REALTORS

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.

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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.

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Best Practices for Real Estate Brokers and Agents

By Joe Lins
August 24, 2016

I had the opportunity to sit down with Laurie Popp of Century 21® to discuss best practices I use within my real estate business at CENTURY 21 Discovery. We discussed advice for brokers and managers, creating the type of office culture that allows the agents to succeed and advice to agents just starting out in the business.

Brokers and managers need to be available to their agents. We need to communicate with them how they want to be communicated with (email, text, voice mail, in person). Get back to them right away. We need to set a good example as their leader. This is what the consumer wants and the agents need to learn to have a quick response time.

I’ve been accused of being “Old School” and I think that’s a compliment. Our office culture mixes the old with the new. We take advantage of the tools and technology Century 21 has to offer and we teach our agents how to use these tools. It’s not just about who has the latest technology. We also teach them the good old-fashioned skill sets they need to have in this business: negotiating, time management, preparation, etc.

My advice to new agents is to invest in yourself. Hone your leadership skills and have passion for what you do. Most importantly, be ethical and moral. I don’t believe that real estate agents are going to go away. It’s not a common purchase. It’s not buying an airline ticket or a pair of shoes online. It’s a lengthy process and a good agent is needed to help the consumer navigate the process.

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.

Celebrating Success

By Joe Lins
May 11, 2016

I LOVE celebrating the success of our agents. Every year we have an awards breakfast to recognize the achievements of our agents from the prior calendar year. All the awards are important but I have two favorites: the Quality Customer Service award and the Most Determined Producer award. Both awards embody what I consider the most important aspects of our company culture. Below are some highlights from the day.

 

 

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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.

Closing on a home? Don’t Forget the Insurance

By Michael Williams
April 29, 2016

Congratulations! You found your clients perfect dream home. You used your years of experience, professional expertise and pockets full of patience to satisfy every one of their unique requests. So, why it is still stuck in escrow? Your client is saying it’s that pesky insurance agent!

InsuranceBlogimage1… But the real holdup might be that “perfect home”….

Below is a 3 part checklist that will help you identify potential hang-ups with your client’s home insurance.­­

1.      Location, Location, Location.
It’s not just important to REALTORS®. Insurance companies have three main location related exposures that can complicate securing a policy. Distance from Brush, proximity to Coastline or placement in a Flood Zone.

  • In wonderfully sunny Southern California, we don’t have to worry too much about wind or hail, but we can never forget about brush. A good rule of thumb is to use an online map service such as Google or Bing and measure the distance from open land to the home. A standard acceptable measurement for brush exposure is 1500 ft.
  • For our lucky friends on the coast, the average rule is 500 ft from the shore. Again, the best course of action here is to measure with an online map.
  • Finally, the wild card is a Flood Zone. Because you often cannot visually predict where a flood zone will be, a helpful site is FEMA’s mapping tool. Simply type in the address and it will return a flood zone score.

2.      The claim history matters: both buyers and the home.
This section often surprises many people. But the ability to insure the home is based off the loss history of both the buyer and the home itself. Insurance companies split blame for losses between the owner of the home and the structure itself. For example, when a water loss occurs, a point is assigned to the address and the owners. Getting as complete of a disclosure list as possible can help determine whether that home has a history of losses. In the state of California, water losses are the number one cause of loss and it is now almost universal for preferred market insurers to deny a home because of 2 or more water losses. If this is the case you can assume that insurance will double in cost and take a minimum of one week to place.

3. Good Bones vs. New Homes.
Age of the house is big player in acceptability. Some buyers want new construction and that’s great! But, others want classic charm. That beautiful home built in the 1920’s comes with its own host of potential hiccups. Many insurance companies won’t even write a home built prior to 1950. But the ones that do, require proof of complete upgrades to plumbing, heating, wiring and roofing. And it’s not just the cute cottage that could be a problem. Many Carriers are looking for upgrades on any home older than 20 years! So find out if the bones of that house beyond their useful life.

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As every realtor knows, no two purchases are the same. And while the client should always get the house they want, it’s best to build in that little bit of extra time should one of the items above be a potential problem. Simply call the insurance agent a bit early. A little planning can make for a much smoother escrow.

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About the Author: Michael Williams is Chief Operating Officer at Williams Insurance Company in Fullerton, CA. If you would like more information about insuring a home please call him at 714.526.5588 or visit the website at www.williamsinsurancefullerton.com

The Value Of The Up-Desk

By Stephanie Goedl
April 12, 2016

CENTURY 21 Discovery offers our agents some unique opportunities that are not available at most real estate offices. We have the technology, tools and online lead generating sources that our agents need to remain relevant and to succeed. We also offer a way of doing business that some may consider “old school” but it works! It’s called the Up-Desk.

The Up-Desk is the front desk of a real estate office that agents can sign up to work. They assist with answering the phone and can take any leads that come in from those phone calls. Most offices have done away with the Up-Desk because they think it’s a waste of time for the agent.

Not so! Our office has a distinctive location on a main thorough-fare in North Orange County, California. We are located across from a major medical center and have a large marquee that 30,000 cars a day drive by. That’s a lot of eyeballs. Because of our prominent place in the community we have quite a few calls off our marquee as well as walk-in clients. The agent at the Up-Desk benefits from this. Just as important, the client who chooses to do business in this manner benefits as well.

Instead of me telling you the benefits of the Up-Desk, listen to our agent Jacob McCann of the McCann Family Team tell you how working that desk helped his career.

Some people think “old school” is a bad word. Not in my book. I’m thrilled we can provide our agents with a variety of opportunities to achieve their business goals. I’m also glad we can accommodate our clients in the way they want to be served. Do you have an Up-Desk success story? Please share in the comments section below.

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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.

Know Your Negotiation: Tips for Real Estate Agents

By Guest Blogger
March 1, 2016
This was originally published on the official blog of Century 21® on February 17, 2016*

NegotiationSkills

One of the many reasons a home buyer or seller turns to you, the real estate agent, is for negotiation help. They might lack experience and feel insecure when it comes time to talk about money and their potential purchase or sale. While you may have already brushed up on some tactics, realize that negotiating in real estate presents a unique situation. Here are some tips that may help.

Check Your Emotions, Not Theirs
Common advice recommends negotiators to remain unbiased and objective — strong emotions can potentially hurt your deal. However, as a real estate agent, it’s important to remember that emotions do play a part in your business. A home may often be the largest investment in a client’s life. Acknowledge and understand that clients might have a lot at stake, while continuing to remain unemotional during negotiation. Your clients may appreciate that you understand their point of view while maintaining a professional demeanor.

Prepare Your Clients
Whether your clients are the ones buying or the ones selling, get them up to speed on how a typical negotiation occurs. Although you may be responsible for leading the process, you can still make your client feel like a participant. Lay out the procedural steps for them, so there are no surprises or unexpected obstacles. Answer as many questions as possible beforehand so they don’t feel out of the loop or overwhelmed when the negotiation occurs.

Manage Expectations
While you may have good intentions to get your client the best deal possible, don’t promise it. After all, you can’t. A negotiation is a live, working discussion that can take many turns. Make sure your clients understand the worst case scenario by talking to them beforehand about all potential outcomes. As mentioned before, buying or selling a home may be an emotional endeavor for them. Mentally preparing them for less than favorable outcomes takes the shock out of the situation and may reduce mental stress.

Discuss Alternatives
The “worst case scenario” conversation shouldn’t end with a simple acknowledgment of potential outcomes. Create a plan of action just in case those outcomes are realized. What would your client like to do if the buyer won’t budge on an asking price? What would the buyer like to do with certain home inspection results? Deciding on an action beforehand can reduce the time and effort of decision making in the moment, which may lead to more objective, unemotional choices.

Report Facts Only
Since it’s your job to remain detached during this process, make sure you remain that way when reporting negotiation outcomes to your client. If a seller is angered by an asking price, but accepts it anyway, you may want to leave out their emotional response when reporting the offer acceptance. Their reaction is unnecessary to the business transaction, and can only add superfluous feelings of attachment to the process.

Negotiating in real estate can be a high stakes game, but these tips may help you to remain calm while you work out the best deal for your client.

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

Escrow and How It Works

By Nancy Mattaliano-Castaneda
February 2, 2016

Buying a home is a huge undertaking and requires a good understanding of the process. In California, once a buyer and seller agree to the terms of the sale the next step is to open escrow. First time buyers or people who have not bought or sold a home in awhile may not know what escrow is.

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Here is a brief overview of what escrow is and how it works.

What is Escrow?

Escrow is a process that protects the interest of all parties in a real estate transaction, ensuring that all the conditions of the sale have been met before property and money change hands.

Why Do I Need One?

You need escrow to ensure that all parties have complied with the escrow instructions before any funds are disbursed or title is transferred. The escrow company has an obligation to safeguard the funds and/or documents while they are in the officer’s possession and to disburse funds and/or convey title only when all parties have met the terms of the escrow instructions.

What is the Escrow process?

Once a purchase contract has been negotiated to the satisfaction of both the seller and buyer, a legible fully-signed copy is forwarded to the escrow company. The escrow officer will then prepare supplemental instructions and place the earnest money deposit into a trust account. The buyer and seller can move forward separately, but simultaneously, in obtaining inspections, reports, loan commitments, funds, deeds and many other items using escrow as the central depositing point.

Who to Contact with Questions:

Your REALTOR® will answer questions about your purchase contract agreement. Your loan officer will answer all questions about your loan status, conditions of your loan and the loan process. Your escrow officer will help or direct you with any other questions. A good escrow officer understands you will have questions and should be willing to answer them or direct you to the person who can.

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About the Author: Nancy Mattaliano-Castaneda is an Escrow Officer at Equity Escrow Group, Ltd. in Fullerton, California. For more information about Equity Escrow Group, Ltd. call 714.626.2095 or visit the website www.equityescrow.net.

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.

Mobile Apps for Real Estate Agents

By Stephanie Goedl
July 30, 2015

Mobile  Apps….what would we do without ‘em? As REALTORS® we have a multitude of apps to help us in our business. Here are some of my favorites that I recommend to the agents in our office:

MobileApps

Open Home Pro
This app that you download to your tablet device allows you to capture contact info of the visitors that come into your Open House. After you upload photos of the home into the app it provides a slide show of the property for your open house visitors to view. It also has a feature that allows you to automatically send a thank you email to that lead after they leave the Open House. I suggest you place the tablet with slide show running on the counter or dining table near the entrance so visitors can sign in.

Videolicious
This app allows you to create and edit videos on your iPhone or iPad. You can email the video directly from the app or publish to Facebook, Twitter or YouTube.  With this user-friendly app you can create agent profile videos, client testimonial videos and property or community videos. They have an amazing customer support team that responds quickly to email questions. It’s a great way to connect with your clients via video.

Dropbox
This service allows you to take your documents, files, photos & videos anywhere and share them easily with other people. This service is available as a desktop and a mobile app so you can access it anywhere.  The nice part about this app is that it lets you share files that would be too large to email. Dropbox offers 2 GB for free. You can purchase more storage space if needed. This is a must for professionals on the go.

Typic
This app allows you to add filters, effects and text to photos.  My favorite feature is the ability to add your logo to the photo for a small upgrade fee. This is great if you are using photos across multiple social media platforms. Your photos will have your logo embedded on them and will look like they were professionally done.

Below is a short video with an overview of 4 additional apps that will help you in your business.

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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 #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.

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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.