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 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 some stories 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?

*     *     *

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

To read the first episode, click here; second episode, click here; third episode, click here; fourth episode, click here; fifth episode, click here; sixth episode, click here; seventh episode, click here; eighth episode, click here; ninth episode, click here; tenth episode, click here, eleventh, click here; twelfth, click here; thirteenth, click here; fourteenth, click here; fifteenth episode, click here; sixteenth episode, click here.

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 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 some stories 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.

*     *     *

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

To read the first episode, click here; second episode, click here; third episode, click here; fourth episode, click here; fifth episode, click here; sixth episode, click here; seventh episode, click here; eighth episode, click here; ninth episode, click here; tenth episode, click here, eleventh, click here; twelfth, click here; thirteenth, click here; fourteenth, click here; fifteenth episode, click here.

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.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The Modern Real Estate Agent: The Big Picture

This week's Know It Now article is the first in a series, called The Modern Real Estate Agent.

It's aim is to change the way you think and to provide direction for those unsure of how to instigate such change.

The good news?

It's much easier than you think.

The author of this series is RealtyNinja, a participant of our brand new Marketplace, where RESAAS users can purchase some awesome products and services for their real estate business at an exclusive discount price. (You can get to this magical place by signing into your account, and clicking on the Marketplace tile on the right-hand side.)

But all shameless self-promotion aside, the crew at RealtyNinja are experts in modernity, providing everything you need to create beautiful, lead-generating websites with no technical experience required on your part for the last 4 years.

...So they know what they're talking about.

Take it away, Ninja!

The Modern Real Estate Agent: The Big Picture

For the purpose of this series, I would like to define what it actually means to be a "Modern Real Estate Agent."

It has nothing to do with the size of your smartphone screen, or how many iPads you can work into your business. It also has nothing to do with how many online services you can rack up on your credit card, or the number of social selfies you can post to as many different clouds as possible.

In my opinion, it has to do with mentality; a holistic mentality based on analytical thinking and iterative improvement. Or in other words, do something once, track the progress, and do it better next time.

Rinse and repeat.

You might be wondering where the word "modern" comes to play in this concept. For the sake of clarity, I'll use the following definition from the Oxford Dictionary (emphasis added):

"Characterized by or using the most up-to-date techniques, ideas, or equipment"

The simple fact of the matter is that the entire concept of being able to accurately track all of your marketing with little effort on your side is a completely new possibility. What was once thought to be the domain of specialized market research companies is now available to you with the click of a button. It is this fact, once internalized, that makes you a “Modern Real Estate Agent.” Once you apply these concepts to your business thinking as a whole, a world of possibilities is opened and clarity is given to the myriad of choices placed in front of you on a day-to-day basis.

It's easy to read about techniques and tools, but first you have to absorb the ideas before you can have any chance of using such resources to any real benefit. 

Having said all of that, it is incredibly important to provide value with everything you do (this will be a main theme in this series) and thus I will give you a sneak peek of what is to come by showing you how you can approach a traditional newspaper ad with this modern mentality.

How to modernize a simple newspaper ad

(Image via

Before I go into details, I would like to officially announce that offline marketing is far from dead. The numbers might not be what they once were, but it is still effective and really comes down to what types of media your target audience is consuming.

The difference between old-school and new-school offline marketing is trackability, and where it fits into the larger marketing plan. So without going into too much detail and spoiling future articles, here is how you could pull off an awesome newspaper ad campaign:

  • Target the ad at a specific niche (For example, Lower Lonsdale Condos)
  • Make sure the ad focuses on what people are actually buying, not your face or your logo
  • Make sure the ad is focused on getting people to go to a website or to phone you
  • Make sure the URL used is related to your target niche (, for example) and is not used in any other marketing efforts
  • The website being linked to should be focused on a specific niche. A common technique is to use a niche microsite which is a single-page website that shows all the active listings in a specific area and property type. Don't just drop them into a busy top-level REALTOR site or they may get lost.
  • The website should have Google Analytics installed so you can track visitors
  • Include a phone number on the ad and use a service such as CallRail to provide a unique number so you can easily track calls from the ad.

For most marketing campaigns, it is a good idea to stage it over a couple months as it takes some time to get a feel for effectiveness based on the numbers.

Let's say that you are going to do 4 newspaper ads, with one sent out every 2 weeks. 

Send out the first ad and track the stats, now when it comes time to submit the second ad, make some changes based on feedback or hunches - such as the copy used, photo, design, etc. - and send it out again. You can now very easily see the difference in results from the 2 campaigns to analytically see if the changes you made had a positive impact. Continue to do this for the next 2 ads, and do a debriefing at the end to see what sort of changes resulted in positive outcomes.

Record this information in some sort of "Marketing Manual" so that you can use this experience to improve all other future marketing efforts. Because of the nature of marketing, there is no way to guarantee the effectiveness of a technique but at least when you are applying the “Modern Mindset” and recording your results, you can benefit from even failed campaigns.

*      *      *

Stay tuned for Part Two!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

A Day in the Life of a REALTOR: Picture Perfect

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 some stories to tell...

*     *     *

They say a picture is worth a thousand words.  In real estate, those pictures are worth thousands of dollars.

The serenity of the ocean or the majestic mountains encasing every window of the home could mean the difference between a buyer just “wanting” to see the home and the buyer “picturing” themselves in the home.  Images bring about emotions and emotions sell homes.

According to market statistics, 92% of all buyers start their home search on the internet and of those surveyed, 95% admitted that they chose the homes to see because of the pictures that were part of the listing. That same statistic-group admitted that if the property didn’t have any photos, or only showed the outside of the building and not the unit for sale, they would normally skip the property and in most cases not even provide it to their agent to research further.

So what makes a picture stand out from all the other thousands of pictures that buyers see while on their house hunting journey?

Besides being a Realtor, I am an award winning “amateur” photographer, and ever since I got my first Polaroid camera when I was 7 I have been snapping shots of everything, including photos of my listings.   I try to look for the shots that will put the buyers IN the home – ones that show the balcony overlooking the water, with tag lines that say “imagine having your morning coffee with this view” or an amazing backyard with the pool that screams “Family barbeque anyone?” You want to use the photos to stir up memories of days gone by or of moments yet to come.

I once tried staging a listing around the holidays to center on the kitchen – shots of the huge island in the middle had baking pans and cookies sheets with the caption reading “Can you smell grandma’s chocolate chip cookies coming from the stainless steel oven?” Another time I had an actual shot of a turkey in the oven, and with the oven light on, the description read “Imagine Thanksgiving dinner in your new home?” Both showcased the amazing kitchens, but they also conjured up recollections of those past holiday gatherings and these reflections made the phone ring off the hook.

You never want to portray the home as something it isn’t, like taking a picture of a huge backyard when it doesn’t have one. Or showing a granite countertop when the kitchen in the home has Formica. The pictures have to be real and true to the property because you can’t misrepresent the home – but you can portray it in a way that hits the emotional homerun.

Try shooting night photos from outside looking in where the lights are turned on low. How about a shot of the pool with reflections in the water of the white puffy clouds overhead? Angles from staircases are always popular, especially if they are open to the rooms below. Bright blue skies can be best for the outside shots but what about at dusk when the sky has that beautiful pinkish glow? The ambiance that you portray is priceless.

And whatever you do, always remember to put the toilet lid down when photographing the bathrooms and never, ever shoot yourself in the bathroom mirror!

*     *     *

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

To read the first episode, click here; second episode, click here; third episode, click here; fourth episode, click here; fifth episode, click here; sixth episode, click here; seventh episode, click here; eighth episode, click here; ninth episode, click here; tenth episode, click here, eleventh, click here; twelfth, click here; thirteenth, click here; fourteenth, click here

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