Friday, August 31, 2007, 09:54 PMInternet Lead Generation: Boom or Bust?
By: Ralph Roberts - Published: August 31, 2007
With the proliferation of online real estate lead-generation services, including Zillow.com, HomeGain, HouseValues, and HurryHome, seasoned real estate agents who haven't exactly embraced 21st Century technology are beginning to get a little nervous. How are these Internet lead-generation services going to affect the industry? More importantly, what effect will these services ultimately have on my bottom line, and what can I do to remain competitive?
Although Internet lead-generation services are certain to shake up the industry, this technology is only the most recent to affect the way we do business on a daily basis. When colleagues ask me what they can do to remain competitive, I offer the same advice I have been giving throughout my career as a real estate mentor, coach, and author:
. Embrace change
. Master new technologies
. Market wherever your customers go
Embrace change - Whenever a new technology affects your industry, you have three choices: resist it, accept it, or embrace it. Those who resist almost always lose their competitive edge. As soon as the competition adopts the new technology, you fall at least one step behind. The early you adopt the change, the sooner you can master the new technology and the easier it is to keep up with changes as it matures.
Agents who adopted Internet lead-generation technology in its infancy (2003-2004), have discovered ways to reduce bad leads, optimize their conversion rates on good leads, and minimize costs. Those who wait face a much steeper learning curve. I encourage you to get started today.
Master new technologies - At first, adopting a new technology may cause a slight dip in productivity, but over time, they almost always boost productivity. I can remember the time when the only gadgets I used to run my real estate business were a telephone and a handheld calculator. Now, I have computers, fax machines, a PDA, a Blackberry device, a digital tape measure to estimate room sizes, broadband Internet access, over 200 websites and blogs, email, instant messaging, a conference call center, and more. I can travel to Kenya while closing on a house in Detroit and talking with a virtual assistant who works out of her home in Mexico City.
Every technology, no matter how easy it may be to master requires some investment and "getting used to." The same is true of Internet lead-generation services. If you're accustomed to "by referral" prospecting and print-marketing techniques, this new method may feel a little awkward at first, but I would bet that when you first entered the business, the whole thing felt a little awkward.
Market wherever your customers go - To thrive in sales, in any industry, you have to market via any and all media that your customers rely on for information. In the past, that meant marketing in print publications, via direct mail, on television and radio, on billboards, and by word of mouth. With more and more people seeking information on the Internet, you had better have a presence there, as well.
I encourage you to have your own website or blog, where people can find information about you and your business, homes you have listed for sale, information about the neighborhoods in your farm area, and any other information that current and prospective clients will find useful.
In addition, sign up for an Internet lead-generation service. These services provide one of the easiest ways to tap the power of the Internet for leads without having to market extensively. The lead-generation service does the heavy lifting -- marketing the service to prospective home buyers and sellers, gathering their information, filtering out low-quality leads, and delivering promising prospects right to your computer.
Remember, only you hold the answer to the ultimate question: "Internet Lead Generation: Boom or Bust?" By embracing this new technology, you can capitalize on a host of new opportunities. Resist the change, and you're likely to become technology's latest casualty.
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Friday, August 24, 2007, 10:20 PM3 Mistakes to Avoid When Introducing Yourself
Source: Realty Times, Maya Bailey (08/22/07)
Daily Real Estate News | August 24, 2007
Everyday circumstances — such as standing in line at a store, sharing an elevator with a stranger, or attending a social function — provide ample opportunities for real estate agents to make new contacts.
But whether a casual conversational partner becomes a prospective client, a possible referral source, or a dead end hinges largely on the agent's response to one simple question: "So what do you do?"
Here are three common mistakes in responding to that question:
1. Vague response. One of the biggest errors property professionals make in this situation, according to real estate coach Dr. Maya Bailey, is to say very little other than their name and company, hoping the other party will seek more information.
2. Too much information. Another is to offer too much information and then try to mine for their business. On a first meeting, Bailey says the most an agent should do is exchange business cards with a potential contact.
3. Chatter endlessly. Practitioners who talk on and on about themselves and their jobs could alienate the people around them, as their words may be perceived as self-serving.
What You Should Do -- instead, when agents answer a question about their line of work, they should pose a question of their own — a question that will engage the other person's interest, Bailey says.
For example, ask if the potential client understands how stressful and agitating a property transaction can be. After pausing to allow a yes-or-no reply, the agent can then briefly describe how she handles the details and paperwork and generally facilitates the process so that the customer's experience is as pleasant as possible.
Not only will the agent engage the other party, but she will demonstrate a comprehensive knowledge of the issues and problems associated with buying or selling a house, while also showing their concern for people in those situations.
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Tuesday, August 14, 2007, 10:56 AMHow Does a New Agent Get Into The Swing of Things?
By: Ken Edwards - Published: August 14, 2007
Excerpts from original article. See Related Link for FULL article ...
Question: I am new to real estate. I have affiliated with a Broker who has an excellent reputation in our community. My problem is that I am having trouble getting into the swing of things. I'm working long hours but I'm not generating any income. Any suggestions on what I might do to start making some money?
Answer: It is important for you to understand that the first six to nine months are typically very difficult for the new real estate agent. The successful old timers are busily putting transactions together, collecting commission checks, and making it all look so easy. The newcomer wistfully observes, and often develops a severe feeling of inadequacy. Your broker probably went through the same thing. I certainly did. The answer is to recognize it as a common malady with a fairly simple cure. You need to develop a personal career plan and persevere. Repeat: persevere.
Here are some specifics:
1. Know Who You Are - I once received correspondence from a young man who was a waiter in a restaurant. He said he wanted to go into real estate and thought he would be good at it because, "I'm not an order taker." That sums up very well your challenge as a real estate professional. On rare occasion a prospect may simply ask you to list a home or to make an offer on a home, but basically you will have to go out and generate business. And no matter how supportive and helpful your broker might be, in essence you are a one person business.
2. Training - What you learned in your license preparation course should have given you a good background, but the actual job of listing and selling real estate requires additional skills and knowledge. If your company has a training program, participate wholeheartedly. If there is no formal program, structure one of your own. If you are going to make it in real estate you have to be a self starter and self motivator.
3. Role Models - Some companies have a "big brother/sister" program in which experienced folks take the "newbees" under their wings for the first few months. Whether or not such a program exists where you are, you can learn a lot just by some careful observations and by asking discerning questions. If there is anyone in the company, new or old, with a bad attitude, avoid them like the plague. It's contagious.
4. Time Management - It will be tempting to spend your time on enjoyable, but nonproductive tasks. Be clear on how you get paid in real estate. You will collect only when a listing of yours sells, or you sell someone else's listing. When you plan each day, it is critical to your career survival that you concentrate your efforts on the "payoff" activities of listing and selling. For newcomers and old timers as well, that means a lot of prospecting. Spend only as much time in the office as it takes to get your administrative chores accomplished. You need to be out meeting people and looking at property.
5. It's A People Business - To be competitive in the profession you will absolutely have to become conversant with all the latest technological tools, and stay up-to-date. Remember, however, that first, last and always, real estate is a people business. The best guidance I could possibly provide in this context is to treat others as you would like to be treated. I know, that's not original, but its about the best single bit of advice I could possibly give you. When I teach my real estate licensing classes I ask my students to role play that we are a real estate company and I'm their supervising broker. The company name: Golden Rule Realty. Remember also to keep in touch with past clients. If you're doing things right, it won't be long until the majority of your business will come from past, satisfied clients.
6. Remember Your Roots - Finally, when you become a prosperous old timer, remember how it felt when you were the "new kid on the block." Even folks who were very successful in other endeavors will need help and encouragement in adapting to the exciting challenges of a real estate career.
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Tuesday, August 7, 2007, 09:54 AMWhat Buyers Want: Top Home Preferences
Daily Real Estate News | August 7, 2007
— REALTOR® Magazine Online
Excerpts from original article. See Related Link for FULL article ...
More home buyers want extra garage space with two or more spaces in their homes, according to the “2007 Profile of Buyers’ Home Feature Preferences,” which was released Tuesday by the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.
NAR's latest home buyer preference survey, which reports responses from buyers who purchased homes in 2006, asks buyers about the importance of 75 home features and room types. What They're Shopping For ...
Air conditioning: three out of every four respondents surveyed ranked this as “very important.”
Master bedroom walk-in closet: 53 percent of buyers rated this as an important feature in a home.
Hardwood floors and granite countertops: each gained 7 percentage points in popularity since the 2004 survey; 28 percent and 23 percent, respectively, of buyers labeled these home features as very important.
Cable/satellite TV-ready: 46 percent, a growth of 6 percentage points from the 2004 survey, said this was important.
Energy efficiency: especially among new-home buyers — 65 percent of new-home buyers said energy efficiency home features are very important compared to 39 percent for buyers of existing homes.
. What home buyers want in the South, however, is not always what buyers in the West want. The survey identified some of the following regional preferences in home features:
. Home buyers in the South and Midwest viewed central air conditioning as a priority, with 91 percent and 81 percent, respectively, saying this feature was very important.
. Sixty-six percent of buyers in the South thought a walk-in closet in the master bedroom was very important, while 61 percent of Midwesterners valued an oversized garage.
. In the Northeast, the highest percentage of buyers placed a premium on a backyard or play area (53 percent), followed by central air conditioning at 41 percent.
. Two-thirds of buyers in the West want oversize garages (66 percent), followed by central air conditioning at 59 percent.
Fixing up the Nest
According to the survey, nearly six out of 10 recent home buyers took on remodeling or home improvement projects within three months of their purchase. Close to half of home buyers who remodeled or made improvements updated their kitchen, and nearly half remodeled or improved their bathroom.
Age was the biggest differentiation in what buyers were looking for in a home. Buyers 75 years old and older wanted a single-level home (74 percent) that was less than 10 years old (43 percent) with a walk-in closet in the master bedroom (74 percent).
On the other hand, most buyers between the ages of 25-34 wanted a backyard or play area (60 percent).
More than half of buyers over 65 wanted a separate shower enclosure in the master bathroom, compared to only one-fourth of buyers ages 25-34.
Also, older buyers placed a higher priority on energy efficiency home features than did younger buyers — 63 percent of buyers 75 and older said it was very important, but only 32 percent of buyers who were 18-24 agreed.
Overall, the survey also revealed that while homes are getting bigger, the number of bedrooms is shrinking. From 2004 to 2006, the size of the typical home purchased increased by about 100 square feet to 1,840 square feet, while the median number of bedrooms dropped from four to three during that same period.
Real estate practitioners see hundreds, if not thousands, of houses with their buyer clients every year and know exactly what buyers are looking for in a home, says NAR President Pat V. Combs. “This insight is one more way REALTORS® add value to the real estate transaction,” Combs says.
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Tuesday, July 17, 2007, 01:06 PM6 Incentives to Attract Buyers to Your Listings
Source: MarketWatch, Amy Hoak (07/15/07)
Daily Real Estate News | July 17, 2007
Flashy buyer incentives — such as a new TV or car — may entice some buyers, but bottom line perks are more likely to close a sale, say experienced real estate professionals.
Here are the six most common buyer incentives in today's market:
1. Reduce the price. "The price is something that is a common currency — it appeals to everybody," says Gene Rivers, who owns four Keller Williams offices in Florida.
2. Pay points. One point is 1 percent of the loan amount, charged as prepaid interest. Sellers can pay these points on behalf of the buyer, so for the first year or two, the buyer has a lower mortgage payment.
3. Assist with the down payment. First-time buyers without enough money for a down payment appreciate this kind of assistance.
4. Pay closing costs. Closing costs generally add up to somewhere between 2 percent and 7 percent of the loan value, according to Freddie Mac. Buyers who are stretching to make a down payment like this type of help.
5. Add a home warranty. A residential service contract is some insurance that the buyer won’t encounter high repair costs in the first year or two of home ownership.
6. Pay home owner association fees or pool maintenance. Paying these kinds of predictable maintenance costs at the beginning can be a nice welcome to the buyer when money will be tight.