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Saturday, April 30, 2011

Improve Your Skills and Improve Your Income

Improve Your Skills and Improve Your Income
Marketing and Sales by Saul Klein
RISMEDIA, April 22, 2011—I have done a lot of selling over the past 35-plus years—cumulatively at least a few hundred million dollars in personal selling. The largest single sale was a $1.5 million apartment building in the 1980s.

Most of my sales were just your average, median-priced home or typical duplex, up to 30-unit apartment building, a strip center here and there…and it took me a few years to really get going.

I sold everything: from condos, houses, apartment buildings, shopping centers, industrial properties, medical buildings, limited partnership interests in real estate investments to stocks (including REITS), bonds, mutual funds, tax services, financial planning services to website services, e-mail services to education programs, online and offline to, finally, the benefits of the Internet itself to the entire real estate industry.

I never thought I would have a career in selling, but it turned out that way. When I started in real estate, it was not the selling that I fell in love with; it was real estate that was my passion. It was only later that I grew to enjoy the excitement of writing the contract and the “close.”

What is the point? I arrived at a career in sales by default, which is more than likely the same situation for many in real estate today. So, here you are—where you may never have anticipated you would be—selling to earn a living. How do you make the most of it?

Effective selling is a skill to be developed for those serious about a sales career. Learn the art and science of sales. There have been many good books written on the subject. Develop a reading list, a schedule and then read.

Understand persuasion and how it fits into your business.

Think of yourself as a “helper” (no one wants to be “sold” something). After all, if you are in real estate sales, you are helping people with what is usually their most valuable asset—their home—and something they want to buy (or sell), or they would not be talking to you about it.

Here is a short list of what I believe is necessary for one to have an effective career in real estate sales (and most of it applies to sales in general):

- Product knowledge
- Communication skills—verbal skills and writing skills
- Access to potential clients
- Marketing skills
- Technology skills
- Financial skills—for business and your personal life
- Generational knowledge
- International knowledge
- Integrity
- Perseverance
- Commitment

The best in their field, even professional athletes take advantage of coaching. If you would like the benefit of working with a full time coach, absolutely free to you, please call me directly or email to set up an interview.

(313) 516-6644

Friday, April 29, 2011

Content is King – Information Provides Value When Reaching Out to Your Sphere of Influence

Content is King – Information Provides Value When Reaching Out to Your Sphere of Influence
Commentary by Verl Workman

RISMEDIA, April 22, 2011—Ever since I began my career in real estate, I was told that creating high touches with my database or my sphere of influence was one of the most valuable things I could do to build a great referral business. I remember really struggling with whether to send out fridge magnets, an annual calendar or some great recipe cards, and even spent a ton of time trying to find a company that created the most professional mailers. These interactions were designed to keep me and my brand at the front of the consumer’s mind so that when they thought about real estate, they thought of me first. I can honestly say it worked.

While those types of touches have value and many agents still use that method of marketing, we have found that today’s buyers and sellers are looking for a much more valuable interaction from their agents and brokers. The world has moved on to the Internet to find recipes; they view multiple calendars on computers and smartphones; and have access to so much information that the real value of “personality”-type marketing has been diminished.

Today, the consumer has moved on to new media, such as e-mail, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and blogs. They look online for answers to questions and are more likely to go to than to a postcard that was once mailed by their agent. The challenge is to find the right content and provide information—not just be white noise in this information-overloaded environment. The most effective communication to your SOI is proving to be information that is less about us and why we are so great and more about the client, their home and their community.

It is not difficult to come up with good valuable content if you take off your REALTOR® hat and put on your homeowner hat. What information would you really like to know? For starters, everyone wants to know the value of their home—having a place where people can find what homes are selling for on a regular basis is a valuable touch.

Other information that is valuable includes anything that is going on in their community that might affect home values or provide entertainment. Changes to zoning, new communities being built, great restaurants and even helpful homeowner tips are great topics for your communication.

Many agents use the expertise of their partners—such as lenders—to provide mortgage options and describe new programs, inspectors giving tips on what to look for before you purchase, contractors, exterminators and even interior designers—all for the purpose of providing valuable content to their relationships. The media and delivery methods have changed; we can reach more people and spend a lot less money. The importance of valuable content has increased but the principles are the same. The more we reach out to our relationships with great content, the more likely we will remain at the front of the consumer’s mind, and the bottom line result is more valuable. The more frequent our touches, the deeper and stronger our relationships will grow.

The best in their field, even professional athletes take advantage of coaching. If you would like the benefit of working with a full time coach, absolutely free to you, please call me directly or email to set up an interview.

(313) 516-6644

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Easy Ways to Take Advantage of Social Media Marketing

Easy Ways to Take Advantage of Social Media Marketing
By Susan Gunelius
RISMEDIA, April 18, 2011—(eM+C)—In just a few short years, social media marketing has gone from a fun task experienced by a few to a daily part of hundreds of millions of peoples’ lives. For marketers, having a presence on the social Web and developing an audience of online brand advocates is no longer an ancillary marketing project, it’s a strategic imperative. If your brand isn’t there, a competitor will be more than happy to take your place in the social Web conversation and community.

Don’t worry if your brand doesn’t already have a social Web presence. There’s still time to make your presence known, but every day you wait is a wasted opportunity. The steps below, from 30-Minute Social Media Marketing will help you jump-start your journey into the world of social media.

1. Identify your ultimate goals. What are your ultimate business and brand goals? If you don’t know where you want to go, you can’t figure out how to get there. Don’t waste time and effort by taking the wrong path.

2. Determine your brand’s image, message and promise. Decide what you want your brand to stand for in consumers’ minds, then participate in activities, conversations and communities that accurately reflect that vision.

3. Find your best audience. Conduct keyword searches as if you were a potential customer of your company. Follow the links and look for social sites where your target audience already spends time. Join the conversations and start to build your network of online connections.

4. Create messages that consistently communicate your brand promise to draw your audience in. Once you find and build relationships with your target audience on the sites where they already spend time, you can then start to bring them back to your own website, blog, Facebook page, etc. It’s there that you can share more of your content and deepen your relationship with them.

5. Diversify your social media presence to broaden your audience. Offer varied ways for people to experience and engage with your brand online. Some people like to read blogs, others prefer Twitter updates and still others prefer viewing videos. By offering different ways for people to connect with you and consume your content and conversations, your audience of online followers will broaden.

6. Join the conversations and build your network of brand advocates. If you build it, they won’t come. You need to continually go out and find your audience, share their content, join their conversations and ultimately give more than you receive to be successful on the social Web.

7. Allow the online community to take control of the conversation. If you try to control the online conversation about your business or brand, you’ll destroy most of your social media marketing efforts. Give up control, let the conversation flow and you’ll benefit from word-of-mouth marketing that money can’t buy.

8. Be real, honest, accessible, engaging and true to your brand promise. If your online content and conversations sound like you’re reading from a corporate brochure or manual, no one will want to engage with you on the social Web. Be personable and remember you’re not there to self-promote, but rather to build relationships that can deliver word-of-mouth marketing and sustainable long-term business growth.

9. Test and analyze results…then try again. Social media marketing is still in its infancy; there’s no recipe for success yet. New tools are introduced all the time. What you’re doing today might not be right tomorrow.

10. Be consistent and don’t give up. The three primary steps to branding are consistency, persistence and restraint. Follow those steps in your social media marketing efforts every day and be prepared to commit for the long haul. Patience is rewarded on the social Web.

The best in their field, even professional athletes take advantage of coaching. If you would like the benefit of working with a full time coach, absolutely free to you, please call me directly or email to set up an interview.

(313) 516-6644

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Real estate agents: Plug in to Gen X, Gen Y buyers' preferences

Daily Real Estate News

The best in their field, even professional athletes take advantage of coaching. If you would like the benefit of working with a full time coach, absolutely free to you, please call me directly or email to set up an interview.

(313) 516-6644

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Grow Your Referral Business with Exceptional Customer Service

Grow Your Referral Business with Exceptional Customer Service

RISMEDIA, April 6, 2011—While growing your real estate business may be a daunting task in today’s real estate market, it is important that real estate professionals take advantage of referrals that come from past clients. Here, Lisa Monti, director of REALTOR® Sales, Stewart Title Company discusses how exceptional customer service can help grow your referral business.

Lisa Monti
Director of REALTOR® Sales,
Eastern Operations
Stewart Title Company

In today’s economic climate, growing your business can be a daunting task. Leads and listings are not just falling onto your doorstep as in the good ol’ days. So how can you be a top performer? Let’s first start by looking at your latest successes. How did you generate your last listing?

According to the 2010 National Association of REALTORS® Member Profile, a median of 20% of all NAR members’ business is referrals from past clients.

To further support this, the National Association of REALTORS® Home Buyer and Seller Survey reports that 64% of sellers chose their agent based on a referral or had used the same agent in the past. Reputation was the most important factor in choosing an agent, cited by 35% of respondents, followed by trustworthiness at 23%. Eighty-four percent of sellers are likely to use the same agent again or recommend them to others. Buyers also most commonly choose an agent based on a referral from a friend, neighbor or relative, with trustworthiness and reputation being the most important factors.

Given this, building a strategy to grow your referral business seems crucial.

Provide exceptional customer service in your client’s transaction
Real estate brokers and professionals across the country are using technology tools to offer a new level of service. Whether they help agents manage their transactions or give home buyers and sellers the ability to view their transaction via email or mobile device, these tools can help you stay in the forefront of your client’s mind.

Another way to get people talking about their experience with their home purchase or sale is to master the closing. As you know, you want to avoid any possible surprises at the closing table, and the key to this is transparency. Always keep that line of communication open with your clients. Provide access to their real estate documents and status to notify your clients of any issues and pending activities that must occur to keep the transaction on track.

Be your client’s trusted advisor
You know your market like the back of your hand. Share this information with your clients and become their resident expert. You can provide neighborhood data, school information and local retail information, as well as educate your home buyers and sellers about the real estate process and what to expect throughout the transaction.

Extend your services beyond the closing
Another great way to better serve your clients is to offer new services centered around their home and move. Try partnering with a provider to handle basic utility hook-ups, provide quotes for home services, or assist with shopping for home appliances and insurance services for your clients. Stewart Title offers these services to our customers via our Stewart Concierge™ call center with great success.

These simple customer service tips will help your clients feel secure in their decision to make you their real estate professional. And in your business, great service is the key to getting more referrals. Having a plan to provide the best service in your area is the key to your referral success.

The best in their field, even professional athletes take advantage of coaching. If you would like the benefit of working with a full time coach, absolutely free to you, please call me directly or email to set up an interview.

(313) 516-6644

Monday, April 25, 2011

NAR Study Finds Americans Prefer Smart-Growth Communities

NAR Study Finds Americans Prefer Smart-Growth Communities

The next time you think about making a career move to sell higher priced homes farther from the city, think again!

RISMEDIA, April 6, 2011—Americans favor walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods, with 56% of respondents preferring smart growth neighborhoods over neighborhoods that require more driving between home, work and recreation. That’s according to a recent study, the Community Preference Survey, by the National Association of REALTORS®.

“REALTORS® care about improving communities through smart growth initiatives,” said NAR President Ron Phipps, broker-president of Phipps Realty in Warwick, R.I. “Our members don’t just sell homes, they sell neighborhoods. REALTORS® understand that different home buyers are looking for all kinds of neighborhood settings and that many home buyers want walkable, transit-accessible communities.”

Walkable communities are defined as those where shops, restaurants and local businesses are within walking distance from homes.

According to the survey, when considering a home purchase, 77% of respondents said they would look for neighborhoods with abundant sidewalks and other pedestrian-friendly features, and 50% would like to see improvements to existing public transportation rather than initiatives to build new roads and developments.

The survey also revealed that while space is important to home buyers, many are willing to sacrifice square footage for less driving. Eighty percent of those surveyed would prefer to live in a single-family, detached home as long as it didn’t require a longer commute, but nearly three out of five of those surveyed—59%—would choose a smaller home if it meant a commute time of 20 minutes or less.

The survey also found that community characteristics are very important to most people. When considering a home purchase, 88% of respondents placed more value on the quality of the neighborhood than the size of the home, and 77% of those surveyed want communities with high-quality schools.

The survey of 2,071 adult Americans was conducted by Belden, Russonello and Stewart from February 15-24, 2011.

The best in their field, even professional athletes take advantage of coaching. If you would like the benefit of working with a full time coach, absolutely free to you, please call me directly or email to set up an interview.

(313) 516-6644

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Let’s Talk: The Top Life-Improving Reasons to Master the Lost Art of Conversation

Let’s Talk: The Top Life-Improving Reasons to Master the Lost Art of Conversation
RISMEDIA, March 31, 2011—LOL and BRB might be key communication elements in a texting, emailing, social-media-obsessed world, but they don’t make for high quality communication or conversation. Sometimes you might not even know what your communicating counterpart is even saying to you. With communication becoming more and more diluted by technology, Maribeth Kuzmeski, , author of The Connectors: How the World’s Most Successful Businesspeople Build Relationships and Win Clients for Life, stresses the importance of once again valuing great conversation—an essential element in building strong, mutually beneficial, and even profitable relationships.

“Conversations are the building blocks of relationships,” says Kuzmeski. “Without it, we form relationships that are devoid of substance,” she adds. “Unfortunately, we live in a world where the modern MO seems to be less talking and more texting. People either think they don’t have the time or don’t think it’s necessary to take the time to have real conversations with each other. But for anyone who wants to create truly beneficial relationships, you have to stop texting, walk away from the computer, and connect with someone one-on-one through a great conversation.”

An expert on the art of connecting, Kuzmeski teaches her clients how to connect with their customers in order to win business and build loyalty, and believes that mastering the art of conversation goes a long way when you’re trying to connect with another person, whether in business or your social life.

“The goal of any conversation should be to build a mutually beneficial relationship with that other person,” says Kuzmeski. “By having a conversation with someone, you’re committing to connecting with him or her for the next 10, 15, 30 minutes or more. Follow that conversation to its conclusion, and you never know what you will find out. The point is you have to be willing to have it in the first place, and that is something that too few of us value these days.”

Kuzmeski’s top reasons why now is the time to re-master the art of conversation:

It puts quality ahead of speed. Today, you can find out almost anything you’d ever want to know in seconds. You can rattle off a text faster than you can dial someone’s number. You can send an email out to multiple contacts in a couple of minutes. But with this speed of communication, notes Kuzmeski, you often sacrifice quality; and, ultimately, this sacrifice leaves you with paper-thin relationships.

“Texting, IMing, and emailing provide great ways to communicate, but there is a one-sidedness to the kind of communication they allow,” says Kuzmeski. “There is a delay in the actual exchange of ideas that doesn’t exist when you are speaking with someone. With these methods, the chances are also higher that you will be misunderstood or you will misunderstand the other person because there’s no way to capture tone and feeling in a way that ensures it won’t be confused. To truly express yourself and allow others to express themselves, conversation provides the highest quality of communication.”

It’s the glue of great relationships. You can email or text someone regularly, but according to Kuzmeski, it is only during a real conversation that a bond with him or her actually begins to strengthen.

“Think about this in terms of your professional life,” suggests Kuzmeski. “Who do you trust more? The vendor who always calls you or the one who only communicates via email? Sure, you might enjoy doing business with both of them, but when it comes right down to it, your relationship with the vendor you regularly speak to is probably stronger. Conversation is essential in all relationships. If you can’t hold a conversation with another person, your relationship will quickly break down.”

It’s the only way to see what someone is saying. Kuzmeski believes that face-to-face conversation is the only way to take in the total message someone is sending. It allows you to take his or her inflection, emotion, and physical gestures into account along with what is actually being said. It also allows you to show that person that you are listening and truly value what he or she has to say.

“Your face, eyes, and body language allow you to give a range of emotions that indicate whether you are following what the speaker is saying,” says Kuzmeski. “Your face actively captures information. A simple nod of the head or a simple ‘uh-huh’ helps you acknowledge that you are really listening to what he or she has to say. Doing so helps you show you’re interested in the person and also helps you encourage him or her to keep speaking, so that the conversation keeps flowing.”

It’s an opportunity-making skill. Being a great conversationalist can lead to great opportunities, both in your professional and social lives, says Kuzmeski. For example, to get your dream job, you’ll have to back up your meticulously written resume with a great interview. The most comfortable interviews are those that feel like normal conversations—a give and take between two (or more) people who genuinely want to learn about one another. Once you get the job, your conversations with your new colleagues will help you gain their trust and build a rapport that helps you (and them) succeed.

“In your social life, if you want to ask someone on a date or even just make a new friend, you’re going to have to be able to talk to that person,” notes Kuzmeski. “These are all situations where technology is only going to get you so far. Life’s opportunities are sealed with conversation, not texting or emailing.”

It’s a great way to invest in others. Kuzmeski believes that the act of listening—the other half of a great conversation—shows people you care. “When you speak with someone and listen to what he or she has to say, you are showing that person you value him or her,” explains Kuzmeski. “And the wonderful thing is that in the flow of a great conversation, he or she is giving that courtesy right back to you. “

It is not a requirement to be the most outgoing person in the room. If you’ve been using your shy personality as an excuse for relying on technology for all of your communication, now’s the time to stop, stresses Kuzmeski. “Being outgoing is not a requirement for participating in or initiating a great conversation. The only requirements are that you are authentic and show that you value what the other person has to say,” she explains. “You don’t have to say anything profound. You don’t have to impress people with your every word. You simply have to participate, actively listen, and be open and honest in what you say.”

It’s the best way to mend a broken relationship. There are some situations in business, and in life, that should only be handled via a conversation. The bottom line is that sometimes an email or a text just won’t cut it. According to Kuzmeski, mending a broken relationship is one of those situations.

“When you’re in trouble with a client or you’ve hurt a friend’s feelings, you have to get up and go see the person or, at the very least, pick up the phone and call, even when the conversation might be uncomfortable for you,” says Kuzmeski. “Your client will appreciate that you’ve shown up during tough times, and you’ll be showing your friend that you value him or her enough to make the time. This is how you begin to rebuild trust, something that will be very difficult to achieve if all you’re doing is pushing the ‘Send’ button.”

Kuzmeski believes that conversation lies behind strong relationships, an advancement of opportunities and a more satisfying way of living overall. “When you focus your efforts on having great conversations every day, you’ll see that great things start to fall into place.”

The best in their field, even professional athletes take advantage of coaching. If you would like the benefit of working with a full time coach, absolutely free to you, please call me directly or email to set up an interview.

(313) 516-6644

Saturday, April 23, 2011

6 Steps to Help Avoid the ‘Follow Up Trap’

6 Steps to Help Avoid the ‘Follow Up Trap’
By Mike Sparr

RISMEDIA, March 31, 2011—With the rise in Internet-based marketing, sales professionals have now become captives, feeling obligated to be on call to respond to leads 24/7, for fear they will go cold. Every sales professional has probably experienced this phenomenon but never put a name to it. Goomzee—a company dedicated to helping real estate professionals increase sales efficiency by delivering high quality buyer sales leads and automating lead follow up using mobile technology—has labeled this trend the “follow up trap.”

Goomzee hears from real estate professionals around the country and reports that one common theme noted from the industry’s veterans is that things used to be simple, and they’re frustrated trying to keep up with all the new things they feel they now have to do to market and sell real estate. In the past, a real estate professional would list the property in the MLS, place a sign at the property site, print up flyers and occasionally advertise in the newspaper—often to appease the sellers. Something that was very clear back then was the target market, typically other real estate professionals within the community. This made marketing easy because there were a finite number of people to market to, and the MLS made this possible to achieve efficiently, creating a “clearing house” of real estate listings that other agents could gain access to. The target market was clearly defined, which made this approach very efficient and effective.

Today’s real estate agents are trying to market properties to the consumer, and this target market is exponentially larger. In my hometown of Missoula, Mont., we have approximately 100,000 people and approximately 700 real estate agents. In the past, an agent had to market to 700 people to get their home sold. Now they have to market to an audience 142 times greater. If they spent $10,000 per year in the past to reach 700 people, could this mean they have to spend 142 times that amount to reach consumers?

Obviously having a property search on their website and placing advertisements on national search portals have allowed agents to benefit from the efficiency of online marketing. This has introduced troubles, however. Now they just place listings online, bringing in leads from around the country which means they spend their time being reactive all day long in hopes the leads will turn into a perspective buyer or seller. As such, they are captives of their broad marketing efforts to be “on call” 24/7, and most cannot respond quick enough to keep the best leads hot.

There are a variety of techniques and tools available to help keep the follow up trap at bay, but it takes discipline to truly take advantage:

Step One—Define your best customer and narrow your target market focus

First, narrow your target market so the leads you receive are your best customers. Look back at the homes you have successfully sold and identify who your best customers truly are. Were they local or out-of-state? What age group and sex? What was their income level? How did they find you? If you ask yourself these questions, you may be surprised to find your best customer is not who you thought, and they found you where you’d least expect. Many real estate professionals track this information, but if not, simply contact your past customers and explain you are performing a customer satisfaction survey and wanted to ask them a few questions to help better serve them in the future. This not only helps you, but it keeps those leads thinking of you and recognizing your professionalism—likely leading to more referrals too.

Below are a few questions you might ask:
• What is the most important thing you look for when choosing an agent to represent you?
• When searching for a home to buy, do you drive around to visit the neighborhoods?
• When requesting information about a home, how quickly do you expect a response?
• What best describes you male/female, 18-24, 25-32, 33-40, 40, etc.
• When you were looking for a home to purchase, did already you live in the same city?

Step Two—Identify where your best leads come from

A study at Baylor University revealed that real estate agents spent more money on the marketing tools that delivered them the least value. In terms of value, the No. 1 was referrals and No. 2 was IVR or call capture technology like 800 numbers and text messaging sign riders. The key is to identify where you receive the most value that truly accomplishes your goal—more transactions in less time —and fine-tune your marketing investment.

Now look at where real estate agents received the most value and you’ll see they spend the majority of their money on the things that deliver them the least value.

Step Three—Focus your marketing efforts towards your best customers

As you can see above and in an analysis of your business, you’ll find areas that deliver the most value. Once you identify where the most value is received, you can make a list of the tools and marketing channels best suited to exploit them. If you receive most of your business from referrals, then identify where they come from and make sure you invest in networking, sponsorships, and maintaining your professional network and address book follow ups on a regular basis. If your business comes from online sources, identify who actually buys and where they are located so you can hone in your online marketing efforts to reach those customers more efficiently. Where do they go to search for homes?

Step Four—Use technology to automate repetitive tasks

Although some may be frustrated with all the new technology tools and ever-changing software solutions, most are designed for one reason: to automate repetitive tasks. If you look at your typical workday and break it down to what activities you perform over and over, you can then look at tools that will help you automate those activities and get more hours of productivity each day. This will result in more transactions and thus more money, so investing wisely will pay off.

An example might be that your best results come from taking top buyers to lunch on a regular basis. You may want to use a calendar application and set up an automated reminder to schedule a lunch meeting each month with your top buyers. If you spend a lot of time answering emails, perhaps you can set up an automated response that thanks the sender for their email and tells them the time of day you will call them back. Better yet, at Goomzee we have a tool called the Auto Responder which will start a conversation automatically with the lead and notify you if they express interest in a follow up. This saves you time, as you won’t need to spend all day following up with leads. The trick is to identify what you do, and what tools can automate those tasks while keeping the customer engaged. One thing to use caution with are tools that effectively push away buyers, or seem too impersonal, like recordings or voice menus. Make the communication interactive and personal, and you’ll satisfy today’s demanding buyers.

Step Five—Establish a regular time for lead follow ups

No matter what tools and advertising you invest in, you will gain leads all the time. By leveraging automation tools like an email or text message auto response, you can effectively manage the customer expectations and set a time they will expect your follow up. Email alone may not provide them with the information they seek right away, but often that form is tied to a website which allows them to view property information. You can simply set up an “out of office” message for an email account so your Internet leads are responded to automatically. Text messaging typically works with at-property sign riders, which also deliver information to the buyer instantly so they will accept you calling them back later. Text messaging adds the ability to make the response interactive, and if the lead is really hot, you can receive notifications on your phone to allow callbacks for the best candidates. If you utilize these tools, or ones like them, you can establish a regular time to follow up with your leads each day and avoid being trapped. Plus, when you do follow up, the lead quality will be much higher. The trick to this is effectively managing the expectation of the buyer, but also satisfying their desire for instant gratification.

Step Six—Measure and analyze the results

After you analyze your business, target your marketing, automate repetitive tasks and “time box” your follow ups, you will want to measure results. Often what we expect is not what actually results, like in the example from the Baylor University study. As such, when you form assumptions on who your best customers are and where you find them, keep track of your ongoing transactions and either validate your assumptions or refine your targeting. If you find that following up with the leads in the morning is better than the afternoon, for instance, then you may want to change the time you set aside for follow ups. Tools that offer you tracking of your leads, and when you received them, can help you determine the best time of day for your “callback hour,” allowing you to achieve the best results. You may need to try a few tests for different periods of time and find what works best, but if you make the investment, you’ll remain a step ahead of others and likely keep more of the money you earn in the process.

The best in their field, even professional athletes take advantage of coaching. If you would like the benefit of working with a full time coach, absolutely free to you, please call me directly or email to set up an interview.

(313) 516-6644

Friday, April 22, 2011

Scripting Success – 7 Tips to Stand Out from the Crowd

Scripting Success – 7 Tips to Stand Out from the Crowd

REBAC Report by Marc Gould

RISMEDIA, April 16, 2011—For years, real estate professionals have been trying to tailor their marketing strategies to an ever-evolving consumer. Some focus on using the latest technology or trends to stand out from the crowd, while others stick to more traditional methods of reaching buyers and sellers. Whatever the method of communication, the use of scripts can not only give an agent a better chance at a great first impression, but can impart the confidence that he or she needs to best represent a client in a dynamic market.

In this month’s column, we feature tips from a recent article published in Today’s Buyer’s Rep newsletter dealing with the power of scripts in today’s market. Today’s Buyer’s Rep is a monthly publication sent to members of REBAC, many of whom have earned or are working toward earning the Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR®) Designation. While these tips are designed with buyer’s agents in mind, they can be useful for real estate professionals on either side of the transaction. Take a few moments to review these best practices from top-producing agent and successful real estate educator, Lori Cox, ABR®, SFR. It could make a big impact on your marketing strategy this year.

Be confident. If you’ve given careful consideration to the right words and rehearsed them well, you can relax in the knowledge that you are ready to address all the most important and sensitive topics.

Make a good first impression. While preparing in advance can instill confidence, it’s equally true that failing to do so can cause you to feel nervous and uncomfortable. Clients are quick to pick up on these nonverbal cues.

Watch your body language. Body language and voice inflections are actually more powerful communicators than the words you choose. So even if you haven’t perfected your scripts, practice them anyway. What you say can be less important than how you say it.

Practice often. Practicing and constantly improving your scripts is the only way to achieve these benefits. It’s the act of developing good scripts that causes them to become your own, and helps you project calm confidence and professionalism. These qualities act like magnets, helping clients feel comfortable and attracted to working with you.

Keep it short, effortless and compelling. Less is more, plus it’s easier to remember. Your script should flow with ease, feeling natural and authentic. The message should be spot-on and include a call to action.

Be flexible. Even though good scripts require careful planning and practice, don’t make the mistake of assuming that you’ll always use them or use them in a particular order. Rather, scripts are like the best cards in your deck. You hold them in reserve, ready to play them at the proper moment.

Ask questions. If a client asks about the current market, try replying with a question of your own. This allows you to learn more about the client’s situation and interests before offering your opinion and services.

The best in their field, even professional athletes take advantage of coaching. If you would like the benefit of working with a full time coach, absolutely free to you, please call me directly or email to set up an interview.

(313) 516-6644

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Persistence Is Key – Motivational Strategies Can Lead to Success

Persistence Is Key – Motivational Strategies Can Lead to Success

By Mary Ellen Collins

RISMEDIA, April 15, 2011—Starting each day with enthusiasm comes easily to most agents when the housing market is booming. But when times are tough, even the most experienced CRSs can struggle to maintain their drive. “It’s hard to get motivated when you’ve been hitting the wall, but those who get frustrated and slack off or quit are simply creating opportunities for those who don’t,” says Fawn Germer, a global speaker on leadership and performance and the best-selling author of Finding the Up in the Downturn.

“Just remember that the window is wide open to succeed when others are giving up. Motivation is a personal thing. You can find it in books, meditation, athletics, affirmations, friends, nature—just about anywhere. Know what inspires you and tap into that.” While some agents have a sound motivational strategy in place that works for them, many others may feel like they’ve tried everything to no avail. But experts and highly motivated professionals agree that persistence is the key. Whether their motivation comes from positive thinking, mentoring others or seizing obvious opportunities, successful CRSs know that good motivation can lead directly to success in any market.

Accentuate the Positive
The power of positive thinking—as described in scores of self-help and business books—serves as a common touchstone for many professionals. For example, the popular book and movie The Secret touts “the law of attraction,” which contends that positive thinking can bring positive outcomes, including wealth, health and happiness. And although skeptics may dismiss this line of thinking as New Age malarkey, Germer says positive thinking most certainly can work.

“The science of the brain is that it believes what it is told—whether it is true or not. If you wake up and say, ‘This market [is terrible], and I’m going under,’ you’ll be going under in a market that [is terrible]. But you’ll get an entirely different result if you repeat affirmations like ‘I have what it takes to be successful in any climate, and I am proving that now.’” Germer suggests that agents come up with a routine to help them remember to stay on a positive course.

“Come up with 10 positive statements and repeat them at least 10 times every day,” she says. “Soon, your brain will believe what you have told it and will create exactly what you have told it you are creating.” For Beth Jaworski, CRS, GREEN, with Shorewest Realtors in the Milwaukee area, some simple daily strategies help her maintain a positive attitude and outlook on her work and life. She begins every day by reading the motivational and inspirational emails she receives each morning—one from Motivation in a Minute and another from an animal shelter charity, which provides inspirational stories of animal rescues. “It’s a positive way to start the day,” she says. “It doesn’t have to have anything to do with real estate…it’s like exercise, it just brings your attitude up.”

Jaworski limits the amount of negative news she watches and spends minimal time in her office’s computer room, where she says everyone goes to complain. She also takes time throughout the day to stop and think how lucky she is. “I choose to believe it’s a great time and opportunity for real estate,” Jaworski says. “Staying positive is a choice you have to make every minute, every hour, every day. There are REALTORS® who tell clients, ‘I haven’t had a check in five months.’

That won’t inspire them to want to work with you. Clients want someone who is upbeat, but informed and realistic.” Her approach seems to be working. Jaworski says she usually averages about 40 property sales a year; last year she sold 49 and achieved her best year ever.

Lend a Hand
Sherri Teepen, CRS, ABR, with Keller Williams Realty WCMC in Austin, Texas, experienced a slump in business when a family illness occupied her time at the beginning of 2010. She credits the skills and strategies she learned at a motivational course she took last summer for getting her back on track. For example, the course inspired her to form a mastermind group—essentially a supportive group of colleagues who give each other feedback, brainstorm new ideas and keep each other focused and accountable—with nine young agents in her office.

The group meets monthly to discuss the progress of their transactions, their successes and their challenges. She also invites mortgage, insurance and title professionals to speak to the group, and then they discuss how that information can be used in their business. Teepen says it’s especially important for real estate professionals to have a support system and a process for accountability to help them stay motivated to succeed. While most real estate offices are ultracompetitive, she says the mastermind group provides a more collaborative space for professionals to share their insights and learn from one another.

“For me, it’s more of a ministry to help the young ones be successful. That keeps me motivated,” she says. “There’s nothing better or more energizing than helping someone else. When they have overcome adversity, it’s a huge adrenaline high for them and for me. I can’t imagine not getting excited about someone else’s success.” Teepen also belongs to another mastermind group of more experienced agents from other offices. “These people have been through the ups and downs—we challenge each other by asking, ‘Are you making your calls? Are you asking for the business? Are you joining organizations?’ That little nudge of accountability spurs you on. You don’t want to go to a meeting without doing your homework!”

Eyes on the Prize
Terry La Scola, CRS, ABR, an associate broker with Real Estate Teams LLC in Frederick, M.D., admits it can be challenging to stay on track, especially since the real estate market downturn has lasted longer than many experts had forecast. But she says it’s been easy for her to stay motivated because she has a drive to search for opportunities to succeed. La Scola recognized early on that the market downturn presented not only a challenge, but also an opportunity. “I saw where others were cutting back and melting, and I thought, ‘I’ll work harder, I’ll work longer, and I’ll figure out how to work smarter.’ I wanted to grow my team and take more market share.”

To do that, La Scola knew she needed to make some changes in the way she motivated herself and her team. For example, La Scola drafted a clear set of specific goals—everything from broad annual targets to monthly and weekly goals and daily lists. She required her staff to present their own goals at the weekly staff meetings. “Day by day, week by week, I love seeing our progress,” she says. “There is nothing more exciting than looking at the bulletin board and seeing you have accomplished most of your goals.” A clear vision and high standards keep La Scola on track. “My sales have increased every year since 2004, and I don’t think this year will be an exception to that. My motivation is, ‘Am I doing it better today than at this time last year?’ And that’s what really jazzes me.

You stay motivated because you constantly remind yourself where you want to be.” But motivation isn’t a one-size-fits-all proposition. If you know what inspires you, use it. If you don’t know, don’t be afraid to be open-minded and borrow a strategy from a colleague. Forward motion starts with a single step in the right direction. And it can’t hurt to smile and stay positive along the way.

The best in their field, even professional athletes take advantage of coaching. If you would like the benefit of working with a full time coach, absolutely free to you, please call me directly or email to set up an interview.

(313) 516-6644

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

REALTORS Applaud Bill to Speed Lender Response to Short Sales

REALTORS Applaud Bill to Speed Lender Response to Short Sales

RISMEDIA, April 15, 2011—A new bill to improve the process for approving short sales may soon bring relief to distressed homeowners who are unable to keep their homes and hope to avoid foreclosure. The bill, recently introduced in the U.S. House and strongly supported by the National Association of REALTORS®, would impose a deadline of 45 days on lenders to respond to short sale requests.

The legislation, the “Prompt Decision for Qualification for Short Sale Act of 2011,” was offered in Congress by U.S. Reps. Tom Rooney (R-Fla.) and Robert Andrews (D-N.J.).

“The current short sale process can be time-consuming and inefficient, and many would-be buyers end up walking away from a sale that could have saved a homeowner from foreclosure,” said NAR President Ron Phipps, broker-president of Phipps Realty in Warwick, R.I.

“REALTORS® and consumers continue to raise issues about delays in the short sale process, because lenders are unable to decide whether to approve a short sale. After many months of delays, and with no response from lenders, potential buyers are losing patience and cancelling their contracts, often resulting in the property entering foreclosure. A short sale minimizes the negative impact on sellers and generally costs the lender less than a foreclosure,” said Phipps.

NAR has been actively pushing the lending industry to improve the process for approving short sales, which represent about 13% of recent home sales, according to NAR data. Phipps praised Reps. Rooney and Andrews for their efforts on the bill and urged Congress to pass the bill quickly.

“As the leading advocate for homeownership and housing issues, REALTORS® want to help more homeowners avoid foreclosure by facilitating a short sale when a family is absolutely unable to keep their home; however, that can only happen if lenders and servicers approve short sale offers in a reasonable amount of time,” said Phipps. “Streamlining short sales transactions will reduce the amount of time it takes to sell the property, improve the likelihood that the transaction will close and reduce the overall number of foreclosures. This benefits sellers, lenders, buyers and the entire community.”

The best in their field, even professional athletes take advantage of coaching. If you would like the benefit of working with a full time coach, absolutely free to you, please call me directly or email to set up an interview.

(313) 516-6644

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Are You Running Your Business Like A Business? Step 2

Are You Running Your Business Like A Business? Step 2

We were all wooed by the idea of being independent business people, predominantly because we liked the idea of our time being our own. This is a lovely fantasy, but a poor realtor/employee to be named later is the typical result of this ideal. We start to prioritize and schedule all of life’s events ahead of work and soon find that we have a career in name only and absolutely no income to show for it. Once we have experienced the rude awakening that is - "you don't earn unless you consistently work", we often find that the process in turning it all around too difficult to structure. Now that you hopefully have step 1 down - The Business Plan
The next step in running your business like a business is to have a structure that blocks out the time you will need to accomplish the tasks to reach your goals. This requires a scheduling trick in order to continue to have the best of both worlds. Every event in your life must be scheduled on the same calendar. Start first with all of the daily/weekly events that you have in place currently: picking up kids from school, soccer practice at 3 on Wednesdays. No one is suggesting that these things have to go away. You simply need to clearly define your work time and commit to it. Next, you will create a weekly work schedule, blocking time for each of the tasks that will produce business. For example, there are really only three basic components to our business. 1.) Connecting with potential customers, prequalifying their potential, & scheduling the appointment (prospecting). 2.) Meeting with the customers to enter into a contract or working relationship. 3.) Following up - Launching all of the systems to help them promote or find a home and processing the deal. The better you are at qualifying people, the more time you will have to spend finding the best ones to work with. In practice, about 35% of your time will be spent finding customers, 35% meeting with them, and 30% follow up. Here is a mock schedule to help you get started:

If you would like further assistance with any of these techniques, don't hesitate to contact me for some free coaching.

The best in their field, even professional athletes take advantage of coaching. If you would like the benefit of working with a full time coach, absolutely free to you, please call me directly or email to set up an interview.

(313) 516-6644

6 Steps to get your buyers to make GOOD offers

Are you chasing your tail, spinning your wheels, and literally spending countless hours with people who just don't seem to get it? We are the professionals and yet it seems that the general public is so convinced that we are salespeople that they have a difficult time trusting what we say. How do we overcome this?

6 Steps to get your buyers to make GOOD offers
#1 - Be a consultant and trusted advisor. Break the myth by explaining the value of your service. "Mr. & Mrs. Buyer, you probably think we sell houses, but the truth of the matter is that I really couldn't convince you to buy a house you don't want. Isn’t that true? In fact, you've already come to me determined to buy a house, so there is no selling necessary on my part. My real job is to help guide you through the process with the least amount of stress, the greatest amount of joy, and help you get exactly what you want for the best price and terms. In order to do that effectively I have to know my market and convey that knowledge to you.
#2 - Educate them that we are in a seller’s market with less than six months of inventory. (The proof is in the market report just discussed - share it with them. If you want to prove that this is true in the specific area they are looking, just contact me and I will show you how in 5 minutes.)
#3 - Show them the public record for the property and how much it was worth before the market turned. (They are buying someone else’s lost equity, asking price has nothing to do with it - Happy Birthday to the buyer!)
#4 - Show them an analysis of list to sale prices from recent transactions in the neighborhood. (Sometimes they need to see it to believe it - people are paying more than asking and they will likely lose their house if they don't.)
#5 - Coach them to make their "no regrets" offer. In other words, Mr. Buyer if someone else offers a thousand dollars more than the $100,000 you want to offer and they get the house, will you regret not having offered more? (Continue to ask this question until they are sure they've hit the number that will mean no regrets if they don't get it)
#6 - Be willing to get a retainer fee or let go of unreasonable buyers. (Time is money - you can't hang on to someone that just doesn't get it. There are others out there who will.)

If you would like further assistance with any of these techniques, don't hesitate to contact me for some free coaching.

The best in their field, even professional athletes take advantage of coaching. If you would like the benefit of working with a full time coach, absolutely free to you, please call me directly or email to set up an interview.

(313) 516-6644

4 Tips to Manage Your Leads and Improve Your Conversion Rate

4 Tips to Manage Your Leads and Improve Your Conversion Rate

Marketing Messaging by Tricia Andreassen

RISMEDIA, April 15, 2011—With studies showing that buyers begin their search for a home well before they actually buy, you need to have a game plan in place to strategically position yourself to be top of mind when they are ready to buy. In conjunction with the positioning, you need to have a system that can rate each visitor to your site. If your lead is considered “hot,” what are you doing to cultivate it from a lead to a sale?

You may have follow-up action items for your sphere of influence and past clients. But what about the continuous leads that are coming in through various sources from your marketing efforts?

Here are four tips to help you manage those leads and turn them into an actual sale.

1. Set all forms on your website to go into a main database so that you have one location for all your leads. This will allow you to get a snapshot of what forms are getting the most traffic and, at the same time, allow you to see all your activity.

2. Have specific e-mail campaigns with specific e-mail capture forms. If buyers and sellers are visiting your site and filling out a form for more information, you don’t want to place them into an e-mail follow-up campaign that doesn’t relate to their situation. If they are filling out a CMA request form, you should place them into an e-mail campaign that addresses their needs when going through the home selling process. The same applies for the relocation lead, the military move buyer and even the first-time home buyer. Be mindful that the e-mail follow-up will build credibility and rapport with the person so that they will want to work with you.

3. Have the ability in the tracking system to place leads into specific groups such as “hot leads” or “open house buyers.” Imagine getting a new listing and wanting to get the word out to your “hot buyer” prospects. If you have the ability to organize your leads into specific groups, you will be able to send a quick email blast to the necessary groups in just minutes.

4. Organize your groups like you run your traditional real estate business. If you are part of a team, think about how you communicate with one another. Does every team member have their own list of leads? If so, make that a group in your database and email follow-up system. If you like to classify the buyers you are working with as “A, B or C buyers,” match the group name to the communication you naturally use. This will help streamline what you are doing traditionally with the technology you are using to connect with your leads.

The best in their field, even professional athletes take advantage of coaching. If you would like the benefit of working with a full time coach, absolutely free to you, please call me directly or email to set up an interview.

(313) 516-6644

Monday, April 18, 2011

How to capture new business at open houses

How to capture new business at open houses
You can use open houses to promote properties and yourself. Here's how.
By Rich Levin | March 2011

Open houses can serve a dual purpose. The first is obvious — to market a property to potential buyers. The second is a bit more subtle. Open houses also can be an opportunity to promote your services to consumers.

First Things First

The majority of open house guests are buyers. (Some are also neighbors, friends, and so forth, but you’ll quickly spot them.) The buyers who come through the door might already be loyal to another practitioner, and you should respect that relationship. Furthermore, a listing agent has a fiduciary responsibility to the seller. Practitioners participating in an open house that isn’t for their own listing don’t have that fiduciary responsibility.

Either way, to be fair to the seller, the agent must first determine whether the buyer is interested in the house before they begin to take attention away from the house. This is as simple as asking, “Does this house interest you?” Or, “I promised the sellers to ask each guest whether you are interested in the house. Are you?”

Give Them What They Want

The guests want to be comfortable, and they want information. Start by greeting each guest with a gracious smile. Welcome them to the house. Then, offer to answer all their questions. Provide them with more information than they were expecting.

On the dining room table or kitchen counter, provide information on the community and the neighborhood, a fully filled out sample purchase offer and addendums, financing recommendations with advantages of each, and detailed closing cost estimates. Be ready to show alternative properties that are in the area, in the same price and size range, and in the same style — that is, properties that guests are likely to be interested in if they showed up at this open house.

Ask Questions That Interest Them

There are only a few reasons buyers would choose to attend any open house: location, price, size, or a particular feature. So, ask questions along the lines of:

“This house is in Brighton. Are you looking exclusively in Brighton, or also in Penfield, Pittsford, and the other eastern suburbs?”
“This one is $279,900. Is that your price range, or are you looking higher or lower than that?”
“This one is 2,500 square feet with four bedrooms and three baths. Is that the size you were looking for or did you want something larger or smaller than that?”
“This one is adjacent to the golf course. Were you looking for a property on a golf course or did you just like this location?”

You will immediately discover whether buyers are loyal to other practitioners. The available ones will enthusiastically and openly answer you. They’ll begin to like you and trust you, because you’re asking questions that interest them. This also implies you know about other properties that have similar characteristics, which means you can help them.

Show Sincere Interest

Then say, “Tell me all the things you would like in your house and I’ll take notes.” Once they’ve answered the questions about location, price, and size, they’ll answer this question. The trust toward you deepens. Loyalty is yours, as long as you continue to show sincere interest in them and what they want to accomplish.

Offer Education and Information

Ask if they have reviewed the current paperwork used to buy a home in the area. “Has anyone given you a copy of the contract that you would sign to purchase a home? It’s good to be familiar with this paperwork before making a $200,000 decision.”

Then ask them follow-up questions: “Are you familiar with the variety of inspections available for homes in this area and with the roles of attorneys and other professionals involved in making sure the transaction goes well?”

Finally, try to schedule a follow-up meeting: “May I suggest that we get together? I can go over all of these things with you and provide you with copies and other information that will protect your interests and make the process enjoyable. No obligation: If we hit it off, and it looks like we will, I’ll help you find a great house. If we don’t, you’ll just be better prepared. Would you be able to meet sometime this week or next?”

The words “contract,” “sign,” and “decision” are used purposefully, in a way that will make buyers realize that they need someone that they can trust to protect them.

Go All the Way, or Don’t Go at All

Many real estate professionals have said to me, “Rich, I do something similar to that, and it doesn’t work.” Then there are practitioners who build loyalty through this exact approach and say to me, “That is so easy. It makes so much sense to them. The ones who begin to answer these questions just naturally evolve into clients.”

The best in their field, even professional athletes take advantage of coaching. If you would like the benefit of working with a full time coach, absolutely free to you, please call me directly or email to set up an interview.

(313) 516-6644

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Free Coaching Tip # 19: Buyers and Showings

Tip #19


Now it’s time to get them into the car and start the homes tour …. ???

Of course, that will depend on your market-inventory knowledge.

Certainly you can convert all kinds of incoming buyer calls to appointments, but if you don’t know the current inventory, you’re going to waste a lot of your time, the buyers time, and look very unprofessional.

Knowledge is power, do you have market knowledge? Do you know the current inventory? How much time do you spend previewing new listings? This comes under schedule management. We’ll give you some ideas on that further into this series.

You can qualify buyers, get their financing in place, but without up to the minute market knowledge, you’re going to struggle to convert buyers into closings.

If you allow buyers to lead your search, you are sure to show them 30-50 houses. If you communicate your market knowledge and value, they will trust that you have narrowed the field for them and will only show them the best of what's available in their range.

Call me if you want support in positioning yourself as the most competent agent in the marketplace.

The best in their field, even professional athletes take advantage of coaching. If you would like the benefit of working with a full time coach, absolutely free to you, please call me directly or email to set up an interview.

(313) 516-6644

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Month’s Shadow Inventory: State by State

Month’s Shadow Inventory: State by State

The best in their field, even professional athletes take advantage of coaching. If you would like the benefit of working with a full time coach, absolutely free to you, please call me directly or email to set up an interview.

(313) 516-6644

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Real estate agents: What if you can't pay taxes now?

Real estate agents: What if you can't pay taxes now?

Real Estate Tax Talk

Inman News™

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Your income taxes are due on April 18. What should you do if you can't pay what you owe?

File your tax return

First and foremost, even if you can't pay, you should file your tax return on time. The penalties for not filing a return are severe: 5 percent per month on the amount you owe, to a maximum of 25 percent reached after five months.

This is in addition to the interest the Internal Revenue Service charges for paying your taxes late. Filing your return -- even if you can't pay what you owe -- will at least avoid this penalty.

Borrow the money

The interest rate on a loan or credit card may be lower than the combination of penalties and interest imposed by the IRS. As a result, it could be cheaper to borrow money or use your credit card to pay what you owe.

You could try borrowing the money from a friend or relative, obtain a personal loan from a bank, or take out a home equity loan (assuming you have a home with equity). Using credit cards to pay should be a last resort since the interest is usually high.

If you can't get together enough money to pay all you owe, at least make a partial payment. The penalty for not paying your taxes on time, even though you filed a return, is smaller than that for not filing at all, but it's not negligible.

The IRS will charge you 0.5 percent per month on the amount you owe, to a maximum 25 percent reached after 50 months. You'll avoid at least a part of this penalty by making a partial payment when you file.

Request an installment agreement

Consider asking the IRS to permit you to pay what you owe over time in installments. If you owe $25,000 or less in combined taxes, penalties, and interest, you should be able to get an installment payment plan for up to 60 months just by asking for it.

You can apply online at the IRS website. However, if IRS computers show that you haven't filed all past due tax returns, you will not be eligible for an installment plan. Likewise, if, like most real estate professionals, you are self-employed, you must be current on your quarterly estimated tax payments for the current year.

If you owe more than $25,000, you will have to negotiate with the IRS to get an installment plan. You may also have to submit a financial statement.

Unfortunately, interest and penalties continue to accrue on your unpaid balance while you make your installment payments.

Seek an undue hardship extension

You can get an extra six months to pay the amount you owe by obtaining an undue hardship extension from the IRS. During this time the IRS won't charge you any penalties, but you'll still have to pay interest on the amount you owe.

You can get this extension only if you convince the IRS that paying your taxes on time will result in "undue hardship." Undue hardship means more than an inconvenience. You must show that you will have a substantial financial loss -- for example, you'll have to sell property at a sacrifice price.

If you have assets, you'll be required to provide security for your tax debt -- for example, a bond, deed of trust, notice of lien, or personal guarantee.

To obtain a hardship extension, you must file IRS Form 1127, Application for Extension of Time for Payment of Tax Due to Undue Hardship, and provide detailed financial information.

Make an Offer in Compromise

If you have already filed your return, but are unable to pay your taxes, you have another option: making an offer in compromise (OIC), which the IRS describes as "an agreement between a taxpayer and the IRS that settles the taxpayer’s tax liabilities for less than the full amount owed."

The IRS, like most creditors, would rather get something than nothing. Thus, you may be able to convince it to wipe our your entire tax debt if you pay a part of what you owe.

In some cases, the IRS has accepted as little as 1 percent of the amount owed on a tax bill. However, the IRS doesn't have to accept any OIC, and fewer than half are actually accepted.

The IRS will accept your OIC only if you convince it that:
•You aren't able to pay the full amount;
•There is doubt as to the amount of your tax liability (unusual); or
•Due to exceptional circumstances, payment in full would cause an "economic hardship" or be "unfair" or "inequitable" -- for example, you can't work due to health problems, or you'd be left with no money to pay your basic living expenses if you sold your assets to pay your tax bill in full.

Moreover, the amount of your offer must be equal to the "realizable value" of your assets plus the amount of money the IRS could take from your future income. For example, if your assets are worth $20,000 and the amount of your future income that's available to the IRS is $10,000, your minimum offer must be $30,000.

To begin the OIC process, you must file IRS Form 656, Offer in Compromise and pay a $150 application fee. You must also make detailed disclosures about your finances on IRS Form 433-A, Collection Information Statement for Wage Earners and Self-employed Individuals. See the IRS website for details.

Stephen Fishman is a tax expert, attorney and author who has published 18 books, including "Working for Yourself: Law & Taxes for Contractors, Freelancers and Consultants," "Deduct It," "Working as an Independent Contractor," and "Working with Independent Contractors." He welcomes your questions for this weekly column.

The best in their field, even professional athletes take advantage of coaching. If you would like the benefit of working with a full time coach, absolutely free to you, please call me directly or email to set up an interview.

(313) 516-6644

Monday, April 11, 2011

Real Estate Marketing Strategies – Are You a ‘People Pleaser’ or Are You Committed to ‘Win/Win’?

Real Estate Marketing Strategies – Are You a ‘People Pleaser’ or Are You Committed to ‘Win/Win’?
By Maya Bailey, Ph.D. Print Article
RISMEDIA, April 9, 2011—The biggest mistake that most real estate agents make in dealing with their clients and colleagues is that they are unconsciously committed to “people pleasing.” The signs to watch out for will clearly show you whether you are inadvertently falling into a “people pleaser” pattern. If so, you’ll be shown an alternative strategy. You’ll learn what it means to commit to “win/win” or “no deal.”

How do you know, if you are a people pleaser?

Here are the signs to watch out for:

1. You don’t feel in charge of your business. It seems that your clients are running you around. You find yourself accommodating their schedules and feeling that you have “no life of your own.”

2. You find yourself wasting time with people you thought were “prospective clients,” only to find out that they were not really committed to working with you.

3. You find it hard to speak “the truth” to your clients. For example, you find it hard to tell them specifically how to price their home. You may also find it hard to insist that prospective buyers agree to a “buyer’s agreement” with you.

4. You take on clients that you know you shouldn’t. Your intuition is telling you that there is “trouble ahead.” You don’t see the red flags, because you want to be “nice” and you don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.

5. You find it hard to pick up the phone and call on prospects. It could be that you find it hard to call your sphere of influence, your former clients, or even warm leads. You tell yourself, “I don’t want to bother anyone.”

6. You let your colleagues and associates encroach on your time. Perhaps they pass by your office and think that it’s a good time to talk to you. You have trouble setting boundaries with them and saying, “Sorry, I’m busy now.” You want them to like you.

7. You also want your clients to like you, so you bend over backwards to meet their needs. I’ve even had some clients who took on the job of babysitting children of their prospective clients. They thought if they could just please them enough, they would get their business.

8. If you are a broker or a manager, you put up with having people in your office that shouldn’t be there. Their energy is negative, and they pull down the morale of your office.

Win/Win or no deal – what does it mean?

When you commit to “win/win or no deal,” as Stephen Covey says, you are agreeing to never again enter into a relationship in which you will lose and the other person will win. In other words, you are deciding to relinquish your old “people pleasing pattern.”

Remember, the “people pleasing pattern” is based on the self limiting beliefs that “other people’s needs are more important than your own.” Dropping that paradigm means embracing a new paradigm – “my needs are as important as other people’s needs.”

What can you expect as the results?

• You can expect that you will be more highly tuned in to your intuition and “gut feelings.” If your “gut feeling” says, “No” then you will listen to that rather than your “mind”, which doesn’t always tell the truth.

• You can expect that prospective buyers you work with will respect your policies because you will insist that they agree to a “buyer’s agreement.” You can expect that when they do finally buy a home, it will be from you.

• You can expect that your clients and colleagues will gain respect for you because you are finding respect for yourself. Please note that you don’t need your clients to “like” you. You just need them to respect you.

(As an aside, studies have shown that it is not important whether they like you, but rather, what’s important is that they perceive that you like them. When they perceive that you like them, they feel protected and taken care of, and will give you their business.)

• You can expect that you will be telling the truth to sellers about how they should price their homes and you will be telling the truth to buyers as to how much they can expect to get for their money.

• If you are a broker, you can expect to be much more particular when you hire agents. You won’t be worrying about pleasing people, and you will be better able to evaluate the character, and work ethics of your team.

• You can expect to have better control of your own schedule. You will be clearly setting boundaries and defining when you are able to work and when you’re not. Not only will your clients respect you for that, but you will find that you finally “have a life.”

• You can expect to be more courageous in your prospecting. No longer will you be trying to “please” everyone you call. Rather, you will be coming from the mindset of “I have something valuable to offer”, and “this person is lucky to hear from me.”

• You can expect to back out of deals that you recently entered into when you were trying to be a “people pleaser”. As soon as you sense that this deal is going to be difficult or draining to you, you’ll remind yourself, “that it’s Win/Win, or no deal.”

• You can expect to be more assertive with your clients, with colleagues that stop by your office and pull on your ear, and even in group situations when you need to speak publicly.

What is the underpinning of all of this positive change? The key is that you approve of yourself. This is the greatest confidence builder that you have – your own approval of yourself. When you have that, you are no longer “outer directed”, i.e. trying to get the approval of others. You are inner directed and finding your own “inner approval.”

Finding your own “inner approval” is a process. It doesn’t happen overnight. Usually you need the help of a mentor or a coach to help guide you out of your old “people pleasing pattern” (which is usually your blind spot) and into a healthy pattern of self approval, leading to a “win/win” or no deal.

The best in their field, even professional athletes take advantage of coaching. If you would like the benefit of working with a full time coach, absolutely free to you, please call me directly or email to set up an interview.

(313) 516-6644

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Michigan Economic Update Shows Encouragement

The best in their field, even professional athletes take advantage of coaching. If you would like the benefit of working with a full time coach, absolutely free to you, please call me directly or email to set up an interview.

(313) 516-6644

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Be A Real Estate Strategist To Your Clients

Daily Real Estate News

The best in their field, even professional athletes take advantage of coaching. If you would like the benefit of working with a full time coach, absolutely free to you, please call me directly or email to set up an interview.

(313) 516-6644

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Agents Exercise Your Walk Away Power

Daily Real Estate News

The best in their field, even professional athletes take advantage of coaching. If you would like the benefit of working with a full time coach, absolutely free to you, please call me directly or email to set up an interview.

(313) 516-6644

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Tips to be successful now

KCM Quick Tips

The best in their field, even professional athletes take advantage of coaching. If you would like the benefit of working with a full time coach, absolutely free to you, please call me directly or email to set up an interview.

(313) 516-6644

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