Q and A

Q & A: How Can I Raise the Bar on My Social Media in 2018?

Real Estate Virtual Assistant | Tiffany Haynes | VBS Real Estate | Transaction Coordinator | Listing Coordinator | Marketing | Texas | Dallas | Houston

Far too often we think of social media in the same way that we thought about the cork boards in the coffee shops many years ago — as a place to tell people what we need.

Social media is not about what you need. It’s about what you can give.

Real estate agents are at the bottom of the barrel when it comes to public perception.  Frankly, people don’t like us. Social media has not helped our fight to get out of the basement of public opinion for one reason: on the whole, we don’t know how to use it.

The common idea is that social media is for telling people about your listings, showcasing your buyers at the closing table, promoting how great you are or how amazing the market is right now. 

We overuse words like “fantastic,” “unbelievable,” “awesome” and “opportunity.” We claim that our own genius sold a house in one day despite location and price.      

All of that has a place in marketing, but posting about what you need will, eventually, tarnish your brand. It will become, well, annoying. 

If we focused on three basic strategy pieces in our social media use, our brand would strengthen along with the perception of our industry.

Add value      

This is not all about you, but it, also, is all about you.

The age-old thought that people are hiring you and not your brokerage could not be more true. Adding value to the problems that the buyers and sellers are facing reinforces your position in the market.

If you are giving away knowledge, tips, advice or data that is not easily attainable, the perception of your value will increase. 

If a potential clients see multiple posts that answer their unasked questions or solve their problems, they will turn the volume up on what you say via social media. You will have earned their attention. That is the ultimate goal on these platforms: attention.

Posting your listings, your closing pictures and the promotional items can be a part of your strategy, but it needs to be peppered with some high-value posts as well. Things like:

  • Market data from the MLS is useful and hard to get for the general public
  • Strategy for buying and selling in your market
  • Low-cost staging tips

Be real

There is a big difference in creating content and reporting what is happening. 

There is a need for produced content in your strategy, but the off-the-cuff and real posts tend to get the most traction. 

It promotes authenticity, honesty and the fact that you are a real person. Give people a sense of how you show up. 

If all of your social media content is produced, and you do not show up to the listing appointment the same way — it can become negative branding.

You want to show up as your authentic self every time, be it social media or in a meeting.

  • Look at a post as a conversation starter. Be natural. Use your tone and words. Be open to responses. 
  • Embrace the mess-up. If you stumble your words or put up the wrong graphic, don’t pull the plug. Acknowledge it, and keep going.
  • If you don’t believe it, don’t post it. 

Use video

If you aren’t already using video, start incorporating it immediately.

Video is a delivery method that reinforces your principles and core values. It allows your audience to get to know you on a deeper level.

Our attention span is around eight seconds at last check. The written word does not capture people the way that an image does on social media. When you add voice and tone into the mix, you increase your chances of gaining someones attention.

There is no replacement for your voice and face working at the same time to provide good, valuable content. I would be shocked if this was the first time you have heard this, yet, many avoid using video.

Do not waste time worrying about being prefect, focus on three things when you shoot video for social media:

  • Can you see what you want people to see in the video?   
  • Can you hear the person talking in the video?
  • Is the video too long to get the point across? The shorter, the better — as long as you prove your point or deliver your content goal.

We toil over making sure that people know that we sell houses. Our tendency is to only talk about what we are selling or how well we are doing in our business. It feeds our ego and promotes success. 

However, very few agents are able to push back the curtain on the produced video and rise above the photoshopped headshot and the scripted conversations far enough to gain a real audience through social media platforms.

By adding a deeper goal to your strategy, you will reinforce your brand and bring your business to a level of approachability on these channels. You become more service and less sales. For social media purposes, that is far more likeable.

What Real Estate Trends Should We Watch For In 2018?

Real Estate Virtual Assistant | Tiffany Haynes | VBS Real Estate | Transaction Coordinator | Listing Coordinator | Marketing | Texas | Dallas | Houston

As the real estate market continues to evolve, new trends are emerging for 2018. Buyers will be more in control as the housing supply will finally catch up with buyer demand, according to a report by Realtor.com. Additionally, more millennials will be looking to get out of their parents’ basement and purchase a home of their own.

Real estate agents have the challenging task of changing with the market and being responsive to their clients’ needs. Whether it is a buyer looking to purchase a new house or a seller looking to get the best price for their home sale, real estate agents will need to stay up on the trends of 2018 and be ready to respond to a growing demand for real estate.

Ten members of Forbes Real Estate Council shared what trend in real estate they predict will have the biggest impact on their business in 2018. Here is what they had to say:

1. Co-living And Community-Driven Spaces

Co-living and community-driven residential will increasingly have a larger impact on the multifamily industry as it changes to reflect a new wave of renter demands and wants. Just as amenities have defined the last decade of commercial real estate development, the need for unique experiences and services will heighten competition. - Benjamin Pleat, Doorbell Inc.

2. Short-Term Rentals

The rise of the short-term rental market has created a boom in opportunity for large property owners or the single family owner. Priorities range from renting a room occasionally for extra cash to renting entire vacation homes at three to five times the local and regional market since you now can access a global community. - Susan Leger Ferraro, Peace, Love, Happiness Real Estate

3. Fractional Investing

As peer-to-peer lending and crowdfunding catch mainstream attention, folks looking for greater diversification and passive investment opportunities will engage in factional investing. The last few years have seen some extremely credible startups innovate in this space, and next year could lead to individuals moving away from sole ownership to fractional ownership via crowdfunding. - Sohin Shah, InstaLend

4. Smaller Living

Tiny apartments and mobile living will be a solution to increasing housing density in overpopulated areas. This will become more of a norm in big cities and will drive up operating income on existing apartment stock. This likely won't have a huge effect on 2018, but it will over the next decade. - Nathaniel Kunes, AppFolio Inc.

5. New Appraisal Legislation

The new tax bill may further restrict new home-buyers from entering the market. Implementation of appraisal management company regulations in 2018 will increase costs and have the greatest impact on our business. It will increase the cost to do business, which will ultimately increase the cost to the consumer. - Cindy Nasser, PCVMurcor

6. The Rise Of The Real Estate Investor

The stigma around the average real estate investor seems to have faded with the recession but also, the rise of the corporate/national real estate investor is happening as well. I see that niche becoming more competitive, recognizable and digitized in 2018. Many home owners won't think twice about entertaining an investor offer alongside considering selling with agents. -  Tracy Royce,  Royce of Real Estate

7. On-Demand Access For Renters

We often hear from renters that they are too busy to sweat the small stuff. They want immediate tour confirmations, like booking a restaurant on OpenTable, and near-immediate confirmation that they have leased, like booking a hotel. This real-time service expectation from a new generation of renters is exactly what we plan to cater to in 2018. - Anthemos Georgiades, Zumper

8. Growth Of Private And Alternative Real Estate Investments

We expect consumers will continue to invest more capital into private and alternative real estate assets, as public markets remain at record highs across all major asset classes, and comparable yield risk remains favorable to private real estate vs. higher risk bonds and equivalents. - Colin Bogar, Property Passbook

9. The Rise Of Micro Units

Rental rates have been increasing across urban areas for the last several years, and the most impacted cities have seen a rise in micro units. These well-designed rooms, as small as 200 square feet, maximize every square inch available. Places like The Panoramic in San Francisco and Yotel in New York have been the first to embrace the model, and we see this trend expanding over the next year. - Nav Athwal, RealtyShares

10. Millennial Buyers

I believe that the new buyers are millennials and we, as agents, need to become more proactive in the community to become that millennial choice. This generation has many different options for home ownership including tiny homes, investment homes and coliving situations with friends or family. It's going to be a huge learning curve and a fun adventure all around! - Kevin Taylor, Sand to City Real Estate Team

Q & A: Can A Business Be Both Transparent And Successful?

Real Estate Virtual Assistant | Tiffany Haynes | VBS Real Estate | Transaction Coordinator | Listing Coordinator | Marketing | Texas | Dallas | Houston

By Collin McDowell , Forbes Councils

I've heard "fake it until you make it" as a piece of advice for as long as I can remember. In real estate, the feeling that you have to do this is because everyone starts out with no experience and a whole lot of competition in the field. As years go by, trends change, companies emerge or fall apart. Competitive business is filled with sometimes-ingenuine attempts to grab attention or capitalize on popular trends — it's enough to make your head spin as you try to become an expert on everything the industry leads you to believe you need to be an expert on. In the real estate industry, more careers are being built every day on the swift switch toward digital. The question becomes, do you need to fake it until you make it?

In my experience, the answer is no. In life, as well as in business, the authentic one tends to come out ahead in the long run, no matter the market or trends that rise and fall minute to minute. It's true across industries, too: In 2009, Domino's Pizza created a campaign in which it owned up to the negative things the public had to say about it. What came of this was, in my opinion one of the best rise, fall and rise again stories in our modern era of a company of this size.

On the solo side, entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk has built his following and brand by being bluntly honest while he prepared and launched an entire media company to help others achieve their entrepreneurial dreams by leveraging honest storytelling in the social media era.

These stories are just two examples of why transparency is key to business excellence in this age of rapidly growing technologies, this ever-changing landscape of social selling. With social media, every company has a direct path to the consumer and with this comes the ability to craft your image in new ways. This can be a benefit or dangerous ground — with the public nature of social media, one lie or rogue tweet could be hugely and quickly damaging. But smart real estate agents and businesses will use the direct path of communication social media provides to gain valuable feedback from the customers you aim to serve. This not only keeps you honest and reflective, but it gives you great data in real time, too.

It is the essential -- and the only way -- I know how to operate my business. But most like me have faced mental roadblocks that make it difficult to see how transparency and success can exist within the same business. But because transparency breeds authenticity, it's crucial to operate with transparency if you want to achieve your business goals.

First, start by creating a system of open communication with those most important to your business — the customers. Then, take their feedback and own all the failures and successes that can be found in their comments. Make a plan to attack the most common issues your consumers are speaking to you about and encourage them to also play a part in helping you make the corrections.

Now, look at other companies or people who have overcome similar challenges and see what you can learn from them. Spend time every day listening and learning from the people who keep you in business or support you. Transparency is a two-way street that requires you to make the first step and continue to share and encourage as things change in your life and business.

In real estate dealings, for example, you can find people from all over the world who have had a bad experience with a real estate agent. Instead of ignoring this, ask your customer to detail their experience and encourage them to give feedback so you can create an improved experience for them and others alike.

The road to transparent communications may be tough if you aren't used to it. That's OK — because when you practice transparency in your life or business, not only are the day-to-day challenges more fun, but you can reroute your stress and growth to help you focus on the value you deliver daily to those who support you and your business. Transparency, simply put, can help you grow, open your audience base, drive sales, improve your customer experience and much more. Creating an open and honest line of communication in and around your business can encourage more people to give you a shot.

Q & A: How Can I Tailor My Social Media to Target Millennials?

Real Estate Virtual Assistant | Tiffany Haynes | VBS Real Estate | Transaction Coordinator | Listing Coordinator | Marketing | Texas | Dallas | Houston


To you, social media may be an optional and annoying component of your overall real estate marketing strategy. But millennials turn to social media to date, shop, learn, communicate and now, buy real estate.

Although millennials get a bad rap, you should be careful not to count them out. According to a National Association of Realtors report, people 36 and younger, aka the millennial generation, were the largest group of homebuyers at 34 percent from July 2015 until June 2016.

If you want to capture the attention of more than one-third of today’s buyers, you will need to get savvy with social media.

Go beyond Facebook

It’s no longer sufficient to just have a branded professional Facebook page. To attract the millennial set, you also need to have a beautifully branded Instagram and Snapchat account.

Your profile and stories should be filled with actionable tips, entertaining stories, community information, lore-worthy listings and a link to IDX.

Here is an example of how an agent in Denver promoted a local movement. Instagram posts like this are powerful for engaging the local community with your brand.

Younger buyers love to post pics of their new homes on Insta and Snap, so be prepared to capitalize on that opportunity on closing day.

Help your clients prepare for pics by letting them know ahead of time that there will be a post-closing photoshoot. Clients who are self-conscious will be grateful for the heads-up. Also, be sure to take at least 10 photos so your buyers can choose the ones they like best.

Currently, Snapchat is an even larger opportunity for agents to capture the underpriced attention of millennial buyers than Instagram. Because so many agents are still avoiding Snapchat, you have a limited-time opportunity to stand out as an agent on the platform for a bottom-barrel price.

Grow and engage

Having followers is cool. Having fans is lucrative.

Engagement and growth depend on you posting frequently (three to five times daily) and consistently.

The easiest way to expand your reach quickly on Instagram, is to assemble 20-25 relevant hashtags like #firsttimehomebuyer or #millennialmoney and use them (as a comment) on every post.

I suggest keeping your list of hashtags as a note in your phone so you can copy and paste them quickly each time.

The biggest rule of thumb to cultivate an audience of millennial buyers? Post content that is primarily in their best interest, rather than yours.

For example, a humorous video series that explains what not to do when buying a house or regular reviews of apps that help making the homebuying process easier.

These buyers grew up in the age of internet marketing and are talented at ignoring ads. Don’t treat social platforms like billboards. Captivate clients with content that connects with them emotionally instead.

Get ahead

Every platform has its day, but most apps won’t last on top forever. Twitter is a prime example of a rise-and-fall story.

That means that even if you invest in becoming the biggest agent on the “it platform” of today, you could wake up in 18 months to find yourself back at the bottom of the next hot app.

Don’t let that discourage you from building an engaged flock of fans on Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat today. Instead, you should also keep your eye on what’s up-and-coming, so you can maintain and predict the attention of millennial buyers.

Review the top 100 apps trending on Apple every day. If you see a social app start climbing the ranks, establish a profile, become a regular user, create relevant content and start engaging.

By the time the app makes the top 10 list and your competition starts to learn about it, you will already by a big name on that platform.

Regardless of what your opinion is of millennials, there is no denying that they are a legitimate and extremely lucrative real estate niche. Let your competitors keep their condescending opinions about millennials, and collect the commission for yourself by stepping up your social media strategy.

Q & A: Why is Tracking Marketing ROI so Important?

Real Estate Virtual Assistant | Tiffany Haynes | VBS Real Estate | Transaction Coordinator | Listing Coordinator | Marketing | Texas | Dallas | Houston


No one wants to pour resources into a campaign that has yielded no successful results. Tracking and measuring your return on investment, or ROI, allows you an in-depth, data-backed picture of where and how your marketing dollars are being spent.

That’s why taking stock of your marketing efforts, down to the number, helps you determine where your time and funds are best spent for maximum effectiveness.

Below, you’ll find a few concrete reasons why measuring and tracking ROI should be a foundational tenet of your marketing routine and how adopting this habit can meaningfully impact your business.

Separating the ideal from the mediocre

Although the instinct may be to cover all your bases when it comes to traditional and digital marketing, isn’t it wiser to choose the medium that’s yielded concrete returns?

Tracking the effectiveness of your ROI creates a clear correlation from where your marketing dollars are spent and how many leads and clients you’ve reaped as a result.

Simply engaging with new clients about where they found your services can give you a good picture.

If almost all of them found you online, you know that putting dollars toward your digital presence is a better choice than continuing to run print ads.

Casting a wide net isn’t always a bad thing, but the more efficient and cost-effective choice is to double down on what you know is working. By tracking and measuring your ROI, you have the hard data to make the right allocation choices.

Determining how much each new client costs

Data measuring can be liberating because it takes abstract concepts and distills them into evidence-based information.

If you take the time to track and measure ROI, you’ll know exactly how many dollars you put into marketing last year and how many new clients were generated as a result.

This helps you determine how many marketing dollars you’re spending per new client.

Information like this is useful on many fronts: you can determine whether you’re spending too much or too little on marketing, which marketing channel is most cost-effective for reeling in new leads and how much profit you’re really making on a per-client basis — to name just a few.

Working as your own personal fortune teller

Although you can’t account for every foreseeable future scenario, tracking and measuring your ROI is an excellent way to get a glimpse down the road. If you have weeks, months or years or data that show personalized marketing trends, you can make informed decisions based on what’s already transpired.

Marketing doesn’t have to be a best-guess game. Instead, you can use tailor-made data to make good decisions, time and again, or learn from missteps and avoid making them in the future. This empowers you to waste fewer dollars on unsuccessful outlets and reduce your stress along the way.

Instead of gambling your marketing dollars, treat your business like the well-oiled machine it deserves to be. Invest the time in gathering ROI data, and you’ll be able to make smarter decisions based on a verifiable track record.

Q & A: How Can I Use Video to Build My Brand?

Real Estate Virtual Assistant | Tiffany Haynes | VBS Real Estate | Transaction Coordinator | Listing Coordinator | Marketing | Texas | Dallas | Houston

Social media changes every day. What was once a few outlets used to connect with friends and family has turned into a mass industry capable of growing business, developing client relationships and taking your brand to the next level.

If you’re not taking advantage of new features and updates to help maximize your brand, you should be. While every post should have a visual—videos are engaging—allow your social media to come to life and are favored by social media algorithms. From law firms to real estate developments and financial instructions, the benefits of using video as a part of your online branding are limitless.

Prove Your Expertise

If you can prove that you are an expert in your practice area, potential clients are more likely to pick up the phone for a consultation. Video is huge. While a blog is great for sharing information about your firm, industry and expertise, video is a chance to show the public your personality and what you’re all about. A video providing tips on finding the right lawyer, when clients should get a lawyer versus what they can handle on their own, or how to prepare for court are simple topics any attorney can comment on that will help reel in potential clients.

Go Live

Facebook Live that is. According to Facebook, users spend three times more time watching live videos than traditional ones. This is particularly beneficial for real estate developments. Take your audience on-site. Whether you want to share what’s happening at your broker events, ground breakings and grand openings, give tours of your projects, interview key team members or give an update from a construction site, Facebook Live gives a behind-the-scenes look and an opportunity for your audience to feel like they’re connecting with you in real time.

As an admin for your company page, you can schedule a Facebook Live ahead of time so viewers will know when to tune in. Facebook will also send out a reminder letting them know you’re about to start your broadcast. Any video that you record live will stay on your feed for people to watch, share and comment on later. It is a great way to involve people who could not attend your event personally. Remember, people from around the world can access your page. Be sure to use hashtags so potential buyers can find you.

Keep in mind you’ll need good sound, good lighting and a good internet connection. There is nothing more frustrating than watching a blurry, choppy video that keeps pausing. Invest in a microphone, especially on construction sites, where loud noises can occur at any moment and drown out the speaker. You don’t want your audience to miss anything.

Going live can make people nervous. You only have one shot, after all. Make sure whoever you have on camera has a likeable personality. They need to be able to multi-task, making sure to comment and engage with the audience. Facebook Live allows people to comment in real-time, so be prepared to answer any questions they might have, including opening date, number of units, prices, and amenities. End by telling people when they can tune in next for more.

Time lapse videos are, well, time consuming, but they show progress from beginning to end and are always a crowd favorite. Set up a camera and film your construction site over the course of a few hours for demolitions, and over the course of a few weeks for building. It shows potential buyers that your team is busy working to bring them their new home. Drone video is becoming popular for construction sites as well. This provides a unique aerial view that you can’t get from the ground.

Banks, insurance companies and other financial institutions are not exempt from making a name for themselves on social media platforms. Companies in these industries too, can make videos providing tips on how to file a claim, which documents clients will need to file taxes to speed up the process, or an over view of the different services you offer. When reading something on paper, the message can get lost. A video with a simple explanation can smooth the process. According to Forbes, over 500 million people watch video on Facebook daily. With numbers like this, you’ll definitely want to take advantage if you aren’t already.

The digital world is shifting. Videos make it easier to transmit information. Posting updates without a visual just isn’t effective anymore. No one wants to read a page of block text. Use this shift to tell a story. Consider producing a series of videos as opposed to a one and done. This is a great way to follow up and tease the new video by sharing a previous episode.

With this in mind, remember, more is not always better. Make sure to keep your videos short and to the point. You have about two minutes to get your message across before your audience will lose interest. From there, you’ll want to make sure that you share your videos on all of your channels, and the channels of everyone at your company to maximize your reach. Include a link to the video in your e-Newsletters as well, just in case one of your contacts missed it.

Be Innovative

Make yourself stand out. Know your audience and go after them. You have the tools, so don’t be afraid to take a chance. No one takes the top spot following the crowd.

Q & A: Can Real Estate Agents Get Business From Social Media?

Real Estate Virtual Assistant | Tiffany Haynes | VBS Real Estate | Transaction Coordinator | Listing Coordinator | Marketing | Texas | Dallas | Houston

By Mark Zilbert for Forbes.com

Real estate agents love social media. They post to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, showcasing themselves and their properties, with the hope that these posts will generate business. Yet, many real estate agents receive little or no business from social media, and they don’t understand why.

What many real estate agents don’t understand is that social media is not meant to be an advertising platform, and people using social media don’t want to be sold to. They want to engage with the people or brands they follow, which means their main interest is you and what you have to say to or show them. A successful social media channel isn’t too different from having your own reality show for all the world to see. Can you handle that kind of exposure? If you can, you may just find that clients seek you out and hire you to help them buy or sell properties.

Zilbert put together some of the social media basics that every real estate agent should know. If you learn and adopt some of these, you may just find yourself as the next big social media sensation.

Your Life On Display

In social media, you are the brand -- not what you’re selling or what you’ve sold. Followers want to see you at work, at play and even making them laugh from time to time. Since you control your content, you can choose how deep into your life followers get. Have fun with your pictures or posts, and make them as natural as you can.

Name Yourself As The Brand

While Facebook identifies you by your name, Instagram and Twitter allow you to name yourself (your “handle”) more creatively. Always use your name in your handle, and stay away from kitschy ones. Use simple, identifiable variations on your first and last name. Let potential clients get to know you by name, and they will remember you.

Like And Be Liked

Since social media is all about engagement with others, remember that engagement is a two-way street. Follow others and “like” posts that are interesting to you. Make comments on others’ posts. When someone comments on or likes your posts, thank them sincerely. The more you engage, the more people will follow and like you.

Don’t Be A Real Estate Agent Cliché

Your followers know that you are a real estate agent. Don’t constantly remind followers to call you if they are looking to buy, sell or rent a property. Don’t ask for the business, and don’t push your services on them. Just present yourself doing what you do, and people will find you. Also, try to avoid posting "Just Listed" or "Just Sold" announcements. If you do, be humble about your accomplishment.

How To Showcase Properties

Since your job is to sell properties, it’s fine to use some of your posts to showcase what you are selling. Rather than posting an ad for the property, however, find something interesting about a feature of the property — its view, an interesting staircase, an amazing water feature, etc. Then, write something about it that your social followers can enjoy. They will understand that this is your exclusive listing, and they will let you know if they want to know more. There’s no need to oversell it if it’s already interesting.

The Content Rule Of Nine

Since your posts should reflect your day to day life, you'll want to include a variety of posts over the course of each day or two.  Follow the rule of nine on Instagram. For every 9 posts:

• At least two should have you in them, either as a selfie or as taken by someone else (which is always preferred).

• You should have three to five related to a specific property or one of its features. Ideally, you will post your own exclusives, but it is also fine to post other interesting properties (with the permission of the other broker).

• You should have at least one about an area, neighborhood or landmark where you operate. Let your followers know that you are truly local.

• Post a photo or meme that will make others laugh. Clean, inoffensive humor is always well-received. Occasionally toss in a cute animal photo for greater engagement.

• If there is a notable event (food and wine festival, charity event, new business or shop opening), post about it to demonstrate that you're "in the know" of your community.

Use Platforms Differently

You should have specific and deliberately distinct uses of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

  • Use Facebook this when sharing existing content from yourself or others with your followers. Link to your exclusives on your personal or company website, link to articles published on news sites or blogs and create photo albums of properties, neighborhoods and people. Always write a few sentences in your own words to introduce the article.
  • Follow the rule of nine on Instagram, and create an ongoing rotation of images that cover different topics — and don’t forget to make people laugh from time to time.
  • Use Twitter to speak up when something is happening at that moment, such as a newsworthy closing of a property. This is also a good place to post thoughts and ideas that would be of interest to your followers.

The Big Taboos And Don’ts

If you want to be successful in social media for your business, you must at all times avoid topics that may cause people to become offended, annoyed, angered or insulted. Steer clear of politics, religion, dark humor, sex and vulgarity in your posts.

The world of social media is a place where real estate agents can shine. We can get business from using social media in these effective ways. And, as long as we act less like advertisers and more like knowledgeable members of our communities, people will find and work with us. Here’s to your next thousand likes.

Q & A: What Marketing Ideas Can I Implement for Halloween?

Real Estate Virtual Assistant | Tiffany Haynes | VBS Real Estate | Transaction Coordinator | Listing Coordinator | Marketing | Texas | Dallas | Houston

Don’t be a ghoul this Halloween and overlook one of the best marketing opportunities of the year for real estate agents. Here are some fresh ideas and hacks that’ll make an impact and assure your remembrance after trick-or-treating fades to black.

Intrigue your prospects through reverse trick-or-treating this Halloween

What better way to get noticed by your prospects than to offer an unexpected gift. You can quickly become the most popular real estate agent in the neighborhood by filling goodie bags with fun treats mixed with marketing items.

How do you reverse trick or treat?

It’s easy. Knock on doors in your farm, and hand out your treats. It is a unique and memorable way of being recognized, and it’s a great way to be social in your farm neighborhood.

Be smart with your marketing, and use helpful items branded with your contact information. Things such as chip clips, post-it notes and pens will be used more than once. They will continue to remind your prospects who to call for their real estate needs.

Plan a spooktacular open house in a vacant listing

Do you have a vacant home listed in an area with good trick-or-treat traffic? Why not utilize the space for what could become the most visited open house of the year?

Holding a themed open house on Allhallows Eve is just plain fun. You can make your event as creative as you wish.

Be careful about going overboard with Halloween decorations. You still want the home to shine. You are just taking advantage of the time of year to attract a slew of visitors.

Be sure and have at minimum, flyers of the home, treats for the little witches and warlocks and a cauldron of witches brew (warm apple cider) for visitors.

Don’t be the invisible agent by forgetting to fill your flyer boxes

If you are in an area that allows flyer boxes, make sure all of them are entirely stocked before the big day of trick or treat.

Speaking from experience, it’s disappointing when prospective buyers stumble upon a home they are interested in, and the flyer box is void of content.

Mom and dad will pick up a flyer during trick-or-treating with their little angels, but they most likely will not pick up the phone.

It is likely that your inventory will see more foot traffic during trick-or-treating than it will all year. Don’t overlook the opportunity to show off your listings.

Hydrate passerby’s with ‘ghost tears’ (water bottles with your logo on the label)

Here’s a simple and almost free marketing hack. If you have a printer and paper, you’ve got this one covered.

Search for a water bottle logo template, fill in your information, and print. Then, replace the current water bottle label with your personalized label.

Consider adding Halloween-themed artwork, so your contact information does not appear to be the main attraction.

Too much advertising without distraction can backfire, especially during an event that is kid-focused.

Show some love to the parents by treating them to a bag of goodies

Because handing out business cards with kids candy is seen as a horrible marketing idea by some, you can move around that barrier by handing out contact information in a parent-themed bag of smart marketing goodies.

It’s always good to have a little extra treat for parents when they come by with their little ghouls and goblins. You can use the same items you would use in a reverse trick-or-treat bag, or you can go rogue and be creative.

Other things that are well-received by mom and dad are useful tips for around the house or winterizing tips. You may also want to add a card they can return to you for a free market evaluation of their home.

Think green (like a witch’s face), and market with reusable trick-or-treat bags

Handing out small trick-or-treat bags with a Halloween theme and your contact information printed at the bottom is usually well-received. It brings more focus to the event and can ease the minds of parents by knowing who is behind the candy giving.

Consider having a few Halloween safety tips printed on one side and your contact information on the other. A reusable bag is good for the environment and serves as a reminder as to how mom and dad can reach you.

Partner with local businesses, and hand out coupons

Many local businesses will partner for an advertisement. Consider asking one to allow you to print coupons with your contact information offering a discount, such as 10 percent off a purchase at their establishment.

Then print coupons with the offer on one side and your contact information on the other to hand out to parents as they come by with their kiddos.

This type of marketing works well with most retail businesses but tends to get the most traction when paired with a restaurant.

Q & A: How Can Psychology Help Boost My Sales?

Real Estate Virtual Assistant | Tiffany Haynes | VBS Real Estate | Transaction Coordinator | Listing Coordinator | Marketing | Texas | Dallas | Houston

By Bubba Mills for Forbes

If you were faced with the largest financial transaction of your life, how would you go about choosing who you want to help you? Every real estate agent should spend plenty of time pondering this question because it is essentially the foundation of your marketing. Of course, real estate agents understand better than most the importance of a solid foundation for a home. And the same is absolutely true about the foundation of a marketing plan.

Understanding consumer emotions is that foundation. Because it turns out, emotions are vital in sales scenarios — and real estate is no exception.

First, let's look at what's going on inside the head of a potential real estate client, be it a buyer or seller. Both are fraught with a chaotic tangle of emotions: fear, uncertainty, excitement, boredom, frustration and many more.

It's no big surprise that research tells us that consumers are more likely to act (buy/choose) when they're experiencing more positive emotions — feeling happy, excited, cheerful, etc. And remember this: Consumers buy because of what they're feeling — not necessarily because of what they're thinking. Plus, positive moods also increase consumers' willingness to seek variety and try new things.

So how can you move prospects' emotional meters toward the positive emotions that increase the chances of them saying yes? What can you do specifically to trigger the emotions and feelings that lead potential clients to see you in a favorable light and, more importantly, take action and choose you as their real estate agent?

Here are six things that I believe you can start doing today to improve your sales numbers:

1. Know your target.

There's no need for 10 commandments in marketing — just this one is enough: Know your target.

Companies have invested billions into understanding consumers. In fact, one has just unveiled a kind of smartwatch that can pinpoint the exact moment consumers feel subconscious responses in a sales situation. The goal is to help marketers refine their products and services so that they're more emotionally appealing to consumers.

Today it’s easier than ever to survey consumers to gain a better understanding of what they’re thinking about real estate. SurveyMonkey is one customizable tool that helps. But it also pays to take time to talk face-to-face with prospective buyers at your open houses to get their pulse on real estate related issues.

2. Build surprise and delight.

Sure, people complain when things go wrong. But they also talk when they're surprised or delighted. To build positive word-of-mouth, go above and beyond with your service. If you know of a real estate agent who's known for extraordinary service, take your service one or even two steps beyond what he or she is doing. When you surprise and delight, you build positive emotions. And you'll be surprised and delighted at how much it will help your business. For example, for every buyer that I represented, I had my preferred lawn company mow their lawn for free within 48 hours of moving in.

3. Build familiarity.

The more familiar you are in the eyes of prospects, the better. That's why marketing and advertising exist in the first place — one of their primary purposes is to build familiarity. Consumers almost always go with the familiar over the strange and unfamiliar.

Fortunately, today it's much easier to build that familiarity because of the web and specifically, social media. I recommend adding a healthy dose of social media to your marketing efforts by posting helpful, useful information that paints you as an expert. In short, be human and relateable. Remember, you want to build positive emotions.

4. Build trust.

Social psychologists often use the phrase "social proof." Basically, this tells us that consumers look for cues from other sources (typically other people such as family and friends, but these days, the web, too) that prove someone is trustworthy and competent. This is one reason I highly recommend using testimonials whenever and wherever possible. You don't just want to show prospects you're a good real estate agent — you want to prove it.

After you’ve served a client who seems particularly happy, simply ask them if they would share a sentence or two about what they specifically liked about working with you. In other words, strike while the iron is hot and your service is fresh in their mind. Be sure to let them know you’ll be using their feedback in your marketing materials and get their permission.

Another tip: Give all of your marketing materials and efforts a consistent look and feel. It may not seem important, but it all goes to building trust.

5. Build your likability.

Think of someone you like — I mean really like a lot. What words come to mind when you ask yourself why you like them? Now work to develop or enhance those qualities in yourself. We all tend to buy from people we like — and people who are like us. Practice a few habits to be viewed as a more likable person in any interaction. Nonverbal cues can have a significant impact on perceived likability. Real estate agents are a talkative bunch, no doubt, but nonverbal communication is just as important as what you're saying to prospects.

6. Build reciprocity.

Think about when you were in the grocery store and a nice lady in the frozen food aisle was giving out free samples of a new ice cream. There's a good reason you see these scenarios: They work. Why? Because when someone does something nice for you, you will feel indebted and more likely to return the favor. That's reciprocity, and it works. So think of ways you can add it to your marketing efforts. Give out calendars, maps, pens, etc. at your open houses, public workshops or one-on-one meetings — really, anytime you’re in the presence of prospects. If you want something, give something!

The key is to remember that psychology can work at work. And it can work in your favor if you take time to understand its basic principles: likability, trust, familiarity, reciprocity. They can help you all get your prospects off the couch and into the “sold” category.

Q & A: Is Facebook the New Zillow for Real Estate Ads?

Real Estate Virtual Assistant | Tiffany Haynes | VBS Real Estate | Transaction Coordinator | Listing Coordinator | Marketing | Texas | Dallas | Houston

Will Facebook have its real estate cake and eat Zillow’s, too?

In what appears to mark a significant shift in the real estate marketing landscape, real estate agents and brokerages are more likely to buy ads on social media than on all other forms of digital media, including listing portals, a new report and Inman data suggest.

The report, which was released by advertising research firm Borrell Associates, suggests that social media advertising is producing a significant return on investment for real estate agents, signaling rising costs for Facebook and LinkedIn products and stiff competition for Zillow Group and realtor.com. 

“Overall, agents are spending $9 of every $10 on digital advertising, and more and more of the spending is going to Facebook and LinkedIn,” Borrell reported.

It forecasted a large migration from “pay-for-listings sites” — which is Borrell’s term for listing portals — “to more sophisticated forms of targeted digital advertising, in both display (banners) and particularly in social media.”

Social media poses increasing threat to portals

Comparing the results of Borrell’s study to a 2014 Inman report suggests that this migration has already progressed significantly over the last three years.

Of all paid lead sources, Facebook ads generally yielded the highest return on investment in 2014, yet agents were only half as likely to buy Facebook ads as they were to invest in listing portal ads, the Inman report found.

Three years later, agents have apparently caught on to the potency of social media marketing and are more likely invest in that medium than in listing portal ads.

“Just as it has grown to challenge the rest of the digital space for all display advertising, social media sites have drawn burgeoning adoption among Realtors as well,” said Borrell Associates’ Kip Cassino, who helped author the report.

Long term, social media sites present a big threat to listing portals, he added.

Social media marketing holds special appeal to the real estate industry. Agents and brokers spend twice as much on social media tools and outside assistance as the average local advertiser, according to Borrell.

Eighty-seven percent of agents and brokers have a social media presence, and of that group, nearly seven out of 10 have “boosted” a post, meaning they have paid to promote a post on their Facebook business page.

In addition, nearly six out of 10 agents with a social media presence purchased targeted social media advertising. This involves paying to promote an ad to a specified audience, such as likely first-time homebuyers, but doesn’t require posting on a business page.

The attraction stems largely from Facebook’s sophisticated ad-targeting capabilities, which allow agents to target ads by categories such as “likely to move” and “first-time buyers.”

“When you consider that Facebook and Instagram can also deliver ads to users by ZIP code and household income, it’s easy to understand the allure to agents and brokers,” the report said.

Adoption versus spending

Superior adoption of social media advertising does not necessarily mean that agents are collectively spending more on social media than on listing portals. Nor does it mean that total advertising spending on listing portals has diminished.

In fact, the advertising business of Zillow Group and realtor.com has grown rapidly in recent years, Borrell notes.

Since Borrell expects agents to spend a total of $2.559 billion on “targeted display” advertising this year — that includes listing portal ads and virtually all social media ads in Borrell’s book — Zillow Group and realtor.com’s collective revenue of $1.5 billion (most of which comes from targeted display ads) suggests that listing portals still receive more agent advertising dollars than social media sites.

It’s also worth keeping in mind that listing portal advertisers appear to spend more generously compared to Facebook advertisers.

Zillow Group advertisers were on pace to spend nearly $6,000 annually for leads from the listing portal in May 2016, the last time Zillow Group reported average advertising spending. Its revenue has grown substantially since then, as the company has focused on selling to deep-pocketed “super agents” while phasing out smaller customers.

By contrast, agents and brokers who buy social media ads spend just under $5,000 on average, according to Borrell’s survey.

Agents are the online marketing early birds

Real estate agents have embraced digital marketing more than perhaps any other type of professional. Of the total ad spending by agents and brokers this year, 87.1 percent is expected to go towards online marketing, up from 84.9 percent in 2016.

In fact, real estate agents and brokers are “the first and, so far, only big advertising category where digital expenditures aren’t continuing in an upward spiral,” Borrell reported.

Spending by agents on digital advertising peaked nearly three years ago and has been flat or slightly down since then, according to the research firm.

Real estate agents and brokers’ total ad spending — on both digital and print advertising — followed the same trajectory, dropping 8.5 percent from 2015 to 2016 to $9.87 billion.

The trend is expected to reverse this year, with Borrell Associates projecting a spending increase of 6.2 percent to $10.48 billion in 2017.

While the report highlights social media momentum, email marketing accounts for the largest share of spending by agents and brokers. Borrell expects them to dish out $3.59 billion on the medium in 2017.

Email marketing spending includes that which is allocated to email marketing systems, such as Constant Contact, as well as agencies that handle email marketing on behalf of agents and brokers.

Targeted display advertising — which Borrell anticipates will grow the most in the coming years — was runner-up among marketing spending categories, projected to account for $2.56 billion in spending in 2017. It covers both social media ads and all listing portal ads other than paid listing promotion. (Most paid listing portal ads are for buyer’s agents, while placing listings on portals is generally free for agents.)

The increase in marketing spending by agents and brokers will be driven almost exclusively by investment in digital advertising channels — social media chief among them, according to Borrell.

Over half (53 percent) of agents and brokers buy social media ads already, Borrell found. The marketing medium trailed only postal mail (77 percent) and newspaper (66 percent), while outranking magazine (48 percent), email marketing (36 percent), search engine marketing (34 percent), display ads (21 percent) and online classified ads (15 percent).

In this particular breakdown, it wasn’t clear which of Borrell’s marketing categories covered ads on listing portals such as realtor.com and Zillow Group. (Borrell Associates didn’t respond when asked.)

But search engine marketing, display ads and online classified ads would seem to be the only candidates, and they all trailed social media ads in popularity.

Facebook’s opportunity

Facebook has said it’s “betting big” on real estate and is focused on designing ad templates that can improve agents’ ROI, even as its ad prices increase, and there appears to be a lot of real estate marketing share up for grabs, especially at the brokerage enterprise level.

Fifty-seven percent of respondents had annual advertising budgets that were less than $10,000. Many of those were probably individual agents. On the other hand, the 29 percent of respondents who reported having budgets between $10,000 and $50,000, and the 14 percent prepared to drop over $50,000, likely included a much higher proportion of brokers that run large brokerages.

On a per-agent/per-broker basis, agents and brokers tend to spend significantly more on other marketing channels, such as newspaper ads, online classified ads and, though least popular, broadcast TV, than the $4,940 they allocate to social media ads.

That could start to shift. Facebook recently rolled out its first custom ad product for real estate companies, and in an example of co-opetition, Zillow Group has begun selling Zillow and agent-branded Facebook ads through a partnership with the social media giant.

Targeted display advertising — which covers both social media marketing and most listing portal ads — is expected to double over the next five years, while online video grows 38 percent, Borrell said. Search engine ads and un-targeted “run of site” banner ads, meanwhile, are likely to become less popular, according to the research firm.

A changing marketing landscape

Three changes will reshape real estate marketing in the years ahead, according to Borrell:

Seniors are the most lucrative buying segment, “forcing a different focus on marketing”
Ad targeting “has expanded digital media’s reach beyond active buyers to dreamers and intenders”
Agents are spending “an extraordinary amount of time and money on marketing tasks”
These trends provide fertile ground for a “market entrant that can simplify marketing tasks and consolidate them with basic office and communications functions” — which is, indeed, is the goal of many existing real estate vendors.

“The real gold mine is in a desktop or mobile app that can manage the data entry/monitoring tasks and spray out post cards, emails, Tweets, banner ads, brochures, and whatever else will help spread the word,” the report said.

And the “biggest short-term opportunity” exists for any entity that can handle marketing on behalf of agents and brokers — 78 percent of which are “novice/apprentice” marketers, rather than experts.

“Real estate professionals are looking for someone to make sense of the myriad of marketing channels, and to manage them in an efficient and cost effective manner,” the report said.

“There’s bound to be a lot of opportunity when the average agent spends $31,817 annually on tools or outside assistance related to social media — as much as they might make in total commission on selling four or five homes.”

Q & A: What Advice Should I Give My Sellers for Home Staging?

Real Estate Virtual Assistant | Tiffany Haynes | VBS Real Estate | Transaction Coordinator | Listing Coordinator | Marketing | Texas | Dallas | Houston

One thing that past couple of decades has shown is the fact that home staging helps sell homes. Even during the real estate downturn of a decade ago, well-staged homes outsold their competition. Today, staging has evolved but still remains a mainstay to getting a home off the market fast. Let’s look at four of the top staging tips used by realtors.

Declutter, Declutter, Declutter

They say location is the most important thing in buying a home. When it comes to selling a home, decluttering is at the top of the list. Buyers get instantly turned off when they walk into a cluttered home, even if it is immaculately clean. Clutter grabs the eye and doesn’t let it go. So, instead of noticing the large open living space, the buyer is staring at the wall of figurines the current owner collects.

Fresh Linens and Towels

A lot of people keep using towels into they are ragged and ready for the rag bin. That is a great thing for the environmentally or budget minded. However, a sad, old ragged towel is not an appealing sight for a potential buyer. Investing in fresh towels and linens. Fluffy white towels brighten up a bathroom. Crisp linens make a bed feel inviting. And those are things you want a buyer to feel, instead of pity for the ragged towel.

Bring in Some Contemporary Furniture

In an ideal situation, a seller will have a fresh set of furniture waiting to make home staging a breeze. Then, there is reality. Most homeowners have an eclectic mix of comfortable furniture. That is great for living, but not necessarily for staging for sale. Work with a furniture dealership to either purchase new furniture or rent some. This will give the home a fresh feel.

Paint the Space

Paint is a relatively cheap investment to give a home a fresh appealing look. It is something the home owner can do without the help of professionals, although pro help is great for high ceilings and double-story foyers. Going with a neutral palette will give the space a wide open contemporary feel. Adding a slightly brighter color on an accent wall can draw the eye to focal features.

These tips will help you stage your home for sale. The best thing you can do is work with your realtor to figure out what is working in the space and where you need to make improvements. That is how you sell your home fast.

Q & A: How Can I Attract A-Buyers?

Real Estate Virtual Assistant | Tiffany Haynes | VBS Real Estate | Transaction Coordinator | Listing Coordinator | Marketing | Texas | Dallas | Houston

By American Home Shield for RISMedia

Often real estate professionals spend a lot of time and energy with clients who don’t end up in a transaction. But then along comes a buyer who is ready to go! This article provides a list of things you can do to attract the “A-Buyer.”

When it comes to the current market, there are numerous channels potential buyers can use to connect with real estate professionals. From social media and online real estate databases to traditional open houses, leads can come through a variety of sources. But in keeping with the adage that quantity does not necessarily translate to quality, agents may be all too familiar with the process of following through with prospects that don’t result in sales.

Here are some ways real estate professionals can get the most from their efforts by attracting qualified buyers who are truly motivated to make a purchase.

  1. Host agent- and broker-only open houses. One practice that may help produce more desirable returns is for a real estate professional to host an open house that is limited to fellow real estate professionals. This can help streamline the sales process by focusing a real estate professional’s efforts on showing homes to parties with a genuine interest in a property versus curious and casual visitors.

  2. Update your MLS listings and require open house RSVPs. Two key details that can help ensure a more successful open house for real estate professionals and brokers are: 1) updating an MLS listing with the time and date of the event; 2) requiring an RSVP for the open house—this will help filter out less-serious parties and lets real estate professionals know how many attendees to prepare for.
  3. Focus on a niche market with reliable growth. Another strategy for attracting A-Buyers may be to consider targeted or specialty markets such as relocation referrals. This sector often features buyers who relocate due to opportunities within corporations or government agencies. Since finding housing is top of mind for such people, agents may find them more dedicated and determined when it comes to the purchase of a new home.
  4. Consider incentives with a home sale. For leads who are seriously contemplating the purchase of a particular home, offering them additional features like a home warranty plan may help with the buying process. A home warranty plan from AHS® offers valuable advantages once a purchase is completed, including knowing a property has a service plan in place in the event covered repairs or replacements of appliances and home systems are needed.

Q & A: How Can I Revamp My Digital Marketing Strategy?

Real Estate Virtual Assistant | Tiffany Haynes | VBS Real Estate | Transaction Coordinator | Listing Coordinator | Marketing | Texas | Dallas | Houston

By Todd Sumney

Developing your digital marketing plan is one of the most important steps to take when strategizing for lead generation. The future success of your personal branding as a real estate agent relies on bringing in potential clients as consistently as possible, while establishing your brand’s community.

As an agent, your digital marketing plan is constructed around three important channels, one of which is unique to our industry. As your plan is implemented over time, it will be easier to determine what areas need to be concentrated on or redeveloped to produce the most desirable results, especially those that speak to your local audience.

Email Marketing With Drip Campaigns

An essential piece of any digital marketing plan is to use email marketing set up with drip campaigns.

A drip campaign is a process of sending emails that are segmented by messaging and delivered to leads at different stages of the sales funnel. Basically, this means that if a lead signed up for your email information about a home for sale, that lead will then be added to an established drip campaign list so that he or she will receive a follow-up email in a specified time frame.

Setting up drip campaigns is easier than it sounds, and most email marketing platforms are integrated to set them up in line with your campaign settings.

Once emails are sent, their reach doesn’t have to stop there. Encourage recipients to forward the emails they receive, or place social media buttons in the email footer so readers can find you on their favorite social platform.

Text Marketing

Your leads are most apt to read and respond to a message from you on their cell phones. Sending a quick text to your prospective buyers and sellers will put you, and your brand, in the forefront of their minds, where they can quickly respond without the chore of scheduling a call or writing an email.

But, text marketing can be shaky ground—you don’t want to over-text or make the message sound like an advertisement. Focus on building relationships with your leads, not giving them reasons to avoid you.

Try creating a script that sounds like a natural and familiar conversation you would have personally with each recipient—for example, “Hi, [lead’s name], I found a home that’s just what you’re looking for. Do you want to set a time to go take a look?” will likely get you a response.

However, a script like “Hi, just wanted to tell you that I sold five homes in your neighborhood last month. Call me to sell yours!” will get you blocked from their contact list—or worse.

Schedule an hour once a week to send a text message to your leads. It’s free, easy to do, and according to Hearsay Systems, a company committed to compliant digital messaging and communications, 90 percent of text messages are read in three minutes.

Digital Presentations

Digital listing presentations have a great, tech-savvy feel to them and position real estate agents as cutting-edge marketers. But…never give a digital presentation without leaving a paper version behind. Our company’s internal study of our top 60 agents shows they always use a paper presentation, even if they give a digital presentation.

A large iPad or tablet is ideal for the digital portion, but many agents also use a laptop. Use your digital device to show your potential clients’ comps, homes they may be interested in or any visual representation of your pitch that makes the experience more engaging. Using a digital display during your conversation shows that you aren’t afraid of technology and have no problem using it to help your clients buy or sell their home.

Your digital presentation isn’t your script, either. Encourage an open dialogue and don’t leave the presentation folder in your office and use the tablet like a portable slide show. Remember, it’s a visual aid.

As you implement your digital marketing plan, keep in mind that there are no hard and fast rules. What works for you may not work for the next agent. The best part about applying these three marketing channels is that with the right amount of attention and very little effort, you can improve your lead generation.

Q & A: How Can Email Templates Help Me Save Time?

Real Estate Virtual Assistant | Tiffany Haynes | VBS Real Estate | Transaction Coordinator | Listing Coordinator | Marketing | Texas | Dallas | Houston


It’s not a surprise that when you hear email templates, you automatically assume it must have to do with bulk emails or mass newsletter emails.

And you’re not wrong, but in this case, it’s more important to think about email templates as one of the easiest ways to personalize your emails to larger groups of people in your network while still saving yourself big chunks of time.

If we all know anything here in the real estate community, it’s that personalization in all of our forms of contact with our clients is the key to increasing open rates or opening up new channels of communication.

But at scale, this can often feel like a near-impossible task and leave you with nightmares of hand addressing newsletters and mailers.

Dedicating the time to the upfront work of actually writing your email templates and determining the circumstances in which you will most likely need them throughout your day-to-day, will drastically save you time as you start to communicating with your network.

A few common email templates I use to save myself time are:

  • Special events and open houses
  • Outreach to active leads on the market
  • Asking for a testimonial on Zillow, Google, Facebook, etc.
  • General outreach to personal connections for coffee/lunch, etc.
  • Tips and updates for soon-to-be buyers or sellers
  • Asking past clients for a referral
  • Attempting to engage with a cold lead
  • Checking in on recent buyers on their new home

But don’t be limited by my favorite templates!

Take the time to outline emails you find yourself sending time and time again or information you often send out in bulk via a newsletter.

These are your opportunities for email templates. There’s probably more duplicate emails in your outbox than you realize, which makes your email template setup all the easier.

Plus, the simpler you make your outreach efforts, the more likely you are to actually do it, and your business (and your time) will reap the benefits.

The key is having the templates pre-written to include all the information needed, such as the link to your Zillow review page, but also leaving room for some quick personalization.

I’ve gotten 76 percent open rate on simple email templates with invitations to meet for coffee or a happy hour. Usually I’m able to set up four or five personal meetings for the following week from one quick blast to 50 individuals. It’s efficient, and it works!

I use Contactually as a means for organizing my contacts, storing my email templates and sending them out at scale via its ScaleMail feature. Contacutally also boasts an extensive template library that you can pick and choose from to boost your own ideas.

It’s also the best way to ensure I’m not sending the same person the same email template, sure to cause some awkwardness or confusion. Segmenting your contacts is another easy way to make sure your email templates will be successful, simply because you know exactly what message a whole group of your “active leads” (or whoever) are going to get — and with a few clicks, you’ve got it sent out.

That being said, your templates don’t necessarily have to apply to emails sent en masse; they can also be used as an easy means to send a quick note to a contact one-on-one.

Before you start relying on email templates for everything, I can’t stress enough the importance of the personalization aspect.

Although it’s certainly tempting to start blasting your whole network with templates, be thoughtful and intentional with those you send out, and don’t overwhelm yourself.

Keep in mind your core goals and what you’re looking to achieve by implementing and using email templates on a more regular basis.

Q & A: How Can I Help Buyers Envision Living in a Home?

Real Estate Virtual Assistant | Tiffany Haynes | VBS Real Estate | Transaction Coordinator | Listing Coordinator | Marketing | Texas | Dallas | Houston

When you have a large number of properties to compete with, or even just a few, you need to help potential buyers envision living in your listing. If a buyer can see themselves living in your home, they are far more likely to make an offer. Here are four easy tips to use to help buyers envision themselves living in your home.

Proper Staging

The right staging can go a very long way to helping buyers see themselves living in your home. A big part of the staging process is depersonalizing the home. When it’s more neutral, it’s easy for potential buyers to walk through your home and picture how they would decorate or where they would put their furniture.

When a professional stager comes into your home and sets it up properly, buyers will certainly see themselves living there. Every room will have a purpose and will help to attract the right type of buyer. For example, a stager may set up a few bedrooms as children’s rooms, but may leave one as an office or den to help attract a buyer looking for these specific features.

Create Tons of Curb Appeal

Buyers want to feel welcomed into your home and nothing is more welcoming than a great entryway. The lawn should be well manicured, while the entryway should look clean and inviting. Make sure you take the time to create plenty of curb appeal if you want buyers to envision themselves living in the home.

The last thing you need is a buyer showing up and feeling like the home isn’t for them when they step inside. The inside of your home should be amazing, but if the outside isn’t attractive, it could overshadow the inside in a negative way.

Highlight the Features

Every home has great features, such as a brick fireplace, outdoor spa area or even a nice wraparound patio. Highlight the features that make your home unique and you’ll be able to give buyers a better sense of how it will be to live in your home.

Declutter the Home

Decluttering is a huge help to allowing buyers to see themselves living in your home. Taking out unnecessary furniture, taking down family pictures and only leaving what’s necessary to show off the home will go a very long way. Usually, this is done during the staging process.

Use these four tips to help your sellers prepare their homes and to help buyers better envision themselves living in your listing.

Q & A: How Can I Market for the Back to School Season?

Real Estate Virtual Assistant | Tiffany Haynes | VBS Real Estate | Transaction Coordinator | Listing Coordinator | Marketing | Texas | Dallas | Houston

Ahhh, do you smell that? The scent of freshly sharpened pencils and crisp notebooks can only mean one thing… it’s back-to-school time!

Any change in season is a good time to take a closer look at your real estate marketing efforts. Are you still seeing results? Are there campaigns you can freshen up? Opportunities you can take to reach new prospects?

This time of year is especially great for reinvigorating your referral network and connecting with people who are new to the area.

Here are four back-to-school marketing ideas that you can put to work for your real estate business in the coming weeks:

1. Host a Back-to-School Party

It’s back-to-school season and parents are in a celebratory mood. Why not throw a back-to-school party as a client appreciation event? You can organize a family-friendly picnic on a weekend that takes advantage of the last of the warm weather. Or you can host an adult-only cocktail event where everyone lets their hair down and has fun.

(One tip: don’t force the conversation to real estate too often, but be ready and willing to answer any questions that come up!)

You can also make it a school supply drive to benefit the community. You cover the cost of the event, and ask guests to bring a donation as their admission ticket. This pairs extra well with idea #4.

2. Write a Back-to-School Blog Post

Create a back-to-school blog post and put that SEO power to good use!

Here are some back-to-school blog post topic ideas:

  • Write a post that explains how home values are affected by school districts
  • Highlight local businesses offering back-to-school specials
  • Create a directory of your favorite after school programs in your area
  • Share easy back-to-school lunch recipes

When you are done, be sure to share your post on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. If you mention/link to other businesses in your post, be sure to let them know. Those businesses will be likely to share your post, too, driving even more traffic to your website!

3. Deliver Back-to-School Pop-By Gifts

Pop-by gifts with a note and your business card attached will remind your past clients and neighbors that you are actively thinking about them and their needs. When they’re ready to buy or sell or even just talk about their options, they’ll think of you first.

Here's a fun and inexpensive back-to-school pop-by gift idea. 

4. Support Your Local PTA

Smart agents recognize the value of building strong relationships with the parents, educators and administrators in their local school systems. Build your sphere of influence and become a trusted real estate advisor in the community by actively engaging with the parent-teacher association(s) in your farm area.

You can buy advertising space in their newsletter or on their website, sponsor (and possibly attend) a teacher function and/or volunteer to help with a fundraiser. You might also consider offering a special discount or premium service to members of the PTA. And don’t forget to buy tickets to their annual spaghetti dinner!

Q & A: What Can I Do When Buyers' Options Are Limited?

Real Estate Virtual Assistant | Tiffany Haynes | VBS Real Estate | Transaction Coordinator | Listing Coordinator | Marketing | Texas | Dallas | Houston

By Marc D. Gould for RISMedia

One of the most frustrating aspects of this year’s housing recovery is that solid demand from buyers has encountered stubbornly low inventory levels in many U.S. and Canadian markets, especially for starter homes. It’s a situation that requires both patience and creative solutions.

As a managing broker, your buyer’s reps may be tossing up their hands and asking, “What can I do?” To be sure, when the supply of homes is inadequate, buyers’ options are limited.

On the other hand, this may be an excellent time for your agents to explore options that aren’t on the buyer’s radar. At a minimum, buyer-clients will feel better about working with someone who keeps the dialogue going and remains interested in proposing potential solutions, including:

1. Buy a fixer-upper. That run-down house that’s been sitting on the market for months may be a diamond in the rough for a buyer with the vision to see its potential, especially if they have the time and skills to participate in renovations. Before making an offer, however, encourage your agents to assist this buyer in estimating renovation costs and identifying people in the trades to assist them. Also, see if they qualify for and can take advantage of FHA’s 203(k) renovation loan.

2. Buy a teardown and rebuild. If a buyer doesn’t want to deal with the potential headaches of a fixer-upper, they may be a good candidate for purchasing a teardown, or a vacant lot, and building a new home. Fortunately, there are many ways to accomplish this without the expense of hiring an architect or a custom home builder. Learn who is supplying prefabricated and modular homes to your market—options that aren’t only economical and energy-efficient, but also increasingly popular with younger buyers.

3. Explore rent-to-own possibilities. One reason starter homes are so hard to find is because many move-up buyers are holding onto their original home, renting it to someone else or listing it on sites like Airbnb. Coupled with investor purchases during the housing slump, it’s no wonder inventories are pinched at certain price points. While national rent rates continue to inch up, some markets are already facing declines. This may be the perfect time to approach investor-owners with a rent-to-own proposal for your buyer-client.

4. Buy a larger home with rentable space. If a buyer qualifies for a larger mortgage than they need (or want), it may make sense to go ahead and purchase a bigger property that includes a mother-in-law apartment or similar rentable space. That way, the buyer can offset part of their mortgage expense with rental income, while also building extra equity in their home. Additionally, if they start feeling crowded in their home, they may decide to take over the rental space, eliminating the need to search for a larger house, while also saving on transaction and moving expenses.

Admittedly, these solutions may be less than ideal for many buyers. Until the inventory situation improves, they’re examples of ways to put a positive spin on a challenging situation. After all, as the saying goes, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”

Q & A: How Can I Build A Network In A New Area?

Real Estate Virtual Assistant | Tiffany Haynes | VBS Real Estate | Transaction Coordinator | Listing Coordinator | Marketing | Texas | Dallas | Houston

It’s hard being the new real estate agent in town. Especially when the success of your business is contingent upon a solid network.

Today, we’re going to breakdown three essential tips you can use to build your network and become the top real estate agent in your new area.

Setup your digital network for success

Before you even step foot in the new area you’re preparing to dominate, there are several steps you can take to ensure you get off on the right foot.

First, you need a great website.

Although your Facebook page can serve as a soft introduction to your area, and visa versa, it’s your website that will speak to your expertise and help you build credibility.

You can carry your experience with you from area to area through the use of testimonials.

However, you’ll need to update most everything else. You can start preparing to network in a brand new area by doing your research and adding your voice to the conversation.

You won’t be able to actually get a feel for the local flare until you’re physically there, but you can certainly put the word out on your website.

In addition, make sure that all of your social media networks are up to date.

You can even use Yelp or Meetup.com to start scoping out some local businesses and community groups.

Introduce yourself as soon as possible so when you finally meet community members face-to-face, they’ll have a nice of idea of who they’re talking to and what you can do for them.

Join the community

 Once you’ve touched down, the real work begins. You need to have a plan.

Don’t be afraid to engage with local professionals! Although it’s easy to view other agents as competition, there are a ton of resources just waiting to engage with you.

Be friendly with other agents. If you plan on attending conferences and other networking events, chances are you’re going to run into real estate agents from your new area, so make sure to become a friendly face.

When developing your strategy, start with a list.

Write down the names of the people you want to meet. All of them.

Take note of the people you want to bring into your circle of influence as mentors, as referral sources and as clients.

There will be trusted pros and community leaders already established in your new area, so use them as resources and also decide how you can benefit them.

Even if you go into a brand new area with a few friends or acquaintances, don’t get too comfortable or reliant on them. Instead, see how they can introduce you to even more professionals so you can expand your sphere.

All experts depend on their networks to grow their business and deepen client relationships. You’ve got to be willing to put yourself out there and meet new people to be successful anywhere.

Deliver value continually and consistently

The above section focuses a lot on what other people can do for you. Relationships of any kind are a two-way street, but the real question you need to continue to ask and answer for yourself is: What can I do for them?

Is there a new local restaurant opening up? Go in for a quick bite, and meet the owner. Get their inside story on life in the area, and then do a quick post to feature their business and backstory.

Have you noticed any great parks or other community attractions that seem extra cool? Make a quick community events guide, and share it on Facebook. You can also join local Facebook groups and spread the love there.

Focusing more specifically on value for buyers and sellers, check out what information exists on neighborhood guides, including details on school districts and ratings.

Neighborhood pages basically help every aspect of your lead generation and marketing:

  • They can get you more leads from Google.
  • They also present you as the neighborhood expert, which helps you close a higher percentage of deals.
  • And they give you something to show at your listing presentation that your competition simply doesn’t have.


Q & A: What Are Three Sales Tips to Never Forget?

Real Estate Virtual Assistant | Tiffany Haynes | VBS Real Estate | Transaction Coordinator | Listing Coordinator | Marketing | Texas | Dallas | Houston

By Lee Kiser, a multifamily expert, active broker and co-founder of Chicago-based Kiser Group

After training more than 50 commercial real estate brokers in sales and multifamily brokerage, I've discovered that there are three sales tips that never grow old — and that bear repeating.

Never Argue

Never argue with a client. It isn’t your job as a salesperson to convince someone that they’re wrong. Think about it: If you win the argument, the other person feels stupid and doesn’t want to work with you. If you lose the argument, you lose. Arguing with a client is a no-win proposition.

Instead, it is your job as a salesperson to make sure your prospect is thinking things through clearly so they are making the best decision for them. Too many salespeople take an objection personally. Rather, take it as an opportunity to understand what is bothering the client. If the objection is “I don’t like blue,” it isn’t helpful to try and convince the person that they do like blue. It is helpful, though, to find out why the person doesn’t like blue. The more you understand, the better position you are in to help the person make a decision.

Unlike the easy example of liking or disliking a color, objections in a business transaction or purchase can be very complex. Use language like, “So what you are saying is…?” and “Have you considered…?” Actively listen to the response and probe it further until you clearly understand what the other person is saying — and objecting to. Only then can you help them navigate a potential solution. You must also always be prepared that perhaps the best solution is not making the sale. By helping a person decide this, you may lose the battle (the sale) but win the war (obtaining a client).

Purge Superlatives, "Salesy" Adjectives And Clichés From Your Vocabulary

Words like “good, better and best” are subjective. Don’t use these in descriptions. Instead of saying, “This is a fantastic location,” explain the location: “This building is 500 feet from the blue line train station at Berwyn,” and let the client decide whether the location is good, better or best.

Words like “fantastic, phenomenal, excellent, great, stupendous” are words used in a circus — and that’s where they belong. These words do not belong in professional sales. Instead, describe in detail the subject of the phrase and let the client decide the appropriate adjectives.

Also remove clichéd phrases from your vocabulary. One of my pet peeves is “Let me be honest with you.” People usually say this when they have to deliver bad news. Just deliver the bad news; you don’t need a qualifier. When you use this phrase, it actually implies that you are not always honest because you are qualifying the next words out of your mouth as “this time I’m being honest.” Look at the phrases you use and make sure they convey what you really want to be saying.

Don’t Pretend

Don’t pretend to know things that you don’t. The best and most effective salespeople are those who will stop at nothing to find the right answers for their clients/prospects — not the ones who already have the answers.

The flip side of this coin, which points back to the above, is don’t answer something until you understand the question. Sometimes salespeople are so anxious to demonstrate their knowledge that they leap into an answer before they even truly understand what the client is asking. Slow down, listen, answer directly with what you know and be very forthcoming about what you don’t know. The client will appreciate this, respect you for it and want to do business with you.

Keep these three simple ideas in mind to help improve relationships when on your daily sales grind.

Q & A: What Are the Keys to a Successful Listing Presentation?

Real Estate Virtual Assistant | Tiffany Haynes | VBS Real Estate | Transaction Coordinator | Listing Coordinator | Marketing | Texas | Dallas | Houston

By Inman Staff Writer

The key to listing presentation success involves preparation, listening and acting with intent, she counsels. When potential sellers understand the value you bring to the equation, they have no choice but to select you.

Below are a few tips to convert seller leads into clients from real estate agent team leader Cheryl Fairbanks:

Qualify the clients

Fairbanks developed a two-page interview form she completes during her first contact with sellers. She uses it to begin building and personalizing the presentation.

The script constantly evolves, but the goal remains the same: to determine whether the homeowners are serious or just exploring their options.

Send a packet

Fairbanks’ listing presentation begins before the actual appointment. A few days ahead of time, she sends a folder to the homeowner with information about her business and her success, as well as testimonials from clients. She also provides MLS paperwork for the sellers to complete.

Price with precision

Fairbanks uses the same guidelines appraisers use when coming up with comps and pricing. She explores tax rolls and applies math formulas so the comps she chooses accurately match the home, which helps her price it more accurately. It can take days to pull together everything she needs.

“My credibility depends on presenting sellers with the most accurate information and being able to show how I arrived at my price recommendation,” Fairbanks said.

Establish rapport

When Fairbanks arrives for her appointment, she always asks to tour the house before anything. It’s her opportunity to connect with homeowners on a personal level.

“As we’re walking around, I’m looking for something we have in common to make small talk,” she said. “I just want to help them relax and feel comfortable with me.”

Make the winning pitch

After the tour, Fairbanks sits down with the homeowners and goes over the pre-listing package she sent ahead of time, answering any questions they may have. She then explains how she markets listings and reviews the comps in her CMA. Finally, she asks what they expect in the sales price.

“If it’s within range, I run some numbers to show them what they can walk away with,” Fairbanks said. When and if they like what they hear (they often do), they sign the listing agreement and Fairbanks gets to work doing what she does best – selling the home.

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