Links for Feb 7 – Feb 13

The following news articles were shared through our social media outlets from Feb 7 through Feb 13, 2010. The purpose for sharing these links is to provide relevant and timely content for real estate professionals. We hope by sharing this information every day on Twitter & Facebook we can provide REALTOR’s important information that they can use to grow their business.

Links for Jan 31 – Feb 6

The following news articles were shared through our social media outlets from Jan 31 through Feb 6, 2010. The purpose for sharing these links is to provide relevant and timely content for real estate professionals. We hope by sharing this information every day on Twitter & Facebook we can provide REALTOR’s important information that they can use to grow their business.

Links for Jan 24 – Jan 30

The following news articles were shared through our social media outlets from Jan 24 through Jan 30, 2010.  The purpose for sharing these links is to provide relevant and timely content for real estate professionals.  We hope by sharing this information every day on Twitter Facebook we can provide REALTOR’s important information that they can use to grow their business.

Newsletter January – 2010: Fix It!

Fix It!

By Verl Workman, Pinnacle Quest consulting 2010

With the New Year now upon us, it is with some relief that many look back upon 2009. Few would disagree that it was a challenging year. As we look forward now to 2010, what did we learn from the events of 2009?

There are many things that are beyond our control: the economy, interest rates, health care costs, global warming, etc. Some of these factors, combined with the apparent doom and gloom of the real estate market, provide ample excuses and are all we need to justify a lack of production and income. It is easy to be miserable, to sit back and wait for things to get better and to blame our situation on all of the factors over which we have no control.

But I have always been a big believer in the words of Reinhold Niebuhr’s serenity prayer:

“God, grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
The courage to change the things that I can;
And the wisdom to know the difference.”

In other words, if there is something that is challenging you and is causing you to stress or complain, ask yourself this simple question: “Can I change it?” If the answer is “no”, then stop stressing over it and just move on! But if the answer is “yes”, then stop complaining and get to work making the necessary changes!

As real estate agents, we may not be able to control the economy or market, but we CAN control our own individual, daily behaviors. Too many agents are focused on circumstances over which they have no control. Instead, they should concentrate on the daily activities and personal behaviors that they can control.

The simple deciding factor in achieving greatness is YOU. Are you prospecting every day? Have you identified the predominant areas where transactions are occurring in your market? Have you built a marketing and prospecting plan to put yourself in the middle of them? If the answer is no, then it is not the fault of the economy that you are struggling.

At a time when we are making resolutions and setting new goals, think about what you can personally change, what behaviors, actions and attitudes you can adjust this year, month, week, and today that will make a real difference in your production and income.

Accountability – The Secret Sauce!

As I coach agents from every market in the country, I have noticed one key factor that makes all the difference in their success: Accountability. Those who are willing to be held accountable are always the most successful. If you feel like you failed to meet your own expectations in 2009, reach out now to your closest friends, family or associates and share with them your goals. Ask them to help hold you accountable and keep you on track. Join an accountability group in your office or get involved with a coach that will hold you accountable to do what you need to do to be successful.

Let’s not wait for the market or the government or our broker to create our stimulus plan for 2010, let’s each take control of the things we can, and stop worrying about the things we can’t.

Are you with me?

Newsletter January – 2010: Maintaining Control of Your Contact Points (2/3)

Part 2 of 3

The use of email has become a staple of doing business as a real estate professional. As one of the main contact points used by real estate agents it is vital that you own your email address. Do you rely on your brokerage for your email account? If so, should you leave your brokerage you will lose your email address. This is a serious issue; however, there is an inexpensive and relatively simple solution.

In the real estate industry it is important that you portray yourself as a professional; therefore using an email address from a 3rd party provider such as AwesomeAgent @ gmail, yahoo, or hotmail does not portray the same credibility as AwesomeAgent @ kw, century21, remax, prudential.com, etc. As mentioned previously the problem with utilizing your brokerage’s email service arises when you leave; when that happens you will lose that email address, so most agents are left wondering “what do I do?” One answer is to register your own Unique Domain Name, i.e. awesomeagent.com with a domain registrar such as GoDaddy.com for a small annual fee. By creating your own Unique Domain Name you are on your way to freeing yourself from the constraints associated with your brokerages email service.

After you have created your new Unique Domain Name you can either purchase an email hosting package from GoDaddy.com for an additional monthly fee, or even better, sign-up for Google’s online messaging and collaboration tools – Google Apps Standard Edition – for Free! www.google.com/apps.

Once you have registered your Unique Domain Name and configured it to work with Google Apps’ personalized email service you are on your way to complete ownership of one of your most important contact points. One of the great features of Google Apps’ personalized email service for real estate agents is its ability to relay or “forward” email to any email address.

For example: let’s assume that email has been provided by Keller Williams for agent Jane Smith with the username JaneSmith@kw.com. Jane is a progressive thinking individual and went ahead and registered her own Unique Domain Name: janesmith.com. Jane also set-up her new domain name with Google Apps. Jane created jane@janesmith.com within Google Apps’ personalized email service and configured it to forward all incoming mail to the email address: janesmith@kw.com; while concurrently archiving and storing those same messages within her new Google Apps’ email account.

By utilizing these services you can provide your new unique Google Apps’ email address to all your contacts without the worry of having to re-notify everyone or even worse change marketing material should you change Brokerages.

This is an easy and straightforward solution thanks to the overabundance of support documentation available from both GoDaddy & Google. You will enjoy the peace of mind and freedom that comes with owning your email address.

In part 3 of our series we discuss: enhancing your Internet presence via a personal website.

Click here for part 3

Links for Jan 17 – Jan 23

The following news articles were shared through our social media outlets from Jan 17 through Jan 23, 2010.  The purpose for sharing these links is to provide relevant and timely content for real estate professionals.  We hope by sharing this information every day on Twitter Facebook we can provide REALTOR’s important information that they can use to grow their business.

Links for Jan 10 – Jan 16

The following news articles were shared through our social media outlets from Jan 10 through Jan 16, 2010.  The purpose for sharing these links is to provide relevant and timely content for real estate professionals.  We hope by sharing this information every day on Twitter & Facebook we can provide REALTOR’s important information that they can use to grow their business.

FSBO’s OR EXPIRED’s, THAT IS THE QUESTION

By Mark Leck
01/13/2010

In this ever changing economy, agents throughout the country have been employing a myriad of different tactics to help bolster their business to avoid going bust. The once taboo practice of working expired leads has, out of necessity in most cases, become an integral part of most successful agents’ business strategy. Similarly, more agents have also begun prospecting FSBOs, who only a year or so ago, would never have volunteered for that type of abuse! In the past, I have frequently been questioned about the merit of prospecting in general. However, now more than ever before the question is less about whether or not to prospect and more about what to prospect.  I would like to help answer that question, by comparing and contrasting the differences between your two major lead choices.

Expired Leads

I have always been surprised by how many agents get caught up in the question of going after another agent’s expired listings as opposed to focusing on selling a home for a potential new client interested in moving. Expired listings represent an incredible opportunity for agents that are capable of tackling the problems inherent with this type of lead source. However, understanding this lead type is the key to not getting frustrated in the process.

Q. What are the pros of working expireds?

A. First and foremost, this is a lead that wants to sell their home and has already demonstrated a willingness to work with an agent. They understand the value an agent can bring; they just have not met the right agent yet. So get in there, and let them know you are the right agent for the job! Another pro is that many agents do not meaningfully work expireds, so there is often little to no competition in any given market.

Q. What are the cons?

A. The first problem you are going to encounter with Expired Leads is trying to contact the owner. In most cases the only information you have is an address, and unfortunately, not every address has a phone number associated with it. If you have ever prospected Expireds on your own, you will understand that finding the owner information is not a science, but an art. Expect disconnected numbers, wrong numbers, and tenant numbers. It is all part of the game. Like panning for gold, you have to sift through the dross before you get to the gold nuggets – and gold is exactly what good expireds are. Using an automated system to do most of this legwork can save you a tremendous amount of time and give you a real competitive advantage. You will still have to make the calls and sift through the dross of wrong/disconnected numbers, but in the end it will be worth the effort when you find those golden home owners.

Once you get in contact with the homeowner, the second likely obstacle you will encounter is “the dissatisfied customer.” They have been hoping to sell their home for the last six months – their agent swore on the Holy Grail they could do it, but they did not deliver. What makes you any different? This, however, is not as difficult of an objection to overcome, and may actually help with the next hurdle: price objections.

By far, the number one cause for a listing to expire is due to a poor listing pricing. Unfortunately, most real estate agents allow the homeowner to act as the professional and set the listing price on their home, instead of the other way around. Far too few agents are willing to walk away from a listing, when they know that the seller has an unrealistic price and that the property will not sell. What is the result? The listing expires, and the agent ends up with mud on their face because the homeowner blames them. If more agents had the courage to walk away from these types of listings, they could save themselves the disappointment of an unsatisfied seller along with its associated repercussions. Down the road they might also be surprised to find that the homeowner is willing to work with the agent on their terms, once they have seen that the agent predicted their folly.

In today’s market, this problem has been exacerbated significantly by the depressed home values. Homeowners are in denial that the value of their home has dropped substantially and they frivolously hope they will be the exception to the rule. The ensuing disappointment felt by the homeowner, however, can actually work to your advantage. Many times, the homeowner of the expired listings has already experienced a reality check and is now more willing to do what it will take to sell the home.

All in all, if you understand that finding homeowners is an art, not a science and that correctly positioning the home is the key to selling expired listings, you will find this lead source an incredibly commission-rich opportunity for you as an agent.

For Sale By Owner Leads

For Sale By Owner (“FSBO”) leads are another excellent source of listings for the willing agent. Void of the taboo felt by some agents towards expired listings, FSBOs provide agents with an opportunity to compete for listings that have yet to be spoken for. This perk does not come without its price, however, and many agents have been led unsuspectingly into the challenges of FSBOs merely because of their desire to avoid working expireds. The key to these leads, as with all leads, is to clearly understand the obstacles you will encounter before you begin your prospecting.

Q. What are the pros of working FSBOs?

A. As I mentioned before, FSBOs represent a source of potential listings that have yet to be claimed by an agent. Once you have aggregated your list of FSBOs, they are relatively easy to get in contact with. Unlike expired listings, locating the contact information for the homeowner is relatively easy because just about every listing has a phone number. When calling FSBO listings, you rarely experience disconnected or wrong numbers because the individual selling it is expecting phone calls from interested buyers.

Often times, FSBOs experience the difficultly of selling their home solo; this experience can often make them more open to your professional advice and experience. With the right approach, this new found humility can be your ticket to acquiring a golden listing with a seller that is ready to work with you on pricing.

Q. So what are the cons?

A. The difficulty in working with FSBOs often depends on the individual, but one thing you can count on with any FSBO is objections. Typically anyone that puts their home up for sale also considers working with a professional who makes a living trading those assets. Something has made this person choose to go solo, and your task will be to determine what it was, and then resolve their concerns. Most likely they have a concern related to pricing and the cost of commissions, but it could also have been a negative experience with another agent, or a new found streak of independence. This article is not intended to be a treatise on resolving those objections, but instead to point out that there will be objections.

Prospecting FSBOs also tends to be more popular than prospecting expireds. As a result, you may find more competition. This should not deter you from prospecting them, but it may cause you to consider alternative strategies (such as prospecting “aged” FSBOs that are 30-90 days old, using mail-outs, etc).

Aggregating a list of FSBOs in your area can also be a challenge if you are doing it on your own. However, utilizing a FSBO leads provider can easily help you overcome this obstacle and help you get on the fast track to prospecting this valuable lead source.

Conclusion

Agents who find success in this ever changing industry are not afraid to work; and while prospecting definitely takes a higher degree of commitment, energy, and even skills; the return from these golden nuggets makes it worth sifting through the dross. No longer are agents asking “should I prospect”, but instead: “what should I prospect?” Understanding the differences between FSBOs and Expireds will help to prepare you to prospect either one – or both! So get after it! — Good hunting!

Mr. Leck is the Founder/CEO of Real Estate Data X-Change, Inc. (REDX)

Newsletter December – 2009: Production Planning

Production Planning

By real estate coach Cheri Alguire

Production planning is as much about problem solving and perspective as it is about the numbers. Why? Because you know you will not always hit your numbers. (If you do, you probably were not challenging yourself enough during the visioning process.) And not hitting the numbers obviously means you have a problem. You may be overspending the budget and/or under producing the income. Not hitting the numbers for an entire quarter might not just mean a problem, but a genuine crisis.

So it is important when production planning to focus not just on target numbers, but on the potential problems related to production so that you can plan proactively to stay in business with a smile. Let’s look at some Givens.

#1 You are in control of more than you think. If you chart the numbers for first quarter and fall short, what do you do? (First of all, you always review the numbers.) If first quarter is lean, be prepared for you and others to blame outside influences. Oh, the market. Oh, those fickle buyers. Oh, those unrealistic, so-and-so sellers. Oh, those banks. Slap yourself and your teammates awake! The market is what the market is. Buyers and Sellers are simply responding to it. YOU are the expert. YOU need to take control. Take control of their expectations. Take control of your own emotions. Adjust your numbers if necessary for the rest of the year, but take control of your sales. If you were successful before this market, there is absolutely no reason you can’t be successful now. You have the experience and the skills. If you are new to this market, you have no excuse to be anything but successful because you don’t know the difference! If you were three sales short in the first quarter, plan now what it takes to make up those three in quarter two.

#2 There are some things you cannot control. Let go! A teammate’s sudden divorce is going to affect your business. No doubt about it. Can you influence that event? No. (Even if you offer the unhappy couple an all-paid expenses weekend at the Poconos in a heart-shaped tub, their relationship will not change because of your generosity and desperate attempt at keeping your top buyer agent happy and productive.) Curse fate all you like, but know that the teammate will have court dates, down days, and need extra time off to be with the kids. Let go of the idea that life is unfair and provide as best you can for the loss in production through your own efforts or added staff. Know that these things happen. Deal.

#3 Not to overuse and abuse the often quoted, “Attitude is Everything”, but it is. The mindset you get up with every day determines the success of your production plan. Is the market everything you read about in the papers or hear about on the TODAY SHOW? Is the sky really falling? If you believe it, your numbers certainly will reflect that view. On the other hand, if you wake up each day seeing opportunity and, yes, fun in the current real estate market, your numbers will bloom and grow with every positive step. It’s not a Pollyanna world, but neither is it Oscar the Grouches. Your perspective determines outcome.

Plan for the numbers. Plan for the problems. Plan for success.

Newsletter December – 2009: Maintaining Control of Your Contact Points (1/3)

Part 1 of 3

There are many things you need to do to be successful as a real estate agent. One of the most important yet looked-over challenges is to control your contact points. A contact point is the method that your clients and potential clients use to contact you. To be more specific, the two most common contact points are your cell phone and your email. As the technology for these communicative tools has evolved, so has your ability to take control of your market and establish yourself as a competitive Realtor. As a real estate agent, maintaining direct control over your contact points is critical to the success of you and your business.

Maintaining direct control means establishing a personal number and email for your business. When phones were first developed they were required at all times to be connected to landlines. This meant that the office or home phone were the only ways your clients would have been able to reach you. Most of the time your office phone would have been located in the brokerage you worked for; therefore, all of your clients would contact your brokerage, rather than you. In the event that you switched brokerages (which seems to be common for real estate agents), all future clients would be funneled into the old brokerage, and you would risk losing potential business. Fortunately, cell phones were invented with the ability to travel with you at all times, allowing you to reach people at work, at home, or on the road. With the development of cell phones comes the ability to take control of your cell phone as a contact point. There is no risk of losing potential clients because, should you move brokerages, your phone number will never change.

Most all real estate agents have a personal cell phone to keep track of their clients, but few have taken advantage of a personalized email and website. In fact, the internet accounts for 87% of the information sources used in home search according to the 2008 NAR Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers. If you’re not already on the internet, you are missing out on one of the most important marketing tools you will ever have for your business. In the same study it shows 27% of buyers or sellers find their real estate agent during their online search. Setting up a website and email is as simple as setting up a personal cell phone. Companies such as The REDX offer website services that are designed specifically for agents and are competitive in today’s internet marketing.

Maintaining your contact points is one of the most important parts of your career as a real estate agent. In order to get the most out of your business, you must take advantage of the new ways to expand and control your contact points.

Click here for part 2