Monthly Archives: October 2016

Tips for Networking in Real Estate

Learning how to network effectively is a must if you work in real estate. After all, networking is fundamental to the success of any real estate business. When I consider this fact, always I’m surprised by the number of developers and realtors who don’t take advantage of incredible networking opportunities at their avail. What follows is a list of networking tips and suggestions which have been useful for me over the course of my real estate career. In the world of real estate, we’re are looking for ways to connect.

1. Surround yourself with a great team.
Having a team that is comprised of competent and trustworthy people is critical to the success of any real estate business. As a real estate developer, I am only as good as the people who surround me. In addition to professionals with whom I work and collaborate internally, I also rely on relationships I’ve built with individuals and firms in my community. Establishing connections with complementary businesses — real estate industry vendors with whom you don’t directly compete — is an essential networking tool. Make it your goal to identify and meet a network of vendors to whom you can refer clients, and vice versa. It will do wonders for your professional network.

For example, when developing a new property, I rely heavily on a master architect and contractor. An incomplete set of drawings can lead to cost overruns and construction delays. While no contractor is perfect, finding a contractor you trust is the only way to complete projects successfully. Developing a relationship with an architect who is familiar with local zoning codes is essential, too. Whether an architect and contractor work well together can make or break a project. If they do not work cohesively, construction delays can result and will inevitably eat into your planned operating income.

Similarly, if your client is unfamiliar with the mortgage lending process, direct your client to a trustworthy lender who can help navigate what is often a stressful and important financial decision. By maintaining good banking relationships, developers can improve your chances of engaging in a successful transaction.

2. Create a professional website and blog.
Treat your real estate business as if it were a digital media business and go paperless as much as possible. With regard to visual appeal, my own personal belief is that every house tells a story — all too often, however, the the character and story of a home is lost in its listing description. In the spirit of keeping readers well-informed, a good blog needs to publish new, original content on a regular basis. Increasingly, a person’s first impression of a home doesn’t form at the front door, but rather, on the computer screen before the showing. Make use of local imagery; don’t rely on stock building and property photos. In many ways, you’re not just selling a house, you’re selling an entire geographic culture. Showcase the best that your area has to offer by publishing high-res photos of local town landmarks and familiar sites. Successful real estate is often the product of great photography.

It also helps to be an expert and a scholar of your industry. Know what real estate apps people are using and stay updated on new developments, innovations, and trends in the industry. What real estate blogs do your clients read? What hashtags are being used at the conferences you attend?

3. Social media.
Social media has become a powerful tool to connect with your clients; it also creates a great opportunity share your knowledge and expertise with your clients in an easily sharable format. Regarding social media, respond to all inquiries, emails, and messages across all channels swiftly. Interact with users, share good press, and promote your properties. Make yourself easy to contact and be an active user on multiple channels. Use Facebook and twitter to share your listings and promote your properties on major real estate aggregators like Zillow and Trulia. Be sure to keep your voice authentic–you want to avoid coming across as if you are selling something.
4. Attend conferences and industry events.
Remember that real estate networking events are about engaging with other professionals in your industry. Treat conferences as opportunities to learn about new market information and innovations your colleagues are using. Share conference thoughts in real time on social media. Don’t just network within your industry — diversify. If you have been living and working in your area for a long time, you might already be buddies with the other realtors in your area. Try to expand your geographical network by engaging with influencers from other geographical areas. These new connections can offer new ideas and strategies. Also, make a point to look up your past connections for coffee or drinks. It is a great way to maintain and strengthen your relationships.
5. Engage in your local community.
Knowing how to build rapport with others and relate to different types of people is key when it comes to networking. For real estate developers, establishing a consistent presence within your own community is important, too. I can’t overemphasize the importance of being an active participant in your community. Community involvement will not only expand your client base, it will strengthen your knowledge of the neighborhoods where your properties are located and of the people who live in them. Real estate professionals can develop their community presence in a myriad of ways. Here are a few ideas:

Local sponsorship. Sponsor local festivals, little league teams, or school events. Signing up as a community sponsor often results in securing a spot for your business insignia on T-shirts, program pamphlets or flyers. This is great for branding and business recognition.

Volunteer. Spend several hours each month donating your time to local groups and organizations. If you want to keep within the real estate theme, volunteer for a local chapter of Habitat for Humanity, or reach out to an affordable housing advocacy group in your city. This is a great way both to expand your network and have a positive impact on your community.

Local Radio / Media. Reach out to your local radio station. Public radio shows always need content. It’s likely that you can help them out by lending your voice to a show or podcast segment.

Education. Consider partnering with local schools during career days; it’s an engaging way to generate real estate leads. If any local colleges or universities offer real estate courses, reach out to them and offer your expertise. If your business is open to the idea, propose the idea of starting an internship program with a local college.

Develop partnerships with local businesses. Join local networking groups, nonprofit boards, or arts associations whose activities interest and inspire you.

Reduce Pain When Selling Your Home

When it comes to pain and stress, selling your home ranks right up there with divorce and changing jobs. It doesn’t matter if you are selling your starter home or if you’ve been through this before, expect a lot of pain and frustration as you trudge through the process. And if you have a mortgage or a reverse mortgage on it, it will definitely make the process longer.

But take a deep breath and consider these six ways to help you reduce the pain when it’s time to sell your home.

1. Never hire a relative or friend to list your home.
Similar to starting and growing a business with a good friend or your brother-in-law, avoid this at all costs. There is just too much at stake and you shouldn’t have to be “PC” during the long selling process. The journey from listing to closing is tough enough without adding more tension into the equation.

Since you are paying this person to sell your home, you have every right to certain expectations and requirements. You are entering into a business arrangement that by its nature needs to be impersonal.

2. Don’t take anything personally.
Whatever you do, don’t get emotionally involved. It’s easy to say, but remaining objective will save you days and nights of turmoil with issues like:

You think your home should be listed at X, but your realtor tells you that it’s not a competitive price and it should be Y which is $20,000 less. Get over it.
Your first offer is extremely low. Don’t get insulted and emotional. Use it as an opportunity to negotiate conveying to the buyer that you don’t consider it a serious offer.
Don’t let negative comments about your choice of floor coverings or paint colors bother you.
It is, after all, a business transaction, so treat it as such.

3. Ignore election year pessimism.
This is an election year, and history shows election years bring instability. According to Forbes a survey predicts that election year pessimism will hurt the housing market and may make it harder to sell your home.

Combine that with the results of the Brexit vote and you have a situation that breeds unpredictability and uncertainly. Buying, selling and lending just got a lot risker, according to another article from Forbes, “Brexit Hits Home.”

The good news is loans may get cheaper, but for sellers it may mean that homes stay on the market longer and take longer to close.

Homes are still in demand so maintain a positive attitude during these uncertain times. No one can see into the future and ultimately it is about how consumers deal with the uncertainly.

4. Plan along vacation.
If this sounds counter-intuitive, you might want to think again. In fact, take that vacation as soon as you list your home. Your family will be thrilled if you go on vacation, as will your realtor.

If you are not living there, a realtor can schedule open houses and showings whenever they want. You don’t have to drop everything to get out of the house for an unexpected showing. You know, the ones that occur early in the morning when the beds aren’t made yet or during the dinner hour. Biggest bonus: the house stays clean.

Most real estate agents believe they could sell your home easier if you just got out of the way, so do it.

5. Investigate alternate selling options.
Who says you still have to sell your home the same way your parents did? New real estate companies allow you to skip the stress of a traditional real estate transaction altogether and retire the real estate agent. As example, take a look at a new home buying service like OfferPad. Instead of waiting for a buyer to come to you, they buy your home directly, so you can be sold whenever you are ready.

There are countless home buying websites like that today. They position their service as “real estate reinvented,” cutting out all the traditional fluff so you can move on your own schedule. This type of option may not work for all sellers, but this may be a great solution for anyone who values their time and stress levels.

6. Accept the inevitable.
Any disruption in our routine causes stress, and moving certainly qualifies as a disruption, says HealthStatus. In fact, it is one of life’s top five stressful situations. The longer your house is on the market, the more disruption, accumulated pain and fatigue you will endure. On average it takes 76 days to sell a home.

So accept the facts. The next few months will consist of daily disruptions.

After you’ve spruced up the front yard to improve curb appeal, fixed leaks and repainted a few rooms, here come all the strangers walking through your home at all hours of the day and night. Open houses and last minute showings are all part of the process so just accept the inevitable status quo.

Know Some Mobile Musts for Real Estate Marketing

Real estate is an inherently mobile industry which drives our mobile-first approach.”

That’s Jeremy Wacksman, Chief Marketing Officer of Zillow Group, explaining the one-for-one overlap between real-estate marketing and mobile marketing. Like any good buzzword, “mobile-first” is applied to everything these days: e-commerce, retail, software, entrepreneurship and even finding lost pets (seriously).

So why should you listen to Wacksman? Because if you’re in real estate, there simply isn’t a bigger player than Zillow — period. And not just in terms of market share and online traffic. As Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff recently told Jim Cramer, “More people now type the word ‘Zillow’ into Google than the words ‘real estate.’ ”

Related: How the Future of Mobile Search is Unfolding This Year and Beyond

As Wacksman explains: “More than two-thirds of our traffic comes from a mobile device and on weekends it’s more than 77 percent. In July, more than a half-billion homes were viewed on Zillow Mobile. That’s 270 homes per second.” In short, Jeremy concludes, “If you aren’t advertising on a platform that consumers are using to shop for real estate, you are missing a huge opportunity.”

Strong words. And that’s why I connected with Wacksman, along with six other real-estate and mobile marketing experts, to find out the real “mobile musts” for real estate.

1. Mobile design.
For the uninitiated, mobile design — also known as responsive design — means building web pages that automatically “respond” to the size of the device being used to view them. Commonly, this means resizing elements like text, images, buttons and navigation. However, it also can mean eliminating onsite content itself that can’t easily be viewed on mobile.

John Doherty, founder of GetCredo and a former senior growth manager at Zillow:

“As a current, older-millennial renter who is also considering a home purchase in the next year or so, if a site is not mobile optimized, I don’t go back and use it. I spend the majority of my time on my phone and often use it as a second screen while watching TV.”

“Give me a big tap target, an easy inquiry form, and remember my information. If your site isn’t prepared for mobile users, you’ll lose them to sites that are.”

2. Mobile ads.
Unless you’re Zillow, pay-per-click ads are the bread and butter of driving traffic to your real-estate site. These ads come in many forms: Google AdWords, Facebook Ads or display networks on other sites. Why should you go mobile-first with your ads?

Johnathan Dane, founder of KlientBoost:

“In today’s world, mobile marketing should be the number-one focus not only of traffic but also of predictable conversions. If real-estate buyers and sellers aren’t getting localized ads with images and calls-to-action designed specifically for mobile — like an easily clickable phone number — then you’re left with a broken marketing engine.”

“What you see now are savvy agents embracing the Facebook Live video movement for home-tour promotion and grabbing potential leads en masse with ‘ads in apps’ campaigns.”

Sujan Patel, co-founder of Web Profits:

“Buying a home is not the same as buying a laptop, but the trend holds: People explore on smartphones, convert at their desktops and then cross back over. With your ads — and especially with your leads and sales funnels — you have to make crossing that divide easy. If you’ve invested in a mobile app like Zillow, onsite tools like LinkTexting.com can get visitors to download it, and then the transition is seamless.”

3. Mobile landing pages.
Landing pages are standalone web properties that exist for a single reason: to drive action. The goal of your real-estate landing page has to be glaringly obvious and ruthlessly singular. Pick one goal and one goal only. After that comes mobility.

Trevor Mauch, CEO of InvestorCarrot:

“With both our company and our clients, nearly 60 percent of our leads are from mobile devices. Through optimization, we’ve learned to follow four rules. One, make your main CTA button no more than one ‘swipe’ down down the page so it pops up almost immediately. Two, add another CTA button at the bottom of your mobile landing pages too. People don’t want to scroll back up to find your opt-in form or phone number. Three, use big buttons. Thumbs are fat, so make them span the width of the device screen. Four, don’t wrap your phone number in an image. Ensure it’s clear, text based, and easy to ‘tap to call.’ ”
4. Mobile chat.
Messaging, or mobile chat, is the new email of real-estate marketing. Whether you use old-school text messages, Facebook Messenger or real-estate specific apps, mobile chat can sync up listings, manage customer relations and make communication native.
Aaron Kardell, CEO of Homespotter:

“It’s all about the human touch. Real-estate agents that are accessible via a messaging app help their buyers feel more comfortable and less overwhelmed by using the same channel they prefer to communicate with family and friends.”

“Messaging also allows you as an agent to appear more responsive. Even if you can’t break away from another meeting for a phone call, you can often provide quick responses to your clients by text. Finally, real-estate specific messaging apps can now save agents substantial time in performing their job on the go.”
5. Mobile amenities.
Going mobile with your marketing is non-negotiable. But if you’re in real estate, you can’t stop there. Millennials and nearly every other demographic demand a mobile experience that’s carried across your services and accessible in their homes and rentals.

Nathan Miller, founder and CEO of Rentec Direct:

“For properties, keyless entry, mobile-connected thermostats and USB chargers in outlets are musts. Likewise for landlords, setting up mobile payment options as well as being ready to deal with maintenance requests digitally and immediately are par for the course.”

“Perhaps the biggest ‘small’ thing you can do is to bring WiFi into all your properties to ensure new buyers or tenants have one less thing to worry about during the moving process. It’s staggering how much this tiny touch means to today’s always-connected crowds.”