Friday, July 25, 2014

A Day in the Life of a REALTOR: The Showings Must Go On!












This is the Fifth episode of A Day in the Life of a REALTOR® - a weekly article series published each Friday on RESAAS Blog and written by Kay Conageski. To read the first episode, click here; second episode, click here; third episode, click here; fourth episode, click here.

So sit back, relax, and enjoy. Kay has some stories to tell...

*     *     *

There were clients a few years back that I refer to as my “Animal House Buyers” for reasons you will soon understand.
 
The week started out fine with scheduling appointments for them to see various houses around their busy schedules. On a rainy Tuesday afternoon, after locking up our first property, I turned to find a small turtle crossing my path, and when I went to step over it I slid on the patio tile and down I went! My buyers rushed to my rescue as I got up, dusted myself off and continued on as if nothing happened.  

That was the best day of that week.

A day later I was opening up a house for the same buyers prior to their arrival when a swarm of bees came out of nowhere and one stung me on my arm. Did I mention I am allergic to the little critters? When my buyers arrived, I was on the steps with my EPI pen and a smile to greet them. That was the first of three bee stings we encountered together.

My same buyers met me at another home the following day where a small teacup Yorkie met us at the front door. As the buyers looked around, the dog nipped my ankle and drew blood. We laughed it off, and proceeded to the next property.

As I opened the door for them I saw something coming towards us, so I immediately slammed the door on my buyers as a parakeet aimed right for my head! Once I managed to capture the bird, I opened the door to the shock of my buyers staring at me as blood tricked down my face from the gash the bird caused. To say we laughed until it hurt is an understatement. Despite the ice pack and Band-Aids, we put in an offer on that house.

(Image via trainedparrot.com)

Keeping with the tradition we started, it rained “cats and dogs” on closing day. As I approached the office, I once again slid on a wet sidewalk to avoid a family of ducks and injured my knee to the point I could barely walk. I actually crawled up the stairs to the second floor conference room where I met my buyers at the closing table. The closing was filled with giggles as we recapped everything we went through to get to that point. A week later I received a Thank You note, saying how much they appreciated me “continually taking one for the team to get them into their dream home” and included with the note was an “Animal House” DVD.

To me real estate is 20% knowledge, 80% attitude.

While you have to know what you are talking about to guide your clients in the right direction, having a positive outlook and being their cheerleader through the entire process is what really matters. You have to always “be on” for them, despite what is happening around you. And that approach comes from within because you are doing what you truly love to do.

Think of yourself as an “award winning performer” and every day is your stage -- and most importantly, always remember…the showings must go on!

*     *     *

Kay Conageski is a REALTOR® with The Keyes Company, based in Plantation, Florida. 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

For Sale: The Legend of Elise, Countess of Edla

For Sale!!

13 Bedroom, 7 Bathroom mansion in the historic city of Sintra, Portugal.


It was designed with a harmonious combination of a neoclassic layout with the refinement of Art Nouveau, and the romanticism of the vast landscaped space surrounding it.

(See pictures below.)

The mansion is located near the Palácio da Pena, which was built by King Ferdinand II in the 19th century atop of the rubble of a 15th century marble monastery.
























(No, this is not the mansion for sale. This is the Palácio da Pena. Sorry.)

Shortly thereafter, he fell in love with a Swiss-born, American-educated opera singer named Elise who was on tour in Lisbon.

The two discovered they had much in common.

They shared a passion for ceramics, painting, sculpture, gardening and architecture, and soon they lived a discreet life together in Sintra - he in the palace, she in a chalet inspired by her Swiss heritage.


And now, you can own a part of the legend.

The aforementioned 13 bedroom, 7 bathroom mansion is steeped in the legend of Elise and Ferdinand, and has been listed for sale on RESAAS.

Take a look:





























































Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Social Media Leads: Generate and Convert



Recently, I was introduced to an amazing eBook that was written by super-agents extraordinaire, Ben Kinney and Jay Papasan, called “Soci@l”.

Its mission is to educate real estate agents on how to effectively utilize social media and online tools to generate and convert leads, dispelling many myths along the way.

Although published in 2010, many of their points remain extremely relevant today.

Here are the key takeaways:



Hyper-Local Content 

First thing that’s discussed is the importance of hyper-local content.

The reason? Google search results will reward you.

According to Ben & Jay, a select few amount of high-quality search terms will generate roughly 20% of any given website’s search-related traffic (eg. “Washington Real Estate”).

The problem is that big competitors already dominate this arena.

Rather, you need to focus your energy on the remaining 80% of search term traffic, known as the long tail.
























(Image via antaresent.com)

This is where hyper-local content comes into play.

Content that pertains to more specific search results (eg. “Queen Anne Seattle Real Estate”) has more elbow room for you to establish yourself within. At the same time, leads generated through long-tail search results will yield home shoppers who are farther along the process, and will be of higher-quality to your business.

(Blog posts are an ideal way to create search-term friendly content that will help you get found on Google by the right people.)


Social Networking

This ties in nicely to another point that Ben & Jay raised.

There is a certain myth surrounding online lead generation, through social media to be specific, which is that they tend to be poor leads, and aren’t worth the time.

While it was just shown that hyper-local content can bring in quality leads through organic search results, some find it hard to believe that social media can provide the same benefits.

After all, individual Facebook and Twitter posts don’t show up on Google.

So why bother?

But, in their words:

“In my experience, [leads generated through social media] are more loyal and more likely to refer you to additional prospects. If you can learn to work social media networks as adeptly as you work a room at a local social event you attend, the leads you get from your social networks can be as strong as any in your business.”

The key is in the comments.

The more you can engage directly, via comments, likes, shares, mentions, etc., the stronger a relationship you can build, which in turn will result in trusted referrals.

They suggest creating a Facebook Fan Page or Twitter Account that is focused solely on a single area or neighbourhood. Post any local events, news, job opportunities, videos, pictures and, of course, new listings. This is what home shoppers are interested in, and what people will want to interact with.

(Image via Dano Sayles Facebook Page: "Maui - It's all about Lifestyle)
                                                                                                                                   

Farming

It’s all fine and dandy to gain a social following, but they won’t be of much use if you can’t convert them into leads, right?

This is where traditional strategies are helpful.

Most social networks allow you to sort contacts into lists. So once you’ve identified a close group of friends, followers and colleagues, then you should develop a strategy to ask them for referrals.

They suggest asking each person no more than 5 times a year whether they know anybody looking to buy or sell a home. This way you don’t come off as too “spammy”, while also remaining top of mind in case anything pops up.


Ads

One of the last points that I found to be quite useful was the chapter discussing advertisements.

I prefer to see real estate agents move away from billboards, bus benches and pamphlets and more towards online social engagement. However, Pay-Per-Click (PPC) and Impression-Based (CPM) advertisements on social networks such as Facebook offer a valuable (and inexpensive) alternative.

PPC advertisements can help direct leads towards your personal website. However, make sure that the cost of each lead doesn’t exceed 10% of your gross revenue. But if the aim is to create brand awareness and recognition, then the PPC model can be quite cost effective since clicks won’t be the main objective.

(Image via Soci@l eBook)

Unlike traditional advertisements, social ads allow you to target highly-specified demographics within certain zip codes. You can target 25 to 35 year olds, military personnel or land developers, either within your area, just over the border or overseas.

You can even advertise to fellow real estate professionals to try and gain referrals and leads!

Through RESAAS, you can reach out to the hundreds of thousands of real estate professionals from all around the world on the platform through targeted ads to gain more exposure for you and your brand.

(If you're interested, email ads@resaas.com to get started!)

So while these are the most interesting and useful points that I picked out, there is tons more information packed into this eBook.

I highly recommend that you spend an afternoon and read through it.

Click here to download Soci@l eBook by Ben Kinney and Jay Papasan.




Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Phenomenology + Real Estate

Today's Guest Contributor is Lorelei Taylor Barrett, a REALTOR® and Interior Designer based in San Diego. Lorelei's designs, products and advice have been featured on HGTV, the Food Network and in such publications as Country Living, Americana, Victoria, Old Stuff, and Country Pleasures magazines.



Lorelei wrote her Master's Thesis on the topic of phenomenology, and uses this unique approach to help her clients find and design a home that best fits their needs.

Not sure what phenomenology is?

Well, neither did I.

So, I asked her a whole bunch of questions about it...



For those of us unfamiliar with it, what exactly is “phenomenology”?

     Phenomenology is the study of the meaning or spirit of place to an inhabitant; the user’s experiences, perceptions and interpretations of a physical space. This isn’t a mystical or spiritual meaning. It’s more of a physical manifestation of our values, style sensitivities and aesthetic preferences.

How were you first introduced to the subject?

     I had been thinking about the meaning of spaces as I was narrowing down my topic of study in grad school. My professor introduced me to the term when we were talking about ‘place making.’ He suggested a great book by Clare Cooper Marcus; The House As A Mirror of Self.  A great read for anyone who deals with people and their spaces whether a designer or a property advisor.

What made you decide to write your interior design master’s thesis on it?

     Ever since I was a kid, I was mesmerized by the sets in the films that I saw. I would get lost in the spaces and wouldn’t even pay attention to the story. I noticed that the things in their spaces represented the characters. For my thesis, I wanted to explore that phenomenon as well as explore how this might be present in the real world as well. I discovered that it certainly is a real life phenomenon.

What are some ways that phenomenology is expressed through interior design?

     I believe that it is at the very core of how and why we live in the types of places that we do, and why we have the things that we do. It is how we choose to represent ourselves in a physical way by the value we place on each item, our choice of style, quantity, quality and what speaks to and pleases us in our homes. Hoarding is an example of the most extreme cases. The hoarder places extreme meaning and value to everything, including the mundane and even trash. The study of hoarding behavior shares a lot of the same tenets of phenomenology.

(image via Expo Lounge)

     As an example of a character’s values expressed in the set design, Mary Richards of The Mary Tyler Moore Show lived in a neat attic studio apartment in an old Victorian style home. Mary Richards was an enigma of sorts. She represented a new type of woman in changing times. She lived in a Victorian home, the Victorian era being one of the most restrictive for women. She had old-fashioned pieces of furniture (wicker chairs and lamps) combined with sleek contemporary pieces (Saarinen Tulip chair and end table) mixed in. This disconnect informs the viewer that she values old-fashioned ideals yet is a modern woman in her career and personal life choices also.

Is phenomenology a popular branch of interior design, or is it relatively obscure?

     It is very obscure. In design school, designers are taught “programming” which involves asking questions of clients and end users about how a space might be used, their style preferences and who will use those spaces. Often, what is left out is the ‘why?’ When I was conducting my research, I found so little on the subject that I thought that I was either crazy to be questioning this topic or as my thesis committee chairman told me, I had found a new topic to flesh out in new ways and add to the anemic body of work out there.

Are there any common examples of phenomenology within our daily lives?

     It is all around us in the spaces we inhabit and use. Why does one person have 32 teacups displayed in their kitchen and another person has nothing but one coffee mug on a hook. It informs us about the why we pick anything really. It translates to other areas beyond our interior spaces such as is seen in our fashion, car choice and even things like rural vs urban living preferences. On a very large scale, corporate branding uses the same tenets of phenomenology. The companies try to force meaning upon us to try to shape our selections to buy their brand by assigning values to their products.

How has your knowledge of phenomenology separated you from other real estate professionals?

     My approach is very different when I start with new clients. I ask questions of them that really surprise them. I ask things such as are they introverts, or extraverts (to find out if they need separate quiet places or do they gather together to recharge). I ask them how they feel when they stand in a certain area of a home we are visiting. At first they look at me like I’m nuts, but when I explain why I am asking. It gets them thinking in a much deeper realm. It’s not about do they just like that space, but the why behind their preferences. Often, they end up realizing that they don’t really like it after all but thought they would. Or the opposite is true, they may think they hate it, but realize it satisfies a lot more than just a quick aesthetic judgment.

     My buyers end up looking at a lot fewer houses because they start to dial in on their actual preferences through the online photos and we can skip many that they thought they wanted to see. We agents often say, “Buyers are liars” since they’ll tell you what they think they want and buy the exact opposite. I dislike that notion. We just aren’t asking them the right questions to help them know what they really do want and need.

Do you need an advanced degree in phenomenology in order to apply its ideas?

     No, not at all. But I do believe one must acquaint oneself with a way of asking our clients deeper, more probing questions about what is driving the choices our clients are making. We need to know how to guide them as they search beyond the usual laundry list of features they think they want in their next home.

Where do you see the relationship between phenomenology and real estate in the future?

     For most, it is a pretty far out concept on the real estate side. The design begins this inquiry in the programming phase. We designers already delve more deeply into these constructs. In real estate, we are more features-driven with checking off lists of exact items that the client wants in the prospect properties that we show. We try cramming more houses into each tour to hopefully catch the one the clients will write up. To apply this theory we, as agents, need to slow down and get to know the clients on a much deeper level and understand what drives their needs and wants. If we do that, the client will get a much better result. They may not end up moving as often, but they will have a very satisfying experience and much better outcome. And really, we should be striving to set ourselves apart and serving our clients in the very best way possible.



Friday, July 18, 2014

A Day in the Life of a REALTOR: Brazilian Power












This is the fourth episode of A Day in the Life of a REALTOR® - a weekly article series published each Friday on RESAAS Blog and written by Kay Conageski. To read the first episode, click here. To read the second episode, click here. To read the third episode, click here.

So sit back, relax, and enjoy. Kay has some stories to tell...

*     *     *

My parents always taught me the old lesson, “never judge a book by its cover”.

Unfortunately, in real estate it is so easy to take the first impression of someone and figure out whether or not they can or can’t afford the home they want to see. Real Estate 101 always stresses to agents that you have to make sure your client has the money in their account before ever taking them to see a property and never, ever, ever show a home without a pre-approval letter.

While I agree to some extent, the business of real estate goes far beyond the monetary qualifications. It is a “people business” after all, and you never know until you talk with the person what their true story really is.

And some may surprise you!

An international buyer called me from an online ad for a small condo in a senior community. The condo was listed at $35,000 and he wanted to see as many in that price range as he could since his time was limited on his visit. After seeing more than a dozen properties, he finally made an offer that was accepted, on the first one we saw. A few weeks later, we closed.

After the closing, he asked if I was able to list properties outside of the state. Our Board and MLS allow this since the South Florida market is so diverse, so I said I would be able to help him. He explained that he had three homes in Sao Paulo, Brazil that he really wanted to get exposure for in the US market.























(image via http://tourguide.com.br/)

Because I thought I knew my buyer from the type of property he just purchased, I was expecting a small condo or typical family home. The first property was a penthouse, on the water, which we listed for $700,000. The second was an 8 bedroom, 6 ½ bath beachfront mansion that we presented at $1.3M. And the final property was an 8,000 square foot estate in the mountains, priced at $2M.

Through the entire process, I learned not only about the cultures of Brazil and their way of doing business through their rules and regulations, but also how to market luxury properties worldwide. Making those connections through online Realtor® networks such as RESAAS and their global affiliates gave me the chance to showcase these homes and meet agents from the around the world who truly experience the same challenges and triumphs that we do in the US.

As for my favorite Brazilian….we are now looking for an upgrade to his $35,000 condo.

*     *     *

Kay Conageski is a REALTOR® with The Keyes Company, based in Plantation, Florida. 


Thursday, July 17, 2014

180 Photography Tips for Real Estate Agents

Today, RESAAS Blog is proud to present this mammoth of an infographic, 180 Photography Tips To Capture Your Home, which was created by Terry's Blinds out of the UK.

It's chock full of great advice, for both beginners and novices.

So go ahead and take a read.

180 Photography Tips To Capture Your Home by Terrys BlindsIt's worth it.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

3 Lessons That REALTORS® Can Learn from the World Cup


Last Sunday got a little crazy.

Germany prevailed over Argentina to become the first European nation to win a World Cup in the Western Hemisphere.

They did so in dramatic fashion, too, as Mario Goetze scored a fantastic goal in the final minutes of extra time.

It was like:


The German fans were like:


And the Brazilians were still like:


Then Monday arrived, and everyone went back to work.

It was time to put the World Cup in the rear view, focus on the task at hand, and make up for how unproductive the past three weeks were.

...But what if I told you it wasn't?

Lo and behold, Know It Now presents:

3 Lessons That REALTORS® Can Learn from the World Cup


The first lesson that real estate professionals can take away from the World Cup comes from our Iberian compadres: 

Spain.

They won the last three major international tournaments that any European nation can hope to obtain: the 2008 Euros, the 2010 World Cup, and the 2012 Euros. 

If Spain were a REALTOR®, they'd have ads all over the place proclaiming themselves as "The #1 Agent in Europe." 

But then they failed.

Tremendously.

So where did they go wrong?

They were unwilling to change. Instead, they relied on the old methods that brought them success. Their competition became wise to their style of play, their personnel and their tactics, and Spain quickly dissolved into irrelevance. 

Lesson One: Don't rest on your laurels. 


























This brings us to our second lesson.

The Netherlands came into the tournament as relative underdogs, but thanks to their dismantling of the aforementioned Spain, were able to make it all the way to the semi-finals. 

So what did they do right?

They innovated. 

Always one step ahead, Holland was able to continually upset the odds and outsmart their foes by employing innovative tactics. They used a relatively untested formation, switched goalies for penalty kicks, and did things like this:


As a real estate professional, sometimes you need to roll the dice, learn new tricks, shake things up, and embrace other similar English idioms. 

A little risk can mean a big reward. 

Lesson Two: Don't be afraid to get creative.























The final lesson comes the host nation:

Brazil.

They began the tournament as favourites, but crashed and burned wildly, losing 7-1 to Germany and then 3-0 to The Netherlands to end the show.

So where did they go wrong?

The phrase, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts comes to mind.

Brazil played with passion, emotion and big hearts, but sometimes more use of the brain is needed. If you rely solely upon your individual talent to get by, then you will undoubtedly experience days of complete helplessness. 

Make use of everybody's areas of expertise within your brokerage. Whether its the ability to market a property, negotiate a transaction or recruit new leads, everyone has something to offer. 

Lesson Three: Teamwork and collaboration will bring more success than solo efforts ever will.
























So there you have it.

Germany was able to lift the trophy by combining aspects of all three lessons into one well-oiled machine.

And you can too!

Keep these tips in mind, and you'll find success in no time. I guarantee it.

...You'll also be able to justify all the time you spent watching soccer for three weeks straight.



Friday, July 11, 2014

A Day in the Life of a REALTOR: Bringing in the Dough












This is the third episode of A Day in the Life of a REALTOR® - a weekly article series published each Friday on RESAAS Blog and written by Kay Conageski. To read the first episode, click here. To read the second episode, click here.

So sit back, relax, and enjoy. Kay has some stories to tell...

*     *     *

Now that I’ve been in the business for nearly five years I’m considered a “Seasoned Agent”, and I have the opportunity to mentor new agents in our office.
  
One of the first questions I am always asked is, “How long have you been in the business?” 

To which I answer, “All of my life!  I’ve bought and sold my own homes; I’ve done my own investments; I’ve always stopped at open house signs in the neighborhood; and I am constantly sneaking a peak in windows as I pass by, so it seems like forever.”  

Their next question is always, “How do you get your clients when you’re new to the business?” 

As most of the great legends of the industry teach, you go back to those who know you best – your sphere of influence. When I got my license it was close the holidays, so I went back to the office that did me the greatest favor of all by laying me off a few months earlier. These were the folks that I’d most recently worked with and who knew my business sense, and more importantly, knew me. 

I took them 300 individual bags of homemade chocolate chip cookies, tied with a red ribbon and my business card. I looked like Santa as I embraced the building with my huge red sack of cookies. I walked throughout the office and handed them out, talking with those who I had previously worked with.

And the journey began.
























(image via www.4men1lady.com)

My first four closings came from that office a few months later, and those contacts have never stopped giving back. Whether it was their own personal real estate adventure, or a referral that they provided me with, that office has remained one of the best sources for my loyal business following.   

Your sphere of influence, besides your friends and family, could be the local grocer, the nail salon, the dog groomer, the hairdresser, or anyone you do business with – and those folks surround you every day. Getting in touch with them is as easy as swapping business cards or striking up a conversation surrounding the local market conditions. Then follow up with a call, or even bring them an item of value about the area is a great way to stay in front of them and make that lasting relationship. 

And if all else fails, cookies really can bring in the “dough” for you!

*     *     *

Kay Conageski is a REALTOR® with The Keyes Company, based in Plantation, Florida. 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Most Unprofessional REALTOR® Award Goes To...





Go ahead and breathe.

There’s not really a “Most Unprofessional REALTOR®” award.

...That would be unprofessional.

But as a REALTOR®, there are definitely ways you can raise your level of professionalism and stand out from the crowd. I polled many REALTORS® and Escrow Officers to find out how they can either make a transaction go smoothly or make it the transaction from hell.

So without further ado, here are the Top 8 ways to avoid being nominated for The Most Unprofessional REALTOR® Award:

1. Communicate 

Return calls (or emails or texts) PROMPTLY. This was on EVERYONE’S list as their #1 complaint. As agents for buyers and sellers in a transaction, we are rarely face to face with the other agent or title company personnel or lenders. Be considerate and communicate. We have all heard that it’s important to communicate with our clients in the manner they prefer. The same is true with other REALTORS®. Step up your game and ASK how the other REALTOR® in the transaction would like communication transmitted. Then do it.

2. Contracts

Take a contracts class every year, especially if you are a part-time agent. It’s not in your clients’ best interest for you to be uninformed. So if you do not sell or lease more than a few properties a year, then take a class, or at the very least get your broker to review the contract document before you submit it.

3. Photographs + Details

Don’t submit a half-baked, lame listing to MLS. In other words, TAKE SOME PHOTOS. Enter dimensions for the rooms. Laser measuring devices are $25. Get one. Or ask your seller to measure the rooms. Or use the MagicPlan app. And use spell-check.

4. Remain Objective

Remember that if you are representing a seller, buyer, owner or tenant, YOU are not a party to this transaction. Keep your emotions in check. Advise and inform your client as needed. Do not malign the cooperating agent in any way to your client (or to the lender or the title company). And above all, treat the cooperating agent with the respect you would appreciate receiving. Raising your voice, using expletives, hanging up, etc., are actions that give the impression you are stunted at the emotional age of 5.

5. Patience

We do not need to know how many decades you have been a REALTOR®. It’s annoying and insulting.   Yes, you may have been licensed since 1950, and you may have closed over 1,000,000 transactions. But honestly, that’s just not helpful nor pertinent information in a transaction. The point is, you may be very experienced, and that’s wonderful, but real estate has changed a LOT since 1950. It’s changed a lot since last month. If you are frustrated because the other REALTOR® does not understand what you are trying to convey, then try again. Be patient.

6. Fairness 

Recognize that a good transaction is one where both parties are satisfied and close without ill will. While that’s not always possible depending upon the personalities and agendas of the clients, giving the impression that your client is out to take advantage of the other party is still not a good thing. For anyone. Surely you’ve heard of ‘win-win’?

7. Deadlines

Pay attention to the terms of the contract. There are specific dates in the contract. Pay attention to them. Your client does not enter into these transactions every day; you have much more experience. Missed deadlines have consequences.

8. The High Road

Take the high road. No matter what the other party is dishing out, ignore it and move on. The high road is caring and honest (and adult); the low road is fearful, hurtful and deceptive (and childish). You’ll sleep better taking the high road, for sure.

*     *     *


Today's Know It Now article was written by our Guest Contributor, Valerie Keener, a professional real estate agent based in Richardson, Texas, with Ebby Halliday REALTORS®.





Monday, July 7, 2014

What You Missed...

Had a busy week?

In case you missed anything, here are some articles to get you all caught up.

- The Notorious R.O.B. does a great job of thoroughly summarizing the ongoing Zillow-Samuelson Affair, and what the latest court decision means for the real estate industry:

http://www.notorious-rob.com/2014/07/03/some-thoughts-on-move-nar-v-zillow-samuelson/

- Introducing the Smart Pen, the latest object to receive a higher education:

http://www.livescribe.com/en-us/smartpen/wifi-smartpen/features.html

- Have trouble finding free images for your real estate website? Here are a few plugins you can use for WordPress:

http://www.agentevolution.com/best-practices/4-plugins-adding-photos-wordpress-website/
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