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So You Want to Be a Great Realtor®? Tips & Tricks

Today, we are featuring a guest post from Jessica Rosato, a Luxury Broker Associate at Nestler Poletto Sotheby’s International Realty!

Great Realtor

Working as a real estate agent has its challenges: you don’t get paid unless you sell, you can work long hours and still have no paycheck, and you have to adapt to changing market conditions. That said, it can be a rewarding career, both financially and professionally.

Calling on your sphere of influence, projecting a professional image and utilizing today’s real estate tools and technology can help you develop a successful career in real estate. Here are some tips that might be helpful in your quest to be a great Realtor®.

Delight your customers/clients. . . Make your customers so happy, so content, so delighted, and they will be loyal for life.

A new direction. . . Don’t be afraid of taking a new direction or going off path –  sometimes the journey brings you someplace unexpected that is even better and more rewarding than what you initially anticipated.  Embrace it and don’t be so tied to the expected result. It’s okay to switch it up!  What you say yes to is just as important as what you say no to!

Value proposition . . . Know what makes your different and shine a light on it.  Know your value proposition at all times and what you can bring to the table that others can’t/don’t/won’t.

Be unique. . . Don’t worry about what negative people say or think about you.  Be true to yourself, be honest with yourself about what you really want, and don’t pretend to be anything other than what you are. You don’t want to waste your life following someone else’s dream for you. This is the biggest regret of most elderly.

Keep good company. . . Align yourself with like-minded people who genuinely want to see you succeed, better yourself and stretch the limits. Never be the smartest person in “your” room.  Consider a mastermind group (becoming part of one of creating one yourself) or finding alternative ways of meeting people interested in things you might be interested in or want to learn more about. Look to the past to gain valuable insight and information.

Give back. . . To your community, to causes you believe in, to organizations that excite you and draw compassion out of you.  You have to give back to truly have a sense of purpose.

Work hard. . . It’s as simple as that. Do what needs to get done consistently, what should get done, not what “could” get done.  Prioritize and focus on the “musts.”  Be okay with letting some things go and letting then fall by the wayside—you can’t do everything well! Working hard and working smart will put you closer to the opportunities you want.

Balance. . . Accept that there really is no perfect work-life balance. Stop chasing it.  It becomes its own controlling thing when you keep after it, trying to solve it, trying to make it either go away or come to you- just deal with it—sometimes you work and sometimes you play and sometimes you play when you should be working and sometimes you have to work when you want to play. Sorry!

Be persistent. . . Even when things get rough and you’re down and depressed and can’t believe that nothing is working out even though you are working so hard (yes, we all feel that way—you’re not alone), keep going.  Put one foot in front of the other and just keep going.  To perfect a skill, to become an expert and be on top, you have to consistently do the right things every day whether you want to or not.  A painter must paint every day even if just a doodle to keep connected and on the same vein (or risk losing it).

Coaching. . . all the greats have coaches, some even 2 or 3. . .why don’t you?! Most of the time we don’t engage in coaching because we don’t want to spend the money, but you’re ultimately investing in yourself and working towards bettering yourself! Look into it!

Celebrate your successes. . . Don’t get so caught up in the grind that you forget to reward yourself because that becomes a habit that only causes you to feel like a slave to your profession.

Don’t be so serious. . . Stuff happens, you make mistakes, you disappoint, you slack, you complain, you cry. . . it’s all part of the process—just don’t worry so much.  You have many glass balls that you carry that you don’t want to shatter (family, health, etc), but your work ball is a rubber ball and it always bounces back.

Leverage. . . Know when it’s time to get help—period.

Have purpose. . . Without a deeper purpose, your success will have a ceiling.  You may achieve great financial success, but that will bore you eventually and leave you feeling unfulfilled and searching for more.  A purpose, a passion, what makes you happy, will propel you into the next phase.  Once you have that wealth, it’s what you do with it that makes the difference.

Jessica Rosato is a Luxury Broker Associate for Nestler Poletto Sotheby’s International Realty of Delray Beach. As a concierge realtor, she utilizes her skills to create experiences of a lifetime. Visit her website at www.bocadelrayluxury.com.

Keeping Prospecting Ethical in 2018

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Ethical Marketing 2018

I’m already SO excited about the new year. There’s just something about a new calendar that feels like a fresh start. And who couldn’t use a fresh start every once in a while?

There are so many new trends in real estate marketing, along with exciting new ways to reach out to customers. However, I’m a stickler for doing things right.

So, to keep your marketing ethical in 2018, avoid these marketing tactics!

Don’t: Discriminate in Your Niching

Targeting specific age groups or demographics is no problem at all. However, you want to be careful that your marketing pieces don’t include anything that can be considered discriminatory.

The National Association of Realtors® code of ethics bars any indication of preference, limitation, or discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

That doesn’t mean you can’t choose a niche. It’s just that when you appeal to those customers in your marketing, you have to be careful not to make derogatory comments about other groups.

Don’t: Overstate Your Expertise

Everyone wants to be “#1” or “Best,” but making these claims without qualifications can get you in trouble. You can say that you had the most transactions in the area in 2016, or that you have a 4.8/5 satisfaction rating in reviews.

However, simply saying “Your #1 Realtor®” is not a good idea. Not only is it not true in the universal sense, but it doesn’t help the customer know why to hire you.

Instead, focus on specific ways you can – and have – helped customers with their problems. This will show that you understand a buyer’s or seller’s needs, and will help you get hired quickly.

Don’t: Buy Social Media Likes, Comments, or Followers

You want people to know you’re a big deal, right? However, if you’ve just started your Instagram, Facebook, or other social media accounts, you probably don’t have a lot of followers or interaction.

It can be tempting to skip the building process and simply buy what you’re looking for. What’s the harm in looking more popular than you really are?

Quite a lot, as it turns out. Buying likes, comments, and followers can destroy your credibility. Many times these followers don’t interact in ways that make sense for your post and customer base, making it obvious they are fake.

Would you hire a real estate agent with 100,000 followers that aren’t from their home country – and no other audience? Would you trust them to market your home well, and ethically?

Me either.

Don’t: Fall Behind on Market Knowledge

Mispricing a home on purpose is obviously unethical, but what if you simply didn’t realize that the market in the area had shifted?

You may not be intending to do anything wrong, but you aren’t fulfilling your professional obligation to the seller. You need to be aware of changes in your target areas at all times.

This type of mistake can happen in other areas as well. If you are sleeping through your CEs instead of paying attention, or simply get lazy about keeping up on your industry, you risk making serious mistakes.

Take your job seriously, and you’ll be a top-flight real estate agent that folks will want to work with!

Make 2018 Your Best Year Yet

At Printerbees, we want to see you succeed. We have all the marketing materials you need – farming postcards, business cards, door hangers, and much more.

If you want to make 2018 your best year in real estate, focus on your marketing strategy and keep it ethical. We’re rooting for you!

Compassion in the Face of Tragedy

Compassion During Tragedy

I’ll be straight honest with you here.

It was hard to think about a marketing blog post this week.

Fires in the Northwest. Hurricanes in Texas and Florida, even affecting Georgia and the Southeast. And yesterday was the anniversary of the September 11th attacks.

What do we do in the face of such crazy suffering? What do our businesses mean in times of tragedy?

We Can Make a Difference

The first thing we struggle with is feeling powerless. I know I do. I can’t fight fires or hurricanes, I’m not a nurse or a doctor, and I don’t have a tremendous amount of wealth to give to those in need.

But we can do something. We can do so many things. Here are just a few ideas:

  • Donate appropriate and needed supplies to a charity that helps others
  • Volunteer with disaster assistance or at a donation center
  • Share our heart, our compassion, and our comfort with those affected
  • Support those we know who have family and friends in the affected areas
  • Serve those in need around us, disaster or not
  • Engage in spiritual practices we have, including prayer and meditation

With the tragedies being so widespread around this country, we all live near something that is going on. I challenge you, as I’m challenging myself, to step up.

We’re Stronger Together

One of the things I’ve realized is that while we may not be able to make a big impact by ourselves, we are incredibly powerful when we work together.

What can you do to join with your friends and neighbors to make a difference? What do the outreach ideas above look like if you get a group of five friends together? Or 10? Or a whole neighborhood?

What would it look like if your business spearheaded these efforts?

One powerful message that comes out of times of tragedy is that people really do care about each other. We see videos of people selflessly risking their own safety to save another person. We even see people working together to help pets and affected wildlife.

That is a silver lining to this dark cloud.

What Printerbees is Doing

Like most people, I feel very small alone. But I’ve realized I’m not alone. I have a large community of friends and associates. So I’m stepping up and doing my part.

Every purchase from Printerbees that uses the code COMPASSION17 will trigger a $10 donation to AmeriCares. 

AmeriCares is a highly rated disaster relief charity. If you’d prefer to support a different group, let us know in the comments of your order.

This is a hard time in the U.S. for almost everyone. Let’s band together and make a difference. We’re powerful – we just have to take action.

What are you doing to make an impact in your community? Share in the comments!

The Five People Every Realtor® Needs to Know

Five People Realtors Need to Know

People never find business success alone, especially in real estate. Knowing the right people and being able to use a close network to help your clients is vital.

How do you know who you need to know? Professionals in a variety of fields help your clients finalize a deal. Whether it’s a mortgage banker or a home inspector, having people you can refer clients to time after time gives you many benefits.

The Benefits of a Close Referral Network

Why bother to have a go-to mortgage professional or inspector? Why not just let the client find their own?

First of all, you’ll save a lot of time. Home buyers, especially first-timers, don’t even know where to start when looking for professionals. When you give them a referral, even if they don’t use it, it will give them a starting point.

Secondly, you can help your clients find someone who is qualified. It’s easy to be fast-talked into a bad deal when you’re already overwhelmed with buying a home. It’s also easy to end up with someone who does a poor job and causes the deal to fall through.

Finally, it helps you build good relationships with other professionals. You can build a lot of goodwill by sending consistent clients to someone, and perhaps when they need a Realtor® or know someone who does they will think of you.

The Five People You Should Have on Your Side

So who does every Realtor® need to know? Most of these are common sense when you think about it, but the truth is that most real estate agents don’t take the time. Build a relationship with these five folks and you’ll be able to streamline the buying process for your clients.

Mortgage Broker

This is the most obvious, and many real estate agents do have a mortgage professional they refer clients to. This can help clients gain pre-approval and be an option for them when closing a deal. Find someone who is good at working with the types of clients you tend to have, and closes a lot of deals.

Home Inspector

Having a Realtor® who knows a well-qualified home inspector is a great benefit for buyers. Home inspections are nerve-wracking and home buyers are always nervous something will be missed and they will be left with a lemon. Having a self-assured, detail-oriented inspector you can recommend will help your buyers be confident in their purchase and in you.

Insurance Agent

Having home insurance is a key factor in closing any real estate deal. Many customers will have an existing insurance company to use, but you can also refer them to a skilled independent agent you know as well. Comparing prices never hurts, and if a buyer is completely lost your referral can give them a starting point.

An Escrow Officer

Knowing someone who has closed a lot of escrows and has seen a variety of scenarios will be invaluable to your real estate business. Using an inexperienced or unskilled escrow officer can completely scuttle a deal, which costs you and your clients money. Find out who is excellent at escrow in your area and make sure they are a part of your team.

A General Contractor

Many buyers approach a home wanting to make changes and updates. Other find specific things that need repaired or changed once they move in. Even after a deal is closed you may get questions about who to call for specific repairs. Having a general contractor you know that has a great reputation and performs high-quality work will make you look great to your clients.

Who Do YOU Know?

In real estate, as in many other kinds of business, it’s not always about what you know. It’s just as much about who you know. With these five professionals as part of your referral network, you’ll save time and hassle in almost every buying deal. It’s worth the time and effort to build these relationships, so start today!

Are you ready to ramp up your spring and summer marketing efforts? We’ve got a variety of ways to reach out to new buyers, including buyers postcards, Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM), and more. Contact us for help today!

Time Blocking for Real Estate Agents

Time Blocking for Real Estate

I recently published an article about how success isn’t always glamourous. There was a lot of interest in seeing some examples of how to organize your time to get the most important things done first.

I want to start by saying that if you haven’t read Millionaire Real Estate Agent by Gary Keller, I’d start there. Keller will help you understand where you are, where you want to go, and how to get there.

Once you have set your priorities, you’re ready to start doing the work. Time blocking can help.

Why Time Blocking?

When we have an appointment with someone else, we protect that time and make arrangements to ensure we arrive. We make sure we’re on time. We arrive ready to go.

Time blocking is a way of taking advantage of this prioritization by setting appointments with yourself. When you do this, you will not only be more faithful to your priorities, but you will have fewer interruptions.

Someone who looks on your calendar won’t see what you have scheduled, but they will see that some time is blocked out and they’ll work around that in meeting with you.

How to Make It Work

Some Realtors® have tried time blocking but discarded it because they didn’t think it worked. Everything seemed to bleed over into other blocks, and they found the control wasn’t there.

With a few tips, however, you can make allowances so that time blocking does work for your real estate business.

Technique #1: Block a Few Things a Day

It’s helpful to start small and just block a few things a day until you get used to the process. This helps prioritize your key tasks for times you have the most energy, while leaving plenty of “white space” for things that come up during the day.

To use this technique, think about what time of day you’re at your absolute best. Block 1.5 – 3 hours during this time for your most important task. Your most important task is the one that brings in clients. Cold calling, door knocking, following up with leads online, and more.

Avoid the busy-but-not-productive tasks, such as:

  • Checking email that isn’t from prospects
  • Spending time on social media in a way that isn’t directly related to getting leads
  • Errands and paperwork
  • Organizing your office

Once you’ve completed that time block, you can pursue the rest of your day knowing that you had one block of highly productive time that will build your business. Over time, you can add more blocks, always leaving plenty of room for unexpected events.

Technique #2: Time Block Your Whole Day

Many people who try time blocking jump straight into trying to break the whole day into blocks. This often leads to failure because most people’s ability to estimate time is far from perfect.

When you block your whole day, you run a high risk that something will run over, causing a domino effect of missed blocks. You may feel stressed, unaccomplished, and frustrated. The fact that you did get a lot done can be lost in a sea of things you weren’t able to do.

If you do want to time block your whole day, make sure you follow these tips:

  • Remember to time block time to eat, and time for breaks
  • Include blocks for regular family events: children’s games, date nights, and family dinners
  • Make your blocks longer than you think you need, to help avoid overruns
  • Put your most important work during high-energy times
  • Plan administrative tasks during low-energy times

Over time, if you’re willing to practice, refine, and edit, you’ll find a way to time block that works for you. When you do, you’ll have more confidence in your productivity, more focus on your marketing, and a thriving business.

Do you need to order some key marketing materials in time for the busy summer season? Set aside time to do it today! We have a variety of farming postcardsJust Listed and Just Sold materials, flyers, and more. Grab some today!

When Success Isn’t Glamorous

When Success Isn't Glamorous

If you watch shows like Million Dollar Listing, you’d think that success as a real estate agent is full of glamor. Expensive suits, huge deals, and fancy dinners dominate the shows.

As we all know, of course, real success in our businesses doesn’t look that at all. Many times it’s much more gritty, difficult, and frankly, boring.

Doing the decidedly “unpretty” work of consistent marketing requires discipline. It requires putting your ego behind you and being willing to get out and risk rejection. It means doing the “boring” traditional marketing work day in and day out.

Winning by Doing the Work

Amanda Le began with Keller Williams in March of 2015. In 2016 she closed 75 sides, representing a total sales volume of $15.9 million.

How?

By doing the work. Le is process focused, which mean she focuses on doing the right actions every day and allows the results to take care of themselves. She’s not afraid to door-knock, make cold calls, handle open houses, and more.

When you spend all your time focused on how far you have to go, you can get intimidated or discouraged. Constantly looking at a future goal can make it hard to grind through every day, knowing you’re not “there yet.”

Instead, change your focus. Figure out how many contacts a day you need to get the appointments and sales that will get you to your goal. Then, forget the target and only concentrate on getting that many contacts each day.

You’ll win simply by doing the daily work.

Keep Moving with Routines

If you watch sports, you know that many players have a pre-game routine that they go through every single time they are getting ready to play. Sometimes these routines are funny and involve superstition, but much of the time it’s about getting in the right mindset.

You don’t always wake up wanting to get things done. You don’t always look forward to door knocking, creating just listed postcards, or any of the other activities of building your business.

James Clear was a baseball player in childhood and throughout college. He talks about how learning to create a pre-game ritual was key to his college success. He would jog to certain spots, take certain warm-up pitches, and by the end, his mind was ready to work.

You can do the same thing yourself. Clear suggests three steps:

  • Start with an action so easy you can’t say no
  • Craft a routine that includes physical movement to energize the mind
  • Follow the same pattern every single time

These steps can help you create a pre-work routine that gets you ready to perform at a high level every day.

Be Comfortable with Boring Work

Successful people aren’t always excited about their work and enthralled with the process. They get bored, just like the rest of us. The question isn’t if you are excited, it’s if you are committed.

The best aren’t necessarily more talented, smarter, richer, or anything else. They are simply consistent. They follow the process through routines, good habits, and pre-game rituals.

You can do the same. Many times, consistent marketing and focused, habitual action will make you a far more successful Realtor® that the guy or gal with a winning smile and amazing sales skills.

Are you ready to make marketing a habit? We’d love to help. We have a huge selection of farming postcards, flyers, and more. Check out our fully customizable options today!

Avoiding Real Estate Email Scams

Real Estate Email Scam

As business owners, real estate agents have a lot of their professional information online. It’s easy to find, and unfortunately, that means it’s easy to abuse.

Sometimes you can’t stop someone from using your professional information in a wrong way, but you can help report the issue and avoid falling victim to scams using other Realtors’® professional information.

An Iowa Realtor®, Wendy Dietz, has been dealing with a nightmare email scam for over a year. A scammer created fake email addresses under her name and has been emailing other real estate agents claiming to have customers interested in their listings. Those who were responded were sent an attachment or Google Drive link that had a virus.

What to Do If You’re Used in a Scam

Unfortunately, for this type of email scam, there’s nothing that the user can do to prevent their name from being misused. However, there are steps you can take to keep your real email account secure and avoid having your legitimate contacts stolen.

Some steps that can help secure your email include:

  • Keep your eyes open. Make sure nothing in your email, including junk mail and your sent folder, looks unusual.
  • Use virus software and keylogging blockers all the time. Yes, occasionally they block something that isn’t a problem, but it’s well worth it for all the actual hacks that are also blocked.
  • Don’t send confidential information via email.
  • Use strong passwords and don’t do business on unsecured or public wi-fi.
  • Most of all, if your identity is stolen in this way, report it to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), FBI, and local authorities.

When you take steps to keep your email and private information secure, you’re less likely to have someone break into your real email account. The other scam relies on fake email addresses, which others can be on the lookout for.

Avoid Being Taken By a Scam

On the other side, there’s a lot more a recipient can do to avoid being fooled by a scam. It’s also vital to report scam emails to your broker, your email provider, and the person who’s identity has been stolen.

To avoid being fooled by a scam email:

  • Pay attention to the from email address. In the case of Wendy Dietz, the from email address did not match any of her actual contact information. That’s a clear giveaway that the email is not from her.
  • Notice grammar mistakes. Often scammers are not native English speakers and the text of an email will give away that it’s not from the supposed sender. In Wendy’s case, the email being sent was one single run-on sentence, asking recipients for help in their “area of expert.” If it doesn’t sound like it’s from a professional, it’s probably not.
  • Never open links or attachments for information unless you know for sure it’s legitimate. If you have any doubt, call the sender to verify that the attachment is real and safe.
  • Report scam emails by clicking on your email providers “Report spam” or “Report phishing” button. Enough reports can get a scammers IP address blocked.

It’s hard to prevent scam emails from being sent, but it’s much easier to detect them and avoid falling for the trap. By taking these steps, you’re less likely to be victimized.

It’s an unfortunate reality that the internet gives us both opportunities and dangers. If someone can steal money or information using fake emails, they will try to do it. Do your best to secure your real email account, and as a recipient be careful what you open and respond to. Together, we can keep each other safe.

What Makes a Great Client Gift?

Great Client Gifts

It’s the time of year where we give gifts to our friends and family. All this gift-giving got me thinking about what constitutes a really great gift for real estate clients.

Generally, Realtors® focus on housewarming style gifts, but that doesn’t really stand out. It’s almost expected. So – what kind of present makes a really great appreciation gift that will make an impact on your client?

A  Great Gift is About the Recipient

Sometimes real estate agents are focused on promoting their brand and staying top-of-mind when they give items as a thank you. Unfortunately, this comes off really poorly and makes it clear that your focus is on yourself, not your client.

There’s certainly nothing wrong with giving away promotional items, but they need to be different than what you give as a client gift.

A great client gift is about the receiver. What do they love? What do they need? What achievement or quote is important to them that could be incorporated into the item? I once heard of an author who received a set of Cutco knives, and each knife had one of his well-known quotes engraved on the blade.

How can you really personalize and focus the gift so that the recipient is delighted and reminded of something they truly cherish?

A Great Gift Represents the Value of the Relationship

I agree with John Ruhlin, the author of Giftology, when he says that we should get rid of the idea of “token” mementos and presents. Is anyone you care to give a gift to really just a token to you? If so, maybe you shouldn’t be giving them a gift!

A great gift shows that you value the client beyond simply “doing what’s required”. It shows that you put some real thought into something that’s meaningful for them and really matters. You should definitely stay away from cheap, useless trinkets.

Instead, consider giving gifts that are highly useful, meaningful, or even experiential. Would someone who was focused on finding the perfect kitchen enjoy a behind-the-scenes look at a local high-end restaurant? Would a family with several children enjoy tickets to a local aquarium?

A Great Gift Includes the Family

If you really want to impress someone, you should bless the people they care the most about. There are famous entrepreneurs and public figures that are used to being wined and dined for almost every reason imaginable. However, their families are always left behind.

You can adapt this to your situation as a Realtor® as well. How can you include the whole family in a gift, not just the primary homebuyer? It doesn’t have to be a group event – sometimes getting entertainment for kids and a gift certificate to a nice restaurant for the parents is a great way to include the whole family while giving the adults a needed break.

Don’t overlook the people around your client. If you have a high-end client who works through their assistant, give the assistant an amazing gift as well as the client. You’ll make a big impression.

A Great Gift is Useful

Finally, if you want to get a gift for a client that they will really enjoy, it should be practical. A basket of exotic fruits for someone who rarely cooks? Nope. A great family trip to a zoo? Yes.

Experiences, gift certificates, and specific useful items are great gifts, but you can also choose a more long-term option. There are monthly subscriptions for almost everything now, and you can consider buying a subscription for a client as a thank you. Each time they receive it, they’ll think of you!

Magazines can be a really great option and are often overlooked. There are magazines for almost every niche known to man, so skip the “Good Housekeeping” and look for something truly relevant to the client’s interests. Golf, bicycling, and fantasy sports are a few of the well-known ones, but there are magazines focused on horsemanship, crochet, crafts, fantasy gaming, and more.

Monthly gift boxes are another great idea. Whether you choose Flower of the Month for a gardener, Rocksbox for a woman who rocks her jewelry, or Graze for health-focused clients, a monthly subscription can be a great personalized gift that keeps you top-of-mind for a full year.

A great client gift is about the client. It shouldn’t be something with your name or logo on it. It should be focused on their interests, involve the whole family, be useful, and reflect the value of the relationship. Do you give a $1 million listing the same gift as a $250,000 listing? If so, it’s time to up your game.

How do you choose client gifts? Share in the comments!

How to Be the Realtor® Others Want to Work With

Realtor Others Want to Work With

I ran across an article the other day describing what a home seller should look for in a Realtor®. There were a variety of criteria about how to find a Realtor® who will give you a good experience in selling your home.

It really made me think about how often we, as Realtors®, think about being the Realtor® our clients want to work with. Of course, we all know that most clients don’t interview very many real estate agents before they make a choice. But that doesn’t let us off the hook.

Are you someone a buyer or seller would want to work with? Here are some ways to be sure.

You Still Have Your Fire

Real estate is TOUGH. You lose time with your family, and it can be hard to have anything that resembles a work/life balance. The old saying, “I only work half-days, and I can pick whichever 12 hours I want” really applies.

In addition, there’s a lot of pressure to say “Everything is great!” about your business when it really isn’t. You want to be positive in front of everyone because you never know who might be planning to ask you about selling or buying a home. That false front takes a toll.

Finally, feeling like you have to justify your value every time you make a pitch can get very tiring. You care so much about the outcome, but you have so little control.

All of this makes it easy to lose your passion. However, a real estate agent that’s just going through the motions isn’t someone a buyer or seller wants to work with. Fortunately, there are ways to reignite your fire if it’s going out.

You’re an Expert

It’s much easier to become a real estate agent than it should be, really. By studying the laws and passing an exam, you can put out your shingle. Of course, it takes much more than that to be a quality real estate agent.

To be a Realtor® that stands out, make sure you’re an expert on your target neighborhoods. This doesn’t just mean knowing the market values, it means knowing the events, new stores, school systems, and more.

Find ways to be present in your target area, even if you don’t live there. Volunteer, shop in those areas, walk your dog in target neighborhoods, and join local associations. Be as connected as possible, and be a real expert. It will make you stand out from “book-knowledge” agents and clients will want to work with you.

You Use a Mix of Marketing

Some clients will simply not hire you if you don’t have a website. In fact, without an online presence, a significant portion of your possible customers won’t even find you!

At the same time, don’t overlook the importance of great print marketing, especially Just Listed and Just Sold postcards. There’s less competition in the mailbox than anywhere else right now, and that makes Realtors® who use print marketing really shine!

When you can point to a clear mix of marketing techniques, a potential client will have much more confidence in you as an agent. It will help them understand your value as well as helping them realize that you’re well-prepared to sell their home for top dollar or help them find the home they’ve always dreamed of.

You Have Great References, Online Reviews, and Testimonials

Referrals can be a huge source of business for successful real estate agents, but references, reviews, and testimonials are just as important. If someone hasn’t heard of you before, or has only met you once, why should they believe you’re a quality Realtor®?

Someone who is looking to hire you is likely to research you online before they call. When you have great online reviews and testimonials, they’ll be much more likely to want to work with you. One great idea is to have a happy client do a quick video testimonial right after a deal closes. Their enthusiasm will be contagious!

One thing that’s important is making sure that your reviews and testimonials are recent. If your last great review is a client from three years ago, prospects will wonder if you’ve been in business since! If you make asking for a review part of your process, you’ll make sure that you’ll always have recent testimonies.

You’re Easy to Get Along With

There’s good news and bad news on this one. The good news is that you don’t need to change your personality type in order to be a successful Realtor®. Different types of clients need different types of real estate agents, and no matter what your personality, there are clients who will click with you.

The bad news is that everyone has bad habits that need work in order for them to be truly easy to get along with in a professional transaction. Here are some traits you want to develop to make others more likely to choose you as an agent:

  • Empathy. You don’t have to be emotional or mushy, and you don’t have to ask for a list of your client’s woes. However, you do need to be able to respond empathetically to others even while you move the conversation back to business.
  • Perspective. Think about the transaction from your customer’s point of view. You may buy and sell houses for a living, but if it’s their first home, they’re probably scared. Combine this with empathy, above, and help them feel understood and comfortable.
  • Listening. Are you constantly trying to multi-task, checking your phone while your client is talking to you? Do you feel the need to have an answer for everything, and plan your response while someone is talking? Active listening is a skill few people have. If you develop it, you’ll be great as an agent.
  • Communication. Agents get frustrated about a lack of communication from clients, but it goes the other way too. No matter how busy you are, don’t “ghost” on someone – that is, don’t stop answering messages in a timely manner. Be a great communicator and make sure the client knows what to expect every step of the way.

Being a great agent isn’t easy. However, these five traits help make you the Realtor® others will want to work with. If you can develop them all, you’ll stand head-and-shoulders above your competition!!

If you’re ready to set up your marketing mix with some great print marketing, Printerbees is your go-to source. We have dozens of templates and professional designers who can help you customize anything you need. Contact us today!

It’s That Time… Avoiding an Audit

Avoiding an Audit

As we wrap up 2016 and move into 2017, it’s time to be planning ahead. We love planning ahead for our future goals and success! It’s the best part of a new year.

Unfortunately, you also have to plan ahead for some less pleasant things – like taxes. Many Realtors® use the last two months of the year to make investments in their marketing and other aspects of their business that they can use as write-offs.

Tracking these expenses correctly so that they can be reported on your taxes is essential. Also, it’s good to know what types of things might trigger an IRS audit so you can avoid them.

Unreasonable Deductions

The IRS knows that every sole proprietor wants to save as much money as possible on taxes, and will take as many write-offs as possible. However, they will be on high alert against any deductions that are unreasonable.

Trying to write off your backyard pool as a business-related health and wellness expense? Do so at your own risk. The IRS keeps an eye out for anyone who gets too creative. Just because someone – even an accountant – says you can get away with it doesn’t mean you should try.

Deductions That Seem High For Your Income

Are you trying to get your adjusted gross income to show $0 each year to avoid taxes? If you do, keep in mind that you have a more than 5 times higher chance of being audited.

If your deductions manage to wipe out your entire income, the IRS will take note. Obviously, as a first or second year Realtor® it may be entirely legitimate. But much beyond that and you’re probably getting too zealous with write-offs.

Be sure that you can back up all deductions with a receipt, so that if someone does check on it, you can prove your case quickly.

Excessive Charitable Donations

We all love giving, and none of us are immune to the reminder that charitable donations are tax deductible. You might think you’re hitting two birds with one stone, and in most cases you are.

However, keep in mind that the amount you can deduct is limited by your income and the type of charity you’re donating to. While that’s a bummer, it’s important to make sure that you don’t overreport or over-claim charitable donations.

Like all deductions, make sure you have a written statement from each charity you donate to, showing your name and donation amount.

Poorly Tracked Mileage

Realtors® write off a lot of mileage expenses, but it’s essential to track this carefully. If you report an amount of mileage that doesn’t line up proportionally with what you have reported in the past (ie, similar income but three times the mileage), it’s a red flag to the IRS.

It’s a pain to track what mileage on your car is for business and what’s for personal use, but it’s vital to avoiding an audit. When you have a careful tracking system in place, you probably won’t raise any concerns with the mileage you deduct. If you do, you’ll have the records you need to quickly resolve the concern.

Tracking expenses carefully and keeping receipts can be time-consuming, but not nearly as time-consuming as handling an audit. Work with a professional to file your taxes if you can, and if not, be sure to go over your documents thoroughly.

If you’re ready to invest in some year-end marketing, let us know! We can set you up with business cards, postcards and more! Contact us today.