Inman Real Estate News for Realtors and Brokers 2020-07-10T21:41:28Z https://www.inman.com/feed/atom/ WordPress Cara Ameer <![CDATA[Who said what? 5 communication obstacles that can derail a transaction]]> https://www.inman.com/?p=805323 2020-07-10T16:39:57Z 2020-07-13T09:00:38Z From misinformation to misunderstanding, so many communication errors can occur during a real estate transaction. That's why agents need to better understand how they happen and how to prevent them.

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As most real estate agents know, there’s always a host of communication challenges that crop up when showing, negotiating and moving through a transaction. No matter what side of the aisle you’re on in working with a buyer, seller or both, a real estate transaction is rife with misinformation, miscommunication or the absence of information to begin with.

Why does this happen? Well, there’s a variety of reasons — the experience and skill (or lack thereof) of agents involved, different communication styles, minimal attention to detail, and difficulty in obtaining and sharing important information.

Miscommunication could also happen because some agents might have different levels of focus or sense of urgency. So, let’s dive deeper into each one of those things and discuss how to improve and prevent challenges in communication.

1. Varying experience and skill levels

Agents walk into a transaction with varying levels of experience and training — be it just a year or 15 of being in the business. There could be an agent with just one year of experience who is very astute, absorbs everything like a sponge, is well-trained, asks the right questions, takes a proactive approach and seeks help from mentors and their manager when needed.

Conversely, you could have an agent with several years of experience who is lazy, distracted and exerts minimal effort. You could also have rookies whose lack of experience is obvious, but they attempt to cover up what they don’t know. They might be afraid to ask questions or seek help, so they end up making things worse with lack of communication or skipping over critical pieces of information.

The best remedy for this? No matter which side you are working, never assume anything. Check, double-check and then reconfirm important milestones and pieces of information in the transaction over and over. It’s your job to ensure everything is done right and handled in the best way possible.

For example, inexperienced agents working on their first listing may not fully realize that when a seller moves out in time for closing, the house needs to be clean, empty and free of unwanted items. However, they probably should leave extra paint, tile and flooring items that match what’s currently in the house. This is just case in the future owner needs to make touch-ups or repairs.

A new agent who doesn’t know better may just let a seller move out and not think to communicate expectations, check what the property looked like upon move out or question anything.

The experienced buyer’s agent might jump straight into crisis mode if they come across something unacceptable to them during the walk-through with the buyers. All to say, it’s better to straighten out confusion about something early on into the transaction instead of having it blow up at the end.

2. Differing communication styles

Some agents communicate frequently and share a lot of relevant and detailed information. Other agents don’t and only respond to questions when asked. In a transaction, dealing with that kind of agent can be challenging and often leads to a communication breakdown.

Now, I’m not talking about sharing information that’s deemed confidential or irrelevant to the transaction (like, where the sellers are moving to or why they’re selling the house).

In some cases, it feels like one agent is almost conducting an inquisition to get very basic questions answered about important milestones in the transaction (such as the status of the buyer’s loan application, whether the appraisal has been ordered, etc.) often with little to no information being shared by the agent or the buyer’s lender.

Conversely, some agents make sure that the lender is reaching out to both agents in the transaction to continually communicate important lender milestones at each step — from loan application, appraisal and approval to when the clear-to-close has been obtained.

This is particularly relevant during the inspection or due-diligence period when almost always, more information is always needed as a result of a property inspection and other investigations.

Some listing agents embrace these requests and work with their sellers to proactively provide the information needed. Others, however, can become distant and difficult to obtain information from. Oftentimes, the seller is the reason the latter happens, but in those situations, the agent should relay that they at least communicated the requests to the seller, but that they haven’t responded or provided any of the information that was asked for.

When there are differing communication styles, the agent who is the better communicator should take the lead. Being passive-aggressive with the less-communicative agent is not going to move the transaction forward. The more-communicative agent should explain the reason for the communication and the importance of the information being obtained.

If you’re an agent who’s less communicative and interactive by nature, it’s important for you to understand that, while it may seem that the cross-selling agent is coming at you with umpteen things, the information they’re seeking is likely necessary for ensuring a smooth transaction.

For example, working together to ensure the final walk-through goes well will help cut down the fire drill phone calls, back-and-forth texts and unnecessary, last-minute interference.

3. Minimal attention to details

They say the devil is in the details, and in real estate, this has never been more true. Details absolutely matter, and can make or break the transaction. Agents who don’t communicate details are often leaving out the most important pieces of information, which can derail a deal.

Examples include, “Oh, I forgot to mention — the seller couldn’t sell their washer and dryer, so they’re going to just end up leaving it.” Or, “We didn’t realize that the property was rented while the buyer is going to be closing on their vacation or second home.” Or, “Actually, it turns out the sellers don’t have an active termite bond in place. They checked and realized they let it lapse a year ago.”

If a property is subject to a legal proceeding such as a bankruptcy, divorce or probate, for example, it’s critical that details are communicated to the selling agent in writing as to the terms and conditions of the sale in the form of an addendum. That way, there won’t be any surprises.

Make sure to communicate with the selling agent as to what to expect, as well as any public notices that will be legally required to be published and that may disclose the buyers’ names and current offer. This is critically important, as surprise is never a good thing in real estate.

The typical response from a non-detail-oriented agent is often, “Oh, I just assumed that was going to stay or go.” Or, “I thought they said they had (a warranty, termite bond, etc.) in place, they told me the roof was only a couple of years old (when questioned where the documentation or permits are).”

We know what happens when agents assume things. It’s just never good. Agents should never think that all is taken care of, no matter what side of the transaction they are working.

Instead, at the beginning of a transaction, make a checklist of things to check, double-check and then recheck again — from appliances, trash cans and recycling bins to any service plans or warranties that come with the home. Other details to consider: termite bonds, product manuals, instructions for how certain things work, like pool equipment, timers, irrigation systems and more.

In the rush of handling the transaction, it can be easy to forget about these things that are often left to sort through till the very end.

When it comes to who will be at the property and when, no detail should be omitted. All listing agents and sellers deserve the courtesy of knowing who will be at their home, for approximately how long and when.

The communication needs to be more than just, “the inspection is scheduled Monday at 10 a.m.” The selling agent needs to share the name of the inspectors, inspection companies, contractors or anyone else who will be in attendance.

They need to know if only one or both buyers are going to be present. If the buyers’ parents and extended family are going to be attending or stopping by at some point, the listing agent and seller deserve to know that, too. Due to COVID-19, in some states, you have to have a signed form by everyone entering the property in advance. They need to attest that they don’t have symptoms, are sick or have been exposed to anyone with the virus.

4. Varying levels of focus

Agents often come into real estate as well as a transaction with varying levels of focus. The level of focus (or the lack of it) can affect the level of communication in a transaction.

Does it ever seem that you have to continually follow up with an agent multiple times to get answers to questions or needed information? When you do get a response, does it seem like some questions are answered and others are not? And when you try again to fill the missing pieces in the provided information (which is answered in multiple emails and a string of text messages), do you find yourself still lacking pivotal details? This definitely happens a lot.

Sometimes, agents receive the information in bits and pieces, and are left to sift through, decipher and assemble everything in a way that makes sense to the buyer or seller. Other times, in the middle of a transaction, out of the blue, they’ll get a request from the selling agent to extend the loan approval — with little to no explanation why. They’ll expect you, as the agent, to have your seller sign it with no questions asked.

Some agents are laser-focused on their transactions every day of the week. They’ll rarely miss an email or leave a text unanswered. Their communication is organized for immediate response and retrieval. Other agents ask to have the same information resent to them again and again and can get fuzzy on the details.

You never know what kind of agent you’re going to be working with in a cross-sale. Unless you’re working with an agent you’ve dealt with before, you’re just never going to know what their level of commitment is going to be like.

If you’ve ever had a cross sale with a part-time agent (who you did not know was working part-time), you may have experienced what it’s like to deal with late answers and only after-hours responses.

All to say, if you find yourself working with someone who doesn’t seem to be on top of things, you may need to roll up your sleeves and take the lead. You might find yourself handling certain things that shouldn’t really be your responsibility, but are critical to ensuring the transaction closes on time.

This might mean contacting the lender several times a week, offering to meet an appraiser, helping the agent with reliable service providers to tackle repairs or offering your handyman to simply haul away garbage and unwanted items.

As much as no one likes having to do someone else’s job, in real estate, the lines are often blurred. If you leave things to chance and assume they will get taken care of, you might set yourself up for a huge disaster later.

5. Sense of urgency

Most communication in real estate often has a sense of urgency about it. Even if it’s simply to advise about something such as the appraisal being ordered, the other agent should promptly acknowledge the communication.

While there’s definitely a difference between urgent and important, agents should always strive to respond and engage with an email, text message or a call. No response may mean the email was not received, fell through the cracks or went straight to junk or spam.

This is especially important when there’s truly an urgent matter that needs attention — like a property that didn’t appraise or an inspection that revealed some major issues.

If you’re unable to answer the call at that specific moment, at least let the other person know when you’ll be available to chat. Silence is like the kiss of death in real estate. No news often means potentially bad news is on the horizon, and things are about to unravel very quickly.

Conversely, you should know what issues deserve to be labeled as “urgent.” Simply relaying information in an effort to let the other agent know the transaction is on track is not urgent. Not everything is an emergency. If you call another agent and they don’t answer, the solution is not to keep calling until they do. Texting, for example, is a great way to relay what the nature of the call is about until you’re able to connect properly.

The art of communication is a delicate dance between all parties involved in a transaction, but especially when it’s agent to agent. What’s said, how it’s said and the information included (or missed) can affect the outcome of the transaction. Good or bad communication has the power to alter the sentiment of the buyer and seller, as well as leave a lasting impression on everyone involved for years to come.

Cara Ameer is a broker associate and global luxury agent with Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. You can follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

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Brandon Doyle <![CDATA[5 ideas to tap into for more referrals]]> https://www.inman.com/?p=800300 2020-07-09T18:34:00Z 2020-07-13T09:00:37Z As an agent, being the top-of-mind choice is important to the growth of your business. So, if you're looking to generate more referral-based business, here are a few places to look.

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This article series is largely taken from the Real Estate Marketing Playbook with permission from the author.

One of the benefits of being a licensed real estate agent is the ability to legally collect a fee for referring clients to other agents. This, of course, goes both ways. Agents who have built a referral network are able to earn additional revenue by sending and receiving referrals.

The best way to become the agent who gets the referrals in your area is to build relationships by networking with agents in markets that typically move to your area. For example, an agent who does business in the gulf coast of Florida or Arizona may want to network with agents from Minnesota. A lot of retirees are “snowbirds” and own property down south where they stay during the winter months.

“When it comes to agent-to-agent referrals, this sometimes is a popularity contest, and brand loyalty may come into play,” said Joseph Magsaysay, a real estate agent with Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Preferred Properties. 

“This is the reason why I believe in building relationships. Whether it’s within NAR, your state association or within your company, relationships will always be the key. Wouldn’t you rather have other agents raving about you, so you don’t have to sell yourself? Last year, I received at least 10 referrals from different agents. It is also important that when they look you up on social media, your profile has personality and is very inviting.”

All to say, as an agent, being the top-of-mind choice is important to the growth of your business. So, if you’re looking to generate more referral-based business, here are a few places to look.

1. National conferences

National conferences are a great place to meet agents for potential referrals. However, don’t be “that guy” who just collects business cards (or in today’s virtually based world, contact information). A handful of solid relationships are better than a hundred acquaintances. While we’re at it, don’t add everyone to your generic email newsletter. That’s called spam, and we’re all getting enough of that already.

2. Facebook groups

If you aren’t able to make it to events, you can still build relationships with agents in other markets by contributing to Facebook groups. By continuing to share your knowledge and provide value to other members of the group, you’ll gain their trust.

When the time comes and someone has a referral for your area, you’ll find other members tagging you before you even see the request. Having five different people say you’re a recommended agent for your area looks a heck of a lot better then you replying to promote yourself. 

3. Online profiles

If you’re with one of the major real estate brands, you’ll likely have a referral network in place. Be sure to fill out your profile completely so that you have the best chance to be selected. Even if you’re with a smaller company, many agents will simply search online to find the best fit for their referral regardless of brand.

If I don’t already know an agent in a particular market that I have a referral for, I tend to look at reviews on Zillow, and productivity and average price point on Homesnap to determine if it’s a good fit.

Agents search for potential referral candidates the same way consumers do. The agent with the best online presence will typically get more opportunities. This past year we’ve had three agents refer us business that simply found us online. 

4. Other agents

Referrals aren’t necessarily always out of market either. Sometimes, if agents are too busy or have chosen to specialize in a certain niche, they may share opportunities with other agents they trust. For example, an agent may have a lot of listings that generate buyer leads but doesn’t have time to work with them. They can send these out to hungry agents in exchange for a referral fee upon closing.

Look for agents in your company who handle REO properties or work exclusively with a builder. Start by offering to host open houses for them. Once you’ve built rapport, ask if they have any sign calls or leads that need to be followed up with. 

5. Referral network companies

There are also companies that specialize in facilitating agent-to-agent referrals. They typically collect an additional referral fee on each transaction, and there may be an up-front cost to join. 

Referral Exchange, for example, promises to match your outgoing referral with three great agents and will pay up to a 25 percent referral fee. Paid members have the opportunity to receive referrals from other agents who have been qualified, as well as leads from their site

HomeLight has gained a lot of traction recently since launching a consumer-focused advertising campaign. The premise is that consumers are matched with agents who specialize in their area and price point. The recommendations are based on the agent’s previous transaction history.

The company essentially charges 25 percent to act as a middleman for the agents who are willing to pay it. I was very disappointed when I followed up with a seller lead only to find out she had decided to go with the agent that HomeLight recommended. I guess that just proves that it does work.

Agent Pronto is a hybrid between the two. It matches consumers with an agent in their area based on experience, but also allows agents to input outgoing referrals.

When working with any of these sites, make sure to fill out your profile completely and respond promptly to any inquiries as you’ll be competing against two other agents every time.

Any outgoing referrals you submit should have given you permission to do so. Otherwise, it may be an invasion of their privacy. Remember that when they signed up on your website, they did not give you permission to resell or share their contact information.

Real Estate Marketing Playbook was inspired by observations and experiences over many years in the real estate business. This series includes example strategies from the playbook, and the full text is available on Amazon, Kindle and Audible.

Brandon Doyle is a Realtor at Doyle Real Estate Team — Re/Max Results in Minneapolis and co-author of Mindset, Methods & Metrics – Winning as a Modern Real Estate Agent. You can follow him on Twitter.

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Lillian Dickerson <![CDATA[Lightening round: Top teams on how they’re thriving through 2020]]> https://www.inman.com/?p=804293 2020-07-10T21:41:28Z 2020-07-13T07:52:44Z We reached out to the nation's top teams — small, medium and large — to learn what strategies they've used to weather the storm over the past few months and how they've become stronger. Here's what they had to say.

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This July, Inman’s editorial theme is Teams — what it takes to build and join one, how to optimize your team for summer 2020, and even when to consider leaving one. And if you’re not already a subscriber to our Teams Beat email newsletter, sent every Thursday, sign up now.

As part of Teams Month here on Inman, we wanted to check in with top teams across the country to find out how they’ve pulled together despite uncertainty.

Using the rankings from June’s Real Trends + Tom Ferry in The Thousand, we reached out to the nation’s top teams — small, medium and large — to learn what strategies they’ve used to weather the storm over the past few months and how they’ve become stronger. Here’s what they had to say.

Small teams

Darren Sukenik, managing director, Sukenik | Glazer Team

Inman News: How big is your team?

Sukenik: We have four people.

When did you create your team?

Sukenik: In 2003.

Darren Sukenik, Benjamin Glazer and David Eisenberg of the Sukenik | Glazer Team

How has the COVID-19 pandemic changed your team? What have you learned from the pandemic?

Sukenik: It hasn’t, it just gave us some extra time to work on super creative marketing projects that we never had time to deep dive. [We’ve learned] that at the end of the day, if you are a service business, you better be a people person and indispensable for at least three reasons.

What qualities do you think help your team succeed?

Sukenik: We think, we dream, we work harder than everyone else, and we work for our clients, not ourselves.

James Harris, partner, and David Parnes, partner, Bond St. Partners

Inman News: How big is your team?

Parnes: There are six of us total. [Me] and James as the lead agents, Michelle Ficarra is our director of sales, Fred Dapp is our director of marketing, Alana Mesica handles social media, calendar and showings, and Alex Vichinsky is an additional agent on our team who works with many of our buyers.

When did you create your team?

Parnes: It really grew gradually over time. We brought on one person as soon as we could in our early days, then as our business grew we slowly added people in individualized roles.

Harris: It’s like a family and we’re all in it for the long term. We’ve been very selective as we only want the best people who share our work ethic.

Clockwise from top left, David Parnes, James Harris, Alex Vichinsky, Fred Dapp, Alana Mesica and Michelle Ficarra of Bond St. Partners

How has the COVID-19 pandemic changed your team? What have you learned from it?

Harris: We all share one large office at The Agency, so having to separate and have everyone working from home had its challenges. We are a small and very close-knit team. We have a group text where we chat all day long. We also have a team email so we are all cc’d on everything. We started to implement team Zoom meetings and once things started to open back up again, we’ve been having socially distanced meet-ups at our local park so we can spend time together face-to-face. We started sending a weekly email blast to our database to keep in touch. We realized that we had to stay positive and focus on the daily tasks at hand.

Parnes: Our motto has always been “Divide and conquer, then come together and celebrate,” so we all independently continued to work in our roles. Amazingly, we had absolutely no down time during COVID. We continued to stay busy, and have closed several escrows and taken on several new listings.

What qualities do you think help your team succeed?

Parnes: For our team, staying small allows us to have much better focus and quality control. Each person on our team excels in their area and has total autonomy in their role. When we take on a new listing or open an escrow, each person knows exactly what they need to do so there is never any confusion. We all share the same work ethic and we support each other which is very important.

Harris: With our amazing team in place, David and I are able to focus on generating new business, handling showings, interfacing with buyers and sellers and negotiating deals. Everyone on our team is incentivized so we all have a level of interest and motivation, plus a sense of accomplishment when we close an escrow. We have learned that team morale not only goes a very long way for us personally, but it’s an energy that translates to our clients who can see how professional, thorough and completely committed each of our team members are.

Mauricio Umansky, founder, Mauricio Umansky Team

Members of the Mauricio Umansky Team at a kickball outing

Inman News: How big is your team?

Umansky: The Umansky Team consists of licensed members — Mauricio Umansky, Eduardo Umansky, Farrah Brittany and Alexia Umansky. Mauricio’s sister, Sharon Umansky Benton, joined in 2020. We have an amazing executive assistant who helps keep the team on track, and we also have the power of The Agency’s public relations, marketing, creative and digital team supporting us.

When did you create your team?

Umansky: My father (Eduardo Umansky) and my daughter (Farrah Brittany) and I have always worked alongside each other, but we officially became a team last year. Another of my daughters, Alexia Umansky, joined us recently, as did my sister, Sharon Umansky Benton.

How has the COVID-19 pandemic changed your team? What have you learned from it?

Umansky: Since we’re already a close-knit team and family, we were lucky that we were able to share time in quarantine together under the same roof, unite and work together through this unprecedented time. Instead of holding team meetings in our Beverly Hills office, we organized meetings at home and via video conferencing.

During this time, it was very important to be there for clients every step of the way — from showing to closing — as we would in normal times. We organized ways to be virtually present during all steps of the homebuying process. There’s no question that COVID-19 changed the way we do business. While there will never be a replacement for in-person meetings, interactions and one-on-one face time, there are some practices my team and I adopted during this time that I’d like to maintain.

We found virtual tours for clients to be incredibly useful in the buying process. While it’s important to see and experience a property firsthand, a number of our clients were able to eliminate or decide to move forward on a property with a virtual tour. Although we had conducted these in the past for our international and long-distance clients, saving time for local clients is always a great idea.

Additionally, an impromptu video tour for a client at a house you may be previewing may also be a great opportunity. My team and I also realized the importance of having a polished, professional social media presence during this time. We’re going to make sure that the time we spent curating, interacting and posting on social media remains a focal point. I firmly believe that social media will continue to play an important role in our business.

What qualities do you think help your team succeed?

Umansky: Adjusting swiftly and safely has allowed our team to keep operating and serving clients to the very best of our ability. Having a strong foundation, open communication and a tightly run operation was a valuable asset during this time. Given that we already have a strong digital platform and proprietary CRM system we’ve been using since The Agency’s inception, having streamlined internal systems and the latest tools and technology already in place was a huge asset for our team.

As people are continuing to look at properties from the safety of their homes and as we enter into the next phase, we continue to engage existing and prospective clients to let them know we’re here, working to provide service and support and be a valuable resource for them. Our team has remained fiercely committed to fostering a positive, supportive and dynamic team environment.

Medium teams

Erin Krueger, team lead, The Erin Krueger Team

The Erin Krueger Team

Inman News: How big is your team?

Krueger: We have seven licensed agents, two licensed admins and two unlicensed admins, for a total of 11 members.

When did you create your team?

Krueger: Six years ago.

How has the COVID-19 pandemic changed your team? What have you learned from it?

Krueger: We learned that we can do more real estate interactions with our clients virtually than ever before. While we were in shelter-in-place, we sold 10 homes in 60 days to people moving to the Nashville area. To put that in perspective, we sold nearly 550 homes last year, and five were bough sight unseen. So, 10 in 60 days was incredible, as these buyers never saw the home before they bought it.

They were moving from New York City, California, North Carolina and Dallas, to name a few. We did everything virtually with video, FaceTime, etc. Completely new way to buy real estate. We ended up creating systems and processes on virtual buying that will help us moving forward.

What qualities do you think help your team succeed?

Krueger: They were open to change and pivoting with our systems and processes. We also had several Zoom team meetings to keep up on what everyone was doing and make sure, mentally, we were strong to serve our clients.

Adelaide Polsinelli, vice chair, and Ronda Rogovin, vice chair, Adelaide Polsinelli and Ronda Rogovin Team at Compass

Adelaide Polsinelli and Ronda Rogovin of Compass

Inman News: How big is your team?

Rogovin: We’re not really a “team,” we’re a commercial division. Each broker is individual. It’s a new division for Compass.

Polsinelli: We’re closer to six [members], but now, unfortunately with COVID, we’re going to be down a few people.

When did you create your team?

Polsinelli: We started August 1, 2018.

How has the COVID-19 pandemic changed your team? What have you learned from it?

Polsinelli: What we’ve learned is that we actually have the tools we need to work remotely. Joining Compass for us was exceptional because they were built for this. On top of that, we’ve been doing this for over 30 years each, and our clients trust us. A lot of it is relationship-based. As far as the team, we have a couple of junior team members who have decided to move out of state and will probably take salaried jobs. This is probably our fourth cycle [facing a crisis]. This, to us, is just another cycle.

Rogovin: The thing that we’re expecting, just as we did after September 11th, is a price correction. To say how much of a correction it will be, nobody knows.

What qualities do you think help your team succeed?

Polisnelli: Definitely longevity. Experience, depth of relationships.

Rogovin: Track record.

Polsinelli: And having trust with our clients. We have relationships that go back three decades. Ronda could go on vacation for a month and come back and do a $250 million deal. And it’s nice to have a reach that’s not just in New York — we have the flexibility of transacting everywhere.

Joyce Rey, owner, The Joyce Rey Team

The Joyce Rey Team

Inman: How big is your team?

Rey: I have eight outstanding partners and an excellent support staff of five.

When did you create your team?

Rey: Approximately 10 years ago. But I have always enjoyed working with partners on transactions throughout my career.

How has the COVID-19 pandemic changed your team? What have you learned from it?

Rey: Thankfully, The Joyce Rey Team was able to adapt quickly to what has become our “new normal.” I think the biggest challenge is not being able to conduct our team meetings in person. We have been holding meetings online and it has really helped to keep the fabric of the team together, but there’s just something about sitting in a group in my living room and discussing the market and what each member is dealing with in their respective business. I consider my team my second family.

I think the most important lesson is to always be ready for anything. No matter how many sellers or buyers you have, anything can happen, even something as unexpected and challenging as a pandemic. We must always be ready to adapt and pivot as necessary in order to service our clients properly. In addition, with the initial slowdown of the market in March and April, it gave us all a chance to think about what’s really important in our business, and that is client communication.

You don’t have to discuss real estate every time you speak with a client, just a ‘check-in’ to see how they are can be very effective and appreciated. We have also found that working from a home office eliminates boundaries; now the work day is from sun up to bed time. As I had anticipated, the luxury market is now extremely active due to the exceptional focus on one’s home environment.

What qualities do you think help your team succeed?

Rey: For the most part, my team members and I all share the same fundamental beliefs on what it takes to build a successful real estate business. We all know that there is no substitute for hard work! I am very lucky that I have a group with very diverse backgrounds. One comes from the construction and development business, another from entertainment, a third from the fitness world, and so on. Together, we use our respective skills to help one another to succeed.

Large teams

Ryan O’Neill, team leader, Minnesota Real Estate Team

The Minnesota Real Estate Team

Inman News: How big is your team?

O’Neill: We are a team of over 150 professional Realtors.

When did you create your team?

O’Neill: In 2005.

How has the COVID-19 pandemic changed your team? What have you learned from it?

O’Neill: The real estate business for each of our agents and our team is all about people — caring about others and showing kindness and concern to each member of our community. We believe there is a lot more to this business than simply making another sale. Each year the business and market has so many challenges to overcome. COVID has once again shown us that there are so many things we cannot control. However, we can still control our daily attitude, our effort and how we treat others. This is what we do our best to live out each day.

What qualities do you think help your team succeed?

O’Neill: Our team focuses on building meaningful relationships one person at a time and doing what is in the consumer’s best interests. This business is all about the client. We look to fill a need by providing helpful information, value and honest, low pressure representation to each client (in a kind manner).

Lastly, our team is respectful of all our fellow agents and brokers. They are our partners in the industry, and by working together, we achieve a positive outcome for all. We are a group that shares ideas and best practices with each other to help each team member succeed. We are persistent, motivated, committed to doing our best, positive and hopeful. Simply stated, we work hard and we play hard.

Trent Corbin, president and CEO, The Redbud Group

The Redbud Group

Inman News: How big is your team?

Corbin: Currently, we have 81 people on the team, which includes 39 producing agents, 40 W2 employees and two virtual assistants.

When did you create your team?

Corbin: I started The Redbud Group in August 2015 after being an agent on another team for two years.

How has the COVID-19 pandemic changed your team? What have you learned from it?

Corbin: The pandemic has not changed our team that much, except for the fact that we don’t see each other nearly as often, which has been a challenge because of the close-knit culture of our team. Aside from a short-lived dip in production in late March, we have been able to get back to our expected levels of production, having some of our most productive weeks of the year in the last two months.

That said, the safety of our clients, our community and our team remains our top priority. We now do as much as possible to utilize virtual options to minimize everyone’s risk, and we provide all of our agents and clients with masks, hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes for use in the field.

As far as what we’ve learned from the pandemic, I have been very impressed by our entire team’s response to this unprecedented challenge. We hire for culture first, and our people really stepped up during this crisis not only to ensure everyone’s safety, but also to make sure we kept our foot on the gas and to keep everyone in the right mindset.

What qualities do you think help your team succeed?

Corbin: First and foremost, our culture and our people are the most critical components of our success. That was the biggest thing I got wrong initially when I started the team, and only in the last two years have we really seen the benefits of focusing on culture and people first. I attribute much of our success in that regard to our leadership team and our Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) implementer, who, in combination with the EOS system, has made a significant difference in how our team operates.

Additionally, we have always believed that our data and tracking of key metrics gives us an advantage in our market. Our weekly scorecard and EOS planning helps us forecast our near-term, intermediate-term and long-term performance so that we can budget appropriately and scale quickly.

Tal Alexander, co-founder, The Alexander Team

Oren and Tal Alexander of The Alexander Team

Inman News: How big is your team?

T. Alexander: We like to think of ourselves as a family office. Oren (Tal’s co-founder and brother) and I are doing the majority of the business, and Oren has a showing agent in Miami, and I have a showing agent in New York that helps, and we both have full-time assistants and full-time marketing people as well. I also have an additional three agents in New York City.

When did you create your team?

T. Alexander: Oren and I started in the business right out of college in late ’08, early ’09, so we’ve been at this going on 12 years. The Alexander team started about eight to nine years ago.

How has the COVID-19 pandemic changed your team? What have you learned from it?

T. Alexander: The only thing that’s changed is that I’m used to living in New York and running our business in New York. I moved to our house in Miami [when the pandemic hit] and really helped all our clients in New York that were coming down here to Miami looking for places.

We weren’t that busy in New York, but we were very busy in Miami and Palm Beach. I was working just as hard or maybe a little harder [than before] just because clients were scrambling to find housing once New York City was shut down. We were very fortunate that we naturally operate in multiple markets.

What qualities do you think help your team succeed?

T. Alexander: We have a lot of market share, a lot of exclusive listings in the ultra-high end market between New York, Miami, the Hamptons and Aspen, so what we continue to notice is between all those markets, it’s all the same clientele. Also, knowing who the buyers are, what they’re looking for and where they’re coming from.

We work 24/7 — we never really turn it off. So, not only do I believe we work smarter, but we also work harder than everybody else. I think our youth also gives us a competitive advantage because this is the biggest thing we’ve got going on in our lives … we’re married to our business.

Nick Glant, founding partner, NWG Team

NWG Team with founding partners Shawn Filer, Brad Cahill, Steve Curran and Nick Glant in top row from left to right

Inman News: How big is your team?

Glant: Our team is comprised of 20 brokers, six executive client managers (licensed to perform brokerage assistance to two to three brokers) and a director of operations.

When did you create your team?

Glant: Formerly an independent brokerage, before being acquired in 2018 as the launch partner to Compass in Washington, NWG was founded in 2007 by [me] along with Pat Suarez. Brad Cahill was a founding broker of NWG in 2007 and shortly after, Shawn Filer and Steve Curran joined the team after leaving Coldwell Banker Bain. All three became partners/owners by the end of 2011.

How has the COVID-19 pandemic changed your team? What have you learned from it?

Glant: In a lot of ways, it has reinforced the high-touch and creative problem-solving that led us through the financial crisis from 2008-2011. We have learned that in times of uncertainty and angst, there will be a flight to quality. Your team needs to be ever more committed to responsiveness, acting with confidence and elevating marketing in order to receive and execute for buyers and sellers.

What qualities do you think help your team succeed?

Glant: Collaborative spirit is the backbone of NWG. We are built much differently than most other real estate teams. Having the DNA of a company that was built with linear expertise, low ego and high drive, NWG is built with top performers in various sub-markets. We focus on the clients’ needs of expertise above the individual’s production level or ranking. As such, our brokers partner with each other on nearly every transaction to ensure the client has a personal relationship coupled with local acumen of the specific area they are buying or selling. Our team also values the opinions and ideas of all team members equally.

Rob Ellerman, team leader, The Rob Ellerman Team at ReeceNichols Real Estate

Members of the Rob Ellerman Team

Inman News: How big is your team?

Ellerman: We’re around 100 agents.

When did you create your team?

Ellerman: Around 2004

How has the COVID-19 pandemic changed your team? What have you learned from it?

Ellerman: I would first say that Zoom has been a blessing for us, for sure, so now we’re running the sales meetings on Zoom. We also ran a program where we have a few of our top agents and it was kind of a get-to-know-you-type Zoom meeting. Different agents have different skill sets, and our team was able to get to know somebody on the team better.

Obviously, [we’ve made] a change in the safety standards of our open houses and even just showing has changed, and following the CDC guidelines has changed. But as far as what we’ll do in the future, Zoom is going to be the big thing we take out of this, and realizing we can do a lot of training and things online. Even if we do things in-person again, I can see us recording it on Zoom. We didn’t do a lot of that before, and now it’s pretty standard.

What qualities do you think help your team succeed?

Ellerman: When we hire, from the beginning we look for someone who is going to take care of the client first and foremost, so everything we do is based around the client having a good experience. If we have an agent who makes a human error in the process, we fix it. I think there are a lot of agents out there who make a mistake, and want to make an excuse.

Also, honesty, being helpful and integrity [are other qualities that help us find success], as well as our reputation in our area being as good as it can be. That’s something we’re pretty proud of. And we get that by taking care of the clients and making sure we’re a good co-op.

Butch Haze, San Francisco partner, The Network Group/Khrista Jarvis Team

The Network Group / Khrista Jarvis Team

Inman News: How big is your team?

Haze: 12 agents, three staff.

When did you create your team?

Haze: 2018.

How has the COVID-19 pandemic changed your team? What have you learned from it?

Haze: Now, more than ever, we are challenged collectively as real estate professionals and we learn new ways to thrive in this strange era of real estate marketing. Working smart is essential to our success. One key tip we can share is the way we bonded together with key agents in different markets to share resources and implement super market knowledge quickly, like the movie Matrix where you download knowledge fast. We combined forces with key out-of-area agents so we could be experts now in multiple areas. This new way of doing business is shaping a new future of real estate. It is the start or evolution of “Super Teams.”

Clients no longer have one place/one home. Now everyone has a home, but they also want a retreat, a sanctuary. Our clients want to keep their house in Danville but also want a second home in Tahoe, Napa or Pebble Beach. Instead of referring and losing my relationships with my clients as they move to other areas, we stay engaged and guide our clients as trusted real estate advisors regardless of where they buy. Clients love it, and it allows us to keep the trust and long term relationship we hold so dear. We help them be successful in all aspects of their next purchase. It is fierce competition in areas like Napa and Pebble and Tahoe now. Clients love that we can help them outside the area without being a fish out of water.

We’ve learned that virtual tours like Matterport are critical. We are just learning to do live virtual agent tours to connect with our fellow agents on live broker tours to get agents engaged. We learned to involve a collaborative environment with multiple agents from multiple markets. We have a $25 million listing in Santa Ynez and we brought on multiple agents from different markets to make exposure priority one. It is a new way of helping clients.

What qualities do you think help your team succeed?

Haze: Hard work. Never been anything else. But also working with new ideas. Never stop trying new things and new ideas. I compare it to restaurants — you see some hustling hard and others staying closed or being slow to rebound. Success comes from seeing guidelines and rules and working within those, but turning on collaborative ideas to make things happen.

There is more business today than ever before; it is a “happening” and global mind shift that we have never seen before. It is all revolving around real estate. We can either watch from the sidelines or lead the way and it is uncharted. We love the idea of helping to lead and help people change their lives for the better right now. What a blessing to be in real estate right now!

Email Lillian Dickerson

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Corey Ledbetter <![CDATA[5 things to remember when selling a home for the second time]]> https://www.inman.com/?p=806233 2020-07-10T17:49:54Z 2020-07-13T07:01:55Z It’s not uncommon for buyers we’ve represented in the past to get in touch when they want to sell; they remember that we provided great service before, and they’re confident that we will do so again. But sometimes it’s the home — not the homeowner — that comes back to us, and that requires a unique set of tactics and considerations.

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It’s not uncommon for buyers we’ve represented in the past to get in touch when they want to sell; they remember that we provided great service before, and they’re confident that we will do so again. But sometimes it’s the home — not the homeowner — that comes back to us, and that requires a unique set of tactics and considerations.

Some luxury properties have a tendency to boomerang on and off the market, and when they do, my colleagues often ask me if I have any tips or tricks for handling them. Santa Rosa Beach in Florida, where my practice is based, is a second-home market, so turnover is sometimes higher. As a result, we are occasionally asked to list a property that was part of our own inventory in the past.

Here are the top five things I remind myself and my team of when a property comes across our desks again.

1. Remember that you know the property better than anyone

Simply take comfort in your pre-existing knowledge of the home, and have confidence. When you represent the same home multiple times, you know more about it than any current owners or future buyers, and that makes you uniquely qualified to market it.

Unfortunately, the flip side of that benefit is that it’s possible to know too much about a property — its hangups, hurdles, and any negative feedback you may have received in the past. Don’t dwell on the downsides. Instead, use your knowledge to anticipate upcoming challenges, identify the home’s strengths, and plan proactively for the next sale.

2. Find out what your sellers have changed

Scenic Sotheby’s International Realty

Learn whether the owners have renovated the property. In the best-case scenario, your sellers may have already invested in some of the changes that you wanted to make the last time the home was on the market. But if that’s not the case, you can still prepare it for presentation.

Even when my clients aren’t planning on making full-blown updates, I always bring in my team to take a look at the property and suggest impactful tweaks. A lighter or more neutral paint job, a change in décor, or a revised color scheme throughout can help jazz up a home before putting it back on the market.

3. Change your partners, not your tactics

Your luxury real estate office is a well-oiled machine. When a property you’ve sold before bounces back to you for the second, third, or even fourth time, it may be time to take a different approach when unveiling it again to a fresh market.

Instead of changing your marketing strategy, consider working with different designers and decorators to help the home reach the right buyer. Styles may have changed since the last time you sold this property, and a different partner with new ideas might just be the thing that resonates with new buyers.

4. Refresh your marketing materials

Scenic Sotheby’s International Realty

Speaking of not changing your marketing, some properties won’t merit new video and photography. But that only applies if they’ve come back on the market less than a year after they were last sold and have no significant changes. Any longer than that, and it will be necessary to produce new marketing collateral.

Now is a great time to refresh any photos, videos, or virtual materials you may need to sell a home. Many agencies across the country are taking this moment to breathe new life into their collateral as the market returns to normal for buyers and sellers.

5. Think twice about taking on a problem property

What should you do about those rare pieces of real estate that have returned to your office again and again? I make a point to compare the homeowners’ reasons for parting with the property. Do they receive frequent offers on the home? Or do they report frustrations with the floor plan? Is it just the price? We try to do a full analysis of those homes to find the common denominators before we agree to take the listing again.

In some cases, it may be better just to pass on the property. For example, if you and your potential seller are misaligned on the key issues of a home, things could get challenging down the road. The bottom line is that if there are problems, make sure you can actually fix them before committing to a client.

If I’ve learned one thing, it’s to never be one-sided. Bring a fresh perspective to properties you’ve sold in the past, rather than lingering on their perceived flaws. Luxury real estate is subject to trends, after all, and trends change. Look at everything through new eyes, understand why the home may have fallen out of favor, and find the opportunities to make it relevant in tomorrow’s market. Most of the time, the opportunities are there.

You’ve sold this home before, and that makes you the most qualified agent to sell it again.

Corey Ledbetter

Corey Ledbetter is an experienced agent with the Chris Abbott Group, serving both primary and secondary buyers, sellers and property investors, and builders and developers. Specializing in coastal properties from Destin to Rosemary Beach, Corey works tirelessly to help his clients achieve their real estate goals – providing hands-on assistance every step of the way. Corey credits his prolonged success in the Destin and 30A real estate markets to being genuine with each and every client. According to Corey, “Truly listening to my clients’ needs, and being able to have a deeper understanding behind their motivation allows us to work together to achieve their goals.”


About Sotheby’s International Realty

Sotheby’s International Realty was founded in 1976 as a real estate service for discerning clients of Sotheby’s auction house. Today, the company’s global footprint spans 990 offices located in 72 countries and territories worldwide, including 43 company-owned brokerage offices in key metropolitan and resort markets. In February 2004, Realogy entered into a long-term strategic alliance with Sotheby’s, the operator of the auction house. The agreement provided for the licensing of the Sotheby’s International Realty name and the development of a franchise system. The franchise system is comprised of an affiliate network, where each office is independently owned and operated. Sotheby’s International Realty supports its affiliates and agents with a host of operational, marketing, recruiting, educational and business development resources. Affiliates and agents also benefit from an association with the venerable Sotheby’s auction house, established in 1744. For more information, visit www.sothebysrealty.com.

The affiliate network is operated by Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates LLC, and the company owned brokerages are operated by Sotheby’s International Realty, Inc. Both entities are subsidiaries of Realogy Holdings Corp. (NYSE: RLGY) a global leader in real estate franchising and provider of real estate brokerage, relocation and settlement services. Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates LLC and Sotheby’s International Realty Inc., both fully support the principles of the Fair Housing Act and the Equal Opportunity Act.

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Bryan Bowles <![CDATA[Which is better: outsource a transaction coordinator or hire in-house?]]> https://www.inman.com/?p=806248 2020-07-10T18:23:45Z 2020-07-13T07:01:49Z It’s no secret a transaction coordinator can help agents get more done. In fact, a skilled coordinator can save an agent up to 16 hours per deal, and help that agent close twice as many deals per year. The real question is whether it is better to outsource a transaction coordinator or bring one on as an employee.

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It’s no secret a transaction coordinator can help agents get more done. In fact, a skilled coordinator can save an agent up to 16 hours per deal, and help that agent close twice as many deals per year. The real question is whether it is better to outsource a transaction coordinator or bring one on as an employee.

We will evaluate these two options on three important factors.

  1. Overall investment cost
  2. Skill level assessment
  3. Redundancy risks

Overall investment cost of a transaction coordinator

Hiring any new employee can be costly. It starts with the expense of the ads to find the employee, and the administrative time spent interviewing and selecting the right candidate. By the time you find the right transaction coordinator, you have probably spent between $100 and $500. That’s before you’ve brought them on board. Then you need to invest the time and effort to train them, and handle everything else that goes into the cost of an employee such as salary, benefits, and taxes. After 12 months, you may have invested $35,000 – $60,000 for one ‘good’ transaction coordinator.

Outsourcing the transaction coordinator role has much lower upfront investment costs. Your only upfront expense is the time you spend researching transaction coordinator services. By the time you vet and select a service, you have probably invested just a couple hours of your time. With the right transaction coordinator service, your time investment ends there. The actual services become a scalable, transactional expense, making it easier to demonstrate a return on your investment. The service company spends the time and money hiring and training the most skilled coordinators and preparing them to do things your agency’s way.

You typically pay per transaction with a service. You can expect to spend less than $350 per transaction with the right provider. That means you could use your outsourced coordinator for one hundred deals before you even approached what you would spend to bring one in house.

Skill level assessment

A good transaction coordinator service provider ensures their coordinators have appropriate experience and are vetted by multiple administrative employees to guarantee their quality and professionalism. The best providers even offer coordinators who have passed a rigorous training program, including “test clients” before they can work with any real clients. At Transactly, for example, fewer than 10% of the coordinators who apply make the cut to serve agents.

Hiring an in-house transaction coordinator can result in the same quality level that a service company like Transactly is able to offer, but you will have to carefully oversee training and coach them to achieve that level. Whereas with a service company, you will receive your desired level of excellence from the start with your dedicated coordinator.

Redundancy risks

If you hire an inhouse transaction coordinator, you will have one person to process your transactions. What if they get sick, go on vacation, or have to care for a family member? You are possibly out the salary while they are away, and have no one to handle the tasks associated with your deals. So, you are doing all the work again, and still paying someone.

With the right transaction coordinator service, redundancies are built into the structure. The best service companies have a large network of coordinators ready to back up your dedicated coordinator and take on your work in their absence resulting in zero downtime. For example, Transactly keeps notes regarding your exact needs and processes that can be shared with backup coordinators in the event yours is away. Transactly also offers local coordinators from across the US.

Hiring a transaction coordinator service is a smaller overall investment of both your time and money, resulting in a more qualified person with guaranteed uptime and bandwidth for all of your deals. Transactly starts at $350 per transaction and offers volume discounts. Learn more!

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Inman Content Studio <![CDATA[How one top brokerage kept ownership and leadership but left operations behind]]> https://www.inman.com/?p=806104 2020-07-09T21:03:50Z 2020-07-13T07:01:39Z First, it’s a tough business to make money in—especially if you experience rapid growth. Back in the day, brokerages might take a 50% split of agent commission, but the industry has changed dramatically, with increasing pressure on aggressive agent splits and lower margins.

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Two key things make owning and operating a brokerage really hard

First, it’s a tough business to make money in—especially if you experience rapid growth. Back in the day, brokerages might take a 50% split of agent commission, but the industry has changed dramatically, with increasing pressure on aggressive agent splits and lower margins.

Second, broker-owners are often producing and operating. Hitting monthly goals while running your back office, managing staff and transactions, and juggling legal and compliance issues, among many other things— can become overwhelming very quickly. BarbCo Founder, Paul Barbagelata, learned this first hand.

Safeguarding a 68-year legacy

One of the top real estate brokerage firms in San Francisco, BarbCo offers a wide range of commercial, residential, and condominium real estate services to its clients. Led by Paul Barbagelata, BarbCo had over $250 million total sales production in 2019, with 147 transactions, averaging over $1.7M per transaction.

In early 2020, Barbagelata was in the process of looking for a new operations manager. However, he quickly realized that between technology, lead generation, marketing, and legal and compliance challenges, this position would be an overwhelming job for one person. With Side, he found the right solution.

“Side provides the operational management we need and offers access to teams with expertise in various fields. Now we have a streamlined approach, from transactions to marketing to business planning, etc. It’s like hiring a company to do the heavy lifting for my brokerage.”

But most importantly, Barbagelata wanted to protect his family’s legacy.

Family owned and operated since 1952, BarbCo is a household name. This 28-agent team prides itself on being a trusted community resource in San Francisco. “I didn’t want to give up brand equity in a 68-year family legacy, so I knew partnering with a traditional brokerage wasn’t an option. That would mean sacrificing our name, branding, and personality.”

Next-gen brokerage model keeps indies indie

Side, defined by its CEO as a ‘silent partner brokerage platform,’ saw the struggles independent brokers were facing and set out to create a business model that meets the unique needs of broker-owners without any sacrifice. With Side’s white-label platform, independents no longer need to fold into national brands. Indies remain front and center while expert support teams handle back-end operations and help brokers grow.

By partnering with Side, Barbagelata continues to grow his business and protect BarbCo’s brand legacy without having to spend time operating a brokerage. He says, “Side is the best foundation for us to build our house on. What we’ve been doing for many years has worked, but we needed a one-stop technology solution in order to deliver a consistent, seamless client experience. Our relationship with Side is symbiotic—it enables us to be creative salespeople, focused on making great impressions and building relationships with our clients, while they take care of our critical back-office systems.”

Unexpected benefits of a collaborative real estate business environment

During the pandemic, Barbagelata realized a benefit unique to Side: the exclusive Side partner agent community. He says, “The best minds in the business are collectively tackling the new normal head-on and share how they’re pivoting. I was able to gain perspective and share learnings with my team, a benefit I wouldn’t have had access to if BarbCo remained a standalone brokerage.”

BarbCo is one of many independent brokerages that has chosen to partner with Side. Other well-known brands include Stroyke Properties Group at Bayside, Amalfi Estates, Happen Houston, Level Up Realty, Major League Properties, Sac Platinum Realty, Olani Properties, Cove Canyon Realty, Pacific Oak Real Estate Services, Prime Real Estate, Tera Real Estate, Voyage Real Estate, Market Real Estate, Power of 2 Realty, Trillion Real Estate, Haylen Real Estate Investments, Edge Real Estate Agency, Town Real Estate, and Thrive Real Estate.


About Side
Side transforms high-performing agents, teams, and independent brokerages into successful businesses and boutique brands that are 100% agent-owned. Side exclusively partners with the best agents, empowering them with proprietary technology and a premier support team so they can be more productive, grow their business, and focus on serving their clients. Side is headquartered in San Francisco. For more information, visit www.sideinc.com.

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Inman Content Studio <![CDATA[Leveraging technology to gain market share]]> https://www.inman.com/?p=805718 2020-07-08T16:12:33Z 2020-07-13T07:01:34Z In the above session from Connect Now, real estate coach Aaron Keith leads Julia Spillman and John Gomes of Douglas Elliman and Jon Krabbe of Agent Image in a discussion about the rise of technology that serves real estate and how integral it has become to the success of agents who have learned to harness it.

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In the above session from Connect Now, real estate coach Aaron Keith leads Julia Spillman and John Gomes of Douglas Elliman and Jon Krabbe of Agent Image in a discussion about the rise of technology that serves real estate and how integral it has become to the success of agents who have learned to harness it.

Watch and learn how you can use technology to power your business, get a competitive advantage and power your brand.

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Inman Content Studio <![CDATA[Smart targeting]]> https://www.inman.com/?p=805505 2020-07-07T17:57:44Z 2020-07-13T07:01:31Z In the above session from Connect Now, Lee Dickson of Offrs.com demonstrates how the Offrs platform can work to provide you with more than 70% of the listings that will take place in your market in the next 12 months.

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In the above session from Connect Now, Lee Dickson of Offrs.com demonstrates how the Offrs platform can work to provide you with more than 70% of the listings that will take place in your market in the next 12 months, including:

  • How Offrs predicts who will sell in your area
  • Three strategies you can deploy in winning listings
  • How their Smart Apps suite will help you round out your prospecting and marketing tactics

Learn more about Offrs and Smart Apps at Offrs.com.

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Inman Content Studio <![CDATA[Service is key: Sentrilock readies a new showing platform]]> https://www.inman.com/?p=806216 2020-07-10T17:24:23Z 2020-07-13T07:01:21Z Most real estate professionals know SentriLock as the premier lockbox provider in the industry and the official lockbox solution of the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR). The company is a prime example of how market demand and innovative technology can blend to provide the industry with better competition and more options.

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Service-built from the start

Most real estate professionals know SentriLock as the premier lockbox provider in the industry and the official lockbox solution of the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR). The company is a prime example of how market demand and innovative technology can blend to provide the industry with better competition and more options.

Just over 16 years ago, the entire lockbox market was dominated by one player. So when Sentrilock introduced an innovative alternative, NAR quickly staked an investment. And shortly thereafter, the association fully acquired the company.

While the product has since been improved upon and many new mobility functions introduced, the company’s mission has remained unchanged: deliver service excellence above all. Sentrilock now partners with 380 real estate associations across the country.

“Tech startups tend to focus on hyper-growth,” said Director of Revenue Devin Beck. “But Sentrilock has always prioritized the customer experience and delivered unsurpassed value for our customers.”

That begins with training. Members of the Sentrilock customer service team complete a thorough development program before helping customers. The phones are staffed from 8 a.m. to midnight, seven days a week.

“We currently have 94 percent customer satisfaction for first call resolution,” Beck shared. “We’ve maintained a 100 percent client retention rate for over three years. Those are the metrics of success we care about. We provide value by giving agents time back and peace of mind. We make it easier for them to get into the home, get it shown, and get it sold.”

Unlocking a total platform

In the last year, the Sentrilock leadership team saw another opportunity to help agents do their jobs. Once again, a single player dominated a critical aspect of the business: scheduling and arranging property showings. However, the incumbent handles fragmented parts of the overall showing process, and because of this, is unable to create a fluid and intuitive solution for the agent.

Thus the SentriKey Showing Service platform was designed.

“The SentriKey Showing Service is another way Sentrilock helps keep technology cutting-edge and prices competitive,” Beck said. “We envisioned it as a complementary offering to our lockbox service. Our product already controls access to a property, so it was a logical next step to help facilitate the showing request process. It also aligns with the peripheral security offerings and association policies, where we can manage access and help keep agents safe.”

Now in development with a beta release planned for August 2020, features will include:

  • Powerful scheduling and data management tools, with a robust calendar system that offers a single agent or a full team view
  • Client engagement options to keep buyers and sellers better informed and in lockstep with the agent at every move, managing showing activity as well as buyer feedback
  • Detailed market insights with up-to-the-minute data on properties down to the street level, shareable with clients in a clean, easy to use format
  • A patent-pending, data-powered digital assistant that can help manage schedules, confirm appointments, and adjust itineraries in real time

“This will truly be a best-of-breed solution, with new safety and verification features that will be baked-in over the course of the next 24 months. And the timing couldn’t be better,” said Beck. “For an industry that has been slow to evolve, there is a fresh appetite for innovation in real estate technology. We already have 30 percent of our user base signed up for demos and we aren’t even at beta yet. That validates the need and the attitude of an industry that’s ready for what’s next.”

Learn more about SentriLock and the SentriKey Showing Service.

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Dean Cottrill <![CDATA[How traditional brokerages can increase their profit margins]]> https://www.inman.com/?p=806245 2020-07-10T18:37:46Z 2020-07-13T07:01:12Z The traditional, commission-driven residential real estate brokerage model sits in a tightening vice. As commission splits rise in favor of agents and teams, and the commission rates consumers pay continue to compress, brokerages face dwindling profit margins.

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The traditional, commission-driven residential real estate brokerage model sits in a tightening vice. As commission splits rise in favor of agents and teams, and the commission rates consumers pay continue to compress, brokerages face dwindling profit margins. Given that splits and commissions make up a traditional residential real estate broker’s two primary revenue channels, firms must redefine their businesses to survive and thrive.

Brokers, managers, and executives will find the answers they need to remain viable by closely evaluating their key business metrics. By carefully tracking and analyzing these, they can identify the prime stress points their businesses face and uncover what changes they can make that will increase their all-important profit margins.

T3 Sixty has identified 33 key brokerage business metrics all brokerages should track, organized into eight categories.


These numbers tell a story that will help owners navigate the brokerage business, and, if managed and addressed correctly, will lead to higher profits. Although analyzing brokerage financials provides firms a black-and-white look at where they stand, how they need to respond will differ: every brokerage and market presents different options and circumstances.

Improve specific profit-and-loss metrics

Brokerages have a variety of options to increase their profit margins. The first step involves carefully reviewing their profit-and-loss statements, analyzing their performance relative to local companies with similar business models in their market, and then revamping their company’s operations to improve efficiency.

For example, they can determine whether or not they are over- or understaffed, if their per-agent productivity stands below market average, if their office expenses are too high and in what areas, or if their deal fall-out rate is too high.

All brokerages must review these metrics and optimize them just to turn even a limited profit today. To really face the challenges of real estate’s new era and grow profits to a meaningful and sustainable level, they also need to add or increase revenue from ancillary businesses and consider developing a refined company-generated business program.

Add ancillary services

Real estate transactions are just the tip of the real estate iceberg. When consumers transact, they need title and home warranty insurance, escrow (in states where practiced), and many need mortgages. Brokerages are in a natural position to take advantage of the ancillary service opportunity.

If executed well, a brokerage can maintain slim profits, but really shine with higher bottom-line profits operating brokerage ancillary business units. The real estate transaction is the engine that drives these valuable opportunities.

Build out company-generated business program

By developing in-house systems to acquire and deliver leads, brokerages can charge higher referral fees or higher splits with agents. This requires a significant investment in systems and an agent population that supports it.

Brokerages can adopt this by training up a special e-team of agents to handle the leads the brokerage delivers. Of course, the brokerage needs to efficiently acquire leads, have tight processes to follow up and respond to them, and consistent training on conversion.

Takeaway

Traditional brokerages face daunting times, and one thing is certain: without a rigorous analysis of their business and some smart, aggressive adjustments, their businesses may not survive.

To thrive in real estate’s next era, traditional brokerages must revamp how they make money and carefully measure, tweak, and improve every aspect of their business. T3 Fellows can help. In our program, T3 Sixty and a cohort of peers and mentors work with brokers and teams to analyze, customize, and execute on real estate brokerage and team leader growth and profit goals. Learn more at T3 Fellows, or reach out to me directly: Dean Cottrill at dean@t3sixty.com.

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