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The Night Before Christmas: A Real Estate Tale
'Twas the night before Christmas working the open houseNot one visitor, not even a mouseThe signs were all out, and invites sent with careIn the hopes that a buyer would soon be there.
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What If We Replaced NAR Directors with Randomly Selected REALTORS?
This is a whimsical article. Don't take it too seriously, but take a moment to think about this question with me. My favorite activity on the weekends is to watch a few Ted Talks. This article was inspired by a 9-minute Ted Talk about politicians and democracy, titled "What if we replaced politicians with randomly selected people?" In the Ted Talk, author and activist Brent Henning presents a compelling case for sortation democracy. Rather than elect officials, they are randomly selected from society along the lines of society demographics – age, sex, religion, wealth, location, etc. The inspiration comes from ancient Athens where they implemented this system because of the corruption in politicians and monarchs. The purpose is to create a representative microcosm of society who would determine how we share and manage common resources. Henning did a very interesting straw poll of his audience. He asked, raise your hand if think that democracy is a good thing. Every hand in the room went up. I believe, without a doubt, that if I asked a room full of agents if they think that having a trade organization to represent their interests and the interests of homeowners is a good thing, every hand in the room would go up. Then Henning asks a different question of his audience. Who thinks our democracies are functioning well? Not a single hand in the room is raised. I would not suggest that hands would not go up if the question was posed to Realtors regarding their NAR Board of Directors. I guess that the question would be something like, "Raise your hand if you think that the NAR Board of Directors is functioning well." I think quite a few hands would go up, perhaps even a majority. I am not sure. NAR Board Composition Real estate brokerage franchise organization with 150 franchises Top 75 largest brokerages State representatives Large local board representatives Up to four outsiders Board/state forum chairs Real estate specialties representatives A Realtor Commercial Overlay Board representatives Association executive representatives Distinguished Service Award recipients Presidents of the International Affiliate Organizations State presidents Regional vice presidents Committee liaisons Past presidents Presidents of institutes, societies and councils Executive committee members Vice president and liaison to committees NAR officers In total, the number of NAR directors totals somewhere around 727 Realtors. Just as a point of reference, there are 535 members of United States Congress, 435 serve in the US House of Representatives. But there is a big difference here—not only in count, but also volunteer vs. elected. The top 75 firms and the top franchisors with more than 150 franchises are a good example of earned position. There are many others on this list. AEs are hired. Still others are appointed. As I go down the list, I have no argument with the categories with few exceptions. So I ask these questions, and invite you to raise your hand if you agree that: the NAR Board of Directors is too large the NAR Board of Directors is a good demographic representative of Realtors board decisions would be significantly different if directors were selected though the process of sortation (random by demographic)? I am not trying to stir the pot here. In fact, if called upon to testify, I would say that in my decades of attending NAR Midyear and NAR Annual, I rarely find a volunteer Realtor director that is not sharp. The only exception is the number of small association executives that are not sharp. I think that this is economic. Small associations rarely have the treasury to hire great AEs, and as a result, many are entry level. I know that this sounds harsh, but it is my anecdotal experience. Obviously, I do not know every one of the more than 1000 AEs nor have I measured their sharpness. Anyway, watch this video. It inspired these thoughts, and this article. To view the original article, visit the WAV Group blog.
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Rebuttal: Why Background Checks on Real Estate Prospects Don't Work
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The Truth about Technology and the Role of a Real Estate Agent
According to a report by the National Association of Realtors®, despite the abundance of publicly-accessed property data, more homebuyers and sellers are seeking counsel from real estate agents. In fact, nearly 90 percent of buyers purchased their home through a real estate agent or broker in 2016 — a dramatic increase from 69 percent in 2001 (2016 National Association of REALTORS® Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers). Interesting. In the last 15 years, the "golden age of consumerism" has ushered in unprecedented access to real estate data, empowering homebuyers and sellers to potentially or partially manage their experience, yet the positive perceived value of working with a REALTOR® has skyrocketed.
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[Best of 2017] True Confessions of a FSBO
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Relying on the Image of Being a Realtor Is Doing You a Disservice
One thing I will never understand about real estate agents is why being a "REALTOR®" is such a big deal and and integral part of their marketing and branding strategy. On one side, you have the real estate lobby. The real estate lobby is one of the largest and most powerful groups in the United States. On top of that, unlike any other trade organization I can think of, the National Association of Realtors® pays a ton of money for public facing marketing campaigns, touting the professionalism, code of ethics, experience and results that only a true Realtor® can give. For those reasons, I can see why it would be attractive for a real estate agent to join NAR and to be more than "just an agent." At the end of the day, however, this just doesn't track with public interest. Simply put, it does not work. Using buzzwords and key slogans about being a Realtor® and not "just an agent" is not going to help you in your marketplace. Not only will it not help you, it's going to be taking up prime space on your marketing collateral that could be better used for much more proactive, targeted messages that will drive engagement from homeowners in your marketplace and get you closer to starting a relationship with them and listing their home.
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Ben Did It Again: A Look at America's #1 REALTOR®
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The Dance between Patience and Mindful Real Estate Sales
In real estate, we are quickly handed the industry rhetoric as to how things are, the proverbial "blueprint for success." Follow this concept, this model, and you will achieve the reward. We quickly hit the ground running because we have the consistent set of waves coming in known as bills, debt, and so on. There is no time for patience or for reflection. Instead, it's I need to go DO something or the industry will leave me in the dust, I will lose to the competition, I won't be able to pay my bills or maintain MY lifestyle. Take a deep breath... the momentum and tension builds and builds until it works against us completely.
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True Confessions of a FSBO
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Best of 2016: I Didn't Hire FOUR Listing Agents!
There's just 10 publishing days left in 2016, and we're continuing an annual tradition of counting down our top 10 articles of the year. The following article was originally published back in March and is #10 in our countdown. There's nothing like becoming an ACTUAL customer of a product to give you a different perspective. I have looked at Zillow and other third party sites a gazillion times in my career as a consultant, but it took actually selling a home to really open my eyes. We held onto our home in Buffalo, New York for a long time after moving to California. This year, we finally decided to sell it. Once the home was live on third party sites, I became very interested in the agents who were featured on the property. I called each one to experience what a potential buyer might. Here's what happened: First, every one of the premiere agents and my listing agent called me back within minutes. This is not the normal response time I have experience in the past, so I was very pleased. Checkmark for all of them on responsiveness. Now let's get to the area that was very troublesome to me. I asked each agent to tell me a bit more about the house. I wanted to see how much they actually knew about the property. Had they visited it? Were they familiar with the neighborhood? The town? The street? I was very disappointed to find out that NONE of the premiere agents had been in the house or even in the neighborhood recently. They knew nothing about the property. They were simply using my property to troll for potential buyers. They were not experts in any way regarding the community or property they were representing.
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What House Hunters Gets Right about Working in Real Estate (and What It Gets Wrong)
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6 Signs You Belong in the Real Estate Industry
Being a REALTOR® takes a certain kind of person. It's not a profession meant for everyone. You have to be hard-working. You have to be motivated. You have to be persuasive and compassionate. Being a real estate agent means you're working long hours, you're spending a lot of time in your car or at other people's homes, you're trying to communicate with past clients and prospects on a regular basis – plus more. It's a lot to juggle. But there are advantages to being an agent. If you've ever questioned whether you truly belong in this competitive, exciting industry, it's time to set your mind at ease. Here are the signs you are meant to be a real estate agent. You don't mind using your passenger seat as a desk. As a Realtor, you spend a lot of time in your vehicle. That's inevitable. So if you're okay with spending a good chunk of time driving from showing to showing with listings and other materials piled high in your front seat, this is the right profession for you. You like to stay busy and can't stand being bored. There's a misconception that Realtors make good money while doing very little. You know that's far from the truth. Agents may have flexible schedules, but they definitely stay busy. Marketing themselves is just one aspect they have to worry about in addition to actually showing and selling properties. Prospecting, researching, negotiating, presenting and keeping in touch are time consuming tasks! Think about all the tactics that go into those activities and you'll agree that being a Realtor is not for the lazy.
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Millennials, Shmillennials: Why aren’t we marketing to the over 50 crowd?
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Homes Are Getting Smarter: Can Real Estate Agents Keep Up?
There are hundreds of products and services that go into building a home. It looks like there will be more as advances in technology are introducing devices that will make homes more intelligent. Tech giant Google is betting on it. Recently, they purchased a company called Nest for approximately $3.4 billion. Yes, a "b." Nest specializes in smart technology for the home. Their website says, "We take what's familiar and look at it in a new light. Our team focuses on making technology that's simple, fresh and helpful." They have developed a smart thermostat. They claim it will save the average homeowner 20 percent on their heating and cooling bills. You can control the thermostat from your computer, tablet, or smartphone. After a week or two, the thermostat learns how you like the home and self-adjusts to suit. It learns what you like and responds in kind. Now that is a real self-programming thermostat. A 20 percent savings on heating and cooling bills is no joke. Lower costs raise property values. Many home buyers in my area ask their Realtor® for a copy of the heating and cooling bills of a home they're interested in purchasing. A 20 percent savings would be an average of approximately $600 per year, or $50.00 per month. In mortgage money, this is $10,000 of added home value. Money saving and ecologically sound--not bad.
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Why Today’s Agent Is MORE Important Than Ever – A Millennial’s Perspective
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Have Home Sellers Lost Their Status to Real Estate Portals?
The large real estate portals giveth opportunity, but do they also taketh away the rights of home sellers and their agents? The hot topic in real estate used to be the marketing, buying and selling of homes and property. It seems as though the buzz has been replaced with debates and discussion on data feeds, real estate portals and syndication. It is reminiscent of the old days when there were issues of procuring cause and the like. I guess it's always a to-do when it is about money. Procuring cause debates are normally between real estate agents and brokerages while data feed/syndication discussions can fall unknowingly on the property owners themselves. When a homeowner signs a listing contract with a real estate brokerage, there is an understanding between the parties. This understanding is the foundation of the contract and includes things like fees for services (commission), contract length and marketing plan. The factors that make up the contract are often based on rules, regulations and guidelines relating to the laws and ethics of the real estate industry in the governing municipality where the property lies. The listing contract often allows the home seller to opt-out of any online marketing. The seller may choose to opt-out of the online marketing world because they do not want their property to be subject to an Automated Value Model (AVM) such as the famous Zestimate®. The seller may want to only be in the local multi-list, but not on the national syndication sites. There may even be more personal reasons they do not want the mass syndication. It is also possible that Mr. and/or Mrs. Home Seller simply want their home information to be as correct as it can be and only trust their real estate agent and the agent's website to do so. After all, it is the brokerage and agent who they trusted and hired to sell the property, right? Whatever the reason for opting-out, choice is the issue here. So what happens when the home seller and their agent make the choice to opt-out? While I cannot be sure what happens in every case, I can tell you what happened with a property that I opted-out of the MLS data feed. The address of that home is 20 Beech Rd, Mohnton, PA 19540. (Yes, I am exposing the address and you will soon understand why.)
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Do Realtors Engage in the Entire Homeowner Lifecycle?
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Fridge Magnets for Life’s Biggest Asset?
Realtors oftentimes state the importance of their role in helping consumers with their single largest financial transaction, the buying or selling of a home. But there is a long and important phase of the homeowner lifecycle that is sandwiched between the buying and the selling of the home, and that is managing the home when consumers own it, which is typically between 6 to 9 years. So what do agents provide their clients to help them manage their largest financial asset? Fridge magnets. A paper calendar. A drip campaign of other homes they just sold. A plant. A bottle of wine. I could go on, but I think you get the point. Long term client loyalty problem Based on the little value that many agents provide after the sale, it is no wonder that many surveys state agents have a difficult time building long term client loyalty. Many consumers state that agents they work with are only after the transaction. So does the profession of a real estate agent have to evolve from a transaction oriented sales person to more of a trusted advisor, a consultative position with the consumer? What if they called themselves a "home consultant?" Many would argue that yes, agents need to evolve their services to provide more value. The ones who already have are probably the ones who are the million dollar producers growing their business. Individual agents are realizing that they can provide better service if they form teams with specialized skills on the buyer's side, the listing side, and even managing the transaction.
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What is the Value of a Digital Home?
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Will Self-Driving Cars Be a Realtor’s Best Friend?
After 194,000 miles, it was time to get a new car. In truth, we kept the car with 194,000 miles on it because it is a part of our family. We purchased it a few months before our daughter was born and it has been the tot-rod for more than a decade. On principle, we plan to make it to 200,000, despite needing to put in a $900 fuel pump this week. Self Awareness Like all things new, our new car is amazing. What astounds us is that the vehicle is self aware. By self-aware, I mean that it has a bunch of sensors that collect information about what is in its surroundings. It was not really a feature that was high on our list when we shopped, but it has become my best friend. Last week, I drove from Los Angeles up the coast to San Luis Obispo without touching the accelerator or the brake pedal. I set the cruise control at 75 and the car did the rest – including navigating through stop and go traffic. Learning to Trust My wife has been driving nearly 30 years and she refuses to use cruise control. I must admit, learning to trust that this new car was not going to crash into the stopped vehicle in front of me was a real test of my ability to learn to trust. With my current car, I am trusting it to do the footwork of brake and accelerator, but I am in charge of steering. But not fully. The new car has lane awareness, too. If my car begins to drift outside of its lane, the steering wheel vibrates and the brakes are gently applied to either the left or right side of the car as necessary to correct the lane position. Of course, my steering will override that system, but it knows what is going on.
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10 Insights into Real Estate Technology for 2015
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I Broke Up with Facebook
Have you ever been in a relationship that you knew was bad for you, but you just couldn't stop thinking about your partner? You check your phone constantly, hoping to hear from them. You think about them when you should be working. You miss great moments with friends and family because you're on the phone with them. I just got out of a relationship like this - with Facebook. That's right, people! I closed my Facebook account. Now, I'm not someone that used Facebook obsessively. Or, so I liked to think. But lately, I was noticing an upsetting trend. I'd be writing an article for RE Technology or pushing my daughter on the swing or talking to my husband about his day at work - and at the same time, I'd have my Droid in my hand with the Facebook app open, doing that familiar index finger swipe down the newsfeed. I didn't give a you-know-what about 99% of what I was seeing, but the truth is my attention span had become so excruciatingly short that I had to be doing at least two things at once to feel satisfied. I craved input, and social media is "Input Lite": all the stimulation, zero thought-provoking calories. It all came to a head when my daughter sang "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" all the way through for the first time. It was such a beautiful thing, her tiny little voice stumbling over those sweet words, her proud smile when she realized what she'd done. And my first instinct was to post about it in a private parenting group I belong to on Facebook. Ick! I repeat: ICK! When did being "in the moment" stop being enough for me? Do I really need validation from near-strangers to feel satisfied in life?
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The Case for Shooting Your Own Real Estate Videos
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Is Too Much Agent-centricity at the Heart of Industry Dysfunction?
A couple of months ago I wrote a post called "Challenge for Positive Change" that highlighted many of the relationship dysfunctions we are experiencing in the industry today. We have the honor of working with large brokers as well as MLSs, Associations, technology companies and even title and home warranty providers. We see misperceptions and distrust running rampant between each of these groups. It's clear that there are many that are feeling as though our industry could be working together much better than it is at the moment. Fast forward a few weeks and we get to CMLS and the now infamous outline of issues delivered by Craig Cheatham, President and CEO of the Realty Alliance, a highly-respected network for many of North America's largest full service brokerages and their affiliated business. Many people in the audience were shocked with Craig's candor and level of frustration, but I'm not sure why. The types of issues he outlined are the types of issues that have been circling around in MLSs and Associations for a long time. I think the difference is that many groups were simply not listening or taking the conversation as seriously as the tone in which Craig delivered his eloquent presentation of the issues suggests they need to. The issues he outlines are complicated. Some are quite easy to rectify, but many of the issues are based on local tradition, not on sound business logic that considers today's consumers and the brokers that serve them. I have a theory as to why large brokers believe real estate organizations are in conflict with their business goals. I believe that the industry's extreme focus on satisfying the perceived needs of agents is getting in the way of progress.
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Agents DO NOT Need Vendors – They Need Partners
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There is no Vacation in the words 'Real Estate'
Today, RE Technology's resident social media guru and video blogger explains why taking time off from your social media accounts is a big no-no: I don't see the word vacation in the words 'real estate' or 'social media' but a lot of agents are proclaiming they are taking "social media vacations" which is the surest way to devalue all the hard work you have put into building your brand and organic SEO. For a partial transcript, click through to the next page.
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Consumer Alert: Avoid MyBizCard
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Online Marketing Is a Public Service
Guest contributor Scott Schang of REALTOR® Mag says: In 2007, I watched possibly one of the worst implosion events of any industry in recent history unfold. The housing bust and financial meltdown forced me to reinvent my company's business model. In retrospect, this was an opportunity, and I'm grateful that we were able to take advantage of it. We moved 100 percent of our marketing online, not only because money was tight and WordPress was free, but also because at that time most consumers would have picked chewing off their own arms over talking to a real estate or mortgage salesperson. With that in mind, we set forth to build a consumer education-focused lead generation Web site on WordPress. It took almost two years to understand this new medium to the point where we could measure results directly attributed to our online marketing practices. Now, five years later, I'm trying to translate what I've learned, what worked, what failed, and what I think the future looks like — even as the strategy itself evolves over time. I approach this area not as a technology vendor or solutions salesperson, but as a small businessperson working daily in the trenches. Since 2009, I have been trying to identify a parallel between the successes we've achieved with our online marketing approach and the challenges and opportunities that real estate practitioners have being on the ground and in the community every day.
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Top 10 Articles from December
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Pinterest Inspires Ebay; Why Not Real Estate?
Ebay will roll out its new Pinterest-styled homepage soon, featuring a picture-oriented experience. Makes us wonder why more e-commerce sites aren't doing the same? Everything about niche-social networking site Pinterest is a marketer's dream. With only 20 million or so users, it might not be the largest network, but we could argue the audience is perhaps more valuable: 80% of the users are women, 55% of whom use an iPad to spend almost 16 minutes each on the site (1.9 billion times a month). As for the spending that really matters, one third of Pinterest users have clicked through and purchased a product they saw in the network, at an average of $180 per purchase. That's double the spending per person of Twitter or Facebook users. So Pinterest is to Farmville what CocaCola is to the neighborhood lemonade stand. Now mega-selling site Ebay has turned to Pinterest for its upcoming make-over. Sneak peeks of Ebay's refreshed homepage will be so Pinterest-like, we expect to hear M&A talks soon. Combining picture shopping and auction-selling should propel Ebay back into the attention spans of users who've become Facebook'd to death.
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Top 10 Articles from October
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Why REALTORS® Fail at Their Marketing Campaigns
As many of you know, for the past three or so months, I was raising money for an event I was participating in, called Tough Mudder. The event was an 11.3 mile course in Death Valley with 21 obstacles throughout. The people organizing the event are very clear with everyone: This is not a race. It's an event to test your limits. Everyone helps everyone else out when they need a hand, and quitting is not an option. Basically they subscribe to the "No man left behind" motto. On the ride home, as I looked out the window at the canyons and boulders (realizing that after almost four hours of scaling that stuff, I really don't like the desert), I got to thinking about the Navy Seal philosophy of nobody left behind, how that thought might be applied to the business world, and--for that matter--everything else in life. As always, my mind gravitated to Real Estate, REALTORS®, and how they run their businesses. Specifically, I started thinking of the REALTORS® I know, and countless others I do not, that certainly are working hard but are never able to make that "breakthrough" to get them to the next level. The thing that separates those agents from the wildly successful ones is that the successful ones: Never give up and stick to their plan. Realize that they are but a single person, running a business. As such, they look to others to work with them, as a team, to ensure success.
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Top 10 Articles from September
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Case Study: Is Technology a Scapegoat for Poor Customer Service?
I recently wrote an article about technology, electronic signatures in particular, being used as a scapegoat for poor customer service. Just days after publishing the article, I spoke to a consumer who had recently completed a real estate transaction (as a buyer) and was a perfect case study for this very topic! I'm going to share his story here. Here's how it all began. Buyer (indicating a thick stack of papers on his desk): Well, there's the paperwork for buying those properties I mentioned. Me: Wait, what? Buyer: The agent sent me the contract as an email attachment. She told me to print it out, sign it, and drive it over to her office. Now, as you can imagine, I had quite a bit to say at this point.
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Forced Registration: the Problem and the Solution
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Is Technology a Scapegoat for Poor Customer Service?
The other day, I spotted an interesting post in one of the many real estate groups on Facebook. In the post, an agent suggested that electronic signatures result in poor customer service. The agent went on to opine that it is impossible for agents to fulfill their obligation to review the contract with their client when all they are doing is sending it over with (essentially) a button to push for signature. This agent’s perspective might be more widely held than I realized. But it’s one, to be frank, with which I disagree. Let’s take a look at both perspectives. The ArgumentIf I’m not mistaken, this particular agent’s argument was that electronic signatures negatively impact customer service because an agent does not have to be present when a document is signed electronically and thus their clients are missing out on the line-by-line explanation and analysis. What isn’t being mentioned is that each agent has a choice whether or not they will be present during an electronic signing. They must use their discretion to determine whether or not their client could benefit from additional explanation and handholding. Just because you’re clicking or using a stylus instead of an ink pen, it doesn’t mean you cannot be present at a signing. Now, on the other side of this argument, I can come up with multiple ways that electronic signatures actually allow real estate agents to improve their customer service. A few examples:
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Top 10 Articles from August
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My Klout Score is Baloney
The article you're about to read is my opinion, and my opinion only. It is not necessarily the opinion of RE Technology or any of my peers here. I'm not even close to being a social media expert, either, so this is intended strictly as a layperson's perspective. That said, I don't think I'm alone. This is baloney: Here's the truth: I'm not horribly active on social media. I only have 128 "Friends" on Facebook. I only have 550 "Followers" on Twitter, and few of them ever Retweet or respond to my Tweets. To be honest, if I were to give myself a Klout score, I would cut that 51 in half. What I want to know is how I got this Klout score. Seriously. HOW? I did some digging to find the answer.
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We Found the Perfect Agent(s)
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Top 10 Posts from July
We're continuing a new tradition here at RE Technology. As we stated in last month's inaugural post, we publish so much content during the course of a month, it's easy for great articles to get lost in the shuffle. That's why we're going to take a monthly look back and revisit the top 10 most popular articles (based on number of pageviews). Here are the top 10 for the month of July – with a short teaser from each. 1) Making the Right Impression: iPad Listing Presentations That Dazzle – by Karli Larson of ePropertySites.com You know what they say: you never get a second chance to make a good first impression. While this saying may not hold true in all situations, it's certainly something to keep in mind when you want to prepare a good listing presentation. Here are three tips for creating impressive presentations that will make you look like a star! 2) Six Apps Every Homebuyer Needs When Buying a House – by HomeFinder.com Regardless of how attentive your REALTOR® is, there are still many aspects of the home buying process that require you to take matters into your own hands. Aside from using online home searching tools for the initial search, there are a multitude of apps that will aid you in organizing your home search and help lessen the chaos buying a new home often brings. We've compiled the top six apps to help you navigate through the home buying process. 3) 5 More Habits of Highly Productive Real Estate Agents – by RISMedia In our post "5 Habits of Highly Productive Real Estate Agents," we explored techniques designed to improve your efficiency and boost your productivity. That article was so wildly popular that we decided to put together five additional productivity tips. With the many distractions that plague our day, I often wonder how real estate agents are productive at all. Creating habits that produce consistent results will allow you to focus on those top priorities and money making activities.
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QR Codes: Countering 5 Objections
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Top 10 Posts from June
We publish so much content throughout the course of a month, it's easy for articles to get lost in the shuffle. We're implementing a new policy here at RE Technology – at the end of each month, we'll look back and revisit the top 10 most popular articles (based on number of pageviews). Here are the top 10 for the month of June – with a short teaser from each. 1) 8 Marketing Mistakes REALTORS® Should Avoid – by REALTOR.org REALTORS® spend a lot of time working on their craft, but no one is perfect. It's hard to be the master of every discipline and sometimes REALTORS® make real estate marketing mistakes that could be avoided with a little more time, planning and education. We've compiled a list of eight marketing mistakes REALTORS® should avoid along with suggestions on how to right the ship if you're an offender. 2) 4 Tools to Spice Up Your Real Estate Website – by Emily WilliamsIf you have an existing real estate website, there are hundreds of tools you can use to add a little spice and consumer-friendly functionality. Because these tools vary in actual implementation, there's no easy term to lump them under. If you have a WordPress website, you're probably familiar with the term "plug-in," and some of our examples are plug-ins – which you may be able to add all by yourself. However, this isn't always the case and, depending on the tool, you may hear them referred to as "widgets" or "APIs." The bottom line is that, even though most of these tools will probably require the assistance of a competent developer for implementation, this technology can be relatively quick and easy to get up-and-running, offering a nice cost/benefit balance. 3) 3 Ways to Prospect Like a Pro – by IXACT ContactSome real estate sales professionals who work in the industry for a few years achieve moderate success, but eventually hit a bottleneck and can't seem to take their business to the next level. Many think they could do it if they had more clients. But if you're a single real estate sales person, there's a limit to how many clients you can properly serve simultaneously. The problem isn't so much lack of clients as your ability to close the ones you have now.
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Last Week's Top 5 Articles
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Great Service… Going Beyond the Talk!
There’s a lot of industry talk these days about the need to provide a better, more valued and more satisfying service experience for home buyers and home sellers. Unfortunately it remains just that, mostly talk. At the heart of any serious examination is the recognition that great products and great services in the 21st century are a team sport. And the winning teams in other industries have systems, processes, standards and controls to assure consistent, high quality results. So can an industry with the ultimate independent contractor culture learn and employ similar disciplines and systems to deliver better service? Some broker/owners and real estate professionals are pursuing the notion that the way to deliver better service is to offer more services - believing that more equates to better. More is not the same as better… better is better. What, then, is better service and who decides anyway?Many service professionals believe that personality, style, good intentions and attitude are the key ingredients to good service. But great service requires more. When service is a matter of importance, consumers prefer competence and results to attitude and personality.
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7 Things I’ve Learned in a Year of Real Estate Technology
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Why More is Not the Same as Better
While the real estate industry still maintains a preoccupation with more – more sales people, more listings, more clients, more sales, and ever more services - consumers are focusing on better. "More" is a typical producer/service provider orientation. "Better" is more commonly a consumer perspective. As human beings and businesses mature, the pursuit of "better" is a natural substitute for the passion of "more." Perhaps it's the process of growing up, learning, becoming more discriminating and maybe growing a little older too. So is the real estate industry really stuck in the adolescent mind-set of just wanting more? The evidence is pretty damning based upon what is measured, what's bragged about and what's recognized, awarded, rewarded and compensated. Learning from history If consumers "grow up" and those providing service don't, can consumers outgrow an entire industry? Is there real danger here? Actually it's quite safe... as long as all the service providers continue to play the same game, by the same rules and no one offers a "better" alternative. If every pizza parlor makes pizza essentially the same way then the consumer has little choice, that's just the way it is.
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All REALTORS® Could Learn Something from Joanne Knapp
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Who’s Training Who? What My Dog Is Teaching Me About Engagement
Guest Contributor Michael Becker of Mountain of Agents says: My wife and I recently adopted an adorable, 12-week-old King Charles Cavalier. This new and exciting endeavor prompted us to conduct countless hours of research and preparation so that when we welcomed him into our lives, he would listen to everything we said and integrate seamlessly into our schedule. You can stop laughing now. We were immediately caught off guard by the amount of work we needed to do to cultivate our new furry audience. It was apparent that the instant gratification we so eagerly desired didn't yet exist in its purest form; it needed to be harvested through patience, engagement, loyalty and trust. Sitting on the couch at 3am – with a chew toy in one hand and Indy resting comfortably in the other – it occurred to me the odd similarities that exist between training a new dog and training your target audience. In fact, the skills you need to hone and the elements you need to succeed are identical: PatienceThe single most difficult skill to master, especially when training a puppy (or appealing to your target audience). Getting frustrated or ultimately conceding is not an option. Instead, take a step back and consider new approaches to help give you a different perspective. There's no excuse anymore for saying you don't know how to do something. Google what you're looking for and spend some time reading tips and tricks from people who've already been in your shoes and succeeded where others floundered.
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Does the Conflicted and Cynical Consumer Even Need an Agent Anymore?
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Beware Of Brokerage 'Freebies'
Christopher Leo of Leading Agent shares this article on his blog. As you read on, one thing to keep in mind is that some brokerages have stricter guidelines about their agents' marketing materials. We recommend that you always check with your broker and ensure that your marketing decisions are not violating any company policies. As the owner of a marketing agency that mostly deals directly with REALTORS® and not necessarily always with the brokerages, there is one thing that comes up time and time again. Not a week goes by that we meet with someone in person, or talk to them on the phone, and when asked about what they are doing for their print marketing, the response we get is some variation of: “My brokerage has a deal on postcards, so we just use them. They aren’t the best, but they work.” Let me be clear, I am not writing this article to bash brokerages. Quite the contrary. I think brokerages are a good thing. Many of them we deal with on varying levels are run by top notch people in the industry that really know their stuff. The thing of it is though, that on an agent level, this is BAD branding and not doing them justice. I get it. Cheap, especially in this economy, is good. But as the adage goes: “You get what you pay for”. To those ends, here are a few reasons I propose that you strongly reconsider just going for “easy” with your marketing, build YOUR OWN brand, and get noticed. 1) Your brokerage’s postcard options may brand the brokerage #1 and you #2This is perhaps the biggest reason that every agent should take notice and be cautious. The fact is that the postcards from your brokerage’s vendor aren’t cheap because they charge less money than anyone else.  It’s probably because your brokerage is subsidizing the cost of the postcards (trust me on this).
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3 Keys for Following-Up on Leads
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I Found My Agent – Or Did I?
I’m in a tough spot. I thought that picking a real estate agent would be pretty easy. I’d get a referral, check the agent’s ratings, meet them in person, and we’d be good-to-go. WRONG. My experience has been quite different. Trusted AdvisorI look up to my father as one of the smartest, most ethical people I’ve ever known. He’s also a terrific judge of character. So, when he says, “I’ve found a great agent for you,” I’m inclined to believe him. He handed me the agent’s card and explained that he’s a friend and a neighbor. He lives in our little town and has spent his entire professional career as a REALTOR® here. I hear quite a few things I like: I’d much prefer a local agent, someone who lives in our small community, not just the entire county. If the reasons for this aren’t obvious, I’ll explain that our aspirational neighborhood has its quirks and nuances. Someone hyper-local will “get” this while someone in another area might not. I could be wrong, but that’s how I feel. I’d like a seasoned professional, someone who has the years of experience my husband and I lack. Do I believe that new agents are less capable than experienced agents? No; I’m positive that there are new agents who are total rock stars. We’re just looking for someone who can counterbalance our inexperience. I suppose my experience here is proof that most people turn to their trusted advisors first when they’re trying to find an agent. I’d also like to point out that whoever we choose will play a dual role for us. They will help us in the purchase of our next home AND they will be the listing agent when we sell our current home.
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The Good (Agents), The Bad (Inaccuracies), and The Ugly (Photos)
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My Tech House Hunt
I’m about to step off of the sidelines and onto the playing field. After a year as a real estate technology commentator, I’m becoming one of those people I write about all the time: the oh-so-elusive consumer. You see, my husband and I want to buy a house. We’ve picked our neighborhood and established the square footage and beds/baths we need. Now, we have to find “it” – the right house for us. Obviously, this is already an emotional journey, but I’m going to make a scientific endeavor as well, documenting the role that technology plays in our house hunt. This weekend we drove through our desired neighborhood and spotted a few “For Sale” signs, so I think today is a good time to begin this column. A Few Introductory NotesWe are already homeowners. However, we don’t want to list our current home until we’re sure we’ll find what we want. This is a reminder to all you agents that buyer leads are very often seller leads as well. I also want to point out that, like many people, I did not begin my search online. We began our search by driving through our aspirational neighborhood and building castles in the air. Low home prices (and advice from trusted sources, as I’ll talk about later) were the reason we decided to see if we could make our dreams become reality. This is another reason that the first agent that we contact will be from a yard sign.
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Oooh Look – Shiny!
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Sneak Peek: Follow the Leader - Ian Morris
Today, we're giving agents a look at our MLS series, Follow the Leader. When you're heading a company called "Market Leader," you face a certain expectation, an assumption that you've "got what it takes." The good news for Ian Morris is that he does – he has what it takes to lead a publicly-traded company and an industry. And, today, he's RE Technology's leader to follow. It's no surprise that Ian Morris came quickly to mind for this week's Follow the Leader. We've had our eye on Market Leader for some time and noticed something rather striking in recent months – under Ian's guidance, they've been shifting their business into high gear. That's just one metaphor (one of many we could use) to express a series of announcements and innovations. He Wrote the Book on ItYes, the real estate industry is changing. And who better to explain it to us than someone who literally wrote the book on it? You see, Mr. Morris also found time to co-author (with Steve Murray, president of Real Trends Inc.) an excellent guide to the changing industry and how to be successful in it called "Game Plan." We really enjoyed this book (you can read our review here) and highly recommend it to any agent or broker looking for an edge. Ian's Fresh ThinkingWe sat down with Ian Morris to learn more about the innovative new approach he's taking. "I believe that great companies and great innovations arise in bad times, not good," he begins. "We've found a way to rise above the challenges facing our industry and turn them into positive changes for our company and for real estate professionals."
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Video: How Has the Real Estate Landscape Changed?
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The Immutable Laws of Buying and Selling Real Estate
Jay Thompson regularly blows us away with his insightful, clever prose. Here's another gem from his blog. You'll laugh; you'll cry; you'll nod your head in agreement. You’ve got Netwon’s Laws of Motion (depicted mathematically at the right). You’ve got the Laws of Thermodynamics, the economic Law of Supply and Demand, heck you’ve even got Murphy’s Law. Why aren’t there any Laws of Real Estate? Well, there are now. First Law of Real Estate: It doesn’t matter what your neighbors home sold for in the past. The corollary to the First Law of Real Estate is that it doesn’t matter what your own home was worth in the past. It. Doesn’t. Matter. Home prices are dynamic. They rise and fall, wax and wane, and can change daily – seemingly on a whim. What a home was worth five years ago, last month or yesterday has no bearing on what it is worth today. If you are in the Phoenix real estate market, this can be a difficult pill to swallow. You need to stop thinking about “woulda, coulda and shoulda”. You didn’t sell your home two years ago when you could have gotten twice what you’ll get today, so getting upset about what it sells for today simply is a waste of energy. You can’t go back in time (according to Einstein, a pretty sharp dude) and sell your home, so stop worrying about it.
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Customers Don't Jump Out of Computers
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The Value of a Swift Response
Here's another great retro article to celebrate the 4th of July. This one comes to you from Jose Parez. You finally decided that with prices still low, you are going to upgrade to that bigger house you and your husband have been talking about for years. Things are good with both your jobs and now is the time. You have heard from several people that XYZ Real Estate has a good reputation and you see a lot of their signs around town so you decide to start your search on their website one night after work. They have a nice site and you are getting excited about the listings they have in the neighborhood you have been wanting to move into. Saturday morning you decide that you want to spend Sunday looking at a few homes for sale in your dream neighborhood. You get back on XYZ’s site while you are having your morning coffee and put in a request to speak to someone about viewing homes tomorrow. It’s about 9 AM and you give them your cell phone number in case they call while you are out and about. Soccer, baseball, yard work, laundry, and grocery shopping chores are done by mid-afternoon. You and your husband finally sit down to relax before cooking dinner and wonder why you have not heard anything from XYZ Real Estate. You are both eager to look at homes tomorrow so you check your email to see if someone has gotten back to you. Nothing on email and nobody has bothered to call after several hours. Not impressed with the lack of response, you get back online and start searching for other companies. Does this happen every day in our industry? Unfortunately, it happens hundreds of thousands of times every single day!
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Tip for Success
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Top 10 Grammar Mistakes to Avoid (Part One)
If you're like most people, writing isn't much fun. Just because you're not a gifted scribe doesn't mean you shouldn't share your thoughts. After all, as an experienced professional, you've got valuable insights that could enlighten your peers and market your services, insights that would be best expressed in writing. You need to be sure that your literary gems have a basic level of grammatical accuracy if you don't want your message to get lost through the "noise" of your mistakes. We all have a few pesky bad grammar habits that we just can't seem to break. If you're a victim to any of the mistakes I'm about to mention, it's time to tape the list up on your wall, stick a post-it on your laptop, or have a colleague proofread your work. I'm going to cover the first 5 mistakes here. Part Two will cover the next 5 mistakes.
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Listing SIN-dication
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Part 1: The Perfect Storm
All service professionals have been rated since the beginning of communication between people. Word of mouth sharing of opinions is perhaps the core foundation of interpersonal communications. "As societies have evolved, so too have ratings systems. In many ways, civilization is reaching a crescendo as a result of the information age. There are dozens of ratings systems for everything – doctors, lawyers, restaurants, products, entertainment. You name it, it's rated," says Victor Lund, partner of WAV Group. Over 20 years ago Larry Romito, CEO of Quality Service Certified and father of agent ratings, watched the germination of two key forces taking place in the real estate space collide. The result was a need for agent ratings.
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The Truth about QR Codes
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Time to Reinvent the QR Code?
I finally got the kids to sleep for the night and was settling in to work on some content for The Hip Roof, when I stopped by Facebook to post a note to a friend about a TV appearance they made that was buzzing on Twitter, and I was hijacked by an ad. In the exact same place I saw the QR code ad last week there was a "UPC" – Universal Property Code, as the company is calling it. Stop, reverse, let's check this out. So I clicked through and was taken to their site, where I read, and I attempted to scan their "UPC" code. My QR scanner, which comes in the Blackberry Messenger, is supposed to be a 'universal' reader – couldn't read this code. I look a little further on their page and discover I need their app for Android or iPhone to read their code.
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Sell More, with Less Words
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Intro to Website Writings
You might have heard the idea that the average attention span of a consumer is the same as a goldfish –  9 seconds or less. I would tend to argue this, simply because I have a 14-year old gold fish, and I’m quite certain he has more of an attention span than I do.  He can easily tell when there are ‘strangers’ in the house, when it’s feeding time – and he won’t eat food from people he doesn’t recognize.  Don’t believe me? That’s him, aka, ‘Homer’ above, (in blue). (Random fact: Now you might think 14 is old…but the oldest goldfish on record made it to 43!) Either way, whatever a consumer’s attention span may be, it can be agreed upon that with all the ‘stuff’ on the internet – the ability to captivate visitors in a few seconds is more challenging than ever. When it comes to your website, you might have a super-sleek design, visually tasty graphics and listings by the boat loads.  But, what about the words?  Agonizing over your web-words is one of the last things you want to think about when you need to be out meeting clients and following up on leads.  Or…is it?
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Mobile Technology: No Signs of Slowing
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Part 3: Avoid the Quicksand of the Trivial
When it comes to technology and the real estate agents, I believe agents want to use technology to its fullest extent to serve customers better and in the most cost-efficient way. But they have been overrun by technology. Some real estate agents are are searching for a technique, tool, software or system that will eliminate the task of prospecting, when in fact it will only eliminate prospects. It’s time to get back in touch with some real, fundamental principles about the reality of prospecting.
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What Sells Homes - Agents or the Internet?
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Google Eliminates Real Estate
The real estate industry is ever changing.  For better or for worse Google just made a big annoucement that could make a difference to real estate professionals.  Tech Savvy Agent reports below: This just in. Google has announced that they will be removing all listings from their Google Maps platform on February 10th of this year! We have written in the past about gaining exposure via Google Maps and also about the fact that they include foreclosure data in their system.    
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Blast from Technology Past
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Part 1: Looking to Improve Your Prospecting Skills? Be There!
What’s the world coming to? Doesn’t it seem that most businesses today actually are looking for ways to avoid talking to customers? The airlines are a classic example. Want to make an airline reservation by telephone? Good luck! Just to accomplish this means spending several minutes going through an elaborate push-button menu. Then you are on hold for who-knows-how long. Really, the airlines would rather you go online, make your own reservation, get an e-ticket and print out your own itinerary and receipt. I don’t think companies intend to avoid customers. I think they want to use technology to its fullest extent to serve customers better and in the most cost-efficient way. But they have been overrun by technology. Some real estate agents are doing the same thing, especially when it comes to prospecting. They are searching for a technique, tool, software or system that will eliminate the task of prospecting, when in fact it will only eliminate prospects. It’s time to get back in touch with some real, fundamental principles about the reality of prospecting.  
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Mobile Ads Make a Splash! Don't Be Left Behind!
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When It Comes to QR Codes, What About Clikbrix?
QR codes are addictive, especially for those of us who like to walk around entertaining ourselves with our high tech phones.  Each time you scan there is a sense of excitement and anticipation – especially with those QR marketing campaigns that purposely hold back information that is ultimately translated to your phone. It’s like getting the white mystery flavored Skittle in your bag of colorful candy and finding out a whole new flavor like root beer! If you are curious, go to m.clickbrix.com on your mobile browser. It will magically pick the right reader for your phone. Once you have loaded the QR reader to your phone (as mentioned in the first part of this series), scan the QR code to the left for a special offer.  A great site to find the QR Reader of choice is http://www.mobile-barcodes.com/qr-code-software/ QR codes are popping up everywhere now: billboards, price tags, websites, newspapers, blogs, and other marketing mediums. Now they’re also popping up in the real estate space! And tech savvy vendors to the real estate industry are embracing this technology in a variety of ways – linking to profile pages, linking to property pages, linking to virtual tours, linking to neighborhood tours, etc. This week we were able to preview the Clikbrix QR code solution for real estate professionals. We spoke with Erik Goldhar, co-founder of QR marketing agency, ‘QRe8 Mobile Experience’, the parent company of Clikbrix.com. Goldhar has a background in Canada’s digital marketing and ad world. Clikbrix and QRe8.com have been working on QR codes for the past 2.5 years and saw a gaping opportunity for this technology in the American real estate space. During this call we were able to understand several of Clikbrix’s points of view regarding the following: 1.) What are the benefits of using QR codes to promote real estate business?2.) What are some industry challenges you see with QR codes for marketing?3.) What solution is Clikbrix offering to the industry?
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You Can't Network Online Without Generating Conversation
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How to Select a Good Point and Shoot Camera
Recently, Kodak partnered with REALTOR® Magazine to present a nationwide “Listing through a Lens” webinar on taking good pictures. This webinar covered many aspects of photography and serves as an excellent reference for agents who are looking to improve the photo quality of the listings they market. While there are many considerations for what makes a good camera, with today’s modern cameras and technology, it is possible for an agent to take a great picture using a point and shoot that has a great lens. This series of articles will provide real estate agents with valuable information on the types of equipment they need, and feature expert content to help maximize your listing photos. In this article, we are pleased to provide some of the features you would want to look for in a “point-and-shoot” digital camera to get the most out of your listings.
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To Check In or Not to Check In
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5 Common Email Blunders to Side Step
It should go without saying: coherency is key. But again and again, we’re missing the mark when it comes to emails. It happens. You feel rushed, you want to reply quickly, too many thoughts are happening at once… A good habit is proofreading before sending – the e-equivalent of thinking before speaking. When you do, look for these 5 common email blunders:
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Money Doesn't Buy Happiness
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Fear and Loathing in Social Media
So many people are afraid of social media, or love to say how much they dislike it in the real estate industry. I ask – have they really even checked it out? There are so many great places online for a real estate agent to begin to use social media and understand how to use it. From free webinars, blog talk radio, websites, and much more to give you overviews and basic information to the membership based sites that provide you will truly substantial instruction that can result in incredible lead generation. Knowing where to find the tools and resources is half the battle.  
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When It Comes to QR Codes, What About Clikbrix?
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Ever Considered Agent Ratings?
Don’t go it alone, look to the people you trust to help guide you to those that you can entrust the largest purchase of your life. No matter where you are in the world, ask a real estate professional you know anywhere, and they can help you find the right person to work with. Not really but I got your attention. Yesterday I wrote about the value of the RE.net connections in building a solid referral network of well qualified real estate professionals. This is important to remember, because all of the following examples are tales of people who didn’t avail themselves of real estate professionals they know when they had needs in areas that agent did not serve. Pay attention fair consumer, your time is valuable, my friends and I know understand that and respect it, and offer service you deserve – if you ask for help.    
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Want to Promote Conversation on Your Blog?
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Are You Remarkable? If You Choose to Be
The end of the year is approaching, and as we all look back over our years and evaluate the successes and room for improvement, it is important to empower yourself with a positive outlook.  Certainly realism is of value when looking through where you are in life, where you are looking to go and how you are going to get there.  However a key ingredient to many successful people is that indomitable spirit that drives individuals  to take risks and ultimately reach their potential. Enjoy this short motivational video.  May it inspire you this week to meet challenges with a smile and to re-evaluate your progress in 2010 with budding hope for 2011.
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Top 10 Reasons to Go Paperless
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Proactive Propspecting in Real Estate
There are two schools of thought it seems in real estate when it comes to prospecting in social media. There is the “you can’t” camp, led by a coach who I won’t mention, and then there is the “you should” camp, which I would say most of the rest of the world fall into. I am often asked when I speak at events how I feel about prospecting, whether I do the traditional agent prospecting activities or if I only do the online activities. I do both. Social media and technology are wonderful resources for building your business, and serving your clients, but it does not replace the classic age-old tried and true methods we have all been well schooled in. You still need to call your sphere, you still need to call expired, you still need to knock on doors, you still need to market, but how and where you do that marketing has evolved.
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Fire Up Your Social Network on Zillow
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Live Your Life by Design!
"Change hurts. It makes people insecure, confused, and angry. People want things to be the same as they've always been, because that makes life easier." – Richard Marcinko. Happy Monday! I hope you had a fantastic holiday! Hopefully you were able to relax with family and friends. It is great to see family, but I have a really hard time relaxing. I spent part of the holiday reviewing two notebooks I have with me all the time full of ideas and thoughts. One of the notebooks had notes from a recent seminar. On one page in block letters I had simply written, "DON'T WAIT FOR A LIFE CHANGING EVENT TO CHANGE YOUR LIFE." It took me a minute to remember why I had written it and what it meant. The message was from a presenter that had been in the hospital and faced a near-death experience. He described in detail watching the heart monitor flatline on himself almost as if he were outside his body. He survived, but the experience gave him a new appreciation for life. His point was life is fleeting and fragile. If there is something you need or want to do, take action now. As always it made me start thinking.
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Happy Techsgiving!
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Social Media Increases In-Person Contact and Referral Filtering of Information
As we keep our ear to the ground with social media, two new trends seem to be emerging from social media that have direct impact to real estate professionals.  Social media spurs in-person interaction and filtering of Internet information is moving towards friend referrals rapidly. All this begs the question: what does that mean for real estate? The face of the industry is changing, and the best way to change along with it is to stay informed. A common fear for real estate professionals, when looking to use social media to grow their business is that they lose the personal touch that sets them apart from their competition.  Certainly as sales people, personality and face-to-face interaction is vital to building relationships and eventually closing business.  Many feel it is better to work in-person connections more than trying to build virtual connections.
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What Are You Thankful For?
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Quick Tips to Get the Most out of Zillow
Listing Syndication to popular websites like Zillow is a key strategy in marketing your listings to the widest possible audience of home buyers in America today.  To fully take leverage the millions of people coming to this popular site each month, the first thing you should do is activate your account.  It is free and easy to do! Here the four big reasons, along with a short video, that demonstrate the benefits of activating your account and building your free Agent Profile:
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He Said, She Said - Manage Your Online Reputation with Naymz
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Secrets to Making Market Analytics Work For You
If you are looking to add a new tool to your arsenal that could be the difference between winning a client and being side-stepped by another agent, consider market analytics.  The local variability of the real estate market has created uncertainty and hesitancy with many consumers. Have you ever considered learning about these trends and being able to calm buyers and sellers with local market awareness? This week I spoke with Michelle Carter, VP of Sales & Operations at Trendgraphix and we discussed the value of real estate agents using market analytics to drive their business.  Michelle is clearly passionate about the value of market statistics to the agent. “Real estate markets vary constantly both regionally and across the country.  As a real estate agent, if you don’t understand what is happening on the local level you can’t compete as easily,” explains Carter.
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Want to Be an Online Marketing Sharpshooter?
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MySpace - Stake Out Your Space
MySpace works similarly to Facebook, but the pages can be made fancier with themes, which can be downloaded for free, or purchased. It also appeals more to people who like to share information on music, hobbies, sports teams and TV shows. Where Facebook has more pull with college students and professionals, MySpace has more pull with teens and pre-teens. As a result, it is a goldmine for parents who have MySpace accounts used to monitor their children online. Through the process of checking on their children, they connect with other parents and find that MySpace is actually quite fun and easy—hence, the reason why they have amassed more than 100 million members.
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Who to See and Where They’ll Be
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The Three Barreled Marketing Gun
I will never forget my father teaching me to shoot a gun. He started me out on a 4-10 shotgun. It was light and easy to carry – the shot did not travel far and the spray was enough to insure that I did not miss. Once I progressed, he moved me up to a 12 gage – double barrel.  Asking why they built a gun with two barrels, my daddy explained that the second shot was in case you missed with the first. The same is true of marketing in real estate today, but in these difficult and competitive times, I think a three barreled gun is what agents need. The three barrels in real estate marketing are: In-person marketing Direct marketing Follow-up
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