Track Homes Shown with Buyers

Wow your Buyer Real Estate Clients

This continues to be one of the most popular Wow Moments people have when I speak about Google Tools for your Real Estate transactions. I have to give credit to Mariana Wagner and Kelley Koehler who are the originators of this idea – I just tweaked it a bit for myself.

Find something that works for you and your real estate buyers. For my tech savvy buyers, this spreadsheet was it. Using Google Drive, create a spreadsheet and collaborate on information with your buyers regarding the homes you have seen. This is a great way to track what homes you have seen and if/when they sold. I found this helps with the “Let’s revamp what you’re looking for” conversations after viewing many homes with everything on their list.

 

Click on the picture for a larger view

Columns include: MLS#, Address, City, Starting Price, Price during Showing, Price at the time of updating the sheet, Sold Price, Settlement Date, 1st Showing date, 2nd Showing Date, Buyer Notes, Agent (my) Notes.

Get your Buyers’ Input

You can share the document by going to [file] and [share] and adding an email address. You can also change to be viewable by anyone with a link and share the URL. (I would use a URL shortener like Goo.gl or Tinyurl.com).

We’ll be covering this in more detail as well as many other great ways to use Google Tools during our Google Training Camp. Held online live (1-hour per week) or recorded for 6 weeks. Google Camp information here.

The Best Camera App Ever!

Camera+ App for Real EstateI love apps about as much as I love jewelry and handbags.  I collect them in categories and my largest and favorite collection falls under the photography category. I’ve pretty much decided my iPhone camera is all I need in most situations, although I do use a “real” camera for my listing photos.

My very favorite app is Camera+. It’s called the “Ultimate Photo App” for a reason. It offers the standard stuff like cropping and borders, but this app delivers a number of fabulous filters. The Clarity filter is enough to make it worth the tiny investment of 99¢, but you can produce amazing effects from other features like HDR and Grunge. Take photos directly from this app and save the enhanced version to your camera’s photo stream or post directly to your social sites like Facebook and Twitter. Unfortunately, you can only fall in love with this app if you use an iPhone or iPad. Even without the phone, you can import photos to an iPad and take advantage of most of the features.

I took the photo above from a moving tour bus in Washington, D.C., and as a result must agree with the Life Hacker blog,  ”There are about ten million camera apps for iPhone (approximately). Some are great, some are specialized, and some are a complete waste of your time. The best, however is Camera+”

10 Things To Do When There is Nothing To Do

The market is not always as busy as we would like — and this can be scary especially if you are new in the business or if your bank balance is dwindling. So make the most of your free time!

During the busiest times of the year, I don’t have time to institute new ideas or systems, and I’m usually paddling as fast as I can. But during the slow times, make sure to work on projects that you otherwise don’t have time for.

With that in mind, here are 10 things to do when there is nothing to do.
1.  Organize your database. See my previous post,  Your DataBase is Your Future Business. This is a great project to work on when business is slow.

2.  Tweak your systems. I have a system of letters, or e-mails, called “Here’s What Happens Next.” I send these updates to buyers and sellers throughout the transaction. When things slow down, I like to review them to be sure I’m covering all the details.

3.  Clean your desk drawers. I just found something that has been missing for a year! You never know what goodies you may find as you clean.

4.  Check your online profiles. Make sure they are updated with your latest information.

5.  Organize your photos. I’m pretty organized, but whoa! … online photos are everywhere.

6.  Organize your e-mail. See No. 5 above. Substitute e-mail for photos.

7.  Review you buyer book, your pre-listing package, and your seller communications binder. And if you don’t have any of these, then get to work! Without these, you are already behind.

8.  Hand-write six months’ worth of birthday cards. You do have all your client’s birthdays in your database, right? If not, start by creating a VIP form to send to every client you are working with. Ask for contact information plus family birthdays.

9.  Go paperless with your many documents. This one might require more than one slow period. I use my ScanSnap Scanner and  Paperport Software to try to get most of my paper filed digitally.

10.  Review your marketing plan, your techology plan, your social media plan and your business plan.Don’t have those plans?  It’s never too early or too late to write a good plan. I keep mine stored in Evernote. When a slow period arrives, consider my 10 ideas. When busy times arrive again, you will be in a better position to take advantage of it!

Getting to Inbox Zero

Several years ago, I stumbled across Merlin Mann’s 43 Folders website. It was there I first heard of the expression “Inbox Zero” — a method to empty your e-mail inbox and keep it empty on a daily basis. I was lucky enough to later hear Merlin Mann speak at Inman Connect in New York City, and afterward, I used some of his methods to keep my inbox at a manageable capacity.

I admit I have never quite reached zero, but my goal is to have no more than 25 e-mails in my inbox at any given time. As a Gmail user, I currently have 95,000 e-mails archived, but as I write this, only 19 of those are active. I use two Gmail tools to help manage my e-mails.

Boomerang for Gmail allows you to archive messages until you need them. Simply “boomerang” a message and choose when you need to see it in the future. The message will be archived and returned back into your inbox when you are ready for it. Boomerang will also allow you to reply to an e-mail and archive it, and Boomerang will place it back into your inbox if no one responds. It is a great reminder that you need to follow up! Depending on how much e-mail you receive, the free version may be all you need.

Unroll.me is a free tool to help eliminate unwanted e-mail, including those newsletters that seem to multiply in your inbox. Unroll.me keeps you organized by providing you with a daily overview of all your subscriptions. When I first used Unroll.me, I was amazed at how many things I was subscribed to!

Neither of those two tools were available when Merlin wrote his original articles on the topic of Inbox Zero in 2006, but you will find the details of his methods at the Inbox Zero website.

iLinc Webinar Platform

The webinar platform we use for our online session delivery is iLinc.

Just in case you haven’t seen iLinc up close and personal – here is a little tour about how to get started.

First, you’ll want to either click on the link we provide you OR type the URL address into the web address bar in your browser and enter your name and email address:

The application will download and although each internet browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, etc) will vary in where the application is found, you need to open and run the application:

After you have accepted by saying “yes” and “run” you will be logged into the computer part of iLinc.

Now you need to hear! A woman will come on the screen asking you how you would like to connect and you will see two options. (You can mouse over on the woman and click the (X) button if you would like her to be quiet, it is usually the first thing I do).

If you are attending a webinar or conference other than individual coaching, you can connect via your computer speakers or by telephone for the audio portion. If you expect to be heard (like on one on one coaching), you will need to use the telephone option only.

Now, let’s talk about some functions while you are using iLinc.

When a speaker is sharing their screen, you may want to access the chat box to ask questions (or listen to some). You can access the chat box by taking your mouse and moving it to the top of the screen like it will fly off your monitor. You will see a drop down menu that allows you to click on [CONTAINERS] and select [Float Chat].

You can now use the Chat box to speak to all attendees or use the private tab and double click on a name to access private chat to that person.

If the speaker is sharing and you still have your sidebar, you can see the chat box in the lower left corner of the screen.

We want you to have a great experience while viewing our online learning sessions. Please let us know if you have any problems – we just might be able to assist. We have found the webinar platforms much like the airlines… there are issues with them all, we just like to keep them to a minimum.

Could Your Cell Phone Cost You a Listing?

About a year ago, I took a lovely listing on a home in my favorite market area. The seller explained that he had interviewed another agent but decided he wasn’t comfortable working with him. It seems the agent was holding his cell phone during the meeting and glanced down at the phone several times during the appointment. The seller felt that his behavior was unprofessional.

My seller was right. He expected to receive the full attention of the agent but didn’t get it. Glancing a few times at a cell phone seems like such a little thing, but in this case, it was enough to matter.

I have a three  rules I follow when I’m meeting with sellers:

1. Even in the worst of homes, I find something in which I can use to compliment the seller.

2. I try not to talk about myself too much.

3. And finally, I never carry my phone into an appointment.  If my competition had the same policy, he would have had the listing.

Getting ready for an appointment? Leave your phone in your car!

Sunshine in your Real Estate Listing Photos

One of my favorite places to buy shoes online is Zappos.com. While the company is noted for customer service, the website’s ability to show off products is my favorite feature. It isn’t unusual to find eight or 10 photos of a single pair of shoes.  If a $75 pair of shoes is worthy of multiple photos, then our listings deserve the same. In fact, the  2011 National Association of REALTORS® Survey of Home Buyers and Sellers indicated that 85 percent of buyers find listing photos to be very useful.

If you have ever arrived to take a listing photo and experienced the frustration of having the sun in exactly the wrong place, then Light Trac is exactly what you are looking for. Light Trac is an app for your iPhone, iPad or Android devices that helps you plan your listing photo shoot ahead of time. Simply enter your listing address, and Light Trac calculates the angle of the sun on a map for any location. You’ll know what time of day the sun will be behind you, the best time to shoot the exterior of your listing.. Listing photos are the first “drive-by” for home shoppers searching the Internet. Taking great interior photos is important, and capturing the best “main” exterior photo is critical. And there’s a way to achieve the perfect exterior photo.

Use Light Trac, get outside, and take your greatest listing photos yet!

Your Database is your Future Real Estate Business

Bill Gates, in his book Business at the Speed of Thought, said ”How you gather, manage and use information to serve the needs of your customer will determine whether you win or lose in your business.” I happen to think that Bill Gates is a pretty smart guy, so I try to pay attention to what he has to say.

Whether you are a single agent or have a team, whether you use Top Producer, Online Agent, Realty Juggler, Wise Agent, Outlook or something else for contact management, you nevertheless need a good system of categorizing your contacts. And you need to take good care of it!

Here are the categories I use in my database:

Clients: Clients are anyone with whom I have done business with and as a result, earned a commission. I also include my sphere of influence as part of this category.  My sphere of influence includes people who have given me referrals. Members of BNI groups or Rotary Members would go here.

Prospects: Prospects are people I hope to do business with in the future.   This list includes:

  • CMA Prospects: Anyone I have completed a CMA for, including those “thinking” about putting their home on the market.
  • Orphans: Those people who bought my listings. They will most likely be ignored by their own agent, so I adopt them.  When it comes time to sell their home, they will remember me because I will be in touch.

Movers and Shakers: Political leaders and organizational leadership like the local Chamber of Commerce.

Family and Friends: They should be on your mailing list too! Sometimes they need to be reminded that you are in the real estate business.

Out of Area: These are clients who have moved out of the area. Because I live in a military community, this category is a great source of referral business and I keep in touch several times a year.

I have other categories, including attorneys, appraisers, mortgage professionals, home inspectors and more, as well as local agents and out-of-area agents. I also have a category called vendors, for people like painters, or cleaners.

I include the obvious under each contact:  Address, phone numbers, e-mail addresses.  And maybe the not-so-obvious, too, like birth dates, children’s names, favorite dessert and pet’s names. How do we get this information? For all of our clients, we send a VIP form in a self-addressed stamped envelope. I’d say we get 95 percent of these returned.

The overall benefits of having a well-organized database are many, including efficiency, time savings and continuity in communications.

My database is my future business.  I try to take good care of it.

What do you use to create a CMA?

When I first saw Realty Tool’s “Tool Kit CMA” program at the National Association of Realtors Convention over 10 years ago, I remember breathing a sigh of relief that I had finally found the CMA product I was looking for. Up to that point, I was using a homemade concoction of part MLS program and part word document.  While my homemade production didn’t seem to keep me from obtaining listings, it was certainly tedious to assemble, and didn’t have the professional appearance I was looking for.  When it was first introduced, the product required you to install a CD.  Now Toolkit CMA is a web based system that delivers pages of professional graphics and a final product to be proud of.  It can also be custom branded for most of the larger franchises and independents.

Since Tool Kit CMA  was introduced, other CMA products have become available and MLS’s have upgraded their own versions but I’ve remained faithful to this product.

Took Kit CMA is easy to use and comes with specific instructions to work with your MLS system. I’ve used it with 2 different MLS systems and the data and images downloaded without a hitch. After the data is imported into the presentation you are working on, corrections or changes can be easily made. The program creates lots of other good stuff too, like buyer property tours with mapping,and FSBO and expired listing presentations. For me, the CMA program is worth its $168 a year price tag.

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