospective clients while viewing the property details as you respond. Sort, manager and connect with your leads faster!

Download the app (or login if you already have it) between now and May 22, 2015 and you could win $5,000!

Downloading and/or logging in to the Trulia for Agents App automatically enters you into the sweepstakes.

One entry per download or login. No purchase necessary. Read the official rules here.

3 Buyer Roadblocks and How to Avoid Them

Melissa Zavala
May 8, 2015

You’ve done it! You’ve finally got those buyers in the car, and you are out and about looking at properties. Perhaps, you are even mentally calculating when you’ll be collecting that next commission check.

Hold on! Didn’t your mother ever tell you not to count the chickens before they hatch?

The transactional hurdles that can hamper a smooth and successful closing are all too common. Here are 3 buyer roadblocks you need to spot and how to avoid them:

1. Full Mortgage Qualification.

If your buyer is obtaining a mortgage, then you’ll want to be sure that he or she is fully qualified prior to writing any purchase offers.

Some lenders will conduct a cursory call with prospective buyers and provide a pre-qualification letter without ever reviewing the buyer’s financial documentation. If that happens, then problems arise when an offer is accepted and the paperwork is reviewed. Make sure to understand the buyer’s loan program, since there are certain types of properties that can only be purchased with a specific type of loan.

How to Avoid Roadblock #1: Don’t write offers on behalf of individuals who don’t have documentation to support full qualification.

2. Property Values Variance.

Picture it: You are tooting around town writing loads of offers for the same buyer, those offers are constantly getting declined. After a while, almost anyone would notice a pattern: your buyer always makes offers significantly lower than market value. It’s no wonder they are getting declined. Perhaps your buyer doesn’t understand that homes in your community are selling like hotcakes. Are you going to continue to write lowball offers for the same buyer over and over again?

How to Avoid Roadblock #2: Educate the buyer on the market of the moment. Prepare and present a report that shows market time of listings at your buyer’s price point as well as average list-to-close ratio. If you need a helpful resource, check out Trulia Local where you can get an up-to-date snapshot of price activity for any address.

3. The “Dream” Home Hurdle.

You’ve shown your buyer lots of properties near their price point. According to your buyer, every home has something wrong with it: the carpet is older, the kitchen’s outdated, the rooms are small, and the pool hasn’t been updated since the home was built. The reality is that your buyers can’t afford to purchase the new or like new home in the community that they desire.

How to Avoid Roadblock #3: Don’t just continue to show them homes in hopes that they see the light.

Have a sit down meeting with your buyers and spend some time reviewing the MLS side-by-side. Show them the homes available at their price point. If they absolutely do not want to change their wish list in order to stay in the community of their dreams, provide information on other areas where they could—perhaps—find homes at their price point that meet their specifications.

Heading Off the Roadblocks

When it comes to working with buyers, it is vital to start the relationship on the right foot. This means setting realistic expectations about what buyers can expect throughout the home buying process. When you discuss your role, information about the market, the properties at their price point, and the mortgage qualification process, you set your clients up to win.

If you have a good talk up front, chances are you won’t find any roadblocks along the way to your next successful closing.

Buyer Boot Camp: 4 Tests for Gauging Buyer Readiness

Jovan Hackley
May 5, 2015

The big difference between real estate “buyers” and “browsers” is readiness – which every agent needs to know how to spot. To make sure you’re not wasting valuable time and energy with unclosable prospects, leverage these 4 tests for gauging buyer readiness:

Test #1 – Honed Hunting History

Whether you’re using Trulia Insight or CRM system that shows you your lead’s history, be sure to view what they viewed. The more searches and views for similar properties you see, the more ready the lead. continue reading

(MORE) Real Estate Terms Clients Just Don’t Understand

Jovan Hackley
April 27, 2015

Comics have caped superheroes. Transactions have agents who decode lingo. Unfortunately, many people think they understand real estate because they’ve picked up a few buzzwords from one article or their favorite show.

The reality is that there a ton of Real Estate Terms Client’s Just Don’t Understand. So many, that we had to add this issue #2 to include five more heavy hitting, misunderstood terms that too-often derail the transaction (and an agents reputation).

1.Earnest Money

Earnest is not a guy who likes to walk around with checks in his pocket while people wait to close. “Even after you explain to your clients what it is and how it gets applied to their closing, explain to them that it DOES get cashed,” says broker Cheryl Rozantz Dalton, who works in Vashon Island Washington.

When talking “earnest money,” translate that it’s a “deposit.” A deposit that actually gets debited from their account and is later credited toward the purchase. Some buyers believe that the mere sight of a check will inspire a seller’s “faith” that they can close. Be sure to explain the reality of earnest money.

2. The Magical Land of Escrow

If Earnest is the guy carrying the check, “Escrow” is the county where he lives in the minds of bewildered buyers. An easy way to tackle these terms together is to explain the “three places deposit money travels” – from the buyer’s account, to escrow (aka the holding zone until the conditions to close are met), and, in theory, then to the seller’s account.

3. Distressed “Deals” – “Short,” “REO,” and “Foreclosed”

Just like bodies endure different levels of trauma, properties have varying levels of distress. Unfortunately, many buyers think that all distressed properties are the same and they magically mean they are going to get a deal, even in a fast-recovering market.

In issue #1, New Jersey Agent Victoria Cilente offered, “Many of my clients are confused about the differences between REO and Short Sales. I take the time to explain the differences and the processes involved.”

When talking through whether or not to shop for distressed listings, be sure to break down the different levels, benefits, and costs associated with each property status.

To help, here’s a short chart to give you a start:

Distress

Stage

Property Type Who Owns It? Offer-Related Risks
First… Short Sale Homeowner Short sales still need bank-approval to close and chances are that at this stage, the bank is looking for fair market value (not to give unnecessary discounts). Also, for all distressed deals, risks are high with most being sold as-is.
Then… Foreclosure Bank, Pre-Auction Foreclosure means things are out of the sellers’ hands and, depending on the seller, there may be serious damage or parts missing that were taken as parting gifts.
Also, generally foreclosure means a property is headed to auction where traditional buyers are up against investors with deep pockets.
Lastly… Real Estate Owned (REO) Bank, Post-Auction REO status means the home didn’t sell at auction, much of time because a minimum wasn’t met. While many times REO property can be the source of a deal, the nature of banks can generate serious closing timeline delays.

 

4. “There’s just one appraisal, right?”

You know this is wrong, but many buyers and sellers get confused by the up to five different price-valuations that are assigned to a home. From list, to offer, to contract, to lender, to tax; be sure your client’s perspective stays in tact or things can get so confusing that they will bow out mid-process.

5. Closing, or whatever it’s called.

We saved the last for last. Thanks to Marsha Morgan of New York for this comment, “I have had my license since 1989, and I had found this out right from the start: the word “closing” and the difference between signing, recording and possession. This is definitely something that needs to be explained in detail.”

Most buyers and sellers think of “closing” as the magic finish line where they’ve conquered every hurdle. You know that in reality, that the deal isn’t done until it’s done and recorded.

If you haven’t already, make sure you get your scripts ready for heading on these secret deal-threatening adages and visit issue #1 for the rest of the common Real Estate Terms Clients Just Don’t Understand.

 

Should there be an Issue #3? Add to the list below.

Bonus points for any testimonials you have that illustrate what happens when clients get it wrong.

 

5 Big Spring Selling Mistakes Clients Make

Jovan Hackley
April 24, 2015

Next to sunshine and lead surges, seller slip-ups are one of the most common things spring brings. Each year, too many sellers find innovative ways to kill a deal or chance at maximizing profit.

Here are five too-common follies to keep an eye out for this year and a few suggestions for keeping your sellers, and commission checks, safe:

1. Banking on the Overnight, High-Dollar Sale

All the news points to the heat and low-inventory trends in today’s market. The good news is, many sellers have the confidence to get in the game. The bad news is that too many will do so thinking they will sell for top dollar in a flash.

According to Ralph McLaughlin, Housing Economist, “What’s quickening the pace of sales? It turns out it’s homes priced at the low end of the market.” National numbers show that homes are selling slightly faster than normal, but your sellers need to know that quick moves require competitive pricing.

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Seller Scoring: 5 Ways to Sort Your Seller Leads and Win More Clients

Jovan Hackley
April 21, 2015

Lead scoring is about systematically assessing and ranking the value of your prospects. In an ideal world, every lead that comes in is ready to work with you and transact now. The reality is that all leads, especially seller prospects, aren’t created equal.

To help you successfully sift and schedule your follow ups, here are five smart strategies for sorting seller inquiries that will help ensure you spend your time where it’s most likely to pay off:

1. Referrals and Past Clients Come First

When it comes to prospect sorting and scoring, your personal referrals should always be at the top of list.

Nielsen’s 2013 Truth in Advertising report showed that 84 percent of individuals trust a word of mouth referral from a friend or family member when making a transaction decision. In addition, National Association of Realtors (NAR) research showed that 38 percent of last year’s sellers found an agent using friends and family and 22 percent used an agent they’d worked with previously.

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