13 Tips For Selling Your Home In Winter

As the colder weather fast approaches, selling a home may be a chilling thought for some.  On the other hand, there are plenty of opportunities to make your home stand out during the winter months.  Take a look at this article that gives 13 tips for selling your home in the winter.

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[Originally published on Bankrate.com on May 15, 2012: Click Here]

13 Tips For Selling Your Home In Winter

Sure, there are fewer buyers and the skies are gloomy. So warm and brighten up the place; make it look like a refuge from the weather.

By Bankrate.com

What makes selling a home more stressful? Selling it in the middle of winter.

The lawn is brown, the weather is usually bad and, unlike the longer days of summer, you have less time to show it off during daylight hours.

But not everyone has the luxury of waiting until the traditional spring or summer home-buying season to plant that “for sale” sign. And while it’s true that in most areas you’ll probably have fewer buyers during the winter, you will have less competition from other sellers.

The season makes staging — the concept of showing your house at its best — even more important.

Be prepared to put a little effort into it. “It’s more difficult to make something look really appealing this time of year,” says Ron Phipps, broker with Phipps Realty in Warwick, R.I.

If you do it right, you can really make your house stand out.

1. Keep snow and ice at bay.
The top tip from agents: If the buyer can’t get in easily, the house won’t sell. That means keeping walkways and driveways free of the frozen stuff. Just like trimming the lawn in the summer, you want to make the home look like it’s been maintained. If you’re away frequently or live in an area that’s subject to bad weather, it can pay to hire a service to regularly salt or shovel the driveway and sidewalks.

2. Warm it up.
If you’re showing during the winter, think “warm, cozy and homey,” says Ken Libby, owner of Stowe Realty in Stowe, Vt., and a regional vice president of the National Association of Realtors.

Before a buyer comes through, adjust the thermostat to a warmer temperature to make it welcoming. “Sellers like to turn the temperature down because of heat costs,” says David Ledebuhr, president and owner of Musselman Realty in East Lansing, Mich., and a regional vice president of the National Association of Realtors. “But buyers who come in and aren’t comfortable won’t stay long.”

If you have a gas fireplace, turning it on right before the tour can give the house a little ambience, Libby says.

With a wood-burning fireplace, you’ve got to be a little more careful. If the house is vacant, don’t chance it. But if you’re still living there and will be there during the tour, it can be a nice touch.

Many times, sellers leave right before the agent and prospective buyers arrive. In that case, adjust the heat to a comfortable temperature and have the hearth set for a fire. Buyers feel the warmth and see the potential, and you don’t have to worry about safety concerns.

3. Take advantage of natural light.
“Encourage showing during the high-daylight hours,” Ledebuhr says. At this time of year, “if you show after work, you’re totally in the dark.”

Make the most of the light you do have. Have the curtains and blinds cleaned and open them as wide as possible during daytime showings. Clean all the lamps and built-in fixtures, and replace the bulbs with the highest wattage that they will safely accommodate. Before you show the house, turn on all the lights.

4. Get the windows washed.
“Buyers act on the first impression,” Ledebuhr says. Windows are one thing that many sellers don’t even consider. In winter, that strong southern light can reveal grime and make it look like the home hasn’t been well-maintained.

5. Play music softly in the background.
To create a little atmosphere, tune the radio to the local classical station. Turn it down so that you barely hear it in the background. “It’s soothing,” says Libby, who finds that soft classical music tends to have the most appeal to buyers. “I think people tend to stay around a little longer and look a little longer.”

6. Make it comfortable and cozy.
Set the scene and help the buyers see themselves living happily in this house. Consider things such as putting a warm throw on the sofa or folding back the thick comforter on the bed. Tap into “the simple things this time of year that make you feel like you’re home,” Phipps says.

7. Emphasize winter positives.
Is your home on a bus route or some other vital service that means it’s plowed or de-iced regularly in bad weather? Be sure to mention that to the buyers.

8. Set up timers.
You want your home to look warm and welcoming whenever prospective buyers drive past. But you’re not home all the time, so put indoor and outdoor lights on timers, Phipps says.

Look at the outside lighting around the door. Is there enough illumination to make it inviting? If not, either get the fixtures changed or have new ones added.

9. Make it festive.
Even if you’re not actually going to be present, greet your buyers as if they were going to be guests at a party, Phipps says. Set up the dinner table with the good china and silver. Have a plate of cookies for your guests, some warm cider or even chilled bottles of water.

“First impressions are so powerful,” Phipps says. “If it looks like you’re expecting me and greeting me as company, that’s a powerful impact.”

10. Give the home a nice aroma.
The No. 1 favorite? “Chocolate-chip cookies,” Libby says. “Just about everybody likes that smell.”

Other popular scents: cinnamon rolls, freshly baked bread, apple pie, apple cider or anything with vanilla, cinnamon or yeast.

“But don’t overdo it, either,” Ledebuhr says. Scented candles in every room or those plug-in air fresheners can leave buyers wondering what you’re trying to mask.

Watch the bad smells, too. Pet smells, smoke and musty odors can cling to curtains and carpets. Ask your real-estate agent or a friend to give it a sniff test. Then clean the house, air it out and replace drapes, carpets or rugs before you show it.

11. Protect your investment.
Some sellers (or their agents) will ask buyers to either remove shoes or slip on paper “booties” over their footwear before touring the house. Many buyers like that, Phipps says. It indicates a “pride of ownership and meticulousness that resonates with buyers,” he says.

12. Use the season to your advantage.
While the holidays are over (and the Christmas and Hanukkah stuff should come down), you can still use winter wreaths and dried arrangements around the door to spark interest. “Anything seasonally appropriate is fun,” Phipps says.

In the winter, with the leaves off the trees, you might also have a nice view that isn’t as apparent in the spring and summer months. It’s a great time to sell waterfront properties, Phipps says. “You can see the views better this time of year.”

13. Consider the area.
In some parts of the country, such as ski areas or warmer regions where the snowbirds flock, winter weather can actually be a selling point. “We’re right in the middle of our selling season,” says Libby, who is located in Vermont. “It’s not always spring and summer.”

By Dana Dratch, Bankrate.com

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Competition Intensifies as Realtors Compete for Listings

There is no doubt that our real estate industry has received an extraordinary number of attacks in the last decade – from the constant pressures to publicize the MLS from the Competition Bureau, to the increasing role of online listing websites such as ForSaleByOwner.ca, pushing customers to negotiate for lower commissions.  Yet again, we have a new wave of websites that are now putting real estate agents in the driver’s seat.

Bidcomhomes.com,  is a website where realtors bid on commissions to homeowners looking to save some money.  Sellers post their homes online for free, and realtors compete against each other to get the listing. Realtors pay $99.95 to bid on 30 homes, and sellers receive emails from realtors and can respond or not.  Several similar websites have begun to pop up since the Canadian Competition Bureau began to probe realtors’ monopoly on MLS information.

To read more on this story, click here.  [Originally published in The Vancouver Sun on July 30, 2012]

Grow your Real Estate Business Using Social Media

If you are still not convinced you should be using social media marketing for your real estate business, think again.  Take a look at this article I found posted on Social Media Today:

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[Originally published on Social Media Today on May 15, 2012: Click Here]

Grow your Real Estate business using Social Media

I help businesses (of various industries) with their social media marketing initiatives, but in the last year I’ve focused a lot of my attention to the real estate industry. Social media is EXACTLY what real estate agents need (now more than ever) to build relationships with potential home buyers.

With member bases equivalent to the population sizes of entire countries, social media networks represent enormous opportunity potential for businesses. This is particularly true for businesses that rely on generating new leads, such as real estate marketing. It would seem, in fact, that social media and real estate marketing are a perfect fit for each other.

Social media is particularly effective in generating traffic; real estate selling is the type of business that benefits from continuous streams of new prospects. It is only logical that these two areas find each other and combine to form a dynamic partnership that promises to rock any real estate business venture. But even while there is a natural affinity between social media marketing and real estate selling, the desired positive effect is far from automatic.

Social media simply makes it easier to reach out to more people but it does not guarantee that these people will buy from you. You still need to work on setting up your social media framework, then work it until you get the results you want. Just like learning how to punch will not guarantee that you will win every fight you get into, knowing how to wield social media requires a period of hands-on engagement that gives you an idea of how this tool can help you succeed given the unique situation and problems your business faces.

Here are some things to keep in mind when launching into social media marketing for selling real estate:

  1. Define your market niche. This holds true whether or not you are considering social media marketing. It also holds true regardless of the nature of your business. Social media is all about engaging your audiences, and different audiences respond to different things. It makes it easier for you to use your social networks effectively if you can zero in on specific audience needs and wants, rather than attempt to please everyone. Will you be selling foreclosed or bank-owned property? Will you be targeting first-time buyers? Will you focus on condos and townhomes? Your answers will give you the precise segment you want to focus on.
  2. Find your “sweet spot” and create an offer your target markets cannot refuse. If you have played tennis you will be familiar with the concept of the “sweet spot.” It is that part on the racket that just feels absolutely right when you hit the ball, and your shot gets placed perfectly no matter what. You need to find the sweet spot for your target audiences; that is why segmenting them was absolutely necessary. What are the common concerns of this set of people? What do they appreciate, and what do they dislike? When you have found the relevant answers, you will need to craft your offer and the corresponding marketing messages around this “sweet spot.” Like that tennis shot that hits just right, you can’t miss! Create a free report, weekly property lists, video tours and other useful marketing tools around this sweet spot.
  3. Drive traffic to your web pages. This is where social media marketing becomes directly useful. Tell your friends about your Website, or about your business. Then ask them to tell their friends about it. The reach of your social network can be incredibly enormous. Use your social media connections as channels through which to distribute your marketing materials.
  4. Be helpful and be valuable. Having large social networks is only half the story, though. Connections are useful, but to really derive the benefits out of these connections you will need to convert them into relationships. And to do that you will need to cultivate trust and offer something of value to your prospects. You must earn their trust by giving away useful information that could help them with their own needs. Only after you have earned their trust will you be able to sell anything to them.
  5. Build your email database. If this is the only thing you ever succeed in doing out of all these initiatives, then you may give yourself a pat on the back. Your marketing database will be the core of your business, regardless of how you fare with your social media, SEO and other marketing efforts. It is what you can build the rest of your marketing strategy on.

Social media has made it easier than ever to connect with the right audience. It gives real estate agents a way to engage people within their specific area and allows them to keep them informed of property changes and other information.

Real Estate Lead Generation 101

Although it may be summer and it may seem as though all of your colleagues are on vacation, there could not be a better time to reassess what you are doing for your real estate business.  Whether you are finishing up on an existing deal, between clients, or you are taking a mini-hiatus with no compelling leads on the horizon, there is always something you can do to generate quality real estate leads.  A good supply of real estate leads is vital to helping you stay busy throughout the year.

To help you get inspired, I found a great article named, Real Estate Leads: 53 Ideas on How to Generate and Find Them, with plenty of ideas bound to do the trick.

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[Originally published on Upstart Agent: Click Here]

Real Estate Leads: 53 Ideas on How to Generate and Find Them

Written by Kathleen

Every agent needs one thing to be successful: real estate leads. Real estate leads are basically anyone who has the potential to become a customer or client in your real estate business. Having a solid supply of regular business leads can help you stay busy all throughout the year.

It’s vital of course to remember that real estate leads are people, and that most people do not like to be treated as “leads”. It takes a small bit of tact, self control, and excellent people skills to talk to someone without them feeling like you are a typically starving sleazy real estate agent. It is up to you what you do with my list of 53 ways to generate real estate leads and how you handle and convert the leads that come to you as a direct result. As the saying goes: “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.”

Some of these ways to get real estate leads are free, some of these ways will cost only time, others may cost a small amount in advertising or marketing costs. Sure, you can buy real estate leads too – but why do that when you can get your own better qualified leads on your own?

Ready? Here’s 53 Thoughts on Finding Real Estate Leads:

1. Pass Out Business Cards: Sure, you know you’re supposed to pass out business cards. But who are you passing them out to? Are you passing them to everybody you meet? Do your friends and family have ample supply of cards for them to hand to others? Yesterday a complete weirder came unexpectedly and visited my house to tell me I should read the Bible. I welcomed her visit with open arms and made sure she didn’t leave without a few business cards.

2. PPC Campaigns: What is PPC? Basically PPC stand for pay-per-click advertising. Google Adwords is probably the most well known version, though other sites such as Yahoo and MSN also offer it. Pay Per Click campaigns, when targeted properly for your area and desired keywords can help you get real estate leads pretty quickly. This is really what a lot of people who sell leads use to get leads! Cutting out the middleman can help you do it yourself. Just be sure that the page of your site they come to when they click on is going to make them want to call or email you.

3. Speaking of Websites: You do have a real estate website, right? Complete with a regularly updated real estate blog? The successful real estate agents I know have nice websites, nice blogs, and rank #1 in Google, Yahoo, and other search engines.

4. Email Marketing: Email is one of the simplest, non-confrontational, and least expensive ways to generate real estate leads. People might not like giving you their phone number, but most will be okay with giving you an email address. Check out our list of creative real estate email marketing thoughts to get started.

5. Post in Craigslist: The first time I ran a Craigslist ad, I couldn’t believe that I really received a single email out of it, let alone several potential real estate leads. You can submit your latest real estate listings, offer a free real estate report, or entice people to call you for some other reason. Our list of Craigslist Ad Creators can help you make your Craigslist ad outshine the rest.

6. Attend Networking Meetings: Are you regularly networking with other professionals in your area? It doesn’t matter who, what, why, or when – but networking can greatly increase your referrals and real estate leads. Start up a breakfast club, find some people on sites like Meetup.com, and naturally don’t forget about your chamber of commerce.

7. Host a Seminar or Class: Everybody likes free information, and many people delight in going to seminars or classes to learn something new, especially since it takes away some of the pressure when you are with a group of people. It doesn’t matter what you teach – how to sell your house, how to buy your house, how to do xyz home improvement project with a contractor you met at a networking meeting, etc. These people will remember you and if you effectively follow up with them, they will all be brilliant sources for real estate leads.

8. Tell Everybody What You Do: You’ll be amazed how simple it can be to get leads just by telling complete strangers what you do and that you work in real estate. Mentioning it in casual conversation and you’ll likely be questioned questions which gives you a excellent opportunity to hand out business cards and/or get their contact information.

9. Advertise on Your Car: Your car can be a fantastic source of real estate leads and referrals. You can often order magnetic or vinyl signs inexpensively. This builds recognition, and you may even find yourself talking to people about real estate in your driveway or a parking lot more than you’d reckon!

10. Exhibit Yourself: Just about every community and area has some sort of trade show during the year. Sometimes they are community events, other times they are for businesses, currently in our area is a Home and Garden show. You may have to pay for a booth, but if you set up your booth professionally and come equipped with an enticing raffle (where they submit name, address, phone, and email) you will likely gain many real estate leads this way.

11. Network With Other Real Estate Agents in Different Areas: When you make real estate agent friends all over the country, you increase your chances of receiving relocation referrals from them. If you live in a small town or obscure place, this may or may not payoff, but if you live in an area that is constantly attracting relocation business, this can be very beneficial. It also helps to have real estate friends all over the country so you can send referrals their way – and know that your clients will be treated well and have confidence in the sale closing.

12. Write for Local Papers and Magazines: Many local newspapers, magazines, and newsletters simply don’t have the time to write a lot of articles or have the money to pay someone to write an article. A simple letter to the editor with a few sample writing articles and a proposal to write regularly for them in exchange for a small byline or advertisement can pay off immensely. You’d be surprised how many of those local papers will welcome you with open arms and how many have high circulation numbers.

13. Network Online: You’ve probably heard of Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Twitter, and others. There’s hundreds of online social networks. Go on, make a profile and find your friends on there. Don’t be shy. See Using Social Networking Sites to Meet Clients for some tips.

14. Letter of Recommendation Exchange: If you have a long past client list, and a business colleague of yours has a long past client list, why not do a letter of recommendation exchange? Basically, you send your list of past clients a letter that says “If you need xyz service, I’d like to recommend Jane Smith” – and that person writes a similiar letter to their clients recommending you. Email works too

15. Join Associations: The more associations you join, the more directories you will be in, and the more people you will meet. See what associations in your area you can join that not only add to your credibility, but also your contact database.

16. Target Soon to Be Expireds Neighborhoods: Soon to Be Expireds are people who are in the multi-list and are approaching their contract date, and have yet to sell their house. Chances are they are less than satisfied with their agent. So target any neighborhood with a listing over 4 months ancient, since many agents despite horrible DOM statistics are still accepting 90-120 day listing contracts. Obviously, you should not directly solicit someone else’s listings, since you would not want them to do the same to you and in some cases could get you in huge distress with your local board. So be creative, and send out some catchy postcards to the entire neighborhood. You ARE allowed to send to geographic areas

17. Speaking of Direct Mail: Direct Mail is a way of getting leads if done properly. The key to successful direct mail is to 1. Send Stuff People Will Open and Use and 2. Be Consistent.

18. Become a Regular Somewhere: Delight in drinking coffee? Go out to lunch often? Becoming a regular at your local coffee shop or diner can result in many possible real estate leads, since people will get to know you and be pleased to refer others to you as well.

19. Newspaper Announcements: Your newspaper can be a goldmine for real estate leads. Birth announcements, obituaries, engagement announcements, marriage licenses, and even foreclosure notices are all published regularly in your paper.

20. Speaking of Newlyweds…: Are you networking with wedding planners? Advertising on well loved wedding sites like TheKnot and others? Often times when people are getting married getting a new house together is on their to-do list.

21. Be a Guest Speaker: Chances are there are plenty of avenues in your area where you can volunteer to be a guest speaker. Career day at schools and colleges, motivational seminars, and others can all be a chance to give you a wide variety of audiences.

22. HR Departments: Is one of your local companies expanding? Do they use a large amount of people in your area? Introducing yourself and staying in contact with HR departments can help send real estate leads your way. You may even be able to work out some sort of benefits plot they can offer their employees if they work for you in the form of rebates, discounts, or other special offers.

23. Get Involved With News Channels, Radio, and Other Local Influential Media: Getting involved with your news channels might seem pretty daunting at first, but it’s not impossible. It’s all about your approach and what need they may have you can fulfill. Would they like a local real estate expert to talk for 5 minutes during their finance section? Someone to talk about real estate for free for an hour on their morning radio show? It’s a long shot if you don’t have any connections already with the local media, but it’s not an impossible thought either.

24. Offer Something for Free to Be Reviewed: Companies do this all the time, and there’s no reason why a real estate agent can’t either. Find local bloggers or writers, and question them if they would be willing to write a review in exchange for a free comparative market analysis, free ebook you wrote for home sellers, or other product/service you can provide.

25. Don’t forget the FSBO: It’s hard to believe I’m already on thought #25 and I am just now listing the FSBO. Working with FSBO’s is not simple, but it can pay off over time with a small persistence and the right strategy. Converting FSBO’s is a whole other post, so be sure you subscribe by email to make sure you don’t miss it!

26. Network With Local Bloggers: Visit my recent post on Networking With Local Bloggers to see how you can increase your website traffic and build more contacts and relationships online.

27. Get Your Overalls on and Go Back to the Farm: Okay, so farming in real estate is not the same as farming, say, corn and potatoes. (Though I have had many people who randomly visit this blog leave comments and not realize this!). Farming is the way Gary Keller started out, it’s the way many new agents are gaining success, and it’s highly under utilized. Read our complete series on Real Estate Farming.

28. Post on Local Forums: This can achieve two things: introducing you to new people and link building all at once! Don’t try to sell anyone anything, this will likely get you a terrible reputation pretty quickly. But if you simply provide helpful information regularly, people will click on your link and see your site. Too busy for this? You can really hire people to post in forums for you! Really!

29. Open Houses: I know, I know…open houses are a waste of time. Open houses don’t bring serious buyers. Go on and list your excuses. But if someone wasn’t seeing any benefit from open houses, guess what? Nobody would have them at all anymore. The 200+ open houses advertised in today’s Sunday paper tells me that you can get leads from an open house. Here’s how to get more traffic at your open houses.

30. Sundays are Excellent for Church, too: I’m not one to tell anyone they should be any specific religion or that they should go or not go to church. BUT…going to church can have an added benefit. For starters, many churches now sell advertising in their bulletins rather inexpensively, especially when you consider that anywhere from 1000-10,000 people may read it. People also tend to trust people they go to the same church with. Churches also have tons of activities you can go to – pancake breakfasts, kids parties, you name it. Don’t go to church just for the leads though – you should go mainly because it gives you some sort of spiritual fulfillment.

31. Pick up The Phone: Call up everybody you know, and maybe even a few people you don’t know if you can successfully get past the Do Not Call List. Our tips on cold calling should help you make some warm calls to past clients or associates. Have a text messaging group of contacts? You can send those, too.

32. Start Your Own Newsletter: Earlier I suggested contributing to local newsletters and magazines. If you have the time, the budget, and either the people to hire to do the work for you or the experience to make it successful yourself, starting your own newsletter for a large neighborhood or area can be a lucrative way to not only gain more business and referrals, but possibly even make a side income from advertising revenue. For example, you could partner with other businesses and have them pay for advertising or contribute towards printing costs. This one takes a lot of effort, and probably some research, but it could work out well.

33. Start a Neighborhood Blog: This one’s a lot less expensive and simpler than the last thought I suggested, and likely no less effective. There is not one single neighborhood blog in the area where I live. This is pretty ironic, when you consider how many different neighborhoods and areas there are. I’m sure the 40,000+ people in my township would appreciate an simple to access site with the latest news and events posted. Invest in a high quality blog design, send out mail to say the entire neighborhood of their new blog, and welcome others to post and comment. Make sure it also links to your site

34. Floor Time: I know, I hear you already: “Floor time is a waste of time.” Really, I don’t really know that floor time is a waste of time, I sold a $725,000 house to someone who called in during floor time. Sure, you might have afternoons where the phones just don’t ring, but you can always use that time to work on your real estate blogging while waiting for the phone. This is another one I’ll be covering in a future post, are you subscribed by email yet? Floor time is “opportunity time”.

35. Glide-er Away: Real estate flyers are nothing new. But I am willing to bet that even if you do make and use real estate flyers for all of your listings, you’ve never gotten a single lead from one. Why is that? Because chances are the only thing you do with a flyer is sit it in a sad lonely folder on the kitchen counter of a vacant house. If you don’t distribute those flyers, how do you expect them to generate any real estate leads for you or have any real purpose? Don’t leave your flyers locked up in a vacant house. Get them out somewhere they can be seen and read and make interest in potential buyers and sellers!

36. Knock-Knock: Door knocking, my friends, kind of sucks. But you know what? If you do it regularly (at least once a month), bring something of value (something a small better than a flyer), and consistently (same neighborhood, same time) and supplement it with mailers or other similar marketing plans, guess what? IT WORKS! The worst that will happen if you door knock is that nobody will answer the door. The second worst thing is you will get somebody like me who tries to promote their business to you instead as I mentioned in thought #1.

37. Don’t Leave Home Without Identification: You have a real estate pin, right? I bet you also have a jacket, or a sweatshirt, or a hat, or a bag, and probably tons of other stuff with your real estate logo. Wear it and use it. Go to the pool a lot? How about a beach towel with your company logo? I’ve heard all kinds of success tales about wearing their pins. Dress like you’re going to work everywhere you go – you never know who you’ll run into at the grocery store or other places and what conversations may ensue.

38. Do Something Press Release Worthy: Our newspaper has a section dedicated to real estate agents and happenings in the news. If you do something that is press worthy, you too can gain newspaper recognition and have your company send out press releases.

39. Run a Promotion: People respond well to freebies, special offers, and coupons. Many real estate agents don’t know what to promote or offer as a freebie, but there are plenty of things such as gift cards, commission coupons, free books, etc. Check with your broker to make sure you can do something like that, and go wild with it.

40. Visit the Library & Bookstores: This one could maybe get you in distress, but it’s a possibility. Place your business card in the first chapter of real estate related books. Alternatively, maybe you could set something up with the library or local bookstore owners where you can advertise in that section. People read books because they need help – being available can help.

41. The Retiring/Ex-Agent’s Files: You’ll have to be on the excellent side of the retiring agent and the office manager, but with the market being the way it is right now many agents are also quitting real estate. Jump in and volunteer to take over their client maintenance.

42. Enlist Family and Friends to Spread the Word: Imagine if you had just one relative tell 5 people about you, how many people you could have knowing about you and your services. Your friends and family should be pleased to help you. If not, well, you can at least make new friends!

43. Be Positive: I am so sick of hearing people say how horrible the market is, how nobody is doing anything, negative excuse after negative excuse. That is mostly my inspiration for writing this whole article on how to get more real estate leads. Repeat this phrase to yourself until you are ready to be sick: If I act enthusiastic then I’ll BE enthusiastic! People are not doing anything real estate wise because all they hear is negative this and negative that. Focus on the positives – now is a fantastic time for many people to buy.

44. Write Articles and Submit Them to Directories: Writing articles online takes a lot of time and effort but again it achieves two things: quality inbound links, and it defines you as an expert.

45. Hospital Marketing: I know one real estate salesperson who routinely sat in the cafeteria of a hospital for lunch while taking his elderly parents to doctors appointments and such. He often sat and talked with doctors and nurses. The doctors and nurses loved a non-medical conversation, and he built up a nice relationship with them that caused many of them to use him and to refer him to newly relocated employees as well. I don’t know if it will work for everybody, but if it works for one person, it can work for you too.

46. Real Estate Developers and Builders: There are many real estate developers and builders out there for you to network with. Working on a new construction site for many agents may be all the business they need for an entire year or two. See our article on getting started in new construction for some thoughts on breaking into this area of real estate if you haven’t already.

47. Real Estate Niche Marketing: In every area, there is a need for a specialist in real estate. Many agents do well specializing in horse farms, others condos, some for seniors looking to live in retirement communities. If you are knowledgeable about a certain niche in real estate, capitalize on it and find ways to reach your unique target market.

48. Spend Some Time Looking at Tax Records: It’s quite possible that there are property owners near you that are behind on their taxes, and many areas have this information freely available online. A simple friendly, warm letter offering to help may be just what both of you need.

49. Apartment/Renter Marketing: Many people are apartment renting, and these people can all be brilliant sources for specializing as a leasing agent or working with them towards purchasing their very own home. Find out some creative ways to get involved in a local apartment building near you, and you could have an entire year’s worth of real estate leads and clients. Don’t dismiss advertising in apartment rental books or on well loved apartment search websites in your area also.

50. Go Get Some Exercise: It’s vital to be healthy and get enough exercise. But you’ll find you can also meet a lot of people if you join a local health club, go to the neighborhood swimming pool at least twice a week, or even find others to walk or exercise with. You’ll feel excellent about exercising, and you’ll also find some new real estate clients to work with as well!

51. Sponsor a Sports Team: Small league baseball and youth softball will be starting up soon, and there’s also many other sports teams such as football, basketball, and soccer in need of a sponsor. Beyond just having your name on the team’s t-shirts, you can do many other things to really connect with the parents and coaches, such as treating the team to ice cream after a game. Don’t forget to go to games as well.

52. Make a Coloring Book: It’s right, I’m a sucker for coloring. I’ve loved it since I was a small kid, and now I’m just thankful I have my own kids to use as an excuse to color with them. You can make your own coloring book by hiring a print shop to design one for you, or buy royalty free coloring book images. Excellent coloring book topics are “We’re Moving!” – a tale about Sally and Jimmy moving into a new house, and other similar things that makes parents reckon it will benefit their kids. Distribute your coloring book to schools, churches, day care centers, doctors offices, and others. You can also make simple coloring pages with your company logo and contact information on it to entertain anyone who stops in with their children in tow – they’ll be unlikely to throw away their child’s artwork.

53. Day Care Centers: Day care centers are full of children and their working parents. The day care staff often knows a lot of gossip going on between parents, as well as if they are getting any new children or if other children may be moving away.

Obviously, there is no single person out there that I know of who can do all 53 thoughts on this list for generating real estate leads. But hopefully some of these will give you an thought on where to get started on generating more leads for your business. By starting with just 1-2 thoughts in this list, you may find yourself finding enough business to keep yourself busy. If you do these all right, you may even be able to hire a real estate team to manage most of the marketing and real estate lead generation for you.

Buyer Offers $90,000 Over Asking With No Rival Bids

With the recent uprising trend in bidding wars, it is surprising that tougher rules have not been introduced to regulate the bidding process.  A recent surge in cases being called in to the Real Estate Council of Ontario shows that both those who have won and lost bidding wars have fallen victim to unfair processes.

One Toronto agent shared her story of how her clients paid $90,000 over asking price on a house with no rival bids.  Prior to the offer presentation, realtor Josie Stern was told that there were three interested bidders, only to find shortly after that her clients’ bid was the winning bid – no late nights of bids or counter bids.  As it turns out, her clients were the only interested bidders and they had fallen victim to an unfair bidding process.  Although Josie eventually convinced to lower the sales price to just $45,000 over asking price, be forewarned that there may be a potential for loopholes in the bidding process.

The main takeaway is this – always ask the listing agent to provide you with a list of all brokers and sales representatives’ names making offers on a particular property before the offer presentation begins.

[To see full article published on Moneyville.ca on July 4, 2012: Click Here]

The Final Step to Achieve Lead Generation

So you’ve set up all of your social media accounts, including your Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and perhaps your blog.  You’re being proactive, trying to expand your network by connecting to your colleagues and clients.  You’ve been posting trending real estate news stories and attempting to engage your audience.  So what’s next?  

The last and the most important step to achieving marketing success through lead generation is your ‘Call-to-Action’.  After all, after spending hours setting up all of your accounts and attempting to find interesting content, you want to motivate your visitors to act.  A Call to Action may entice a visitor to find out more about a potential free consultation or home evaluation, and get them to click on a button or image so that they can be redirected to what is called a “Landing Page”.  On this Landing Page (which may be a page on your website), they may get more information about the services that you are offering, and for a visitor who is further along in their purchasing or selling decision, they may decide to contact you for more information.  Tada! – you have a lead.

To read more about various lead generation opportunities, you can read the full article titled 17 Silly Missed Lead Generation Opportunities by Pamela Vaughan by clicking here.

How to Use Social Media in Real Estate

One of the two most common questions I get asked are, “How do I use social media to help propel my real estate business?”, and “Does it work?”.  To answer your questions, I’ve found an excellent post written by Tierra Wilson for New Media 4 Agents that outlines the four major ways that you can use social media for your real estate business.

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[Originally published on New Media 4 Agents.com on February 16, 2012: Click Here]

How to Use Social Media in Real Estate

Post Written by Tierra Wilson

At first, social media was just a way to connect with classmates, friends or family. Then it became a way to network with people you have met and keep in touch with them. Now, it has become the marketing life source of our business, a life source that we are required to keep up with.

It’s hard. We know! That’s why we started New Media 4 Agents, to help real estate professionals manage it all. But we didn’t want to just sell our services; we also wanted to be a resource for real estate professionals.  More than any other professional, the real estate professional has it the hardest. You have to find your own business, close the deal, write the contracts, network, maintain clients, abide by serious laws, market yourself, become a neighborhood expert… well, you know. Throw in social media in real estate and it can be really scary, especially when 90% of all home buyers and home sellers start looking for their real estate needs online. Let’s be honest, if you haven’t embraced online marketing, SEO and blogging, you are missing out on a huge piece of the lead generation pie.

Anyway, enough with our soap opera, let’s get down to why you ended up on this post in the first place. How can you use social media in real estate?

1. Use social media to establish a real estate brand

Branding is the most powerful tool in your real estate marketing toolbox. When you establish a consistent, beautiful and well thought out brand across all of your online (social media, email marketing and websites) and offline (direct mail, post cards and flyer) you immediately gain an edge against your competition. Hiring a professional real estate creative marketing agency to develop that brand is worth the investment.

2. Use social media to establish yourself as a real estate expert

Before social media, marketing establishing yourself as a real estate expert was expensive and time-consuming. It included a public relations campaign for print placement, speaking at colleges/conferences and writing/publishing books. Today, print placement means guest blogging for a popular real estate blog, speaking at colleges and conferences means developing podcasts and YouTube videos and publishing books means writing eBooks for your targeted audience. You have the power to be an expert with little or no investment.

3. Use social media to target more relevant and interested clients

Social media  in real estate has the ability for you to find real estate clients that need what you are offering. By strategically following and interacting with people in your targeted audience you can create a valuable database and resource of potential clients for your business. That means being a social media “snob”. Being a social media snob means only following and interacting with those who will eventually benefit your business. If you are questioning this, just think… would you put a billboard in an area where your clients don’t exist?

3. Use social media to keep in touch with past clients

One huge benefit of social media in real estate  is the ability to keep in touch with your clients. If you take the time to add your real estate clients to your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ accounts, you will always be in their face, every single day, and you can even get rid of expensive mail campaigns. You can update your blog and social media accounts with closing announcement, new products, homes for sale and more. Just think of the opportunities if use it correctly!

4. Use social media to save money and cut real estate operating costs

Finally, social media in real estate can help you as a real estate agent save money and cut operating costs. Social media is free, it builds your business in a paperless and effective environment. Combine that with cloud based solutions and you can cut your operating costs by 40%.

HST Rebates on New Homes & Condos

Are you unsure if you or your clients qualify for the HST rebate on a new home or condo?

Whether you are flipping your new property or renting it out, be sure to check the HST rules that relate to the federal 5 percent portion and provincial 8 percent portion of the HST.  In the article “Why CRA wants $30,000 HST rebates back” written by Mark Weisleder, a real estate lawyer, he explains that in order to qualify for the HST rebate, the new property has to be your primary residence, or you must prove that the property will be leased for at least one year.  If one of these two conditions is met, you may be eligible for a rebate of up to 36 percent on the federal portion of the HST if the home costs under $450,000, and a rebate of up to 75 percent on the provincial portion to a maximum of $24,000.

If the investment property is sold within the year, you will not qualify for the rebate and must pay the tax.  In the last decade, many investors who purchased investment properties have attempted to receive this HST rebate by signing agreements with the builder stating that they would move in, since it is the builders that applied for the HST rebates on their behalf.  When CRA found that the investors did not meet one of the two criteria for the rebate, CRA sent demand letters requesting the HST rebate be returned with interest.

[See full article published on Moneyville.ca on April 27, 2012: Click Here]

1 in 4 Canadians Would Get Involved in a Bidding War

With a recent spike in multiple offer presentations and bidding wars, how likely are your clients to get involved?

A new Canadian survey conducted in March shows that one-in-four would readily take part in a bidding war, and half of this group would bid as much as 110 percent of the asking price.  Furthermore, one-in-three men would bid as much as 20 percent above the listing price, while only one-in-five women would bid 20 percent above list price.

1,000 house and condo owners participated in the study, which was conducted last month by Leger Marketing for BMO Bank of Montreal.  Moreover, respondents from Ontario, Manitoba and Saskatchewan were more likely to join in on a bidding war, while those surveyed in the Maritimes were less likely to participate.

[See full article written by Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press on CBC.ca on April 19, 2012: Click Here]

Court Denies Realtor $11,000 Commission

Sanjay Babbar of Sutton Group – Summit Realty Inc. in Oakville was denied his claim to his $11,000 commission in a small claims court on March 27th, for failing to clearly explain the key terms of the Buyer Agency Agreement to his clients.  Sanjay’s claim was that he had spent time explaining everything to Jean Kagemana and Mediatrice Mulcanyandwi, before having them sign a Buyers Agency Agreement and putting in an offer on a house in Milton.  When the offer got rejected, the couple went directly to a builder to purchase a house without Sanjay, after which he sued them for his commission.

The Buyer Agency Agreement is a great tool which allows REALTORS® to work exclusively on behalf of their buyers when finding a property.  However, make sure to fully explain all of the terms of the Buyer Agency Agreement to the buyers to ensure that they understand and initial all of the key paragraphs.  Agents are also told to keep clear notes of everything discussed with their clients.  The basis for Oakville’s Judge Karen Thompson’s decision was that the agent failed to provide a recollection of times, dates and notes of what was discussed from Sanjay’s meeting with Jean and Mediatrice, while the clients did.

[See full article published on Moneyville.ca on April 20, 2012: Click Here]

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