General


I recently came across a post in the Lab Coat Agents Facebook group where an agent was decrying the fact that their buyer would allow a deal to die over $5,000. Someone else responded that it’s the seller’s fault that the deal died and that the buyer is fine because “there are plenty of home out there.” See here:

plenty-of-homes

This is an example of broken thinking. There are NOT plenty of homes out there. Not in late 2015 headed into 2016. It’s a seller’s market and it’s a “seller’s market” because there is low inventory. FEWER choices for buyers to pick from when shopping for a house.

Now it could be the case that the agent that said there are plenty of homes out there lives in a unique market where there really ARE plenty of homes. That is, their particular area is a pocket of difference from the national market as a whole where there is a greater than 6 month supply of homes on the market thus creating a buyer’s market in their local area. That could be true. What is more likely though is that they simply say that as a coping mechanism. That is, when working with a buyer they have deals fall apart over $5,000 and they tell themselves that it’s the seller’s loss and not their buyer’s loss because “there are plenty of homes out there” for their buyer to choose from. This thinking allows them to fight disappointment and continue on in their quest to get their buyer matched to a house so that they can get paid and not have all their previous work with that particular buyer turn to ruin and end in no commission check in the end. We all do that kind of thing in our own way. Nothing wrong with that. We all have our mental mantras we use to deal with adversity.

It’s important to point out, though, that in this case the thinking is broken.

In a seller’s market, deals dying really is more of a buyer’s problem than a seller’s problem. A home has a market value and that value rises over time in a seller’s market with low inventory. If one buyer dies on the vine at a particular offer price, it’s only a matter of time before another buyer will come along and buy. And maybe at a HIGHER price. Since time passed and time passing = higher price (generally) in a seller’s market.

This same level of benefit doesn’t transfer to the buyer’s side of the equation. Buyer’s don’t write offers on the “second best” house for them. Ever. They write on the house that they believe is the BEST. If the deal dies over $5,000 then whatever they choose next has a HIGH chance of NOT being the best house for them over the course of time that they live there.

What I mean is that the “second best house” that they end up getting because they killed a deal over $5,000 on the “first best house” – well that second-string house may be lacking things that would have been of value to those buyers over the period of decades they end up living there. You can’t put a dollar value in intrinsic things found in a home but it’s VERY possible that a buyer who kills a deal over $5,000 will end up in the “wrong” house for them. The result? They’ll lose $5,000 of Intrinsic VALUE every single year that they live in the “2nd Best House”. Simply because the 2nd Best House lacked something that “The Best House” had.

The point is that in a sellers’ market the BUYER has more to lose in the long run than the seller does. While it’s ALSO true that a buyer might actually find a BETTER house after killing the deal on the first house over the $5,000 disagreement…when there is an inventory shortage the possibility of that happy happening coming about is significantly DECREASED and the chances that they will match up to a house that will shortchange them for years to come is significantly INCREASED. This is a simple function of there being fewer choices available in a low inventory “seller’s market” while, on the flip side, someone shopping for a home in a buyer’s market – when there are many choices available – has a greater chance of finding a “better” house on the second go around. Though there’s never a guarantee of that…even in a buyer’s market.

Anyway, my point is that saying things like “there are plenty of houses” when there really isn’t is a thought pattern that can strengthen agent resolve in an adverse negotiation scenario…but it doesn’t help the buyer in the long run. Especially in a seller’s market.

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Agents will often ask questions about how to use video effectively. Should they do a video blog? Should they use a video email service like Bombbomb? Should they do a combination of all the above? I’ve decided to do up an “Epic Post” to address this once and for all to which I can direct people to in the future when these questions inevitably arise. I’ll give the step-by-step below…but first, let me give you a WARNING.

Be Brutally Honest With Yourself

Agents are addicted to seeking out what I call “The Real Estate Holy Grail”. This is something (and can really be anything) that they believe will solve all their lead generation and follow up problems and deliver listing appointments to them on a silver platter. Vendors who have stuff to sell real estate agents like to push this button and position “their thing” as the magic widget that will accomplish this.

Video is one of these things.

So let’s get it out there right up front. If you do not pick up the phone and call people two to three hours per day and are in any way/shape/form thinking that doing up a video blog is somehow going to deliver you ready-to-list leads….stop right now. It doesn’t matter how high quality your intro or outro are. It doesn’t matter if you’ve got a great “call to action” and you remember to “ask people to share your content”. In fact, all the stuff that video bloggers tell you to do in order to make money with a video blog can pretty much go right out the window because video bloggers are in the business of selling stuff online. To anyone who will but their whatever-it-is online. Including their course which shows how they make money with a video blog boosted with Facebook.

It is HIGHLY likely that you’re here because you want to avoid using the phones and you are hoping that video will give you what you want (listing appointments, signed listing contracts, and commission checks) all by itself. It will NOT do that for you. And anyone who starts telling you that they’ve done it better provide proof because if you slit your wrists doing a video blog and close 12 deals per year from it…don’t kid yourself…you LOST money. You would have closed 30 or 40 deals if you’d used the time you burned on the video blog to simply pick up the phone and call people.

The money you DO make can be very deceptive because it can create the illusion that “you’re doing good” when really, you’re giving up 66% of the money you SHOULD be making. And to make matters worse, you could blow a year or two on this boondoggle before figuring out the truth.

So have a conversation with yourself. And be brutally honest when you ask whether you’re thinking of doing this as a primary lead generation source. If you are. Stop now.

Now if video should NOT be used by the Realtor as a primary lead generation mechanisim, then what should it be used for? Well let’s talk about that.

The Secret Formula for Success

If you have not listened to Century 21 Broker Neil Schrwartz and his seminal talk about what differentiates “The Difference Between Good Agents, Superstar Agents, and Legendary Agents”…then you really should. You can find it here.

The KEY to success in real estate is given in that teleseminar. I believe him completely and am actively pursuing it myself. It can be summarized as follows:

“Shove a bunch of people into a database and then a) email them weekly, b) snailmail to them monthly, and c) phone call every other month.”

I’m guessing that a call every 90 days would work too.

If those three tasks are the KEY to success in real estate…then it makes sense that you would only do things that fall into that plan. That means you’d spend time getting people onto a mailing list and you’d spend time on the phone following up with them every two or three months. You’d also spend time getting email out to them but the MAJORITY of your time should be spent on the phone finding the dang leads in the first place.

So where does video marketing come into play?

It’s the whole “email weekly” ingredient in Neil’s recipe for real estate success.

You will use video to enhance your the emails you send out on a weekly basis.

Superman Syndrome

I am afflicted with Superman syndrome and I am guessing that you are too. When I started on this journey, I envisioned myself doing a video blog post every day like Gary Vaynerchuk of Wine Library TV fame. I had NO clue how much time it takes to do “acceptable” quality video. Forget epic-n-engaging video. Just “good” stuff.

My original plan was to make 5 video blog posts every week. While shooting each of those videos I would also shoot two “Preview Videos” that would talk about what the video blog post was going to cover in 30 seconds or less. One would be tailored for Twitter and one for Bombbomb. I would then produce the Twitter Preview video FIRST before the I even started editing the main video. Upload the Twitter preview video to Twitter with me saying, in the video, that the main post would be showing up in about an hour. I’d then produce the main video, upload it to YouTube, wait for it to encode, create the main blog post frameword at HousingTheD.com ready to publish as soon as I could grab the embed code from YouTube once the video was done cooking all ready for me to publish in WordPress.

While YouTube is encoding the main video I would work on editing up the preview video for Bombbomb in Adobe Premier. I’d upload the video that video email service and while Bombbomb was encoding it I would create the Bombbomb email “frame” that I would be dropping the video into once it was done encoding. The frame would consist of two paragraphs that would say pretty much the same thing as what I said in the video but it would be in text form so that if people are work and refuse the PLAY the video, they could still be encouraged to click the link at the bottom of the email (which would just so happen to be the header image from the main WordPress blog post at HousingTheD.com) and check out the video blog post.

By this time the main video would be done processing on YouTube and I would embed it in the blog post, hit publish, and then grab the link so that I could point the image in the Bombbomb email to that post specifically. From there I would embed the Bombbomb preview video into the Bombbomb email, send a test version of it to myself to make sure everything is fine, and then email blast it out to all my short-term leads.

What short term leads? You know…FSBOs and Expireds. My sphere and long term leads certainly didn’t need to see me showing up in their email inbox every day if they’re a year out from listing after all.

From there I would post the video to my Facebook “fan page” (or business page or whatever they call it these days) and at the same time I would “share” the PREVIOUS day’s post on that same Facebook fan page to my PERSONAL Facebook page. (Tomorrow I’d share TODAY’S video post from business Facebook page to personal page. That way if someone is following both they don’t see the same thing twice in a row if you post the new content to the biz page and instantly share to the personal page. How tacky is that?)

Finally, I would share the post to Twitter complete with header image so that the Tweet would stand out and I would then be done.

Almost anyway.

Remember, only the SHORT TERM leads would get these daily emails. What about the people that are in the database that are suppose to get the “email weekly”? Well they were not getting these daily emails were they? Nope.

So once per week I would need to shoot a video summarizing all the video blog posts I had covered over the previous 7 days, provide links to them in the email, and send them out to everyone in my database in order to get the “check in the box” on the whole “email weekly” thing from the Neil Schwartz recipe for real estate success. That video would get uploaded to Bombbomb only – but it was more work.

The point is that I thought I was Superman. I had no CLUE how long it took to do even ONE of these cycles and I didn’t even mention the fact that while the main CONTENT for the videos is done for me by Keeping Current Matters…I would still have to write an intro and outro to it so that the video would have a high quality look-n-feel. Just reading the blog post into the camera alone doesn’t cut it. The whole thing EASILY takes 3 hours from start to finish. Easily. Sometimes more.

Did I mention that I thought I was going to put these things out 5 days per week? Or how about the fact that I was going to record PERSONALIZED introduction videos for each and every lead that I got once they gave me their email before I put them on either the daily or weekly email cycle. There’s a whole nother process for that and I was going to do it with EVERYONE.

Yeah. Because I’m Superman.

The Thing You Need to Get

Before I go over the NEW plan for how I’m going to implement video, it’s important to understand that WHATEVER approach you’re going to use…the time investment has to be cut back. SEVERELY. I’m talking about no more than 4 hours per WEEK total. Unless you are paying someone to do everything for you and all you’re doing is getting in front of the camera and waiting for them to hit the record button for you.

Four hours total. Per week. That includes any time writing content to be read in the video camera, converting that same content into formatted text in the blog post itself so people can read it if they don’t want to play the video itself, shooting the video, editing the video, uploading the video, waiting for it to encode, and then then anything else that comes after that. Four hours. No more.

If you don’t make a conscious decision to do that then you’ll start robbing Peter to pay Paul in the form of sacrificing your phone time in order to keep up with your video stuff.  Which we already agreed would lead to you making LESS MONEY even if you have more fun tinkering with your techy toys.

Oh, yes. We’re back to that. You didn’t think I’d let you forget that you are NOT allowed to think of this as a primarily lead gen mechanism did you? If you’re thinking of how YOU could pull this off and SOMEHOW tweek it to get you leads on the front end…well again…stop it. You’d be burning thousands and thousands of dollars. Just like throwing stacks of cash into the fire.

The New Plan

So here’s my new plan and the plan I recommend YOU use if you’re a solo agent and you’re going to work video into your business routine.

Do up some old-school TEXT blog with 5 posts per week. The content should be “Done-For-You” so you’re not wasting time writing it yourself. Of those 5 posts that will show up on your blog each week a maximum of TWO of them will be enhanced “video blog” posts. If you do just ONE in video that will be fine as long as you’re working the phones like you should.

And when I say “video blog” post I’m saying that you will be reading the text blog post content into the camera using a teleprompter. You’ll also have to create into/outro video snippets that you’ll “glue” to the front and back of your video blog posts when editing in order to make them more watchable.

Remember that extensive and seemingly mind-numbing process that I outlined earlier? I suggest you still DO that….but you only do it TWICE per week and you record ALL the video content on a single day and then, when you have a “light day” where listing appointments are concerned, you just load the content into your video editor and make it a video blog post day. If your entire week is stocked full of appointment, then you don’t post ANY video enhanced blog posts that week…you just post regular blog posts for the entire week that you basically copy-n-paste right from Keeping Current Matters to your blog and then shoot just ONE 90-second video at the end of the week that you’ll slam into Bombbomb which says,

‘Hey friends, it’s me Brian with RE/MAX…here’s what we covered THIS week in order to help YOU keep YOUR finger on the pulse of the real estate market…on Monday I showed you why a rise in interest rates will impact both buyers AND sellers and then on Tuesday I…blah blah blah’

Here’s an example of what one of these should look like…but instead of being on YouTube it would be uploaded to Bombbomb and sent in email form.

The general idea is that you’ll be doing things the right way. You won’t be wanting video to be more than what it is. You won’t sacrifice the BIGGER money maker (making phone calls for three hours every day) for the SMALLER money maker (making VIDEO stuff for three hours per day).

You’ll batch record your videos on a single day each week and parse them out as time allows. Your face will show up in front of people each week (in the Bombbomb email) and even if they don’t watch the video in the email itself or click through to check out any of your posts (which I will tell you is pretty rare….people are just too dang busy) they have at least SEEN your face in the email and they identify you as someone who is different, consistent, and likable. After all, no OTHER agent in your area is doing this same thing, are they?

So that’s it. Take it as you see fit but I’m pretty sure that this is the most efficient and effective way for REALTORS to use video consistently if they don’t have a stack of cash to pay someone else to run the whole thing for them.

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If you are in the real estate business, then you inevitably find yourself swimming in what I call “marketing ponds”.  You tune into and follow people who put themselves out there as having a lot to say about all things related to getting new customers.  This includes real-estate specific gurus and coaches such as Mike Ferry and Bob Loeffler of Fearless Agent but might also include more generalized marketing experts such as Dan Kennedy.  Of couse, being that social media has taken over the world, you probably know about people like Gary Vaynerchuck as well.

Gary is one of the most recognizable faces in the get-business-via-social-media universe.  Gary is a part-owner in his family’s wine store in New Jersey but his ticket to internet stardom came from doing a DAILY YouTube video podcast where he reviewed wines and used the exposure to get people to visit his store’s website where they bought wine.  And they bought a LOT of it.  After that, Gary branched off and became one of the leading voices in the social media marketing space and has subsequently written more three books about social media marketing (all of which you should read) as well as creating a consulting company that helps show big brands how to use social media effectively.

Gary V has a lot of great things to share which is why you should follow him on Facebook, but the mini-post he just put up today really seems to take the cake.  At least in my mind.  It reflects something that I’ve been saying for a while now but which it seems (at least to me) most Realtors simply do NOT get.   The screen cap below shows the post from Gary and I’ve edited it to bring out the point that Gary made which I say needs to be at the center of everything that you do – not just in business, but in life. (here’s a link to the original post) and represents what you, as a real estate agent, need to be thinking about from Day #1 in your business.  Read Gary’s words and then jump to the bottom of this post and I’ll explain more about why this is so important…

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Yes this blog has been quiet of late. Primarily because I’m busy and you need to make hay while the sun is shining. It’s also because I need to bring a dedicated admin-type-person on board. Ultimately though, I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing until the “slow season” shows up later this fall with minimal tinkering with what is currently generating business right now.

Here’s what’s going on:

  • New Listings – in the month of July I’ve signed up 3 new listings that were sourced from my previous cold calling efforts.  One of them is priced at $560k – which is a price point personal best for me.  I’ve also signed up my first FSBO.
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  • FSBO System – if you’ve been reading this blog, then you know I’ve been trying to get up and running with FSBOs this year because I want a second lead stream to help fill in the gaps when my cold call leads have a month where they don’t seem to pop.  That’s been more difficult than I wanted it to be but now I finally feel like I’m seeing traction and have a direction to go.  At this point I’m confident that I can sign up and close at least 2 FSBOs per month.  I’m now looking at this revenue stream as the money I’ll use to run my household which will leave all the income from the other deals free to either save or apply to expanding my business.
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  • Nursing Deals – we all do that right?  If the deals under contract don’t get to the closing table, then all if for naught.  Right now I have two pending and am trying to see them both closed in August.
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  • Facebook Ads – I’m going to be working on getting systematic with Facebook advertising for seller leads.  See below.
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  • Sphere-of-Influence Campaign – this is in the idea stage, but I plan put it in play later this year.

So that’s what’s going on in Brian’s world.  I will admit that time has become a very limiting factor now.  FSBO calls take a lot longer to make than cold calls, but they are more effective.  It takes about 90 minutes to speak with 9 or 10 people.  At least right now anyway.  But I am getting about 1 appointment set for ever 10 contacts – which is pretty dang high.  The issue is that if you’re calling for 3 hours, then the FSBO calls take up half that time.  Which leaves 90 minutes for Expired calls (if you’re doing that – which I’m not as of yet), follow up calls, referal-generating sphere of influence calls, and cold calls.

That’s not enough time.  Ultimately I believe that the HIGHEST dollars will be found in sphere of influence prospecting.  If that’s the case then I need to make time for it.  But if half my calling time per day is already spoken for calling FSBOs and I give the other half to prospecting for referals by phone….then where does that leave me with my cold calling?  How am I going to put those leads into the funnel so that they can mature and list with me?  After all, most of the money I’ve made this year has come from cold call leads.  It’s obvious that this approach brings in the business.

Enter Facebook.

I’ve tinkered with a Leads2Listing Free-CMA-Style lead capture site in the past and HAVE gotten leads.  I just never committed to getting it up and running like a well-oiled machine.  These leads are pretty much exactly the same as cold call leads.  Very much further our from listing than a FSBO or Expired with about a 6 to 12 month lead time.  Well, I already have a follow up system in place for those leads, now don’t I?

My experience with cold calling has been that 2 or 3 hours of prospecting will yield up one or two cold leads.  These will then need long term follow up in order to convert them to customers and ultimately – closed transactions.  If I can get one or two leads per day by spending $10 p/day on Facebook ads and then I achieve the same result and free up phone minutes for other, more effective prospecting activities.
 

Bottom Line

 
So the plan is to continue to work the FSBOs because they are pretty much a sure thing for me at this point.  Even if I have to take a discount on commission, I don’t care.  I need my wife to know that money to pay the bills will be showing up each and every month from now to forever (she’s not working anymore) and if I’m closing a minimum of two FSBO deals per month then that side of things will be covered.  Cold leads don’t seem to be commission focused at all and asking for the full 7% hasn’t gotten hardly any pushback. They seem more interested in knowing that you have a plan that makes sense to get them over the finish line and that your plan looks like it really WILL get them the highest price. So the higher-dollar paychecks will be sourced from cold leads and (ultimately) referral leads.

Between now and October 31st I’ll get my Facebook ad seller lead generation system up and running in an effort to free up phone minutes while still stuffing cold leads into my follow up pipeline.  Finally, once things slow down after Halloween, I’ll work on launching a referral generating machine.  My hope is that by the time 2016 closes out I’ll be so overwhelmed with referral business that I can simply stop making FSBO calls completely.  At that point the only thing I’ll do on the phone will be making the referral-mining calls, initial calls to cold leads coming in from leads, and tons and tons of follow up calls to previous leads.

Of course in the military we say that everyone has a battle plan – until they meet the enemy.  Then it all goes out the window.  So we’ll see how closely I can stick to this plan.  It seems to make sense, but you never know what you don’t know…so I’ll keep you updated from time to time as I go along.

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I swim in a lot of pools that center around success and success principles. I read success literature. I belong to the Yes! Network – a group which brings in two success-focused speakers every other month for you to listen to and glean ideas from. I listen to business success focused podcasts such as those produced by Grant Cardone. Being a Realtor, I believe that it’s essential to belong to real estate specific success groups which is why I pay for the monthly Fearless Agent Roadmap Group Coaching and why I participate in the Fearless Agent Facebook Group.
 

Healthy Success

 
One thing that seems to only come up every now and then though is the relationship between health and success. It seems that

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