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Once You Find the Home, Give Yourself a Moment to Relax

This scenario has played out time and time again.  I will show a client several homes. They will find a home that makes them happy.  An offer will be submitted.  If it takes more than a few hours to hear from the sellers, the buyer gets antsy and wants to look at some more homes.

I’m not sure why this occurs, other than to think that the adrenaline is running and they just need to keep moving.  Each time this has occurred, a desperateness seems to take over.  People will ask to see homes that are not at all what they are looking for.  They will view the home and walk out disappointed.  There is just this need to confirm that the home they picked is the right one and all other homes are awful in comparison.

I have not seen this scenario ever work out well for my clients.  It’s not like the additional homes they view thrill them and make them doubt their decision.  I guess that in the mind of a buyer, they need to prove to themselves that what they chose is definitely the best choice.

If I could relay a piece of advice to buyers who get antsy, it would be to relax.  Look, you’ve done a lot of research, and spent many days running around checking out multiple homes.  In the end you will drive yourself crazy with self-doubt.  Take a moment to stop and feel the excitement of the home you fell in lpve with.  Remember what it was about that home that thrilled you.  If by some chance the deal falls through, there are many more homes just waiting to be snatched up.

Buying a home is an expensive proposition.  It’s a life changing event.  Give yourself a break when you decide on a home.  There is a reason why the home you chose was right for you.  If you have second thoughts, it’s better to face it head on and figure out why the home might not be the one.  By knowing what you don’t want and what will work for you makes going out and looking for a different home more successful.  If you just aimlessly continue to run around and view homes while you are waiting for an answer, it won’t serve any  purpose other than to frustrate you.

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Posted by on October 13, 2012 in life, opinion, people, thoughts

 

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Advice for New Real Estate Agents

I know it might be strange to read the title of this post because I am a new real estate agent myself.  What I’d like to pass along is advice I have received from some very knowledgeable realtors who have been in the business longer than I have been out of high school.

I have been asking these realtors how long it’s taken them to see a decent income.  I have also wondered what they did to get their business off the ground.  Below is what I’ve learned.  I hope that if you are just beginning a career in real estate, or even contemplating a move to real estate as a career that this advice will be helpful.

1.  How long did it take for you to see business start to take off?

The agents I spoke with said that it took 3-6 months to start generating business.  After 1 year, they were moving along at a decent pace.  Within 3 years, they were making a very good living.

2.  How did you promote yourself when you first started out?

Some agents were extremely social and had a well established group of contacts through clubs, religious groups, business groups and volunteer organizations.  Other agents had lived in the same city for most of their life.  Their family had stayed in close proximity and their family seemed to be well known around town.  Promoting themselves was not really an issue.

3.  Where did business come from in the beginning if you weren’t well connected and hadn’t lived in the same place most of your life?

These were the agents who really hustled.  Any chance they could work an open house or take a floor shift, they would grab it.  Flyers were another popular tool that was used.  Honestly, cold-calls and knocking on doors were not favored, and not techniques used by the realtors I spoke with.

4.  Besides the costs that all realtors must deal with (classes, use of the MLS, association fees…) how much did you shell out to further your business?

No one that I spoke with put any money into advertisement of any sort until they were making a good wage.  Free advertisement such as flyers and emails were the way that these realtors connected to others.

5.  How did you continue to promote yourself once you were really busy working with clients?

Once you have really taken off and are busy, there is no time to promote yourself.  Without advertising, you would end up with crazy busy months and slow months of no action.  To minimize this, once your really busy, these realtors would put some money into things like just listed postcards.  It reaches many people and their name gets out there even though they have no time to personally promote themselves.

6.  How do you feel about a career in real estate after all of these years?

The realtors I spoke with love what they do.  They are extremely satisfied and happy they got into the business to begin with.

 

 
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Posted by on October 12, 2012 in advice, career, life, opinion, real estate, thoughts

 

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Poor Credit, Not Much Money, What To Do?

I am navigating the wonderful world of poor credit and not much money saved.  Unfortunately this is a common theme these days.  Trust me, I can relate.  I have been working with a few potential buyers who have life experiences that have created situations where there is a bit of panic trying to find a home.

What do you do when you don’t think you have enough money for a down payment?  What do you do when your credit isn’t the best?  These are questions I needed answers to so that I could help some customers desperate for a home and scared they might not qualify.

Let’s start with not much money saved.  The best advice I’ve gotten was to consider a FHA loan as an option.  In this situation you only need 3% down.  All though this is a common belief, you do not need to be a first time home buyer.  With homes selling at such affordable prices, if you can swing 3%, now is a great time to buy.

So your other concern is credit.  Credit reports are needed when renting or buying a home.  When renting a home, this has been a big sticking point.  Most people who need to rent right now have lousy credit.  It is the primary reason they are not buying a home.  I have clients who have panicked over the credit report.  Here is what you can do in a situation like this.

1.  Offer more than the asking price for the monthly rent.

2.  Write a letter explaining why your credit is in bad shape.

3.  Show a record of timely payments from the place you currently live.

4.  Basically put together a resume’ of why you would be an ideal candidate to rent the home.

Remember that these are individuals renting their own home.  They tend to be more forgiving than the banks.  Many times they understand credit issues because they are having the same problems.  That being said, if one person isn’t interested in renting to you, there will be another person out there who is.

Having this additional information will hopefully make the process of finding a home to rent or buy in not the best of circumstances more bearable.

 
 

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An Added Perk to This Type of a Career

This might be a minor point to many of you, but for me, it’s a big deal.  It’s flu season.  I had to stop into the office for a few hours to work on floor calls.  All around me were people sneezing, coughing and blowing their nose.  I couldn’t wait to get out of the office.  Then it hit me, I can get out of the office.

I love the flexibility of my job.  I especially love that I don’t have to sit in a germ filled environment if I choose not to.  I have a low immune system and have always been a bit sensitive being around those who are sick.  If you are sick, I wish you would just stay home.  Honestly, I dread being around someone’s illness because invariably, I will end up with whatever you are carrying around.  I have tried the flu shot and let’s just say it didn’t go over well.  i will not be getting the flu shot again, but that’s just me.  My best defense, therefore is to just avoid sick people the best I can.

So I’m curious, how you feel about working in an office with people who come in sick.  Also, if you are in the real estate business, what are the perks of the job that you really enjoy?

 
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Posted by on October 1, 2012 in job, life, opinion, thoughts

 

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All Your Dreams and Wishes Won’t Come True

I think it’s time to clarify something about real estate agents.  Although we go to school and learn about the law, contracts, ethics and such, we don’t take a class in magic.  I wish we did, it would be beyond helpful and fascinating all at the same time.

Unfortunately, more times than I thought possible, people will get in touch with a realtor and expect to find the impossible.  I am all for tracking down a person’s dream house.  It would make my day as much as the customer I would be working with.  That said, sometimes the criteria that people come up with is just not going to help them find a place to live.

Let me give you an example.  I spoke with someone recently that called about a home for sale.  The home was pending, so I offered to find them another place to look at.  I began to go down the list of information needed to find them a home.  When I asked about the price range, they said they could not say because they only knew what they would pay for a condo.  So I asked them what was the most they would consider paying for any place.  The answer was nothing more than $25,000 but only for a condo (strange answer. but true).  I then asked them if they had been pre-approved.  They said that they would not be getting pre-approved, they would be paying in cash.  So of course, that answered the question of how much they were willing to pay.

They gave me information on what cities, how many bedrooms and bathrooms and time frame.  Basically, they could buy at any time, but were in no rush and had a place to stay until they found something.  OK, so I asked for an email.  This way, I could put in their criteria and they would receive an email whenever something matching their description was listed.  If they liked what they saw, they could call me and I would set up an appointment for them to view the home.  This potential customer had no email because it didn’t work out well for them (whatever that means) and said they would call me if they saw anything they were interested in.  In the mean time, if I came across any condo’s for $25,000 or less in the area they were looking at, I could give them a call.  There was just one final detail.  They wanted a deal and only wanted to look at short-sales and foreclosures.  The place would have to be move in ready with very minimal amount of work needing to be done (painting for example).

I spoke with another person recently who had to have at least three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a minimum of 1600 sq ft, a basement, garage and if I could find a pool it would be preferable.  They didn’t want to pay more than $85,000 and had a list of only the most upscale neighborhoods to look at.  Nothing else was reasonable to them.  I couldn’t tweak the criteria for a one and a half bath or a home without a basement.  Neighboring cities were out of the question.  I put all of their information together and showed them that nothing was available.

This family had a deadline of sixty days before they would be without a home.  They also felt they should be able to get a deal on a short-sale or foreclosed home in move in condition.  I showed them that with a few tweaks to their criteria they could get a fabulous move in ready home in their price range with the square feet they wanted.  The response was that they knew that if they waited it out the right home would fall into their lap.

Look, I don’t want to see any family end up homeless.  I suggested they look into an apartment while they searched for the home of their dreams.  Maybe it is out there, somewhere.  Who am I to judge?  I can only go off of what our computer program pulls up for homes on the market.

In the end, if someone is looking for a home, they might want to consider a few things.  Foreclosures and short-sales are often not nearly the deals people think they are.  Months can go by after an offer is accepted and then the deal might fall through.  Having a short time line of when you need to be in a home pretty much cancels out trying to get one of these “supposed” bargains.  Another thing to consider is that most of these homes are truly wrecked and need professional help to restore them.

Housing prices in general are going up at a fairly good clip.  What you saw a few months back is not the price you will get on that same home today.  The last thing I would like to mention is that some concessions might need to be made.  Make a list of the most important traits a home should have.  Sure, reach for the sky and try to get everything you would like.  At the same time, be aware that everything is a pretty tough thing to find and that having a few items you are willing to give up can make the difference between getting a home or living without one.

 
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Posted by on September 30, 2012 in career, lifestyle, opinion, people, thoughts

 

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Taking Charge of My Style

In the last post I wrote of finding your personal style.  Staying true to yourself in my opinion makes the difference between a successful salesperson who will enjoy their career for many years and the robotic salesperson who will dread their job and burn out quickly.

Since firmly deciding that I would concentrate on my own voice and what I know works for me, I have been feeling more comfortable and excited again about my career choice.  I have to admit, I was losing my focus and enthusiasm from a forced effort to accommodate my trainer’s ideal of the “proper” way of cultivating a sales career in real estate.  Their way of going about gaining clients might very well work for them, but it made me feel slimy.

I have spent the week reworking my schedule and tweaking some things to announce that I am a real estate agent smartly without any sales pressure attached to it.  The first thing I did, was to put in a good signature on my emails.  Sounds obvious, but it was something that was never discussed in my program, but carries a definite punch.  I made sure that my signature contained the name and address of my office, my cell number, email address and personal website.  I also made sure to include my picture.

I got to see the power of this unassuming way of advertising when I wrote a few emails this week.  One of the emails I wrote was to a group of parents at the school regarding a volunteer opportunity.  It was wonderful to be able to announce what my career was to my target audience in a way that caused no one any amount of uneasiness.

This week has been my volunteer week.  To get out in front of people is priceless.  On top of that, I get to enjoy what I’m doing.  Volunteering feels great.  I love being able to do something good, enjoy how I’m spending my time and mention what I do for a living in the most unassuming way.  This weekend I will be volunteering at a city event.  My sales pitch is nothing more than some brightly colored football schedules printed on some heavy-duty card stock.  In the top corner of each schedule is my picture and office information.  That’s it!  $14.00 for 250 sheets of card stock, .25 per colored copy, total spent, $26.50.  Truly an easy sales pitch with a very minimal amount of money spent.  I will have a pile of free schedules at the information booth I will be working.  No mention of the schedules will be made.  People can take one if they are interested.  If it creates a conversation, great!  My picture is on the schedules so it is obvious that I am the realtor.

This brings up a point I’d like to touch on briefly.  I am very careful with the amount of money that leaves my pocket.  I know some agents who have spent a fortune on fancy products to make them more efficient and systems to help them increase their sales.  They have done no better gaining leads or making sales than me.  I have spent to date just under $50.00.  Besides the card stock, there was some office supplies I bought (because it is your own business in a sense and office supplies are up to you).

In the end, as I am wrapping up my week, I am feeling good about my decision and my new plan of action.  I have a feeling of excitement which will translate to a happy, confident person when faced with potential customers.  I will let you know how this new plan of action works out.  I hope my experience has helped you consider how you would like to approach your own potential customers. Also, please think carefully about purchases you make and if they are really worth it.

 
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Posted by on September 28, 2012 in advice, job, life, opinion, style, thoughts

 

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Finding the Needle in the Haystack

Working in sales as a Real Estate Agent is different from the sales jobs I have encountered in my life.  To say I am in a place where I am fighting to get through all sorts of uncomfortable feelings is an understatement.  I used to sell wine and spirits to local restaurants, country clubs and bars around town.  I loved my job and was rewarded for my hard work and honest nature with a good list of clients and productive days of selling my wares.  Real Estate is the exact opposite of my old sales life.  When I was selling wine and spirits, I would go into a restaurant and have an easy time getting to the decision maker.  It was expected that I would be popping in to represent my company.  I had items to offer that were in demand and needed at each place I went.  Seriously it is the rare restaurant that won’t buy Absolute Vodka from you.  It’s too popular and a needed item that most places will carry.

Even if I went to a restaurant that bought exclusively from another vendor, it wasn’t to hard to get a special red and white wine of the week placed in the establishment.  I could make up some nice cards to insert in the menus recommending the wines and usually it was enough to establish the beginnings of a long-term relationship.

In Real Estate, I never realized that you would be chasing after a potential client.  The main form of contact is cold-calling.  I have never had to cold-call.  Well, I’ll take that back, I would call a newly opened restaurant to set up an appointment to come in, introduce myself, and help the new business stock its shelves with our products.  These places expected you to call, so I wouldn’t really label it a cold-call.

There are a few ways to get business through a cold-call.  This last week I was tasked with calling on people who had expired listings.  Basically, they had their home on the market, the contract with the Real Estate Agent ran out, and I was calling to see if they would like to relist their property with me.

Sure, it sounds simple enough, I mean if one Realtor couldn’t get the customers for the seller, maybe I could get some movement on their home.  It should be easy enough, I mean the seller had already decided to list their home so it should be a no brainer.  Well, it’s not quite that simple.

As I went down the list of potential clients, I found that the majority of phone numbers were disconnected, a fax machine (I’m not kidding), or an answering machine would come on saying that the messages were full and there was no way to leave a message.  The remaining people had either decided not to sell after all, had sold their home (and it had been marked down incorrectly on my expired listings list) didn’t live there, or had not lived in that home for some time.  There was not one positive call out of the bunch.  Either I couldn’t get through to the person, or I got the quick explanation followed by the phone being hung up.

This week I will have a one on one meeting with my manager.  I will have to tell her that I was unable to even get an appointment with a potential client.  I feel horrible thinking of going in front of her and admitting that nothing of any significance happened in the last week.  All I can do is get over it and keep pushing ahead.

 
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Posted by on September 17, 2012 in career, job, life, personal, thoughts

 

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