Your Team – Creating Consistency of Service
Are you an agent or team that can be relied upon? Not only while working with an active buyer or seller, but months, even years, after you last worked with them? The most important part of consistent service is obviously a consistent plan for communication and professionalism. Utilizing tech resources to make that happen is key, but the first thing you’ll need to decide is what kind of personal touch you want to leave. What does your personal brand stand for, and why should people trust it? Will you show clients that you care in ways that other agents aren’t, or ways that are otherwise memorable? Answering these questions can drive your next decisions, such as how often and by which format you will be in touch. To make sure these tasks get done, block out dedicated time in your week to ensure follow up. In a pandemic era of real estate where lead generation has gone more digital and markets are varying wildly, patience with leads could be more important than ever. This only underscores the need for sticking to that communication plan for anywhere between a few weeks to a year. (As we covered last month, with all of the confusion and misinformation regarding housing markets out there, now is a great time to offer regular client consultations on local market data!) Now is also a vital time to touch up on skills. In addition to Baird & Warner’s extensive use of G-Suite products and […]
Maximizing Your Brokerage’s Resources
Speaking of what your brand name stands for, here at Baird & Warner, we take pride in the abundance of training available for agents and managers throughout the year. It’s important to help agents keep their skills sharp on everything from winning listings, technology, working their sphere of influence, reviews, time management, to referrals. But supportive management can’t do it all on their own. This monthly newsletter makes frequent mention of the crucial need for a time-saving, business-managing CRM, such as kvCORE used at Baird & Warner. Another service providing tremendous return on investment, not to mention headaches saved, is Contract Care, which takes care of the paperwork for the busy agent. You won’t need to worry about missing a deadline or spending hours on tedious documents that slow you down, and Contract Care only charges if the sale closes. Another area you may want to look for outside help is with social media. Even for those of us who use social media personally, using it for business can be daunting, time-consuming, and even precarious in that many spend marketing dollars on it without really knowing if they’re making the right purchase to get a return from it. Virtual Assistant services can help with this as well: have your social media managed by someone who knows when to post, what to post, and why to post. For example, as tempting as it can be to just make posts each time you gain a new listing or close […]
Build Relationships with Title and Mortgage
Just like how you’d hope clients would come to trust you as their go-to resource for their own needs and referrals from their networks, maintaining strong relationships with mortgage and title is a relatively undervalued way to make transactions flow smoothly. Your personal relationship allows you more control over how the transaction will go, and a natural added motivation on both sides to see the deal through. Here at Baird & Warner, we are proud to work hand-in-hand with Key Mortgage and Landtrust National Title, taking a lot of the guessing out of the equation. Many agents benefit from just walking down the hall to communicate with Key in real time. In stressful situations and routine ones alike, knowing that you’ll be passing off your clients into good hands creates tremendous peace of mind. Unstable markets and lending conditions have also had impacts on transactions worldwide. As larger banks continue to adjust on the fly to ensure their own stability and maintain necessary reserves, they may not be the best option moving forward. Key Mortgage offers the stability of a larger firm, but with the flexibility of a family-owned, Chicago-based operation.
The Real Estate Market Then and Now Glenview & Northbrook
How has the real estate market been impacted by the current Covid 19 crisis compared to the the financial meltdown of the 2000s for the Glenview and Northbrook communities? This video will answer that and look at what is coming for the area and Chicagoland.
Nailing the Virtual Open House – For Pandemic Times, and Far Beyond
For obvious reasons, agents everywhere are getting familiar with virtual open houses in a hurry. It’s a craft that certainly feels awkward at first, but we must adapt to serve clients and maintain our livelihoods. However, there could be real value in mastering virtual open houses long term, well beyond the grasp of the coronavirus. Virtual open houses enable you to reach hundreds of viewers who may not be able to make it to a physical open house, and provide a more shareable experience for viewers to send to others who may be interested. During this pandemic, many agents are seeing record viewership on virtual open houses. Some have gotten these views organically through their own networks, while others are reallocating or increasing their social media marketing spend to “boost” these posts. If you haven’t done that just yet, now is a great time to experiment with boosting your videos to take advantage of the captive market of buyers. What are some of the best ways to put on a virtual open house? Preparation and execution are key. Promote the upcoming open house extensively, across multiple contact methods. Before going live, scope out the property and consider the setting and lighting in each room. You’ll want a live session that moves smoothly, but not too fast — remember to build in time to discuss non-visual attributes you’d normally discuss with guests such as nearby schools, amenities, and the neighborhood vibe in general (which is arguably even more important […]
Being a Client Resource in Crisis Times, Even When You’re Not Closing Deals
Staying relevant to your satisfied clients is always a sound principle of building a sustainable long term business. According to the National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) 2018 Profile of Homebuyers and Sellers, 92% of recent homebuyers were satisfied with their Realtor at the time of purchase. 74% said they would “definitely” want to work with the same realtor for their next need, with another 16% saying they would “probably” want to work with them again. However, only 12% of those same recent homebuyers reported actually working with an agent that they had previously worked with. Where is the disconnect? These numbers could seem almost misleading. But the reality is that given the years the client may go in between needing an agent, the relationship usually goes dormant. Staying in touch every once in a while is always important, but the COVID-19 pandemic presents a unique way to do this. With rapidly changing circumstances in all of our lives, tensions are heightened for many clients. If they’re at all considering selling or buying a home, understanding the rapidly changing market can be an overwhelming task. Vague, overly broad news articles or word-of-mouth updates your clients may be receiving from peers could be completely off base for the market they’re interested in, but how would they know that? Here’s an opportunity: utilize MLS tools to provide that highly localized, real time information that they can’t get anywhere else. This would involve setting up scheduled weekly or biweekly video calls […]
Maintaining Unique Client Touchpoints
Even if a full screen-sharing consultation isn’t what your prospect is looking for at this time, what are some different ways to keep in touch with them weeks, months, or even years since your last transaction with them? A first helpful step can be to maintain a comprehensive database of all former clients, updating each touchpoint no matter how minor. Obviously, having an effective CRM could assist with this, but even without one it’s important to do on your own. The next step is to think of how you can reach out with something “sticky” that will really stand out to the prospect. Generic touchpoints like a voicemail or email note are better than nothing, but the response rate on them likely pales in comparison to something more unique. For example, look up some funny holidays online and turn one into something useful. Did you know that Lost Sock Memorial Day is on May 9th? Perhaps to a certain number of high value prospects you’re looking to expand your relationship with, you send a comfy pair of socks with a handwritten note. Or what better excuse to send a fancy company pen than on National Ballpoint Pen Day on June 18th? Now there’s an item that they could wind up using all the time, and they’ll at least subconsciously think of you each look at it. If goofy holidays aren’t your thing, there are numerous services that can manage touchpoints for you while maintaining an authentic feel. […]
Keep Busy During Corona Virus
What an interesting time we are experiencing. Earlier today, word came out that the Governor is issuing a stay at home order. Illinois REALTORS believes we can still do what we absolutely need to do business. Remember this is a short-term thing. It will end and business will return to normal. I encourage you to call your Sphere, work your other remote marketing (CRM, Social Media etc.) and spend extra time sharpening your abilities. To help you do this and be well informed I am providing you with some great resources below. I hope this helps you make great use of your time while practicing social distancing. Please Act Now to Help Remote Closing be Possible. This is going for a vote in the Senate and we need to support it. Support S. 3533, the SECURE Notarization Act, REALTOR guide to Corona Virus https://www.nar.realtor/coronavirus-a-guide-for-realtors?_cldee=aWFuLnJvYmluc29uQGJhaXJkd2FybmVyLmNvbQ%3D%3D&recipientid=contact-2552b1dbf25b420698e5b7a2f48c78aa-666a147892ed4f78b194114301bf0fba&esid=ceadcda4-6769-ea11-9c39-00155d10129e NSBAR Corona Virus Update https://www.nsbar.org/coronavirus?utm_source=Full+List&utm_campaign=f90f226d04-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2020_03_20_03_03&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_b0bd0eb49a-f90f226d04-109491875 Glenview/Northbrook Corona Virus Info https://www.glenviewnorthbrookcoronavirus.info/ Tom Ferry Live Webinar Recording addressing how to handle Corona Virus and Your Business https://youtu.be/f3OwHIcobiM KCM Webinar Recording on Corona Virus economic Impacts https://www.mykcm.com/coronavirus/webinar/?utm_campaign=Coronavirus&utm_medium=email&utm_source=email-broadcast&utm_content=Webinar_Replay Blog Posts About Crisis and The Corona Virus http://joinbwgb.com/blog/ CE and Sexual Harassment class due by April 30 now extended until Sept 30. Ethics for NAR due by Dec 30 RD 981 – Sexual Harassment Prevention & Safety On-Line Course For those that still need to complete the NAR ethics requirement Take the class online for free here https://learninglibrary.com/COE/A/HOME?affiliateId=10868 (This will be changing to a 3 year requirement rather than a 2 […]
Dealing with Crisis in Your Business
From pandemics to financial meltdowns, many events can create fear and panic with your client base, and this month we address some strategies to help you. An important first thought is to take a step back from any situation and try to face it objectively: the sky is never falling as much as it may seem on social media. However, that doesn’t mean such crises won’t affect you and your clients in a major way, so it’s important to stay on task and develop a game plan. Given a situation where society and the normal workday have been disrupted, but not in a way that completely prevents you from doing business, it’s important to maintain and adjust priorities on the fly. Make sure to maintain the marketing practices that generate your greatest returns on investment, and consider even increasing investment in these methods. For example, your means for outreach may be limited by a given situation, but if many are working from home or working less overall, your engagement on social media advertising could be higher than ever. Even if the current situation may have rendered door-to-door or cold calling outreach temporarily inappropriate, there remain many digital or written methods to stay top of mind with potential clients. That’s the biggest goal here in building your business through tough times — laying the groundwork. Those returns on your marketing investments may take longer than usual to bear fruit, but that doesn’t mean you should stop doing them. […]
Coronavirus-specific advice for Realtors
The coronavirus pandemic’s impact on the real estate market has been swift and undeniable. However, that’s not to say it was consistent. Despite the stock market quickly taking major hits amid early widespread panic, some agents were busier than ever as clients rushed to complete deals before an impending shutdown. Some open houses were cancelled at the request of the seller and some were cancelled at the request of the brokerage, but others continued with big crowds. Working with sellers in a time of crisis, especially one as fear-inducing as a global pandemic, requires effective listening and communication. As the agent, you don’t necessarily want to be in the position of convincing your clients that they should be taking the pandemic more seriously or less seriously. Rather, the better avenue is to begin the conversation by hearing their level of concern, and then compare that with their needs. Are they under significant financial pressure to sell their home and cannot afford to wait an untold number of months for normalcy to resume? Or would they feel more comfortable with postponing most selling activities? Be careful with giving market advice: you can speak to your experience with this situation in real time, but the rapid swings we’ve seen already could make blanket assessments of the market risky. If the seller wants to move forward, it’s time to look at innovative solutions to make that happen. If a physical open house with precautions such as hand sanitizer, disposable gloves, and […]
Keeping your prospecting going even in the worst of times
Thanks to its nature as a primarily individual activity, hopefully your prospecting should be able to continue even when other facets of your business have slowed. If self-quarantined, for example, perhaps that can be used as an office distraction free time to focus on prospecting and maintaining existing relationships over the phone and email. Visiting clients in person to show appreciation may be out of the question, but sending a handwritten note or sending an online product could still create that personal touch. Unfortunately, social distancing puts most direct client touch points out of the question for now, such as breakfasts and lunches, or client appreciation events. This could be a great time to not only resume prospecting, but circle back and reevaluate the return on your marketing investments. Then, move forward with new outreach campaigns through whichever methods are generating your best return, such as mailers or social media ads. Perhaps even a campaign that acknowledges the unique challenges people may be facing amidst this crisis could get some attention — and get you a few calls. Nothing about the coronavirus outbreak has been “business as usual,” so a marketing campaign that reflects you’re prepared and still equipped to help clients through trying times could make a big difference.
The Value of Using a CRM
As frustrating and intimidating as they can be at times, the value a well-oiled customer relationship management (CRM) system can bring to your business cannot be overstated. They do require an investment of time on your part to get set up, as well as getting yourself in the habit of making it your go-to for managing listings, clients, and prospects. But once you’ve found a consistent practice that works for you and sworn by it, menial tasks can be completed in a fraction of the time, if not automated entirely. Of course, this probably isn’t news to you. CRMs have been around for years now and only continue to get more advanced. Sophistication is also a double-edged sword, of course, as more complex features can come with a sharper learning curve. But invest the time in setup and practice and you could be more productive than ever. A CRM isn’t just for contact management or lead organizing. It should also help you realistically project your business goals for the upcoming quarter or year, based on your pipeline and previous track record. Graphs and charts with your sales data aren’t just aesthetically pleasing, they’re probably the most visually comprehensible way to track your progress. If you’re able to take your forecasts more seriously, so should your designated managing broker. Of course, the features available to you are likely to depend on what your brokerage’s CRM of choice offers to you. However, if you’ve experimented with that system […]
What Does a Modern CRM Look Like?
When it comes to CRMs, more complicated does not necessarily mean more effective. Learning curve aside, you still want an intuitive system, one that will truly make your life easier. Some of the go-to features to look for include seamless mobile capability, such as an app that provides all of your info in easy to access ways, and many if not most capabilities you’d find on the desktop version. A modern CRM should be able to automatically log emails you’ve sent and calls you’ve made, although you will likely need to manually input any detailed conversation notes or thoughts. It should also know to nudge you to follow up with a client, either at a time you specified, automatically, or both. Consistent follow-up is obviously key to lay the groundwork for a long, fruitful client relationship. Your CRM should make that task a breeze, not a nuisance. Third-party integrations in a modern CRM should make your life easier too. It should integrate with the MLS, social media, signature platforms such as Docusign, and any other tools you’re using, such as an event manager to manage your open houses or photography service. One thing to be wary of is automatic social media posting, as static-sounding repeated posts can come off as lazy or unprofessional. Even worse, some common CRMs default to the same few messages to post, so the posts it will put up on your behalf may be word-for-word identical to those of other agents who have […]
Best Practices to Using a CRM
The most important part of using a CRM is to truly make it your go-to resource on a daily basis. Even if you’re not using all of its features, stay loyal to the ones that you do use. For example, even if you’re accustomed to saving your business contacts in your email account, once you’ve uploaded them into your CRM, stick to updating it there. Your CRM should be able to do countless more things with those contacts than your email system. But if you continue to update or add contact info in your email contacts, the CRM tools won’t be able to take advantage. Regular syncing between the two is often an option, but be careful as you may accidentally delete previous info you didn’t intend to. Back to your workday. Log into your CRM in the morning, and it should be reminding you of what needs to be done today, such as who you need to follow up with, any appointments you have, and blocks of time you’ve reserved for other tasks, such as prospecting or paperwork. Time to circle back with a client you haven’t spoken with in a few months? Here’s where leaving great notes comes in. Even if your CRM is able to automatically log client phone calls, you’ll need to go in manually and leave detailed notes as to your conversation. Remembering specific, small details a client may have forgotten they even told you months ago can go a long way […]
Crafting an ideal work/life balance
Of course, one of the great advantages of being an agent is the schedule flexibility. No 9-to-5 monotony here — you’ll be on your feet, or not, at a great array of times throughout the week. This can obviously be a weakness as well, depending on how you prefer to orient your schedule. But another factor that gets lost in the shuffle is how it can make setting consistent and effective boundaries for work-life balance significantly more complicated. If you can be “on” at almost any given time, and everyday situations frequently demand that you do just that, then how can you slow everything down? A great place to start is by committing to a designated off day. Not a “work from home” day off or “just have a couple showings” day off, but an actual day where “you do you” — relax or take care of any non work-related items on your to-do list. This day should be whichever makes the most sense for you, so if your weekends are spent at showings, Fridays preparing for showings, and Mondays and Tuesdays syncing up with attorneys and lenders, try Thursday. When planning your week, allocate a specific number of hours for each task you need to accomplish this week. Even if these are individual tasks, treat them as scheduled appointments — with yourself. Of course, adjustments will be necessary at times as things come up, but this way you can directly reschedule those tasks you had […]
Getting ahead of stress on the job
Real estate can be a stressful business. Your take-home pay is heavily based not on a pre-set salary, but by how much time you put in, and how well that time is used. The huge variation in potential earnings can be quite intimidating, and a double-edged sword similar to the schedule flexibility. Staying organized with your time and tasks, as mentioned before, is a key way to stay ahead of stress. If you can honestly look yourself in the mirror and know you’ve been spending your time on the right things, then success will come, and you shouldn’t feel the need to work 80 hours a week. Other useful strategies amid working hours include taking a walk, a quick coffee or tea break perhaps with a colleague, exercising, or meditating. If you still need help, reach out to a mentor, peer, or managing broker for guidance. As we looked at last month, a goal-setting plan involving an accountability partner (which is usually going to be one of those three people) can help keep you on track. This is someone who knows your strengths and weaknesses, and will give you constructive criticism needed to balance your time and energy. Being honest with yourself, and supportive coaching from that partner, should minimize potential stressors before it even gets to that point.
Take a REAL vacation — unplug and have good coverage while gone
If you have learned to manage your time and stress well, you will have earned a nice long vacation for yourself soon. But don’t settle for a rapid weekend trip. Take a real vacation, as in a proper five-to-ten day getaway. Whatever your scene is — city or country, outdoorsy or indoorsy — make it count. And try to disconnect from work as much as possible. But how? Having a reliable backup willing and able to service your clients while you are gone is obviously key. Work out in advance how compensation for this work should be handled, whether it be a pledge to do the same for them, a split on any deals worked while away, or an hourly rate. But make this person’s role worth your while: truly unplug and try to allow them to handle all contact with the outside world while you’re away. You may want to check in with them every day or periodically as necessary just for updates or questions, but you should do everything you can to avoid an active role in work. Why is it so important to focus on not working while you’re vacationing? Burnout. If you spend a significant amount of your time working on the same tasks you would normally, your getaway was only a physical one when it could have also been a mental one. But it’s the mental escape that could truly leave you feeling completely refreshed upon your return to work.
15 Dangers to the Industry – from the Trenches
We are privileged to be part of an incredible industry where our job is to help people through some of the happiest or most trying situations imaginable while creating our own success. For years, we have been hearing about the disruptors and read about trends and dangers to the industry. Here are my thoughts as someone who is in the trenches, been involved with the local REALTOR® Association and has also interacted with REALTORS® across the country and worked for both a large national company and a local independent company. Wall Street Real Estate Wall Street does not subscribe to the REALTOR® Code of Ethics, Fair Housing laws or any state’s license law. This has led to company cultures based on numbers, short term goals and market share that don’t have interest in, let alone protect, the consumer. New companies with massive funding but no institutional or leadership knowledge of real estate pop up and become supposed disruptors while not playing by the rules, either knowingly or because they are oblivious to them. Massive companies without profit are being run by people who have never experienced working with buyers, sellers, landlords and tenants who are going through stressful times, and they have never sat down with a consumer who has experienced discrimination in housing. Shiny Penny Syndrome A new company or old player trying to re-imagine themselves will come along stating some unbelievable new thing. “We are a data company.” “We are going to bring technology to real […]
Scaling your business: to team or not to team?
To keep one’s business growing, prioritizing your time becomes ever more important. An increasingly common way to make the best use of an agent’s time is using a team, where agents can either delegate time-consuming responsibilities to others, partner with other agents, or a combination of both. Is now the right time to start your team? You will be the best person to answer that question, as it is difficult to quantify an exact benchmark, either in number of listings or total dollar amount closed, at which it makes sense to start hiring team members. For example, high value listings may have significantly more extensive marketing needs, which could require a disproportionate amount of marketing effort that could be best approached by a part or full time team member. Let’s take a look at both multi-agent partnerships and creating your own team. While partnerships including multiple licensed agents have been common over the years, they can be tricky. If you do choose to go this route, make sure to set clear parameters over who will be getting what, and how much, from the beginning. This could apply to everything from commission splits to generated leads. That will obviously be important if the working relationship goes south — it is common for one team member to be putting more into the partnership than the other, which can lead to friction — but even if the separation happens cordially, there’s no reason to leave any gray area in your arrangement. […]
Starting a Team – Who Should Be Your First Hire?
Typically, the first person you will want to hire for your team is an administrative assistant. This person will handle many of the more laborious tasks mentioned previously, such as paperwork and scheduling, allowing you to maximize your time with clients. It can be tempting to add a licensed broker to your team first as someone who can act in your place when you have too many things going on. It’s somewhat of an attempt to be in two places at once: you’re doing one showing downtown, and your licensee is doing another one on your behalf across town. This can help, but it is much less likely to actually grow your business, because you will still be bogged down by the unproductive tasks that hinder the amount of time you can spend on revenue-generating activities. For that reason, your first hire is better off as someone who can comb through the behind-the-scenes administrative and light marketing work — so you don’t have to. Your second hire could be a full-time marketing associate. As cliche as it may sound, for both of these positions, you will want to identify a self-starter with a bright attitude, willing and able to do this kind of work. For marketing especially, you will want someone relatively tech-savvy who is also willing to learn new techniques on the fly. Your second hire could also be a licensed buyer’s agent. Here is someone you will need to be able to trust to work […]
Tools and Tips for Team Organization
Hiring well, communicating well, and using the right tools are three vital aspects of running your team. Frequent “team huddle” meetings or calls, even if they often don’t last more than 10 or 15 minutes, are a great way to keep everyone on the same page. Team stability is important too, which comes from sharp hiring: be wary of hiring those too overqualified, who could have a higher flight risk, and loyalty is a trait you may want to ask for examples of. In terms of tangible tools to kick your team into gear, you will need access to most, if not all, of the following: a powerful CRM, project management tools, transaction management system, and time management system. Some of these, especially the CRM, may be provided by your brokerage. But either way, it is important to find tools that work for your team. That last point is the main idea here: building a team that works for you, literally and figuratively, is the crucial factor to making it worth its cost in time and money. If a team member you hired is not effectively taking things off your plate, or you have to spend a disproportionate time training them, it may be time to evaluate your options. However, it can also be dangerous to subscribe to the “slow to hire, quick to fire” line of thinking that often comes with hiring team members, as this tends to discount the time and effort it will […]
2020 business planning: how to set yourself up for success
As a busy agent, you’ve got little time to waste on the day-to-day. But setting aside some time in the next few weeks to develop comprehensive, measurable, and realistic yet ambitious goals for 2020 could wind up being one of the most important steps you take towards growing your business. Think of it as an important meeting–with yourself (at first). Here, you’ll sit down and review how you’ve been spending your time and money, as well as brainstorm strategies to spend those better. This can sound somewhat daunting, so let’s break it down. Keep it simple to kick it off: what are some of your wants and dreams? List a handful of these in as specific terms as possible. Could a week long trip to Italy be in your future? Looking to move up to a newer home? Start your newborn’s college fund with a hefty contribution? Put it in writing. Now, take a look at your results from the previous (current) year. Take note of things like income, units sold, total sales volume, average sales price, or average income per transaction after commission split and fees. Other helpful metrics include how often you are converting listing appointments, and how often you close those listings. Make sure to set fairly ambitious goals–the entire point of this exercise is to challenge yourself to get better, and you’ll be seeking help along the way to get you there. You’ll also want to calculate your business expenses. These could include […]
Following up on your goals
Goal-setting sheets often wind up tucked away in a desk drawer, not to be found until it’s far too late to make them a reality. We’ve all been guilty of this at some point–life opportunities and challenges come at you from all different angles, and the last thing you’re thinking about was a goal sheet you filled out last December. Of course, those goals you set are only as good as your follow up and accountability plan for them. A good place to start is setting up a consistent schedule to review your progress. Set a repeating calendar event, ideally every couple weeks. But don’t keep this part to yourself–identify an accountability partner or two who will help keep you honest. Many struggle with the execution of using self-accountability exclusively, not to mention the valuable outside perspective and suggestions a partner could offer. This could be your designated managing broker or a personal mentor in the industry you aspire to learn more from. You could also do this with a peer, where you could directly compare notes and coach each other. Re-evaluating your ambitious goals can seem an intimidating proposition. That is one of the reasons many agents don’t wind up doing it. But the more thorough you are, the more equipped you’ll be to know exactly what you need to focus on–and now, you’ve got a partner you trust to give you constructive feedback when you need it.
Tracking your expenses, and measuring ROI
With the many avenues to get your name out there now, it can seem tempting to try a little of everything to grow your client base. However, this probably isn’t a great strategy–a crucial part of measuring your business expenses, as discussed before, is measuring your return on them as directly as possible. Some business expenses, such as licensing fees, are necessary evils you can’t do much about. But specifically, your expenses in generating leads are something to keep an eye on. Generally speaking, the more control you can have over whatever marketing you’re doing, the easier it is to measure and have a positive return. The greater the presence of a third-party middleman, the harder it is to get a good return on investment (ROI), creating a significantly higher risk of throwing money at something that doesn’t bring much, if any, back. For example, marketing to your sphere of influence or sending out direct or electronic mail can be much easier to quantify. You may incur some additional costs such as printing and mailing, but you’ll be able to directly categorize where that lead came from and how much it costs to get, which is absolutely something you should also keep track of. In terms of building connections at low cost, one potential shortcut is to think of places in your daily life where you’re able to naturally create a direct relationship. Perhaps you’ve struck up a few conversations with the owner of your neighborhood cafe, […]
The Illinois Real Estate License Act has been amended. What do you need to know?
This August, Governor J.B. Pritzker signed an Amendment to the Illinois Real Estate License Act of 2000 (RELA). This bill is essentially an extension of the previous RELA rewrite signed in 2009 and scheduled to sunset at the end of this year. There are three areas of major change that you should be aware of. Recognition of teams, and stricter scrutiny on marketing and advertising This is the first time that “teams” are being addressed in the RELA. Teams are defined as “any two or more licensees who work together to provide real estate brokerage services, represent themselves to the public as being a part of a team or group, are identified by a team name that is different than their sponsoring broker’s and sponsored by the same sponsoring broker.” Perhaps the most relevant change is that the most recent amendment to the RELA specifically outlines a list of words and phrases that may be misleading to the public and therefore should not be used. These terms include: company, realty, real estate, agency, associates, brokers, properties, and property. Another new regulation in this area looks at marketing and advertising materials, specifically an agent’s personal (or team) branding and that of their sponsoring brokerage. The personal and team branding must not be larger or featured more prominently than that of their brokerage’s. For example at our company, a team logo, as well as the team name, may never be larger than the Baird & Warner logo on a […]
15 Dangers to the Industry – From the Trenches
We are privileged to be part of an incredible industry where our job is to help people through some of the happiest or most trying situations imaginable while creating our own success. For years, we have been hearing about the disruptors and read about trends and dangers to the industry. Here are my thoughts as someone who is in the trenches, been involved with the local REALTOR® Association and has also interacted with REALTORS® across the country and worked for both a large national company and a local independent company. Wall Street Real Estate: Wall Street does not subscribe to the REALTOR® Code of Ethics, Fair Housing laws or any state’s license law. This has led to company cultures based on numbers, short term goals and market share that don’t have interest in, let alone protect, the consumer. New companies with massive funding but no institutional or leadership knowledge of real estate pop up and become supposed disruptors while not playing by the rules, either knowingly or because they are oblivious to them. Massive companies without profit are being run by people who have never experienced working with buyers, sellers, landlords and tenants who are going through stressful times, and they have never sat down with a consumer who has experienced discrimination in housing. Shiny Penny Syndrome: A new company or old player trying to re-imagine themselves will come along stating some unbelievable new thing. “We are a data company.” “We are going to bring technology to real […]
Your sellers have overpriced their home. What do you do?
No matter what type of home you’re working with, managing sellers’ expectations is vital. A slow market makes this twice as important. Those expectations will be tested if the home is overpriced, and how they’re managed could be the difference between a successful closing and losing the listing to a competitor. Of course, you’ll first and foremost want to focus on setting the price correctly out of the gate. A properly-priced property will attract attention quickly and reduce the likelihood of the dreaded lowball offer. If the property is overpriced, the longer it lingers on the market, the less likely it will sell. Inventory is increasing in many Chicagoland areas, so you’ll need to act quickly to keep your listing from stagnating. 42% of listings expired last year, a number which very well could increase to over 50% this year. If you notice your listing stagnating and suspect a price reduction is necessary, don’t wait more than 2-3 weeks after it listed to address it with the seller. It’s always uncomfortable to confront a seller with the bad news that they don’t stand to make as much on their home as they’d hoped. Without intentionally having that conversation, however, can come a more difficult one just a few weeks later: the angry seller blaming you for their dormant listing. However, given that you’ll still be delivering news the seller won’t want to hear, you must come prepared. Consider yourself a surgeon: you’re the expert, and you […]
Is the Price Right? Keys to a Thorough and Accurate CMA
So now you know when to have the difficult pricing conversations. But how will you set that price, make your case for it, and ultimately, make the close? A detailed CMA is the key—leave no stone unturned, and cross your fingers that the market will react as you’ve keenly predicted. Start with the basics—homes of the same type (single family home/condo/duplex, etc) with similar square footage, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, garage spaces, construction year, renovations, extraordinary amenities (such as a pool or unique terrace balcony), and more. Make sure to know the property’s previous sale history and applicable local taxes and regulations, especially if you’ll compare the property with others in different municipalities. Consider micro-market trends, via both your property’s location and characteristics. This is especially true when referencing homes that have already closed—an accepted offer on a near-identical home right next door (an admittedly rare scenario) even just a couple months ago could already be out of date for the area. Get to know the neighborhood and those of your comp properties, as the old adage about “location, location, location” can take a huge amount of guesswork out of why a property’s valuation went up 20% in a year. No, it wasn’t that the linoleum flooring became trendy again. Don’t forget to also evaluate comparable unsold listings, to evaluate why those didn’t fit the market, and listings currently on the market. Current listings obviously help dictate your listing price depending on differing features, but also let you […]
Responding to Offers, Good and Bad
Congratulations! You’ve got an offer on your listing. But the sellers aren’t sure how they feel about it. What now? The first type of offer to consider is the lowball. As previously mentioned, an overpriced property is one most likely to receive a lowball. Perhaps the buying agent recognized it as 10% above market value, but the buyers are interested regardless. Perhaps they’re also assuming you haven’t received any offers, so you and the sellers could be more desperate to get things moving. So they’ve made an offer 10% below market, hoping negotiations will bring it only back what they perceive as its actual value. On the selling side, however, it can seem like an insulting low offer, shaking the sellers’ confidence. Again, the best way to avoid this is to get the price right from the start. Lowball or not, always counter each offer. It may not be a great counter, but you have nothing to lose by putting the buyers back in the driver’s seat, which also buys you some time. How they respond can be a telling indication of how serious the buyers are about your listing. Even if the offer is fair, many sellers will want to slow-play it in hopes of other offers to evaluate as well. However, the first offer is often the best they’ll get, and if your CMA suggests that to be the case, this will probably be the most difficult conversations to have with the sellers. There is […]
The Technology to Be Safer Is There. Use it.
In an era where information access and technology are expanding exponentially, there are still businesses and transactions that are based on personal interaction. Real estate is a profession for people who like people, and that’s part of what makes the job so enjoyable sometimes. But when you know you also need to protect yourself from some people, the tools available now are kind of amazing. Take Forewarn, for example. This service leverages massive amounts of data and analytics to do a background check on every prospect you interact with, so you can know before you ever set foot on the property whether the people coming to see it will be people you’re comfortable with. Just remember, using a service like Forewarn with some prospects and not others could be a violation of fair housing laws, so use it with every single client. Guard Llama is another safety measure that uses state-of-the-art technology. If you’re in trouble during a showing, you press a small device that uses Bluetooth to connect to your phone and instantly send your GPS location, photo, and medical information to its dispatch center and every contact you have on your friends and family list, and the police are dispatched to your location.
More Ways to Stay Safe at Showings Than You Thought
There are enough horror stories about what can happen to an agent if they’re not careful at showings to know it’s best to take precautions. But do you know them all? Use all these tips, and you’ll be extra protected on the job. Carry pepper spray, in your car and when showing a home. Let someone at your office know where you are going and when you plan to return. Tell your manager or someone else at your office who you are showing the apartment to. Make sure your office has on file the make, model, and license number of your car. Give your office a list of your emergency contacts. Have a code word, so your office can know you’re in trouble if you call in. Call your office or someone in your family once per hour when showing a home. Figure out your escape routes in the house before anyone arrives. Park your car on the street in front of the house instead of the driveway where you could be blocked in. Check the backyard to see if there is a locked gate. Keep the door locked until your client arrives. Keep a notebook with the make and model of each person’s car at an open house. Stay near an exit while the prospect looks at the house. Never walk in front of a prospect through the house. Ask your seller to tell their neighbors when the open house is and to alert the police if they […]
You’ve Got an Interesting Job. Here’s How to Be Safe Doing It.
As an agent, you’re in a unique position compared to most working professionals. You share your contact info with strangers, meet clients you don’t know, and you sometimes work in vacant properties. And because you’re doing it all alone, it’s critical to have personal safety protocols in place. Here are a few that have saved agents from trouble in the past: Don’t have your first meeting with a client at a property they want to see. Meet them first at your office or a public space like a coffee shop. When you first meet, take photos or make copies of your client’s driver’s license and preapproval letter for your records, so you know who your clients are. When you’re putting your marketing materials like business cards together, keep the personal details you include to a minimum using your brokerage’s contact info whenever possible. Make sure to drive separately to showings by mentioning you have another appointment directly after this one. You’ve probably heard this one, but having separate social media accounts for yourself and your business keeps your personal data and photos protected. It’s vital that you follow these rules every day and with every client. Part of what makes real estate fun is that every day is different from the one before. But since you never know what might happen, it’s important to protect yourself by being prepared with safety strategies you follow every time you interact with a client.
Video and Audio Surveillance and REALTORS what you shoudl know
Video Surveillance Is Everywhere Home surveillance technology is no longer only for the wealthy. The average cost of a basic home audio and video device is little more than $100. Cameras are standard in many smart home devices, and constant connectivity–known as the IoT: Internet of Things–is increasingly becoming the norm. Alexa and Google Home listen in, along with our mobile phones, and new IoT capabilities for everyday-use home items hit the market almost daily. Surveillance in businesses and public spaces isn’t new, nor is it new for home exteriors like driveways and yards, but the use within homes and the privacy expectations we have in other people’s homes has changed rapidly in recent years. Less than six years ago, smart homes and the IoT weren’t really things. Now we have cameras in everything from doorbells to refrigerators, and we sleep next to the recording devices that we carry around in our pockets and purses all day. An April 2018 survey by NerdWallet found that 70% of sellers said they would use surveillance technology. Figures last year estimated about 11 million or roughly 13% of homes had audio and video technology installed. That number is expected to increase almost fourfold by 2020 (next year!) with as many as 50 million homes having some form of audio or video recording devices in use. Today it is best to assume every home has security cameras or smart home features that include audio and video capabilities. From inconspicuous nanny cams […]
It’s National Fair Housing Month — and Chicago Played a Big Part
In 1968, the federal government passed the Fair Housing Act, because it believed that equal access to housing is a human right. Until then, it was legal for landlords to refuse to rent their property to people based on, well, anything. And they often did refuse, based on applicants’ race, religion, sexual orientation, etc. In fact, some might say it was the unwritten job of the real estate agent to discourage people of color from moving into traditionally white neighborhoods. The efforts of many people and groups were required to make fair housing legislation a reality, and some of them took place in Chicago. Baird & Warner is Chicago’s largest and oldest family-owned real estate company, and at that time, it was the largest real estate company of any kind in Chicago. And John W. Baird, the company’s president, became one of the few players in real estate to push for fair housing rights at the local, state, and federal levels. To do it, he had to go against his peers and other civic leaders who thought making discrimination against buyers and renters based on race or religion illegal would take away sellers’ and landlords’ civil rights. He testified before the Chicago City Council in 1962, appealing to their sense of civic duty by advocating for the passage of an open occupancy law that would “facilitate the renewal of Chicago.” In 1963, the City Council passed the Chicago Fair Housing Ordinance which prohibited brokers from engaging in such […]
Best in Business Managers
Our noncompeting managing brokers are an essential part of our collaborative culture and the success of our agents. We know that agents who reach their goals are supported by people who have been in their shoes and have first-hand industry knowledge and experience — and are dedicated to helping them grow. That’s why our managing brokers are handpicked from our own ranks of experienced, high-performing agents and specially-trained to lead and mentor their associates at every level of their career. And once they step into their managing broker role, they stop selling real estate so they can be completely focused on one thing: agent success. Whether it’s building highly personalized success strategies, developing new business strategies that attract clients, helping agents set the right goals or making sure agents get the right level of coaching through our exclusive Accelerate or Ascend training programs — managing brokers at Baird & Warner are constantly looking for new opportunities to innovate and help agents excel. Without the distraction of selling real estate, they can give each agent as much or as little interaction as they need. Point is, when you work at Baird & Warner, you work with a managing broker that truly has your back, whenever and however you need it. And joining Baird & Warner means you have the support of more than 2,400 agents across 29 offices, who are committed to doing the right thing and making real estate easier in Chicagoland. That’s how you take your business to the […]
Strategic Open Houses
Where do open houses fit in with modern real estate marketing? With virtual staging and 3D tours, are they still worth it? Like many things in life–a career, a relationship, or learning to play the guitar–what you get out of an open house has everything to do with the effort you put into it. Let’s first be clear on the purpose of an open house. An open house is a not an event intended to produce a buyer (although it’s not unheard of!). It’s a strategic marketing device to build an agent’s business. When properly leveraged, open houses are a valuable part of any marketing plan. It’s a piece of content that is low cost, requires little effort to create, and is something that you already (should) do. Agents taking advantage of low inventory are pre-marketing properties with the help of open houses. They engage other agents and potential buyers online and via email BEFORE the listing is live to create early interest. In coordination with this simple pre-marketing effort, an open house the same day a listing goes live will get the most people in the door as quickly as possible. Once the doors open, make every visitor count. Put down your phone and engage with everyone who walks through. It’s tempting to hand out MLS sheets, but consider skipping them so you interact with each visitor and collect email addresses to follow up on unanswered questions. If a visitor hesitates to share it with […]
2019 Interior Design Trends
The days of light grey walls are behind us according to Forbes and Real Simple. Here’s a quick glance at the design year ahead: Bathrooms become focal points. Dramatic mirrors, textured wallpaper, and rich colored finishes embolden these once second-thought spaces. Homeowners want natural elements. Paint trend is moving away from grey and closer to colors like sand and mushroom. Like nature, neutral color palettes are accented with pops of bright color. Living Coral, Pantone’s 2018 color of the year, is accented with shades of green in names like Mint and Sage. Accent pieces and accessories go bold. So do homeowners. People are foregoing past contemporary design staples like stainless steel appliances for pop-art colored appliances that reflect their personality and the room’s. Home sizes are smaller. Use of space is blowing up. Open cabinets and kitchen shelves continue to rise in popularity. It’s not uncommon to find a corner turned into a clever reading nook or a closet under stairs turned into a play area. High-rise rentals create “luxury hotel” experiences with attractive common areas. Where else would they host free hors d’oeuvres after work, monthly wine tastings, and unique community interaction experiences? Plants, both the real things and plant prints for walls and accent pieces, are almost as trendy as pets.
The Power of Staging
There’s no question of the correlation between days on market (DOM) and the percentage of list price for which a property sells. The data prove homes that sell faster also sell for closer to, if not more than, the asking price. The first step to reduce days on market is for agents develop a deep understanding of the local market in order to expertly price property, and the second step is staging. In NAR’s 2017 Profile of Home Staging, staged homes sold for 17% more than comparable properties unstaged. The power of staging starts by increasing buyer awareness online where it makes your listing photos stand out in a sea of white and beige walls. When the home shows, staging accentuates its best features and proves its potential and livability. An “unpolished” property will perform poorer than one with completed cosmetic repairs and an introduction into the MLS with professionals photos. The fewer days a property spends on the market, the less the need for a price reduction. That’s a win-win for agents and homeowners! It’s a common misperception that only “luxury” properties deserve to be staged, and, on the flip side, many agents use staging as a last resort for “difficult to sell” properties. What we do know is that list price does not change the effects of staging–it works regardless of price. By flipping these ideas on their heads, agents can positively impact their personal DOM statistics and increase their sellers’ satisfaction with faster sales. What about […]
Gradually, Technology Shifts the Market and Sale of Luxury
Luxury means different things to different people. For some clients, it is a price point or location. For others, it is the speed or ease of a transaction. Whichever definition of luxury defines your clients, all expect a high level of personalization, concierge service, and a focus on their experience. All of which technology is helping deliver. Buyers can now dawn a pair of VR goggles and experience a space or home as if there. Virtual Reality, still relatively cost prohibitive, allows potentials clients to view homes in complete privacy from any number of miles away. Fixture selections or views can change with the tap of a button. These immersive experiences are speeding up buying decisions. VR is the vehicle to market luxury and Smart Homes Devices and the “Internet of Things” is a reason to buy. Devices created purely to give us less to do around the house are popping up everywhere, from connected toilets to wifi lights. As a broker, knowledge of these devices, brand names, products, and services, is a growing expectation among the luxury clientele. Luxury sellers and buyers have more data than ever before. Because these clients come into the market with a wealth of knowledge, they expect you to know MORE. Be prepared to discuss technology-driven marketing trends related to their price point and what smart home upgrades are essential when selling or buying. The marketing of luxury properties and expectations of clients on both ends of the […]
2019 Predictions – National
The start of 2018 to the end of 2018 saw a significant shift in the national real estate market. Sellers benefited from low rates and high demand at the beginning of the year, and as the year wrapped up, buyers gained control as prices dropped to accommodate higher rates. National figures from NAR and realtor.com’s market outlook say that 2019 will see a 2% decrease in the number of home sales and a 2.2% increase in the median home price. What do economists expect to drive those results? Mortgage rates will rise to 5.5 – 5.8% in conjunction with economic strength. The slow down of sales from higher rates means prices will not make significant gains but stay the same or lower. Owners who do not sell will continue to build equity and add value to their home in the future. Slow sales expectations combined with increased demand from Millennials means that inventory levels are not likely to decrease or rise significantly. Millennials will drive first-time homebuyer demand as more and more reach their late 20s and household formation age. Would-be buyers priced out due to rates or lack of inventory will increase demand for rentals and prices will rise. However, investment in new rental construction across the country means the increase is only temporary.
2019 Predictions – Chicago
Chicagoland’s real estate outlook for 2019 is less than favorable according to NAR and realtor.com’s yearly market report. It predicts a 1.9% decrease in median home price and 7.4% decrease in home sales throughout the city, suburbs, and metro areas of Wisconsin and Indiana. Expected to have the weakest market in the country, it could be a dark year ahead. What’s causing the cloudy forecast and is there a silver lining? In addition to the decreased property tax deduction, climbing mortgage rates, and low inventory levels nationwide, Chicago’s local concerns include high taxes, population decline, and the nation’s largest share of homeowners with underwater mortgages. When costs rise, the value of homeownership declines. Illinoisans saw the most substantial permanent income tax increase in state history in 2017 and today have the second highest tax burden in the country (behind New Jersey). Tax strain and rising rates will limit buyers’ ability to enter the market in 2019, as well as reduce pricing power for sellers with the need to compete with rate hikes. Other potential sellers in Chicago, an estimated 13% according to realtor.com, are underwater on their mortgage and can’t afford to sell, which will sustain low inventory levels. It’s also important to note the high cost of land in Chicago and the metro. Plans for new subdivisions are the lowest in two decades. The city skyline, however, is dotted with construction cranes, most of which are rental buildings. So, where are the […]
From Out of Touch to Top of Mind
Cleaning up your database did you come across clients that you haven’t talked to in the last 12 months? Or last three years? If you’ve been in the real estate business for any length of time, you likely came across a few. Falling out of touch with contacts is nothing to be embarrassed about, it’s expected to happen. Rather than trying to (impossibly) prevent it, be prepared to correct it. The most best way to reconnect is with a phone call, especially if a long time has gone by. But, it’s not the only way. Here are three strategic approaches you can take to close the connection gap: Check their social feeds and engage with them online Host a party or do a giveaway and personally invite them to attend or participate Share news – Sell a home nearby recently? Make a company change? Tip: Collect robust client details, such as birth dates (for kids and pets too) and anniversaries, and plug them into your CRM for automatic messages or into your calendar to provide a personal call or note. “Maintenance marketing” like this is easy to do, low cost, and a gentle reminder of who you are and what you do. Script: Hi Tom, This is Stephanie from Baird and Warner. It’s been awhile since we last connected so I wanted to reach out. I’m sorry we haven’t been in touch sooner since […your move] […we sold your home]. How are you [and the family]? Let me know if […]
Yearlong Marketing Plan
A marketing plan is a road map to achieve the goals set in your business plan. Start the year focused and on track with these six steps to an actionable plan: Your Pitch: Create a 20 – 30 second elevator pitch that describes what you do and how you are different than your competition. SWOT Analysis: Complete this matrix to identify your areas of opportunity to improve. Helpful Unfavorable Internal (controllable) Strengths Weaknesses External (uncontrollable) Opportunities Threats Goals: Use the results of your SWOT analysis to see what opportunities exist. Implement video? Increase sales in a new area? Limit your focus to 3 – 5 goals to stay on track throughout the year. Target Market: Define your ideal clientele. “Clientele” may be a price point, area, or group, like first-time buyers. When you know who you want to work with, you can determine where and how to reach them — not excluding your freshly polished database! Strategy and Tactics: Every goal you set needs a strategy (what to do) and set of tactics (how to do it). Here’s an example: Goal: Generate 30% more leads than last year Strategy: Boost referral opportunities Increase engagement on social media Tactics: Call 10 past clients every week Run one giveaway for past clients every quarter Publish one video on social media every other week Host a client appreciation party twice a year Budget ($ and Time): Remember, willingness to create a plan and follow it is worth more than any […]
Polish Your Database to Shine in 2019
A Realtor’s database (“book of business” or list of contacts) is the foundation of their business. It’s a living, breathing document that like other living things must be pruned from time to time. To effectively earn trust, referrals, and new business from this list of past, current and future clients, the details in your database must be clean and segmented. Clean simply means that information in your database is accurate, spelled correctly, and up to date. Segmented means that your list is divided into smaller groups. First things first: Check for duplicates and errors. Once complete, review your client groups (or create them if you don’t have them yet). Real estate guru and renowned coach Brian Buffini defines client groups like this: A+ sent you multiple referrals A are most likely to refer you B who would refer you, if asked and shown how C might refer you in the future D need to be deleted Bigger is not always better in the case of your database. A database carefully organized is more powerful than a database three times larger that is unorganized. Now that your list is pruned down to the contacts who matter, you can begin to look for more distinct smaller groups. Identifying different groups allows you to target the information you share to address the needs and interests specific to each group. More effective messages means you save time, receive more responses, and ultimately create more business opportunities – whether it’s done […]
Commitment to Excellence from NAR
I just completed the new REALTOR® c2ex (Commitment to Excellence Program) and became c2ex endorsed. I highly recommend all REALTORS® take this program to increase competence and professionalism in our industry and better serve the consumers. There is no cost but a lot of effort that must go into obtaining this endorsement. Go to https://www.c2ex.realtor to get started. There was a lot of great information and tasks to complete but I have to say affirming the pledge at the end was my favorite part. Here it is: I am a REALTOR®. As a real estate professional, laws and regulations set the minimum standards I owe to my clients, customers, and the public. In that regard, my duties are the same as other practitioners. As a REALTOR®, I embrace and I am bound by the duties spelled out in the REALTORS® Code of Ethics. In addition to the duties owed to my clients and customers, to the public, and to other REALTORS®, I strive for the aspirational goals of the Preamble, knowing that the term REALTOR® stands for competency, fairness and integrity. I believe in the value of the land. I understand the importance of adequate housing, functioning, livable cities, productive industries and farms and a healthful environment, and their role in nurturing a free society in the United States and internationally. As a real estate professional I may be required to meet ongoing education requirements to maintain a license, certification or designation. As a REALTOR®, I continuously enhance my grasp […]
Make A Listing Video Like a Pro
Before making any real estate video you need to make a plan. For a listing video, this means taking the floor plan and mapping out where you want to shoot and in what order. Make note of any features you want to mention, like high ceilings, wine fridge, or views from family room. Ask your seller what they love most about the home for more ideas. Buyers need to imagine themselves living in the home and a great way to help them is by asking your seller to share stories about memories they made there. If they have photos from specific events, like holidays or family gatherings, use them. Once your script and stories are ready, record a few practice walkthroughs paying attention to light and moving any objects that don’t flatter the setting. Pre-Production Tips: Put your phone in Airplane Mode to avoid unexpected calls or notifications Take a few practice shots to test sound and light Headphones are better to test audio quality than your phone’s speaker If you’re going to be at a loud place, like a conference or community event, use tape to cover your microphone holes to cutback on background noise Be concise and keep videos brief – writing a script helps! Post-Production Tips: Use an app or program like iMovie or Filmora for editing Outsource editing or adding music or voiceover on Fiverr.com The applications of video for real estate marketing are truly endless. Not all need to be of […]
There are five basic elements of video marketing to consider before pressing the record button. You don’t need everything on this list to get started but these tools and techniques will save time and improve your video quality. With the right tools for the job, you’re on your way to effective video marketing – two are free and one is literally already in your pocket! A Plan Working on next year’s business or marketing plan is also the time to decide what type of video content you want to share and how often. Consider weekly, monthly, and quarterly ideas. A couple months of sticking to your plan and you can begin to recycle and repurpose your videos. For example, what you live streamed on Facebook yesterday can be uploaded to YouTube next week. Or the video you put on YouTube two weeks ago can be shared on LinkedIn. Longer videos can be edited into smaller pieces and shared in segments to expand your content library and meet your posting goals. Camera Your smartphone camera or digital camera is perfect to start. Until it makes sense for you to outsource video production, the tools you have at hand will work well. Tripod and / or Gimbal A tripod stand is perfect for setting your camera on your desk or any flat surface. Modern models have flexible legs to attach your camera to stationary objects, like wrapping it around a staircase railing to film […]
Video marketing is here and now! There’s plenty of time and a lot of opportunities to incorporate this business-boosting marketing tool into your 2019 business or marketing plan, and do it affordably. The benefits of video are abundant and proven. Right now, you can probably easily think of someone in your office who uses it well. You thinking of that person proves its benefit. Videos increase your brand awareness, provide proof of your expertise, increases your SEO (Search Engine Optimization, i.e. your chance to appear in search results), and lets people get to know you before working with you. When you allow people a look into your work and life, they can begin to know, like, and trust you. Video content speeds up the “know, like, trust” process that forms relationships. Creating more relationships faster leads to more opportunities to propel your business forward. Before meeting you, people can see the true, authentic you when you use video to showcase your career. It’s no secret that videos are prioritized on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Because Google owns YouTube they automatically include videos with search results. YouTube is a must for this reason! You don’t need to use all of these platforms for video to impact your business but a solid strategy incorporates a few of them. Your video budget should align with your career level. It’s ok to start out with only a plan and your mobile phone but if more equipment or production support is […]
Success Doesn’t Come From What You Do Occasionally, It Comes From What You Do Consistently
We wait. A lot. We plant the seeds of our business, and we wait for them to sprout and grow. Waiting can be excruciating, especially when your livelihood depends on it. But as professional Realtors, we must always be tending to the garden of our contacts in a consistent, deliberate fashion. It can seem like we do more weeding than harvesting at times…but enough of the garden metaphor. You get it: consistent adherence to your communications plan, whatever you have deemed it to be, gets you results. Week after week, day after day, and yes, hour by hour, you must demonstrate your value to your old and new contacts so that when they are ready for help, you have already shown that you are more knowledgeable and capable than anyone else (and there are others, believe me). Plan. Execute. Stand out. Reap your harvest.
What’s In a Plan?
Business Plan…. two words we talk about, but do we follow through? If your plan contains reasonable, trackable and actionable elements, it becomes so much easier to use. What are the basic pieces of a great plan? Goals – Set some serious goals. Set them a few different ways. Personal and financial should both be listed. What You Need To Do To Get There – This is the perfect time to stop and review your marketing/sales efforts and evaluate what is working and what needs to be changed. Even if you have always done “X,” if it isn’t giving you the return on your time and money invested— change it up! Now, this is all well and good, and this is where it is so easy to stop. Ok, wrote down my goals, reflected on my marketing, now I will put this in a drawer and forget about it…..nope! Break it Down – Long-term goals are difficult to implement without a short-term roadmap. Break down what you need to do monthly and weekly—daily if need be—to get you to your destination. How many cards are you giving out? How many times are you touching your SOI and how? How many calls do you need to make to reach those final goals? What is your social media schedule? By setting this out in a calendar format, you will hold yourself accountable. Put it where you can see it, and let it nag you. How Can I […]
Time to Plan for 2019
The most important thing you can do right now is to create an in-depth business, marketing, and accountability plan that will clearly map out and ensure your success for 2019. The plan will help you further identify what skills you can improve or develop to help you achieve your goals. The most frequent outcomes agents want from their business are: Improved Life Balance / Family Relationships Systems in Place / Make it Easier Consistent and Predictable Business / Growth How did your past business planning activities do in reaching those goals? If you are like most brokers, you had no plan or only a very basic plan and it probably was not consistently followed either. The most successful agents have detailed plans, including an execution strategy; they schedule the plan into their calendar, and then track the progress and results regularly. Know Your Numbers Closed Volume $ Closed Units Average Sales Price $ Average Commission Rate Income Business Expenses Expenses as a % of Income Expenses Per Transaction Leads Generated Lead to Closing ratio This is the very basic list. For the complete list of the numbers you should know contact me and I will be happy to send it to you.Business Plan Tips: Do not wait until the Last Minute! Making a plan for success in 2019 should happen while 2018 is starting to wind down. Give yourself time to think clearly and plan well. Gather all the numbers you need prior to starting the plan. Hopefully you kept […]
Keep Yourself Out of Trouble – Legal and Ethics Compliance is no joke
Lately I have heard of many fines leveled at agents usually starting at $250 and going up from there and just last week I saw that IDFPR had suspended a licensee and fined them $250,000 for advertising violations. To help keep you out of trouble here are the Most Frequent Violations of Licensee Law and Code of Ethics I have seen recently. Business Brokerage Services without being a registered business broker with the state of Illinois. Unless there is real estate included in the sale and the real estate is more than 50% of the total value of the business you must get certification from the state of Illinois and have business broker E&O insurance. Years ago, this was not the case but it has been for the last several years. Check the NSBAR Newsletter from September 14 2018 for a detailed article on this. Here is a short excerpt: “Licensed real estate salespeople and brokers may be called upon to assist with the sale of a business that fits within the parameters of the IBBA, so it is important to analyze whether or not they must register with the Secretary of State’s office to ensure compliance. If the sale of the business is one in which an interest in real estate is a dominant element in the transaction, then the IBBA does not apply. As a result, the first question to address is whether an interest in real estate is a dominant element in the transaction. The rules under […]
Are You Interested or Are You Committed?
Over the years, I have noticed one mistake that agents make consistently. What’s that mistake you ask? Getting busy and not making the time to prospect and work their leads and network. Our “spring market” kicks in, and agents are busy showing homes, listing new properties and putting out fires. Transaction management and deal doctoring can take over our days. Of course, this has to be done just be careful you are not spending all of your time on your current business and not investing time generating future opportunities. Blocking out time on your calendar for business building will ensure your fall and winter business continues to thrive. You should treat your prospecting and lead follow up with the same level of importance as a listing appointment. You wouldn’t cancel on a potential seller, would you? Start by figuring out how many hours a week you need to work on your business building and put it on your calendar – this time commitment will be based upon the income goal you set in your 2018 business plan. When you block off time, plan ahead and know what you are going to be working on (following up on your leads, sending a mailing, calling your sphere, farming, reaching out to past clients, etc.) so that you can get straight to work. Achieving your goals will be that much easier if you know what you need to be working on every day. Remember, if you are not just interested but committed to […]
Email Marketing Tools
Sure, email seems like the step-child of technology now, in light of all that Social media affords us. However, we tell our agents that offering valuable information often requires more than a snapped photo. Ironically, email can now feel MORE personal than other tools. If I am your prospect and I receive a personalized market update from you about my own neighborhood, I feel more attended to by you than if I see a post of yours at an open house that 500 other people see. Use your email to send market updates from Infosparks or a CMA Summary off the MLS. Better yet, are you using Hot Sheets to its best and highest potential? Check it every day, then email a listing you see that reminds you of one of your prospects—not that you think they will run out and buy it—but it says you are thinking of them as you are out and about in the marketplace. YOU HAVE INFORMATION THEY NEED, and there is sometimes no better way to show that than through a personal email. Mass CRM email marketing is great, just don’t forget that getting back to basics with individualized messages can be a beautiful thing!
Just like a New Year’s resolution, one thing, as agents, we say we need to do, but never actually do is establish a time management system. Seriously? We are too busy fighting fires and building our business to take time for that. Feeling overwhelmed and stressed yet? Much of that comes from knowing we are working harder not smarter. It is difficult to stop and assess our business flow in order to organize our time effectively, but it is one of the best things we can do for ourselves and our business. There are time management systems that cater to every personal style of working, but the best include time blocking elements that apply across the board. The short list of which blocks to include in your schedule: ¨ Time for yourself – recurring activities/family /gym /vacations list these and make sure you put them on the calendar. Remember you are working to enjoy your life – you need to take care of yourself. ¨ Prospecting – this includes networking & marketing activities: calls, notes, open houses, & social media. ¨ Client follow up – plan to touch base with all your active clients once a week, both listing and sales, and be consistent. Especially in a tough market, a simple call will let your clients know you are on top of things. ¨ Answering emails & paperwork – the admin side of the job. By setting a regular time for this, you will be more efficient and timely rather than disorganized and scattered. […]
Social media can be an overwhelming strategy for many real estate agents these days. Many cannot understand how to engage with clients, which platforms to use, and what to share. Here is a quick guide to each platform and how it can help you grow your business. Facebook: 90% of all social network users in the US are on Facebook. It is the most popular platform. What’s nice about Facebook, is that it’s a user friendly platform. You can engage your clients with questions and “talk” to them and find out what they are looking for. Facebook accepts text, photos, and videos. You can really maximize your performance to a wide range of people by boosting your posts to a larger market. Instagram: It is currently the fastest growing social platform and allows for exposure and engagement through hashtags in a way that Facebook does not. It is currently the top engagement tool for brands two years running. 90% of its 600 million unique monthly users are under 35 and follow brands there. Only 55% of companies are on Instagram so there is an opportunity. You are talking through your photos and videos – so make each one count! Twitter: 317 million unique monthly users engage with brands and businesses. 94% of users plan to make a purchase from a small business they follow, and 69% have already done business with a brand they saw on Twitter. Be careful as this platform tends to get on your political side. Linked In: […]
Marketing and Lead Generation for the Fall
2018 may seem like it is coming to an end after the traditional busy seasons have concluded and many are already starting to think towards 2019. This is certainly a good idea to have a strong Spring next year; however, there are still a lot of homes to be listed and sold before 2018 ends. Here are some ideas to spark business now and in the New Year: *Sponsor a food or coat drive *Hold a Halloween-themed block party *Do a mailing with tips on preparing your home for the winter *Hold a Client Appreciation Event (Octoberfest or football are great themes for the fall) *Call all the potential move-up buyers in your database. Current market conditions are great for many move-up buyers! *Schedule a day to clean up and add to your database. Reach out to those you have not contacted recently *Deliver smoke alarm batteries to your SOI with a reminder to change them when they turn clocks back *Start a business networking group with fall and winter service providers. Snow plow, gutter cleaning, etc.
Inspiring Offers with Price Adjustments
There is an old saying in real estate: “It’s a beauty contest and a price war, and you have to win both.” Even though inventory was generally low across our marketplace in early 2018, the market has shifted and this tenet is important to remember. If buyers don’t recognize the value in what is offered, even if there aren’t many from which to choose, they won’t be inclined to make an offer. For serious buyers to recognize value, it is that perfect balance of size, aesthetic appeal, location and price. If that balance is off kilter, it affects the perception of value. Sometimes sellers need to be convinced to drop the price, or “adjust” as we like to say, to maintain the perceived value of their home in the marketplace. Agents should use data, such as that available from Infosparks, to demonstrate the current trends like list to sale price ratio, months’ supply and price trajectory to offer tangible support for the price decrease you are suggesting. Specific comparable properties in their market are helpful of course, but often the broader picture helps the seller feel that they are not alone and can help them see it is the market and not their listing agent that is telling them to adjust pricing. Remember, there is a sense of pride in their home that can turn into embarrassment for them if it isn’t selling. Facts and figures help them adopt the shift toward a value proposition that will win the day.
Working in the Luxury Market when Inventory is High
An April 2018 Forbes article titled, “Real Estate is Hot, Except at the High-End: Disruption Coming in the Luxury Home Market,” discussed high inventory, the risk-averse nature of today’s high-net-worth consumer and the ability of the wealthy to wait and see. It also stated that 52% of the wealthiest Americans live in homes worth less than $500,000. In Illinois, we can add to that list the Illinois state government’s issues, the impact of high property taxes, the new income tax plan with a $10,000 cap on SALT deductions for married couples, as well as the amount of jobs and residents leaving compared to the smaller numbers moving to Illinois. For all these reasons, many of our Chicagoland Luxury markets are experiencing inventory levels that are quite high with no indication of coming down. This has created great opportunities for buyers and, conversely, is causing frustrations for sellers and listing agents. So what is a listing agent to do? *Luxury buyers expect the homes to be perfect when they come to look. Any issues should be repaired, and it should show at its absolute best. *Rework your copy to tell the story of the buyer’s lifestyle in the home and include Luxury brand names of items such as appliances, designer wall coverings and known builders or architects. *Luxurious, Captivating, Impeccable and Landscaped are key words to use for Luxury sales, according to Zillow. *Videos including drone footage are now a must. *Utilize social media channels to get the word out. *Post […]
Time is Ticking on 2018—Who is Holding You Accountable?
Accountability! There I said it. Some consider it a “bad” word that brings out negative feelings. Right now, you may be seeing visions of the principal’s office. That is not the accountability that increases your productivity. Accountability is a good thing. The more you swim in the pool of accountability, the more success you will have. The most important piece to the accountability puzzle is selecting the right partner. You know what you need to do to be successful, but often we let distractions along the way keep us from what needs to be done. To me, an accountability partner is like the blinders a racehorse wears to avoid distraction during a race. They are there to keep you focused on living and working in the present, and looking forward to the future. You will have less distractions and incompletes working with a partner. Your accountability partner can be your managing broker, another broker associate, a mentor or even a friend. It is crucial to be held accountable to make sure you are doing what is necessary to gain more business. If your accountability partner is not holding your toes to the fire, you will under-perform. Selecting the right partner is key to staying on track. It is important to establish your goals and make them visible. You have to see it to do it! Now you are on your way to tracking and measuring your results. Try an accountability partner today, and start feeling the motivation that comes with […]
Are You on Track with Your Business and Marketing Plan?
Mid-year has its own allure: Summer starts, vacations beckon, the spring real estate season is in full swing, and it almost feels like a new beginning, right? But as REALTORs® we can’t forget that we are beginning the end of our earning year. Only one half left to hit those goals and be successful on our terms…terms that you set for yourself 6 months ago! Here are three self-checks to avoid the 4th quarter blues: 1) Calculate how many listing appointments you went on and how many of those you WON. If you didn’t win some, set aside time to refresh and refine your listing presentation, so that you present an improved version for the second half of 2018. 2) Review your “touches” to your A and B people on your contact list– you know, the ones who would definitely recommend you–Have you been consistent with a message that is of VALUE to them? Get back on track with some market statistics pertinent to them, so that they feel good about recommending you for your expertise, not just your personality. 3) Are you present in the community? Get back to basics with open houses, community events, volunteering and being out and about. Know your market facts when you are asked at an event (and you WILL be asked). Set yourself up as the person to call who is part of the community. To paraphrase Winston Churchill, “This isn’t the beginning of the end, but perhaps, the end of the beginning.” […]
Setting Expectations + Clear Communications = Successful Seller Negotiations!
Successful negotiations strategies for your seller start with you the listing broker. You have worked hard for the listing starting with pricing appropriately, giving buyers ample access, making it beautiful and exposing it to the market on steroids. Be sure that you are communicating the process to your seller. We all know this market is moving faster than a speedy bullet with low inventory and multiple offers. It is important to set the expectation with your seller so they can negotiate without the process stressing them out. Once you know your seller’s priorities you can move forward more easily through the negotiations. 10 Steps to Success! Set the expectation with the seller Utilize a negotiation log Determine what terms are most important to your seller Clearly communicate to all interested buyer brokers Set the timeline for offer presentation- highest and best Review all offers with seller, and explore and investigate options Seller can accept, reject or choose one offer to negotiate or ask for highest and best again Remember you cannot counter more than one offer at a time. There is only 1 home to sell Clearly communicate to buyer’s broker the terms and or conditions of all counters Move quickly. It’s not complete until it is signed! AND DELIVERED!!
Rules for Writing Your Offer and Getting That House for Your Buyer in a Seller’s Market
Act Fast – Get the offer in right away and advise your buyers to respond quickly to seller’s counters. Raise the Price (Within Reason) – Obviously you don’t want your buyer to pay more than they need to pay; however, in a seller’s market they may need to step up or lose multiple offer after multiple offer. Make a counteroffer the buyers will be ok with if they get the house or they don’t. I call this the “No Regrets price.” Increase the Earnest Money Deposit – The amount of money buyers put down can sometimes trump higher offers. Demonstrate Patience About Taking Possession – Allowing the seller flexibility could help your buyers’ offer stand out. Let Go of a Few Contingencies – With Care – Reduce the number of contingencies buyers are asking for. Giving the seller reassurance that the deal will likely close can carry more weight than price sometimes. Ask for Fewer or No Concessions – Concessions effectively lower the seller’s net proceeds. Have Buyers Pick Up the Cost of the Home Warranty if the Seller is Including One- The plan that covers the cost of repairing major home appliances and systems, within a certain period. Know When to Walk Away – When negotiating with a seller, trust your gut. If your buyers don’t want to make any more trade-offs – and the seller won’t budge – it’s smart to walk. Sometimes the deal just can not be made. Negotiating is tough and draining. Losing something you’ve […]
Low Inventory: What’s the plan??
Are you prepared with a strategy, now that you and your clients will likely confront multiple offer situations? Whether you are helping clients buy or sell, you can demonstrate your value by coming to the party with a strategic approach in this scrappy, low inventory marketplace! For your sellers, talk ahead of time about pricing strategies and how that might invite multiple offers. And if that happens, how will you respond to maximize their net while still successfully appraising? Talk about the pros and cons of calling for highest and best, versus countering one. Talk about the pros and cons of exposing their home on the Private Listing Network ahead of the MLS. When you map out likely scenarios ahead of time, you and your sellers can react thoughtfully and confidently to whatever offers roll in. What about helping your buyers “win” in a multiple offer situation? Talking ahead of time about the point at which you think they would be overpaying for a property can be helpful. Forecasting for them that the pace of negotiating may be hastened because of low inventory can prepare them to have all their ducks in a row and respond quickly and decisively when it really counts. Understanding the appraisal process and explaining it to them ahead of time helps them with their borrowing plan as well. Explain all of the terms of a contract, other than price, that may help strengthen their offer, and know what matters to the seller. All of these […]
Power Your Mornings
Whether you are going to have a good day or a bad day has much to do with what kind of morning you have. Take these steps to have a POWERFUL morning and a better chance of having an excellent day filled with positivity and energy. Drink a tall glass of water. – Replenish your body’s water after losing water overnight. Exercise. – Get your body moving. Energy creates more energy. Even a short walk is great for you! Meditate or Read. – Fill your head with positive ideas and thoughts. (Stay AWAY from the news) Journal. – Write down things that you are grateful for in your life. Self reflection brings to light all of the good things going on in your life. Write down your goals for the day for purpose and direction. Eat a healthy breakfast. – Protein is vitally important. Stay away from highly sugared meals, so that you don’t crash later in the day. If you follow this simple 5 step morning routine, you can expect a POWERFUL and positive day!
Be Comfortable with the Code of Ethics and License Law on Social Media
The one thing we need to be comfortable with is compliance with the Realtor® Code of Ethics and Illinois License Law. One of the biggest issues we see locally is on social media. All social media pages used to promote your business or attract clients must identify you and your brokerage by full name and identify your role at the company. Your role in Illinois would be Broker unless you are the named managing broker of an office then you are required to use managing broker. The same goes for real estate related posts. Using #YourCompanyFullName and #Broker (or managing broker if you hold that position) in all your real estate related posts can save you from receiving a fine. The Code of Ethics Requires this to be one click away Unless State License Law is stricter. Many forget our Illinois License Law requires the full company name to be immediately and readily apparent- everywhere – even on Twitter and Instagram posts. The Illinois Real Estate License Act requires your full company name, your name and your role to be immediately obvious to the public in all advertising including social media. If you are part of a franchise company you must display the full name of the brokerage, not just the franchise’s name. Generic pages such as Local Housing Market News must contain your full name, you full brokerage name and your role. Social media posts that contain a team name must also contain the complete brokerage name and your […]
How Uncomfortable are you?
Staying in your comfort zone is very tempting and, in fact, most brokers do just that! That temptation to stay comfortable is the reason that we have such a low rate of true success in our industry. Only around 7% of practitioners truly make a good income. This month we are sharing some ideas to help you be more Uncomfortable and Successful in your business. 3 Key Steps to Getting Uncomfortable *Call a person that you have lost touch with such as a past client, old friend etc. each day. *Call all of your active sellers whose homes are not selling and have the difficult discussions. *Get out your business plan and review your goals. Are your goals a little frightening to think about accomplishing? If not write some new, uncomfortable, goals. Once you have done this take the most uncomfortable step and find someone to hold you accountable to work your plan and reach your goals. This should be someone that knows how to reach those goals themselves and how to be a good coach. There are many great real estate coaches you can hire for this priced from a few thousand a year to a few thousand a month. Another, more cost effective, option is to find a managing broker or mentor that provides expertise, experience and specialized knowledge in coaching agents to greater success.
Becoming a Real Estate Business Owner
People often talk about wanting a career in real estate. The reality is that real estate brokers are not in a career; they are actually owners of a business. In Illinois and most states, the bulk of the real estate brokers (broker is the proper term in Illinois, not agent or salesperson) are independent contractors. This makes you as a broker the business owner. You are affiliated with a brokerage but your business is yours to run and profit from, much like a franchise owner. Just like a franchise the brokerage you choose should provide you with training, tools and resources to help you be successful. The good news is that starting a real estate practice in our area is absolutely the cheapest and one of the easiest businesses to get off the ground. The not so good news is that most people that get into real estate don’t last more than a year or two. The industry has a failure rate for new licensees of around 70% by the end of year two. Of those that stick with it the top 25% are the ones that are making a good living to being very high earners. So what makes some successful while others are not? #1 Highly motivated to succeed #2 Having a competent coach holding them accountable for their goals and dreams #3 The training their chosen office and company provide #4 The support available to them in their chosen office #5 The tools, systems, and resources the […]