How to Screen Your Client’s Commitment to Move

“By Jesse McCarl

It doesn’t take long in a real estate career before you learn that people are flaky. You’ve probably walked a client through nearly every step of the moving process, only to have them change their mind at the last minute and deprive you of your commission check.

In the show Love It or List It, you meet a couple who can’t decide whether they want to remodel their home to meet their needs, or just move out and start fresh. They have a contractor come in to renovate their current dig and a real estate agent to show them some potential new spots. At the end of the episode, they choose to either stay in their freshly updated home (love it) or sell it to move (list it).

The people in the show usually end up simply staying in their current pad. Perhaps it’s the memories they’ve created, perhaps it’s the thousands they already poured into the renovations, or maybe they’re just exhausted from all the melodrama that comes with being on a reality show.

In a half hour daytime TV program, this is all well and good. But imagine if these had been your clients: You take time to show multiple listings and try to find the perfect home for their needs, and then you find out you were never needed anyway.

How do you make sure your clients are confident in their preparation to move? Can you screen them to make sure that their renovations to increase home value don’t just end up convincing them to stay put?

It is important to understand why the client is considering a move. Most of the reasoning can be investigated in preliminary phone calls or a listing interview. Do they seem uncomfortably attached to their specific neighborhood? Are they trying to get away from things that can’t be fixed with a remodel (distance from freeways, bad topography, etc.)? Does the next move seem well planned, or are they about to move into a mansion despite being empty-nesters in a few years?

The more you know about the customer’s real estate goals, the safer you will be when you move forward with them as a client.

Here are 5 questions to ask in the early stages with a client to screen your client’s commitment to move (and guarantee you a commission check)-

 

  1. Why do you want to move?
  2. Is your move going to be out of town, local, or just down the street?
  3. What are the biggest issues you have with your present address?
  4. Is remodeling even an option for your desires?
  5. What’s the time frame for the next move? How long-term is the “moving” solution, really?

 

At the end of the day, there’s no specific formula to guarantee the commitment of a new client. But these five questions will challenge the perspective of the clients, and perhaps allow them the space to consider alternatives they haven’t thought of yet. Furthermore, you can gain a sense of where the perspective buyer is at in the process, and adjust your strategy accordingly.


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What Determines If a House Will Sell? [Infographic]

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Bestselling agent Jim Droz continued his Releasing the Winner Within webinar series – exclusively for HouseHunt agents – last week. This third installment focused on listing interviews. At some point in your listing interview, you want to discuss with the prospective client the Critical Six Factors, or the aspects of the real estate transaction that will affect whether or not the home will sell.

So what determines if a house will sell? Below is an infographic to show you what the six factors are, and touching on how an agent should address them in a listing interview.

Critical Six Factors

Here are the infographics from the previous two installments of Jim Droz’s HouseHunt webinar series:

Part I – The Formula for Success

Part II – How to Build Professional Relationships

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Where to Go for Your SEO

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There’s a ton of information out there about SEO (Search Engine Optimization) techniques, tips and tricks. So how do you find the ones that really work? We give you some websites that have thorough, clearly explained, and innovative SEO methods.

via Virante
via Virante

1. Virante Orange Juice

Virante Orange Juice is Virante Inc’s blog and provides information on everything from link building to Google Authorship tutorials. I found this blog via Mark Traphagen, an expert on social media consulting and marketing, inbound and internet marketing, Google+ and more. As a company, Virante has been in the web marketing industry since the late 1900’s. It has even been tapped by the Wall Street Journal to “provide web marketing expertise to its readership.”

 

 

via Kissmetrics
via Kissmetrics

2. KISSmetrics Blog

The KISSmetrics blog is “a blog about analytics, marketing and testing.” It provides great content on topics ranging from how to increase email subscribership to increasing traffic with StumbleUpon. KISSmetrics was founded by Neil Patel, a digital marketing and analytics expert.

 

 

3. Quick Sprout Blog

via QuickSprout
via QuickSprout

Another Neil Patel site, the Quick Sprout blog features information including a marketer’s guide to blogging, content marketing lessons, and tips for creating content that gets read and shared. Neil knows his stuff, and even told Forbes “I was born with the gift to drive traffic to websites.” It’s completely true, so check out his posts to learn how he does it.

 

 

4. Backlinko

via Backlinko
via Backlinko

Backlinko is a site founded by Brian Dean that focuses on SEO training and link building strategies. Brian has some of the most innovative, off-the-wall ideas when it comes to SEO. Just check out his article “21 SEO Techniques You Can Use Today to Get More Search Engine Traffic.” In fact, Mr. Neil Patel even said, “When it comes to link building, Brian Dean is the best in the business.” This site is the place to go to learn new ways to find keywords and link build.

 

 

via Moz
via Moz

5. The Moz Blog

The Moz Blog is the content leg of Moz, an SEO consulting company. There are many authors that contribute, including Mark Traphagen, Brian Carter and Rob Toledo. Topics range from Facebook ads and Google Analytics to social engagement metrics and Nofollow links. Moz also has a community where you can attend webinars, ask questions and sign up for conventions.

 

 

6. Search Engine Land

via SearchEngineLand
via SearchEngineLand

Search Engine Land is a great place to find all SEO-related news. Learn about algorithm changes and webmaster guideline updates as they happen. For example, did you know that Bing’s new guidelines ding content for keyword stuffing? You can also learn tips straight from the horse’s mouth, like Google’s Matt Cutts.

 

 

via SimplyMeasured
via SimplyMeasured

7. Simply Measured Blog

Simply Measured is a “fast-growing team of data geeks dedicated to making the world of analytics and reporting a better, more beautiful place.” Check out their blog for articles about repetitive content, Facebook engagement, tweeting and conducting social media contests.

 

 

 

Do you have any must-visit websites you go to for your SEO? Please share them with us!

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5 Content Ideas for Your Real Estate Blog

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Sometimes it can be tough coming up with content for a blog, but there are many outlets from which you can get creative ideas. Take a look at our list of where to find great ideas and what to use for awesome content for your real estate blog.

1. Infographics
Infographics are omnipresent these days, and they offer a ton of information. Pick some of your favorite infographics and turn them into content. For example, we recently came across a great infographic by Prudential Real Estate entitled “Gender Perceptions in Homeownership” and turned it into an article called Male vs. Female Home Buyers. The amount of information found on the infographic lent itself to a full-length piece of written content.

content for real estate blog

2. The Sites You Use Everyday
It’s always a good idea to write what you know. Have any special tips on posting to your favorite social media platform? Is there a certain type of picture that drives more traffic to your site? Use what you’ve learned about the sites you use every day and turn them into informative content. If Pinterest draws a huge amount of referral traffic to your blog, let the numbers talk: write about how many clicks, pins, impressions and overall reach you get weekly or monthly and what types of photos you share/boards you curate to grab that traffic.

3. In the News
It’s always a good idea to write articles that are pertinent to what’s happening in the world and trending online. For example, as bitcoin gained popularity, we wrote an article about Paying for Real Estate with Bitcoin. After a UN Women campaign using Google Autofill gained popularity on various social media sites, we used the same tactic and applied it to real estate.

4. Pop Culture
We’re no Perez Hilton, but we do like to dabble in pop culture. Articles about celebrities, TV shows, movies, etc. can grab a lot of readers you may usually not attract. Make sure your pop culture articles still relate to real estate, however. For example, start a Celebrity Homes Series, post property highlights of homes featured in television shows or owned by reality TV stars and write about towns featured in popular movies.

5. Links
Creating top 25, 50 or 100 lists of useful links can grab you a lot of attention. We’ve seen great results from both our 25 Infographics for Real Estate Agents and 25 Infographics For Selling a House posts. These can be done with any real estate related topic, including resources for first time home buyers, links to help your move go smoothly, etc.

Have any more content ideas for your real estate blog? Please share your tips and tricks with us in the comments section!


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HomeTrackr: A Digital Resource for Real Estate Agents

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HomeTrackr is, according to the company’s website, “a revolutionary and simple way to access critical and hard to get information about your future home.” HomeTrackr follows a similar function to Carfax: it gives you critical information about the “physical health of a home before you make an offer.” Which is why it’s perfect for potential home buyers and real estate agents alike: the more information you have, the more informed of a decision—and an offer—you can make about and on a home.

via Google+
via Google+

HomeTrackr founder Rich Estes of Charleston, South Carolina has a background in residential construction and real estate. After receiving his MBA from John Hopkins Carey Business School, he started the service that provides critical data reports on homes. “It’s the natural evolution of data transparency for residential real estate,” Estes told PRWeb. “It will save buyers and real estate agents thousands by weeding out homes with hidden problems.” Estes believes that home buyers deserve to know the whole truth when it comes to the home they intend to buy, but that homeowners are given too much wiggle room to omit critical information on property disclosure statements.

HomeTrackr is currently producing reports in select national markets. A Quick Look Report provides users with a home’s history of inspections, permits, property damage, property insurance claims, mortgages and even lists contractors who have worked on the home. The HomeTrackr team only gathers public information from reputable sources, ensuring that no data manipulation or privacy violations occur.

The HomeTrackr developers are also working on HomeSafe, a secure digital cloud space where homeowners can enter important documents and information about their homes. Homeowners can log home improvements, upload warranty information, report inaccuracies and store digital records on HomeSafe. This makes finding and presenting accurate and up-to-date information on the home to potential home buyers easy come time to sell. Currently, HomeSafe is in the final stages of development and will be released in the spring of this year.

Although HomeTrackr is currently only available online, a mobile app is scheduled for release later this year. As a powerful, all-in-one resource for hard-to-find information on properties, HomeTrackr can definitely prove incredibly beneficial to real estate agents. Knowing everything you can possibly know about properties your clients are interested in will not only provide peace of mind, it will enable you to make more informed offers on homes.

Have you tried HomeTrackr? If so, is it helpful? If not, where do you find information on properties you’re showing?


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Home Buyers: Who Are They and Where Can You Find Them?

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Sometimes the amount of real estate agents looking for buyers can be daunting, making you feel like a small fish in an ever-expanding pond. However, finding home buyers in today’s market doesn’t have to be intimidating. All you need to know is who you’re looking for, what they want, where to find them, and how to approach them.

There are many different types of buyers, but we’ll be focusing on two general categories: first time home buyers and repeat buyers. Within the repeat buyers category we will discuss trade-up buyers, trade-down buyers, and investors.

When it comes to the where, you need to focus on finding home buyers in two places: online and offline. It’s important to know how to hunt for prospective buyers in both spheres using effective techniques.

Lastly, it’s crucial that you approach each buyer in a manner appropriate to his/her buyer type and interact in a way suitable to the medium by which you are communicating (whether online or offline).

First Time Home Buyers

First, let’s take a look at first time home buyers: who they are, what they’re looking for, where you can find them and how to approach them.

Who Are They?

If we had to summarize the general mental environment of the average first time home buyer, we’d pick one word: idealism.

student debt

Think lofty dreams, high hopes and endless aspirations. The first time home buyer is just starting out. S/he is excited to take the first big “adult” steps of his/her life and, more often than not, buying a home is one of them.

Therefore, be prepared to have to bring your client back down to earth. You don’t want to kill dreams, but you do want to be the level-headed expert. This is where your market and overall real estate expertise will come in handy.

According to a recent Doorsteps survey, first time home buyers make up almost 40 percent of the total buyer pool. Furthermore, their presence is a good sign: the more first time home buyers, the faster the housing market can recover. This is because they allow existing homeowners to move out of their “starter” homes and into new ones, keeping the real estate cycle lubed and moving.

First time home buyers aren’t as young as they used to be. While the average first time home buyer was in his/her mid to late twenties a few years ago, buyers are now waiting to purchase until they’re in their early to mid thirties. Why the change? It’s harder to get a mortgage when you have student debt.

In fact, according to Yahoo! Finance, “With tightened credit, many defaulting young borrowers are no longer able to qualify [for] loans—especially mortgages. In 2005, nearly nine percent of 25 to 30 year olds with student debt were granted a mortgage. But last year [2012], that percentage dropped to slightly above four percent.”

With new mortgage rules having gone into effect on January 10, 2014, it will be even harder for anyone with student debt to qualify for a mortgage. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s new set of standards, in order to qualify for a Qualified Residential Mortgage, borrowers must have a monthly debt to income (DTI) ratio of less than or equal to 43 percent. This stricter DTI ratio will make it incredibly hard for people with student debt to meet eligibility. With the amount of outstanding student debt at about $1 trillion, there is a huge pool of people who won’t qualify.

Therefore, today’s first time home buyer will probably be newly out of student debt, a bit more financially unburdened, and in his/her early to mid thirties.

What Are They Looking For?

First time home buyers are looking for that first piece of real estate to call their own. Although what type of home they are looking for is highly dependent on budget, location, and personal plans, first time home buyers are generally searching for moderately priced homes to get them out of their rental situations. They are looking for privacy, space, and a place to call their own. Their first home will probably serve them as their family grows and they become financially stable enough to trade up.

These buyers are also concerned about commuting. In fact, 62 percent of Gen-Y buyers said that a convenient commute was a top factor when choosing a neighborhood. Furthermore, 43 percent said commuting costs were the most important environmental factor in buying a home.

First time home buyers are also looking for an agent that understands how special purchasing a home is for the first time. They want you to explain and be appreciative of the process with them, and reassure them that their first home purchase will be a sound investment for the future.

Where Can You Find Them?

As you’ve probably heard, 90 percent of home buyers start their home searches online. With first time home buyers being at the younger end of the home buyers’ pool (and younger people tend to go to Google for everything), it’s more than likely that this is where they’ll start the process. Therefore, let’s first focus on where to find first time home buyers online.

Online

buyers online

First of all, search “first time home buyer course” online and you’ll find a slew of courses offered to those thinking about purchasing a home. How can you use this to your advantage? Many of these sites partner with real estate agents. Find a course or group you like, and see if they have partnership opportunities available in your area.

Scour the internet for first time home buyer forums, create a profile, and answer any questions potential home buyers have. This is a great way to showcase your expertise and find potential buyers.

Marketing your services online is a must to attract any home buyer. Make sure you have a clean, well designed website, are present on various social media sites, and are producing quality written content.

Offline

It’s rare that first time home buyers find their agents offline these days, unless it’s due to a referral from a friend or family member. Therefore, aside from leaving a paper trail through a primarily rental area, your best bet is to network with past clients to see if they know anyone looking to buy a home for the first time. This can be done through your usual drip campaign, but with a focus on serving first time home buyers. This can be especially effective if you send mailers to those past clients you helped find their first home. Invoking that sense of nostalgia, coupled with a request to send first time home buyers your way, can lead to great, quality referrals.

How Do You Approach Them?

Since your first interaction with first time home buyers will most likely be online, make sure to respond to any inquiries as soon as possible. This will ensure that the prospective buyer knows that there’s an actual human being behind the other computer screen. If you have the buyer’s phone number, call them right away, but if not, respond to them via whatever medium they used to contact you (your website, Facebook, Google+, etc.) and ask for their number so you can give them a call as soon as possible.

As many a realtor knows, it’s a race against time during the first stretch of the client acquisition game. Therefore, make sure you’re on top of your leads. Furthermore, when dealing with first time home buyers, emphasize your experience in working with such buyers during your first contact. Outline your expertise with helping people purchase their first homes and why you understand and enjoy these transactions the most. Lastly, underline that you are excellent at exercising patience, as this is an incredibly important quality that first time home buyers want to see in their real estate agent.

Repeat Buyers

On to the repeat buyers: let’s take a look at who these clients are, what they’re looking for, where you can find them and how to approach them.

Who Are They?
repeat buyers

These clients have already been through the home buying process at least once, so they (more or less) know the ropes. However, this means that they can come in one of two forms: the know-it-all, or the teacher’s pet.

The know-it-all, as you may suspect, thinks that s/he understands the process incredibly well, maybe even better than you do (because you don’t do this for a living or anything, right?). Know-it-all buyers are incredibly opinionated, and if they’ve worked with other realtors, they may spend the whole process pointing out how their other agent handled things differently. Make sure to listen to these clients’ wants and needs, but also ensure them that you’re an expert in the field and explain why you handle parts of the process the way you do.

You can also do business with the teacher’s pet. The ideal client, this buyer knows exactly what s/he wants and what is expected of him/her throughout the process. This client will listen to your advice and make sure that s/he is complying with your recommendations. Praise this client for being incredibly easy to work with, but make sure s/he doesn’t compromise too much in an effort to be agreeable.

What Are They Looking For?

In addition to the overarching characteristics of repeat buyers, let’s take a look at three specific buyer types (trade-up buyers, trade-down buyers, and investors) and what they’re looking for.

Trade-Up Buyers

These buyers are ready, financially and physically, for more room! Trade-up buyers are looking for extra closet space, bonus rooms and formal dining and living rooms. Extra space is necessary, while prestige is a big plus. These buyers will be interested in homes in a great location that have excellent curb appeal and amenities. Price is important to these clients, but trade-up buyers will be more concerned with their monthly payments and how to budget accordingly. Furthermore, many trade-up buyers have children, making school district quality a top factor in their choice of neighborhood.

Trade-Down Buyers

This group will primarily consist of the empty nesters, baby boomers, and retirees. There will also be those who need to downsize due to financial reasons or divorce. These buyers will be interested in properties that offer a similar quality of life as their previous home did, but with a smaller down and monthly payment. These buyers are interested in town homes and condos more than detached single family homes. Additionally, trade-down buyers care about the overall quality of a neighborhood as well as being in a location convenient to family and friends.

Investors

This will be the group of buyers that really knows the real estate game. Investors realize that investing in real estate is one of the soundest investments they can make. Therefore, these buyers will have more than likely done their fair share of research and know exactly what they’re looking to purchase. Investors may be more interested in foreclosures and short sales than other repeat buyers, and may be more willing to compromise on the condition of the home or property.

Where Can You Find Them?

Let’s take a look at where you can find these repeat buyers both on and offline.

Online

When looking for trade-up buyers, using forums can be very useful. You can check out sites like Quora, Ask.com and eHow to search for phrases like “trading up” or “upgrading to a better home” and see what discussions are already taking place.

When prospecting for trade-down buyers, research townhouse and condo complexes in your area, and see if there are any discussion boards on the site. These will clue you into what trade-down buyers are looking for in a community. Furthermore, such resources will provide you with the questions and concerns such clients have regarding downsizing to a smaller property.

When it comes to investors, a great online resource is BiggerPockets.com. This is a “real estate investing social network, information hub and marketplace” with over 150,000 members, many of which are investors. By simply looking at the many forum threads and marketplace posts, you can see that many investors are out there and ready to jump on a great new real estate investment opportunity.

Offline

door knocking

A great offline strategy for finding both trade-up and trade-down buyers is door knocking. For trade-up buyers, target neighborhoods with young families and go door-to-door. Introduce yourself and discuss the school districts and benefits of neighborhoods where families might find themselves “trading up.” For trade-down buyers, target neighborhoods with an older population. Door knock, introduce yourself, and tout the benefits of local townhouse and condo complexes.

Of course, with both of these types of buyers, it’s important to implement a paper marketing scheme as well; place an item of value, like a new listing or recently sold property in an area they’d be interested in, in front of the targeted buyers via snail mail.

To find investors offline, join a local real estate investment club or attend a club meeting. You can meet a lot of prospective buyers here looking for their next sound investment. For a mailer marketing technique, target affluent neighborhoods and send out information on “Real Estate Investment Opportunities” outlining a few listings you have available. Follow these up with door-to-door introductions, and you may find yourself a prospect!

How Do You Approach Them?

As we discussed with first time home buyers, it’s important to respond to online leads as soon as possible. It’s crucial to contact repeat buyers, who may have another agent in mind, as soon as you know they’re on the hunt. This way, you can let the buyer know that there are other, possibly more qualified agents out there who may be a better fit than the one s/he has in mind.

Make sure to find out if the repeat buyer is a trade-up or trade-down buyer or investor during the first phone call. This will ensure that you know exactly what the buyer is looking for and what you need to do in order to be fully prepared to handle the transaction.

Lastly, acknowledge the client’s experience with the buying process, and ensure him/her that you will be there to ensure the process runs smoothly and efficiently. You are an expert in handling trade-up buyers/trade-down buyers/investors and know how to cater to their needs.

Conclusion

The most important thing to remember when working with any buyer is to know your market. Know what properties fit the needs of each respective buyer and market them accordingly.

When it comes to marketing, make sure you have both an online and offline strategy in place. The home buying process may start online, but it always ends offline. A strong online presence is key because you will be able to reach and potentially attract a much larger audience than you ever could offline. Additionally, a solid offline strategy is essential because it allows you to provide a personal, human touch to your marketing.

Overall, make sure to respond to your leads—whether online or offline—promptly. Once you’ve secured a lead, exercise patience throughout the process (especially with first time home buyers) and highlight your real estate expertise every chance you get!


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5 WordPress Plugins for Real Estate Blogs

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Are you using WordPress for your real estate blog? There are many free plugins you can use to optimize your site and make life a little easier on yourself. Here are our top five favorite WordPress plugins for real estate blogs and why you should be using them too!

wordpress plugins

1. Jetpack by WordPress.com
As the plugin description reads: “Bring the power of the WordPress.com cloud to your self-hosted WordPress.” Jetpack allows you to do a ton of things, including automatically sharing new posts via social networks, offering site statistics on daily visitors, referring websites, and most viewed posts, allowing you to customize the CSS of your site, and more. If you’re not using this plugin yet, install it now!

2. WordPress SEO by Yoast
This plugin is an all-in-one search engine optimization (SEO) tool, allowing you to set title templates, access social insights (for Facebook, Twitter and Google+), configure permalinks and enable breadcrumbs. Don’t understand everything you just read? Yoast also provides helpful tutorials about every section of the plugin oh his site. When writing and scheduling posts, the plug-in’s handy tool sits right under the text box, allowing you to set a focus keyword and make sure that it can be found in your article heading, page title, page URL, content and Meta description.

3. AddThis Social Bookmarking Widget
This plugin puts all of the social media icons on your posts, allowing visitors to easily bookmark and share your content. You can configure the plugin to have social icons show at the top of your post, bottom of your post, or both. You can also choose which icons you want to display and the size of these icons.

4. Pinterest Pin It Button
This plugin allows for the “Pin it” button to display on pictures in your posts. If you’re not using Pinterest yet, it’s important that you start pinning today. According to Mashable, Pinterest drives more traffic to publishers than Twitter, LinkedIn and Reddit combined! Making the pictures in your posts “pinnable” directly from your site is key: the post URL will automatically be input into the “source” field of the pin. You can choose either fixed or on hover (displays when you mouse over the image) Pin It buttons.

5. Stop Spammers
Unfortunately, when working with blogs and websites in general, you’re going to be hit with a good amount of spam. Stop Spammers is an aggressive plugin that stops both spam registration and comments. There are many settings you can configure, including ways to prevent lockouts, options to set spam limits and lists you can create to “white list” and “black list” certain email addresses. After installing this plugin only a few months ago, Stop Spammers reports that it has already stopped 17,914 spammers.

Do you have any other WordPress plugins that you swear by? Please share your favorites with us in the comments section.


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Why the New Facebook Algorithm is Good for Real Estate

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There has been a lot of buzz about the recent change in Facebook algorithms. The social network is constantly revising itself to make what shows up in your News Feed relevant to you, but the latest shift has ruffled some feathers. Here’s a look at why it may not be the best for most business pages, but is great for you as a real estate agent.

Man at Computer

The Shift

One of the biggest shifts in the new algorithm is that posts from business pages you’ve liked will rarely pop up on your News Feed (the homepage) anymore. One estimate said that business posts would be cut to about a third of the “publicity” they were previously seeing.

The idea behind this shift was that business posts are considered “annoying” by many Facebook users. However, you will still get plenty of posts on your feed from business pages… Only now they will be sponsored posts instead of pages that you’ve already liked. Now you can expect your feed to be polluted with brands you don’t care about, but who paid Facebook the highest bid. It may sound tacky and greedy, but hey, Mark Zuckerberg’s got to pay for his mansion somehow.

This adjustment was felt with the business page at HouseHunt. Even though the page’s number of likes rose as usual the week the shift was made, the number of people who actually saw our posts plummeted.

Facebook is also trying to move away from blowing up your feed with a bunch of obnoxious memes. Taking a cue from Google+, they now want to direct their users towards quality content based on their interests.

This means image based posts that made you giggle will slowly be removed from your friends’ main feeds. Post, instead, links to sites that will effectively show whatever you’re trying to get across.

If you’re anything like me, your thought is something along the lines of, “But the whole Internet is becoming more and more picture-based. Just look at Instagram and Pinterest! Seems like a weird time to diminish photo-based posts.” But to Facebook’s defense, they’ve actually stepped up their game on how they display link-based posts. The image preview is now larger and you have the option to customize it, instead of just choosing from what the linked site has available.

Anytime Facebook makes a change, everyone gets all up in arms and then they get used to it and move on. If Facebook suddenly reverted to the old layout and algorithms, you’d be appalled by how cluttered and non-intuitive it is.

facebook image

Why Real Estate Agents Are Affected for the Better

Let’s be honest: When you’re a real estate agent, the lines between personal life and work life are very blurred. Business pages may take a back seat with the new algorithm, but your personal page will move to the top of everybody’s feeds!

If you already use your personal Facebook account to discuss real estate business, all the algorithm change has done is help promote you. The new Facebook algorithm is good for real estate agents if you know how to approach it by balancing your personal account!

Your personal profile is a fantastic place to share your business triumphs like a high dollar sale. That is a personal victory that you would naturally want to share with your friends. And the kicker? Advertising real estate successes also happens to be one of the most effective marketing tactics.

When you find an article or infographic about real estate that you find fascinating, promote it on your personal account. It’s obviously something that genuinely intrigued you; sharing on your personal page is entirely justified. But from a business perspective, it demonstrates you have knowledge and authority in the industry.

Or maybe you wrote your own article or created your own infographic! You can promote the link from your personal account and link them straight to your business website/blog/whatever. You can get away with this by making sure it doesn’t sound like it’s a marketing ploy. Just include in the post something like, “Look guys! I made this infographic myself. What do you think?” and it will sound like a personal feat that just so happens to drive business!

But I already have a business page in addition to my personal account! Is it just useless now? If you already have and use a business page, keep it up! Businesses all around the world are going to keep maintaining their pages despite the new algorithm. The page can and will still serve a purpose that your personal account cannot. You may notice a decline in your Page Insights – fewer views, less interaction – but it will still be a great resource for the people specifically seeking you out.

The business page will likely stay the best place to advertise specific listings and provide virtual tours or Open House details. If you post that stuff on your personal page too much, friends will feel daunted and begin to ignore your updates. But if you captivate friends and clients from the personal page (which Facebook is happy to promote on your behalf without even realizing), they will navigate to your more professional platform on their own accord (even without Facebook’s promotion).

The business page also offers “Page Insights” to track your reach, which personal profiles don’t have. Just don’t get discouraged if your reach isn’t what it was before the algorithm change. Your personal page is just doing all the grunt work for you, with benefits that can’t be tracked by website clicks.

You’re essentially ahead of the curve on this one because of the nature of being a real estate professional. You are there for clients first and foremost as a person, not a business. So you will be just fine utilizing your personal page more and your business page a little less.

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Luxury Real Estate Lingo [Infographic]

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Two weeks ago, luxury agent Joy Bender and Jack Cotton joined together to present a HouseHunt webinar – Breaking Into the Luxury Market. Joy shared how to get started to reach desired clientele and how to impress them once you’ve captured their interest. Jack Cotton’s portion shared tips for once your business starts to gain momentum. Today we look at the luxury real estate lingo he introduced, and how it is relevant to his secrets for success.

Soup

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How to Be Successful in the Luxury Real Estate Market

By During a recent HouseHunt webinar with Joy Bender and Jack Cotton, we learned about breaking into and achieving success in the luxury real estate market. While Joy focused on breaking into luxury real estate, Jack gave us advice on how to be successful in the luxury market. In this article we’ll focus on Mr. Cotton’s contribution, reviewing his seven steps to luxury market success. Jack prefaced his presentation by reminding agents that they would meet some of the most interesting and accomplished people by working in the luxury real estate market, and that this would lead to some great connections. Jack himself has been working in the Cape Cod luxury market for over thirty years and has published three books on the subject. So, what are the secrets to Jack’s success? Below we review his seven step process.

Step 1: Map Your Market

Jack suggests that you first create benchmarks for what you want to accomplish. After you’ve set some goals, it’s time to truly establish your market expertise. If you are known as the real estate know-it-all in your market, others will value what you do and come to you for advice. Lastly, it’s important to connect with high net worth individuals (HNWIs).

map your market

First, know where you want to work and create benchmarks. Jack defines a benchmark as a “price per something,” like the price per square foot of the homes you want in your pool. Next, in order to become the expert in your market, Jack suggests that you build a resume, reputation and image. Create reports and newsletters, distribute personal promotion materials, and advertise. Have a complete two year sales history and know assessment ratios, absorption rate and MLS stats. Furthermore, you should connect with prevalent builders, architects, local business owners and other people of note. Finally, to go about making connections with HNWIs, it’s important to have a story. Your story is that of your real estate journey: why you became interested in real estate, why it’s important to you and any experiences that solidified your commitment to your career in the industry. Jack’s story focuses on his childhood tree houses and how he felt when he retreated to them. He draws a similarity between how he felt in those “homes” to how others feel in theirs, including luxury home buyers: a sense of belonging, peace and escape. “It’s their oasis from the storm of life. It’s how they celebrate their success, achievements, get away from the pressures of everyday life and how they get together and reconnect with family and friends.” These stories help agents connect with high net worth individuals, setting them apart from their competition and other people in the marketplace. Mr. Cotton continued by giving the categories of HNWIs: the “Wannas,” “Kindas,” “Reallys” and “Supers.” He explained that less than five percent of the US population is considered “wealthy,” and, by a stricter definition, only about one percent actually qualifies. Furthermore, Jack reminds us that the HNWIs you work with like to be unique, and hate to be manipulated!

Step 2: Be Different and Better

Because HNWIs want to be unique and hate run of the mill approaches or being a part of the pack, it’s important that you develop unique selling propositions (USPs) that create value in the minds of the affluent people in your market. To go about this, first identify the current leader in the luxury market in your area. Next, assess this individual’s strengths and weaknesses by looking at everything s/he does. Lastly, turn things around for yourself by using this knowledge to your advantage and creating a unique approach for luxury clients. This will be your unique selling proposition, a breath of fresh air from the new luxury market leader (you!).

Step 3: Turn Gatekeepers into Allies

gatekeeper

Affluent people have gatekeepers, people you have to go through to get to them. In order to work with this breed of client, you first need to identify the gatekeepers and find where they are. Most agents view gatekeepers as obstacles, but it’s important for you to see them as allies. You will bring value to them and their wealthy clients, and they will bring their wealthy clients to you. A gatekeeper is usually a luxury client’s attorney, CPA, trust officer, and/or investment advisor. By sharing your acquired market expertise with these gatekeepers, they’ll come to trust and value you. This includes your knowledge of the market, value of homes, pricing, market preparation and marketing and negotiation skills. Your expertise in abatements, CMAs, writing and speaking will also be crucial in winning them over.

Step 4: Exceed Expectations with Process

Now it’s time to create your luxury processes. As Jack points out, affluent clients demand consistent, dependable and reliable results—something that can’t be accomplished without processes and systems. Within your process, value should be conveyed, reinforced and be value of reverence. For your pre-listing process, have a pre-listing package. This should include your resume, bio, endorsements, company materials, market data, and your stats. Practice for the presentation, focusing on your delivery, and make your first appointment feel like the second. For your listing process, think about what you do every time, and do something new. Keep in mind the strengths and weaknesses of your competitor that you unveiled in Step 2, and be different and better!

Step 5: The Big “O” and Other Objections

Mr. Cotton reminded us that there is one objection that agents will get from their first few luxury clients. This objection haunts many agents who want to break into luxury real estate, and ends up being the number one reason they stay on the sidelines. Although not having worked in the luxury real estate market before may be seen as a shortcoming, it’s important to market it as a benefit to your clients. Instead of running or hiding from it, use this objection to your advantage and attack it head on. Respond by using the “limited edition real estate” technique: this is the only listing you will take until it is under contract. By using this technique, your client will know you will be working exclusively for them and putting 100 percent of your effort into their transaction. Remind them that it will be the first thing you think about when you wake up and the last thing on your mind when you go to bed. Reassure your clients by informing them that you intend to “make your mark” in the luxury real estate market by effectively and efficiently closing the deal. At the end of the process, you will have been so effective that they will be thrilled to give you other luxury referrals, allowing you to build up your business with their successful listing at its foundation.

Step 6: Your First Luxury Listing

first luxury listing

By using your killer pre-listing and listing presentations, you’ll land your first luxury listing. In order to deliver knockout presentations, you’ll need your process. Don’t show all of your cards during your first appointment, even if you know everything there is to know about the property. Instead, provide even more in-depth information during the second appointment. This will add that coveted value to your process, putting clients at the edge of their seats. Finally, make sure to highlight your USPs, the things that make you stand out from the crowd.

Step 7: Let’s Do It Again

After successfully completing a luxury transaction, tell the world! Once you have a luxury listing, you learn the unique, innovative and proven methods of marketing it. After closing the deal, tell the world so that you can do it again. Jack suggests promoting your success through a hardcover book instead of a brochure and using HDR instead of traditional photography. Furthermore, he urges agents to expand their efforts both online and via direct mail. This will make your marketing stand out and capture the attention of even more prospective clients.

 

By following these seven steps, you can not only break into, but be successful in the luxury real estate market. Lastly, Jack reminds you not to over-price, over-promise or under-charge, and to never give up! The more time and effort you put into becoming the local luxury market expert, the more invaluable your time and service will become.

 

The best of luck on your luxury real estate adventure!  

 

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