Most REALTORS® work on a commission-only basis, which can make managing personal and business budgets a challenge. This is especially the case during sporadic periods when income staggers for weeks or even months between paydays. Real estate agents who plan for the future with each commission check they receive will be well-positioned to weather these and many other storms, many of which may not even be on the radar screen.
Victoria Gillespie of REALTORS® Federal Credit Union, a Division of Northwest Federal Credit Union, offers agents several tips on how to manage commission checks in a video interview entitled “Your Money Matters: Reserves.”
In today’s real estate market, most home buyers want more than basic pricing, lot size and square footage details before they will even consider visiting a real estate property listing in person. That’s why Realtors Property Resource® (RPR®) offers a key advantage to real estate professionals looking to establish themselves as experts in their market.
RPR® is a dynamic database covering more than 160-million properties nationally. REALTORS® can integrate important Multiple Listing Service information into an RPR® report that also contains a wealth of other significant real estate data to tell the entire story about a home, neighborhood or city. Users can pull from more than 100 datasets to create comprehensive and customized reports instantly for a real estate property that match unique buyer interests.
Key benefits to using RPR® are the flexibility and time savings to REALTORS® who want to present a wide variety of real estate property data to their clients. REALTORS® do not need to search through multiple databases to find criteria like: school attendance zones and test scores, FEMA flood plain maps, distressed properties, mortgage and tax information and so much more. All this is available in one single resource, www.narrpr.com.
It’s no secret that REALTORS® can be exposed to work environments that put their physical safety at risk. Properties located in remote neighborhoods or even closed homes in well-populated communities are a major concern. The biggest and most alarming danger of the business stems from an agent being in proximity with a predatory character who may try to take advantage of the situation.
The purpose of this posting is not to create alarm, as most all REALTORS® advance through their careers without any incidents whatsoever. However even seasoned brokers and agents will stress that taking precautions and remaining vigilant are two very important aspects of maintaining a safe workplace in the real estate industry.
A new .REALTOR® web domain extension will soon allow members of the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) to better brand themselves online as highly-qualified professionals dedicated to industry excellence. As a result, homebuyers, sellers and investors will find it easier to locate a REALTOR®, the trusted and valued source for real estate information.
According to a recent RISMedia article the Internet is undergoing an evolution, soon hundreds or even thousands of new domain extensions may be approved for global use, including .mls and .realestate. That’s why it is more important than ever for NAR to declare and define its namespace on the Internet. Only members and approved affiliates will have access to .REALTOR domain(s). This will build added trust with consumers who will know that .REALTOR domain registrants are part of an organization that has been practicing a respected Code of Ethics for the past 100 years.
According to NAR’s 2013 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, 92 percent of consumers turn to the Internet in their home search. The .REALTOR domain leverages this trend by creating new opportunities to extend and connect with the REALTOR® brand online.
Members using a .REALTOR domain in connection with their name will gain instant-recognition of their affiliation with the internationally-recognized REALTOR® brand, bringing a competitive advantage in the real estate industry. This online affiliation will also strengthen and support existing real estate broker and franchise brands with consumers, who are looking for a real estate professional to guide them through the most important financial transactions in their lives.
Priority Registration List deadline has passed
Final approval of the .REALTOR domain is pending and we anticipate that it will launch in Q2 2014 . Members are encouraged to sign-up now to receive advance email notification for priority registration of .REALTOR domain(s) one day before general release, at www.SignUpForDotREALTOR.com. The deadline to join the priority registration list was Friday, January 31, 2014. This opportunity is exclusively for domains that include the names of REALTORS®. Registration for the first year will be free to the first 500K members securing their name. Information on registrations for firms and others will be provided at a later date.
Additional information about the new .REALTOR domain can be found at www.REALTOR.org/domain.
Thirty-nine percent of homes were purchased for secondary vacation or investment purposes last year, according to the “2013 NAR Investment and Vacation Home Buyer’s Survey.” This accounts for a 10-year high for the secondary or resort home purchase market.
This data indicates that REALTORS® serving higher-net worth individuals and/or vacation home markets have unique opportunities to drive increased business. Agents who know the differences between why individuals purchase homes for vacation vs. investment purposes will increase their opportunities to close deals in these niches.
Personal Vacation Home Targets
No matter what type of home buyer your client(s) may be, everyone wants to secure a property that maximizes long-term value in a community they like with amenities they enjoy. However those who purchase vacation homes for personal use have the luxury of being incredibly selective about the things they want in a home. These individuals do not have to own a second home after all to put a roof over their heads.
Proximity to fun amenities such as waterfront access, shopping and activities for children become super important to vacation home buyers. Another key factor is the distance between a vacation home and the buyer’s primary residence. According to a REALTOR® Magazine article, “Vacation Home Buyers Stay Close to Home,” the median distance to a vacation home is 305 miles. Buyers like being located within reasonable driving distance to their vacation home, which cuts down on travel costs and time commitments. It also increases overall usage and makes it easier to track ongoing maintenance needs in person.
Investor Vacation Home Targets:
Many investors choose to purchase vacation homes for non-personal use. This brings a few different characteristics to the buying process. Investors typically do not plan on using the house for vacation destinations; rather, they seek to cover ongoing mortgage and maintenance expenses through rental income. Eventually they seek to sell the property outright after enough equity has been gained and the property itself has increased in overall value.
Accordingly, investor buyers will want assurance that a vacation home is located in a community that will be a popular destination point for renters. They will also want to know how many other comparable properties are nearby and being offered as rentals. These factors are what drive the price of fair market rental rates and volume during peak and non-peak seasons. Costs to maintain the property will be very important too, particularly if amenities such as access to boat docks, beach beaches and golf courses are part of the deal. These expenses, on top of general property maintenance, can add up to a point where owning an investment vacation home becomes a money-losing proposition.
Network Marketing and Other Tips:
Networking with other brokers will be one critical marketing tactic needed for success in this niche. If you have secondary vacation home listings you need buyers and chances are they are not typically within your current geographic network. The inverse is true for brokers serving high-net-worth clients who may be looking for vacation home inventory outside your area of focus. Brokers who represent either one of these demographics will have much more success when they network with each other when compared to those who do not.
The National Association of REALTOR’S® “Field Guide to Vacation, Resort, and Second Homes” is a great place to learn more about this promising niche market. The site contains numerous resources educating brokers about both personal-use and investor vacation home buyers and how to best address them to grow your business. Or earn a Resort and Second-Home Property Specialist (RSPS) Certification. The RSPS Certification allows buyers and sellers to have confidence in the ability of a REALTOR® who specializes in buying, selling or management of properties for investment, development, retirement, or second homes in a resort, recreational and/or vacation destination, to assist them with their search.
How have you secured new business leads and closed deals with personal use and investor vacation home buyers? Please share your success stories in the space below.
REALTORS® who are serious about proactively marketing their services will use a wide variety of tools to promote their business. Websites, blog postings, emails, e-newsletters, postcards, etc. are just a few examples of marketing content assets distributed through traditional and digital marketing platforms. As you create these assets, keep the following tips in mind to maximize their effectiveness.
Know what your clients want
Buyers or sellers may be considering a starter condo, a multi-million-dollar mansion or something in between, but they will all want assurance you are qualified to represent them. That’s why promoting you yourself as a highly-skilled industry expert will be most important. Knowledge of the marketplace, strong negotiation skills, focus on customer service and dogged attention to detail are skills you will likely want to promote.
Educate your audience
What specific area of the real estate industry will most likely present the best opportunities for success? Short sales? Mid-priced homes? Luxury or resort properties? Whatever your sweet spot is be sure to educate buyers about shifting trends and/or economic conditions that will affect property values and sales. For example, did a local school just obtain top rankings for the area? Do hidden association fees in a community more than offset perceived savings gained in lower purchase prices? If so, build your position as a local real estate expert by creating content addressing these trends.
Pay attention to keywords & titles
How many times have you used the words “best” or “most qualified” when doing a Google search? Utilization of keywords like these command attention, especially when included in headlines. Consider the following sample headline: “Best Ways to Maximize Pre-qualified Mortgage Letters.” A blog posting with this title would be of keen interest to highly-qualified buyers if it also provides five tips on how buyers can use their strong purchasing position to get a great housing deal.
Keep providing new content
Truly dynamic marketing campaigns never stop evolving. Months should not pass without new content being created to serve your customers. You should have a calendar outlining asset creation dates throughout the year. Start by creating two assets a month and build from there. Find simple messaging tactics such as shorter blog postings under 250 words to make the process more manageable. You’ll be surprised how this effort will gain increasing attention over time.
Be available to answer questions
When a customer reaches out to you be sure to respond promptly. Your contact information must be current and direct inquiries to a place you check daily. Prompt response to questions builds immediate trust. Delays suggest you don’t have your act together.
There are countless ways to build content that promotes your services in a beneficial way. Through content marketing, you can nurture these digital conversations into motivated and loyal clients, according to REALTOR Magazine’s article, “How Content Marketing Can Get You More Leads.” Also, check out a blog posted on Inman.com entitled “12 Tenets of Content Marketing” for more immediate tips. Brokers who end 2013 building and distributing targeted marketing will likely find more business coming their way in 2014 than those who do not.
Have you established a simplistic way to consistently generate targeted marketing content that drives interest in your business? Please share your experiences in the space below.
The National Association of REALTORS® has long-established itself as a provider of valued data relevant to the industry. One of the organization’s most recent studies is the The 2013 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, just released in November.
This annual NAR survey of recent home buyers and sellers provides key insight into respondents’ experiences with this important transaction. Topics covered in the report include who today’s buyers and sellers are, how they use the services of real estate professionals and what role the internet plays in the buying/selling process. Topics are presented in a user-friendly format designed to allow easy comparisons with previous studies through a mix of charts, graphs and tables.
Just a few highlights from the report include the following statistics:
- Sixty-six percent of recent home buyers were married couples—the highest share since 2001.
- For 42 percent of home buyers, the first step in the home-buying process was looking online for properties. Fourteen percent of home buyers first looked online for information about the home buying process.
- The typical home buyer searched for 12 weeks and viewed 10 homes.
Eighty-eight percent of buyers purchased their home through a real estate agent or broker—a share that has steadily increased from 69 percent in 2001.
- Eighty-eight percent of sellers were assisted by a real estate agent when selling their home.
- Two-thirds of home sellers only contacted one agent before selecting the one to assist with their home sale.
- The share of home sellers who sold their home without the assistance of a real estate agent was nine percent. Forty percent knew the buyer prior to home purchase.
REALTORS® will benefit from distinct report chapters covering the characteristics of home buyers, how home search processes take place, ways individuals finance purchases and how sellers conduct “for sale by owner” transactions. Use the full-data in this report to better address the most current trends in the industry, become a more valued-resource by understanding issues that are most significant to both buyers and sellers.
About the Survey:
The NAR mailed a 122-question survey in July 2013 to a national sample of 148,011 home buyers and sellers who purchased their homes between July 2012 and June 2013, using a random sample of county records. It generated 8,767 usable responses, weighted to be representative of sales on a geographic basis. The adjusted response rate was 6.1 percent. All information is characteristic of the 12-month period ending in June 2013 with the exception of income data, which are for 2012.
Order the The 2013 NAR Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers or call 800-874-6500. The study costs $19.95 for NAR members and $249.95 for non-members.
Access to affordable healthcare benefits is one of the most important concerns on American minds right now. One of the reasons is because several major reform provisions legislated under the Affordable Care Act will take effect Jan. 1, 2014. This may leave many REALTORS® wondering what their current comprehensive healthcare benefits cover, as well as lots of questions about the ACA and what options will be available to them now and in the year ahead.
REALTORS® Insurance Marketplace is a key resource that NAR members can turn to for assistance. The Marketplace is a one-stop online shopping site, providing NAR members with a full roster of health insurance plans and wellness products, including medical and dental insurance. It makes insurance easy to understand and convenient to buy. NAR has partnered with SASid (Smart and Simple insurance development), under the REALTOR Benefits® Program, to administer this offering, because they understand the mandates of the Affordable Care Act and the ongoing changes in health care reform. SASid’s team of licensed benefits specialists can help NAR members understand what they need to do, both now and moving into 2014, when the Affordable Care Act comes into play.
Simple, fast and unique, the Lowe’s Program for REALTORS® provides NAR members with more than just discounts for property upgrades. It also offers a cutting-edge and professional digital marketing tool and discounts on gift cards that help to exceed client expectations. And using the program will help set you apart from other real estate agents in your market. Available through NAR’s REALTOR Benefits® Program, the Lowe’s Program for REALTORS® offers members a free marketing service featuring an eCoupon that is customized to include your business contact info. Recipients receive 10% off purchases made at Lowe’s or lowes.com. Members can also purchase Lowe’s gift cards through the site at a 5% discount.
Set Yourself Apart with Lowe’s
Clients will appreciate the savings opportunities you’re providing to instantly address home improvement. Most sellers realize that even modest upgrades or repairs to their home can increase its value on the marketplace. Buyers moving into a new home will want to make changes to their new home as well. Use the Lowe’s Program for REALTORS® to show that you understand this, and it will position you as a caring business partner who goes the extra mile for clients.
How the Lowe’s Partnership Can Promote Your Business
Savvy real estate agents who value digital marketing are always on the lookout for new opportunities to communicate with clients. The eCoupon provides a professionally-designed template describing the 10% savings offer. Better still, the eCoupons clearly display the personalized contact info of the REALTOR®, and the speedy delivery via email allows the client to have quick access to the discount. The program now also offers limited-time special product offer eCoupons, available exclusively for REALTORS® for their own use and to send clients. The eCoupons may be sent the same way the 10% eCoupons are sent, are customized, and are effective for a minimum of one-month from the date the eCoupon is sent to your clients. Make sure to sign-up for the program at lowesrealtorbenefits.com to receive notices when new specials are added to the program.
How to Get Started
Register for your free account in the Lowe’s Program for REALTORS®. You will be asked to verify your NAR membership, so be sure to have your NRDS ID information ready. Once verified you will get access to the eCoupon template and gift card link. Help desk personnel are available via phone between the hours of 8 AM-5 PM EST for those who need assistance (888) 913-6060. Assistance can also be obtained via email. Every home can use improvement either before it is sold or after it is purchased. Your clients will appreciate it for thinking about them as they move onto their next phases of homeownership. They will also be more likely to keep you top of mind the next time someone asks them if they know a great real estate agent.
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The eCoupons are automatically customized with the information used by the REALTOR® when he/she signs up for the program.
How do you thank clients for their business? Share your experiences in the space below.