Saturday, July 28, 2007

Network News Video

Rockie Mountain Paradise Slideshow

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Network News Video

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Words matter in real estate listings

Study offers advice on what to say — and what not to say.
By Ann Brenoff
LOS ANGELES TIMES
Sunday, December 17, 2006

Words matter. Wars have started over them. Civilizations have collapsed because of them. And it would appear that the speed with which a house sells might be determined by them.

As listings grow old on the vine and frustrated sellers grapple for the slightest edge, the findings of several academics might offer some guidance.

For example, a Canadian professor, as part of a broader study on real estate sales patterns, found that homes where the seller was "motivated" actually took 15 percent longer to sell, while houses listed as "handyman specials" flew off the market in half the average time.

"It surprised even me," said researcher Paul Anglin, who teaches real estate and housing trends at the University of Guelph in Ontario. The study dissected the wording of more than 20,000 Canadian home listings from 1997 to 2000.

What surprised him most was how the buying public put style over substance. Words that denoted "curb appeal" or general attractiveness helped a property sell faster than those that spoke of "value" and "price."

Homes described as "beautiful" moved 15 percent faster and for 5 percent more in price than the benchmark. "Good-value" homes sold for 5 percent less than average.

Another finding in Anglin's study was that the plea of "must see!" was received about as enthusiastically as a dinner-time telemarketing call. Homes with listings using the words "must see" had a statistically insignificant impact on the number of days they took to sell.

Listings where the word "landscaping" was heralded sold 20 percent faster, and homes in "move-in condition" took 12 percent less time to sell than the benchmark, although the study showed "move-in condition" had an insignificant impact on the sales price.

Owners use listing language to convey how serious they are about selling. Some words work better than others, Anglin's study found. Listings in which the seller said he or she was "moving" sold for 1 percent less in price compared with 8 percent less when the seller was "motivated."

Real estate listings, not unlike personal ads, are crafted to minimize blemishes and maxi- mize perceived selling points. So if "enjoys moonlight walks on the beach and cooking together" means "I'm unemployed and am looking for someone who won't always expect to eat out," then

"needs TLC" might mean "this house will have you on a first-name basis with the clerks at the local hardware store."

Anglin's study isn't alone in efforts to determine what language moves the market.

Last year, the impact of listing language was covered in a National Bureau of Economic Research study that looked at whether real estate agents selling their own homes hold out for a higher price. (They do; the study found they take longer to sell but fetch a higher price.)

Descriptions of houses that indicated an obvious problem — such as "foreclosure," "as-is" and "handyman special" — drew substantially lower sales prices.

Words that suggested desirable attributes — "granite," "maple," "gourmet" — translated into a higher sale price, the study found.

One problem discovered was that "superficially positive" words that, in effect, condemn with faint praise — such as "clean" or "quiet" — had zero or even a negative correlation with prices.

Those findings echo those made in a 2000 paper called "Real Estate Agent Remarks: Help or Hype?" researched by University of Texas-San Antonio finance and real estate professor
Ronald C. Rutherford.

Rutherford found, among other things, that buyers read between the lines. If you can't find anything better to say than "new paint," perhaps it's best to say nothing at all.

Positive and factually verifiable comments such as "golf" or "lake" drew increased sales prices; other presumably positive comments regarding new paint or new carpet brought lower ones.

"What you say needs to be extravagant," Rutherford said, "or the signal that is received by buyers is that it's not worth talking about."

But what do sellers know? "New paint" appeared on 15 percent of the listings and was the most commonly listed comment.

Rutherford said sellers would be best served by a listing with "just the facts, ma'am."

"In today's market," he said, "if it's a good deal, you need to convey it with factually verifiable language."

An example: "Needs repairs," he said.

Of the information from his study, conducted between 1994 and 1997 of almost 60,000 closed residential transactions in Tarrant County, what surprised him most?

That homes with "motivated" sellers stayed on the market 15 percent longer than average and sold for 4 percent less.

His theory: "They overpriced the house to start with and eventually had to lower it. That explains the length of time on the market and the lower sales price."

Does he have any advice for today's sellers?

"Yes," he said, "avoid the word 'motivated.' "

Friday, December 01, 2006

Killing Deals? Try a new spin

In 20 years of real estate I've seen alot of real estate trainers and motivational gurus. By gummit one of the best is Mr. Howard Brinton. Enough flattery. This article is fromm Howard is pure Gold.


7 Phrases to Avoid with Clients

Change your words and you’ll change your results. Here’s a list of weak phrases to stay away from, along with more powerful alternatives.

BY HOWARD BRINTON

Words are powerful things. When speaking with prospects, clients, and colleagues, your choice of words and phrases shapes their perception of you; it tells them if you're can get the job done effectively and responsibly.

However, many people don’t realize they have a habit of using weak phrases that undermine their professional image.

These phrases imply that you’re giving up control and accountability and are placing it on someone or something else. Consider using these more powerful phrases instead: “I am,” “I choose to,” “I can,” “I will find out,” and “I’ll create.” A subtle change in word choice puts you back in control and allows you to regain ownership of the outcome.

The next time you’re talking to a client, pause for a moment to listen to the language you’re using — are you subconsciously putting a negative spin on the situation and giving them a reason to doubt you? Or are you demonstrating that you can get the job done professionally and effectively?

Here are seven phrases that that can negatively affect the outcome of your conversations, along with some better alternatives. By paying close attention to the words you choose, you're taking control of your relationship with clients.

Phrase 1: “Here’s the Problem”


Your clients don’t want to hear about a problem associated with selling or buying their home; they’d rather know what you’re going to do to solve it. Instead, use words like challenge or opportunity. These words imply action, as in “Here’s our challenge — we need to fix up this house on a small budget! Let’s talk about where to start.”

Phrase 2: “I’ll Try”

This phrase is laden with doubt. It gives the impression that you’ve already concluded that you will not be able to help them. Instead, consider using I will. If you aren’t positive that you can deliver on the promise, explain what you’ll do to achieve the goal. Then provide a few paths you will take as an alternative approach, if necessary.

Phrase 3: “But”

This word is often an “I can’t” in disguise. For instance: “We’ll market your property at this price but I can’t guarantee it will sell.” Instead, use the word and, as in “I will market your property at this price for four weeks and if we don’t receive any offers, I’m going to ask you for a price adjustment.”

Phrase 4: “You Should”

This phrase kills marriages as well as sales. Down deep, you may want to say, “You should paint the exterior and remove all of these dead shrubs,” but instead consider ways to rephrase it so that you're creating a sense of empowerment. This is a better way to phrase it: “If we paint the exterior of the house and work a bit on the landscaping, we'll be in a better position to increase the asking price.”

Phrase 5: “You Have To”

As in, “You have to list at this price if you want to get any activity." Phrases such as this one often make people mad simply because it takes away their sense of control. Instead, say “You can position this property anywhere in the market that fits your needs, remembering that homes sell faster at one price compared with another.”

Phrase 6: “It’s Not My Fault”


This phrase is a quiet killer. Odds are good that you don’t say it out loud to your clients, but even when you think it they can hear you. If something goes wrong, forget whose fault it is. Instead, focus on a solution by affirming “I am in complete control of the outcome and responsible for what I do next.”

Phrase 7: “No Problem”

Sounds harmless, right? Not so fast. I’ve always believed that you should never answer someone’s request with “no problem.” It implies that the request could have been a problem, or that it was almost a problem. Indirectly, the phrase can evoke negative emotions, whether you meant it or not. Instead, try answering with a simple It’s my pleasure.

Simple But True

Some of these ideas may seem rather simple. The good news is, they are! It's really just a matter of understanding that the subtlest changes in your choice of words can produce the biggest wins. With a little practice, I'm confident that you will begin to see how a few subtle word changes can have a remarkable impact on your success.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Holiday Ettiquette

Most of us know some of the basic do's and don't but its never a bad idea to review them. I saw this article from Realtor online magazine and just had to share it with you. I hope it helps. The author also gave some excellent websites to search for additional ideas and information on ettiquette that I have included at the bottom.

Mind your manners
Business Etiquette for the Holidays

Holiday cheer comes once a year, but good impressions can last a lifetime.

BY DINAH ENG

This festive time of year offers no shortage of opportunities to network, celebrate with colleagues, and show your appreciation to clients with holiday cards and gifts. Yet with all of these cheery occasions comes the potential for etiquette mishaps. Here, manners experts and real estate pros answer some common questions and provide tips that will help you make a great impression this holiday season.

Sending Cards: Is E-mail Acceptable?

It seems everyone in the real estate business is connected to their computers. So it would certainly be convenient — and affordable — to send electronic holiday cards to clients and colleagues. But is that acceptable?

“E-mail cards are being done a lot,” says Beverly Langford, author of “The Etiquette Edge: The Unspoken Rules for Business Success” and a principal of LMA Communication in Atlanta. “But there are people who would think that’s the easy way out, so it depends on your audience. I wouldn’t send e-cards to everybody. But something is better than nothing, and sooner is better than later.”

Charles Price, a broker with Coldwell Banker Mountain West Real Estate in Salem, Ore., says it’s always better to do cards the old-fashioned way. People love getting mail during the holidays, and it will make your message more cherished. “Handwritten notes are like gold,” he says. “It’s one of the best things you can do. You need to stay in contact with people at every opportunity, and the holidays are a season where you can market yourself with cards and gifts.”

Gift-Giving Dilemmas: What to Buy?

Shopping for your valued clients and most trusted colleagues can be tough. You know them on a professional level, but do you really know what they’d enjoy as a gift? Luckily, there are plenty of options that will please just about anyone. (Check out REALTOR® Magazine’s holiday gift guide for ideas.)

Edible gifts are always a safe bet, Price says. “Food or wine — if the client drinks — make appropriate gifts during the holidays because there’s a lot of entertaining going on,” he says. But any thoughtful present will do.

“A doctor and his wife recently closed on a house, coming here from Southern California in the middle of our rainy season. So I gave them two automatic umbrellas from Nordstrom, and a $50 bottle of wine to the doctor who referred them to me. It’s good to show your gratitude.”

If shopping for clients who just bought or sold a house, use the price of the listing as a guide, Langford suggests. “If you’ve just sold a $3 million house, you might want to do something like a lavish gift basket from Godiva.”

When it comes to your broker, what gift is best? Peggy Post of the Emily Post Institute Inc. in Burlington, Vt., says it’s not necessary to give gifts to bosses, in general. “You don’t want to look like you’re currying favor,” she says. “But if you feel like you really want to do something, you can bake something or buy something very simple. Another way to handle it is to get several people to pitch in for something.”

If a colleague buys you a gift, but you didn’t buy him one, don’t fret. Just graciously thank him for it, Langford says. It’s not necessary to reciprocate, but you may want to make a note to yourself to get something for that person next year.

Going to the Party: What to Wear, Bring?

So, you’ve received an invitation to a holiday party. Now comes the tough decision — what to wear. Don’t make assumptions, especially if you’ve never been to that party before. “If the invitation doesn’t state the attire, call and ask,” Langford says. You don’t want to show up underdressed to a black-tie event. Likewise, “If it’s strictly a professional party, don’t go in sparkling like a Christmas tree.”

To arrive to a party at someone’s home in style, there’s one accessory you can’t forget: a gift for the host. Post recommends a small box of high-quality chocolates. “Or, you could bring something you’ve made, like muffins for the hostess’ breakfast the next morning, a decoration for the tree, or bulbs if they’re gardeners,” she says. “Just something simple to denote your gratefulness for the invitation.”

One thing to avoid bringing: cut flowers, Langford says. The flowers may be pretty and smell great, but the host will have to abandon her guests in order to arrange the flowers into a vase. After the party, a thank you note to the host will be well appreciated.

Conversation Starters: What’s Off Limits?

As a real estate practitioner, you probably have no problem striking up conversation in social situations. However, at a work-related party, you should make an effort to veer away from “shop talk” and include spouses in the conversation. “Talk about noncontroversial current events, holiday plans, or people’s families,” Langford suggests. “Ask open-door questions that let the other person talk.”

To be on the safe side, avoid talking about issues that may lead to heated debates or get too personal. If you plan to broach more touchy topics, such as politics or religion, “know who you’re talking to and whether they’ll enjoy a spirited conversation,” Price says. “You need to be careful not to get into an argument that leads to hurt feelings.”

Price also adds that you should keep the conversation positive, and never gossipy. “You should never say anything negative about other colleagues in a public situation,” Price says.

Making a Toast: What Should I Say?
Whether you’re moved to make a toast at a friend’s party or you’re hosting a gala and would like to say a few words, keep a few pointers in mind.

For example, the host or hostess offers the first toast at a formal occasion such as a dinner party. Around a dinner table with friends, a guest can propose the first toast and often does so to thank the host for bringing everyone together, according to the Emily Post Institute.

Keep it short and to the point, focusing your remarks on the event being celebrated. A joke or short story is OK, as long as it’s clean. For a boost of confidence, write out what you wish to say and then practice it ahead of time, the Institute recommends.

Too Many Places to Be: How to Decide?

As party invitations start rolling in, you realize just how popular you are. Unfortunately, the season is short and parties inevitably will conflict with one another. If invited to several occasions on the same day, what should you do?

“Go to all three,” Langford says. “People understand during the holidays that you’ll have many commitments. I’d much rather guests come by for 30 minutes and leave than say you can’t come because you’ve got to go to another party.”

Post, on the other hand, says you may decline two of the invitations by simply saying, “Sorry, I can’t make it.” No explanation is necessary. What’s key, she says, is that if you say yes to one person, you honor that commitment even if a more desirable invitation arrives later.

“You could try to attend two of the parties,” Post adds. “But if the invitation is to a sit-down dinner, you need to sit and stay.”

Regardless of whether you go or not, you absolutely must RSVP. If you’ve ever planned a party before, you know how frustrating it is to be in the dark about who is coming.

Stating the Obvious: Watch What You Drink

Among all holiday etiquette faux pas, having too much alcohol to drink always tops the list, experts say. Your professional reputation and your friendships are at stake.

“I had a cocktail party one afternoon, and somebody broke a Waterford flute and didn’t bother to tell me,” Langford recalls. “I found it stuck in a corner afterwards. I was really surprised, given the people who were invited.”

To avoid embarrassing situations, either don’t drink alcohol or limit your intake. The days of work parties where coworkers let down their hair, got drunk, and ended up wearing lampshades on their heads are out of style, the Emily Post Institute says.


Holiday Gifting Etiquette: 1-800-Flowers.com

Business Greeting Card Etiquette: About.com

Holiday Etiquette: Emily Post Institute

Holiday Etiquette: ETICON Inc. Etiquette Consultant

Friday, October 06, 2006

Hilarious but true

Love this websites message

I wish the Canadian Real Estate Association could be so informative. This real estate company in Florida has published the 10 things you should never do yourself. Of course number 1 is, "Never Sell your own home". Kind of funny but its true.

http://www.dontityourself.com/

A must read for any sales professional

I came across this blog and while I was impressed with the relevant information and the delivery of the messages, I was blown away by this article maybe because it mirrors alot of the things that have helped me be successful. You may have to scroll down to the Article called "Manifesto Redux" which he posted on Oct 3 2006. http://darmano.typepad.com/logic_emotion/

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Real-Estate War Traps Consumers in the Middle

Found this article this morning. The points I found important - the percentage of consumers using discount brokerages has increased from 2% to 11% in just a few years. That the new trend of buyer discount firms that offer to just do the paperwork and don't actually show you any houses (the listing agent shows the home) has a major flaw. But most importantly, the dispute between the discounters and the full service companies puts our industry in a bad light in the eyes of the media, and consumers...

Real-Estate War Traps Consumers in the Middle
The Wall Street Journal Online
By James R. Hagerty

Full-Service Brokers' Tactics To Rebuff Discount Rivals Sometimes Hurt the Customer

In the fight between traditional real-estate brokers and their discount rivals, some consumers are getting caught in the crossfire.

With house prices surging in recent years, a number of people are seeking ways to cut commission costs, which are based on a percentage of a home's selling price. More home buyers are turning to discount brokers that offer to rebate a portion of the commission if you are willing to do much of the work in finding a home. And sellers are hiring discounters who, for a flat fee of a few hundred dollars, will include your home in a multiple-listing service, a database on houses for sale used by agents.

About 11% of home sellers last year used "alternative" brokers (ones offering flat fees or other forms of discounting), up from less than 2% in 2002, according to surveys by Real Trends, a publishing and consulting firm.

The competition from discounters has prompted some traditional brokers to use a variety of tactics to fight back, and this can end up hurting consumers. The controversy will get a public airing Monday when the Consumer Federation of America, a nonprofit research and advocacy group, releases a report on "how the real estate brokerage industry functions as a price-setting cartel."

The stakes are high. People selling homes typically pay commissions of 4% to 6% of the price, which is split between brokers representing the buyer and seller. Residential real-estate sales generate more than $60 billion a year in commissions. Full-service brokers say that in exchange for the commissions they provide expertise and an array of services that help consumers navigate the housing market.

For consumers, the clash among brokers underlines a need to be wary. Buyers hoping to get a cash rebate from the commission earned by their agent need to be aware that they might meet resistance from agents representing sellers. They should check whether there are any conditions attached to the rebate offer and make clear when viewing homes that they are represented by an agent. And sellers using flat-fee listing services sometimes find that agents for buyers shun their homes.

Most real-estate agents are ethical, says Albert Hepp, the owner of BuySelf Realty, Bloomington, Minn., who helped create a new national association of brokers that charge home sellers a flat fee for a limited range of services. But some full-service brokers step out of line, putting their interests ahead of consumers, he says, adding: "The best analogy I can use is a high-school classroom when the teacher walks out of the room."

One area likely to stir up more disputes involves the discount firms that offer rebates to buyers. The practice got a boost this year with the launch of two ambitious companies, BuySide Realty Inc. and Redfin Corp., which are promoting this concept heavily as they try to build national brands. Both encourage buyers to do part of the work in finding a home; they don't offer the free car rides from house to house provided by most traditional agents.

Andrew Calloway, a financial analyst in St. Louis, decided to use BuySide because that firm rebates 75% of the commissions it receives to the buyer. He recently agreed to pay $200,000 for a three-bedroom home in Glen Carbon, Ill. He expected a rebate of $4,500.

But Mr. Calloway says Karen Malench, an agent for Coldwell Banker Brown who represents the sellers, tried to dissuade him from using BuySide. He says she offered a rebate of $2,000 to him if he dropped BuySide and used her firm instead. He declined and went ahead last month with his offer through BuySide. Then he learned that Coldwell plans to refuse to give BuySide a share of the commission on the ground that Coldwell, not BuySide, showed Mr. Calloway and his fiancee, Rebecca Collins, the house and made the deal happen. If BuySide doesn't get a slice of the commission, it isn't obligated to pay a rebate to Mr. Calloway.

"The thing that really upsets me is that the listing agent smiles to your face and puts a knife in your back," says Mr. Calloway.

Ms. Malench, the listing agent, declined to comment. Gerry Schuetzenhofer, president of Coldwell Banker Brown, a franchisee of the national Coldwell brand, says that Ms. Malench denies having offered him $2,000 to drop BuySide. Mr. Schuetzenhofer says Mr. Calloway and his fiancee didn't make clear that they were working with another broker when they first viewed the home. Mr. Calloway says he did make that clear.

Joseph Fox, BuySide's chief executive, says this is the first time his young company has encountered such a commission dispute. He says he is trying to work out a solution with Mr. Schuetzenhofer. The latter says Mr. Fox tried "to intimidate me into accepting his demands. I don't believe he would have done that if he was on sound footing." Mr. Fox retorts: "He'd rather think about his pocketbook and not the best interests of the client." One option for the parties is to seek mediation or arbitration through a local arm of the National Association of Realtors, a trade group.

BuySide currently has operations in California, Florida, Illinois and Georgia. The company plans to cover 39 states by the end of 2008.

Cem Sibay, a business-development manager at an Internet company in Seattle, sought a rebate through Redfin. Mr. Sibay says he and his fiancee, Tam Pham, arranged to see a condo about six months ago. The agent representing the seller, Ron Waxman of Coldwell Banker Bain, was initially friendly and helpful, Mr. Sibay says. But Mr. Sibay says Mr. Waxman's attitude changed when Mr. Sibay mentioned that he planned to use Redfin as his agent. Mr. Sibay says Mr. Waxman then refused to show the condo to the couple again and said he would advise his client not to consider any offer they made.

Mr. Sibay and Ms. Pham gave up on the idea of bidding for the condo.

When reached for comment Wednesday, Mr. Waxman said, "I don't remember that at all." He said he stopped working as an agent last year; then, a few minutes later, Mr. Waxman acknowledged that he was still working as an agent and declined to comment further.

Bill Riss, the owner of Coldwell Banker Bain, says his agents sometimes "push back" against discounters like Redfin because they believe such firms don't do their share of the work. But he adds that his firm's policy is to work with any member of the local multiple-listing service, including Redfin.

Mr. Sibay kept working with Redfin and last month agreed to buy a different home in Seattle. He expects to receive a rebate of about $10,000 when the transaction is completed.

Glenn Kelman, chief executive officer of Redfin, says resistance from traditional agents will abate as his company completes more deals and becomes more established in the market. The company began operating in Seattle in February, recently opened up offices in the San Francisco Bay Area, and plans to expand to San Diego and Los Angeles and perhaps Washington and Boston by year end. In what Mr. Kelman calls a "charm offensive," Redfin recently began sending $100 gift cards to the listing agents when a Redfin buyer completes a purchase. "We need to turn these agents around one at a time," he says.

Discounters representing sellers also are meeting resistance. Jeff Kermath, who owns Amerisell Realty, a flat-fee broker in Saline, Mich., says one of the multiple-listing services he works with, Realcomp II Ltd., in the Detroit area, discriminates against firms offering discounts for limited service. For instance, Realcomp, owned by local Realtor groups, doesn't send limited-service listings to popular home-search sites like Realtor.com. And the default search setting for agents using Realcomp excludes limited-service listings, meaning fewer potential buyers hear of them.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Raising the bar or are we to be the scape goats?


Recent rule changes in Alberta have increased the threshold of agent responsibility. With the RECA'S code of conduct serving as a guideline for industry members the plan is to incorporate this code into the rules which are legislated and thereby making the code a rallying point for litigation. With the code having its own definitions on such items as "Material Latent Defect", terms that sometimes have different legal definitions become included in the rules creating an onus on agents that may find themselves in double or triple jeopardy. There is also an increased obligation on agents to ivestigate and discover defects (now if you ask me this is opening a whole can of "whoop ass") where the obligation is to currently "disclose" facts the obligation will be to "discover". This inidicates a willingness by the council to undertake what negligence is an aspect currently determined in the civil courts.

I am as of now not certain how or how much these changes will impact us as an industry. Stayed tuned and if you see or hear of any interesting changes coming do us a favor and let us all know.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Breaking up is hard to do

At least that is if you're the giant Cendant. Apparently there are meetings underway to determine how to break up. For more on this just visit this link for more information.

http://www.rismedia.com/index.php/article/view/14726/

Network News Update

Hello everybody. Just in case you were wondering what we were up to we are still here and caught up in one of the craziest housing markets I've ever seen.

Not only is the market booming but we are simply beyond capacity to deal with Sara's lead generation abilities. Her consulting business continues to grow and we are in the process of getting our next jam packed issue out.

The search engine marketing does work with proper lead management and capture systems in place, but this is quite frankly beyond the realm of the average agent and if you are not properly set up you will quite frankly turn yourself inside out trying to figure this stuff out. So keep it simple.

See you soon ;)

www.edmonton-homes.ca

Friday, May 12, 2006

Realtors using more technology: Nar Survey

Well, the good new is as an industry we are adapting. According to this most recent survey from NAR the number of people using technology in their business has drastically increased, but in my opinion, still pretty low.

NAR Technology Survey Reveals Heavy Tech Investment By Realtors®
CHICAGO (May 11, 2006) – The number of Realtors® with Web sites has increased 129 percent over the past five years, and many of the sites display property listings, according to a new survey by the National Association of Realtors®.

The 2006 Realtor® Technology Survey, conducted by NAR’s Center for REALTOR® Technology, reveals that the Internet ranks third in generating leads, behind referrals and repeat clients, and ahead of community involvement. The survey also shows that there is a clear connection between technology spending and Internet-generated leads, and that getting leads from the Internet continues to grow.

Realtors® have invested heavily in Internet technology and security, through Multiple Listing Systems and individually, in the past several years. For example, the survey showed that thus far in 2006, 56 percent of agents spent more than $1,000 apiece on technology and that 30 percent spent $2,000 or more. In addition, 16 percent of agents and 28 percent of brokers are now spending more than $1,000 annually on their Web sites. Realtors® with personal business Web sites – not including an area on a broker’s site – was 71 percent in 2006, compared to 31 percent in 2002, showing a jump of 129 percent.

“Consumers are able to use information portals to look for homes to buy because Realtors® have invested huge amounts of resources in technology to make accurate information available on secure sites, thus bringing added value to the transaction. All this information is available to consumers, free of charge, 24 hours a day,” said Thomas M. Stevens, 2006 NAR president and senior vice president of NRT Inc., from Vienna, Va.

The survey also showed that the amount of investment in Web sites has a direct relationship to the number of leads coming from the Internet. Thus, 40 percent of those who spent more than $5,000 on their Web site showed that more than 60 percent of their leads come from the Internet.

Realtors® are also reacting more quickly to online inquiries. In a surprising change from past surveys and findings, over half the survey respondents indicated that it takes them less than two hours to respond to an Internet inquiry, and only 2 percent indicated that it took them more than a day to respond. That compares with a 2004 survey showing that only 27 percent of practitioners responded within eight hours to an online inquiry and 46 percent of inquiries received no responses.

“While the survey indicates that the vast majority of Realtors® take steps to protect themselves and the listing information provided by their clients and customers, more work remains to be done,” said Mark Lesswing, NAR vice president and director of CRT. “Less than a third of respondents have received information security education from their MLS or brokerage. Only one-third are aware of written security policies that they must follow and less than half have a written privacy policy. Programs like CRT’s REALTOR® Secure can definitely play a role here.”

The survey shows that use of automated transaction management systems, used to electronically monitor each step of the real estate process, continues to rise, moving from 13 percent in 2005 to 26 percent in 2006, with 70 percent of users saying they are satisfied with their applications.

The survey was based on data from field research conducted in April of this year. CRT e-mailed the survey to 20,000 NAR members, including agents and brokers and generated 719 usable responses. The 2006 study is available at http://www.realtor.org/crtweb.nsf/pages/CRTsurvey?OpenDocument.

NAR’s Center for REALTOR® Technology was established to provide technology leadership, guidance and assistance for NAR members; CRT makes available informed industry insight, research and open-source applications through its mission of implementation, advocacy and information. Information about CRT is available at http://www.realtor.org/crt.

The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America's largest trade association, representing more than 1.2 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

Friday, April 21, 2006

How to Attract the Type of Customers You Want

Another good article from Bernice Ross of Inman news... The premise here is that people are naturally attracted to people like themselves. So if you want friendly clients, you should be friendly, if you want funny clients... well I think you get the idea....take the quiz!

One of the most powerful strategies from professional coaching is the principle of attraction. Attraction refers to the fact that people "attract who they are." In other words, those we attract normally are like us in one or more ways. No matter what price range you work with, the clients who gravitate to you will probably share a number of the same characteristics that you have. If you want high-quality clients who tell the truth, do what they say they will do and are a pleasure to work with, you must be the same way. On the other hand, if your life is always in chaos, if you lie, or are undependable, you will attract people who behave in the same way. Consequently, one of the primary ways to attract a better quality clientele is to raise your own personal standards. To determine your "attraction quotient," take the quiz below:

1.) Do you always tell the truth, even when it is unpleasant?

2.) Are you always on time for appointments?

3.) When things go wrong, are you the one who stays calm and solves the problem?

4.) When you take a listing, do you deliver all the services that you promised the sellers?

5.) Do you stay in constant contact with the sellers keeping them updated on the showings and the responses to your advertising?

6.) Does your print advertising fall into the category of "understated elegance?"

7.) Do the people who have visited your Web site tell you that your site is "very professional?"

8.) Do you avoid using profanity when you are with clients, no matter how bad the circumstance is?

9) Do you avoid telling off-color jokes or making remarks that may make others uncomfortable?

10.) Is your car clean and well-maintained?

11.) Do you go out of your way to make sure that your buyers have water, snacks, and something to keep their children occupied if you are taking them out to look at property?

12.) When you lose business to a competitor, are you gracious to the buyer or seller when they tell you?

13.) Are your marketing materials "top drawer?"

14.) When someone becomes angry with you, do you make peace rather than escalating the argument?

15.) Do you (or your assistant) respond to your telephone, e-mail, and Web inquiries at least once daily?

16.) Are you relaxed and calm when you are with clients rather than hurried, frazzled, and stressed out?

17.) When you hold an open house or have a client meeting, do you always dress professionally?

18.) Do your past clients consistently refer new business to you?

Scoring:

Each "No," represents an area where you can begin working to raise your standards. It makes no difference where you start. The goal is to take a number of simple steps over time. Begin with whatever is easiest on this list to fix. The more items you clear off the list, the more attractive you will become to a wide range of clients.

The key to becoming more attractive to the best possible clients is to always maintain a client-centric focus. When you are client focused, people are attracted to you. They are also more likely to refer you business. On the other hand, if your focus is on making the deal rather than providing the best possible service to the client, your desperation may cause some clients to go elsewhere. Remember to always put your clients' needs first no matter how desperate you are for money.

Being more attractive to better clients also means being willing to say "no" to clients who are dishonest, unethical, or who make your life miserable. Saying "no" reduces your stress. It also helps you avoid problems that can pull you off focus and cost you money. More importantly, if you hang on to buyers or sellers who consistently fail to perform, you actually block better business from coming into your life. Eliminating them creates the space that attracts new business. Before you question the validity of this claim, ask any veteran real estate agent what happens every time he or she plans a vacation. Business always picks up. Thus, raising your standards by eliminating non-performing clients opens the door for new and better business.

If you want to raise your personal attraction quotient, continually work on upgrading your professional image, market with top drawer materials, maintain a client-centric focus, and be willing to say "no" to people who are not a good fit for your business.

Monday, April 17, 2006

HFS, Cendant, Realogy...

The names may change but the game remains the same from their prospective. Be the dominant player and grow bigger and bigger and bigger. Just how big is big enough? Who knows only time will tell and maybe some day there will be a reverse of this process. The interesting thing in the article on Inman news is the focus on Coldwell Banker as the major force behind these companies. Not C21, Not ERA or Sotheby's.

Just over 10 years after Cendant's predecessor began a buying spree that included real estate brands Century 21, ERA, PHH and Coldwell Banker, the company's impact on the industry is undeniable. With about 25 percent of all Realtors in the nation affiliated with the corporation, the story of the largest real estate brokerage and franchise company in the nation is still unfolding.



This story is packed with elements of mystery and intrigue, twists and turns, massive-scale acquisitions and consolidations, deception and scandal, courtroom drama, financial fallout and recovery, a restructuring of management, a rapid rise to power and prominence, and a carefully calculated breakup and re-branding. The cast is thick with power brokers and industry luminaries.



Cendant Corp. grew its real estate operations with hurricane force, building upon the buying spree of predecessor HFS, a hotel franchisor.



Tracing back 11 years, Cendant's real estate roots were planted with the acquisition of Century 21 by predecessor HFS in 1995. From 1995-97 HFS acquired Century 21, ERA, PHH and Coldwell Banker, and Cendant was formed through a merger of HFS Inc. and CUC International Inc., a direct marketing and member services company, in December 1997.



Since inception, the company has been a cash cow for real estate company owners seeking an exit strategy, and has driven an unprecedented surge in industry consolidation.



Not even a decade old, the company has amassed a collection of reputable brands, with such company-owned and franchise affiliates as Century 21, Coldwell Banker, ERA and Sotheby's, and about 313,500 sales associates are affiliated with Cendant's major company-owned and franchise real estate brands. There are about 15,000 residential and commercial real estate offices affiliated with Cendant's Real Estate Franchise Group.



NRT Inc., a Cendant subsidiary that oversees company-owned real estate offices, acquired 31 companies last year and has acquired about 320 companies since its creation. NRT has about 1,000 offices and 64,000 sales associates and operates in about 35 major metropolitan markets across the country.



Revenue for Cendant's real estate services division in fourth-quarter 2005 reached $1.62 billion, which represents about 38 percent of the company's total revenue for that quarter. In addition to its real estate business, the company also has operations in the hospitality services, timeshare resorts, vehicle rental and travel distribution services industries.



Focus on business and consolidation



Larry Knapp, president of Saratoga, Calif.-based Alain Pinel Realtors and a former NRT executive, said Cendant has brought a more intense business focus to the real estate brokerage industry. "The creation of what is today known as Cendant has forced the rest of the industry to operate at a higher level, which it has done. I think that the real estate industry before this (Cendant) consolidation play came along was run less like a business and more by the seat of somebody's pants."



Knapp, who began his real estate career in 1969 as a real estate agent in Sacramento, Calif., served as president for Coldwell Banker Northern California from 1985-97 and later served as senior vice president for NRT Inc.'s Western Region. NRT was initially established in 1996 as a real estate trust and grew through acquisitions to become a dominant real estate brokerage company. NRT Inc. began as a joint venture with Apollo Management, an investment group, and in 2002 Cendant bought out Apollo for about $230 million worth of stock and the assumption of about $300 million in net debt.



Cendant predecessor HFS was known for its franchising success, so real estate franchise operations were a good fit, but company-owned real estate operations posed a new challenge, Knapp said. It would have been easy for Cendant to simply be the "gorilla franchising business" based on the brands it had acquired from predecessor HFS, Knapp noted, but the company was not content with a singular role as real estate franchisor.



"The impact of Cendant and HFS on the industry was more from the consolidation play on the company-owned side than it was on the franchise side. That's where they left their core business of franchising. There was a learning curve," he said. "The company-owned operations created a dilemma for them. They were in competition with their franchisees. Early on (Cendant was) very aggressive in selling franchises. They started selling franchises in the middle of company-owned operations. There was an adjustment period where the franchise side of the business and the company-owned side of the business had to kind of agree on the rules and regulations of expansion. The message got over to the franchise side: sell outside the perimeters of company-owned (offices)," Knapp said.



Cendant Chairman and CEO Henry Silverman had told real estate managers that he believed the real estate industry was ripe for consolidation on a large scale. That movement had already begun prior to the arrival of HFS and Cendant to the real estate scene – companies like Coldwell Banker and Merrill Lynch had been active in consolidation efforts in years prior.



Cendant had an acquisition strategy that focused on gaining market share within a particular market area, he said. "Most of the consolidation they did was in the markets where they already had a presence ... merging them into existing operations, closing unneeded offices, reducing redundant costs and in some cases eliminating duplicate advertising costs. While some of these acquisitions put them into new markets, most of them were consolidations right in markets where there already were (existing company-owned offices)," he said.



The company-owned operations became a good channel to purchase the operations of Cendant franchise businesses that were for sale, Knapp said.



Though Cendant has established a reputation as a major consolidator, Knapp said the company did not make a name for itself in the early years as a trailblazer in technology or business innovation, for example.



It was a challenge, he said, to combine all of the legacy technology systems for all of the companies that it had acquired. "It would've taken a rocket scientists to get it all together. I think it took them a long time back in New Jersey to realize how important the technology play was going to be and do it on a large scale. They worked hard to present a good technology system like all the rest of us." It was also a tall order for NRT to streamline the bits and pieces of many real estate-related services, such as mortgage and settlement services, from its various acquisitions and turn that into a functional business, he said.



Cendant has at times been a trendsetter in the adoption of new technologies, and took a big technological step in November 2004 when it announced the launch of LeadRouter, a lead management system that quickly feeds leads to real estate agents via telephone or e-mail from a variety of sources.



The company last year launched a tool called SearchRouter, which allows consumers to navigate from the main Web sites of its national brands to a large inventory of property listings in a local market area.



Also, NRT Inc. this year extended a marketing agreement for enhanced property advertisements at the popular home-search site Realtor.com. NRT first announced a marketing agreement with Realtor.com's parent company, Homestore, in Feb. 22 for the enhanced display of all NRT-affiliated listings at the Web site. The company's actions speak volumes about an increasing shift in real estate advertising to online venues.



Cendant announced a plan to spinoff its real estate segment in June this year as a separate company called Realogy. As proposed, the new company will have its stock listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol "H." Cendant also plans to launch separate companies from three other operating segments.



Bob Moles, chairman of Cupertino, Calif.-based Intero Real Estate and former president and CEO for Cendant's Real Estate Franchise Group, was president of Contempo Realty when that company was bought by NRT in 1997.



When HFS acquired Century 21 and ERA, the industry was still trying to figure out whether the company would become a major figure in the industry, Moles said. The acquisition of Coldwell Banker and then PHH, which included mortgage services and relocation services, made it clear that Cendant was sincere.



"The acquisition of Century 21 sent a signal, and ERA sent a signal. People (said), 'Wow, what is this?' The acquisition of Coldwell Banker was big. After Coldwell Banker and after PHH, people thought this was a very serious company," he said.



After Cendant formed, the company set its sights on acquiring regional independent brokerage companies, and it was not uncommon for the company to rattle off several new acquisition deals in a single week.



Among the major deals: Jon Douglas Co. in Southern California, Arvida Realty Services in Florida, Burnet Financial Group in Minnesota and Chicago, The DeWolfe Cos. in New England, and Fred Sands Realtors in Southern California. All of these companies had an annual sales volume in the billions. Other major acquisitions included Hunneman Real Estate Corp. in Boston, Gundaker Realtors in St. Louis, Cornish & Carey Residential Real Estate in Northern California, Coldwell Banker Stevens in Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, O'Conor, Piper & Flynn in the Northeast, Contempo Realty in Northern California, Northside Realty in Atlanta, and The Corcoran Group in New York.



Cendant definitely escalated industry consolidations, said Moles, who was named president and CEO of Century 21 Real Estate Corp. in 1997 and later oversaw franchise operations for all of Cendant's real estate brands until he returned to California in 2004 to join Intero.



"I wouldn't have traded the experience," he said of his time at Cendant. "Those first three or four years were pretty exciting years and it was really unique to be a part of that. This is a very entrepreneurial business. There were times when people were having to move very fast." When he arrived at the company there were about 1,700 employees and when he left there were about 92,000, he said.



Cendant brought lots of capital into play in the real estate industry, which had never been done before in such a big way. And the timing was right for HFS and Cendant to make a move, he said. "Clearly in the seven years I was out there we really had the wind at our backs in terms of property appreciation and (sales)."



Knapp agreed, "The timing of the creation of NRT was pretty perfect. From 1997 until now has been probably the best nine years in the history of real estate. The market is not likely to continue to grow."



Cendant officials are well aware of changing sales market conditions this year. In February, the company announced it would consolidate local offices to quickly cut about $50 million in costs.



The real estate market turned rapidly in December 2005 in some markets, and the company saw a cancellation rate on sales transactions spike about 30 percent that month, perhaps because speculators were fleeing. Also, the volume of real estate transactions at NRT companies dropped about 19 percent in New England, California and Florida in fourth-quarter 2005, the company reported, while transaction volume in other market areas increased about 4 percent during the quarter.



Small and mid-sized companies face an increasingly competitive real estate environment, Moles said, and there are challenges for large national companies, too. Massive size can be a ''two-edge sword," he said. "Sometimes when you're real big the ability to move quickly ... is hampered. I think (size) can be both a blessing and a curse." But Cendant has effectively used its size as an asset in consolidating the industry.



Also, it can be difficult to manage real estate operations within a publicly traded company, Moles said, as "you've got to manage to shareholder expectations – sometimes it's difficult to take a long-term perspective."



With the real estate segment as a separate company, the national scope of Cendant's real estate operations and its franchise royalties should provide some balance to market fluctuations in specific geographic areas, Moles said. "Its revenue streams are diversified across major metro areas."



Early days



Before today's successes, the corporate marriage of HFS and CUC proved disastrous in its early stages. Cendant in 1998 restated its earnings for 1995-97, revealing that "a 'widespread and systemic' fraud had occurred at CUC and the merged company that included improperly recognizing fictitious revenues, falsely coding services sold to customers and fraudulently manipulating merger reserves," according to court documents. A report adopted by Cendant's Board of Directors found that CUC's operating income was inflated by about $500 million during a period from May 1995 to August 1998, the court documents reveal.



In financial filings to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in 1998, Cendant reported that earnings had been overstated by about $300 million, or 24 percent, during that three-year period, and earnings per share were overstated by about 130 percent.



Cendant officials did not offer any comment for this article due to "vacation schedules," Kevin Doell, a spokesperson for Cendant's Real Estate Services Division, said.



Cendant's stock price plummeted with the news of the accounting fraud. In one day following the company's initial disclosure in April 1998 about the problems, Cendant's stock dropped 47 percent per share and its market capitalization sunk $14.2 billion. With later announcements in July and August the company's market capitalization dropped further – for a total of $20.5 billion, or 67 percent, court documents state.



Several company officials made millions by selling shares of stock before the radical drop in stock price. Chairman and CEO Silverman in February 1998 sold 1.7 million shares of Cendant common stock – his entire holding in the company – and received $61.4 million, according to court documents.



Heads rolled. Walter A. Forbes, the former CUC chairman, CEO and president who served as chairman of Cendant's board of Directors following the merger, was forced to resign in July 1998. Forbes sold about $38.5 million worth of CUC and Cendant common stock, court documents state. E. Kirk Shelton, vice chairman for Cendant and former CUC president, was terminated in August 1998. Shelton earned about $23 million in Cendant and CUC stock proceeds. A group of other former CUC officials also resigned as the scandal unfolded.

Happy Easter Weekend

We've just returned from a great trip in the Rockies. From our condo in Fairmont to our friends and family in Cranbrook returning via the scenic Crows nest pass. Not to mention the beautiful drive down the David Thompson highway to the Jasper Banff Parkway. Awesome. Just Awesome. We hope everyone had a safe and happy Easter weekend.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Measuring your performance

At the end of the day what matters. To me customer and job satisfaction is key. How to make sense of it all really can be a challenge. Do I measure how many leads I get, phone calls, appointments, appointment times, calls of specific ads, expenses vs revenues and so on and so on. In the end there is a measurement for everything. You could measure your clients heart rate in relation to yours to correlate your prospective chances of getting the business.

In our business it is important at least in my mind it is to keep it simple stupid. Bet you've never heard that before. I will say this though that I do track things differently for my online lead generated business vs my conventionally driven business. Why you might ask. Call it instinct but really that's where Sara really takes things to a whole new level for me. Its not that tracking things is bad its how much energy do you devote to tracking vs doing. Hopefully you're more focused on the getting it done aspect. However when it comes to online leads there is just so much information at your finger tips by just clicking a mouse that it’s criminal not to consider that information for your continued marketing efforts.

Tracking my conventional business is much simpler. I do keep track of the number of appointments in relation to am I slacking this week or am I grooving. Even when you're grooving in a market like this your sales may not be up of they may be up significantly. Here's a stat for you. I have been involved in 13, yes count em, 13 multiple offer situations where my client has offered list price or better and they have not succeeded. Now eventually some people learn from their follies and decide not to get so sticky on their price in a market like this but if I was tracking number of offers written, I'd be having a phenomenal year. I guess my long winded point is, ‘what is your goal’. The measurements you make should reflect or measure your progress towards those goals.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Working Quotes for a Monday Morning

Hard work never killed anybody, but why take a chance?
- Edgar Bergen (1903 - 1978), (Charlie McCarthy)

All paid jobs absorb and degrade the mind.
- Aristotle (384 BC - 322 BC)

Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work.
- Aristotle (384 BC - 322 BC)

One of the symptoms of an approaching nervous breakdown is the belief that one's work is terribly important.
- Bertrand Russell (1872 - 1970), Conquest of Happiness (1930) ch. 5

It has been my experience that one cannot, in any shape or form, depend on human relations for lasting reward. It is only work that truly satisfies.
- Bette Davis (1908 - 1989), The Lonely Life, 1962

Real success is finding your lifework in the work that you love.
- David McCullough (1933 - )

When a man tells you that he got rich through hard work, ask him: 'Whose?'
- Don Marquis (1878 - 1937)

A human being must have occupation if he or she is not to become a nuisance to the world.
- Dorothy L. Sayers (1893 - 1957)

Get happiness out of your work or you may never know what happiness is.
- Elbert Hubbard (1856 - 1915)

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Typical Marketing or wasted money

Typical real estate marketing is unimaginative. Pens, note pads and others. As a victim of this senseless marketing, I too can't believe what I have convinced myself is a good idea. I say victim because there are plenty of influences marketing us. Marketing companies, our own "approved suppliers" hunt us like seals in the spring time. The follow is an excerpt from a blog I read regularly that made me think its a good idea to get an outside opinion the next time I have an idea to revolutionize the real estate magnet industry. In fact at a recent board meeting, I was talking to an old pro, who recently won a contest at their office for the oldest magnet.

I actually remember seeing one of his magnets when I listed a property. Actually when I think about it just about every property I have ever listed has a magnet from somebody on the fridge. Lol...My own fridge has a collage of magnets that I've collected like trophies...So I guess I agree with Frank, spend your money on effective marketing. Article taken from the never cold call blog.

How can this work?

I just checked my mail and found a nice pad with a photo and telephone number for a local realtor on it. I like that realtors are typically more marketing-savvy than other types of salespeople, and know better than to waste time cold calling, but how can this possibly work?

Blindly mailing out pads with your name and number on them isn't effective, and I'm guessing it's also very expensive. If I'm looking for a realtor, I'll ask friends for referrals or search online. I would do so even with this realtor's pad sitting on my desk and his smiling face looking at me.

Remember, cold calling may be a waste of time, but ineffective interruption marketing is a waste of money. Salespeople need to stick with self-marketing that works, not a shotgun approach that is just as random as cold calling.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Welcome Coldwell Banker Chinook city

Coldwell Banker Kalwest (25 agents approx) merged with Realty Executive Chinook city (50 agents) officially today. Its been great catching up with some old friends who are there and some current friends who are excited about their new company. I guess the difibrulator can go back on the cart and hopefully this will start a new and exciting trend towards growing the brand in the west.

Network news welcomes you all.

Creating Customers for Life

A lot of this we've all read before, but it's nice to take a minute and refocus. The point of this article is that to build customers for life, you need to focus on the client, not the end result...

RISMEDIA, March 22, 2006—Fostering a client for life goes far beyond marketing plans, print ads, or postcard drip campaigns. Like any long-term relationship, a basis for mutual respect, trust, and honesty must be formed through repeated demonstrations of goodwill and promises kept. iSucceed Mentor and client retention expert Diana Ivas, of Hinsdale, IL, has managed hundreds of repeat clients for decades, some of whom she’s helped buy and sell over ten homes a piece.

Creating a lifetime client from the very first day always begins with a meaningful first impression. Diana’s years of experience have taught her that buyers and sellers are especially sensitive to canned dialogues or disingenuous presentations, and she offers a few tips here, “Dig deep with questions. Find the motivations and commonalities. Be genuine, upfront, and honest; and learn how to entertain your clients without coming off as a phony.” It’s a tightrope walk, finding just the right balance between objective counselor and controlling party, but the level of detail Diana is able to unearth from her prospective customers

The long-term relationship is the ultimate goal, but Diana makes a conscious choice not to dwell too much on the end result of her daily activities. She’s made a clear commitment to remain focused on the client of the moment, especially when the time comes to negotiate price. She remarks, “Most Realtors I know would admit that when it comes to negotiating the deal, they just want it done. And while that may be the gut reaction, I choose to focus on the process rather than the results.” That focus has also allowed Diana to keep a mindset of service in lieu of profit. She explains, “Excellent service generates repeat business – that’s the first thing. The second goal with client retention is to dominate mindshare: when people in your market are thinking about buying or selling a home, yours must be the first name that comes to mind.” Building and maintaining that reputation for quality, enjoyable service keeps Diana motivated from sunup to sundown.

The real challenge for Diana is to effectively communicate on a regular basis with her repeat customers in such a way that doesn’t come off as hokey or contrived. “I really pride myself on the depth of relationship I try to create with each and every one of my clients,” Diana explains. “You must be sympathetic to people’s needs. With a big database, this can be a challenge, but with the right systems in place, you can do it in a meaningful, personal way.” Diana’s personal touch is nearly legendary in her market – from letter-writing campaigns to personalized closing gifts to special events and impromptu visits to her clients’ homes comes an annual sales volume of more than $40 million.

Twenty-year real estate sales veteran Diana Ivas of Hinsdale, IL, has served the suburbs west of metro Chicago since 1986, averaging annual sales in excess of $40 million plus, due in large part to a balanced partnership with her husband, Chuck. When it comes to client retention, no other local Realtor tops the Ivas team – over 60% of their business comes from repeat clients and their referrals. They each play to each other’s strengths, with Diana handling the marketing and buyer’s agent management, and Chuck focusing on the financial and administrative tasks. Diana has been the recipient of a bevy of RE/MAX awards, including the Lifetime Achievement Award, Hall of Fame, Platinum Club, Chairman's Club and Northern Illinois Top 10.

News from RECA

It is official Charlotte Sutherland from CB in Canmore is no longer with the Real Estate Council of Alberta after a long and in my opinion successful 6 year tenure. Charlotte represented members not belonging to organized real estate.

Having been involved with RECA for the past 8 years in many capacities I can say she brought a big voice to those members. She certainly was not easily snowed and was often a voice of reason in what could be at times trying and difficult meetings.

I for one, Thank you Charlotte. Your sacrafices and hard work are appreciated. Far from being retired though Charlotte continues rockin in the rockies in Canmore.

Sizzle to Cool

This just in from CBC news online. A bit of a cooling off period at least here in the west could only be a good thing from the perspective of the market here in Edmonton.

TD PREDICTS U.S. ECONOMY WILL COOL IN 2006, CHILLING CANADA WebPosted Wed Mar 22 11:17:13 2006

---The U.S. economy is likely headed for a slowdown later in the year that will spill over into Canada, economists at TD Bank said Wednesday.

In a quarterly forecast, TD economists said U.S. economic growth is expected to slow to an average annual rate of 2.3 per cent in the last half of 2006 and the first half of 2007.

It is about one percentage point below the U.S. economy's long-term potential pace, they said.

The Canadian economy is expected to "marginally slip" below its longer- term trend rate of 2.8 per cent, the forecast said.

"Last summer, we noted that housing market strength and household indebtedness in the U.S. was simply unsustainable, and that it would give way to an economic slowdown in the second half of 2006," said Don Drummond, a senior vice president and chief economist at the bank.

"Evidence is mounting in support of this view."

Slowing sales of new and resale houses will eventually dampen construction and consumer spending in the United States, TD said its forecast.

"There is no two ways about it, the U.S. slowdown will be a drag on economic growth north of the 49th parallel," said Drummond. "But, since Canada has neither the same degree of housing imbalances, nor as much tightness in monetary settings, it should fare slightly better than its U.S. counterpart."

Any slowdown in the United States is expected to be mild and short-lived, the economists said.

But they warned there is a chance the U.S. economy could be in for a longer, sharper slowdown that could have a greater impact on Canada.

In the shorter term, the U.S. Federal Reserve and the Bank of Canada are both expected to go through one more round of tightening interest rates.

The hikes will boost rates to 4.75 per cent in the United States and four per cent in Canada, TD forecast.

Realogy on track

What's in a name. More importantly how do you pronounce it. You know you've got a marketing genius screwing things up somewhere when a very senior executive of one Cendant's biggest assests isn't sure how to pronounce the name. Enough of my side bar.

Cendant spinoff on track, CEO says
Cendant real estate services division to become Realogy or (reel-o-gee)

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Cendant Corp. remains on track to spin off its four businesses into independent publicly traded entities during the second and third quarters of this year, the company's chairman and chief executive, Henry Silverman, said Tuesday, according to reports.

During the company's investor day conference, Silverman said he doesn't anticipate any delays or roadblocks, barring some unforeseen external event, CBS MarketWatch reported.

"Obviously if the market shuts down for, say, bird flu or the SEC review process is elongated, hypothetically we could be delayed, but we don't expect either of these," Silverman said, according to reports.

Silverman said the company has analyzed thousands of contracts, relationships, systems and people to make sure the new companies will be fully functional on the day they're spun off, reports said.

The company's real estate company, Realogy, and its hotel company, Wyndham Worldwide, which represent about two-thirds of Cendant's earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, or EBITDA, will be spun off in the second quarter. The company had announced this move in February.

Silverman reiterated his belief that the spinoffs are in the best interest of shareholders, reports said. He said Cendant considered selling itself but found that "it was too big for financial buyers and too diverse for strategic buyers," according to reports.

However, Silverman doesn't rule out the individual companies being sold after they're spun off, reports said.

"After the spinoff, each of the four companies will be an independent company and will be free to evaluate any potential transaction that is presented to it on the merits of that transaction." he said, according to MarketWatch.

Is that a hint Mr. Silverman. Is there a buyer in the wing for one of these spinoffs. Time will tell.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

The bottom line

Office politics, economics and social hiearchy affects your bottom line. You can get sucked into like a fart in a wind storm or you can rise above it, separate yourself from the fray and maintain your sanity and profitability.

Maintining your direction is key to keeping distractions to a minimum. As my favorite agents fromCalifornia with Coldwell Banker, Tim and Anne Wiens say "We can't direct the wind but we can adjust our sails. Indeed the attitude we chose determines much about our success.

The bottom line is this: A lot of nonsense goes on in sales offices other than selling. If salespeople would just sell, they'd be so much more successful than most are!

Monday, March 20, 2006

Red Deer Broker meeting

What's to say except sorry for the delay. Busy, busy days when we got back from Red Deer prevented us from getting this out sooner.

The new Coldwell Banker website is promised for launch on March 31st.
The marketing strategy this year will hinge in large part on international open house month (which is April). On April 9th Coldwell Banker will own the MSN home page. So its a great time to get your open houses scheduled and take advantage of the media blitz.

Hopefully the website launch will go as planned on March 31st (I'm not holding my breath here) so that the increased traffic from MSN can be driven to a website designed to capture leads.

An office merger is scheduled to take place in Calgary on Tuesday which should double the number of agents in Calgary from 35 to 70. This long overdue move is most welcome news in the west where hopefully it will be a sign of things to come.

Efast start continues to grow and BOOST a course designed for experienced agents who have plateau'd is schedule to come online later this year.

Listings are in the process of being uploaded www.coldwellbanker.com and for upper end luxury homes they are in the process of being loaded to www.coldwellbankerpreviews.com
This is a huge marketing plus for Coldwell Banker agents. There is one drawback from my perspective in that your name doesn't appear on your listing. Before mentioning this new plus to your potential sellers make sure your listings are there. At present only half are there. We'll check regularly. About a month ago it was estimated this would take a week.

There will be $5000. contest coming on the website. Not sure on the exact details so stay tuned.

Online advertising is be heralded as the next big thing. While it may not be the next best thing it is becoming more and more crucial. In our last issue of network news we gave you our business case and we even showed you how to do this in a step by step manner. Remember you need two other components in place if you want leads from the traffic you drive to your site. See network news for more on marketing online or continue to wait for the online train to hit you.

Still no word on the Canadian conference except that 2007 will be at Kanaskis. The 2006 Canadian conference is still up in the air. Guess we'll just have to wait and see. Gary Hockey did indicate they were considering Mexico in November. Opinions seem to vary on this and even I'll conceed that you can't please everyone.

New rules for team awards are coming. Basically 2 or more agents will be considered a team. This has been long anticipated from many brokers hoping to give those agents who are individuals an opportunity to be recognized for their extraordinary achievements.

Think Search Marketing is New for Real Estate Agents? Think Again

A recent report shows that almost half of local keywords purchased online are purchased by real estate agents. The fact is, advertising online works, and thousands of agents are doing it. Here are some exerpts from a report on Inman News today:

Complying with the dictum, "Follow the money" (or at least the consumers), real estate advertising now comprises half of the local advertising on search engines, according to a report released this month.

Paid search ads for individual local real estate agents account for 49.6 percent of listings on keyword searches for local business segments across 10 different cities, up from 17.5 percent of local search ads 18 months ago, according to Borrell Associates' "2006 Local Search Advertising" report.

Local advertisers now occupy a third of sponsored links in search-engine results, according to the report, and many on city-related keywords.

The Borrell report predicts that paid search advertising by local advertisers will more than double this year to $987 million, and nearly double again in 2007.

Local agents' search ads jumped from 17.5 percent of all local search ads 18 months ago, to 23.9 percent a year later, the report said.

Search ads for the keyword "mortgage" comprised 25.1 percent of listings on keyword searches, the report said. According to the report, the highest bids in terms of amount paid per click were for DUI attorneys, mortgages and real estate.

According to the March 2005 report, local agents occupy almost half of all search advertisements, and not just in big cities, either. "In Des Moines, half of the advertisements on the Google and Yahoo results pages for 'Des Moines real estate' are being placed by local agents bidding as much as $3 per click," the report said.

Matt Shaw, an agent with Coldwell Banker Mid-America Group in Des Moines, told researchers he estimates as much as half of his total advertising budget is spent on search-engine advertising, and an additional 20 percent on other forms of online marketing. "It's paid off," Shaw said, according to the study.

The report tracked more than 2,000 online search ads on Yahoo! and Google and also compiled the predictions of 400 so-called ad experts. One of the reports' more interesting predictions: "More than three-fourths of the Borrell panel agrees that within the next five years, yellow pages books will evolve into directories of local Web site addresses. Eighty-five percent of respondents think this will happen within five years."

Friday, March 17, 2006

6 rules for smart home buyers

While this new book contains some real lame and generic stuff it is organized in such a way as to make it a good flip through for ideas for your own best buyer practises and recommendations.

March 17, 2006) --
Elizabeth Razzi, author of The Fearless Home Buyer, offers these rules worth sharing with first-time (and even repeat) home buyers.


  • Don’t reject a home because of outdated appliances. Buying all new ones costs a few thousand dollars — a drop in the bucket compared to the total cost of the home.

  • Give the commute a try. Early one morning — in the rain if possible — drive to the neighborhood and then to work. How long does it take? How awful is the traffic?

  • Give your real estate professional enough time to present the offer in person. It’s hard to say no to an enthusiastic practitioner when she’s looking you in the eye.

  • Put everything that you really want in the purchase offer, including light fixtures, play sets, appliances.

  • Build escape hatches into the offer, including contingencies for home inspections, appraisals, and financing that give you an out.

  • Don’t rush the lock-in date. Schedule closing for several days before your interest rate lock expires. If the closing is delayed, you won’t be facing a higher interest rate.


Source: St. Petersburg Times (03/11/06)

E mail marketing. Is it worth it?

As many of you know. Network news is a e newsletter dedicated to giving you something of value to improve your business. It is designed to be visually stimulating and profile interesting industry members. One of its background goals was to keep top of mind awareness for referrals for our company. Origionally constructed for Coldwell Banker agents in Canada we have subscribers from all over North America and from various different real estate companies.


Has this impacted our business. Certainly. We have reached our goals and well honestly exceeded them. One thing we didn't count on is the tremendous feedback we have received from brokers and agents alike. We thank everybody for their feedback and encouragement. Some of the responses have been truly amazing and definitely uplifting. So from our perspective e mail marketing does work. Below is a link to a survey that breaks down email marketing statistically.

One last comment though

  • you must add something of value to the reciepeint or you will likely be deleted.
  • you must respect their privacy
  • make it entertaining and if its not successful at least you'll have a laugh

A recent survey found that Canadian delivery rates were nearly 93%, open rates 55% and click-through rates over 8%.

By American standards, already not bad, that’s stellar. If the average click-through to purchase ratio is in Canada what it is in the US, someone is making a lot of money there via email marketing.

This is particularly interesting since the Canadians have long been wary of online shopping, according to many sources.

Fortunately, no one need move to Canada to take advantage of this phenomenon. (Though that wouldn’t be bad, Canada is a great country.) Developing a list of Canadian subscribers is no more difficult (and no easier) than any other. And the language and cultural barrier is even lower than for some other countries.

See… email marketing is alive and well. Some of it just moved.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Shorts

The following are snippets of various articles that are pertinent to anyone in marketing and sales.

  • Consider this: 97% of what someone perceives about you comes from non-verbal items. It is a proven fact. Now that you know this, how important is the way you carry yourself? It's hugely important!
  • Most people don't really care about price

    Of course, you've heard the objection. "It just costs too much."

    Today's Times reports that 411 accounts for more than a billion calls a year--at just one provider. That's more than a billion dollars a year being spent for a service that is truly a commodity--you want the number, here it is, bye.

    And yet, Easy411 provides precisely the same service to callers for half the price. Why doesn't everyone use them? Because it's not just the price. It's the hassle and the set up and the "I didn't get around to it" nature of saving a few bucks.

    Example 2: check out the parking lot at Costco. Lots of $40,000 or more cars and SUVs in the lot, people who wasted a few shekels worth of gas to drive out of their way to invest an hour of time to save a dollar on a big jar of pickles. These are the same people who will spend an extra $100 on an airplane ticket to save a few minutes in getting home after a meeting.

    My point, and I do have one, is that price is a signal, a story, a situational decision that is never absolute. It's just part of what goes into making a decision, no matter what we're buying. Seth Godins blog

  • Ability is sexless. Author: Christabel Pankhurst

  • No letters after your name are ever going to be a total guarantee of competence any more than they are a guarantee against fraud. Improving competence involves continuing professional development ... That is the really crucial thing, not just passing an examination. Author: Colette Bowe American Business Executive

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Is Another Commission Lost?


This is a recent article that I received from a lawyer. This has application to all real estate agents.
Read it or weep.

Is Another Commission Lost?

In a recent Ontario case (how come they get all the good, newsworthy cases?), an Appeal Court ordered that a seller could refuse to complete a sale even when the purchaser offered the full asking price.

In this case, the Listing Agreement specified an asking price of $123,900.00 and obligated the seller to sell "upon such terms particularly set out herein". The realtor obtained on offer for the full price of $123,900.00. The seller refused to accept the offer. The realtor sued for lost commissions. After all, the realtor had done what the listing agreement required: bring an offer to the table for the full list price.

While the Court agreed the monetary portion of the listing agreement had been fulfilled, the Court went further. The main issues considered by the Court were two conditions. As the property was an acreage, the buyer's offer required the vendor to warrant the water was potable and the septic system was free from problems. The seller was not prepared to provide these warranties and had not agreed to provide these warranties in the Listing Agreement. The Court found there was evidence the seller was not aware of the status of the water and septic systems and was not prepared to provide a warranty.

After the offer was refused, the seller realized appropriate water tests were required. The tests were obtained and showed a problem. A fix was made quite easily and the house was later sold for the same price with the same conditions as contained in the refused offer. However, these conditions were not disclosed in the initial Listing Agreement and were not part of the "terms particularly set out herein". The realtor who obtained the initial offer for the full asking price was not entitled to receive any commissions.

In this case, the realtor lost:

1. All commissions

2. Court costs

3. Interest

4. Legal fees for a trial

5. The time, aggravation and stress of going to trial.

The lessons we can learn from this experience:

1. If there are standard conditions you would expect a seller to accept put them in the listing agreement.

2. Make sure any offer is in complete accord with the listing agreement before you demand the seller accept it and close.

3. Avoid litigation. It is a process fraught with expense, stress and uncertainty. Mark Twain put it best when he said: "There were only two times I went broke in my life: once when I lost a lawsuit and once when I won a lawsuit."

Great article on sales style


Ris media is a great place to get information on real estate. Second only to Network News (biased opinion of course). The following is a great article on sales style. Worth a read if you're new and trying to figure ut where you fit in.

By Brian Buffini

RISMEDIA, March 6 — Anyone working in sales knows how difficult it can be to connect with a client. Perhaps you find yourself frustrated by how long it takes for a decision to be made, or maybe you feel a particular client is trying to move things along too quickly. What you are in fact dealing with is your natural “Work Style.” One of the first things we provide to those who join our business Coaching program is an in-depth personality assessment called the Heritage Profile™.

Work Style is one of the areas we examine, and through our research we’ve discovered something interesting: most people fall into one of just two categories—Motivator or Facilitator.

Motivators are quick to share their opinions. Because they are focused on momentum, their natural ability is to encourage and lead. To effectively manage this gift, you must remember to ask lots of questions before attempting to lead your client so you don’t come across as being too pushy.

More....

Coldwell Banker Canada update - Toronto broker meeting

The Toronto awards and broker meeting were held yesterday.

At this time there is no definite plan to have a Canadian conference. It's tenatively scheduled to have the Canadian conference tag along with the IBC in Las Vegas in 2007. What ever your opinion let them know. From our perspective it was a fantastic time in San Francisco but Sara and I had to work hard to make arrangements to spend time with our good friends, and there was little opportunity to network and make new friends. The educational sessions were average, a few of them stood out as outstanding. It is just very difficult to network with our Canadian friends at an event this large. Make no mistake IBC is an event to be taken in. Whatever you think, let the people at head office know or you'll get what you get if you know what I mean.

The broker meeting reviewed and discussed the benefits of advertising with GOOGLE.
Diane Boucher's office was used as a case study as Head office set up a beta test. I won't get into their results but I'll outline our experience so far. This is legitimate business that is the result of our online marketing:
  • almost 3 months
  • cost approx $900.
  • Over 300 leads captured
  • 4 deals closed
  • 3 referrals (2 from agents outside the Coldwell Banker, and 1 from the Coldwell Banker)
  • 2 listings taken
  • and some serious prospects in the pipeline
  • every lead is on a lead management contact program
Using Sara's technology experience and background in combination with my 17 years of experience has enabled us to construct a program that is not only cutting edge, but is practical to the real estate practioner and consumer. Contact Sara for assistance in setting up your program or office training today.

April will be Open House month with more details to come from your broker.

Great news. It was announced that in the next couple of weeks their will be a major announcement for a new large company joining the network. Rumour has it, its out west. yahoo!

www.coldwellbanker.ca will be relaunched in mirror of it sister u.s. site www.coldwellbanker.com. The architecture will be significantly less than the dot com version as the U.S. spent millions doing their site, but the improvements will be very good.

Andrew Zsolt with Terequity announced a training initative that deals exclusively with getting listings. An excellent investment if you ask me. If you want to be successful in this business you have to be able to get inventory. contact Mary Scannell for more info

Last year's award winner for most memorable line was Pete Benninger of Peter
Benninger realty, for "you got dick" in a discussion about radio advertising and results.

This year is a tie between Pete Benninger with "You're living the dream" in his comments to address his approval to the head office for the change in awards with regards to teams and their new found empathy of broker issues. Hopefully more info will be forthcoming soon, but basically they will be splitting the top 10 and designation levels in to individual awards and team awards. A team is defined as any combination of licensed agents working together (ie if you have a licensed assistant you are considered a team).

The other memorable sound bite came from the GOOGLE ad executive in describing how search engine marketing works...."It's like advertising on crack."

After the meeting Sara and I had numerous conversations with people regarding how to properly set up a search engine marketing program in conjunction with some other critical elements for your search engine marketing to be successful.

Expect better, you deserve the best ;)

Canadian Real Estate forum


A must to book mark this is a forum for anyone interested or who has a Canadian real estate industry related question. Canadian Real Estate issues

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

60 Days Into 2006 - How is Your Business Plan Working?

This article is written by Allen Wright, who is a Business Planner. It has some excellent points on checking in on your business, to see how you are doing so far, compared to where you intended to be. He talks about what points are important to keep track of frequently, and what things to be wary of micromanaging.

RISMEDIA, March 1 — As an ongoing process, business planning has many stages and focuses and the most important remains to continuously monitor your results. Sixty days into your 2006 business plan is a good time to see what needs adjusting. There are many purposes for doing this review such as checking accuracy, noting changes, developing habits and evaluating progress.

Check your plan for accuracy. There are two major areas that you need to check for the accuracy of actual activities and expenses. Since you have completed your first two months did you forget to account for anything in your budget? You should be recording all the activities you complete as you move towards your goal. Have you accounted for all the sources of business and business producing activities? Have you have forgotten an activity? Make sure you go back into your plan and add the item and any associated expenses in your plan/budget section as well as the business development section if appropriate.

An example of this might be a postcard you send out to all of your past clients, personal sphere and farm that lists the “Top Five in “05”. This postcard would have the best five homes you participated in closing for the year. If you do this type of marketing did you account for it in your marketing budget?

Another example would be expenses. Since several real estate overhead expenses are paid at the beginning of the year be sure to periodically review then throughout the year. You should be recording these expenses in your business plan or accounting software. Take a look at your business plan … did you forget any of these expenses? If so, go back to your plan and add them to this year’s business plan. In the process don’t forget that changes to your business plan will affect other areas. Make sure that after you make a change that you check and see what effects that change has had on your total plan and business development. It is recommended to make minor adjustments to your plan throughout the year as a quick check to see if you have accounted for everything.

One secret to success is establishing success oriented habits. These habits include recording your activities and appointments from all sources of business. Additionally, you should be recording each transaction and the associated transaction expenses as well as the normal expenses you incur throughout the year. Remember the golden rule of sales management, “If you cannot measure it you cannot manage it.”

Finally, check your progress. Although you are only two months into this year you should make sure you are laying the proper foundation for future success. We have all heard the “pipeline philosophy” time and time again … keep the pipeline full. A good tip for doing that is to examine your production and activity results as follows:

• Record and Check Activities Weekly
• Check Expenses Monthly
• Examine Revenue Every Other Month

The reason for this is simple. Activities are the lifeblood of any sales oriented business and therefore should be examined frequently. As time progresses you will forget some activities and appointments that you completed, so by recording them each week you will be able to quickly recall what you have completed.

Expenses can often creep-up and get out of control. Examining your expenses on a monthly basis will keep you on top of your budget and prevent an “out-of-control” scenario. You should be recording your expenses each week but don’t micromanage your business by examining them that often; monthly is sufficient.

Revenue is more unpredictable than the other parts of your business. Revenue may shift from month to month because of delayed closings resulting from things outside your control. With that being said, examine your revenue at least every other month. Once again, don’t micromanage your business and over analyze your revenue. As long as you are completing revenue producing activities things will naturally fall into place.

If you are struggling to manage or monitor all these activities manually, consider using an online real estate business planning and weekly accountability system that can do all this for you automatically. Visit CreateAPlan (www.createaplan.com) and keep your business moving on the right path.