16 posts categorized "Real Estate Business Systems" Feed

10 Tips for Business Success in a Challenging Market & Down Economy

I first wrote and posted the following article on this Real Estate Coach Blog in November 2007.   I have updated the intro paragraph with my thoughts on the current real estate market in Las Vegas.  The 10 Tips to THRIVE are timeless however and easily adapted for any business owner.

Business_success_team Our current real estate market in Las Vegas (and around the country) continues to present an interesting test for all involved… from the buyers, to the sellers to the practicing real estate agents and also for the brokerage firms.  I’ve been living and working in Las Vegas since 1992 and last year was my first experience in a “challenging market”.   Fueled by local and national media with a slant to reporting the negative and “newsworthy” hype of doom and gloom,  many prospective buyers and sellers continue to stay out of the market.   For the second half of 2007, 70 to 80% of all residential closings in Las Vegas were bank-owned or short sale properties.   And real estate professionals are either thriving ( by adjusting and capitalizing on the opportunities), surviving, trying to adjust or in many cases just plain giving up. There are opportunties for those who are willing to make the necessary adjustments both in their action plan and MINDSET!

The following 10 points are my observations and best advice on how to Thrive (not just Survive) in Today’s market.

  1. You ARE the Creator of your Reality. Check in with yourself often.  Are your thoughts positive or negative - towards or away from what you desire? Do you find yourself slipping into the negative muck and mire - from the media or the glass is half-empty people around you?  Be deliberate and intentional in your thoughts and actions.  Focus on what you want not on what you don’t want.
  2. Educate yourself about the market, understand the stats and trends.  Become an expert in short sales, REO, loan modifications and the foreclosure process.  Make sure you are receiving current market data from local sources.  Know the inventory.
  3. Improve and upgrade your qualifying, presentation and closing skills.  Learn how to better present the history and current real estate market story to your buyers and sellers.  Update your buyer and listing presentations with supporting graphs, statistics, etc.  Take sale-able, properly-priced listings!  Use all of your available company marketing and advertising tools. Practice, Practice, Practice your closing and qualifying skills.
  4. Get back to the basics now.  Do you have a solid SOI/Referral system in place?  Are you prospecting  daily? Have you selected 3-5 target markets to concentrate on this year?
  5. Have a written business plan with specific goals.  Track your expenditures and return on investment.   Know what’s working and what is not and make the appropriate adjustments.
  6. Adopt a daily ritual to start your day in a positive mindset.  Some suggestions…morning meditation, prayer, exercise, read your affirmations, review your goals, eat breakfast, review your day’s tasks and schedule.
  7. Exercise and eat properly for you.  I recommend yoga
  8. Show up - Mentally, Physically, Emotionally and Spiritually.  Now more than ever it’s important to get up, do your morning mindset ritual, get dressed for success and go into the office or that first appointment.
  9. Have a daily activity plan and work it - know how many calls, face-to-face contacts, emails, mailers, contacts you must make before you call it a day.  Challenge yourself with daily goals - don’t go home until you have at least one appointment for example.
  10. Get an accountability partner or hire a coach. Ask for help.  Help each other.  Form a support and accountability group.

An Affirmation for the New Year….“SUCCESS IS MINE IN 2009!


How to Actively Build Your Client Database and Referrals

Building your database is an ongoing and daily process.  It's a mindset.  Set a goal of the number of people you want to add to your database on a weekly or monthly basis.  Every day, you will have opportunities to network and talk to others.  Turn every day situations into an opportunity to discuss the real estate business and invite someone to be added to your mailing or email list.  Here are some strategies and ideas to begin implementing in your daily Action Plan today!

Build a habit of sending personal notes

  • Commit to a certain number of personal, hand-written notes daily.
  • Write the note in the moment – when the reason for sending the note occurs.
  • Have a supply of blank note cards and envelopes with you – in your car – at home – in the office.
  • Ideas for personal notes:
    • Open house visitors
    • After client contact (call or visit)
    • Co-op agent on a transaction
    • Business vendors and partners
    • When you receive a referral
    • At close of escrow on a transaction

Acknowledge your Referrals

  • Immediately upon receiving a referral from a past client or anyone, send a personal note and a thank you for the referral item.
  • The key is to have a supply of your thank you items on-hand (Gift card/movie tickets, etc.) and send a personal note immediately after receiving the referral.  Don't wait to send the thank you note after the close of escrow!  Make an impression immediately by acknowledging the referral as soon as you receive it, regardless if it turns into business or not.  Send a Starbucks card, car wash card, gas card or movie tickets along with your note.
  • Another idea is to send a perishable item (i.e. flowers, cookies) to the referring client’s workplace.

Commit to adding 5 people a week to your database

  • Actively handout 10 business cards 5 days a week and ask for referrals!  (Everywhere – standing in line, restaurants, interacting with businesses daily)
  • Hold 2-3 Open Houses a week - you wil meet prospective buyers and people to add to your database.
  • Active prospecting - FSBOs, Expireds, door knocking, calling, just listed and just solds
  • Networking and business events
  • Get involved in community events or groups

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Real Estate Farming - How to Increase Your Listing Inventory

Real_estate_farming In the real estate business, there are several types of "farms."  The geographic farm (prospecting specific neighborhoods or subdivisions) is the most common. Other farms might include:

  • Professional (teachers, attorneys, nurses, doctors - maybe from a related previous career)
  • Apartments and tenant occupied residential properties
  • Out-of-state owners
  • Your last name (I could farm all property owners with the last name O'Brien, O'Brian, O'Bryan for example.)
  • Cultural group

Real Estate Farming is analogous to agricultural farming.  The "farmer" must analyze the land; prepare and fertilize it; sow the seeds, water, weed and nurture the garden; then harvest the crop when it is ready.  In my experience, farming only works if you are committed to it long term.  Many agents decide to farm without properly analyzing and preparing for it.  They mail something out to a neighborhood only to quit 3 to 4 months later because it didn't produce results quick enough. 

Like all types of prospecting - farming takes perseverance, consistency and adequate contacts to succeed.  If you farm effectively and leverage your success with other prospecting activities you can increase your listing inventory and generate more buyer leads.  The following action steps are part of our real estate coaching  program for essential business systems.

Deciding Where to Farm

  • Your farm should be located in the same Zip Code (Min 150 pieces per zip code) to take advantage of the best bulk mail rates.
  • 500-750 homes is optimal to start.  Your budget will determine the total number of homes you mail to monthly) .
  • Turnover ratio should be a minimum of 12 to 15% (total # of homes in the subdivision divided by the # of closings in one year = turnover %).
  • Research MLS to ensure another agent doesn’t have more than 20% market share.  In Las Vegas we don't have protected farm areas, it's just smart to know who, if anyone, is your competition.
  • Gather the following statistics for your designated geographic farm:
  • Subdivision Name(s)/Number(s)
  • Total Number of Homes
  • Total Sales in Previous Year
  • Turnover Ratio
  • Total Sales YTD
  • Models and sqft range
  • Benefits, ammenities and features of the neighborhood
  • Contact your local Title Company for assistance with a farm packet.  You should be able to get detailed reports and your farm in an electronic format.  This will allow you to import the data into your contact management system for mail merging letters, mailing labels or addressing envelopes.
  • Use Salestraq Archive feature to get floor plans of all models if available.
  • Preview available inventory in the farm.  Get to know the features and benefits of all the models.

What to mail or email:

  • Every other month prepare a neighborhood market update - this is the information the homeowner wants to know - the current value of the homes.  Include availables, pending and contingent and recent solds.  You could also include other stats like average days on market, average price per sq ft. 
  • On the other months - mail information about your marketing plan.  Why should the homeowner choose you when it's time to sell their home?  You could highlight one or two key reasons that set you apart from the competition every other month.  What is your Unique Value  or Selling Proposition?
  • Keep it simple and easy to read.  Use a template for the market update and make sure to brand it with your  photo and other information.  Here's a sample template:   NeighborhoodUpdate.dot

Leveraging for Success.  The following activities will assist you in leveraging your farming success.  The goal is to become the trusted neighborhood expert.

  • Use personalized Yard Signs.
  • Hold Open Houses in your farm.  Use personalized open house signs.
  • Mail Just Listed/Solds every time you take anew listing and sell one in your farm.
  • Call Your Farm or Knock 30-50 doors when you list and again when you sell a property.
  • Visit the neighborhood, knock doors or door drop your market update.
  • Consider  Community Activities
    • Sponsor garage sales
    • Help Establish a neighborhood watch
  • Seasonal/Holiday activities or items (flags on 4th of July; pumpkins at Halloween are classics)

Systemize it!

The final step to creating a successful Farming System is to actually schedule the day or week of the month that you are committed to getting the mailers out.  The other key step is to have your template or newsletter set up in advance.  Take the time to design and finalize your mailers for the entire year, then just schedule them on a monthly basis.  If you follow this advice, the only additional task every other month is to put together the current market stats.

Next up:  Taking farming to the next level with Blogs and Social Networks.

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7 Action Steps to Creating Your SOI/Past Client Referral System

Realestatereferralsystem There are 3 basic reasons why many agents fail to conquer the most important real estate system to implement – your Sphere of Influence (SOI) and Past Client Referral System.

1. They never decide on a contact management or software solution.
2. If they have a solution, they don’t enter the contacts, sort and categorize them.
3. They over-analyze or never decide what to do or send out each month – thus, ultimately doing nothing for months on end.

So, let’s break it down step-by-step, get this critical system in place and generating business and referrals immediately.  The key to implementing this system is to commit to the process and set a deadline to complete each action step, one at a time. 

Action Step 1 - Create your list of past clients and sphere of influence

If you have started a list or have it scattered in 2 or 3 places (MLS, Outlook, other email program, scraps of paper, transaction folders, etc) get it all together in one place.  Make sure you have all the vital information on your contacts – names, address, emails, phone numbers, IM names or other social networking contact info.  Set a deadline to accomplish this task. 

Action Step 2 - Decide on a contact management /real estate transaction system

You can choose a program like Outlook to get started and always upgrade to a more comprehensive, real estate-specific program.  The important thing is to choose something and just get started!  Here are two possible solutions for you to consider:

REST – Real Estate Success Tracker  (www.GetRESTnow.com )  ($399 for single user license)

  • REST is my personal recommendation.  In my opinion, REST is the best real estate software on the market.  Easy to use, more intuitive, not as complicated as many programs.
  • Single and multi-user options available.  You install REST on your desktop/laptop but you can also remotely access from your PDA or another computer.

Top Producer

  • There are a variety of extras and add=ons with Top Producer and price points.
  • I find many agents have this program and are not using it to its full potential - only the contact management portion.

Research the solutions (there are others out there) and make a decision.  Set a deadline for purchase, installation and familiarization/training.

Action Step 3 - Input all contact information into selected program

Set aside a few hours and get this task done!  If you aren’t going to get to this task any time soon - hire someone to get this job done for you.  Computer-savvy people (teenagers, family members, your colleagues’ family members, agents in your office, local high school or community college students) are everywhere – find someone and hire them for this project.   Set a realistic deadline to accomplish this action step.

Action Step 4 - Sort and categorize your database. 

Optimally, complete this step simultaneously with the data entry of Step 3.  I recommend using the technique taught by Brian Buffini to sort your database:

  • A+ Multiple transactions or multiple referrals
  • A    Referred at least one client
  • B     Haven’t referred yet – probably will when you remind them/show them how
  • C     You know them/just met them – haven’t sold them a home yet
  • D    Delete - Not going to mail to them

You can also group your database by other specific categories or contact types (sellers, buyers, farm, past clients, newsletter, prospects, vendors, B2B, etc).

Action Step 5 - Create an Introduction or Reconnect letter with a deadline to mail out.

  • If you are a New Agent, ask your broker for an endorsement letter from your Broker – company.  The concept here is the SOI member knows that the agent is new and may not have a high level of confidence in their ability or experience yet.   The letter reassures the potential client that not only do you get the agent but a team of professionals and support staff.

  • The letter should outline what the recipient can expect from this point forward; what services you provide; your client appreciation program; local market updates; annual market analysis of their property; business to business resources to name some possibilities.

Bonus Action Step:  Call the people in your database and ask this qualifying and sorting question (Mayor Campaign from Brian Buffini program):

“Oh by the way, if you were buying or selling a home or had a friend or family member who was, am I the Realtor you would refer them to?”

This one extra step will help you immediately sort your database and the major side benefit…you will more than likely generate business either directly or by referral from the activity of all the calls you make.

Action Step 6 - Decide on what you are going to mail or email each month

This is the step many agents get stuck on.  They can’t decide on what to send or procrastinate about it or waste time creating their own newsletter or mailout.  Here are some suggestions to get you started.  Just pick one and do it.  You can always modify and refine later.

  • Current Market Data.  Most local Title Companies provide excellent market condition reports.  This is the information people are most interested in – what is happening in your local market.  Be the provider of that information!

Where to find - Las Vegas Real Estate Market information:

  • Members of GLVAR can access a monthly Consumer Newsletter to email to your SOI, a myriad of graphs and current market data at www.LasVegasRealtor.com
  • Nevada Title produces a monthly Market Condition Report with commentary and other excellent market reports and data.  
  • www.Salestraq.com - Fast Facts is an e-newsletter about the new and existing home market. $25/month.
  • www.HomeBuildersResearch.com - Monthly Market overview. $18/month.  Contact Dennis Smith, 702-645-4200
  • UNLV - Center for Business and Research presents the quarterly Las Vegas Housing Market Conditions for $25/year.

Action Step 7Systemize it! 

This is the final step and a key to the overall success of the system.  It simply means deciding on a day or week of the month that you will actually prepare and send out your monthly mailer or email.  Schedule it.  Place it on a visible calendar and make it happen.  Hire someone to get this task complete for you if you don’t want to do it yourself.

More posts in the  Real Estate Business Systems Series

 

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Home Staging Tips and Resources

In any market, but particularly a buyer's market, the listing that looks the best, shows the best and feels the best will sell faster (that is given the listing is also priced properly!).   The best staged home will sell faster when all other things are comparable (price, terms, location).

Livroomtable_home_stagingHelping a seller to prepare the home for showings and staging the property are two initial and essential strategies in a successful listing and marketing program.  The three major areas of consideration for preparing a home to go on the market are:

  1. Clean
  2. De-Clutter
  3. Stage individual rooms

Las Vegas real estate agent, Barbara O'Neill, has a natural talent and eye for decorating and staging and includes practical advice and guidance to her sellers as a part of her listing service.  Barbara has found success in staging both vacant and owner-occupied listings - and our Las Vegas market currently has a high percentage of vacant properties.  Here are some of her staging tips.

Key Rooms to Stage When the Listing is Vacant:

Make the Front Entry look inviting.  First impressions are lasting.  Make it a good one.  Colored Pots with Artificial plants, a bench, a Welcome mat, a dried or silk door wreath all work wonders to set the stage for what the prospective buyer is going to see and feel inside the home.

Kitchen

  • 2 or 3 tier stand with plates and bowls
  • Decorative fruit bowl or basket on the counter
  • Artificial plant or dried flower arrangement
  • Canister set
  • Vanilla, Cinnamon or Apple scented wall plugs (Bath & Body Works)
  • Bistro or dining table and chairs
  • Bar stools if applicable

Guest Bathroom

  • Make it a functioning bathroom with toilet paper, hand soap
  • Hand towels
  • Decorative items
  • Scented wall plug

Master Bedroom/Bath

  • Bed with comforter, pillows and shams
  • Night table (s)
  • Lamps
  • Books
  • Small picture on the nightstands
  • Bath – make it spa-like (towels, robes, candles, vanity bench if applicable)

Note: Hang a few pictures where needed and do not worry about the nail holes.  They are easy to patch.

General Tips

o Select items that everyone uses regularly that coordinates with décor and color of the home.  Make it look and feel real.
o Decorate to the house’s architecture, style & colors not necessarily your taste.
o Preparing and staging the home should be done prior to the home going on the market. The first pictures that go in the MLS and on the flier should be the staged pictures. 

Where to find Staging Supplies and Decorator Items  (bargains in Las Vegas)

  • Big Lots
  • Ross
  • Marshall’s
  • TJ Maxx
  • Stein Mart
  • Colleen’s Consign and Design
  • Warehouse showrooms for Walker Furniture and R C Willey

Staging the Owner-Occupied Home

Conduct an inspection/assessment with the Sellers.  Give them a checklist or a pad of paper and ask them to write down what needs to get done – involve them in the process.  On your walk-around, room-by-room, make staging suggestions, look for and note any necessary repairs or maintenance, ways to de-clutter or clean the space. 

There are abundant resources available online with tips for cleaning, de-cluttering and staging and preparing the home.   I've compiled a list of FAQs regarding home staging and some useful resources for your review below.

Home Staging FAQs

  • Who does the staging?
    o You
    o Hire a professional  Home Stager or Interior Decorator
  • What does it cost to hire a home staging professional?
    o Free Consultation offered by some home staging companies
    o Written Assessment – $350 approx. and seller does the work
    o o Home Staging Company does it all
    o Professional home stagers charge anywhere from $500 to $5000 - depending on the scope of work needed.  Furniture may be rented from Stager or purchased.
  • Who pays for it? 
    o Seller
    o You
    o Combination
  • What happens to the staging props and furniture after close of escrow?
    o Buyer asks for it in the offer
    o Seller keeps it
    o Seller sells it
    oYou keep it and reuse on your next listing (if you choose this option)
    o Returns to Home Staging Company (if seller leased it)

Home Staging Resources   (Download home_staging_resources.pdf)

Home Staging Blogs

Home Staging Certification & Training


Real Estate Business Systems - Series Overview

In the coming weeks, I will be posting a series of articles on how to implement effective systems for your real estate business.  As I conduct group coaching sessions for Prudential Americana Group, REALTORS, I will post the supporting documents, key strategies and any audio or video files from the training classes.

The focus of these sessions is to work on your business while you are also working in the business.  Most training and coaching programs focus mainly on skillset - prospecting, sales techniques, closing, contracts, listing and selling techniques.  Of course, mastering these key real estate sales skills is critical to the overall success in your business.  I also believe in teaching solid business and financial systems which ultimately can streamline your business, increase productivity, give you more balance between work and family,  leverage your time and resources and eventually create a viable exit strategy.

The first step toward building a successful real estate team is to implement key business systems that work for you as the individual lead agent.  Once you have created and refined these systems it is easy to develop a team version that team associates (buyers agents) can simply plug into without reinventing the wheel.   

For those interested in building a team, I will be discussing team building systems and strategies upon the completion of this series on basic real estate systems.

Here's what you can expect in the coming weeks:

  • Real Estate Business Plan and Goal-Writing
  • Creating Your Vision, Mission, and Core Values
  • Developing Your Unique Value (Selling) Proposition
  • Personal Promotion, Branding and Marketing
  • Past Client/Sphere of Influence/Referral System
  • Listing System
  • Buyer/Escrow System
  • Farming System
  • Lead Generation and Follow-up System
  • Internet, Blogging, Social Networking Strategy
  • Business Financial Basics for the Real Estate Agent

Here's the link to the Real Estate Business Systems series page