May 31, 2009

Monday Morning's Match

Today's Monday Morning Match comes from "Business Philosopher" Jim Rohn. Rohn is well known as a inspirational speaker and author who has been speaking to audiences of all types for the last 40 years. His "Five Major Pieces To the Life Puzzle" include:

Philosophy - how you think

Attitude - how you feel

Action - what you do

Results - measure often to see if you are making progress

Lifestyle - the kind of life you can make for yourself out of the first four pieces.

Here's today's "match"...

"Creating Opportunity" by Jim Rohn

An enterprising person is one who comes across a pile of scrap metal and sees the making of a wonderful sculpture.

An enterprising person is one who drives through an old decrepit part of town and sees a new housing development.

An enterprising person is one who sees opportunity in all areas of life.

To be enterprising is to keep your eyes open and your mind active. It's to be skilled enough, confident enough, creative enough and disciplined enough to seize opportunities that present themselves... regardless of the economy.

A person with an enterprising attitude says, "Find out what you can before action is taken." Do your homework. Do the research. Be prepared. Be resourceful. Do all you can in preparation of what's to come.

Enterprising people always see the future in the present.

Enterprising people always find a way to take advantage of a situation, not be burdened by it.

And enterprising people aren't lazy. They don't wait for opportunities to come to them, they go after the opportunities.

Enterprise means always finding a way to keep yourself actively working toward your ambition.

Enterprise is two things. The first is creativity. You need creativity to see what's out there and to shape it to your advantage. You need creativity to look at the world a little differently. You need creativity to take a different approach, to be different.

What goes hand-in-hand with the creativity of enterprise is the second requirement: the courage to be creative. You need courage to see things differently, courage to go against the crowd, courage to take a different approach, courage to stand alone if you have to, courage to choose activity over inactivity.

And lastly, being enterprising doesn't just relate to the ability to make money. Being enterprising also means feeling good enough about yourself, having enough self worth to want to seek advantages and opportunities that will make a difference in your future. And by doing so you will increase your confidence, your courage, your creativity and your self-worth, your enterprising nature.

May 28, 2009

Say "Yea" to the Neighbors at Open Houses

I hear a lot of people complain because the only traffic they get at their open houses was "nosy neighbors" or other residents of the nearby community. I guess they figure that because these visitors already own a home that they aren't serious about this specific house.

I want to share an idea that just might work for you on the open houses you are holding that will serve two purposes. First, it will hopefully generate traffic. Second, it will serve as personal promotion and make you stand out as an agent who does things different. This just might result in a future listing from one of these neighbors or someone they know because they want an agent who will go beyond the "status quo" to earn their fee.

Everybody Wants Things That Are "One To A Customer"

People love to feel "invited", "exclusive" or "in a select group" so by creating a "Neighbor's Only" Open House event you are feeding right into the egos and desires of the average person. Here's what I suggest you try at your next new listing that you plan to hold open.

Send out a special invitation to the immediate neighbors to the new listing. You can use your own judgement but I suggest the houses on the same city block or cul-de-sac (depending on the size of the block). The invitations should go out to a group no bigger than 15-20. Any bigger and you may lose the "special" feel of the invitations.

The invitations will be notifying the recipient that the Sellers at 1234 ______ Street have enlisted your services to help them with the marketing and sale of their home and you would like to invite those neighbors to a special "sneak peak" of the house before the general public will be able to tour the house.

Now some neighbors will have already seen the house because they have a relationship with the Sellers but ask yourself this - "How many of your neighbors homes have you been inside?" Probably not a lot, especially when you think beyond the foyer, kitchen or back patio. We are voyeuristic society and want to see beyond the cover of most things. Why else do you think celebrities like Aston Kutcher and Shaquille O'Neal have so many followers on Twitter and John and Kate Plus 8 continues to be so popular?

This "Neighbors Only" open house can be held before a public open house, maybe from 12-1pm on Sunday before the 1-3pm public open house, or you could do it on a special afternoon or evening during the week. It's up to you on whether to serve snacks or not. I always did because it made it that much more special for me and the guests.

Here's a sample of what your flyer/invitation could look like.

Do you think this might work for you in your market place? I'll tell you, the Sellers will like it because it is added exposure, the neighbors will like it because it means they don't have to come over "under cover", and you'll like it because it will increase your foot traffic.

Keep up the great work!

May 20, 2009

Open For Business?

In our last post, we discussed several basic ideas to improve your chances with open houses as methods to generate business in today's real estate arena. Today I'd like to talk about when to hold an effective open house.

When in Rome...

It seems that in most market places, Sunday afternoon is the time when most houses are held open. That's when buyers expect them, that's when sellers plan on holding them and that's when most Realtors have blocked out time in the schedule.

Please don't get me wrong, I have no problem with holding open houses on Sunday afternoon. I guess it's just that I would rather be home with my own family, playing golf or just doing anything other than work on a weekend afternoon. But as the old saying goes, "fish where the fish are." If your market place has steady traffic of potential buyers on Sunday (or Saturday for that matter) then by all means, get out there on the weekend.

But remember, there are only so many fish in any lake and if all the fisherman (i.e. Realtors) drop their poles in the water in the same corner of the lake, there might not be enough fish to go around.

Head Upstream

Do visitors travel to Phoenix in the summer time? Does Alaska have ice cream stores? The answer to both is "yes" and it's a great lesson to learn about open houses. There is no rule that says open houses must be held on weekends. There are many people who can't make it to an open on a weekend due to church, family obligations or maybe work. That doesn't mean they wouldn't love to visit some new listings and see what the house has to offer.

My wife and I enjoyed one of our best vacations together when we travelled to Scottsdale, Arizona in July. I played golf almost everyday and it was HOT! DAMN HOT! But you know what? I payed half price for my greens fees and played each round in less than 4 hours because there wasn't as many golfers on the course. In addition, the ones who decided to play on those hot days (FYI - the Devil was sitting in the clubhouse enjoying the air conditioning) were serious golfers so there was no slow play to worry about.

Same thing applies to real estate. Have you ever held an open house on a Thursday night? How about a Tuesday or Friday? Call it a "Happy Hour" Open House. You might get a few buyers through who you wouldn't have seen on a Sunday (and neither will the Sunday "fisherman") and just think about this...might a potential visitor be a future Seller who wants an agent who thinks outside of that proverbial "box"?

Do Some House Work?

This was one of my favorite things to do when I was actively selling. Do you have any listings that are either unoccupied but furnished or inhabited by working Sellers? Why not use their home as an "away from the office" office? What I mean is this - Ask the Seller if he or she minds if you set up shop at their kitchen table every Wednesday between 12 and 4pm. You'll place an open house sign out front and if anyone happens to come through, you'll be happy to let them look around.

What's the worst thing that could happen? You get four hours of uninterrupted work done? You make some prospecting calls, write some thank you notes, catch up on blogs, newsletters or magazines (real estate related of course)? Or maybe someone who is ready, willing and able to buy (think about the golfer in 100+ temps) out driving around looking at houses happens to come in and visit? That sounds like a "win-win" to me.

So why wouldn't these ideas work in your market? The only reason is because you haven't tried to make them work. So stop reading this blog, look through your calendar and list of inventory and schedule an open house right now.

In our next post, we'll discuss the concept of a Neighbors Only Open House.

Until then, keep building relationships...solving problems...and having fun!

May 18, 2009

Monday Morning's Match

Greetings Tool Heads! I hope you enjoyed a fabulous weekend and are ready to achieve some outstanding levels of effort and success this week, month and year.

I thought it might be neat to introduce a new tool to The Realtor's Toolbox I will call the "Monday Morning Match." I am constantly reading, listening to or watching for ideas, concepts or people who can provide a quick burst of energy, challenge or inspiration to my day. Many times, all we need is the proverbial "match" to light a fire inside of us to get things happening in our lives.

Today's "match" comes from the self proclaimed "Chief Executive Salesman" Jeffrey Gitomer, author of the New York Times best seller The Little Red Book of Selling and many other fabulous sales related books.

It's called "The 95/95 Proposition. Which 95 are You?" and it talks about what you can do today to give yourself a better chance of enjoying success tomorrow. You can read the article by clicking here.

Let me know if it provides that "spark" that might be needed.

May 14, 2009

Hold More Opens, Close More Deals

Why do Realtors hold open houses?

  • Is it to sell the listing?

  • Is it to meet potential buyers?

  • Is it to get their name out in a local community?

  • Is it because their manager told them to?

  • Is it to get two hours of silence on a weekend away from the spouse and kids?

Whatever your reason is to hold open houses, if you really want to maximize your time and efforts, you need to make sure you get people through the doors. Here are a few tips and/or techniques to increase your chances of success at an Open House.

Choose the Right House - There is nothing worse than being stuck in a listing that people don't come to. You should be selecting your "open houses" based on the same factors buyers do - location, price and condition.

Location - Can people find the house? If it takes nineteen directional signs and a hot air balloon to get to the house, people will not come. Sure, people might want to live in the back of a sub division but they usually don't want to drive back there to find out the house is too small or doesn't have what they want or need. Try to select a house that is on or near a main road or just takes a few directional signs.

Price - How's the supply and demand in your market? Are there lots of homes available under $200K? How about over $500K? With the $8,000 First Time Buyer tax credit, where will the first time buyers in your market place be looking?

What is your level of skill when it comes to real estate? If you're a new agent, you might have more confidence working with first time buyers because you know you know more than they do. If you have good skills working with first time Sellers, look for the ideal move up price point so not only might you connect with a buyer but they'll need your expertise to sell their house as well. Remember, many open house visitors are using that time to "interview" potential agents to list their house with.

Condition - Even though your Mom taught you to never judge a book by it's cover, you still often do, don't you? Well, people will decide whether to visit an open house because of it's curb appeal as well. Would you take the time to look at a house that is hideous from the street? Sure, I know, many people love a challenge and want a fixer-upper but play the odds in your local market. Choose a house that oozes charm or style.

Upon entering, is there anything that would turn a visitor off? Odors such as pets, cigarette smoke or even too much air freshener can lose a guest before they even arrive. Make the house as welcoming as possible by cleaning and de-cluttering. Possibly consider hiring a professional Home Stager to present the house at its finest.

Be There to Help, Not to Sell - Most people are "just looking" so don't scare them off by pouncing on them as they enter. Set up a station in the kitchen where you have your registration sheet, brochures or even additional materials to distribute. A subtle smile, nod of the head or wave will let them know you see them and they'll know where you are. When they make their way to the kitchen, welcome them with a smile and handshake, thank them for coming and introduce yourself.

"Hi folks. My name is _____. Thanks a lot for stopping by today. I'm glad you're stopped in. I just ask two things of you while you're here; please sign my guest registry and let me know what you think of the house when you're done looking around, okay?"

Simple and non-threatening, isn't it? It also opens the door for you to chat when they finish their tour. As Master Trainer David Knox suggests, the three questions you should always try to ask would be:

"How soon do you need to be settled?" - establishes urgency

"How long have you been looking?" - determines motivation

"If you found a home today that met your needs, would you buy it?" - establishes ability

I always liked to pass out a folder of information to try and stand out from the other Realtors who were holding houses open that day. It usually contained similar properties based on size, amenities, price point, etc. I passed it out only after they had ruled out the house I was in.

"Here's a list of some other homes in the area (school district, price range, etc.) that might interest you. Some of them might be open today but others won't be. If you see anything you like, my contact information is in the folder."

By giving them something of value, I increased my exposure to them after they got home. If no one else provided anything other than the typical fact sheet or MLS print out, I would hopefully stand out.

Follow Up - People just aren't going to walk in say "I'll take it." Sure, I have heard of it happening but I certainly wouldn't plan for it. Be prepared to institute a follow up system so you can increase your chances of scheduling an appointment.

Email Thank You - Sent the night of the Open House. A quick note saying "thanks for visiting" and including a link to the listing from your personal or company site would be suggested. What's the worst thing that could happen? They delete it? Big deal. But what else might happen? A reply or request for more info?

Hand written Thank You - I know, I have heard it a lot lately, that "hand written notes are old school and aren't worth the effort. Oh yeah? So you're telling me if you got home today and in your mailbox was twenty envelopes from lenders, vendors and strangers and there was also a hand written note addressed to you in blue ink that you wouldn't open that one first? Sure, it will still end up in the trash but it will have had more of an impact on that potential buyer than nothing at all.

Touch Base Call - This is for the buyers who are ready to move in the next 30-60 days. A quick phone call so ask if they might like to get out and look at a few homes that next weekend would be suggested. If they aren't ready, they'll tell you. But if they are ready (and they have received your emails and personal notes by now), you just might have an appointment.

Add them to your data base - Continue to maintain contact with these visitors. Open Houses are just one phase in a customer's buying cycle. Adding them to your data base for regular mailings, newsletters or market updates is a great chance to increase your business.

In our next post, we explore the best times to hold open houses and a neat way to hold in "invite only" open house for neighbors.

If you have any great Open House tips, add them as a comment. I'd love to share them with others.

Who Have You Talked to Today?

When it comes to prospecting for more business in the world of real estate, we shouldn't be too selective in who we talk with. What we should be very selective in is who with work with.

Our daily activities should always be designed around getting "face to face, nose to nose and toes to toes" with more potential people who either need to buy or sell or might know someone who does. Your day should also include some "voice to voice" contacts in hopes of setting up more personal visits and appointments.

We can all learn a thing or two about prospecting from Johnny Parisi...

"Bless me Father, for I have sinned. I have been with someone with questionable morals."

The priest asked, “Is that you, Johnny Parisi?”

“Yes, Father it is.”

“And who was the woman you were with?”

“I can’t tell you, Father. I don’t want to ruin her reputation.”

“Well, Johnny, I’m sure to find out her name sooner or later, so you may as well tell me now.

Was it Tina Minetti?”

“I cannot say.”

“Was it Teresa Volpe?”

“I’ll never tell.”

“Was it Nina Capeli?”

“I’m sorry but I cannot name her.”

“Was it Cathy Piriano?”

“My lips are sealed.”

“Was it Rosa Di Angelo, then?”

“Please, Father, I cannot tell you.”

The priest sighs in frustration. “You’re very tight lipped; Johnny Parisi and I admire that. But you’ve sinned and have to atone. You cannot attend church services for 4 months. Now you go and behave yourself.”

Johnny walks back to his pew, and his friend Nino slides over and whispers, “What’d you get?”

“Four months vacation and five good leads!”

Now that is what I call prospecting!

May 1, 2009

Okay - What Have You Done Today?

"I will have achieved my goal"
~ D.J. Gregory

If you're like most people, you start each day with some idea of what needs to get done. Many of us create a "to do" list for activities and tasks that we want or need to accomplish before the day is done. We also have bigger "to do" lists for the week, month and even year.

What do you do when you don't accomplish something on one of your lists? Do you just add it to tomorrow's list or scratch it off and justify that it wasn't really "that important"?

Watch this video and see if it helps you try just a little bit harder next time you're thinking of giving up or losing focus. Amazing story of determination and guts to accomplish a goal that few believed could be done.