Obama’s Mortgage Plan Divides, But Can it Conquer?

By Jim Droz

President Obama recently introduced a mortgage refinance plan in an attempt to shake things loose in a housing market showing signs of recovery. But as is typical with politics these days, the only thing he shook up was rhetoric and posturing.

California Democratic Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren says some ideas are “quite good,” but “unfortunately a large portion of it would require legislation, and we have seen that the Republicans … are unwilling to pass legislation.”

Countered California Republican Congressman John Campbell: “Like many things that are happening right now, particularly from the president, this is a campaign-oriented proposal and not something that is intended to actually ever become law.”

So can it become law? Should it? Are any of the proposals worth giving a chance, or are the problems too deep, cumbersome and volatile?

According to a White House press release, some of the plan’s key proposals include:

Broad-based refinancing to help responsible borrowers: The plan would provide borrowers who are current on their payments with an opportunity to refinance, cut through the red tape and perhaps save up to $3,000 a year. Sometimes homeowners with good credit and clean payment histories have reported being rejected because their mortgages are underwater.

Homeowner Bill of Rights: This would be a single set of standards to make sure borrowers and lenders play by the same rules, including access to a simple mortgage disclosure form, full disclosure of fees and penalties, guidelines to prevent conflicts of interest and protection for families against inappropriate foreclosure. Continue reading “Obama’s Mortgage Plan Divides, But Can it Conquer?”

Rise Above the Competition by Standing Out From the Crowd

By Jim Droz

Expecting buyers or sellers to use your services simply because you’re available won’t cut it these days. Real estate agents need to cultivate leads and be creative to attract new business. A little ray of hope and a slight nudge are incredibly powerful tools.

Say you have a buyer and have narrowed his or her neighborhood choices to a manageable size. As a way to drum up transactions, send postcards into the targeted area saying that you have a buyer who wants to purchase in the neighborhood. This could flesh out people with a desire to sell their home but who haven’t tried because of the recent negative news. By approaching these homeowners with a ray of hope – a potential buyer – you can generate listing opportunities with a nudge that builds seller interest.

You can also manufacture business every time you take a new listing. Once you have the listing, determine the neighborhoods where homeowners might view the listing as a good move-up property. Usually this is in neighborhoods priced a level below the value of your new listing. Target these potential buyers with a letter stating that you have an opportunity for the recipient to move up to a more prestigious neighborhood or one that would be a better fit for their lifestyle. The power of suggestion is a great tool and often encourages people to act on an unfulfilled wish. Continue reading “Rise Above the Competition by Standing Out From the Crowd”

Skill Tops Luck When it Comes to Sales

By Jim Droz

You’ve probably heard someone say, “I’d rather be lucky than good.” Hopefully they were gambling at the time and not on a real estate call.

While you can make your own luck by being in the right place at the time, nothing replaces being good at your job. Your client pipeline and income is a direct result of your efforts in the field, so if you focus on attaining your goals by repeatedly putting your tested system to use, that vision is more likely to occur.

Florida agent Will Landay, said his office is getting “slammed” with activity in early 2012, relies on residual loyalty to keep his pipeline stocked. He said the majority of his business comes from building relationships, developing a referral network and updating and nurturing his database.

“I very rarely do any prospecting because I find that nurturing the people in my pipeline has been successful for me. I constantly find myself doing business with someone who I first started a relationship with four years ago. Staying with it produces results.” –Will Landay, HouseHunt agent in Jacksonville, FL

When dealing with clients or prospects, there also are certain things you can do to project confidence moving forward, such as:

Market your knowledge. Real estate is a competitive field and trends can change from month to month. The more you know about current conditions in your area about a variety of things, the better advice you can give.

Don’t be invisible. Keep your profile high by making people aware of what you do and have done. Clients won’t look for you on their own unless they’ve heard about you or read about you. Keep in touch with former clients and follow others in the business to see what they’re doing to be successful.

Act like a pro. Be professional, honest and direct without being impolite during an initial interview process. Keep your focus on the job and remember that what works best for your client should be your priority.

Dress for success. First impressions are important, so a well-groomed appearance without going overboard is essential.

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North Carolina Agent Says HouseHunt System Effective and Easy to Use

By Jim Droz

Meg Russell is sold on HouseHunt because the system sells itself. That literal scenario happened twice in recent weeks for Russell, who has territories in Morrisville and Wake Forest, N.C.

“The beauty of your marketing materials is that using them really does create a relationship with the client,” said Russell, who had two transactions in early 2012 with clients who called her without any personal prompting.

“They were just seeing my stuff that was coming from HouseHunt,” she said. “I didn’t have to do a thing. Because every piece of contact looks like it’s coming from me … it basically puts my relationship with prospects on autopilot so I can work with active clients who are in town and ready to buy.”

Russell personalizes her HouseHunt marketing strategy with an action plan that allows people to get pertinent listings daily and another form of contact – such as an e-mail, newsletter, household tip or recipe – at least once a week.

“By the time they call me, they feel that we already have a relationship; they feel like they know me. I think that’s the secret with HouseHunt. If you’re using the marketing tools correctly and effectively, then you’re able to use your time out in the field with a particular set of clients and, in the meantime, hundreds of other clients are feeling that a relationship is forming, and when they’re ready to call you, they do.” –Meg Russell, HouseHunt agent in North Carolina

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Importance of Prospecting

By Jim Droz

It’s tough to be positive when most headlines – no matter the medium – seem to focus on the negative. That sells newspapers and gets viewers to tune in, but negativity doesn’t sell houses. If you’re like many people, however, you likely dwell on what isn’t happening in your business rather than what could or should be happening.

Times are tough, no doubt about it. The good news, such as low interest rates, is offset by the bad, such as foreclosures and tougher lending standards. The business is out there; you just have to find it, work hard and give the client the best customer service possible.

When it comes to prospecting, visualize yourself attracting clients to your services. Are your lead-generating strategies proactive or reactive? The latter is important because you need to respond to leads quickly and effectively but it’s only half the battle. A proactive strategy combines good communication skills with networking, referrals and utilizing all forms of technology. This puts you in control of your leads – and your career. Continue reading “Importance of Prospecting”

Going the Extra Mile for Clients

By Jim Droz

Just like church and state, business and pleasure are supposed to be separate. But where’s the fun in that? In real estate, prospects can become clients and clients can become friends. It just takes a little time, practice and a caring personality.

With a background in NASCAR, Bryan Dunaway is used to working fast. So when he left the auto racing circuit a couple years ago to try his hand as a real estate agent, Dunaway wasn’t sure what to expect because of the economic slowdown.

“It was tough because we didn’t really have any prospects, we were new at it and we didn’t know how to find clients,” said Dunaway, who works with his wife, Sharon, in the Charlotte area of North Carolina.

But after getting the hang of things and letting his personality take over, Dunaway hasn’t taken his foot off the gas and has found success by bringing some of the work-related tools he picked up at NASCAR to the real estate industry. Continue reading “Going the Extra Mile for Clients”

Calls to Action

By Jaime Westman

Step right up and buy a house from me! If that’s your call to action, you might want to tone it down a bit. Somewhere between a carnival barker and a ho-hum shrug of the shoulders should do the trick. But setting the right tone can be tricky, which puts even more importance on your message.

Don’t succumb to the urge to over complicate things. The majority of visitors to real estate sites are looking for listings, featured properties, home evaluations, community information, details about the market and advice from a professional, which is you. Keep those primary actions in mind when forming a plan. People are filled up to you-know-where with clutter these days, so keeping things simple, clear and enticing will convert visitors into leads and leads into clients.

“You can’t sit around waiting for the phone to ring anymore; you can’t treat the business that way. You need a system in place to keep up with your marketing efforts and the listings and the information – things will make them pick up the phone. Then it’s up to the agent, of course, to follow through.” –John Duncan, HouseHunt agent in the Houston metropolitan area

Continue reading “Calls to Action”

Southern California Agent and HouseHunt Form a Successful Team

By Jaime Westman

Mary Beth Buckles and HouseHunt have had a good relationship since 1999, so it makes sense that nearly all of her business comes from referrals and past clients with whom she has formed a tight bond. That business includes an astounding 14 transactions with one family over a 10-year period.

The secret for Buckles, a Southern California agent who has an office in San Clemente and sells in Dana Point, is an outgoing personality and a good delivery system.

“It’s been a very friendly way to contact people,” Buckles said about HouseHunt’s lead and follow-up strategies. “It has a warm feel to it. Almost never do I pick up the phone and talk to someone who doesn’t want to hear from me. Usually they do want to hear from me and are glad to hear from me.”

Buckles takes it from there with appointments that include “a free, no-obligation tour of the area” and adequate time to discuss what the potential buyer is looking for in a house and neighborhood. Her methods have worked out well, with sales totaling $12 million in 2011. Of that amount, $2.7 million came from HouseHunt leads that year and another $3.3 million from previous HouseHunt leads and referrals.

“I love it,” Buckles said. “It’s perfect for how I work.”

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Initial Contact Ideas and Tips

By Jim Droz

Blueprints are nice as guidelines, but when you’re dealing with varied personalities and situations, best-laid plans must be adjusted on the fly. Such is the case with real estate agents when working with prospects or new clients. Like a pitcher in baseball, you might need to alter your pitches or delivery from time to time. Stick with the tried-and-true things that make you successful, such as an outgoing personality and knowledge of the market, and then adapt and fine tune those skills from transaction to transaction.

HouseHunt has many successful agents using its system. Here are things a few of them do to initiate contact with prospects and keep the conversation going:

Continue reading “Initial Contact Ideas and Tips”

“The most important thing is prospecting. Showing houses and listing them is important, but you have holes in your business if you don’t call every single day and spend at least two hours talking to clients.” –Blair Taylor HouseHunt agent in Fayetteville, Ark., sets aside time daily to look for new clients and contact former ones.

“If you’re using the marketing tools correctly and effectively, then you’re able to use your time out in the field. In the meantime hundreds of other clients are feeling that a relationship is forming, and when they’re ready to call you, they do.” –Meg Russell HouseHunt agent in Wake Forest, N.C., uses an action plan that sends people listings and other forms of contact – such as e-mails, newsletters and household tips – at least once a week.

Agents Can Take Their Job and Love It with a Positive Attitude

By Jim Droz

People who don’t combine business with pleasure must not enjoy their jobs very much. And with the housing market continuing to tease with stories of hope and despair in the same week, it would be easy for real estate agents to go to work each day with a dark cloud hovering over their heads.

Most prospecting strategies focus on the pursuit of numbers and targets. That makes sense, to a point. But it also makes the job more clinical than it has to be. You can also generate business that attracts people to you. The focus should be on clever and consistent marketing and being a positive person on the job and off. There is no time clock for Realtors. Even if you’re not in “work mode,” how you handle yourself around others paints a picture of your personality. A positive one will make people want to get closer, and when the topic of work crops up and they find out you’re an agent, they could be in touch if home buying pops up on their agenda.

If you love being a real estate agent and know your market, you can attract business in a number of ways, big and small. Just being in the community with your eyes and ears open is a positive first step. Waving your business card around or slipping it into someone’s palm at a cocktail party isn’t always well received. Let the conversation come to you, or work the job or market into the conversation if topics such as housing or the economy pop up. And if you’re upbeat when discussing it, that likely will leave a good impression since it’s a subject rife with negativity from all corners. Continue reading “Agents Can Take Their Job and Love It with a Positive Attitude”