Ready or Not, Bidding is Back

Published by Jim Droz

Signs point to the housing market heating up enough this summer where buyers might get caught in a bidding war on a house they’re looking at. Yes, the phrase “seller’s market” is creeping back into the real estate vocabulary so if you haven’t dealt with multiple offers for a while it’s a good idea to dust off your skills again.

The National Association of Realtors lists Seattle, Phoenix, Washington, D.C., and Southern California’s Orange County as places where tight housing inventories are leading to “multiple biddings and escalating price conditions.” A survey of HouseHunt agents echoes that and also includes cities in Northern California, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana and Florida where multiple offers are becoming more commonplace.

“Right now the market here is a seller’s market, so properties $250,000 and below are moving very quickly. It’s extremely competitive at certain price points and I’m telling my clients to be prepared.” –Keelan McCamey, a HouseHunt agent who works in the Denver metropolitan area.

One of the methods McCamey uses for listings likely to get multiple offers is an escalation clause in the purchase contract that allows for incremental increases in the offer price based on competing offers.

“If we put an offer on a home that’s $250,000 and below, I pretty much give my clients a heads-up that it’s more than likely going to go to a multiple-offer situation and that we’ll more than likely have to use an escalation clause to even have a chance to be competitive,” McCamey said. “That usually will help us win more often than not.”

It’s important that you and your client don’t adopt a win-at-all-costs mentality. If you or they bring up waiving contingencies, for example, make sure they know that skipping things such as an inspection could cost them down the line if expensive repairs pop up. It’s easy to get caught up in the competitive nature of the business when the market is going good, so be sure you’re working in tandem with your client’s financial realities and desires. Assure them that you’re up to date on market trends and know the proper starting point for an offer and when one is simply too high for a certain property.

Other things you can inform them about and discuss with them include:

Make sure their financing is in order

    and documents are ready before you start making offers because sellers will want loan pre-approval verification.

If your clients love the house, tell them that you’ll only make an offer they’re comfortable with and not one they feel pressured into making.

Stress the importance of a legitimate deposit. A few thousand dollars won’t cut it, so if they can put up the full 3 percent, have them do it because it shows the seller they’re serious about getting the house.

Give the seller a quick closing date or offer to close on their preferred date.

If possible, don’t put conditions on the offer because it will be more appealing to the seller.

Come up with a cut-off price together before offers start getting made. Winning a bidding war is great but not if your client pays above market value to do so.

Tell your client to offer reassurances to the homeowner that they’ll maintain the garden or keep the gazebo, for example. Even though they’re selling, some homeowners are still emotionally attached to the property and might appreciate the fact that your clients are willing to maintain – and not renovate – the property.

Lead with your best offer, but be patient and understanding because the seller might be going through a tough emotional time because of the need to sell due to unforeseen circumstances. If you don’t get the house, learn from the experience and move on.

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Work-Life Balance

Published by Jim Droz

If you’re a goal-setter, chances are you’re a go-getter. That’s all fine and good, especially in this business, but a little perspective also should come into play. Finding a balance between a maniacal work life and a relaxing personal life can be tricky. But work-life balance is doable if you look at life with a wider-angle lens instead of focusing solely on the finish line.

It’s best to allow adequate time to achieve your goals and have checkpoints along the way. Set priorities and know that it’s OK to step back and smell the roses once in a while. As a Realtor you have plenty of resources at your disposal professionally and personally. Be sure to use them because we all need help from time to time.

Utilize the skills you’ve acquired to implement the smoothest path and most comfortable timeframe and remember to never stop learning about your profession or what makes you happy outside the workplace. When it comes to a timeframe, plan your steps in a manner that won’t add stress and stick to the schedule once it has been implemented. Also, delegate tasks when possible and continue to look for ways to expand your circle of friends, peers and colleagues.

Efficiency and effectiveness might sound like boring traits, but you’d be surprised how powerful they can be when it comes to finding the proper balance between work and a fulfilling personal life. Here are some ideas to help get you started:

Dedicating more time to your family and friends doesn’t always mean shirking your business duties. There are ways to be happy and satisfied with both.

A daily work schedule can help, especially if you struggle staying on task. It’s not always possible in this business, of course, by knowing when the workday begins and when it ends will go a long way toward keeping a positive attitude.

Establish a system that enables you to improve communication with every segment of your business. This should include new technology and an old-school personal touch.

Exercise whenever possible. You’ll be surprised how much it reinvigorates you both mentally and physically.

Turn your idle time at work into performing productive tasks, and have a system in place to anticipate problems before they arise.

Set aside a few hours each week to analyze and improve your business plan and systems. In no time you’ll be humming along at work and singing the praises of a more relaxing life away from the job.

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Your Web Presence Should Be a Site to See

By Jaime Westman

Image is everything. Or so it’s been said. Your appearance during client meetings is obviously important, but have you given much thought to how your website looks? It’s pretty important as well because a sharp, clearly defined, informative and easy to utilize online presence can get you noticed and contacts. Whether you’re able to set a site up a site yourself or have an expert do it for you, there are a few basic things to keep in mind, with content, design, search boxes, market updates, contact information and a little personality at the top of the list. Continue reading “Your Web Presence Should Be a Site to See”

Getting into the Swing of Good Customer Service

Published by Jim Droz

In golf parlance, Sandy Schack negotiated several hazards in a short period of time to seal the deal on a recent transaction.

Schack, whose real estate territory of Bay Hill, Fla., is one of the top golf communities in the country, aced the test put forth by the father and manager of budding Japanese star Ryo Ishikawa during this year’s playing of the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill Golf Club. Her efforts led to a $500,000 transaction, with the majority of paperwork and negotiations completed before the conclusion of tournament week.

“It was pretty interesting,” said Schack, whose office is near the golf course. “It was a little tough putting the offer in because they wanted everything done in a week before they headed to Augusta (Ga.) for the Masters and then back to Japan.”

Schack said that her HouseHunt website received more than 200 leads during tournament week, including the one from Ishikawa, who won’t turn 21 until September but already has 10 professional victories worldwide. Continue reading “Getting into the Swing of Good Customer Service”

Add Personality to Email with Video

By Jaime Westman

The increasing popularity of online video sites such as YouTube shows that people love being visually entertained or stimulated while digesting their information. Having a video message in your e-mails, therefore, makes sense for marketing, especially in the real estate industry. Besides being an extra informational tool on your website, a sharp real estate video can offer consumers a preview of what you offer or a teaser of what one of your featured properties looks like.

Like any type of online marketing, an onslaught of e-mails can be annoying and impersonal. If you get associated with that type of message, prospects will likely start deleting your e-mails without opening them. But a video e-mail can make you and your message stand out, and you don’t necessarily have to be a high-tech genius or budding thespian to make them work.

Services such as BombBomb and Eyejot have systems set up for real estate agents and can help you create, send and track video e-mails, newsletters and other forms of online promotions. Some services also have features including streaming video, video analytics, iPhone apps, video e-mail templates, auto responders and drip campaigns. And other practical uses of video e-mails include staying in contact with relocation clients, staying in touch with past clients and referrals with holiday or birthday greetings and sending market updates to current buyers and sellers. Continue reading “Add Personality to Email with Video”

Effective Campaigning with QR Codes

By Jaime Westman

Depending on your point of view, QR codes can be hypnotic or annoying, useful or worthless or resemble an ink blot or a funky piece of art.

Who knew that a two-dimensional bar code arranged in a pattern of squares for the encoding of product information could be such a polarizing figure? But the codes are here to stay and will likely become more popular, so forward-thinking Realtors should think about putting them to use as an extra marketing tool in their belts.

When scanned by a smartphone camera, QR codes can direct a user to any web page you specify, such as your home page, a listings profile page, your contact information or a page with a video giving more information about you and your business practices. Some benefits are that a website address doesn’t have to be entered and agents can track how many times someone has clicked on the code. Some practical uses include direct mailing, business cards, mobile listings, open houses, flyers, lawn signs and in publications or on stationery.

Make a welcome page with a capture form and links to other listings
Use QR codes on reusable sign riders

Do

  • Put them on yard signs and make them big enough to scan from the street
  • Put them on flyers in the yard sign box
  • Put them on business cards
  • Add video to the landing page
  • Add to any other print products you already market along with your phone number, email address, website and social handles
  • Use it in the Sunday paper
  • Use it as an electronic sign in sheet at open houses

    Don’t

  • Put them online or in an email- that’s not how they’re meant to be used.
  • Don’t always think of the QR code as a way of capturing a lead, sometimes it just boils down to being a simple way to be seen. You are selling a product. How many times have you drooled over an online product several times before actually buying it.

    Benefits

  • Quick free and easy to set up
  • Track-able
  • When used properly, QR codes can be effective ways for real estate agents to engage their target audience. But if you’re only leading visitors to your non-optimized website, you’re making it difficult for them to access your complete message. That’s where a completely mobile-friendly landing page comes in. Such a page is more interactive and informative and will likely hold the user’s attention. If they’ve gone to the trouble of scanning the code, they’re at least thinking about buying a house, and if you want your codes to work, they should be properly segmented and do something creative for the user. That way you can track your QR code results to know what works and what doesn’t.

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    Steer Your Career into Victory Lane

    Published by Jim Droz

    Career paths can go in many directions and the up and often down housing market of the past few years has likely caused your head to spin. But there are signs that things are picking up, so the horizon looks bright in some parts of the country. Regardless of where you work, which direction your career heads is up to you. So if you’ve come to a fork in the road and know that changes must be made in the way you do business, that’s a good start. Here are some things to keep in mind on your journey:

    It’s the thought that counts

    Put yourself in your prospect’s or client’s shoes and look at the big picture. Are your activities in their best interest? Could you be doing something more positive and productive on their behalf? Are you in control of the situation? Buyers and sellers have hundreds of agents to choose from, so make sure they know you’re the best choice for them. By thinking ahead and being prepared, everyone’s confidence level will grow. Continue reading “Steer Your Career into Victory Lane”

    You Don’t Need a Defibrillator to Revive an Expired Listing

    Published by Jim Droz

    Even though the market is showing signs of life, expired listings still pop up. But if you see one and treat it as dead on arrival, you could be missing out on a possible transaction and a chance to build your listing inventory. Many expired listings can be revived with the right touch and a solid marketing plan.

    Dig Around

    Some listings go off the market because of bad pricing, location, poor condition or both. The only way to find out is to dig around and be inquisitive. Working expired listings can be an efficient process if the homeowner is still interested in selling. The owner must be made aware that an adjustment – in price and terms, etc. – needs to be made to get the home sold. And since the house was on the market for a while, the owner is likely educated about the process and is probably more willing to listen to a different approach.

    “Why do you think your home didn’t sell?” not “Are you still interested in selling your home?” can make all the difference. Sellers are discouraged and frustrated when their home doesn’t sell, so their answer to “Are you still interested?” is bound to be a NO.

    Instead, target a reason why their home didn’t sell and offer a solution. If the home was priced incorrectly, educate the homeowner. Present to them a comparable market analysis that shows the true value of their home based on the homes around them. Continue reading “You Don’t Need a Defibrillator to Revive an Expired Listing”

    If You Work in a Pet-Friendly City, Stroke it for All it’s Worth

    Published by Jim Droz

    As a real estate agent, you likely tout your city’s schools, churches, neighborhoods and community activities to people interested in moving there. But don’t forget another important member of some families – the pet. When it comes to dogs – particularly large ones – convenient open spaces to walk and run together could be important requirements for certain homeowners. The same can be said for pet hospitals, veterinary services, dog parks and beaches, pet-allowed outdoor cafes and the ability for a leashed dog to travel with their owner on public transportation.

    A cruise around cyberspace for “pet friendly cities” showed the following spots popping up most often. If you work in one, do some research and factor in a family’s pets the next time you talk to a prospect. Ask if they have a dog and if they do, you’ll have even more helpful information pointing to you as the community expert.

    Portland, Oregon: This eclectic city tops most lists because of its more than 30 parks and hundreds of pet day cares, dog-sitting services, veterinarians, trainers, groomers and boutiques. There’s even an annual Dogtoberfest that doubles as a street fair. Continue reading “If You Work in a Pet-Friendly City, Stroke it for All it’s Worth”

    Short Sales Overtaking Foreclosures as Way to Move Inventory

    Published by Jim Droz

    Real estate agents might want to take a longer look at short sales because of a surge in popularity. But be quick about it because recent data from Lender Processing Services shows that the number of short sales reported early this year exceeded the number of foreclosures for the first time, which means that buyers, sellers, agents and lenders are warming to the transactions, whether out of necessity or resignation.

    Figures from Lender Processing Services reveal that short sales accounted for nearly 24 percent of home purchases in January, with foreclosures accounting for 19.7 percent of sales in the same period. Those figures also are nearly a complete reversal of what the company reported a year ago.

    “Foreclosures have come to a grinding halt,” said Jackie Cartwright, a HouseHunt agent in the Las Vegas area that was particularly hard hit by the housing crisis and typically leads the nation in foreclosure filings along with California and Arizona. “A lot of that has to do with the recent bill passed by the Nevada legislature that added steps for banks to follow before starting foreclosure proceedings.”

    Continue reading “Short Sales Overtaking Foreclosures as Way to Move Inventory”