5 New Year’s Resolutions for Real Estate Agents

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New Year's Resolutions (2)
Alas, it’s that time of year to make resolutions again. You probably already have some idea of what your personal ones will be, but what about making some professional resolutions as well? Below we’ve outlined some great resolutions you can make to improve your business dealings in 2014.

Define Your Niche

If you haven’t done so already, it’s time to define your niche: the type of people and/or properties your business revolves around. Whether it be senior homebuyers, first-time homebuyers, luxury homes, investment properties or vacation-home sellers, make sure you know them. Once you’ve defined your niche, work it: market towards those interested in your specialty and share your expertise in the given market. By focusing your efforts on your most successful and highest-yielding client group, your business will become more lucrative and efficient.

Prioritize

Resolve to make priorities and set goals for each day, week, month, quarter and year. Make daily goals at the beginning of your work day when you’re fresh and know what you want to accomplish, or at the end of the day when you know what you have to finish up tomorrow. Make sure you put larger projects that will take more time and mental effort at the top of your list, as most people are more productive during the first half of the day. However, if you work better under pressure, then save your most taxing tasks for the second part of the day.

Delegate

If you have a team and feel that a project, task or lead would be better suited with someone else, turn it over to her/him. The basic daily tasks of an agent can be incredibly time consuming, so being able to delegate to others is a necessary skill. The more you delegate, and to the right people, the more you will get done in a day. Additionally, the less menial tasks you have to take care of, the more you can focus on the bigger, more important projects at hand.

Accept Rejection

We all get let down or rejected at some point or another. Whether you haven’t been as financially successful as you’d hoped in 2013, you’ve lost some clients or had a few bad reviews on Yelp, don’t fret. Take these low points, learn from them, and ensure you don’t repeat them in the new year!

Relax

If you’ve felt over-exerted in 2013, plan to take some time off this coming year. Also, plan ahead so that you can take small personal breaks throughout the day. These small, 15 to 30 minute breaks once or twice a day can help you clear your mind, refocus and refuel. Although it’s easy to get caught up in dealing with clients and finishing as much as possible at any given time, it’s incredibly important to take some “me” time throughout the day.

Have any professional New Year’s resolutions of your own? Please share them in the comments box.


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New Year’s Cards for Clients

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New Year's Cards

You’ve already done some fall promos and holiday business boosters, keeping you in front of your clients and poising yourself for a successful 2014. So why not go above and beyond with one last marketing push in 2013?

A great way to thank your clients for a great year and let them know you’ll be there for their real estate needs come 2014 is to send out Happy New Year cards.

Handwritten cards are a lost art in many industries, but real estate agents are, for the most part, keeping it alive in theirs. This is because real estate is about the relationship you maintain and nurture with your clients, and what better way to do this than to remind them of your continued appreciation this season.

In your card, reflect on a time you shared with your client this year, whether it’s from the home buying or selling process, or a fun memory from a client appreciation party or community event. You can even include a picture of yourself and the client in the card if you have one.

Also make sure to outline your wishes for them in the coming year. Write that you hope they continue to enjoy their new home and community and/or you’re looking forward to working with them again in 2014.

This small but significant gesture will not go unnoticed. A beautiful, handwritten New Year’s card—not lumped together with all the other Christmas cards—will make you stand out from the pack. Your clients will appreciate your thoughtfulness as the year gets ready to turn, and you’ll be poised and ready to take on 2014.

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Client Appreciation Party Ideas

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christmas decorations

The holidays are a great excuse to host an awesome party. And who better to invite than your clients?
Client appreciation parties are a great way to network, showcase your successes and continue to nurture relationships that can bring you referrals down the road. Send out festive, paper invitations via snail mail to the clients you’ve closed deals with this year, those you are currently working with, and anyone you hope to work with in the near future. Remember, the point of this event is to impress your clients and encourage them to refer you to their friends and relatives, so keep it classy!

Although you can always go more casual with this type of event, it’s always a good idea to make your client appreciation party semi-formal. Host your party at a nice, local and popular bar or restaurant. Decorate to make it feel festive, but don’t break the bank or get overwhelmed doing so. Spend an hour tops getting the space in the holiday spirit—that is if the restaurant/bar hasn’t already done so. Also make sure to have a guest book at the door, asking for names, mailing addresses and comments. This way, even if you already have their addresses, you can ensure you have the correct ones when you send your guests thank you cards post-party.

Make sure there are finger foods and complimentary cocktails during the two or three hours for which your party is scheduled. You can have the restaurant/bar provide the food, or bring some delectables yourself. Make bite-size caramel apples by taking a melon baller to an apple, then dipping in caramel. You can also put juice, soda, lemonade and water into mason jars to give your drinks a personal touch. Also, since it’s a holiday party, have some seasonal goodies in your spread. Offer mugs of hot chocolate or peppermint mochas with chocolate-dipped spoons.

Another great idea is to take photos of your guests during the party. Make sure to have a designated friend as a photographer, or hire a professional one, and go around the room taking pictures of everyone with his/her date or of you and the attendee. These will make great inserts for the thank you notes you’ll send out a few days after the party. They’ll also be great to post on photo-based social media sites like Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram.

Have small party favors for clients to take on their way out. These should be home and holiday related and can include candy canes, a picture frame and key chain, or something similar. This will be a great way to stay on clients’ minds whenever they see your gift around their homes.

If you’re offering valet service at your party, leave water bottles with your name and brand on them (easily done with shipping or labeling stickers) in your clients’ cars. This is a great, unexpected final touch!

Overall, have fun. You want your clients to see you in a positive light, so the more social butterfly and less party manager, the better. Remember to get around and chat with everyone; you never know from where the next referral may come!

Have any other client appreciation party ideas? Please leave them in the comments box below!

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25 Infographics for Real Estate Agents

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We’ve gathered 25 infographics for real estate agents, guaranteed to make you more informed! These infographics are about everything from your website, blogging, social media and online leads to dealing with buyers and sellers, why you should go mobile, and how to market your business. Click on the titles to see the infographics and/or find them on our Pinterest Infographics Board, and enjoy!25 essential infographics for real estate agents

  1. Real Estate Through Time: Because we should all know our real estate history.
  2. Amazing Real Estate Statistics of 2013: The real estate industry spends the most on online advertising.
  3. What Makes a Great Real Estate Website: What features your website needs to have.
  4. Blogging and What it Means for Your Business: Why you need to start blogging!
  5. The Science of Content Marketing for Real Estate: Now that you have a blog, here’s what to write.
  6. The Real Estate Industry and Social Media Use: Which social media platforms agents are using, and how the industry compares to small businesses.
  7. The Best and Worst Times to Post on Social Networks: Peak times for posting and time frames to avoid.
  8. Hashtags: The importance of using—or not using—hashtags on certain social media platforms.
  9. The Modern Day Buyer and the Social Media Movement: How the internet has changed the way people buy.
  10. Offline vs. Online Leads: The difference between traditional and internet leads.
  11. Nurture Online Leads: How to nurture those internet leads.
  12. 7 Tips to Sell Properties Online: A seven step process for how to sell online.
  13. Realtors vs. For Sale By Owners: The difference a realtor makes when selling a home.
  14. Why Some Homes Sell Faster: The “it” factors that help homes move quickly.
  15. Home Staging in Every Season: What to keep an eye out for—or tell your clients to maintain—during the home-selling process.
  16. What Buyers are Willing to Do for the House They Want: Stats on how many buyers will offer over asking price, etc.
  17. Gender Perceptions in Home Ownership: What tasks men and women take on during the home buying process.
  18. Millennials-The Next Generation of Home Buyers: Who they are and how to market to them.
  19. Mobile in the Enterprise: How and why businesses are going mobile.
  20. Real Estate on the Go: The mobile web, mobile app usage and real estate.
  21. The Formula for Success: How to calculate how many loyal customers you need to achieve your real estate goals.
  22. 10 Effective Marketing Tips for Real Estate Agents: Both offline and online marketing tips.
  23. Real Estate Marketing Tips for the Fall: What to do for your clients come Fall.
  24. Holiday Marketing for Real Estate Agents: Ways to stay on your clients’ minds over the holidays, so come January when business picks back up, you’re the one they call!
  25. What Could You Build With All The World’s Legos?: Because everyone loves Legos.

 

infographics for real estate agents


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Male vs. Female Home Buyers

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men vs women home buyers

Although I’m partial to pointing out our similarities rather than our differences, some new statistics from Prudential Real Estate point to the differences in gender perceptions when it comes to homeownership. In this article we’ll discuss Prudential’s third quarter Consumer Outlook Survey results and how you can use this information to develop an educated approach for both female and male clients—leading to more successful interactions and more closed deals.

Seeing as 92 percent of survey respondents said their agent was helpful in the buying or selling process, it’s important to know how you can be helpful and with whom. While men tend to position themselves as more responsible for the financial aspects of the home buying process, women tend to find their duties in the research and planning areas.

 

 

The data: 39 percent of men believe financial research is their sole responsibility. Furthermore, 34 percent feel making a down payment is entirely up to them.

How to use it: When it comes time to discuss pre-approval for a loan, your commission percentage, the down payment, the buying budget and what amount of money is reasonable for an offer, make sure your male client feels included and active in the conversation.

The data: 34 percent of women listed researching neighborhoods as their sole responsibility.

How to use it: Make sure you give your female clients a comprehensive picture of the neighborhoods they’re considering. Always provide information about a community’s crime rate, walk-ability score, architectural style, school district, value, proximity to desired locations, and tax rates.

The data: Women, 42 percent of respondents to be exact, believe scheduling is their sole job during the home buying process.

How to use it: When it comes time to set up appointments for home tours, contact your female client (this is assuming you’re working with a female-male couple). If you try to schedule viewing times with your male client, he’s more than likely going to have to check with his better half before giving you a definitive answer.

The data: 87 percent of women said that looking at homes was their most enjoyable responsibility.

How to use it: When it comes time to actually view homes, direct your questions towards your female client.

The data: 43 percent of men enjoy taking care of the paperwork and applications.

How to use it: When it comes down to the nitty gritty, direct your attention toward your male client.

Despite a seemingly balanced division of who claims sole responsibility for each task, there are some disconnects between men and women when it comes to agreeing on what are shared responsibilities of the home buying process.

The data: While 71 percent of women believe making a down payment should be a shared endeavor, only 56 percent of men do.

How to use it: Bring this topic up with care and patience—you may find your clients need to discuss it on their own before getting back to you.

The data: Another disconnect found by the survey also has to do with money–while 65 percent of women believe collecting and evaluating assets and financials should be shared, only 54 percent of men agree.

How to use it: This can also be a delicate subject, so breach it with care.

The data: 53 percent of men believe researching schools should be a shared task, whereas only 42 percent of women concur.

How to use it: Make sure to discuss school districts and schools in particular with both parties. This will make both male and female clients feel included in this important decision making process.

While the data presents some gender divisions, it also brings similarities to light. The top three priorities that both men and women agree on when it comes to purchasing a home are: 1. Safe neighborhood, 2. Overall condition of the home, and 3. Number of bedrooms. Why own a home in the first place? Investment appeal and control of living space were ranked as the top reasons by both genders.

It’s important to know your clients and how to meet their needs—but also be prepared to be a mediator. There may come a time when you need to sit both parties down and give your professional opinion. In fact, 83 percent of respondents “said that their last real estate agent was helpful in forming an agreement with their partner.” You will serve as the local market expert and the voice of reason: 86 percent of respondents value their agent’s point of view as much or even more than their partner’s, so be ready to back up your professional opinion!

If you take these statistics into consideration and approach your female and male clients accordingly, you’ll be better equipped to interact with them in the most efficient manner. Make sure to play to what each individual relishes about the home buying process, while breaching delicate subjects with care. The more you know your clients, the better you can serve them!

Do you have any more insights about dealing with male vs. female buyer clients? Please leave them in the comments box below.

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New Year, New Marketing Strategy

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New Year, New Marketing Strategy

How did your business do this year? Are you still grinding away? As we discussed in “Marketing Around the Holidays,” the holiday season is a great time to get your name in front of clients so that they come to you come 2014. Despite how successful or unsuccessful you were this year, there’s always room for improvement when it comes to business. With the start of the new year should come a new marketing strategy. So, how can you increase the number of clients, closed deals and commission checks? Where should you spend your time and money in 2014?

Seeing as 90 percent of homebuyers are starting their house hunt online, if you’re not already working online leads, it’s time to get into the game. The internet is increasingly becoming more and more integral to the world of real estate. So how do you capture those people browsing for homes online?

The first step is to create an online presence for your business. Invest in a well designed, easily navigated website. This will be your “home” online, so it should be as tidy and inviting as those you sell offline. Make sure to maintain your site by constantly updating information, listings, your IDX and MLS data, etc. It’s also important to publish original content on a regular basis, so make sure your site has a blog feature and post one to three times a week.

After you have your online home up, running and well maintained, it’s time to start making friends to invite over. If you’re not already on social media sites, it’s time to join. These sites can generate buzz around your business and drive traffic to your home (web) address. While most agents are already on Facebook, you should also take advantage of sites like Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, LinkedIn, Instagram and Google +. Make sure to maintain these sites as you do your website—set time aside everyday to post and interact with other users. It’s also a good idea to set goals for each platform. Where do you want the traffic from your Facebook page to land on your website? Do you want your Pinterest pictures to link to your blog, homepage or a lead form?

Once you have a sturdy foundation in your website and friends to invite over from maintaining your presence on social media sites, it’s time to invest in capturing online leads. While leads can be generated from your website and social media sites alone, adding another level to your online presence specifically for lead capture is incredibly beneficial. There are primarily two ways people generate online leads: either on their own or with an online lead generation service. So, what are the pros and cons of each?

Generating online leads on your own means creating and having complete control of all information imparted from start to finish, but this can also be very time consuming. While capturing online leads without the resources of a third party can save you money, it can also lose you time (and you know what they say!). Additionally, the volume of leads you wrangle in on your own may not be the amount you expect—it takes time and trial and error to create an efficient and successful lead generation system, from lead capture to follow-up. Plus, if you’re not educated in the lead capture process, it can be costly. For example, if you’re not familiar with how Google AdWords and PPC work, you could end up spending a lot of money on keywords that don’t generate many leads.

This is where an online lead generation service can come in handy. The system is already in place and proven effective. But remember, not all lead generation services are created equal. While some sell leads to multiple agents in one area, others sell exclusive territories, meaning one agent receives all of the leads in his or her area. The latter system allows agents to be branded as the sole expert in the community, giving them more of an online presence due to more websites promoting their services.

When it comes down to it, you need to decide where and how you want to spend your time and money. Would you rather spend most of your day prospecting for leads online, possibly throwing your money at an inefficient system? Or would you rather invest your money in an already established, effective system and spend your time meeting with clients, showing homes, and participating in the parts of the real estate process you love the most?

Whether you decide to go it alone or recruit the services of an online lead generation service in 2014, it’s important to remember you’ll still need to direct some of your time and money to offline marketing efforts. In other words, don’t put all of your eggs in the online marketing basket. Make sure to make room in your financial and time budget for handwritten notes, welcome presents, congratulatory cards and closing gifts. Staying human is as important as establishing your online presence in today’s real estate world.

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Holiday Ideas for Boosting Business

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It’s getting closer to that magical time of year, so what can you do as a real estate agent to boost visibility and business this holiday season? Participating in and/or hosting holiday events in your community is a great way to network and increase your sphere of influence. Below are some ideas for arousing holiday cheer in the neighborhoods you farm this year.
holiday ideas for boosting business

Contests

Most people enjoy decorating for the holidays, so why not give them an incentive to go above and beyond this year? Pass out flyers to the residents in your area announcing a holiday house decorating contest and when you’ll be stopping by to judge it. The prizes for first, second and third place can be anything from gift certificates to poinsettias. This is a great way to send holiday greetings, encourage participation and community building, get your name out there and amp up curb appeal.

In order to get the kids involved, host a holiday drawing contest. Pass out submission forms with or without your holiday decorating contest announcements and encourage all those 12 and under to participate. Post the winning submissions on your website and partner with a local newspaper to get them published in print.

Cards

It’s always a nice touch to send out handwritten holiday cards this time of year. Make sure to personalize each one as much as possible, including a tidbit you know about the client and how you enjoy(ed) working with him/her. This small gesture can go a long way, especially when it comes to increasing your referral network.

Dress Up

A great, timeless way to farm is to go door-to-door, so why not do it as Santa? Take one day out of your busy day-to-day to throw on that red suit and padding and hit the streets! This is one of the best ways to increase visibility—literally. Stop by with business cards and candy canes and offer to take pictures with the kids!

Food & Toy Drives

Hosting a food and/or toy drive will not only get people to your door but show that you care about the well-being of the community. Send out flyers announcing your drive, the location of your office, where the donations will be going and any incentives you’re willing to offer. Have your team members (if any) drop off the goods with you to reinforce team solidarity.

Client Appreciation Parties

The holidays are a great time to throw client appreciation parties. Host one at your local community center or a popular restaurant and invite all those you have closed deals with, those you are currently working with, and anyone you hope to work with in the future. This will be a great way to network, showcase your successes and continue to nurture relationships that can bring you referrals down the road. Another great idea is to send small tokens of your appreciation to clients you have closed with during the year. These can be anything from gift cards to small gift baskets.

Do you have any other traditions or things you like to do for your clients during the holidays? Please let us know in the comments box below!


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Getting Your Client’s Home Ready for Listing Photos

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The day of the photo and/or video shoot for your listing is nearing, and you want to make sure your clients have their home prepared. The more they spruce it up, the less you and/or the photographer will have to do. So, your best approach is to email your clients with a list of things they can do to get their home camera-ready. We’ve created a printable checklist that you can email or print and mail to your clients to help this process go as smoothly as possible!

Here are some things to highlight in your correspondence:

photo shoot ready home

Interior:
-Ask the residents to minimize clutter in all areas that will be photographed. This includes end tables, bedside tables, coffee tables, vanities, etc. Even if they throw items in a shopping bag and put it under the bed, just make sure it’s out of the way! The rule of thumb here: if you wouldn’t see it in a model home, hide it!
-Have them remove small throw rugs in the bathroom, kitchen and foyer. This will help open up more floor space, making the floor and home appear larger.
-Ask them to remove small picture frames from tables and shelves. Although large, framed and hung pictures are fine, smaller frames can clutter up a space.
-Have your clients remove small kitchen appliances from the countertops (toaster, coffee maker, etc.). The more counter space visible, the better!
-Ask them to remove small bath items from all bathroom counters. This includes any bottles, hand soap, bars of soap, toothbrushes, etc.
-Make sure that they lighten up dark furniture by throwing a light throw blanket and/or pillows on it, and remove or replace a dark area rug with a lighter one to brighten up a room.
-If there is an unflattering view from any of the windows in the home, have the residents hang semi-sheer curtains. These will allow light to pass through but hide any not-so-savory views.
-Have your clients open up all drapes, blinds (drawn all the way up) and shades throughout the home (except those covering ugly views).

prepping the exterior of your home

Exterior:
-Have your clients remove all toys or other items from the back and front yard.
-Ask them to move trash and recycling bins to an area of the home that isn’t going to be photographed.
-Make sure all yard signs (the For Sale sign, home security sign, etc.) are removed.
-Have residents move their cars out of the driveway and make sure no cars are parked in front of the house.
-Ask them to store water hoses and other gardening items and tools.
-Have them do basic yard maintenance the day before or day of the shoot: mow the lawn, rake leaves, trim dead branches, and make sure flowering plants are visible.

 

With a little bit of preparedness on your clients’ part, the day of the shoot will run smoothly and take less time. As with selling anything, you want to make sure it looks its best before you present it to potential buyers!

 

Click here to download The Seller’s Photo Shoot Checklist!

 

Do you have any more tips on what clients can do to spruce up their house before a photo shoot?


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