Listing Tips to Attract Buyers

Published by Jim Droz

Think about one of your favorite books. What do you like about it? Chances are it’s descriptions that paint a mental picture or put you inside a character’s mind.

We live in a visual world but the written word still has power. How you and your client list a home is a good example. Showing photos or posting a video are good ideas, but how you describe a room, special feature or the neighborhood can go a long way toward piquing a buyer’s interest. A sharp turn of a phrase might get a prospect in the door, whereas a dull description could keep them from even stopping by.

While a house listing isn’t a novel (and keeping things tight is important), you’re still trying to catch the eye of a specific audience. Here are some ways to get that done:

What’s behind the curtain? A buyer can get the number of bedrooms and bathrooms by clicking on the site’s data field. Boring! Important details such as an expansive closet or great views from several windows will entice buyers to want to see more.

Get real. Saying a “remodeled kitchen” or “refurbished living room” might be accurate, but what type of work was done and how does it enhance the living experience? Mention the pull-out shelves or walk-in pantry that will make their life easier. Also, mention upgrades such as new shingles on the roof, a finished basement that is great for entertaining and family fun and dual sinks in the master bedroom.

Don’t go overboard. Being too flowery and overly descriptive will only make readers shake their heads because it sounds like a sales pitch. Using adjectives sparingly is a good way to go, especially if they’re effective ones. Rather than “beautiful” try “gorgeous” or “lovely,” and rather than saying a room is “spacious” try “open floor plan” because it sounds airy and leaves things up to the imagination. And be realistic. Don’t use phrases such as “top of the line” or “you’ll love it!” Everyone has their own tastes.

Get it right. Texting and personal e-mails can create bad habits regarding spelling and grammar, but it’s imperative that your listing be clean in that regard. And be careful with abbreviations or, better yet, don’t use them because they might mean different things to different people or age groups. Awkward!

Create excitement. The price is obviously the most important part of the equation and if someone can’t afford a $350,000 house, nothing you write can change that. But using “priced to sell” can be a call to action for buyers, even if the home is priced on par with others in the area.

Make it memorable. A home is a place full of memories, so let prospective buyers know what types of experiences they can expect. Write that the deck is “great for relaxing with a glass of wine and a good book” or that the kitchen and attached dining room is a great area to “entertain friends or have family gatherings.” Also, if your neighborhood is near a park or hiking trails, tell them about it because it could enhance the living experience.

Be careful. As stated above, going overboard can be a bad thing. So can certain words such as “quaint” or “cozy” because they might imply a lack of space. Let the square footage speak for itself. Likewise, don’t use words such as “as is” or “fixer-upper” because it will be seen as a house needing a lot of work.

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Hiring Ghostwriters

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I’ve always liked to write and, even though I have the gift for gab (or so I’m told), I’m comfortable expressing myself via the written word. But some people aren’t so they shun that type of communication, which can really stifle your business message in today’s texting, blogging and social media world.

While it’s important to get out in public and display your people skills whenever possible, social media is here to stay so developing a knack for blogging or electronic communication is crucial to stay ahead – or at least keep pace – with the competition.

Blogging is another way to generate leads for your business, but you need to devote some time to it daily. The more you post the more reach you’ll have with search engines, which leads to more activity and people reading your posts. But if you’re uncomfortable writing or don’t have the time, help is available in the form of ghostwriters. These can either be people you hire through a professional service or your neighbor’s son or daughter who majored in English at college. Or perhaps you have children skilled at writing and social media. I’m sure they’d be glad to help you out (with a nudge or bribe, of course).

Since it’s your face, name and business associated with the posts, you want it to be your message and written in a style you’re comfortable with. It doesn’t have to be long or even about real estate; perhaps you just want to tout your community as a good place to live. So if you decide on hiring ghostwriters, here are a few things to keep in mind because the writer has to be in sync with your personality and wishes:

Your blog should reflect the voice of you or your company, in addition to your marketing plan. You should know what style, tone and voice you’ll use when you “talk” to your clients and prospects. That persona is just as important, if not more, if you outsource marketing tasks to writers or consultants.

Your blog must have a message and a strategy. Read other real estate blogs to see what topics are trending. If you write about that, what angle can you use to highlight your business and skills? It’s also important to have a list of topics and to know what your audience is for each category.

Develop a plan and timeline and be consistent. Mapping out the process of blogging is important. If you post things three times a week to start but cut to once a week after a few months, people might not look for your posts anymore. It’s also a good idea to see if you can re-purpose content from other marketing materials your company uses.

Set up a chain of command. Until you develop a trust with the ghostwriter, you’ll want to approve all posts before they’re sent. If your blogs generate comments, you’ll also need to decide who will respond or at least monitor them. Brainstorming for topics also is a good idea with the more the merrier as far as posting possibilities is concerned.


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Appraisal Criticism Mounting

Published by Jim Droz

Appraisal changes instituted because of the financial crisis were intended to eliminate pressure on appraisers that occasionally led to inflated valuations during the housing boom. So much for that theory because critics are now saying that the changes resulted in conservative valuations and the increased use of appraisers with little knowledge of local market conditions. Other things appraisers have been taking heat for recently are that home values aren’t matching a listing or contract’s price and valuations are unfairly weighing distressed properties into the equation.

The best thing you can do as an agent is get educated on the appraisal process and the report itself. It’s another thing to add to your to-do list or to-know list, but the process is becoming increasingly heated and affects buyers and sellers, so no matter who you’re working with it could delay or derail possible transactions.

“Obviously, the market is depressed — home prices have fallen far below the values of a few years ago,” Appraisal Institute president Sara Stephens said in a recent statement responding to the criticism. “Many homes simply aren’t worth what their owners think they are.”

Continue reading Appraisal Criticism Mounting

Relationships Go Hand in Hand with Success

Published by Jim Droz

Long-term relationships have a different meaning than they did, say, a few decades ago. Whether it’s personal or involving business, a relationship is the cornerstone of success and longevity. As a Realtor, how you interact with clients and others in transactions will go a long way toward sealing deals and getting referrals. The same goes for how involved you are in the community. If you’re out and about and making a difference, chances are that will make a good impression on people who have a variety of networking connections.

“We’re representing the community,” said Eddie Gleason, a HouseHunt Realtor in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C., who is a member of two neighborhood associations, his local Real Estate Association and a mentor for troubled young males. “More than likely when you get a new person who wants to move to the area their first contact could be with a Realtor, so it’s important to be a good representative of your city and to have the answers to all of their questions.”

Establishing a presence in the community helps people – whether they’re buying a house or not –meet you and get a perspective on your expertise and character. It’s a way of promoting yourself and the profession without coming across that way and will likely give you a better understanding of the way your city operates and the opportunities available in certain neighborhoods and on certain boards. Investing in others is also investing in yourself, and your good deeds will show up physically on signage and pamphlets, for example, as well as intrinsically by the solid reputation you’ll reap by being a good corporate citizen.

Many of the contacts you make in this fashion will likely be long term and not focused on the short-term gains of a sale. In all good deeds, what goes around comes around. In real estate, that means referrals and a pipeline bursting with solid prospects. That’s where distinguishing yourself from the competition with good service and a caring personality comes into play. The best way to accomplish this is to personally deliver for your clients rather than totally rely on advertising or social media. Use all of the marketing devices and tactics available, for sure, but also capitalize on your social skills to unite buyers and sellers and finalize deals.

“I’ve got to be able to meet them, talk to them and let them know how we can work together to get a house bought or sold,” Fayetteville, Ark., Realtor Blair Taylor said about prospects and clients. “I prospect on a daily basis, but until I can talk about their needs and how I can help them achieve them, nothing has moved forward. It’s only after a relationship is formed that the wheels start in motion.”

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Keep the Door Open to Prospects at Your Next Open House

Published by Jim Droz

Open houses can be effective business tools with a captive audience if they’re handled correctly. Your primary goal is to sell the house you’re standing in, but a potential pipeline of buyers for other properties could be streaming through the front door.

“The biggest mistake Realtors make is not engaging people at the open house in a type of lead-conversion conversation,” said Rich Levin, a real estate coach and teacher based in New York. “It’s a prospecting opportunity, plain and simple. If a person is interested in the house you’re selling, obviously focus on that, but the 90 percent-plus of people who aren’t interested in the house should be engaged in a conversation about what they are looking for and how you can help them.”

Levin said that a face-to-face conversation is much better than a phone call down the line, so agents shouldn’t let prospects get away without finding out the type of property they’re interested in and where and when they are thinking about buying. Continue reading Keep the Door Open to Prospects at Your Next Open House

Realtors vs. Lawyers, Politicians and Bankers

Published by Jim Droz

If you ever feel down, disrespected or underappreciated because of your profession, look on the bright side – at least you’re not a lawyer, business executive, labor union leader, stockbroker, car salesman or an advertising practitioner.

Those professions, and a few others, all ranked below real estate professionals when it comes to the public’s perceptions of honesty and ethics, according to a recent Gallup poll.

Real estate professionals received their highest rating since Gallup began measuring Americans’ perceptions of those work-related qualities in 1976. Of the 21 professions in the poll, real estate professionals finished 12th, so you’re in the middle of the pack but – like current housing market trends – climbing.

In the survey, 20 percent of respondents gave real estate professionals a “very high to high” rating on honesty and ethics. Fifty-seven percent of the Americans surveyed rated them as “average” when it comes to honesty and ethics.

The profession that scored the lowest was members of Congress, in which only 7 percent rated them “very high to high” when it comes to ethics and honesty – the lowest on record. The professions that scored the highest in honesty and ethics belonged to the medical profession, with nurses, pharmacists and doctors at the top of the list.

If real estate professionals want to crack the top 10 they’ll need to hurdle the two spots above them – bankers and journalists. Bankers? Seriously? After the financial bailout scandal? Easing by them should be easy, right? So here’s the plan. If everybody keeps these 10 tenets in mind, look out top 10, here we come!

Be an effective listener, a good communicator and understand the desires and needs of your prospects and clients.

Explain things in terms that your prospects and clients understand, which will empower them to make good decisions and feel like you’re working as a team.

Be available for your clients at all times. Answer the phone when possible, but if you can’t, always call back immediately. If a client wants to see a house on a Saturday night, show up and show it.

Brush up on your negotiating skills, particularly during a time when reports show multiple bids in certain parts of the country. If you can diplomatically get the buyer or seller to see your point of view it will be a win-win situation for you and your client.

Be organized and up to date on market conditions and legal issues involving the profession and city, county or state you’re working in.

Get along well with others involved in the process, such as title officers, escrow closing agents, insurance agents and those in the lending industry.

Be curious and ask questions about your client’s needs when it comes to houses and neighborhoods. It shows a genuine interest and will save you and them a lot of time because you won’t unnecessarily be looking at houses outside their interest or price scale.

Be honest at all times, even if you’ll be telling your clients something they might not want to hear. In the end they’ll respect you for it and continue the relationship.

Be the expert. If someone is interested in a certain part of town, offer tidbits and information they’ll need regarding that area. This includes everything from schools and parks to shopping and zoning.

Have fun! After all, you’re helping people achieve the American Dream.

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