The Brand of the Future

By Joe Lins
October 27, 2017

I recently had the opportunity to chat with new Century 21 President and CEO Nick Bailey. He shared his vision of how this iconic brand is positioning itself to be the brand of the future by being innovative and relevant.

Century 21 is preparing for the next generation of real estate to come. He challenged the brand affiliates to double transactions in the next five years all while having fun.

I’m excited about the future of Century 21 and what we’re doing. Come hang out with the cool kids to see what we’re all about.

Meet Nick and check out our conversation here.


About the author: Joe Lins is President and Co-owner of CENTURY 21 Discovery. If you are interested in becoming part of the CENTURY 21 Discovery team or would like more information about our services or training we provide contact Joe at 714.626.2069.

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Prequalified or Preapproved: Which Is Right For You?

By Nicole Johnson of New American Funding*
September 13, 2017
Originally published on September 12, 2017

(Photo courtesy of New American Funding)

This is it. You’re ready to make the move into homeownership. From all the online searching you’ve done, you know you need to get “pre-something-ed” to prove you are a serious buyer. However, which is it: prequalified or preapproved? Both sound good, but they serve different purposes.

Getting Prequalified

When you ask a Loan Officer to perform a prequalification, you can do it online, by phone, or in person. They’ll ask you to share information, often verbally, on your credit, your income; assets (savings, investments, retirement accounts the amount of equity you have in any real estate you currently own); and the amount of debt you owe.

It’s a conversation that helps establish some financial parameters before you start looking at and making offers on homes by helping you answer two key questions:

  • What price range should I be looking in when I start my search?
  • Am I ready to do this, or do I need to save more or pay down more debt?

While the process is useful, especially for first time homebuyers, it isn’t rigorous enough to distinguish you from the other attendees at an open house or when you request a showing. The reason is that the letter is based off something akin to a “best guess” by the Loan Officer, it’s not reviewed by an Underwriter, and doesn’t address the question that matters most to sellers, Real Estate Agents, and to you: Can they/we expect to be approved for the type of mortgage needed to buy this home?  To answer that, you need to be preapproved.

Preapprovals Open More Doors

The preapproval process is like a test drive before you submit your application for a mortgage. The Loan Officer and an Underwriter will verify the facts and figures you discuss, along with your credit history. This process can also help pinpoint things you might want to improve—or errors that you’ll want to correct—before entering the formal application review process. Loan Officers will also begin looking for mortgage programs that might apply to your financial situation. The preapproval process is more rigorous than a prequalification and because it is fully underwritten, helps ensure your home buying process with go more smoothly.

In addition to ordering your credit report, Loan Officers may ask for copies of:

  • Last year’s W-2s.
  • Current pay stubs.
  • Brokerage and other savings account statements.
  • Your monthly expenses.
  • A current mortgage statement and homeowner’s policy (if applicable).

Once you are preapproved, you’ll receive a letter to share with Real Estate Agents and sellers. After you have an offer accepted on a property, you will still need to officially apply for a mortgage. That review process will involve a deeper dive into the information you’ve already provided, as well as into the specifics of the property itself. Fortunately, having a preapproval also means faster service and turn times to get you into your home sooner, so the official mortgage application is likely to be easier than with just a prequalification.

Why Bother Getting Prequalified?

The prequalification process takes very little time or effort on your part. Any cost is typically limited to that of ordering a credit report. When you already have an idea of the area where you want to look and what type of home you can afford, skipping the prequalification step can make sense. Its best use is as a preliminary step for those who need a starting point.

By comparison, for most buyers, a preapproval is a step they shouldn’t skip. Having a letter from a lender that states you are preapproved can be especially helpful in neighborhoods where the existing home inventory is tight…and when the home you are looking at is perfect. Being preapproved makes it easier for the seller to accept your offer over that of a buyer that hasn’t taken this extra step.

*Article reprinted with permission from New American Funding. Licensed by the California Department of Business Oversight under the Residential Mortgage Lending Act – License #4131117 Broker Solutions Inc. dba New American Funding (NMLS #6606) Corporate Office is located at 14511 Myford Road, Suite 100, Tustin, CA 92780. 800.450.2010

LinkedIn Pro Tips

By Guest Blogger
August 13, 2017
*This was originally published on the official blog of Century 21® on August 11, 2017

As the real estate industry continues to further embrace social media and technology in general, LinkedIn is quickly becoming one of the most valuable digital tools in an agent’s arsenal. LinkedIn is built for networking, and luckily for us, that’s one of the things we, as agents, do best. Here are a few “pro tips” that will help you become a LinkedIn expert in no time.

Choose the right photos.

When you are choosing a profile photo or an image to post with your content, make sure it is clear, professional, and consistent with your brand and your business.

Optimize your bio for real estate.

Once you upload your professional profile picture, it’s time to tackle your bio. Make sure this section lets prospects know who you (a real estate professional) are and what you will be sharing on LinkedIn. The bio is also a great place to let your personality shine through the screen.

Include your awards and accolades.

Don’t be afraid to exercise your bragging rights. In fact, LinkedIn has an entire profile section devoted to accomplishments. This section is where you share your awards, your brokerage’s awards, certifications, and courses.

Use media files efficiently.

When editing your profile, you can add media files as part of your page. These media files show up as actionable thumbnails which are great for displaying assets like your website. For the most clicks, put these files right below your summary section.

Publish content to generate leads.

One of the most important pieces of your LinkedIn profile is the content that you are sharing on it. Instead of going too heavy on listings, try to share articles that offer valuable real estate tips and advice from you or another reputable source.

Build your network.

Start by connecting with your network of realtors and brokers, then connect with their connections and so on. Your email contact list is also a great place to establish LinkedIn connections. If you would like to identify some more quality connections, use LinkedIn’s “Advanced Search” feature. It allows you to specify keywords and the location of where you would like to search for connections.

Implement these tips and techniques to establish connections and generate leads for your business through LinkedIn!

*Article reprinted with permission of Century 21 Real Estate LLC.

Who’s YOUR Super Squad?

By Joe Lins
June 16, 2017

Real estate agents wear a lot of different hats and manage multiple things throughout each real estate transaction. They’re kind of like a Super Hero. Successful real estate agents have a team of professionals behind them that they rely on to assist with the process. For a smooth transaction to occur a lot of behind-the-scenes activity takes place. Agents must interact with and coordinate everything from the escrow company, lender, and transaction coordinator to the termite company, painter and home inspectors to name just a few. And if a transaction runs into a snag, the agent should be able to turn to their broker or manager for guidance. Many clients are unaware of all the work that takes place on their behalf.

Our CENTURY 21 Discovery agents are fortunate to have an on-site team that they can depend on. They have full access to this team without going through a gate-keeper or being left on hold or waiting for someone to return an email. We call them our #SuperSquad.  Our agents know that at every step of the transaction we’ve got their back.  Every great real estate agent needs a #SuperSquad like this. Who’s yours?

Joe Lins

 

About the author: Joe Lins is President and Co-owner of CENTURY 21 Discovery. If you are interested in becoming part of the CENTURY 21 Discovery team or would like more information about our services or training we provide contact Joe at 714.626.2069.

Follow the 80/20 Rule for Success in your Real Estate Career

By Stephanie Goedl
June 8, 2017

This is video number four in our series “When Preparation Meets Opportunity.” This one covers what really IS our job as REALTORS®. A lot of people get this a little bit confused and find themselves wandering in this crazy game but I have a couple of tips to keep you on track. First remember, mornings are for creating business and afternoons are for doing business.

When you get into what your job actually is there are five items that you should spend 80% of your time focusing on and learn to master.

Prospecting and Lead Follow Up:
The first one is prospecting and lead follow-up. What category does that fall under? Easy, creating business. If you’re not doing this crucial part of your business in the morning, you won’t have any business to do in the afternoon. So make sure this is your number one priority each and every day. You wake up every day at 0…unemployed. What are you going to do every single day to get that job?

Presenting:
The second part of our job is presenting, going on those appointments. Guess what? We can’t do that without prospecting. Practice your presentation skills.

Negotiate Contracts:
The third part of our job is to negotiate contracts. Once you find yourself prospecting, you’re getting more appointments and you’ll start to negotiate more and more so that is something you definitely want to master.

Conversations with Sellers:
Number four is being able to ask for price reductions.  Sometimes that’s a difficult conversation to have with our sellers but that is a part of our job that we do need to master as well.

Qualify your Buyers:
Number five is to work with highly qualified buyers. This is something that is so important to our business. By highly qualified I mean you’ve taken the time to ask the right questions and not just pre-qualify with your lender but pre-qualified them as far as knowing what they want, their time frames, and make sure all the decision-makers are there so you don’t find yourself spinning your wheels for months at a time.

For new agents I have a tip for you, if you spend two weeks on number one, prospecting and lead follow-up, I guarantee you numbers 2-5, the presenting, negotiating, price reductions and working with highly qualified buyers are going to fall into place. You will find yourself busy, productive and successful as well.

Those 5 things that I just mentioned, that’s really where you should spend 80% of your time as agents. The rest of your time, that 20%, should be spent on administrative parts of your job: your paperwork, working with your transaction coordinator, the other agents, etc.  A lot of agents get that switched so they’ll spend 80% of time on their paperwork and let the other parts of our job fall by the wayside and then they start at Ground Zero again. Remember spend 80% of your time on the creating your business part and 20% of your time on the administrative and you will be very successful. So with that, thank you and I hope you picked up some great tips.

 

About the author: Stephanie Goedl is the Chief Operating Officer of CENTURY 21 Discovery. For more information about CENTURY 21 Discovery you may call (714) 626-2000.

The Value of a CRM

By Joe Lins
June 1, 2017

Let’s talk about the value of a CRM (Client Relation Management System) and how you can utilize it to help you have a successful real estate career. Check out this short video from our Preparation Meets Opportunity series.

Joe Lins photo

 

About the author: Joe Lins is President and Co-owner of CENTURY 21 Discovery. If you are interested in becoming part of the CENTURY 21 Discovery team or would like more information about our services or training we provide contact Joe at 714.626.2069.

Marketing a Listing

By Suzy Lins
April 19, 2017

Don’t be a secret agent with a listing nobody knows about! As soon as you take a listing let everyone know about it. First, you need great photos of the home. Hire a professional photographer. You can hire a good photographer for about $200-300. For more photos or larger homes the price goes up. Get a video made of the listing too. Century 21 creates a video slideshow set to music for every listing that has 6 or more photos. If you have a high end listing consider getting a drone video. Keep in mind that these images are in investment in you and your business. You’ll be able to use them when you go on your next listing presentation because that would-be client will not be impressed by photos taken on your phone vertically.

Now that you have your photos, maybe a video or drone images too, this is how you get the word out.

Email blast

Send an email to your database to let them know about the listing. The email should include a great visual image of the home or an embedded video with some details and the price. Include a Call To Action (CTA) in the email like: “Call/Text me for a tour” or “Do you know someone looking in this neighborhood?”

Send an email blast like the one above to all the agents you know. Add the agents in your office to your database as well as agents you meet at Open Houses, Broker Previews, etc.  The CTA should obviously be different, something like: “Do you have a buyer looking in this neighborhood?”

Facebook
To promote your business or to create an ad on Facebook you need to have a Facebook Business Page. Use these strategies to get the word out about the listing via Facebook.

Make a JUST LISTED post on your business page. Again, use a great visual image or video of the property. Don’t stop there. After you make the post go back and BOOST it to target the specific area and demographic that you want to reach beyond your Facebook followers.

Another option is to create an ad on Facebook about the JUST LISTED property. Creating an ad from scratch, rather than boosting a post, allows you to put multiple images in the ad (carousel ad) or a video plus you can target the ad to reach a more specific demographic. Here’s an example of what I mean: You have a $2 million+ listing on a golf course – target the ad to reach people with the income level needed to buy that home who like to golf AND who are likely to move.

The great thing about advertising on Facebook is that for dollars a day you can get your listing in front of the right people. An added bonus is that you have the option for your ads to appear on Instagram too. When Facebook bought Instagram they added this option. You need to have an Instagram account in order for your ads to appear there.

Other Social Media
If you use any other social media channels for your business get it out there too.

For Instagram, place an ad discussed above or you can post an image of the property with details. Instagram does not have the ability to include a hyperlink in the posts. Instead, direct them to your Instagram profile and include a hyper link there back to the property website.

For Twitter or Google +, post about your new listing with a link back to a video of the property or a property website. At Century 21 every listing automatically gets a Unique Property Website that has a URL using the property address. If you have a YouTube channel, upload the property video and share it on your social media sites.

Meet the Neighbors

After you take the listing get out there and introduce yourself to the neighbors on either side of the home. There’s something called the 5-5-5 rule. Knock on the door of the 5 houses to left, 5 houses to the right and 5 houses across the street and let those neighbors know you just listed a house on their street. Invite them to an upcoming Open House and ask if they know of anybody who has been looking to move into that neighborhood. This is a great opportunity to ask them if they’ve considered selling their home. If so, they’re going to be watching very closely how you market their neighbor’s property.

Print Marketing
Some “old school” marketing would be a “Just Listed” postcard to people who live in that area. You can mail it but if you door drop it yourself it’s a great way to meet people in the neighborhood. You can also place an ad in the local newspaper showcasing the listing. Print marketing is expensive compared to online marketing so use it wisely.

Open House
Now that you got the word out about your new listing you need to have an Open House. Again, you need to get the word out about it. Use the same tactics listed above for an email blast, Facebook post and BOOST and a Facebook ad. Just tweak it for the Open House. Next, create an EVENT on Facebook. List the date & time of the Open House along with all the details and invite your friends. Promote the Facebook event by selecting your audience and budget and you’re good to go.

Make your Open House an event. Make sure you have a lot of signs directing people to the property. Add some balloons and include food. Invite the neighbors to the Open House. Do a give-away for a gift card for people who sign in and give you their contact info. Consider doing a Facebook LIVE video from the Open House too.

Broker Preview
Put it in your office caravan or local broker preview. At CENTURY 21 Discovery we have regular sales meetings followed by a caravan of our new listings. At our meetings the agents have an opportunity to “Pitch” a property that is not on the market yet. We also have several broker previews in our area that allow agents from any office to place their listing on the weekly caravan.

Most of these marketing strategies cost very little except time and creativity on your part. You’ll be a real estate marketing guru and your seller is going to love you! Do you have any marketing strategies to add? Please share in the comments.

 

About the author: Suzy Lins is the Communications Director for CENTURY 21 Discovery. For more information about CENTURY 21 Discovery you may call (714) 626-2000.

One of “Those Days” in Real Estate

By Joe Lins
February 6, 2017

Whether or not your team won the Super Bowl yesterday, today is one of “those days” in residential real estate.  It’s a day that historically the real estate market just “picks up” for the new year.  Inquiries become appointments, Sellers are ready, open houses have more traffic and Buyers are just more interested!

Real Estate Agent at an Open House

Other examples of these kind of eventful days are tax day [April 15], the day kids start summer vacation, the 4th of July and Memorial Day to name a few.  Hopefully, you have been diligently working and are already on your way to accomplishing your 2017 goals.  At CENTURY 21 Discovery we are focused on a positive attitude, accountability, listening to our Clients and understanding their goals, and continuing our education through Coaching and Learning Sessions.

As of today there are 32 NFL Teams whose goal is to win the Super Bowl in 2018 and only one will hold the trophy at the end of the game.  They have already begun the preparation. Are you prepared? I invite you to take a closer look at what we are all about at CENTURY 21 Discovery and how we can assist you in achieving your goals in 2017.

JoeLins

 

About the author: Joe Lins is President and Co-owner of CENTURY 21 Discovery. If you are interested in becoming part of the CENTURY 21 Discovery team or would like more information about our services contact Joe at 714.626.2069.

How To Stay Relevant in 2017

By Joe Lins
January 4, 2017

The real estate industry continues to evolve and to remain successful REALTORS® we need to stay relevant to our clients. Real estate agents at the top of their game have already developed their strategy for 2017. Here are some additional points agents should pay attention to in the new year:

Consumer Behaviors

Pay attention to the consumers’ behavior by understanding your clients’ needs and how you can satisfy their needs. Listen to them and then give them sound, unbiased information so they can make a decision based on what’s right for them. Doing this will allow you to achieve your goals helping others achieve theirs. Also, remember that the old adage “The consumer is always right” is still applicable today. Buyers and Sellers don’t behave any differently than we do when we buy or sell anything as an individual. Keep that in mind as you work for your clients’ best interests.

agentcustomerkitchen

New Real Estate Laws and Revised Forms

Pay attention to what’s going on within the industry. There are new laws that went into effect on January 1, 2017. Learn what those laws are and how they affect your business. As a REALTOR®, you should be reading the information provided from your local association. Your broker or management staff should also alert you to these changes. Some of the forms that we use in every transaction in California have been revised. Real estate agents need to have a clear understanding of these new forms. Again, your association or office management should be making you aware of these changes.

Local Real Estate Market

Pay attention to what’s going on in the real estate market. This seems like a no-brainer. REALTORS® need to be aware of the current market in regards to inventory, average days on market, local initiatives that can affect the market as well as interest rates. You need to have market knowledge backed up by true facts rather than just repeat what you hear from people who aren’t selling homes in the business. This knowledge of what’s truly going on in the market place backed up by data makes you invaluable to your clients.

Bottom line is we need to consistently pay attention to what’s going on in our industry. If we don’t we become irrelevant.

Joe

 

About the author: Joe Lins is President and Co-owner of CENTURY 21 Discovery. If you are interested in becoming part of the CENTURY 21 Discovery team or would like more information about our services contact Joe at 714.626.2069.

How to Baby Proof for the Holidays

By Guest Blogger
December 20, 2016
*This was originally published on the official blog of Century 21® on November 16, 2015
(FYI – Most of these tips can also be used for pet proofing your home for the holidays!)

holidaybabyproofing

If you’ve got a little one this holiday season, don’t make the mistake of being unprepared. This time of year brings about unique potential dangers for him or her that you might not have considered. Follow these five tips on how to baby proof your home for the holidays.

  1. Skip the tablecloth. Infants are known to be grabby, and the hanging end of a tablecloth is too tempting to resist. In one quick tug, your tyke could accidentally pull down the entire dinner table setting, including your dishes, silverware, and candles. Yikes!
  1. Keep flowers out of reach. Contrary to popular belief, poinsettias aren’t actually poisonous, but there’s still no reason for your child to ingest them. Keep all plants out of reach. They’re not food, and you never know which one may make a particular individual sick.
  1. Don’t wrap with ribbons. Stick to wrapping paper only when giving gifts. Leftover ribbons can easily fall on the ground, presenting a choking hazard for you baby. Additional tip: Gather up and throw away wrapping paper as soon as it’s discarded. Again, you never know what your child might put in their mouth.
  1. Secure your tree. Fasten your tree to the wall and consider blocking off the area with a baby gate because after all, the tree is for looking, not for touching. If you want to bring your baby closer, do so under strict supervision, and don’t let them tug on any branches.
  1. Hang ornaments higher. Hang all ornaments out of reach on the top half of the tree, just in case your tot does get closer to the tree. Smooth, shiny decorations will be sure to attract their attention, and all too many are easily breakable. If you feel like your tree is a bit bare, opt for paper or felt ornaments on the lower half.

These simple changes to your holiday decorating routine may make for a safer celebration for your newest family member.

*Article reprinted with permission of Century 21 Real Estate LLC.