Author: Joe Lins

Interview with C.A.R. Chief Economist Leslie Appleton-Young

By Joe Lins
February 15, 2016

I had the opportunity to interview California Association of REALTORS® Chief Economist Leslie Appleton-Young after her presentation at the Pacific West Association of REALTORS® February general membership meeting. I asked her three questions about the real estate industry and specifically Orange County real estate.

Those three questions were:

1) What is the biggest disruption facing the real estate industry?

2) How healthy is the Orange County real estate market?

3) What is the biggest opportunity for the consumer in Orange County?

She’s a smart woman and I value her insight. Watch this short video for her responses.

 

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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.

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The Disruptor

By Joe Lins
January 13, 2016

A hot topic of discussion in real estate circles is what will be the next big disruptor in the industry. Will it be some new technology we can’t even imagine yet or a new company we’ve never heard of before?

I believe the disruptor needs to come from within the industry. The disruptor should be something that the industry has failed to do. It needs to be the self-regulation of ourselves to create higher standards that will make us relevant to the client.

What I mean by that is the industry needs to step it up. We all know the licensing requirements to become an agent are minimal and don’t provide the additional skills sets needed to do the best job for the client.

This topic came to the forefront of the conversation when the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) released the D.A.N.G.E.R. Report back in May 2015. One of my earlier blog posts discussed this topic and how the #1 threat to real estate professionals comes from within the industry.

As REALTORS®, we have to do a better job of taking care of problems within the industry. That means REALTOR® association grievance committees and pro-standards committees have to do a better job. It also means individual REALTORS® have to do a much better job of reporting violations and not letting the violators get by. If we don’t do this then they will continue to be violators and they won’t be motivated to get any better. Not good for the industry and not good for the client. If we don’t do this, we run the risk of the government stepping in and attempting to regulate us. Check out the interview with PWR Director Al Ricci and real estate blogger and analyst Rob Hahn on this topic.

My goal is that CENTURY 21 Discovery will be the big disruptor in the industry in Orange County by providing the additional training and coaching agents need to succeed in this competitive industry. I’m not talking about the latest technology or tool. Everyone should have that by now. I’m talking about the skill sets needed to work in the client’s best interest.  What does that mean? It means communication and negotiating skills, knowledge of industry requirements and most important, adherence to the REALTOR® Code of Ethics.

Only then will professional REALTORS® have the knowledge, skills, morals and ethics needed to give the customer the right information they need to make the decisions that are right for them. The disruption needs to come from within.

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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 contact Joe at 714.626.2069.

Giving Tuesday 2015

By Joe Lins
December 1, 2015

Today is the 4th annual Giving Tuesday, a global day to give back and celebrate generosity. We are so proud to live and work in such a charitable community like North Orange County, California. Two weeks ago we held our annual Celebrate Giving with CENTURY 21 Discovery charity event. It’s our way to kick off this season of giving.

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This year, our 21st year, we raised $19,000 to give to local charities in our community. Since its inception we have raised close to $300,000! As a result of the success of this event, we have formed the Discovery Charity Foundation.

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Giving back is part of our culture at CENTURY 21 Discovery. In our 2014 blog post about Giving Tuesday we mentioned that many of our agents and staff serve on non-profit boards or volunteer with organizations in the community. They continue that practice and we fully encourage it. We believe it’s our duty as well as an honor to support the communities we serve. It warms our heart.

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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 contact Joe at 714.626.2069.

The #1 Threat to Real Estate Industry

By Joe Lins
June 29, 2015

The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) recently released the D.A.N.G.E.R. Report which stands for Definitive Analysis of Negative Game Changers in Real Estate. You can download a copy of the report HERE. NAR commissioned Swanepoel | T3 Group, an outside management consulting firm, to conduct an analysis of the threats, opportunities and trends in the real estate industry.

While there were many threats to the industry and our profession from outside the industry, there was one huge threat mentioned in the 160+ page report that comes from within the industry. According to the DANGER Report, the #1 threat to real estate professionals and the industry as a whole are other agents who are unqualified and/or incompetent. The Report says, “The real estate industry is saddled with a large number of part-time, untrained, unethical, and/or incompetent agents. This knowledge gap threatens the credibility of the industry.”

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The Report cites the low state requirements to become a licensed real estate agent. The national average to get a license requires a measly 70 hours of training. Having the bar set so low to enter the profession or even remain in this profession is a recipe for trouble. Agents are allowed into the business with a very basic knowledge. That’s okay, you have to start somewhere. The problem is the brokers who hire these agents without providing any additional training or oversight and just letting them loose on the streets.

I see it firsthand every day. In California we have many forms and requirements that are constantly changing. What happens when the broker does not provide the ongoing supervision or training or insist the agent get it from through their local association? I can tell you from experience with agents from other firms, at times it isn’t pretty.

We recently had a new Residential Purchase Agreement (RPA) roll out in California. Our Executive Leadership team knew it was coming and prepared our agents over the course of several months by providing training on the new RPA. About a week after it went into effect, I got a phone call from one of our agents who was in a transaction with an agent from another firm. That agent knew nothing about the new RPA and didn’t know how to complete it. Our agent asked if we would be willing to train the other agent on the new RPA. I said “Absolutely!” A well-trained agent is good for everyone involved including the industry.

I’m not looking forward to the roll out of the new TRID requirements later this year. Not because it’s a new requirement. We’ve been talking to our agents about this for weeks and they will be receiving training so they are ready for the change. I’m dreading it because I know that most agents on the other side of the transaction will not have a clue. When that happens the person who will be the most vulnerable and frustrated will be the client. Their dissatisfaction is a negative impact on our profession and industry.

Yes, the training to become a license real estate agent is minimal. That is why it’s up to each broker and real estate association to have higher requirements to be affiliated with them. Every market and state is different but there needs to be a consensus from the leaders in this industry to raise the bar and hold the Brokers who don’t, accountable.

For those of us who believe this is a true profession and one that we consciously chose, this should be a no-brainer.

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 contact Joe at 714.626.2069.

What’s Your Value?

By Joe Lins

January 5, 2015

Our Leadership Team at CENTURY 21 Discovery recently held our annual strategic planning meeting for 2015. At that meeting we set aside a portion of the day to review and discuss our Value Package. We wanted to make sure every member of our team knew the value of what we provide to the agents at our firm as well as being associated with the Century 21® brand.

A few months before we presented it at our Strategic Planning Meeting, the owners and Chief Operating Officer sat down to review and update everything we provide to our agents when they come to work at CENTURY 21 Discovery.

I include this value package review process as part of my weekly coaching session with our agents. A Value Package should be a part of every REALTORS® arsenal that they bring out when they meet with a potential client or go on a listing presentation. It can be as simple as bullet points of the services provided to the client and how it will benefit them. Whatever format it is, it should be what sets you apart from the other guys.

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I do this every time I recruit a new agent or counsel a current agent who is being wooed by another brokerage. I have to show them what we offer versus what they will get at another firm. Just like the agents who are competing for listings with other agents we are competing for good agents with other firms.

Along with all the training, office equipment and supplies we provide to every agent, I have to remind them about the 40 years of branding that Century 21 has. Aligning with the most recognized brand in the industry allows the agent instant recognition of what they do. Alignment with XYZ Company does not promote this sense of stability and longevity with today’s consumer. I also explain that being a part of our firm ensures a high level of support and knowledge they probably won’t get from a competing firm.

Here’s a story to highlight what I mean. In California, they rolled out a new Residential Purchase Agreement (RPA) in November of 2014. Months before it came out members of our leadership team attended seminars and classes to learn about the new RPA so we could train our agents. Over a period of weeks we held classes to ensure our agents were familiar with the new contract once it came out.

By the time the new RPA became a requirement our CENTURY 21 Discovery agents were well versed in it and ready to do business. Our agents encountered many, many agents on the other side of transactions who either had no clue that there WAS a new RPA or if they did, they had not been trained on it. Their brokerage had not prepared them for a major change in the industry. I even had one agent ask me if I would train the agent on the other side of her transaction. I said, “Of course!” I’d rather have our agents in a transaction with other agents who know what they are doing.

The value our firm provides to our agents encompasses the basics like office supplies and equipment along with the bigger things like training, knowledge and a pro-active involvement in industry changes. That’s our value. What’s yours?

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 contact Joe at 714.626.2069.

4 Key Take-Aways from the C.A.R. Expo

By Joe Lins

October 20, 2014

Two weeks ago I had the opportunity to attend the California Association of REALTORS® (C.A.R.) Expo in Anaheim. There were 9,000 to 10,000 attendees at the three day event. In between the learning and networking I also gained insight into what to expect from the 2015 housing market in the Forecast presented by C.A.R. Chief Economist Leslie Appleton-Young. It was great to make new friends and run into some old ones. One of the highlights was listening to a dear friend Terri Sjodin give her tips on crafting persuasive presentations.

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Joe Lins, Terri Sjodin, Stephanie Goedl at the 2014 C.A.R. Expo

In an earlier post I said I would be giving an update on my key take-aways, so here they are:

1) What is your Value Package?

This topic was a central theme in most of the presentations I attended. A Value Package basically means: What value do you provide to your clients and in my case, our agents.

All REALTORS® need to have a list on paper and committed to memory the services you will provide to your clients and what sets you apart from your competitors. This should include what you know about the markets you serve that can’t be found online. Your micro-market knowledge will set you apart from the third party aggregator websites like Zillow, Trulia, and establish you as the go to person in your market. Your Value Package should be part of your Listing Presentation and listed on your website.

Our management team recently reviewed and updated our firm’s Value Package which will allow us to articulate the value of being associated with our company to our agents as well as the agents we want to recruit. In a recent coaching session I presented our Value Package to the agents and explained that they need to model their own Value Package after our company Value Package.

2) Education

C.A.R. provides a variety of education to its members which include continuing education, professional development classes and designations/certifications to distinguish you as a specialist in a particular niche of the industry. You have the ability to choose your own learning experience: Live Lecture or Face2Face at your local association, Remote Learning and Online classes as well as Home Study programs. One of my favorites is the online 12 session course for new agents. As professional REALTORS® we need to stay educated to be relevant in an evolving industry.

3) Track your Business

REALTORS® need to know where their business is coming from. Take the time to ask why or where a client found you so you can track which marketing efforts are working. If the bulk of your clients are coming from a specific tool: emails, Just Listed postcards or an online ad then focus you efforts on those areas where you are getting the best results.

4) Real Estate Office Layouts are changing

The physical layout of the real estate office is evolving into a new model. Sitting around a conference table in a board room is no longer as effective as it once was. Progressive firms are changing this style of doing business by providing a more relaxed and informal meeting area that features chairs around a coffee table. Kind of like sitting in a client’s living room.

I learned a lot at the 2014 C.A.R. Expo and at the end of each day I thought my head would explode with all the information coming at me. These key take-aways will allow me to improve my business and provide an even better environment to allow our REALTORS® to be more progressive, passionate and professional.

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 contact Joe at 714.626.2069.

REALTOR® Safety Tips

By Joe Lins

October 14, 2014

The attack on an Orange County real estate agent outside her listing this past weekend has kept safety precautions a talking point among us REALTORS®. This following the death last month of Arkansas real estate agent Beverly Carter was a reminder of the vulnerability agents have when they are showing property or holding an Open House.

At our firm’s sales meeting last week we reviewed the safety precautions that all agents, male and female, should take when they are meeting strangers or holding an open house. The National Association of REALTORS® has a 10 Commandments of Agent Safety that provides some great tips. Last week at the California Association of REALTORS® Expo in Anaheim they offered safety classes. Our local Pacific West Association of REALTORS® is offering a safety class in October 20th from 11:30-1:30.

All these classes and tips offer very good advice. Here are some additional recommendations I made to our agents:

  • Tell someone where you are going when meeting a client

Tell an office buddy, the receptionist or a family member where you are going and how long you plan to be there.

  • Have a code word to signal that you need help

Have someone call you at a certain time to simply ask “How’s it going?” How about something like: “Escrow just fell out”. Not something any agent likes to say but a phase like that would not alarm someone standing next to you.

  • Take someone with you

If possible, bring along a co-worker. Maybe a younger agent you are mentoring or an older agent you want to critique your presentation skills.

  • Always have an exit plan

Whether you are showing property or are at an open house always know where the closest way out is. Never walk in front of the client. Let them lead the way through the house and you can follow several steps behind.

  • Trust your 6th sense

You have it…trust it! If something doesn’t feel right, trust your gut and get out of the situation as a soon as you can.

  • Think about doing your Open Houses differently

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This tip came from one of our agents at our office meeting: Get acquainted with the neighbors in the neighborhood and let them know you’re holding an Open House.

I saw some agents do this at a recent Open House: Set up a folding table with a branded tablecloth and barstools in the driveway or on the porch. Put your brochures, flyers, home protection and finance info on the table. This allows you to see who is coming into the house and the make/model/color of the car they drive.

Stand up when someone approaches or enters the room. Not only is this good etiquette but good defense as well.

The bottom line is to be aware and be safe when you’re out there. Charge on!

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 contact Joe at 714.626.2069.

REALTORS® Must Evolve With The Industry

By Joe Lins

October 7, 2014

Today is the first day of the California Association of REALTORS® EXPO at the Anaheim Convention in Anaheim. This is the state’s largest real estate trade show and offers three full days of seminars, bootcamps and networking opportunities for California REALTORS®.

I’m excited to be able to make the introductory remarks on behalf of EXPO 2014 sponsor Century 21 at the Networking Event today. But more important, I’m excited to learn about the latest tools and trends as well as gain insight into what to expect for the 2015 California housing market.

The real estate industry is constantly evolving and that’s why it’s so important for brokers and managers of real estate firms to be up to date on all aspects of the real estate market. This is the best place to get that information.

It’s also important for the agents who are in the trenches to attend conferences and seminars like this to ensure they have current knowledge to provide to our clients. One of the most important sessions this week will be the learning session on the revised California Purchase Agreement. This will be the form of choice for buyers and sellers of residential real estate transactions. It’s imperative that REALTORS® stay on the forefront of this learning curve because the Purchase Agreement currently in use is going to go away.

I’m looking forward to three intense days of learning and networking. Stay tuned for a post on my key take-aways from this event.

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 contact Joe at 714.626.2069.

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4 Reasons Why I Love This Real Estate Market

By Joe Lins

September 23, 2014

I LOVE this real estate market! It’s a great time for all parties involved in the process. It’s markets like this that remind me why I got into real estate…to help people buy and sell homes.

Here are 4 reasons why I love this market:

1) Buyers offers are being accepted

Buyers actually have a chance of buying a home without being out bid by investors. Investors have made a lot of money over the past few years and good for them! As home prices have slowly inched up investors are not as prevalent which allows buyers, especially first time home buyers, to get the home they want.

2) Buyers can afford a home

People who want to buy a home are able to do so because interest rates are still very low. The Federal Reserve recently announced that it would keep interest rates low for now which is good news for borrowers. In addition, in our local Orange County market home prices are appreciating at a reasonable rate.

3) Technology is helping the home buying process

I know there are a lot of people in the industry who are freaking out about the potential Zillow-Trulia merger and the affects of other third party sites on the information available to the public. They think this will take the place of the professional REALTOR®. I don’t believe that mindset. Now, buyers have the ability to make better choices because of the technology available to them. They can research everything from neighborhoods and schools to crime rates and interest rates. Now, sellers can go onto Zillow and get a Zestimate of their property, this provides an opportunity for the REALTOR to educate (or re-educate) the seller on the actual comps for their home.

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4) Homes are being sold for fair market value

It’s a true market where neither the buyer nor seller has a distinct advantage over the other. Sellers can still achieve top dollar without the fear of leaving money on the table if they had waited. Buyers can make quality purchase decisions without the fear of being priced out of the market. Both parties are able to achieve their definition of success, which rarely happens in any market.

The REALTORS who truly understand this are succeeding in helping people buy and sell homes through their micro-market knowledge and keen negotiating skills. After all, isn’t that why we got into this business?

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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 contact Joe at 714.626.2069.

Why should real estate agents attend sales meetings?


By Joe Lins

September 3, 2014

During my 37 years in real estate I have heard every excuse in the book from agents on why they don’t need to attend a sales meeting.  Well, here are some reasons why you SHOULD. You are either in the business of selling real estate or you’re not. Professional REALTORS® are engaged in all activities that surround the business. One of those activities is attending your firm’s sales meetings.

Attendance at sales meetings establishes:

  • The culture of the real estate office

Every real estate office has a unique culture and vibe. One of the best ways to see if a particular firm is the right fit for an agent is to attend a sales meeting. This allows you to see the interactions between the agents as well as management and staff.

  • A consistent message to the public regarding the business of real estate

The message you are delivering to your client may not be consistent with your firm’s vision or even relevant to what is really happening in the market. A sales meeting should provide you with reliable information that aligns with the reality of the industry.

  • A forum for cooperation promoting clients needs and interests

Sales meetings allow the agents to interact and share the needs of their clients. Here’s an example: You have a Buyer looking for a 3 Bed, 2 Bath home in a particular area. One of your co-workers may know of a perfect home that’s getting ready to go on the market. If you had never shared that information at a sales meeting, that listing might have been sold before you were even aware of it.

  • A format to communicate the latest trends in the industry

Sales meetings should have some sort of educational component. There are so many changes in the real estate industry that it’s hard to keep up. Your broker should be providing consistent updates on the latest trends, tools and requirements within the industry.

You owe it to yourself as a professional and to your clients to remain on the cutting edge of the real estate industry. The easiest way to do this is to attend your company sales meetings. Plus, they usually have some pretty good donuts and coffee as well!

Photo courtesy of cnn.com

Photo courtesy of cnn.com

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 contact Joe at 714.626.2069.