Six Reasons You Need a Mentor


By Brittney Schwartz, REALTOR® University

The to-do list for a new real estate professional is long. You’ve got to learn how to use your MLS, figure out the mechanics of hosting a stellar open house, and much more. Those basics are important, but right at the top of that list is finding a good mentor.

You have a lot to gain by forming a relationship with a colleague, role model, or a personal career guru who is willing to share his or her wisdom with a protégé (namely: you). Everyone from Bill Clinton to Oprah talks about the importance mentors have played in their careers. They can guide you through tricky situations and provide helpful advice about finding the perfect niche. But a mentor can do so much more.

  1. A mentor can help you gain perspective. The years of knowledge and practical experience you will gain are absolutely invaluable. A seasoned role model has “been there, done that” and is in a great position to tell you what to do and, better yet, what not to do. Just think of all the insightful information about prospecting and effective lead follow-up techniques they have up their sleeve!
  2. A mentor can give you a competitive advantage. A real estate veteran can arm you with the essential skills to achieve peak performance in the industry—and we’re not just talking sales. If you select a mentor who works at the same company as you do, they can provide invaluable insider information on how to navigate company politics, get things done, and promote yourself within the organization.
  3. A mentor can help you think outside the box. Learn what they didn’t teach you in school through a bond with a higher-up. A mentor can help you look at situations in new ways and ask hard questions to help you solve problems. They can also help you develop emotionally. In the first five years of your career, you are still developing an understanding of yourself and your impact on others. A mentor is there to help you grow both professionally and personally.
  4. A mentor can help you define and reach goals. Your mentor should be someone who has a career you aspire to. He or she can help you lay the groundwork by setting short-term and long-term goals, and by recognizing your accomplishments along the way. Closed your first sale—check!  Didn’t give up on finding a difficult client the perfect home after months and months of searching—way to go!
  5. A mentor can expand your social network. Your mentor is likely to have an extensive network of industry relationships that would take you years to cultivate. They can introduce you to the right people and open doors that might not otherwise be accessible.
  6. A mentor can inspire you. Mentors have the lives we want for ourselves; they’re the ones whose careers we’re in awe of, whose lifestyles and values mirror our own. These mentor-mentee relationships are empowering—and might just end up being one of the most important relationships you have.

Now that you know the importance of a mentor, how do you seek out the right one? Find someone whose career aligns with your goals, and tell them you admire them and would love to get their feedback on your job performance. Also, emulate them. Eat what they eat for breakfast, so to speak. Use their advice and hit the ground running. Soak up all you can. Before you know you it, you’ll have a young real estate agent asking if you can be their mentor.

Your association can also help you in this important search. NAR is full of resources for mentors, mentees, and organizations, including a mentorship program available for students of the Master of Real Estate program. Mentors are REALTOR® University faculty, professional staff, alumni, and others in the real estate industry with practical expertise.

If you have any questions about the REALTOR® University mentoring program, please contact Development & Board Services Specialist Breanne Gingerich at 312-329-8612 or You can also view our updated field guide for help more on mentoring in the real estate industry.

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How Staging Is Key to Tackle the Emerging Generational Gap


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

Every one is starting to make predictions already for the 2015 housing market. One of our own predictions: 2015 will continue to be a buyer’s market, particularly in certain areas where homes are older. While low inventory has plagued the market for years, a broader disconnect exists between inventory and buyer preferences.

As more Millennial’s (the generation under the age of 33), enter the market and baby boomers downsize, the generation gap between buyers and sellers will further drive market conditions.

Younger home buyers make up the largest groups of today’s consumers. According to a National Association of REALTORS® survey, Millennial’s and slightly older Generation X represent over 60 percent of today’s home buyers.

However, the bulk of the housing inventory over the next 15 years will come from retiring boomers who want to downsize and embrace a new lifestyle that doesn’t include their large suburban home. It’s expected that 20.1 million senior households will attempt to sell between 2015 and 2030, and according to University of Utah researcher, Arthur C. Nelson. What’s more, an estimated 7.4 million won’t be able to find people to buy the houses.

Younger buyers want an already updated home and with a large percentage of homes built before 1990, that poses a challenge for the market. Older, outdated homes give buyers a lot of reasons to cross the property off their list.

Homes staged by PJ & Company Staging and Interior Decorating

The ‘Senior Sell Off’

Sellers who adapt to the changing marketplace and understand that today’s buyers don’t have the same vision when it comes to updating a home will position their property in the market and stand out from the competition.

Staging continues to be more important than ever before — whether it is a $250,000 home or a $2 million dollar home — to preserve and in some cases boost a home’s value and get it sold.

Homes staged by PJ & Company Staging and Interior Decorating

Only 35.1 percent of home sellers nationwide think now is a good time to sell. But waiting may mean increased competition from similar style and aged homes. Staging and even low cost renovations can help sellers get top dollar in a shorter market time today so they don’t become part of the ‘senior sell-off’.

“It’s important we offer sellers the resources to successfully sell their home now,” says John and Joanne Hoye with Berkshire Hathaway Home Services in West Hartford, Conn. “Staging gets the properties looking their absolute best, boosting seller’s confidence in listing their home today rather than waiting. It also helps address inventory issues by bringing to market more move-in condition homes. Quality, well-priced inventory will ultimately drive a more balanced market that’s a win-win for our buyer and seller clients and staging can help us get there.”

For more examples of home staging, visit
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 She can be reached at

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Thanksgiving for 10 Averages $50: Help Owners Prep


The average cost to host a 10-guest Thanksgiving spread is $49.48, according to a 2012 American Farm Bureau Federation survey of 150 volunteer shoppers around the country.

The cost of preparing your home for holiday guests is much more difficult to determine. But you can help owners do it wisely and efficiently. Add to your e-newsletter a free article, Tips on How to Prepare Your Home for Holiday Guests, from the REALTOR® Content Resource. It’s one of five free articles now available in the November “Be the Host with the Most for Thanksgiving” article package. Share all five today.

Visit for more articles like this.


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.

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Scientifically Develop the Habit of Lead Generation: Part 1


Alex Cavelli

By Alex Cavelli

“First you make your habits, then your habits make you.”
Lucas Remmerswaal

We all have good intentions. Early in my career, I set a lofty goal. My intention was to prospect Monday through Friday and speak with 25 people each day about their lives and real estate.

For about six months, Monday and Tuesday were strong days for me.  I was feeling productive.  Best of all, I was setting appointments and winning listings at a rate I was happy with.

But by the time Wednesday or Thursday hit, I lost my motivation. I went from making 25 contacts on Monday and Tuesday, to 15 on Wednesday, to maybe 10 on Thursday. By Friday I was down to zero. Not only did fail to measure up, I also started questioning my commitment and abilities—not good for the psyche.

What happened? Regardless of my skill level, there had to be an explanation of why it was so challenging to finish a full week of lead generation. So, I spoke with willpower scientist Colin Robertson. Robertson runs a company called Willpowered and has devoted his life to scientifically determine what it takes to win our mental battles.

After explaining my situation to Robertson, our conversation went like this:

Robertson: Would you expect to run 25 miles your first time out?
Me: Of course not.
Robertson: Why?
Me: That’s not realistic. I can’t finish that without training.
Robertson: So then what would you do?
Me: I would start at maybe three miles and build up from there.
Robertson: Why three?
Me: Because three miles is challenging, but I know I can finish.
Robertson: Alex, have you ever talked to 25 people for five straight days about real estate?

See? Makes sense. Robertson says that, as humans, we tend to be overly optimistic about our abilities when attempting to develop a new “keystone habit”. It’s sort of like the New Year’s resolution effect. We get super excited early on but soon our willpower fades and we are back to square one.

Starting at 125 contacts per week, at least for me, was like running a marathon on day one. I was setting myself up for failure. Instead, we had two choices: We can start with that New Year’s resolution type of goal that ultimately fizzles out, or we can approach the problem scientifically.

“Do Not Fail.” Robertson’s very simple and manageable “Do Not Fail” philosophy is the starting point to creating great habits. We tend to approach goals like I did – wanting big results right away. But when trying to create a habit, consistency is what we should be aiming for. Here’s how Robertson helped me determine the right goal for me:

Robertson: How many people can you talk to consistently each day that guarantees you will finish?
Me: I can probably make 15 contacts on a consistent basis.
Robertson: “Probably” won’t work. What is the number that guarantees that you will not fail?
Me: I see. That number is definitely ten.
Robertson: For the next four weeks, talk with ten people each day. No more, no less.

Here’s the science. In making ten contacts/day, there are no days where I don’t make any progress. Every day my client list is growing no matter what. And with every day that I make ten contacts, confidence grows that I’ll be able to make ten contacts the next day (and the next day) as well. When I’m ready, I can increase that number to 15 or 20 – just like a runner would gradually increase his or her mileage when training for a marathon.

The end, for now. Our career is not comprised of one sprint. It’s rather about running with a steady, consistent pace and then increasing that pace over time. If you want to run a marathon, then start with a 5k and pace yourself. In other words, to start the habit of lead generation, set aside one hour each day to make anywhere from 5-10 contacts with your sphere, past clients, FSBOs, or expireds. The point is to be consistent and start with a goal that guarantees you will finish.

Next week we’ll connect with Mr. Willpowered again to discuss the next step to scientifically develop the habit of prospecting: “The Seinfeld Method.”

In the meantime, if you’re curious about my progress and would like to discuss a lead generation plan that works for you, please contact me. I can be your first contact of many.

Alex Cavelli is a REALTOR® with Keller Williams Greater Cleveland Northeast. Connect with Alex via or

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Be Professional to Be Successful


By Brandon Johnson

There’s a real trick to appearing, communicating, and performing like an experienced real estate professional. And, as a 23-year-old agent who got his real estate license in June of this year, I want to share how I transformed myself in less than half a year on the job.

Only 3 percent of licensees are under the age of thirty in my local association, and I am the second youngest overall. Still, I can proudly say I have started off strong as the youngest agent in our brokerage to make the top producer’s list my third month as a licensee. The key to my early success is that I quickly adjusted to the demands of being a real estate pro in three key areas.

Looking Like a Professional. I look young. When people initially meet me, many are inclined to think I’ve just graduated from high school. Therefore, the hardest part of working an open house the first few times was not answering questions about taxes or square footage. I realized that customers came in assuming that I am not an expert, a professional, or in some cases not even a real estate agent. I needed to change that, so I started to experiment with my attire. When I started to wear a shirt, tie, blazer, and slacks, clients started to ask real estate questions and not questions asked about how much experience I had. I realized I had to change my appearance to stand out compared to other agents. If a customer attended a dozen open houses on a Sunday I wanted to be the agent that stood out so that when I followed up they would remember me. As a result, my open house activity directly contributed to thirty percent of my closings.

Speaking Like a Professional. Of course, a clothing change isn’t going to stop everyone from asking about my boyish looks. But when clients did ask, I realized I could simply state that I am working in my first year under our company’s mentor program and get back to the real estate questions. But when a customer seriously questions your age as a negative factor of being a real estate agent, you cannot let them leave your presence without proving that your age is actually an asset. I tell clients that since I am younger I have fewer commitments, allowing me to spend more time focusing on my career. When you explain that you have devoted your life to a new career and that you are passionate about working in real estate, people will understand that you truly want to work for them. When I tell them of my early successes, I am not boasting. I am telling them that I am qualified to represent them as a real estate expert. The best advice I received about communicating like a professional was not to rush into answers to sound like you know it all. If a customer asks a question that you cannot answer with certainty, tell them. I respond by saying they asked a good question and I would like to ask the listing agent or my manager to provide the most accurate answer in a timely manner. If I’m at an open house I tell them that I will respond to them Monday afternoon and ask for their contact information. Because I was honest, I usually am able to turn that short interaction into a lead.

Goal Planning Like a Professional. I told our managing broker that I wanted to close a million dollars’ worth of deals before the end of the year. Her response was not negative, but it was not optimistic either. I entered into real estate clueless of what an average first-year agent produces. I wanted to be a top producer, and that led to me working like a top producer. I noticed that the most experienced agents in our office started working around 8:30 in the morning. I made it a goal to beat them into the office every morning. I noticed that many agents work an open house every Sunday but the best agents work two, so that’s what I do. I can honestly say the amount of time I spend in the office is the reason that I have generated most of my leads. Lead generation aside, my time spent in the office impresses the more experienced agents I work with. I tell my clients that I have 100 years of experience because of the network I have built in our office with my fellow real estate agents. I tell them that my company will not let me fail, and that my goal is to build a relationship with them that will be converted into a closing.

Brandon Johnson was born and raised in Rockford, Illinois. He graduated from Keith Country Day School in 2009, graduated from the University of Illinois in 2013. During his time there studied Spanish linguistics and international relations, became a member of Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity, and expanded his family’s business. He became a licensed broker in June 2014. Brandon is a council member of Rockford Illinois’ Young Professional Network. Also, at the age of 23 he is one of the youngest licensees in the Rockford Association. Outside of real estate Brandon is a certified IHSA Basketball official and enjoys being involved with the community.

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3 Staging Solutions to Modernize a Space


By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR(R) Magazine

Stager Sandra Holmes, president of Home Staging Concepts in South Florida, shows how a few design touches can instantly transform a room.

#1 Accessorize it.

Master suite sitting area

Problem: The nearly bare seating area wasn’t sending the message of luxury in this multi-million dollar home.



Solution: Holmes wanted to soften the look and create a more intimate seating area. She brought in tables, added accessories and greenery and faux fur pillows for a layered look, and anchored the space with a textured rug.

Photo credit: Sandra Holmes, Home Staging Concepts,


#2 Furnish it.

Great room

Problem: This large great room was vacant, devoid of any personality, and buyers were having difficulty envisioning the layout for furniture.


Solution: Holmes offered up a picture by giving a modern treatment to the space, using furniture with straight lines, mismatching – but complementary—patterns and textures through fabrics and artwork, glass table-lamps, and color pops of blues.

Photo credit: Sandra Holmes, Home Staging Concepts,


#3 Re-imagine it.

Guest bedroom

Problem: This condo bedroom showed it was great for children, but the owners of this beachfront home were missing an opportunity to show the space off as the perfect guest room.


Solution: Holmes transformed the room to a guest bedroom, adding light, soft colors through new bedding and accented it with beach-themed artwork over the twin beds.

Photo credit: Sandra Holmes, Home Staging Concepts,



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Share These Fall Garden Cleanup Tips with Your Home Owners


Help home owners show off their garden even when it’s not in full bloom. E-mail the handy article “How to Clean Up Your Garden for Fall and Winter“ from the REALTOR® Content Resource. It’s one of five free articles now available in the “Maintenance to Do Now“ article package that you can e-mail or share on any of your social media today.

Visit for more articles like this.


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.

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6 Twitter Rules for Real Estate Agents


By Bill Gassett

You know you need to be on Twitter, and you have even heard other agents talk about how much traffic the social media giant can garner, but you have given it a go with nearly zero results. So what gives? Well, chances are you aren’t using the site correctly, and you aren’t alone. Twitter is confusing at first, but once you get the hang of it, it can actually be both fun and worthwhile. Start out with these Twitter rules every real estate agent should be following.

1. Keep it Interesting

One of the biggest mistakes that real estate agents make using Twitter is tweeting their listings. Bo-ring! It’s also ineffective for two reasons. First: People are not using Twitter to search for their next home. Second: A user’s Twitter feed is constantly moving, so your tweet needs to stand out from the crowd.

Instead of listings, share important news stories and helpful articles, with a variety of videos and pictures. The best-case scenario is pointing to useful content on your own site. One of the first things I do after posting a piece on my Massachusetts Real Estate Blog is to tweet the article out to my followers.

Bottom line: You only get 140 characters, and you better make them count.

2. Use Hashtags

Hashtags are everywhere these days, but they began on Twitter and it continues to be crucial that you use them there. A hashtag will increase your reach tremendously because it makes your posts searchable by everyone, not just your followers. Try popular industry tags, such as #realestate, #home, or #interiordesign. Or give one of these calendar-based hashtags a try:

  • #TBT – Every Thursday, Twitter will be flooded with this hashtag, which stands for Throwback Thursday. Just post a picture from many years ago with a clever comment (and the #TBT hashtag, of course).
  • #FF – On Fridays, this hashtag will be prevalent. It stands for “Follow Friday” and it’s a way for you to recommend other people on Twitter who you think are worthy of more followers. Watch the #FF posts of industry folks you admire and you’ll also find this hashtag is a great way for you to make some lasting connections beyond your sphere.

3. Be Relevant

Twitter gives you many tools to stay up-to-date on what everyone is talking about, so use them. Employ the search function to see what the hot topics are in the real estate world and your local area. Also, pay attention to what’s trending so you can add your two cents on the popular subjects of the day.

4. Always Proofread

…no matter what. You are never too busy to re-read your message before you hit the Tweet button. Yes, you can always delete it after the fact, but it’s likely someone has already seen it by then.

5. Use Formatting to Your Advantage

Even though you technically get 140 characters, it’s always smart to aim for 120. Why? If someone wants to re-tweet your post but add their own comments, they need the space to do so. You want to make re-tweeting as easy as possible for them.

6. Stay Positive

Keep your messages cheerful, don’t get involved in Twitter wars, and always maintain a professional appearance. Many people turn to Twitter to vent, but that’s not the vibe you want to give off here.

Bill Gassett is a nationally recognized Real Estate leader who has been helping people move in and out of the Metrowest Massachusetts area for the past twenty seven plus years. He has been one of the top RE/MAX Realtors in New England for the past decade. In 2013 he was the #1 RE/MAX agent in Massachusetts. See all his real estate articles at

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3 Ways to Earn More Business than 99% of Your Competition


By Jay O’Brien

I recently had the pleasure of receiving an e-mail from a new agent in Washington state asking me for advice. Being roughly the same age as one another, he examined my results at a glance and was eager to know what caused them. I had a great discussion with this individual and felt the dialogue was worth sharing publicly.

It’s not uncommon for me to receive a phone call like this, or have a conversation with a new agent who has been told it will take several months/years before earning an income in real estate. This is absolutely flawed thinking, and if this is the advice you’re being given from your new brokerage or “mentor,” RUN.

See, we often witness consumers gravitating toward the big names in the industry within our local areas. “This person owns that city” or “that person has been around for decades.” But let’s rewind for a minute. Zoom out. Why is it that these top dog agents are earning so much business? Is it because of the innovative ideas they have, the new resources they use, the sweat equity they pour into each deal? Maybe… but too often that’s not the case. Chances are much higher that the marketing techniques that they used decades ago are yielding the results they are still benefiting from today.

So if a seasoned agent hands you a phone book, or encourages blasting a neighborhood with postcards to get new business, it may be time to reconsider who you’re surrounding yourself with. However: There are three things you can do to make damn sure you are selling more real estate than 99 percent of the agents in your area.

  1. Add more value than your competition. Anyone can provide a “free home valuation” or a “free market analysis.” You need to think of other ways to really add value to someone’s life, whether they’re looking to make a move or not. How about evaluating their property taxes to see if they’re paying too much? How about handling the entire appeal process with the county on their behalf? You just essentially found a way to put money in their pocket with nothing expected in exchange. I’m sure you can think of other selfless acts that homeowners could benefit from that might have nothing to do with selling their home. This will earn buy-in and ultimately create a level of trust. And that’s what will really form a sustainable business.
  2. Think like a consumer. Do you read postcards? Do you like when people waste your time with useless information? Probably not. Find the common denominators that connect you to your audience and get out of the business mentality. The relationships you’re after are not transactional. First, build a foundation of trust and get people to simply know and like who you are. Be subtle with your successes and don’t advertise open houses and new listings to people who couldn’t care less. If you want to share with someone else that you’re a REALTOR®, simply ask what they do for a living. They will almost always reciprocate the question, and will be much more interested in your answer because they asked and you didn’t project it on them.
  3. Always do what you said you were going to do. Follow up constantly. You’d be surprised how many people lose business simply from a lack of communication. If you said you’re going to call, pick up the phone. If you said you were going to send listings, do it. Even if you over-promised, figure out a way to deliver rather than back-peddling. It will go a long way, and it will be remembered.

Jay O’Brien began his real estate career as the first agent for RE/MAX Prestige. Within the first year of being a full-time real estate agent, Jay completed more transactions than 99 percent of agents in Orange County and earned his way into the RE/MAX 100 Percent Club. A large part of Jay’s business is generated through leveraging technology for his clients and has been specifically recognized in the nationally-published RE/MAX Above Magazine. With a degree in economics and business, Jay enjoys producing forecasts of the market and delves into the numbers with his clients to help them better understand the current conditions prior to signing a contract. He has written articles for REALTOR® Magazine, Facilities Management Magazine, and Real Estate Marketing Magazine as well as been heard on Clear Channel’s Patriot 1150AM to cast out advice to buyers, sellers, and other real estate agents. Jay owns and operates RE/MAX Prestige in Costa Mesa, CA and runs the Mentor Program for new agents.

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6 Trends Driving New-Home Designs


By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR(R) Magazine

What is luring home buyers to new homes? Technology, the outdoors, and “super kitchens” are among what Nick Lehnert, executive director at KTGY, and Mollie Carmichael, principal at John Burns Real Estate Consulting, recently shared with BUILDER Online on some of the design drivers in the new-home market.

Here are some of the trends they point to:

1. Super kitchens: The kitchen is not just a hub for cooking but has become a center of the home for entertainment and conversations. Builders have been opening the kitchen to other rooms and the kitchen island is becoming key to separating the spaces. The island adds more seating along with extra prep space. As kitchens become more open, pantries are getting bigger to accommodate the need for storage.


2. Outdoor/indoors merged: The interiors are feeling stretched by carving out spaces that seamlessly allow home owners to walk into outdoor retreats. But buyers want those outdoor spaces to be private, a stray from the once traditionally “public” backyard. As such, more builders are taking note and carefully positioning the architecture of the home to make sure the outdoor space offers more privacy.

3. Bigger garage spaces: Builders are taking note of buyers’ preferences for more space in the garage, and not just for squeezing in their cars. The garage can be a workspace, hobby haven, and place for added extra storage.

4. Office space: The office/den is in demand as more people work from home, but the best location for it is to still in question. Traditionally, the home office has been located off the main entry of the home. But now builders are rethinking the location as buyers show preferences to have the office closer to the “living” area, particularly near the kitchen hub and family room.

5. Tech-spot: More home owners are constantly plugged into their technology, and the growth of connected homes likely will lead to even more need for tech hubs in the house. Some builders are designing small “server” rooms as smart technology enters more homes.

6. Dual homes: More people are squeezing under one roof as young adults stay with their parents longer, aging parents move in, and cultural preferences further the trend. Builders are taking a keen interest in multigenerational living arrangements. For example, Lennar has launched a NextGen brand of floorplans geared to multigenerational living, which include separate main entrances and options like a 500-square-foot attached suite for a private residence. View a video to see inside a NextGen multigenerational home.

  Read more new-home trends at BUILDER online. 

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