Sunday, September 20, 2009

But the seller EXPECTS me to put ads in the paper!

I remember in the past century when I would sit at my desk with a pen in hand creatively describing a split level home for an ad in the homes type magazine or the Sunday classifieds. The ad would no show up for days or weeks depending on the medium. Sometimes the office would have a space in the full page ad and I'd throw my listing in at the last minute. The budget for every listing had to include a substantial sum for all the print advertising. I would provide the seller with a nice copy of the ads.

Real estate agents are still doing that today! Instead of using all the free sites available on the web, agents are crafting ads for printed medium. The sellers may have come to "expect" this as marketing for their property, but it is up to the real estate agent to educate sellers about how the market has changed.

This past summer a representative from a homes type magazine sent me information about the advantages of print over online advertising. The full color flyers were artfully done with graphs and pie charts. But, every statistic was from a survey that was more than 3 years old. Back in the year 2006, they have been applicable. But, in that short period websites, blogs, and online classifieds have grown astronomically. Print newspapers and magazines are in trouble because income from reduced readership and advertising does not support the cost of printing.

The most powerful marketing tool a real estate agent has to sell a property is the multiple listing service. We all know that when we look for a property for a buyer that we don't pick up a newspaper or even go to or Most properties sell because of the buyer's agent finding the property on the MLS.

But, that is not to say that marketing a property isn't effective. It brings attention to it from prospective buyers and also brings the real estate agent and company brand recognition.

Get that listing posted on as many sites as possible. Many agents use a service that does that or their office takes care of it. Take photos of the listing and even videos. Think outside the box. What can you do to encourage people to look at your photo tour that would make it different from the others? What if you took a photo of your bicycle in front of the house and wrote, "This is my bicycle and, by the way, the house behind it is on the bike trail and listed for $0000!" Be a bit creative so people pass info on your listing to others!

Mos importantly.. FIND you own listings on as many sites as possible. Often agents don't search on sites like and and see their own listing just as a prospective might. You may need to "claim" it as your listing and post a profile.

Then, print the listing out and show it to your sellers. In many cases, sending the sellers a link is effective if they are connected online.
Go to for more information about real estate classes in Washington state!

Monday, June 8, 2009

How Will your Past Clients Find You?

So let's say that one of your past clients wants to list their home. You sold them the house 5 years ago. Because of a job transfer they want to sell the property. You have moved to another real estate company. They have received a calendar and some postcards from you over the past few years. What is the first thing that they would do to find you? Would they look for that calendar? Did they save the postcards? Do they remember what company you work for?

Yes, you guessed it! They would "google" you. Either on their laptop or cell phone, the past clients would look for you on a search engine.

When was the last time you "googled" yourself? Did you show up on the front page of the search? How can you make sure that you have a presence on the internet? How can you do that without spending money on a geek?

Take Natalie's Clockhour class "Get Connected on the Internet!" She is teaching it all over town... Check out her website for the dates of her next class.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

If it looks like a fish, smells like a fish.. it's a FISH... same for fraud!

For over a half dozen years I have taught classes on Real Estate Scams and Fraud. Agents would fill the classes but there were many that would argue that the "fraud" I was talking about was perfectly legal and being done every day. In one real estate office in Pierce County every agent in class at the time was involved in some aspect of a fraudulent real estate transaction! Not only that, but I went to a class from the Washington State Association of REALTORS and an attorney teaching was condoning all the types of fraud I was warning about! She asked if anyone in class had taken a Fraud Class from my school? Then the attorney proceeded to tell everyone how the information was wrong and that you CAN inflate the sales price on a transation as long as the information is on the blank addendum. I sat there AGAST! There I was almost daily teaching about fraudulent mortgage and real estate transactions while attorneys, loan officers, banks, the news, real estate brokers etc.. were all deciding they didn't want to be left behind when they could make some quick cash... Because... "everybody is doing it!!!"

I spoke at the Washington State Department of Licensing Real Estate Commission meeting back just after the new milennium began about the surge of fraud and they even dismissed it. One broker on the commission said there was "no fraud in his office!" And, I knew actual transactions that were happening with his agents that were totally fraudulent. I did get a section added in the first Core Curriculum on Predatory Lending!

I had no idea that the mortgage industry would take such a drastic tumble... that the real estate market bubble wouldn't pop it would EXPLODE!

I wish that there were more people that contributed to the fraud were prosecuted and sentenced. Today the Seattle Times reported about one case but it is just like what everyone was doing. Why aren't they reporting about dozens of cases being taken to court. Where is all the money that these people made in this "fake" market that was created?

Now, the scams out there surrounding Short Sales are multiplying. They are hurting the banking industry even worse. And, yet, agents tell me... "but at least my listing SOLD!"

Follow your gutt... if it looks like a fish, feels like a fish, smells like a fish... it is a fish.. no matter how hard you try to convince yourself it isn't a fish! The same goes for FRAUD!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Is there a market?

The news is constantly filled with information on foreclosures, short sales, stimulus, bank failures, mortgage money freeze etc. It's enough to make you believe that everyone is going down the drain and the real estate market is gone. Yes, the market has slumped and the bubble burst.
But, there are sales happening! There still is a market. There are people in the Pacific Northwest that have been waiting.... waiting for the market to come down... waiting for the "right time" to buy ... waiting until they have paid off debt... waiting for the right property.
I was taken by Maureen Nolan's blog about some interesting real estate sales and the buyers market. You'll have to check it out. NWwineandrealestate Wow... it was sooooooo interesting!
We are fortunate to have such an active economy here with large employers that are making profits and countless numbers of self employed people that are marketing their talents. When the news of layoffs hits the front page those companies growing and hiring are hidden on the back.
There are jobs ... there is money... there is a market in the Northwest. We have to work harder to find it. We also have to position ourselves so that when it comes back we are ready.
For my school in the real estate world, I have had to hustle and work not just harder but smarter. I have to have better follow up with customers, work on my databases, talk to more people and market more effectively. Because there still is a market... go find it!

Monday, February 23, 2009

7 Ways to Keep Moving Forward

The news is so negative every day. Sometimes I wonder if we will ever pull out of this slump. How will this economic disaster change my life in the future? What do I need to do everyday to position myself for the changes ahead? Is there a light at the end of the tunnel?

Now is the time you have to adjust to the changes ahead of you. The market will change. Don’t focus on the negative news but instead imagine what the future will look like. The way we do business will change. We can’t assume that anything will be the same when we get to the end of the tunnel.

Seven ways I am positioning myself for the market changes and keep moving forward.

  1. Reading books including “The Power of Who,” “Outliers,” and “What Would Google Do?”
  2. Updating and cleaning up my databases. Where is everyone I know?
  3. Deciding what kind of business I want to attract.
  4. Getting connected online with my friends, clients, family, others with Facebook, Twitter, and Linked In.
  5. Writing more on my blogs.
  6. Making sure that I get enough sleep and exercise.
  7. Having other interests and passions.

I have to wake up in the morning and make a conscious decision to focus on these seven ways to weather the storm.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Future of the Real Estate Industry

In the 1994 movie “Blank Check” a 12 yr old boy’s bicycle is destroyed by a car. The driver involved in a money laundering scheme gives him a blank check to purchase a new bicycle. The kid instead uses his computer to create a $1 million dollar check that he uses to buy anything and everything he can including a castle sized house.

When the movie was made it was not possible to look up properties on the internet and conduct a paperless transaction. In fact, photos of listings were only just becoming available to real estate agents on the MLS websites. The idea that a consumer could find a house and all the information was mind boggling.

I remember grabbing my 12 year old son’s arm.. and saying “oh gads… that is the future of real estate!”

The kid in the movie, Preston, read all the information about the house on the computer. Then he called the real estate agent using some computer technology to disguise his childlike voice. He purchased the house.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could just go online, find a house in the area we want, and click on a link on the site and we’d have access? Not only that, but we’d have the contract to read and all the ownership and financial information. The home would already be inspected.

If you go online today to search for a house in a specific neighborhood, you might just quit after a few hours (depending on your attention span.) Every site I went to had different houses listed. Some had the addresses and some had photos. I wasn’t sure who “owned” many of the sites I was on. I kept thinking how great it would be if the information was all available to me on one site. Since I have been a real estate agent for decades, it seemed so obvious that the Multiple Listing Service would be the best resource. Where is the MLS online for consumers? It seems that they let the information be reformatted by those that are members. I never found what I was looking for.

Let’s say I want to know how much my house is worth today on the market. It might help to find out what the neighbor sold his house for. But, that information is also not available from the MLS. The accuracy of the information I got from Zillow was so questionable. I am rather pleased to find out how much my house is supposedly “worth.” It would never sell within 20% of that.

What does it take to sell a house? Is it a big sign, webpage, video tour, homes magazine, large corporate listing company, open house, or the Multiple Listing Service? What if you had to choose one way to get a property marketed?

Do we think that if we hold the information about listings close at hand and not readily accessible to consumers that our job as real estate agents will change? Clinging to the old ways and hiding information from the consumer will eventually lead to the downfall of the real estate world as we know it.

What if the consumer had the information that they needed to sell and buy real estate. What if I “googled” my house and find the best resource? What is the future of the real estate industry?

Should be fight it? Shouldn’t we get our industry more in line with the internet world of the future!