Monday, November 28, 2005

Embroidered Logo

Does anyone have a version of the Coldwell Banker logo for embroidery? There is a specific file format required to embroider a logo on fabric, and if anyone out there has the digital file (should end in .exp or .dst) then we could post it here on the blog for all to use. It's not available from head office.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Designing Top-Notch Real Estate Sites

I found this article and was pleased to see that I'm not the only person who thinks that forcing people to sign into your site to view listings is a bad idea. The article outlines some of the things a real estate web site should have, as well as some of the pitfalls to avoid:

More information on what to avoid in your website is available here:

It seems many people feel that the best way to generate leads on a real estate website is to force people to register for just about everything. We're generating 1-2 leads a day from our website, where visitors can search all Edmonton MLS listings without having to register.

According to Point2Agent "Requiring registration is a way to capture prospects. However, it is generally recommended to make listings public because only a small percentage of visitors will register, especially with listings available on large, well known websites such as national listings portals. Publicly visible listings will keep visitors on your website longer, increase return visits and the number of leads from listing inquiries."

I've mentioned it before... the three keys to generating business from your website are:

1. Drive traffic to your site
2. Give people what they want so they contact you for more (generate leads)
3. Stay in touch with the leads and convert to transactions

Check out our new site at

Thursday, November 24, 2005

New in real estate

Q. It's been a long time since we've chatted. I was wondering if you could give me some advice about starting out as a new realtor, or if you could recommend some good books. I wanted you to know that I am working for Coldwell Banker in Knoxville. I thought you'd be happy to hear that it was cause of you why I really decided to join the Coldwell Banker Team. Anyway, we use Rick Deluca "Four Weeks to Success" for training purposes. They're great tapes with good messages. I like them pretty well. J.K.

A. Rick's ok...Been around along time. Pretty basic old fashioned stuff but its sound in principle. Customers today are pretty savy to that type of persuasion and sales tactics. Howard Brinton is not a trainer per se, he is a moderator who interviews the top agents and picks their brains. There are so many great ideas, and the good thing is you can tailor them to your personality and business strategy. So do the Rick thing and be like everyone else trained like that, or stretch out a bit and create your own selling style.

New Words Every Agent Should Know

Just for fun today...Ok, so I stole these from one of those e-mails that circulate the web...but they're pretty funny. I've pulled out the top 10:

1. Cashtration (n.):The act of buying a house, which renders the subject financially impotent for an indefinite period.

2. Ignoranus: A person who's both stupid and an a$$hole.

3. Intaxication:Euphoria at getting a tax refund, which lasts until you realize it was your money to start with.

4. Bozone (n.):The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows little sign of breaking down in the near future.

5. Foreploy:Any misrepresentation about yourself for the purpose of getting laid.

6. Sarchasm:The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn't get it.

7. Inoculatte:To take coffee intravenously when you are running late.

8. Osteopornosis:A degenerate disease.

9. Decafalon (n.):The grueling event of getting through the day consuming only things that are good for you.

10. Dopeler effect:The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Inspection Question

Just a quick question...on a few recent inspections, some of our vendors have remarked that they feel it is not common practice to have the purchasers present at the inspection. Is common? Do the purchasers normally attend the inspections? Can the vendors prohibit them from doing so? Later dude

Dear later dude

Buyers are, and in my opinion should be, encouraged to attend. If the seller does not want the buyer to be present, thereby potentially preventing the buyer from discovering something vital about the property, this could come back to haunt the sellers and you. Would the sellers feel comfortable proceeding on a property if they were barred from it? What is the purpose of denying the buyers access? Why would a buyer proceed if they are denied the the opportunity to discover the property in a reasonable fashion? It also places you in a bad predicament if the buyer has a problem with the property later and comes after you and the seller for denying them access. If your seller is adamant you should get this instruction in writing and place it in the file. My last thought on this is simply, what is the seller trying to hide? the Edmonton home dude

The truth about market share

Year after year agents with nothing to say about themselves boast about their companies market share. Not to pick on a certain company full of hot air, but they lead the way in advertising this form of bluff.

The truth is that there are agents with all kinds of companies that are competent, professional and worthy of your business. The people not worthy of your business are the people who feel that somehow the achievements of others directly affect their competency. This is not the case. I’m not going to say this attracts a certain ego manical element, I’ll let you judge that for yourself.

The reality is the there are some benefits from my perspective to being associated with a strong brand. At least that’s why I took our successfully independent company and joined Coldwell Banker in March of 1993.

After spending 18 winters in Hawaii and seeing the strength of this company I started to investigate them and immediately liked what I was seeing.

Founded on the principle of exceptional customer service 100 years ago. It is the oldest of the international real estate brands. The best way to describe the company is to let a third party describe it in it’s annual ranking of the worlds top franchises.

This too means nothing to you if you aren’t satisfied. That’s where the ego meets the road. No other real estate company in Canada that I’m aware of does an independently monitored customer service survey for completed transactions. Now that’s worth keeping track of. That’s worth your business. I’m not saying we are the only option out there. We are definitely one of the few that focus on your satisfaction as our measurement. The meat of the matter is that market share means nothing in selling your home if your agent is only driven on serving themselves, their ego, and making sure you help pay for their advertising budget. A professional negotiator, marketer, and someone with the ability to service the sale or purchase of your home is what you really need. The brand can offer that agent tools and technology to do this in the most professional manner possible. Tools that smaller independant companies can't develop on their own.

If you’re not sure if I'm right, just have us in and compare us to the competition. Its your money so you be the judge. What have you got to lose. I believe you will be impressed with the differences that we offer and the results you'll get.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Mancini's Moves

In our most recent issue of Network News we featured Harry Mancini and his 16-minute workout. For those of you who want more info, you can download his workout by clicking here.
It's an Excel SpreadSheet, so you'll need MS Excel to view it.

Debunking the do it your self myth con't

In Answer to some of the questions I've received, I hope this helps. If you have any ideas or thoughts to add to this I'd love to hear them (this is in continuation of my original "debunking" article):

  • You know that sellers who sell themselves have as high or higher risk of liabilty. Of course they don't consider this. Hower it is a reality in this litigious soceity and should be something they should consider. There are people who will prey on people who do it themselves, only to run them through the wringer and courts afterwards, just to get more out of them because they know they can.
  • If you see a FSBO or a do it "yourself" company take a picture of the sign. Keep an eye on it and take a picture of the house once it has a Realtor's sign out front. Create a "before and after" type brochure, track how many go with an agent afterwards. An amazing amount of money, time and effort is wasted that the seller does not get back. It's as if they are selling their home for 7-9% commission rate in the end, because of their marketing costs.
  • Do they want a buyers agent to get access to the 95% of the properties that aren't selling on their own. I wonder if they ever think about missing out on the majority of buyers who don't notice their sign or their little ad?
  • If they do sell it on their own, do a CMA on it and see how they did in terms of actual market value. They likely sold under it. If you can put a few examples of this together for the next seller you sit down with, they may see the logic in dealing with you.
  • Don't be discouraged if they aren't smart enough to realize the net effect is less money to them and increased risk to their equity.
  • If you compare MLS inventory levels with MLS sales to do it your self inventories and sales on a monthly basis. You'll be suprised to find that in Edmonton the MLS inventory is 2.5months, and the do it yourself inventory is about 5 months

Edmonton Blog

Check out our real estate blog for Edmonton at its part of our online strategy. The purpose is to give the consumer what they need as opposed to going somewhere else to get information. Its new and growing. Comments appreciated.

Monday, November 14, 2005

No New Posts...

Due to excellent ski conditions at back in a day or two :)

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Get to Know: Point2 Technologies Inc.

Once upon a time (1996 to be precise), two brothers made software that made reselling heavy equipment easier, faster, better, and more profitable by using the Internet’s full potential. This software attracted a lot of attention from major companies like Microsoft and Caterpillar, and built Point2 Technologies into a successful international company.

Five years later, Point2 realized that there was something else out there that needed help – something else that is big, expensive, complicated to sell, and difficult to move – real estate. Point2 realized that its software, that revolutionized the heavy equipment industry, could help Realtors® as well. Point2 Agent was born.

Point2 Agent gives Realtors® their own web marketing and advertising software package that includes a very cool website. Far more than just a web solution though, Point2 Agent is set to change how real estate is bought and sold online – very much for the better.

Point2 Agent is beginner-friendly – because it’s very easy to set up your website, but also because it’s free! The trial version of Point2 Agent doesn’t cost anything, and doesn’t expire, allowing members to upgrade to the pay version when their business growth requires it.

With the upgraded version of Point2 Agent, a heap of listing advertising is included. Through Agent Handshake™ you can set up your own private MLS for your brokerage, and all of your listings are automatically advertised on Point2 Homes. These options do not cost extra, and are not available anywhere else, from any other company.

You may know how well Point2 Agent sites do in search engines, but if you want to see for yourself just do a search for homes for sale in your area and take a note of how many of the top Realtor® sites are Point2 Agent sites. This alone is plenty of proof that big results don’t always take big bucks.

All of these advantages drive traffic to Point2 Agent sites, but in the end, as you know, better listings move homes faster. This is why brokers can set up their office on Point2 Agent, establish a brokerage MLS, and create incredible listings that include things like automatic listing brochures, Google™ Earth satellite mapping, audio attachments, and dozens of high-quality photos. Buyers are wowed by Point2 Agent listings, especially compared to the alternatives.

Point2 knows how to get inventory sold online, a fact to which its over 66,000 members can attest. In fact, Point2 is so confident about Point2 Agent, they’re willing to give it away free and help you establish a solid, profitable online presence without risking anything. Hard to argue against that.

See for further details.
Coldwell Banker Johnston invites you to sign up for a free Point2 Agent site today.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Are you ready?

I love listening to people tell me “Real Estate is doing great, you must be making a killing” and on the other hand, I love hearing from people who don’t sell real estate say “if you do this and that and this, and use this, you’ll increase your profits.” Not that I’m skeptical or anything, but…come on. In today’s market where everything is moving at mach 3, how many of us have the ability to make substantial changes to our business model? The truth of it is though, we all must evolve.

We must evolve our way of business, our way of thinking, our way of looking at things. Some of you can make those substantial shifts quickly, some of us move like Boeing 747’s making long loop turns to more our business to a different paradigm.

All of us however can recognize the basic fundamentals. The basic building blocks required to succeed and survive in an extremely competitive environment. In most cases I would suspect that if you hone your fundamentals, you’ll make faster gains than if you go outside your abilities and expertise.

Take for instance a child learning to swim. She’s there for her first lesson and she listens to the instructor talk about the proper stroke, breathing and kick rate. This all sounds good to the little girl. The instructor gives the necessary rah rah you can do it and cheers her onto the edge of the pool, where the student smiles with eager trepidation at getting going. The instructor blows the whistle and then she’s off into the deep end.

Now picture this. Survival kicks in and the panic buttons are flying, the girl is flailing like mad, and the instructor is still shouting encouragement. Meanwhile the little swimmer is not thinking about stroke, breathing or kicking. She’d like to breath without drinking a mouth full of water, and kick the instructors ass for making her get in the deep end.

Instead of learning to swim by building her confidence she was immersed in the deep end. Now that’s the real estate business. How many great ideas have I seen over the almost two decades I’ve been in the business? Watching agents jump right in only to thrash and flail to get back to the side, only to curse at the mere idea, saying “It doesn’t work, I’ve tried it.”

Search engine marketing is just such a thing. Dip your toe in, then pull back and re-evaluate. Discuss the results with others and what they did and didn’t do. The child who learns properly goes on to be a competitive, confident swimmer, whereas the other child will fear the water. Don’t fear the future, embrace it. Say it with me, “Search Engine Marketing.” See it wasn’t that bad. Go a step further and investigate it, and eventually, just maybe, you will swim the English Channel, or you’ll reach a new client there.

Friday, November 04, 2005

The Paperless Office

When I worked at the Coldwell Banker Canada head office, I was always amazed at how brokers and agents wanted to print everything - CB Weekly, Virtual Assistant client lists, listing reports, articles etc. etc. etc. My thinking was - it's on your computer, why do you want a paper copy that you now have to store, throw out, or carry with you? People handed me paper all the time and I'd turn around and ask for the digital version, because I had no files to put it in. My computer is much more organized than I am and the Google Desktop allows me to search this hard drive in seconds and find what I need. Perhaps it comes from my background in Ecology, perhaps because I've grown up with computers, whatever it is I don't see a need for so much paper in this world. When personal computers made their way to the workplace, "the experts" thought our paper usage would drop, but in fact paper consumption drastically increased because of the ease of printing. This article from today's Inman News gives a great reason for offices to consider going paperless...

Mississippi real estate firm learns value of paperless office
Katrina shreds paper documents, spares electronic data
Friday, November 04, 2005
By Janis MaraInman News

Hurricane Katrina tore the roof off Sawyer Real Estate's Gulfport, Miss., office, threw giant filing cabinets across the room and shredded all of the 104-year-old brokerage firm's paper documents.

A tidal wave buried the firm's 10 hard computer drives under 6 feet of water. But, to co-owner Lenwood "Lenny" Sawyer Jr.'s amazement, all the data on nine of the hard drives was recovered – including some 6,000 scanned-in documents.

"We are now firm believers in the paperless transaction," said Sawyer, whose grandfather Roy Anderson founded the business in 1901. "We've learned our lesson."

Sawyer Real Estate, one of the major commercial real estate brokerages in the area, has 16 agents and boasts many local casinos, banks and retail stores such as Wal-Mart and Kmart among its clients. It survived the Great Depression, the 17-to-20-percent interest rates of the 1980s and Hurricane Camille. But Katrina was quite another matter.

"When I first saw the building (after Katrina), I couldn't believe my eyes," said Sawyer, who inherited the family business from his father Lenwood Sawyer Sr. in 1986. "The windows and doors are gone, the ceiling was blown out, all our cubicles were blown apart."

But Sawyer, who runs the company with his son, Lenwood "Lenny" Sawyer III, was able to salvage from the hard drives the software from Sawyer's property management division – "the software that keeps up with the rent rolls, tenants, billing and accounting data was on there," he said. His e-mail, his personal records and the data of nine other agents in the office was also saved.

"We Federal Expressed the hard drives to a company in California and within two days they were able to save the information," Lenny Sawyer Jr., said.

"Whereas the paper records we had in the vault are gone," he said. "Some of them were completely washed away. The ones remaining in the building were shredded into tiny pieces.

"If we had had a paperless office, we would have been able to save the plats, records, contracts, history on old properties that we had," Lenny Sawyer Jr., said.

The company set to work immediately to get the office back up and running, according to Lenny Sawyer III, the "son" half of the father-and-son team.

"We were lucky enough to find a company that handles construction trailers and they got us one within a couple weeks after the storm," Lenny Sawyer III said.

"The power company was very responsive. The day we called them, they were out here that afternoon to turn the power on. The telephone company, too. They had us back up and running with phones and fax within a few days after we tog the trailer delivered," Lenny Sawyer III said.

Almost the instant the phones were connected, they began ringing off the hook, Lenny Sawyer III said.

"We do mostly commercial real estate and companies were looking for warehouses for items they had been able to salvage, and also people were looking for undamaged office space," he said.

"In the last month, companies coming in to build have been looking for warehouse and office space. The construction companies are looking for pieces of property called 'construction yards,' staging areas for the workers and their materials," Lenny Sawyer III said.

At first, the company and its 16 agents, all of whom survived the storm, did things "the old-fashioned way: hit the road, look for it, depend on word of mouth, call property owners," Lenny Sawyer III said. Now, he said, the MLS is back up and running and the company is able to access it to see what other agents have available.

The storm hit Sawyer Real Estate's building around 10 a.m., Sept. 29. Now, less than two months later, "as far as systems and processes go, we are probably back to close to where we were before the storm," Lenny Sawyer III said. "We now have two trailers onsite for our agents to work from."

The brokerage has a tough row to hoe, with major clients such as Grand Casinos and Casino Magic suffering hurricane damage. "The storm wiped out the whole Mississippi Gulf Coast," said Lenny Sawyer Jr. "It's like you take a big iron rake and go 2,000 miles back from the beach. It flattened everything."

The company is not yet up to its former volume, Lenny Sawyer III noted.

"We don’t have the population back to do the amount of volume we did before Katrina, but it is slowly coming back," he said. "A lot of people left because the schools were closed, but we are seeing people come back gradually as the schools reopen.

"We are going to make it. We'll get there for sure."

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Times Have Changed for Real Estate

This article is from Inman News. It is written by an agent from Coldwell Banker Bain Associates in Seattle. The article is in response to the anti-trust hearings currently going on the US about competition and commission rates in the industry. (See article below). She has an interesting take on the task force's comparison of the airline and real estate industries...

Increasingly difficult to protect consumers from unintended outcomes
By, Joy Canova

Times have changed for the real estate market; it has become increasingly difficult to protect clients from unintended consequences of a real estate transaction. If changes to commissions are overdue, it is to increase rates, not lower them.

In real estate transactions, one needs only to look at the volume of pages in a typical purchase and sale agreement to see the changes in the industry. As greater protections are needed for clients, full-service brokerages have sought the assistance of their attorneys to design contract addendums to close risky loopholes. Full-service sales agents have the skill and knowledge to put these protections in place when and where it is appropriate.

While it is true that every real estate transaction does not require the full spectrum of abilities that full-service agents and their companies provide, the consumer will not have the expertise to determine when his or her personal situation calls for it. It is better to depend on an agent who will know when such conditions arise and employ necessary actions on the consumer's behalf.

The comparison of the real estate industry to airline competition is an interesting choice since so many airline companies are struggling to stay in business. Some may wish to blame all the woes on events after Sept. 11, but the trouble started long before that. Consumers of airlines are suffering as services and routes are cut in an effort to stay in business. A cheap ticket to nowhere is hardly a bargain.

If the federal antitrust agencies' intent is to break the real estate industry to pieces in the same manner as the airline industry, real estate consumers will suffer as well. Agent expertise will leave the industry when consumers need an advocate most desperately.

Home buyers today are faced with affordability issues and predatory lending practices. Home sellers in the marketplace are falling prey to selling-schemes that provide no assistance in negotiations and pricing suggestions that cost money as properties linger on the market.

With personal savings down and debt up for many Americans, homes are often the greatest savings a family has. To shortcut protections for consumers with this critical financial asset is unconscionable. Lowering costs without considering value is the poorest form of business in America today.