Real Estate Staging


Selling a home in the cold, dreary winter months may not be ideal but there’s still plenty you can do to get a home to standout.

“Buyers out looking at homes in December or January are, as a group, quite serious about buying,” Laura Ortoleva, a spokesperson for the RE/MAX Northern Illinois, told RISMedia. “Therefore, sellers tend to benefit because each showing is more productive, and fewer showings are needed to sell the property.”

RE/MAX agents offer some of the following tips when selling a home in winter in a recent article at RISMedia.

Turn on the lights: Counter winter’s cloudy and short days by turning on all of the lights in a home for each showing. “Also, it’s a great idea to keep the lights on in the front of the house even if no showings are scheduled,” says Marlene Granacki of RE/MAX Exclusive Properties in Chicago. “People are always driving past the house, and keeping it lighted makes it look happy and welcoming.”

Have a place for shoes: Prospective buyers may arrive at the front door with shoes coated in snow or salt. “Make it easy for buyers to deal with their shoes when they arrive,” says Barbara Hibnick of RE/MAX Showcase, Long Grove, Ill. “Put a festive area rug at the front door for a great first impression and so visitors can wipe their feet. Have slippers or disposable booties available, along with a bench or chair, if there is room for one, where a visitor can sit and easily remove or put on their boots.”

Watch for odors: Homes can get stuffy in the winter. “Pet odors can be especially worrisome in winter,” says Mike Mondello of RE/MAX Synergy in Orland Park, Ill. “Use a room fragrance if needed, but nothing too strong, and I recommend that in winter sellers clean more often.”

Don’t make it too toasty: “Don’t blast buyers with hot air,” the RISMedia article notes. Keep the temperature at a comfortable 65 degrees during your showings (although keep in mind that a comfortable temperature for your thermostat can vary form house to house.) Potential buyers will most likely be wearing their winter coats when they tour the house so no reason to make them sweat.

Read more winter-selling tips.

Source: “10 Ways to Get the Best of Winter When Selling Your Home,” RISMedia (Dec. 1, 2011)

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Add Some Holiday Charm to Your Listings

7 Tips for Showing Property in the Dead of Winter

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Men vs. Women: How They Differ in Real Estate

 
Daily Real Estate News | Friday, October 14, 2011 
 It’s the battle of the sexes in a new analysis by Trulia, which pits the sexes against each other to find out whether male or female real estate agents tend to list the most homes, whom tends to list the priciest homes for sale, and which sex is outnumbered in the industry.

Some of Trulia’s findings:

-Who dominates: More women work in real estate than men, according to Trulia. For example, Trulia found big pockets where females outnumbered men in the industry, such as in Mississippi and Oklahoma where there are 64 percent more women working as real estate agents than men.

-Who lists the most homes: Men tend to list more homes for sale, according to Trulia, when looking at the average number of homes that men and women put up for sale by state. For example, in North Dakota, men had 129 percent more homes for sale on the market than females.

-Who lists the priciest homes: Female real estate professionals tend to list more expensive homes than males, according to Trulia. In West Virginia, for example, homes for sale by female real estate agents were 63 percent more expensive than those listed with male agents. (Trulia notes in its article that pricing a home to sell factors in a lot of things about the property and neighborhood and does not necessarily reflect how aggressive an agent is on the pricing.)

Source: “Is Real Estate a Man’s or Woman’s World?” Trulia Blog (Oct. 13, 2011)

Read More:
More Women in Commercial Real Estate, But Pay Still Lags

8 Common Seller Problems (and How to Resolve Them)

If you’re working in real estate, you’re bound to run into one of these problems. But if you address them early and honestly, they shouldn’t present major obstacles for your transaction.
July 2011 | By Rich Levin

Do you ever clash with sellers on price, staging, or marketing? Has someone ever asked you to lower your commission? Has a seller’s personality ever rubbed you the wrong way?

If you work in real estate—and you aren’t exclusively a buyer’s agent—then the answer to those questions is almost certainly yes. But unless you’re working with someone who’s incredibly dense and obstinate, these problems don’t have to slow down the selling process.

The Problems

Note that the problems below don’t apply just to real estate professionals. In fact, they’re even bigger issues for sellers. These cost them time, money, and aggravation, and disrupt their lives far more than their agents’.

1. Sellers can be uncooperative on price.

2. Sellers frequently believe that the way they live in the house is the way they can sell the house.

3. Sellers are often unprepared for low appraisals.

4. Most sellers aren’t negotiation experts. They may bring expectations and anxiety that make everyone’s experience more difficult.

5. Sellers can be uncooperative on commission and might even request a reduction.

6. Sellers regularly have unrealistic demands concerning showings, advertising, marketing, and communication.

7. Agents and sellers may have personality conflicts.

8. Sellers might not be aware of all the closing costs.

Solving these problems gets sellers’ homes sold faster, for more money, and with less stress.

The Universal Solution in Two Parts

Before we get into the solution, it’s important to point out that owners don’t fully understand the entire process of selling a home. These problems would occur far less or not at all if agents could give them a crash course on selling, in which the practitioners covered these issues in a frank way. If that happened, I believe that sellers would be more cooperative.

The universal solution in two parts is first to ask the seller specific questions over the phone and at the beginning of the listing presentation as the agent is establishing rapport. These include:

▪ “Have you done much research to determine the asking price or how to sell a house?”

▪ (If yes) “We’ll talk more when we get together, but what are some of the more important things you discovered?”

▪ “Why are you thinking of selling?”

▪ “Where are you going?”

▪ “Is there an ideal time frame to have the move complete?”

▪ “The tax records indicate that you bought it x years ago, is that correct?”

▪ “Have you refinanced?”

Similar to how a doctor asks patients about their health history, this process gives the sellers confidence in the thoughtfulness, thoroughness, and ability of practitioners.

The second part of the universal solution is for real estate pros to build a listing presentation that addresses each of these problems before they arise. Details on how to do that are below:

1. If they’re uncooperative on price, prepare a very thorough comparative market analysis. Show sellers all the research that you used to select the properties you chose for the final CMA. Offer your pricing recommendation, but let sellers choose — and “own” — the list price.

2. Sellers believe the way they live in their house is the way they can sell it. Ask sellers if they are planning to do any work to prepare it for the sale. If they are, use your judgment to determine whether they will follow through or not. Share examples and anecdotes of how house cleaning, reorganizing, renovations, and so forth have helped homes sell faster and for more money.

3. Describe the entire pending process, from offer acceptance to closing. As you go through this, cover other stumbling blocks and how you work to prevent or address them.

4. Go over the entire negotiating process, from interested buyers to accepted offer. Also, explain pitfalls and emotional turbulence and describe how you will be their advocate.

5. If they’re uncooperative on commission, sometimes you will simply have to walk away. When possible, build so much value into your marketing plan that sellers are reluctant to even ask you to adjust your commission.

6. Show proof that what you do works. Continuously check for agreement. If and when they challenge you, make a note and return to it after they are impressed with your entire effort.

7. When it comes to personality conflicts, make sure you’re self-aware. Determine your personality style, and your strengths and weaknesses. Learn to recognize others’ personality types, and figure out which will naturally conflict with yours. Learn strategies for adapting.

8. Get sellers’ mortgage balances. Find out what else they plan to pay off with the proceeds. Then complete a detailed net sheet. Use a conservative sale price. Inflate the numbers a bit, so you can assure them it will likely be more in their pocket.

All of these bases can be covered either in conversations with owners over the phone before making an appointment or during the listing presentation. Top practitioners have spent years interacting, building, rehearsing, presenting, adjusting, and improving. Solving these problems consistently comes out of that effort.

Demographic Shifts Are Changing What’s Considered Desirable in Homes

July 18, 2011 by Melissa Tracey · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Home Trends

By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR Magazine

Married couples no longer hold the majority in households. In 1960, married couples made up 75 percent of total households. In 2010, that percentage has dropped to 48 percent, according to U.S. Census data.

Meanwhile, “family households”–which includes married couples with no children–has bloomed from 45.1 million in 1960 to 77.5 million in 2010. And non-family households (people living alone or households where no one is related) has soared–increasing nearly five times in the last 50 years–from 7.9 million in 1960 to 39.2 million in 2010.

“These significant demographic shifts create opportunities to design and sell homes to a growing group who cannot find what they want in the resale market because the resale market was primarily built for families,” according to a report by John Burns Real Estate Consulting.

So given the growth in non-family households, what do these potential home buyers desire? Here are some of the findings from John Burns Real Estate Consulting:

 

Smaller home size. Non-family households tend to want less space than a family household–opting for a home under 2,500 square feet. A recent survey also found that more than two-thirds of non-family households tend to want no more than three bedrooms in a home too.

Location is key. Non-family households want a good location near work, entertainment, and shops. In fact, they consider the location more important than the size of the home.

Nothing over-the-top. Non-family households are less likely to choose extra amenities like media rooms, community pools, and tot lots.

Asian Wealth Adds Up to U.S. Home Sale Boom

 
April 25, 2011 by Robert Freedman · 2 Comments

MarketsAcrossIntro By Robert Freedman, senior editor, REALTOR® Magazine

YB
Yin Bihr, CIPS, CRS, broker-associate, Masters Realty

REALTOR® Magazine Managing Editor Kelly Quigley and Features Editor Katie Tarbox joined me in creating an information-packed video on working with Asian buyers, one of the fastest growing—and wealthiest—populations of non-U.S. home buying households in the country today.

We talked with half a dozen sales associates and brokers in the San Gabriel Valley area near Los Angeles, where Asian households make up almost two-thirds of the population in some parts.

To work in that area (or any area where many households are from outside the United States), you have to know the culture. What was surprising when we spoke with the industry professionals there was how important just good business sense is to succeeding. That’s a universal that never changes.

YLLing Chow, CIPS, SRES, broker-owner, Jonson Global Investments

Even if you’re working with people who don’t have a good command of English, what’s important to the success of the relationship is your straight-forward, common-sense approach to finding the right house, negotiating, and communicating. It all starts with listening to what they want and understanding the norms of their culture. Adherence to the NAR Code of Ethics was also key, because foreign buyers more than anything are looking for professionals on whom they can depend.

Although Asian households are growing throughout the United States, in the San Gabriel Valley, their strong numbers and, in many cases, deep pockets (many households pay cash), helped the area avoid the big downturn that hit so many parts of the country three years ago. Although sales in the area dipped, the market remained relatively strong throughout, and much of the market was fueled by buyers from outside the country wanting to get a piece of the home ownership dream here in the United States.

In the short video above, you’ll find prospecting and marketing tips from the sales associates and brokers we talked to, and there’s a legal caution about how to tailor your approach to foreign households while adhering to federal non-discrimination requirements.

 
 

Responses to “Asian Wealth Adds Up to U.S. Home Sale Boom”

  1.  Great information and tips! The Asian Real Estate Association of America (AREAA) is another terrific resource for learning how to effectively serve the Asian American community.
     

Buyer’s Guide: Branding Products and Services
A strong brand can make the difference in determining which real estate pro gets the call from consumers. Here are the key concepts and solutions you’ll need for your branding efforts.

In This Guide

To whom do people turn when they need help buying or selling property? Generally, it’s one of three kinds of real estate professionals: someone they’ve worked with before, a practitioner they’ve been referred to, or the one who has done the best job branding themselves and their business.

Building your brand is a multifaceted undertaking: creating a persona, promoting it at every opportunity, and meeting and surpassing expectations you’ve shaped about why people should entrust their real estate transaction to you. It’s part personal marketing and part positioning — and all about delivering services. After all, every licensed competitor in your area has access to the same inventory. An effective branding campaign differentiates you as the first person who comes to mind when people think real estate.

Specs That Matter for Real Estate

What makes a great brand?

Play consumer for a minute: When the subject is real estate companies, which one comes to mind?

There’s likely a distinctive logo with specific colors, and maybe a tagline defining that company or its approach. Branding starts with visual symbols, but is really about attaching positive perceptions to them. What those symbols represent — and the associated consumer expectations and experiences — make the brand.

For the real estate professional, the branding challenge is to set yourself apart from everyone else offering a comparable mix of services. Your “brand” can be your name, a flashy logo, catchy tagline, or some unique specialty. It’s the marketplace ID for you and what you do.

Think about who you are and services you provide that most others can’t and build around that. It might be defined by a market area, a particular type of property you handle, or your target clients. It can play off your name, your team, or the location of your office. Whatever you choose as your brand, it should be uniquely associated with you.

An effective brand-building campaign runs on and offline, from a prospect’s initial encounter through follow-up long after a successful transaction. Establishing your brand requires a broad-based, far-reaching effort. The key is consistency in message and delivery — the more visible your brand, the greater the chance people will remember you.

Feature that in signs, on your vehicles, Web site, social networks blogs, business cards, stations — everything you do to promote awareness and attract business. Then, back it up. If you bill yourself as the neighborhood expert, demonstrate that with Web content and blog entries. If your focus is the upscale market, your clothes, car, and equipment should project that. If you’re the relocation expert, make sure you’re the source for information about everything in the area.

The Budget section of this guide outlines some tools and services that can be used to build, establish, and promote your brand. Each provides you with a way to get your brand in front of clients and prospects, and remind them why they should call you.

Ultimately, your brand is only a symbol, though, albeit one that invites action and can generate calls. It’s the follow-through, the relationships you establish, and whether or not you deliver on all your brand promises that will make or break your business.

Brand Building 101

Focus: Step back and assess the services you and your competitors provide. What’s unique about you? Who are your target consumers? What value can you offer others aren’t providing? Is your market a particular type of home or area? Define your services, expertise, and goals, then start building your brand around those.

Create an identity: Effective brand symbols — the logo, tagline, and even color scheme — are easily recognized and recalled. These should establish some positive association with you. Don’t skimp here: If you doubt your artistic and creative abilities, entrust this to a professional service.

Promote you: Approach this as a personal effort to promote you, your services, and your personal contact information. Build your brand around a company that’s not yours, and you’ll have to start all over if you ever move on.

Mount a campaign: Your brand won’t be built overnight, but rather over time, as people learn to connect you and the symbols you’ve chosen to represent yourself with a positive experience. The more visible that symbol, the faster that process.

Take it everywhere: Signs for the yard or office are starting points. Cars and trucks can be transformed into mobile billboards with vehicle wraps. Premiums like refrigerator magnets and key chains imprinted with your logo serve as constant reminders of you and your services. Everything should point back to your Web site as the portal for local information about your business and listings. And when you’re marketing online, be sure that your brand extends beyond your business’ site. Social networking and blogs can be especially effective, as can automated electronic newsletters, which get your branding out there with minimum effort.

Get involved: The value of community involvement cannot be overstated. Sports and event sponsorship, charity donations, and volunteerism provide opportunities to show your logo and represent you as a caring member of the community.

Make short-term goals and long-range gains: In summation, use every tool and opportunity to establish your brand. It’s the cumulative effect of all these efforts that will transfer a logo into the symbol you can proudly stand behind and prosper.

Glossary

Collateral: In marketing, the support materials used to promote a brand, product, or service, such as flyers, brochures, presentations, and Web content.

Niche: That segment of the total market a brand focuses on. For instance, one real estate professional could choose the niche luxury homes in the area, while another concentrates on vacation properties and rentals. Identifying your niche is an important early step in brand development.

Personal brand: The brand associated with an individual rather than a company or team. In real estate, establishing your personal brand can be especially critical. Over the course of their careers many real estate professionals will provide similar services to clients while associated with a succession of brokerages or franchises.

Skins: Protective covers for consumer electronics devices like smartphones and notebooks that can be imprinted with any message or graphic, including a brand logo.

Tagline: A brief, easily recalled sentence or phrase that sums up the brand and what it offers.

Target market: Those buyers or sellers you want to reach through your marketing efforts. They could be living in a specific ZIP code, for example, or match a certain demographic profile.

What Others Are Saying

“The Community Center”

In the half-year since sales associate Amie Stewart of HomeSmart Realty in Phoenix launched the My Life At Lakewood Web site, it’s become a virtual gathering place for people interested in what’s going in the Arizona neighborhood.

“We’ve gotten a reputation as the go-to people about the area, exactly what we were trying to achieve,” Stewart says. She and her partner in The A Team decided the community Web site could be an effective tool for keeping their name before residents in their target market.

“We thought the best way to brand ourselves would be to focus on one area,” she says. “It’s helped with our farming. We’re now working closely with the local homeowner association and we’ve got businesses in the area as sponsors who are also helping promote the site,” she says. “We’re giving something valuable to the community and they seem to appreciate that.”

“Being Your Brand”

As soon as Linda Craft acquired her real estate license more than 20 years ago, she started building her brand. “You’ve got to decide what you want your brand to be, and for me, that was to be seen as a professional, the person people recognize and want representing them. I started with a bright red color to contrast with my naturally blond hair and a black Infiniti Q45 with a vanity plate and the tagline ‘Make Offer.’”

Today, as broker-owner of Linda Craft and Team, REALTORS®, in Raleigh, N.C., those core elements remain integral to the campaign that has established her as the most readily identifiable real estate professional in the area. Her red logo and name are fixtures on signs and a fleet of vehicles, at community events, and as an official sponsor of the Carolina Hurricanes hockey team.

“The things we do offline bring us recognition,” Craft says. “But it’s what we do online, thorough Internet marketing, where we make money.”

Craft’s Web site, as well as her blogs, videos, and Facebook and Linked-in pages and profiles are all developed and managed by Dakno Real Estate Marketing Services. Wherever she’s found on the Web, there’s a consistent look featuring her picture, logo, and contact information.

“Branding without building strong personal relationships is nothing,” she says. “People may recognize you because of your logo or picture, but they will remember you because of what you did and how you helped them.”

“Domain Name Says It All”

Visitors to LuxuryLakeHome know where The Perry Team, broker-owners of RE/MAX Grand Lake in Grove, Okla., put their emphasis. The site immediately identifies the pair as “Your Grand Lake Professionals” and local real estate experts.

Their branding and Web site is managed through the Number1Expert marketing system from Dominion Enterprises. “We don’t have a specific logo or photo like some teams,” says Victoria Perry, partner with her husband Chuck in the small company. “Everything we do is designed to get people to our Web site where they can start searching for property and learn about our services.” The domain name conveys their specialty and is featured in all their signage and ads.

When she expands her branding efforts in the near future, she’ll draw on the experience of others. “One advantage to being with RE/MAX is you’ve got a network for talking with other real estate professionals about what’s worked for them,” she explains. “They’re very supportive and eager to share what they’ve learned and show how they do it. It’s a fabulous benefit of being associated with a major brand.”

Michael Antoniak is a journalist and technology expert with a focus on real estate applications. He also writes about real estate technology at his blog, RealTechTools, and has published an e-book on Essential Technology for Mobile Professionals. He can be contacted at antoniak@dtccom.net.

3 Tips to Help Justify Your Commission to Clients

Research shows that 15 percent of sellers make decisions based on the agent’s commission rate, and another 5 percent to 10 percent are willing to pay full commission to get the best service.

However, most buyers (75 percent to 80 percent) must be shown that the agent is worth the full commission, and once they understand the benefits, are willing to pay it. When sellers tell agents they make too much commission, agents have not shown the value of their services.

Real estate practitioners would be wise to create a “premium marketing plan” that details 15 or more strategies employed to help the seller fetch the highest price in the shortest amount of time, and if sellers do not see the benefits of the plan, they should offer to refer them to an agent offering limited services.

When sellers say they do not have the money to cover the commission, agents should show them a list of expired listings, most of which have lower commissions, and explain that they pay commissions only when the home sells and it is a moot point if the home languishes on the market.

Finally, if sellers point out that another agent has a lower commission rate, agents should ask them how well could they negotiate on their behalf if they cannot negotiate a full commission for themselves, using a question to remain in control of the negotiation and to help sellers come to their own conclusion.

Source: “3 Ways to Justify Your Real Estate Commission,” Inman News (06/16/11)

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