Is it us or do the TREC requirements for posting the IABS and Consumer Protection Notice on social media seem a little confusing? “So what exactly DOES TREC want from me? Am I compliant?” These are questions we are asked often.
We all know TREC is asking that the Information About Brokerage Service and Consumer Protection Notices be accessible on any platform that is used as a business website, right? Not only do they want you to have both of those notices, they also want it to be in a certain font size! Did you know that a “business website” doesn’t just mean your real estate website? It also means social media! Seems simple enough until you start trying to figure out how to have those two notices front and center on your Instagram feed that is ever changing, or on your Facebook page using the correct font. It’s one of the top concerns we hear from our agents.
TREC recently put out this article giving more clarification on compliance with social media and the two notices. We’ve read through it and basically, this is what it is saying:
IF both notices are “readily noticeable” on the first page of your website, you can add a link to that website from the social media account holder profile. Make sense? In other words, in your ABOUT ME section of all platforms, if the website link you have listed goes directly to a page that has the links to both forms READILY NOTICEABLE (correct font and all), that works for TREC. See example below.
Also, aside from addressing rules on providing the two notices, the Texas Real Estate Commission recently released other rules and changes about the way you advertise your business. Here is the original article: TREC Advertising Rules
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.
Do you love the monthly statistics Independence Title sends out but are constantly wishing you could have more narrow, specific statistics to use in your personal marketing? Maybe you want to show a Seller the average list price compared to the average sales price specifically in his subdivision? Or maybe you want to go even further and narrow down that statistic to his subdivision AND homes with a pool?!
A popular question the Independence Title Education Team gets is about generating customized statistics. The most common thought is that agents don’t have access and they must get it from us. Did you know you can run a very specific, targeted statistic right in your very own Matrix account?
Below, we’ve put together a quick video walking you through how to pull targeted stats in Matrix. We’ve also listed out step by step instructions as well. This is a great tool to utilize for listing appointments, newsletters, farming, etc. Go ahead, get creative! Want some help brainstorming? Call your local business development rep, we love that kind of stuff!
Here are the step by step instructions on how to pull customized stats in Matrix:
Click the STATS tab at the top of your Matrix homepage
Select the CUSTOMIZE tab on the left
Select the time frame you want to view
Select the first statistic you would like
Optional: Click on Advanced Options at the bottom
Select the optional secondary statistic you would like
Select how you want the statistics grouped (See screen shot below for example.)
In the middle of the page enter the criteria you are searching. (You can add additional fields at the bottom to find anything (similar to a search on Matrix — OR you can do a map search and draw a polygon. You would click on the bolded MAP SEARCH at the top of the search page. )
Hit GENERATE on the left once you’ve put in all your criteria
You can view by chart or data (tabs at the top right of the chart)
It’s the beginning of January and you are probably reflecting on 2016 analyzing what worked, what didn’t work and how you want to change in this brand-new year. This is the time of year when it traditionally makes sense to set new goals. You feel as if you have a clean slate, you are refreshed from some down time, and the future is looking bright. If you were ever able to get motivated to make some changes, it would be at the beginning of the year.
So why do most fail to change their results? Because they don’t understand that unless you change your thoughts, then the results will never change.
Thoughts lead to choices, choices lead to actions, and actions lead to results.
Unless you change your thoughts, the actions will remain the same, therefore creating the same results. Focus on changing your thoughts and watch how the results show up. Focus on your internal vocabulary, do you use “try” a lot? (i.e. “I’m going to try to follow up more with my SOI this year.” or “I’m going to try to squeeze in more educational classes this year to better my understanding of X.”) How about implementing more positive ways of thinking? “I will do those things, I will time block to better myself, etc.” Write down your goals instead of just thinking them. Write them on sticky notes around your computer screen, on your bulletin board or wherever your workspace may be. Remember, the 3% of people who write down their goals are more likely to reach those goals than the 97% who don’t.
Our Education Team offers a great class, Strategies for Growing Your Business. In this class, we reflect on what you did last year that did or did not work, we collaborate on new ideas to implement, we discuss things that took away your time that may not have been necessary and most important, we talk about committing to time blocking for activities that you intend to do but never seem to get to. We also go over setting up or changing your business plan and budgeting options. Contact your Business Development Rep if you are interested in booking this class or look at our Education Calendar to see if we are already offering this class near you and register! If you are working on your goals and just need an organized way of jotting them down – CLICK HERE
It seems very fitting to end with one of the ITC Education team’s favorite quotes:
“Those who fail to plan, plan to fail.”
Cheers to a very prosperous 2017 and as always, Independence Title is here to help in any way we can.
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!!
The Education Team of Independence Title frequently attends conferences and webinars to stay up with the latest and greatest in technology in the real estate industry. Using that information, we created a list of “tech tips” that we think are worth your while. Here’s the first 5 for you to check out:
1) LinkedIn Export
Did you know you can export the email address and job title/company of all of your LinkedIn connections into an excel file for an easy upload into say… your CRM?! YES! We were just as shocked and it’s easy to do. You can simply follow this LINK (you must be logged into LinkedIn) or click on “connections” on your home page in LinkedIn, click on the settings wheel, and then export your connections. VOILA!
Have you ever tried to book a meeting with someone and end up 15 emails later with no agreement on time/date? So frustrating, right? Wouldn’t you love to eliminate the back and forth and just send one email with all of your availability and then they can select the time slot that works for them? AND wouldn’t it be cool if it auto adds to both of your calendars as soon as they select the time slot?! CLICK HERE to see this life saver you won’t be able to live without. Note** This is only available for Gmail users through a google extension for our google calendar. (We see they are working on compatibility with outlook so stay tuned!) We can’t help but love the quote on their site: “THE TROUBLEWITH BEING PUNCTUALIS THAT NOBODY’S THERETO APPRECIATE IT ” — Franklin P. Jones 🙂
3) RE Clarity App
Out of town clients? Use the REclarity App to send specific, personalized zoom and point video messages that communicate as if you were there in person. You can showcase key features of a home that is tailored to a particular client’s needs such as providing specific instructions or requests to contractors for repairs, property management or staging, follow up with clients and answer questions, share visual status on repair work or construction or report/describe property damage or areas in need of attention. Click HERE for a video demo. We think this will definitely make you look like a ROCK STAR to your clients!
4) Google Alerts
Did you know you can get an email as soon as something hits the internet? Want to stay on top of anything that is on the web about you? Or maybe a client? Maybe you want instant updates about a product you like or to keep up with news stories… By creating a Google Alert, you can get email notifications any time Google finds new results on a topic that interests you. No need to keep hitting refresh… CLICK HERE to get started.
5) GBoard for iPhone
Last but not least, we all got really excited about this one. It’s a keyboard add on for your iPhone (we hear it’s coming to Android sooner rather than later so stay tuned!) Basically its main functionality is to eliminate the frustrating back and forth we all go through when bouncing between apps; no more Google searching, copying the link, jumping back into messages, and then pasting the results. Watch this quick little video… We’re pretty sure you’ll be racing to download it like we did!
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.
School will soon be out for summer, but Independence Title’s classes are still in session! We are continuing to grow our education resources and have added two new members to our team, Sandy Lambright and Kaema Roberson, who bring a wealth of experience to support our clients and staff.
Sandy Lambright has over 16 years of experience in the residential real estate industry along with a degree in information technology. She has used this expertise assisting some of Austin’s top agents in leveraging real estate technology platforms to grow their business, and more recently traveling the world selling luxury homes. Originally from East Texas, she’s an experienced blogger with a mastery of social media, and will help keep our team at Independence Title and our clients on the cutting edge.
Kaema Roberson is an experienced real estate broker from Lubbock, where she led a successful team of Realtors for 10 years. She moved to Austin in 2010 and started on the ground floor in the title business, earning a promotion to escrow officer. Her background as a closer is invaluable to our education team, and enables her to train our staff and educate our clients on the nuts and bolts of how transactions come together.
Both Sandy and Kaema are dedicated instructors who enjoy helping people have “lightbulb moments.” Independence Title’s Vice President of Education, Marjorie Tinnell, says they are a good match of skills and personality for our vibrant team.
“Our goal at Independence has always been to bring the best resources possible to our clients, and our very best resource is our people. We are thrilled to have Sandy and Kaema join our team, and use their experience to help our clients find meaningful business solutions,” said Tinnell.
For more information on Independence Title’s education team and classes, visit our Education Page. If you’re interested in finding more customized learning opportunities, talk to your Independence Title Business Development Representative.
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!