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.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

What's in a name?

Cendant and the brain trusts that be are in the process of reorganizing and renaming the individual units. Like this will make a difference, well at least not to those of us in the trenches.

It hopefully won't mean extra overhead in corporate salaries. Keep your costs down boys and girls.

The Cendant Real Estate Services Division, which is spinning off from Cendant Corp., will operate as a standalone company under the name Realogy Corp., the publicly traded company said today.

The name change will take effect upon the completion of its spin-off from Cendant Corp., anticipated during the second quarter of 2006.

"The name Realogy communicates our rigorous approach to the real estate business," said Richard A. Smith, chairman and CEO of the Cendant Real Estate Services Division, who will serve as vice chairman and president of Realogy Corp.

Since the Cendant name will ultimately be retired, two subsidiaries of the Real Estate Services Division are also changing their corporate identities in association with the spin-off, the company said.

Cendant Mobility, a major global relocation services company, will become known as Cartus. Cartus has more than 1,300 active clients worldwide, including more than 60 percent of the Fortune 50 and numerous government agencies and affinity organizations.

Cendant Settlement Services Group, a national leader in title and settlement services, will become known as Title Resource Group (TRG). TRG is comprised of 21 title and settlement services companies with 500 offices in 33 states across the United States.

"Title Resource Group is a name that defines our national network of title and settlement services companies," said Cendant Settlement Services Group President and CEO Don Casey, who will serve as TRG's president and CEO. "TRG comprises many companies operating in a host of local markets, all united under one vision."

No other name changes are planned within the Real Estate Services Division.

NRT Inc., the real estate franchise group, and its leading brands -- Century 21, Coldwell Banker, Coldwell Banker Commercial, ERA and Sotheby's International Realty -- all will keep their existing names.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Good times at Coldwell Banker IBC 2006

We had a great time in San Francisco connecting with old friends and meeting new ones. The educational courses were light in most cases but a few stood out as excellent. We thank everyone who had positive comments about Network News and for those of you who requested to be signed up you will receive the next issue. As Network News has grown to numerous other companies we will be looking for ways to expand on our committment to bring you a news letter and blog with real value in a timely manner.

Click to see a photos from our Valentines dinner and cruise to Alcatraz with, Sheldon Johnston and Sara Maclennan Coldwell Banker Johnston real estate, Edmonton, Alberta aka the Network News crew.

Click here to see photos from the Canada day cruise eh!

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Rookie Realtors, Will They Succeed? (Part 3)

This is the last of a three part series by Bernice Rossof Inman News. Here are parts 1 and 2. In it she talks about different personality tests and character traits that might predict a new agent's success or failure in the business. It's certainly an interesting read for recruiters, new agents and those considering entering the business. As usual I've shortened it a bit to cut down your reading time.

Last week we looked at the demographic results of a new study examining the relationship between various factors and real estate success during agents' first two years in the business. Because the Real Estate Simulator was standardized using the profiles of agents who make over $150,000 per year in real estate, it is currently the best instrument available for predicting whether an experienced agent will become a top producer. The DISC Behavioral Assessment and the PIAV (Personal Interests, Attitudes, and Values) Assessment from Target Training International are used in other industries to identify top sales performers and to help them better understand what motivates their behaviors. Do these three assessments accurately predict new agent success as well?

Based upon the results of this study, managers can feel comfortable hiring men or women from any age group. What they should look for is the following "ideal new agent profile."

1. High score on the Real Estate Simulator, especially in the areas of closing and assertiveness. The overall Simulator score was highly predictive of Rookie Realtor success during the first year an agent is in real estate.

2. High score on the "D" (Dominance) factor on the DISC.

3. High score on the "Traditional" factor on the PIAV.

4. Agents who are prepared to work 35 or more hours per week in real estate.

Based upon the results of this study, personality and behavioral style factors influence an agent's success during the early stages of their career. The different assessments correlate with Rookie Realtor performance to various degrees. What these results reflect, however, is that agents who are confident, assertive, energetic, and to some extent forceful rather than self-centered or arrogant, are more likely to experience early career success.

The research findings further suggest that during the early stages of an agent's career, personality and behavioral style may be critical to determining whether an agent will experience early success. For new agents, having the "right" personality, (e.g., assertiveness), can be more important than having strong selling skills. Selling skills certainly enhance performance for those with assertive personalities, but may not be sufficiently strong to compensate for having the "wrong" personality (e.g., indecisiveness). Previous studies using the Real Estate Simulator demonstrate that over time, selling skills become increasingly important in determining an agent's long-term success.

In a slowing market, managers should be especially wary of hiring new agents who score high on the "S" (systems or steadiness) and "C" (compliance) factors unless these scores are supported with a "D" score that is above the 50th percentile. People who score high on the "S" and "C" factors often make excellent assistants or transaction coordinators, but lack the drive necessary to generate high levels of business during their first year. Successful experienced agents who have high "S" or "C" scores generally report that they built their businesses systematically over a long period of time. Unless these new agents have considerable financial backing, most will be unable stay in the business long enough for their systems to produce sustainable results.

Since there was no difference in the performance of agents who work for brokerages that offer in-house training and those who do not offer training, this finding highlights the importance of selecting the right people. Training speeds up production for those who have the right behavioral profile, but it is not a substitute for proper assessment and selection. Putting it a little differently, the right hires will succeed whether or not you train them. The wrong hire will not succeed, no matter how much train them. Ultimately, training works for people who are capable of benefiting from it.

The Real Estate Simulator and the DISC are two instruments that can assist both agents and brokers in determining whether real estate is the right career for a given new agent. Recognizing when someone is not a fit can help these individuals to avoid the heartbreak of a failed business as well as a substantial loss of money for both the agent and broker as well.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

San Francisco IBC uppdate

Greetings from San Francisco. As you know Sara and I and about 350 other Canadians are down in Fran to partake in Coldwell Banker's international business conference and 100th birthday celebrations.

The weather has been great so far but that is expected to change today. It was certainly warmer during the day yesterday than any other day we had when we were here in July.

A few of us who were down early partook in a lovely Valentine's dinner at First Crush. While the food and wine were nothing short of fantastic. The service was the worst any of us have ever encountered.

The next day a large group of us decided t do a group tour of Alcatraz. I was really surprised at how informative that tour was and how really small the facility and the cells were.

Yesterday was Canada day however and it was a very nice evening. Bev MacMillan from head office did a great job organizing this event. Although chilly the sky was clear and the networking was excellent.

Sara and I just want to thank all of you who came up and thanked us for our newsletter. We really appreciated the feed back.

We'll keep you posted. Have a great day.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Managing Real Estate Relationships

Another good article from Inman News... this time talking about CRM or customer relationship management, specifically dealing with online leads. This aspect of our business is becoming crucial, as more leads are generated, and these people are 12-18 months away from a transaction. If you don't stay in touch with leads, someone else will...Here are some excerpts (the article is a bit of a sales pitch for a few products, but it still has a lot of good points):

"First, fast and frequent" might sound like a recipe for a very different kind of relationship, but it's one real estate marketing company's rule for customer relationship management.

"You want to be the first agent in contact with the home buyer or seller," said Matt Heinz, senior director of marketing for HouseValues. "You want to follow up quickly. And you want to stay in touch – frequently.

"We've found over the last seven years that leads aren't enough," said Heinz. "It's almost as important to have a system in place to cultivate relationships with people as it is to get the leads."

"If they (the prospect) are not buying for many months, they still want to hear from you," Heinz said.

One of the best practices his company teaches is to send useful information, not sales pitches, to prospects, echoing comments made by many real estate agents.

However, Heinz cautioned, it's important not to be intrusive. Another best practice: Let the consumer stay in control.

"Let them drive the timeline," Heinz said. As prospects do their research and amass the information they need to make decisions, they will decide when it's time for action.

Another best practice: "Make yourself an expert on the neighborhood," Heinz said. Advice about local businesses, local vendors, schools, nightlife, weather and any number of things can make an agent stand out, he said.

Linda Howard, president of network services for Prudential California, Nevada and Texas, agrees with Heinz that speed of response is a very important best practice. It's also important to separate those who are interested in buying in the next three months from those who are more long-term, Howard said.

"We get them in the loop with an agent if they are going to buy pretty soon," Howard said. Otherwise, "we put them in our LeadTrax."

"We call it an incubation process. We nurture that consumer and supply them with information they need during that period of time and when they are ready to start their search we assign them out to an agent," Howard said.

The system sends prospects e-mails on a regular basis, "giving them bits of information about mortgage rates, special insurance programs, anything related to the home purchase process," Howard said.

Howard agreed with Heinz' suggestions on best practices.

"Consumers these days are savvy. They will see right through a sales pitch," she said. "What they want is mortgage rates, insurance information, information about the area they are moving to. We try to make whatever we sent them valuable information."

Pru California is unusual in having a comprehensive CRM product available to its agents, according to Bob Woehrle, CEO of PropertySource. PropertySource is a customer relationship management technology firm that works with large brokerages including Baird & Warner in Chicago, Hunt Real Estate in New York State, Realty South in Alabama and Edina Realty in Minnesota.

Regarding CRM, Woehrle said, "You are 40 times more likely to generate business from someone you know than a random relationship."

As a best practice, his company recommends that agents establish and identify groups– former clients, friends, relatives, PTA, church members – and get them into a list. "We provide an electronic tool to do this with every contact they have," Woehrle said.

Another PropertySource best practice: "Surprise and delight," the CEO said.

"Our software allows agents to send out automatic e-greetings on birthdays, anniversary, the changing of the clocks twice a year. Remembering customers at times they would not expect you to remember them has a strong emotional appeal," Woehrle said.

Woehrle joined the chorus recommending that agents send useful information to prospects. His company offers newsletters that agent customers can send out, tailored to buyers and sellers who are actively engaged, and to homeowners.

"We also recommend building a target group of preferred customers. The two easiest ways to make money are repeat sales and referrals. We want to target them and give them a special dose of attention," Woehrle said. This is known as the 100 List, the group of an agent's 100 most likely contacts to provide a referral.

With postage rates going up, "with our agents across the country we unrolled a promotion. For their 100 list, we sent them 100 cards that welcomed the new year and the new postage rate and in the cards we included a sheet of two-cent stamps," the CEO said.

The most important best practice: "Segment them (prospects) according to their needs and speak intelligently to those needs," Woehrle said.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Rookie Realtors, Will They Succeed? (Part 2)

The long awaited second installment of this three part series on predicting a rookie's success in this business (read part 1 here). This article, again by Bernice Ross of Inman News looks to see if demographic information can predict a newbie's success in the biz...I've shortened it a bit for your reading enjoyment :)

Study participants

In the summer of 2005, 175 agents from different companies and geographical regions in the U.S. participated in the study. Each agent was asked to take the Real Estate Simulator, the DISC and the PIAV. Participants also completed a survey that included information on age, sex, length of time in the business, number of listings taken, number of listings closed, number of closed transactions, commissions earned, hours worked per week, and whether the agent's company offered an in-house new agent training program.

Demographic Results

Age

Fifteen percent of the participants were ages 20-30; 28 percent were 30 to 40; 22 percent were 50 to 60; and 7 percent were 60 or older (N = 160). In terms of this study, age has no effect on performance. Older and younger people do equally well during the first year in real estate.

Gender

Thirty-five percent of the respondents were male and 65 percent were female. In terms of this study, gender also has no effect on performance. Men were no more or no less successful than women were.

Work Experience

In terms of the sample, 18 percent of the agents had less than six months of experience and another 42 percent had from six months to one year of experience. (Sixty percent of the respondents had one or less year of experience.) Twenty-three percent had one to three years of experience and 17 percent had more than three years. Not surprisingly, real estate experience was highly correlated with closed sales, commissions earned, and listings taken (correlation coefficients ranged from .46 to .67). In other words, the more experience an agent had, the more transactions they closed and the more money they earned.

Part-time vs. Full-time

In terms of the number of hours worked, there were no differences based upon age or gender. In terms of this study, 60 percent of the respondents worked at least 35 hours per week in the business. Twenty-five percent worked 21 to 35 hours per week and 15 percent worked 20 or less. This research supports the conclusion that working full time in real estate is directly related to earnings. Chi square analysis revealed that agents who worked 35 hours or more per week earned significantly more commissions, closed more sales, and took more listings. (p < .002). Many agents mistakenly believe they can be successful by working part time in real estate. This study suggests that working part time or hiring part-timers is not conducive to real estate success during an agent's first year in the business.

Training

Sixty-eight percent of the agents reported that their company offered an in-house training program. Thirty-two percent reported that they did not have an in-house training program. Surprisingly, agents who had in-house training scored no better than those who lacked access to an in-house training program. The presence of an in-house training program had no significant relationship to the commissions earned, the number of closed sales, the number of transactions placed under contract, listings taken, or to overall performance. What the study did not address was the nature of the training offered. Some companies provide contract training without sales training. Others may rely on video or online training as opposed to live training. Additional research is needed to determine whether sales training and/or training provided concurrently with coaching influences performance during the first two years of an agent's career.

Selection Process

If age, gender and training do not predict real estate success, the question is what does? The study results show that assessments are solid predictors of a rookie agent's success during their first year in the business. To learn more about this study, see next week's column.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Zillow Launches!

Surprise! It's live!

There's been a lot of talk about Zillow.com in this industry in recent months. Some people have actually feared it's launch, thinking it would do to real estate what Expedia did to the travel industry (Richard Barton is the founder of both companies). Well, it's live, and it's pretty cool, but I don't think we have too much to worry about just yet.

For starters, it only works in the US so our Canadian readers need not fear. But just so you have an idea of what it does, it allows visitors to the site to get an estimate on the value of their home. They don't have to provide any contact info, and they don't have to wait for an agent to get back to them with an estimate.

My guess is this will have a much greater impact on HouseValues.com than agents and brokers.

They have 2 terrebytes of data on 60 million homes in the use. Their statisticians have created an algorithm that is accurate withing 7.2% according to Zillow. According to some posts I've read on Agents Online, it doesn't sound quite that accurate.

Either way, the info that Zillow provides will be of information to consumers. It's accuracy is certainly questionable, but cool none the less. One feature I like is the ability to see how your home's value has increased compared to homes in other areas of the country.

Oh, one last thing, Zillow is not selling leads, they are selling ad space. You can have a banner ad on their site targeted to people looking only in the areas you service. Which could generate some business for those who like to advertise online with banners.

Get your own free, accurate, online market evaluation in the Edmonton area.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

The Perfect Media Interview

So you've done something newsworthy! Congratulations! Now the media is calling and wants to do an interview. These 7 steps from Duct Tape Marketing will help you ensure the interview goes well.

7 Steps to the Perfect Media Interview

So, what happens when all of your PR activity actually prompts a reporter to call for an interview? Getting the interview is only one-half of the deal. Follow the steps below, and you are more likely to turn your interview into a powerful marketing tool.

Set Goals for the Interview

When a reporter calls to schedule an interview, either by phone or in person, ask a couple of innocent questions. Find out the nature of the story, who is the audience, when it is expected to run. The answers to these questions will help you better prepare your responses.

Never Wing It

The primary point of almost any interview you will be asked to give is to get your company's core message communicated in a compelling manner.

To do this in the context of an interview, you should script very quotable core message sound bites, no more than 20 seconds or so in length, and be prepared to deliver them word for word at the appropriate time.

Break the Ice

When a reporter that you may not know calls to interview you, there is often a bit of a control issue. The reporter is asking all the questions, so he/she is in control. You actually want to wrestle some of this away right up front. Think about this like you would a sales call. In order for you to get your message told, you may need to interject it into the discussion.

I find that asking a couple of ice-breaking questions can be a great way to settle your nerves and open up the reporter. My favorite questions are to ask the reporter where they are from or what brought them to this specific publication. Establishing a little personal ground seems to make everyone a little more relaxed.

Redirect

Sometimes a reporter just won't get what you are trying to communicate. Or worse, he/she seems to want to talk about everything but the key points you are trying to communicate. It's not that the reporter is intentionally being difficult, most of the time it is because he/she may not really know much about your industry. In these cases you need to have a few redirecting phrases that allow you to answer his/her questions with your answers.

Here are a few phrases that work wonders:
~ What's important to consider in this case, though . . .
~ Let me make that more relevant for your readers . . .
~ What we can take from that point is . . .
~ That's a good example, but I think you'd also be interested in knowing . . .

The key to redirecting a question from a journalist, of course, is to have a plan and preset answers. Then all you have to do is be alert for the proper way to direct the journalist to your message.

Don't Panic

Sometimes you will get a question for which you don't have an answer. Don't panic and don't make up an answer. Simply tell the journalist that you don't know the answer, but promise to get it. This can give you a great excuse to follow up with a reporter. Oftentimes you remember some other point you wished you had made and you can add during a follow-up call.

One Last Thing

I find that it's good to get the last word. Many journalists have been schooled to finish an interview with an open-ended question like, "is there anything else you would like our readers to know about . . ."

This is a great sound bite opportunity, and you should always have a prepared comment that is very powerful.

Even if the reporter doesn't ask, you should interject your last statement, "You know, there's one more thing I'd like to point out."

Prepare a Takeaway

Make it as easy as you can for the journalist to get the facts and figures right. Prepare some sort of takeaway that will help your story and make sure that all your contact information, including web sites and other places to find more information, is included. If the interview is via phone, you can email or fax the takeaway.

National Real Estate Convention - Free Registration

Can't make it to IBC? Well here's a convention you can attend without leaving your home. It's totally online and it's totally free!

Allan Dalton to Keynote Fifth Annual National Real Estate On-Line Convention & Exposition In Cyberspace February 20 - 26, 2006

The Fifth Annual National Real Estate On-Line Convention and Exposition, is expected to attract over 50,000 real estate professionals over the seven days event dates from February 20 - 26, 2006 making it the largest industry gathering of real estate professionals. There is no charge for real estate professionals to attend this virtual event which is open to the entire real estate community worldwide.
Complimentary convention passes along with convention scheduling information are at: www.REcyber.com/preconvention

The convention will feature a major keynote address, plus over 30 Nationally recognized real estate trainers, authors and industry experts in three educational tracks: Top Real Estate Trainers; Top Agent Tips and Tricks; and Top Industry Prognosticators.

The Convention Keynoter Allan Dalton is President and Chief Executive Officer of REALTOR.com®, the consumer website and the official Internet site of the National Association of REALTORS®. He will bring a well informed overview to attendees when he presents the Convention Keynote: "More Marketing Now - Now More Than Ever!" The Keynote will feature audience questions and feedback. Attendees will be able to meet the Keynoter immediately following the keynote address.

The Exposition at the 2006 Convention will feature over 300 booths open 24 hours a day during the event with the latest products and services of interest to today's real estate professionals. In addition to checking out new products and services at the booths attendees can win door prizes, hear presentations, view video presentations and discuss the vendors wares.

Over 200 real estate associations and organizations worldwide have joined to sponsor this unique virtual event which is produced by the Real Estate CyberSpace Society www.REcyber.com with over 9000 real estate professional members from 28 countries. Many prominent real estate organizations and real estate media sources have pulled together to make the Fifth Annual production of this event cost free to attendees.

The Major Industry Partner for the 2006 event is Fidelity National Real Estate Solutions. Major Media Partners include RisMedia, and the National Real Estate & Relocation Magazine. The Major Technology Partner is The Tech Hotline. Official Sponsors include e-Agent, The Real Estate Apprentice, iSucceed, and The Warren Group

Society Executive Director, John M. Peckham III said "Like the four previous annual events which have grown steadily from 20,800 to 40,136 attendees and have featured over 120 national speakers, the 2006 On-line Convention brings real estate professionals all of the excitement and features of a "hard floor" convention. This year, in addition to Keynoter Dalton, attendees will learn from over 30 top-notch nationally recognized trainer/speakers such as: Allen Hainge, Dan Gooder Richard, Michael Russer - Mr. Internet, and Terry Watson; from top notch agents including: Dr. H. Nathan Booth, Mal Duane, Rob Levy, Judy McCutchin and Zahara Mossman. and Real Estate Prognosticators: John Tuccillo and Jim Sherry.

"This years event features networking centers including an array of discussion rooms at selected Expo Booths, a "Rap with the Speakers" Section and a 24 hour "Ticker Tape" featuring special announcements regarding events, exhibitor chat room openings, special drawings and speaker chat times."

"What was considered a curiosity five years ago has now blossomed into the largest real estate event of the year.". Peckham concluded, "All of the elements of a 'hard floor convention' will be there in February.. As always at the On-Line Convention, the only thing missing will be out of pocket costs for airfare, hotel bills, lost shoe leather, aching muscles, travel hassle, registration fees - and time away from home!"

Registration is now open and agents may now obtain a Complimentary pass to The Fifth Annual National Real Estate On-Line Convention and Exposition.

Changing Perceptions on the Housing Bubble

Do you have clients who are concerned about the housing bubble? Here are some tips from RISMEDIA to help you address their fears.

RISMEDIA, Feb. 8 — No matter where you stand on the “bubble” debate, there is little doubt that there are many folks wringing their hands over what they believe to be the end of the “wild ride” that has accompanied the soaring real estate market. The truth is that every market has its distinct advantages.

If you want to be successful, this is one of the best times to do just that. Consider the following:

- Buyers are still out there, and they need our guidance more than ever. With all the market misinformation floating around on the airways and in the press, it is a minefield for an uneducated consumer. Without the guidance of a real estate sales professional, buyers will miss out on finding the home of their dreams. Underbidding, waiting for prices to come down, refusing to make a “fair” offer going in and refusing to work with your agent as his/her buyer-client are among the most troubling possibilities.

- No matter where the mortgage rates go, people need to move. The harder it is to qualify for a mortgage, the tougher the market becomes. The upside is that there are going to be fewer unskilled agents gumming up the works. Only consummate sales professionals are going to be able to tackle the challenges of getting listings and finding motivated, qualified prospects. Sellers, who may have been sitting on the fence or waiting for next year to make a decision, are going to come out of the woodwork. While they may not be willing to acknowledge openly that they probably won’t get the same amount of money their neighbor got a year ago, they are fearful that that is what is going to happen.

- How good are your pricing-right techniques? Become the most compelling marketing guru when it comes to making the right pricing decisions. Stick to your guns with your prospects and refuse to contribute to the problem of a growing inventory, expanded absorption rates and the inevitable expireds.

- Add new sources of income to your book of business. The mortgage industry is telling us that foreclosures are up and predicted to continue to climb. Do you know how to go after the foreclosure business in your marketplace? Approach the smaller banks that will not have departments set up to handle that business in a cohesive way. How about the inventory properties of corporate clients…are you prospecting the smaller corporate accounts that perhaps move five to eight people yearly? Those clients are not usually linked to a large relocation company and could use some solid professional assistance.

No matter what you decide to do to position yourself for the year ahead, do something new. Something is always going to work—doing nothing ever will.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Rookie Realtors - Will They Succeed?

The following is taken from an article By Bernice Ross of Inman News. A study was recently conducted to determine if there are certain traits a young agent possesses that will determine whether or not they will success in this business. In the states there are 25,000 new agents joining the industry every month, while NAR predicts their membership will actually drop from 1.2 million to 800,000 this year. If the market slows, the cost of hiring the wrong agent will increase for brokerages, and it will become tougher for new agents to succeed. Today's article talks about the different tests used, later this week the continuation will talk about whether they predict a rookie's success. Here are exerpts from the Inman article:

In summer of 2005, isucceed.com, RealEstateCoach.com and RealEstateSimulator.com conducted a study to identify the correlates of real estate success for rookie agents. The study evaluated agent production as measured by number of listings taken, number of transactions closed, and GCI (Gross Commission Income). It also examined agent performance using three different assessments:

1. The Real Estate Simulator

This assessment contains three online video sales simulations, a quick IQ test, and an analysis of key behavioral factors related to real estate sales success. The Real Estate Simulator provides feedback on 12 different scales and compares the agent profile against those of agents who earn a minimum of $150,000 per year. Validation studies show that the simulator is a highly accurate predictor of real estate sales success for experienced agents. This is the first study to examine whether the same holds true for rookie agents.

2. The DISC (Target Training International online version)

The DISC assesses the agent's behavioral style. Agents who score high on the "D" factor (drive, dominance, i.e. the "get-it-done" factor) traditionally do well in sales. So do agents who score high on the "I" factor. These agents are "people-people." The most successful agents (approximately 5 percent of the population) score above the 50th percentile on these two factors. Agents who score high on the "S," or steadiness, factor succeed best when they rely on systems. Those who score high on the "C," or compliance, factor are detail-oriented and often make excellent assistants or transaction coordinators. The challenge for "S" and "C" agents is that their behavioral style makes prospecting and converting leads more difficult than those agents who score high on the "D" and "I" factors. The DISC profile accurately predicts sales success not only in real estate, but in numerous other sales professions as well. The question is whether it is predictive of sales success for new agents.

3. The PIAV (Target Training International online version)

The Personal Interests, Attitudes, and Values assessment examines six key motivators underlying behavior. The six categories of motivators that drive behavior are:

Aesthetic
People who score high on the Aesthetic factor of the PIAV have an appreciation of form, beauty, art, and design.

Individualistic
These individuals often seek to be a leader or influencer in their chosen profession. They are normally independent and may have trouble taking direction from others.

Social
Those who score high on the social factor love people. They enjoy being around others and will actively seek out social interactions.

Theoretical
Their primary focus is seeking truth through observation and logic. These people tend to be intellectual and seek knowledge for the sake of knowledge.

Traditional
Traditional individuals prefer systems with defined rules and regulations. They are often politically conservative and place a high value on religion and authority.

Utilitarian
People who score high on the Utilitarian factor are motivated by money and security. They tend to be practical, entrepreneurial, and business-focused. Accumulating wealth is important to them, not only for themselves, but for their family as well.

Target Training's cross-cultural validity studies based upon sales leaders from 178 companies show that the most successful salespeople in America (72 percent) and Germany (71 percent) score high on a single factor. Regardless of their DISC profile, "when it comes to what is on the inside of top performing salespeople, both United States studies as well as the German study confirm it is hands-down, a Utilitarian attitude (i.e. a focus on practicality, efficiency, or economics)." Target Training International's research demonstrates that behavioral style is secondary to sales success. An agent with any behavioral style can succeed, provided their behavioral style is coupled with a high Utilitarian score on the PIAV. Does having a high score on the Utilitarian factor on the PIAV predict early real estate success or are other factors more predictive in new agents?

Read part 2 here.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Coldwell Banker Centennial Society

Congratulations to Coldwell Banker Peter Benninger Realty for being named to the Centennial Society! This group of 75 companies is participating in the 100 homes by our 100th anniversary campaign, and Peter Benninger's company is the only Canadian company to be included, in fact, they're the only company outside of the US!!! The 75 companies will raise 5 million dollars by the end of the year to sponsor local Habitat for Humanity homes.In a recent interview Jim Gillespie, President of Coldwell Banker Real Estate Corporation, said of the Centennial Society: "To raise this much money and help 114 families so far gain a home is astounding... They have made such a major commitment and spent hours and hours on fundraising projects, as well as the actual home build. This Centennial group is special to me and I'm certain the entire Coldwell Banker System as well."

Way to go!!!

Tracking Your Online Spend

Inman news has been agressively reporting on the importance of tracking and managing online leads lately. The following exerpts are taken from an Inman article published today entitled "Tracking Real Estate Dollars on the Web."

Some consumers are not quick to commit to real estate services online, and it may take several months and even more than a year before they make a serious inquiry about buying or selling a home.

Kim Gorsuch-Bradbury, senior vice president for strategy and corporate development at LendingTree, said a company study found that about 25 percent of the Internet leads it provided to real estate professionals in its network led to closed transactions, and the bulk of those closed within six months while about 35 percent closed after that period.

But when it comes to lead response time, "speed matters," she said. "What matters is that the broker and their agent picks up the lead very quickly and then calls the consumer."

As for tracking costs per lead, she said it can be as simple as creating a spreadsheet that includes such variables as the amount of spending for each type of online marketing and the total closings and revenues related to leads from those online marketing efforts.

Gorsuch-Bradbury said that real estate professionals can help their cause in online marketing by providing lots of ways for consumers to reach them, including a prominently displayed phone number. "Consumers definitely vary in their behavior. Give consumers a choice. Some will go with a Web form and some of them will call you," she said. Those brokers who arrange face-to-face meetings with prospective clients have a higher success rate in converting leads than those who do not, she said.

Tina Bean, sales and marketing director for VisiStat, a Web analytics and statistics company, said "web sites are no longer considered an optional marketing tool for real estate professionals. In the past, the argument has been that you need to get a Web site. Now it's taken for granted. People understand that's a part of the business model." Now, she said, the key is to understand the value of online marketing efforts.

Online marketing is not "a dart on a dartboard," she said. "It is a systematic way of marketing and tracking exactly where those dollars are spent." Technology now makes it possible to measure the effectiveness of advertising campaigns in real-time, she said, so that advertising dollars can be immediately adjusted.

"Not only are there applications out there than can tell them the amount of traffic your Web site has, but how did that traffic find you." Bean said that one of her company's clients, a real estate team operating in the Tampa, Fla., area, spends about $10,000 a month advertising at the Realtor.com home-search site, which they consider to be the premier source for attracting new business.

Joel MacIntosh Joel MacIntosh, WolfNet Technologies

Joel Macintosh, CEO at WolfNet Technologies, a real estate technology company, said quality of Internet-based leads can be more important than quantity. WolfNet offers Web metrics that track users' history of visits to a Web site, and these analytics can prove useful in reviewing the effectiveness of online marketing, he said.

"When a lead comes in, wouldn't it be nice to know that the person had originally visited that site 45 days ago, was the result of Google AdWords, and the phrase that got them there was 'X,'" he said.

WolfNet has found that between 1-in-130 and 1-in-150 Web site visitors will make an inquiry, while about 1-in-60 to 1-in-100 site visitors will make a telephone call. Most people searching for real estate information on the Internet are not ready to commit to a real estate transaction, he said.