7 Steps for Becoming an Expert on Your Real Estate Market

As an agent, learning your market is an ongoing process. So how do you go about making it happen? By following these seven steps to getting all the information you need.

If you’re one of those TL,DR agents, click here to start your free seven-day trial of AgentEDU and watch our two-part series, “Learning Your Real Estate Market.”

 

#1 – Research and sign up.

Thanks to the internet, real estate agents have much of the info they need right at their fingertips, with info on the local real estate market, jobs, community growth, schools, taxes and more.

#2 – Interview an agent

A great real estate agent is going to be in the know about what’s happening in the community. Find an agent currently working in the area and propose a lunch or coffee meeting. Ask the agent to share his or her perspective on the current market and who else you need to know. Making a new friend of a successful agent could be the best thing to happen in your career.

#3 – Befriend a lender

Another great way to learn about your market is to befriend a lender. Talk to a local mortgage broker, and if you don’t know one, ask around for a referral. Pose the following questions:

  • What are your thoughts on the market?
  • What challenges are homebuyers facing?
  •  How do agents combat these challenges?
  • What else should I know about the market?
  •  Is there anyone else I should meet and can you make the introduction?

#4 – Go to open houses

You’ve likely seen open house signs around your neighborhood, but special open houses just for agent viewing can be found using the MLS. These are called broker opens. Walk the home and meet the agent running the open house so you can learn more about the market.

#5 – Talk to friends and family about the market

Your family and friends will often valuable information about what’s going on in the neighborhood. Most people love to talk about who is moving on their block, how much homes sold for, and other local gossip. They will know if a neighbor had a great kitchen or if there was a flood and remodeling had to be done. Ask them if prices are rising or stabilizing. How are taxes in the area? These questions can provide important insight.

#6 – Attend local events

It’s the people of a community that make it all happen. Attend community events and and spend time meeting local community members. Hang out at the area hot spots, like restaurants, parks and other places of leisure. In order to be successful, you’ll need to be familiar with the places that locals want to go.

#7 – Organize your info

Now that you’ve collected all this information, what are you going to do with it? It could be overwhelming to anyone, but organize it from the start so there’s nothing lost as you learn. Keep all your notes and records from your favorite websites and publications.

To learn more about how you can become an expert in your local market, start your free seven-day trial of AgentEDU and watch our two-part series, “Learning Your Real Estate Market.”

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5 Steps to Creating an Instagram Account that Will Attract Clients

Are you using the power of Instagram to attract qualified clients and leads, or are you relying on MLS listings and your website to take care of that for you? If you or your team of brokers are not active on Instagram, then you’re missing out on a great opportunity.

After reading this blog you’ll understand why it’s beneficial for every agent to have an Instagram presence, and how you can build a profile that will enhance your brand and attract leads.

 

3 reasons to create an Instagram Business profile:

  • Even if you have a personal Instagram account, you need to create one for your professional self. Your personal and professional Instagram accounts should be separate. Your professional Instagram account shouldn’t contain pics of your trip to Cancun or your Sunday tailgate at the Bears game, for example. You wouldn’t post that content to your business’s website, and you shouldn’t do so on your Instagram business page either.
  • If you’re unfamiliar with Instagram and how it can help businesses, think of it as an interactive portfolio that can visually showcase your listings, projects and accomplishments. It’s the perfect place to upload photos or videos of your listings. If you’re only posting photos to your MLS listing or company website, then there’s a good chance potential buyers will not be engaging with these pages on a regular basis. But with Instagram, your newest posts will appear in the news feed the next time a follower logs on to Instagram.
  • With an Instagram Business account, you will also get access to Instagram Insights. These insights show such data as visitor traffic, clicks and user demographics. This is a feature not offered to general accounts, and can help you determine which posts are most popular, what time(s) of day are best to post and if you’re reaching your target audiences.

 

How to build your Instagram Business account

Step 1: Download the app

If you’re currently without an Instagram account, you will need to set one up. You must download the app directly to your phone using Google Play, the Apple app store or the Windows app store, depending on which mobile device you use. Simply head to your app store, type “Instagram” in the search field and begin downloading.

 

Step 2: Create a bio

After installing the Instagram app on your phone, you must first create a bio. This is going to be the first impression many potential clients have of you and your business. You’ll need to make sure that it is short, compelling and informative. Make sure you include such details as your location/area, contact information, link to your website and your areas of expertise. Feel free to use this example by substituting your own details.

“I’m John of Oak Park, and I specialize in helping families find the single-family home of their dreams, as well as helping homeowners with their sale. You can reach me by phone at 555-123-4567 or email at John@OakPark.com when you’re ready to start living your dream.” www.OakParkHomes.com

 

Step 3: Your professional photo

A professional photo is also key. This will help display trustworthiness to followers and make your profile more personable. This photo should have high resolution and convey a professional image.

Example: Izabela Sloma (@SlomaRealEstate), senior vice president of sales at Jameson Sotheby’s International Realty, has an excellent bio and professional, high-quality photo. Her bio sums up her role, her career aspirations, and includes a website where you can learn more about her and her causes.

 

Step 4: Posting

Just like with your professional website and promotional materials, your Instagram page must be consistent with your brand. You’ll want to come across as reliable, well connected, knowledgeable and capable. Remember, this page will be a visual sales pitch for potential clients. All photos should be clear and high resolution.

When posting images and videos of new listings, remember to include details about the home and your contact information in the caption. If your post catches the eye of a potential client, they’ll want to know further details about the home and how to get in touch with you.

Example: @MattLaricyGroup does a great job of highlighting recent successful sales and new listings in a way that is visually engaging and consistent with his brand.

 

Step 5: Maintaining and growing your audience

The ultimate goal is to grow your audience and utilize Instagram to get your listings and professional brand in front of potential clients. That can’t be accomplished if you aren’t active on Instagram. You need to stay active by posting multiple times per week.

Here are a list of types of pictures and videos you can create that are appropriate and will amplify your brand:

  • New and current listings
  • Updates to a previously listed home
  • Recent sales
  • Testimonials from satisfied clients
  • News and information related to your market
  • Community involvement
  • Team-building activities

Now that you’ve built your Instagram page and planned out your first few posts, you’re ready to start Instagramming! Remember, building a large following won’t happen overnight. You need to stay consistent. To learn more about marketing yourself, sign up for AgentEDU and receive a free seven-day trial to check out our eight-course Advertising track.

 

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How to Become a Great Communicator

The best agents establish a communication plan that will help them bond with clients, establish loyalty and build a relationship that lasts. Some agents underestimate the powerful effect that a reliable communication plan can have on a relationship.

In this blog post, we’ll cover the steps required to build the foundation of a communication plan that will keep clients happy and keep you top of mind for all things real estate long after the transaction is completed.

A solid communication plan includes the following four elements:

  1. Regular and predictable contact. Set clear expectations around how and when you’ll communicate with your client, and then do what you’ve said you’ll do. There are many ways to do this, but the goal here is to win your client’s trust. Maybe you’ll check in every Tuesday morning, or every other Saturday afternoon. Find out when they want to hear from you, and always follow through.
  2. Flexibility. Some people like to talk on the phone, and some only want to communicate via email. A great communication plan takes the needs and preferences of each individual client into account. By accommodating your clients, you show them that you know them well and respect their choices.
  3. A method for clients to give you feedback and initiate communication with you. An important aspect of maintaining effective communication is giving your clients a way to get in touch with you and ask you questions. Make sure they have an easy way to give you feedback, and be ready to alter your plan to their preferences at any time.
  4. Written documentation of all communication. Even if your client prefers to conduct all discussions verbally, write a summary email after each call to make sure everyone’s on the same page. You are the client’s only agent, but the client is one of many for you. Having things in writing will help you keep track of important details.

Your next step is to create a communication calendar. One easy way to do this is to create a free Google calendar dedicated to your clients. Include birthdays, holidays and special occasions, as well as your marketing schedule. The calendar will help you stay on top of both your tasks and your client communications. Your brokerage may also offer software options to help you stay in touch, and there are a number of products out there you can use to set up your system.

  1. Have a plan of action. Prepare anything you’ll need before contacting the client, and have all details related to their sale or purchase at hand. Also, be ready to update your client on what you’ve done since you last communicated, and what you plan to do next.
  2. Don’t just check in. Share news they can use. The more you explain what’s happening, the less they will have to guess. If you don’t have anything to share, it’s still better to check in then to let your client wait.
  3. Give as much detail as possible. Let the client know what you’ve done since you last spoke and what your next steps will be. Even if you have a regular call set up, end each communication with a reminder of when you’ll be in touch again, and always ask if the client has any questions.

Remember, communication works two ways: Let your clients know that they can contact you anytime. When they do, be responsive and get back to them quickly. If you miss a call, always offer some kind of a response so they know you’ve received their message. If you don’t, they’ll be left wondering.

For more details about how to build a comprehensive client communication plan, sign up for a free seven-day trial of AgentEDU. You can watch the full video here: https://bit.ly/2yK7cef  

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The to-do list every seller needs before you host an open house

Agents have a number of responsibilities when preparing for an open house, and none may be more important than getting the seller on board with your plans. Having the seller’s approval and support can mean the difference between wasted efforts and earning yourself a sale with a new crop of leads. In this blog post, we’ll cover how you can encourage and guide your client to being a valuable partner in your open house, and how they can help you achieve your goals.

Sellers need to understand their role in the open house. Let them know what you’re planning and why. Assuming they are motivated to sell for the highest price, they’ll understand that the home has to be in great shape and will do whatever is needed. You are trying to create a home that prospective homebuyers can imagine themselves living in, and your sellers must understand this goal from the beginning.

Give your sellers a checklist of tasks to complete, including:

  • Remove everything attached that’s not for sale, including small appliances, ceiling fans and fixtures. You don’t want to spend time explaining to potential buyers what’s included and what’s not.
  • Secure all valuables such as laptops, tablets and phones, as well as any prescription medications.
  • Purge the refrigerator of all unnecessary foods and decorations.
  • Use white towels. You will be amazed how easily you can turn any bathroom into a luxurious spa escape with a fresh stack of fluffy white towels.
  • Take the trash out of every wastebasket in the house.
  • Maximize curb appeal. The lawn should be cut and shrubs pruned, with all toys and gardening tools put away in the garage or other location.
  • Take out any artwork or décor that could offend prospective buyers, including items that are political or religious in nature.
  • Place fresh flowers or flowering plants throughout the home.
  • Clean and fluff bedding, towels and rugs.
  • Sweep and clean out the garage.
  • Set the thermostat at a comfortable temperature.
  • Clean, clean, clean! Beds should be made, countertops should be cleared and all linens should be tidy. Surfaces should gleam.

Once this is completed, you can begin to stage the home and prepare for arrivals. To learn the seven steps to a successful open house, sign up for a seven-day free trial at AgentEDU and watch the course. Then, explore the entire Open House track and you’ll be on your way to making every open house a success.

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8 Simple Ways to Get More Referrals

After you’ve closed the sale and received your commission, it’s tempting to think the job is over. It’s not! Now is your opportunity to set the tone for an ongoing relationship with your clients. Once you’ve proven yourself by closing a sale, you can start building a lifelong business relationship. This is your chance to position yourself as the go-to real estate expert, prompting your closed clients to comfortably send you referrals and ask you to represent them in their next purchase.

Here are eight basic relationship builders used by top agents, all of which are actions you should take after the closing.

  1. Update your database. Your database will be one of your most important tools, so make sure it contains contact information about each of your clients. Make notes about your clients’ preferences and how they engage with their community. Are they foodies? Sports fans? What about hobbies? You should note kids’ names, schools, or other people who are important to them.
  2. Send a thoughtful closing gift. If your clients are buyers, you can send a closing gift to their new home with a personalized note. This shows your appreciation for their trust and business. Try to personalize the gift — perhaps a gift card to a local restaurant in their new neighborhood. If your clients were sellers, send something special to them, like a bottle of their favorite wine. Don’t send form letters with closing gifts — always send a personalized note.
  3. Check in on them after they close. Continue to show your closed clients that you care about them even after you have received your commission. Give them a call after they have lived in the home a few days to see how things are going. Checking in on them will help build trust.
  4. Ask for referrals. Referrals are the backbone of a strong real estate business, and you should ask your closed clients if they know anyone in need of an agent. Let closed clients know that you enjoyed working with them, and that if they know anyone who is looking to buy or sell, you will do a great job for anyone they refer. If you stay in touch in a friendly, professional and helpful manner, your business will grow and customers will come to you!
  5. Send a post-close survey. One great way to improve your business and build long-term relationships is to follow up with a survey. In your efforts to always do the best work you can, you should have the survey ready to go.
  6. Get a testimonial. Another relationship builder is asking for testimonials. While you’re still top of mind with your clients, ask them if they would give you an endorsement. A testimonial is just a few sentences about their experience working with you.
  7. Make a social connection. If you haven’t already done this, make a social networking connection. Use your Facebook business page to friend them, and post smart real estate-related items. Remember: This is NOT your personal page. It’s a chance to show your professional knowledge of the community while sharing news about your awards and successes.
  8. Stay in touch. Most importantly, use your good marketing practices to stay in touch with your closed clients. Send them cards, emails and neighborhood invitations to join you at community events, for example. Some agents even have client holiday parties and invite all of their past clients.

A closing does not mark the end of the relationship. It’s an opportunity to set the tone for an ongoing relationship with your closed client and build your referral network.

For more information on how to build your referral network, receive a seven-day free trial when you sign up at AgentEDU and view this course today.

 

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3 Things Every Real Estate Assistant Needs to Know About Marketing a Listing

Finding potential buyers for your listings is one of the most important aspects of a real estate agent’s job — and marketing is essential to their success with this task. As an assistant, your role will be to use marketing to attract and secure new customers for your agent’s business, and once engaged with a client, you’ll use marketing to sell properties.

In this blog post, we’ll focus on three things every real estate assistant needs to know about marketing their agent’s listings.

 

MLS

The first place you’ll want to put a listing is in the MLS, or Multiple Listing Service. This central database of listings allows home sellers a centralized location to post details on the properties they have for sale and is an industry standard.

Accuracy in preparing a listing cannot be overstated. Not only is the MLS the central location for your listing, but listing sheets are generated directly from the system and sent to agents and buyers. Also, websites that are accessible to any potential home buyer, such as Trulia, Zillow and Realtor.com, use the data directly from the MLS. So remember to check and double-check that the specifications and descriptions for the site are exactly as you want them.

Besides the standard form data, which includes details on the home such as square footage and the number of rooms, you’ll have an opportunity to provide a 1,000-character description. This description will appear on the listing sheet and on any websites that pick up MLS data. It’s important that this copy sells the home, and should be treated like any other marketing material.

 

Photography

Photography is one of the most important parts of your marketing plan and should be handled with care. You may consider outsourcing the photographs to a professional photography company like VHT Studios. Along with ensuring that your photographs are of the best quality, there are a number of other concerns when preparing your photos to upload. Use this checklist to make sure your photos are ready for the market.

  1. Photos should be beautifully lit, color-corrected, cropped properly and show off your property’s best qualities.
  2. Individual photos can be no larger than 10 megabytes.
  3. The image size can be no larger than 2880 x 2880 pixels.

Most MLS allow a limit of 25 photos, but don’t confuse quantity with quality. A photo of the exterior of the home is standard, and a good strategy for the other photos is to have at least one photo per each feature mentioned in your description. For example, a description that mentions an attached garage, a bay window and high ceilings should have photographs that show each of these features.

 

Social Media

The most popular social media used in real estate are Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. Your agent might use one, some or all of these. Each platform comes with its own set of analytics, so you can easily see if your postings are effective in driving engagement and, ultimately, sales. Facebook and Twitter allow you to schedule posts, but if you’re using more than one platform, a dashboard like Hootsuite allows you to generate all your posts from a central location. Depending on your subscription level, you can easily replicate posts across platforms and receive great analytics to help you determine how well your posts are performing.

There are four general pillars to consider when using social media across all platforms.

  1. Accuracy. The Internet is unforgiving of typos, broken links and other inaccuracies, any of which can also cost your brand credibility and trust. When a posting about one of your listings contains errors, it can negatively affect your chances of a sale. When posting about your business or brokerage, it can damage the perception of your brand. Check and double-check before you post content online.
  2. Relevancy. Social media is a crowded landscape with a significant amount of content competing for an audience. The more relevant your content is, the more likely it is to drive engagement. Engagement can help your business even if it doesn’t directly lead to a sale. Make sure that each and everything you post has some value to your reader.
  3. Positivity. Never engage in negativity online. Avoid controversial topics like politics or religion, and never disparage one of your clients or competitors. Bring value to your audience by staying upbeat and sharing more positive content. If it’s a beautiful day in a neighborhood where you have a property, share a photo with your audience. If you’re involved in a community fundraiser or charity event in support of a favorite cause, invite others to attend as well.
  4. Personality. Social media is an opportunity to share your unique personality. An Instagram photo of your agency serving meals to the homeless shows that you’re compassionate; a Facebook post about your team attending a baseball game shows that you’re fun. These are qualities that a client wants in a real estate agent, and social media is a great way to show them off.

A marketing plan can have multiple other pieces, including brochures, floor plans and open houses. To learn more about an assistant’s role in marketing real estate listings, view the full course here: https://bit.ly/2HHxLRq

Explore the entire AgentEDU Assistants track today, which features eight different courses designed to provide real estate assistants with the most comprehensive online training available.

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How to Connect with First Time Homebuyers in 2018

For the first time in over a decade, there seems to be an influx of first-time home buyers entering the marketplace. But is it more than just anecdotal? Are more first time buyers actually in a position to purchase, and if so, what does it mean for agents?

In 2017, more than 2 million new or existing homes were purchased by first-time homebuyers, according to the First-Time Homebuyer Market Report from Genworth Mortgage Insurance, an operating segment of Genworth Financial, Inc. The report, which measured data from the fourth quarter of 2017, revealed the number of homes purchased by first-time buyers increased nearly 7 percent from the same time in 2016, making last year the best for the first-time homebuyer market since 2006.

“The first-time homebuyer segment had one of its strongest years on record, and we expect it to continue growing in market share and driving the purchase market in 2018,” says Tian Liu, chief economist at Genworth Mortgage Insurance. “Since 2014, the segment has accounted for 82 percent of home purchases, but is still facing many headwinds.”

First-time homebuyers are a unique group — one  that has its own set of needs that you as an agent must be prepare to address and . That’s why we created the two-part training course, “How to Find the Perfect Home for Your Clients.”

The most common complaint that buyers will about their agents is that they were shown homes that did not fit their needs. Knowing how to find the right home for each client’s situation is a core skill that every buyer’s agent must possess.

Whether your client is a first-time homebuyer or an empty nester who is looking to downsize, you need to be prepared to understand the market — as well as how to set expectations, how to interpret the clues your client is giving you and how to eventually close the deal.

By guiding a first-time homebuyer through the sales process successfully, not only have you completed a sale and earned your commission, you may have landed a lifelong client.

Don’t miss your opportunity. Sign up for AgentEDU and learn how to find the perfect home for your clients.

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3 Steps to Handling a Low Appraisal

Receiving a low appraisal can be frustrating. If you’ve done the appropriate research and if all the parties agreed to the price, then it can’t be too far off base, right? So what options are available to you if the appraisal you received isn’t what you and your client expected?

Here are three steps to handling a bad appraisal:

  1. Try to get the appraisal adjusted. Before taking this route, be sure to let your clients know that it’s difficult to get an appraisal changed. You can ask the appraiser to return, provide additional information to support your own findings, or have the lender send out a different appraiser take a look, but this is an extra expense and rarely yields positive results.
  2. Apply for a loan with another lender. Another route you can take is to have the buyer apply for a loan with a different lender. There may be new fees incurred, but if you’re sure that the appraisal was simply wrong and you can’t get it changed, this may be the best way to get the property reappraised and produce a more favorable outcome.
  3. Have the clients agree to a new price. You may have to ask your buyer to agree to a new price or put in a higher down payment, or ask the seller to lower the price to meet the appraisal results. If you’re representing the buyer, you may want to try to get the price renegotiated. Putting the price in line with the appraisal can be a chance to get a better value for your client. If you’re representing the seller, your goal is to get the buyer to make a higher down payment — because the lender is really only concerned with the amount of the loan, not the total price of the property.

These negotiations can be tricky, and both sides might have to give a little. What happens will depend on the market and how motivated the buyers and sellers are. But at the end of the day, the most successful agents avoid this situation by having an appraisal strategy already in place.

To learn more about how to overcome a bad appraisal and how to make the most of the appraisals process, explore our Appraisal track at AgentEDU.

AgentEDU features more than 70 different courses, each designed to teach agents the best practices for every situation. From daily core skills to high-level negotiations and everything in between, AgentEDU helps agents become top producers with increased earnings and a plan for continued growth.

 

 

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The Tech Every Real Estate Assistant Needs To Connect With Clients

How Real Estate Assistants Utilize Tech to Grow Business

It can be extremely difficult to find time to manage all the daily communications required to be a successful real estate agent. Technology has opened up new avenues of communication, and a good assistant can step in and help you stay connected with your clients in many ways.

  • Text messaging is growing in popularity among both salespeople and clients. According to an Ellie Mae survey of both consumers and sales professionals, 76 percent of respondents say they are confident in a text message’s potential to improve the buying experience by speeding up key processes. They also reported being just as comfortable texting with businesses they have a relationship with as they are with colleagues.
  • Meanwhile, 63 percent of all homebuyers surveyed in the National Association of Realtors’ 2018 Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends report said it is important that agents send property information and communicate through text message. Unsurprisingly, younger generations are more likely to prefer this method: Sixty-nine percent of those ages 37 or younger consider it important, compared with 61 percent of those ages 38 to 51.
  • Even with the explosion of text usage between client and customer, email remains king. A recent survey by NAR found that 96 percent of its membership uses email either daily or nearly every day, making it the most used form of communication by Realtors

But many agents simply don’t have the time to dedicate to using these technologies to grow their business. Nor do they have the time to properly train an assistant.

That’s why AgentEDU has released a new Assistants track, with courses specifically designed to train an assistant in the technologies needed to support a successful agent. “How to Use Technology to Support Agent Success,” “A Real Estate Assistant’s Role in Social Media” and “Technology for Real Estate” are 10-minute videos designed to train an assistant on how to stay engaged with clients and contacts, organize tasks, manage your digital presence and more.

Don’t let another client slip through the cracks. AgentEDU’s new Assistants track will train your assistant in the skills needed to support your business on a daily basis.

Click here to explore the entire Assistants track at AgentEDU. 

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AgentEDU Releases Comprehensive Training Courses Designed to Train Assistants in the Business of Real Estate

March 16th, 2018 CHICAGO – AgentEDU.com, a division of Agent Publishing, today announced the release of their latest course specifically designed to train assistants for the unique demands of the real estate industry.

A well trained real estate assistant can be invaluable when it comes to marketing, branding and time management, but an agent’s schedule may prevent them from being able to invest the time needed to properly train one. AgentEDU’s exclusive eight-course Assistants track was created to provide agents with an effective training platform that educates assistants on the regulations of the real estate industry as well as the day-to-day responsibilities when working with a real estate agent.

“With more than 20 years experience as a real estate agent I know how valuable a well trained assistant can be to growing your business. I also know how difficult it is to find the time and resources to properly train an assistant,”said Marci Sepulveda, AgentEDU’s managing partner. “We created the Assistants track to provide agents nationwide with easily accessible, but in-depth courses that will produce productive assistants and valuable additions to any real estate team.”

 

About AgentEDU

AgentEDU is an online video training platform designed to help real estate agents at every level advance their skill set, expand their industry knowledge and become better agents. Each 10-minute course focuses on the best practices for every situation. From daily core skills to high-level negotiations and everything in between, AgentEDU helps agents become top producers with increased earnings and a plan for continued growth.

 

About Agent Publishing

With nearly 15 years in publication and covering Chicago, Atlanta, Miami, Houston and Boston, Agent Publishing’s influence extends to every career stage and reaches agents across print, digital and events. Online and offline, Agent Publishing delivers quality content that residential real estate professionals trust. Learn more at www.AgentPublishing.com

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