By Bill Gassett
What do you think LinkedIn is for? Is it just for people who are trying to find a new job? Should you only visit it if you want to recruit somebody? Or is it one of the best ways to grow your real estate business? If you chose the third option, you are correct. In fact, HubSpot, reports that LinkedIn is three times more effective at generating business leads than Facebook or Twitter. And since leads result in more sales and more money in your pocket, it is clear that LinkedIn cannot be ignored.
Here are 10 ways real estate pros can effectively use LinkedIn to increase their online exposure.
1. Remember, It’s Not Facebook
First, it is crucial to realize that LinkedIn is not like your other social networking sites. This one is all about business, and you better keep things professional. So no sharing that funny meme your Aunt Linda showed you, and no posting pictures of what you are eating for dinner or your funny cat. There are plenty of other sites for that.
2. Make Sure Your Profile and Company Page Are Complete
Since you are a real estate practitioner and independent contractor, you have your own professional brand, thus, you should have both a personal profile and a Company Page. Each one should be filled out completely. Not only should every detail be included—like your website, links to your other social media profiles, any awards or certifications you have, and past companies you have worked for—but it should be displayed in a way that is easy to read and engaging.
3. Include Keywords
Just like you do with your website and blogs, your profile and Company Page should be keyword rich. When people want to find a “real estate agent in Massachusetts,” for example, you want to make sure you show up.
4. Share Plenty of Content
When you are deciding which content to share on LinkedIn, always have the goal of helping others, but make sure the type of information varies. On one day, post an informative article on a new development in real estate, and on the next, share an opinionated blog post about what agents are doing wrong. Make sure you’re not just sharing your own content. Those who are successful in social media understand that it can’t always be about YOU.
5. Publish Directly on LinkedIn
Not only should you be sharing loads of information, you should also be writing your own. One thing that makes LinkedIn unique is that it allows you to publish your content for all of LinkedIn to see. They are referred to as long-form posts, and you definitely need to be taking advantage of them. Not only does it make you look more credible when you have them on your profile, but they are searchable both on and off LinkedIn. People do not have to be in your network to view them, and they are able to connect with you directly from the post. This is an invaluable tool for growing your network and establishing your expertise in the real estate industry.
6. Study Your Analytics
LinkedIn is very generous in the amount of information they provide to you. They tell you exactly which of your posts received interactions and which ones didn’t. You should study these analytics thoroughly so that you can capitalize on what people like and avoid the stuff they don’t.
7. Connect With Everyone
There has never been, and never will be, a rule that you are only allowed to connect with people that you know on LinkedIn. You should do searches for locals in your area, other agents, home appraisers, mortgage brokers, and anyone else you want. The thing is, there is no such thing as too big of a network. You never know where each connection will lead you. Over the years, I have seen some really shortsighted agents who say, if they don’t know them then they won’t connect. This might be prudent thinking on Facebook, but not on LinkedIn!
8. Capitalize on LinkedIn Real Estate Groups
One of the hidden gems on LinkedIn is the group feature. They are the difference between agents who really drive traffic back to their website and those who don’t. However, there is a proper way to use them.
- According to the Social Media Examiner, you should look for groups within your industry—or groups that contain your target niche or market—that have enough members to get you exposure, but not so many that you get lost in the shuffle. Aim for between 1,000 and 5,000 members. You can also join a few of the larger groups for when you are sharing something of a more general nature.
- When you interact within the groups, remember that you are there to add value. You should respond to others’ questions, give your opinions, share advice, and ask questions that make people think. You should not post links to your site unless it is something of value.
- Don’t post your listings! I cannot emphasize this one enough. Real Estate agents are notorious for only thinking about promoting their listings. Social media is about forming relationships, not trying to sell to people. Do you think anyone goes to Linkedin groups to buy a home? I hope you realize the answer is no. This is one of the most annoying things real estate agents do in social media. What’s worse is there are some groups that spell out the fact you can’t post listings and some practitioners do it anyway. This is the perfect way to look like a fool in front of your peers.
- Don’t try to be active on too many groups at once, or you will not be able to provide anything useful to any of them. Instead, choose three or four that you really think could boost your exposure and make sure to check-in with them several times per week. Some excellent real estate groups to take a look at joining are The National Association of REALTORS®, Real Estate Professionals Group, and Real Estate Professional Referral Group.
- Once you are part of a conversation, don’t leave it unfinished. Always go back to see if anyone has responded to what you said.
- After you have established yourself within the group, you can start asking your own questions and solicit feedback. If you ask one that garners a lot of attention, you will even be featured as a top contributor within the group, increasing your visibility tenfold.
9. Start Your Own Group
If you are really ambitious, it could be time to found your own group. This puts you in the driver’s seat, and, if done correctly, can really catapult your recognition in the real estate industry. In order to set the precedent, you should set up an auto-email that goes out to all new members welcoming them to the group and setting the ground rules (like no soliciting). You can also let them know that you will be sending out weekly or monthly emails with industry resources and tricks of the trade.
10. Help Others
Finally, you should take a few minutes each day to endorse and recommend other people. They will appreciate the gesture and may even return the favor.
These are some of the best ways a real estate agent can use Linkedin to get meaningful results. Do you have any tips for successfully using LinkedIn? Share them in the comments below.
Bill Gassett is a nationally-recognized real estate leader and one of the top RE/MAX salespeople in New England. See all his real estate articles at www.maxrealestateexposure.com.
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By Jay O’Brien
We’ve all received the calls, opened the letters, and deflected the in-person pitches. Real estate is perhaps one of the only industries that attains its workforce through blind recruiting rather than interviewing.
It’s quite simply a numbers game for many brokerages, and the strategy becomes less about value creation for agents and more about the bait.
How do brokers attract more agents and (hopefully) retain them? Unfortunately, the most common misconception is the one that revolves around what truly motivates people: money. If money is truly the greatest motivator, the success of real estate agents would be through the roof since selling a home is the one and only way to get paid. Clearly, this is not the case. But when agents are looking to make a switch, we still hear the question time and time again: “What’s the commission split?”
This is not the question you should be asking. Let’s not forget, 90 percent of zero is still zero.
The relationship between a brokerage and an agent should be mutually beneficial, and monetary rewards should not be top priority. Don’t put the cart before the horse. First, start by asking yourself these questions:
- “What has my business looked like in the last year?”
- “Did I do more business each year? How much more?”
- “What are my biggest challenges right now?”
- “Where do I need coaching?”
- “What are my goals for this year, and the next, and the next?”
If you do not know the answer to all of these questions, how in the world is your broker going to know?
In such a heavily self-disciplined environment, it’s very easy to notice when a real estate agent becomes complacent. If there is a problem, struggle, or challenge, it’s very difficult to identify it and face it alone. Instead, an agent is more likely to think they are in the wrong office or behind the wrong brand. They might think an office change will correct their productivity.
It is paramount for an agent to position themselves with a person, or people rather than a brand, company, office, etc. The genuine growth of a real estate professional cannot be quantified in purely commission splits. Remember the saying, “You get what you pay for?” Often, if the commission split ratios are dramatically skewed in the favor of the agent (especially from day one), then usually there is very little value being added from the brokerage. It’s simple business 101: You can’t spend more money than you make.
I am constantly looking to grow in various aspects of my own life, so I have a personal coach for several things: golf, yoga, CrossFit, AND business. If an office has promised you the moon and the stars along with a compensation plan that is too good to be true, something probably doesn’t smell right. I would venture to guess that most agents reading this would agree that doing 25 deals a year at 75 percent is much better than doing two at 90 percent.
With that, find your person, your mentor. Find someone who can hold you accountable and coach you to greatness. It is absolutely critical to your success. Take that path, and watch the money follow.
By Alyssa Hellman
Sometimes it seems like new real estate products are released every day. It’s easy to become distracted by trying every new marketing tool or tech gadget, but over time the luster fades and you’ve got to get back to business. Here are my five tips to tighten your real estate tool belt and decide what products you really need.
1. Get in touch with your local and state association. Your association doesn’t charge their dues just for membership. Most associations offer a slew of services that allow agents to operate their businesses effectively, yet many of these tools & services go unused simply because agents don’t know they exist! Explore your association’s offerings to see if there are free or discount offerings of tools you already use or things that would be helpful moving forward.
2. Have a plan and commit. Without a concrete plan of what you want to do, you make yourself susceptible to “shiny object syndrome” – using tools just because of hype rather than utility. Knowing what you want to deliver to clients (e.g. your niche or specialty, special services, company culture, or brand) should be guided by your plan with an eye on new tools, not the other way around.
3. Master your craft. I wouldn’t trust someone with a drill who has never used a screwdriver. Before you add to your tool belt, make sure you have mastered the tools that you already have. Or, make sure you contract with someone who has mastery of the tools. You don’t have to be a jack of all trades to deliver great service. Master your own craft and don’t be afraid to partner with other masters of their craft to deliver great service.
4. Network with your peers. Sure, you want to stand apart from the competition, but you can gain a lot from working with each other. Your clients choose you for you. I have learned about some of my favorite systems from my peers and continue to actively engage with them to learn from each other and grow professionally.
5. Know when to hold em’, know when to fold em’. Don’t feel the need to stay signed on with something you never use. As your business grows, it will evolve. Your tools will need to evolve too, so something that worked at one point, won’t always work later on. Be flexible in your business and evaluate your tools regularly to make sure they are still helping you, not holding you back.
Regardless of the products you choose, you must remember that they are just tools. At its core, real estate is a relationship business and your tools should always help you enhance, not distract, from your relationships.
Alyssa Hellman is the Go Leader at Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate, Go Realty based in Cary, N.C., serving Raleigh-Durham and surrounding areas. You can find Alyssa on Twitter @AVHellman or visit her website www.alyssahellman.com.
By Patti Stern, PJ & Co. Staging and Interior Decorating
The early spring home selling-season is kicking off. There’s no time like the present to start decluttering and transforming your lived-in home into a show-worthy property to make a positive impression on potential buyers. That means attending to the most important details that will create mass buyer appeal and increase your home’s value.
“A seller has to try to be objective by looking at their home as a product or some other commodity that one would purchase,” says Lisa Gallagher, a real estate professional with William Raveis, Newtown, Conn. “You have only one chance to get it right so present your home in the best possible light.”
Indeed, 95 percent of homes that are staged by professional home stagers sell, on average, in 35 days or less and for close to the asking price – versus 140 days for non-staged homes, according to a study by the Accredited Staging Professionals (ASP), a national staging trade organization.
Staged homes also show better in photographs.
“Homes that are prepared for market and look good on the Internet, usually sell the quickest,” Gallagher says. “Time is money and less time on the market means less stress and frustration for the seller.”
While some homes may require more work than others, the following represent our top staging “do’s and don’ts” that are essential in getting your property ready for sale.
PJ & Co.’s Top 5 Do’s in Home Staging
1. Focus on curb appeal. Make the best first impression by sprucing up the lawn and landscape.
- Remove dead or overgrown shrubs.
- Touch up any peeling paint, and power wash the outside if needed.
- Repair any cracks in the driveway and walkway, power wash steps and railings if necessary.
- Look at the outdoor lighting. Is it time to repair or replace?
- Add welcoming touches to the front door including seasonal plants and a fresh welcome mat.
- Ensure that you have a prominent, working doorbell and the front door is freshly painted.
2. Declutter and neutralize.
Look at each room objectively and start packing.
- Remove anything that will distract buyers from seeing your property, including personal collections (yes, the sports memorabilia room has to go!), a wall of family photos, newspapers, books and magazines, etc.
- Consider donating outdated furniture and household accessories to a local nonprofit.
3. Refresh walls, rugs and windows treatments. When was the last time your seller painted? Are their imperfections or scratches on the walls? Is the current paint color dated? If so, consider adding a fresh coat of neutral paint. The same applies to area rugs and carpeting. Be sure to have them professionally cleaned and, if dated, consider replacing. If you have hardwood floors under the carpeting, you’ll find it worthwhile to remove and refinish the floors to use the hardwoods as a selling-point. As for window treatments, remove any outdated or specific styles and replace. Or if you have great windows — make them stand out by removing all window treatments.
4. Brighten and add warmth.
It’s important that the home feel light and bright. Open the curtains wide (or replace as indicated above) and let in as much natural light as possible. Also, replace any light fixtures that are outdated and make sure all existing lights are working.
5. Make it shine. Clean, dust, vacuum, and deodorize. Think: aggressive spring cleaning!
We often suggest to our clients that they have a professional service clean the property from top to bottom including walls, ceilings, and baseboards. Dirt eats equity and the more your home shines the better for prospective buyers. Windows and mirrors should be free of fingerprints and hardwood floors should shine.
Scrub bathrooms and kitchens so they sparkle. Don’t forget to dust lampshades and curtains.
Top 5 Don’ts in Home Staging
1. Don’t be emotionally attached. As soon as your sellers makes the commitment to sell, they need to look at their end goal. Are they downsizing, moving to be near family, or a warmer climate? It’s important for them to emotionally detach from selling their home. Any negative remarks you gather as their real estate professional from home buyers, sellers need to be able to use as constructive criticism and be willing to do what it takes to get their “product” sold timely and for top dollar.
2. Don’t be afraid to team up. Selling a home can be overwhelming. Just packing and decluttering is a monumental task and that is why using a professional home stager is an investment in getting your property sold. A professional stager (not a decorator) is an expert who can look at the home objectively and provide proven methods to help enhance your clients’ home showings.
3. Don’t leave anything broken. Everything should function correctly and be in working order. Sellers need to make sure they repair leaky faucets, cracked windows, loose doorknobs, broken tile, and replace light bulbs that don’t work.
4. Don’t invest in major renovations.
Now is not the time to gut the kitchen with a complete makeover. Keep it to the essentials in giving the home a basic cosmetic fix. Painting goes a long way in providing a modern “facelift” to a home, including kitchen cabinets and bathroom vanities. Updating a home by adding new flooring, if needed, a new bathroom vanity and light fixture, and making any necessary repairs will be worth the investment to get the house sold.
5. Don’t buy all new furniture. Rearrange and put away excessive pieces to simplify and make the room appear larger. Update or hide imperfections with new throws and pillows. However, if your sellers are already planning to purchase updated furniture for their new home, they may want to consider buying sooner for selling purposes too.
For more examples of interior decorating and home staging, visit www.pjstagingdecorating.com.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Patti Stern, principal, interior decorator and professional stager of PJ & Company Staging and Interior Decorating, has been decorating and staging homes since 2005. She and her team provide turnkey, full service home-staging and interior decorating to clients across Connecticut, New York, and Massachusetts. She also developed an award-winning staging program for luxury home builder, Toll Brothers. Stern has been featured in Connecticut Magazine, the Hartford Courant, Danbury News-Times and on NBC Connecticut and FOX TV. She is a regular contributor to REALTOR Magazine’s Styled, Staged & Sold blog. To contact, e-mail Patti Stern at email@example.com
Can home owners deduct the cost of their energy-efficiency upgrades on their taxes?
Answer that and other home ownership tax questions by posting to your website a free article, “Don’t Miss These Home Tax Deductions,” from the REALTOR® Content Resource. It’s one of five free articles now available in the “Get Your Tax-Filing Party Started!” article package. Share all five today.
By Charlie Allred
Having a blog can be a killer online strategy for your real estate business. A vibrant blog can be the very top of your online funnel. But your potential clients must feel understood when they first arrive at your site.
Last month, I talked about creating a niche to strengthen your online presence. By all means, you can address several niches on your blog. However, you have to start somewhere, so start with one niche.
I believe all real estate blogs should be as community oriented as possible. Your blog should show that you’re a resource for the community. For instance, you could publish articles on your market’s parks, schools, or restaurants. Write articles about community activities or local places. Think about anything your potential clients would want to know before they moved to the community.
Here are four tips for creating a vibrant blog:
- Address your niche; always address your niche. Think about what people in your niche market would want to know.
- Write consistently. I generally say posting one article a week is ideal, however, if you know you can’t commit to once a week, commit to every other week.
- Answer questions. You are the expert, so answer questions your clients ask regularly.
- Create lists. Create lists of information your potential clients would want to know if they are moving to the area. For example:
Notice the list above goes from a broad subject – moving to Phoenix – to the more narrow focus of Old Town Scottsdale homes. One of my niches is the Old Town Scottsdale neighborhood, which includes even smaller market niches of zip codes 85251 and 85250, as well as the McCormick Ranch area of Scottsdale. I could break this down even further into subdivisions. I suggest, if you can, make your niche market a subdivision, write four or five articles on each subdivision, then move on to the next subdivision.
Focusing your expertise on a specific neighborhoods is much easier in newer communities because they have subdivision names that are often searched online. I specialize in an older area of town where subdivision names aren’t used much, so they I try to use keywords that are associated with my area.
To get started with your killer online strategy:
- Choose your market niches.
- Make a list of questions, articles, lists, photos, and videos you can publish to your blog that addresses each of your niches.
- Don’t forget to add keywords associated with your market niches for each article.
- Start writing your blog posts, but manage your time. I recommend limiting yourself to one hour max per week writing, 30 minutes making graphics or taking photos, then publish the article.
Charlie Allred is a Phoenix-based designated broker for Secure Real Estate and author of the book “Pinnable Real Estate: Pinterest for Real Estate Agents.” She is a Pinterest expert coaching agents on how to gain more leads, followers, and clients by using Pinterest. Learn more at her blog: www.PinnableRealEstate.com.
By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine
Besides an upscale kitchen and plenty of space, what are new-home buyers’ looking for when house hunting? Surveys by the National Association of Home Builders and homebuilder PulteGroup shed some light on a few of the latest in-demand amenities.
1. Walk-in closets: Large closets, particularly in the master bedroom, is among one of home shoppers’ top priorities, according to the NAHB survey of builders and remodelers. Indeed, 31 percent of 1,000 home owners recently surveyed by PulteGroup said they’d sacrifice another household feature in order to have his-and-hers closets in the master bedroom.
2. Luxurious laundry rooms: Buyers are looking for more than just a place to stick their washer and dryer. They want upgraded laundry rooms – complete with skylights, built-in ironing boards, space for folding clothes, extra storage, and upgraded appliances, according to the NAHB survey.
3. Energy efficiency: Home buyers are looking to cut utility costs, and energy efficiency appliances and products can be one way to do that. Low e-windows, Energy Star appliances, and programmable thermostats are more in demand among home shoppers.
4. Great rooms: These large open spaces that often merge dining rooms, living rooms, and kitchens continue to be in high-demand among home shoppers, according to NAHB’s poll of builders. “Great rooms are wonderful places where everyone in the family can sit around, or where the kids can do their homework while you get dinner ready,” Stephen Melman of NAHB told MainStreet. “Today’s great rooms are large, bright and just make you feel good being there.”
5. Taller first-floor ceilings: More home buyers want the first floor to stretch beyond the typical eight-foot ceiling. They’re asking builders for nine-foot ceiling heights. The taller ceilings can open up living rooms, dining rooms, and other spaces on the first floor. But home shoppers say they can do without the cathedral ceiling in the family room, which can be too costly to heat and cool. Also, they aren’t preferring the higher ceilings on the second floor, which many home buyers say they want to feel more cozy, Melman says.
By Dave Robison
Creating a successful real estate team is a lot like cooking. You have to add certain ingredients to the pot – a little of this, a little of that, more of another thing to make it sweet. The temperature and how long you cook it has to be watched, otherwise you risk it coming out cold or burning it. Some people are naturals at cooking, others not so much. Some can’t cook for the life of them.
So, is there a secret recipe to building a team? Absolutely not. There are too many different ingredients (some limited in quantity). Often, you end up having to work with what you have. But you do have to pay close attention and make sure your ingredients (team members) work well together.
First, to successfully “cook up” a team, you are going to have to get good at different things. Here’s a quick list:
1. Know yourself. How well do you know yourself? I’ve taken a lot of different personality tests over the years. I’ve also spent countless hours reflecting on what it is that I do well, what I do fast, and what I don’t do well at all.
2. Know other people’s strengths. This is sometimes very hard – I have messed up a few times giving the wrong tasks to the wrong people because I didn’t know their strengths. So I have implemented a few different tests and indexes to get to know people around me, including DiSC and Kolbe. I want to know what they do well and how that aligns with my strengths and weaknesses.
3. Develop a resilience. I love what Barbara Corcoran says: The main trait of successful people is they don’t waste time feeling sorry for themselves when something bad happens. You have to learn to deal with set backs, failures, disappointments, etc.
4. Learn how to work through conflict. Looking back, I see there where times that I failed by not taking action when other members of my team had a disagreement. It may sometimes seem easier to get rid of someone or ignore a problem than to work it out. This is where many teams lose their members. There will be times when members of your team will be highly emotional. This is a critical phase: if you get your team members through it, they will often become highly commitment to you. Individuals shouldn’t quit at first disagreement, and sometimes you will have to help them work through it.
5. Love them, help them, love them. Everyone makes mistakes. You have to allow people to make mistakes. Help them through it and then be sure to show the love again. People won’t stick their neck out on the line for you if they know you will cut it off. They will stay safe. And if you want to grow your business, have to allow them to make decisions even if it’s not the one you would make.
Stay focused on these things and the team you cook up will be one of success.
Dave Robison, known as “Utah Dave,” is broker/owner of UtahDave.com Neighborhood Experts.