By Charlene Storozuk, guest contributor
One thing that occasionally gets overlooked when preparing a home for sale is furniture layout. I’ve been in many homes where I’ve felt that something wasn’t quite right about a certain room as soon as I entered it. Not anything obvious, but more of an indescribable sense of confusion for lack of a better word.
If you’re planning on selling your home, here are some questions you should ask yourself about your current furniture layout:
• Does the room look off balance?
• Is the flow of the room disrupted?
• Does the layout impede pathways?
• Is the focal point of the room concealed?
• Does the room feel “boxed in” rather than open?
• Is there too much furniture in the room?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you might want to take a look at your furniture placement. This is where a professional home stager can help you.
At a recent staging consultation that I carried out, there were some issues with furniture placement. The space in question was an open concept living room/dining room/kitchen. If you take a look at this BEFORE photo, you’ll see that some changes were needed.
Now let’s ask the questions about this space:
Question #1: “Does the room look off balance?” Although you can’t see it from this photo, the dining area was directly behind the sofa. This area was comprised of a small round table and four chairs along with a small dining hutch. The living area was weighted down in comparison with too many pieces of heavy furniture, which made the overall space look off balance.
Question #2: “Is the flow of the room disrupted?” The large sofa split the space between the living and dining areas in half, making the room look smaller and broken up.
Question #3: “Does the layout impede pathways?” The pathway to get from the dining area to the kitchen was tight due to the length of the sofa. As well, the pathway between the sofa and loveseat to reach the seating area was cramped.
Question #4: “Is the focal point of the room concealed?” Absolutely. In this case, the focal point of the room was the fireplace. With the current furniture configuration and the large TV, the fireplace did not take main stage.
Question #5: “Does the room feel ‘boxed in’ rather than open?” Yes, you can see this from the BEFORE photo.
Question #6: “Is there too much furniture in the room?” Yes, from a staging point of view there was too much furniture in the space. While living in a house and not considering selling, you’re obviously going to arrange your space to suit your needs as was the case here. Due to the amount of entertaining the home owners did, they required more seating. However, now that they were going to sell, they needed to make some changes.
So here’s what we did…
We removed the sofa, moved the loveseat over to where the sofa previously was, and brought in a chair that was being used upstairs in the master bedroom suite. Fortunately, this chair matched the loveseat so we were in luck. While we were at it, we removed the TV for good measure in order to also help open up the space and make the fireplace the main attraction.
Once the TV was gone, we brought in a glass console table that was previously in the basement to help ground that area, yet not detract from the fireplace.
Now take a look at the AFTER photo …
In the AFTER photo you’ll see how the space is more open, there’s flow, and the fireplace now takes its place of prominence as it should. This photo was taken before any styling took place. You can see how different the space looks already and that’s without any decorative accessories, an area rug or small glass tables.
The way your furniture is arranged while you are living in your home should be configured to suit your needs and to work with your intended purpose for the room. However, remember that if you’re going to sell anytime soon, you should always ask yourself some important questions about furniture placement.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Charlene Storozuk is the owner of DEZIGNER DIGZ, a professional home staging, interior decorating and redesign firm based in Burlington, Ontario Canada. She is certified as an International Staging Professional, International Design & Decorating Professional, Professional Colour Consultant, and Feng Shui Design Professional. Her work is published in the book “FabJob Guide to Become a Home Stager,” 2009 edition. Storozuk is recognized as a local leader in the home staging industry. She founded the Halton & Hamilton-Wentworth Real Estate Staging Association Chapter and served on the association’s Executive Committee for two years as Regional Vice-President, Canada. Storozuk is a past recipient of RESA North American Leadership Awards for Chapter President of the Year (2007) and Regional Vice-President of the Year (2011). For ideas on how to bring “WOW” Factor to your home, follow her HIP TIPZ Series for daily home staging, design and decor inspiration. HIP TIPZ can be found on the Dezigner Digz Facebook Fan Page and on Twitter: @dezigner_digz .
By Bill Gassett
What do you think LinkedIn is for? Is it just for people who are trying to find a new job? Should you only visit it if you want to recruit somebody? Or is it one of the best ways to grow your real estate business? If you chose the third option, you are correct. In fact, HubSpot, reports that LinkedIn is three times more effective at generating business leads than Facebook or Twitter. And since leads result in more sales and more money in your pocket, it is clear that LinkedIn cannot be ignored.
Here are 10 ways real estate pros can effectively use LinkedIn to increase their online exposure.
1. Remember, It’s Not Facebook
First, it is crucial to realize that LinkedIn is not like your other social networking sites. This one is all about business, and you better keep things professional. So no sharing that funny meme your Aunt Linda showed you, and no posting pictures of what you are eating for dinner or your funny cat. There are plenty of other sites for that.
2. Make Sure Your Profile and Company Page Are Complete
Since you are a real estate practitioner and independent contractor, you have your own professional brand, thus, you should have both a personal profile and a Company Page. Each one should be filled out completely. Not only should every detail be included—like your website, links to your other social media profiles, any awards or certifications you have, and past companies you have worked for—but it should be displayed in a way that is easy to read and engaging.
3. Include Keywords
Just like you do with your website and blogs, your profile and Company Page should be keyword rich. When people want to find a “real estate agent in Massachusetts,” for example, you want to make sure you show up.
4. Share Plenty of Content
When you are deciding which content to share on LinkedIn, always have the goal of helping others, but make sure the type of information varies. On one day, post an informative article on a new development in real estate, and on the next, share an opinionated blog post about what agents are doing wrong. Make sure you’re not just sharing your own content. Those who are successful in social media understand that it can’t always be about YOU.
5. Publish Directly on LinkedIn
Not only should you be sharing loads of information, you should also be writing your own. One thing that makes LinkedIn unique is that it allows you to publish your content for all of LinkedIn to see. They are referred to as long-form posts, and you definitely need to be taking advantage of them. Not only does it make you look more credible when you have them on your profile, but they are searchable both on and off LinkedIn. People do not have to be in your network to view them, and they are able to connect with you directly from the post. This is an invaluable tool for growing your network and establishing your expertise in the real estate industry.
6. Study Your Analytics
LinkedIn is very generous in the amount of information they provide to you. They tell you exactly which of your posts received interactions and which ones didn’t. You should study these analytics thoroughly so that you can capitalize on what people like and avoid the stuff they don’t.
7. Connect With Everyone
There has never been, and never will be, a rule that you are only allowed to connect with people that you know on LinkedIn. You should do searches for locals in your area, other agents, home appraisers, mortgage brokers, and anyone else you want. The thing is, there is no such thing as too big of a network. You never know where each connection will lead you. Over the years, I have seen some really shortsighted agents who say, if they don’t know them then they won’t connect. This might be prudent thinking on Facebook, but not on LinkedIn!
8. Capitalize on LinkedIn Real Estate Groups
One of the hidden gems on LinkedIn is the group feature. They are the difference between agents who really drive traffic back to their website and those who don’t. However, there is a proper way to use them.
- According to the Social Media Examiner, you should look for groups within your industry—or groups that contain your target niche or market—that have enough members to get you exposure, but not so many that you get lost in the shuffle. Aim for between 1,000 and 5,000 members. You can also join a few of the larger groups for when you are sharing something of a more general nature.
- When you interact within the groups, remember that you are there to add value. You should respond to others’ questions, give your opinions, share advice, and ask questions that make people think. You should not post links to your site unless it is something of value.
- Don’t post your listings! I cannot emphasize this one enough. Real Estate agents are notorious for only thinking about promoting their listings. Social media is about forming relationships, not trying to sell to people. Do you think anyone goes to Linkedin groups to buy a home? I hope you realize the answer is no. This is one of the most annoying things real estate agents do in social media. What’s worse is there are some groups that spell out the fact you can’t post listings and some practitioners do it anyway. This is the perfect way to look like a fool in front of your peers.
- Don’t try to be active on too many groups at once, or you will not be able to provide anything useful to any of them. Instead, choose three or four that you really think could boost your exposure and make sure to check-in with them several times per week. Some excellent real estate groups to take a look at joining are The National Association of REALTORS®, Real Estate Professionals Group, and Real Estate Professional Referral Group.
- Once you are part of a conversation, don’t leave it unfinished. Always go back to see if anyone has responded to what you said.
- After you have established yourself within the group, you can start asking your own questions and solicit feedback. If you ask one that garners a lot of attention, you will even be featured as a top contributor within the group, increasing your visibility tenfold.
9. Start Your Own Group
If you are really ambitious, it could be time to found your own group. This puts you in the driver’s seat, and, if done correctly, can really catapult your recognition in the real estate industry. In order to set the precedent, you should set up an auto-email that goes out to all new members welcoming them to the group and setting the ground rules (like no soliciting). You can also let them know that you will be sending out weekly or monthly emails with industry resources and tricks of the trade.
10. Help Others
Finally, you should take a few minutes each day to endorse and recommend other people. They will appreciate the gesture and may even return the favor.
These are some of the best ways a real estate agent can use Linkedin to get meaningful results. Do you have any tips for successfully using LinkedIn? Share them in the comments below.
Bill Gassett is a nationally-recognized real estate leader and one of the top RE/MAX salespeople in New England. See all his real estate articles at www.maxrealestateexposure.com.
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By Jay O’Brien
We’ve all received the calls, opened the letters, and deflected the in-person pitches. Real estate is perhaps one of the only industries that attains its workforce through blind recruiting rather than interviewing.
It’s quite simply a numbers game for many brokerages, and the strategy becomes less about value creation for agents and more about the bait.
How do brokers attract more agents and (hopefully) retain them? Unfortunately, the most common misconception is the one that revolves around what truly motivates people: money. If money is truly the greatest motivator, the success of real estate agents would be through the roof since selling a home is the one and only way to get paid. Clearly, this is not the case. But when agents are looking to make a switch, we still hear the question time and time again: “What’s the commission split?”
This is not the question you should be asking. Let’s not forget, 90 percent of zero is still zero.
The relationship between a brokerage and an agent should be mutually beneficial, and monetary rewards should not be top priority. Don’t put the cart before the horse. First, start by asking yourself these questions:
- “What has my business looked like in the last year?”
- “Did I do more business each year? How much more?”
- “What are my biggest challenges right now?”
- “Where do I need coaching?”
- “What are my goals for this year, and the next, and the next?”
If you do not know the answer to all of these questions, how in the world is your broker going to know?
In such a heavily self-disciplined environment, it’s very easy to notice when a real estate agent becomes complacent. If there is a problem, struggle, or challenge, it’s very difficult to identify it and face it alone. Instead, an agent is more likely to think they are in the wrong office or behind the wrong brand. They might think an office change will correct their productivity.
It is paramount for an agent to position themselves with a person, or people rather than a brand, company, office, etc. The genuine growth of a real estate professional cannot be quantified in purely commission splits. Remember the saying, “You get what you pay for?” Often, if the commission split ratios are dramatically skewed in the favor of the agent (especially from day one), then usually there is very little value being added from the brokerage. It’s simple business 101: You can’t spend more money than you make.
I am constantly looking to grow in various aspects of my own life, so I have a personal coach for several things: golf, yoga, CrossFit, AND business. If an office has promised you the moon and the stars along with a compensation plan that is too good to be true, something probably doesn’t smell right. I would venture to guess that most agents reading this would agree that doing 25 deals a year at 75 percent is much better than doing two at 90 percent.
With that, find your person, your mentor. Find someone who can hold you accountable and coach you to greatness. It is absolutely critical to your success. Take that path, and watch the money follow.