Realtor Marketing Tip of the Week

Realtor Marketing Tip of the Week

Organizing Your Real Estate Business

by Denise Lones

Trouble staying, or getting organized? Follow this easy step-by-step file management system for better efficiency, productivity, and results from your business.

Recently I had a discussion with Heather, our project coordinator, regarding the importance of agents keeping things organized in their business. Whether that is organizing your files, systems, or even your time, each is critical to an agent’s success.

As Heather puts it “good organization is key to a successful transaction and being organized saves you time, money and potential transaction mishaps.” I couldn’t agree with her more. Here are some of the great ideas that came from our discussion.

The first step is to create a system to manage all of your paperwork and all of your transactions. On your computer, you can categorize your folders. Make sure to keep all business and personal files separate!

The main folders should include:

ADMIN
BUYERS
SELLERS
CLIENTS
MARKETING
SYSTEMS
The Admin Folder
Inside the this folder, create these sub-folders:

BUSINESS: This might include documents for your business license, corporation documents, taxes, financial, broker, and business receipts (keep these by tax year).
CLOCK HOURS: This is the folder where you can keep certificates to track your clock hours for license renew.
EMPLOYEES: You can use this folder if you have employees or vendors which will contain information such as contracts, payroll, etc.
PASSWORDS: Warning! For best business practices, make sure to keep these in a password protected file!
POLICIES: This folder will contain policy information for your business. Yes ,you are a business and you need policies!
The Buyers Folder
Inside this folder, create these sub-folders:

CLOSED: Include clients separate by year i.e. “CLOSED 2015″ “CLOSED 2016″.
LOOKING or IN PROCESS: This folder is for any buyers who you have begun to show homes to but haven’t yet written an offer.
OFFERS: Keep client folders for those in process here
PENDING: This folder is for pending files.
In the above folders, include a folder for each client and simply move the folder from one folder to the next as they complete a transaction.

The Sellers Folder
Inside this folder, create these sub-folders:

ACTIVE
CLOSED (have folders for each year i.e. “CLOSED 2015″ “CLOSED 2016″
NOT YET LISTED
PENDING
WITHDRAWN
Same thing here regarding client folders. Make a folder for each client and move the folders between the folders.

The Clients Folder
Inside of this folder, create these sub-folders:

CLIENT DATABASE
CLIENT LISTS/GROUPS – if you separate your database in categories such as, family, friends, sphere, past clients, referrals, active, hot, closed, and sold, etc. then you can keep them all together in this folder.
The Marketing Folder
Inside this folder, these sub-folders:

ADVERTISING – Include information on newspaper, radio, TV, internet ads.
BLOG – Keep copy of all blog articles by date AND subject for easy reference.
BIOGRAPHIES – Keep a copy of your bio or bios, so they can easily be updated as needed.
CLASSES – If you teach a first time home buyer class, for example, include that information, materials, and curriculum here.
DESIGNATIONS – Keep copies of certificates, descriptions, expiration dates, etc. in this folder.
MARKET STATS – Data collected regarding the real estate market would go in this folder. You can keep it in folders by date to ensure accurate data for blogs, website, and social media.
MY STATS – This would include ranking reports, sale reports, etc.
TESTIMONIALS – Video testimonials and written ones would be included in this folder.
VENDORS – In this folder, keep a list of vendors you use for various things whether it be lenders, escrow or plumbers, handy-man, window washing, lawn care, cleaning, etc.
WEBSITE – Keep your website content here so it can easily be edited then copy/pasted to update your website quickly.
Now, inside your Marketing folder you are also going to want to have a TEMPLATES folder for the following types of documents:

IDENTITY MATERIALS – This folder will include templates for business cards, letterhead, envelopes, address labels, notecards, etc. You may also want to include your logo and your current photo in this folder.
LEAD GENERATION – You may want to name this folder after your lead generation method. For example, if you have a geographical farm and your farming templates are included here, call it GEOGRAPHICAL FARM. You can also include any niche market information in this folder.
CLIENT CARE AND APPRECIATION – in this folder you can keep track of thank you cards, anniversary cards and keep the templates for them along with templates for your article for your database, annual client review and client appreciation event materials, ideas, and checklists.
OPEN HOUSE – Include your templates, checklist, etc in this folder.
POTENTIAL BUYER CLIENTS – This folder would contain your buyer package and any templates or materials you use to pre-qualify a buyer.
POTENTIAL SELLER CLIENTS – Include template for your seller package and listing presentation materials in this folder along with any pricing templates.
PROPERTY MARKETING – This folder would contain your templates for house flyers, just listed cards, just listed letters, special feature cards, etc.
I recommend having your templates in this folder, but as you customize them for the different transactions you are involved in, save a copy of the customized document to the correct folder.

For example, say you are listing the home of John Smith and you need to make a house flyer. Open your property marketing templates folder and open your house flyer template. Choose “save as” and save it to your SELLERS/ACTIVE/SMITH, JOHN folder with the title “John Smith House Flyer 758 Fern Ct”. This way you have both the client name and address in the title, making searching easy down the road if by some chance you needed to access that flyer but don’t remember when you had that listing.

For lead generation, you may want to have your templates in one folder here with a sub folder for executed lead generation. As in our geographical farming example above, you may want to have a sub folder which contains the mailers you created for the farm by date.

Since your article template will live in your Client Care and Appreciation folder, to keep track of your mailers to your database, you can either save those in a separate folder within this folder or save them in the CLIENTS folder.

Then you may also want to have a document in this folder with printer information. For example, if you got your business cards printed at ABC Printing, include that information, the date you ordered, the price and quantity, and your sales rep information so you have it at your fingertips the next time you order.

The Systems Folder
Inside of this folder, create these sub-folders:

CHECKLISTS – In this folder, you would include your checklists for prequalifying a buyer, making an offer, taking a listing, etc.
TRANSACTION TRACKING – This folder is where you would include your spreadsheet that tracks the transaction, any specific information on title reports or processes, and anything you use to see the transaction from pending to close, etc.)
LISTINGS – In this folder you would include templates for seller reports, list of advertising links, showing feedback template, email text for frequently sent emails such as showing feedback, utilities lists to send at end of transaction, weekly listing performance report for agents- looking for good reasons for price reductions, and zoning code lists.
Additional Tips
Now that you have your files set up, here are some additional tips to keep in mind:

MANAGING YOUR FILES
Once you have your filing system set up if it much easier to manage your transactions as you can simply move them from category to category. For example: In each seller or buyer file you keep ALL the paperwork associated with the transaction (or listing). Then you simply move the folder to the correct location: For example: if a seller starts in the “NOT YET LISTED” folder- after it goes active, you move it to “ACTIVE”, after it goes pending, you move it to “PENDING”, then when it’s closed, it goes into the correct year in the closed folder “CLOSED 2015″.

FILE NAMING
Name each signed around document by the date (year FIRST for proper sorting with multi-year transactions) and add the same form term in every transaction i.e. “15-06-03 Mutual PSA” that way you can sort and search easily. If you have a document signed by one part only and are waiting for it to be signed around, DO NOT DATE IT. It would look like this: “UNSIGNED BUYER Seller Disclosure” – that does 3 things, it makes it easy to search for ALL the documents you need signed in all your transactions and it is also easy to see in any given folder and it is easier to sort!

FILE SEARCHING
If you name your files the same each time, you can open your real estate folder and search for the keyword “UNSIGNED” and every document you have saved as UNSIGNED will appear regardless of which folder they are in. You can also search by date “15-06-03″ and see every document you rec’d signed around on that date. Furthermore, you can search by form name “Mutual PSA” and see every form of that name you have.

CLOSED FILES
Make sure to ask your broker if there is an office protocol for closing files and keeping a backup. We do not recommend relying on Dropbox or any cloud-based backup unless there is a hard copy backup as well AND the system has been approved for sensitive files. There are many options for external hard-drives to which you can save your files. And remember to backup all of the files on your computer preferably daily which can be done with an auto back up program.

Having a system that keeps you organized is one of the most important performance enhancing things you can do for your business.

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5-Step Guide to Handling Unrealistic Client Expectations

Realtor Tip of the Week

 

5-Step Guide to Handling Unrealistic Client Expectations
By Noah Tennant

Beautiful loft apartments in a chic, central location with marble countertops, gleaming wood floors and free parking. There’s nothing wrong with dreaming, but sometimes the difference between the ideal living situation clients have in their head and what they can actually afford can be pretty gaping.

And it’s the real estate agent who is left trying to bridge that gap – it’s our job to educate our clients on the realities of the market while also trying to find them a place they’ll love.

So just how do you do that? Here, you’ll find five helpful tips that will help you to negotiate those high (and maybe unrealistic) expectations with reality.

5. Open Their Eyes – Often when a client’s demands seem wildly unrealistic to you, it’s because they just don’t know enough about the market or the city. If, for example, someone has just moved to Chicago from a small town in Michigan, it makes sense that they can’t really comprehend that $1,500 a month doesn’t get you much in River North.

They may even be incredulous to the point of denial at first, and your expert opinion and words are not enough to convince them otherwise. You may have to dig up a few examples of $1500/month rentals in River North so that they can see firsthand that this budget will simply not cover a luxury unit in that neighborhood. Once they see the reality with their own eyes, they’ll be much more open to your other suggestions.

4. Commiserate – Sometimes the best thing you can do for a client is simply to show sympathy when they’re feeling confused or disappointed. After you show tough love by opening their eyes to the realities of the market, get back on the same team by commiserating with them a bit. Express your agreement that the prices make no sense or that their budget should, in theory, be able to get them more. This show of solidarity will help you win back their faith in you so that you can move forward to find them the right property.

3. Set Priorities – At first, a hopeful new client may believe they can have it all. If their budget doesn’t lend itself to that kind of thinking, then it’s up to you to gently inform them that it’s time to play favorites. Is a deck really necessary if the place has that modern kitchen they’re after? Can they be flexible on the location if the price is right?

Listing out all of the features on their wish list and assigning a numerical value to them can greatly assist with the process. Once they create this prioritized list, it’ll be much easier to accept that some sacrifices may have to be made in order to secure a place with the features that are truly most important.

2. Focus on the Positive – It may take a little while to convince a client that their budget simply does not jibe with their wish list. But once they are convince, you should expect some serious disappointment and be ready to swoop in with solutions. The last thing you want is to make them feel hopeless about their search.

Once they’ve accepted that they may have to tweak their plan, you should be ready with a bunch of great options that match their new budget or their adjusted expectations. And the key is to present these new options with an attitude of excitement – the new choices are not the next best thing, they are the best thing.

1. Narrow the Options – When it comes time to make a final decision, the best thing you can do is to cut down the list of options. Here’s why: New York Times best-selling author Malcolm Gladwell once spoke of an experiment surrounding jelly samples at a grocery store. What they found was that when the jelly flavors approached 30 and up, people bought fewer jars of jelly but when they had a more manageable 6 choices, jelly sales shot up.

The lesson here is that too many choices causes paralysis. It’s confusing and it seems easier to not make a choice at all. When, however, there are just a few good options, it’s easy to see which one is the best.

Often the most positive and optimistic people are the ones who have unrealistic expectations. They just always see glass as half full and think that they’ll be able to find the one-in-a-million cheap, beautiful apartment in the perfect neighborhood.

That’s where you come in – your experience and knowledge tell you that those apartments just don’t exist. While you know that to be true with every fiber of your being, you still have to be diplomatic and delicate as you work to make your client see things clearly.

 

Can Craigslist Boost Your Sales?

Tip of the Week

Can Craigslist Boost Your Sales?
by Bob Corcoran

Let’s start this article with a brainteaser: What attracts 174 million eyeballs every month and is often free for advertisers? The answer: Craigslist, the new king of the classifieds. Are you on it? If not, why not?

There’s really no good excuse. These days, having your listings online isn’t just an option — it’s a requirement. NAR reported last year that 87 percent of residential home buyers start their real estate searches on the Internet. If having your listings online isn’t a requirement, I don’t know what is.

I visited Craigslist the other day and found many listings from Realtors and real estate companies. I saw an ad from a Realtor in New Jersey who specializes in short sales (clearly a hot market these days). And I learned other Realtors are using Craigslist to drive traffic to their websites — a grand idea. (I read about one Realtor in particular who said he gets between 50 and 100 visits each month to his website that come directly from Craigslist.)

I also found an ad from a Realtor looking for an office. It read: “Excellent Realtor – Experienced, Reliable, Trusted.”

Even the large real estate companies are tapping Craigslist to recruit new blood. I found an ad recently from Coldwell Banker, obviously a well-established real estate brand, that said it was “seeking licensed Realtors who are highly motivated” to join its operations.

All this online real estate activity doesn’t surprise me in the least. Why? Because the numbers behind Craigslist are staggering: nearly 87 million users and 35 million ads posted monthly. In my opinion, it’s yet another proven digital mouthpiece to get the word out about your listings.

And its popularity is growing, particularly strong in the Midwest and South where its growth has hit the stratosphere — in some cases 1,000 percent year-to-year. And if you’re looking to attract international clients, Craigslist launched 120 new cities this past spring, most of which were outside the U.S. And future sites will largely be outside the United States and Canada.

So as newspaper execs watch their classified ad revenue dwindle, Craigslist reported earlier this year its housing ads were up 85 percent year-to-year, with rental ads up 120 percent and real estate up 70 percent.

Now before you call or e-mail about this last sentence, hold on a minute. I’m not suggesting you drop newspapers from your advertising arsenal. I’m just pointing out an observation. If you’re having success in print, by all means continue.

With that said, here’s another Craigslist plus: it’s free and easy for consumers to use. They can search for free, and perhaps more importantly to you, they’re free to contact you — the Realtor, if you’re on it and point them to your phone number or website.

But for all the good things Craigslist offers, it’s not perfect. Scams happen. One you may have heard about involves a Realtor who posted a listing for rent on Craigslist. Then a scammer created a new ad using that Realtor’s ad and listed rent at substantial discount. A consumer responded to scammer’s ad and was directed to a website where she was asked for her social security number. Be sure to tell consumers to verify they’re working with a real estate licensee by calling the local association or office where the Realtor works.

To its credit, Craigslist is implementing tools to prevent future scams and inappropriate content.