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Archive for advice for realtors

Advice Your Sellers are Getting: The Good, Bad, and Ugly

Interested in advice your buyers are receiving? Check out the previous post!

Advice Sellers Receive

Do you shudder when you see some of the advice that’s given to people about to sell their homes? You’re not alone. A lot of the advice given to sellers would be laughable if it weren’t so damaging.

Fortunately, it’s not all bad. Some of the advice sellers get is actually helpful. Regardless, being a great seller’s agent means knowing what your prospects are being told and how to respond to common misconceptions, questions, and concerns.

To help you, here’s a list of common advice sellers are getting and how to be ready to respond.

“Depersonalize Your Home to Sell It Fast”

The Advice:

This practical advice is very helpful. It’s a big put-off to a buyer to come into a home where the walls are covered with the seller’s wedding photos or pictures of their kids. It makes it very hard for the buyer to imagine themselves there.

How to Respond:

You want to encourage sellers to follow this tip. If you’re having a hard time with sellers who want to keep everything they way they wanted it when they lived there, remind them that this is essentially no longer their home. It’s not about what they want anymore, it about what the new homeowner will want.

“Audit Your Agent’s Marketing Techniques”

The Advice:

The idea here is that a seller should look for a quality agent. As a result, sellers who receive this advice may ask a lot of questions about what, exactly, you do to market properties. It may mean that the seller will try to be very hands-on, but it may not.

How to Respond:

The best response to this is to use the prospect’s interest in your marketing to really set yourself apart with your expertise. Describe the various marketing techniques you use and why they’re effective. Whatever you do, don’t get caught unprepared to answer questions about marketing!

“Post a Video Love Letter About Your Home on YouTube”

The Advice:

This hilarious piece of advice tells sellers to get an inexpensive flip camera and walk through the home and neighborhood. Sellers are supposed to narrate what their family loved about the home and the neighborhood, sharing memories and favorite coffee shops.

How to Respond:

The problem with the advice is that buyers aren’t interested in the seller’s experience in the home, they want to imagine their own experience. Assure the homeowner that you will post high-quality photos and video of the home online, and that you will clearly describe the benefits of the home and neighborhood. Explain that you realize telling a story is important, but that it needs to be the buyer’s story.

“Make a Lot of Showing Times Available”

The Advice:

If a seller wants to sell their home quickly for a good price, they need to make it easy for prospective buyers to see the house. This advice tells sellers to make it easy for buyers and Realtors® to schedule a showing by not making the timeframes super restrictive, or their home may be skipped in favor of others.

How to Respond:

While this is generally good advice, as a Realtor® it’s important to make sure your client understands what it takes to have the home ready for a showing. When the seller is clear about how clean it needs to be, they’ll be able to decide how much notice they need before a showing. It’s vital that your client not just leave everything as it lays right before a showing!

“Underprice Your Home to Create a Bidding War”

The Advice:

The idea is that if the home is a great value, more people will be interested, which will increase the number of bids received. This can create a bidding war where the seller gets more than originally anticipated – maybe even more than the house was expected to be worth.

How to Respond:

This is terrible advice for a variety of reasons. First, underpricing a home sends a message to buyers that there must be something wrong with it. Or, they may realize that the seller is trying to create a bidding war, and avoid the drama by looking elsewhere.

Secondly, if a bidding war is created and the selling price is too high, it might not stand up under appraisal, which would nullify the deal and leave the seller worse off than they were before.

Essentially, there’s never a good reason to misprice a home. It’s not strategy, it’s just foolish.

“Do an FSBO to Maximize Your Profit”

The Advice:

This advice is fairly standard – save the commission of your Realtor® by putting the home on the market and “letting it sell itself.”

How to Respond:

Homes don’t sell themselves. Unfortunately, real estate agents seem to constantly be in the position of proving their value. Point out these facts:

  • No one buys a home they don’t know about. Realtors® have the time and expertise to market a home correctly and get the best price in the shortest time.
  • Realtors® can provide expert advice about staging, landscaping, pricing, and more that will help the home sell more quickly. A seller doing this on their own is shooting in the dark.
  • The paperwork involved in properly financing and selling a home is complex and is a major headache to an inexperienced and busy homeowner. As a Realtor®, you know exactly how to do it right and include all of the needed provisions and conditions.

Are You Ready for Your Seller?

This is just a sampling of all of the advice a seller may receive before working with you. It pays to be aware of what people are being told so that you can respond appropriately – in fact, you can answer some objections in advance!

Use some of these pieces of advice as discussion points on your farming postcards. Ask the question, “Should you do X to sell your home?” and then discuss the answer on the postcard. We at Printerbees would be delighted to help you set up the design!

Potential sellers will be very interested in these postcards and will respect your expertise as you answer the exact questions they had in mind! It’s a great way to build rapport through print marketing.

What’s the craziest seller’s advice you’ve heard? Share in the comments!

7 Habits of Highly Effective Realtors

Habits of effective Realtors

Every Realtor® has their own style and their own approach. But the most successful people in the industry typically have a number of things in common, regardless of their age, experience or the size of their market.

It is said that success is not an act, but a habit. So let’s look at 7 habits that the most effective Realtors® share.

1. They Follow Up Immediately

Staying successful means staying accessible.

This means responding to anything your clients may send you, whether it’s a call, text, email, or any other message.

“They are the warriors of email, text, and phone and they keep that rhythm right up through the whole transaction,” wrote Realtor.com blogger Deirdre Woollard.

“Busy Washington DC agent Jeff Vinson told me he calls it his land, sea, and air approach, reaching out to clients through as many channels as possible in the beginning even using Skype.

2. They Know Their Brand and Stand Out

Yes, we know. You’re reliable and an expert in your area. So is everyone else.

Tell a different story and position yourself a different way. Use all kinds of marketing – printed cards and flyers, your website, social media, and more.

Differentiation in the marketplace comes from disruption: When something stands out from everything else. Make your brand something different.

Lock into your real strengths and sell them. For example, I once worked with a Realtor® who positioned herself as a “family first” agent. This resonated in everything she did—right down to having her own daughters babysit her clients’ children while they toured houses.

3. They Know How to Remarket

Just because someone came and left your website without contacting you doesn’t mean you’re done selling to them.

Remarketing allows you to keep your listings in front of would-be buyers, even after they have moved on from your website.

“As the house hunter moves to other websites, whether a local newspaper site or maybe a sports page, remarketing allows you to continue to show your ads to him, such as photos of the listing he was just looking at or other homes in that neighborhood that meet his criteria,” wrote Kacie Ricker, the Regional Vice President for Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage’s Western Region

“The idea is to get him back to your site to have another look at the property or similar ones he might be interested in.”

4. They Don’t Ask for Referrals. They Earn Them

You shouldn’t have to say, “Don’t forget to tell your friends!” Your service and outcomes should be so good it’s impossible to forget.

Never forget that people want to refer you. People love telling their friends, “You have to call ____. They’re the best.”

This means being in the business of delighting your customers and exceeding their expectations—every time. Again, this needs to be a habit, not an act.

5. They Know Everyone and Make Connections

You should always have a fleet of contractors, plumbers, painters, home inspectors and lenders at your fingertips.

Being able to name them on the spot, versus going through your phone to find them, helps establish you as a local expert with all the answers.

It also creates a great synergy with local professionals, who appreciate you sending them business and will reciprocate some day.

6. They Focus on Clients, Not Sales

This is so much harder than it sounds, but it can really drive your success.

“It is essential to remove any personal/emotional dispositions from the real estate transaction. Agents must instinctively assume the perspective of the client, as their own bias can adversely affect the outcome of the client’s decision,” wrote listing specialist, Monica Diaz.

7. They Know How to Use Technology the RIGHT Way

This means staying current on today’s technology. But this doesn’t mean buying into or adopting every new app, system or gadget when they’re released.

Stay mindful of new ways to do things. Technology is constantly presenting new ways for you to manage your time, communicate with customers, and promote yourself. But be cautious.

If something new catches your eye, do your research. Look for reviews from real people to determine if this is really helpful, or just trendy.

What habits do you feel drive your success? Let us know in the comments below.

How to Reconnect with Stalled Real Estate Leads

Reconnect with Stalled Leads

You know the feeling. That internal struggle when dealing with stalled leads in the real estate world – do you contact them again and risk coming off as a nag? Or do you just let things be and hope for the best (that they’ll contact you!)?

Neither option is all that appealing.

Well thankfully we have some great news for you – there’s a better way! Next time you’re wondering how in the world to reconnect with your stalled leads, take a look at these ideas – you’ll be back in business in no time.

Connect on Social Media – Are your potential clients on social media? If so, try reaching out to them there. Send them a tweet, or if they have a business and/or page on Facebook, “like” or “follow” them. They’ll appreciate the interest, and you’ll subtly remind them that you’re still available to help them with their real estate needs.

Send a Hand-Written Note – There’s nothing quite like receiving a hand-written note in the mail. Try sending a follow-up note, just to thank your potential clients for their time, and remind them that you’re always available to help. To make those notes extra special, check out PrinterBees’ customizable notecards.

Use Re: in the Subject Line of Your Email – In a recent survey done by ContactMonkey, it was shown that the use of “Re: (whatever your last email was about)” in the subject line of an email yields emails that are opened more than 92% of the time. That’s a lot of opened emails! Most of the time, people won’t remember what you were emailing about in the first place, so the use of “Re:” is a great way to gently remind them, so they don’t automatically delete your email or move it to spam without considering who it’s actually from.

Host an Event or Gathering – If you’re into party planning and hosting, try hosting a small gathering for potential clients. Not only will this make them feel valued and appreciated, but you’ll likely gain their business, either now or in the future. Additionally, you could ask potential (or past) clients to bring their friends who might be interested in learning more about your services. Offer them something – like a freebie or informative session on increasing the value of their home, for example – as a way of getting potentials in the door.

Plan a Coffee (or Tea) Meet Up – Try meeting up with your potential clients one-on-one for coffee, at your expense. Everyone loves a cup of coffee (or tea or cocoa), especially when it’s free! Don’t be too pushy – just get together to chat about a common interest you might share or something else going on in the world. You can gently steer the conversation toward real estate, but again, don’t be too salesy. Take a genuine interest in the lives of your potential clients – they’ll be much more likely to respond and connect with you in the future.

Share An Important Piece of Information – Did you recently move? Have a new listing up for sale that might be of interest? Discover something new about your target neighborhood? Noteworthy situations such as these are great excuses for connecting with potential clients. And while you’re on the phone with them, gently steer the conversation towards their real estate needs by asking if there’s anything you can help them with.

The Bottom Line? Take a genuine interest in your prospects and their lives by staying connected. Remind them that you are always available – whenever the need arises – and don’t forget to continually follow up. We all get busy, and most of the time potential clients aren’t ignoring you – they probably just forgot and may need a reminder!

What do you do to give lapsed leads a nudge and reconnect? Share in the comments!

Close Deals Faster By Slowing Down

Speed up by slowing down

With everything you have going on every day, slowing down is probably the last thing on your mind. If you’re like me, you try to get things done quickly, and then move on to the next task, and the next… in fact, it never really ends.

Many Realtors® are focused on processing something just enough to “move it down the line”, that is, get the client’s deal to the next stage. They quickly make phone calls, check on listings, and contact partners. Something you may find counterintuitive, though, is that you can often close deals faster when you slow down. Here’s why.

Moving Slower Takes Your Client’s Emotions Into Account

We deal with so many real estate transactions that we often forget how emotional it is to purchase or sell a home. In fact, the emotions of the transaction are something we view as a hindrance to our efficiency. We try to work around them as quickly as possible.

Unfortunately, this kind of speed is counterproductive. When we push on a deal and sidestep the emotions involved, we pressure our clients and can end up with clients backing out of deals, deciding not to sell their homes, or just looking and looking at listings without ever committing to buy.

Instead, close the deal more quickly by slowing down. Talk to your clients about their emotions, let them know they are heard, and don’t push faster than they are willing to go. When you really acknowledge the emotion, you’ll close the deal faster – or, you’ll find out more quickly that they aren’t ready. Either way, you save time and energy.

Moving Slower Helps Catch Details

One transaction fades into the next, and it’s easy to miss small things about a deal. As you probably already know, the small things quickly become big things when you’re scrambling to find an inspector by the inspection due date or suddenly looking for an alternate lender when your buyer failed to qualify.

Moving quickly can mean that we speed past and ignore – or don’t even hear – important red flags when interviewing clients. Juggling too many balls at once means dates fall through the cracks, or you don’t notice a key change in your buyer’s demeanor when discussing their upcoming offer. Missing these details can derail a deal, meaning your time and energy were wasted.

Instead, move slowly enough to keep all the key details in order. Make sure you pay attention to non-verbal cues when interviewing new clients or meeting with existing buyers and sellers. Notice when things aren’t right, and move slowly enough to feel the gut instinct telling you which path to take in a deal. You’ll close more deals and have far less stress in the process.

Moving Slower Avoids Last Minute Derailments

Obviously we can’t avoid every last-minute derailment, but we can prevent some. When we’re moving extremely quickly, we might overlook someone who needs to be involved in the process. Are you so eager to show homes that you convince the husband to see listings before his wife gets back in town? Do you assure the couple who’s selling that their involved mother will love you – even if she hasn’t met you?

When you’re moving too fast, you often try to smooth over cracks and bumps in the process that actually need attention. Unfortunately, those smoothed-over areas can come back to bite you. You’ve probably had it happen – the wife wants to re-see all the listings when she arrives in town, the mother wants the listing to go to another Realtor®, or an “I’m sure it’s fine” crack turns out to be a major issue at inspection.

Instead, move slowly enough to notice and fully investigate the bumps in the road. Wait until the wife is in town – it’ll save you time in the long run. Wait to do your listing presentation until the involved mother can arrive. Make allowances for that small crack to be a big deal. You’ll thank yourself when your deals go more smoothly and derail less often.

Do you feel like you’re moving too fast? How can you slow things down? Share in the comments!

Getting Help Affordably – Realtors® and Virtual Assistants

Virtual Assistant for Real Estate

One thing that many Realtors® have concerns about is simply not having enough time in the day. Recently online, a Realtor® shared in a forum that he was able to do all his work – at high volumes! – in only 9am – 5pm on weekdays. He asked if others would like his secrets to time management, and he got hundreds of responses saying “Yes please!”

As a result, I thought I’d share an idea about how to get help – and thus save time – affordably. Many Realtors® would love to have a full-time administrative assistant, but they simply can’t afford it. Fortunately, there are virtual assistants, or VAs, that can work for you remotely and part-time. Here are the benefits of a VA, and how to find a great one for your business.

Benefits of Hiring a Virtual Assistant

Full time employees cost more than just their salary. There’s benefits, vacation time, and the time it costs you to manage and oversee their work. If you only need occasional help, or are just beginning your business, it can be hard to keep an admin assistant busy 40 hours a week. And that’s assuming you can find a good match in your local area.

A virtual assistant gives you a lot more freedom. Many of them are available for just a few hours a week, and charge a flat hourly rate. You don’t pay benefits or manage them as personnel because they are contractors and not employees. This means less paperwork and much less cost in time and money.

How much could you move the needle in your real estate business if you had administrative help to handle paperwork, complete documentation, and answer phone calls for 10, 15, or 20 hours a week? VAs can also answer email and filter only the most important messages to you, the way secretaries used to sort their boss’ daily snail mail. Most importantly for Realtors®, you can put your VA in charge of scheduling your appointments and viewings, keeping your time open for actually completing the work of real estate.

How to Find a Great VA

There are a lot of ways to find a VA, and I’ll be honest, the good ones aren’t super-cheap. However, $25 an hour or so you can get the help you need without the overhead, training, and hassle.

The first step to finding a great virtual assistant is to write down what help you need. Even the most skilled VA can’t help if you don’t know what you’re looking for! Make a list – email assistance? Social media help? Paperwork? How much do they need to know about real estate specifically, based on your needs?

Once you’ve done that, you can start scouting. One good place to find general VAs is eaHelp, a firm that provides executive assistants and social media assistants. I know several high profile business leaders that use the service to access trained VAs that match their business needs and working style.

You can also look online for VAs or ask others for recommendations. This is a good way to find real-estate specific VAs, who can help you with more specific transaction details, like listing coordination, transaction coordination, or lead management. This process is a little more time-intensive, because you will have to interview candidates and make sure they have the skills you need.

Remember that a VA is easier to try out than a typical employee. You can sign a one month trial agreement, and if they don’t work out, simply don’t renew. There’s no hiring, firing, unemployement, or paperwork.

A virtual assistant is a great way to get additional office help at a very affordable price. You can determine what you need help with and find someone who can do that for you just a few hours a week. There’s no office need, benefits, paperwork, hiring, or firing. As a contract employee, they are there when you need them. What could you do with your business in an extra 10 – 15 hours a week?

Have you ever considered hiring a VA? Why or why not? Share in the comments!

Six Things That Could Be Sabotaging Your Sales Success

Sabotaging Sales Success

Did you just lose a big prospect and you’re left wondering why? Or do you feel that your sales could be better, but you’re just not sure what’s holding you back? Real estate is a hard business, no doubt about it. Fortunately, there are some common errors that Realtors® make that sabotage their sales success. After taking a look at these, you may know exactly what you need to do to improve your business.

Your Value Doesn’t Match Your Commission

Being a full-service broker means a lot, but it comes at a price. It’s amazing to me that the kind of scrutiny about pay that Realtors® get every day. But nonetheless, it’s there. So, if you have a higher commission than is common in your area, you need to provide the value and service that backs it up. This will help you handle objections as well, since you can point out exactly what you do that others don’t. If you can’t prove that you work up to your commission, you are losing business left and right.

You’re So Busy You Fall Behind

You can never have too many clients, right? WRONG! When you’re so busy that you fall behind and start dropping the ball, you’re giving your clients a terrible impression. Unfortunately, you will quickly develop a bad reputation that will hurt your business and make your sales plummet. It takes an unbelievably short amount of time to create a bad reputation – don’t do it to yourself! If you have too much business, work out a split with another agent or hire help.

Your Team Isn’t Solidly Identified With You

Having a team is a great help, but the marketing you do needs to reflect that team spirit. If you don’t identify closely enough with your team, the clients you refer to team members will feel slighted and may drop out of the deal. Make sure everyone has the same explanation of the sales process as you do, and introduce your clients to your team in a warm, integrated way. Don’t just hand them off and run! Having your team on the same page and using warm introductions will go a long way to keeping clients on board.

You Run Late

As an agent, it’s very important to be on time – preferably a few minutes early – to any appointment, lunch, etc. Is there likely to be a lot of traffic or construction? Leave plenty of time to navigate. Even if you have a great story or excuse as to why you were late, the fact is that the client doesn’t care. They only care about their own schedule, and if you disrupt it, you are definitely losing the sale.

You Seem Desperate

When someone is looking for a date in a desperate way, they scare off all but the extremely sleazy members of the opposite sex. The same is true in real estate. If you seem super desperate, hoping to turn everyone you meet into a sale, you’ll scare off the good prospects. The only people who will give you the time of day are the ones who will waste your time, take advantage, and probably never give you a sale in the end. Relax – let your marketing do its work, and don’t be looking for “fresh meat” everywhere you go!

Your Website is Horribly Outdated

Websites get better every day, it seems, because the technology used to build them gets easier and easier for even a novice to use. If you’re not using an up-to-date website builder, or if your website is nothing but a bunch of tiny text jammed together, I guarantee you’re losing sales. People look online for real estate before they ever call an agent, so make sure your website is dressed to impress.

None of these six common mistakes is impossible to overcome. The biggest obstacle is often recognizing what the problem is. Once you figure it out, it becomes easy to make the corrections and get the sales you deserve. So whether you need to update your website, coach your team, or set your watch ahead, get on it! Stop losing sales over silly mistakes.

Do you see Realtors® losing sales for common, silly reasons? Share in the comments!

Should Listing Agents be Present at Showings?

Listing Agents at Showings

I saw a horror story online from a real estate agent the other day. They had a house listed and used a lockbox to allow buyer’s agents to access the home. The homeowner came home after a period where four showings took place, and found the front door ajar, toilet seat up, and a towel on the bathroom floor.

Horrified, the client has now demanded that the listing agent be present at all future showings. Do you blame her? I certainly don’t. While there are ways to try to change her mind, consider this: being present as a listing agent at showings can be a blessing, not just a curse. Here’s the rundown of the pros and cons.

Pros: Why it Helps When the Selling Agent is Present

Having a selling agent in the home as the buyer goes through allows the house’s best points to be brought out. The agent can also tell the story of the home, making it more personal to the buyer and building an emotional rapport.

Having the listing agent present is obviously more helpful if the house is larger or has a storied history than if it’s a one bedroom condo. You can make sure the buyers are at ease by letting them know you are there as an information resource, not to persuade. At the same time, of course, you’ll want to answer questions as favorably for your client as possible.

Being present as a listing agent is especially helpful if you have a buyer who asks lots of questions, or presents their concerns or objections openly. Because you are there, you can respectfully address any concerns and help convince the buyer that the listing is a great home. Of course, you want to do this carefully so you don’t come off like a used-car salesman.

Cons: When the Listing Agent Hurts the Cause

A pushy listing agent can make a buyer extremely uncomfortable. They may feel less inclined to express what they like or don’t like about a home if you are hovering nearby. That’s unfortunate, because honest feedback can help a listing quite a bit. So be sure to give space if needed.

A listing agent should never take over the tour completely, highlighting the house for the buyer. Not only do you not have rapport with the buyer, but the buyer’s agent will be uncomfortable and upset – understandably so!

Sometimes, because of poor experiences in the past, a buyer’s agent will tell a buyer to act completely neutral if a listing agent is present. Some listing agents try to qualify a buyer, ask inappropriate questions, or even follow up with them personally (instead of the agent) after the showing. As a result, some buyers will be very careful what they say in front of a listing agent.

One way to avoid the discomfort factor is to let them into the house, and wait in a specific place (say, the sitting room or kitchen) for them to tour the house on their own. You won’t hear the commentary, but you may make the buyer more comfortable and at ease, which can help them see the home favorably. After they finish, offer to answer any questions, and then take moment to highlight some of the best elements of the listing. Of course, do a walk-through after they leave and make sure nothing is out of place, and lock the door behind you.

The agent’s lockbox horror story is not the only one I’ve heard. However, being present at every showing can be very time consuming and make the buyer uncomfortable. If you have a choice, you may not want to be present at showings. But if you don’t, focus on the positives of being there for the buyers, and be careful not to be overbearing or make things uncomfortable.

As a listing agent, are you present at showings? Why or why not? Share in the comments!

How to Make Time for Self-Development in Real Estate

Personal Development in Real Estate

You’ve passed your licensing and you’re ready to go! Time to dive into lead generation, buyer’s presentations, and more. But how do you learn to do all that – and do it effectively?

Or perhaps you’ve been in business for years. The industry has changed, but not much has changed in how you operate. Sometimes you have to go back and make corrections because you remember the old way of doing things more than today’s methods.

In both cases, the struggle is the same – how do you make time and energy for self-development? Both new and seasoned Realtors® are very busy, and it can be hard to take time out to learn new, more efficient and effective ways of doing things. Here are four ways to make time for self-development in real estate.

Make Yourself a Priority 

Real estate is a serving profession, and many Realtors® are more focused on their clients than themselves. While that can be admirable, it can also short-circuit your career if you don’t keep up with training and development. Make yourself a priority and schedule specific time for self-development.

You can do this by blocking off time on your calendar and using it to read great books on real estate, do online courses, or seek mentorship. If you prefer to keep your time private, simply note it in your calendar as an appointment. No one has to know specifically what you are working on – you’re simply not available.

Learn to Say No

This has got to be the biggest struggle we all face. It’s hard to say no – “No” to a non-qualified buyer who wants to tour homes, “No” to a colleague who wants to chat about her frustrations – again, “No” to so many other unimportant things that take up our time. It’s often easier to say yes and allow our time to be wasted.

If you want to excel in your career, you’ll need to learn to focus on the most important work you have each day. This is true whether you’ve just gotten your license or been in the business 15 years. When you focus on your most important tasks, you set your own priorities, including self-development.

Make a Development Plan

Too many times we fail to have time and energy for self-development because we don’t have a systematic approach. We aren’t sure where to start, what to do, or how much time to spend. Take some time to specifically plan your development. Set out a list of things you want to learn, and resources that can teach you.

Then, set up a specific number of hours each week to devote to this training. Block the time out on your calendar and consider it a sacred appointment with your future. After all, if you never develop, your successful future will never arrive!

Focus on One Topic at a Time

This is probably my Achilles heel. I love to learn, and I get completely distracted by trying to learn too much at one time. I have two or three learning plans going at once, and after a few days, I’m getting nowhere fast!

Instead, focus on one topic at a time. Do you want to learn more about getting listing leads, farming a neighborhood, and public speaking? Pick the one that’s most important right now, and learn it carefully. Then, once you have learned it – or at least have a habit of making time for it – you can pick up another topic.

Self-development isn’t a luxury in the real estate business. If you aren’t learning regularly and tuning your skills, you will fall behind and other Realtors® will be happy to take your place. Make the time and energy to develop your skills by making yourself a priority, learning to say no, creating a development plan, and focusing on one topic at a time. Your career – and your future – will thank you!!

Do you make time for self-development? Why or why not? Share in the comments!

The Power of Total Commitment

Take the StairsI came across an amazing little anecdote recently. It went like this:

A man was going to the restroom when $5 fell out of his shirt pocket into the urinal. He stared at it for a minute, trying to decide what to do. He reached into his wallet, grabbed a $50 bill, and threw it in the urinal as well. A man nearby, watching all of this, exclaimed, “What are you doing?!” The first gentleman said, “Well, I wasn’t sure if $5 was worth it, but I know $55 is!” and grabbed the money from the urinal.

The point of this story, from the book Take the Stairs, is that when you have more skin in the game, you’re more dedicated. Having $55 invested instead of $5 can make all of the difference in the world when it comes to the level of your commitment.

Are you totally committed to your real estate business? One way to know is by looking at how much you’re putting in. Are you invested in your marketing? Are you investing in your own learning? Or are you simply doing the minimum, hoping for some success before you get motivated?

Take the Stairs is all about doing the hard thing now so that you can reap the “easy” rewards later. I recently saw an online post about a Realtor® trying to break into a new neighborhood. He said that when he was calling in the area, he was told “I already have an agent that I will use when that time comes who is an expert in this neighborhood, I won’t say her name but she’s the best.” A quick search revealed an agent who had consistently farmed the area and had great name recognition. She had been one of the few consistent agents in the neighborhood for the last 10 years.

So did this female agent have it easy? No! She did the hard work for 10 years, keeping her farming efforts consistent and branding herself as an expert in the neighborhood. Only now is she reaping the “easy” part – people who won’t even consider listing with another agent.

If, on the other hand, you don’t “take the stairs” – if you do the easy thing, like everyone else does, and take the elevator – you’ll be putting off the hard stuff until later. And it will be even harder then. Say you skip your 10 cold calls today. You’ll just do them tomorrow. So today is easy, sure – but tomorrow, you now have 20 calls. And it can continue building up like that, until you give up the effort entirely.

What’s more, when you do the same things as everyone else, you’ll have the same results as everyone else. Do you want that? The “elevator” results? Probably not – probably, you want to be uncommonly successful. Being uncommonly successful requires uncommon commitment – “taking the stairs”.

So take a look at yourself in the mirror. Ask yourself if you’re willing to “take the stairs” today so that you can reap the rewards in the future. Then do it again tomorrow. And the next day. Before you know it, years will pass and you’ll have a neighborhood that knows you’re the expert, and folks will think you “have it easy”.

What makes it hard for you to decide to “take the stairs”? Share in the comments!

Sending the Right Message When You’re Away

Craft Your Away Message

So… it’s summer, the weather is great, and you want to take a vacation with you family. I know, I know, wishful thinking, right? But let’s say you pull it off. You wrap up your current clients, you let others in your brokerage take the active prospects, and you take time off. Let’s even say you remember to set up an out-of-office email message or voicemail.

How much do you think about those “away” messages? Not much? Unfortunately you’re missing a chance to make a positive impression on those who contact you. The right away message can portray professionalism and helpfulness while allowing you to let prospects know when you’ll be available again.

Make Sure Your Message Isn’t Outdated

I’ve known colleagues who went on vacation, and months later their voicemail message still said they were out of the office, returning on a date far in the past. If you set up a voicemail or email out-of-office, be sure to change it when you get back!

Having an out-of-date away message indicates that you don’t have good attention to detail, don’t focus on your correspondence, and makes you look very unprofessional. Make sure all of your away messages are correct before you leave for your trip, and change it back to a regular message when you return.

Direct Contacts to Who is Available

When someone calls or emails you while you’re away, they still need the help – whether it’s a showing, a listing, or another issue. While you may not want to give up any prospects, making folks wait until you return is likely to backfire. You’ll lose them to a competitor, and they won’t refer you as a reliable Realtor® to others.

Instead, direct those who contact you to another agent in your brokerage who is able to help the prospect or customer while you are gone. You may lose a few leads, but you’ll gain goodwill in your brokerage, and you won’t lose the client to a competing brand. Who knows, maybe the next time an agent takes vacation in your office, they’ll direct leads to you!

Don’t Give Vacation Details

There are several reasons not to disclose details of your vacation in your away message. First of all, you don’t want people to know you aren’t at your home, as it makes you vulnerable to burglary. A simple “I’m out of the office” is better, as you may well be choosing to stay home during that time.

Secondly, you don’t want to flaunt your vacations to prospects or clients because you don’t want to arouse envy. I’m sure you’re very excited to be visiting Hawaii, but a client or prospect may get jealous. People like to think Realtors® are overpaid in general, so there’s no need to give additional ammunition. You also don’t want to open yourself up to haggling over commission rates because the prospect knows you just got back from a dream vacation.

I know your out-of-office message may not be the first thing in your mind when you’re preparing to go on vacation, but remember that it will be the only thing speaking for you for the next few days or weeks. Taking the time to set it up properly will help you impress prospects, build goodwill in your brokerage, and set the right impression for those who contact you.

Do you take special care with your out-of-office voicemail or email messages? Why or why not? Share in the comments!!