Posts Tagged ‘Customer Service’

Follow-up and Communication … the Final Keys to a Successful Open House

May 26, 2011

As the fourth and final installment of my open house series, I’m going to share the importance of strong follow-up and communication plans, and why you’ll never achieve the full potential of an open house without them.

Follow-up … or fail!

Quite often one of my clients will call me and say, “I thought I had the best open house! I was so excited afterward! However, nothing has come of it. Not one person has called me back. What happened?”

I’m here to tell you that if you are expecting people to magically call you back, you’re going to be waiting for a very long time. No matter how much they like you, not everyone you meet will call you after that first open house. It’s incumbent upon you to reach out to them! You may need to meet people at several successful open houses before your phone starts to ring. Rome wasn’t built in a day … and neither are relationships with potential clients.

Here are the follow-up actions that need to be part of your open house plan. Some are tried and true … but some may be new to you!

  1. Before you leave your open house, put everything back in order. You’d be surprised how many agents hurry out the door and forget to do this. The seller comes home after the open house, only to find things out of place – or worse yet – hidden away where they can’t find them – and may feel uncomfortable or angry. Remember: you are a guest in their house. Treat your time there as such.
  2. If you were successful in connecting with people who attended your open house and have an email or a phone number, send them a “thank you for coming” email or make a quick phone call. This is not the time to give your sales message!  It is, however, the time for a simple thank-you. If neighbors attended, be sure to contact them as well.
  3. Send a second thank-you when possible, including a message that says something like, “If you didn’t have a chance to sign up for my real estate market update, please give me a call or send me an email and I will be sure to get you that information on a monthly basis.”
  4. Leave the sellers an open house report. If you create this report as part of your open house system and have it preprinted, all you need to do is fill it out just before you leave the open house and put it on the kitchen counter for the sellers to review. Include how many people attended your open house, any comments (both positive and negative) that they made, and your comments about how you feel the open house went. Please be honest here – it’s not fair to only provide positive information, when the reality might be something like “most attendees felt the price was too high.” If they only hear that things are going very well, they will become frustrated quickly if there is no other activity or any offers.
  5. You have yet another opportunity to reach out to people who attended your open house by sending “just pended” or “just sold” postcards at the appropriate times. Keeping people abreast of market activity is another way to stay in touch – and it allows you to articulate your value as a knowledgeable professional.

Communication is critical!

Communication is such a key piece of having a terrific open house, yet so many agents struggle with making guests feel welcome while also trying to establish the beginnings of a business relationship.

There are three key areas I want you to be aware of:

  1. The welcome: Are you a “stand at the front door” agent, or a “sit in the kitchen” agent? What I’m getting at is this: what is your comfort level when people come in the door? I have attended open houses where the agent literally frightened me by opening the front door with such gusto they almost knocked me down! I’ve also attended open houses where the door was already open … and when I walked in the agent was at the kitchen counter using her laptop. She only looked up long enough to say “Hi there.  Come on in and look around.” Finding a balance between the two is a skill that you must learn.
  2. The home tour: Do you like to show people around the house, or would you rather they tour on their own? Some agents are very successful at corralling groups of people and leading an actual tour – others are much more comfortable just letting people wander on their own. Sometimes this depends on the layout or amenities of the house or the seller’s wishes. Regardless of what tour style you choose, you must be comfortable talking not only about the house, the neighborhood, and the current market, but also encouraging people to take a look at all of the display boards and market data that you have provided.
  3. The goodbye: Are guests leaving your open house with a positive lasting impression of you? In talking to hundreds of buyers over the years, the general consensus is that while agents are nice and will say “thanks for stopping by”, buyers rarely feel like they made a connection with the agent. The goodbye is your final chance to make that connection without being pushy. You really need to think about how you want to handle this, based on your personal style.

So remember – you can turn an “ok” open house into a great open house by implementing great follow-up and communication plans.

Don’t forget that the weekend of June 4th and 5th is National Open House Weekend.  Public attendance at open houses this weekend should be high.  Make sure you’re prepared for your best open house ever!


If you joined us for our Unforgettable Open House class this week, thank you! You are on your way to creating your own unforgettable open house during the National Association of REALTORS® Open House Weekend June 4th and 5th.

As our “thank you” to those who came to class AND to those who have been reading through this series, we would like to share a document to add to your open house tools. This is a sample letter you can send out to the neighbors of the open house, offering to put “slow down” signs up due to the increased traffic in the neighborhood. Neighbors love this! This small touch accomplishes several things:

  • It introduces you, the agent.
  • It lets the neighbor know there is an upcoming open house. Remember, people buy neighborhoods…and neighbors are a fantastic way to spread the word about your listing.
  • It shows that you are concerned about the safety of their family.

You would not believe the response agents have received from neighbors so thankful the agent has gone the extra mile in keeping their neighborhood safe.

These safety signs are available in a variety of child safety areas of stores or you can buy them online. This is just one type of sign, but there are others types as well.

This letter is my gift to you. If you use it, I would love to hear what response you receive from the neighbors! Email me what you have heard to denise@thelonesgroup.com.

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Open House Preparation … it’s More than Signs and Flyers!

May 19, 2011

As the third installment of my open house series, I want to discuss how you prepare for your open house, and then how to actually host a highly successful open house. 

In order to have a highly successful open house you must prepare, prepare, prepare. Simply showing up at an open house with a couple of directional signs and some flyers is not enough! If you’re like many agents who tell me “Open houses don’t work”, I’m willing to bet that signs and flyers are your only open house tools. That simply is not enough!

Let’s talk about what you do need to do in order to create the kind of open house success you are looking for.

BEFORE THE OPEN HOUSE

It goes without saying that having systems in place will simplify your life – and your open houses!  Once you know exactly what you need for each and every open house you’ll find it extremely easy to get prepared ahead of time.

I recommend that all of your printed pieces – from signage to marketing materials – feature your custom brand. This is one of the best ways to stay top-of-mind with potential buyers and sellers, and stand out in the crowd of open house agents.

Some agents like to have an open house planning list to keep track of what needs to happen the week prior to the open house. Using this kind of checklist is very helpful because it keeps you on track.  You won’t forget one of the key essentials of your successful open house program if you’re managing your activities with a checklist. Regardless of whether you do or don’t create a list, below are the items that I think you must have on your open house checklist.  These can easily be customized for every open house you do.

  • Do the research. I talked about this in last week’s Zebra Report. In order to have a successful open house, you need to strategically select properties that offer the best opportunities for buyer and seller traffic. Do you remember what I said last week?  Instead of letting the property choose you, you need to choose the property. If you’re not sure how to do the research, go back and read last week’s Zebra Report, entitled Put on Your Thinking Cap”.
  • Plan your advertising. I also talked about this last week.  You must take the time to prepare a well-executed online and print advertising campaign. Simply putting an ad in your local paper will never generate the kind of traffic you want – or should expect.
  • Create an “Open House Book”. Provide additional value to attendees by offering a take-away open house booklet which includes full-color pages of information on your listing, as well a “tour of homes” sheet that has information on other comparable listings. You can also include a map showing each home’s location, and a one-page profile detailing your expertise.

  • Create custom branded display boards. A little later in this Zebra Report I’ll talk about display boards – what they are, how to use them, and why they are so important to your business. There is preparation needed for display boards – but once you have the format, it’s easy to update them for each house, or each neighborhood.
  • Plan your signage. If you’re looking for a very easy and inexpensive way to create a buzz around your open house, consider attaching an open house rider to your yardarm sign. This works well if you typically hold open houses on the same day and time … say, Saturday from 1pm-3pm. Attach your sign-rider on Thursday to alert people ahead of time about your open house. (Remember to remove the sign after your open house, however, or your sellers may be surprised the following weekend by a knock at the their door!)
  • Create invitations. If you’ve done your research, and you know who the most likely buyers are for the home you are holding open, send them a personal invitation. Postcards are a great option!  They are inexpensive to create and mail, and they offer a quick and colorful way to catch potential buyers’ attention. Don’t forget to go through your database and think about people who would also be good move-up or downsizing buyers.
  • Plan for a “neighbors only” open house. Again, use postcard invitations and explain that not only do neighbors get a private viewing of the home, you will also have valuable market and/or neighborhood information that you can share with them.
  • Plan your technology. There are a lot of options here, depending on whether you use video, social media or email invitations. Think about what will work best for you, what technology skills you have, and how savvy your market’s buyers and sellers are.
  • Shop for snacks and beverages. Depending on the home and the seller’s wishes, consider providing bottled water and some sort of snack. When you buy in bulk, you’ll save money upfront, and you’ll not be scrambling at the last minute to buy what you need.

DURING THE OPEN HOUSE

It’s what happens during your open house that will ‘wow’ attendees, elevating your open house from lackluster to amazing.

Even if you’ve done an amazing job preparing for and getting people to your open house, that’s only the beginning. Unless you provide a welcoming and professional atmosphere, visitors will likely walk in, and then walk out. Capturing their attention with eye-catching visual props (and accompanying information) is critical to building relationships – and building your business.

  • How to welcome attendees. You’ve put your open house signs on the street corners and at the curb, but have you considered how effective a ‘Welcome’ sign would be either on the front door or as a tent-sign on the front porch? What an engaging way to tell people “come on in – this is the right house – take a look around.” Most agents have never thought of doing this, but in fact it’s a very nice way to welcome your guests. And, if you use your custom branding on your ‘welcome’ sign, you’ve now set the tone for a higher-level, professional experience for your attendees.
  • Do you have a sign-in policy? Some agents have no problem putting out a sign-in sheet; other agents feel it can destroy a budding relationship in seconds. Personally, I have rarely seen this done well. If you are comfortable asking people to sign in , that’s great. If you’re using an excuse such as “my sellers are requesting you sign in for security purposes” be aware that open house visitors have been hearing this for years, and it may backfire on you.
  • Really know the best features of home and the surrounding area. People not only buy houses, they buy neighborhoods and surrounding areas. Identify at least five or ten area features and be able to talk about them comfortably.
  • Display features and benefits visually. This is a must-learn skill – not only for your open houses, but for every piece of home marketing you do. For every feature you want to highlight, there must be a corresponding benefit. Here’s a great example: if the home has a solid oak front door with heavy-duty hardware, the benefit is a heightened level of security, as well as exterior noise reduction. Once you have your list of features and benefits, create tent cards that you can place around the house to describe these to visitors.
  • Provide a personal brochure. Granted, you are selling the house.  But you are also selling yourself and your professional skills. A brochure is a terrific take-away that explains more about you, how you work, and the services you provide to both buyers and sellers.
  • Provide custom display boards. Most of us have visited a new-home subdivision and walked through model homes. These folks are experts at the display board business! They have boards that feature the neighborhood, the surrounding community and the features of the homes. You should have similar boards for the community (see below), plus boards that also showcase market data such as neighborhood appreciation rates, days-on-market statistics and recent pending and sold information. Determine what pieces you want on your boards, and then customize them for each house (and neighborhood) that you hold open.
  • Provide historical sales. People want to know what sort of investment they might be in for, especially if they fall in love emotionally with the house. Show visitors historical data going back far enough to highlight positive appreciation rates, and what they may expect going forward.
  • Display a “community board”.  Your board should include information on the community, such as population, demographics, parks, city services (police, fire stations, city hall), schools, and shopping.  You may also want to create a portable flyer version that visitors can take with them. Show where this house is in relation to other community amenities. It’s easy to overlay a street map with indicators for parks, schools, shopping and restaurants, and create a flyer that attendees can take with them. You may also want to include an aerial view of the neighborhood with the home clearly indicated.

  • Have open house book available. I talked about these booklets above. Once you have your system in place and format done, it’s simply a matter of adding your “open house tour” pages.
  • Provide extra amenities that set your open house apart. Offer shoe covers (also called “booties”) for those people who prefer not to remove their shoes. Or lay down carpet runners in high-traffic areas.  Some agents I know set out a basket of toys and coloring supplies for kids. You’d be surprised how easily this can build additional camaraderie with parents, while also providing a welcome respite for kids who were tired of having their parents drag them from open house to open house.

There is a lot of information in this Zebra Report, and many ideas for how to create a memorable open house for every attendee. It may feel overwhelming at first.  Just tackle one piece or idea at a time and start building your system and plan.  Before you know it you’ll have everything you need to really ‘wow’ your open house visitors.

Are you a real estate agent working in Washington State?

If so, we want to invite you to attend our “Unforgettable Open House” event on Tuesday, May 24th.

We’ll teach you how to design and conduct a truly unforgettable open house experience. You’ll learn the secret “props” needed for success, and how to captivate open house visitors. Discover the art of truly showing a home, rather than simply standing in the kitchen while potential clients walk in (and out!) the door. Hear the simple secret to capturing client contact information, without seeming like a pushy salesperson, “man talk” versus “woman talk”, and much, much more!

We’re offering this amazing opportunity in support of the Washington REALTORS® and National Association of REALTORS® Open House Weekend, which will be held June 4th and 5th this year. Master all of the insider secrets to a successful open house … then participate in the Open House Weekend by holding your best open house ever!  Public awareness of open houses will be high, and their expectations will be as well. You need to be ready to deliver!

There is no charge for the class; however, if you wish to participate for clock hours a fee of $35 ($40 at the door) will apply.

If you want to create an unforgettable open house experience – one that will generate income for you – you must attend this memorable class. Register Now!

Ask Denise: Time Management

April 14, 2011

Q: I have too much to do every week and am getting behind. How do I manage my time more effectively? I feel like I’m drowning!

A: Any time I hear an agent feel like they’re losing focus I know they’re not doing what I call “the hour of power”. You’ve probably heard me talk about the hour of power before. It’s as simple as this: set aside an hour of time each and every day where you work on projects that will improve your business. During that time you DO NOT call clients, email clients, text clients, or communicate with clients in any way. Instead, tackle those projects that will provide a long-term benefit to your business – such as the development of your website, the creation of a buyer or seller package, or the development of a brochure that describes your services. If possible, have your hour of power at the same time every day, and try to do it in a spot with as few distractions as possible.

Powerful Client Communication Tools

April 7, 2011

This is the third article in my series on powerful listing presentations, where we’ll be covering pricing, communication, technology, marketing, and home presentation & photography.

This week I want to discuss powerful client communication tools and how they will enhance your listing presentation.

Many sellers say that one of their biggest frustrations and challenges is agent communication. In my company we often talk with seller focus groups, and communication issues come up over and over again. Here are some of the things that sellers tell us:

  • “Once I signed the listing agreement, I rarely heard from my agent.”
  • “I have no idea what I am paying my agent for – she doesn’t seem to be doing anything to get my house sold!”
  • “I canceled my listing because my agent promised a lot, but delivered very little.”
  • “My neighbor’s house sold and my agent never bothered to take the time to tell me why theirs sold and mine hadn’t even gotten an offer.”

I can’t tell you how many agents still don’t recognize the seriousness of this issue!  Agents lose a lot of business – especially repeat and referral business – simply because they don’t meet a seller’s communication expectations. And it saddens me to know that with just a little planning and effort, this doesn’t have to happen.

First and foremost, find out how your clients feel about communication. Ask what method will be the most comfortable for them. Remember – this is about their preferences, not yours. Just because you’d rather talk on the phone does not mean that everyone else would. Some people are happiest using email. Some prefer the phone. Some only want to talk to you face-to-face. And some want different communication methods, depending on the issue. As an example, I had a client once who didn’t mind phone calls for simple things like a buyer feedback report. But they expected to have face-to-face discussions for anything more serious, including market changes, price reductions, or the new listing down the street.

If you don’t ask how clients prefer to communicate, you are missing the mark. And when that happens, you’re going to lose business.

Beyond knowing how your clients want to communicate, you need to have a communication plan, and accompanying tools, which clearly shows them what you are doing to earn their business (and their trust!). You must show them exactly how you will keep them apprised of important issues like market changes, feedback from other agents and buyers, and what you’re doing to market their home.

Remember when we spoke about “props” in the previous Zebra Report?  In case you need a reminder, props are visual tools that help you articulate your services – and your value!  Props help show your clients that you do take your communication plan seriously, and that you have the tools needed to follow through as promised.

So, what kinds of visual tools do you need?

1. A broker open or office tour report. Many agents have some sort of a comment form that they ask other agents to fill out about a new listing. But very few agents turn those comments into a visual report for their sellers. Sellers want to have something to look at. They won’t remember what you told them on the phone. And if you need to reduce the price or recommend staging in a few weeks, you’ll have data from your colleagues to back you up when talking to your sellers.

2. An ongoing feedback report. This report is based on buyer feedback – which is even more critical than agent feedback. Typically an agent will call a seller if there is feedback on their home. If that feedback is negative feedback, agents will ‘duck’ this discussion altogether. Tell your sellers that having a feedback report for them – based on unedited comments from buyers – will provide both of you with important and relevant information about what buyers are seeing and experiencing, regardless of whether you receive good, bad, or neutral feedback.

3. A pending-to-closing calendar. You must visually reinforce the organizational skills you provide once there is an offer on your seller’s home. Too often agents believe that sellers know what happens from day-to-day or week-to-week during the pending and closing process. However, sellers tell us that is not the case! They do not remember all of the steps even if they’ve sold several homes in the past. Show them what your calendar looks like, and tell them what to expect.

4. A marketing calendar. From writing and placing ads, to posting online, to building flyers or brochures and creating photo galleries and videos – selling a home takes extensive marketing. Do your sellers know exactly what you do, and when you do it? Do you explain to them what needs to happen and in what order it should take place? Providing a calendar (not simply a checklist) reassures them that you are doing everything you can to market their home effectively.

5. A marketing activity report. Even though you provide your sellers with a marketing calendar, you should also provide weekly updates on what you are doing. If you have ever had a seller say, “…you don’t seem to be doing anything to get my house sold…” providing weekly activity reports will answer that concern in a very powerful way. It takes a lot of work to sell a home – let your sellers know that you are working for them.

6. Samples of all of your marketing tools. It goes without saying that sellers expect to see samples of high-quality, professional marketing materials. You must have samples of your flyers and brochure, your open house materials, and your online marketing – including your photo gallery or a video home tour and how your listings appear on websites. You should have a visual representation of every website where you post their listing.

If you create “just listed” postcards, have a sample. If you send out a client newsletter that features your listings, let them see exactly what that looks like.  Consider creating a notebook that includes not only sample newsletters, but a printed copy of your database. When you explain the power of your database in marketing their home, you add another important layer to your listing presentation.

7. An annual client review. Even though your potential sellers won’t receive an annual client review on a home they are selling, they will understand the value when you say “I want to show you my Annual Client Review. Because I am very good at staying in touch with my past clients, they call me at the very beginning of their home search – which means I often have an ongoing list of potential buyers who may find your home the perfect fit.”

8. A homeowner’s book. Here’s a great way to discuss the homeowner’s book with potential sellers: “Imagine you are a buyer who has fallen in love this house. And on the kitchen counter is a notebook that includes all the details – and answers all the questions that you have. Details like home care and warranty records, the most current inspection report, tax and appraisal records. Neighborhood and community information. A homeowner’s book calms their concerns, so that instead of walking away with more questions, they are excited about writing an offer.”

If you find this list daunting, start by simply creating one tool at a time. Before long, you will have an entire set of communication tools at your fingertips … and a much more powerful listing presentation.

When you visually engage sellers with a systematic communication plan, the opportunity to leave the appointment with a listing contract in hand increases dramatically. And when you follow through with your communication plan, you will have solidified a client relationship that will bring you business for many years to come.

Next week I’ll be covering the role technology plays in the listing presentation.  You won’t want to miss it!

Fresh From The Lones Group’s Instant Image Gallery: Investment Portfolio

March 29, 2011

“Investment Portfolio” is a great example of a “layered” look in a design.  The strong color palette features the prominent use of blue – a color that embodies a sense of trust and security.  If you’re looking to develop a powerful image, “Investment Portfolio” would be a great brand for you!  It’s just one of the many options available in our Instant Image portfolio of designs.

Whether you want to develop a completely custom brand, or select from one of the amazing designs in our “Instant Image” portfolio, we are here to help.

Interested in learning more about developing your custom branded image? We can help with that too! Please send an email to support@thelonesgroup.com or call us at 360-527-8904 to learn more.

Polish Your Presentations!

March 24, 2011

Gone are the days when you can simply show up at a listing presentation with data from your MLS that shows comparable homes. Today’s savvy sellers require much more information. They expect an in-depth analysis of their local market. They want a customized marketing plan, tailored to their home and their needs. They want to know they are hiring an expert. And if your listing presentation isn’t one of your most powerful tools, you’re going to lose the listing.

One of my new coaching clients recently shared her frustration with me.  She simply isn’t converting listing appointments into listings.  The questions I asked her were: “Tell me what you have in your listing presentation, and show me what tools you use.”

Before she answered, I knew what the answer would be. Like most agents, she doesn’t have a structured listing presentation. Yes, she prepares a CMA, she has information about herself and about her company, she has sample flyers, and she talks about her website. But very few agents have what I consider a powerful listing presentation.

Here are my ten tips for success at your next listing presentation:

1. Get organized! The better prepared you are, the more confident you will become. Do your research. Prepare your tools. Put everything in order. When you know you are as ready as you need to be, your confidence will come through.

2. Always follow an agenda. Let potential clients know you are organized. Show them that you have a system and that there are important items that must be discussed. When you have an agenda, everyone will be ready for a comprehensive discussion. The beauty of an agenda is two-fold: you won’t forget to cover key issues, and you can involve the sellers by allowing them to determine where they want to begin the discussion.   Their answer will provide you with valuable information about their needs and concerns.

3. Grab a potential client’s attention early. Use visual “props”! Props are simply visual tools, but they are an essential (and often neglected!) ingredient in a powerful listing presentation. I know lots of agents these days think that their laptop is all they really need. While it may seem cool to show your “stuff” on a laptop, even today in our tech-savvy world most people still want something they can see and touch. Visual props will absolutely grab their attention.

4. Have a “toolbox” of props and use them with care. There are five essential categories you must cover in every listing presentation. You need tools for each one, based on what today’s sellers care about. Those five categories are:

a. Price

b. Communication

c. Technology

d. Marketing

e. Photography and Home Presentation

When your toolbox has several tools that cover each of the five essential categories, then you will have the beginning of a powerful listing presentation.

5. Let your clients know how you work. With few exceptions, we humans are not mind readers. We make assumptions based on past experience. Potential sellers may have preconceived notions about how ‘every’ agent works (or doesn’t work, as the case may be). Tell them exactly what you are going to do, when you are going to do it, and what systems you have in place to make sure you do what you say you will do for them.

6. Speak and present to everyone at the appointment.  I cannot tell you the number of times I have observed a listing presentation where the agent focused on one person, and ignored everyone else in the room. It’s natural to focus on the person you have the best rapport with; however, you must focus on others as well.  Part of your success will depend on building rapport with everyone in the room.  Regardless of who the final decision maker might be, you must connect with all parties.

7. Adjust your presentation based on “signals”. Communication is more than just speaking words to each other; body language plays a huge role. If you sense that someone is impatient, you may need to speed up so you don’t frustrate them. If you sense that someone is confused, or is asking a lot of questions, you absolutely have to slow down. A truly good presenter is skilled at reading non-verbal clues, and responding accordingly.

8. Keep your presentation short and to the point. I’m often asked, “But if I have a lot of props, won’t that increase the presentation time?” The answer is a resounding “NO”. It takes less time to explain things when you have visual tools to refer to. Just as illustrations supplement a book, your props will help potential clients understand your point more quickly than words alone.

9. Choose your tools carefully. While I want you to have several tools or props for each category of your listing presentation, I don’t necessarily want you to pull out each and every tool at every listing presentation. You wouldn’t expect a plumber to bring in his entire truck full of tools into your house, just to fix your leaky kitchen sink. Determine ahead of time which tools will be the most appropriate for each presentation, based on factors like the clients’ personality, the market, and the property.

10. Practice makes perfect. I am constantly amazed at how poorly agents present when they’re not prepared. I am equally amazed at how well an agent will present when they are polished, confident and professional. Agents who understand the value of role-play, and who practice their presentation regularly with others, are the agents who will ultimately be hired by a seller.

If you find yourself competing for listings (and who doesn’t!), the way to get hired is to confidently and professionally articulate your value through your listing presentation. Remember this: a powerful presentation will win every time.

This is the first Zebra Report in a 7-part series about successful listing presentations. In the coming weeks I’ll break down each component of a presentation, including Pricing, Communication, Technology, Marketing, and Photography & Home Presentation. I’ll explain exactly what information you must include in your presentation, and what “props” you must have in your tool box. Look for Category 1: Pricing next week!

Ask Denise: Buyers & Foreclosures

March 24, 2011

Q: I’m frustrated because I’ve been working with a buyer who will only look at foreclosures. He believes that’s where the ‘deals’ are. We keep writing low offers, which keep being rejected. I need help convincing him to write an offer the bank will accept … or I have to find a way to convince him to look at listings that are not short sales or foreclosures.  Help!

A:  This is a common question in today’s market. First, you need to explain the reality of the foreclosure market to your buyer. Foreclosures can be immensely complicated because there are so many stakeholders to deal with. The lender is also the property owner. There is a complicated legal process that must be followed. Title companies are often backlogged with the paperwork required by the lender and attorneys. Add all these components to the mix, and you’ve got serious challenges.

Buyers must also understand the time it takes to buy a foreclosure.  Many foreclosures take months and months to close. If your buyer currently has a loan in place with an acceptable interest rate, what will he do if his transaction takes six months to close … and interest rates increase during that time? Will he still be approved to purchase the property?

It’s imperative that you have a frank discussion with your buyer about the benefits and challenges of looking only at foreclosures. Buyers always think foreclosures are a “great deal”. They can also be a great deal of work, are typically accompanied by a great deal of frustration and waiting, and always require a great deal of patience. Make sure your buyer understands, and is comfortable with, all of the challenges before you write any more offers.

Ask Denise: House Flyers

March 17, 2011

Q: With all the talk about high-quality online marketing, do I really still need to provide my sellers with a printed flyer? And if I do, is it better to do a one-page or a two-page flyer?

A:  While your online marketing will attract potential buyers, you absolutely still need printed flyers. There will always be people walking or driving by who want instant information, rather than going home and looking up the information online. They’re clearly interested in your listing and you don’t want to lose them. Additionally, providing very high-quality, two or four page printed flyers says a lot to other potential sellers in the neighborhood about your professionalism.

My bottom line is this: in the sea of ‘average’ agents, you must stand out with both your online presence and your printed materials.

Just One Thing

February 24, 2011

For many agents, just getting away for a few hours to invest time in their business is hard. What’s even harder is getting away for two entire days. But recently a large group of agents did just that. They took two days away and joined us for the first of our 2011 Safaris.

We asked attendees to really look at their business. We asked them to really look at who they are. We asked them to look at their strengths and weaknesses. We asked them to look back at their production numbers and examine why they weren’t where they want to be.

We talked about their challenges. Their trouble points. The areas of their business where they struggle again, and again, and again.

While most Safari attendees planned on incorporating many changes into their business after the Safari, my hope was that just one of those changes be something that positively impacted their business right away. Just one thing!

I have to tell you, it was absolutely exhilarating to watch real life scenarios play out over the two days. It was amazing to watch the changes taking place for agents who were willing to lay their challenges on the line and ask for help.

Here’s just one story out of the many that transpired:

One of the agents attending Safari was having a huge problem that day – actually at a particular moment – with a buyer who, four hours earlier, had been ready to write an offer. However, the buyer suddenly wouldn’t return her calls. He wouldn’t return text messages. The agent had been working with this buyer for several weeks and had built, what she thought was, a very strong relationship. Time was running out and the agent was nearing panic. We could see it on her face and hear it in her voice. The last message she had from her buyer was quite strong. He had said, “You’re not supporting me.” In other words, he meant, “You’re not doing your job.”

Right there in class, this honest agent opened up to the group and asked for help. How could she even focus on our Safari content when she was frantically trying to save a transaction and a client relationship?

I reminded her to think about what the clues were in what her client had been saying earlier in the day. What was he feeling, how he was expressing it, and what had he needed most when she last heard from him. He said he needed support! I asked her to think about how she had responded to him – before he went AWOL.

From the clues he gave, what he needed right then was her support and an apology for not being as supportive as she could have been. She needed to humble herself a bit and save a client, and a transaction. She had to do what it would take to make this right. I told her exactly what to say and how to say it, knowing what her client’s personality type needed to hear from her.

Now – I’m sure you’re asking how I could tell what he needed. I’ve never even met the man. Here’s the thing, though– each personality type speaks a certain language. This buyer was speaking a particular language and what she needed to do was listen for clues and provide the same language in return. I asked the agent to step out of the room and communicate with the buyer by using his language instead of her language.

Something miraculous happened. Within seconds of her speaking his language, he responded right back with a positive, ‘let’s move forward’ message. When she came back into the room, she said she was completely amazed, considering that he’d been avoiding and hiding from her for several hours. All of a sudden, instead of trying to communicate in her tone, she spoke his language and he came out of his hiding spot.

What is the point of this story? For this agent, it was just one thing. Knowing how to communicate more effectively was all she needed on that day.

You likely also have at least one area that you need to work on which, for whatever reason, you haven’t yet mastered.

For all of you, there is certainly at least one thing about your business that if changed, could positively influence your business. Maybe you need to learn better communication skills, or you need to learn to master your daily schedule. Perhaps you need to focus on branding and marketing. It could be that you need to become a much better presenter. In all likelihood, you need to learn to let go of all the pain you’ve experienced over the last two years in a challenging economy.

These are all critical things! When you take time to invest in your business – to really examine your business – you might find that it’s just one thing that will make a major difference. You have to take a serious look. If you’re honest and willing to learn new skills and tools, you will transform your business.

If you’re ready to take a good, hard look at your business, and you’re ready to be honest with yourself about what needs to change, we invite you to attend our next Safari this spring. You may find you only need to change one thing. You may find you need to change a few things. Or a whole lot of things. But we guarantee that you’ll spend two, completely inspiring days, focused on finding the right path for you to transform your business for years to come.

Ask Denise: Losing a Buyer

February 24, 2011

Q: I’m a newer agent. Recently I lost a buyer because he called a listing agent whose name was on a yard sign, thinking that only that agent could help him see the house. He ended up writing a contract with her instead of me. Help!

A: It is critical, when dealing with your buyers, to have a frank discussion with them about why calling the listing agent may not be in their best interest. But this has to happen before you ever show them a home. That’s why you have to have a buyer presentation – and a buyer package. Not only do sellers need a presentation – buyers do too!

Buyers might be looking at houses with you every week. However it’s also natural for them to drive by a house with an open house sign in the yard and want to go in. It’s perfectly natural for them to drive by a FSBO and end up talking to the owner working in the yard. It’s normal for them to look at houses online and then drive by. In their minds, they may very well think they’re supposed to call other agents to look at other houses. That’s why it absolutely critical that you educate them on how you work with your buyers and the actions they should take if they wind up face to face with another agent.

If you don’t have a buyer presentation, then create one! If you have one and it’s not effective, then you need to update it.


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