Friday, October 24, 2014

A Day in the Life of a REALTOR: It Takes a Village

This is the seventeenth episode of A Day in the Life of a REALTOR® - a weekly article series published on RESAAS Blog and written by Kay Conageski

So sit back, relax, and enjoy. Kay has a story to tell...

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Anyone who does real estate transactions for a living knows that you can’t do it alone.

Sure, you can market all day long for sellers and even promote yourself to attract buyers, but once you get the contract signed it takes a team to complete the deal and get it closed.

Surrounding yourself with key partners is either the success or the failure of the transaction. Getting the contract signed is the easy part – what comes next can stress out even the most seasoned of agents if you don’t have the right folks to back you up and stick by your side until the end. The people I am referring to are the loan officers and mortgage brokers, the title agency or attorney, and the insurance and inspection teams along with the appraisers.

Finding great loan officers is like finding needles in haystacks: there are plenty of them out there, but you need the ones who will do whatever they can to get the buyers to the closing table. This means working with the secret society of underwriters to get the loan commitment on time and to help monitor the spending habits (or lack thereof) for the buyers along the way.

I have worked with many loan officers and mortgage brokers over the years and the ones who get creative, who help buyers by soliciting lenders who fit their needs, and who don’t give up until there are no other options available are the ones who I want to be in the trenches with on any given transaction.

Along the way and through the process you have to surround yourself with trained inspectors and insurance agents who run the gamut and do the most thorough jobs for your buyers. You want to know that at the closing table, your buyer got a solid home that is insured against any issue. But you don’t want to have those inspectors or insurance agents who are the dreaded “deal killers” – you need to find the happy medium for everyone and work towards the finish line together. This may mean having additional items inspected in order to lower those insurance rates.

Then there are the appraisers. In most cases, the appraiser will do their homework on the recent sales to get you the price that is justified by the market. But then there are those hired by some institutions who come from far and wide, to areas that they have only heard of, to do appraisals on homes that they don’t understand. I have fought many an appraisal and won, just for the mere fact that I challenged the culprit who came from another county or as far away as a two hour drive and thought they knew my territory better than me. Don’t ever be afraid to challenge these folks to the death for your buyer, and in some cases you will come out victorious if you do your homework.

The final piece to the real estate puzzle is the title company or attorney who gets the deal closed. These folks have the daunting task to make sure that all liens and permits are closed and that the seller has marketable title to convey. They are your logistics coordinators, the traffic cops of the transaction, and they can be your greatest advocate to bringing it all together. They are also the folks who hand you the check at the end of the closing, so of course they should be put on a pedestal for safe keeping.

They say it takes a village to raise a child – well, it takes that same village to put that child in a home.

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

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Commission vs. Fee

There is a major difference between “charging a commission” and “charging a fee.”

The difference, though, is in perception.

Both terms refer to a monetary consideration being paid out to a professional for a job done. In real estate, the end result is a completed transaction. Upon completion, a commission is paid out to the professional acting on behalf of either the buyer or seller; the size of commission based on the size of transaction.

It is because of this moving-yard-stick nature of how commission is calculated that real estate professionals are put into a position of defending their value.

An example of this would be, “did the real estate agent work harder or longer for a house listed at $500k than one listed at $1M? If the answer is no, then why did they earn more money on the sale of the $1M home?”

But maybe it did take more time and money.

The problem is how commission is perceived, and it can work to overshadow the value proposition of the real estate professional. Commission implies that a cut is being taken. A fee implies a set cost for the service provided.

Both lawyers and accountants provide services that are considered integral and nonnegotiable, charging fees. Real estate agents and stock brokers, as well as travel agents before them, all charge commission for their work, and suffer the reputation of being expendable in the eyes of consumers.

All are licensed professionals, but while the former are seen as providing increased value, the latter are seen as decreasing the return on investment (ROI).

It isn’t as simple as altering the language of a contract. Rather, the perception must shift in the mindset of the home shopper, away from a real estate agent who “takes a cut” and towards one who “provides a service.”

For perception to change, action must be taken.

Value must be recognized up front, demonstrated in a proactive and honest manner:

  • Walk the home shopper through the entire process (from home inspections to mortgage approvals) and any foreseeable obstacles (seasonal differences, interest rate changes, etc.)
  • Describe how you will put their home in the best position to sell (through varied marketing approaches, the specialization of each team member, etc.)
  • Show them your history of success and why you’re suited to handle their specific needs
  • Communication is key – keep your clients informed during the entire transaction

Stop taking a commission, and start emphasizing the value of your fee.

Remember, you are a professional.

So what do you think? Post a comment below!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

A Day in the Life of a REALTOR: Renters Need Love Too

This is the sixteenth episode of A Day in the Life of a REALTOR® - a weekly article series published on RESAAS Blog and written by Kay Conageski

So sit back, relax, and enjoy. Kay has a story to tell...

*     *     *

Most people would never think to call a Realtor to help them find a rental property. Real estate agents are known for listing and selling homes.

Very rarely, though, does Joe Public consider an agent to not only list a property to rent but also assist the landlord in finding a qualified tenant. Tenants normally only look at 4-6 places, whether communities or individually rented properties, and in most cases, need something sooner than later. The turnaround for the transaction is quick and the compensation is good for minimal work.

So are you part of this very lucrative rental business?

For the past few years in South Florida, rental rates have been at their all-time highs. Rental developments have been popping up everywhere, and those that converted to condos back in the day are now going back to being rental communities. And these communities are offering everything from the carefree lifestyle of not having to do any maintenance, to state of the art fitness, business and recreational facilities.

For some folks, it was a no-brainer to rent for a while and enjoy life differently. But these amenities can come at a high price tag - some may even say renters pay more than homeowners do on their mortgages, especially when interest rates remain so low.

But a renter can have a different mindset, one in which an agent should embrace and run with all the way to the bank.

I have rented properties to all sorts of professional people who had the chance to buy but chose not to for reasons such as they like having their free time to do what they want, instead of yard work or the “honey do list” of weekend projects. Others like the neighborhood feel of a rental community that hosts various events to get the tenants involved, especially if they are new to an area and need time to get acclimated. Still others have such busy schedules that they are comfortable with the fact that the community’s maintenance folks can come and take care of any issue without them having to be there in person and wait for the scheduled 4 hour time slot provided by most vendors.

Rentals can be a great additional to an agent’s portfolio. But agents need to be aware, especially when working with individual landlords, to always work with a qualified background screening professional. They can ensure that the employment, credit, eviction and criminal backgrounds have been checked.

A team member of mine recently represented a landlord who met with the potential tenants and thought they seemed like the perfect folks to rent his home. The background check was provided by the tenants, and it wasn’t until the landlord Googled their name that he found the tenant’s mug shot online for embezzling $400K from their previous employer!

Just like any other transaction, those involved need to do their homework and protect their most valued asset – their property.

Always stay in touch with your renters and landlords. I do the same thing for them as I do for my buyers and sellers – they get the handwritten thank-yous, the birthday greetings, and I always set them up on market watches for areas that they were interested in seeing when choosing the rental, or for the areas in which the property is located, just in case that landlord wants to sell someday. In most cases, this follow up has led to other referrals, future buyers, and in two cases, listings of the rental to sell.

Remember: renters need places to live too, and landlords have properties to lease. Why shouldn’t you be the one helping them find each other?

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

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Become a Real Estate Rockstar

Every rock star needs a posse.

From the guy who handles autograph sessions to the guy who books the plane rides, each member of the crew plays a part.

And what’s the purpose?

To help the rock star remain focused on creating more of that sweet, sweet music.

The same goes for a successful real estate agent.

In order to perform at the best of your abilities, you need to surround yourself with a task-handling posse of online tools so that you can concentrate on what matters most. Luckily for you, RESAAS has gathered together all the top products and services that a Real Estate Rockstar could ask for in our brand new RESAAS Marketplace, each for an exclusive discount price.

(To access this magical place, simply login to RESAAS and click on the Marketplace tile on the right hand side.)

So, where shall we begin?

Step 1: Contactually
Like forgotten oatmeal, nothing is more frustrating than a hot lead gone cold.

A poor Customer Relationship Management system can often lead you down the path of wasted time, but with an ultra-modern tool like Contactually, you’ll quickly take a sharp left down the path of time well spent.

It’s a pretty smart little piece of software. It automatically recognizes your most important lead, what needs to happen next, and precisely when this needs to happen.

No more of that nagging brain thingy…what’s it called again?

Oh right, “thinking”.

This will quickly become your favourite posse member.

Step 2: DocuSign

So once you’ve identified your next lead, a member of your posse needs to take care of the transaction process.

This is where DocuSign rolls up its sleeves.

Paper be gone – this handy tool runs everything up in the cloud, which means you can access and manage all of your documents on any device no matter where you are. What’s more, safe and secure e-signatures allow you to get that John Hancock from your client without delay.

Innovative and paperless, you’ll look like a total boss with DocuSign.

Step 3: BombBomb
Last but not least, your road to Real Estate Rockstardom ends with a savvy follow-up strategy.

Just because you’ve successfully fulfilled a client’s every possible dream and desire, it doesn’t mean you wash your hands clean and forget all about them.

Au contraire, mon amis.

This is your time to shine!

BombBomb is a video-email service that allows you to rifle off personalized, stand-out messages that show how much you truly care. You can track how each email performs and see if anything can be improved upon for next time.

A referral from a previous client is one of the most valuable leads you can capture, right?

So recruit a posse-member that can churn them out like it’s nobody’s business.

…Well, like it’s your business at least.

Combined with Contactually and DocuSign, BombBomb will send you surfing atop the crowds a true Real Estate Rockstar deserves.

So head over to RESAAS Marketplace and assemble your posse.

Fame and glory awaits.

Friday, October 10, 2014

A Day in the Life of a REALTOR: Movers and Shakers

This is the fifteenth episode of A Day in the Life of a REALTOR® - a weekly article series published on RESAAS Blog and written by Kay Conageski

So sit back, relax, and enjoy. Kay has a story to tell...

*     *     *

I am always fascinated to find out from my buyers and sellers what is motivating them to make a move.  

Growing up in a small town in PA, my parents lived in the same home for over 60 years. And that home was right next door to the home that was in my family for over 100 years – it was where my mom grew up and my grandparents lived, and it shared the backyard with my aunts, uncles and cousins – so why would anyone move from such a paradise?  

I moved to go to college at Penn State. My family and friends would tease me because I had more addresses (15 to date) than most of them combined. So what motivated me to move all those times?   

Mainly new jobs that took me to three different states, finally landing (and staying!) in South Florida.
As we all know, the buyers or sellers’ motivation is what drives the deal. It helps establish price as well as the timeframe to get the deal closed. But the relationship that you make with your clients from the start can go deeper when it comes to what really makes them tick and gets them packing and moving on.

Over the years, I have had a plethora of clients who have moved for tons of reasons. There were the typical ones, like myself, who needed to make a move for a new job or promotion. Families were either expanding or decreasing, and that caused them to move to a bigger property or downsize. I’ve had the first time homebuyers who wanted their first home to be in the same familiar neighborhood they had enjoyed while renting. Some folks want to get out of the snow and winter weather to the warm sunshine and palm trees. There are the baby boomers who move because they want to retire and play golf, tennis and live in active adult communities. Then there were those who wanted to make the move and add a second or even a third home to their collection because they wanted to be in a trendy type of setting where everything is happening.

School districts are always a motivator for families when deciding where and when to make a move, and families buying around universities for their children to live in while attending classes is a trend found in most college towns. I’ve had clients who move closer to parks and recreations because they are avid bikers or boaters, while others have sold their homes and moved within walking distance to arenas where their favorite sports team play. And of course there are those, like my brother and sister in law, who when they were looking to retire, wanted to move to where the first grandbaby would be – lucky for them (as well as for me) it was Florida.

But I recently came across the funniest of all reasons for someone to move. While on a listing appointment I asked my seller my standard question “Why are you moving?” to which she answered, “Because of food. We are Food TV groupies and Sean Brock, who is our new favorite chef, owns two bistros in Charleston, SC, and we have to be close to his restaurants.”

Maybe it’s time I start farming the Food TV Network for my next clients.

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

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Introducing Referral Pro on RESAAS

The next level of RESAAS has arrived. 

Introducing Referral Pro - our first premium services package. 

We just finished applying the wax to some shiny new features, all of which are designed to help you spend more time with your clients, and less with your computer screen.

Instant Referral Alerts, Lead Gen Analytics, Priority Email Support and a swanky Profile Badge are all included within the Referral Pro premium services package.

Want to know more? Click on a topic below:

How to Subscribe to Referral Pro

Want to get started? I thought you might be interested...

It's easy to do.

Are you currently signed up with RESAAS? Then here's how to upgrade your account:

Or, if you're not yet signed up, then here's how to register with a Referral Pro account:

If you want to learn all about Referral Pro and what the benefits are, then click here to read more.

Instant Referral Alerts

Imagine if you were given an alert each time a referral was offered in your area. How great would that be?

...Wait a minute, we do that!

Here's how it works:

With this, you'll automatically receive an email notification every time an agents posts an open referral in your area, so that you can be the first to respond. We'll detect your area based on your office location or the location of the listings you have uploaded on RESAAS.

An agent will post an Open Referral on RESAAS when they're looking to help their client move to a new area. Want to learn more on how to post an Open Referral yourself? Learn more here.

Lead Gen Analytics

A Referral Pro account also gives you some pretty sweet behind-the-scenes access to RESAAS.

You can take a look at how many people viewed your profile, who exactly they were, and which of your listings they looked at. These leads are about as hot as they get.

Here's how it works:

This tool also lets you track page views over time, so you can make sure that your profile is at its peak performance. What more could you ask for?

Priority Email Support

While email support is provided to all of our members on RESAAS, Referral Pros will have their emails dealt with first and foremost.


Once you upgrade your account, then go to your Dashboard in the top-right corner of RESAAS. From here, you will see an option to contact us with any issues or concerns you may have.

Profile Badge

Last but not least, your RESAAS profile will be tagged with a slick Referral Pro badge.

Because what's the point of being an awesome real estate agent if you can't brag about it?

But seriously, while a profile badge might seem like a minor detail, it will do a great deal towards ensuring that you stand out from the crowd...which is the entire point of marketing.

After reading all of this, I'm sure you're dying to get started.

So I won't stand in you're way.

Hop to it!

Separate Yourself.

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