Sunday, May 31, 2020

    Best Books for Agents

    While there are agents who are still managing to carry on business as usual during the pandemic, many are hunkered down at home, trying desperately to figure out what to do next.

    You could bust your boredom like Katherine Hahn, but it won’t do much to fan the flames of your real estate brand or make you more productive when we come out of the other end of this thing.

    The At-Home postcards are from the COVID-19 Series in the postcard section.

    We’ve come up with several ideas to help you out and we start with hunkering-down reading material. Some of our suggestions are older books, but the information within them is still brilliant. Others are newer offerings with tips on digital marketing especially. And, a few are pure escapism.

    Follow the link in the title of each book to learn more about it.

    1. The Social Agent’ 2.0 Update: The Evolution of Digital Marketing, Tony Giordano

    Considered a “celebrity real estate agent,” Giordano is also a national speaker and author who prefers to show, not tell, how to do social media right as a real estate agent.

    The book’s reviews on Amazon can attest to his success with that, with one reviewer claiming that “Tony goes into some detail on what to actually do, instead of just ideas, which I appreciate.”

    Giordano talks about “Online Presence vs. Present Online,” and explains how “Everyone is present yet few have presence.”

    ‘the social agent’ is also available at Barnes&Noble, which is currently offering free curbside pickup for online orders.

    2. What to Post: How to Create Engaging Social Media Content that Builds Your Brand and Gets Results (for Real Estate), by Chelsea Peitz

    Like “the social agent 2.0,” this book dives deep into various social media strategies. Peitz, however, promises that What to Post is “… a step-by-step guide that will help you create a fail-proof social media content strategy that will give you an unfair advantage on platforms like Facebook and Instagram and generate FREE real estate leads.”

    Unlike a lot of real estate-specific books on the market, What to Post was published in February 2020, so you won’t find a section about what to post on MySpace and other outdated, non-existent platforms.

    Peitz, by the way, is the national director of social sales for Fidelity National Financial, as well as a social media coach and brand developer.

    The At-Home postcards are from the COVID-19 Series in the postcard section.

    Since social media marketing should be among your go-to methods right now–while most people are hunkered down and spending lots of time online–this may just be the ideal book to read.

    Go take a peek inside the book at Amazon.com.

    3. Lead with Heart: Transform Your Business Through Personal Connection, by Tom Gartland

    First, let’s address the Amazon ratings. There are only three and one of them is from what sounds like a disgruntled former employer. He or she really doesn’t review the book, so we’re disregarding it and hope that you will too.

    Why?

    Since its publication in 2018, many agents have suggested this book to others. For instance, Minnesota broker and mega-agent Kris Lindahl raves about Gartland’s leadership principles.

    Especially if you are leading a team of agents, give this book a read.

    4. Content Rules: How to Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, Ebooks, Webinars (and More) That Engage Customers and Ignite Your Business, by Ann Handley

    We love that Handly devotes an entire chapter to creating case studies. Too few agents use them in their marketing and, if done right, they are so powerful.

    But you’ll also learn the art of blogging, how to put together a killer ebook, podcast or video.

    Content Rules is also available at Barnes&Noble.

    Escapism

    After an evening spent watching the news or hanging out on social media, do you ever find yourself in “the panic that comes with knowing too much and being able to do so little?”

    Elena Nicolaou, culture editor at OprahMag.com, calls this “coronanxiety.” Her secret for fighting it?

    “Feel-Good Books.” Although many might consider this escapism, Nicolaou cites the many psychologists who “… recommend reading as a coping mechanism during high stress moments.”

    Fiction is ideal right now, the perfect vehicle for “… the off-ramp of reality,” as Nicolaou calls it.

    So, what’s the recommendation? There are far too many to single out one. In fact, here’s a link to the Modern Library’s list of the “100 Best Novels” so you can choose. 

    We’ve chosen a few of our favorite “couldn’t-put-them-down” books:

    11/22/63, by Stephen King

    Appaloosa, by Robert B. Parker

    The Art of Racing in the Rain, by Garth Stein

    The Kin of Ata are Waiting for You, by Dorothy Bryant

    The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini

    The Pillars of the Earth, by Ken Follett

    Happy reading and stay healthy!

    The At-Home postcards are from the COVID-19 Series in the postcard section.
    Send a postcard from the COVID-19 Series to your Sphere or Farm. Let them know you’re thinking about them by offering DIY projects and family fun to keep busy during the stay-at-home orders.

    Need help targeting a specific niche of buyers or sellers? Use our mailing list tool to create the ideal list (it’s easy) or call our support team for assistance at 866.405.3638!

    PLUS: When you have time…here are some Free resources we’ve made available to support your success.

    1. The Free Real Estate Mailing List Guide

    The Real Estate Mailing List Guide outlines the top tools for generating targeted mailing lists including Baby Boomers, Empty Nesters, Investors, Lifestyle Interests, High-Income Renters, Move-Up Markets, and more. The Guide also defines done-for-you marketing campaigns to match these markets. –Click Here

    2. The 12 Month Done-For-You Strategic Marketing Plan

    The Real Estate Marketing Planner is a powerful 12-Month-Guide that strategically defines what marketing to do when. Four key market segments are included, Niche Marketing, Get More Listings, Geographic Farming, and Sphere of Influence. –Click Here

    3. The Free One-Page Real Estate Business Plan

    Treat your business like a business it is vital to long-term success in this industry. Some agents may put together elaborate business plans, yet there’s something powerful about keeping it simple. Check out our one page Online Real Estate Business Plan.  – Click Here

    4. Become a Listing Legend Free eBook 

    Ready to take a vertical leap in your real estate career? If you’re looking for inspiration…and the tools and methods to dominate a market and go to the top in real estate…you’ll find them in this free book. – Click Here

    5. The Free Online ROI Calculator

    Consistency and automation are the keys to success. Discover how effective direct mail marketing can dramatically increase your bottom line. Enter your statistics in our Free online ROI Calculator and click the ‘CALCULATE MY ROI’ button to see your results instantly! –Click Here

    6. The Real Estate Marketing Guide “CRUSH IT” 

    The “Crush It” Guide includes easy steps to launching an effective direct mail marketing campaign, how to create a targeted mailing list, the perfect way to layout marketing materials for success, seven opportunities available to target in your area right now. –Click Here

      Welcome to the world of the work-at-home bunch. While it sounds cool, working from home does have its challenges. You may be facing some of those right about now.

      The interruptions from family members, the feeling of isolation from your colleagues, the desire to run out for a coffee at Starbucks. Heck, right about now, you might even be missing that agent who never leaves the office, treating it like his own little social club.

      The biggest challenge for many is staying motivated while working in a vacuum.

      Self-motivation can be a tough nut to crack, but it all starts with creating the right environment – the home office.

      It takes more than a comfy couch and a laptop

      From the location within the home to getting the right gear and mindset, setting up your remote workspace takes some planning.

      Start with location. If you have kids at home, set your office as far away from their play areas as possible.

      Then, consider distractions that may come from outside the home. If your neighbors are using their “stay home” time to work on a car, chop down trees, or any other project that involves loud equipment, set the office on the far side of the home.

      Do you have the right gear?

      The two most important pieces of equipment you’ll need in your home office include:

      • The right chair
      • Good lighting

      You will be in that chair for a good part of the workday. If it doesn’t support your back, however, it’s the last place you’ll want to park yourself.

      Choosing an office chair is a lot like choosing a new bed. There are so many choices and, especially if you’re in a self-induced lockdown, you may not even get to try it out in person.

      This is where reviews come in handy. First, though, read up on the science behind the creation of an ergonomic chair. Then, take a look at this in-depth list of must-haves, created by a chiropractor.

      Natural light is the best, but don’t let that stop you if the only office location you have is windowless.

      Overhead lighting is a must, according to Sherry Nothingam at Decoist.com. But you’ll need more.

      “Task lights are undoubtedly the most essential part of the home office, and no matter what your job is, task lighting ensures that you get it done under the best possible illumination,” Nothingam suggests.

      These can include table lamps, which “offer focused illumination,” according to Nothingam. The proper placement of task lamps (to avoid the eyestrain produced by glare and shadows) is important as well.

      “For instance, an overhead spotlight situated behind you can result in glare on your computer screen,” according to Remodelista.com’s Christine Chang Hanway.

      Place your task light “the side opposite from the hand that you write with” to avoid casting shadows, Hanway suggests.

      It’s the little things that will round out your office, helping you remain productive and focused.

      If you use a laptop, consider purchasing a stand for it. Elevating your screen helps reduce screen glare which can cause eye strain and headaches.

      The folks at Wirecutter.com choose the Rain Design iLevel 2 notebook stand as the best. Then, there’s this one with nearly 5 stars in the reviews at Amazon.com.

      Use a desktop computer? Avoid neck and shoulder strain by elevating the monitor “… so your eyes are level with the top of the screen,” suggests physical therapist Jill M. Henderzahs-Mason at MayoClinic.org.

      The MOUNTUP Single Monitor Desk Mount monitor arm is popular and the guys at Wirecutter.com recommend the Jarvis Monitor Arm at Fully.com.

      Finally, Alexis is always a useful tool. In times of utter boredom, ask her to play Jeopardy. More productive uses of Amazon’s Echo include connecting your calendar which will then be available by voice command.

      You can also listen to podcasts, news or use the voice assistant to hold a meeting (Alexa for Business). Ask Alexa to “start the meeting” and, according to Tara Walker, with Amazon, she “turns on the video conferencing equipment, dials into your conference call, and gets the meeting going.”

      Dress for success

      Be sure to take a shower every day and get dressed. “Treat it like a real job.” At least that’s what the BBC.com’s Brian Lufkin says.

      And, whatever you’re wearing, wherever you’re working, please stay healthy.

      Send a postcard from the COVID-19 Series to an area where you want more listings.

      Need help targeting a specific niche of buyers or sellers? Use our mailing list tool to create the ideal list (it’s easy) or call our support team for assistance at 866.405.3638!

      PLUS: When you have time…here are some Free resources we’ve made available to support your success.

      1. The Free Real Estate Mailing List Guide

      The Real Estate Mailing List Guide outlines the top tools for generating targeted mailing lists including Baby Boomers, Empty Nesters, Investors, Lifestyle Interests, High-Income Renters, Move-Up Markets, and more. The Guide also defines done-for-you marketing campaigns to match these markets. –Click Here

      2. The 12 Month Done-For-You Strategic Marketing Plan

      The Real Estate Marketing Planner is a powerful 12-Month-Guide that strategically defines what marketing to do when. Four key market segments are included, Niche Marketing, Get More Listings, Geographic Farming, and Sphere of Influence. –Click Here

      3. Become a Listing Legend Free eBook 

      Ready to take a vertical leap in your real estate career? If you’re looking for inspiration…and the tools and methods to dominate a market and go to the top in real estate…you’ll find them in this free book. – Click Here

      4. The Free Online ROI Calculator

      Consistency and automation are the keys to success. Discover how effective direct mail marketing can dramatically increase your bottom line. Enter your statistics in our Free online ROI Calculator and click the ‘CALCULATE MY ROI’ button to see your results instantly! –Click Here

      5. The Real Estate Marketing Guide “CRUSH IT” 

      The “Crush It” Guide includes easy steps to launching an effective direct mail marketing campaign, how to create a targeted mailing list, the perfect way to layout marketing materials for success, seven opportunities available to target in your area right now. –Click Here

        Mortgage and rent relief, utility bill forbearance, and a sped-up unemployment compensation process are just a few of the forms of relief offered to Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic.

        The list changes almost daily. Unemployment benefits, for instance, were recently extended to independent contractors under the CARES Act.

        If you’re not working in real estate right now, which seems to be the prevalent situation across the country, we are offering up some ideas on how to deal with the lack of income during this period.

        Let’s talk about that unemployment compensation

        The official name for these benefits for the self-employed is “Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA).” As you can imagine, many states were and are completely unprepared for this new program.

        Built to accommodate W2 workers, the revamp to state systems to also include the self-employed is a bit sluggish, with some states not yet ready to accept applications.

        The COVID-19 Series of postcards are available in the postcard section.

        “States appear to be awaiting guidelines from the Labor Department, and some are updating their administrative processes,” according to Greg Iacurci at CNBC.com.

        He goes on to detail the experience of one self-employed Rochester, New York woman who was unable to apply via the website. Apparently, the site demanded a copy of her W2. She phoned the office (it took numerous tries before she got through) and was able to apply by phone and faxed her IRS Schedule C in lieu of the required W2.

        How much can you expect to receive in PUA? Iacurci says that the self-employed may “… receive half their state’s average weekly unemployment benefit plus $600 a week.”

        A far cry from the average commission check, but it will put food on the table.

        Check your state’s unemployment office website for details specific to you. For instance, New York has a handy chart detailing the requirements for PUA in that state.

        Get a small business loan

        I feel for the higher-earning real estate agents right now. To go from a huge income to nothing has got to be something they never expected.

        For these agents, especially those with employees, a small business loan may be the answer.

        The Paycheck Protection Program, part of the CARES Act, has $350 billion to offer small businesses.

        “The program is designed to get cash into the hands of suffering small businesses quickly, with less red tape and fewer guardrails than the SBA’s existing loan programs,” according to Aaron Gregg at WashingtonPost.com.

        The main goal of the program is to help employees remain on the payroll by incentivizing small business owners. The bonus for you is that you may qualify for loan forgiveness.

        The COVID-19 Series of postcards are available in the postcard section.

        Get details on the Paycheck Protection Program and learn if you qualify at SBA.gov.

        Should you consider raiding your retirement funds?

        Because there are very pertinent pros and cons to this question, the answer is a toughie.

        Some of the disbursement rules have changed, making it even more tempting to raid your retirement accounts. In the past, there were penalties for early disbursements from these accounts.

        Today, account holders are allowed to take, penalty-free, up to $100,000 as a “hardship distribution” from their IRA, 401(k) or 403(b).

        You will pay taxes on the disbursement but the CARES Act allows you to spread the payment of these taxes (and the repayment of the disbursement) over three years.

        “The biggest consequence of withdrawing money from your retirement plan is that you are losing out on that money compounding,” Mitch Goldberg, financial advisor tells Sharon Epperson at CNBC.com.

        If this feels like a good solution for you, run it by your financial planner first. He or she may offer up insights you haven’t considered.

        The COVID-19 Series of postcards are available in the postcard section.

        Stay healthy!

        Send the Virtual Consultation postcard from the COVID-19 Series to an area where you want more listings.

        Need help targeting a specific niche of buyers or sellers? Use our mailing list tool to create the ideal list (it’s easy) or call our support team for assistance at 866.405.3638!

        PLUS: When you have time…here are some Free resources we’ve made available to support your success.

        1. The 12 Month Done-For-You Strategic Marketing Plan

        The Real Estate Marketing Planner is a powerful 12-Month-Guide that strategically defines what marketing to do when. Four key market segments are included, Niche Marketing, Get More Listings, Geographic Farming, and Sphere of Influence. –Click Here


        2. The Free One-Page Real Estate Business Plan

        Treat your business like a business it is vital to long-term success in this industry. Some agents may put together elaborate business plans, yet there’s something powerful about keeping it simple. Check out our one page Online Real Estate Business Plan.  – Click Here


        3. Become a Listing Legend Free eBook 

        Ready to take a vertical leap in your real estate career? If you’re looking for inspiration…and the tools and methods to dominate a market and go to the top in real estate…you’ll find them in this free book. – Click Here


        4. The Free Online ROI Calculator

        Consistency and automation are the keys to success. Discover how effective direct mail marketing can dramatically increase your bottom line. Enter your statistics in our Free online ROI Calculator and click the ‘CALCULATE MY ROI’ button to see your results instantly! –Click Here


        5. The Real Estate Marketing Guide “CRUSH IT” 

        The “Crush It” Guide includes easy steps to launching an effective direct mail marketing campaign, how to create a targeted mailing list, the perfect way to layout marketing materials for success, seven opportunities available to target in your area right now. –Click Here

          We know you’re fielding questions from consumers so we’ve scoured real estate related news stories to bring you the ones that will help you answer those questions.

          The supply and demand rollercoaster

          Worldwide, housing markets are changing. As of March 26, demand in the UK is down and there has been an increase in the number of sales that have fallen through,” according to Nicu Calcea at Zoopla.co.uk.

          However, here in the U.S. conditions are fairing much better. In fact, they reflect our favorite “location, location, location” mantra.

          The COVID Series of postcards is available in the postcard section.

          For instance, an agent in Albuquerque, NM states that the market is “still rocking.”

          Christian Murdock, with Gazette.com says that the Colorado Springs, CO market is not only still strong, but “Home sales increased; prices soared to another record high, and builders enjoyed their best month in more than a year.”

          Of course, it’s to be expected that some areas are being temporarily impacted by the stay-at-home orders. Realtor.com stated during the week of March 28, the number of new listings (nationally) decreased over this time last year.

          The good news for buyers, however, is that homes coming on the market are less expensive.

          “The median asking price for newly-listed homes last week was $309,000—$21,000, lower than two weeks earlier,” according to Katz.

          The COVID Series of postcards is available in the postcard section.

          Do check out this Redfin article for some interesting charts and graphs.

          Will the iBuyer model survive?

          According to Brenda Richardson at Forbes.com, iBuyers, such as Opendoor, Zillow, Redfin, and others, are taking a break from the housing market.

          They are, in her estimation, “… in a state of limbo. What the iBuyer landscape will look like when the dust settles is a big question mark.”

          One Zillow listing client explained to Richardson that Zillow canceled his home purchase 10 days before closing.

          According to Richardson, the cancellation paperwork told him he had 48 hours to “. . . to choose between two options from Zillow: ‘I could take a check for $5,000. That’s $1,000 in earnest money that they were contractually obligated to pay me for breaking the contract and $4,000 extra for the trouble. Or they would pay for a Realtor to relist the house. They were just going to cancel the contract and walk away.’”

          He took the money. “We absolutely could have closed on this house without ever having to break any sort of guidelines around social distancing,” he explained to Richardson.

          “And so for Zillow to blame what’s going on from a health-care standpoint for their financial decision to break this contract and put that burden back on me and their customers is really insulting.”

          Maybe he’ll choose a real, live, professional and experienced real estate agent next time?

          MOST IMPORTANT: Free telemedicine for REALTORS®

          Your association is certainly looking out for you during this crisis. According to the Members TeleHealth site, the NAR has funded two free months of TeleHealth services for members.

          You don’t have much time, however, you need to sign up by April 15 and you can do so at RealtorsInsuranceMarketplace.com.

          Stay in touch with your Sphere and Farm by sending a postcard from the COVID-19 Series. 
          Or purchase a single postcard download and share it on social media.

          Need help targeting a specific niche of buyers or sellers? Use our mailing list tool to create the ideal list (it’s easy) or call our support team for assistance at 866.405.3638!


          Check out the All-New ProspectsPLUS! 10X – With a personalized dashboard, auto-populated marketing, the world’s best editor, and mailings lists you can buy in minutes! – Click Here

          PLUS: When you have time…here are some Free resources we’ve made available to support your success.

          1. The 12 Month Done-For-You Strategic Marketing Plan

          The Real Estate Marketing Planner is a powerful 12-Month-Guide that strategically defines what marketing to do when. Four key market segments are included, Niche Marketing, Get More Listings, Geographic Farming, and Sphere of Influence. –Click Here

           

          2. The Free One-Page Real Estate Business Plan

          Treat your business like a business it is vital to long-term success in this industry. Some agents may put together elaborate business plans, yet there’s something powerful about keeping it simple. Check out our one page Online Real Estate Business Plan.  – Click Here

          4. Become a Listing Legend Free eBook 

          Ready to take a vertical leap in your real estate career? If you’re looking for inspiration…and the tools and methods to dominate a market and go to the top in real estate…you’ll find them in this free book. – Click Here

           

           

          5. The Free Online ROI Calculator

          Consistency and automation are the keys to success. Discover how effective direct mail marketing can dramatically increase your bottom line. Enter your statistics in our Free online ROI Calculator and click the ‘CALCULATE MY ROI’ button to see your results instantly! –Click Here

           

          3. The Real Estate Marketing Guide “CRUSH IT” 

          The “Crush It” Guide includes easy steps to launching an effective direct mail marketing campaign, how to create a targeted mailing list, the perfect way to layout marketing materials for success, seven opportunities available to target in your area right now. –Click Here