Realtor Advice, Sales

Unique Ways Real Estate Agents Can Create a “Brand”

A View from the Beach

Branding is the name of the game in this era of social media, email and online marketing – and let’s face it, you have a business to build.

There are so many different ways to brand yourself, but you many want to consider doing something different from what all the other agents are doing.

 

So, I have a few suggestions for you:

  • Bring donuts, bagels, sandwiches to local police and firefighters on a quarterly basis. Include your business cards and a sign “compliments of….”
  • Hang out at a local coffee shop with a sign on the back of your laptop that says “Ask Me Anything About Real Estate”.
  • Change your phone message on your voice mail every 3 months and try to make it more humorous.
  • Sponsor a cause that matters to you. Make it part of your brand for the entire year, and convey to your clients and on social media why you are passionate about the cause.
  • Join a club or organization. Invite me to join with you. Join a committee with the goal of becoming chairperson of that committee.
  • Connect more offline than online with calls, snail mail newsletters, postcards.
  • Ask for testimonials and post them everywhere (FB, Active Rain, website, your listing booklet).
  • Sponsor a family-friendly movie night. Invite past clients, loan officers, title reps. Provide popcorn and health snacks.
  • Record a 2-minute videos about real estate. Why getting pre-approved is critical when buying a home. Why you need a home inspection. About title insurance. The closing process. Home owners insurance. Certified funds at closing.
  • Instead of celebrating traditional holidays, send out on less recognized days. Valentine’s Day. National Donut Day.
  • Create a list of “fun facts” that most people don’t know about you. You speak fluent Spanish. You are a cancer survivor. You love oysters. This will help you connect with people who can relate to you and make you more “human” in their eyes.

Please let me know if you’d like to meet to talk about some of these strategies – and maybe we can do some joint marketing together.

Realtor Advice

13 Ways to Get Offers Accepted in a Tight Real Estate Market

A View from the Beach

I know from experience as a mortgage lender that low inventory and multiple offers creates stress, not only for buyers who are pre-approved and whose offers are outbid by others, but for real estate agents too.

So I found a list of tips compiled by real estate agents throughout the US that may help increase your chances of helping your clients get their offer accepted.

  1. Brush up on your negotiating skills.
  2. Be proactive and encourage your buyers not to wait until the weekend to view new listings.
  3. Get a strong pre-approval letter from me, your mortgage loan officer.
  4. Talk to the listing agent to find out what’s important to the seller (i.e., quick closing, extended move out date).
  5. Based on other offers in that particular neighborhood, determine how much over the listing price the buyer should offer.
  6. Minimize contingencies.
  7. Make sure that when presenting the offer, you have all the correct forms, including disclosures and counter-offer forms.
  8. Ask the buyer to write a letter to the seller stating what they like about the home and why they want to buy it.
  9. Include photos of the buyers (and maybe their children) so the seller visually sees them.
  10. Call the listing agent and let them know an offer is on its way.
  11. A large earnest money deposit conveys that the buyer is committed to buying the home.
  12. Ask for a quick response time to show the urgency of making a decision before any other offers arrive.
  13. The less complicated the offer, the more willing the seller will be to accept it.

One last thought. Try to find out as much as you can about the seller and the property. You’ll find a ton of information online just by entering their name and property address.

Oh, and be sure to contact me so I can help you with our 15 Day Closing Guarantee through our 321 Go Program – see below for details.

Realtor Advice

Are You Truly The Expert In Your Local Real Estate Market?

I recently read an article from a nationally recognized real estate agent where she posed a series of questions to ask yourself to see if you are truly the “expert” in the local real estate market.

Most of the information can be found within your MLS system. She checks it daily and has even listed it as a “task” in her calendar. And while she is at it, she checks expired and withdrawn listings.

So, here are the questions. By knowing the answers, you will be able to laser-focus your marketing.

  1. How many total properties are in your market area?
  2. What’s the average price?
  3. What’s the average days on the market?
  4. What’s the median price?
  5. How many properties were sold last month? Last 6 months? Last 12 months?
  6. How many properties are currently under contract?
  7. How many of those properties were either short sales or foreclosures?
  8. What is the percentage of listed to sold price ratio?
  9. Are values increasing or declining?
  10. Is inventory increasing or declining?
  11. What agent/real estate company has the most listings?
  12. What types of mortgage programs are most prevalent (FHA, VA, USDA, Conventional, Cash)?

This one daily exercise will help keep you up to date. Spot trends. Immediately share with home buyers. And by knowing the answers to these questions, you will become the go-to expert in your corner of the real estate world.

Realtor Advice

Why You Should Let the Neighbors Know When You List a Home for Sale

So, you’ve listed a home.

The neighbors are curious.

But do you realize that the surrounding neighbors could not only be your “eyes and ears,” but also help you sell the home?

A top real estate agent suggests that you meet the neighbors.

Here’s what she does—

  • Introduces herself and provides them with several flyers. Interior pictures of the home. The sales price.
  • She gives them her business card and contact information.
  • She asks them if they have any friends or relatives who might like to move into the neighborhood.
  • If the house is vacant, she asks them to report any problems—like maybe the lights get left on or a window is broken.

Here’s the thing.

Usually, when a home is listed and sold, and based on the selling price, there tend to be other homes in the neighborhood that go up for sale. Why not be the real estate agent they know (because you have introduced yourself) to list their home?

Additionally, potential buyers sometimes talk to the neighbors to ask about the area, the activities, the schools.

Being pro-active and sharing this information will help you sell the home quicker.

Question: Do you meet the neighbors when you list a home?

Realtor Advice

How to Coach Home Buyers about the Mortgage Process

I know that one of the first things you ask, when working with a new client, is if they need a mortgage to buy a home—and if they have been pre-approved for a mortgage.

If they have not been pre-approved, I’m sure you recommend that they talk to a lender (hopefully me) to make sure they qualify and at what loan amount.

However, not everyone will take your advice.

So, I wanted to share some client “scripts” that you can use that outline some of the things that lenders require.

And if you feel uncomfortable providing this information, think of this this way—it’s your commission on the line if you sell them a home and, in the end, they don’t qualify for the mortgage loan.

  • Have you checked your credit score? – One of the reasons to check your credit and your score BEFORE talking to a lender is to make sure all the information is correct. It also gives you a chance to increase your credit score because the lower your credit score, the higher your interest rate will be.
  • Do you know where your down payment and closing costs will be coming from? Lenders need to verify that you not only have the money to close your loan, but that you have money left over (called cash reserves) after you have signed the paperwork. So, you need to keep bank statements for at least 2 to 3 months. If you are getting a gift from a relative, certain rules apply and you will definitely NEED to talk with a lender. 
  • Do you have a steady job or income? The loan officer will want to make sure that you have income coming in monthly to make the mortgage payments. You will usually need to provide them with paycheck stubs or investment statements showing a history of income being received. If you are self-employed, tax returns and income statements will be required. 
  • Why get pre-approved for a mortgage? There is a difference betweenpreapproved and being prequalified. A pre-approved means that your credit has been checked and that you have the income to buy the home. The preapproval letter is one of the advantages that you have over other buyers—especially if you get into a bidding war with other home buyers. 
  • Don’t stretch your budget – A mortgage payment that takes most of your paycheck can leave you strapped for cash. You may not have enough money to make repairs, have fun or for future savings.

The scripts are an easy way to advise your homebuyers without being intrusive. Please call so I can help pre-approve your homebuyers.

Consumer Advice, Realtor Advice

Selling Your Home? The Bathroom Is One of the Most Important Rooms

It’s been said that “kitchens and bathrooms” sell houses.  So, when you are ready to sell your home, here are some tips on how to “show” your bathroom in all of its glory.

First of all, concentrate on getting it as clean as possible.  There are many products on the market that will easily get rid of mildew. Lighten up the grout between the tiles. Get rid of soap scum.  Make sure mirrors and the shower door glass sparkles.

Second, remove stuff from the counter tops.

Third, hide the plunger and trash cans.

Fourth, remove the rugs.  They make a bathroom look smaller. Make sure the floor is clean.

Fifth, if you have a master bathroom, make it appear as an “oasis.”  Place some candles around the soaking tub. A couple of plush towels.  Maybe a fern or orchid plant.

The whole goal is to make the bathroom inviting and not have a buyer think they are walking into a locker room.

Consumer Advice, Realtor Advice

What Can You Do To Make Your Home Appraise Higher?

If you are considering refinancing your current mortgage, the mortgage company usually (but not always) requires an appraisal.

I recently read an article co-written by a couple of appraisers with some tips on how you can help ensure the highest and most accurate value of your home.

  1. Clean up the yard. Appraisers are required to take pictures of the home. If you have stuff laying around the yard or several cars in the driveway, move them before the appraiser arrives.
  1. Clean the house. They also take pictures of the rooms in your home.  Store stuff in closets.  Under the bed.  In the garage.  That may help you get a higher value.
  1. Make repairs. Maybe there is a hole in the drywall.  Or water stains from a plumbing leak.  Be sure to repair those before the appraiser arrives
  1. Lay out a sketch of your home. If you had a previous appraisal or you built your home, provide those to the appraiser.
  1. Improvements – If you made any improvement to the home, let the appraiser know. Providing copies of invoices and a list of updates within the last 5 years or so will also help.
  1. Other home sales in your area. If you know of any homes (like yours) that have sold within the last 6 months, mention that to the appraiser and ask them to check them out.
  1. Best home feature. Tell the appraiser what you like about the home.  Its location and its best “feature” (i.e., open floor plan).
  1. Safety features. Does the local government require smoke or carbon monoxide detectors?  Make sure those are installed and functioning correctly.

Please contact me if you are considering refinancing your home to lower your payment, to pay off debts or get some cash to buy a car or pay for college.

Marketing, Realtor Advice

How to Break into the Luxury Home Market

A View from the Beach

I recently read an article written by a Certified Luxury Home Marketing Specialist (CLHMS designation offered by NAR), and I wanted to share some tips with you on how to break into the luxury home market.

In addition, consider studying the lifestyles and habits of the rich. A great book to read is The Millionaire Next Door, which debunks the theory that the truly rich are not who you think they are.

Get familiar with the luxury lifestyle.

  • Visit luxury homes and get familiar with the types of upgrades included—especially kitchens, baths, and landscaping.
  • Check out the garages – usually 5 to 10 stalls; finished walls and tile floors. A bathroom. Maybe even a high-end toolshed.
  • Learn the luxury brands of cars/antique cars and know what they cost to acquire.
  • Visit showrooms where high-end home finishes and décor can be found. Learn the prices and what sets them apart from standard finishes.
  • Attend high-end antique auctions. The rich look for unique items that nobody else has.
  • Attend the theatre. Join a country club. Join a boat club. Go to high-end restaurants.

Learn the luxury buyer profile.

  • Read magazines. Yachting. Car & Driver. Luxury Home Magazines. Jet Set Magazine. (Find them in your library.)
  • Read books about wealth or famous people.
  • Learn about how they acquired their wealth.

Develop excellent manners.

  • Take a course on social manners.
  • Learn table manners. How a table should be set. What silverware to use.
  • Know what food courses are in a 7-course meal.

The rich are different. Read. Listen. Learn how they think. Why they make the choices that they do. Why some like to display their wealth while others don’t.

You don’t have to be wealthy to work with rich clients as long as you can “talk their language”.

What else would you add to this list?

Realtor Advice

Questions to Ask the Seller About the Neighborhood

So, you’ve listed a home in a great neighborhood.

Have you ever thought about putting together a questionnaire for your sellers entitled:

“What’s So Great About Your Neighborhood?” 

When buyers view a home, they often ask about the neighborhood. This is a great tool that you can provide to the buyer’s agent when they request a showing.

Here are some of the questions to ask your seller. Ask them to complete.

They may not be able to answer all of them, but they can leave some blank.

  1. What would you say about your neighbors?
  2. What community events occur throughout the year?
  3. What local shopping is available nearby?
  4. What are the schools in your neighborhood area?
  5. What are some of the best restaurants for breakfast, lunch and dinner?
  6. Is there access to public transportation?
  7. Is there a local park, playground or dog park?
  8. Is there a community pool or fitness facility?
  9. What is the crime rate in your neighborhood?
  10. Where are the medical clinics and hospitals located?
  11. What’s available nearby for entertainment (movie theaters, nightlife, children activities)?
  12. What other towns are nearby?

Remember that buyers are not just buying a home. They are buying into a lifestyle and a neighborhood.

It’s one of the keys to getting your listings sold.

So, what else would you add to this list?

Realtor Advice

Who Are the Seven People Every Realtor Should Know?

Here’s the thing.

Home buyers and sellers don’t do what you do every day.

They will be looking for suggestions from you regarding a mortgage, insurance, repairs, etc.

It’s important that you vet out a great support team by interviewing them and building relationships with those people you are confident will get the job done.

When it comes to closing a real estate transaction, successful real estate agents never go it alone.

So, who are the 7 people who should be on your team?

Mortgage Loan Officer & Staff

    Not only is it important to find a loan officer who will pre-qualify your clients, it’s important that you get to know the processor and closer. Interview them and ask about hours available. Turnaround times. Loan programs. What kind of service you expect when working with them.

Home Inspector

    Home inspections can make or break a deal. Having a home inspector that is extremely thorough is important, but it’s also important that they are personable, patient and can explain things in plain language if there are questions.

Appraiser

    While you have no control over who performs the mortgage appraisal, it’s a good idea to cultivate a friendship with an appraiser if you have general questions about a listing that you are about to sign. For example, if the home is located near high-tension wires, you could ask how it affects the value of the home. This could help you price the home accordingly.

Home Stager

    Not all sellers are keen on the idea of having their home staged before it’s been listed. Find a home stager who will provide different “levels” of advice — from a few tips to a massive overhaul. Another person to add to this list might be a “De-Clutter Coach”. Most homes have too much clutter, and that might be all it takes to make the home more presentable.

Insurance Agent

    Many clients will already have an insurance agent that they work with, but consider recommending them to an “independent” insurance agent to compare prices and shop for the best coverage. Also ask how quickly they can obtain an insurance policy in case the buyer forgets to shop before the closing.

Escrow Officer/Title Rep

    Interview other agents to determine who they would recommend as an escrow agent. Find out how many transactions the escrow agent has closed and the variety of loans, cash deals, trade equities they have handled. A great escrow agent can help you get the deal closed.

General Contractor/Repair People

    These are the hardest people to find to join your referral team. A general contractor. Plumbing, heating, electrical experts. Make sure they have been in business for a long time. Make sure they are licensed. They are busy, so make sure that they will respond to your requests within a certain timeframe. Ask for referrals.

Who you recommend reflects directly on you and the way you conduct your business. It’s not always about what you know, but WHO you know.

Have their business cards available to hand out to buyers and sellers. And consider having a backup person in case they are too busy or on vacation.