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It Takes More Than Irish Luck to Close a Real Estate Deal

Samantha Jones

By Samantha Jones

Four-leaf clovers. The Blarney Stone. Horseshoes. Lucky rabbit’s feet. The recent St. Patrick’s Day holiday has me thinking about the luck of the Irish and good luck charms.

But luck isn’t necessarily going to help you close a deal.

In real estate, you’re bound to hit your fair share of hurdles. Obstacles and objections pop up along the way to the finish line: closing day. If not, then I’m in awe and want to know if you live in Oz. Just kidding…a bit.

Have you ever heard the expression, “It’s those it’s happened to, and those it will happen to”? Because this is a prime example of what I mean—you will hit bumps in the road, but it’s all about how you adapt and prepare for those challenges.

Set Expectations

First and foremost, it is crucial to set expectations for both buyers and sellers from the get go. Honesty goes a long way. Life throws curve balls and real estate deals aren’t exempt from them. I have always heard and truly believe a deal is never done until the wire hits, checks are cut, and keys are exchanged. I prepare my clients for the hurdles we may encounter, such as people losing their jobs, relocating out of state, or just plain changing their minds. I sprinkle in encouragement too, reassuring them that I will re-sell their home again should the deal fall through. Or, that I will find another home if it doesn’t end up being “the one.”

Handle Inspections and Appraisals

The Chicago River on St. Patrick’s Day. @sam99929, 2016. pixabay.com

Inspections are a common deal killer in my area. As a safety net for buyers, inspections are crucial for uncovering any potential skeletons in a home’s closets, so to speak. Many repairs end being minor and can be worked through by asking the seller for a credit or to have the issues rectified prior to closing. I often recommend my sellers have a pre-sale home inspection to uncover any unknown issues and have them corrected prior to going on the market. This gives us our best shot at making it through the buyer’s inspection unscathed.

I remind my buyers to check with their mortgage broker before making any purchases, job changes, or similar decisions. Never hurts to be cautious.

Deals with a financing contingency are subject to an appraisal. Essentially, a licensed appraiser must determine the home’s appraised value, which will ideally be at or above contract price. I recommend educating the appraiser: Were you in a multiple offer situation that drove up the price? What is unique about this home that basic statistics may not reveal? Best to be proactive here, as you are only as good as your appraised value.

Communicate Often

I’ve saved the best for last. It goes without saying, communication is paramount in all real estate deals. In the craziness of our daily lives, it may be easy to think you can “step out” once your clients are under contract. But that could not be further from the truth. Stay in touch with your clients, their mortgage broker, the buyer/seller’s agent, and even your client’s attorney (we’re an attorney state in Illinois). Keep track of important deadlines such as the end of attorney review, clear to close date, and finally, your closing day.

The biggest takeaway from this should be the reminder that you are the professional; your clients’ liaison through everything. After all, how often do they buy and sell properties? Not nearly as frequently as we’re entrenched in deals. Their trust and well being is paramount. Don’t forget that. These tips should help you make your own luck, rivaling the Irish all year long.

Samantha Jones is an award-winning real estate broker with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in the Chicagoland area. She is a top producer who specializes in residential sales. Connect with Samantha on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.


5 Spring YPN Event Ideas

Can you feel it? Warmer days are moving in (pun intended), and the spring real estate season is starting to buzz. So, if you’re looking for ways to get your YPN members in gear for spring, here are five real-life event ideas from other YPN groups around the country that will encourage networking, community involvement, business development, and camaraderie.

 1. Host a top producer panel.

The Chicago Association of REALTORS® YPN hosts monthly breakfast events featuring topics that draw hundreds of attendees. This month, the group held a top producer panel, and next month’s event will cover working with investors.

Chicago Association of REALTORS® YPN breakfast panel

2. Help YPNers go hyper-local.

The Greater Nashville REALTORS® YPN is helping their members expand their business this spring by co-hosting a class on geo-farming.


3. Throw a St. Patty’s shin-ding.

Sip green beverages while making business connections like the Tri-County YPN in Maryland. St. Patrick’s Day is only a week away!

Tri-County @ypn #StPatricksDay #Party. Thursday, March 15, 5:30 PM – 8:30 PM @TheTaphouse1637. Hope to see you there! @somdrealtors Learn more: https://t.co/HA4AexBQVO #ypn #youngprofessionals #realestate #realtors #lenders #homebuying #homes #houses #marylandrealtors pic.twitter.com/3GvJvgeTLN

— Maryland REALTORS® (@MDRealtors) February 25, 2018

4. Embrace March Madness.

As the chair of the Greater Louisville Association of REALTORS® YPN says, “don’t fight it”—spend the opening day of the NCAA tournament with your fellow basketball-loving YPNers.


5. Get your community looking tip-top.

Take a cue from the Englewood Area Board of REALTORS® YPN in Florida and host a neighborhood, beach, or park cleanup day this spring.

Join us March 24th to make a difference!#KeepAmericaBeautiful #YPN #GiveAHoot pic.twitter.com/8sGyAowu3O

— EABOR (@EABORFL) March 8, 2018


3 Tech Benefits Helping New NAR Members Get Started

By NAR’s REALTOR Benefits® team

You have many choices to make as a real estate professional—especially when it comes to investing in yourself and your new business. NAR’s REALTOR Benefits® Program is designed with you in mind, offering savings and unique offers on products and services just for REALTORS®. With more than 30 carefully selected partners, we have several specializing in technology with tools to help new agents launch their business. Here are a few to get your technology buzz going.

Back At You Media

digital tablet blank screen on work desk top viewSocial media marketing is a significant part of many new agents’ business plan. But getting all your ideas organized and planned accordingly can be a daunting task, especially when you need to spend time networking for new clients and driving from showing to showing. This is where Back At You Media comes in. Their Social Media Center provides you with a simple, customizable way to integrate the important element of social marketing into your overall marketing strategy. Choose your level of automation, and Back At You Media does the rest: promoting you and your listings on popular social networks including Facebook, LinkedIn, and more.

Back At You Media has a simple and affordable starter plan that also allows you to schedule and boost listings and content, and receive performance reports on your marketing efforts. Users can also enjoy unlimited access to mobile-friendly single property websites and capture leads using a “What Is Your Home Worth” landing page. You can choose from an annual or monthly subscription. A monthly plan is $15 per month and an annual plan is $10 per month ($120 per year).

The NAR Starter Plan is exclusively available to REALTORS®. As an additional NAR member benefit, you’ll receive a discount off the one-time activation fee for this plan. Visit NAR.realtor/RealtorBenefits/BackAtYouMedia.


DocuSign is the National Association of REALTORS®’ official and exclusive provider of electronic signature services under the REALTOR Benefits® Program. Did you know that they have exclusive pricing for NAR members on the Real Estate Starter plan? The plan is available for single users and is great for agents new to the industry. In this plan, you can take advantage of benefits such as:

  • Five document sends per month – Save time by sending documents to others for their signature. One “envelope” send can include any number of recipients and any number of documents. Your clients and customers sign for free.
  • Select appropriate document fields – Collect name, date, signature, initial, company, title, and email from your signer, or add text and checkboxes to allow your signer to fill in information themselves.
  • Work on the go – Download the free Android or iOS app to create, send, and sign documents anywhere.

NAR members received preferred pricing at only $13 per month for monthly plans or $96 for prepaid annual plans. For additional information, visit NAR.realtor/RealtorBenefits/DocuSign.

Intuit® (QuickBooks® Self-Employed and TurboTax®)

Get ahead of the tax season and maximize your deductions. Intuit®, a leader in financial management software, can help. They are proud to offer NAR members special savings on their signature products QuickBooks Self-Employed and TurboTax.

With QuickBooks Self-Employed you will get automatic mileage tracking, receipt capture (no more stashing receipts in a shoebox, wink-wink), and expense categorization – all in a single app. Take the busy work out of organizing your finances, so you can focus on your business. QuickBooks Self-Employed helps you claim every deduction – so you keep more of what you earn. Users find an average of $4,340 in potential savings per year. Try it risk free for 30 days. After the first 30 days, get 50 percent off retail price for 12 months ($5 per month for NAR members).

When you’re ready to do your taxes, get them done easily with TurboTax, America’s best-selling tax preparation software. Choose the version that best fits your needs with special NAR member pricing offered on TurboTax Deluxe, Premier, and Self-Employed editions. TurboTax Deluxe: annual discount is $10 off. TurboTax Premier: annual discount is $15 off or TurboTax Self-Employed: annual discount is $20 off.

There is also a QuickBooks Self-Employed + TurboTax Bundle to maximize your savings. You can enjoy the best of both worlds with TurboTax and QuickBooks Self-Employed with 29 percent off retail price for the first 12 months ($12 per month for NAR members). To get started visit: NAR.realtor/RealtorBenefits/Intuit.

To learn more about NAR’s REALTOR Benefits® Program and its partners visit NAR.realtor/RealtorBenefits.

Key Tips to Give Your Website Curb Appeal

Anita Clark

Anita Clark

By Anita Clark

There are few things real estate agents understand better than curb appeal. It is one of the major factors motivating people to go into a house predisposed to buy. Curb appeal is one of the top factors that can shield a property from low-ball offers, and it’s one of the factors that help close the deal.

As a real estate professional, you make sure that your clients’ homes have curb appeal. But do you make sure that your own website has curb appeal? The first impression your visitors get when they land on your website sets the tone. It determines whether they will read further. If they do read further, it determines how excited they will be to do business with you.

Here are a few quick tips about to help you give your local real estate website instant curb appeal.

Use a Simple Web Design

@geralt, 2017. pixabay.com

@geralt, 2017. pixabay.com

There are so many ways to design a website. You can use a lots of shapes and colors. Or, you can keep it simple.

Modern websites have a mobile-friendly, easy-to-read layout, so that even on a phone screen they come up looking great. Just like a home design, you want your website design to include smooth lines rather than being cluttered by too many elements. If it looks complicated, people will think it is complicated and you’ll lose them.

When buyers stand in front of a house, the facade tells them what to expect. Make your website do the same thing. The design should reflect your business, too. If you focus exclusively on luxury homes, trim your site with images of high-end properties. If you focus on a community or neighborhood, your imagery should communicate that. Use a color scheme that reflects your brand. Create the right expectations.

Get Rid of the Clutter

Just as in a home, clutter on a website makes the place look unkept. You might be tempted to put as much content and information as you can on your home page with the idea of providing something for everyone. But too much information simply drowns out what is most important.

Put the very most important things up front, the things that will make people dig deeper into your website or to pick up the phone and contact you. It might include a new-listings widget. It will surely include easy-to-find contact information, such as your phone number and a contact form.

Push less-important details lower on the page or to interior pages. Don’t hide them, because some people want to learn about neighborhoods in your market, mortgages rates, or how the economy is affecting home prices. Make sure viewers can easily navigate to that content without it getting in the way of the important stuff. Once you have their attention, that’s the time to answer questions and offer more details.

Use Powerful Words

Sure, you can use big, fancy, hundred-dollar words hoping to impress your visitors into listing with you. But big words usually won’t impress. Plain language will impress. People want to understand what you have to say without wasting their time.

Before you show a house, you make sure the bicycles and skateboards are in the garage, or even off the property. Don’t make your prospects trip over complex sentences when they visit your website. A simpler sentence structure that conveys information accurately will be the most helpful to your readers. And it’s not just the words you use, it’s also how you lay them out. Sound familiar? You wouldn’t just throw plants willy-nilly in front of a house you’ve listed. You place them carefully for maximum effect. The same goes for the words on your website.

Bullet lists help visitors quickly read a lot of information without having to dig for it. Subheadings are a great way organize your information. Just like people instinctively know how to navigate a well laid out house, they should have the same comfort with your website. Showing that you are organized will help instill trust your information and in you.

Show Them What To Do

@janeb13, 2016. pixabay.com

@janeb13, 2016. pixabay.com

Finally, make it clear how to navigate your site, contact you, view listings, and how to list their own property. Don’t make your web visitors search to hard, and don’t be cute or cryptic with links or buttons. The more work it is to hire you, the fewer people will do it.

If you were showing a house to a prospective buyer, you would make sure it’s easy for them to find. You don’t want them to have to work to view the house, and you want them in a great mood when they step inside. Similarly, if a visitor to your website has to search too hard, you’ve already lost the client.

In Other Words…

Have you noticed a common thread through all these tips? Make your website easy, easy, easy for people to use. Make it look simple and make it act simple. Make everything clear and give it great curb appeal.

Don’t be shy to hire a user experience expert to test it all out. You might be surprised how many more clients you get once your website is more user-friendly than it is today. You are focused on curb appeal for your clients, so do it for your own business, too.

Anita Clark is a residential real estate agent with Coldwell Banker SSK, REALTORS®, in Houston County, Ga. She is from Coventry, England, is a retired military spouse, and has been assisting buyers, investors, and sellers in middle Georgia since 2007. Connect with Anita on Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, or on her Warner Robins GA Real Estate Blog.



Enough is Enough: Time to Debunk 4 Myths About Real Estate Agents

Rebecca Donatelli

Rebecca Donatelli

By Rebecca Donatelli

Let’s face it, people tend to have a skewed perception of real estate agents. The way we are depicted on TV shows—even the way some people portray themselves on social media. You’d think we only live a life of luxury and glamour, with classy dinners, beautiful homes, and five-star reviews. This has allowed outsiders to develop a misconception about what exactly we do, and our worth.

While there are a few bad seeds in the business that spoil the perception of the industry, it’s unfair to classify all agents in this manner. What they don’t see on social media are the long workdays, stressful transactions, and potentially irregular paychecks. And let’s face it, is a real estate agent going to post on social media about a transaction that fell through right before closing? Or black mold found in the attic during a home inspection? The reality is, they’re not. Real estate agents use social media to promote their business, but that doesn’t mean we’re not real people with real struggles.

Let’s squash these misconceptions right here, right now, especially for those who are considering a career in real estate.

1. Real estate agents make buckets of money.

Going back to the social media piece: the flashy cars, big houses, and steak dinners give people the impression that we are rolling in dough. The truth is, you can make good money in the business if you put the in time and effort. If you are willing to hustle, and truly want the business and success, the money will follow. However, that is true in any business. Whether you are a chef, lawyer, bartender, or medical  sales representative—if you work hard the money will come. In all honesty, the six-figure income is not the norm in the real estate business. According to the National Association of REALTORS®, the median gross income of REALTORS® was $42,500 in 2016, which has actually decreased from 2014’s average income of $45,800. In fact, many agents enter the business due to this easy money misconception, and real estate coach Tom Ferry estimates that 87 percent of agents quit within the first five years. Enough said.

2. Real estate is “easy.”

This one makes any successful real estate agent laugh. Most people think we show three houses (thank you House Hunters), write a quick offer, hand out keys and get paid.

@rawpixel, 2017. Pixabay.com

@rawpixel, 2017. Pixabay.com

Let’s just back up to the showings. The odds of any real estate agent only showing three houses and securing a contract is slim-to-none. Last summer I showed a client 66 houses. That’s right, 66. (I kept track.) And guess what—the house my client ended up choosing was one of the first properties I showed her. She ended up becoming a good friend of mine, so I didn’t mind! But the truth is, it’s not as easy as people believe. One house may be perfect, minus the 30-year-old roof. The next home is completely renovated, but tilted to one side. The last one is exactly what the client is looking for, but $30,000 overpriced with a stubborn seller. Showings aside, we are dealing with multiple personalities, and managing listings, marketing costs, and closing gifts. Agents work around the clock to ensure a paycheck. Bottom line: If it were easy, everyone would be doing it.

3. Real estate agents have flexible schedules and don’t have to work a lot to make money.

The truth is, we do have flexible schedules. We don’t have to be in an office at 9 a.m. and can take vacations or days off without asking permission or taking a paid sick day. However, while that may be the case, if we don’t work, we don’t get paid. Time is money in this business, considering it is a 100 percent commission field. Every minute we are not hustling is another minute spent not making money. Real estate is NOT a 9 to 5 job, with evenings and weekends off. In fact, evenings and weekends are typically our busiest times of the week, considering most of our clients have a 9 to 5 job and are only available for showings and listing appointments at those times.

4. Being a real estate agents doesn’t require any skill.

Let’s just counteract this upfront by saying without the proper skills and training, the success won’t exist. First and foremost, real estate agents must follow a strict Code of Ethics enforced by the National Association of REALTORS®. Should you not have the proper training and education to abide by the Code of Ethics as well as state and federal laws, you can lose your license completely. Aside from the strict rules and regulations of the business, as I mentioned previously, the business is more than just showing beautiful homes and signing a quick contract. You need to be able to understand what a contract says, how to properly fill it out and explain it to the client, how to negotiate a sale and home inspection, arrange title searches, monitor finances, and most importantly, guide buyers and sellers through a very emotional transaction. This requires extensive training, understanding, patience, and education.

The reality is, real estate has its highs and lows. There are definitely glamorous moments, nice paychecks, and beautiful homes. However, without the hard work, proper training, and passion, those things won’t exist. Real estate is not a get rich quick scheme or “easy” career, hence the large percentage of agents that don’t last more than 5 years (many after the first year). Hopefully this clears up any confusion and give you a clearer picture of what you need to do to be a successful agent.

Rebecca Donatelli, ABR, SRS, is a top producer at McDowell Homes Real Estate Services in Cleveland who has built a large online presence through social media, specifically Instagram. Follow her @rebeccadonatelli.REALTOR.






Effective Habits of Time-Block ‘Bouncers’

Lee Davenport

Lee Davenport

By Lee Davenport

Time-blocking (designating time on your schedule to work on a specific task) isn’t really a challenge. Whether you prefer pen and paper or an online system, you can fill your schedule with items galore. But the real trick is staying consistent with time-blocking.

It helps if you know how to be a bouncer. You read that right. When you think of a bouncer, you likely think of the doorman at popular club or celebrity-filled event. That’s exactly who I’m talking about. The difference is, you’re going to be the bouncer of your time, not a venue.

We all have the same 24 hours in a day, but not all of us guard it the samebway. This either diminishes or enhances our ability to “get’er done.” So, follow these habits of a time-block bouncer in the points and video below.

Be Honest and Offer Alternatives
Imagine you’ve been guarding your time like a professional bouncer, but someone slips through your boundaries. It happens. All is not lost! Simply be honest and—this is the key—ask for an alternative time to connect. For example:

“Sally, thanks for __(calling/stopping by/etc.), but this is not a good time. Can we connect ___ (add time option 1) or ___ (add time option 2)?”

If the interruption comes online via email or social media, then use one of these Google calendar integrated tools to give that person a dedicated time that fits both of your schedules: Assistant.To or Calendly.

Work Where No One Knows Your Name
To get work done, don’t go where you’re living out the “Cheers!” theme song. If you can’t concentrate with family, friends, or colleagues around, then relocate for your best productivity. We now live in a world where co-working spaces—low- or no-cost communal work stations that offer the creature comforts of meeting rooms, printing, WiFi, and other office amenities—are becoming as commonplace as grocery stores. Explore sites like DesksNear.Me or Coworker.com to see what’s near you and how others rate them. And remember, your local library is still a great place to go where the librarians (a.k.a. sound bouncers) happily “shush” away any of your interruptions.

If you are interested in more tips for becoming a successful time-blocker, I take a deeper dive on this topic in my “Laws of Follow-Up” video series. Learn more in the video below:

I would love to hear from you. Give me a shout on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Google+, or by visiting LearnWithLee.Realtor. Want more of the best practices from our nation’s top producers? Grab your copy of the short read, Profit with Your Personality. And, be sure to tell the real estate agents you know to get a copy of the 5-star rated workbook, Plan to Win!, to transform their real estate sales game plan. Here’s to your success.

Dr. Lee Davenport is an Atlanta-based real estate coach who trains agents, teams, brokerages, and other business organizations on how to use today’s technology to work smarter. Join Lee’s free RE Tech Insider’s Club by visiting www.LearnWithLee.REALTOR.




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