Free Help for Real Estate Agents

Hiring a Real Estate Assistant

July 31, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Q&A: Do I Need an Assistant?

Feeling overwhelmed? Are you focusing on what matters?

Hiring an assistant is tricky business in real estate. For most new agents, the idea is unthinkable, and rightfully so– when the cash crunch is on, paying someone out of pocket to help with tasks isn’t realistic. But for many beginning to hit their stride, making the leap of hiring an assistant can be a huge help. If you find yourself closing three to four deals a month, overwhelmed by following up on leads, or failing to deliver the level of service your clients deserve, it may be time to consider hiring an assistant.

When hiring an assistant, your goal is to:

1. Free yourself up from the “grunt work” which is detracting from important tasks which only you can do
2. Enable yourself to focus more on growing your business, rather than playing “catch up” to keep the status quo
3. Improve the quality of your life while you improve the quality of your client service

Don’t jump into hiring a full-time assistant. Ideally, you want to ease into an arrangement that begins with 10 – 15 hours per week, depending on the sorts of jobs you feel comfortable handing over to an assistant. This will help cushion the expense as well as prevent the assistant from having too much down time because you’re too busy to train them at one time on all of the tasks you want them to handle.

Since you’ll begin by looking for a part-time assistant, a good place to start searching is via your social network. A quick status update on Facebook or a mention on Twitter is a great place to get the conversation started with people you know and trust. (Another reason you need to be sure you’re clued in on social media!)

[Are you looking for an assistant to provide you with turn-key letters and tips to market your business? Try My Real Helper today!]

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Understanding Self-Efficacy

July 21, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Build your momentum with self-efficacy.

Bruna Martinuzzi, President of Clarion Enterprises, Ltd., recently wrote this excellent article on the concept of “self-efficacy” for American Express OPEN Forum. Though it is not specifically targeted to real estate, it really could not be more applicable to the challenges real estate professionals face in reaching their goals.

Individuals with high self-efficacy, as defined by Albert Bandura, Professor Emeritus of Social Psychology at Stanford University, “are more likely to put a greater effort in achieving specific outcomes. They also attribute any failure to things that are within their control, rather than blaming others or the conditions surrounding them. Most importantly, they are able to recover quicker from setbacks and are, therefore, more likely to succeed in realizing their goals.”

From the article:

According to Bandura’s findings, there are four influences that can help us develop our self-efficacy:

* Mastery experiences: successful experiences through repeated effort; in other words, not easy successes, but successes that involve overcoming obstacles through persistence.

* Vicarious experiences: watching other people, similar to us, succeed through perseverance leads us to increasing our belief, that we, too, could improve our performance in comparable activities.

* Verbal persuasion: others convincing us that we have what it takes to successfully master given activities.

* Physiological and emotional states: lowering stress and tension and managing our emotional states as they can influence how we view ourselves; being anxious, for example, can lower our self-efficacy.

Be sure to read the article to discover six tips to help you boost your self-efficacy:

[Learn about a system that helps you master self-efficacy with client follow-up!]

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The Four Fundamentals of Client Communication

May 1, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Appreciate / Educate / Entertain / Reflect & Think

Four Fundamentals of Client Communication

Effective Client Communication Leverages One or More of Four Fundamental Approaches

Agents who have perfected the “long sales cycle” approach to building lifetime rapport with their contacts do not rely on a steady bombardment of advertising and marketing messages.

In fact, a thorough analysis of their communication reveals that each exchange they have with contacts meets one (or more) of the following criteria from a client’s perspective:

1. Appreciate me

2. Educate me

3. Make me reflect / think

4. Make me laugh (entertain me)

In the best case scenario, a message will actually satisfy all four.

The acid test for any message— from a voice mail to an email or letter—is whether or not the communication will in some way improve the recipient’s day.

The goal is never to prompt immediate return, rather, the communication should create an impression of the agents thoughtfulness, trustworthiness, wisdom, wit, or character.

In keeping with the philosophy of differentiating advertising from rapport- building communication, it’s crucial to understand that agents dominating the top 1% of their markets do not undercut the goodwill of their message by simultaneously including slogans, excessive signatures, listing information, postcards, or other direct marketing collateral.

If the recipient perceives the message to be a trojan horse for self-promotion, the intent to build rapport is largely undermined.
Almost all agents with a loyal client base indicated that using market data to satisfy the second quadrant, “Educate me,” came with a few caveats:

1. Real estate-related market data was never sent without an express request from their clients to regularly receive the information. (Permission.)

2. Any market information is always prefaced by an insightful executive summary. (Interpretation.)

3. Concrete examples of how market data may tangibly impact the lives of the contact and/or the contact’s loved ones is offered. (Relevancy.)

Without meeting the criteria of permission, interpretation, and relevancy, the wholesale dispensing “market condition reports” is often perceived as noise and/or advertising.

Agents with an excellent communication track record often cited a “swipe file” or “idea folder” which enabled them to quickly and efficiently craft personalized communication that met all four of the rapport-building fundamentals. Doing so enabled them to leverage the success of past letters with new clients, resulting in both efficiency and efficacy in their communication strategy.

[Click here for a free copy of the 26-page report from which this post was originally taken, "6 Key Findings: How Successful Agents Build a Referral-Based Business"]

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How to Begin Great Meetings

April 26, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

4 Great Ways to Open a Meeting

Engage people immediately with these techniques

4 meeting starters How many office meetings have you been to that left you feeling energized, inspired, and fully engaged in thought? You can probably count the number on one hand. Meetings are notoriously abused because they create the impression that work is being done. Seth Godin has spoken extensively on this topic, and has a great article titled “Getting serious about your meeting problem” which you should definitely read if you want to improve your meetings.

If you do have to hold a meeting, you should do your best to engage your participants right away. Rather than a ho-hum review of an agenda, why not kick it off with one of these attention grabbing methods?

1. Cite a shocking statistic relevant to the meeting topic. Odds are you’re addressing a problem or facing a group challenge in your meeting. Is there a statistic you can find which will focus attention? If you can find one that gets a “Wow” out of your participants, you’re on the right track.

2. Create a picture in their mind. Beginning a meeting with a strong, visual description can engage your participants. “Picture this…” is one way to begin the conversation. Place them in a scene at the center of a situation. Engage the senses with brief, effective description– sight, smell, hearing, touch, etc.

3. Share a great quote. This is one we use all the time in the Tuesday Tactics newsletter and it also works well in meetings. A bit of wisdom, well said, is great for drawing people into the meeting. The catch, though? It must be relevant to the topic of the meeting. Otherwise, you’re just wasting precious minutes.

4. Ask a question. Questions get debate going, they get discussion flowing. Even if they’re rhetorical questions which have obvious answers, they can move people’s minds into the topic at hand.

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Choosing the Right Deals

June 2, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

Q&A: Which Deals Are Worth My Time?
Use data to drive decisions

Q: How do I know which sorts of deals are worth my time?

A: In order to make informed decisions, you have to start tracking information.

If you’ve been “going by your gut” on which transactions have been the “best” for you, you’re probably working too hard for too little money. (What is “best”, anyway?) The only way you can objectively begin determining which deals have been your most profitable is to begin tracking data about your transactions in a central location, (such as Excel spreadsheet) where you can evaluate the pros and cons of particular segments.

Many agents have found out that in their market, certain types of buyers or price points have seemed lucrative, but over time have not been worth the effort. By tracking the type and number of deals which have gone through versus ones which have fallen apart, you may begin to notice trends that help you understand which deals are better for your business.

Data you may consider include:

  • Days to close
  • Marketing expenses
  • Cash buyers vs. non-cash
  • Buyer budgets (if you’re working the buyer side)
  • First time vs. repeat buyer
  • Net income on the deal
  • Neighborhoods / zip codes
  • “Perceived difficulty” working the deal

Set up a column for each criteria in an Excel spreadsheet and begin keeping track of what’s going on in your business. If you can, go back and see if you can gather data for past deals you’ve worked. You don’t have to be an MIT statistician to start spotting trends and testing your “gut feeling” against hard numbers.

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Real Estate Think Tank

March 12, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

How to Start a Real Estate Think Tank
Share ideas and prosper…

One of the most effective ways to solve common problems and identify new business strategies is to become part of an industry “think tank.” A think tank consists of a group of individuals from diverse backgrounds who all have a common interest in a similar area of focus. Think tanks brainstorm new ideas, challenge old ideas, and voraciously consume new information which may or may not help inform topics of interest to the group.

Here’s how to start your own think tank:

1. Brainstorm names individuals you have met, either in person or online, whose opinions and ideas you respect when it comes to real estate. These may be bloggers, other members of your office, or even past clients who face marketing and client relationship challenges on a monthly basis.

2. Reach out to the people you respect and propose a lunch meeting. Inform them that you’d like to discuss with them the possibility of forming a “think tank” to mutually support one another’s professional interests. Let them know that you’ve also invited a handful of other people you respect, and think they might like to meet.

3. At your lunch meeting, ask attendees what they think of creating an informal group that meets regularly (once a month to as frequently as once per week) to discuss topics such as:

  • New business books
  • Recent professional challenges
  • “What’s working lately”
  • Challenging situations / group opinions on tough topics
  • Possible presentations at industry trade shows

If those you contact are receptive to the idea, establish the time and place for the first official meeting. A location conducive to frank conversation (i.e. semi-private) without undue distractions (think: no television) is advisable.

4. Consider forming a free Yahoo! Group or Facebook fan page which members can contribute to / discuss topics between meetings. This virtual meeting ground will be a fertile place to let ideas mature leading up to in-person meetings.

5. Be sure to set the next meeting time and location before the end of the current meeting. You may also propose a list of future topics.

Sometimes it can be a challenge to find the right “fit” when recruiting members, but once the group is established, you’ll find it can be a tremendous resource for advancing your career, developing new ideas, and solving problems. Plus, there’s nothing quite like saying, “Last night we talked about that in my real estate think tank…”

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How Learning Influences Luck

February 10, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Scott’s Thoughts: The Relationship Between Learning & Luck
Can learning create good luck?
“Learn everything you can, anytime you can, from anyone you can – there will always come a time when you will be grateful you did.” –Sarah Caldwell (1924 — 2006), opera conductor & stage director

When times are tight, the cries to “do more with less” and “get a return on every dollar” get louder. When left unchecked, this perspective puts a premium on linking every minute of your work day to activities which contribute somehow to the bottom line. Some of this is natural and sensible, but taken to an extreme, it’s counterproductive to preparing for future opportunities.

Seneca, a Roman philosopher, is widely credited with the quote “luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” Looking for opportunity is the easier half of the equation. What about preparation? What is it, exactly? How do we prepare for opportunities we don’t know will come? What will they look like? How should we get ready?

I think the answer lies in permitting yourself the luxury of learning new things without a rigid vision of how they will connect to your business (or even your daily life). You may, for example, not see the point behind new web technologies, such as Twitter. And it may never be relevant to the way you do business. But I would suggest that you give yourself permission to learn about it, even if you think the time is ill-spent in the short term.

Learning, for its own sake, helps your brain learn to make connections between things which might not ordinarily be obvious. The concept or skill you learn today for “fun” may not equate to a higher income or a better quality of life next week. It may, however, be the little detail in the future which makes grabbing hold of a new opportunity possible.

Learning for its own sake may be one of the essential ingredients in good luck. Be open to it.

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Two Secrets to Real Estate Success

February 3, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Your Letters to the Editor: Two Secrets to Success
Perspective that can transform your business…

In response to our request for “game changing” advice from our “Tuesday Tactics” readers, Dana MacCord, Managing Broker at Prudential Gardner Realtors in Louisiana shared two compelling pieces of advice that contributed to her successful career early on. Dana writes:

“When I got started as an agent, I interviewed several top producers and asked them the same question: “What’s the secret to success?” One agent said, “If they like it, I like it.” It sounds a little crass at first, but what she meant was this: Agents make a big mistake when they assert their personal opinions about a house. For example: When there’s ugly wallpaper up, keep your mouth shut. I had buyers that LOVED bad wallpaper… the tackier the better. Never thought I’d see the day. If I had given them my opinion about the wallpaper, I might have shamed them out of making an offer.”

“The second game changer was a marketing tip: New agents are in a catch-22 situation. They need to market themselves, but they’re timid because they don’t feel like they know enough. They learn, learn, learn, but can’t quite seem to get started. So, the second top producer recommended new agents walk their own neighborhood, introducing themselves to the area, meeting everyone they can. And, EVERYONE gets a business card. Her goal was to run out of cards in the first month, and try to have a meaningful conversation about real estate with everyone. The moral of the story is unashamed, unabashed, bold promotion of you and your brand.”

Thanks again to Dana for her spirit of generosity. You can get to know a little more about Dana’s and her office at her website, where she also blogs:

Until next week!

Cheering you towards greater success,

Scott Levitt

Scott Levitt
Oakley Signs & Graphics, Inc.

P.S. – If you have ideas, suggestions, tips, or contributions you’d like to add to the Free Help for Real Estate Agents community, please feel free to drop me a line!  We appreciate your feedback.

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Advice for New Real Estate Agents

January 19, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Your Letters to the Editor: A Big Question
Advice from experience…

A couple weeks ago, we asked: “What advice can you offer new agents who are entering one of the toughest markets in decades?”

Here’s some guidance we received from real estate professionals who’ve been through a few ups and downs:

Carol Billups, Broker/Owner Realty Executives Los Cabos writes:

“Be patient with yourself. No matter how long you thought it would take to get established, you probably underestimated. That’s OK; be patient and keep working. There’s something you can do every day, whether it’s blogging or coaching little league, or taking a free online course to prepare yourself and build your ‘personal brand’. With time, perseverance, and patience it will happen. Just don’t lose hope.”


Scott Deaton, PMP, REM Broker/Owner of EXIT Realty writes:

“Train, Train, Train. You can’t take too much training. With the internet and resources from NAR, everyone should take as much training as possible on how to grow their business. You don’t have to recreate the wheel. Others have already done that. Just follow their lead, and use the resources and programs currently available to grow your business. If your company provides training, be committed to attend every session. I have been in real estate 6 years and attend every training session EXIT Realty offers. I learn something that will make me money every time.”

Pamela (Pam) Mones of Long & Foster Companies writes:

“I can share with you that persistence and practice make all the difference. Passing the real estate [exam] is a major accomplishment, but theory and practice are often miles apart. Rely on a trusted mentor who has had the experience of navigating real-world real estate transactions. The more you practice, the more expert you will become. Do your best and the rest will follow. Good luck.”


Education, mentorship, persistence, and patience.

I think you would be hard pressed to find more worthy values to endorse for a successful real estate career.

Cheering you towards greater success,

Scott Levitt

Scott Levitt
Oakley Signs & Graphics, Inc.

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The Prosperity Habit

August 31, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Download The Prosperity Habit eBookDear Real Estate Professional,

As you probably already know, negativity yields negative returns. Life coaches like Tony Robbins have long advocated that a positive mental attitude increases performance and can literally transform your life. But you also have the power to help others.

In this spirit, we’ve published “The Prosperity Habit.” It’s a free program that will allow you to systematically cultivate and channel your ability to make other people’s days. The tools, templates, and simple techniques in this program can vastly improve the lives of the people around you.

In turn, you’ll find out just how prosperous sharing positivity can be… especially for real estate professionals. It’s easy to master.

You’ll learn…

  • The relationships between mood, outcomes & productivity
  • How to become a master at observing opportunities for compliments, support, and generous gestures
  • How to use free, convenient technology to help you remember to practice positivity
  • How to be inspired by scripts that enhance your ability to communicate positivity in your personal and business life
  • How to time your positivity for maximum effect

Far from a vague guide about the benefits of positive thinking, this is a direct, tactical guide that will help you prosper. Get your copy instantly. Just fill out the form below.

Cheering you on to greater success!

Scott Levitt
Scott Levitt
Oakley Signs & Graphics, Inc.

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Free Help for Real Estate Agents