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Power Teams: Do You Know Who You’re Competing Against?

Do you know who you’re competing against, and do you know how you stack up against them? If not, you should!

Knowing yourself and your strengths is the foundation for creating the experience you want to provide your clients with. The client experience is what will have people seeking you out to do business with for years to come.

If you’re looking to up the ante when it comes to the client experience, you must first set expectations. While this sounds simple, it’s important to take the time to set expectations with each and every client. Talk about the market, the lending environment, the paperwork you’ll need from them, the best time to see what’s on the market, and what to look for.

Setting expectations with clients also involves explaining how you do business and establishing the way in which you both want to communicate, as well as preparing for what’s around the corner. This conversation is key, because when making the decision to purchase a home—which is often the largest investment people will make in their lifetime—their nerves will be running high. The more you can prepare the client for upfront, the faster you can all respond to situations, which will go a long way toward getting your client to their end goal. In the end, better preparation will equate to a happier client experience.

So what does this have to do with the competition? By instituting this process, you’re setting the bar high for other real estate professionals who may come in behind you and simply pitch a strategy that involves setting up an MLS search.

Once expectations have been established, it’s important to keep the lines of communication open throughout the process. The key to communication is to tell someone what you’re going to tell them, then tell them, then tell them that you told them. By regularly communicating with your clients, updating them on the process and reminding them about what’s coming next, you’ll get ahead of any surprises.

Also remember that when you do experience a surprise—especially the bad kind—the key is how you handle the situation. If you’re completely thrown off, your client will react the same way; therefore, remember to keep your cool, and they will, too.

Providing an exceptional client experience doesn’t end once the transaction is complete. In fact, with a little forward-thinking, you can raise the bar even higher by taking photos throughout the process and gifting them to your client at the closing, or even after. If your request for review is accompanied by a video complete with photos of them looking at homes, meeting with you and images from their closing, you’ll remind them of all you’ve done for them without bragging about yourself or tearing anyone else down in the process.

Know your strengths, use them to improve your client’s experience and you’ll out-leverage your competition.

Phallan_Tamera_60x60With almost 25 years in corporate training and support, Tamera Phallan—a real estate professional with Team Parodi at Realty Associates—has been helping agents grow their business in the financial services and real estate markets locally and nationally. Her passion for sharing information, techniques and the success of her clients keeps her motivated to do more and continue to grow. Phallan recently joined Workman Success Systems as a team coach. Contact her at tamera@teamparodi.com. For more information, please visit www.workmansuccesssystems.com. 

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

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CEO Exchange Special Presentation: Sarah Young on the Shifting Political Landscape

“Sarah Young, Director of Real Estate Services at the National Association of REALTORS®, at RISMedia’s 2018 Real Estate CEO Exchange (Credit: AJ Canaria of PlanOmatic)

Keeping up with the change coming out of Washington can seem like a full-time job, but for brokers, it’s more important than ever to have an ear to the ground when it comes to legislative and regulatory issues that can affect their business and the industry at large.

Sarah Young, director of Real Estate Services/Advocacy for the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), took a deep dive into this very topic during a special presentation earlier this month at RISMedia’s 2018 Real Estate CEO Exchange.

“We’re actively working on over 60 regulatory issues,” explained Young during the session “How the Shifting Political Landscape May Impact Your Bottom Line.”

While NAR continues to advocate on behalf of the nation’s 1.3 million REALTORS® and 75 million property owners on a daily basis, Young kicked off her presentation with a look into their recent win on tax reform as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

Signed by President Trump in December 2017, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was examined closely in order to understand what it meant to homeownership, the real estate economy and business models alike.

“While the final bill was a lot better than other House versions,” explained Young, “a cornerstone of the bill for Republicans centered around the reduction of the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent—the centerpiece of the new tax law.”

A last-minute inclusion of a tax cut in the form of a special 20-percent deduction for the self-employed and other pass-through business owners precipitated NAR’s desire to get large-firm input.

“We talked about what this might mean for real estate broker services, and it became clear that we didn’t know whether it would include real estate broker services due to the way the law was written,” said Young.

From there, NAR contracted with PricewaterhouseCoopers and put a letter together for the Treasury Department. Sent in July 2018, the proposed guidance came in August.

“We were pleased to learn that brokerage services was defined very narrowly in the proposed regulations as NAR suggested,” noted Young. “It was a combination of hard work, member engagement and good relationships that resulted in a win for NAR members—and a great result for businesses.”

Even though the proposed guidance suggests that more real estate professionals including sole proprietors, owners of s-corporations, LLCs and partnerships may qualify for the deduction, Young stressed the importance of meeting with one’s tax advisor as a critical first step.

While additional guidance will be issued by NAR this fall, Young wrapped up her presentation and encouraged attendees to keep an eye on these other important initiatives:

The CFPB– Hosting industry roundtables that NAR actively participates in, Young explained that it’s clear that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau isn’t interested in going beyond statutory authority. “They’re also pushing for clearer rules of the road for compliance,” explained Young, “all of which NAR supports.”

RESPA Compliance– “We don’t want to return to the Wild Wild West,” noted Young. That being said, RESPA is still alive and well, and real estate professionals must continue to follow co-marketing best practices.

FHA Policy– “While we’re waiting for the final condo rule that’ll improve the FHA condo approval process, a decrease in FHA premiums is unlikely,” observed Young. “But NAR will continue to advocate that this lifetime premium is unnecessary.”

For continuing coverage of this year’s CEO Exchange sessions, stay tuned to RISMedia.com:

Tepping_Paige_color_60x60Paige Tepping is RISMedia’s managing editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at paige@rismedia.com. For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

The post CEO Exchange Special Presentation: Sarah Young on the Shifting Political Landscape appeared first on RISMedia.

Luxury Beckons in Belize

Moguel_HugoEstablished in 2004, Vista Real Estate Belize is a full-service company proudly offering Belize’s highest level of real estate services. With five staff members, three agents and one broker, the firm serves the country’s six districts (Corozal, Orange Walk, Belize, Cayo, Stann Creek and Toledo), in addition to the surrounding islands and cayes. Here, Broker/Owner Hugo Moguel provides an in-depth look into the current housing market—and what the future holds for those looking to purchase in this highly strategic location.

Please describe your current housing market.
Prices are rising throughout Belize, especially in the more populated areas such as Ambergris Caye and Belize City. It’s also important to note that the average home price varies by location, the size of the home, the materials used for construction and general cost of living. That being said, we currently have a total of 686 listings, of which 316 (46.06 percent) are active. The remaining 53.94 percent are sold or leased.

This St. George's Caye home is listed for $650,000.

This St. George’s Caye home is listed for $650,000.

Tell us about the types of properties in your market, and which are most popular.
We deal with all types of properties, whether it’s private islands, residential (including rentals), commercial, land, farms, ranches, hotels or resorts. While clients are most active in Belize City and Belmopan (Belize’s capital), their interest lies in residential property, land and income-producing commercial properties.

What types of buyers do you work with?
Our buyers are both local and foreign, typically hailing from the United States, Latin America, Europe and Asia. Within the past five years, we’ve seen an increase in foreign investment in Belize, primarily among retirees—or those about to retire who are seeking a new home or the land on which to build. Vacation homes are another popular request among buyers who are interested in using properties seasonally or being placed into a rental pool.

Olde Mill is listed for $695,000.

Olde Mill is listed for $695,000.

What are some of the most important trends in your market?
Currently, islands are the hottest commodity, and we’ve seen sales soar over the last two years. In fact, we’ve seen the highest amount of sales of private islands in the last 10 years, with investment in resort development following right on its heels. Buyers are also interested in farms and other agricultural properties. Income-earners, such as apartment buildings and properties suitable for vacation rentals, have also been attracting foreign buyers.

What are your biggest challenges/opportunities for growth?
Human resources has been our biggest issue in terms of growing. Finding agents who possess the quality and level of talent aligned with our reputation hasn’t been easy. To that end, we’ve put a training program in place in order to elevate former assistants to roles in sales and transaction management. It’s a long-term approach, but so far, it has secured loyal and hard-working, young people who are improving every day. We’re excited about our future.

Casa Colibris is listed for $248,000.

Casa Colibris is listed for $248,000.

How does being part of Leading Real Estate Companies of the World® help advance your business?
LeadingRE has been tremendous in connecting us with some of the most talented and experienced brokers in our region. Access to training and the sessions available at conferences have been incredible boosts in our know-how. Being part of LeadingRE has also afforded us the opportunity to get our hands on new technology, while providing insight into global trends, outreach and economics. The ability to connect with top brokers and agents from around the world and inform them about our market has been an untapped opportunity that we can now take advantage of thanks to LeadingRE. With social media, the opportunity to successfully do so has never been better. 

For more information, please visit www.belizerealestate.bz. 

Tepping_Paige_color_60x60Paige Tepping is RISMedia’s managing editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at paige@rismedia.com. For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

The post Luxury Beckons in Belize appeared first on RISMedia.

Making the Move to Rebrand: Is It Worth It?

“The Rebranding Challenge: Fit for the Future While Preserving Your Roots” at RISMedia’s 2018 Real Estate CEO Exchange (Credit: AJ Canaria of PlanOmatic)

Call it a facelift or a “refresh,” we’re in the age of the rebrand, when brokerages are pivoting, aligning with changing consumer needs and redefining their role in transactions. At RISMedia’s 2018 Real Estate CEO Exchange, held in New York City September 5 and 6, brands and brokers discussed how they embarked on their revamp—and the pitfalls in the process.

A Brand Reimagined
Century 21’s overhaul started with “a hard look in the mirror,” said Nick Bailey, CEO/president of Century 21 Real Estate. “It all started with a new mission statement—which came out long before the visuals—which is ‘to defy mediocrity and deliver extraordinary experiences.’ Unfortunately, because of the barriers of entry we have in this industry, mediocrity exists. We had to admit that and decide that we stand against it.”


Nick Bailey, CEO/President, Century 21 Real Estate (Credit: AJ Canaria of PlanOmatic)

Bookended by both goals, the brand was reintroduced this spring, abandoning the gold house in its logo for a mellower, more sophisticated tone, along with a fresh seal and signage.

According to Bailey, the concept and design were driven by the “it’ names today—companies with deeply entrenched followings and recognition.

“Flat design right now is where it’s at,” he explained. “We are following different companies, from Amazon to Uber to eBay, to make sure that not only we are positioning ourselves well with consumers in real estate, but [also] fitting into the well-known brands consumers currently interface with, because that will make it easier to connect with us.”

The change was embraced by many, and met with opposition by others—an outcome Bailey expected, given the organization’s sheer size.

“We had a feeling one or two might not like it,” he quipped. “We’ve been very upfront in knowing that some of you are going to love it, some of you are going to say, ‘not sure, I need to warm up to it,’ and others have said ‘you’ve wrecked my life.'”

A Legacy Renewed
For Halstead, a fixture in the New York City region, the brand’s growth necessitated a shake-up. Though founded in 1984, the company has expanded at a quickened pace in the past 12 years, growing from six offices in 2006 to 38 in three states today. The brand’s green palette was retired this spring, along with its “H” motif, and the company nixed “Property” from its name—all to better connect with consumers.

“We needed to convey to the consumer just how multidimensional we were as a firm, versus the strong, flat, iconic, staid logo we just put to pasture,” said Diane Ramirez, CEO/chairman of Halstead. “What we created is something that still has the history, it’s strong and it’s who we are, but also feels like it’s going in the direction of our future.”


Diane Ramirez, CEO/Chairman, Halstead (Credit: AJ Canaria of PlanOmatic)

The result? An iconographic logo (with the option to rotate), and colors different to each marketplace: Manhattan, the Boroughs and the suburbs.

“Each region truly loves and owns their color,” Ramirez said. “It’s created a lot of excitement.”

The change was not without missteps, noted Ramirez—and ego can be an issue, especially for those heavily invested. Ramirez herself co-founded the firm with Clark Halstead, and was involved in the marketing of the organization from the outset.

“You’re the one that created what was in that mirror, so it’s hard to look at what you thought were great, bold moves and [say] ‘Maybe these aren’t so great and bold anymore,” she shared.

A Community Icon Reintroduced
In Berkeley, Calif., a brokerage with 40 years in the marketplace recognized it was time for an update, as well—no easy feat, given the area’s counterculture leanings. Red Oak Realty’s symbol, a tree, was well-known, but needed a refresh.

“If we are working with consumers who are investing in the prepping of their house on average $30,000-$50,000 before they get it on the market…you have to walk the same walk,” said Vanessa Bergmark, CEO/owner of Red Oak Realty. “Even if that isn’t the reality of how it looks, making sure you fit within that paradigm is really important.”


Vanessa Bergmark, CEO/Owner, Red Oak Realty (Credit: AJ Canaria of PlanOmatic)

With an agency on tap, Red Oak created a new palette with several shades, which would be applicable to a freshening-up in the future. There were challenges during the process, including assessing the company’s goals and timing.

“Sometimes it felt like working with a psychologist, where you had to talk about what you wanted, the next generation, where you saw the company going…all of that had to be taken into account,” Bergmark said.

While buy-in is critical, announcing the change prematurely can set you back, she noted.

“If you want to get it right, don’t get a lot of input from the people you’re rolling it out to. So many people have so many different opinions…you’ll start doubting yourself.”

The End Game
In an astonishing turnaround, Century 21 completed its rebrand in five months, with execution now in the works; Halstead and Red Oak took a little longer, though still on the fast track, at roughly two years. Although an arduous—and for some, ongoing—undertaking, Bailey, Bergmark and Ramirez were in agreement: the results speak for themselves.

“What it’s done is created attention,” said Bailey. ” We’re telling brokers to use it—as we all do when something’s new and fresh—to your advantage.”

“What agents hate more than change is you not investing in them,” said Bergmark. “No matter if its 100 agents or 10,000 agents, they want to know you are committed to the company…It was an emotional investment between me and the agents that I’m leading.”

“The culture of our firm is our No. 1 most important aspect,” said Ramirez. “The fact that through the rebrand, they got the culture and are resonating with it…I know the ROI is there.”

For continuing coverage of this year’s CEO Exchange sessions, stay tuned to RISMedia.com:

DeVita_Suzanne_60x60Suzanne De Vita is RISMedia’s online news editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at sdevita@rismedia.com. For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

The post Making the Move to Rebrand: Is It Worth It? appeared first on RISMedia.

Beating the Big Guys at Their Own Data Game

Learn How Brokerages Can Leverage Data for Faster Sales

Zillow, Redfin and realtor.com® have all experienced incredible success because of the way in which they use the data their users give them. They not only track your every click and page visit, but, more importantly, they then harness those insights into customizing and optimizing your experience on their platform.

Consider Zillow’s New iBuyer Program
Using Zillow’s iBuyer Program as an example: They efficiently take a web visitor from lead to homeowner as fast as anyone in the business.


Using data.

They receive data from their site based on the behavior of each individual visitor. Every click from a prospect gives them additional insights into the preferences of that buyer or seller.

Zillow can not only infer the average price range buyers are looking for; they can identify the types of homes they care about, even down to their timeframe of purchase.

But guess who they’re not sharing that data with?

Exactly—you and your agents.

You Too Can Use Data Like Zillow Does!
Prospects often have already done a fair amount of research and browsing before they ever connect with an agent. Yet that agent—due to not having the data—has no idea.

But what if your agent has the same data-driven insights as Zillow? What if they already knew exactly what your buyers are looking for?

Just like Zillow, your agent could use these insights to convert more leads into deals and improve the overall experience, both on the web and in-person.

3 Ways You Can Start Using Data to Close More Deals 

  1. Who do your agents talk to?
    Have your agents put all your leads/clients onto a map and see if there are any patterns. Are they concentrated in one area? Could you deploy a highly targeted marketing campaign with this information?
  1. Who visits your website?
    What’s the location of those visiting your website? Could you use this data to create some kind of opt-in incentives, or custom messaging on your site to increase conversions?
  1. What kind of properties did a lead view?
    Did they look at wildly different properties? Are your “recommended properties” getting the views that you’d like? Could you improve that number by making a few tweaks?

These are just a few of the many ways in which your brokerage could start using data more effectively.

What Sotheby’s International Realty Canada Learned Using Our Data Solutions
Sotheby’s International Realty Canada recently implemented Local Logic’s Local Content Solutionon sothebysrealty.ca—the first Canadian national luxury brokerage to do so. The solution scores properties on a grade from one to 10 across 17 livability scores, which buyers can engage with to learn more about the area. Interactions with the widget reveal the location characteristics homebuyers are most interested in.


For instance, Sotheby Canada’s homebuyers were twice as interested in nearby groceries and three times for nearby restaurants than Local Logic’s average client. The increased interest came at the expense of quiet and nearby primary schools.

Although simple to collect and understand, this information can inform multiple decisions for the real estate company. Agents can better prioritize which factors to play up during a visit, and their marketing team can further tailor their messaging to the preferences of homebuyers. They can further analyze the data by metro area, price range or type of home to hone in on exactly what that buyer cares about.

Are you using the insights your website visitors leave behind?

For more information on how we can help you turn data into faster deals, please visit www.locallogic.co.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

The post Beating the Big Guys at Their Own Data Game appeared first on RISMedia.

Cutting-Edge Technology: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

This month’s National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) Power Broker Roundtable discusses embracing new technology wisely. 

Pappas_Christina_60x60Christina Pappas, District Sales Manager, The Keyes Company, Miami, Fla.; Liaison for Large Firms & Industry Relations, National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) 

Wong_Thad_60x60Thad Wong,
Co-founder, @properties Real Estate, Chicago, Ill.


Mesa_Rei_60x60Rei Mesa, President & CEO, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Florida Realty, Miami, Fla.


Piccinini_JP_60x60JP Piccinini, Founder & CEO, JP & Associates REALTORS®, Dallas, Tex.

Christina Pappas: Cutting-edge technology. Every broker says they have it. But do they? What is cutting-edge technology, anyway? Where does it come from? What do we use it for—and is it worth what we pay for it? These are questions worth pondering in a competitive time when it seems as though everybody is on the lookout for the shiny penny that will take their business to the next level. Today, we’ll hear from three brokers known for open-mindedness and innovation. Thad, your company is wholly grounded in avant-garde technology, from email security systems to an app called Charlie that gathers information on people you’re about to meet before you meet them. Are you out looking for these kinds of advances, or are they finding you—and what do you do with all this technology?

Thad Wong: Actually, we’re building some of our own technology now, because the truth is, when everyone has cutting-edge technology, nobody really has it. There is no single, one-size-fits-all answer. We all need different solutions, and cutting-edge technology at its heart is only what is useful to you. So yes, we are into new ways to make what we’re doing easier or faster or more effective. The bottom line is, “Does this improve the service and performance of our agents and the experience of our buyers and sellers?” If it does, I want to try it—and if I like it, I might be open to investing in it or partnering, especially if it’s a great start-up product.

Rei Mesa: The measurement for us is return on investment. While we’re very disciplined about spending, we’re always reviewing and evaluating new products. How does this technology advance our goals? How will it make us better? If we see it as a go, we’ll budget for it. 

JP Piccinini: The question for me is, “Will it make us more productive?” If it’s yes, I will never regret the cost. That’s an attitude that has never changed for me, not even during the downturn.

CP: How do you find these new products—and how do you vet them before youbuy? 

JPP: Mostly, the vendors come to us—and there’s a host of them out there bidding for your business. The hard part is separating the pretenders from the contenders. Quality is the first requisite. I want to know who stands behind a product. I want full and ready vendor assistance if we’re going to roll out something new.

TW: That’s one of the reasons we like to invest or partner. Even the best start-ups need capital. I know they’ll be there for us all the way, even as they gain a bigger footing, and it’s nice to profit from their growth.

RM: It’s always in the vendor’s best interest to stay with us. After all, they’re invested in our success.

CP: Let’s talk for a minute about AI—artificial intelligence. From a chatbot on your website to engage customers to an algorithm that predicts listings, AI is fast becoming the focus of our industry. 

TW: As it should be. AI is giving us ever better tools to help bring buyers and agents together. We appreciate that, and we want to be a part of it. We understand that at a certain point, the agent’s skill takes over—that technology can generate a lead and match a buyer with a property, but it can’t go with them when they want to tour it or negotiate on their behalf.

RM: That’s a good distinction, and it brings up another point. No matter how good a product is, if it isn’t used, it’s worthless. We are always meticulous about rollout. We talk about it, we demo it, we make sure the agents know well in advance that it’s coming—and often, we rely on support from the vendor to help them understand and buy into its value. 

CP: AI is another tool that can potentially help increase our agent’s productivity. And when rolling out new technology, we host a huge Tech Day every year with a lot of fanfare, so that vendors can demo their new products and get the agents excited.

JPP: I get that, and I know that to be successful, you have to embrace change. That’s never been more relevant than it is today. Whether it’s better access to data or cultivating leads, or whatever you need to take it up a notch…in the end, it’s still about finding the best ways to improve the real estate experience. As technology advances and we embrace new tools, it can really be a win-win for everyone.

For more information, please visit www.nar.realtor. 

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

The post Cutting-Edge Technology: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly appeared first on RISMedia.

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