Monthly Archives - December 2016

Tips for real estate agents

6 LinkedIn Profile Tips for Real Estate Agents

When you are a real estate agent, LinkedIn can become one of your best tools. Regular updates will ensure that you get excellent results, even real estate leads. Now is the time to put ensure that you have all your ducks in a row with your professional LinkedIn profile. These tips will keep you on top of your game.

1. Improve Your Headline

Your headline appears everywhere when you use LinkedIn. This means that you want to make it a good one. In your headline, make sure that you make it clear who you are here for and how you intend to help them. Of course, make sure to sprinkle in a few real estate keywords too.

2. Take a Professional Photo

The photograph you use as your headshot does not have to be formal, but it certainly can be. Many real estate agents go for a typical business headshot, whereas others try to go for something that appears unstaged and more personal. These are both valid decisions. Just make sure to use a recent photo so people will easily recognize you.

3. Customize your Profile’s URL

Instead of using a default random assortment of letters and numbers, try to come up with something custom to your name or industry. If your name is taken, try to add something like your industry or job title immediately after it. For instance, you might use JohnSmithRealEstate instead of JohnSmith.

4. Connect with People, New and Old

The goal of LinkedIn is to connect with people, some of whom you might already know or have a working relationship with. This will make it easier for new clients, both buyers and sellers, to find you. Make sure to connect with new clients as you meet them as well as to revisit those old connections along the way.

Tips for real estate agents

5. Write a Strong Summary

Your summary should be relatively similar to marketing copy. Sell your real estate expertise. As you write, consider how your summary will influence your reputation for both buyers and sellers. How will those you want to work with see it?

6. Join LinkedIn Groups

Groups just might be one of the best components of LinkedIn, especially for those who are not quite sure how to approach possible new connections. Groups offer new opportunities for networking, which can be especially beneficial to you if you are looking for leads.

As a real estate agent, it may seem that your work is never quite finished. Continuing education will help you achieve your real estate goals. Contact us for more information about courses in your industry and state.

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Why Real Estate Agents Should Check Out YouTube’s Director App

If you struggle to make real estate videos, you may be looking for a simpler way to edit them. Instead of finding the editing task daunting, you can turn to YouTube’s Director app for an easy alternative. Not sure why you should consider this new application for your next marketing video? These are just a few reasons why you should make this consideration today.

YouTube Director Makes Editing Simple

Absolutely no experience is required in order to edit beautiful videos with the help of YouTube Director. Add text and animation to create stellar advertisements that are sure to be crowd-pleasers, all without having to leave the app. You do not need to be a serious Youtuber in order to create marketing materials that are seriously compelling and intriguing. Transitions and added text can greatly improve your chances of appealing to a casual viewer.

Make Real Estate Videos from Your Smartphone

Of course, it is also nice that you do not have to rent or buy video equipment anymore. This makes creating your video advertisements more affordable in addition to more attainable. You can now make more advertisements to appeal to your audience without the hassle. Plus, you can cater material so that you are reaching out via YouTube rather than through other avenues that may actually be more costly.

Creating Real Estate Advertisements on a Budget

When you own a business, budget-friendly marketing services are always helpful. YouTube Director allows for exactly this. There is no need to hire a film crew when you can spend your own time creating excellent videos that look just as professional.

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Straightforward Directions Guide Your Way

In addition to providing you with step-by-step directions, you will feel as if you have somebody assisting you every step of the way. Unlike with other smartphone apps, you are not left on your own to navigate the world of video making. Instead, you have the power to craft narratives and intriguing stories with just the click of a few buttons.

Continuing education is an important component for real estate agents, especially in terms of staying up to date with technology and changes in laws. Contact us for more information about continuing education in your state. You may be able to learn more about marketing in these courses than you think.

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Making the Job Safer for Real Estate Agents

One common concern among real estate agents is safety, which makes sense considering that they are visiting private homes and meeting up with potential clients. New safety measures and protocol are put into place each year in an effort to address the safety of real estate professionals. In fact, about 40 percent of real estate agents in one survey claimed they felt unsafe on the job at some point. This guide will encourage you with different tips to stay safe while you work.

Meet Prospective Buyers in Public Places

In addition to meeting in a public space, real estate agents also check their client’s identification and even take photos of ID cards. It is also smart to meet before dark. If you must meet after dark, keep lights on and windows open. Meeting at the office ahead of time is preferable for many agents.

Show Houses with Care

One of the first steps to showing houses is to arrive at your destination. Many real estate agents like to transport potential buyers, but others argue against it. Many will argue that the safest choice is to drive to the property separately.

Some real estate agents insist that their clients and potential clients walk in front of them. Instead of leading, you can direct potential buyers where to go to see the desired room.

Finally, there is also the option of utilizing the “buddy system,” even as a real estate agent. You can have a fellow agent or friend attend an open house or showing just to ensure that you are not alone.

Protect Sellers Too

Before hosting an open house or showing off a house for sale, inform sellers that they should keep mail, bills, and other identifying information out of sight. It’s also wise to lock up electronics and other expensive items before showing a house.

After an open house, make sure to walk into each room and check that every person has left. If you somebody does not seem to be leaving, you are safer calling for law enforcement rather than getting involved in a physical altercation.

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Meeting outside in public, during daylight hours, is just one way to stay safe as a real estate agent.

Avoid Using the Word “Vacant”

Your listings may draw unwanted attention if you advertise a house as being “vacant” or “empty.” Squatters look for advertisements like these. If you do enter a vacant home, it is important to pay close attention for signs of squatters or former foreclosed homeowners. Check for shattered windows and kicked doors outside the perimeter. The key is to call law enforcement if you spot the signs rather than to enter the house.

Contact us for more information about learning to become a knowledgeable and professional real estate agent.

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6 Great Gifts for Real Estate Agents

If you love a real estate agent, you know that shopping for holiday gifts can be a difficult endeavor. How can you pass on the gift of productivity to the real estate agent who appears to have it all? The truth is that some presents really do make this job easier. Not sure what to buy for somebody you care about? This guide will help you pick the perfect gift.

1. Tablet

Real estate agents may use their tablets every day, and that wear and tear can make it much more difficult to complete work. With a tablet, a real estate agent can check emails, look at maps, and even edit listings. In reality, tablets are a necessity for those times when a smartphone just isn’t big enough to do the job.

2. On-the-Go Travel Mug

If you know somebody who is always on the go from showing to showing, a travel mug will allow them to enjoy their coffee no matter how many stops are on the way. A mug can be personalized just for that someone special in your life.

3. Portable Phone Charger

When you are a real estate agent on the go, a portable phone charger can become your best friend. When your phone battery is low, you do not always have access to a charger. In fact, real estate agents may not have access to power outlets when they are showing homes. Portable phone chargers can actually be placed in a pocket or purse during a showing or open house.

Real estate agents

From travel mugs to outdoor wear, real estate agents require a lot of gear to keep them going.

4. Phone Camera Lens

Real estate agents take photos for their listing websites, but sometimes a professional camera is not immediately available to capture some of the details. Being able to snap a small camera lens to your phone in a pinch can be extremely helpful.

5. Standing Desk

Real estate agents often spend a good amount of time in the office sorting through paperwork and creating listings, yet many find it difficult to sit all day. A standing desk that can transition to a sitting desk is a fantastic gift for the real estate agent who hates to spend the day sitting in a chair.

6. Business Card Case

Real estate agents carry business cards anywhere. If you want to receive referrals, you have to. A sophisticated case will help send the message of professionalism.

Finally, consider the fact that real estate agents have to take continuing education courses in order to continue practicing in the industry. Paying for continuing education can be an amazingly helpful gift for that someone special. Contact us for more information about required courses in the real estate industry.

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Learning the Fundamentals: How Real Estate Agents Get Paid

Even if you’re not a real estate agent or in the process of becoming one, you probably know that receiving payment can be a complicated process. In fact, many of the people taking courses do not even understand how it works initially. Buyers, 88 percent of whom work with a real estate agent, often don’t understand either.

Real Estate Wages

Some professional real estate workers bill hourly for their work, but the vast majority are paid at the end of a transaction. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean wage for real estate sales agents is nearly $46,000 annually as of 2015. Of course, this figure differs each year and for each agent. The number of transactions an agent completes as well as the type of commission the sales agent receives will all come into play.

Real Estate Commission

The commission a real estate agent receives is negotiable and based on the project. Brokerages tend to offer a commission that is about six percent of the total price of the sale. Of course, when the salesperson works as part of a larger brokerage team, this percentage will decrease. The brokerage firm typically breaks up the payment into commission based on who helped with the sale of the home. This means that the take-home pay for the real estate agent is a bit less than this percentage.

When the broker receives a percentage of the final sale price, the sales agent can expect to receive between 30 and 40 percent if they are new to the firm. Advertising and marketing materials plus office expenses are taken out of the broker’s commission, generally.

So, what happens when the buyer and seller are using different agents? The split between the real estate agent used by the buyer and the one used by the seller is not always even. This negotiation is often uneven, with the listing agent receiving slightly less than the buyer’s agent. And of course, there is also the issue of splitting this commission between brokers and others who worked on the transaction.

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Money is not as straightforward when you are working as a real estate agent, but this does not mean the job is not rewarding.

Who Pays the Commission?

Generally, the commission is paid by the seller. The price of the commission is taken from the money owed to the seller for the home. Of course, this cost is also factored into the price the buyer is given.

Finances are just one of many fundamentals that real estate agents learn in the process of becoming a professional in the industry. Want to learn more? Contact us for more information about becoming a real estate agent.

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How Real Estate Agents Can Make the Most of the Holiday Season Slowdown

Every real estate agent understands the ebb and flow of the market. As the holidays roll around each year in December, real estate sales tend to slow. While it may at first seem that December will be a total wash for a real estate agent, it is important not to be short-sighted. Real estate agents can still make the most out of the holiday season to become organized and prepare for the busier seasons. This guide will help you take advantage of a slow month.

Review Spring Listings

This is a fantastic time to create write-ups for houses that will be coming onto the market early in the year. You are bound to be busy as the new year begins, so getting a leg up will help you stay on track when these houses actually become available. You can gather photos and create templates or even schedule listings so that they post automatically when they are ready.

Handle Snowbirds

If you live somewhere like Arizona where snowbirds come for the winter, you may have properties to manage. Some snowbirds may still come down to buy and sell properties during the cold months, giving you more time to devote to these clients when business is slow. This allows you to cater to their needs thoroughly.

Catch Up with Older Leads

Because nearly one-third of sellers recommend their real estate agents at least three times after the transaction, keeping in touch is important. Sending a simple text message or e-mail is a great way to catch up with clients and to receive feedback.

This is also a great time to update your contacts. If people have moved or you have lost touch with business contacts, it might be time to remove them from your lists. This makes your search for contacts much more efficient.

Holiday cards provide an excellent reminder of your business. Sending out cards a couple weeks in advance reminds clients and potential clients not only that you exist, but also that they can recommend you to friends and family members. Plus, it’s a very nice personal touch for the holiday season.

Real estate market

Creating a real estate plan for the winter takes structure and organization.

Set Up a Marketing Plan

If you have plenty of time on your hands, why not write up a few newsletters you will send out weekly or bi-monthly? When it is time to send out your newsletters, all you will need to do is update your contacts and press ‘Send.’

Your blog could also use some updates during this time, right? The slow months of winter offer the perfect time to perform research and write at least outlines for upcoming blog posts. You will never have a week without blog posts again. Got plenty of post ideas already? Try giving them a boost with some basic search engine optimization tweaks.

The holiday season is a time for family and fun, but your business need not suffer simply because the season is slow. There are many productive ways to stay afloat. In fact, you might even consider fulfilling some of those continuing education requirements to stay ahead of the game. Contact us for more information about courses in your state.

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Forget Photoshop: 4 Free Graphic Design Tools for Real Estate Agents

When you make a listing on your real estate website, photos can make all the difference. Whether you want to edit images for your home listings or you are interested in content marketing, you need to be able to post images efficiently and in an attractive manner. Bad pictures can actually drive away clients. These graphic design tools will help you create amazing images for your real estate business.

Pablo

Pablo is a free tool that you do not even have to log in to use, making it a great choice for efficiency. Pablo is a great tool to use if you want to add headlines and titles to your images or you want to create Instagram photos with fun quotes about a location or house.

One of the best features about Pablo is that it offers a variety of images and fonts that are pre-saved. You can use them to create social media pictures and promotional materials. From Pablo, you can also have images downloaded for your website.

Canva

Canva is a free tool that looks as professional as any other and for a variety of purposes. Canva is a great tool for creating book or pamphlet covers in addition to editing photos to post on social media or your real estate blog. In addition to editing photos for quality, you can also add a fun element to them and provide them with some personality. Many templates are totally free, but you can choose to pay for certain options.

PicMonkey

PicMonkey is possibly one of the most user-friendly options for editing photos. You can remove shadows and adjust colors with this tool, and you can also take those edited photos and turn them into social media posts or even postcards. Think your photos are boring? You can add a border or frame along with some fun text. You can even use PicMonkey to spruce up your real estate headshot.

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Ten years ago, you might not have realized how easily you could one day edit your photos from your smartphone.

Skitch

If you like to screenshot listings for Instagram and other social media sites, Skitch will be your new favorite tool for photos. With the resource, you will be able to highlight parts of the image or draw arrows to important elements. You can also take notes and add text to your images. If you create PDF pamphlets or listing books, you can also use Skitch to highlight parts you want your clients to take notice of. Best of all, you can use it with your phone.

So many free tools are available to real estate agents, meaning you might not need to resort to expensive software like Photoshop. You also do not need to hire a designer to handle your web content images. With just a few minutes each day, you can work toward building your web presence.

Do you want to find more tools that will help you in the process of becoming a real estate powerhouse on the web? Contact us for more information about taking courses in the real estate industry online.

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Why Cultural Sensitivity is Becoming More Important for Real Estate Agents

America’s population is ever-changing, and so is the ratio of home ownership in the country. If you are a real estate agent, broker, or aspiring professional in the industry, it is important to learn how to cater to diverse clientele. As the United States becomes more diverse, it is essential that real estate industry professionals consider cultural sensitivity in their interactions with buyers, sellers, and fellow employees. Understanding the intersection of culture with various elements of real estate will help you do just that.

Changing Demographics in Home Ownership

Researchers believe that the rate of home ownership among people of Latino and Asian descent will nearly double in coming years. The troublesome aspect, according to one member of the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals, is that so few employees in mortgage banking are Hispanic. While this is changing, it is still important for all employees in the real estate industry to develop an understanding of groups that will be purchasing and selling homes in the years to come.

Changing demographics means that you will also witness a change in needs. For instance, some cultures may emphasize the necessity of having elderly relatives living at home, which means you will be focused on finding houses without stairs or with ramps.

Cultural Insensitivity and Losing Customers

Not only will paying attention to cultural sensitivity help you gain customers, but failing to pay close attention could lead to customer loss. Consider this: if you were trying to buy something expensive but felt that the salesperson assisting you was not in tune with your needs, the process would be all the more difficult. If you felt that the salesperson was being rude or ignoring aspects of the product that were important to you, you might simply walk away and seek help elsewhere. The same applies to real estate.

Religious Cultural Sensitivity in Real Estate

Many social cues are specifically related to religious beliefs and cultural norms. Just as shaking hands and making eye contact are common in America’s business world, not making eye contact or initiating personal contact may be a staple of another belief system. Suggesting that somebody have a drink or making assumptions about clothing style may indicate insensitivity to a religious culture.

Language and Sensitivity

No matter what kind of business you are in, globalization means you might be interacting with those who speak more than one language. Language can be a significant barrier, even when it comes to the use of slang and casual terms. Even people who speak the same language experience miscommunications, so preparing for multilingual interactions is a key component of your training in real estate.

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As a real estate agent, part of your job is to bring families and friends together.

The words you use in marketing material could have double meaning to those who are not familiar with English as a first language. Many of the idioms we use in real estate might not translate directly into another language either. A literal translation may be safer than creativity when you speak in another language.

Negotiations and Cultural Differences

Negotiating takes on a different meaning depending on which culture you are doing it in. When it comes to signing contracts, it is important to understand which norms are appropriate for the person or family you are dealing with. Some cultures do not encourage eye contact unless out of genuine emotion, and others might not place as much emphasis on shaking hands or making personal contact. Some business dealings are straight-to-the-point with no frills.

Real Estate Employees and Cultural Sensitivity

One of the best ways real estate companies are facing the issue of cultural sensitivity head-on is by hiring a diverse array of employees. When your office hires employees who are familiar with different cultural narratives, buyers and sellers feel a stronger connection.

Tips for Creating a Culturally Sensitive Real Estate Experience

  • If you target a specific demographic or live in an area with a high cultural or ethnic population, it is a great idea to research cultural facets that may differ from your own. Also, it is important not to lump all cultures together in spite of similarities they may share with others.
  • Understand certain cultural taboos in your area, which may include certain types of physical touch or use of alcohol and cigarettes.
  • Become actively involved in community events, reaching out to those in your city who may not be familiar with your business.
  • Consider taking a foreign language course to better understand those who may have learned English as a second language.
  • If you do find yourself making a cultural mistake, it is smart to apologize and move forward.
  • Brush up on your listening skills. Sometimes listening, rather than talking, is the best thing you can do for your clients.
  • It is a good idea to be straight to the point when you are dealing with a language or cultural barrier.

Finally, you might consider taking a course related to cultural sensitivity. Real estate ethics and cultural diversity are interesting topics that may inspire you to take new action in your career. Contact us for more information about available classes in your state.

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