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Friday, February 11, 2011

Land real estate listings when sellers aren't biting

Land real estate listings when sellers aren't bitingBrush up your closing skills
By Bernice Ross
Inman News™

February 07, 2011

You walk into a listing appointment, have great rapport with the sellers, do a great job on your presentation, and when you're ready to close for the listing they say, "We're interviewing three other agents -- we'll get back to you."

What do you do?

The long-running seller's market of the last decade created a whole generation of real estate agents who lack solid closing skills. When there are too many buyers and not enough listings, no closing skills are needed.

As the listing agent in a seller's market, all you have to do is issue your counteroffers, make sure the buyers are qualified, and then take the best offer. Buyers are so desperate to purchase that their agents have little need to close as well.

Today's buyer's market is a completely different story. Experienced agents who cut their teeth on past markets where solid closing skills were required are the ones who are doing well today. Those lacking these skills are falling by the wayside.

When most people think of closing skills, they normally think about high-pressure tactics. While you can close clients with this approach, it often results in resentment or cancellation of the deal later.

To illustrate this point, consider the following responses to the objection outlined in the opening paragraph: "We're interviewing three other agents -- we'll get back to you."

How would you have handled this scenario? Here are some examples of poor closing strategies.

1. The gracious loser
The sellers object, you stand up and thank the sellers for the opportunity to discuss the marketing of their home. You leave the appointment empty-handed and hope that they will call you back.

2. The defensive agent
"You're interviewing other agents? Our company is No. 1 and I'm the top-producing agent in this area. Why would you go with anyone else?"

The moment that you have to justify your position as to why you are the best agent to list the house, you have lost the battle. What this normally means is that you haven't fully demonstrated your value prior to your attempt to close.

3. The angry agent
In this scenario, the agent becomes angry or makes a sarcastic remark such as, "Call me when you're ready to get your house sold."

Powerful closing strategies

Strong closers almost always play offense rather than defense. If the sellers aren't ready to list with you and you try to force the issue without understanding their reasoning, you run the risk of alienating them. A strong closer understands timing. Going back to the original scenario, here's how it could have been handled:

The first step is to understand that questions provide you with the most powerful means to close. Each question leads the client closer to saying, "Yes." Before you can close, however, you must set the context.

To illustrate this point, on a listing appointment, you would have gone through a 90-day marketing plan, provided the seller with testimonials from your past clients, shown them how their property would be photographed as well as samples of the types of videos you shoot, plus doing a complete interview with the sellers to find out what is truly motivating them to sell.

If you completed all of these steps, you are then in the position to go for the close.

Agent: "Mr. and Mrs. Seller, after reviewing all the materials in my marketing package, do you believe I can get your property sold for the highest possible price in the shortest amount of time?"

Seller: "Yes, we do, but we made appointments to interview three other agents."

Agent: "You indicated that you must move in less than 90 days. If you would like to start marketing your property now, I would be happy to contact the other agents and tell them that you have decided to list with our firm."

This particular close doesn't always work, but when it does, you have just aced out your competition. It's one of the key reasons why it's always smart to be the first agent to speak to the seller.

Sometimes, however the seller won't be comfortable with canceling the appointments. Here's what to say.

Agent: "I really respect the fact that you want to keep the appointments that you made. Would you feel comfortable meeting with me after you finish talking with the other agents? That way, if you have additional questions or concerns, we can address them then."

This approach can help put you in front of the sellers when they're ready to sign the contract. Also, by laying out a detailed marketing plan including listing syndication, video syndication, plus all the other ways you normally market your listings, you set a high bar for other agents to achieve.

Also note that both closes open with a question. Questions give the sellers the sense that they are in control. This means you're not as likely to be perceived as being a pushy salesperson.

Ultimately, closing comes down to a pretty simple formula: "Here's a service -- would you like this service?" If not, "Here's another service. Would you like this service instead?"

Beating the competition to the punch in terms of being the first agent to speak to a seller about listing the home for sale, having a well-thought-out and illustrated marketing plan, and asking questions are at the heart of going for the close.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

7 Key Strategies For A Successful Year In Real Estate

If we look at the most successful entrepreneurs in our industry since the market downturn, we see that they all have one thing in common. Can you guess what it is? No, it's not bank inventory. Yes, inventory is a key component to any real estate success. Last year, 40% of properties sold in our area were foreclosures and 13% were short sales, which leave a large pool of more traditional sales (47%). Is that surprising? It was to me. However, I continually heard agents complain throughout the year that they wanted to break into the bank owned business, even though there was actually more inventory to be had in other categories. In fact, before properties become "bank owned", aren't they most likely a short sale opportunity? In reality, we all had an equal opportunity to get 100% of the inventory without ever dealing with any bank to do so. How do we put ourselves in the position to capture this business before the banks step in?

Key strategies that must be addressed for success:
Lead Generation
1.) What is your internet strategy?
2.) What is your social media strategy?
3.) What is your database management strategy?
4.) What is your farming strategy?
5.) What is your strategy to find these short sales?
6.) What is your referral strategy?
7.) What is your unique value proposition?

In order to effectively manage all of these components we need systems:
What Systems do you have in place to address these strategies?

More to come...

New FTC Ruling Prohibits Collecting Advance Short Sale Fees

As our industry continually evolves, new regulations are appearing at warp speed, which are designed to protect the consumer. Unfortunately, some of these new rules make it even more challenging for Realtors to make a living. The most recent FTC ruling with regard to the Mortgage Assistance Relief Services further prevents real estate consultants from being compensated in advance for additional services, when there is a short sale involved. The ruling does not prohibit Realtors from being compensated, however, we may not collect the fee in advance of a purchase agreement and acceptable approval from the 3rd party lender. If the conditions of the approval are not satisfactory to the home seller, they have no obligation to pay us. This ruling has come about due to the large number of fraudulent companies claiming to help consumers modify their mortgages only to not deliver after taking a fee. Because we are involved in the negotiation of the short sale, we are limited by this new regulation even though we are not licensed in mortgages. The following disclosure language must accompany any agreement to pay a specific fee for short sale services:

" [Name of Company] is not associated with the government, and our service is not approved by the government or your lender. Even if you accept this offer and use our service, your lender may not agree to change your loan. You may stop doing business with us at any time. You may accept or reject the offer of mortgage assistance we
obtain from your lender [or servicer]. If you reject the offer, you do not have to pay us. If you accept the offer, you will have to pay us [insert amount or method for
calculating the amount] for our services."

At which time there is an acceptable offer that the seller has signed, that has also been approved by the lender, and is acceptable to the homeowner, you may receive the fee. We do not have to wait until closing to receive the fee, only approval and acceptance by all parties.

For further information, you may view the MAR Legal opinion Here.

What are your thoughts???

Do You Run Your Business, Or Does It Run You?

Do You Run Your Business, Or Does It Run You?

It's time to get more systematic about your success. Here are some steps that will help you bring order to your business.
By Rich Levin | October 2010

Real estate is not just any old job. It is an entrepreneurial business. You have to start out with a vision of what you want to create and then put the pieces together to make it work. You need goals, and you need to track your goals constantly. If you try to do it any other way, you run the risk of losing control of your success. Here are six ways to create a business that you control, rather than having a business that runs you.

1. Respect that real estate is an actual business.

To start and grow a successful business, you need to embrace the ideas of strategic planning and implementation. Those two ideas are the cornerstones of a successful, purposeful real estate career. The good news is that with deliberate decisions, conscious effort, and persistence, you can make these your most valuable business skills.

2. Determine what you really want.

Strategic planning and implementation require you to set some big goals. Choose what you want from your business. You might want to pay your bills, own a nice car, buy a house, take vacations, fund your retirement, all of these things, or something else entirely. Regardless of what you want, you must continually ask yourself: "Why do I want these things?" Get excited about your goals. This “why” is the emotional driving force behind your success.

3. Determine your measures.

Pick a reasonable amount of income. How do you know what's "reasonable"? If you earned this amount over the next 12 months, it would indicate that you’re well on your way to getting what you want. There are two parts to this. First, determine the sales volume you need to achieve that income based on your commission split and the average price in your area. Then, identify the activities needed to generate the leads and turn them into those sales.

4. Analyze your progress all the time.

Look at those measures weekly. Take at least a half hour to look at your results and decide what is working and what isn’t. What do you need to adjust to make it work better? One note of caution here: Don’t base these judgments on activities but rather on results. For example, don’t assess your prospecting based on how many people you contact. Center it on how many listing presentations and buyer presentations those contacts turn into.

5. Make time for the people and activities you love.

Too many real estate pros burn out and leave the industry because they fail to meet their goals and are overcome by the stresses of the job. There are two keys to preventing burnout. The first is to schedule time to enjoy the people and things you love.You have to schedule time for yourself and honor that time, or the business will leak over into your whole life.

6. Create a schedule of your daily habits, and stick to it.

Your daily habits will directly determine whether you meet your goals. Set aside one hour a week dedicated to each of the following seven priorities: Contact people to make appointments, advance your use of technology, implement a mix of traditional and new marketing methods, contact your pending clients and listed sellers to update them, rehearse your presentations until you are completely confident in them, preview homes for sale in your primary markets, think and strategize about your business.

Successful real estate pros have one of the most envied careers on the planet. They earn exceptional incomes with levels of self-satisfaction and personal freedom that most working people can only dream of. It’s attractive not because it’s easy, but because it’s possible for regular people to be extremely successful when they take deliberate actions and apply conscious effort with tremendous persistence. It’s possible for you.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

5 Critical Steps for Your Business Plan

5 Critical Steps for Your Business Plan

Despite the simplicity and importance of a business plan to a real estate professional's success, few practitioners are taught how to successfully implement one. Here's how you can get started.
By Rich Levin | January 2011

Plan your work, and work your plan. Both of these are necessary for a successful real estate career. Yet most practitioners suffer because they don’t have a plan, or never finished their plan, or don’t know how to implement their plan. As a result, their business, relationships, quality of life, and even health may suffer.

There are five critical steps that ensure you implement and follow through on your business plan.

1. Complete a simple plan

A simple plan answers these questions:

a. What do you want your real estate career to do for your life in 2011?

b. Why is that important to you?

c. What conservative, one-year, measurable goal would indicate that you are well on your way?

d. How will you measure it: weekly? Monthly?

e. What is the simplest action plan to accomplish your measurable goals? List three key projects; then figure out how you can either start doing them or do them more consistently.

f. What regular time and date each week can you set aside to assess your progress toward you overall goal and your key projects?

2. Reduce your key projects

Make sure you’ve identified benchmarks each week and month to ensure you’re making progress against your key projects. Benchmarks are simply the evidence of success. For example, if your project is to build your own Web site, then benchmarks would be:

a. Create a list of all the features and elements you want on your site.

b. Create a marketing plan for driving traffic to your site.

c. Interview and hire Web companies.

d. Have beta site complete.

e. Launch live site.

3. Create a schedule

This ensures you will complete the action steps. There are two parts to this schedule: The first is the schedule of benchmarks in the step above. The second is to choose one day of the week, the same day each week, at the same time, in the same place to work on each particular project. This step is the reason you choose a maximum of three priority projects.

4. Schedule a time to review progress

Each week, choose a day to evaluate the progress of each project (making decisions to keep going, complete, stop, or alter your work) and look at the progress of your measurable goals. Evaluating both your projects and your performance at this point is extremely important because you are then weighing the value and progress of your projects against the real measures of sales and income.

5. Instill a “numbers consciousness”

What gets measured gets done. An example of numbers consciousness for weight loss would be to set a target weight. Then, record what you eat and get on the scale every day until you get there. If you keep getting on the scale and adjusting what you eat, you are very likely to achieve your goal.

As a real estate professional, “numbers consciousness” means having sales and listing targets each month that add up to your annual goal. More importantly, it involves looking at them every week so that you always know where you stand for the month and the year. And you can make continual adjustments based on those numbers.

As you complete each step and as you review your progress each week, you gain tremendous insight into your business. Your business intelligence and motivation grow in a very natural way. I provide a daily reinforcement of this process in my coaching programs because success with this business plan is dependent on a modest level of self-discipline. Every real estate professional is capable of it.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Find Success in the New Year

Find Success in the New Year
The new year is typically a time of personal renewal and anticipation for things to come. If you want to get off to a solid start and sustain your energy level through 2011, you should practice these three habits.
By Dirk Zeller | January 2011

There is nothing like tearing off the calendar page and exposing the clear, open road of a new year ahead. The anticipation and expectation of success is high. For self-motivated professionals, their energy level and willingness to engage in new, productive actions is at the forefront of their minds.

Here are three steps to sustain those feelings and that energy throughout the year so you can finish with the same level you’re starting with right now:

Construct a Numbers-Based Business Plan

I realize some of you reading this might already have this in place, or think you do. But I have found few practitioners and brokers really construct a quality business plan annually, and fewer still review it regularly.

The question I would ask is: Does it go far enough? Is the plan broken down at least to the number of appointments you need for the listing side and buyer side of the business? How many listing appointments do you need? What is the typical conversion rate on the leads you generate per source? (That also should be factored into your business plan.) What are your core objectives and projects for the year?

Start Every Day With a Clean Slate

Treat each day as if the sales board was blank. The best salespeople realize they have to get up and find new clients every day. They still focus on serving the clients they have well, but they’re always on the lookout for new ones. Don’t look at the board with your listings and sales on it. Treat today as a day where you are at zero and you need to find a new client to serve.

Evaluate Your Work Rhythm

Most people have a rhythm to how they work most effectively. There are two core areas to evaluate:

The time during the day when you’re most effective.
The length of work weeks before a break or vacation is needed.

Let’s look at the first. When do you have more energy, intensity, and focus? When does your mind react the quickest, and when do you tend to stay on task? This block of time is where you should be putting the most challenging, valuable, and important actions for your business. For a salesperson, those are the lead-generating actions of the business, where you align your best time with your highest-dollar actions.

The second area is length of time we can work in weeks before we lose our edge. In today’s market, the margin for error with clients and prospects has shrunk to the smallest level I have seen in more than 20 years. If you’re just a bit off of your “A” game, it can cost you a lot in terms of income. How many weeks can you work before you need a break? How long of a break do you need to recharge your batteries? Do you need a whole week, or do a few days away take care of it?

When I discovered this it really transformed my work intensity and quality. I recognized that I could really work about nine weeks with really high intensity. After that point, I had lost the edge; my effectiveness started to trail off. With each following week, it got progressively worse. I needed four days — completely unplugged — to have a full recharge.

Interestingly, I now need five days. This change could be due to aging, more children, or the added complexity of business today. Any number of factors contribute to the amount of time actually needed to recharge, including the advent of smartphones, social media, and the highly connected world we live in. It is harder to truly unplug today than before, but it’s probably more important than ever before, too. You have to know your rhythm to boost your production, effectiveness, and energy level throughout the year.

The key to a better year is carrying the feelings, excitement and passion you have to the end of 2011. The longer you can extend it into the new year, the higher the odds you will achieve the goals you have set.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Keep Time on Your Side with These 5 Time Management Tips

Keep Time on Your Side with These 5 Time Management TipsBy Paige Tepping

RISMEDIA, January 22, 2011—Time management is a crucial part of any business, especially if you’re looking to cross things off your to-do list and leave the office feeling like you got something accomplished. As our day-to-day lives—both in the office and at home—continue to become more hectic, knowing how to manage your time can be a successful skill.

Here are five tips from the Moola Days blog to help you manage your time more effectively.

1. Create a schedule and stick to it. Having a daily schedule is the first step toward managing your time more effectively. When you come into the office in the morning, the first thing you should look at is your schedule. By mapping out when you will make time for certain tasks, you won’t find yourself trying to focus on too many things at once. By writing down what you will be doing at certain times throughout the day, you can focus all of your attention on any given task, allowing you to complete it more quickly and thoroughly.

2. Use your time efficiently. Use your time efficiently by not falling into the trap of putting certain things off until later. By properly managing your time, you shouldn’t have to rush to get things done at the last minute.

3. Know what’s important. When you create your daily schedule, be sure to put the most important items at the top of your list. Most people are more alert and focused right when they get to the office in the morning, so begin your day with the tasks that require the most attention. This way, you can ease yourself into the rest of the day’s tasks.

4. Get organized. Getting organized is a simple way to keep track of important documents, in addition to being able to quickly check the status of projects. Take a few minutes each night before you leave the office to make sure your desk is organized and everything is put back where it should be. This way, you will be ready to hit the ground running the next morning.

5. Give yourself a goal. Creating short-term, achievable goals is one way to keep yourself on track and accountable. If you give yourself a specific deadline as to when something is due, you will be less likely to keep putting it off. Giving yourself goals to look forward to will enable you to get more things accomplished in any given day.

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