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Friday, December 10, 2010

9 Body Language Do's and Don'ts to Help You Win in the Business World

9 Body Language Do's and Don'ts to Help You Win in the Business World
RISMEDIA, December 9, 2010—Today’s business world is more competitive than ever. As the economy shifts, competition for jobs, clients, sales—you name it—continues to be tight. If you’re sure you’ve been saying all the right things, but you still can’t get ahead, author Sharon Sayler suggests you consider what you’ve really been saying to potential employers or customers—not just verbally, but nonverbally.

“True communication goes beyond words, and great communicators use every tool they have to deliver their message,” says Sayler. “When you have control of your nonverbal language, you can communicate confidence with passion, persuasion, credibility and candor—factors that will help you soar above your competition in the business world.”

Sayler offers the following nonverbal do’s and don’ts that will help you win in the business world:

Don’t fill the air with um, ah, uh, and you know. It is natural to pause when you speak—it gives you a chance to breathe. What’s not natural is to fill the silent pause with um, ah, uh, you know, and other sounds. Verbal pauses are distracting and muddle what you are trying to say, because the audience sees you searching for the next words. Meaningless extra syllables or words make you look less intelligent. Your message will be more effective once you eliminate them. This may take practice.

Don’t use the fig-leaf pose. “When you place your hands in the fig-leaf pose, your body says, ‘I’m harmless,’ or, ‘I’m afraid,’” explains Sayler. “Not exactly the way to convey the level of confidence that a new employer might want to see in a new hire or that a client wants to see in the genius he needs to help improve his business.”

Do use hand gestures systematically. When we use only words to convey our message, we make it necessary for our audience to pay very close attention to what we say. Using gestures systematically, especially when giving directions or teaching, makes the audience less dependent on the verbal part of the presentation. The visual reminder created by gestures allows the listener two ways to remember: auditory and visual. It thereby increases the likelihood of accurate recall.

Don’t put your hands in your pockets. Thumbs hanging off the pockets and hands deep in both pockets say something similar to the fig leaf hand gesture, “Geez, I hope you like me.” Hands deep in the pockets jingling change say one of two things, depending on context: “Geez, I’m nervous and hope you like me,” or, “Geez, I’m so bored. Is this ever going to be over?”

Don’t hide your hands behind your back. Depending on the situation, grasping your hands behind your back can be interpreted as meaning, “Geez, I hope you like me,” or, “You better fear me.” Neither interpretation leaves a very good impression of you, so avoid this position altogether.

Don’t cross your arms. This stance is most frequently understood to indicate upset or discomfort. In business, others often interpret it as, “I am not open to discussion,” or, “I am annoyed.”

Do know when to put your hands on your hips. This is a ready-to-take-action gesture. It makes most people appear bigger, because they are actually taking up more space. Yet, it is often given negative labels by others, such as meaning you are annoyed, closed, or won’t listen—similar to placing your arms across your chest.

Do remember the eyes have it. Of all the nonverbal messages one can use, the eyes are the most expressive and really are the window to thoughts and emotions. Little or no eye contact is often thought to be associated with lying, but this is not always true. Experienced liars will look you right in the eye every time. It might also indicate lack of self-esteem or interest.

Do stop fidgeting. Unintentional gestures are emotional reactions or the result of the body’s desire for physical comfort and are often lovingly called fidgets. Even though fidgets can calm us, those pesky, jerky movements or anxious behaviors often make others uneasy.

How do you keep your confidence level on high? Please Share...

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Your RPAC Dollars At Work

Your RPAC Dollars At Work

Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act: Provisions Relevant to REALTORS

By Ken Trepeta Print Article
RISMEDIA, December 8, 2010—The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) has been working closely with the members and staffs of the House Financial Services Committee and the Senate Banking Committee to ensure that Wall Street Reform legislation did not adversely affect REALTORS®. Below is a summary of the most important actions NAR took on key issues and steps that NAR is currently taking to address outstanding items.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)
NAR secured an exemption for real estate professionals performing traditional real estate activities from the jurisdiction of the CFPB except to the extent they are governed by existing laws such as the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) that will now come under the bureau’s purview. The legislation also requires that the Good Faith Estimate and the Truth in Lending disclosure be unified. That process has already begun and NAR is working with industry partners and the administration to minimize the impact.


Risk Retention – Qualified Mortgage Exemption – At NAR’s request, Congress included a qualified mortgage exemption from potentially costly (for both lenders and consumers) risk retention requirements. Congress gave the regulator flexibility in determining what a qualified mortgage is, but it must be no less than the standards laid out in the predatory lending portion of the bill, which includes such concepts as underwriting based upon full documentation, ability to repay, and limitations on fees among other things.

Qualified Mortgage Safe Harbor – A safe harbor from the “ability to repay” requirement was created that limits the total points and fees collected by lenders and their affiliates to three points. This provision was included over NAR’s strenuous and repeated objection. NAR is working to get Congress to restore an exemption for affiliates duly constituted under RESPA.


Accredited Investor – Gives the SEC the authority to review the current standard and update it to reflect inflation and the characteristics of the modern economy. The bill excludes the investor’s primary residence from $1 million net worth standard. The SEC review may raise the threshold for defining a customer as an accredited investor, forcing companies that sell securities to them to register the products with the SEC.

Commercial End Users - Legislation appears to allow commercial end users—including owners, operators and developers of commercial real estate—to continue to engage in swaps used to manage commercial risk without being subjected to central clearing. However, regulators would now be authorized to impose initial and variation margins on these un-cleared trades.

Securitization – Requires banks that package loans into CMBS to keep 5% of the credit risk on their balance sheets. Directs regulators to exempt low-risk mortgages that meet certain minimum standards.

Appraisers are to be compensated at a rate that is reasonable and customary for appraisal services in the market area of the property being appraised. The Home Valuation Code of Conduct (HVCC) will sunset when CFPB issues interim final regulations implementing the appraisal provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act. A subprime mortgage requires a written appraisal of the property to be mortgaged.

An applicant must be notified that the appraisal is prepared for the sole use of the creditor. It is also unlawful to coerce, extort, collude, instruct, induce, bribe, or intimidate an appraiser in an attempt to influence the independent judgment of the appraiser. In addition, an appraiser may consider additional, appropriate property information to support an appraisal, provide further detail, or correct errors. Finally, the Appraisal Qualifications Board (AQB) Qualification Criteria for licensed and trainee appraisers becomes mandatory for the states (currently voluntary).

The Dodd-Frank Act is complex and mandates numerous new regulations over the next 18-36 months. NAR will be working diligently to minimize the impact of these regulations even as we work on the legislative front to address other issues.

Ken Trepeta is the director of Real Estate Services for the National Association of REALTORS.

What are your thoughts?

3 Frequently Overlooked Ways to Boost Revenue

3 Frequently Overlooked Ways to Boost RevenueBy Loren McDonald Print Article
RISMEDIA, December 8, 2010—(eM+C)—During the busy holiday season, real estate professionals are looking for new ways to stand out in crowded inboxes. With prospective buyers envisioning themselves in a new home in 2011, now is an ideal time to engage prospective clients and start building loyalty. By focusing on a few, but often overlooked key areas, real estate professionals can yield incremental revenue opportunities and gain an edge on the competition. Here are five ways to give your e-mail program a boost:

1. Make it easy for consumers to opt in and provide information. Take advantage of the seasonal increase in online traffic by ensuring every page on your website has a benefit-driven e-mail opt-in form. Collecting the e-mail addresses of interested buyers, even if they don’t make a purchase right away, will grow your database and allow you to continue to market to these consumers throughout the year.

Take this one step further by creating a preference center that allows consumers to help you make the e-mail relationship as relevant as possible. Remember to ask for important information during the opt-in process, such as subscribers’ preferences related to format and frequency. Invite subscribers back to your preference center throughout the relationship to update their choices or address a more detailed, but still relevant, list of questions.

2. Use a welcome program to engage new subscribers. It’s always important to welcome new subscribers with open arms, so don’t let the holiday hustle and bustle cause you to overlook this important step. Effective welcome programs can drive subscribers back to your website and motivate them to keep you in mind when they are ready to purchase a home.

Begin by sending new subscribers an initial message, distributed immediately after they opt in. Use this message to confirm subscription details and restate your e-mail program’s value proposition. Ask to be added to their address book, invite them back to fill out a profile and/or request additional contact information. Follow up your welcome message with a timed series of e-mails that show subscribers even more of what you’re about.

3. Provide an experience that encourages social sharing. ‘Tis the season for social sharing. When a loyal fan shares your messages to their social networks, you extend your reach by 24.3% on average, according to a recent Silverpop study. Make this possible by first researching which networks your subscribers are most likely to share on. Facebook and Twitter are the obvious choices, but depending on your niche, other social networks may also yield impressive social-sharing rates.

What is your database management and social media strategy?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

For Your Clients: 4 Tips to Keeping Homeowners' Insurance Costs Down

For Your Clients: 4 Tips to Keeping Homeowners' Insurance Costs DownBy Stephanie Andre

RISMEDIA, December 2, 2010—Saving money has never been so trendy. Long gone are the days of irresponsible spending, so why be irresponsible with your homeowners insurance? Taking a little bit of time to research your options might just help you save a little in the wallet and put more in the bank.

Here are four tips from

1. Shop around. Some insurance companies have been raising house insurance costs to recoup losses from the financial crisis. Others are competing for new customers by offering lower rates. By shopping around, people can find better deals on homeowners insurance.

2. Re-evaluate coverage amounts. Many policies have inflation protection provisions, which automatically increase coverage amounts. This was a good item in the years leading up to the crash, but today they should be looked at more closely.

3. Check personal credit reports. Homeowners insurance companies check credit history before figuring rates, similar to how lenders do. This is done to help them assess the risk of payment and likely individual responsibility. Check your credit report and make sure it’s accurate so you can get the best possible rate.

4. Small claims can become expensive. Homeowners should have the highest deductible they can comfortably afford and repair minor items out of pocket rather than filing a claim. Filing a claim for every broken window or leaky pipe can increase premiums by 10-15%.

Have any tips you would like to share?

3 Simple Ways to Stay Connected during the Holiday Season

3 Simple Ways to Stay Connected during the Holiday Season By Paige Tepping

RISMEDIA, December 6, 2010—With the holiday season in full swing, real estate professionals have one more thing to add to their list—staying up-to-date with their clients even while out of the office and on the road. While the industry does slow down during the holiday season, real estate professionals must take the time to stay in front of their clients—past and present—so that when the spring selling season arrives, they are still top of mind.

Blogger Jen Robinson and Aptela, a leading provider of business-class phone service, offer the following tips for real estate professionals to stay on top of their social networking initiatives while still finding time to enjoy the holiday season.

1. Create a schedule. With the arrival of the holiday season comes the extra demand on everyone’s time as we all prepare to spend time with family and friends. While it is easy to get caught up in all the happenings of the season, it is crucial that real estate professionals schedule time to keep up with their social networking presence. Create a manageable schedule ahead of time so that you can devote a few spare minutes to networking with your friends, fans and followers.

2. Ask for help. Keeping up with the multiple social networks you belong to can be a time consuming job, one that is especially difficult during the holiday season when you may be traveling for extended periods of time to see friends and family. If you won’t be able to keep up with your social networking, you may want to think about having someone blog, tweet or post status updates for you. Be sure to pick someone that you trust and don’t be afraid to lay a few ground rules.

3. Disconnect. Many individuals look at the holidays as a time to disconnect from the technology they depend on throughout the year, and are looking for a much needed break. If you plan on taking advantage of the down time, be sure to let your friends, fans and followers know ahead of time so they know to watch for your return after the holidays.

Do you have any suggestions? Please share...

4 Steps to Creating FAN-atical Clients

4 Steps to Creating FAN-atical Clients RISMEDIA, December 6, 2010—You wear their team colors and refuse to wear those of their greatest rival. You cheer for them win or lose but are always full of advice on how they could improve (just in case the coach ever gives you a call!). You'll do what it takes to watch them play whether that means braving icy weather or missing yet another Sunday lunch with the family. These are the makings of a true sports fan and the factors that connect you to tens of thousands of like-minded strangers.

Yes, sports fans are loyal and passionate—so much so that, for many, their team seems like a close friend or family member. Marketing expert Maribeth Kuzmeski says this intense emotional connection to what is essentially just another brand begs the question: What can today's business owners do to make their customers as passionate and loyal to their products as sports fans are to their favorite teams?

"I am a huge Green Bay Packers fan," says Kuzmeski, author of the new book ...And the Clients Went Wild! How Savvy Professionals Win All the Business They Want. "I learned about football, the Packers, and what it means to be a fan from my football-loving grandmother. We cheered for our team when they were terrible and basked in the glow of the wins when they were better. But we never considered moving to another."

While Kuzmeski now lives in a different football town where another big NFL franchise gets all the attention, she insists that the Packers are still "my team." And it's that level of loyalty that she strives to help her clients create in their customers.

In her new book, Kuzmeski explains that in order to truly get clients to "go wild" about your business, there must be an overriding and strong emotional connection—similar to the one you might feel for your favorite sports team.

If you want to learn how to create a die-hard-sports-fan level of loyalty among your customers, read on for Kuzmeski's four absolutes for inspiring that kind of passion:

Offer something unique. Whatever you're offering your customers can't just be better; it has to be different. In order to gain exposure, it helps to be or to offer something unique—or do something that no one else dares.

A great example of a company that understands the "different is better" mantra is Buc-ee's gas stations. They have focused their number-one offering on what people dread most about stopping at a gas station: the bathrooms! Each of the thirty locations has incredibly clean, substantially sized bathrooms, along with full-time attendants to keep them in tip-top shape. And happy customers regularly post testimonials on the company's blog. Buc-ee's built their entire business around the bathrooms—a feature they knew they could use to differentiate their business.

Create something valuable (and viral!). This strategy is two-fold. First, you must have something valuable to say—a message your customers will want to pass on to others. Then, you have to make it easy for them to pass that message on. When it is really easy for customers to pass along information about your brand, they will.

"You might kick off this strategy by creating a simple, repeatable message," suggests Kuzmeski. "People have an average attention span of only seventeen seconds, so you have to get their attention quickly. A short, clear message will certainly do the trick. Think about Google. For the most part, the company does not advertise, and certainly did not advertise its initial offering of its web search site.

Understand the difference between features and benefits. Too many businesses accentuate the features of their products or services rather than the benefits—which are what your clients really care about. Benefits are value statements about the features of a product or service, with an emphasis on what the customer gets. For example, "Open 24 Hours" is a feature. The benefit is that the business will be open whenever the customer needs it. Or say you've been in financial services for twenty years. That is a feature. The benefit for your clients is the experience, working knowledge, and years of training that result from your length of time in the business.

"Too many companies leave it up to their prospects to figure out the benefits of their products or services," notes Kuzmeski. "Remember, you may be steeped in information about your products and services, but they aren't. When you try to sell them on features alone, you're asking the customer to do all the work—and she probably won't. Bottom line: It's in your best interest to draw a crystal clear picture of a product's or service's benefits for a prospective buyer."

Don't just say it. Do it! Often, the things you can do to turn your customers into diehard fans are right under your nose. They're the things you do every day, or those things you do simply because you want to provide your customers with the service they deserve.

Kuzmeski tells a story about one of her financial advisor clients who didn't have to proclaim that he provided excellent service—he lived it. And going the extra mile ended up paying off in a big way.

"One day, this financial advisor got a call from a pastor explaining that an elderly woman at his church was completely lost," relates Kuzmeski. "Her husband had recently passed away, and she didn't know where any of the important papers regarding her estate were located. The advisor ended up going to her home to help her find her insurance policies and other important files. He ended up helping her uncover documents indicating $700,000 in assets! And he didn't charge her a penny.

"Based on what he did for her, he created a survivorship program and quickly started receiving referrals from all over his community," she adds. "Rather than ask to be trusted, he had shown he was trustworthy. Instead of asking her to trust him, he had shown his client she could trust him."

"Making screaming, loyal fans out of your customers won't be easy, but it is absolutely possible," says Kuzmeski. "You simply have to give them a product or service worth going wild about. Hit on all of the absolutes I've provided, and before you know it, you'll have clients who stick with you through thick and thin and cheer you on every chance they get."

What have you done to create fans out of your customers? Please share...

Monday, November 22, 2010

October 2010 Real Estate Market Update

October 2010 Real Estate Market Update

October 2010

It is a bit to early to announce a definitive trend but historically the combined October and September sales have been a reasonable indicator of the up coming year (in this case a post tax credit market). Although less than last year, unit sales still showed a reasonable pace (close to 2006 levels), with sales values holding steady since the spring, down about 40% from 05' peak values. It is still a Buyers Market at over 5 months supply, however the number of homes available for sale continues to shrink, helping move us towards stability.

Nationally, both NAR and the Mortgage Bankers project an increase in the number of homes sold in 2011 over 2010 based on continued low interest rates, affordable home prices as well as an improving economy. They also say values will continue to settle downward and bottom out next year. With that said, remember that real estate is local, not national. The various markets across the country will recover at different rates. In general, the Midwest, including Michigan, seems to be faring better than the South and West, however we are more cautious about growth in the number of sales next year, considering we had a 10% boost this year from the tax credits. Our data indicates most markets have shown a stable and even slightly rising value trend however, even in markets that continue to settle downward, it will not be significant enough for Buyers to delay purchasing, since any rise in interest rates will off set any savings from a potential price decline.

Also on the positive side, the latest Comerica economic activity report continues to move in the right direction since bottoming out in January of last year. Economic activity and hiring is slow, but it is still moving in the right direction.

One indicator that the market still has some work to do is our percentage of lease transactions, currently still running at about 20%. A good recovery indicator will be when the percentage of leases falls to under 10% which will go hand in hand with available home inventories falling to a three month or less supply.

With generally better news about the direction of the market in the past nine months, should Sellers be expecting the same in terms of rising values and offers? We are not quite there yet, however there is a growing pent up demand from buyers. In many cases aggressively price homes in good, updated condition are getting multiple offers and selling quickly. These homes represent less than 30% of the market and for the most part are priced below their competition. The rest are typically priced or "conditioned" out of the current Buyer demand.

On a bragging point, Hitwise once again ranked our web site as the most viewed broker site in the state and our new First to Know voice and text programs generated 1,150 client registrations in the past two months.

We are using a new format for the Market Summary this month. With the tax credits influence, comparing to last year can be misleading. A better current trend comparison is to the most recent months using a seasonal index so we can compare “apples to apples” months. These charts follow the current market trend over the past 90 days ( up, down or neutral).

Data Source: MIRealSource, Realcomp, Ann Arbor MLS, TAAR
Months Supply Inventory represents the rate (months) to sell the current listing inventory
*Includes Eastpointe and Harper Woods ** Includes Grand Traverse, Kalkaska, Antrim, Leelanau and Benzie Counties,

October 2010 Real Estate Market Update

October 2010 Real Estate Market Update

October 2010

Dear Team,

It is a bit to early to announce a definitive trend but historically the combined October and September sales have been a reasonable indicator of the up coming year (in this case a post tax credit market). Although less than last year, unit sales still showed a reasonable pace (close to 2006 levels), with sales values holding steady since the spring, down about 40% from 05' peak values. It is still a Buyers Market at over 5 months supply, however the number of homes available for sale continues to shrink, helping move us towards stability.

Nationally, both NAR and the Mortgage Bankers project an increase in the number of homes sold in 2011 over 2010 based on continued low interest rates, affordable home prices as well as an improving economy. They also say values will continue to settle downward and bottom out next year. With that said, remember that real estate is local, not national. The various markets across the country will recover at different rates. In general, the Midwest, including Michigan, seems to be faring better than the South and West, however Stu and I are more cautious about growth in the number of sales next year, considering we had a 10% boost this year from the tax credits. Our data indicates most markets have shown a stable and even slightly rising value trend however, even in markets that continue to settle downward, it will not be significant enough for Buyers to delay purchasing, since any rise in interest rates will off set any savings from a potential price decline.

Also on the positive side, the latest Comerica economic activity report continues to move in the right direction since bottoming out in January of last year. Economic activity and hiring is slow, but it is still moving in the right direction.

One indicator that the market still has some work to do is our percentage of lease transactions, currently still running at about 20%. A good recovery indicator will be when the percentage of leases falls to under 10% which will go hand in hand with available home inventories falling to a three month or less supply.

With generally better news about the direction of the market in the past nine months, should Sellers be expecting the same in terms of rising values and offers? We are not quite there yet, however there is a growing pent up demand from buyers. In many cases aggressively price homes in good, updated condition are getting multiple offers and selling quickly. These homes represent less than 30% of the market and for the most part are priced below their competition. The rest are typically priced or "conditioned" out of the current Buyer demand.

On a bragging point, Hitwise once again ranked our web site as the most viewed broker site in the state and our new First to Know voice and text programs generated 1,150 client registrations in the past two months.

As always, thank you for your hard work and support.


We are using a new format for the Market Summary this month. With the tax credits influence, comparing to last year can be misleading. A better current trend comparison is to the most recent months using a seasonal index so we can compare “apples to apples” months. These charts follow the current market trend over the past 90 days ( up, down or neutral).

Data Source: MIRealSource, Realcomp, Ann Arbor MLS, TAAR
Months Supply Inventory represents the rate (months) to sell the current listing inventory
*Includes Eastpointe and Harper Woods ** Includes Grand Traverse, Kalkaska, Antrim, Leelanau and Benzie Counties,

Friday, November 12, 2010

Social media a tool for real estate pros

Social media a tool for real estate pros
Nick Nolf, head of Nolf Group, who uses social media as a business tool, is flanked by listing agent Tiffany Sims, left, and buyer’s agent, Anne Caparaotta.

By Amanda Finnegan (contact), In Business reporter

Fri, Nov 12, 2010 (3 a.m.)

Sun Archives
Gaming companies turn to technology to better cater to customers (5-26-10)
Vegas tourism companies embrace social media strategies (11-11-09)
Sun Coverage
More stories about business and the economy
Real estate professional and Nolf Group head Nick Nolf encourages his agents to spend one hour a day on social networking sites such as Facebook, a behavior most company leaders would frown upon.

They’re asked to post photos from the weekend’s events, update their statuses and put a face to the small Las Vegas real estate company. It’s not just a hobby, Nolf said, but a viable business opportunity to retain current clients, gain new ones and save face with old ones.

“We’re doing it so that five, 10 years down the road, our clients are still fans, and when they know someone looking for real estate in Las Vegas, they’ll send them our way,” Nolf said.

Social media is the latest tool in real estate agents’ tool belt, one that was virtually unheard of until only a few years ago. In order to stand out in troubled and oversaturated markets, real estate agents and brokers in growing numbers are fixing up their Facebook pages, tweeting marketing news tidbits, launching blogs and posting property tours on YouTube.

An estimated 84 percent of agents and brokers are using social media for business purposes, according to the National Association of Realtors’ annual technology survey released in October. That number compares with 67 percent of agents and brokers who said they were not using social media in 2008.

Real estate professionals are seeing the need to make social media an integral part of their strategies as more homebuyers and sellers are turning to the Internet as the first stop in their process. The National Association of Realtors estimates 90 percent of homebuyers start their search online before contacting an agent, a dramatic increase from 2 percent in 1995.

Nolf started his venture into social media about five years ago with the original social network, MySpace. His company eventually moved away from MySpace and onto Facebook and has gained more than 350 fans. The Nolf Group page includes links to staff members’ personal pages, photos of company events and integrates the company’s blog, where weekly posts range from community events to the latest market statistics.

In the social media discovery process, real estate companies have realized that there is a fine line between spamming fans and followers with information and informing potential buyers. Social media is, after all, about being social.

“Our page kind of has a more personal, warm fuzzy feeling. When you’re constantly saying, ‘Here are our listings,’ people want to turn it off. We tried it and it wasn’t beneficial for us,” Nolf said.

Nolf knows buyers and sellers aren’t coming to Facebook and Twitter to find property listings, but rather visiting company and personal pages to learn more about their agents. It’s also another place to send referrals, which Nolf said is a big chunk of their business.

“It’s the equivalent of going to a very large cocktail party in the middle of the day. It’s an opportunity to visit with people and build rapport, and through that, build relationships. I think it’s absolutely essential in our industry right now,” said Rick Shelton, president of the Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors.

Social networks have become so ingrained in the Las Vegas real estate culture that the GLVAR hosts classes and seminars on social media etiquette half a dozen times a month. Social media novices can find a field guide to social networking for Realtors on the National Association of Realtors.

Much like Las Vegas, real estate agents in Miami’s equally distressed market are using social media to stand out from the crowd.

South Florida-based agent Kevin Tomlinson, a vice president at one of the largest real estate companies in Miami, ONE Sotheby’s International Realty, said he feels one social media platform performs better than the rest.

“The best use of social media is blogging by far. It’s perhaps the oldest, but the most effective. Real estate agents that are most successful at social media are blogging and then using Twitter and Facebook to disseminate it. You can’t produce really great content in 140 characters,” Tomlinson said.

Tomlinson, whose South Beach Condo Blog receives more than 1,000 views per day during Miami’s peak season, said he prefers blogging because of its longer shelf life through Google. His blog comes up as one of the top searches in Google when searching “South Beach real estate.”

In Las Vegas, real estate professionals are all approaching social media differently and learning as they go.

Ken Lowman, who owns Luxury homes of Las Vegas, posts listings through his Facebook page, where his company’s presence is smaller than Nolf’s with 129 fans. His presence through YouTube is much larger, where Lowman does property tours for almost all of his listings. Lowman’s massive, multimillion dollar luxury listings lend themselves to that type of media, where another agent’s smaller condos might not.

The Prudential Americana Group, the largest real estate brokerage company in Las Vegas, has a blog integrated into its website that agents post to almost daily. CEO and owner Mark Stark began posting his weekly conference call on the company’s YouTube channel, which has more than 3,000 views.

“Social media gets your hands out there. I’ll get comments back on a blog I’ve written from people I’ve never met before, so that opens me up to different areas. But again, that doesn’t mean that person is listing their house that day,” Stark said.

Stark echoed other real estate professionals’ sentiments about overselling through social media, saying “if you’re selling all the time on these different sites, you’re going to get slammed pretty hard.”

Shelton said he hopes agents aren’t using social media in that way. That’s part of the behavior the GLVAR is trying to combat in its etiquette courses.

“It’s not about doing business online,” Shelton said. “It’s about building relationships online.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

4 Ways to Get More High-Paying Clients with Your Blog

4 Ways to Get More High-Paying Clients with Your BlogBy Traci Feit Love and Rudy Nelson

RISMEDIA, November 4, 2010—Do you have any idea how many--if any!--new high-paying clients you get for every hour you spend blogging? What’s that? You have no idea? We need to talk. Building a client-based business isn’t easy. But if you’re spending hours every week on an activity that’s not generating qualified leads, you’re making it harder than it has to be. You’re keeping yourself from making money by wasting the most valuable resource you have: your time.

Wouldn’t you rather spend your time as efficiently as possible, so you can have that “life” you thought you were going to have when you went into business for yourself?

Of course you would. Here’s how.

Strategy #1: Solve one problem per post
High-paying clients tend to be busy. They’re willing to pay more to get things done because (1) they don’t have time to do everything themselves; and/or (2) their time is worth a lot to them.

Which means that they aren’t just browsing around the Internet, looking for interesting blog posts to peruse. If they’ve made it to your blog, they’re probably looking for something specific.

Give them what they’re looking for, and make it easy for them to find.

If you solve one — and only one — problem per post, your readers will be able to do a quick search, find the relevant post, and find the answer they needed in the first place. You want to be the person they turn to when they need something, so when they need something bigger than a blog post, your name is the first to come to mind.

When your prospects think of you, you want words like these to pop into their minds:

• Quick
• Smart
• Helpful
• Knowledgeable
• To the point

Most of all, you want your prospects to see how highly you value their time. Treat their time like the precious resource they believe it to be, and you’ll become a precious resource to them.

Strategy #2: Speak your clients’ language
Your ideal clients don’t know as much as you do about your area of expertise. That’s why they need you.

If you’re talking about their needs in technical terms, instead of in the terms your clients actually use, you’re missing an opportunity to connect with the people who need you.

Say your ideal clients are local businesses who want to use the Internet to expand their client base. How do they describe their needs?

• “I need to learn how to install WordPress.”
• “I need to get a web designer, an SEO expert, and a social media consultant.”
• “I need to figure out this whole Internet thing.”

It could be any of these, of course. The trick is to figure out how your ideal clients actually speak, so you can relate to them on their terms.

Strategy #3: Tell your readers what to do next (and make it easy)
Your ideal client shows up at your blog. She reads your post, loves your work, just generally thinks you’re awesome.

Now what?

Are you telling your reader what to do next, or are you just letting her wander around your blog, looking at all the things she might do:

1. Go to your “Contact” page, fill out the form, and wait for you to call her back.
2. Sign up for your e-mail list.
3. Go to your “Services” page, find the relevant service, and pay for it using a Paypal button you conveniently placed at the bottom.
4. Call the phone number on your “Contact” page.
5. Set up a free consultation.
6. Download a free resource.
7. Check out your “links you love” page.
8. Read other posts on your blog.
9. Leave a comment on your blog.
10. Subscribe to your RSS feed.
11. Sign up for your free webinar.
12. Etc.

How much time do you think your prospect will spend trying to figure this out?

Probably about as much time as you spent reading that list (not much).

Instead of letting them stumble around, become your prospects’ guide. At the end of every post, tell your reader exactly what to do next. Make it a simple, low-risk task that requires next to no thought. For example:

Click here and enter your e-mail to learn more about how [your great service] can help you with [their pressing problem].

Then follow up with some useful information about your services and an invitation to talk by phone for a few minutes. Keep it simple.

Strategy #4: Stop writing about yourself (or stop blogging)
Your business blog shouldn’t be about you. It should be about your clients.

That doesn’t mean you can never write about yourself — only that you should write about yourself in a way that’s relevant to your prospects.

Telling a personal story that helps potential clients understand your commitment to quality? Good.

Telling a personal story that helps potential clients understand how big a crush you have on the hot new boy at Starbucks but your roommate thinks he’s really not that cute but your mom wants to know whether or not he’s Armenian or just looks Armenian but how can you ask that without sounding like a total weirdo and by the way you’re thinking of switching to decaf?

Not so good.

Sharing some details of your personal life can help potential clients know, like and trust you. And that can be useful.

But oversharing is not interesting to your clients. (It’s not interesting to your friends either, but that’s a post for another blog.)

The thing that interests your prospective clients is how you can help them, and what you would be like to work with. Give them what they want.

If you can’t give potential clients what they want, stop blogging.

Yes, this is a radical solution to propose on a website called Copyblogger. But the truth is, if you’re spending several hours every week on a blog that doesn’t interest your potential clients, you’re not marketing. You’re either wasting your time, or writing what should be a personal blog.

And one more thing …

If you’re spending a lot of time wracking your brain trying to figure out what to write about, you should probably be blogging less and talking with your prospects more.

Seriously. Just talk to them.

Offer a free consultation, spend some time helping them with their current issue, and then ask a few questions. See what comes up.

Talking (and listening) to people in your target market is the best way to generate ideas for your blog, because it’s the best way to find out your prospects’ problems, concerns, and the language they use to talk about those things.

Wondering how your blog stacks up?

If you’d like your blog to generate more leads for your business (or higher quality leads), leave a comment below with your URL and whatever questions you’d like us to answer.

Traci Feit Love and Rudy Nelson are the co-authors of “The Top 7 Reasons High-Paying Clients Aren’t Choosing You (and What to Do About It),” a 50-page downloadable book you can currently get for free at The 180 Journey.

The Future of Your Business is in the Palm of Your Hand

The Future of Your Business is in the Palm of Your Hand By Ford Saeks

RISMEDIA, November 4, 2010--If someone had told Alexander Graham Bell that one day his invention would evolve into a device that could turn your lights on and off, he would have taken your temperature with a mercury thermometer, which incidentally, in 1876, hadn't changed much in over 100 years.

Remember when cell phones first emerged? Chances are, you were just as cynical as Mr. Bell. You probably made that first call with a furrowed brow, skeptical to the possibility it promised. You were certain that your call wouldn't connect, or at the very least your voice would be overridden by static. Like the rest of us, your bulky cordless phone had conditioned you to only walk within a certain "range" to avoid disconnect. Then you made that first call… from an oversized bag-type cell phone and shazam… how cool was it to have the umbilical cord of your landline cut and the freedom to connect anywhere in cell phone range?

What started as a must-have device that didn't tie you down has now morphed into a texting, tweeting, multi-tasking productivity and entertainment gadget that offers a wide range of possibilities for you and your business.

The lightning-speed advancement of the Smartphone has left many companies scrambling to keep up with the technology and new opportunities. According to ComScore, there are 45 million Smartphones now active in the U.S. alone.

Like social media, they are the new wave of communication and the only place they are going is into the hands of more and more consumers.

So, how can you capitalize on the growing popularity of this new technology?

Here are four things you can start doing today related to Smartphone technology to increase brand awareness, build relationships and grow your business:

1. Text Message Advertising
2. Create a Smartphone App
3. Make your website Smartphone compatible
4. Engage mobile customers through social networks

Text Message Advertising
More people now use their mobile phones for texting, rather than making a phone call. Plus, most users have it attached to their hip; figuratively speaking. Imagine the impact of advertising to your target market via SMS (Short Message Service) text message; you have the opportunity to get their attention… anytime, anywhere. Smart marketers get creative with these campaigns and often include a chance for the recipient to win something by responding to the text. Other ideas include mobile coupons, event invitations, mobile alerts, and special promotions.

SMS text marketing works for virtually any industry, is relatively inexpensive, and allows businesses to create highly targeted campaigns. The first step in launching a text-messaging campaign is to find a company that provides subscriber lists and can distribute your ads. Search your favorite search engine for "mobile marketing", "SMS Text Marketing" or "SMS Advertising" and you'll get plenty of options.

Create a Smartphone App
Like most things, Smartphone apps have been created to solve a problem, increase productivity, offer an intrinsic benefit, or for pure entertainment. Apple's IPhone store alone has more than 150,000 apps available for download and users have downloaded more than 3 billion apps. The HTC and Motorolla Droid, a.k.a, Android phones, also have millions of users and offer thousands of apps.

You don't need to be a member of the geek squad to capitalize on this trend; all you need is an idea for an app; there are plenty of companies who can help you develop an app for your idea for you to sell or offer for free. A word of caution; do your due diligence and check the developers' references to ensure your intellectual property and ideas are protected.

If your app can solve a problem (i.e. the Jott app records voice messages and converts them to text messages) then you're on the right track. If you own a Smartphone, think about your favorite apps and how you heard about them. Most likely you heard about them from a friend. Viral word-of-mouth marketing is why popular apps can grow in use so fast with virtually little marketing expense.

Make Your Website Smartphone Compatible
The Internet is going mobile. Have you visited your website using a Smartphone? What type of user experience did you get? If you want to gain a competitive advantage over your competition, your brand needs to be as mobile as your customer. Your customers and prospects don't have the patience to view websites on their phone that aren't user-friendly.

Start by viewing your current website on a Smartphone or Ipad. If you haven't designed a mobile specific website, it probably won't look the same.

Text is smaller, graphics may not show up and you have to scroll up, down, left, right, etc to view content. You'll get much more targeted traffic and improved conversions if you create a mobile-enabled version of your site's main content to meet the demands of today's multifaceted Internet mobile user. Creating the mobile version of your website's content from a layman's point-of-view requires reformatting the navigation, text and graphics to fit the smaller screen size of smartphones. The files are then published on your web server and special code is added to your regular website to identify the type of device accessing your website. When a user visits your website, the appropriate version of your website is displayed.

It's a good idea to provide links from your mobile version to your full site as some users will elect to visit your full-size website.

Engage mobile customers through social networks. If you're not friending and following, tweeting and YouTubing, you're missing out on a lucrative opportunity to connect and engage with your target market. Social networking has leveled the playing field; it's no longer just the companies with an over-inflated ad budget who can make waves. If you learn to add value and create a presence on websites like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, you can expand your reach, increase awareness of your brand, and create a loyal following of customers who will help promote you!

Research shows that more people access social media via Smartphones than with their desktop computers. People who access the Internet with their Smartphones are more likely to socialize online than their desktop counterparts, according to a Ruder Finn study. The study found 91% of mobile Web users socialize online, while just 79% of desktop users can say the same. The average American spends 2.7 hours a day on the mobile Web, the study found, with 45% of those users commenting on social networking sites and 43% contacting friends through the sites.

Imagine the impact you can have when your customers can view your YouTube videos anytime they want using their Smartphones. Just think of the effect a viral video could have on your business success. This can only happen if you create and upload the videos to content sharing websites like YouTube or
Vimeo. There are hundreds of video sharing websites, but start with
YouTube since it's the 2nd largest search-engine.

Keep your videos short, authentic and to the point. If you have a larger message, you may want to break it down to shorter segments as user's attention spans have shortened.

Don't Wait… Make Your Brand Mobile
Not only is mobile marketing a great way to gain and connect with new customers, it also enables you to add value for your current customers. By making your brand mobile, you will increase awareness about your company, products and services.

The future of your business is in the palm of your hands, and in the handheld devices of your customers and prospects around the world. If you aren't on board already, make sure you jump on or you and your business will surely get left behind.

Ford Saeks is a business growth expert who specializes in helping businesses find, attract and keep their customers through innovative integrated marketing and social media campaigns. He is a renowned keynote speaker, author, successful entrepreneur, and CEO of Prime Concepts Group Inc. Learn more about Ford Saeks and his profit-producing resources at and


Current REBAC News

Tips and advice for helping buyers reach the closing table

Today’s mortgage environment is unlike any we’ve seen before. Having weathered the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, lenders and mortgage insurers have understandably rewritten the rules of what it takes for consumers to acquire a mortgage.

In fact, when REBAC surveyed members last spring, ABR®s said that difficulties obtaining financing was the top issue preventing buyers from completing a purchase. People associated with the lending industry agree that the lending process has never been more complex and that the rules are changing much more rapidly than before.

Since the crisis began, there have been extensive modifications to existing mortgage programs, plus the creation of several new ones, prompting enormous challenges for lenders to train staff and keep them up-to-date on revisions. With the rules constantly changing, it’s no wonder that it takes longer to process mortgage applications.

While the current environment is admittedly challenging, it’s still quite possible for qualified buyers to secure attractive financing. Granted, it takes more work than before. But buyer’s representatives can provide a valuable service to their clients, and themselves, if they learn how to navigate the current lending environment and share their knowledge with their buyers.

What steps can you take? Read on for expert advice from several ABR®s and mortgage lenders.

One of the biggest mistakes consumers now make is sitting on the sidelines and waiting to buy a home because they are under the impression that it’s impossible to get a mortgage, or that the minimum down payment is 20 percent. But FHA loans, with just 3.5 percent down, now dominate the market. Even in today’s tougher lending environment, FHA remains flexible and buyer-friendly.

Another common misconception concerns the home buyer tax credit. “There was a massive race to get under contract before the home buyer tax credit expired,” observes Katy Kitchin, Retail Sales Supervisor with Edina Realty Mortgage in Lakeville, Minnesota. “But what buyers don’t realize is that today’s rates are much better than last spring. It may help to explain that even if they missed out on the tax credit, today’s lower rates provide lower monthly payments and reduced interest expense over the life of the loan.” Depending on the amount borrowed and terms of the loan, these savings could easily exceed the former tax credit.

Don’t waste time showing homes to consumers who can’t buy them. As John Anderson, ABR®, CRB, CRS, GRI of Twin Oaks Realty in Crystal, Minnesota, points out, “Nothing is more frustrating than spending time with a buyer who doesn’t qualify, or spending time trying to hold a deal together. Both scenarios can be avoided by taking a few key steps up front.”

Anderson admits that even the best transactions are going to take more time and work now than before. But in a market where there are fewer transactions, it’s far preferable to concentrate on buyers who will be able to close.

How? Before you begin showing properties to a buyer, set up a time to discuss the current mortgage situation. Ask questions about their financial picture, including how much money they can apply to a down payment and their credit history. Find out if they might qualify for any special loan programs offered at the federal or local level. Educate them on current mortgage options and the steps needed, starting now, to get their financing lined up.

This initial conversation may reveal warning signs. Even if it doesn’t, it’s a good idea to suggest that buyers consult with a qualified mortgage specialist and secure a preapproval. “Good agents don’t work with buyers unless they take care of this first,” says Kris Drake, Branch Sales Manager for Plaza Mortgage Services in Leawood, Kansas.

Even though buyer’s reps are at greater risk of wasting their time with unqualified buyers, Drake has actually observed more reluctance among agents to insist on preapprovals. “Buyer’s reps don’t want to appear overbearing or turn away hard-to-find buyers,” says Drake. “When the market was more active, they seemed tougher on this point.” From a lender’s perspective, however, it’s much more important to weed out unqualified buyers up front, simply because it can prevent so many problems down the road.

John Jeffries, a Home Mortgage Consultant with Plaza Mortgage Services in Kansas City, Missouri, agrees. “Encourage buyers to fill out an application right away,” says Jeffries. “It’s the best way to look beyond their credit score and see if any other hurdles exist.”

And what if a buyer doesn’t qualify now? You—or your lender—can offer or recommend credit counseling services instead, so these buyers understand how to get back on track. In this way, you are still providing a valuable service to them.

“Never turn a buyer away completely,” says Anderson. “You’re going to feel a lot better about helping them work on their credit if you haven’t already amassed a lot of time and frustration heading down a dead-end path. And when they are ready to buy, it’s very likely they’ll come back to you.”

Continue reading this article in the Today's Buyers Rep Newsletter.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Majority of Americans: Buying a Home Is a Good Decision
RISMEDIA, October 27, 2010--Despite the continuing challenges facing the U.S., nearly eight out of 10 respondents believe buying a home is a good financial decision, according to NAR's eighth annual Housing Opportunity Pulse Survey.

The survey, which measures how affordable housing issues affect consumers, also found job security concerns to be the highest in eight years of sampling, with 70 percent of Americans saying that job layoffs and unemployment are a big problem in their area; eight in 10 cite these issues as a barrier to homeownership. The telephone survey of 1,209 urban and suburban adults in the top 25 metropolitan statistical areas was conducted for NAR by American Strategies and Myers Research & Strategic Services for NAR's Housing Opportunity Program.

Some key results:

* Americans continue to believe that buying a home is a good financial decision (77 percent believe strongly or not so strongly, 68 percent strongly so).
* More than two-thirds of respondents (68 percent) say that now is a good time to buy a home.
* Job insecurity and the lack of jobs continue to be the primary obstacle to home ownership and market recovery.
* Respondents see the recession and job losses as the main reasons for the foreclosure problem, a shift from last year when they were more likely to blame homeowners who bought homes they could not afford.
* A majority of renters say that owning a home at some point in the future is either one of their highest priorities (39 percent) or a moderate priority (24 percent). Just 21 percent of renters say that owning a home is not a priority at all.
* Frustration with banks is up: now a majority worry that banks have made it too hard to qualify for a home mortgage loan.
* 51 percent of respondents say foreclosures remain a big or moderate problem in their area. While there has been a significant drop in the percentage of those surveyed who say foreclosures have increased, 51 percent say that the rate of foreclosures is about the same as it was last year.
* Most of those surveyed say that it is harder to sell a home in their neighborhood than it was a year ago.
* Looking forward, 70 percent expect real estate sales in their neighborhood to remain about the same over the next few months. A nearly identical number (69 percent), also expect home values to remain the same.
* Nearly one-quarter (23 percent) are now very concerned about the number of homes and condos for sale in their area—a number that is up 7 points from last year.
* Most respondents are more concerned about the drop in home values than they are about home costs being too high. Still, cost remains the significant barrier to many who would otherwise like to buy a home.

S&P/Case-Shiller: Home Prices Slowed in August
RISMEDIA, October 27, 2010--Data through August 2010, released by Standard & Poor's for its S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, a leading measure of U.S. home prices, show a deceleration in the annual growth rates in 17 of the 20 MSAs and the 10- and 20-City Composites in August compared to what was reported for July 2010.

The 10-City Composite was up 2.6% and the 20-City Composite was up 1.7% from their levels in August 2009. Home prices decreased in 15 of the 20 MSAs and both Composites in August from their July levels.

The annual returns of the 10-City and 20-City Composite Home Price Indices show increases of 2.6% and 1.7%, respectively, in August 2010 compared to the same month in 2009. In August, 12 of the 20 MSAs posted negative annual growth rates.

This is two more than what was reported in July, as Detroit and Miami posted negative annual rates in August. While still negative, three of the 20 MSAs saw improvement in year-over-year growth rates in August as compared to July. They are Charlotte, Cleveland and Las Vegas with annual growth rates of -3.4%, -0.4% and -4.5%, respectively. Annual growth rates slowed down in the three California cities, with Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco posting annual gains of +5.4%, +6.9% and +7.8%, respectively – a significant drop from the +7.5%, +9.3% and +11.2% reported for July.

As of August 2010, average home prices across the United States are back to the levels where they were in late 2003 and early 2004. Measured from June/July 2006 through August 2010, the peak-to-current declines for the 10-City Composite and 20-City Composite are -28.4% and -28.1%, respectively. The improvements from their April 2009 trough are +7.8% and +6.7%, respectively.

With August data, we find that 15 of the 20 MSAs and both Composites saw prices fall from their July values. Chicago, Detroit, Las Vegas, New York and Washington DC were the only five cities that recorded marginal improvements in home prices over July. The 10- and 20-City Composites were down 0.1% and 0.2%, respectively, in August versus July.

Chicago, Detroit, New York and Washington DC have all posted at least four consecutive months of positive increases in home prices; but none of the MSAs had monthly increases of greater than 1% in August. San Diego, which had posted 15 consecutive months of positive monthly change, recorded a 0.6% drop in average home prices in August. The same is true of Atlanta, Boston, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, San Francisco, Seattle and the two Composites – they all broke their trend of several consecutive months of positive monthly gains with August's report.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Have You Ever...

Have you ever found yourself being blamed by a buyer for not getting them the house because their offer was too low? Oh boy! I know it's easier said than done, but try not to be too hard on your buyer, when people are devastated, it is human nature to look for someone to blame. Let's all agree that whether we recommended an offer price or not, they will blame us in most cases for not giving them the right number. They think we have the right number, they think that is what we do and shame on us for allowing them to continue to believe it.

So, you've spent countless hours, gas, and resources your still paying for; completely and thoroughly did your job to the best of your ability, and in the end: Your fired!

I would like to suggest to you a sure-fire way to put your customer in the best position to get the house, not blame you if they don't, and guarantee that they will work with you no matter how many they "lose".

Coach your buyers. Coach them to understand that properties are selling for more than asking price, show them the comps to prove it. Inform them to the best of your ability about the current climate surrounding that property; are there other offers, and how they should position their offer based on their particular financing, so that if there are other offers with more appealing financing you are factoring that in. Third, and most importantly, coach them to make their "no regrets" offer. In other words, ask what they buyers are willing to pay for the property, how much is it really worth to them. When the give you that number, you need to test them to be sure it is their "no regrets" offer. The conversation will go something like this: "So John, what I hear to telling me is that $90,000 is what this home is worth to you? Ok, just to be sure, let's fast forward: we've heard back from the listing office on this property and your offer of $90,000 was beat out by another buyer who offered $91,000. Do you regret not having offered more?" If the answer is no, then that was their no regrets offer. If they hesitate, they thought it was - but it wasn't. It's important to have them feel that loss for a minute because until they do, they really don't know where their line is. You see they absolutely cannot logically blame you because they alone were responsible for making their "no regrets" offer. Now, you will have those buyers who want to be lead, but don't cave. Don't give them a number you can't deliver or you have ruined the relationship. Here's what you say when someone will not make the commitment themselves. "John, I understand that you are struggling with this, but you must understand that, to me, this house has no value because I'm not going to be living in it. My job is to help you realize what you want and coach you to get whatever that is. It's impossible for me to know what your "no regrets" offer is. So let me lead you through this exercise that will help reveal it." At this point you take them through the number game: "you've offered $90,000 and we've just found that someone beat us by $1,000. How do you feel?" We cycle through this until the customer says: "you know, I really wouldn't care if somebody wanted to pay $95,000 for it, I'd let them have it!" You've discovered their no regrets offer and if it isn't accepted the customer is much more likely to feel that it wasn't meant to be. Happy homemaking!

4 Twitter Tips that Will Keep You Texting

4 Twitter Tips that Will Keep You Texting
By Stephanie Andre

RISMEDIA, August 24, 2010—As a real estate professional, you’re on the go all the time. As such, things like SMS text messaging have probably become second nature to you. So why not use this same technology to keep up with Twitter too.

Here are four texting tips from Twitter on how to maximize its technology and your use of SMS:

Fast Follow. Anyone in the U.S. can receive Tweets on their phone even if they haven’t signed up for Twitter. This is a simple way for people to get information they care about in real-time. For example, let’s say you want to get Tweets from New York City’s office of emergency management (@NotifyNYC). Just text ‘follow NotifyNYC’ to 40404 in the US.

Try it out the next time you see a Twitter @username at a restaurant or store, on a billboard or on TV, or if you hear one mentioned on the radio. If you want to appear in a user’s followers list or start to get followers, you’ll need to create a Twitter account. You can SMS by texting ‘signup’ to Twitter at 40404.

Fast Following without creating an account is currently available only in the U.S., but we're working with carriers to bring it to other countries.

Set SMS alerts: From your computer, wherever you see a user on, you can hover over their name or avatar, and click on the phone icon that appears in the hovercard. Whenever they tweet, you'll get it as an SMS message on your phone.

It's just as easy to set alerts from your phone. Send ‘on [username]’ or ‘off [username]’ to 40404 in the U.S.

Tell Twitter to be quiet. Turn text messages on or off by sending ‘on’ or ‘off’ to Twitter. You can also go to our settings page if you want to turn off text message updates during a certain time period.

Keep up with the latest Tweet. If you text 'Get [username]’, that user’s most recent Tweet will be sent to your phone, even if you don’t follow them. There are a bunch of other fun commands you can use with Twitter on your phone.

#1 in the D again - Crain's 2009

Door Knocking for business - Are you crazy?

I know it sounds nuts, but when we talk about door knocking we don't mean walking to each and every door in a particular neighborhood schlepping our services just hoping that someone, anyone will need our help today. So how would we efficiently use door knocking to increase our business?

If you are of the Gen X culture, you may remember a little TV show called "Bewitched". In that show, Darren & Samantha had the nosiest neighbor in the world. Her name was Gladys Kravitz. Each and every time Samantha looked out the window, Gladys was there, staring. Gladys knew everything about everyone in the neighborhood.

She was an annoyance, but she was also a resource. Think to yourself, right now, who in my neighborhood knows everything that's going on with everyone. Identify your Gladys and go have a conversation to catch up on the neighborhood. You see, we often forget that people don't move for money, they move for reasons and Gladys can tell you who will be the next to move. Gladys knows: who's having babies, who's been laid off, who's being relocated, who's getting divorced, who's getting married, etc. Start writing down the addresses and take note. If someone has life altering events occurring, Gladys knows. Often, it's because we have neglected to utilize our own neighborhood resources that we find ourselves staring at a competitors sign. We've all been there.

Once Gladys gives you the 411, you have a direct referral from Gladys to your neighbor in need to offer your assistance. Simply approach the neighbor and make a joke of it, yes they know Gladys too. With a roll of the eyes, simply say, "Gladys said I should come over and talk to you. You know I am a Real Estate consultant and with the new baby on the way, she said you might need my help finding a bigger place." It's as simple as that. You can both get a good laugh over Gladys and begin a business relationship if the need for your services is truly there.

Friday, October 8, 2010

For Our Clients: How To Prepare Your Home For Fire Safety

For Our Clients: How To Prepare Your Home For Fire Safety

RISMEDIA, October 8, 2010--Many people think a fire won't happen to them. But what happens if it does? And what if there are children in the home? Will they know how to react to the sound of a smoke alarm? October 3-9 is National Fire Prevention Week and what better time for parents to prepare their home and their families in case of a home fire.

"Tragically, about 436 children ages 14 and under die each year nationally in residential fires, said Allyson Fulton of Safe Kids Pennsylvania. "A properly functioning smoke alarm will cut the risk of dying in a residential fire by nearly 50 percent. Yet, smoke alarms are either not working or present in approximately 75 percent of the homes where a child has died in a residential fire."

Safe Kids Pennsylvania offers these "Tips for Parents" to prepare their home and their children in case of a residential fire.

The Right Way to Use Smoke Alarms
* Install smoke alarms in your home on every level and near each sleeping area or bedroom. Test them once a month, replace the batteries at least once a year and install new alarms every ten years. (Ten-year lithium alarms do not require battery changes each year.)

* Familiarize your child with the sound of your smoke alarm. Plan and practice several escape routes from each room of the home and identify a safe outside meeting place. Practicing an escape plan may help children, who can become frightened and confused, to escape to safety.

* Interconnect the alarms if possible so that when one sounds they all sound. If you cannot hardwire them, you can buy alarms that will broadcast a signal to each other.

* Place smoke alarms on ceilings or high on walls. Smoke rises, so alarms should be placed as high and as close to the middle of the room as possible.

* Do not place the smoke alarm on a wall that faces the outside if you live in a poorly insulated or mobile home. The temperature of the wall may vary depending upon the season and cause the alarm to malfunction.

* Place the alarm away from cooking or furnace fumes, fireplace smoke and dust. This will reduce unwanted alarms. The best location is at least three feet away from forced-air supply registers and not near windows or exterior doors since they can inhibit the alarm's ability to sense smoke.

* For the best protection against different types of fires, consider installing both ionization alarms (better at sensing flaming fires) and photoelectric alarms (better at sensing slow, smoky fires) or dual sensor alarms.

* If someone in your home is hearing-impaired, there are smoke alarms that use strobe lights.

How to Maintain Your Smoke Alarm
Most smoke alarms currently on the market are battery powered. However, 10-year lithium cell-powered smoke alarms are now available, eliminating the need to replace dead or missing batteries. Safe Kids USA offers the following guidelines for the proper maintenance of battery-powered and lithium smoke alarms:

* Test all alarms once a month. Testing is a simple process that can be done several ways. Most models have built-in test buttons that activate the alarm. For those alarms without built-in test buttons, follow the manufacturer's guidelines for testing and maintaining your smoke alarm.

* Vacuum your alarms regularly. Regular cleaning is imperative. Dirt can "confuse" the alarm and lead to false alarms or impair its functioning.

* Replace the batteries at least once a year. Even if your battery-operated alarm has never sounded, it is important to replace the batteries. In most battery-operated models, a "chirping" noise will sound for approximately 30 days when the battery needs replacing, but it is best to replace the batteries annually.

* Replace your smoke alarm, regardless of the type, at least every 10 years. Smoke alarms deteriorate over time, so they need to be replaced.

* If you have a problem with nuisance alarms, there are a few options you can try:

Vacuum the smoke alarm more often.
Move the smoke alarm farther away from the nuisance source, which is often cooking fumes.
Switch to a photoelectric unit or an ionization unit with a hush button.

10 Tips for using Social Media to Boost your Business

10 Tips for Using Social Media in Business

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

"Commitment leads to action. Action brings your dream closer." -- Marcia Wider

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Friday, August 27, 2010

HELP! I really need you all to give me a little boost for the Alzheimer's walk tomorrow. I'm begging - just $5 please!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

I'm on the move for Alsheimer's this Saturday: Please lend your support, if only the next $5 you were going to spend on coffee

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

July 2010 Real Estate Market Update

July 2010 Real Estate Market Update:

It is not surprising that the market has continued to slow compared to the pre tax-credit days of this past spring as well as this time last year. All in all, the sales pace still remains surprisingly strong, post tax credit. Buyers are getting more confident each day (the talk of year-end bonuses from the Big Three has helped) and with a reduced inventory of homes, we are seeing more examples of price wars for the hot properties. Reduced bank owned inventories continue to cause Median prices to rise as Buyers switch to higher priced retail or short sale properties. We will not be able to truly judge the strength of the market until October, when the total effect of the tax credit has cleared the market.

Our current business mix is as follows, with Traditional Retail moving up from 15% in prior months.

Leases 20%
Bank Owned 18%
Short Sale 40%
Traditional 22%

For many price ranges, this is the best time in the past three years to have your home on the market, particularly if it is occupied, updated and in great condition. The hottest price points continue to be under $100,000, but the $200,000 to $350,000 price range in most markets seems to be getting stronger as well.

There are a number of homes on the market, but many have been on the market for many months to even years, hampered by condition and/or price. A home, well priced, updated and in good condition will attract multiple offers in a short period of time. But the market is a bit finicky, if you are off just a bit on the right price and the condition is average, the market will be very silent.

Before a Seller is willing to adjust their price, they need to be confident their home has been exposed to enough buyers to truly test the market. Since we market our properties to the broadest buyer audience of any broker in the state, we are able to effectively use buyer inquires as our ultimate judge of whether our homes have the right price point to match their features, location and condition. If we are not getting web inquires or showing requests each week, it is pretty certain the price point needs to be changed.

We have a number of good news stories this past month. Bloomberg/Business Week ran an article that projected that the Metro Detroit Area will be one of the fastest turnaround markets in the country (Bloomberg/Business Week ). Also, Real Trends did a study comparing productivity per sales associate in 2000 vs. 2009 (comparable years in terms of homes sold). We were one of only five companies in the top 500 nationally that showed an improvement in sales associate productivity!! Your hard work shows, across the entire country!

Be sure to have your clients try out your new personal Mobile Web Site. They simply type in your personal WebOne URL into their smart phone browser and they will get a specialized search site customized for their smart phone. Also, so far, in the first two months we have generated 3,064 client inquires from our new First to Know Voice and Phone programs!
Great job in July!
(See the total market summary below)
Dan Elsea

Total Market Summary – All Price Ranges
Number of Homes Pending Available Homes for Sale
Area July 09 July 10 % Change July 09 July 10 % Change
Oakland County 2,198 1,872 -14.8% 14,530 10,794 -25.7%
Macomb County 1,184 1,092 -7.8% 6,111 4,948 -19.0%
Livingston County 220 209 -5.0% 2,153 1,705 -20.8%
Washtenaw County 283 270 -4.6% 2,172 1,786 -17.8%
Wayne County 3,157 2,455 -22.2% 13,950 11,475 -17.7%
Northwest Michigan* 204 118 -42.2% 4,502 4,405 -2.2%
Total 7,246 6,016 -17.0% 43,418 35,113 -19.1%

Median Sale Price Ave Chance of Selling (in 30 days)
Area July 09 July 10 % Change July 09 July 10 % Change
Oakland County $100,000 $111,725 11.7% 15% 17% 14.6%
Macomb County $72,800 $77,000 5.8% 19% 22% 13.9%
Livingston County $124,950 $140,000 12.0% 10% 12% 20.0%
Washtenaw County $160,000 $162,000 1.3% 13% 15% 16.0%
Wayne County $29,000 $42,000 44.8% 23% 21% -5.5%
Northwest Michigan*$143,000 $140,000 -2.1% 5% 3% -40.9%
Total 68,933 80,762 17.2% 16.7% 17.1% 2.7%

Residential and Condominiums
Data Source: MIRealsource, Realcomp, TAAR, Ann Arbor and BrokerMetrics
Ave Chance reflects the % chance the average home will sell in the next 30 days under the current rate of sales
* Includes Grand Traverse, Kalkaska, Antrim, Leelanau and Benzie counties

Friday, August 20, 2010

Monday, August 16, 2010

Posting to You Tube:

Would you like to know how to share this with everyone on Facebook and Twitter in 2 clicks?

1.) Go to and set up a free account
2.) Upload the video you would like to share
3.) View the video you have uploaded
4.) below the video, you will be asked if you would like to share.
5.) Click on the Icon of the network you would like to share it on (Facebook, etc.)
6.) Follow the prompts to authenticate your account and you are there!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

For your customers: Top 10 Tips to be successful in Real Estate Investing

Top 10 Tips to be successful in Real Estate Investing:

1.)Identify your financial resources and determine purchase power

2.)Based on your purchase power, decide how many properties you will buy, at what pace, and whether you will hold and lease them or flip them for profit. (Most investors do both)

3.)Select areas to purchase in that you are very familiar with.

4.)Use multiple resources to identify values like the web and professional realtors.

5.)Create a checklist of costs associated with repairs that may be required or you can use mine Click here.

6.)If you are going to be holding some properties for a long-term gain, decide if you will manage them yourself or hire a professional property management company. (The cost of property management varies between 8-12% of monthly rent)

7.)Know the market! Two years ago you could present low offers and get them accepted – now that the banks are pricing so aggressively and the investor market is flooded, you Will have to bid over asking price in many cases to secure a property.

8.)Know your margins! Based on the work required and your cheat sheet of estimated repair costs (see item 5), you should be able to calculated what the cost of fixing up any property will be.

9.)Decide if the property is one that qualifies to bid on: Here’s the formula –
Resale Value after repairs – Cost of repairs – Your Profit (You determine this value) = Offer price.

10.) If your offer price is less than asking price and the property already has multiple bids, you may not want to bother. If your offer price is higher than asking, and there are multiple bids, offer your calculated price. If your offer price is higher than asking and there are no other offers, you may want to bid full price to secure the purchase.

***** The unwritten rule: Don’t get greedy
If you lose a property that was going to net you $10,000 because you were trying to save $2,000, you’ve lost $10,000. In fact, if you never secure a purchase, you’re not an investor at all. Good luck!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Are You Managing Your Time Correctly?

Are You Managing Your Time Correctly?
By Stephanie Andre

RISMEDIA, May 28, 2010—Do you have a million things to do, but don’t know where to start? Time management is key to an effective and success business.

Here’s some advice on how you can begin to manage your time better and leave yourself with more time in the long run:

Be prepared to make drastic changes. Be creative to find and introduce different ways of doing things. If you need a starting point see the 80:20 Rule, to assess what efforts and activities are most productive, and which are not.

Manage your emails and phone calls - don't let them manage you. Ideally check at planned times, and avoid continuous notification of incoming emails.

The more senior you are the more selective you need to be about when to be available to receive phone calls.

Try to minimize the time that you are available to take unplanned phone calls, unless you are in a customer-facing, reactive role (customers can be internal too), and even if you are customer-facing, you must plan some time-slots when you are not available, or you'll never get anything important and pro-active done.

Challenge your own tendency to say 'yes' without scrutinizing the request - start asking and probing what's involved - find out what the real expectations and needs are.

Really think about how you currently spend your time. If you don't know, keep a time log for a few days to find out there's a free time management time-log template tool here. Knowing exactly what's wrong is the first step to improving it.

Challenge anything that could be wasting time and effort, particularly habitual tasks, meetings and reports where responsibility is inherited or handed down from above. Don't be a slave to a daft process or system.

Review your activities in terms of your own personal short-term and long-term life and career goals, and prioritise your activities accordingly.

Plan preparation and creative thinking time in your diary for the long-term jobs, because they need it. The short-term urgent tasks will always use up all your time unless you plan to spend it otherwise.

Use a diary, and an activity planner to schedule when to do things, and time-slots for things you know will need doing or responding to.

Re-condition the expectations of others as to your availability and their claim on your time - use an activity planner to help you justify why you and not others should be prioritising your activities and time.

Manage your environment as a whole - especially at the proposed or actual introduction of new systems, tools, technology, people, or processes, which might threaten to generate new demands on your time. If you accept changes without question - particularly new technology that helps others but not you - then you will open the way for new increasing demands on your time, or new interruptions, or new tasks and obligations. Instead consider new technology and other changes from the point of view of your time and efficiency. Ask yourself - is this going to save my time or add to my burden? Managing your environment - which includes managing, redefining, or reconditioning the expectations of others - is a critical aspect of effective time management.

You must plan time slots for unplanned activities - you may not know exactly what you'll need to do, but if you plan the time to do it, then other important things will not get pushed out of the way when the demand arises.

Use the 'urgent-important' system of assessing activities and deciding priorities. See more at the new time management section.

When you're faced with a pile of things to do, go through them quickly and make a list of what needs doing and when. After this handle each piece of paper only once. Do not under any circumstances pick up a job, do a bit of it, then put it back on the pile.

Do not start lots of jobs at the same time - even if you can handle different tasks at the same time it's not the most efficient way of dealing with them, so don't kid yourself that this sort of multi-tasking is good - it's not.

Be firm and diplomatic in dealing with time allocated for meetings, paperwork, telephone, and visitors, etc. When you keep your time log you will see how much time is wasted. Take control. Provided you explain why you are managing your time in this way, people will generally understand and respect you for it.

Keep a clean desk and well-organized systems. Don't be obsessive about tidiness - busy people often make a mess - but ensure your mess doesn't undermine your effectiveness.

Delegate as much as possible to others. If you have one, give 25% of your responsibility to your successor.

Report: 'Cautiously Optimistic' Generation of Spenders Demand Value

Report: 'Cautiously Optimistic' Generation of Spenders Demand Value
RISMEDIA, August 10, 2010--Despite signs of economic recovery, value is here to stay. According to a recent consumer survey* conducted by Valpak, one of the leading direct marketing companies in North America, 75 percent surveyed say searching for coupons and discounts will remain routine after the recession. Even more - 79 percent - planned to spend about the same or less this summer versus last summer. Consumers are emerging from the economic downturn cautiously optimistic and expecting more for their money.

Couponing Goes Digital
While print coupons continue to provide strong ROI for local advertisers and are expected to grow in use, digital couponing is also gaining popularity. Ninety-one percent of survey respondents claim to have redeemed an Internet coupon, compared to only 65 percent two years ago. Seventy seven percent say they have used the Internet to access coupon savings in the past 6 months, up from 62 percent in 2009. A recent survey by Borrell Associates confirms this trend, noting online coupon redemption is expected to increase by more than 160 percent by 2014.

Also growing at a fast pace, mobile coupon redemption saw a 250 percent increase in just one year. With Valpak's new apps for iPhone, Blackberry, Palm Pre and Android smartphones, consumers can access local coupons for restaurants, retailers and service providers no matter where they are.

"Saving money is easier than ever before with mobile coupons," said Deanna Willsey, director of corporate communications at Valpak. "With the Valpak app installed on your phone, you can use coupons on a whim because they're accessible 24/7. For example, say you're out running errands and decide to grab dinner, you can quickly look up which area restaurants are offering a great deal. There's no need to print, clip or run home to grab the coupon. Simply display the offer on your phone and you save money."

The Valucation
The staycation trend is waning and consumers are ready to hit the road, the seas and the air. Sixty-five percent of survey respondents plan to make purchases on travel, including international and domestic vacations and cruises, in the next six months. While consumers may have the travel bug this year, they don't want to spend a lot of money. Today's traveler is looking for the valucation - shopping for the best rates and discounts. When they're not on the road, other top planned expenditures include home improvement, auto and home entertainment technology purchases.

Everyone's Doing It
Sixty-six percent of survey respondents claim to search for coupons and discounts more than they have in the past, and that trend is anticipated to grow. Couponing is expected to increase more than 150 percent between 2009 and 2014, according to Borrell Associates. In addition to couponing, consumers across all demographics are doing more research, comparing prices, using ratings and reviews and actively searching for savings opportunities. As consumers are seeking ways to stretch their budget, businesses and advertisers are looking to make the most of their marketing budgets.

"Using all types of coupons - print, digital and mobile - consumers have embraced couponing and are much savvier in their search for value," said Willsey. "Likewise, businesses are seeking ways to reach those consumers with proven, results-oriented marketing. Value from all parties has and will continue to be the norm," said Willsey.

Networking: How to Work a Room

Networking: How to Work a Room
By Stephanie Andre

RISMEDIA, May 28, 2010--Networking can serve as a valuable strategy for getting to know your local community leaders, potential buyers and sellers and people who could refer you down the road.

Networking isn't easy for many and can even be awkward at times, so here are some tips to get you started.

Check your attitude
Many of us are shy or reluctant to approach strangers in new social situations, so understandably it's not always easy to muster the energy to try and connect with people at networking events. That's why it's key to get mentally geared up before you even show up. Because your attitude often guides your behavior, you must overcome any negative self-talk that could hinder you from reaching out to others. Do these outlooks sound familiar?

• "Why should I bother trying to impress this person? I'm only one of a hundred students this recruiter is going to see today."
• "I don't think I know enough to engage the company reps in an intelligent conversation."
• "I've never really been good at meeting people. That's just my personality."

Such negative thoughts prevent you from pushing past any social roadblocks standing in your way. The truth is that many, if not most, people have similar thoughts in group situations and are just as hesitant to initiate conversations. But if you change your attitude from negative to positive, you can instead take the lead. Remember:

• People enjoy talking about themselves. Ask them questions to get them started.
• People feel flattered when you show an interest in them and their work/organization. And they will reciprocate your demonstrations of sincere interest.
• You have more to offer others than you might think; just believe it.

Redefine what it means to interact with "strangers"
When you join a new student organization or club, you share certain interests with the members. When you go to a party, you run into people you've seen in class or around your dorm. A networking event is not really all that different if you view it as an occasion to find what you have in common with other people there. Commonalities help "strangers" connect more easily.

• Take the initiative to approach others, introduce yourself, and share a piece of information that could reveal the common thread you share with them.
• During conversations, listen carefully to discover shared interests or goals.
• Use your shared background or interests as the basis for sustaining conversations.

Prepare and practice your self-introduction
To avoid being tongue-tied when you try to start a conversation with someone you don't know, prepare a self-introduction that is clear, interesting, and well delivered. What you say about yourself will depend on the nature of the event, but in any case, it shouldn't take longer than 8-10 seconds. Although practicing your introduction might at first seem silly and artificial, it will eventually help you make an introduction that sounds natural, confident, and smooth. Here are a few examples:

• "Hi, my name is Catherine Lee. I'm glad to have this chance to meet you and learn how a psychology major can break into the pharmaceutical industry." [Employer Information Session]
• "Good morning, I'm Bryan Sampson, a former summer intern at your Los Angeles branch." [Career Fair]
• "Hello, my name is Jessica Garcia. I'm a junior rhetoric major looking to find out what it's like working in public relations and marketing." [Career Speed Dating Event]

Risk rejection - it's not the end of the world
It happens. Some individuals may not respond to your introduction in the way you would like. If that takes place, don't take it personally and just move on. As long as you maintain an outgoing and friendly attitude, you can plan for continued networking success by:

• Identifying the goals you want to achieve at the networking event before you go (e.g., to learn more about a career, to develop internship leads, etc.)
• Keeping a healthy sense of humor.
• Treating everyone as you would want to be treated. Aside from being the courteous thing to do, you don't know who might be helpful to you in the future.

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