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.
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By Alyssa Hellman
Sometimes it seems like new real estate products are released every day. It’s easy to become distracted by trying every new marketing tool or tech gadget, but over time the luster fades and you’ve got to get back to business. Here are my five tips to tighten your real estate tool belt and decide what products you really need.
1. Get in touch with your local and state association. Your association doesn’t charge their dues just for membership. Most associations offer a slew of services that allow agents to operate their businesses effectively, yet many of these tools & services go unused simply because agents don’t know they exist! Explore your association’s offerings to see if there are free or discount offerings of tools you already use or things that would be helpful moving forward.
2. Have a plan and commit. Without a concrete plan of what you want to do, you make yourself susceptible to “shiny object syndrome” – using tools just because of hype rather than utility. Knowing what you want to deliver to clients (e.g. your niche or specialty, special services, company culture, or brand) should be guided by your plan with an eye on new tools, not the other way around.
3. Master your craft. I wouldn’t trust someone with a drill who has never used a screwdriver. Before you add to your tool belt, make sure you have mastered the tools that you already have. Or, make sure you contract with someone who has mastery of the tools. You don’t have to be a jack of all trades to deliver great service. Master your own craft and don’t be afraid to partner with other masters of their craft to deliver great service.
4. Network with your peers. Sure, you want to stand apart from the competition, but you can gain a lot from working with each other. Your clients choose you for you. I have learned about some of my favorite systems from my peers and continue to actively engage with them to learn from each other and grow professionally.
5. Know when to hold em’, know when to fold em’. Don’t feel the need to stay signed on with something you never use. As your business grows, it will evolve. Your tools will need to evolve too, so something that worked at one point, won’t always work later on. Be flexible in your business and evaluate your tools regularly to make sure they are still helping you, not holding you back.
Regardless of the products you choose, you must remember that they are just tools. At its core, real estate is a relationship business and your tools should always help you enhance, not distract, from your relationships.
Alyssa Hellman is the Go Leader at Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate, Go Realty based in Cary, N.C., serving Raleigh-Durham and surrounding areas. You can find Alyssa on Twitter @AVHellman or visit her website www.alyssahellman.com.
By Patti Stern, PJ & Co. Staging and Interior Decorating
The early spring home selling-season is kicking off. There’s no time like the present to start decluttering and transforming your lived-in home into a show-worthy property to make a positive impression on potential buyers. That means attending to the most important details that will create mass buyer appeal and increase your home’s value.
“A seller has to try to be objective by looking at their home as a product or some other commodity that one would purchase,” says Lisa Gallagher, a real estate professional with William Raveis, Newtown, Conn. “You have only one chance to get it right so present your home in the best possible light.”
Indeed, 95 percent of homes that are staged by professional home stagers sell, on average, in 35 days or less and for close to the asking price – versus 140 days for non-staged homes, according to a study by the Accredited Staging Professionals (ASP), a national staging trade organization.
Staged homes also show better in photographs.
“Homes that are prepared for market and look good on the Internet, usually sell the quickest,” Gallagher says. “Time is money and less time on the market means less stress and frustration for the seller.”
While some homes may require more work than others, the following represent our top staging “do’s and don’ts” that are essential in getting your property ready for sale.
PJ & Co.’s Top 5 Do’s in Home Staging
1. Focus on curb appeal. Make the best first impression by sprucing up the lawn and landscape.
- Remove dead or overgrown shrubs.
- Touch up any peeling paint, and power wash the outside if needed.
- Repair any cracks in the driveway and walkway, power wash steps and railings if necessary.
- Look at the outdoor lighting. Is it time to repair or replace?
- Add welcoming touches to the front door including seasonal plants and a fresh welcome mat.
- Ensure that you have a prominent, working doorbell and the front door is freshly painted.
2. Declutter and neutralize.
Look at each room objectively and start packing.
- Remove anything that will distract buyers from seeing your property, including personal collections (yes, the sports memorabilia room has to go!), a wall of family photos, newspapers, books and magazines, etc.
- Consider donating outdated furniture and household accessories to a local nonprofit.
3. Refresh walls, rugs and windows treatments. When was the last time your seller painted? Are their imperfections or scratches on the walls? Is the current paint color dated? If so, consider adding a fresh coat of neutral paint. The same applies to area rugs and carpeting. Be sure to have them professionally cleaned and, if dated, consider replacing. If you have hardwood floors under the carpeting, you’ll find it worthwhile to remove and refinish the floors to use the hardwoods as a selling-point. As for window treatments, remove any outdated or specific styles and replace. Or if you have great windows — make them stand out by removing all window treatments.
4. Brighten and add warmth.
It’s important that the home feel light and bright. Open the curtains wide (or replace as indicated above) and let in as much natural light as possible. Also, replace any light fixtures that are outdated and make sure all existing lights are working.
5. Make it shine. Clean, dust, vacuum, and deodorize. Think: aggressive spring cleaning!
We often suggest to our clients that they have a professional service clean the property from top to bottom including walls, ceilings, and baseboards. Dirt eats equity and the more your home shines the better for prospective buyers. Windows and mirrors should be free of fingerprints and hardwood floors should shine.
Scrub bathrooms and kitchens so they sparkle. Don’t forget to dust lampshades and curtains.
Top 5 Don’ts in Home Staging
1. Don’t be emotionally attached. As soon as your sellers makes the commitment to sell, they need to look at their end goal. Are they downsizing, moving to be near family, or a warmer climate? It’s important for them to emotionally detach from selling their home. Any negative remarks you gather as their real estate professional from home buyers, sellers need to be able to use as constructive criticism and be willing to do what it takes to get their “product” sold timely and for top dollar.
2. Don’t be afraid to team up. Selling a home can be overwhelming. Just packing and decluttering is a monumental task and that is why using a professional home stager is an investment in getting your property sold. A professional stager (not a decorator) is an expert who can look at the home objectively and provide proven methods to help enhance your clients’ home showings.
3. Don’t leave anything broken. Everything should function correctly and be in working order. Sellers need to make sure they repair leaky faucets, cracked windows, loose doorknobs, broken tile, and replace light bulbs that don’t work.
4. Don’t invest in major renovations.
Now is not the time to gut the kitchen with a complete makeover. Keep it to the essentials in giving the home a basic cosmetic fix. Painting goes a long way in providing a modern “facelift” to a home, including kitchen cabinets and bathroom vanities. Updating a home by adding new flooring, if needed, a new bathroom vanity and light fixture, and making any necessary repairs will be worth the investment to get the house sold.
5. Don’t buy all new furniture. Rearrange and put away excessive pieces to simplify and make the room appear larger. Update or hide imperfections with new throws and pillows. However, if your sellers are already planning to purchase updated furniture for their new home, they may want to consider buying sooner for selling purposes too.
For more examples of interior decorating and home staging, visit www.pjstagingdecorating.com.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Patti Stern, principal, interior decorator and professional stager of PJ & Company Staging and Interior Decorating, has been decorating and staging homes since 2005. She and her team provide turnkey, full service home-staging and interior decorating to clients across Connecticut, New York, and Massachusetts. She also developed an award-winning staging program for luxury home builder, Toll Brothers. Stern has been featured in Connecticut Magazine, the Hartford Courant, Danbury News-Times and on NBC Connecticut and FOX TV. She is a regular contributor to REALTOR Magazine’s Styled, Staged & Sold blog. To contact, e-mail Patti Stern at firstname.lastname@example.org