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 and for upper end luxury homes they are in the process of being loaded to
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


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.


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! will be relaunched in mirror of it sister u.s. site 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