Three Steps to Find More Listings This Fall

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You may be busy preparing your home, family or even wardrobe for fall, but don’t forget that you should be preparing your business, as well. As the market slows down during the fall and winter months, it may be more difficult to generate new listings. Because of this, now is an opportune time to look for FSBO and expired listings to work with.

Statistics show that nearly 92 percent of sellers who try to market a home on their own fail and many expired listings eventually go back on the market, which presents a lot of opportunity for you to find new listings. It’s up to you to show the value you offer in a selling situation. Here are three steps to help you prepare to meet with this kind of seller.

Plan Your Approach
When a listing expires, it’s often because the property wasn’t marketed or priced properly. This is an optimal opportunity to show sellers how you’re different (and better) than their previous agent. Create a marketing plan and present it to the seller, showing them how you would market their home. Include points about establishing a strong web presence, your use of social media, sample advertising ideas, etc. Your marketing plan should show how you can connect with potential buyers and create opportunities to sell.

Similarly, the No. 1 reason someone chooses the FSBO route rather than hiring an agent is because they don’t want to pay commission fees. However, these sellers rarely understand the time and effort agents put into a transaction. Sure, those FSBOs may be saying they don’t want an agent now, but that mindset may change once they start to see how much work it takes to sell their home. Just like sellers with expired listings, approach FSBOs with a marketing plan that shows how much work you’ll put into selling their home.

Develop a Script
Before making contact with the seller of a FSBO or expired listing, prepare exactly what you’re going to say. Remember, rather than focusing on the logical reasons these people want to sell their properties, try to find the emotional reasons, and use that information to turn them into a client.

For example, if you’re working with an expired listing, plan to ask the sellers about their previous experience. If they worked with an agent, ask questions about what that person did to try to sell their home: did they take high quality photos of the interior and exterior, use social media to promote the listing, advertise appropriately and recommend staging options? If it’s a FSBO property, ask the sellers why they didn’t work with an agent the first time: was it a financial issue, did that have a bad experience previously or are there any other factors influencing their decision?

Contact the Sellers
When you’re prepared, it’s time to contact your prospective clients and let them know you’re here to help. Start by sending the sellers an email highlighting your qualifications. For FSBO properties, explain how you can take away the stress of home-selling, sell their home more quickly, and likely get a better price than they could on their own.

When you’re able to speak with these sellers in person or over the phone, put your script into play. Build trust and discover why they’re looking to sell, then go for what Chris Smith, author of The Conversion Code, calls the “trial close” with a “here’s what happens next” question to keep the process moving forward. For example, you could ask “Does Wednesday or Thursday afternoon at 3:00 p.m. work better for my photographer to come by and start taking pictures for marketing materials?” This will help the seller understand what you are going to be doing for them and make them feel more secure in the final steps of the process to list their home.

If sellers aren’t prepared for the trial close or insist that they want to work alone, wish them the best and give them some advice that could help. As time goes on, if they aren’t able to sell, they’re likely to remember you as someone who offered encouragement and call you for help.

How To Effectively Use Social Media Grow your Sphere and Build Referrals

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From time to time I get asked about all the various platforms agents can conduct business on and build their sphere. Social Media has quickly become “A Must Use” in real estate if agents are to remain successful and wish to grow their business. The challenge is where to start? which platforms should you use? How often should you post, share, comment, like, wink, send, receive, upload, pass, create, play, email etc… The list is endless when it comes to the many different ways you can engage. The key word here is “Engage”!

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Remember, as I have said in previous MEC events. Using Social Media as a way to mine for engagement is the key to success. Finding ways on social platforms to engage is how you should be using social media at all times. It’s important you balance work and play. Sharing your personal information is far more engaging than sharing your work related stuff. Your sphere is more excited about the day your having with friends, sharing food, playing a game, visiting a city etc.,  than they are about your new listing. Go with the 75/25 Rule. 75% of everything you post should be about you, your life, the things you enjoy, your hobbies, special interests, etc. Mix in inspiring quotes, funny posts, a cat or two and BAM! You are going to find people liking your posts over and over. (I am kidding about the alltwitter-social-media-signpost cat or two part). 25% should be about your business. Do not post things like “Just listed, 4 bedroom, 2 bath home in the Roaring Springs subdivision, if you know of someone interested in buying call me” This is boring and will illicit ZERO engagement. Instead post things like ” New listing, Roaring Springs, you have to see this kitchen.. Simply amazing. (Then attach a spectacular photo of the kitchen and link it to the homes single page website). Now you have a strong call to action that will not only find a buyer, but get you noticed since more people are interested in seeing this “Amazing Kitchen” than just buyers looking for homes. Those in your sphere that are not in the market will still click the link and want to see what it is you are so excited about. This drives traffic and when you print your analytical report for the home owners you look like a ROCK STAR!

Finding Ways To Engage: What you should be spending most of your time on Social Media doing is looking for ways to build relationships and get referrals.  You do this by scanning your wall for reasons to reach out to your sphere. Let’s say Janice is in your sphere and you sold her and John a house three years ago. It’s Saturday and Janice just posted a picture of her daughter Alyssa kicking in a field goal for her soccer team. Janice is excited and posts the picture to Facebook with the description “Woot, woot, Alyssa’s first field goal for her soccer team… Go Alyssa” You see this post and like most in Social-Media-EngagementJanice’s sphere you like it, you might even be savvy enough to comment on the post.  However, the real ROCK STAR Agent goes one step further. You pull out a note card, you write a hand written message that reads “Congrats on your first field goal Alyssa, we at RE/MAX are all super proud of your accomplishments” The  you mail it to Janice and Alyssa. Now who do you think Janice cares more, those who liked an commented or the one person who just took time to recognize a special moment in her life? This is what I talk about all the time. You have to spend time finding ways to connect, not just like, share or comment but a reason to send a note, pop by, Buffini them!

Now that we have the basics out of the way, let’s talk Best Practices. Below is a one sheet you can use as a reference tool for setting up any social media platform as well as a mini guide an how to best use the particular social platform for success. If you have suggestion bring them on. Leave them in the comments box below and happy mining…

Social One Sheets. Right Click and save or print.

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Here’s a special one-sheet on Best Practices when it comes to posting.

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5 Tips for Real Estate Photography

I came across this article from a photographer back east sharing her ideas on how to photograph homes for REALTORS. Thought you would enjoy.

Author: DANIELLE SKILES

With more and more people jumping on the real estate train every day, the market is beginning to get very saturated with realtors. This causes those who want to be successful in the business to offer a higher quality service to those who hire them. One way realtors can do this is by offering professional images of their listings for the Multi List. Not only does it make their service look more professional, but it also helps sell houses more quickly because better pictures online usually means more foot traffic at the listing.5_photo_tips_pic_1

Here are five great ways to help you offer an outstanding product for your clients who are real estate agents.

1. Be Professional

Real Estate is a very professional business, and a Realtor’s image is the product they sell. As a photographer, your job is to be an extension of their image by being on time, looking neat, and offering an outstanding product. That being said, when you go to meet with a Realtor or one of their clients, make sure you are presentable and are dressed in at least business casual attire.5_photo_tips_pic_3

It is also important to note how imperative it is that you are always on time for your Realtor.  On any given day, an agent can be working from seven in the morning all the way to one the following morning with no breaks. If you are going to be more than five minutes late, ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS call to let them know. As you build a relationship with agents, they may allow you to go shoot listings on your own. In this case, being on time for the homeowner is still important because you are a reflection of the agent you work for.

2. Do Your Research

Before you start shooting, look on the Multi List in your area and take note of the typical pictures other realtors use for their listings. This will give you an idea of where to start in the home and which images are the most important. I also like to collect our local home owner magazines and go to the book store to get interior decorating magazines for inspiration on how to stage homes.  There are also a myriad of home shows on TLC and HGTV that have helped me in the past too. Over time, you’ll find a style that works for you and your clients, but until then, keep a notebook of clippings to refer to easily when you need a creative boost.

3. Stage the Room before You Shoot

Many people laugh when I tell them I’m a real estate photographer, but they have no idea that the title means so much more than5_photo_tips_pic_2

taking a point-and-shoot to a house and taking pictures. You must take time to go through the home and rearrange things in order to create spacious-looking, well put-together rooms. This means depersonalizing as much as you can. Take pictures down, hide dog bowls, take everything off tops and fronts of dressers and the refrigerator, and hide any traces of kids if possible.

When a potential home-buyer is searching for their future abode on the Multi List, there are a few things that are generally the most
important. You always want to make sure the curb appeal of the house is put on display. If the house isn’t visually appealing from the front, do your best to get a new angle and suggest (to the Realtor, NOT homeowner) that they manicure the lawn, plant some flowers, mulch the beds, et cetera, BEFORE you come to take pictures. Another very important set of images would be that of the master bedroom. Start by turning on all the lights in every room and opening all the curtains. Make sure the bed is made and that there is a minimal amount of things on the night stands and dressers. Usually I like to only leave a couple of books and the alarm clock. If there is a master bathroom, make sure all cabinets are shut and all cords are hidden. Remove the trashcan, toilet paper, tooth brushes and anything else that could be on the sink. Refold any towels that are hanging and will be in sight of your images.

You also want to be sure to get great pictures of the living room/ family room space and maximize the size of the basement/ game room. If the house has any unique features make SURE those are thoroughly covered.

Take note of the lighting and if more is needed, adding a bounce flash can really help.

4. Aim for Great Out of Camera Images

Right now there is a huge trend among realtors to hire professional photographers to do their listings. One of the reasons is because they know that the overall image quality will be far better than if they tried to do it themselves, but the other reason is because they think we are “miracle workers”. I have had realtors ask if I can add bushes and make the brown patches in the yard green before I send them their disc for the listing. While it may create more traffic to the listing initially, people don’t tend to take well to being deceived. My advice is that unless the post-processing work has to do with making the color of the paint on the walls the true color or removing a baby’s sharpie scribbles, don’t touch it. It may endear realtors to you, but in the end it will get you in trouble so it’s not worth it.5_photo_tips_pic_4

5. Give the Realtor a LOT of Images to Choose From

One of the biggest mistakes I made when starting out with Real Estate Photography was to only shoot enough to cover the exact need of the realtor.  She said she needed 18 images so I only sent her my best 18. It worked, but as I got to know my realtors, I learned that they like to have options for each room so they can pick what they feel showcases the home best. I generally like to give homes listed at or below $300,000 about 50 images to pick from and homes whose listing value is above that between 65 and 80. The reason for this is because as the value of the home increases, the realtors need more to really display the selling points of the home.

In the end, the most important thing is to wear a smile and look like you are having fun while sweating and figuring out how to get the best result for each room. In the case of real estate photography, practice can make you better, but with homes there are constant variables and curve balls thrown at you so just go with the flow and do your best.