Archive for the ‘Realtor tips’ Category

Fantastic Book & Signing in San Diego This Sunday

Friday, March 4th, 2011

What kind of animal are you? I highly recommend this book, and if you would like to meet the author here is the information for Sunday’s book signing in San Diego.

Meet Stefan Swanepoel, author of Surviving Your Serengeti:
Sunday, March 6, 2011
7:00 pm ‚ 8:30 pm
Manchester Grand Hyatt

Lobby Bar

Bring your own copy of Surviving Your Serengeti or you can pick one up for $20 at this book signing. Stefan will be signing books, answering questions, and giving out “What Animal Am I?” pins. So be sure to take the quiz before coming! (Click this link to take the quiz: http://www.whatanimalami.com/)

The Manchester Grand Hyatt is in the heart of San Diego right on the waterfront. Find us just left of the check in desk in the open area by the lobby bar.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Manchester Grand Hyatt
1 Market Place
San Diego, CA 92101

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Cooperation Stomps Competition in Real Estate

Sunday, February 27th, 2011

Real estate, like any sales business, thrives on competition. But it is the nature of the competition that can give the industry a bad name. There is a time for competition, which can be healthy, and a time for colleagues to cooperate–and actually they can exist simultaneously. So whether you are “the top producer” in an area, someone who sells just a few homes a year, or somewhere in between–listen up.

Realtors are a different breed of business people. True, our business involves sales, but realistically we provide much more: we are guidance counselors, teachers and personal trainers. We don’t just hand someone an apple from the bunch and take a quarter, so to speak. Purchasing a home is one of the biggest financial decisions a person makes in his or her lifetime. It is not something that typically happens quickly, and there is a lot of work involved. The Realtor who only cares about a paycheck will not last long, especially with technology driving change in our industry. We have to be smarter, more connected, better equipped to assist our clientele and each other.

In such an atmosphere there is one mantra that needs to be followed: we all need to cooperate. No kidding, you say, right? But honestly, there are many agents out there who still think it is all about themselves. Of course, we do compete with each other, but we also need to increase the trust in our industry, and that cannot be done unless we all respect each other and perform our duties in the most professional manner.

Every industry has it’s complainers, it’s sour pusses, it’s bad eggs. Look at lawyers–the general opinion seems to be that they are disliked, but if you are arrested or sued you would be calling one faster than a speeding bullet. There are many amazing lawyers out there, but the bad eggs spoil the perceptions of the industry. The same is true of real estate.

So, get out there and respect your competition. Join industry chats, follow other agents on Twitter and Facebook, read Realtor blogs, share your knowledge with other agents. Return agent phone calls and emails. It doesn’t mater how many houses you sell or how much money someone spends on marketing. If you do the best you can do with what you have and you are happy, you can only get better by cooperating with others and paying it forward.

If you want to take it one step further, keep in mind that cooperation is important but you also need to watch what you say–both to colleagues, clients and online. To read more about this click here: http://realestateandwomen.net/2011/02/23/the-importance-of-watching-what-you-say/

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You’d Better Watch What You Say

Friday, February 25th, 2011

With the world online it has become harder to uphold reputations and maintain your desired degree of professionalism…you actually have to work at keeping them in check. Clients and colleagues can check up on you in an instant, so what you say online and in person needs to be well-thought out. Realtors are no exception; in fact, they probably have to be more careful than the average person, for fear of violating a myriad of laws or regulations. For some tips on how to keep your reputation untarnished read more at http://realestateandwomen.net/2011/02/23/the-importance-of-watching-what-you-say/

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The Unloyal Client

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

I love being a Realtor, and I especially love using my experience and background to make a difference in helping others. Like many businesses involving sales, the hope is that when you serve people well they will remain loyal to you, but many Realtors find at least once in their careers that loyalty can fly out the window in a heartbeat. So, how do we keep clients loyal?

First of all, you have to understand that it is human nature to always look for the next best thing. Granted, many people respect loyalty–if I find a good service provider I stick with them. But there are people in every industry who are out there preying on consumers, trying to win them over. Unfortunately that is true in our industry as well. And while your clients are free to work with whomever they choose it still hurts when they choose to work with another agent or worse, when they don’t come back to you, especially if you have stayed in touch and provided great service. Here are some tools you can (and should) use to connect with your clients, keep the relationship strong, and remind them of your stellar service:

1. The good, old-fashioned phone call and visit. Despite all the online hype this is the tried and true method for keeping in touch with clients. Call your clients periodically, stop by for a visit, meet them for coffee. Stay in touch on a personal level.

2. Email. Send your clients emails of any interesting articles or blogs/summaries you may read that may pertain to their neighborhood. You can include new listings, events, or anything you like. Make sure you do this once or twice a month at least.

3. Connect with your clients via Social Media. This is another way to stay in touch. Encourage them to “like” your Facebook page so they can get all your great content sent to their Facebook news feed. If your clients are tech-savvy encourage them to follow you on Twitter and connect with them on LinkedIn. Tell them to sign up for an RSS feed of your blog.

4. Anniversary. On the anniversary of their home purchase (if you sold them a home) send them a handwritten note. I love to drop off a little basket of sweets on the first anniversary, in honor of a sweet first year of home ownership.

5. Buyer-Broker agreements. Although controversial, there is always debate over whether to use these with buyers. Some brokerages require them, so if you are in that group obviously you don’t have a choice. The fact of the matter is that a client is free to work with whomever he or she chooses, so a signature on paper won’t really save you. But there are definitely many agents who will not work with a buyer until these agreements are signed.

6. Revamp your marketing goals and campaign several times a year. Take a look at your marketing and see where you can improve. If you are trying to get listings obviously you need to have a listing presentation that stands up to the competition. If you send out marketing pieces to your past clients make sure they are hitting the mark and are consistent. If you work with buyers are you providing them with enough information from the outset? There are always new ways to spruce up your marketing arsenal, so continue to seek them.

If you have done all of those things and your client still doesn’t value you then you have to take it with a grain of salt. It is easy to beat ourselves up in these situations, but if you know you provided great service then you have to chalk it up to human nature. Stay in touch with your clients even if they seek another Realtor’s assistance. I had a client years ago who used another agent to purchase a house while she was in escrow with me on another home (by fluke she had called on the home and the agent convinced her to write an offer–yes, call it slimy tactics on behalf of the agent but the client chose to do so). She called me after the purchase and said she wished she’d worked with me instead–the other agent did not compare to me, according to her. Well, at least she realized that I provided great service. It made me feel a little better.

If you are like me the lack of loyalty will be hard to swallow, but the more you remain true to yourself and continue to provide great service to your clients, the more people will appreciate you. Work with those who truly do, and you will be a much happier person.

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Do You Have Klout?

Friday, February 4th, 2011

Well, do you? If not, you need to get it! If you have no idea what I am talking about let me explain.

Klout is the future–it is where internet savvy people will go to check you out and find out who are the informative leaders in your field. Klout is the self-proclaimed “standard for influence.” It tells you how much influence you have online–who influences you and whom you influence. This is done by giving you a score, after evaluating your social media presence (from Facebook and Twitter). It looks at your content and what you are putting out there in cyberspace. Your score changes as your online presence grows or falters.

Klout provides a detailed breakdown of your online presence, covering topics like the likelihood that your content will be acted upon, the influence level of your engaged audience, and the size of your engaged audience. It breaks down these topics into charts or numbers so you can see a detailed analysis of how you are influencing others. For example, under the topic “Likelihood that your content will be acted upon,” you can see how many people have retweeted your tweets and how many times you have been mentioned on Twitter. It will tell you how many “likes” you have and the number of comments you have received on Facebook.

If you are using social media in your business this is a phenomenal tool. It can tell you where you need to focus more or maybe not spend so much time. By far one great advantagel is seeing who influences you and whom you influence. It’s a great way to learn how to grow your presence online and become an expert in your field. You can see the topics under which your content falls. For example, mine include real estate, law/attorneys, sales and social media.

Klout also gives you a classification, with 16 possible classifications, which Klout calls “a personality test for your style of influence.” Check it out at http://Klout.com. All in all it is a great way to see where you are making a difference, or how much clout you have. Ahem, I meant Klout.

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Social Media Etiquette 101

Monday, January 31st, 2011

If you use social media it is imperative you know your manners. So many people write things on Facebook, Twitter and other sites that clearly indicate they did not think before posting. In fact, one of the hardest things to teach our children–the first generation of social media people– is that what you say in cyber space can effect you, even years later. Here are some simple tips to assure your social media manners are in tact.

1. Do not post anything disparaging about yourself or others. There are plenty of stories about people who have lost their jobs or not been hired because of what they post on sites like Facebook. If you got drunk last night or you don’t like your boss, it may not be such a great idea to post these things. Even if your intention is to post something in jest, think about whether it could compromise views of you as a professional. If a co-worker did something unethical and you post about it, you could wind up in trouble legally…it’s called slander. Some of the laws regarding slander and the internet are still evolving and will continue to do so, so be careful if you write about another person. If you even allude to that person (“my boss,” or “the secretary of my company”) that could possibly be slanderous too.

2. Do not use social media as puffery. Social media sites are used by some–those who don’t truly understand their purpose– as a means of self-promotion only. You will quickly lose friends and connections on sites like Facebook and Twitter if the majority of what you post is about you, promotion of your business, or what a great ___ you are. People want good content, not bragging. It is ok to talk about yourself and your business, but make sure to mix it in with a lot of good content–useful information that will make people want to read your posts.

3. Learn the benefits of the different types of social media to make the most of each. Each site is different and realistically, you can post different things on each. For example, I find many people do not understand the benefits of Twitter. I did not when I first created an account over a year ago. But what I have learned since is that Twitter is not a means of getting business so much as it is a means to connect with industry experts and learning from them. It is the content that matters here–you follow those whom you respect or have good content, read their blogs, and hopefully get some great ideas for your business, your blog, etc. This is not the place to post “Call me for the best service,” although there is a time where you can do so (for example, if you are a Realtor and you are promoting a listing).

Another example is Facebook, which is a bit different and can have long comment threads. Feel free to comment on topics but realize that you need to think first. If you make a strong political statement or bash an industry it could come back to haunt you later. I have a good friend who is a recruiter for a big company, and her job is to check all social media sites of an applicant before they are called for an interview. Be careful.

4. Remember what you post is a reflection of YOU and your business. This is perhaps one of the most important pieces of advice (and I have written entire blogs dedicated to it), yet I am constantly amazed at how many people do not use spell check or read through their posts before hitting send. Grammar mistakes, typos and poor use of words reflect that you do not take the time to proof what you write. This is not only unprofessional, but makes it look like you don’t care. Is this the image you want to portray to colleagues and potential clients? It really does not take long to proof-read.

In conclusion, there are things you need to keep in mind that will truly help you to become a social media guru, and learn a lot in the process. Social media is an incredible tool, one that is necessary in today’s business climate. If you use it correctly the benefits will be plentiful. One last mention: if you want to read a great book on just how effective social media can be, why it is so important and how your role plays out, pick up a copy of Trust Agents by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith.

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Facebook vs. Twitter for Real Estate

Saturday, January 15th, 2011

Lately there has been a lot of discussion on which is “better” for Realtors and those involved with real estate: Facebook or Twitter? Many blogs and articles have voted Facebook as the more significant choice of the two. I submit that it is worth examining them both, as they offer different benefits.

Facebook is the quintessential way to stay in touch with friends and people you know. For Realtors it offers more benefits. You can connect with clients and colleagues, and it is a great way to keep in touch with everyone. You do have to be careful about how you use Facebook, though, because it should not be used as a marketing tool. Well, let me rephrase that: you don’t want to use Facebook to tell people to send you referrals, or to brag about what great service you provide. If you do this you will see your friend list diminish.

So, how CAN you use Facebook? Think of it as a way to show your personal side to all your connections, just like you do with friends. Create lists so you can send important information to clients and colleagues.

Where should you post business information? Create a Facebook business page. This is where it is ok to post business articles, blogs, videos and important information about your industry and what you are up to. You can post a link to your page on your Facebook page, asking people to “like” your business page. This is a fantastic way to share great information on a daily basis.

It is obvious that Facebook has some great advantages for sharing information across your sphere of influence. I have received calls from Facebook friends needing real estate advice or assistance, so if you use it correctly it can be a great tool.

What about Twitter? It is important to understand that Twitter is a completely different beast, and many people do not understand this. I have to admit that over a year ago I signed up with Twitter. People started “following” me and I didn’t really understand the significance, so I canceled my account. Now that I am back in the Twitter game and know what it’s about, I have to say that Twitter has changed my business.

Twitter is not about selling yourself, it is about connecting. I have connected with industry leaders, experts, real estate technology gurus and agents all over the globe who are making big changes in our industry. I have learned so much and have come to really respect a lot of the people I follow. I read their blogs and they read mine, we bounce ideas off each other, and I often find great topics to explore further and blog about just from reading Twitter posts. I have made some real friends, and I have also been asked to write for another national blog through my Twitter connections.

The bottom line is that if you think of Twitter as a personal way to get more educated within your industry and create amazing connections, and not as a way to “get clients,“then you will derive great benefits from Twitter.

Who wins in this contest? Well, I am going to disappoint you but it is a tie. I think you need to use BOTH forms of social media to see a difference. Remember, social media is not really about having the most connections or trying to find clients–it is about establishing yourself as an industry and area expert, or a “Trust Agent” (great book written by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith on this very topic). It is only when you truly understand how to use social media in the right way that you will reap the benefits.

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Do You Know How to Negotiate in Real Estate?

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011

Negotiating is one of the toughest skills to learn, yet it is imperative if you are representing buyers or sellers in a real estate transaction. To learn more read my latest blog at RAW (Real Estate and Women)…a great site for which I am proud to say I now write. http://realestateandwomen.net/2011/01/11/handling-tough-real-estate-negotiations/

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Professionalism in Real Estate: Back in Style

Monday, January 10th, 2011

Actually, it never went out of style, but judging from the behavior of some professionals in the real estate industry you wouldn’t know that. To be fair, this can be said of any industry‚Äîthere are always those who slack off, try to get more done in less time at the expense of the details.

The fact of the matter is that with the addition of technology the real estate sales industry has become a more difficult playing field. Buyers and sellers often do a lot of work before they even contact a Realtor. Gone are the days when you stuck a sign in the front yard and waited for offers to flow in, or when you picked a few homes to show in the area to a client who relied solely on your advice. Nowadays clients know the areas, neighborhoods, floorplans. They understand the comparables and why one property may command a higher price than the one down the street. You have to be savvy and actually keep up with them to succeed in real estate now.

Yet, despite all the knowledge available at customer fingertips there are still many agents who throw professionalism out the window on a daily basis. I have heard it from many clients and from the agents themselves! I have seen it on offers written by agents that were clearly not checked over and over again before being submitted.

Here is my list of simple ways to strive for more professionalism in the real estate industry.

1. Return phone calls, including those to other agents. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard or read of buyers who say they called a listing agent with questions, only to never receive a call back—unbelievable! This could be the person that presents an offer on your listing, or uses you to purchase another home, not to mention this is a violation of your fiduciary duties to your client/seller.

Oftentimes agents call other agents with questions on listings on behalf of their clients‚Äîreturn these calls immediately! If I don’t hear back in a reasonable time I won’t show your listing. This just happened to me a few weeks ago with a pretty big area brokerage‚Ķno call back. Well, they lost a showing with an all-cash client. It is about your reputation with clients AND within the industry, and believe me other agents know who are the non-responsive agents. Do you want to have this reputation?

2. Make sure you proofread all your emails and communications. This seems so simple but spelling and grammar errors are a reflection of YOU! This should also be applied online when writing blogs, commenting on other blogs or posts, and even with social media. Again, what you put out there in internet land is permanent and is a reflection of you! Use spell-check and grammar check programs on your computer.

3. Proof your marketing materials, people! You may say, “duh!” but I get flyers and materials in my mailbox almost every week from other agents that are filled with typos, grammatical errors and terrible, grainy photographs. Again, if you are trying to get new clients this way and you send out pieces that look bad, why would they want to call you? Personally I would rather not send out any materials than send out those that look bad.

4. Look professional. This one is a no-brainer. True, everyone has his or her own style. BUT you can dress casual and still look professional . There is a difference between dressy-casual and the ‚Äújust came from the gym‚Äù look. Again, how you present yourself makes a statement about who you are. You don’t have to wear Armani or Prada but you should look like you take your business seriously.

5. Send a hand written thank you card to the client, other agent and escrow officer at the close of escrow. This is often overlooked in the age of texting and instant messaging, but honestly a handwritten thank you is still the best compliment you can offer. Those agents will remember you next time they show your listing or receive an offer on their listing from your buyer.

It really doesn’t take much extra effort to be professional, but if you don’t have time to do these and other things to maintain your professionalism you need to rethink your goals, expectations and your career path. Not only do our customers expect us to be professional, they deserve it.

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Is Blogging a Part of Your Business Plan in 2011?

Monday, January 10th, 2011

Whether you are a Realtor or work in another industry, if you have not considered blogging as part of your business plan for 2011 you may want to think again. If you are a buyer or seller of real estate make sure your agent is active in the “blogosphere,” as it is a great way to market your property or help you find a property that may not yet be listed. Read my latest MoneyPress blog on why blogging is so important: http://www.moneypress.com/to-blog-or-not-to-blog.htm.

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