The top two sources of business for Realtors are referrals and past clients. With that being said, our question to you: How are you keeping up with your past clients?? Many real estate agents still use Excel spreadsheets or a simple contact manager (like the one in Outlook or Gmail) to manage their database of past clients, because they think of their database is just a list of names and numbers. What they don’t realize is that they are missing out on the power of automating the processes and developing and maintaining relationships with the people in their database! Having a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system is a way to keep up with your past contacts. It’s an organized way to document activity with each client so you can easily follow up with them and build relationships.
In our class, CRM 101, we discuss the basics of a CRM, the types of information you should gather as well as the value a CRM process can add to your business. A common question the Independence Title Education team gets is: “Which CRM is the best?” While we can’t give a solid recommendation on just one because it truly does depend on the type of business you have, we have put together our “Top 8” below from our research.
A CRM is something that takes time. Unfortunately, time is something a lot of us don’t have. The good news is that selecting a CRM platform which suits your individual needs is probably the most time-consuming part of the process!
There are so many ways a CRM system can help you manage your database. The key to getting the most out of a CRM is to be disciplined about using it. Every time you speak with a contact, enter notes about what you discussed and schedule your next contact. Every time you generate a lead, assign them to a follow-up plan. Over time, you’ll find that your relationships are stronger, your pipeline is fuller, and your business is growing and changing.
(A lot of this research was taken from the Facebook group Lab Coat Agents, if you don’t follow, you should! It’s a great place to get tips, tricks and insight from agents across the globe.)
Have you heard of CodeNEXT yet? If not, this is a topic that could have an impact on the real estate market and you will want to gain knowledge on the topic. CodeNEXT is the new City of Austin plan to update the current Land Development Code. The land code consists of how a piece of land can be used, including what can be built, where it can be built and how improvements can or cannot be built in the city. Mayor Steve Adler says “The CodeNEXT process will help us manage our explosive growth while preserving what makes Austin special. We have to act and need to begin now – and this map is where we start.”
The current Land Development Code was created in the 1980s and is somewhat difficult to decipher. In 2009 Austinites began to rethink the current code and what works for our growing and ever changing city. Since then the City of Austin has been working on proposing the new Land Development Code. The CodeNEXT initial draft release happened on February 1, 2017. The City is now in the process of several open house events and hopes to finalize CodeNEXT early 2018.
If you are interested in more information on CodeNEXT click here.
Earlier this year, Zillow released a new feature allowing Realtors to post a “video walk-through” of their listings. These video walkthroughs are soundless videos that are shot directly from the user’s smart phone via Zillow’s app. They are capped at two minutes and no less than 10 seconds, so they are designed to be quick and best of all, this feature is offered to ALL agents at no cost.
So why are you telling us about this, you may ask?! Well, after posting a video, these listings will be promoted at the TOP of search results (for free!) According to Zillow: “Listings with video are prominently displayed and receive preferred placement in search results. Buyers with saved searches are notified when a new video is added.” If you don’t believe it, head over to Zillow and do a search on your favorite zip code. The top results will have “video walk-through” on them. Remember this is a new feature, so your zip code may not have any agents doing it yet.
With all of this being said, if you are thinking what we were thinking…. yikes is right! Holding a shaky phone and walking through a home without the proper lighting, etc. can be a really bad thing! (That’s why you pay to have a professional take the photos, right?!) Our suggestion on a quick fix? As mentioned above, the video has a MINIMUM of 10 seconds. Order yourself a simple smartphone tripod from Amazon like this one, find out when the sun is in the right spot (whether you are going to showcase an inside shot or just simply a quick pan of the front) and get out there and shoot a 10 second video. Don’t overthink the two minute video they tell you to do and try to film a bunch of different shots. Again, that’s why you paid for the professional photos! Get the 10 second video shot, post the video from the app and your listing will get boosted to the top of the search results! Don’t fret – your beautiful, professional photos will still be there and the consumer will still be able to click through them to see more of the home.
*UPDATE 11/3/2016 – Zillow just announced you can now add videos that aren’t shot within the app for a fee. According to the latest Inman article, for $149, you can upload an outside video, i.e. a professionally done video. Does that fee sound a little steep?! Don’t throw in the flag, you can still follow our tips above for FREE!!
You’ve done it! You took a Buyer from shopping for a house, to a contract on a house, to the closing table and you couldn’t be more ecstatic for them. Then… in total shock you find out your Buyers have wired thousands of dollars to a thief! You discover the “I could never be a victim to wire fraud, it’d never happen to me” has actually happened to you! It’s becoming more and more common in our industry and way more sneaky and sophisticated than you may think.
Unfortunately, we are seeing attempts to divert wires to imposters’ accounts on a weekly basis, leaving the Buyer, Seller, Realtor and Title Company at risk. More often than not, the fraudster hacks into the Realtor’s email account (yes YOUR email account) or creates a close duplicate email account along with your exact signature, and then posing as the Realtor gives bogus instructions trying to divert the funds of one of the parties involved. It’s happening and it could very well happen to you! As a Realtor, the video below is a great tool to send to your Buyers & Sellers warning them of the risk. NAR’s General Counsel, Katie Johnson, has made this video to help you educate your clients on how to avoid being in a wire fraud scam.
Let’s face it, sitting in traffic isn’t ideal. Especially when your to-do list is a mile long, you were supposed to be at your appointment 20 minutes ago and every radio station is playing that VERY annoying used car guy commercial. We get it and can very much relate! What can you do while you sit in your car bumper to bumper or in-between appointments across town? Take a look at this list of the Top 40 Real Estate Podcasts courtesy of Curaytor.com. While there are thousands of real estate podcasts across the internet, we agree, these are the best and most informative.
What exactly is a podcast you ask? A podcast is basically a digital audio file made available on the Internet and subscribed to and downloaded or streamed online to a computer or mobile device. According to researcher Richard Berry, podcasting has become a recognized medium for distributing audio content, whether for corporate or personal use. A podcast is similar to a radio program with key differences: listeners can tune into their favorite shows at their convenience and listen to podcasts directly on any device that can play audio files. These podcasts are great to listen to while driving, exercising, grocery shopping, etc!