August 2017 - NWMAR

Should Your Office Go Virtual?

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virtual office

While it was once common for REALTORS® and brokers to divide their time between office space and field work, times have changed. Now, agents and brokers spend more time working from their laptops or tablets, and less time occupying those pricey office suites.

As a broker, switching to a virtual office space and working from home (or at a listing, or in a coffee shop), may seem like a cheaper way to manage the business, but is it practical?

Advantages

If you are currently leasing office space for your team, switching to a virtual space could save you money. But the real advantage to going virtual and working in the cloud is that you and your team can always be connected.

“Being able to be very dynamic and having everything at your fingertips—always—is the biggest advantage,” said David Newcombe, designated broker for Habitat Urban in Arizona.

While most offices exist in a 9 to 5 world, having your office with you wherever you go makes it easier to work around your clients’ schedules, or to set your own schedule.

Disadvantages

If you do decide to go virtual, you will “have to work harder on broker communication,” Newcombe says. Without the water cooler around, you will need to set up times to talk with your agents and your office staff, send regular memos to keep everyone in the loop, and find more inventive ways to train new hires.

Virtual offices may also create some inconveniences on the client side. “The client needs more than just a Starbucks to meet in,” Newcombe said.

That doesn’t mean you will risk losing clients. You just need to find another way to meet and finalize deals.

“Think forward as to what affiliates might work with you to provide conference rooms for occasional special client meetings,” Newcombe said.

Finding the Right Equipment

If do decide to switch to a virtual office, having the right technology in place is key to a successful transition. Newcombe recommends starting with the right customer relationship management software.

“Don’t always go for the obvious old tried and tested solutions,” he said. “There are many great new products on the market that you can customize to fit your brokerage like a glove.”

Once you have a CRM system in place, a handful of productive tools will keep your business running smoothly. At the very basic level you will need an email client, online-based cloud storage, compliance and filing software, and word processing software. Newcombe recommends looking into:

Making the Transition

With the right planning, transitioning to a virtual office could be completely painless. Start by setting regular meetings with a time and place for all of your office administrators, marketing specialists, Web designers and REALTORS®. Having regular meetings will help smooth the transition.

Before you lose the office entirely, Newcombe says to “make sure your REALTORS® are as tech savvy as they can be and used to working without paper.” Also, offer training on any software you will be using and provide agents and staff with a list of equipment they will need to buy.

The post Should Your Office Go Virtual? appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Source: Realtor.com

Navigating Simultaneous Offers With Home Buyers

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multiple offers

Guest post by Sam DeBord, managing broker of Seattle Homes Group with Coldwell Banker Danforth.

In a limited inventory market, many of our professional conversations center on multiple-offers situations for sellers. There are plenty of courses and guides on how to position a home to receive the maximum return based on competitive offers, as well as how to present multiple offers to our sellers in an organized fashion.

There is very little literature, however, on effectively writing simultaneous offers for buyers. This is a unique approach not widely practiced, and therefore, it must be done with great care and full disclosure.

Full Disclosure on Simultaneous Offers

For the buyer agents willing to go against the grain, writing multiple offers for one client in the same weekend for different houses might work. They may risk blowback from the listing agent, however. Full disclosure is imperative. Written acknowledgment from the listing agent and the seller is even better.

Most listing agents are protective of their sellers and do not want to disappoint their clients with frivolous offers. Most sellers of their personal home want a buyer who falls in love with their house and negotiates in good faith to secure it.

However, this multi-offer approach could work in the best interest of a frustrated buyer tired of making offers and being repeatedly outbid, and every REALTOR® is charged with working for his or her client’s best interest.

Advantages of Simultaneous Offers

Making simultaneous offers on multiple homes at the same time can be labor-intensive and isn’t appropriate in all situations, but it does provide some advantages to certain segments of our home-buying clients.

Investors are one set of buyers that can benefit greatly from the practice. They’re often looking for a certain style of home—in a certain price range—and hoping to purchase multiple homes within a short time frame.

Agents who represent buyers know in competitive markets like we’re seeing today in many cities, each week’s listings are met with multiple buyer offers. Running clients around to see new homes every week, selecting one, and being outbid by other buyers can be a vicious cycle.

For an investor who has a bit of latitude in terms of style and price, writing offers on multiple homes at the same time can create the opportunity to lock up a number of properties in a short timeframe or—at the least—to improve the probability they will secure one property in a given week.

But for the traditional home buyer looking for a primary residence, the tactics may require more research and some nimble paperwork. Buyers searching for their own home will usually be much more specific and critical about the home they’d like to buy.

There are often those who are searching in a fairly homogenous neighborhood or development in which the majority of the homes are within their desired criteria. If you’ve already been through a number of unsuccessful bidding wars with them, they may be ready to start pursuing a more aggressive strategy with simultaneous offers.

Buyer Must Have Intent

To be clear, writing simultaneous offers should only be done when the buyer fully intends to buy any of the homes involved.

This is a process that works within the professional standards of our industry when the buyers present a good-faith intent to buy—and don’t intend to fish for seller contracts only to decide later which ones were worthwhile. Buyers should be of the mindset that whichever seller signs the contract first, that’s the house they’re buying.

Homebuyers can gain a significant advantage in a market leaning so heavily toward sellers. A typical showing schedule includes visiting the week’s new listings with our clients on Saturday and then writing a single offer for their top choice on Monday or Tuesday when the sellers are reviewing offers. If, instead, we write offers on two or three homes during the weekend, we may be able to force a seller’s hand a bit.

Two Ways to Present Simultaneous Offers

There are a couple of distinct ways to present these offers.

The first is more of a power play, which may or may not be to your advantage depending on the situation. If the home sellers in a neighborhood are regularly waiting to review offers until after the first weekend on the market (usually Monday or Tuesday at a specified time), you might submit multiple offers on Saturday. Let the sellers know your strong buyer has three offers on the table, and you’ll be pulling the other two offers as soon as one seller signs. It just might be the bold move to shift a bit of power back to your buyers.

The other option is less aggressive, yet still strategically significant. You can simply write three offers for three homes and triple your clients’ probability of securing a home on any individual weekend. Given the amount of time, travel, and emotional effort buyers in these ultra-competitive markets go through on a weekly basis, the comfort of securing a home meeting most of their preferences may be more attractive than endlessly hoping for the perfect-home scenario that might never materialize.

I’ve personally handled these situations myself, as have agents on my team. This tactic requires much more upfront discussion with clients as well as with listing agents as to the ramifications of each offer and the strategy for dealing with them upon having one accepted.

Manage Simultaneous Offers the Right Way

Out of respect for our industry associates and their clients, we should be prepared to immediately rescind any other open offers once our buyers have reached mutual acceptance on a home. Writing simultaneous offers might give us some leverage, but the goal isn’t to unduly burden sellers and listing agents with offers that won’t come to fruition.

As long as unaccepted offers are pulled quickly and the sellers’ agents are informed in a timely manner, agents can create a strategic advantage for their buyers and still leave all of the sellers involved in a position to consider other offers. Based on the current market, they’ll likely have plenty of them.

Writing multiple offers for buyers isn’t always the right answer, but in some cases, it’s a very valuable tactic.

Buyers aren’t the only ones who get burned out in this inventory-crunched market—our agents do, too. Getting buyers into contract and headed toward a successful closing often requires some creativity, coaching, and even extra paperwork.

Writing simultaneous offers might just be the tactic that works for your clients and your agents, but it needs to be done with great care and full disclosure.

Guest post by Sam DeBord, managing broker of Seattle Homes Group with Coldwell Banker Danforth and a state director for Washington Realtors. You can find his team at SeattleHome.com and SeattleCondo.com.

Editor’s Note: This article has been updated for clarity.

The post Navigating Simultaneous Offers With Home Buyers appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Source: Realtor.com

A Day in the Life of Sarah Schnell Jones

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Sarah Jones Infographic

If you look up “anomaly” in the dictionary, I’m quite positive you’ll find Sarah Schnell Jones in the description, as she does things so much differently than any other broker I have come across in my 12 years on the job.

Over the past few months, I’ve had the distinct pleasure of spending time with Sarah, broker/owner of Bamboo Realty in Houston, TX, at a few real estate technology events and subsequent dinners—breaking bread and enjoying a chilled glass of sake over the most delightful conversations. During these occasions, I quickly discovered just how extraordinary she truly is, both as an individual and as a business owner, and I felt the need to share her story.

Sarah was an obvious choice for our “A Day In The Life” story this month. Her bold business sense and moxie—along with what can only be described as utter allegiance in building a remarkably well-trained, tactical, systematic team—needed to be shared and devoured by her peers.

So grab a glass of vino, have a seat, and prepare yourself to be introduced to a whole new way of being business-savvy.

About Work

Suzanne: Walk us through a typical day in your life. What time do you start your day and what does it consist of?

Sarah: During the week I’m up at 5:15 a.m. and start my day with a Bikram hot yoga class at 6 a.m.. I’m not much of a morning person, so yawning and stretching on a yoga mat is about all I can do at that hour. I typically make my way to the office by 9 a.m. and that’s where I enjoy my first coffee of the day and get started with work. Beyond my morning routine, I rarely live the same day but have found cadence instead in a weekly routine.

Mondays I reserve for working with my personal clients, including setting up showings or closings for the week, working through contract-to-close milestones, and marketing to my past clients and circle of influence. On this day I will also set up coffee and lunch appointments with clients and agents to help fill in my week.

Tuesdays are reserved for meetings. For any meetings scheduled in advance, I try and stack them on Tuesdays. I find this helps me accomplish more versus have one meeting every day of the week. On any given Tuesday I will have four to eight meetings with vendors, partners or potential partners.

Wednesdays I spend the most time working directly with my agents face to face. They know they can find me in the office and ready to help on Wednesdays. We have our monthly meeting on the first Wednesday of the month, and I host “Workshop With Sarah Wednesdays” once a month. The workshops are working meetings where agents come to learn and work on a specific project that they complete during the time allocated. Sample workshops include setting up a bio and agent ratings on HAR.com [Houston Association of Realtors], and another recent one was a refresher of how to develop a CMA.

Thursdays are my closing day and flex day. The only thing I will book in advance for a Thursday is a closing. Generally speaking I find Thursday is a really great day for clients, lenders and escrow officers to close. Other than that my day is left open for last-minute showings or meetings. One of the reasons I love having this “flex” day is that if someone needs to meet urgently, I know there is always space on my calendar. With this approach I rarely (almost never) have to move or cancel appointments or meetings.

Fridays are generally project oriented days. I tend to reserve the entire day to work on longer running projects. For example, we’re in the middle of a website redesign, so I may spend all of Friday working with our marketing director or Web developer. The one “ritual” I have for Fridays is that I love having breakfast with an agent or a few agents. Breakfast during the week seems like an indulgent treat and it’s also a great time to catch up on everyone’s activities for the week.

Saturdays I work half days and only if I have client showings. I’m available to show between 9 and 1, and then after that I’m ready to start my weekend!

Sundays are reserved for my husband, and I spend the entire day with him and our Labradors, Abby and Barley.

Suzanne: What does your morning routine look like when it comes to media consumption?

Sarah: Before I walk out the door for yoga, I do look at my email for any client-related emails. I’ll answer client emails at the crack of dawn but other than that, everyone waits until 8:30 or 9 when I get to the office. While I’m sipping that first coffee of the day, I check in on Yammer, which we use as our company intranet. I’ll also browse Facebook to see how everyone is doing.

Twitter is my only source for news. I don’t watch any news on TV and while I used to read CNN, I don’t anymore. I rely on Twitter for local news, market related news, industry news, etc. I can ingest a lot of news in a very short period of time and it’s a huge timesaver.

About Tools

Suzanne: What is your phone / tablet / laptop / desktop of choice?

Sarah: I have an iPhone 5, an iPad mini, an ASUS Zenbook (for traveling), and an HP all-in-one 27” touchscreen for the office. I love having the big screen because I can have multiple things open at the same time and see all of them.

Suzanne: Tell us what apps you can’t live without and why?

Sarah: I can’t live without NuOffer, a mobile offer writing app for iPad where you can write an offer in five minutes. It makes the contract writing process fun instead of tedious and time consuming. I also love HAR.com, DocuSign, Dropbox, Slydial and Refresh. Slydial is a favorite time saver as it allows you to call someone and reach their voicemail directly without their phone ringing. This is a great option when you want to communicate a message quickly but don’t have time for a phone call that could lead to a very long conversation. Refresh is an awesome app that helps prep you for a meeting. If you have a meeting on the calendar, the app will automatically provide you with a dossier on the person you are meeting, including notes taken from their social media networks. It’s great.

Suzanne: Tools you can’t live without?

Sarah: That would be my iPhone. I can slay a dragon with an iPhone.

Suzanne: What is your average number of meetings per day?

Sarah: On Tuesdays I will have four to eight meetings with vendors, partners or potential partners. Other than that, I limit my meetings to coffee or lunch appointments with agents and clients and average one to two of those every day. I love meeting with people over coffee or lunch because it gets me out of the office, and generally you can get to know people better when you are sharing a meal versus in an office.

Suzanne: How active are you on social sites?

Sarah: As far as status updates go, I will post three to five a week on Facebook or Twitter. Really, though, the majority of my posting is conversational, where I read about other people and respond to their posts.

Suzanne: How many emails do you send and receive per day?

Sarah: Oh, good grief. I receive up to 200 emails a day but respond to far fewer. I would say between 75 and 100 emails sent out every day.

Suzanne: What time does your typical day end?

Sarah: Generally, I wrap up at 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Fridays I wrap up by 6 p.m. and then Saturdays I work a half day.

About Business

Suzanne: Let’s get to know your unique business. What can you tell us about your market?

Sarah: Bamboo has a niche strategy. We specialize in properties for lease and first-time home-buyer services. We have an office in Houston and Dallas, and will be opening a Denver office this summer. For me, personally, I live and work in Houston.

Suzanne: Why do you love living there?

Sarah: I love Houston. I’ve been here for about five-and-a-half years. My favorite part about the city is the diversity. Last year, Houston surpassed New York as the most diverse city in the country, and people are relocating here in droves from all over the world. You can find a little of everything in Houston. A good example is the food—you can find Ethiopian, dim sum, Cajun, German, Vietnamese and Tex-Mex all within a short drive. The food is amazing, as made evident by what I call the “Houston 15.” It’s like the Freshman 15 where everyone finds themselves with a tighter waistband after their first few months here. What can I say, we all eat out a lot.

One thing I love about working in Houston is having the Houston Association of Realtors (HAR) for my local Association. The HAR leadership team, often recognized among the most influential in the country, has crafted a unique vision, and I don’t take for granted that we have tools and resources that agents in other markets don’t have access to. They have one of the best consumer-facing websites in the country, a robust agent review platform, industry-leading technology for agents, and awesome educational opportunities. I’m running for the HAR Board of Directors for 2015 and if things go well, I’ll have the opportunity to work to serve agents throughout the city.

Suzanne: How many transactions do you anticipate closing this year?

Sarah: As a broker/owner, most of my time is spent working with the agents on their transactions or in business development activities. However, I do take a few clients at a time, all of whom are past clients or personal contacts. This year I will do between 20 and 24 transactions.

Suzanne: What made you choose a career in real estate?

Sarah: Real estate was an accident in some ways. I was previously in consulting for six years and loved it but reached a point of serious burnout with the travel. Right around that time my husband and I were looking for a new place, and the agent that helped us suggested I consider real estate as an option. Since his work looked like a lot more fun than the burnout I was experiencing, I decided to walk away from corporate American and dive into real estate. That was in 2008 and I haven’t looked back since.

What I really love about real estate is that your job is what you make it out to be. You can be a listing agent or a buyer’s rep, you can choose residential or commercial, and if you don’t want to be an agent there are many other roles within the industry. There are niche opportunities everywhere you look. What do you want real estate to look like for you? Go out and build it. It’s very unique.

Suzanne: What is the biggest challenge the real estate industry faces today?

Sarah: Gosh, what a loaded question. I think one of the biggest issues today is that, increasingly, real estate agents are viewed as a commodity. As a result, both commissions and the level of service provided to clients seem to be on a downward march. However, challenge breeds opportunity, so there are some interesting new business models emerging as a result.

Suzanne: What advice would you give to new agents?

Sarah: I would tell new agents to focus on the people and not the money. If you spend time investing in relationships, then that will lead to success. Also, just as relationships mature over time, so will your real estate business. As for some practical advice to go along with that, invest in a CRM from day one. If you don’t, it will be like starting your career over and over again.

About Sarah

Suzanne: What is your greatest extravagance?

Sarah: Hmmm. I love a great bottle of wine. My perfect day is wine tasting in Sonoma. I have memberships in a half-dozen wine clubs, and I’ll definitely splurge on an amazing bottle when out for dinner.

Suzanne: Which living person do you admire most?

Sarah: I really admire Hillary Rodham Clinton. She has dedicated her life to public service and is a great example of balancing public and private life.

Suzanne: Who inspires you the most?

Sarah: I’m most inspired by the power of the human spirit and the ability to reinvent oneself. I think that is at the heart of the most inspiring stories we hear about.

Suzanne: What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Sarah: Gosh, does anyone like taking about achievements? Ummm…. Last year Inman News named me to their list of the Top 100 Most Influential Leaders in Real Estate. That about knocked me over. I was so surprised and humbled to be included. So I’ll name that.

Suzanne: What do you value most in your friends?

Sarah: Authenticity. When someone is real. It’s more than I can explain in words, but I know it when I see it.

Suzanne: Tell us something we don’t already know about you?

Sarah: My husband Brian and I are adopting from Ethiopia and we’re currently on the wait list. That day will be super magical when we get the call that we have been matched with a child.

Sarah Jones Infographic

Click the image above for an interactive look into a day in the life of Sarah Schnell Jones.

We invite you to learn more about Sarah. You can reach out to her on Facebook, Twitter, or call her at (713) 589-9935.

Previous “A Day In The Life” articles:

Carol Wolfe

Tiffany Kjellander

Geeky Girl Laurie Davis

SeattleHome’s Sam DeBord

Bill Lublin

The post A Day in the Life of Sarah Schnell Jones appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Source: Realtor.com

Work Those Email Leads

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CFCB image

It’s not enough to just get email leads: there must be follow-up.

When prospects submit an online form for listing information, 40% expect an instant response, and 70% expect a response within 30 minutes. But only 20% of agents respond within an hour, and some do not respond at all, according to the National Association of Realtors® Profile of Homebuyers and Sellers.

That’s throwing money in the trash.

The latest upgrade to ConnectionSM for Co-Brokerage provides the most efficient online lead solution on the market. Now, ConnectionSM for Co-Brokerage offers these enhancements:

  • Verifies the lead’s phone number and email address
  • Provides a full profile of the lead—age, household income, job title, employer, years at current residence—as well as links to the prospect’s Facebook, Twitter and other social media accounts, when available
  • Provides recent search activity and favorite listings
  • Allows customized auto-response email and text messages to be delivered within five minutes of the prospect’s initial request for more information

More importantly, ConnectionSM for Co-Brokerage helps agents connect to consumers. Increased engagement means higher conversion rates.

More than 43% of consumers found their homes online in 2013—up from 11 percent in 2003—according to N.A.R.

Internet leads are an irreversible trend the brokerage community must capture—or watch their business falter.

Today’s real estate agent has to work smarter, not harder. The best way to gain the highest return on time and money is to prospect more effectively— to prospect with verified email leads for faster results.

With ConnectionSM for Co-Brokerage, there are no cold calls. Each conversation is impactful and meaningful, because agents are armed with intelligence.

To learn more about how you can take your lead marketing efforts to the next level, visit ConnectionSM for Co-Brokerage here.

The post Work Those Email Leads appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Source: Realtor.com

Realtor.com® and Move, Inc. Awarded for Technology and Product Innovation

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reese-witherspoon-sells-ojai-ranch-13

Last week, realtor.com® and Move, Inc. were recognized at Real Estate Connect in San Francisco with several awards for technology and product innovation. These awards are another example of the industry’s and real estate media’s recognition that realtor.com® and Move, Inc. have the talent, thought leadership, and innovative ideas to compete in the online real estate marketplace. More importantly, these awards recognize industry-friendly innovation – innovation that helps real estate professionals compete and win in today’s real estate landscape. Our win is a win for the industry – brokers, agents, Associations, MLSs and affiliates – and a win for the importance that Realtors® bring to homeownership. Among our awards:

  • Michele Serro - Inman Innovator AwardDoorsteps Swipe app engages ‘just-looking’ consumers interested in browsing photos of homes for sale, and introduces them to the realtor.com® brand and listings long before they become transaction-ready customers
  • Last year’s agent search experiment, while innovative, is more aptly remembered because we pivoted based on additional industry feedback, and we are in the process of incorporating that feedback into an exciting new concept that will connect consumers with Realtors® online.
  • The Houston Association of REALTORS® was recognized for the launch of the first statewide real estate network, powered by Move’s ListHub™ technology, that connects consumers to MLS listing information with the accuracy and protections that ListHub™ syndication provides

The industry wins as we develop new products and ideas that connect consumers with Realtors® at every stage of the journey, at the national and local levels. The industry wins as we keep the needs of real estate professionals top of mind through technology innovations that delight consumers with new and enhanced experiences. The industry wins when we explore bold new concepts and then pivot when necessary to ensure that the new ideas we bring to the table are responsive to industry feedback. The industry wins by our overriding long-term commitment to place the Realtor® at the center of the transaction, and by providing a level playing field for Realtor® competition.

It’s an exciting time for the industry, with awareness of Realtor® differentiation and realtor.com® increasing day by day. We look forward to bringing more industry-focused innovation to you in the months ahead, and to continuing to connect the industry and the consumer in the online real estate marketplace.

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Source: Realtor.com

Market Snapshot® Mobile App: ‘Just Listed’ and ‘Just Sold’ Made Easy

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Market Snapshot®

Your clients are on the go and so are you. Shouldn’t your email marketing strategy keep up with the pace of business?

Market Snapshot® now offers a mobile app that provides revolutionary access to local market conditions right at your prospects fingertips straight from the MLS.

Best of all, it’s branded with your photo, your website, your company logo and your contact information. You stay top-of-mind as does your brand. And your prospects will have access to market updates at the speed of the market.

Keep in mind that accuracy matters: don’t let your clients speculate or guess about what a neighbor’s house sold for—instead provide them with personalized, accurate and relevant information consumers crave.

Don’t leave your sellers wondering about recent activity in their area of interest: provide them with relevant and contextual information. Sign up sellers, buyers and prospects, and they’ll get instant mobile friendly email alerts from you letting them know about “Just Sold” and “Just Listed” properties that match their search criteria.

According to the National Association of REALTORS®, 89% of home shoppers use their mobile phones to search listings. And you can brand yourself as the most reliable source of real estate data on that phone. When your clients are chatting with their friends about the market, they’ll be quoting your emails and market knowledge.

Market Snapshot® is automated content to anchor your prospecting and retention strategy while positioning you as the local real estate expert. It’s a far better value proposition than sending a postcard or flyer to each client in your database.

Utilizing MLS data from a live feed, Market Snapshot® delivers email notifications designed specifically for mobile devices. No websites to search for, no passwords to remember: it’s marketing on-the-fly that drives engagement, sparks a conversation, and promotes your value.

Control how your clients perceive the market and boost your reputation at the same time. By providing accurate, interactive, high-value information, you don’t have to waste time discrediting and re-educating buyers and sellers about falsehoods found on other real estate websites.

Learn more about Top Producer’s Market Snapshot® today!

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Source: Realtor.com

A Day in the Life of Raj Qsar

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Raj-Qsar

Raj Qsar is the broker owner of The Boutique, an independent real estate brokerage that integrates mobile technology into real estate transactions. His Southern California offices specialize in luxury homes and has expanded into the coastal region of Newport Beach. In his words, here is a peek into a day in his life.

Walk us through a typical day in your life.

My day typically starts at 5 a.m., sometimes a bit earlier. I just get up out of bed. No alarm. I grab my phone and head downstairs. I am totally a morning person. I make a protein shake and jump on my laptop and scroll through emails, Twitter, Instagram and then Facebook. I usually check analytics on our website and social channels, and look at ad campaign results.

On Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, I am at the Crossfit gym by 6 a.m. After the gym, I am at home helping get the kiddos—Hannah, Emma, and Cooper—get ready for school. Breakfast, clothes, homework review, and they are off to school by 8:30 a.m., and I am off to one of our offices. At 8 p.m. or so, I start shutting down.

Phone / tablet / laptop / desktop of choice?

iPhone 5S, iPad Air, MacBook Pro with Retina Display, iMac 27″ on my desk. We are an Apple company.

Apps you can’t live without?

DocuSign, DocuSign Transaction Room, DropBox, Facebook, Instagram, and recently I have been using Refresh as I am meeting with so many people.

Emails sent per day? Received?

My Google app business account said I received 7,000 emails last month, and I sent out 1,400.

Tell us about your market.

We tend to market homes above $1 million. It was not intentional, but our services are considered luxury and tend to attract those types of buyers and sellers.

Real estate marketing has truly evolved over the last 10 years. We have developed a comprehensive strategy which showcases our client’s home through real-life video—actual movies—amazing photography, 360 HD V-tours, individual property websites for each home, staging and interior design, custom graphics and design, and a social media content strategy that reaches people on a global scale.

We have complete control over our designs, feel and strategy when marketing luxury real estate. When surfing the web for real estate, our listings stand out: they have a unique look and feel, and buyers recognize our listings as being “boutique-ivied”—and we believe every home has a story.

Total number of transactions you worked on last year? Expected this year?

I personally did about 40 transactions last year with an average sales price of about $2 million. I will do about the same this year, but our price point has moved up. Look for our new office in the beach city of Corona Del Mar in Newport Beach as we launch into the coastal Orange County real estate market.

What made you choose a career in real estate?

After watching an agent “sell” our first home, I knew there had to be a better way. I personally held the open houses, I printed the flyers, I wrote the content. That was all pre-social.

It was so massively complicated, and we were so in the dark the whole way through. I had an “Ah, ha!” moment back in 2008 as technology and social media found real estate. We knew there had to be a better way of not only marketing real estate but also of managing the mountain of paperwork and people involved in a real estate transaction.

So in a sense, our team has digitized the real estate experience. You will never find our clients running to a fax machine and most likely never even pick up a pen to sign anything. We are a paperless office, completely mobile and can run an entire real estate transaction from our iPads and phones. Our technology does not require our clients to be tech savvy—it only requires our agents to understand the benefits of technology and to implement that technology with our clients.

What’s the biggest challenge the real estate industry faces today?

One of the biggest challenges in real estate today is that everyone seems to be swimming in the same pool. There is no original creative. Nobody wants to tell a story. There is an old quote, “Those who tell the stories rule the world.” What I love is when I meet someone, and they just instantly pick up with a story. We believe this type of mindset is so needed in our industry.

What advice would you give to new agents?

The advice I would give to a new agent entering into the world of real estate would be to join an amazing team. And I do not just mean a busy team, but an amazing, highly-respected team where you can learn, experience and absorb everything and anything that is real estate. That includes not only all the “beautiful and shiny” things that real estate offers, but also all the challenges that real estate brings each and everyday: from contracts, lender guidelines and appraisals to staging, photography, pre- and post-processing of photos, editing video, print campaigns and the entire social media and web content strategy.

Who inspires you the most?

Jesus Christ because he changed my heart.

Previous “A Day In The Life” articles:

Sarah Schnell Jones

Carol Wolfe

Tiffany Kjellander

Geeky Girl Laurie Davis

Sam DeBord

Bill Lublin

The post A Day in the Life of Raj Qsar appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Source: Realtor.com

Want to Turn Quality Leads Into Closed Sales?

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sold-house-feet

Successful agents know if their pipeline isn’t filled with potential buyers and sellers, they are quickly out of business. Quality leads mean everything.

It’s easy to get inundated with the day-to-day transactional business of selling real estate. There are inspections to schedule, showings to get feedback on, and appraisal issues to contend with. All of that must be juggled with cultivating new business.

Quality online lead referrals must be a spoke in your prospecting wheel.

Every agent needs multiple streams of business—referrals from past clients, family members and friends, as well as strangers actively searching for a new home or considering selling the house they own.

Buyers and sellers start their search online. If you’re not capturing those potential clients when they are without representation and searching for advice, you are not optimizing all of your resources.

At least 20% of home buyers said they found their agent on realtor.com®—compared to 13% and 12% on the two top competitor sites, respectively, according to the February 2014 Consumer Brand Tracking Study by Westerberg Consulting.

ConnectionSM for Cobrokerage Works for You

Unclaimed buyers searching active listings on realtor.com® are funneled to agents signed-up for ConnectionSM for Cobrokerage.

Because realtor.com® listings are updated every 15 minutes from more than 800 MLS systems across the country, buyers are searching current inventory. There are sites that sell leads from closed or expired listings; that does you a disservice.

“We know you have choices,” says Steve Pacinelli, Vice President of Industry Events for Move, Inc., operator of realtor.com®. “Various companies offer leads. I say evaluate them on quality, time invested and ROI. Once you put that time in, you can’t get it back.”

Kimberly Grogan, a REALTOR® from Arlington, TX, won Rookie of the Year in 2012 for the national Keller Williams franchise. She credits ConnectionSM for Cobrokerage for her success as a new agent.

“There’s always that moment when you’re hesitant to call your sphere,” says Grogan.

She circumvented the fear by signing up for leads.

“When I first started, I was spending about $1,000 per month on leads,” she adds. “I was making about $8,000 a month off of those leads.”

She said she closed two deals a month as a direct result of ConnectionSM for Cobrokerage.

Realtor.com® delivers better leads, according to a June 2013 study by PAA research, an independent research firm. The study shows agents are 30% more likely to convert a realtor.com® lead versus the competition.

But it’s not just about getting the lead. Agents must also follow up on those leads quickly, as Grogan did.

“The moment a lead came in, I responded,” she says.

ConnectionSM for Cobrokerage Works Fast

For consumers thirsting for timely information, fast responses are the key to converting them into clients. A Harvard Business Review study noted 70% of buyers expect a response to an online inquiry within 30 minutes. Yet, it takes REALTORS® two hours to respond, according to the National Association of REALTORS®.

That disconnect has been addressed in the latest update to ConnectionSM for Cobrokerage.

Now, the system will automatically send a text or email response you can customize, to the client, within 15 minutes.

“It’s your words,” says Pacinelli. “Remember, the best agent is the available agent.”

ConnectionSM for Cobrokerage Just … Works

Grogan sold $6.3 million in residential real estate in her first year using ConnectionSM for Cobrokerage. Now three years into the business, she has a team, The Grogan Group, with a buyer’s agent to handle online leads.

With ConnectionSM for Cobrokerage, leads come with an actual phone number and email address. It will even import useful demographic information about the lead such as household income, marital status, place of employment and job title, when available. It also shows the last three houses the prospect looked at online as well as the ones saved as their favorites.

The point is to move the conversation along. The first conversation is no longer an expedition into their wants and price range; it’s a revelation of how knowledgeable you are.

“We make you smarter,” Pacinelli adds. “You can introduce them to new homes because you already know what they are looking for.”

For more information about ConnectionSM for Cobrokerage, call (866) 960-9471 or click here.

The post Want to Turn Quality Leads Into Closed Sales? appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Source: Realtor.com

Top 10 Tech Tools for REALTORS®

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Best_Tech_Tools

Many people live in smart homes, drive smart cars and use smart phones. REALTORS® should be no different, especially with all the tech tools at their disposal nowadays.

While some brokers still use paper documents, fax machines and push button lock boxes, mobile and connected agents can manage deals from their car using their iPad or other tech tools in their arsenal.

If you’re looking for an entry point into the connected world, here are the Top 10 tech tools to help you become more productive, efficient, and current.

1. Yesware. This is an email tracking add-on. It alerts you when the emails you sent have been opened. The mobile version of the software provides push notifications alerting you when an email you sent was opened. Yesware works with Gmail, but it’s also compatible with Top Producer® CRM, so you can track emails to groups.

2. Market Snapshot®. Create “Just Sold” and “New Listing” alerts for current, future, and past clients with this tool that works within Top Producer® CRM. Designed for mobile, Market Snapshot® sends agent-branded email alerts to deliver timely and accurate information, with your name and logo prominently featured.

3. HelloSign. This app targets those who want to go paperless. It lets your clients sign documents electronically. You can then send them to the co-op agent without ever printing, scanning or faxing a piece of paper. It works seamlessly with Gmail and Google docs. There’s even an option to create a form you can host on your website or send via email.

4. Vidcaboodle. Creates a video channel for your website from your phone. All videos can be displayed in one place fully integrated into your website. Video drives traffic to your site, not to YouTube.

5. EasilyDo. This is your personal assistant without the monthly expense. This free app accesses your digital life, finds the most important stuff and surfaces it for you. It gives you a daily snapshot of important reminders: flight information, order confirmations, and appointments. It even scans your social media presence to let you know when past clients have a job change, get married, or have a life event you can use to reconnect with them.

6. Ginger. Never send another email loaded with misspellings or misused auto-corrections. Ginger is an app following you online while you type and automatically spell checks everything. It makes you look smarter, because your text messages and emails will be corrected for grammar, synonyms, definitions, re-phrasings, and punctuation.

7. Mailboxapp.com. Designed for Gmail and iCloud accounts, the Mailbox app redesigns your mobile inbox to make email easier to use on the go. Swipe to hide a message from view, snooze messages you will get to later, and organize all of your confirmations to list. Mailbox learns from your swipes and organizes your inbox—leaving you with more time to prospect.

8. Sitegeist. For those pesky questions you can’t answer due to Fair Housing laws, direct your clients to Sitegeist. They can discover local demographics, school data and bevy of other interesting tidbits. Referring your client to an app shows you’re not just an authority on local real estate activity—but you’re plugged into resources they can depend on for useful information, as well.

9. MileIQ. Make tax time easy. This app knows tracks your auto mileage automatically. It separates business trips from personal trips—all you need to do is just scroll left or right to file your trip under the appropriate heading. At the end of the year, print your custom mileage expense report and hand it to your accountant—your mileage is done.

10. Rapportive. This Gmail extension allows agents to quickly identify who is emailing them. With Rapportive, every email address is linked to the sender’s social media accounts. Instantly, you see what city they’re in, their job title, employer and their Twitter, Facebook and Google+ accounts. Rapportive allows agents to see who is emailing them and have a face to look for when a client requests a showing.

The post Top 10 Tech Tools for REALTORS® appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Source: Realtor.com

Recruiting and Retaining Top Agents With Quality Leads

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retaining top agents

Turnover is expensive. Recruiting and training new agents only to watch them leave is costly for any brokerage. Retaining top agents becomes a priority.

It’s imperative brokers find ways to improve retention and keep valuable cash-generating agents in place.

One of the best ways to entice agents is the lure of business. Brokerages must differentiate themselves by offering agents extensive marketing packages that include professionally taken photos of listings, but what about also offering top producing agents new business?

“Increase the bottom line by offering a steady flow of leads to your top three REALTORS®,” said Steve Pacinelli, Vice President of Industry Events for Move, Inc., during a webinar, “Recruitment, Retention & Revenue, Using Online Lead Systems”.

The most cutting edge brokerages are signing up for online leads and routing them to agents who account for a majority of the office’s business. Those agents develop a sense of loyalty to the company while generating bottom line results.

“A lot of brokers charge 25-30% referral fees on office generated leads,” said Pacinelli. “They’re happy to pay that.”

Anytime new business lands in an agent’s lap without having to cultivate it, it is a win for the agent. There is an understanding in real estate: every piece of business has a cost. Either it is a cost in time hosting an open house to acquire unrepresented buyers or a cost of buying online ads and printing postcards. New business comes with a price tag.

“Some brokers change the split,” Pacinelli added. “If it was 80/20, they charge 60/40 for an office-generated lead.”

It’s important to note the leads must be high-caliber quality leads that can be converted into closed sales. Not all leads are created equally.

Realtor.com® leads have the highest conversion rate in the industry, according to PAA Research. Leads from realtor.com®, filtered through ConnectionSM for Cobrokerage, have a 30% higher conversion rate, noted Pacinelli.

To help REALTORS® convert leads, ConnectionSM for Cobrokerage now offers verified phone numbers and email addresses, when available. It also provides useful demographic information cultivated from social media sites.

Now, each lead comes with a peek into the prospect’s ability to buy. Instantly, the agent knows where the prospect works, what their job title is, their household income and marital status. Agents can also see which houses prospects saved as their favorites and the last three houses the prospect viewed.

Such information not only moves the conversation forward, it infuses each interaction with client insight. The goal, of course, is to use this insight to transition the prospect from online lead to in-person client.

For the broker charged with recruiting top agents and cultivating new top producers, ConnectionSM for Cobrokerage is a secret weapon.

It can be used to not only steer leads but also to track agent productivity. With its back-end CRM using Five Street, brokers can measure which agents work online leads with the most lucrative results.

Kimberly Grogan, a REALTOR® from Arlington, TX, won Rookie of the Year in 2012 for the national Keller Williams franchise. She credits ConnectionSM for Cobrokerage for her success as a new agent.

She spent $1,000 per month on leads and made $8,000 per month in closings, Grogan said.

A broker could multiply that success and spread this best practice throughout the agency to create an office of high-volume agents who stay: the key is quality leads, investing in your business—the agent—and connecting them with quality leads.

For more information about for ConnectionSM for Cobrokerage, call (877) 560-7386 or visit the product site.

The post Recruiting and Retaining Top Agents With Quality Leads appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Source: Realtor.com

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