How an Agent Should Handle Dual Agency

By

When you represent the buyer and the seller in a real estate transaction, you immediately double your paycheck! That being said, though, there are a lot of pitfalls that come with dual agency.
It’s important for agents to look at legal clarification of dual agency transactions. For example, many don’t realize that it is still considered dual agency if a separate agent from their own company represents the other party.
The priority of the transaction should always be the consumers. Here’s a look at everything you need to know about dual agency to ensure your safety and the customer’s best interests.

dual agency

How to Interact with Both Sides

First, review your Code of Ethics to brush up on all standards regarding dual agency. The gist of these documents will always boil down to one thing: Do what’s best for the client, not what’s best for you.
The most important legal guideline in dual agency is disclosure. By law, you must make it clear that you are representing both parties in every aspect of the transaction.
When Interacting with the Seller… Make it clear that you are working first and foremost for the seller. Present all offers and make it clear which you represent. Lay out the pros and cons of each offer, just as you would if you had no stake in any of them.  You absolutely cannot have any bias when discussing options with the selling client. You ultimately represent the seller’s best interests.
When Interacting with the Buyer…  Legally, you’re only required to disclose your representation for the seller when paperwork gets involved. Here at HouseHunt, however, we strongly advise that you be forthcoming about your dual role the moment you present a potential listing. This transparency will build trust between you and the buyer. It’s great if you have listings that you think suit the buyer client, but it’s a major red flag if those make up a majority of the viewings you arrange.

Building Trust

The obvious pro of dual agency for you is that you double that commission for yourself. And as long as you’re ethical in the process building up to that point, there’s no shame in a bigger paycheck!
Be completely open and honest throughout the process, always prioritizing the client’s needs. 31% of customers say trustworthiness was the most important quality they look for when choosing their Realtor.  Sure, that total honesty could rob you of your double-commission, but it will build trust. When you gain a client’s trust, you build your referral network.
The best thing to do for wallet and for your representation will always be to handle dual agency the legal and ethical way.


Find us on Google+

How to Write Real Estate Listing Copy [Infographic]

By

Few things are as intimidating as the blank page. Maybe your skills have more to do with salesmanship and negotiation than with a pen and pad. For the next time you have to write real estate listing copy, here are some tips from Placeter.com to make your MLS listings stand out. You can also check out former graphics for more information on which words to use and which to avoid.

real estate listing copy

Be Specific

Today’s buyers know what they’re looking for, so include as many details as you can for every listing. This can even mean using brand names to describe appliances. The names that most quickly move real estate include Sub-Zero, Viking, Bosch, and Whirlpool.

Tell a Story

Don’t just say the house has a patio. Say it has a large patio, perfect for entertaining guests at a summer cookout!

Think Local

Include details about the town such as proximity to attractions, nearby dining, etc.

Use What Works

Ask former buyers what appealed to them in the listing description for the home they chose. Phrases like “motivated seller” actually slow sale by about 10%. Meanwhile, certain words, including “landscaping,” “beautiful,” and “gorgeous” move real estate off the market 15% faster.

Edit/Revise

Read what you’ve written out loud. Does it say what you want it to say? Be sure to check for spelling and grammar. Keep an eye out for overused listing words like “stunning,” “contemporary,” and “immaculate.”

Find us on Google+

Don’t Be That Realtor: 15 Traits That Can Kill Your Career

By

There are certain things you have to do well in order to be a successful Realtor.

There are also things you must avoid at all costs in order to stay a successful Realtor.

Below we outline 15 habits and traits that could cost you clients, and ultimately your real estate career. Don’t be that Realtor!

don't-be-that-guy

1. You Make Your Clients Pull Up Their Own Listings

It’s your job as a Realtor to find the listings that best suit your buyer client’s needs. Although many homebuyers will do their own due diligence, the listings they find shouldn’t be the only ones they see. Make sure you provide your clients with a comprehensive list of available homes that meet their needs.

2. You’re Not on Time

In your line of work, being punctual is incredibly important. Whether it’s an appointment for a listing presentation, open house, or private showing, make sure you’re on time or earlier than your clients.

3. You Don’t See Homes with Your Clients

Your input is informed, professional, coveted, and what you’re getting paid for. Make sure you can go to private home tours with your clients. If you absolutely have to cancel last minute, see if the seller’s agent can reschedule your appointment and notify your clients as soon as possible with your apologies.

4. You Treat Your Clients as if They’re Less Important than Others

Don’t let your clients feel that they’re a hassle and simply taking up precious time from your busy day. Make every client, whether they’re looking for a $200,000 or a million dollar home, feel appreciated and worthy of your time.

5. You Show Houses That Are Out of Your Client’s Price Range

Price is a deal breaker. Your clients have been pre-approved for a mortgage for a reason: to see how much home they can afford. Therefore, don’t show and lead them to fall in love with a house that’s out of their price range.

6. You’re Not Timely with Presenting Offers

Make sure you present an offer on a home as soon as your clients have one. Furthermore, if there’s a counter offer, get back to your clients as soon as possible to discuss what they need to do to deliver a winning bid.

7. You Don’t Listen to Your Clients

Your clients are buying or selling their home—not you. Therefore, make sure you listen to their specific needs and wants, providing your buyer clients with a necessity and amenity checklist if necessary.

8. You Don’t Preview Homes Before You Offer Them to Clients

Don’t waste your client’s time. Preview homes before showing them to your clients so you don’t end up feeling silly when you show a home in need of serious TLC or one that has foundation issues.

9. You’re Not Up to Date on Current Real Estate Trends

You need to know the market inside and out. Whether you’re inexperienced, only work as a Realtor part time, or are otherwise out of touch with the current market, you need to step up your game and get in touch with what’s happening in the real estate game ASAP.

10. You Treat Your Clients Poorly

Do not badger, yell at, or criticize your clients if they don’t want to spend more than originally discussed or are not ready to make an offer on a home. Both homebuyers and sellers need time to think things over, so let them have it. If you do need to move the process along, do so gently and respectfully.

11. You’re Manipulative or Unethical

Never steer your clients in the direction of doing something unethical or immoral, or manipulate them in any way. It’s their transaction after all; you’re just there to help the process along. Don’t forget, you’re replaceable.

12. You Don’t Provide Full Disclosure

As a Realtor, you’re legally obligated to provide full disclosure if you’re representing any other parties in the transaction or stand to benefit from the transaction in ways other than receiving a commission. Don’t be dishonest, disclose.

13. You Don’t Keep it Professional

Yes, it’s important to develop a relationship with your clients, but remember that it’s a professional relationship, not a personal one. Don’t disclose too much personal information about yourself—or, even worse, use that personal information to gain sympathy or as an excuse when you’re not on your A game.

14. You Disclose Personal Information About Your Clients

Your client’s personal information needs to be held in confidence. Don’t let it slip that your buyer clients “simply loved this house” to the seller’s agent. Never reveal your client’s budget, motivation, or any urgency behind an offer, use your negotiation skills instead.

15. You Don’t Have Time For Your Clients

Make sure you or someone from your team gets back to your clients as soon as humanly possible. Whether it’s a simple inquiry or your clients are ready to put in an offer, respond within the hour. Remember that in real estate, timing is everything—if you don’t respond to your clients, you could lose a deal.

We sincerely hope that you aren’t guilty of any of the aforementioned vices, but if you are, it’s not too late to change! Make sure you make a conscious effort to eradicate said behavior from your professional (and maybe personal) life and you’ll find more clients knocking at your door. Don’t be that Realtor who reads this and doesn’t fix what’s wrong!

 

Find us on Google+

New Survey Finds that More Home Buyers are Using Social Media In the Home Buying Process

By

According to the California Association of Realtors’ (CAR) 2014 Survey of California Home Buyers, “more home buyers are turning to social media in the home buying process than ever.” In fact, more than three-fourths of home buyers utilized social media during their home search.

Social Media

Why is this important, you may ask? The number of home buyers using social media is up from 52 percent in 2011. Prospective home buyers are utilizing these online platforms to obtain neighborhood information (44 percent), buying tips and suggestions from friends (44 percent), and to view their agents’ Facebook pages (42 percent). In fact, fewer buyers used Google to find their agents (down 18 percent from 2013 to 2014) and instead referenced their agent’s Facebook page. Meaning that if you’re still not on social media, you better start creating those profiles ASAP!

Other report findings included that 35 percent of buyers used social media for agent referrals, 33 percent for information on the neighborhood lifestyle, 31 percent for neighborhood amenities, 23 percent for home buying information and neighborhood profiles, and 20 percent to check out their agents’ YouTube channel.

[gview file=”http://www.blog.househuntnetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Buyers-Social-Media.pdf”]

Mobile

Another survey finding was that 91 percent of home buyers used a mobile device to access the internet during the course of their home purchase. This means that your real estate website should be mobile-friendly.

Overall, 78 percent of buyers used their phones to look for comparable home prices, 45 percent to search for homes, and 43 percent to take photos of homes, neighborhoods, and amenities.

Finding an Agent

The report found that “nearly all surveyed buyers (88 percent) used a real estate agent in 2014.” Of those that used Realtors, nearly two-thirds (or 65 percent) found their agent online. This is a significant increase from the 38 percent of buyers who found their agent online in 2003.

[gview file=”http://www.blog.househuntnetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Finding-Agents.pdf”]

Taking Action

If you haven’t already, make sure to invest some time in your social media strategy. Create profiles on sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and YouTube, post regularly, and interact with other users. Not only will this create great networking opportunities, the Home Buying Institute reported that 40 percent of agents closed two to five deals as a direct result of their social media marketing efforts in 2013.

As we mentioned earlier, make sure your professional real estate website is mobile friendly. This will allow for more accessibility and added visibility.

Lastly, make sure you’re available to your clients and respond quickly to their emails, text messages, and general inquiries. According to the San Jose Mercury News, David Tonna, president of the Silicon Valley Association of Realtors, states that most buyers and sellers “expect instant response from their agent, preferring to communicate by email and even text messaging.”

However, keep in mind, while using mobile technology to respond to clients is crucial, it should never take the place of developing a personal relationship between yourself and your client. After all, as Tonna notes, “a strong, personal relationship is still at the heart of every business.”

Find us on Google+

How to Answer Escrow FAQs

By

 

Escrow can be a confusing stage of the home-buying process for a lot of clients, and that’s where you — their trusted agent — come in. The process looks different with every transaction, so people are prone to have a lot of questions. Here are the most frequently asked questions, and the best ways to answer them to make sure the customer feels empowered and knowledgeable.

escrow faq

Who is in charge of the escrow process?

“As the home-buyer, we can work it into our negotiations that we choose an escrow office we want to work with. I have a couple great places that I’ve worked well with in the past. Let’s take a look at those.”

Your buyers will just be eager to get to the next step of the transaction; they may feel like escrow is just an obstacle along the way. Doing things like helping pick an office to work with will give them ownership of the process and help them be patient along the way.

How long will escrow take?

“That’s something we get to choose together. Obtaining a home loan will take at about 11 days regardless, so you can pick any time frame longer than that that you feel comfortable with. 20 days is a good goal that shouldn’t cause us to feel too rushed.”

You can show them the order the paperwork is needed, but always make it clear there could be unexpected delays. Without a home loan, you could close on escrow in less than ten days.

What exactly does escrow need to look at?

“The escrow office is a third party, so they will look at all of the paperwork on the house, buyer finances, and so on. The process can get very tedious, but it’s in order to ensure both parties are safe in such a big transaction. I’d be happy to walk you through everything they’ve analyzed so far!”

Be sure to build up the escrow office as the good guys. If your client understands that this long process is to cover their assets, they’ll be more patient. If the buyer actually seems interested or concern, walk them through everything the office will look at, from pre-approval letters to verification of disclosures.

Why is it taking longer than expected?

“There are a lot of parties involved in making sure that everything is good to go. Just to make sure though, I’ll contact the escrow office within the next business day to make sure everything is moving along as quickly as possible.”

When you get this question, don’t place the blame on any individual party. Don’t blame the seller or other agent or escrow office. Just assure the buyer that he process is moving forward. Escrow is not purgatory! Also assure the buyer that any contingencies not being met on the other party’s behalf could save them money, so sometimes the delays can be a good thing!

The keys to making your clients feel comfortable in the escrow process is give them education and power. The more they understand about the process, they more patient they will be during the waiting period. Similarly, the more control they feel they have, the less likely they are to nag you along the way! What escrow FAQs do YOU run into the most?

Find us on Google+

10 Contacts Agents Should Have in Their Back Pocket [Infographic]

By

Your business is always about networking, and in real estate there are certain contacts agents should have access to at any time! Here’s our list of who to befriend, and of course, why it will help your business.

contacts agents should have

 

Lender

The mortgage process will go smoother if you can direct clients to someone who has worked well in the past.

Home Inspector

The buyer will not likely know any inspectors they feel they can trust.

Plumber

Because the toilet will inevitably clog fifteen minutes before a showing.

Staging Company

Find someone who shares your vision and can stage homes to sell!

Handyman

…for all those last minute repairs.

Housekeeper

People rarely deep clean everything when they’re trying to focus on a move.

Contractor/ Architect

If your buyers are looking to remodel, have someone who knows the laws and zoning codes of the area.

Landscaper/ Gardener

Don’t forget the benefits of landscaping for curb appeal and resale value.

Caterer

Feed the masses at broker previews. At the very least, befriend a pizza delivery guy!

Florist

Doesn’t have to be a florist, necessarily. But have a contact for good closing gifts.

 

Find us on Google+

Flickr for Real Estate Professionals

By

 

We’ve talked on this blog about how visuals are becoming the driving force behind social media. So if you want to use social media as a part of your real estate marketing strategy, you’re going to have to get out there and take some pictures!

Luckily there is one social media platform that stands out among the crowd for sharing original photos to boost business.

This platform is perfect for highlighting your beloved community and driving traffic to your business site or blog.

flickr for real estate

Flickr is a social network originally designed specifically for photographers.  It is used to share and embed original photos, and also used by photo researchers, bloggers, etc.  for stock image embeds. These photos tend to be more professional, are already “filtered” or edited prior to uploading, and intended for community use as opposed to personal cataloging.

Unlike other platforms, you can’t upload silly memes or celebrities you like – the material has to be original.  You can upload group selfies of you and your friends, but that’s not really what this platform is for.

So how should you use Flickr for real estate business? The best way is to highlight your community. Take your own photos of kids having fun at the fair, the sun setting over the ocean, the local strawberry stand, or whatever you want!

You’re welcome to also post pictures of specific listings, but you’ll find more users want to know about the neighborhood around it.

This tactic can serve as a great way to introduce out-of-town clients, to the area. People are looking for a good place to fit in or raise their kids just as much as their looking for specifics in the actual home.

The basic functions of Flickr are your Photostream, Albums, and Favorites. The Photostream is a constant reel of all the photos you’ve uploaded. It’s like your profile page. If you actually want to organize all those photos, you can do that with the Albums feature upon uploading your content. You can easily access other peoples’ Photostreams or Albums and Favorite the ones you like to keep a central spot.

Simple enough, right?

Here at HouseHunt, we were shocked how much traffic or original photo album drove to our website! Much like Google+, Flickr has a very specialized niche market. Since it’s a smaller, more supportive online community, users are more likely to click links and investigate the origin behind the photo they like so much.

We hope you’ll leverage this online community to highlight your real-life neighborhood and draw new customers to your real estate business.

See the HouseHunt Flickr page here! 


Find us on Google+

How to Persuade Home Buyers and Sellers

“By Lolly Spindler

Sometimes, as a Realtor, all you need to be is a good persuader. The skill of persuasion can come in handy whether you have an indecisive buyer or an unreasonable seller on your hands. Therefore, in this article we’ll outline how to persuade home buyers and sellers using tried and true techniques. Brush up on those old persuasion skills and learn some new ones!

The Necessary Skills

There are some skills you’ll need to hone in order to become an effective persuader. Here are the essentials:

Be Confident

Confidence is crucial when it comes to persuading someone. According to a study by Carnegie Mellon University, people prefer advice from confident sources, even if they know said source doesn’t have a great track record. Furthermore, being confident in your abilities is an incredibly intoxicating, compelling, and attractive quality. If you really believe in yourself, others will see that and respond accordingly.

Talk Fast

People tend to be more persuaded by a fast, confident talker than a slow, more accurate one. Talking fast means the listener has less time to process and question what you’ve said. Furthermore, the faster you talk, the more you look like you know what you’re talking about.

Master Body Language

Make sure your body is open and receptive when persuading your client. People are less likely to listen to someone whose body language is closed off as this makes him/her seem unapproachable and unwilling to compromise. Remember to smile, maintain eye contact, mirror your client’s body language, and don’t fidget!

Be Assertive

Be clear, assertive, and speak in the affirmative. Tell your clients exactly what you need, expect, or want from them. If you obfuscate what you really intend to say, people won’t know exactly what you expect of them.

Use “We”

At the end of the day, you and your client are in this transaction together, so let them know that. Using the word “we” is more productive in persuading people and conveys a sense of mutual understanding and camaraderie.

Be Consistent

A lack of consistency signals a lack of credibility. Make sure you are consistent with your advice, and that what you say is consistent with your body language.

Be Agreeable

Coming across as generally cheerful and agreeable can work wonders. Being agreeable also means being willing to negotiate, which is a big part of the persuasion process. This will allow your client to feel that s/he is more a part of the real estate transaction as a whole.

Be Transparent

It’s important to demonstrate your genuine care for your clients, as well as tell them the tough stuff. Make sure to present all facets of the transaction—positive and negative—as two-sided arguments are more persuasive than one-sided ones.

Be Persistent

Rely on your real estate expertise and your confidence in said expertise to continue nudging your clients in the direction you believe best for them.

The Approach

You want your clients to be receptive when it comes time to use your powers of persuasion. Here are some ways to ensure your message will be heard:

Get to Know Them

You’ll be helping your clients purchase or sell one of the biggest investments they will or have made in their lives—their homes. Homes are very personal possessions, so there’s a good chance you’ll have a unique opportunity to really get to know your clients during the real estate transaction. A big part of whether or not your attempt at persuasion is effective will be based on the rapport between yourself and your client, as people tend to feel more connected to those similar to them.

Focus on Timing

Timing is everything. Approach your clients when they are more relaxed and open to discussion. Ideally, the best time to try to persuade someone is immediately after s/he has thanked you for something.

Create a Sense of Urgency

If your clients are taking their sweet time to put in or accept an offer, it may be time to invoke a sense of urgency. Maybe another offer will be submitted and accepted before your buyer client even gets to submit his/hers, or maybe a qualified buyer will back out due to your seller client’s indecision.

Rely on Credibility, Emotion and Logic

Ensure that you have created a sense of mutual trust and respect between yourself and your clients, as people tend to believe those they respect and deem credible. Furthermore, your attempt at persuasion may be more convincing if you appeal to your client’s emotions. Lastly, be logical. A very honest persuasion method, using logic gives your argument integrity and a sound foundation.

 

By practicing your persuasion skills and method, you’ll be able to get both home buyers and sellers off the fence in no time! Additionally, being skilled at the art of persuasion will prove beneficial in more than just your real state career.

 

Find us on Google+

How to Make Great Real Estate Graphics

By

real estate graphics

As a Realtor® who manages all of my own website content, it has become vital for me to use good visuals to help promote my content. In my opinion, visuals are there for people and text is there for Google to crawl. I know that there are those who will read the text and absorb it all, but most will not. My Google Analytics numbers prove it. I have launched infographics that have been shared over 200 times in a few hours, and not one person noticed that there was a typo until the next day. It’s because people do not have the time or the attention span to read all the text, but they are willing to brie?y scan over some graphics to get the main point and then move on. I ?nd myself doing the same thing.

Since graphics have such a strong ability to get noticed, it’s has become an absolute necessity to learn how to create powerful visuals to help increase the attention that your content receives. I have been making graphics for years for the different businesses that I have worked with. It’s one of the most valuable skills that I’ve acquired through the years and I am committed to continue developing this skill for years to come.

I use graphics on almost every page on my website and I always use as many custom graphics as possible on my Colorado Springs real estate blog. I just made some new graphics for a webpage designed to determine a homes value in Colorado Springs and ran an advertising experiment on Facebook yesterday. The custom graphics used in the ad changed my click through rate by over 300% in comparison with a previous advertisement that used basic stock images. Measuring the success of your custom graphics can help to inspire future creation and implementation of these images.

Lately, as I have been making more custom graphics, I have noticed 5 common steps that I take while creating these visuals. I have organized these into an infographic and have broken them down into further detail for this blog post.

Tip 1: Find Inspiration

real estate graphics

Sometimes, getting started is the hardest part of the graphic design process. Using other websites for inspiration can greatly increase the momentum needed to ?nish your graphics in a timely manor. In an era of content overload, it’s easy to ?nd graphic examples online to help kickstart the creative process. I like to spend time searching Pinterest, visual.ly, Piktochart, Google Plus, and any other website where I notice good graphics. I will scan through many images until I start to get some ideas and direction on how I want to create my new image. I will look for ideas on colors, fonts, and layouts to help get me started. Once I feel inspired and have a few details worked out, I’ll then start gathering resources to get the process started.

Tip 2: Pick A Few Base Colors

real estate graphics

Base colors are the main colors that you will use throughout your whole graphic. It is important to avoid using too many colors, as this can make your image too “busy” and hard to understand. Try to ?nd a main background color and a couple of accent colors that work well together. This will help your graphic look clean and easy to read.

As you develop your graphics, you may change colors throughout the process. I usually make four or five revisions of my graphics and then I ask people for their opinion on which ones look best. My wife has a wonderful eye for design and she is my greatest asset when it comes time for me to edit down my image to its ?nal form. Knowing my weaknesses and ?nding friends who have strengths that I do not have greatly helps me during the editing process. Asking for other people’s input is a great way to avoid bad graphics. Once you have a good idea of the colors that you want to use, you can start on your image.

Tip 3: Use Creative Fonts

real estate graphics

Fonts are extremely important to any good graphic. It drives me crazy to see someone spend a lot of time putting together a large graphic, only to use boring Arial fonts all over it. There is no reason to use plain boring fonts on a graphic. Avoid Calibri, Arial, and Comic Sans fonts, or any fonts that you may have used in the 80’s and 90’s. Research common fonts used on current graphics that are widely shared on social media sites. Try making a demo graphic on Piktochart or Canva to see what kind of fonts they offer. Once you ?nd a few that you like, search for them online (if you do not have them already) and download them to your font ?le. There are hundreds of free fonts that you can download online. For title fonts, ?nd something wide and authoritative. For descriptive fonts, ?nd something narrow that will allow for many words in a small space. Also, try not to use too many fonts. Usually a title font, a banner font, and a descriptive font is all that you will need for your whole graphic. Experiment with different fonts and try to ?nd the ones that best convey the mood of your content.

Tip 4: Learn How To Use Graphic Software

Graphic Software

There are many types of graphic software. If you are a beginner and have no background using graphic software, I would recommend trying Piktochart for infographics and Canva for regular graphics. Both of these services charge a fair monthly fee for their services. They also both have trial versions so you can try them out before committing to their fees. These online services make the design process much easier. They also offer many options to help you customize your image to look like you spent days creating them.

I personally like using