Bull in a China Shop: Is Your Real Estate Business Unbreakable?

Bull in a China Shoppe

 

                      Remember Annette Bening’s portrayal of a real estate agent in American Beauty (1999)?  Bening’s over-the-top, Type A character Carolyn Burnham is mesmerized by the Real Estate King – Buddy Kane (Peter Gallagher) and goes near berserk cleaning a home she is determined to sell.  Seemingly unbreakable in her quest to achieve Kane-level success, Burnham repeatedly chants “I-Will-Sell-This-House-Today.”  Later, we see a broken Burnham who is both unable to sell the home, and ashamed of her own loss of composure.  As entertaining as she was in this role, it was frighteningly true.

What is it that causes real estate salespeople to get locked in a frenzy of determination and fear?  Is it not knowing from where your next commission check will come?  When opportunity knocks do you open the door with a smile or are you searching frantically for your keys, juggling paperwork and on your cell when that moment arrives?  If you are spending more time balancing your daily activities, putting out fires or worrying about paying your bills than you are focused on accommodating your clients, you may be guilty of these…


YOU’RE NOT FEEDING YOUR PIPELINE.  Jim Droz, the former #1 Agent in the World with Century 21 once said, “Many real estate agents are like a bull in a china shop – chasing down business and not ever knowing from where their next commission check will come.  Real estate is simple.  In order to get more business, you need more customers.”  In other words it’s somewhat of a numbers game, but with a plan..   If every 100 customers you have in your database results in one closing then how many contacts would you need to close 10 transactions? Every year a real estate agent sets out to double their production over the last year and yet they don’t realize how that translates into feeding their pipeline with a specific number of prospects.  Are you daily tasks focused on that number?

YOUR DAILY ACTIVITIES ARE NOT INCOME PRODUCING.  Every day you wake up and schedule activities to help you achieve a profitable business.  When you plan it out the night before, is it to bring you a specific volume of new business? Often if you aren’t feeding your pipeline, you are only feeding your ego.  Direct mail, magazine ads and shopping cart ads, for example, produce little to no return for the majority of agents.  So ask yourself what is your goal with this postcard? Do you have a listing to promote?  A success to announce? Are you hoping to reach absentee owners? Benchmark your goals with everything you do and go back every quarter and adjust what isn’t working.

YOUR BUSINESS IS NOT RUN EFFICIENTLY.  Having an efficient business starts with a solid business plan.  An efficient business considers several factors from time management to converting your online leads.  HouseHunt’s Diamond Business Plan starts with an efficiency test you can take to see how your business scores.  You can review your answers to see what areas you are missing to find out whether or not your business is a well oiled machine or it needs a tune up.

YOU AREN’T PROVIDING EXCELLENT CUSTOMER SERVICE.    Let me tell you a quick story….I once gave a referral (if you can call it that)  to a good friend and real estate agent to someone who was certain she would be listing her mobile home.  The person I referred already had in mind who she would be listing it with although she had never spoken with this agent. She had only seen his other listings in the mobile home park and was happy to follow her neighbors lead.

My friend showed up at her door that same day – but no answer.  The very next day, she caught her at home; but, when she asked if it was a good time, the owner said she had prescriptions to pick up and was watching her grandchildren so maybe another time.  My friend politely asked, “If I drove you to pick up your prescriptions, could we chat on the way?  She agreed! The third time I checked in to see if she had gotten the listing yet, she was delivering pizza to the woman’s second home in a nearby city where workers were fixing it up to sell.

What was the result of that agent offering superior service to a prospective client?  One mobile home sold; one three-bedroom home sold; and, one new home purchase. Her commission checks totaled over $25,000 in the same year.  Would you give someone a ride or deliver a pizza if it resulted in $25,000?  You never know what going above and beyond will achieve but it is seldom a bad thing.

 

YOU ARE NOT  EFFECTIVELY SOURCING  REFERRALS.  According to NAR’s 2015 National Association of REALTORS® Profile of Home Buyers and  Sellers, 88% of home buyers say they would definitely work with the same real estate agent  again or recommend them.    Only 23% actually do.  Why is that?  A lot  can happen in nine years, the average time someone  will own a home before selling again, but sourcing referrals are a part of your business you could be neglecting.   How do you maximize your efforts in this area?

Provide Excellent Customer Service.  It’s easier to focus your energy on servicing when you have an efficiently run business void of activities that don’t either don’t add value to your audience or do not help you in reaching your goals.  

Stay in front of the contacts in your database with an automated marketing system. This way you stay top of the mind not just for your own contacts, but for their contacts as well.

Ask your past clients if they know of anyone who plans to buy or sell their home.

Develop strong relationships with industry colleagues and vendor partnerships.    Mike Bearden, CEO of HouseHunt, Inc., formerly a top real estate agent in Orange County, found opportunity in places agents don’t often consider.  “I sought out partnerships with everyone – not just real estate agents.  You’d be surprised how many referrals I got from plumbers, flooring specialists, landscape artists,…anyone who I met while preparing a home to sell.  It occurred to me one day while meeting with a plumbing specialist at a client’s home, and I thought – he probably interacts with more homeowners than most real estate agents. So, I asked if he knew of anybody thinking about selling their home.  A few months later I got a call from someone looking to sell their home saying they were recommended by their plumber.  I thanked him by referring him business and we continued the partnership for many years.”

 

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Need to feed your pipeline with quality leads?  Don’t pay to compete, HouseHunt territories are 100% exclusive – Check to see if your territory is available here or call directly at 888-832-2244.

Self-Branding for Real Estate Agents: 3 Things You Must Know Before Your Introduction to the Marketplace

Lauren Agajanianby Lauren Agajanian, MBA

Marketing Director for HouseHunt, Inc.

Featured in HouseHunt’s Diamond Business Plan

 

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“I’d like you to meet Maestro Joann Falletta, the first ever female conductor for a symphony orchestra! Maestro Falletta, this is my daughter Lauren.”

A little anti-climactic don’t you think? Had my mother ended her introduction there, I would have felt less than capable to continue the conversation that ensued. I learned an invaluable lesson right at that very moment about the impact of self-branding. Luckily, my mother continued, “Lauren recently accepted a full athletic scholarship to play volleyball at Pepperdine University” and I’m back in the game. I shook Maestro Falletta’s hand and (at just sixteen years old) now I, too, felt I had something to contribute. In essence, my mother had established my brand as a promising high school athlete and, despite being in awe of this woman’s unsurpassed achievements, I knew to position my behavior, body language and word selection to reflect this introduction.

Four Factors in Believable C's

My “established brand” was easy to live by because it was already aligned with three very important concepts I knew to be true of myself. The Three C’s are core values, core competencies, and competitive advantage. They are unequivocally the most important concepts in establishing a believable personal brand in the real estate business.

Let’s take Maestro Falletta as an example. There we were, two very important women...at least, my mother thought so… and I can tell you as clear as day from that 3-minute interaction over twenty years ago, what her 3 established C’s were back then. Why so easy? Her brand was truthful, consistent, decipherable, and relevant to the talent she was showcasing in her business…music.

In real estate or any business where you offer your professional services, self-branding is paramount to your success. Consider this quote:

“The art of marketing is the art of brand building. If you are not a brand, you are a commodity. Then price is everything and the low-cost producer is the only winner.”- Phillip Kotler

In other words, if you do not have a way to market your services as a unique brand, you will be judged alongside other agents only by the cost of your service. Discount brokerages would be king and competition fierce. How are you able to deliver your brand to the marketplace most effectively? Know with certainty what your individual 3 C’s are and test them using the T.C.D.R. Method below (Truthful, Consistent, Decipherable, Relevant.) Notice how you can take each one and put it to use in your marketing and action items. Like this:

TCDR Method

 

CORE VALUES – Choose at least 5 core values and know them by heart. If you don’t think these matter, think again. Among the traits of the most successful salespeople, at the top of the list is a solid set of core values.

T. Make a truthful assessment of your core values and do not waiver from them.

C. This keeps your behavior consistent with your most highly valued traits.

D. Make sure these are also traits your peers or family can easily see and interpret as being of benefit to those you are introducing to your brand. They must be decipherable as a dominant strength your business (or you) possesses among other valuable traits you may exhibit.

R. Make sure they are relevant to your industry and the service you are offering. You may find your religion very important to you in your everyday life, but ask yourself if it is relevant to your audience and what you hope to gain from those relationships.

Try to incorporate each row into your marketing plan or a daily task list and watch the incredibly powerful impact emphasizing the right strengths and performing only relevant tasks will have on your business. Is it important to you that your client feels educated throughout the transaction? That you are transparent and ethical in all your dealings? Is higher education and obtaining certifications in your industry of high value to you? Do the tasks you currently perform reflect these important items? What about your marketing presentations and education pieces – do they reflect your values?

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CORE COMPETENCIES – These are your strengths – also called core capabilities, it is what your real estate service possesses that is of value to your clients and that other agents either do not do as well or simply cannot offer. Consider 3 things your professional service offers that allows your clients to accomplish their real estate goals and highlights something you feel you do or a service you perform at an exceedingly high level. Perhaps you live in the community you have made your market area. Your expertise may go deeper than other real estate agents in that marketplace and you will want to showcase that knowledge in your marketing and business activities. Have you closed a high volume of short-sale properties or luxury home listings in your market area? These are traits and successes that your audience can easily see as a desirable benefit to them and demonstrate absolute competence in your field.

COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE – This is what makes you truly shine brighter than your competition. A competitive advantage is a decipherable service offering, price point or knowledge base you possess in your market that is either 100% exclusive, or difficult to imitate and is deemed absolutely the most attractive selling point in your business. Like Falletta who was extremely adept at conducting, she was also the first of her gender to accomplish this feat. Impossible to duplicate, right?

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Without a platform of 3 C’s that are truthful, consistent, decipherable and relevant, your brand in real estate is then in the hands of your audience who by being unable to buy into your brand, will opt to either forget you altogether, or establish one for you based on their own perception. This can bring about issues that cause loss of faith in your competence and tarnish your reputation. How can you succeed if your audience no longer believes you are capable of performing the very service upon which your business relies? It is near impossible fix, much harder than with a corporation who can change product offerings and even their name!

On the other hand, introducing your brand with a clearly defined foundation; a well-designed real estate business plan; and, a system to market your professional service that passes the TCDR test allows your brand to not only be highly recognized by your community, but you reap the benefits of having sustainable and profitable career in one of the most competitive industries for salespeople.

What do you think the topic of my conversation was with this incredibly enthusiastic woman who had reached the pinnacle of success in conducting a symphony orchestra? She asked questions about my athletic achievements and smiled energetically interjecting from time to time with comments that sounded as though she was extraordinarily impressed with my achievements. Who isn’t completely inspired by someone who takes the time to listen to something that really matters to you in your life, and then let’s you know just how impressive they think it is? And isn’t she somewhat of an expert on how to be the best at what you do? What I remember the most about Maestro Joann Falletta that evening was not her performance at the Long Beach Symphony but, not surprisingly, the same thing written in her biography today. She is ” a vibrant ambassador for music and an inspiring artistic leader.” Now that’s a memorable brand.

 

Are you looking for a brilliant business plan and the most effective system to efficiently manage your real estate

marketing, lead generation, and relationship management online?

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A Healthy US Marketplace in 4th Quarter 2015

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2015 4th Quarter Market Report:
A Healthy and Growing Housing Market

by Lauren Agajanian, MBA


The 2015 US Housing Market in the 4th quarter is the best overall we’ve seen in almost a decade.   This quarter our survey’s  continue to show a shift from 10% plus  home price increases to a slower pace of 5-10%  home price appreciation, as well as a trend toward a more balanced, healthy and steadily growing housing market.

This data comes from a survey of HouseHunt agents with exclusive territories across America. This grassroots approach to studying the housing market gives us a thorough look at where the real estate market will continue to go in 2016 and beyond.

Buyer & Seller Activity

Last quarter, we presented a seller’s market with slowing prices and that trend continues. There were considerably more buyers than sellers in the market, and conditions responded accordingly.  This quarter, while still a seller’s market overall, a large increase of markets surveyed  are reporting a more balanced market between buyers and sellers.  48% of the markets reported more buyers  than sellers compared to 56% in the 3rd quarter and 64% in the 2nd quarter representing an  8% decline in buyer activity in each of the last two quarters.   However there was only an increase of 4% in seller activity in the last two quarter with 28% of the markets showing buyer and sellers about even.  This is compared to only 16% in the 2nd quarter and 20% in the 3rd quarter.  There is clear evidence that there is a shift from a strong sellers market to a more balanced market between buyers and sellers which indicates why home price appreciation is slowing.

This quarter our survey shows that 64% of our markets are showing an increase in buyer activity versus 70% of HouseHunt agents surveyed report an increase in buyer activity in the previous quarter.  This is a further decline from 83% in the 2nd quarter.

Seller activity has  also slowed in the 4th quarter with  35% of Agents reporting an increase in seller activity versus 50% in the previous quarter.  It is not uncommon for seller and buyer activity to slow in the Holiday season.

Overall real estate home sales  outpace 2014 with NAR reporting  existing home sales of 5.46  million homes in 2015 compared to 4.76 million sales in 2014, an increase of 7.7%.

Home Inventory

A seller’s market equates to a strong economy. 90% of HouseHunt agents saw their listings sell for more this quarter than this time last year. This is about average: last quarter saw 90% report an increase, and this time last year saw 89% report an increase. What really makes the 4th quarter of 2015 stand out is the shift to a slower pace of home price increases. Only 24% of the agents reported increase home prices of 10% or more compared to 36% in the 4th quarter of 2014.  This slowing of price point increase is in line with NAR reports showing that the 4th quarter 2015 median home price dropped slightly to $224,100 compared to 3rd quarter’s $229,000.

Only 4% of agents across the nation say their listings are selling for less. That’s the lowest depreciation rate since before the burst of the housing bubble! Last year this time we reported 8% of the markets having negative appreciation.

Besides sale price, we also need to take a look at how long active listings sit on the market.  In the 4th quarter of 2015 our agents reported that 65% of the homes sold within 60 days while 35% stayed on the market over 60 days.  Indicating  that even though the market is more balanced there is still a slight edge to the seller as there are still more buyers competing  for fewer homes.

So listings are selling for more and they’re selling quickly. Does this mean more contentment with people selling their homes? Not necessarily. It’s important for sellers to keep their expectations realistic. They are clearly being inundated with all this good news about the market, and they immediately think they can overprice their homes. 23% of our agent’s clients saw their listings close with less than 95% of their original asking price.  However this is lower than last year at this time when 28% of our agents reported homes staying on the market for over 60 days.

Foreclosures

This quarter, 87% of our agents said foreclosures made up less than 15% of their local market compared to 84% in the previous quarter.  The impact of foreclosures on the national market is at normal levels.  This is consistent with Realty Trac’s report that foreclosure activity at the end of 2015 is at a nine-year low saying  that the US has returned to a healthy foreclosure market with any activity fueled only by local economic factors.

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Source:  HouseHunt, Inc.

2015 US Housing Market Condition Survey

December 31, 2015

In Conclusion…

Home price appreciation is solid with the majority of homes between 5-10% appreciation.  Buyer activity continues to outweigh seller activity but is trending towards a more balanced market.  Inventories are still tight somewhat because of seasonal factors.  Seller activity could very well increase in the first and second quarters of 2016 as home sellers are recovering equities and have options to sell their homes and move to a new home.  Current low mortgage rates and high costs of rentals may very well fuel an increase in first time buyer activity which remains at all time low levels and are a true catalyst to a healthy real estate market.

HouseHunt’s Quarterly Comparison Chart For the U.S. | 4th Quarter 2015 Results in Red

2013 2014 2015
Quarter 3rd 4th 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 1st 2nd 3rd 4th
Buyer-Seller Ratio
More Buyers 57% 51% 61% 54% 39% 50% 61% 64% 56% 48%
More Sellers 26% 21% 19% 24% 37% 26% 15% 20% 24% 24%
About Even 17% 28% 20% 22% 24% 24% 24% 16% 20% 28%
Average Days On Market
0-60 Days 65% 57% 60% 63% 63% 56% 55% 70% 69% 65%
Sold in 60 Days Plus 35% 43% 40% 37% 37% 44% 45% 30% 31% 35%
Unsold Inventory
Good Supply 26% 32% 24% 28% 39% 44% 26% 26% 31% 33%
Tight Supply 74% 68% 76% 72% 61% 56% 74% 74% 69% 67%
Annual Price Appreciation
Up 0-5% 18% 29% 24% 27% 26% 26% 25% 26% 26% 30%
Up 5-10% 17% 31% 26% 29% 38% 27% 35% 33% 44% 36%
Up 10% Plus 54% 31% 42% 37% 25% 36% 27% 32% 20% 24%
Unchanged 5% 3% 3% 3% 4% 3% 6% 5% 6% 6%
Negative Appreciation 6% 6% 5% 4% 7% 8% 7% 4% 4% 4%
Buyer Activity
Repeat / Move UP / Investors 85% 78% 79% 77% 84% 76% 82% 75% 79% 84%
First-time Buyers 15% 22% 21% 23% 16% 24% 18% 25% 21% 16%
Ask vs. Sale Price
Less Than 95% 23% 30% 23% 9% 22% 28% 29% 26% 25% 23%
More Than 95% 77% 70% 77% 91% 78% 72% 71% 74% 75% 77%
Multiple Offers?
Yes 91% 87% 83% 86% 83% 76% 84% 88% 86% 85%
No 9% 13% 17% 14% 17% 24% 16% 12% 14% 15%
Short Sales / Foreclosures
Less than 15% of the market 77% 80% 83% 79% 87% 85% 86% 84% 86% 87%
More than 15% of the market 23% 20% 17% 21% 13% 15% 14% 16% 14% 13%