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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.

Prove the Value of Your Commission in Any Market

Prove the Value of Your Commission in Any Market

In some areas of the country, real estate is moving very quickly. Unfortunately, with a strong seller’s market, there’s a lot of competition among Realtors® for listings. As a result, many Realtors® feel a lot of pressure to cut commissions in order to win business.

Of course, your commission is your livelihood, and once you cut it for one customer other will find out and expect the same. So how do you keep from cutting your commission in a seller’s market – or any market?

The simple answer is to show clearly how your commission is used to benefit the homeowner. Also, don’t be afraid to remind them that commissions are your only income, and you deserve to be paid for your work like they do.

Here are some steps you can take to prove the value of your real estate commission in any market.

Have a Premium Marketing Plan

The first step is to show clearly what you will do for the seller as a full-service agent. Having a premium marketing plan ready to go and detailed for the client is vital.

When sellers see your real estate service as generic and able to be done by anyone, they tend to expect mediocre performance and focus heavily on price. Instead, set out a clear plan of action that makes it obvious that you are not “just another agent” and really have unique value to offer.

Here are some of the key components of a premium real estate marketing plan:

  • Print marketing – using a series of postcards to draw interest in their property. We recommend a series that includes “coming soon”, “just listed”, “open house”, and “just sold” to maximize exposure. Be sure to indicate the importance of professional photography here as well.
  • Online marketing – beyond just listing the home on the MLS, what will you do for the listing online? Ideas include Facebook ads, featuring the home on your website, and creating professional walkthrough videos. Focus on your unique use of technology especially online.
  • Reach with other Realtors®. Most buyers have buyer’s agents – how are you able to reach out to them? Are you part of a real estate network that you can advertise the listing to? Does your brokerage have a national or international presence that can be leveraged? Do you have access to overseas real estate agents? Professional publications or magazines?
  • Personal Touch. Will you do door-to-door in a specific neighborhood for their listing? A specific number of calls? The personal touch is one of the things that will really set you apart from discount automated brokerages.

Have a Commission Defense Script

Because sellers are often used to being offered a discount, it’s very likely to come up during a listing presentation. In fact, many online home-selling resources “help” homeowners “avoid being taken advantage of” with premium commissions.

As a result, you need a clear non-threatening script ready for when sellers ask you for a discount. The script should match your style and personality. Here are some ideas:

  • Ask, “Mr./Mrs. Jones, don’t you think it’s best to have a strong negotiator on your side when you sell your home?” When they say yes, say, “So if an agent can’t even stand firm on their own livelihood, why would you trust them to maximize the sale your home? Besides, the commission helps pay for…” and then highlight the marketing plan.
  • Say, “Mr/Mrs. Jones, this is my specific marketing plan that will help ensure you receive the best price for you home in the least amount of time. If you’d like a lower commission, perhaps I could find a junior associate or less experienced agent for you who is willing to work for less money.”
  • Talk about the results you get for them and compare your service to other specialties. “If your doctor is operating on you or prescribing you medication, are you going to go with the one who works for very little, or the one with the best results? Why not do the same with the biggest investment you own?”

Break Down Where the Commission Goes

Unfortunately, many sellers don’t realize how the commission process in real estate works. They think that the Realtor® nets the full 6% of the home’s selling price, leading many to believe that real estate agents are overpaid. Here’s a way to help educate them.

First, tell the seller that you charge 3%. Then, ask, “How much do you want to pay the agent who brings an offer? It can be 2%, 3%, 4%, or more. The more it is, the more likely other agents are to bring their buyers here.” Perhaps they say, “3%.”

Then, talk about your three percent. One agent came up with this creative explanation:

“Just so that you understand what happens to the 3 percent that you will be paying me,” he takes three business cards and continues as he removes the first card, saying, “Every agent has to pay their broker part of the commission.” He takes the first card and puts it aside.

He then picks up the second card. “This amount goes to the marketing of your property,” which includes such services as professional photos; video; Web marketing; social media marketing; newspaper ads the agent pays for; brochures; gasoline; and all the other expenses entailed in marketing a home.

He then puts that card aside, picks up the last card and says, “This is how much I get paid.”

He then tears the card in half and says, “But I have to pay taxes, so this is how much I keep.”

He then asks a very important question: “So if another agent offers to lower their commission, where do you think the money comes from? Three percent goes to the other agent, 1 percent goes to their brokerage, and the government keeps 50 percent of what they earn. They’re not going to take food out of their children’s mouths, so the only place where this money can come from is by cutting into the 1 percent that I use to market your home.”

With these three approaches in your arsenal, you’ll be well prepared to explain your value, defend your commission, and educate the seller on how that commission is used. This will prepare you to defend and protect your commission – and your livelihood – in any market.

How do you answer questions about your commission? Share in the comments!

How to Use Online Reviews to Build Your Real Estate Business

Use Reviews to Grow Real Estate Business

Everyone knows that referrals are the lifeblood of real estate, but do you know what’s almost as amazing? Online reviews. Online reviews are like evergreen referrals – a chance for you to let prospects know what others have said about you and how much they love your work. In fact, 88% of consumers look at online reviews before making a purchase!

Capitalizing on online reviews is a great way to build your real estate business, and fall is the perfect time to get started. Your business may be a little slower so you have time, and most of all, you probably have some happy clients you worked with this summer who you can ask for reviews!

Here’s how to make the most of online review to build your real estate business.

Claim Your Real Estate Business Page and Update Your Information

Step one is creating a place for your clients to leave reviews. Be sure to claim your real estate business Yelp, Facebook, and Google+. Also, make sure your office location, contact information, and picture are updated and accurate.

If you’re unsure how to lock down your business pages, here are some guides:

It’s helpful to have all three pages active, along with Zillow, Trulia, and Realtor®.com. When someone leaves a review, don’t be afraid to ask them if they wouldn’t mind posting in other locations as well, or if you can use that review on your website. The more mileage you get from reviews, the better!

Ask for Reviews – With Perks

No, I’m not asking you to be unethical. But when you send along your request for a review, send along a small $5 gift card. Include in your request, “As you know, reviews are vital to our business. To thank you in advance for leaving a review on XXX.com, here’s a small token of appreciation.”

Because the gift is given regardless of whether they leave a review, it’s not considered compensation.

Here are some ways to maximize the number of reviews you’re able to get from your customers:

  • Mention Reviews Early. If you have a chance, mention early in the real estate buying or selling process that you request reviews from clients and ask if there’s anything you can do to help ensure an excellent review.
  • Request the Review More Than Once. Just as you should ask for referrals in multiple ways, you can ask for reviews in multiple ways too. In an email, make the request and include a link or two to online sites. In a letter or postcard, remind them of the request and include in gift card. In person, make one last mention of how important review are. Of course, don’t do all of these within 24 hours of each other! But do them within a week or so, to trigger reminders if needed.
  • Make Suggestions. Sometimes people just don’t know what to write in a review. Think about the relationship and, in your request, point out some things that went really well. “We were able to sell your house in XX days, which is great!” or “We got 10% over asking!” or “You mentioned how nice it was to have an agent that did XYZ.” Then, when you request the review, they’ll have those items right in front of them.

Ask for Reviews Even Without a Closed Transaction

Did you show someone homes, only for them to discover the loan wasn’t going to work? They may still give you a great review! Similarly, someone who didn’t sell their home because they changed their mind or had an emergency might still have enjoyed working with you. Don’t think that only closed customers will leave reviews. Anyone you work with can say something about the experience!

Zillow actually allows you to request reviews for a large variety of customer types, so consider all of these when you’re asking for reviews:

  • Listed and Sold a Home or Lot
  • Listed but Didn’t Sell a Home or Lot
  • Helped Client Buy a Home/Lot
  • Showed Clients Homes/Lots
  • Found Tenet for Client
  • Helped Client Find Rental Property
  • Property Manage a Home Client Own

Think outside the box. The more reviews you have, especially five-star reviews, the more you’ll stand out among your competition. Don’t be afraid to ask for reviews on multiple sites, or ask permission to use the review in your marketing.

People want to know what working with you is like. A referral is one way they find out. But reviews can be even more powerful. Start your review-building process today!

Need note cards or postcards to make those review requests through the mail? We can help, especially with seasonal or holiday postcards! Check out our selection today!

Are You Safe as a Realtor®?

Are You Safe as a Realtor®?

September is Realtor® Safety Month, so I want to ask you – are you safe as a Realtor®? There are a lot of areas where safety plays into real estate work. You can help your sellers stay safe, you can keep yourself safe during showings, and most of all, you can keep yourself from being a target.

How to Avoid Becoming a Target

You survive 100% of the attacks that don’t happen, so focus first on preventing yourself from being a target. Criminals are generally focused on opportunity, and go after victims that give them the best opportunities. With that in mind, here are some steps you can take to avoid being a target:

  • Pay Attention to How You Appear. Criminals target Realtors® who work alone and who appear to be wealthy. They often focus on women, as women are seen to be weaker than men and less likey to be able to defend themselves. When working as a Realtor®, avoid working alone and avoid ostentatious displays of jewelry or other wealth.
  • Limit Vulnerability. If someone stands too close to you, immediately make eye contact and establish personal boundaries. Don’t be easily intimidated. In addition, be wary of someone who asks a lot of questions about a showing that involve how alone you’ll be. Questions like “Are other buyers going to be there” and “Is the property vacant” and “Will you be alone” are all red flags.
  • Never Work Alone, Especially on Secluded Properties. The more secluded a property, the higher the opportunity for a criminal. Neighbors, foot traffic, and great lighting are all deterrents to criminal activity. The biggest deterrent, of course, is simply not working alone. Don’t allow yourself to be isolated.

How to Protect Your Sellers

Real estate safety is certainly about your personal safety, but it’s also about those you work with. You want to ensure that those who list with you are safe as well, especially as it concerns their personal property. Not only that, when you focus on the seller’s safety, it will help you stand out from other agents who aren’t talking about it.

Here are some important tips to share with sellers:

  • Prescription Drugs. Not only is your seller’s health no one’s business, but prescription drugs are a major temptation for criminals. If a criminal doesn’t use them personally, they can sell them on the black market. Prescription drugs should be locked up or removed before showings and open houses. Unlocked medicine cabinets are no safer than leaving them out in the open.
  • Remind your clients that you aren’t responsible for valuables during showings. They should carefully lock up or put away valuables during showings. This isn’t limited to jewelry – it can also include cell phones, mail that contains personal information, artwork, gaming equipment, and valuable collections. Do your part as well, and avoid posting photographs or videos of the home that contain shots of valuable technology, gaming items, or collections.
  • Beware of Strangers at the Door. Just because someone shows up saying they’re interested in the home doesn’t mean your sellers should let them in. Be sure they know that only a real estate professional using the lockbox should be able to access the home.
  • Put in Extra Locks and Security. When a home is listed for sale, criminals see it as being more vulnerable simply because people go in and out a great deal. Advise your sellers to put in deadbolts, put extra locks and sticks on sliding doors, and take other security measures.

Keep Yourself Safe

Finally, it’s vital to keep yourself safe during a showing and open house. It’s not hard to avoid being a target, but it can be inconvenient. Remember that a few extra minutes, a delayed appointment, and the buddy system are worth the trouble when it comes to your safety.

  • Never Meet Someone for the First Time at a Property. Yes, the home is on the way, they just called, and you don’t want to miss a buyer. But it’s not worth your safety. Firmly tell interested parties that they must have a meeting with you at your office before they see a property. Don’t let them intimidate or badger you into anything else.
  • Keep People in Front of You. A criminal will have a much harder time surprising you from the front. If you’re doing a showing, keep everyone in front of you. Don’t allow yourself to be trapped in a room without a way out.
  • Make Sure Others Know Where You Are. Your brokerage, your friends, and your family should always know where you are, the address of the property, and who you’re meeting. There are also cell phone apps that can enhance safety by tracking your location, such as StaySafe, bSafe, or Bugle.
  • Have a Buddy. When you’re doing a showing or an open house, don’t do it alone. It may be inconvenient, but if you set up a swap system with someone else, it doesn’t have to be a hassle. Remember, having two people makes you less vulnerable. It’s worth your safety to have a buddy.

In the end, remember that it’s worth the time and effort it takes to stay safe. When you start getting careless, you unfortunately open yourself up to being a target for an opportunistic criminal. It’s not just children who need to be careful around those they don’t know – we all do.

What do you do to stay safe? Share in the comments!