September 15, 2013

Real Estate Advice: Ground rules for working with real estate agents.

Filed under: Real Estate — Chuck @ 8:44 am

Regardless of whether you are a buyer or a seller, you will want to establish some working guidelines or ground rules with your Realtor. Not only will that help to eliminate problems with communication, but it can also save you a lot of wasted time, energy, and unnecessary aggravation.

Ground Rules for Buyers
There is a big difference between browsing casually and being a serious shopper, and if you are trying to find a home to purchase you want to get down to brass tacks. The first thing to do is narrow down your buying preferences regarding how much you are willing to spend, what area of town you want to buy in, and what features and amenities you absolutely cannot live without. If you need a fenced backyard, for instance, and insist on a location that is close to a particular school, your real estate agent needs to know that.

Once you’ve communicated your priorities, establish a rule that the Realtor is not to show you any properties that do not meet those criteria without first discussing them with you. They should also show you homes in groups, not individually, as a strategy to consolidate home tours and minimize the time it takes to drive around looking at property. The real estate agent should line up a minimum of three homes for you to tour at a time, and schedule the appointments close together to make an efficient use of your day.

You should also insist that before showing you any homes, your Realtor has to first preview them. To make sure your real estate agent is complying with this rule, ask them to take photos while they are there and email them to you.

Ground Rules for Sellers
As a seller it is especially important to set down some guidelines, otherwise your real estate broker may totally disrupt your life by showing up unexpectedly with potential buyers. Realtors should always book the appointments ahead of time, call ahead, and give you at least 2-3 hours to prepare. Showing your home before you have a chance to tidy up or put the pets away, can, for instance, leave buyers with a bad impression of the home. Plus you don’t want your home selling experience to throw your personal life and family’s schedule all out of whack.

If your schedule is a busy one, for example, (and whose isn’t?) decide which days and times of day are convenient for you and then agree with your Realtor that those are the slots available for showing the house. Don’t be too restrictive, though, to the point that you impeded the successful sale of your home. A good real estate agent will also never bring people to look at your house until they have been financially pre-screened. Lots of folks enjoy touring homes, despite the fact that they have no intention of making an offer or actually buying. You don’t want to waste time with those kinds of casual lookers who are just kicking the tires.

There are also sincere, serious buyers who do not realize that they cannot qualify for mortgage financing. Due to no fault of their own they may also waste your time. It is the Realtor’s responsibility to weed out these ineligible buyers as much as possible, by having a frank discussion with them about their finances and making sure that they are working with a lender. Should you find yourself stuck with a real estate agent who doesn’t listen well and doesn’t respect your ground rules, then consider dropping them and hiring someone who has more expertise and professionalism.

July 15, 2016

Real Estate Advice: Capitalize on social media.

Filed under: Real Estate — Chuck @ 11:03 am

While teens spend an average of eight hours per day on social media, don’t make the mistake of thinking that they are the only consumers of digital media for social interaction. Adults in North American now find ways to devote around two hours a day to platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn, and that offers a great opportunity for real estate professionals to find them, engage with them, and convert them into steady clients. Here are some strategies and tips for things you can do to leverage your real estate brand and exposure on those three social media platforms, which account for the majority of online social networking and connectivity.

One of the biggest mistakes that real estate agents make when using Facebook to generate leads and gain more clients is that they get bogged-down in social interactions that do not push that agenda forward. To avoid that misstep, relegate your personal Facebook activity to a personal account that can feed into and link back to your business Facebook page. Then focus your energy on that business page or account to highlighting the successes of your clients, versus simply tooting your horn for your own success – which is what all your competitors probably do.

Share stories of clients who struggled to buy or sell until they worked with you, for instance, or of first-time buyers who talk about how great it feels to own their own home. Highlight your partnerships with local charities and small businesses, and use your site to promote them – which will win you fans from their own sites. The more you let the voices of your partners or happy clients provide the messages on Facebook, the more it will add to your credibility. Keep in mind that Facebook posts that are most effective include visuals like photos or videos. Keep the writing to a minimum and let pictures, which each tell a thousand words, dominate the page.

The place where those compelling visuals really shine, of course, is Instagram. You should post photos on a daily basis, to keep the account exciting and fun to view. You can use photos of clients in their new homes or sellers smiling at the closing table, or post favorite quotes or affirmations that convey positivity and a winning attitude. Whenever you or your brokerage participate in a community event, post a photo. Did you find a new restaurant, bike path, or hiking trail in the area where you focus your business? Post a photo of it to show your support and also give your clients a head’s up about a new neighborhood amenity or asset. Of course you should also post photos of your listings, but if listing photos are all you post, most people won’t follow you until they go house shopping. By using this other picture-a-day approach, more people will follow you – and when you do post photos that directly promote your business they will see them and tell their friends, which is the goal of social marketing.

LinkedIn is a great way to keep tab with business partners and clients, and the majority of people on the platform basically just use it as a kind of address book. That’s fine, but it certainly is not why Microsoft just bought LinkedIn for an historically high price. The great value for you if you want to maximize it for real estate purposes is that LinkedIn can position you as the go-to expert in your field, in your city, and in your social network. So to take full advantage of this platform, start sharing your knowledge and expertise in one or more of the widely-read forums related to real estate. Many LinkedIn users rely on those expert posts to keep them in the loop and educated, and the more valuable the insight is that you share, the more valued you will be as a LinkedIn connection. Then, when those readers or people in their network need a real pro to help them with a real estate issue, you’ll get the call.

June 15, 2016

Real Estate Advice: Avoid time-wasting clients to close more sales.

Filed under: Real Estate — Chuck @ 10:58 am

The month of June is traditionally a very busy one for open houses and showing appointments. Part of the reason for that is that so many listings go live in the springtime, but if they haven’t attracted enough attention to sell by now, real estate agents schedule an open house to generate new interest. Or they persuade home sellers that their pricing is not in synch with the current market, and sellers agree to more realistic asking prices – which can trigger a flurry of showing appointments.

Prioritize Your Clients
Those two outcomes are both good news for Realtors – as long as they don’t get bogged-down with clients who are time-wasters. What are time-wasters? These are clients who are valuable, but because you don’t manage them appropriately they force you to miss out on the opportunity to sell to clients who are serious and ready to buy.

Clients who are just window shopping are most prevalent in the springtime, when new listings go on the market and curiosity brings out people who may not be ready to buy, but they want to see what is on the market. Don’t overlook those people just because they are merely curious and are not actually serious about buying, however, because they are one of the best sources of leads. Eventually, when they are ready, you want to be their go-to real estate professional.

Stay in touch with them, educate them about how to prepare for a mortgage application or get pre-qualified, and keep them informed about price changes, new listings, and data that demonstrates why it may cost them more to rent than to invest in buying a home of their own. Make sure they are in your marketing funnel, in other words, but not necessarily in your office or in your car.

Maximize Your Value to Your Clients
What you don’t want to do is to let that category of not-so-serious shoppers distract you from closing sales in the summer months. Those who are newer to the real estate business need to pay especially close attention to this, because they are especially susceptible. We are talking about the kind of buyers who are notorious for attending open houses only to see how big their neighbor’s closets are, or to eat whatever snacks are offered and engage in conversation that will never lead to a sale. Oftentimes serious buyers will come and go while a real estate agent is preoccupied with those who are only window shopping. The same is true for people who call to go see properties – you have to spend time with those who are more likely to buy, and avoid the casual lookers.

Pre-Screen Each Client
How do you do that? Get into the habit of screening everyone, before you give them your valuable time. Ask them three questions:

1. How soon do you want to list your home or buy a home?
2. If you are thinking of buying, have you spoken to a mortgage lender yet?
3. If so, have you been pre-qualified or pre-approved for a loan?

Based on their answers prioritize your time with them accordingly:
• If they want to buy but haven’t talked to a lender, guide them to that next step – before showing them homes on the market in their price range.

• If they are working with a lender, make sure they are pre-qualified or, better yet, pre-approved – before you take them out to actually tour homes and consider writing a purchase offer.

• If they are pre-qualified and ready to buy, then focus your efforts on finding them the right home – and closing a sale.
Why it’s Best for You and for Your Clients
You’ll save clients time and help them avoid the disappointment of having a loan request or offer rejected, or having to undergo long delays when trying to buy a home. You will also ensure that they have the best possible opportunity to buy a home that fits their finances and their vision of a dream home. You’ll help them submit a more competitive offer, with a better chance of being accepted – even when there are multiple offers on the same property. Meanwhile you will save yourself time, so you can focus on your clients, based on intelligent priorities, and enjoy better time management that free up more of your time for client service.

April 1, 2016

Real Estate Advice for the Start of Spring

Filed under: Real Estate — Chuck @ 10:46 am

Real estate professionals who hit the ground running in April can set the tone for the rest of their year, because early springtime is the best time to cultivate new leads, solidify relationships with buyers and sellers, and generate the income and momentum that guarantees a successful year.

One of the most significant trends for 2016 is that staging homes that are listed for sale has transitioned from a rare and obscure practice – usually reserved for special listings – into a rather common and mainstream marketing tactic. That means two things for those real estate agents and homeowners who are competing to sell listings. On the one hand, it makes the curb appeal and interior cosmetic appearance of your listing much more significant, because homes that don’t look their best may look downright shabby compared to ones that are professionally staged.

The second important point for Realtors to understand is that the prevalence of staged homes, or homes that are designed to look like model homes, gives you a greater opportunity to convince sellers that they need to stage their listings. In the past it has been a difficult step to convince homeowners of, because many considered it superfluous, too expensive or labor intensive, or they were convinced that their homes already looked spectacular – even if they lacked general curb appeal in the eyes of buyers. Now there is plenty of evidence to show why it helps. There is also stiff competition to ensure that if homeowners don’t take advantage of this powerful marketing tool they may lose out on sales as buyers instead write offers on other homes in the neighborhood.

That all works in your favor as a Realtor, because the more your sellers support your marketing efforts, the faster your listings will sell and the higher the prices they sell for will be. A big part of success as a Realtor is to educate sellers in order to make your own job easier. When sellers are realistic about pricing, showing, and negotiating, it increases the chance of a sale. Those real estate professionals who are expert at teaching clients to be more realistic – and helping them understand why it matters – always close more sales and get more referral business.

Tax time is here, too, and that offers Realtors yet another window of opportunity to educate clients about how they can save money on their taxes by buying instead of renting, or by investing in income-producing property. You can also talk to potential sellers about how to keep a paper trail of their eligible expenses, so that when they do sell they can lower their capital gains. explaining the benefits of financial savings they can be eligible for if they become homeowners can encourage them to buy – especially if they have been “sitting on the fence” and pondering the idea without acting on it.

Every homeowner’s tax situation will be unique and they should consult a tax advisor being making any tax-related home buying decisions. But buyers may be able to deduct mortgage interest payments, for example, which can add up to thousands of dollars per year. Sellers may be eligible to reduce their capital gains tax by deducting legal expenses related to their purchase and sale – including the real estate agent’s commission fee – and by deducting the cost of capital improvements to the property. Those who buy income producing property, such as rental property, can usually deduct a long list of expenses related to management and upkeep of the property. That may even include regular travel to check on a property, so if a client buys a rental condo at the beach, for example, they may be able to legitimately deduct summer trips to the beach – as long as they perform some landlord-related tasks while there and keep a paper trail to document that tax-deductable activity.

The idea is to constantly think of ways to share value-adding information with your clients or prospective clients, because then they will naturally rely on you as their go-to real estate expert, and refer you to others in that way. You’ll develop more multidimensional relationships with your clients, and that will naturally grow your business and your reputation as the real estate agent to call when it is time to buy, sell, or ask a question about real estate

February 15, 2016

Real Estate Tips: Create a Listing Client Checklist

Filed under: Real Estate — Chuck @ 3:40 pm

In previous generations, real estate agents and brokers were the only people who knew the critical information and marketing data to facilitate a home purchase or sale. Those days are long gone, though, thanks to the advent of the Information Age and digital communication. Anyone, anywhere, with very little technical know-how or knowledge of mortgage finance, real estate, or home values can access reams of information in an instant, via the Internet. That includes coveted MLS data that used to be the proprietary treasure trove of the Realtor community. To succeed in this kind of environment and still distinguish your value as a real estate pro who is worthy of fair compensation, you have to become an active partner for your clients – the person they turn to for knowledge, education, and strategy they won’t find by doing a Google search late at night.

The Spring Selling Season Starts Now
One thing that most home sellers fail to understand, for example, is that the springtime selling season that all sellers look forward to does not being in spring. Yes, spring is still the traditionally busy season for home sales, that time when buyers historically come out of the woodwork and start snapping up listings. But if a seller wants to participate in that first wave of the year and they wait until the daffodils bloom to call a Realtor, they run the risk of missing the boat. By the time their home is actually market-ready and in its best showing condition, springtime buyers will already be at the closing table and unloading their furniture from moving vans.

Successful Marketing Requires Lead-Time
Do your clients a favor, and use the few remaining weeks of winter to school them about how to prepare to seize the moment as soon as weather warms. You’ll also be doing yourself a favor, because your listings will go live already prepped to sell at the highest possible price – while your competitors and their homeowner clients are still scrambling around to do cosmetic improvements, last-minute repairs, and critical curb appeal makeovers. They need to have a pre-listing inspection done ASAP, for example, so that they can contact contractors, handymen, and landscape crews and get any needed projects scheduled on the calendars of those professionals before the end of the month. If they procrastinate until mid-March or early April they may not be able to locate a quality contractor who charges a reasonable rate who is available before mid-May or June.

Make an Attractive Debut
That means their home cannot be ready to sell with an optimum marketing plan before summer, and they’ll totally miss out on the brisk spring sales momentum. Have you ever toured a new listing and noticed that the house did not show well, simply because the homeowner and real estate agent had not yet taken the time to get it completely ready for prime time? You probably walked away less than impressed, and weren’t surprised if you saw the listing languish on the market and go through a round of cuts to the asking price. When a home debuts on the market and does not look its best, buyers don’t put their plans on hold and then come back a month or two later to see it dressed to the nines. You don’t get a second chance at a good first impression. Help your clients get ahead of the curve, and the competition. They’ll reward you by telling all their friends and colleagues that you are the kind of real estate professional who truly earns your commission.

December 15, 2015

Real Estate Advice: Educate clients about year-end closing transactions.

Filed under: Real Estate — Chuck @ 11:45 am

During the month of December you may have clients who are ready to break out the New Year’s Eve champagne ahead of time, to celebrate the closing of their real estate transaction. Both buyers and sellers tend to expect smooth sailing, once the contracts are signed, the mortgage is approved, and the miscellaneous details have been successfully ironed-out. Plus they are already in a festive mood for the holidays.

The Importance of Reality Checks

The problem is, as any experienced real estate professional can attest to, that there are countless ways that a closing can be delayed and postponed. That can cause stress and strain, despite the holiday atmosphere, and clients tend to blame their real estate agents when anything goes wrong.

That’s why, in order to protect your own reputation and proactively minimize the possibility of a damaging misunderstanding, you should educate your buyers and sellers ahead of time. If something subsequently does go wrong, your clients will understand and not lay the blame on you, since you already explained how things sometimes happen that are beyond your control.

Why Unexpected Delays May Occur

Clients don’t typically understand how complicated it can be to close a home in December. But if you inform them they’ll appreciate your expertise and your attention to detail – as well as your willingness to teach them how the process works. Start by explaining, for instance, that mortgage companies, closing attorneys, and others involved take extra time off during the holidays – so that naturally slows things down.

There are also many homeowners trying to finalize a closing, a mortgage refinance, or a home equity loan before the last day of the year, because they want the transaction to show up on this year’s tax returns instead of next year’s. Inclement weather often catches people off guard too, since December is typically the first month of the year for ice and snow in most regions. That can result in delays of real estate transactions for a variety of reasons, ranging from power outages and impassable roadways to business closures that impact appraisers, banks, and attorneys.

Proactive Steps to Speed Transactions Along

Another aspect of client education, of course, is preparing buyers and sellers in ways that can accelerate a closing – or at least help eliminate unnecessary snags and obstacles along the way. Many times, for instance, the closing is delayed not because of the Realtor, bank, title company, or closing attorney – but because the customer just isn’t organized and ready.

It’s always wise to give buyers and sellers a typed-out checklist to assist them in gathering needed documents and sticking to a timeline as you help them prepare to close. What tax documents do they need? What about copies of bank statements or payment stubs from employers? Are sellers available to provide access to appraisers, home inspectors, or contractors who need to do negotiated repairs prior to closing? Are all parties involved able to attend the closing, without a schedule conflict? If so, can they sign papers ahead of time or be represented by their attorney at the official closing so that everything proceeds as planned?

If you spell everything out on paper then it makes it very easy to share your knowledge with clients, and it also ensures that they are well-informed. You can reuse the same printouts with every client and transaction, and you can make them a branding and marketing tool as well. The best consumer is one who is educated, and by conveying important information about how closing work and how to ensure that they happen without a hiccup you and all of your clients can have a more stress-free closing – and a happy holiday season.

October 15, 2015

Real Estate Advice: Prepare clients for rising interest rates.

Filed under: Real Estate — Chuck @ 11:20 am

Real estate professionals depend upon the mortgage markets to help them make sales and earn a living. Unless buyers can qualify for affordable financing most of them can’t purchase a home – so you lose that income from working with buyers. A lack of financing also impacts your sales if you are a listing agent, because very few homes sell unless a mortgage company gets involved. Of course one of the most influential factors with regard to home mortgages is the interest rate, and in September the head of the U.S. Federal Reserve said that prevailing interest rates will likely rise before the end of the year.

The end of the year is practically on top of us already, especially from the point of view of a real estate professional. That’s because it usually takes anywhere from six weeks to two months to finalize and close on a home sale transaction. With only three or four months left in the year – and the holidays slowing down mortgage company processing in late November through year’s end – the window of opportunity to close before 2016 arrives is really short. If rates are going to rise by then, you have to start educating and preparing your buyers right now so that they can take advantage of today’s rates before those low rates are history.

Don’t underestimate the significance of a rate hike, especially the one that experts expect to happen soon. The Fed, for example, has not raised rates for almost a decade. That means that most buyers have gotten spoiled by the cheapest mortgage rates in history, and with prevailing rates at near zero there is only one way for rates to move, and that’s higher and higher. Many first time homebuyers, for instance, are in the Millennial Generation, in their 20s and early 30s. You have to realize that while they are one of the most important demographic target markets for real estate sales today, their experience of the mortgage and credit markets is limited.

Ten years ago, the last time there was an interest rate hike, most of them were not even adults – and some of them were only in junior high school. They may consider themselves savvy real estate investors, but it is your responsibility as a Realtor to school them on the impact of rising mortgage rates. Otherwise they could wind up chasing rates that keep rising, unable to qualify for a mortgage and achieve their dream of home ownership.

As soon as the government raises the price of money lent to banks, mortgages will follow suit. Potential buyers should start working now to reduce their debt, clean up their credit, and get prequalified for a home loan. Since other forms of debt like credit card balances will also get more expensive as rates rise, it’s important to manage budgets and pay off those loans now, while doing so is still easier and more affordable. Meanwhile sellers who are hoping to use a home equity loan to pay for upgrades or repairs need to also act soon, before the cost of borrowing becomes too high.
An excellent marketing strategy for real estate agents is to partner with a trusted local lender and host a free workshop, seminar, or Q&A session attended by buyers and sellers. The mortgage lender can discuss the impact of rising rates and help address borrower concerns, and you can take advantage of the event to cultivate new leads and strengthen your relationship with potential buyers and sellers.

September 15, 2015

Real Estate Tips: Transitioning into fall.

Filed under: Real Estate — Chuck @ 10:45 am

When kids head back to school, most families are going to be too busy to devote much time to home buying and selling. Then, before you know, the year-end holidays will arrive and from Halloween all the way through New Year’s Day and beyond, real estate will likely take a back seat with other activities occupying your clients’ and potential clients’ time. That transition from the busier time for real estate sales to the traditionally slow colder months can be difficult for real estate professionals, because it can mean less opportunity for income and for generating lucrative sales and marketing leads.

One thing to focus on, though, is that there are still a few weeks left during which you can take advantage of the summer sales season while it still continues. Don’t stop being active, as some real estate agents do, because August can be a very profitable month – especially if you work harder to educate buyers and sellers about the seasonality of real estate and the opportunities that “shoulder seasons” – the one that bridge the busier months with the slowdown period – can represent.

Engage with homeowners who have properties listed with you, for example, and emphasize to them the importance of acting now – before the season ends – because it is also in their best interest. If their home doesn’t sell in August, the chances of it selling may start to diminish, shrinking week by week as the weather grows colder. Many home sellers have their home listed above the price that buyers in today’s market are willing to pay, for instance, and strategically lowering the asking price to a more attractive level in August can inspire a quick sale.

There is also the cost of maintenance to consider on vacant properties, both in terms of the higher cost of utilities to keep them heated but also because of mortgage and insurance payments that must be made. Homeowners who sell now can avoid all of those costs – but if they don’t sell they could have to keep shelling out money until the market activity picks again next year in the spring. Most homeowners don’t factor in all these costs, but as their Realtor you can break it all down with line item clarity to help them understand the real, bottom line cost of holding out for a higher price.

Oftentimes, in fact, lowering the asking price by a small percentage winds up saving them money in the long run – since they no longer have the responsibility of maintenance, upkeep, and mortgage, insurance, and tax obligations. Wintertime is usually much harder on homes that warm weather, too, so that repairs may be needed six months from now that can add to the cost of home ownership and undercut the value of equity and profit. So one of the best uses of your time in August is to have informed, serious discussions with homeowners about their pricing and selling strategies.

As far as buyers are concerned, you can also educate them about the same seasonal trends. Let them know that many homeowners get antsy in August, especially if their house has not received any serious offers in a while. That can be a great opportunity for a qualified buyer to make an offer and walk away with a great home at a great price – versus waiting and risking the chance that mortgage interest rates may start their long-anticipated rise from current historically low levels.

June 15, 2015

Real Estate Tips: Dealing with FSBO Competitors

Filed under: Real Estate — Chuck @ 1:59 pm

During the summertime many homeowners decide to take real estate listing and marketing into their own hands, just to save money on the commission. That can be frustrating for real estate brokers and agents who understand that most homes sold with the help of a professional sell faster, for a higher price, with fewer headaches and hassles. But FSBO people usually have to learn the hard way – after which the majority of them wind up contracting with a listing agent because they finally realize that’s the best way to go.

Don’t ignore these sellers, however, because they are a great resource for future listings – and you may also be able to co-op with them to earn a commission for bringing them a qualified buyer. Here are some tactics you can use to engage these homeowners and, with a little persistence and luck, win them over as loyal clients.

Give Them Something for Free
Whether you reach out to the FSBO homeowners in your geographic market by newsletter, email, knocking on doors, or using social media like Facebook or Twitter, it’s important to give them something of value, free of charge.

That contradicts the commonly-held perception and misguided myth among many FSBO consumers that real estate professionals are only focused on making easy money. That’s often the argument FSBO people make for why they don’t work with a real estate agent. But when you give them a valuable tip or resource for free, they will change how they view you and you’ll become a beneficial partner – not an adversary.
What should you give? Knowledge and experience are the greatest assets you have to share. Provide them with free “comps,” turn them on to a good mortgage lender or home inspector, or tour their home and provide tips on how to make it show better. Write up a tip sheet about safety and security when showing homes to strangers, and give them that. Just keep it relevant, about them instead of you, and make sure it is a value-adding gift – not a sales pitch or thinly disguised marketing ploy.

Lead a FSBO Workshop or Class
• If there is a place to offer classes in your community – maybe through a local group like the Rotary Club – offer to teach a class about FSBO.

• In the class you can share the same kinds of info we just mentioned, plus tips about how to price a home, how to stage your home for better visual appeal, and what kinds of problems can arise when dealing directly with buyers.

• During the session it may occur to your students that you know a whole lot more about how it all works than they do, especially when it comes to things like legal contracts, difficult negotiations, and problems that could stall or ruin a potential sale.

• At the end of the class you will likely pick up a convert or two who decides to call you and list their home, rather than trying to take the DIY approach.
Talk Dollars and Sense
When you do have an opportunity to speak with a FSBO person, keep in mind that most people who embark on a DIY home sale are not very knowledgeable about the ins-and-outs of the real estate business. They probably do not realize, for instance, that most brokers do not earn a 6% commission when they sell their listing.
You can inform them of how often brokers and agents split their commissions with other parties – and once they understand how the math works these FSBO sellers may be inclined to offer you a finder’s fee if you bring them a qualified buyer. That could be lucrative for you, and could lead to more word-of-mouth business from other homeowners who are DIY sellers.

April 15, 2015

Real Estate Advice: Cross-selling techniques to double your income.

Filed under: Real Estate — Chuck @ 9:32 am

With the busiest season in the real estate industry now underway in most parts of North America, the race is on to gain lucrative listings, close profitable sales, and win new clients in ideal target markets. But many real estate agents will miss the opportunity to multiply the benefit of those successes because they don’t take advantage of cross-selling. Instead of simply viewing each transaction as a “one-off” and hoping that somewhere down the road that same customer will call, employ strategic techniques to help you constantly encourage multiples sales through each client.
Here are some tips for making cross-selling a natural part of your real estate activity and marketing:

Referral “Asks”
We all know that it pays to ask, but it’s an easy technique to forget. When your homeowner or buyer is still riding the “high” of closing a successful transaction, at that key moment when you may be thinking of giving them a housewarming gift, be sure to clearly and intentionally ask them if they know anyone who needs a real estate professional. Maybe they have a friend or family member – either locally or out of the area.

Don’t be shy. Let them know how important this is to you, and request that they personally introduce you. It may seem awkward or like a high-pressure tactic, but remember that social media has made it so much simpler and easier. If they provide an email, Facebook, or LinkedIn introduction, for example, that may all you need to acquire a new client. But if you hesitate and procrastinate you may miss your best chance at a great word-of-mouth referral.

In this industry word-of-mouth is the most valuable and effective advertising of all, and your existing clients are your best resource in that regard. Keep in mind that even if the person they refer you to lives on the other side of the country, you can still earn referral fees through other brokers. Plus people are moving all the time, and so are their coworkers, relatives, and friends. So you never know when the seeds you plant today will yield a cash crop of clients sometimes down the road.

Open Houses
Hosting an open house for a listing is generally viewed by homeowners as a tool for helping sell the home. But most real estate professionals know from experience that only a tiny percentage of homes sell that way. In the majority of cases holding an open house is more effective at making the client feel that you are working hard to promote a sale, and less effective at actually bringing in qualified buyers for the property.

Open houses do, however, have a strong track record for generating good leads for real estate agents. Many of the people who attend are just “window shopping,” but usually one or two at any well-attended open house are seriously in the market for a home. So while the open house may seem like an outdated method, don’t completely write it off. When it comes to picking up new clients you may find that well organized open house events that are well-attended can be very rewarding and help you gain lots of valuable free marketing.

Income-Producing Incentives
Every time someone buys, leases, or sells a home, you should also be prepared to show them the potential for ownership of income-generating property. Many people own real estate as part of their retirement investment portfolio, for example, and many professionals like doctors and attorneys partner with their colleagues to purchase commercial office space.
Your clients may be able to save money and generate extra income by buying a vacation home. Or they may want to invest in a vacant lot in their neighborhood for a low-cost potentially high-return investment. There are also opportunities for parents to buy condos in cities where their kids are going to college. That can offset the cost of housing, be a way for roommates to help pay the mortgage, or offer specific tax breaks. If the home is in the student’s name it can also help them qualify for in-state tuition, which could potentially save them tens of thousands of dollars each year in tuition costs.

The Bottom Line
Since most people who buy a home live it for years – if not for the rest of their lives – then depending on them for your next listing or sale can turn out to be an unsustainable strategy. You don’t want to sell a home to a first-time buyer and then wait around for 10 or 20 years for them to sell it. That’s why it’s so important to try to figure out effective ways to cross-sell – or, in other words, to have each of your transactions lead to others in the immediate or very near future.

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