Top Ten Realtor Resolutions

With the excitement of a new year and renewed ambitions, it’s time to really get after it in 2016. We are ready to set our goals, reach for the stars, go for the gold! At least, that what’s we tell ourselves December 31st. Come January 10th, we might feel differently. But until then, here are the top 10 Realtor Resolutions:

  1. Complete a business plan and budget. Your business plan doesn’t need to be extravagant. One page is plenty. Figure out your monthly living expenses and your monthly real estate expenses. Then decide how much money you need to cover those combined expenses. Using last year’s sales as a gauge, decide how many closings you need a month. That’s it! Easy!
  2. Create a database. If you don’t have a database of past clients, sphere of influence, buyers, sellers, pretty much everyone you can think of, then I don’t have much else to say. This should be your only goal right now. Seriously.
  3. Decide how you will connect with past clients using your database. Monthly postcards? Newsletters? Phone calls? Lunch dates? Email? Drip Campaign? A combination of all these things? Whatever you pick, do it consistently.
  4. Update your CMA. I recently updated mine because I realized it was getting to the point where my past sellers were probably getting ready to sell again, and I didn’t want to show up with the same old presentation. My presentation is broken down into five parts: Market Trends, Pricing, Marketing, Communication and my bio. In the Market Trends section I use graphs from our MLS to show what our market is doing in comparison to previous years. Pricing is where I put the comps I’ve dug up. My marketing plan is in the Marketing section. Communication is a breakdown of how often and which methods will be used to communicate with them (since that is the number one complaint I hear from sellers about other agents). And the bio section is simply my resume’, background, and some reviews I’ve received.
  5. Create a step by step Marketing Plan. Sellers want to know how you are going to advertise their house. Our job goes way beyond sticking a sign in the yard and putting it in the MLS- or at least it should. So why not type up a list and show it to them? This will give them comfort in knowing you are working for your commission, and give you a checklist to follow as well. It can include things like a video tour, ordering fliers, setting up a text rider sign, enhancing the listing on Zillow, Trulia and Realtor, setting the seller up to receive automated reports from those sites, using social media to showcase the house, contacting the neighbors, and contacting old leads, etc.
  6. Actually USE the marketing plan.
  7. Embrace Social Media. Even Twitter. Put a cool feature from your listing on Pinterest. Set up a Facebook page. Do a Facebook ad. (It’s super easy, very cheap and extremely effective.) Use Instagram. People are voyeurs. They LOVE interior pictures. Take one at your next showing and post it on any of those sites. Finally, promote yourself on Twitter. Tweet about something funny that happened at a showing. Mention something new in the industry, or go easy on yourself and just retweet other people’s posts.
  8. Be Proactive, not Reactive. See #9.
  9. Schedule your Day. The most successful agents follow a strict daily schedule. Rather than dealing with everything when it comes at you, set your day up to deal with certain things at certain times. For example, schedule your workouts at 7 am. Then get to the office and do prospecting from 9-10. From 10-11 respond to emails and phone calls. From 11-12 spend time on advertising listings or self-promotion. Then take a lunch break (hopefully with a past client) till 1. Respond to emails and phone calls again from 1-2, and then schedule all your appointments to take place between 2-6 pm. If you create a schedule and work on sticking to it, you will be amazed at how much more efficient you are at your job. And you’ll also find that most clients are willing to work around your set schedule. Try it. More here.

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Housing starts bounce back in November

How to save for a down payment on a house fast

My wife and I didn’t wait too long after our wedding to create a family. We were parents one week before our first anniversary. Our apartment was too small for a third human, so we endeavored to buy a house. Unfortunately, we didn’t have a lot of cash on hand since we moved from Florida to Virginia six weeks before we got married, and we footed most of the bill for the wedding.

However, we were still able to buy a house, though barely in time for the birth. (My wife was on bed rest for the last two months of her pregnancy, so she laid on a mattress while my friends and I loaded and then unloaded a truck.) If you’re also scrounging for down payment, here are some ways you can save and reach that goal.

1. Get help from family. My dad pitched in $10,000 as an advance on my inheritance. When he passes away, I’ll get less money than my sisters, which he thought was the fair way to do it.

2. Buy a fixer-upper that doesn’t need immediate fixing. We bought a house in less-than-pristine condition, which meant we paid less. We then gradually fixed it up, doing most of the work ourselves. Think of it as trading a larger down payment today for expenses that are spread out over the next year or few.

3. Sell your stuff. I have moved a few times in my life, and each time I made $1,000 or more from selling stuff on Craigslist, to colleagues, or at yard sales. Bonus: less stuff to move!

4. Use IRAs. As an adviser for a retirement-planning service, it almost hurts me to type this. But if you are willing to retire later in exchange for a home today, you have options. Taxable distributions from an IRA might be exempt from the pre-59 ½ 10 percent penalty (but not taxes) if you are a “first-time home buyer,” which the IRS defines as someone who “had no present interest in a main home during the 2-year period ending on the date of acquisition of the home.” So you might still be eligible even if you have owned a home previously but not recently. The penalty-free distribution is limited to $10,000 per qualified person (including both spouses if both are “first-time buyers”). Also, contributions to a Roth IRA can be withdrawn any time tax- and penalty-free; however, this doesn’t apply to the growth or a Roth employer-sponsored account. But before you touch any of your IRAs, make sure you know the rules.

5. Sell your body. Participation in medical tests can earn you money or free health care. I know it sounds weird, but it’s how I got my wisdom teeth pulled for free. Visit the CISCRP.org website to search for clinical trials in your area.

6. Get help from your boss. If you are a valued employee, you might be able to ask for a raise or an advance on your bonus or paycheck. You might also ask if you can take a benefit in the form of cash. This can be tricky for employers, since it can mess up their accounting. But it might be worth a shot if you have a good relationship with the purse-strings-that-be. Feel free to play the “we’re having a baby!” card if you work for a family-friendly company.

7. Get help from the government. Some state and local governments offer assistance to younger or lower- to middle-income citizens. Uncle Sam’s FHA also has programs for cash-poor home buyers. But if you are getting a loan that requires a down payment lower than 20 percent of the home’s value, factor in the possible higher long-term costs, such as a higher interest rate and private mortgage insurance.

How the Right Technology Can Increase Your Reverse Mortgage Sales in 90 Days

The rapid pace of change in the reverse mortgage industry is forcing loan originators to upgrade the tools at their disposal not only to survive, but to thrive in today’s highly competitive marketplace.

A new e-Book from Reverse Focus demonstrates how using sales technology crafted specifically for reverse mortgage professionals can help nurture leads, streamline key borrower information and ultimately close more loans. Topics covered by this e-Book include:

  • Competitive Marketplace
  • Loan Officer Case Study
  • Anxiety to Peace of Mind with a CRM
  • Niche Industry Requires Niche Solution

Reverse Focus is your one-stop source for strategies and tips to build your reverse mortgage business. Focusing your career on originating reverse mortgages is both exciting and rewarding. More here