5 Ways to Improve Your Photography for More Offers

For a real estate agent, pictures can be worth thousands of dollars. Potential property buyers and home buyers now turn to the Internet to find listings, so it’s important that photos of the property make a great first impression.

With advancements in camera technology, agents no longer have to hire high-dollar photographers to do the job. If your pictures are appealing, realistic and professional, your chances of catching the eye of buyers are exponentially higher.

Remember the following five tips as you begin photographing your listing.

 

1. Professionally Stage the Home

Even if someone is currently living in the home, stage your listing like a professional. It’s important to take the current owner’s personal touches out of any photos and de-clutter the house—you want potential owners to be able to imagine themselves in the space so they’re more likely to make an offer quickly.

Remove cars from the driveway, magnets from the fridge, personal picture frames, etc. It will take time and energy to remove these things that don’t need to be in the photo, but it’ll be worth it for the listing to look clean and polished.

Of course, always place things back where you found them and warn the seller in advance of any inconvenience you might cause.

 

2. Split the Main Listing Photo

Splitting the listing photo, or creating a collage of both an interior and exterior photo, allows someone to immediately see both aspects without having to scroll through a bunch of pictures.

“Because our homes are so beautifully staged, the split photos gets it a lot of attention and sets it apart from every other listing in the MLS and online,” says Paul Moore, founder of Smith Mountain Homes

A collage can easily be made with a free app on your smartphone or simple graphic design software, such as Canva.com.

 

3. Emphasize the Selling Point of Each Room

As a realtor, you know that the main rooms of your listing have a selling point. Make sure your photos truly highlight each of these selling points so the potential buyer can immediately identify it. These features are often the reason homebuyers make an offer: “I’ve always wanted a galley kitchen, and this one is amazing!”

If it’s the natural light in the room, brand new appliances or the openness of the floor plan, show that off through your lens and make it the focal point of the shot. If the potential buyer can immediately identify all of the great selling points from six photos, it’s likely they’ll be more interested in talking with you right away.

 

4. Consider Lighting

Dark pictures with poor composition never turn out well. While you can invest in professional lighting and umbrellas, it’s not always necessary. Open the blinds and take advantage of natural light as much as you can so you don’t have to rely on the flash on your camera. Here are a few tips for getting the best lighting:

  • Dawn and dusk provide great lighting for outdoor shots.
  • Always photograph with the sun’s light—not against it.
  • Look for shadows that might change the tone of the photo or distract from the feature you’re showing off.

Don’t put any poorly lit pictures online for potential buyers—it shows that you didn’t spend quality time taking them, and in their mind, that may speak to the quality of work you do.

 

5. Experiment with Videography

If you’ve mastered photography for your listings, consider trying videography. Everyone loves a virtual tour and with the explosion of video on social media and beyond, real estate agents can get ahead of the curve and show listings in a new way.

Depending on the type of video you want to shoot, you can likely do it yourself. If you’ve invested in a nice DSLR (digital single-lens reflex), make sure to also purchase a tripod so that your panoramic videos aren’t shaky. Some agents are using drones to showcase larger properties as they provide really unique angles as well. Moore uses drones to truly capture the features of the lake front properties he sells.

If you take the time to film, don’t forget to edit every shot for a polished and professional look. You can hire freelance videographers if you are looking for complex work or a few staple videos to show off the region you sell in.

Jessica Thiefels has been writing for more than 10 years and has five years of experience in the marketing world. She is currently a lifestyle blogger and has been featured on Ms. Career Girl, Inman and LifeHack.org. Follow her on Twitter @Jlsander07.

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5 Vendors Good Real Estate Agents Keep Handy

“One afternoon in a sales training seminar, the speaker wrote OPPORTUNITY IS NOWHERE on the board.  It was meant to remind us to view the words one of two ways: either Opportunity is Now Here or Opportunity is Nowhere.  An astute salesperson, especially in residential real estate sales, knows to keep their ears and eyes open for opportunity while others are more comfortable in finding reasons they aren’t successful.  When you fill your pipeline with prospective “opportunities,”  it helps to think outside of the box.

One often overlooked strategy for residential salespeople (but used quite often in commercial real estate and property management) is to partner with vendors  outside of your direct industry.   Here are the five vendors  a good real estate agent should have handy and that can refer business to you in return:

Plumbers.  Your plumber not only makes a good living and may be purchasing or selling a home, but let’s face it, a plumber’s office is inside other people’s home.  They may not be thinking to ask the homeowner whether or not they could use your services, but while fixing or making improvement to one’s home, they are certainly positioned to chat about a rather helpful topic for you – the home.  Simply let your plumber know that you would like to refer business to him or her and then actually follow through with those referrals.  Then politely ask, “Do you happen to know anyone right now that is planning to buy or sell a home.  If you do, I’d be happy to give them a call with their permission.” Tell them a name, phone number, email address and even home address would help you prepare for the conversation as well.

Carpet & Hardwood Flooring Specialists.  Roll out some red carpet of your own for these vendors.  Nothing says flipping like a new layer of carpet and scratched up wood floors makes every what to fix before selling your home list you read.  Carpet companies are great for referring because if they work with a client who is, in fact, fixing their home up to sell it, their need for your service is about as immediate as it gets. WINDOW

Window Installation & Repair Professionals.  Another favorite for home sellers is to repair or install new windows and frames.  Anything that adds to the value of a home without breaking the bank is a great way to get referrals who are closer in the cycle.

CONCRETE

Concrete and Driveway Pavers.  Before the red front door, before the newly planted flowers, the driveway leading up to a home gives the real first impression to neighbors and passers by.  Repaving your driveway or a nice cobblestone walkway is no inexpensive home improvement either.  It doesn’t scream I’m about to sell my home, but with sellers listing every 9 years on average, a true listing agent knows meeting everyone in the community is well worth it.  Companies that offer paving and concrete services are good friends to have in the home builder and new construction arena.

PAINT

Painter.  Every investor knows the value of a good exterior pain job when selling a home.  It’s the first impression many homeowners think about before selling their home. Even inside the home, one of the most commonly used vendors to prepare for selling your home are local painters so you should have one ready to recommend.

Before you start making proposals to these prospective partners, a few things to remember are to

  1. Always ask if they are looking for new clients first, you don’t want to assume they think as highly of your partnership potential as you do.    They may be looking to retire or have more business then they care to deal with so it’s always best to ask first.
  2. Another point to consider is whether or not they are a reputable vendor with the appropriate licensing and insurance for their field.  When building a network of vendors, this is quick research that’s worth it.
  3.  Check reviews and find vendors in your area on websites like Thumbtack and Angies List.  Again, make sure you have worked with them on several occasion before adding them to your list.  Referrals are great, but you still have your reputation to watch out for so be certain they uphold the same standard of ethics.
  4. Add your vendors to a preferred vendors list with proper legal disclaimers and allow your clients to download it from your website.  Add a forced registration and generate leads of your own this way while adding value as a real estate professional.
  5. Add your contacts to your CRM and send them your newsletter and holiday cards with permission.  You won’t see them all the time so stay top of the mind the same way you do with homeowners and prospective home buyers.

Check out this infographic for more on the list in the Top 10 Vendors Every Agent Should Have in Their Back Pocket.

How Successful Will You Be in Real Estate?

Picture the most successful real estate agent in your area… What are they wearing?  How do they act? When you picture the most successful agent in your area, is it you?  If not, then what does that person have  or what do they do that has made them more successful than you?  Can it be taught?  Some experts say YES because the key to being successful lies in this – how in tune you are with your own emotions and behaviors, how you perceive those around you, and how skilled you are at adapting your behaviors in response.  In psychology, it’s referred to as emotional intelligence and, in business, many are saying it (your EQ) matters more than IQ when identifying one’s potential for success.

“Emotional intelligence emerges as a much stronger predictor of who will be most successful, because it is how we handle ourselves in our relationships that determines how well we do once we are in a given job.” – Dr. Daniel Goleman, Ph.D., Psychologist and Leading Researcher on Emotional Intelligence

unlockEmotional Intelligence (or EQ) in the business world is considered by many to be more important  than IQ.  So what is emotional intelligence exactly and how can you unlock the traits you already possess to maximize your success in real estate?

EQ is defined by top researchers Peter Dalovey and John C. Mayer as “the subset of social intelligence that involves the ability to monitor one’s own and others’ feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them, and to use this information to guide one’s thinking and your actions.” More simply, your EQ is how you perceive the world around you, how you respond to it and how you handle it when it responds to you.

Why is this important as a real estate salesperson? First and foremost, this is a relationship business – you aren’t just selling homes, you are also selling yourself and your services. Your social skills, self-awareness, ability to handle others’ emotions, and an in-depth understanding of how you manage relationships with others matters more than you think.  Another reason is there is a very high failure rate among real estate salespeople and as you advance in your career, much of what you learn about the business comes from online continuing education courses that don’t tap into what truly makes someone a success.shutterstock_91463864

Many people believe a good combination of IQ and EQ make for the most successful people.  Travis Bradberry wrote an article entitled Why You Need Emotional Intelligence to Succeed in Business  featured in Forbes online that claims, “people with average IQs outperform those with the highest IQs 70% of the time.” So, if you thought you weren’t smart enough to succeed in real estate, think again.  Bradberry reminds us that “intelligence is your ability to learn, and it’s the same at age 15 as it is at age 50. Emotional intelligence, on the other hand, is a flexible set of skills that can be acquired and improved with practice.”

Let’s look at the characteristics of successful salespeople: charismatic, verbal acuity, high energy, good listening skills, excellent follow-up, manages their time well, empathetic, ego-driven, passionate, confident, strong core values, a hunter mentality, alert to opportunities, positive, personable, organized and disciplined. Did I miss any?

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Now see if you already have what it takes to be successful by taking this free online test that gives insight into your personality and many of the aspects that make up your emotional intelligence.  (Paid tests that are more thorough include the Myers–Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and the Kiersey test .)  Your end result will be four letters.  Review your personality type for clues about what inner traits you should tap into and which you may need to change. 16 Personalities also has a great review of the different personality types here including how your personality affects you at work.

Understanding your score:

  1. Extroverted vs. Introverted: The first letter of your score will be either an E or an I standing for extroverted or introverted. Typically we think of successful salespeople as extroverts, with excellent communication skills, high energy and a knack for persuasion.  But do they have the key skills often held by the introvert?   Your inner realtor may be energetic, confident, positive and personable – but how good are you at listening?
  2. Intuition vs. Sensing: The second letter will be either an N or S for intuitive or sensing. Someone who is intuitive will rely more on thinking than experiencing an event and tend to think more in terms of reading between the lines.  They aren’t as motivated by past experiences because they tend to be forward-thinking and more drawn to what could be while the sensing counterparts tend to solve problems with facts and past experiences.  A sensing person will look at the facts first and allow what they know to be true to build the ultimate big picture
  3. Thinking vs. Feeling: A thinking T-personality is more of a Dudley Do-Right than the Feeling types. They like consumer reports and are rarely enticed into decision making based on emotion. Logical and perhaps less passionate to some extent, the T’s are difficult to persuade with anything short of statistics and data.  The Feelers think with their hearts and may do “the right thing” in their minds provided the right thing feels right.  They are more passionate and perhaps more able to see the pain in their customer and be empathetic to offer their service as a solution.
  4. Judging vs. Perceiving: The J-type is one who makes lists, is organized, decisive and feel comfortable when in control of their environment.  They know what their goals are, set benchmarks and have an almost unbending routine toward achieving those goals.  Traits like disciplined, time management, follow up skills all lie strongly in the hands of the J-Type.  The P-person by comparison will see them as opinionated and narrow-minded.  They know how to adapt and go with the flow and prefer the openness of their schedule.  They want to know what’s going on first and then to decide while the J’s liken to decide so they know well in advance what’s going on.

Continue reading How Successful Will You Be in Real Estate?

Bull in a China Shop: Is Your Real Estate Business Unbreakable?

Bull in a China Shoppe

 

                      Remember Annette Bening’s portrayal of a real estate agent in American Beauty (1999)?  Bening’s over-the-top, Type A character Carolyn Burnham is mesmerized by the Real Estate King – Buddy Kane (Peter Gallagher) and goes near berserk cleaning a home she is determined to sell.  Seemingly unbreakable in her quest to achieve Kane-level success, Burnham repeatedly chants “I-Will-Sell-This-House-Today.”  Later, we see a broken Burnham who is both unable to sell the home, and ashamed of her own loss of composure.  As entertaining as she was in this role, it was frighteningly true.

What is it that causes real estate salespeople to get locked in a frenzy of determination and fear?  Is it not knowing from where your next commission check will come?  When opportunity knocks do you open the door with a smile or are you searching frantically for your keys, juggling paperwork and on your cell when that moment arrives?  If you are spending more time balancing your daily activities, putting out fires or worrying about paying your bills than you are focused on accommodating your clients, you may be guilty of these…


YOU’RE NOT FEEDING YOUR PIPELINE.  Jim Droz, the former #1 Agent in the World with Century 21 once said, “Many real estate agents are like a bull in a china shop – chasing down business and not ever knowing from where their next commission check will come.  Real estate is simple.  In order to get more business, you need more customers.”  In other words it’s somewhat of a numbers game, but with a plan..   If every 100 customers you have in your database results in one closing then how many contacts would you need to close 10 transactions? Every year a real estate agent sets out to double their production over the last year and yet they don’t realize how that translates into feeding their pipeline with a specific number of prospects.  Are you daily tasks focused on that number?

YOUR DAILY ACTIVITIES ARE NOT INCOME PRODUCING.  Every day you wake up and schedule activities to help you achieve a profitable business.  When you plan it out the night before, is it to bring you a specific volume of new business? Often if you aren’t feeding your pipeline, you are only feeding your ego.  Direct mail, magazine ads and shopping cart ads, for example, produce little to no return for the majority of agents.  So ask yourself what is your goal with this postcard? Do you have a listing to promote?  A success to announce? Are you hoping to reach absentee owners? Benchmark your goals with everything you do and go back every quarter and adjust what isn’t working.

YOUR BUSINESS IS NOT RUN EFFICIENTLY.  Having an efficient business starts with a solid business plan.  An efficient business considers several factors from time management to converting your online leads.  HouseHunt’s Diamond Business Plan starts with an efficiency test you can take to see how your business scores.  You can review your answers to see what areas you are missing to find out whether or not your business is a well oiled machine or it needs a tune up.

YOU AREN’T PROVIDING EXCELLENT CUSTOMER SERVICE.    Let me tell you a quick story….I once gave a referral (if you can call it that)  to a good friend and real estate agent to someone who was certain she would be listing her mobile home.  The person I referred already had in mind who she would be listing it with although she had never spoken with this agent. She had only seen his other listings in the mobile home park and was happy to follow her neighbors lead.

My friend showed up at her door that same day – but no answer.  The very next day, she caught her at home; but, when she asked if it was a good time, the owner said she had prescriptions to pick up and was watching her grandchildren so maybe another time.  My friend politely asked, “If I drove you to pick up your prescriptions, could we chat on the way?  She agreed! The third time I checked in to see if she had gotten the listing yet, she was delivering pizza to the woman’s second home in a nearby city where workers were fixing it up to sell.

What was the result of that agent offering superior service to a prospective client?  One mobile home sold; one three-bedroom home sold; and, one new home purchase. Her commission checks totaled over $25,000 in the same year.  Would you give someone a ride or deliver a pizza if it resulted in $25,000?  You never know what going above and beyond will achieve but it is seldom a bad thing.

 

YOU ARE NOT  EFFECTIVELY SOURCING  REFERRALS.  According to NAR’s 2015 National Association of REALTORS® Profile of Home Buyers and  Sellers, 88% of home buyers say they would definitely work with the same real estate agent  again or recommend them.    Only 23% actually do.  Why is that?  A lot  can happen in nine years, the average time someone  will own a home before selling again, but sourcing referrals are a part of your business you could be neglecting.   How do you maximize your efforts in this area?

Provide Excellent Customer Service.  It’s easier to focus your energy on servicing when you have an efficiently run business void of activities that don’t either don’t add value to your audience or do not help you in reaching your goals.  

Stay in front of the contacts in your database with an automated marketing system. This way you stay top of the mind not just for your own contacts, but for their contacts as well.

Ask your past clients if they know of anyone who plans to buy or sell their home.

Develop strong relationships with industry colleagues and vendor partnerships.    Mike Bearden, CEO of HouseHunt, Inc., formerly a top real estate agent in Orange County, found opportunity in places agents don’t often consider.  “I sought out partnerships with everyone – not just real estate agents.  You’d be surprised how many referrals I got from plumbers, flooring specialists, landscape artists,…anyone who I met while preparing a home to sell.  It occurred to me one day while meeting with a plumbing specialist at a client’s home, and I thought – he probably interacts with more homeowners than most real estate agents. So, I asked if he knew of anybody thinking about selling their home.  A few months later I got a call from someone looking to sell their home saying they were recommended by their plumber.  I thanked him by referring him business and we continued the partnership for many years.”

 

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Need to feed your pipeline with quality leads?  Don’t pay to compete, HouseHunt territories are 100% exclusive – Check to see if your territory is available here or call directly at 888-832-2244.

Self-Branding for Real Estate Agents: 3 Things You Must Know Before Your Introduction to the Marketplace

Lauren Agajanianby Lauren Agajanian, MBA

Marketing Director for HouseHunt, Inc.

Featured in HouseHunt’s Diamond Business Plan

 

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“I’d like you to meet Maestro Joann Falletta, the first ever female conductor for a symphony orchestra! Maestro Falletta, this is my daughter Lauren.”

A little anti-climactic don’t you think? Had my mother ended her introduction there, I would have felt less than capable to continue the conversation that ensued. I learned an invaluable lesson right at that very moment about the impact of self-branding. Luckily, my mother continued, “Lauren recently accepted a full athletic scholarship to play volleyball at Pepperdine University” and I’m back in the game. I shook Maestro Falletta’s hand and (at just sixteen years old) now I, too, felt I had something to contribute. In essence, my mother had established my brand as a promising high school athlete and, despite being in awe of this woman’s unsurpassed achievements, I knew to position my behavior, body language and word selection to reflect this introduction.

Four Factors in Believable C's

My “established brand” was easy to live by because it was already aligned with three very important concepts I knew to be true of myself. The Three C’s are core values, core competencies, and competitive advantage. They are unequivocally the most important concepts in establishing a believable personal brand in the real estate business.

Let’s take Maestro Falletta as an example. There we were, two very important women...at least, my mother thought so… and I can tell you as clear as day from that 3-minute interaction over twenty years ago, what her 3 established C’s were back then. Why so easy? Her brand was truthful, consistent, decipherable, and relevant to the talent she was showcasing in her business…music.

In real estate or any business where you offer your professional services, self-branding is paramount to your success. Consider this quote:

“The art of marketing is the art of brand building. If you are not a brand, you are a commodity. Then price is everything and the low-cost producer is the only winner.”- Phillip Kotler

In other words, if you do not have a way to market your services as a unique brand, you will be judged alongside other agents only by the cost of your service. Discount brokerages would be king and competition fierce. How are you able to deliver your brand to the marketplace most effectively? Know with certainty what your individual 3 C’s are and test them using the T.C.D.R. Method below (Truthful, Consistent, Decipherable, Relevant.) Notice how you can take each one and put it to use in your marketing and action items. Like this:

TCDR Method

 

CORE VALUES – Choose at least 5 core values and know them by heart. If you don’t think these matter, think again. Among the traits of the most successful salespeople, at the top of the list is a solid set of core values.

T. Make a truthful assessment of your core values and do not waiver from them.

C. This keeps your behavior consistent with your most highly valued traits.

D. Make sure these are also traits your peers or family can easily see and interpret as being of benefit to those you are introducing to your brand. They must be decipherable as a dominant strength your business (or you) possesses among other valuable traits you may exhibit.

R. Make sure they are relevant to your industry and the service you are offering. You may find your religion very important to you in your everyday life, but ask yourself if it is relevant to your audience and what you hope to gain from those relationships.

Try to incorporate each row into your marketing plan or a daily task list and watch the incredibly powerful impact emphasizing the right strengths and performing only relevant tasks will have on your business. Is it important to you that your client feels educated throughout the transaction? That you are transparent and ethical in all your dealings? Is higher education and obtaining certifications in your industry of high value to you? Do the tasks you currently perform reflect these important items? What about your marketing presentations and education pieces – do they reflect your values?

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CORE COMPETENCIES – These are your strengths – also called core capabilities, it is what your real estate service possesses that is of value to your clients and that other agents either do not do as well or simply cannot offer. Consider 3 things your professional service offers that allows your clients to accomplish their real estate goals and highlights something you feel you do or a service you perform at an exceedingly high level. Perhaps you live in the community you have made your market area. Your expertise may go deeper than other real estate agents in that marketplace and you will want to showcase that knowledge in your marketing and business activities. Have you closed a high volume of short-sale properties or luxury home listings in your market area? These are traits and successes that your audience can easily see as a desirable benefit to them and demonstrate absolute competence in your field.

COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE – This is what makes you truly shine brighter than your competition. A competitive advantage is a decipherable service offering, price point or knowledge base you possess in your market that is either 100% exclusive, or difficult to imitate and is deemed absolutely the most attractive selling point in your business. Like Falletta who was extremely adept at conducting, she was also the first of her gender to accomplish this feat. Impossible to duplicate, right?

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Without a platform of 3 C’s that are truthful, consistent, decipherable and relevant, your brand in real estate is then in the hands of your audience who by being unable to buy into your brand, will opt to either forget you altogether, or establish one for you based on their own perception. This can bring about issues that cause loss of faith in your competence and tarnish your reputation. How can you succeed if your audience no longer believes you are capable of performing the very service upon which your business relies? It is near impossible fix, much harder than with a corporation who can change product offerings and even their name!

On the other hand, introducing your brand with a clearly defined foundation; a well-designed real estate business plan; and, a system to market your professional service that passes the TCDR test allows your brand to not only be highly recognized by your community, but you reap the benefits of having sustainable and profitable career in one of the most competitive industries for salespeople.

What do you think the topic of my conversation was with this incredibly enthusiastic woman who had reached the pinnacle of success in conducting a symphony orchestra? She asked questions about my athletic achievements and smiled energetically interjecting from time to time with comments that sounded as though she was extraordinarily impressed with my achievements. Who isn’t completely inspired by someone who takes the time to listen to something that really matters to you in your life, and then let’s you know just how impressive they think it is? And isn’t she somewhat of an expert on how to be the best at what you do? What I remember the most about Maestro Joann Falletta that evening was not her performance at the Long Beach Symphony but, not surprisingly, the same thing written in her biography today. She is ” a vibrant ambassador for music and an inspiring artistic leader.” Now that’s a memorable brand.

 

Are you looking for a brilliant business plan and the most effective system to efficiently manage your real estate

marketing, lead generation, and relationship management online?

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Explore HouseHunt Today!

or View HouseHunt’s Diamond Business Plan, a brilliant plan designed exclusively for realtors tm.

Call 888-832-2244 and ask for a consultant to assist you!

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A Healthy US Marketplace in 4th Quarter 2015

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2015 4th Quarter Market Report:
A Healthy and Growing Housing Market

by Lauren Agajanian, MBA


The 2015 US Housing Market in the 4th quarter is the best overall we’ve seen in almost a decade.   This quarter our survey’s  continue to show a shift from 10% plus  home price increases to a slower pace of 5-10%  home price appreciation, as well as a trend toward a more balanced, healthy and steadily growing housing market.

This data comes from a survey of HouseHunt agents with exclusive territories across America. This grassroots approach to studying the housing market gives us a thorough look at where the real estate market will continue to go in 2016 and beyond.

Buyer & Seller Activity

Last quarter, we presented a seller’s market with slowing prices and that trend continues. There were considerably more buyers than sellers in the market, and conditions responded accordingly.  This quarter, while still a seller’s market overall, a large increase of markets surveyed  are reporting a more balanced market between buyers and sellers.  48% of the markets reported more buyers  than sellers compared to 56% in the 3rd quarter and 64% in the 2nd quarter representing an  8% decline in buyer activity in each of the last two quarters.   However there was only an increase of 4% in seller activity in the last two quarter with 28% of the markets showing buyer and sellers about even.  This is compared to only 16% in the 2nd quarter and 20% in the 3rd quarter.  There is clear evidence that there is a shift from a strong sellers market to a more balanced market between buyers and sellers which indicates why home price appreciation is slowing.

This quarter our survey shows that 64% of our markets are showing an increase in buyer activity versus 70% of HouseHunt agents surveyed report an increase in buyer activity in the previous quarter.  This is a further decline from 83% in the 2nd quarter.

Seller activity has  also slowed in the 4th quarter with  35% of Agents reporting an increase in seller activity versus 50% in the previous quarter.  It is not uncommon for seller and buyer activity to slow in the Holiday season.

Overall real estate home sales  outpace 2014 with NAR reporting  existing home sales of 5.46  million homes in 2015 compared to 4.76 million sales in 2014, an increase of 7.7%.

Home Inventory

A seller’s market equates to a strong economy. 90% of HouseHunt agents saw their listings sell for more this quarter than this time last year. This is about average: last quarter saw 90% report an increase, and this time last year saw 89% report an increase. What really makes the 4th quarter of 2015 stand out is the shift to a slower pace of home price increases. Only 24% of the agents reported increase home prices of 10% or more compared to 36% in the 4th quarter of 2014.  This slowing of price point increase is in line with NAR reports showing that the 4th quarter 2015 median home price dropped slightly to $224,100 compared to 3rd quarter’s $229,000.

Only 4% of agents across the nation say their listings are selling for less. That’s the lowest depreciation rate since before the burst of the housing bubble! Last year this time we reported 8% of the markets having negative appreciation.

Besides sale price, we also need to take a look at how long active listings sit on the market.  In the 4th quarter of 2015 our agents reported that 65% of the homes sold within 60 days while 35% stayed on the market over 60 days.  Indicating  that even though the market is more balanced there is still a slight edge to the seller as there are still more buyers competing  for fewer homes.

So listings are selling for more and they’re selling quickly. Does this mean more contentment with people selling their homes? Not necessarily. It’s important for sellers to keep their expectations realistic. They are clearly being inundated with all this good news about the market, and they immediately think they can overprice their homes. 23% of our agent’s clients saw their listings close with less than 95% of their original asking price.  However this is lower than last year at this time when 28% of our agents reported homes staying on the market for over 60 days.

Foreclosures

This quarter, 87% of our agents said foreclosures made up less than 15% of their local market compared to 84% in the previous quarter.  The impact of foreclosures on the national market is at normal levels.  This is consistent with Realty Trac’s report that foreclosure activity at the end of 2015 is at a nine-year low saying  that the US has returned to a healthy foreclosure market with any activity fueled only by local economic factors.

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Source:  HouseHunt, Inc.

2015 US Housing Market Condition Survey

December 31, 2015

In Conclusion…

Home price appreciation is solid with the majority of homes between 5-10% appreciation.  Buyer activity continues to outweigh seller activity but is trending towards a more balanced market.  Inventories are still tight somewhat because of seasonal factors.  Seller activity could very well increase in the first and second quarters of 2016 as home sellers are recovering equities and have options to sell their homes and move to a new home.  Current low mortgage rates and high costs of rentals may very well fuel an increase in first time buyer activity which remains at all time low levels and are a true catalyst to a healthy real estate market.

HouseHunt’s Quarterly Comparison Chart For the U.S. | 4th Quarter 2015 Results in Red

2013 2014 2015
Quarter 3rd 4th 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 1st 2nd 3rd 4th
Buyer-Seller Ratio
More Buyers 57% 51% 61% 54% 39% 50% 61% 64% 56% 48%
More Sellers 26% 21% 19% 24% 37% 26% 15% 20% 24% 24%
About Even 17% 28% 20% 22% 24% 24% 24% 16% 20% 28%
Average Days On Market
0-60 Days 65% 57% 60% 63% 63% 56% 55% 70% 69% 65%
Sold in 60 Days Plus 35% 43% 40% 37% 37% 44% 45% 30% 31% 35%
Unsold Inventory
Good Supply 26% 32% 24% 28% 39% 44% 26% 26% 31% 33%
Tight Supply 74% 68% 76% 72% 61% 56% 74% 74% 69% 67%
Annual Price Appreciation
Up 0-5% 18% 29% 24% 27% 26% 26% 25% 26% 26% 30%
Up 5-10% 17% 31% 26% 29% 38% 27% 35% 33% 44% 36%
Up 10% Plus 54% 31% 42% 37% 25% 36% 27% 32% 20% 24%
Unchanged 5% 3% 3% 3% 4% 3% 6% 5% 6% 6%
Negative Appreciation 6% 6% 5% 4% 7% 8% 7% 4% 4% 4%
Buyer Activity
Repeat / Move UP / Investors 85% 78% 79% 77% 84% 76% 82% 75% 79% 84%
First-time Buyers 15% 22% 21% 23% 16% 24% 18% 25% 21% 16%
Ask vs. Sale Price
Less Than 95% 23% 30% 23% 9% 22% 28% 29% 26% 25% 23%
More Than 95% 77% 70% 77% 91% 78% 72% 71% 74% 75% 77%
Multiple Offers?
Yes 91% 87% 83% 86% 83% 76% 84% 88% 86% 85%
No 9% 13% 17% 14% 17% 24% 16% 12% 14% 15%
Short Sales / Foreclosures
Less than 15% of the market 77% 80% 83% 79% 87% 85% 86% 84% 86% 87%
More than 15% of the market 23% 20% 17% 21% 13% 15% 14% 16% 14% 13%

How Green is Your Home Staging?

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by: Wendy L.K. Rogers, M.A.

 

When it comes to staging a home, I think we can all agree that it’s a beneficial tool in selling a home quicker for more money. In researching for this article, I found one company boasting 95% ROI and 11 days or less on the market. I even saw a whopping 378% ROI. My goal here is not to debate staging’s merits.   Rather, I’m saying let’s get green with staging to save oodles of money, enjoy being creative and be a little or a lot more eco-friendly.

No doubt, green is in. The carbon footprint is now looking for Birkenstocks rather than Manolo Blahniks. Think Tesla instead of Hummer. Repurposing, up-cycling, re-scaping, whatever the title, why not incorporate it into home staging if it saves money and helps the environment? Not to mention, if you use green staging, you can position yourself as an eco-responsible Realtor!

Here’s four categories to help you dive your eco-friendly staging hands into: the basics, paint, curb appeal and some sample tips to fuel your creative green genius.

The Usual Suspects

With any web search of home staging, you’ll find some basics that come up again and again because they work. The two primary tasks that really give the biggest bang are de-clutter and clean. Seriously, this must be the best example of less is more. Less stuff equals more cash! If your client has to put his/her stuff into storage for a month and then have a hug fest with it in the new home, then offer this option. Better yet, help them have a garage sale (with your signs)or have them donate to worthy charities. The biggest focus here is make sure the home does NOT identify anyone. Those family photos and anything giving it a specific identity block prospective buyers from seeing themselves in that space. Remove any items that prevent them from envisioning themselves in the home. And clean, clean, clean. A made bed can completely change the dynamic of a room.

Paint

Painting a room with a fresh coat of paint can make a huge difference in the cleanliness and classiness of the space for rather little money. However, paint is a product that is actually considered hazardous material and that is the diabolical opposite of eco friendly, but it doesn’t have to be.

Search online for your area for something called a Materials Exchange Program. In Huntington Beach, Rainbow Environmental Services offers this awesome service. You can take in cleaning items, hazmat or the like and exchange it for others such as paint (used or not) for FREE! Yes, you can get free paint without spending a dime and you just helped a hazmat product stay out of the landfills. If that isn’t green-green, I don’t know what is.

Curb Appeal

Let’s face it, the landscape is the first impression of a home. We recently shared on our page agent Facebook page the article 12 DIY House Number Displays That Will Instantly Up Your Curb Appeal. There are a few examples in the article that are super eco friendly and inexpensive. Take four flower pots and paint them all the same color. Then affix each digit of the address on the front of each pot (with plants/flowers in there please) as a little vignette on the front step. There is even a repurposed window pane turned sideways with the house numbers on the glass and little adornment. Place it eye height just to the side of the front door. Really, the ideas are limitless but keep it clean and inviting.

Creative Tips

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Home Staging with Heart

Have fun and when in doubt, check out what Re-Scape says about the Golden Rules of Re-Scaping. No. 1 being to try to recycle when you clean and de-clutter.   Perhaps suggest a charity that you support to your client for his/her unwanted belongings – less to the dump and more potential up-cycling treasures. This can also build good will when your clients see you as a charitable Realtor. Hey, with the extra money they make on the sale of their well staged home, they can buy some solar panels for the next one. Happy repurposed home staging!

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Keep Buyers from Hibernating for the Winter

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Hey it’s September. We’re about to enter the zone of pumpkin spice everything, rich burnt oranges and deep plums. However, some of you in real estate may be mourning the passing of July’s peak sales. According to Jonathan Smoke “raw data tell us that real estate follows a clear seasonal pattern. Inventory peaks in the summer. Sales peak in the summer. Real estate Web traffic peaks in the summer.” Not so fast! Summer’s gone and maybe the overall real estate market is cooling, but with a little bit of marketing strategy, you can keep your business hot. Here are a few pieces of “raw data” to put the hot in your cocoa.

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School Calendars and Weather Can Shift the Peak

Sure school calendars make a difference, but are there any year round schools in your area? We have a whole district near me that adjusted start and end dates due to strategically allowing seniors to get out in early May so they could be ready for transition to college life. This can certainly affect the timeline of those looking to buy or sell a home.

Also, what’s the weather like in your area? If you’re in a warmer climate, you may not be victim of the cold weather slow down.

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Who’s Buying: Christmas Gifts and Seniors

And even if these are very realistic concerns in your area, what are some tidbits to use in your favor?

If December and January are peak months for the age of inventory, this now becomes an incentive for buyers to step in to get their best deal. And hey, I’d love my spouse to buy me a house for Christmas. Start a campaign telling prospects why the Winter inventory offers them the best time to “buy low.”

Next, know who’s more likely to buy! Turns out according to Real Time Economics, of the 860,000 new households created in the last fiscal year (July 1-June 31), two-thirds of new households were created by seniors between 65-74. Find out what attracts seniors and host an event catering to their needs and tastes. What kind of programs go over well at senior centers? Incorporate one into your Winter marketing strategy.

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Money Misconceptions

Lastly, here’s an interesting nugget from Keeping Current Matters (don’t you just love the title?). About 36% of Americans have the misconception that 20% is an absolute down payment requirement to buy a home. Not necessarily so, but you can educate folks about this to open up the door of possibility for them. According to this site’s August 20th blog, Millennials know this, because 36% of them are putting down only 5%. But, since Millennials only account for approximately 13% of the market, do what you can to educate the other 87%! Maybe team up with a lending company to offer classes or make use of your social media to disseminate this rather powerful and motivating peace of data.

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Heat Up Your Real Estate Business for the Winter

The point is, knowledge about your community, demographics, and fear based misconceptions that might be holding buyers back, can translate into increased sales if you gather such wisdom and use it to refine your marketing strategy for the season. So get ready to cuddle up with your snuggy and a pumpkin spiced latte to fuel you for the myriad of buyers looking for a smokin’ hot December deal. HouseHunt is always routing for you.

 

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by: Wendy L.K. Rogers, M.A.

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Are You Famous or Infamous on Real Estate’s Most Wanted List?

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by: Wendy L.K. Rogers, M.A.

 

In sales, we all want to be on the most wanted list. It’s the dream. However, in any licensed profession, we dread being on a notorious Most Wanted List such as the list of complaints about real estate agents. At the very least, these complaints are massive time eaters to attend and mitigate. At their worst, these complaints can cost you big money and even your license if reported to your Department of Real Estate.

complaints about real estate agents

Look, we all took the required Ethics course to get licensed, but it would seem as if some either slept through it or worse, some took the “don’t” list and made it their top ten play list.

So what are the top three complaints that seem to be prevalent about real estate agents? Well, it turns out they aren’t that different from the top complaints of most industries. Top consumer complaints across industries are: misrepresentation, deception, false or faulty products, and “shoddy work.”

If you talk to an average 10 consumers and ask their biggest complaints about real estate agents, you’ll hear three basic categories: dishonesty, incompetence, and lack of communication. For a more specific list of the most common violations resulting in disciplinary action, you can view this PDF from the DRE.

Now, in fairness, you may also be familiar with the client that just loathed his/her “horrible agent.” In reality, the client has burned up eight “horrible agents” because the client really has a bad case of mineisworthmoreitis. In which case, the consumer really does need to say, “Hmm, eight terrible agents later, I might be the issue,” but don’t count on that happening. Try to recognize these clients early so they don’t suck you dry.

Fiduciary Duty

However, if the client’s expectations aren’t loopy, let’s talk about “Fiduciary duty.” It’s kind of paradoxical to human nature. It says, “Since I am your voice in this business transaction, I will put you and your best interests above my own.” For example, there is the “negotiable” commission fees that seem to coincidentally hang around 3% for each rep in the transaction. So, what do you do when you notice a home boasting a whopping 1% from a discount house that fits your clients’ stated criteria? A) You sigh and add this to the list of any home that reasonably fits his/her described preferences. B) You somehow don’t see that listing and hope your client doesn’t stumble upon it either or C) You pour yourself a stiff drink and call other heavy hitters to ask what they would do.

If you picked anything but A, I’m sorry but you’ve just greatly increased your chances of ending up on that top ten, why-I-can’t-stand-real-estate-agents-cause-they’re-all-dishonest list.

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Competence

And then there’s the issue of competence. See, once the consumer has decided that most agents are dishonest and greedy, they now want to work with their brother’s cousin, who probably only does one deal a year at best. Except, Cousin !@#$% probably doesn’t know how to navigate a HUD any better than a hub cap. You on the other hand, take classes, keep current on laws, and research so clients will see you like a Realtor rock star. \m/

complaints about real estate agents

Communication

Fellow Realtors, let’s “give ‘em something [good] to talk about!”

Realize, good brings rewards and Karma has a nasty bite. Don’t sleep through those ethics and law classes and remember that most malpractice suits are filed because patients said the doctor didn’t listen. Communicate with your peeps peeps. Listen to them. Hear their needs and concerns. Show them that they should trust you because you care. These top three: fiduciary duty, competence and communication can go a long way towards making you a most sought after agent, rather than a poster child on the complaints about real estate agents Most Wanted list. And look up fiduciary duty when you pour that stiff drink before you call your agent friends. It just might be what the Dr. should’ve ordered.

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