What Commission Do You Charge?

By Jim Droz

Have you ever taken a call or received an e-mail and heard or read the following:

“We’re thinking of selling our home. How much commission do you charge?”

If so, did you know what to say? Did you get an appointment to do a consultation? Did you get the listing?

If you respond to that type of question incorrectly you can either lose the opportunity or lose a substantial amount of the possible commission to be earned. Knowing how to respond can be the difference between having a new listing on next week’s caravan or just spending the morning viewing other agent’s listings.

Charging commission for real estate services

Continue reading “What Commission Do You Charge?”

Building a Pipeline for Short-Sale Listings

By Jim Droz

Generate Short Sale Listings

If you’re not a player in the short-sale or REO marketplace, now is the time to get in the game. It often takes practice and patience, but once you get the hang of it, the methods can be good for your business now and in the future.

Let’s focus on a technique that can lead to a pipeline of short-sale listings. It involves targeting specific groups of homeowners with a blanket mailer. The letter should focus on solving financially related, homeownership issues with goals of giving the distressed homeowner hope and creating an image that makes you the agent to call.

Start with a title that encourages the recipient to continue reading. Such as:

“If you’re struggling to make your house payments, I’ll tell you your best possible options.”

The first paragraph should introduce its purpose. For example:

“Terms such as foreclosure, auction, default, trustee sale and short sale are prevalent these days. Of those, a short sale results in the best-case scenario for the seller, the bank and the economy.”

Then introduce distressed homeowners to their options, which include: Continue reading “Building a Pipeline for Short-Sale Listings”

Agent Sharpens Skills to Keep Up with Growth

By Jim Droz

Realtor Steve Davis

Realtor Steve Davis said it’s been a good year for business in McKinney, Texas, a suburban community 20 miles north of downtown Dallas. There has been lots of activity on the housing market, which has been partly spurred by people moving to the area because of new business opportunities and job transfers.

“I’m seeing quite a bit of activity, and our inventory is down significantly,” Davis said about the housing market. “Prices have gone up some, but some people are still waiting to see what’s going to happen with the economy and to see if prices will go even higher.”

Multiple offers are happening if houses are priced right, he said, and houses are staying on the market about 30 days fewer than they were a year ago.

“I’m pretty optimistic about what’s happening and with all the new building we have going on here,” Davis said. “Overall, things are looking up, and I look for that to continue as we move forward.”

To prepare for that and to hone his skills, Davis will be striving to improve his follow-up diligence when it comes to leads on his HouseHunt site, “which is working out pretty well for me,” he said.

“One of my challenges is to make sure everyone is continually on a campaign so things are fresh and constantly circulating,” Davis said. “Following up with personal e-mails and calls is important, too. If I can continue with that, things should continue to progress in an upward way.”

The major trend Davis saw in 2012 was “a positive increase” in activity with both buyers and sellers in addition to getting reacquainted with bidding when a house is priced right. But he knows that personal interaction and staying in touch with his pipeline remain the keys to success in his business.

“Following up will be one of my main focuses in 2013,” he said. “Being consistent with that will help a lot.”

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E-Signatures A Sign of the Times

By Jaime Westman


Technology is usually so fast-paced that products are updated before some people even know they exist. But that’s not the case with electronic signatures, which have been around for more than 10 years but continue to be feared, loathed or misunderstood.

Perhaps the real estate industry can change that because they appear to be gaining in popularity despite some documents still not being accepted without a pen-and-paper signature. But as e-signatures and other aspects of a paperless transaction gain traction it will be imperative for agents to know how they work. Just as checkbooks have given way to debit cards and online purchasing, e-signatures will start to become socially acceptable by more people who might soon expect transactions to be handled in that fashion.
Continue reading “E-Signatures A Sign of the Times”

Agent Celebrates Cheer, Reconnects with Sphere

Atlanta Real Estate Agent Mary Ellen Vanaken

Mary Ellen Vanaken knows that staying active with clients past and present at the end of the year will provide her with some momentum heading into 2013. But the agent who works in the Atlanta metropolitan area might need a break when the calendar year turns because she’s putting a dent in the theory that November and December are slow times for real estate agents.

“We kind of started getting slammed Oct. 1 and it hasn’t stopped,” she said. “I am so busy, which is a great thing. But regardless, I always find this time of year to be so much fun. It’s a great time to stay in touch and build up your contact list moving forward.”

Vanaken enjoys using the long holiday season to reconnect with her sphere, take former clients out to lunch, meet them for shopping trips or drop by their house or business with a small gift.

“They love that kind of stuff,” Vanaken said. “We also hold a fall festival for kids. You want people to know that you’re in real estate but that you’re also a real person out in the community helping out, having fun and offering information. This time of year is always a favorite for me regardless of the buying and selling activity.”

People looking to buy houses during the holiday season are typically more motivated, she said – with that theory working in overdrive this year.

“There’s not a lot of inventory here, so things are getting multiple offers” she said. “It’s been pretty interesting here. It’s kept me and my team on our toes.”

Despite a sluggish to the beginning of the year in the Atlanta area, Vanaken said that the last three months is balancing things out, and then some.

“I’m seeing a lot more relocation activity on my HouseHunt site, along with my other lead generation tools,” Vanaken said. “It seems that everyone who has been looking is purchasing, which is a good thing. We should be ending the year on a high note.”

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas

By Jim Droz

Guaranteed buyer and seller leads

’Twas the night before Christmas, I’d sold every house,

Buyers were perusing my HouseHunt site with a flick of a mouse.

My clients all happy had been treated with care,

Disclosures all signed, let the buyer beware.

My customers were nestled all snug in their beds,

While visions of virtual tours danced in their heads.

My lender had promised an interest rate cap,

So I settled in for a short winter’s nap.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,

I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.

Away to the window I flew like a flash,

Hit my nose on the glass, an incredible crash. Continue reading “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas”

Ending 2012 With a Bang

By Jim Droz

Stan and Jayme McLaughlin of Norman and Oklahoma City

Stan McLaughlin is optimistic that the housing market in his part of Oklahoma is taking the same steps toward a recovery that are being seen in other parts of the country. While his numbers haven’t been overwhelming, his “2012 is better than 2011, which was better than 2010.”

“We’re definitely having a better year this year than last year as far as overall sales,” said McLaughlin, who works in Norman and Oklahoma City. “Much of that was from a strong start that didn’t flatten out that much as the year progressed.”

McLaughlin has learned to appreciate the slight uptick in his numbers, such as prices increasing about 3% from a year ago and houses taking about three or four months to sell rather than six on average.

“Our business will surpass last year,” he said, “which I’ll definitely take after the tough times of a few years ago.”

One of the main things McLaughlin learned from 2012 is that he has to continue to work his pipeline – which has at least 300 prospects in it – in order to start 2013 off on the right foot as well. He said that the good housing news of the past several months has got people interested in buying and selling again, even though some are still debating whether it’s the best move for them at this time.

“There are more people who want to buy and sell but aren’t able to,” McLaughlin said. “There still are people in Oklahoma who bought five or six years ago who don’t want to bring money to closings, so they want to sell but they’re not going to, at least for now.”

It’s a dilemma that will likely stick around as the calendar flips to 2013, so McLaughlin plans to diligently work with the buyers and sellers he has and to keep providing the best information he can to others he talks to or who visit his websites.

“That’s what I’ve always done,” he said. “With activity picking up, it’s even more important. I’m banking on next year topping this year and staying in touch is a way to make that happen.”

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YouTube 101: Ideas to Get Started

By Jaime Westman

We’re living in a visual world, which makes using YouTube to highlight our listings a valuable thing to do. It’s taken awhile but I’m finally feeling more comfortable with the process from start to finish. If you’re like me and constantly searching for new ways to get the message out, here are some things I’ve tried and recently heard about from others when it comes to utilizing YouTube.

Creating a personal YouTube Channel is the first step. You need this to perform certain functions and to upload videos to your channel that showcase your listings, neighborhoods and fun places to visit in your city. If you become known for your creativity and information, people will revisit the channel on a frequent basis.

Customize your channel to match branding. YouTube allows you to create the colors and look of your channel to match the branding across all of your marketing outlets. This is important because it shows consistency and professionalism.

Include appropriate tags and the property’s address. It’s also a good idea to add a link to your website or a direct link to the listing to get people to your business pages and searching for other houses that fit their criteria. Even if they’re not immediately ready to buy, potential clients will always have your link when viewing a video.

If you blog, there are several ways to embed a video into your posts. You don’t want to do it all the time but an occasional video to enhance your message is another way to engage viewers and keep them coming back for more.

Include video tours of the neighborhood. This is a great way to showcase parks and other appealing aspects of your listing’s region. Don’t go overboard in length, though, and make sure what you’re shooting is worthy of this kind of focus.

Talk about the listing. A video voiceover will make the experience less static for viewers. You can also point out cool features of a house or neighborhood, in addition to positioning yourself as the expert on market trends by standing in a neighborhood with some of your listings and explaining how tighter conditions have resulted in multiple bids and what the best strategy is for handling those types of situations.

Link QR codes to videos. Those ink blot-looking barcodes are becoming increasingly popular with shoppers, so, if possible, use one on your videos. You can set them up to take people to more listings or to give them information on the listing or market trends.

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Invest Wisely to Get a Good Return

By Jim Droz

Analyzing your ROI with the tools you have in place is a must for any real estate agent who invests back into his or her business. There are several things to keep in mind when forming a plan and following its effectiveness.

If lead generation is the top priority, be sure all communication gives prospects an opportunity to respond. That means promotional materials and listing pages should provide a call to action and include multiple ways to get back to you. That’s important because it gives every prospect a chance to reply no matter their preferred method.

Get the best ROI in real estate

Whatever you spend money on should be tracked no matter how many tools you have working. Given that past National Association of Realtor statistics show that less than a quarter of Internet prospects have an immediate need, building a pipeline of prospects for now and in the future is critical. That means that a minimum of six months or even a year is recommended to properly evaluate systems that generate leads. That differs, however, with pay-per-click or Google AdWord campaigns that should be managed on a daily or weekly basis to make sure everything is on track. An AdWord campaign can tell you how many leads or conversions have been generated, what keywords are being converted into leads and what ads are working best. Continue reading “Invest Wisely to Get a Good Return”