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How to Overcome a Bad Zestimate

How to Overcome a Bad Zestimate

 

Have you ever had a bad Zestimate result in an overpriced listing?  If you haven’t yet, you’re lucky.

As increasing numbers of homeowners trust Zillow for pricing information, many agents report inaccurate Zestimates are becoming a major issue.

Here’s how to overcome them.

Understand The Forces at Play

A Zestimate becomes an issue when it’s the first value a seller sees.  This is because of a powerful psychological bias called anchoring.

Anchoring describes the common human tendency to rely heavily on the first piece of information offered (the “anchor”) when making decisions.  If a seller checks a Zestimate before seeing your CMA, the Zestimate acts as the anchor.  The more inaccurate the Zestimate, the more it can hurt your chances of getting a realistic list price.

The bad news is the effect of anchoring is all but impossible to eliminate.  The good news is you can minimize it with the right approach.

Gather the Data

If you haven’t already, bookmark or print out Zillow’s “What is a Zestimate?” page (zillow.com/zestimate).  Among other things, it explains the error rate for Zestimates and says sellers should not use Zestimates for pricing their homes.

Next, before you go on a listing appointment, be sure to check the Zestimate.  If you believe the value is off, look at the comps Zillow is using and compare them to the comps on your CMA.

Print out both sets of comps and prepare yourself to discuss any discrepancies.  Also, come prepared with detailed explanations of any adjustments you’ve made.

Ask Questions

Research shows asking questions is more persuasive than making statements.  Unfortunately, most agents try to overcome bad Zestimates by making statements backed by the data they’ve collected.

It’s rarely effective.

Start by asking the sellers if they read the “What is a Zestimate?” page.  Odds are, they didn’t (that’s why you want it handy).  Let them read the relevant sections and then ask, “Would you agree that if Zillow says Zestimates aren’t to be used for pricing, we shouldn’t use them?”

If you gain agreement on setting aside the Zestimate, it’s time to go to your CMA.  If you’re unable to gain agreement on setting it aside, you’ll need both your CMA and the comps from Zillow.

Walk the sellers through one comp at a time.  Ask them to point out the differences between their home and the comp.

Whenever possible, ask a question instead of making a statement.  Turn, “Pools are worth an extra $20,000” into, “Did you know homes with pools sell for about $20,000 more than homes without pools?”

The difference might seem small, but turning statements into questions is the single most important thing you can do to overcome a bad Zestimate.

 

P.S. – Anchoring is why you should never give a seller a ballpark value before viewing the home and preparing a CMA.  If your estimate turns out to be wrong because of unexpected factors (like condition), you can accidentally set an anchor that will work against you.

The 5 Habits of Highly Productive Agents

The 5 Habits of Highly Productive Agents

 

Have you ever wondered what all highly productive agents have in common?  Not just the good or great agents, but the best of the best?

It’s not having multiple sources of leads or a team.  It’s also not having tons of connections or using social media.

Instead, all highly productive agents have the following five habits in common:

Habit #1 – Lead Generation

Highly productive agents make lead generation a habit.  No matter how busy they get with existing clients, they’re always prospecting and marketing for new business.  Because they have a steady stream of leads, they avoid the “boom or bust” cycle that traps most real estate agents.

Habit #2 – Team Building

The habit of team building doesn’t refer to teams in the traditional sense.  Instead, it refers to the “team” of people needed to generate and close deals (lenders, title reps, inspectors, marketers, etc.).

Highly productive agents make a habit of keeping an eye out for talent.  When they find it, they don’t hesitate to add that person to their team.

Habit #3 – Networking

Highly productive agents make a habit of networking with other successful people (both in and out of real estate).  Networking creates opportunities and opportunities lead to business.

Highly productive agents also network with each other.  Beyond the referral opportunities that provides, it also gives the agents the chance to exchange ideas and share best practices.

Habit #4 – Improving

Highly productive agents want to improve.  They want to improve themselves, they want to improve their businesses, and they want to improve their lives.

Interestingly, not all highly productive agents approach improvement the same way.  Some will read or attend classes, some will seek out mentors and coaches, and some will use trial and error.  Regardless of how they approach it, all highly productive agents are in the habit of improving.

Habit #5 – Protecting Their Environment

Highly productive agents know they are influenced by who and what is around them.  If they are surrounded by distractions or negativity, they know they won’t be able to perform their best.  That’s why they are careful about choosing and protecting the environments in which they work and live.

 

 

P.S. – What do you think of the habits?  Are there any you would add?

Four Ways to Get Referrals From Your Sphere

Four Ways to Get Referrals From Your Sphere

 

Do you want more referrals from your sphere?  The people who know, like, and trust you can be your best sources of business.  All you need to do is consistently stay in front of them.

Unfortunately, many agents fail to stay in touch with their sphere on a regular basis.  Research has shown you need to reach out at least once every 90 days to maintain the quality of the relationship.  Any less than that, and the relationship begins to deteriorate.

Here are four ways to stay in touch with your sphere and generate referrals.

Pop-Bys

Visiting a past client or friend is a powerful way to show you care about the relationship.  Since pop-bys can be time consuming, they are best reserved for the people who refer to you the most. You can do them around birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, or just because.

Start by calling ahead to ask if there’s a good time for you to visit and bring them something.  Buy a small gift that’s appropriate to the occasion or season.  Show up at the appointed time with the gift and spend a few minutes catching up.

Calls

Picking up the phone is still the best way to maintain relationships with your sphere.  At the start of every week, make a list of the people you’d like to call.  Then, set aside a block of time every day to pick up the phone and reach out to your contacts.

If you’re not sure what to say on the calls, use the FORD method.  That means asking about family, occupation, recreation, and dreams.

Market Reports

Sending market reports to your sphere via email or snail mail is a time-efficient way to both stay in touch and show your expertise.  The best way to do it is to include your personal commentary on the numbers and what they mean.

If you are emailing the reports, try experimenting with video.  Services like BombBomb make it easy and video allows you to show your personality.

Client Parties

Agents who hold client parties say they are one of the best sources of referrals from their spheres.  Despite the name, you can include friends, family, and neighbors in addition to past clients.  The parties can be held at any time of year and be simple or extravagant.

Be sure to start with a budget.  The who, what, where, and when of client parties are often determined by how much money you can spend.

 

P.S. – If you don’t already have a CRM, consider investing in one.  It will help you keep track of who you have or have not spoken with in the last 90 days.

How to Get Glowing Online Reviews

How to Get Glowing Online Reviews

 

Would it surprise you to learn 9 out of 10 people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations?

As an increasing number of real estate websites allow agent reviews, it’s important prospects searching online see high praise from your past clients.

The good news is some of your clients will write glowing reviews without being asked.  In most cases, however, you’ll need to reach out and request them.

This can be easier said than done.

Clients who agree to give reviews will often forget to write them.  Also, many sites require users register before writing a review.  Not all your clients will take that extra step.

Finally, those clients who do register and write reviews won’t always write the glowing praise you’d like to see.

Thankfully, there’s a way to get online reviews that virtually eliminates those issues.

Step #1: Get a Verbal Review

As soon after closing as possible, ask your clients to tell you what they liked most about your service.  This can be done in-person or by phone.

Write down their responses.  If they don’t give you enough information at first, ask them what else they liked about your service.  After asking this one or two times, you should have everything you need.

Step #2: Turn the Comments into a Testimonial

Take what your clients told you and turn it into a written testimonial.  Three or four sentences is plenty, although you can make it longer if your clients had lots of great things to say about you.

Be sure to stay as close to the original verbal review as possible.  This is important because your clients need to feel the testimonial you write is accurate.

Step #3: Get Approval on the Testimonial

Email your clients the testimonial you’ve written.  Tell them you’d like their permission to use it on marketing materials, social media, and your website.

Ask them to reply with a “yes” if they approve of the testimonial.  If they’d like to make changes, let them know they are free to do so.

Almost everyone will approve what you’ve written without changes.  Now you have a testimonial you can use for marketing.

Step #4: Ask for the Online Review

Choose the site (or sites) you want your clients to use for the review.  Email them the web address, instructions for posting the review, and a copy of the testimonial they’ve already approved.

The easier you make it for your clients, the more likely they’ll post the review.  So, be thorough in your instructions.

While not all your clients will post online reviews for you, following the four-step process above will give you the best shot at getting them.

 

 

P.S. – Don’t try to combine steps 3 and 4.  People are more likely to approve a pre-written testimonial than they are to go through the process of posting it online.  Even if you can’t get the online review, you at least want the testimonial to use for marketing.

 

 

 

3 Effective Ways to Use Video to Get Clients

3 Effective Ways to Use Video to Get Clients

 

Did you know video is one of the most effective ways to get clients?

If you’re only using video to showcase listings, or if you aren’t using it at all, you’re missing out.

Many agents don’t use video because they find it intimidating.  They worry they don’t have the right equipment or they won’t be able to edit the video once it’s shot.

The good news is you don’t need any special equipment to make high-quality videos.  Your smartphone’s camera and microphone will work in almost every situation.

Your phone also might include basic editing software.  If it doesn’t, you can find free and inexpensive apps to download that make the editing process a breeze (Magisto is a great one).

Testimonials

Video is an excellent way to capture client testimonials.  Record them after executing a contract or at the closing table.  Then, upload them to social media, YouTube, and your website so buyers and sellers searching online see them.

Offline, video testimonials are best used to secure listings.  A few days before the listing appointment, email the testimonials to the sellers.  Few things can help you get listings like the glowing reviews of past customers.

Market Reports

People like to know what’s going on with the real estate market.  Using reports published by your company or the local board is good, but turning those reports into videos is better.  It gives you the chance to show your expertise and your personality.

Use your phone to shoot a quick video of you talking about the market stats.  Keep it under two minutes and be yourself.  Focus less on the numbers themselves and more on what they mean to potential buyers and sellers.

Video market reports are perfect for emailing to your database and posting to social media.  You can also send them with video testimonials as part of your pre-listing package.

Introductions

If you receive online leads, whether paid or free, consider using video to introduce yourself.  Buyers and sellers searching online often contact more than one agent.  You can set yourself apart with a personalized video.

As soon as a lead comes in (response time is critical), respond with a 10-15 second video.  Here’s all you need to say:

“Hi, this is Jane Doe with XYZ Realty.  I saw you requested more information on 123 Main St.  Would you like me to call, email, or text you with that information?”

Your video will start the conversation and you can convert the lead into a client from there.

 

 

P.S. – It might seem strange, but the most important part of your videos is the audio.  People will watch a shaky video with bad lighting, but they won’t watch one with poor sound.

Two Strategies for Starting a Productive Day

Two Strategies for Starting a Productive Day

 

You’ve probably had it happen before.  You get to the office and fire up your computer.  You have a clear plan for the day and you’re ready to get going.

Then you check your email.

Your sellers want to hear the feedback from yesterday’s showing.  Your buyers found a couple of properties on Zillow they’d like to view.  Another agent has a list of questions about one of your listings.

Before you know it, it’s noon and you haven’t accomplished a single item on your to-do list.

Starting the day by checking email is inviting chaos.  Productivity experts agree it’s one of the worst activities you can do first thing in the morning (checking social media also ranks up there).

What productivity experts don’t agree on, however, is the right way to start your day.  The following two strategies are the most popular.  Try them both and see which one is right for you.

Strategy #1: Eat the Frog

Mark Twain once said if the first thing you do in the morning is eat a live frog, you can go through the rest of the day knowing it can’t get any worse.  His statement led to the “eat the frog” productivity strategy and it works well if you tend to procrastinate.

Start your day by doing your most important task.  It could be prospecting, it could be following up with leads, or it could be writing an offer.  Regardless, it should be something with the potential to make you money.

Only when you’ve completed your most important task do you check email and begin working on the rest of the items on your to-do list.

Strategy #2: Small Wins

People who find success with the “eat the frog” strategy enjoy tackling a major task first thing.  If that doesn’t suit you, then the “small wins” strategy might be a better fit.

Start your day by completing three or four minor tasks.  Each task should take less than 10 minutes and require little mental effort.  As soon as you’ve completed one task, check it off your list and immediately move to the next one.

Completing several tasks in a short period is energizing.  These small wins build momentum and pave the way for you to complete the larger items on your list.

The key to both of the above strategies is planning.  At the end of every day, write out your tasks for the following day.  That way, when you get going in the morning, you will already know which major or minor tasks to complete first.

 

P.S. – Your willpower is at its strongest in the morning.  That’s why, no matter which strategy you use, you want to complete your high priority tasks early in the day.

The 5 Best Ways to Generate Immediate Business

The 5 Best Ways to Generate Immediate Business

 

Could your business use a shot of adrenaline?  While some prospecting strategies (like farming) tend to work best over the long-run, other prospecting strategies can inject an extra deal or two into your pipeline immediately.

Here are five of the best ways to generate immediate business:

1.) Old Leads

Every agent has them.  They’re the internet leads who never responded or said they were just looking.  They’re the buyers you showed one house before they disappeared.  They’re the sellers who reviewed your CMA and decided to list when the market improved.

Dig up the leads you received in the last 6-12 months who didn’t buy or sell with you.  Then call, text, or email them and see if they’re still in the market.  You’ll be surprised how much potential business is there.

2.) A+ Sphere

The A+ people in your sphere of influence are the ones who refer to you the most.  If you haven’t spoken to them recently, give them a call or invite them to lunch.  Let them know you’re always looking to help more people and you’d appreciate it if they’d keep their eyes and ears open.

3.) Referrals to Others

Referring business to others is a powerful way to generate business for yourself because of the rule of reciprocity.  The rule says those who receive your referrals will want to pay you back in kind.  The more business you give out, the more potential business you have coming your way.

4.) Seller Open Houses

Most agents assume open houses are for buyers, but they can be effective for finding sellers as well.  The key is to have a separate “neighbors-only” open house about an hour before you open the house to the general public.

Start by inviting everyone from the neighborhood to attend.  Offer them the opportunity to get a sneak-peak at your new listing, meet or reconnect with their neighbors, and enjoy some snacks.  Then mingle with the crowd and listen for hints one or more of the attendees might be considering selling.

5.) Current Clients

Your current clients are eating, sleeping, and breathing real estate.  They’re talking with family, friends, and co-workers about their home search or home sale.  They will be the first ones to know if someone in their sphere of influence is looking to buy or sell.

If you wait until transactions close before asking for referrals, you’re limiting your opportunities to receive them.  Instead, ask for referrals at key points during the process such as when an offer is accepted or a contingency is removed.

P.S. – Although the A+ people in your sphere are your best bet for immediate business, don’t forget about the A’s, B’s, and C’s.  Picking up the phone and talking to people you know always has the potential to generate leads.

How to Deal with Closing Delays

How to Deal with Closing Delays

 

Have you ever had a closing delay threaten to kill a deal or strain a relationship with a client?

If you’re like most agents, it’s happened to you more than once.

Here are three steps you can take to prevent closing delays from ruining a transaction or a relationship.

Step 1: Prepare Your Clients

Dealing with closing delays starts with preparing your clients for them to happen.  The best time to do this is when you are writing an offer with your buyers or reviewing an offer with your sellers.

Start by explaining closing dates aren’t set in stone and may be delayed for a variety of reasons.  Then ask this question:

What would happen if this closing date needed to be pushed back?

Your clients’ answers will tell you if a potential disaster is looming.  The best option is always to negotiate a closing date that leaves flexibility on both sides, but you’ll still want your clients mentally prepared for the worst-case scenario.

Step 2: Create Contingency Plans

Once a contract is executed, buyers and sellers begin to make moving plans.  Unfortunately, they rarely plan for delays.

If you completed step 1 and asked what would happen if the closing was pushed back, you should be aware of any potential issues.  Now is the time to help your clients create contingency plans to address those issues should the need arise.

Are they able to extend their lease?  Do they have relatives or friends they could stay with temporarily?  Is the moving company’s pickup date flexible?

Your clients should have answers to these types of questions well before the closing date so chaos at the last-minute is avoided.

Step 3: Address Emotion the Right Way

Moving is stressful and no amount of preparation or planning can prevent emotions from boiling over when a closing is delayed.  Handle the situation the wrong way and the work you’ve done in steps one and two above won’t matter.

The single biggest mistake you can make when emotional clients call you is to try to offer explanations or solutions.  Emotion cannot be overcome by logic.

Let the clients vent.  Listen and acknowledge their feelings without expressing your own frustration with the delay.

Only when the clients have moved past the emotion is it time to discuss solutions and remind them of the contingency plans they have in place.

 

P.S. – Did you know the best time to ask for referrals is immediately after you’ve solved a problem for a client?

Following the steps above will not only help you deal with closing delays, it’ll also put you in a strong position to receive referrals.

The 3 Questions You Must Ask Every Buyer

You’ve heard the old cliché that buyers are liars, right? It’s so well-known it was #1 on Inman News’ list of the top 50 real estate one-liners, and for good reason.
There are few things in real estate more frustrating than showing buyers multiple properties only to have them make lowball offers, decide to continue renting, or buy a home through another Realtor. If you’ve had any of those experiences, you might be tempted to agree that buyers can’t be trusted.
But what if there was a way to weed out many of the seemingly untrustworthy buyers just by
asking three simple questions?
The right questions asked the right way will give you all o f the information you need to decide
whether or not a buyer is worth your time. Here are the three questions you must ask before
putting prospects into your car:
Question #1: What do you know about the local real estate market?
This innocent-sounding question will get you more information than you might think. First, the buyers’
answers will tell you if they’re realistic about the market. If not and they’ve been misled by the news or a
helpful friend, it’s better to set them straight upfront than it is when they’re ready to make an offer well below list price.
Second, when answering this question buyers will often tell you how much research they’ve done, whether or not they’ve already viewed homes, and if they’ve spoken with other agents. A buyer who understands the market but hasn’t spoken with other agents is a far better prospect than a buyer who has already seen five homes with four different agents.
Question #2: What would happen if you didn’t buy?
It’s common to ask, “Why do you want to buy?” and, “How soon do you need to buy?”when first interviewing buyers. The answers to those questions tell you whether you need to put the buyers in the car today or add them to your drip email campaign and follow up in a few weeks.
Unfortunately, those questions don’t give you the whole story. Maybe you’ve had the experience of working with seemingly hot buyers only to have them tell you they’ll “rent for another year” or “stay with family” when they weren’t able to find a home they liked.
Asking buyers what would happen if they didn’t buy tells you how many options they have. All else being equal, the more alternatives prospects have to buying, the more likely it is you’ll lose them if the going gets tough.

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