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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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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Is the Open House on its Way Out? | AgentEDU.com

Is the open house on its way out? No – here’s why

With new real estate technologies now saturating the market, are open houses still effective home-selling tools?

Real estate technology has grown rapidly over the past few years with the introduction of interactive walk-through programs, drone footage and virtual reality tours. While these technologies allow consumers a quick and convenient way to view a home, online property viewing isn’t the same as seeing a property in real time. According to the Consumer and Market Trends in Real Estate report by the National Association of Realtors® and Google, 90 percent of home buyers searched online during their home buying process. So, is the open house on its way out?

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5 lead generation tricks to test out today

In real estate, lead generation is an essential and never-ending task. If you’re looking for new tactics to add into your bag of lead generation tricks, here are five lead generation tricks you can test out today:

  1. Add social sharing buttons to your email newsletter – Sending out a newsletter on a regular basis can be a great way to drum up a steady stream of leads, but why not go a step further by adding social buttons? Your subscribers can use those buttons to share your newsletter with their network. This move not only has the power to grow your social media audience, but it can also lead to new email subscribers.
  2. Create a promo video – A quick and easy way for your clients and potential homebuyers to get to know you is through a short introduction video. In this video, tell viewers who you are, why you love being a real estate agent and why you’re the right agent for the job based on your skills, experience and expertise. At the end of the video you can add a call to action for interested viewers to click through to a landing page where they can submit their email for a consultation. You can create this call to action with YouTube’s cards feature, which places a clickable pop-up box at any point in the video. This video should be featured on your website’s homepage and shared in your newsletter and across your social media accounts.
  3. Display testimonials and reviews – Another great way to communicate to potential clients that you’re the right agent for the job is through positive testimonials from past clients. After every closing, reach out to your clients and ask them if they’re willing to provide a short testimonial that you can share on your website and in future advertising. These testimonials can be placed on landing pages, in newsletter emails, etc. where potential clients will easily see them.
  4.  Buy targeted Facebook ads – Facebook advertising is a great tool for creating targeted advertising campaigns that reach your demographic. Facebook Ad Manager allows you to target your audience by age, income, location and other criteria, including behavioral criteria such as “likely to move.” You can use these Facebook ads to prompt potential clients to visit your website, a landing page or a listing where they can provide their email address for more information.
  5. Optimize your blog – Most agents already know that blogging can help them simultaneously drive traffic to their website and demonstrate their knowledge of the market and the latest industry news, but simply publishing blog posts isn’t enough. At the end of every blog post, you should include a lead capture element, such as a form where readers can sign up for your mailing list, an place to submit information to receive a downloadable asset, etc. Adding this element is the extra step needed to take your blog posts from informative marketing pieces to actionable lead generation tools.

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