Wednesday, March 21, 2018

With a new year started and the race to take advantage of the $8,000 tax credit at full speed, agents nationwide are turning to for a powerful marketing solution.

“The window of opportunity to take advantage of this incentive is relatively small now with the new tax extension deadline approaching at the end of April,” shared Julie Escobar, Director of Corporate Marketing. “We’re excited to help agents quickly and effectively reach out to potential first-time homebuyers as well as current homeowners eager to take advantage of this substantial incentive.”

The new series is now available online in a simple web-to-print, pay-as-you-go platform,   Every piece has also been updated in the company’s software solution, ProspectsPLUS!   A new FREE REPORT:  Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About the Tax Credit Extension is also available for download in the resource section of, making it a great collateral piece for agents to offer from their websites, as an appointment incentive, etc.  Agents will find ten new direct response postcards available online.  Each is designed to capture the interest and garner a response from today’s bargain-seeking consumers.

The system allows agents to choose a postcard, upload a mailing list and place an order in minutes. With no minimum order, no monthly fees, and price points that go as low as 43₵ per full color postcard, with first class postage included, reaching out to your sphere of influence, local renters and homeowners who’ve been in their home at least five years is now simple, fast and cost effective. As added incentive to put this or any campaign in motion quickly, orders placed between now and February 10, 2010 can take an additional 20% off using priority code NEWYEAR at checkout! 

“Agents have such a limited time to capitalize on this unique incentive, we wanted to make it as simple and cost-friendly as possible,” said Director of Operations Jim Studebaker. “By offering lead generation with direct mail, we’re helping agents increase their prospecting pipelines while improving their results.”

“Many agents shut down their marketing and promotion when the economy tightens,” Escobar adds. “Industry experts and business icons such as Bill Bartmann, author of Eight Ways to Recession Proof Your Business, share the opposite advice. Now is the time, they say, to step up and expand your presence in the marketplace—capturing the market share abandoned by inactive or retiring associates.”

Agents can find a variety of postcard series at Customized postcards are available for every major real estate franchise and larger independent organizations across North America.

Want to learn more about the inside strategies, upcoming automated product lines and how leveraging the power of direct mail can generate more than $100,000 per client throughout your career? Call Julie Escobar at 866.405.3641 to schedule a FREE Webinar for your office.

Need more marketing ideas? Sign up for our FREE Master Marketing Newsletter™ to have fresh ideas, innovative tools and smart solutions delivered to your “in box” every month! Visit today, and click on Master Marketing Newsletter™ in the resource section!

By Julie Escobar, Director of Corporate Marketing 

In response to the overwhelming amount of requests for marketing and collateral materials for our clients who wish to establish themselves as the go-to agent in their market for short sales and foreclosure properties I began to a little deep digging into what is clearly one of the fastest growing segments and designation in the real estate industry of all times.  What did I learn?  Most surprisingly, that the current national average statistic is that one in seven homeowners are not currently paying their mortgage.  One in seven!  What wasn’t surprising to me after more than twenty years in this business is the how so many talented real estate professionals are rising up with a passion to help protect and serve these distressed property owners with a unparalleled compassion. 

To learn more about why so many agents are stepping up and stepping into this often challenging, but from what I’ve learned, altogether rewarding niche market, I tapped Alex Charfen, CEO of CDPE, or the Certified Distressed Property Expert program, a designation that has grown to 15,000 agents in just 23 months.  I also enlisted the insight of Stacy Spickes of, an industry expert who, along with her husband Michael, produce training programs across the nation.  Look for their new Lifetime Television Series, piloting soon called Solutions for Homeowners Facing Foreclosure.

It was interesting to note that both Alex and Stacy share similar stories.  Both fell into the business of short sales with spouses by their sides, as a need to better care for customers who were in need and a way to meet the demands and challenges of a declining market.  Alex and his wife introduced CDPE less than two years ago and are currently seeing the demand grow weekly for additional training, tools and practical advice for agents eager to acquire the skills they need to work in this niche. 

Stacy and her husband come from the Austin area which, of course, saw the technology boom – and later bust, and grew their training program from that experience of being in the trenches trying to help facilitate options for so many of their clients that found themselves upside down on their mortgages.  I asked them both a series of questions to see if I could get some common perspectives to share with agents interested in jumping into this complicated market segment.  Here is an excerpt of our conversations:

Question:  Why do you believe that mastering the right training and tools are so critical when working with distressed homeowners in today’s market?

Alex Charfen:  What we’ve found was that there were a lot of real estate agents out there working without a net or without prior training and skills.  What they have to come to realize is that we’re no longer just talking about helping people buy and sell property; we’re dealing with their financial future of these consumers.  Agents have to understand that the rules keep changing, and that there are right and wrong ways to help.  Even the most well-intentioned agent, if they’re not properly trained can give the wrong message or advice to a consumer and cause long-term financial hurt. 

I just read that Bank of America alone is taking 100,000 phone calls a day from homeowners in distress.  That tells us that the bandwidth is just too constrained for these lenders to push all the paperwork through.  That’s why agents have to really be on their game, and know how to put together the right packages for the right lenders to increase the success rate, not only for themselves, but certainly for that homeowner. 

I’ll give you some stats from a survey we did of 9,000 of our CDPE experts.  We tracked the time it took to process a short sale before training at 54 days, and after 27 days.  That’s a 50% reduction in time it takes to get a short sale approved – and it’s all because you know the language necessary to get it through the lender.  It’s no magic bullet – but understanding the process, what the lender is looking for and the language that needs to be spoken. 

 Stacy Spickes:  First of all, these are very specialized transactions. In fact, what we found nationwide when we started developing our training was that the closing ratio for short sales was averaging less than 20%.  That’s where you were hearing, and still hear, those horror stories of people still sitting on short sales for 15-18 months.  The agents that go through our training program average an 89-91% closing ratio. 

Now, we always say there’s nothing magic about it, but what closes that gap and makes that possible is that we know the kind of information a REALTOR needs to know to get the deal closed.  I mean there are a lot of agents out there taking these listings and just don’t know what they don’t know.  Their hearts are in the right place – they want to help – but unfortunately a lot of people are finding themselves in foreclosure at the hands of a REALTOR who just didn’t know what they didn’t know.     

In our programs, we focus on the practical nuts and bolts substantive information agents must have to get the transaction closed and help save that homeowner from foreclosure.  Components such as “Short Sale Math,” which is where we show them how to calculate exactly what the lenders have to net on each short sale so they know ahead of time and don’t submit packages that contribute to an already log-jammed system.  It’s also important to make sure they itemized checklists so they don’t submit incomplete packages that are certain to sit in limbo indefinitely. 

Question:  How are your students finding their short sale prospects or better yet, how are these distressed consumers finding them in time? 

Alex Charfen: One in seven homeowners are currently not making their mortgage payments, so there are plenty of them out there, it’s a matter of spreading the word and letting people know that there is help.  More often than not, consumers don’t even realize that there are very real options available to them, and the fear and anxiety of the situation take over. 

Many of our students use direct mail, which has been very effective, and advertising in both newspaper and the community newsletters that you see.  Our best advice to agents is to tell them that they absolutely must engage with the people they know.  We tell them to talk to their sphere.  Let them know that you can help with distressed properties.  Plus when you start with your sphere, there is already a built-in trust factor, and that’s critical when you’re talking about people in this situation.  Postcards, calls, ads, homeowner seminars are all effective ways of communicating.  Even if that person isn’t in trouble, chances are, they know someone who is and it’s a great comfort to know that someone has the ability to help. 

When you understand that 70% of the people who lose their home to foreclosure are never listed with an agent you realize that there are just a lot of people who need a lot of answers and not getting them.  

Stacy Spickes:  Well, in so many regions where of the country you’ll find 50% of the listings are short sales just because they were the hardest hit markets.  In other areas, we’re finding new agents are spinning some of their marketing such as utilizing direct mail postcards and choosing neighborhoods that have a higher turnover than normal. 

Agent-to-agent referrals are big as well which certainly wasn’t the case three or four years ago, so it’s a reflection of the industry really coming together, which is great to see.  It’s a realization by agents ill equipped to deal with the ramifications of giving the wrong advice now aligning themselves with other agents with those who can better handle them and serve the consumer.  Two years ago we’d see agents with zero experience trying to put these together with sometimes devastating results for the seller.  Now, in the last 18 months we are really seeing agents rise to the occasion and create a powerful referral network. 

It’s really not hard to find them, what’s really important is to help them find you so that you can be the advocate they need. 

Question:  What’s your best advice for agents considering becoming a short sale specialist or Certified Distressed Property Expert? 

Alex Charfen: My advice is that you must.  When you look at what’s going on in this country, more and more homeowners are not making it and this is an industry trend that is not going to go away.  Our courses provide the extensive, hands-on training you need to best service the homeowner and ensure a win-win for everyone involved. 

Stacy Spickes:  I think 2010 will see a significant emergence of agents who will have to choose this field to survive.  Those agents who used to believe this will go away will no longer be able support that belief.  I believe that of the now less than 1.4 million REALTORS out there, I would be very surprised if we didn’t see at least 5-10% choose this niche and those that will make it, will do so because they got the training and tools they need to do the best possible job for their customers. 

Many thanks to both Alex and Stacy for their insight, ideas and expertise!  If you want to learn more about how to become an expert in this growing field and how you can help those one in seven homeowners who need you, I invite you to visit their websites today at and  Alex can be reached at 800-482-0335 and Stacy at 888-699-9222. 

To see our brand new postcard campaigns designed to help you reach out to homeowners in distress and let them know that you are the advocate they can trust and a resource they can count on – click here:  Short Sale & Foreclosure Postcards.  Need help?  Call us at 866.405.3641 or visit us at  We’re here when you need us!

An interview with Real Estate Speaker Darryl Davis

By Julie Escobar

In the long, bustling hallway outside of the tradeshow floor at the National Association of Realtors Conference recently, I had the chance to run into real estate speaker and my old friend Darryl Davis. Busting at the seams to tell me his latest and greatest topic of choice or what he called, the Number One Secret to Sales Success. Well, with a title like that, I told him we just had to sit down so he could let me help him share it with the world.

Here’s an excerpt from our fast-paced and very passionate interview:

Q: All right Darryl, what’s this big secret? Share with the class!
A: Sure! What I’ve found out is that when you want to communicate a thought so people “get it” not just in the head but their heart, you’ll want to use stories, metaphors or analogies.

Q: So, can you tell us how this idea came to you.
A: Well, for the last year I have been really studying the art of speaking and motivation and studying some of time’s greatest speakers. I began to understand that there’s a real science to the patterns and the psychology behind the ability to move people in that way. You know, I learned a great deal from Floyd Wickman about great speech structure and delivery from a training and how-to speech perspective, but I wanted to learn more about the differences and the nuances you find in a speech given by true motivators such as Zig Ziglar, Les Brown and Joel Olsteen. What I found was they all use– use stories metaphors and analogies to convey their messages.

I also bought this book not long ago on how to hypnotize people. It’s a college text for psychology majors on how to use hypnosis in therapy. Now, it’s not about “trance” hypnosis and certainly not “magician” stage hypnosis – but about how to therapeutically move people to change their thoughts or actions. What I learned from this book is that when you use a story, metaphor, or analogy to make your point the person you’re speaking to usually has a similar experience or story. That story creates an instant connection to your story and then “marries” the emotion of the person’s experience with what you’re saying. So then you’re not just talking to their head – but also to their heart.

Q: Interesting. Can you give me an example?
A: Sure, I do this with my students a lot; we’ll brainstorm in a workshop all the ways this creates effective communication. So let’s role-play this and pretend you’re a seller. I could say, “Let’s say you were going to buy a couch. Not just any couch, but a nice, high-end, quality piece of furniture. Tell me, where would you go?”

Q: Well, I guess Ethan Allen?
A: All right, so you’d go to Ethan Allen, that’s a big name store and a reputable company, right? And you know going in that it’s going to be expensive, but that’s ok, because you want a quality piece- correct?

Q: Yes, that’s right.
A: Ok, so let me ask you, why do you think anyone would buy a couch on eBay? I mean first of all, you don’t know where it’s been-right? And the pictures and colors are kind of hard to make out sometimes depending on your computer. So, why would you guess people would buy a house that way?

Q: To save money of course.
A: Exactly right, eBay is designed to help people get a good deal. However, Ms. Seller, I would say that any buyer that walks into my office, well they also know they’re paying top dollar. They know that there’s a commission built in, and yet they don’t care because they’re not committed to price, they committed to getting a good quality house from a company they can trust, very much like you, with the purchase of a new couch. So I attract the Ethan Allen buyers not the eBay buyers and because of that, I can help you get a better price and terms for your home.

Q: Great dialogue there Darryl. Can you share another example?
A: Okay, let me just tell you that I like to dance. But I’m not the kind of dancer who is good with a partner; I’m more of the give me the floor and get out of the way kind of guy! So I decided to take some ballroom dancing lessons. Let me tell you – that’s a lot of work. When you take those classes, it’s not really like you see on TV. You’re not taught a beginning, middle and end of a dance. You’re taught moves, and obviously, the more moves you know – the better you are the dance floor. So once you’ve learned all these moves, you’re really always creating a dance on the spot, always changing it up, adding new moves, etc. But it’s important to note that a dance isn’t just about the moves right? It’s all based on your partner and the music – just like a listing appointment!

Q: How so?
A: Well – I would ask you to look at it this way. Your partner is the seller, and the music is what you want to accomplish and your “moves” are all the many steps you have in your repertoire to handle objections and present yourself as the best agent for the job. The more proficient you are at your “moves” such as how to answer questions about multiple listing, yard signs, public open houses and pricing – the better you’ll look on the “dance floor” or your listing!

I’ll give you another example. Let’s say you’re a seller and you’ve just told me that you don’t need to hire an agent, you can pay $500 to get your home in the MLS. Right? So, to that I would say, “Let’s pretend you decided you’re not going to sell the house at all. Instead, you’re going to build a beautiful addition onto the house. So, the first thing you do is you go to Sears and you buy the best hammer money can buy! It’s a $500 hammer! But it’s cool! It’s got a laser on the end so don’t miss the nail! It was developed by NASA and is made of titanium! Wow! Now, I have to ask you, when you bring that really awesome hammer home, is it going to jump off the table and build the addition? No, of course not, right? Because it’s just a tool much like the MLS is just a tool, you see?

So, you can take that hammer and give to a new contractor, one that just got out of contracting school and you’ll get results right? Just maybe not the kind of results you want! Or take that hammer and give to a contractor who’s been around a while, comes highly recommended and has the experience to get the job done. You know, the kind of guy who wrote the book on property additions! You’d get an entirely different result-agreed?

You see, Mr. & Mrs. Seller, at Power Realty, we’ve got the experience to put the tool in this case, the MLS to work for you, along with all the other tools that it takes to get you the best price and terms for your house in today’s market.

Q: Great story! Let’s hear one that wraps around pricing! That’s probably one of biggest objections in today’s market. What do you have for that?
A: Absolutely! Let’s use the classic, “My home is special – I did all of these improvements myself, so it’s worth much more than what others are listed for. I would say, “Mr. and Mrs. Seller, I certainly understand how you feel. But let me ask you something. If I were to give you one hundred $1 bills that were crisp, clean, beautiful, and hot off the presses – and I sent you to the mall and asked you to sell them for 95 cents you’d probably sell them pretty quick wouldn’t you? And if I asked you to sell them at 85 cents even quicker – right? Now, what if I asked you to sell each for $1.10? You probably wouldn’t sell any – am I right? The point is that no matter how crisp clean and beautiful your house is, you can’t sell a dollar for $1.10.
Now let’s say there are only two dollar bills – one crisp clean beautiful and one that’s ratty, old, stained and dirty. If you had a choice which would you choose first? The clean one right? So, what I can tell you is that while all the wonderful improvements you’ve made won’t mean it will sell for more, it does normally mean it will sell before the others.

Q: That’s a terrific way to illustrate the point Darryl — thanks. You know, you and I have been around this particular block for a while and what we both know is that the right words – with the right visual, collateral or third party validation is ALWAYS 100% stronger than just the words alone. That’s one of the reasons we work so hard at ProspectsPLUS! to make sure our customers always have the collateral pieces they need for any situation, especially when it comes to pricing, terms and commissions. You shared with me a great strategy about handling the open house objection – can you run through that for our readers?
A: Sure, Julie, and you’re right – it is always better to have a visual to back up your dialogues. It adds credibility and helps create a focus on a particular point. You guys do a great job with that at ProspectsPLUS! I know your Merchandising Review, Price Pyramid and Commissions brochure especially are used by many of my students.

So let’s talk about when you get hit with the “I don’t need a Realtor, I can hold my own public open house,” objection. Here’s a great strategy. Say to the homeowner, “Have you ever seen that new HGTV show, Sell This House? It’s great – it really gives a behind the scenes look at what happens when you are in the process of selling the house. One of the things they do on that show is put hidden cameras all throughout the home. Then they hold an open house and let the buyers walk through while the sellers are off camera watching. What they see may surprise you.”

I’d then have a clip of this part of an episode which you can TIVO or download and put on your laptop to really make a point. What they will see are the buyers opening cabinets, tearing apart the decorating, the features, etc. After they’ve watched the clip I would say to the homeowners, “You see, Mr. and Mrs. Seller, when you hold an open house then what you’ll probably hear, or what you’ve heard if you’ve already held one, is the buyers saying things like, ‘it’s lovely, we’ll get back to you,’ right? The buyer knows it’s your house and doesn’t want to really tell you what they think or hurt your feelings. But when I hold an open house, the buyer has no trouble telling me exactly what they think of the house because it’s not personal. That information is extremely valuable to us in the ability to get your home sold quickly and for the best price. So you see, I’m a little like the hidden camera in your house – you need that honest opinion to get your home sold in this market.”

Q: Great stuff Darryl! Always a pleasure interviewing you! I know you’ve got a million of these stories to share – so I invite all our readers to visit your website at and check out your product line, especially the Objection Handling Arsenal which is filled with great stories, analogies and metaphors. 

A: Thanks, Julie! Great sharing with everyone today! I look forward to the next time and wish everyone a great new year!

There was a lot to cover today, and a lot of great dialogues to learn. Want a great skill building activity for your next office meeting or mentor group? Gather everyone together and write down at least five objections then each of you write down three stories, analogies or metaphors to help “handle” each one and share with the group. I would even recommend recording it. Why three? Well as Darryl says, “The first one will make the seller say, ‘Hmmm…,’ the second one is so they’ll get it and the third is just in case you screw up the first two!” It will be fun and a great way to build your skill and confidence level – long before your face to face with a client.

Need more help building your book of business or honing your skills? Visit us at and check out our Free Resource section where you’ll find plenty of Free Reports and helpful “visuals” that can assist you in working with both buyers and sellers! Have questions or an idea for another article? Contact me directly at 1.866.405.364


Reaching out to potential new homeowners SOONER rather than LATER will be crucial when hoping to take advantage of the new tax credit extension! Some keys to success will be:

1. Click here to search for renters in your area. Our prospect data search makes it simple to search our nationwide database of consumers by rent/own status, household income, length of residence, age and more! At just 8 cents per record, it’s a cost-effective way to build your book of business and reach out to new prospects eager to take advantage of a timely offer!

2. Send direct mail. While it’s true that 83% of consumers start their home search online, pointing them to the RIGHT online source – your site – is essential! Direct mail is still the best way to make consistent, effective contact with customers and potential customers with the right message for the right person at the right time. Click on any of the thumbnails below to see our updated Tax Credit Series and all new FREE REPORT: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About the Tax Credit Extension! In fact, use priority code: NEWTAX at checkout and save 20%!

3. Call. While cold calling might be a scary thing for many, it’s not hard at all when you call offering valuable, timely information. With a simple dialogue such as, “Hi, this is ____________, with ____________ Real Estate Company, and I just wanted to make sure you had a resource available should you have any questions at all about the new Tax Credit Extension or all the many ways the housing market changes may or may not affect your family. Is there anything I can do for you?” Of course, make sure you’re checking phone numbers against the Do Not Call Registry, and include your past customers in your calls as well. It’s a great time to just wish them a happy holiday season and let them know you’re available should they have any questions. You may be VERY pleasantly surprised just how many people will appreciate your taking the time to connect!

Need help putting your own “tax credit – new homebuyer” strategy in place? Call us today at 1.866.405.3641.

TAX CREDIT EXTENSION SPECIAL: Order any tax credit postcard campaign today and receive 20% off your order! Simply use PRIORITY CODE: NEWTAX before January 1st, 2010 and SAVE!

By Julie Escobar, Director of Corporate Marketing, ProspectsPLUS!

There’s no time for “cruise control” as we head into the new year with high expectations and often, even higher challenges. Making sure you’re on track and in the right lane to reach your destination should be high on your to-do list, even during these busy holiday times. How can you make sure you’re on the right road? Let’s take a look at a few helpful strategies for success:

1. Park it.
That’s right. Park yourself in a quiet spot for a day, a weekend or even a week if that’s what it takes to iron out a true business plan for the year ahead. Make sure that as you develop your plan that you also take into consideration the goals and needs of your entire family and support system. After all, you’ll need their support on those long days and sometimes long nights when you’re busy negotiating on your client’s behalf. Take a long look at your fixed costs, plus your desired income level to determine the true numbers you’ll need to hit in the year ahead.

2. Re-tool it.
If you’re like many agents, your market is beginning to turn a bit. Make sure that your marketing materials and presentation reflect those changes. Today’s top agents ensure their marketing tools are always fresh and timely. Home buyers and sellers in this market are more often than not savvy consumers. Having the right message for the right person at the right time helps you instill confidence and build rapport with new customers and clients.

3. Call it in.
Communicating with the masses is easier than ever. Consider hosting a weekly conference call or webinar for local home buyers or sellers on various real estate topics such as “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Short Sales,” “FSBO 101,” “Making the Most of Your Real Estate Investment,” and more. Talented agents across North America are using this cost and time effective strategy to reach more people at a time, establish themselves as the local expert and broaden their real estate reach.

4. Create it.
If farming is your best prospecting method, jump in and create a blog or Facebook page for those communities you wish to “own.” If one is already established, contact the administrator, introduce yourself and offer to provide regular community real estate updates. It’s a great reason to collect email addresses, Facebook friends, and of course, expand your book of business and promote yourself as the turn-to agent in that neighborhood!

5. Build it.
There has never been a more important time to build your database of customers. Albeit a daunting task for many, when you consider how many agents have left this business over the course of the last tough few years without anything to show for their time in the industry, you begin to understand how crucial it is to “begin with the end in mind.” In other words, make sure that you’re building a viable, SALABLE book of business. We provide a great resource for agents to do just that in our Free Resource section on Look for the BusinessBASE™ system and get started today! It can walk you through the 250 people who should be in your book of business, what information you’ll need to gather and an effective “Send-Call-See” method of staying in touch. Try it – you’ll like it!

6. Think it.
Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich message is just as powerful today as it was all those many years ago. So much of what we can and can’t accomplish in this business and in life is tied to our mindset. Expand your thoughts, your belief system and your skills each day, each week and each month of 2010 and watch the possibilities unfold for you and your family. A powerful motivational site to bookmark for yourself as well as your sales meetings is If you haven’t watched their movie 212 Degrees yet, I highly recommend it, in fact it would make a great holiday gift for friends as well as a terrific addition to your own library!

We wish you every success and abundance in the coming year and want to take this opportunity to thank you for your readership, your attention and your business! We’re here to help ensure you’re ALWAYS in the driver’s seat for your success. Need help? Call me at 1.866.405.3641 today!