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

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

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

Nurturing Leads (Perseverance)

By Jim Droz

Getting a lead is the start of a process that hopefully leads to the buying or selling of a house. That’s the nutshell. The fact that the finish line could be a few weeks, months or years away makes the managing – or nurturing – of a lead a tough nut to crack.

Patience, persistence, strategies, compassion, repetition, experimentation, tweaking and targeting are just some of the things a good agent must do to keep a viable lead or prospect in the pipeline. Your efforts could pay off or they might be a waste of time. You just never know, but there are some basic concepts to keep in mind.

Lead-nurturing e-mails should focus on providing value and pertinent information. Any hint of a sales pitch should be deleted. Provide education and resources and let prospects know that you’re the community expert and would be happy to answer questions about pricing, the area or the overall process. Understand where they are in the buying or selling process and cater correspondences accordingly.

Persistence works if you’re giving people what they want. If a lead doesn’t respond, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re not interested. Give it some time. Send listings catered to their needs along with other pieces of information. It doesn’t even have to be about real estate; it could be a greeting card, recipes or household tips. Prospects who have received your communications for a period of time will be less skeptical about hiring you and more familiar with you because of the marketing materials. Continue reading Nurturing Leads (Perseverance)

Client Relationships Are What Matter Most

By Jim Droz

Welcome HomeThe Internet is making some jobs obsolete, and once upon a time (way back in the late 20th century) it was feared that real estate agents would be among the professions tossed to the side of the road. But a funny thing happened on the way to the scrap heap. Figures show that membership in the National Association of Realtors has increased from 716,000 in 1997 to more than 1 million in 2011.

One of the reasons people thought the Internet would negatively affect an agent’s job was because of all the housing information that would be and is available at people’s fingertips. Search for a home. Click. Look at pictures. Click. Get information about the market. Click. Therefore, who needs an agent?

That last question would make sense if a real estate agent’s job was simply being an intermediary. And we all know how untrue that is. A negotiation between a buyer and seller is just the beginning of the process, and an agent is at the center – make that forefront – of the effort to get things done.

A good agent is accessible at all times and must be reliable, which means responding quickly to questions and problems. Communication skills also are a must, along with the experience necessary to explain things clearly and accurately. And then there’s the Scout skills that sometimes get scoffed at but are crucial to any successful business relationship – professionalism, honesty, kindness and helpfulness. Continue reading Client Relationships Are What Matter Most