REALTOR® Recruiting and Retention: The Non-MLS Value Proposition

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Sam DeBord

By Sam DeBord

Compulsion is the crutch that lulls our organization’s recruiting and retention capabilities to sleep. When real estate licensees are compelled to be members of a REALTOR® association because of their need for MLS services, we often fail to aggressively sell them on the broad spectrum of REALTOR® benefits, most of which lie outside of the MLS sphere.

The MLS is integral to our members’ businesses, and will continue to be important to our industry. Legal, financial, and technological shifts have significantly changed its role over time, though, and we should be prepared for the inevitability of future changes.

As a member of Washington REALTORS® and Seattle King County REALTORS® Board of Directors, I believe the long-term danger for REALTOR® associations is in resting on a value proposition that relies almost singularly on the benefits of compulsory MLS membership. Building apps and services that complement the MLS can reinforce the board/MLS’s value, but without member appreciation for non-MLS benefits, a REALTOR® board is putting all of its eggs in one basket.

The organization’s reputation has to be built on more than just transactional services.

Political advocacy, legal protection, corporate partnership benefits, and education are all services that can and should be relayed to members regularly to create a more consistent and broad picture of the value derived from membership.

NAR has made a significant investment this year to define the REALTOR® Value Proposition, and our local boards nationwide could benefit greatly by sharing our successful strategies with one another. YPN members who serve on their local or state REALTOR® board, take note: More collaboration between REALTOR® boards could streamline the identification of the most effective messaging strategies to be leveraged in membership-building campaigns across the country.

I’ve had the opportunity to chair a communications task force for Seattle King County REALTORS®, and we’d like to share our first steps in reinventing our value proposition.  Our president, executive committee, staff, and creative agencies have been working for over a year to audit our communications and messaging strategies. This is our first concrete value proposition piece, which going out this week to members alongside the annual dues invoice.

The annual bill is the single piece of communication between boards and members that will be delivered without fail. We’ve added our benefits brochure this year, with the front giving a quick visual highlight of most concrete REALTOR® tools available from NAR, the state board, and local board. The back side highlights timely advocacy issues and the specific financial ramifications for the member’s bottom line.

This is the most poignant moment to clarify member benefits. Educating members on the wide range of protections and services we provide should happen year-round, but we should be especially vocal on the day that we ask our members to recommit another year of financing for the organization which supports their businesses.

The impetus for Seattle King County REALTORS® to create this kind of messaging was greater than most boards would have – our regional MLS is not REALTOR®-owned.  Our local licensees have to find enough value in non-MLS services to justify REALTOR® membership. Despite that challenge, our board continues to retain the majority of local full-time agents within our membership, and our members do the bulk of the total sales in our market.

This kind of messaging, with a few local tweaks, should be applicable to nearly any board and a great complement to those providing MLS services as well.  We will be redesigning our entire platform of communication this year to make certain we’re contacting our members with timely, engaging, and useful information every chance we get.  We’ll be sharing more as the process moves along, and we’d invite you to invest in the development of the REALTOR® Value Proposition by sharing your most successful communications campaigns as well.

Sam DeBord is a director for Washington REALTORS® and Seattle King County REALTORS®, and managing broker with Coldwell Banker Danforth. Connect with his team, Seattle Homes Group, at SeattleHome.com and SeattleCondo.com.

Source - Realtor.org

4 Ways to Makeover a Master Bedroom

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By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine

Only 2 percent of more than 1,700 home owners say they have achieved their design vision in their homes, according to a survey by the remodeling website Houzz (2014 Houzz Decorating Trends Survey). And the master bedroom is where many say they still have a lot of work to do.

Here are a few ways home owners are planning to enhance their master bedrooms:

New headboard.

You can really showcase a bed by adding a headboard. A headboard can help dress up a bed and make a bigger statement in the master bedroom. Eighty-eight percent of the more than 1,700 home owners surveyed say they are installing a headboard in their master bedroom. Fifty-one percent of remodeling home owners are opting for a headboard with no footboard; while 37 percent are planning on both a headboard and footboard.

New bedding and coverings.

Sometimes all it takes is new bedding to give a master bedroom a completely new look. Nearly 30 percent of remodeling home owners say they’re going to choose floral fabrics for their master bedrooms. Solid fabrics remain the most popular choice.

Add a seating area.

Create more of a serene setting by adding seating to the master bedroom, even if it’s just one upholstered chair in the corner with a throw pillow. Nearly two-thirds of remodeling home owners say they’re creating living rooms in their master bedrooms with seating (such as chairs, loveseat or chaise lounge); a fireplace; or even a mini fridge (8%).

Accent wall.

Paint can make a big difference. Stark white walls can make a room look sophisticated and modern. But some home owners are still preferring the accent wall, in which one wall is painted a more vibrant color. About 52 percent of remodeling home owners say they plan to add an accent wall to their master bedroom. It’s a way to get a pop of color without too much commitment.

 

Source - Realtor.org

Prosperity or Perdition? My First Year in Real Estate

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Elizabeth Mackay

By Elizabeth Mackay

I had the fairytale notion I was so well suited to real estate that I somehow would transcend all odds to rise to stardom in a matter of months.  I thought, naively, that I would visualize and affirm my way to $100,000 in commission in my first year.  Well how could I not, I’m a decent photographer, have a fair command of the English language, I’m a people person, detail-oriented, and reliable.

Imagine my dismay after six months, with a whopping $600, long spent, to my glory. It’s about that time that my first year goal went from $100,000 in commission to “I will not quit!”. But when my visualizing and affirming became – DON’T GIVE UP! NEVER GIVE IN! – it was in the following months that I came to accept that real estate would give me something a thousand times more meaningful than money; that if I could hang in there real estate would transform me.

And it has. Real estate doesn’t care about comparisons. It doesn’t care who knows more people, who’s more eloquent or even, shockingly, more affable. It doesn’t care who’s on the most social media platforms, who has a blog, a newsletter, and a mailing list. Real estate laughs in the face of those who think that page one of Google is the proverbial pot of gold at the end of the real estate rainbow. If you don’t know how to leverage it, page one of Google can be a colossal waste of time in getting there and a bigger waste of time in fielding questions and sending information to those who are only looking for information – after all, isn’t that what Google is for?

All your admirable qualities and tech savvy will serve you well in the end, but in the beginning, real estate only cares about who has the guts and the will to stick it out. The determination to keep going in the face of all evidence to the contrary, when the entire world seems to be conspiring to prove to you that all your lofty ideals and fantastic qualities are essentially meaningless. Real estate cares who can take disappointment after disappointment, defeat after defeat and get up the next day and do it all over again, broken heart or not.  It cares about who can rise above deception and declare “I will not fail. I do not care how many people say no. I do not care how many people lie to me. I will not quit!”

So I haven’t earned $100,000 in commission yet, but what I have earned is infinitely more meaningful. I’ve earned my self-respect. Not the surface self-respect we often have – the type that makes us say goodbye to the bad boyfriend and amen when we leave the lousy job. I’m talking about the kind of self-respect that produces humility, perseverance, self confidence, and a sense of security and belonging in the world; the knowledge that you will never be a failure unless you declare yourself so; the courage that comes with knowing you have risen above sensitivity to rejection.

If you don’t quit, you will eventually come to that place where you know that the best is before you. And now, one year after I set out on what I thought was my road to financial freedom, I can say that real estate is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I’ve had to stand on my own two feet and walk my personal road to perdition. In all likelihood you will walk yours too, so hang in there, never give in and most important: “Don’t let it be about the money, let it be about being great.

Elizabeth Mackay, MBA, is a salesperson with CA Christie Real Estate in The Bahamas. Connect with Mackay at livelifebahamas.com or liz@livelifebahamas.com.

Source - Realtor.org

3 Ways to Spruce Up the Garage

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Garages are an often overlooked part of the home, despite the fact that home owners spend a frequent amount of time there. In fact, for most home owners, the garage door is the main access point for entry and exit. It’s also a place for hobbies and storage.

The garage needs to be functional and attractive. Here are three ways to do it:  

1. Organization: Having an organized garage can help provide a home owner peace of mind while even possibly adding value to the space. As the garage often serves as a family’s storage center for everything from footballs to lawn mowers, shelves and cabinets can help make better use of the space. Sites like Pinterest can assist in photographic inspiration and provide ideas that will work for each unique space. At a minimum, set aside time to clear the clutter, categorize objects into groups (frequently used, rarely used, and hazardous materials), and then contain and store those objects to reflect the categories.  Both mounted racks and standing cabinets are options that can be purchased a big-box hardware store.

Photo credit: LiftMaster

2. Check your garage door: As a garage door is the heaviest moving object in the home, it’s important to ensure the home owner’s garage door and door openers are up to date with the latest safety features.  Don’t know if it is? A 90-second 3-step safety check (available here) will determine if the door has the safety features a home inspector will look for a flag for a potential buyer.

3. Install the latest garage technology: New smart technologies may also be an added selling point to a home owner’s garage.  Atop the list are technologies to connect to and control your garage door opener or home lights to any Android or iOS compatible device, allowing home owners to check their garage door, and open or close it from anywhere in the world. Another technology to explore is a battery backup system, a feature that will keep a garage door running for weeks in the event of a blackout, as well as a motion detector light inside the garage so home owners don’t have to always remember to switch off the lights.

Source - Realtor.org

The Common Denominator of Prospecting: Finding ‘The Why’

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Alex Cavelli

By Alex Cavelli

Prospecting is either the most embraced or most avoided activity for real estate professionals. While some see it as an opportunity to earn business right now, the majority of us don’t feel that the juice is worth the squeeze. Facing rejection and looking stupid is far more painful than not hitting our business goals.

No matter the sentiment, let’s take the pressure off ourselves and see prospecting for what it really is: Talking with people about their lives.

To frame our approach, let’s look at two ways to track the source of your business:

  1. Where they come from.
  2. Why they came.

If you look at your last five transactions, you can certainly identify those both sources.  The more important component is to take step and ask, “What life change was going on?” Your results may look something like this:

Source

“The Where”

“The Why”/

Life Change

Open House

Getting married

FSBO

Kids are all gone

Open House

Getting married

Expired

Retiring to Florida

Sphere

Job Promotion

Notice the insignificance of “The Where” in comparison to “The Why”? While one just tells you where you met your clients, the other has everything to do with their dreams, goals, and life ambitions. When prospecting, which would you rather focus on?

A mentor of mine correctly boiled real estate prospecting down to three questions:

  1. What life change is coming up?
  2. Is real estate connected to that change?
  3. Is there an opportunity to do business?

So, let’s take the pressure of determining how we will meet our future clients off ourselves, and instead, keep those three core questions in the back of our minds. As long as we’re connecting with people, “The Where” just doesn’t matter. It’s all about “The Why.”

 Alex Cavelli is a REALTOR® with Howard Hanna in Greater Cleveland. Connect with Alex via www.linkedin.com/in/cavelli or Alex@thecrockettteam.com.

Source - Realtor.org

5 Remodeling Projects with the Lowest Paybacks at Resale

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By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine

If you want to get the biggest bang for your remodeling buck, replace the entry door to steel, according to the 2014 Cost vs. Value Report, produced by Remodeling Magazine in conjunction with REALTOR® Magazine. The entry door may cost about $1,162 but home owners could potentially recoup 96.6 percent of that at resale, according to the report.

However, not all remodeling projects offer big paybacks at resale. Remodeling Magazine evaluated 35 of the most popular remodeling projects and the potential payback throughout 101 U.S. cities. Check out our prior blog post to view the projects that topped the list: 5 Mid-Range Remodeling Projects That Offer the Biggest Returns. But how about the projects that came in at the bottom of that list of 35 remodeling projects?

While all of these remodeling projects may be nice to have, home owners may not want to expect as big as of returns from their remodeling dollars with the following:

1. Home office remodel

Estimated job cost: $28,000

Estimated cost recouped at resale: 48.9%

2. Sunroom addition

Estimated job cost: $73,546

Estimated cost recouped at resale: 51.7%

3. Bathroom addition

Estimated job cost: $38,186

Estimated cost recouped at resale: 60.1%

4. Backup power generator

Estimated job cost: $11,742

Estimated cost recouped at resale: 67.5%

5. Master suite addition

Estimated job cost: $103,844

Estimated cost recouped at resale: 67.5%

Source - Realtor.org

Keywords for Pinterest (Part 3)

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Charlie Allred

By Charlie Allred

We all know keywords are important to your online presence, but did you know that keywords are important in Pinterest too?  In my last two Pinterest articles, I’ve discussed best practices for your Pinterest profile and Pinterest boards. Once you’ve got these first two steps completed it’s time to start considering keywords.

It can be very overwhelming when you begin to market your real estate business online. I recently spoke with a successful real estate agent and blogger, and I asked her about her online marketing strategy. She said that she wanted to be everywhere online. But what should you do first? What’s most important? Keywords will help you determine your initial path and niche.

Let’s start by talking about the benefit of keywords:

Generally, the goal of your website is to appear in search engines results organically through a set of keywords that describe your market or niche. These keywords should help prospects find you online, thus helping you gain more real estate business.

For instance, while coaching a real estate agent here in Phoenix, I was helping her find the best keywords for the downtown Phoenix historic district, which is her niche. By using tools like Google AdWords Keyword Planner, I did the keyword research for the downtown Phoenix historic district and found that the top keywords searched in order of highest searched volume are:

  • Phoenix real estate
  • Phoenix homes
  • Phoenix homes for sale
  • Downtown Phoenix
  • Historic Phoenix

This is not a comprehensive list, but it’s close enough for purposes of this article. So in all your website content, such as blog articles, videos, etc., you want to include the best keywords, for searchability purposes. In the case of the downtown Phoenix real estate agent, if I were her, I’d include “downtown Phoenix” and “historic Phoenix” in every article, because they describe her niche perfectly. I wouldn’t concentrate on using the keyword phrases “Phoenix real estate,” “Phoenix homes,” or “Phoenix homes for sale” as much, only because they are very broad and used often by real estate agents in Phoenix. The goal is to find the best keywords for your niche to attract serious prospects interested in what you have to offer.

Why do keywords matter in Pinterest?

All pins are now indexed by Google, so use of keywords will impact the overall SEO of your website. Each time you pin something, you should be using keywords to maximize your efforts in Pinterest.

Keywords should be used in:

  • Your Pinterest profile
  • Your board titles
  • Your board descriptions
  • Your pin descriptions

This may sound like a lot of work, but if you are pinning to your top boards regularly, it’s worth the effort to look up the keywords for those board at least once, and then keep them handy so you can reference them. Once you have your top 12 Pinterest boards, as discussed in last month’s article, look up the keywords for a few boards at a time, so it’s less time consuming.

For a quick starter guide to keywords, you can head to Pinnable Real Estate and download a free list of my favorite keywords in three topic areas (all home related categories): home staging, home organization, and home decor. These top six to eight keywords in each topic will give you a good starting point for using keywords on Pinterest.

When I meet with real estate agents, they often tell me they’re concerned because they built a really pretty website, but it isn’t getting them any new business or leads. Next month, I will discuss your website – specifically, how to simplify your website and blog content while promoting your site to gain more real estate business.

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.

 

 

 

Source - Realtor.org

Stylish Staging That Has Comfort in Mind

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By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine

Nearly 70 percent of about 6,000 home owners surveyed by the remodeling website Houzz said they’re happiest in rooms that are comfortable. If you’re trying to hook a buyer, you may want to make sure your listings not only are stylish, but also show off some comfort too.

Popular furnishings today are modern with straight lines, which don’t always project the look of comfort. Luckily, it’s also trendy to be eclectic in mixing an oversized, statement piece — which can look comfortable.

That statement piece can add visual interest to the room too. It can be anything from a nail-trimmed, wingback chair to patterned club chair, says Audra Slinkey of Home Staging Resource, a national staging and redesign training company. Slinkey singled out the oversized statement piece as one of the top 10 staging trends for this year.

Photo credit: Kristine Ginsberg, Elite Staging and Redesign LLC, elitestagingandredesignmorriscountynewjersey.com

No room for an oversized chair? Go for an overall chic, comfort “Pottery Barn”-inspired look by using white slipcovers over the owner’s dated furnishings — a quick, budget-friendly transformation, Slinkey suggests.

Source - Realtor.org

Accepting the Best Offer: What’s Important to You?

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Choosing the best home offer is a cinch for sellers who know what terms are their deal-breakers. Planning ahead can get your clients the most out of their home sale.

Help sellers have a seamless sale by sharing “6 Tips for Choosing the Best Offer for Your Home,” a free article from the REALTOR® Content Resource. It’s one of five articles now available in the “Sell Before Snow Hits” article package.

Visit houselogic.com for more articles like this.

Copyright 2014 NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®

REALTOR® Content Resource is brought to you by the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®. With it, you can download free homeownership content from HouseLogic to your marketing materials.

Source - Realtor.org

Starting the Conversation: Convincing Sellers to Stage a Home

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Photo Credit: PJ & Co. Staging and Interior Decorating

By Patti Stern, Principal PJ & Company Staging and Interior Decorating

Staging is no longer optional for sellers who want to get the most value from their home. Many sellers are still reluctant to stage, making it a tough sell for their real estate agent. Several key points can help overcome skepticism and convince sellers to stage first if they want to sell.

1. Explain the difference between decorating and staging.

The saying — “Your Home is Your Castle” — often rings true with today’s sellers. Most believe their home is decorated beautifully, usually with their favorite colors and personal décor. But there is a big difference between decorating and staging to appeal to a large pool of buyers.

Décor choices are personal and most buyers can’t envision how a home may look if the seller doesn’t remove their personality.

Sotheby’s Julia B Fee REALTOR®, Megan Stilwell-Posner, a recent PJ & Co. client, often walks buyers through a property and they’ll comment that they don’t like an area rug or paint color, which even influences their decision on whether to purchase the home. “Explaining how we market your property versus how you decorate your property is very important,” she says.

Photo Credit: PJ & Co. Staging and Interior Decorating

2. Talk staging versus a possible price reduction.

Staging sets a home apart from the competition. Updating decor, particularly in key rooms such as kitchens and baths, can mean the difference between selling quickly and for top dollar or facing a price reduction if a home sits on the market for too long.

Busy, cluttered decor or outdated styles will distract buyers who won’t be able to envision living in the home. For many sellers, staging and low-cost renovations preserve valuable equity and can even boost a home’s selling price. For example, after PJ & Co. staged a property for real estate agent Rich Walker with Century 21, he decided to list the property for $20,000 higher than he originally planned. The property sold in 15 days at the asking price.

3. NOT selling a home is stressful.

We’ve all heard it – sellers who want to “test the market before staging” but months later haven’t received an offer.

Selling a home is difficult both emotionally and physically. Each day without an offer is stressful. Ultimately, I believe staging brings offers in quicker and makes the entire process easier.

In controlled tests conducted by the Real Estate Staging Association that compared identical homes, the non-staged houses sold in 102 days, while the professionally staged properties sold in 45 days.

Photo Credit: PJ & Co. Staging and Interior Decorating

4. The stager is going to do the dirty work.

Many real estate professionals we talk to are hesitant to discuss staging with their clients, unsure of how to tactfully approach necessary updates without offending their client. Enlisting a professional stager as a third-party expert and part of the selling plan provides tremendous value to both the real estate agent and seller. A professional stager takes the burden off of you, and can make recommendations without treading on the real estate agent/client relationship.

5. Execution will be key.

Hiring a stager who has a full team on standby to manage the entire process and deliver the home ready for market is key.

Some staging companies can be hired to just offer recommendations. For example, one client received a seven- page recommendation from a stager, but shopping for updated décor and managing the updates were up to the seller. It became overwhelming for the couple. They weren’t comfortable choosing the paint colors, picking lighting fixtures, or incorporating the right style trends to make a space vibrant and engaging to today’s younger buyer.

Other staging companies can offer the client one-stop shopping, from selecting the paint colors to coordinating the painter, carpenter, and selecting all of the materials needed to stage the property.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Patti Stern is a principal of PJ & Company Staging and Interior Decorating, and an interior decorator and accredited home stager. She and her team offer decorating and home staging services for individuals, real estate professionals, builders, and others in the industry. For more information visit www.pjstagingdecorating.com or www.facebook.com/pjandcompanystaginganddecorating

Source - Realtor.org