Content is still king, in all forms of online and offline marketing. Before you dive in, however, there are some content creation basics that all real estate agents should have nailed as they plan and create their written and image-based content.
Anyone who has seen our online marketing is familiar with the phrase, “Redwood Rocks.” Not only is this a rallying cry for our agents; it’s a testament to our agents’ hard work and their enormous hearts. That attitude of caring is on display this month at our C21 Redwood Realty Washington, D.C. office in Dupont Circle. In preparation for the Washington, D.C. Pride Parade on June 8 and in recognition of June being LGBTQ Pride month, our D.C. staff and agents gathered to decorate the office and show their support for our LGBTQ agents, friends, clients, family members, and allies.
Executive Vice President and Managing Broker of our C21 Redwood Realty Fairfax office, Jim Phillips, is a multi-talented broker. Not only has Jim been in the brokerage business for more than 27 years, he also acts as a certified L.I.F.E. (Living In Full Expression) coach, strategist, and author. Some of his many talents include helping people identify what they want from life and putting goals and plans in place to achieve it.
Everyone wants to have a soft place to land or at least to lay your head, right? This extends to everyone, including those who are in between permanent homes or are homeless. This past month, Century 21 Redwood Realty agents rallied together to collect new pillows to donate to the Northern Virginia SERVE shelter.
Spearheaded by our C21 Redwood Manassas office’s Redwood Gives Back arm and supported by agents across all of our 13 offices, the collection of pillows were happily greeted by SERVE and the people SERVE helps. Northern Virginia Family Service’s SERVE Family Shelter is Northern Virginia’s largest family shelter and, on average (per their website), more than 40% of the shelter’s guests are children. While you wouldn’t think of a soft, clean pillow being a luxury, for some it is.
Video is more important than ever in the online world and is a great tool to use in your real estate business. There are 5 types of videos you should consider incorporating into your social media content when using those platforms for real estate.
Our Century 21 Redwood Realty agents have been practicing their curly Ws (OK, maybe only a few of us) and hot dog eating skills in anticipation of an annual event that’s a crowd-pleaser for agents, staff, and family members alike – it’s the Redwood Baseball Game!
Are your unread emails sitting at 0 or 30,000? If it's the latter, you’re not alone. Yet, you’ll probably open up emails that seem important or are addressed to you. Your prospective and current clients are the same. Email marketing is still a strong way of communicating with your clients as long as personalized and contains information that’s important to the recipient. On the creation side, though, it can become time-consuming to send or respond to all the email. What do you do? Enter the email template.
Do you have a favorite social media site you prefer either in your life or in your business? You’re not alone! Everyone has a preference and while a good online marketing plan incorporates a few of the key social sites, there are usually one or two you find yourself going back to time and again. We asked our CENTURY 21 Redwood Realty agents their preferences. Which one do you think was most popular?
One annual tradition we’ve grown to love and look forward to around here at CENTURY 21 Redwood Realty is our Redwood Rally. As we continue to grow our company, it has become more important than ever to have periodic occasions where we bring all of our offices together to learn from each other and to enjoy each other’s company. While we have our day out at Nationals stadium or our company holiday party every year, the Redwood Rally is a wonderful time of learning, celebration of everyone’s respective accomplishments, and a finale of fun guarantees that everyone who attends truly feels like they’re part of the family.
You may think that spring season is our favorite time of the year, and you’d be right – but it may not be for the reason you think! We’re actually big fans of this time of year because it’s when we start hearing about all the amazing awards and recognition our CENTURY 21 Redwood agents receive for their hard work the previous year. Not only are these awards well-deserved; they also provide an ever-rising benchmark for their peers in the real estate industry.
You pretty much give away your age depending on what you call this sign: #. Is it pound or is it hash? What used to be the pound sign to many is now what most people associate with hashtags. Hashtags were actually first predominantly used on Twitter as a way for people to organize information and find it again quickly. (In fact, you can blame one man, Chris Messina, for the first real uses of hashtags.)
Our CENTURY 21 Redwood Realty agents have had the excellent opportunity to take advantage of not one but TWO of our three owners presenting important real estate information about growing their real estate business and preparing to prospect. These sessions were presented to all of our agents in our 13 offices across Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Northern Virginia, and were piggybacking off of sessions presented by Tom Ferry and his coaching staff.
Have you ever Googled yourself? Did you know that Google will try to give you what it thinks you want to see? So, there’s a very good chance you’ll rank for your name, your area, your business on the first page. More importantly, though, do you know what people see when they Google you?
They’re the two words every potential home seller can’t wait to hear every year: “spring market.” Why? Traditionally, the spring market is the hottest time for sellers to put their homes on the market and buyers scramble to take advantage of the influx of offerings. However, while no one can really pinpoint the date a spring market will take off, there are certain clues that you’re entering into the spring market. As a bonus, we also asked some of our CENTURY 21 Redwood Realty agents where they thought some of the hottest neighborhoods would be for the spring market – and they answered!
Did you know that one of largest resources and social platforms online is YouTube? Created to host and offer videos spanning a wide variety of topics, YouTube is a popular place for people to find information. Are you on YouTube yet? If you are, have you organized your YouTube channel to make it easier for people to find you and your content? YouTube isn’t just a place for you to upload all your listing videos. There are a number of ways you can use your YouTube channel for real estate, and it starts with your YouTube set-up.
Prospecting. Pipelines. Scripts and dialogues. If you’re new to the real estate industry, these might still all be unfamiliar terminology. However, if you’ve been in this business for any amount of time, you’ve got some idea about what these terms mean for the longevity of your real estate career. It’s easier, however, when you start to think of ‘prospecting’ as ‘finding prospective buyers and sellers who may need your assistance’, ‘pipelines’ as a ‘list of people who range from wanting to buy or sell something now to those who are interested in possibly buying or selling down the road’, and ‘scripts and dialogues’ as ‘specific words used to better communicate your desire to help people’ and ‘questions to ask to help you better identify people who need your help now versus those who might need it later.’
While Facebook remains one of the most popular social media platforms, at least demographically with older age groups, it could benefit a real estate agent to at least consider consistently maintaining a Facebook Page. (If you’re interested in Facebook and/or Instagram advertising at all, or having an Instagram Business account, you’ll need a Facebook Page anyway.)
One of the events we most look forward to every year here at CENTURY 21 Redwood Realty is the Redwood Rally, and this year is no exception! Once again, all 13 of our real estate offices will gather at the MGM National Harbor in Maryland for awards recognition, food, drinks, dancing and fun!
We all have a few ‘go-to’ apps we find ourselves using every day in our personal lives, and that’s no different for our real estate lives as well. We were curious what active real estate agents are using every day during their working hours, so we reached out to our CENTURY 21 Redwood Realty agents to find out what they had to say. Here are some of their favorite real estate apps and tech tools!
Recently, C21 Redwood Realty President and co-Founder Eddie Berenbaum joined Arlington agents Kathy Dipp and Ricardo Rozada for CENTURY 21’s One21 European Summit, a conference attracting over 2000 real estate professionals for learning, community, and fun in Lisbon, Portugal.
“Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.” While technically it’s the United States Postal Service’s motto, it could just as easily apply to real estate agents, including during the extreme chill of a polar vortex. We’ve previously written about how to real estate in bad weather, where we talked about tips like checking in on clients and checking on signs. While information like this also applies to winter, there are a few other tips to consider that are winter-specific.
Ensure Access to Your Properties
Winter weather can bring more complications for access, including ice and snow. Ruthan O’Toole, a CENTURY 21 Redwood Realty Locust Grove agent, says she takes into consideration access concerns for both the public and other agents when there’s inclement weather. Having a plan for keeping walkways and driveways (or other parking spaces) clear and open, whether it be from the sellers or an agreement with third-party vendors, can provide additional peace of mind for both the sellers and the selling agent. Additionally, keeping specific winter weather tools on hand, like shovels, sand, and salt, is good for those times when wintry weather sneaks up on you.
You’ve probably heard it from everyone by now – you should be using video in your real estate marketing, for listings but also for self-promotion. In fact, top real estate coach Tom Ferry has been sharing his thoughts about adding video into a real estate business with our CENTURY 21 Redwood Realty agents. If you haven’t started yet, though, there’s still time to make 2019 the Year of You and Video. Read on to get some tips and tricks to effectively using video in your business.
Getting Started with Video
All you really need to get started with video is something that can take video, like your smartphone or tablet. (If you’re not sure, most phone and tablet manufacturers will have online tutorials.)
Next, you’ll need a plan. What do you want the video to be about? Who’s the audience? What message do you want the audience to walk away with? Will it just be you in the video, or will you include other people as well? Will this be a ‘one take’ video – done in one shot and one take, or an edited video, with several different videos pieced together to make one video?
Clients these days want to feel informed before making any decision. With all the different kinds of information out there, however, it can sometimes be difficult for them to know which information to trust and rely on. Enter: You, Their Real Estate Agent and Trusted Local Adviser.
One of the ways our agents communicate local market conditions with prospective and current clients is through MarketWatch postcards. How could you use them in your business? First, send out MarketWatch postcards to people in your chosen area with information about current and upcoming listings, including a summary of properties that are for sale, under contract, or have sold to other residents in those areas. Then, follow up with new cards when you get a listing, when the property goes under contract, when it sells, and/or when the market changes in that area. Keeping that constant flow of simple-to-understand information in an easily digestible marketing piece is an excellent touchpoint and way to provide clients with valuable information. All while showcasing your local knowledge!
Choosing the right person to lead a talented and diverse group of agents can be a challenging task. When you find them, however, it can be a rewarding and fulfilling experience, both for yourself and your agents. We’ve been fortunate here at CENTURY 21 Redwood Realty that when we’ve needed to find the right person to lead one of our offices, they’ve appeared. The Managing Brokers/Executive Vice Presidents of our 13 offices have a wide range of backgrounds and skill sets, yet also have several things in common. They all are widely respected within the industry and by their peers; they’re often recognized for their dedication to bettering the real estate industry as a whole; they’ve worked tirelessly in the past for their buyer and seller clients; and they now are wholeheartedly committed to helping each agent in their office achieve their goals.
One of the reasons they’re able to keep this single-minded focus and commitment to our agents is because none of our managing brokers are active selling agents. Now, instead of time spent prospecting and lead generating for themselves, they’re teaching classes on prospecting and lead generation best practices for their agents. Instead of squeezing in time to show houses to prospective buyers, they’re running office events and book clubs and organizing training events by outside experts for their agents.
Since "Tidying Up with Marie Kondo" premiered on Netflix, people around the country have been embracing the idea of decluttering. Last week, we brought you several helpful tips from our agents about tidying up when your house is on the market. This week, we're bringing you even more ideas! Perhaps they'll inspire you this weekend, whether you're prepping your house to sell, or just want to enjoy a neater space.
When Michelle Sanoske, an agent in our Reston office gets a listing, she doesn't waste any time getting the home ready for potential buyers.
“First, I get my clients to agree to a Salvation Army and/or junk removal date. Then, I offer my help to start the process. ‘Time is money’ is a very effective mantra (because it's true)! Once this is done and the house is staged, I ask my clients to use one specific bathroom and keep the house orderly because it will show better and sell quicker. Another good mantra to remember during this process? ‘No pain, no gain!’”
Last year, CENTURY 21 Redwood's owners, Shawn Milletary, Nick Pasquini, and Eddie Berenbaum, made a significant investment in their agents' businesses by embarking on a year-long partnership with America's #1 Real Estate Coach, Tom Ferry. This partnership consisted of exclusive events and learning opportunities and culminated with a company-wide business planning session led by Tom Ferry himself. Agent feedback was overwhelmingly positive, so the partnership has been extended for another year. To celebrate, we kicked off year two in a big way: with a two-day Sales Edge event that was presented entirely free to our agents.
This program's goal was to improve sales confidence with proven persuasion and objection handling skills. Pipes taught our agents techniques to dramatically increase their conversion with the goal of every lead becoming an appointment. He stressed the importance of role-playing throughout and had agents practice different scenarios with each other.
Are you one of the millions of people who have either read Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up or watched her Netflix show, “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo”? Both have inspired many people across the country (and the world) to look at their homes with a different set of eyes, to get rid of things that no longer “spark joy” and to organize what they keep more neatly. From a real estate perspective, it’s fantastic this show is getting so much notice, as helping people ‘tidy’ up and declutter before putting their home on the market is one of the many tasks of most real estate agents! We asked our resident tidy-ers their tips for helping sellers prepare their homes for sale, as well as how to keep them clean for showings and open houses. Here is part one of their responses. Be sure to come back next week for part two!“I’ve learned most recently, after getting my own home ready for sale after living and raising our kids for the last 18 years, that this is more overwhelming than I thought. Being sympathetic to how stressful this is has helped me to help my clients in a different way the last six months.
First, take it room by room, so it’s less stressful. Deciding what needs to be saved, donated or trashed is always important, but how to do that is even more important. Can they do this themselves or do they need help from a service (if they are older)? Is the house really in need of a lot of work? Maybe they’ll need a dumpster instead. So, it’s up to me to provide the relevant resources to help.
59% of its users are under the age of 30. 38% of its users check it several times a day. (Source) The chances are good that you’re on (or at last have heard of) Instagram. With a myriad of app choices to use to enhance your Instagram marketing, it can be challenging to figure out where to start. So, we thought we’d help you out with an Instagram App starter pack!
Native Instagram Apps
Certain apps are “native” to Instagram, meaning that Instagram developed them themselves to seamlessly work with its app.
One of the newest is IGTV. IGTV is a vertical video app, which is meant to be more of a TV-like experience. Videos can be uploaded up to 10 minutes in length, and up to 60 minutes if you’ve got enough followers (and/or have a verified account). IGTV is meant to try to take advantage of the digital video watching boom evidenced by people ditching their cable and streaming more content.
To become a true craftsman of any profession requires commitment and dedication. When you’re in a service industry such as real estate, you also need to have an unwavering attitude of always putting the client first. Those three attributes are the trademarks of Wayne Steadman, which is why we’re honored to have him as the Executive Vice President/Managing broker in our Manassas office.
Manassas is CENTURY 21 Redwood's newest office. It opened in 2018 and marked the company's second location in Prince William County, Virginia. Cindy Stackhouse, who is the Executive Vice President and Managing Broker of our Montclair, Virginia office stepped in to lead Manassas as we searched for a permanent Managing Broker.
Was one of your resolutions in 2019 as a new real estate agent to create more business opportunities for yourself? Our experts – Directors of New Agent Growth Trish Szego and Sandy Rosengarden - agree that one of the best ways to do that is by committing to holding open houses for other agents throughout this next year. Here’s why it’s a practice that works.
First, by actively participating in an open house you start to understand the mechanics of a successful open house. As Trish points out, it’s “more than just sticking signs in the ground and hoping people will come through.” In their new agent classes, Trish and Sandy break the work behind an open house down by day for the week before the actual open. One of the points they make is that they “should shadow an experienced agent but also should attend other companies’ open houses as well.” That may help you pick up ideas or even learn what you won’t want to do in your own open.
For many real estate agents, the end of last year was a time of reflection, not only for their personal lives but also about how well their real estate businesses were doing. What’s been going well? What needs improvement? One of the greatest areas of introspection is often on marketing, and for good reason. Real estate marketing is one of the most significant tools in any professional agent’s skill set, which is why empowering our agents with the best marketing tools and training is one of our main focuses here at CENTURY 21 Redwood Realty.
We offer individual agent websites to every C21 Redwood agent. These websites are modeled after our own very successful website, C21Redwood.com, and we give access to our agents (along with training) to allow them to adjust their website with their content and tastes. We want everyone to be able to highlight their hyperlocal expertise and attract clients while continuing to provide those clients with exceptional service on every front.
C21 Redwood Welcomes Kevin Shirley as Our Washington, DC Executive Vice President and Managing Broker
When our beloved Washington, DC Executive Vice President, and Managing Broker, Kara Koonce, decided to accept a new position within the company as Director of Field Management, she left some pretty big shoes to fill. After an extensive search, we are pleased to announce that we have a new EVP and Managing Broker in DC: Kevin Shirley.
Kevin started in the real estate arena in 1996 and dedicated himself to familiarizing himself with all the roles in a real estate office while working for his buyer and seller clients. His experience spans from working as a marketing specialist to acting as a manager and broker to heading things in a real estate office as a team leader to providing concierge-level real estate services for his fellow agents.
It’s always fun to try and peer into the future to predict what will happen, especially when it comes to technology. The speed in which some of these advances are made, however, can make it hard to keep up, so it’s better to try and determine what affects you and your business and pay attention to those technologies first. We took a look into our crystal ball for the year to see what we think will be the top 5 real estate technology trends of 2019. Here they are:
Home search and reviews will be more critical than ever.
We already know that the internet is used by prospective clients for both home searches and to learn more about real estate agents. We think that trend will continue into this year, with major company and third-party websites still bringing in the traffic for home searches (along with the relevant home search apps, of course). Testimonials will be more important than ever, however, as people try and decide on who they want to trust with their real estate transaction. It’s one of the reasons we use RealSatisfied here at CENTURY 21 Redwood Realty; its ease of use ensures clients will submit a review and it allows for easy sharing across multiple channels by an agent.
We first presented this piece back in 2015, in which we imagined how things could be (at the time) five years from now in a day of the life of a real estate agent in 2020. How far off the mark do you think we are? With only a year left to go, do you think this is still feasible, or do you think we have a few years left down the road for some of this technology to happen?
6 am: Your house gently awakens you at 6 am, opening your blackout shades, slowing turning on your bedside light and starting to fix your coffee.
7 am: Your voice-activated, electronic personal assistant, Alexa, reads you the local news, tells you what the day's weather will be and gives you your schedule. You tell Alexa to remind your sellers' electronic personal assistants about today's open home and your buyer clients' assistant what documents will need to get signed today.
8 am: You jump into your electric, self-driving car, giving your vehicle the day's route, before starting to have your email read back to you. No need to go into a brick-and-mortar office - everything you need is now in your car or online, in the cloud.
One of the best ways to kickstart a new year in any business is with the help of a master mentor. That’s why we’re bringing Tom Ferry’s master trainer, Bill Pipes, in to lead an exclusive 2-day Sales Edge event in January. We want our agents to feel prepared no matter what market they’re in or what 2019 brings. Bill is going to help them with every aspect of sales skills, from improving confidence to objection handling to increasing your conversions to the point where every lead becomes an appointment.
Traditionally, people think the real estate market starts in the spring of every year. However, savvy sellers know that listing in the winter ‘off-season’ can prove to be beneficial. Don’t believe us? Here’s what our CENTURY 21 Redwood agents had to say about why you should be listing your home right now.
“Of course, winter or off-season listing is beneficial to willing sellers!
There is less competition (fewer homes for buyers to select from) with fewer homes on the market that time of year AND buyers who are out in the marketplace are more seriously motivated to locate their next home & commit to a closing date.
Agents typically are carrying less inventory so have more personalized time for marketing. Vendors are also less busy, so scheduling photo shoots, repairs, remodeling is more flexible and compatible with seller plans.”
Ruthan O’Toole, Agent, C21 Redwood Locust Grove
Once you’ve been in the real estate industry for six months or more, you’re going to be faced with a decision: Are you serious about this real estate business? It can be easy to leave your days and weeks unstructured and to only work with the clients who fall in your lap but, especially in tougher markets, there comes a time when that won’t be enough to sustain your real estate career.
We reached out to CENTURY 21 Redwood Realty Associate Broker and Success Coach Elsa Rake for her tips on how a newer real estate agent can transition from being a casual real estate agent to a committed real estate agent.
It’s All in Your Mind(set)
The first thing that has to happen, she says, is that you have to change your mindset. “You need to change how you view real estate, from looking at it as a part-time job or hobby to considering it as an actual business and career. Until that changes, typically an agent won’t be successful.
In 2018, we partnered with America's #1 Real Estate Coach, Tom Ferry, to put on exclusive live and online events for our agents. The arrangement was so successful that we've decided to extend it into 2019. Our kickoff will be January 22 and 23 when we present Sales Edge with Bill Pipes. Bill Pipes is Tom Ferry's top master trainer, and he holds this event throughout the country. So what makes our version so unique? The curriculum and materials for this event will match the Sales Edge with Bill Pipes programs that Tom puts on, but it won't come with the standard $397 price tag. That's right; we're offering this two-day event for free.
How do you score a free ticket to this event? There are two ways:
1. Be a current CENTURY 21 Redwood agent. Sales Edge with Bill Pipes is the first of many events that we're offering free to our agents with the express purpose of helping them grow their businesses.
2. Consider taking the leap and joining the C21 Redwood family! We have made a few slots available for those agents who are considering changing brokerages in the new year. If you're interested in a brokerage that invests in its agents, then Redwood may be a perfect fit. If you're interested in learning more and attending this event, then get in touch with our president, Eddie Berenbaum, and have a chat.
Do your real estate business plans for 2019 include starting or continuing to send email newsletters and email campaigns? Do you know how you’ll cut through the noise, so your message gets read? Email marketing isn’t dead; it just isn’t done as well as it could be. Send a more effective email in 2019 using the following tips:
It Starts with the Email Subject Line
Many real estate newsletters use subject lines that say something like, “Real Estate Update for January 2019” or “Newsletter from X Property.” Sounds exciting, right?
One of the ways you can start to increase the chances of people opening your email is by writing a more interesting subject line. Don’t automatically use the default subject of your usual contact management program. Instead, think of something fun or descriptive that could pique someone’s interest. For instance, you can include someone’s name in the subject line, use “you” in the subject line, or even use an emoji or two.
When the real estate market starts to change and become slower, the initial reaction of many people is to panic. Newer real estate agents may be tempted to join them, while experienced agents know there are ways to tackle this new market without losing momentum in their businesses. As C21 Redwood Realty Arlington agent Gary Hughes shares, “Once you decide you will be one of the survivors, you can move forward eager to manage the change and embrace new experiences.”
Where to start? Here are some tips to help you thrive in your next changing real estate market:
Go Back to Basics
One of Coach Tom Ferry’s top tips for confronting a changing market is to diversify your lead generation strategy. You’ll have to work harder to attract buyers and sellers from a variety of sources, and you may even have to go back to certain basics of real estate like working For Sale By Owners (FSBOs) and expired listings. Diversifying also applies to new price points. Rethink the price point you work in and review whether you may want to explore other price points as well.
We must breed them relentless here at CENTURY 21 Redwood Realty, as yet another of our real estate agents, Kathy Dipp, from our Arlington office, has been recognized with the “Relentless Agent Award” from CENTURY 21. Selected as one of only five of the franchise's independent sales professionals to receive this honor, CENTURY 21 is recognizing Kathy for her continued ability to defy mediocrity and deliver an extraordinary real estate experience to her clients of homebuyers and sellers.
The “Relentless Agent” award is based on third-party customer ratings and testimonials, as well as Kathy’s impact on her clients and customers and the number of sales combined. "Kathy's clients and customers told us emphatically that she went 'above and beyond' for them,” says CENTURY 21 President and CEO Nick Bailey, “and provided the deep-rooted knowledge, remarkability and extra-mile support they deserve from their real estate agent and company of choice.” It comes as no surprise to us, as Kathy’s dedication to her buyer and seller clients is well-known within our company and across the Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C. area.
There’s a new MLS in town, and it’s what our CENTURY 21 Redwood Realty agents are using to market their listings and find their buyers a new home. Bright MLS recently replaced Metropolitan Regional Information Systems (MRIS) as the multiple listing service used by Northern Virginia, Southern Maryland, and Washington, DC agents. Bright MLS is the consolidation of 9 MLSs across six states plus Washington, DC, representing 43 associations and encompassing over 85, 000 real estate professionals. (Source)
So, what’s so great about Bright MLS?
Bright MLS was created with several goals in mind, including simplification, improved innovation, enhanced and integrated property information, reduced technology costs, and a number of other features. Specifically, though, there are several qualities our C21 Redwood agents have started to appreciate when learning to use Bright MLS.
2018 was a big year for CENTURY 21 Redwood Realty. It was a year of tremendous growth, with the addition of our 13th office, located in Manassas, VA. We also entered into a partnership with America's #1 Real Estate Coach, Tom Ferry. We celebrated with him at our Redwood Rally, at which CENTURY 21 CEO Nick Bailey and CMO Cara Whitley were also keynote speakers. He also led a business planning session exclusively for our agents. With such a busy year almost behind us, it was important to get everyone together for a night of fun and fellowship-- with dueling pianos.
For the second year in a row, we rented out Bobby McKey's Dueling Piano Bar at National Harbor for our company holiday party.
You’re inspired. You’re ready. You’re going to hit the ground running on January 1. Your 2019 real estate business plan is all ready to go. It includes a 2019 online strategy, right? Right?!
If that’s your missing piece, it’s OK. You’ve still got time to work on incorporating those essential online pieces to the rest of your plan. Where do you start? With some oldies, yet goodies: Who, What, Where, When, Why and How.
The Why of your 2019 Online Strategy
Like Simon Sinek says, “Start with why.” In this case, you need to decide why you even want to have an online presence for your real estate business in the first place. Is it because you want more followers in 2019? Do you want more people engaging with you online? Do you want to create more lead opportunities? You’d like to increase your referral network? Or, maybe you’d like to continue nurturing relationships with your current client sphere. Whatever your reason, you need to decide what your goal is with your efforts. Knowing your purpose upfront means you can then measure whether or not you’re successful in what you’re working on. Once you’ve got your Why decided, you can focus on the rest of your strategy.
As we start to prepare ourselves for another new year, one of the things to consider when thinking about your 2019 online digital strategy is whether you are conveying a consistent branding style in your online marketing (both paid and unpaid). If you aren’t, or you’re not sure, here are some steps to take to get a brand-new Brand You out there in the new year.
Create a Personal Brand Style Guide
What the heck is a brand style guide, you ask? A brand style guide is a combination of your visual style and content style that you follow to create consistency for your brand.
Having a brand style guide, even a simplistic one, allows those who view your profile to instantly and easily identify you, picking you out from other real estate agents.
Back in April, we announced the launch of CENTURY 21 Redwood Realty’s Transaction Concierge. Headed by Alicia Brown, we introduced the Transaction Concierge service to help real estate agents who want to maintain or increase their number of transactions without getting hampered by dealing with the paperwork that gets created along the way.
As a reminder, our Transaction Concierge team can:
- Collect all paperwork related to a contract and making sure it’s uploaded correctly to our company’s transaction system
- Complete all coversheets
- Order services like home warranties, photography, signs and more
- Confirm all agent-scheduled inspections (home, radon, etc.)
- Actualize a one-time input of listing information into BrightMLS, with the agent only needing to review, finalize and activate
- And do lots more of the behind-the-scenes stuff you’d typically have to deal with in a transaction!
We wanted to follow up to see what our agents have thought about using the service, and they couldn’t be more enthusiastic in their responses:
Shakespeare once wrote, “To team or not to team, that is the question.” OK, so maybe that’s paraphrasing a little, but we bet if Shakespeare were around in real estate today, he might have rethought his original text, and for good reason! One of the biggest buzzwords of the past five years is “teams” – specifically, real estate teams. Whether to start one, whether to join one, how to go about hiring for one, the highs and lows of being part of one…all of these things need to be taken into consideration before taking your next step. We asked some of our CENTURY 21 Redwood Realty agents who were familiar with some aspect of teams to share their experiences with you. Here’s what three of them had to say:
Pros and Cons, from a Former Team Member
Century 21 Redwood Realty Fairfax agent Laurel Chinn sees the positives and not-so-positives of working in a team (at least the team she was on). She shares both sides of her personal experience:
“I was on a team for a while and loved the feeling of inclusivity and I know I'm not alone in this! However, I did not like the overall culture as it was sort of militant. I'm all about hard work, but being expected to work 14 hours for little pay and then expected to join them for 'fun' at night and do my lunches with them...which could get expensive...was not cool. While I know not all teams are like that, I am a bit more tentative about teams now. With that in mind, I think I'd vet a team very well before joining because I did like the group feel of the team and not always having to generate my own leads was pretty great!”
Here at CENTURY 21 Redwood Realty, 2018 and 2019 are all about business planning. We've launched an exclusive online business planning tool for our agents, and even held a company-wide business planning session hosted by Tom Ferry-- an event that was so out-of-this-world successful, that we're doing it again next year. One of the fundamentals of a robust real estate business plan is prospecting. Our owners, Shawn Milletary, Nick Pasquini, and Eddie Berenbaum, wanted to drive this home, so they decided to incentivize our agents through a business planning competition with some BIG prizes.
The contest ran for 60 days leading up to our company-wide business planning event, and focused on five areas of an agent's business:
- Listing Appointments
- Buyer Consultations
- Open Houses
- Outbound Referrals
Most online marketers agree that visual content marketing is their most significant focus now and moving into 2019. Take video - mobile video usage alone has increased by nearly 10 million daily viewing minutes in the last two years! (Source.) That’s a lot of eyeballs…and wouldn’t you like those eyeballs to be watching your content, too? You’re going to be creating and sharing interesting, engaging images online. So, where should you start?
Have a Plan
Start by having a plan. What do you want your content to convey? Are you going to be showing off a particular lifestyle? Will you be focusing more on the community you live and work in? Or are you going to be strictly business – sharing the stories of the buyers and sellers you work with, as well as the day to day behind the scenes of work of a hard-working real estate agent?
Knowing what kind of story you want to tell and what people you want to attract most will help you figure out the next step in your planning, which is deciding where to post your content and how often.
At CENTURY 21 Redwood Realty, when we say we partner with agents to grow their business, we mean it. That's why, in 2018, we forged a partnership with America's #1 Real Estate Coach, Tom Ferry. All year, Tom and his team hosted exclusive online and in-person events with the express purpose of helping our agents reach new heights. This partnership culminated with our 2019 Business Planning session. This all-day program was hosted live by Tom Ferry and took our agents step-by-step through how to make an actionable business plan.
The event brought all 13 of our offices together, with a total of about 400 agents attending. Tom had advice and plans for everyone from our top-producing agents, to the brand-new licensees in our New Agent Program. While experienced agents and new agents will certainly approach their days a little differently, the main point that Tom drove home was that business is just math.
It’s being called “The Amazon Effect,” and it has everyone in the Northern Virginia, Southern Maryland, and Washington, DC areas speculating on what’s going to happen next. If you’re unaware of what the Amazon Effect is – Amazon has recently announced that it’ll be building headquarters in two new locations: New York City and Crystal City in Arlington, Virginia. Whether you’re a homeowner, investor, renter, or someone who’s a potential buyer in these areas, you know that there will be some residual effect on transportation, traffic, school availability, and home prices. We asked some of our in-house real estate experts what they think about the Amazon Effect and, as expected, reactions were varied. Here’s what they had to say.
The Hype Alone Will Have an Effect
C21 Redwood Frederick agent, Bo Clevenger, notes, “Northern Virginia is full of high-tech companies already. Realistically this is just a drop in the bucket, and it should have only a minimal impact to the area, BUT there is so much hype associated with Amazon and the HQ East that there will be unfathomed results blamed/tied to the move.”
Russ Conners, Executive Vice President and Managing Broker of our Reston office, agrees with Bo:
“The impact will be mostly on residual real estate speculation and the hype over the Amazon name. We have a job surplus locally, so it will not make as big a splash as it would in other areas where tech jobs are in shorter supply. For example, ExxonMobil left Northern Virginia with the same number of employees and the impact was not directly noticeable.
When 35% of Americans use it and 60% of users visit it daily, adding Instagram to your digital real estate strategy starts to seem like a good idea. Take into consideration that it’s one of the highest trending platforms, and mainly attracts a demographic between the ages of 18-49, and Instagram looks even more like a contender your focus in 2019. (Sources: PEW, SproutSocial)
As with any online strategy for your business, there are two ways of approaching Instagram: organically and via paid advertising. If you are going to be using Instagram for your real estate business, with a focus on the consistent posting of unpaid content, the first step is to create an Instagram for Business account. (Learn more about what that means here.) If you are using Facebook’s Business Manager for running paid ads on Instagram instead, you’ll at least need a Facebook Page. Did you know - your Facebook Page can serve to run ads on Instagram without the need of an Instagram account! There are several different kinds of ads you can run on Instagram.
‘Tis the season to be jolly…and it’s also the season of giving. And what puts a smile on our agents’ faces is being able to give back to their local communities. (It’s one of the reasons we created the Redwood Gives Back initiative!) This holiday season is no different, and many of our CENTURY 21 Redwood Realty offices are working hard to support their various chosen charities.
In our Reston office, they recently held a Reverse Trick-or-Treat Party which benefited the South Lakes High School Food Pantry. The food pantry provides necessities for Reston students and families in need. The office collected dried goods, snack items, meal packs, and sanitary items while party attendees enjoyed food, drinks, and a costume contest with prizes.
In our Fairfax office, led by a great effort from the Focus on NOVA team, nearly 100 coats have been collected so far to help protect people from the sometimes brutal conditions Northern Virginia winter weather can deliver.
Your buyers are getting ready to move in after a seller post-settlement occupancy, and you get a panicked call. The sellers removed the attached bookshelves in the living room and a few other built-ins that were scattered around the house. They also took the riding mower out of the backyard shed. What happens next?
First, the resulting confusion could have been prevented if the sellers had been adequately advised before they moved out. Sharon Ferguson, a CENTURY 21 Redwood Realty agent from Fredericksburg, says she’s never had a scenario like this happen in her 10 years of real estate. “That's due, in part, to my advice to sellers to remove and/or replace items that the sellers wish to take with them BEFORE the house goes Active. If they can't do that for any reason, I advise them to hang tags on the items that read "Does Not Convey." If the item is large, such as a tractor or riding lawnmower, I put in the remarks section of the listing that it either conveys, or does not, or is negotiable...whatever the case may be. Doing things this way heads off a lot of potential problems.” Locust Grove agent Ruthan O’Toole agrees that it’s best to have any replacement for a fixture, like a light fixture, visually in place before the home goes on the market: “It is smart to have the replacement fixture visually apparent for buyer to see what will be in the place of the chandelier or personal fixture not conveying.”
Do you currently work expired listings as part of your real estate business? It’s often an untapped source for new client opportunities. Many real estate agents don’t pursue expired listings because they don’t know where to start. If that sounds like you, here are a few tips that may help you start adding “expired listings” to your lead generation list.
First, Check and Double-Check the Status
Cindy Stackhouse, Managing Broker and EVP of our Montclair and Manassas offices, has seen this happen before – agents reaching out to listings they thought were expired, but have been relisted. So, the first step is checking to make sure the listing is indeed an expired listing! Otherwise, as Cindy points out, it’s “embarrassing and makes agents look unprofessional.”
Do you know the one simple thing you can do today to start making your organic and paid real estate marketing more effective? It’s ensuring your database is segmented into specific target audiences. What does that mean? Let’s dive in!
Identify the Different Audience Groups in Your CRM
No matter which client relationship management (CRM) system you use, you should be able to create different groups within your contacts area. Your first step to segmenting these audiences out is to think about the different groups with whom you communicate on a regular basis. For real estate agents, traditionally that’s at least: current buyers, current sellers, people met at open houses, prospective buyers, and prospective sellers. Depending on the different contacts you may have, you may also include groups like family & friends; landlords/investors; renters; and past clients. Segmenting people out into these different groups is a great way to begin to target a market.
With a new year already looming, it’s time to start thinking about creating your 2019 real estate business plan. CENTURY 21 Redwood Realty’s real estate coach, Tom Ferry, suggests these essential elements as part of his 2019 business plan that he’ll be walking our agents through at the business planning session that he's hosting on November 14, 2018. Don’t create your business plan outline without these categories!
Here at CENTURY 21 Redwood Realty, we're not going to let a little rain get in the way of a good time. A storm may have rolled in on the night of our Manassas office grand opening party that led us to move the ribbon cutting indoors, but we still had an evening filled with food, fun, and networking.
Gmail is one of the most widely used email platforms across the world, and there’s a good chance you’re using it in some form in your real estate business, too. But are you getting the most out of all of Gmail’s features for your business?
Setting Up Your Gmail Inbox
To begin setting up the way you want your Gmail inbox to look, log into your Gmail account. On the right-hand side, you’ll see a widget that looks like a gear. Click on that, and click on Settings.
You’ve finally decided to do it. You’re going to make the change, and take a chance with another real estate brokerage. You start there and…then what? If you’re an experienced real estate agent, you might be left to muddle through the transition alone, with the expectation that you already know what you need to be doing. Wouldn’t it be nice, though, if there was someone to help ease your way into the new company so you can get up and running as soon as possible – ensuring not only a more delightful experience for yourself but also for your clients?
At CENTURY 21 Redwood Realty, we identified the need for a person to help smooth all the transitions for experienced real estate agents transferring to C21 Redwood. That’s why we have the marvelous and talented Elsa Rake in the role of Success Coach. (If you’re unfamiliar with Elsa, she was the outstanding and beloved EVP and Associate Broker of our Stafford office for several years before starting in this role.)
Who loves surprises? Probably a number of us, when they’re pleasant surprises. One of the places where you arguably aren’t such a fan of surprises, however, would be during a real estate transaction, especially if you’re a buyer. In our role as real estate agents, it’s essential to provide guidance and education to buyers to help them through their journey. We asked our CENTURY 21 Redwood Realty agents about how they manage their buyer clients’ expectations, and here’s what they had to share.
Manage Buyer Expectations from the Start
“Managing buyer's expectations starts with setting the right expectations from the start,” says C21 Redwood Gaithersburg agent Jeff Ganz. “This is done with an initial buyer consultation that covers all aspects of the transaction. When done properly, a buyer should know what to expect throughout the process as well as what the expectation is from all parties and what potential pitfalls there might be.”
Once you become a top-producing real estate agent, certain things should come as second nature to you. Don’t be mistaken, though. You still have to work hard and work smart, and a lot of that boils down to keeping a schedule. America's #1 Real Estate Coach and mentor to CENTURY 21 Redwood Realty agents Tom Ferry likes to say, “Routine is the sign of an ambitious individual.”
He’s written a blueprint for what a top-producing agent’s week should look like. While he has some basic rules – like starting each day knowing what your goal is and time-blocking your entire day out on your schedule – he has also broken the day down. Here’s a snapshot of what part of a day for a top-producing agent could look like:
At CENTURY 21 Redwood Realty, we inherently believe that every one of our agents is a rock star. So, when others recognize their greatness, the only surprise we have is that it took everyone else so long! Some of the well-deserved honors recently awarded to Redwood agents include:
Our relocation agents, led by Tina Bodolosky, being awarded the USAA RERN Mission Possible AGR Winner’s trophy for the number of AGR referrals and for delivering exceptional experiences every day.
Are you on Facebook? If you’re one of the 230 million people in the United States listed as a Facebook user, you probably have logged in to Facebook at least once. While most use it as a social network, over time, there has been a shift to using it for commercial purposes too.
It started with Facebook Pages when Facebook sought to separate people using Facebook for social purposes only from those who would like to advertise their work and businesses on the platform. Then, Facebook expanded its advertising to contests and promotions and, finally, to targeted advertising for the average business owner. Now, more than 5 million advertisers use Facebook to reach their target audiences. Are you one of them?
One of the unsung benefits of being a real estate agent is becoming part of a wider community. For example, our agents aren’t only a part of the CENTURY 21 Redwood Realty family; they’re a part of their local associations, their state association, and the National Association of REALTORS®…not to mention being a part of the CENTURY 21 family, the Realogy family, and the real estate community as a whole.
Essential to being part of any community, however, is active involvement. We’re incredibly proud of the various ways CENTURY 21 Redwood Realty owners, agents, staff, and EVPs who are dedicated to giving back to their respective real estate communities. Here are some of the most recent ways we've demonstrated our commitment to community.
There’s one majorly untapped resource within every brokerage, and that’s the knowledge of each real estate agent. Collectively, of course, that knowledge is massive and should be tapped into, but creating opportunities for every agent to share with their fellow agents within the office is extremely important as well.
One way we encourage peer to peer learning in our CENTURY 21 Redwood Realty offices is by creating office panels focused on a particular subject. Our Arlington and DC offices have teamed up to mine the wisdom of their agents. Last month’s panel was operated by three accomplished agents from both offices and centered around tips and tricks for increasing production. This month’s panel will be focusing on partnerships and teams – creating them, maintaining them, and growing them.
We get the notifications and hear it on the news every day – another website has been hacked and sensitive information, like usernames and passwords, has been compromised. When part of your business plan involves having a credible online presence, these kinds of disruptions can be detrimental to any real estate agent. Below, we’ll cover three basic steps you can take to start to help protect your online identity and keep information more secure.
Enable 2-Step Verification
You may be familiar with this concept already, and it’s one of the simplest steps any real estate agent can take to protect online accounts, including email. What is 2-step verification? Typically, when you go to login to your email account or any site online (like Facebook), you enter in your username or email address and your password, and you have access. Enabling 2-step verification, also known as two-factor authentication, on that account adds in another step. Once you’ve entered that username or email address and password, you’ll usually be sent a code to your phone via text message, voice call, or mobile app. (Sometimes, there’s a security key you can insert into your computer’s USB port.) What this does is protecting against the occasion when someone may have access to your password, but doesn’t have access to your other devices. Adding this extra layer to your most essential sites adds a level of security that’s become increasingly necessary in this day and age.
A “local” natural disaster is never simply local. People often feel its impact nationally and globally. And that was the recent circumstance with Hurricane Florence, which wreaked havoc on North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia.
We’ve previously delivered assistance to fellow CENTURY 21 offices and people affected by Hurricane Harvey, so it was a no-brainer when My Guys Moving approached us about creating a food and non-perishables drive for those affected by Hurricane Florence.
We mobilized our Redwood Gives Back ambassadors and, led by Ashburn agent Rebecca Vittitow, put out the call across our network for water, non-perishable food, toilet paper, trash bags, diapers, dog food, cleaning supplies, and toiletries, and people responded. Boy, did they respond!
Throughout this entire year, our agents have had multiple opportunities to learn from Tom Ferry and his team through webinars, discount tickets to his events, and in-person Redwood-exclusive appearances. Back in February, Coach Kay Stanley visited us to work with our Managing Brokers, and in April, Tom Ferry was the keynote speaker at our annual Redwood Rally. Our agents have gained invaluable information and tools that have helped them to grow their businesses and set up 2019 as their best year ever. Every event we've held this year has been leading up to one thing: 2019 Business Planning, hosted by Tom Ferry.
We hear it all the time, “The physical real estate office is dead. You can work from home (or Starbucks, or your car) just as easily.” While that may hold true for a few real estate professionals, we believe that many still crave the office experience, which is why we’ve focused a lot of time and attention on each of our 13 CENTURY 21 Redwood Realty offices to ensure our agents always look forward to and enjoy their experience. Instead of continuing to wax poetic about our amazing offices (like Reston, Montclair, Arlington, and Ashburn), we reached out to those who matter most – our agents – to see what they love about working in a real estate office.
Real Estate Offices are Great for Client Meetings
Having an office you’re proud to visit isn’t essential just from an ego standpoint; it’s also a crucial part of REALTOR® safety to be able to meet clients in a safe place.
Dave Pard, a C21 Redwood agent from Frederick, says, “I find it useful to meet buyer clients in the office to conduct property searches and display my laptop on the conference room screen. This way, we can review properties together, discuss, and research additional info together, as opposed to back and forth emails.”
Once all the pre-licensing courses, choosing of brokerages, and new agent training is over, it’s a whole new, wide world for new real estate agents. To help you figure out a plan that can answer your question of, “What next?” we asked our two directors of new agent growth, Trish Szego and Sandy Rosengarden, to share their thoughts on what the ideal work week for brand-new real estate agents should look like.
Two challenges new agents face when they’re first starting on their own in their real estate business are: not understanding how to run their own business, and falling into a rut if there’s no current client to work with.
Most new agents come from another career, with set hours and duties, and they find it difficult not to have someone standing over them telling them exactly what to do. Trish reminds you, “You are now in business for yourself and, while you have the opportunity to make as much money as you’d like, you need to put forth the effort and do tasks that are necessary.”
When it comes to choosing your next potential brokerage, many people focus on monetary offerings – commission splits, bonuses, and more – or on other enticements that might make them choose a brokerage as their next brokerage. There’s one question, though, that many agents don’t ask, and that’s about your potential next brokerage’s agent retention rate.
Why is that important?
There are many reasons real estate agents may think it’s time to make a change in their brokerage, including lack of support, high or incomprehensible fee structures, insufficient education, a lag in keeping up with innovation, and isolation from their wider community. But it’s harder to pin down why real estate agents choose to stay with their brokerages.
One reason many agents stay with their brokerage is that they’ve found a brokerage who isn’t afraid to work on expanding their agents’ brand instead of their own. For example, many long-term agents at CENTURY 21 Redwood Realty admire our focus on enhancing our agents’ brands and letting them fly.
The temptation is greater than ever these days. We’re told that “content is king,” and we should be posting interesting, engaging, thoughtful, timely content on a regular basis to our target audiences. So, we dutifully follow that instruction for the first week or so. But then life takes over, and there are clients and family and bills to pay, and suddenly all that content we wanted to post has fallen by the wayside. Preparation transforms into desperation, and soon we’re hitting ‘Publish’…while mentally saying a silent prayer:
“Our Google of Real Estate and Online Whims, We come to you in prayer.
Thy crawling spiders, thy algorithm, on laptop as on mobile.
Give us this day multiple views and shares, and forgive us our punctuation and grammatical sins, as we forgive those we see every day.
Lead us not into buying of leads or friends, and deliver us from trolls.
For thine is the traffic, and analytics and Adwords.
In thine own words, “Don’t be evil. (But make lots of profit.)”
While the Great Google who sees and knows all may hear your plea, its efficacy is questionable. Even so, hope and prayer seem to be many a real estate agent’s content strategy. What’s better than the ‘Post and Pray’ method, you ask? These five tips will help you start to build an effective, engaging online strategy, and will also help you determine whether publishing is the right thing to do.
September is traditionally known as REALTOR® Safety Month. In recognition of that, we recently invited Leverage Fitness and Defense to our Reston office to help our real estate agents practice some self-defense moves that we hope they never have to try in real life.
Really, though, every month should be REALTOR® Safety Month. To that end, we’d like to draw attention to some of the tips recently mentioned in this year's REALTOR® Safety Presentation Handouts:
Last week, we brought you "Questions New Agents Should Ask Before Choosing Their New Brokerage - Part 1." In that, we spoke with Sandy Rosengarden, our Director of New Agent Growth for DC and Maryland. We asked her what she thought new agents should consider and what questions they should be asking when interviewing new brokerages. This week, we present part two of our conversation.
Availability of Training
“Once you have a good understanding of the tools and resources that are available to you," Sandy says, "you may want to turn your attention to what the brokerage does to help keep you on track, train you, develop your skills, grow your business, and make it easier to use all the tools and resources that the brokerage provides."
Even before they've officially earned their real estate license, many new real estate agents start their hunt for the brokerage where they’ll hang their license. Any number of factors can affect that decision – from ending up at a friend’s brokerage to going to someone with the ‘best’ commission split.
We talked to Sandy Rosengarden, our Director of New Agent Growth for DC and Maryland. Sandy has direct contact with new agents on a daily basis, and we asked her what she thought new agents should consider and what questions they should be asking when interviewing new brokerages. (And yes, she recommends talking to more than one before making your decision.)
Here's part one of a two-part series giving her best advice to new agents on what questions they should ask to find the best brokerage for them.
Earlier this year my life took a turn that I didn’t expect. My wife and I, along with other family members here in the US had to evacuate my parents from the Democratic Republic of The Congo due to safety reasons. The experience caused many other changes in both our personal and professional lives. I left my job at Inman News and returned to CENTURY 21 Redwood Realty because I felt as if the rug of my life was pulled right out from underneath me, and I needed to regain my balance. I am thankful that Redwood has been that constant in my life.
I have spent almost four years at Redwood - as an agent and staff member - working and pouring out my very best into everything. I have witnessed the tremendous growth of the company and the fact that it remained laser-focused on its mission to serve its agents and provide them with everything they would need to build a viable real estate business. I stood and celebrated our agents' successes. I have mourned with agents. I have been the beneficiary of more blessings through Redwood than I could count. And when my world felt like it was crashing down, CENTURY 21 Redwood Realty was there, once again, to see me through. This company gave me a shot at a better life for myself and my family. My gratitude, love, and respect for this brokerage will always endure.
It will come as a surprise to many, but I have decided to step down from my position at Redwood, for the simple reason that it is time for me to pursue a new growth opportunity for myself. Sometimes taking the time to pause, and assess your life and journey will lead you to ask some tough questions, and make some hard discoveries about yourself.
Late August and early September isn’t just a hard time for kids - many real estate agents experience their own ‘back-to-school’ slump in their businesses. Not only do many have additional family obligations to deal with; a common perception among agents is that people who were interested or motivated to move probably did so already in summer (or will wait until next year). Less sunlight, more temperamental weather, and a spate of bills doesn’t help the overall mood.
What to do? How do you break out of this slump, so you still finish 2018 strong? A few thoughts from our CENTURY 21 Redwood agents may help provide the catalyst you need to jumpstart this transition into fall.
Plan Events for the Next Few Months
One way to stay motivated is to have things to look forward to, especially if those events involve other people. You can plan client appreciation events for the upcoming months, while starting to get ready for fall pop-by calls and visits, like Ruthan O’Toole (a C21 Redwood agent from our Locust Grove office) does. Not only is Ruthan looking forward to her office’s September client appreciation event, and says their Labor Day event, with taco trucks, was very popular! She notes that autumn is a great time to touch base again with clients: “This is the perfect time to be handing out football schedules, calendars, fliers with area fall festival events posted and, of course, pop-by fall-themed gifts.”
You may not be able to see into the future, but you can help shape it. Shaping the future of Loudoun County is the goal of the Envision Loudoun Stakeholders Committee. This group is composed of actively involved citizens who meet to review and provide feedback on Loudoun's 2040 Comprehensive Plan. Recently, Lars Henriksen, the Managing Broker and EVP of our Ashburn and Leesburg offices, along with his fellow stakeholders, was recognized by the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors for his work on the committee.
After months of meetings in which stakeholders formed subcommittees and met on everything from transportation, to housing, to economic development, the committee presented the Comprehensive Plan to the Board of Supervisors on July 19. At the Board's September 4 business meeting, they presented a Resolution of Appreciation to Envision Loudoun committee members, including Lars.
Between my junior year in high school and my senior year in college, I spent all of my summers working at as camp counselor right outside of Williamsburg, Virginia. I loved that opportunity because it gave me the chance to reconnect with friends who had served in the past with me, but also the chance to connect with new staff members. Ultimately, the real excitement was looking forward to welcoming new and returning campers to their favorite camp for the summer and introducing them to new programs, adventures, and a slew of silliness.
I always started my journey at the camp with incredible energy. I barely took any breaks, even though we were encouraged to do so. The excitement of the camp fueled me, so I never once thought that I needed time to recharge myself. My last year as a counselor was in 2004, and by then, I was no longer the Energizer bunny that I was six years previously. I knew in my heart that I squandered any future opportunities to be of service to other staff members, and ultimately the children because I was always on the go, and never took time to replenish my soul and body.
One of the most significant benefits of our work as Realtors® is that we continuously pour our very best into everything we do - and clients get a front row seat to our constant flow. The rush of submitting an offer, breezing through all the contingencies, and finally sitting at the closing table keeps us wanting more: more interactions with potential clients, more opportunities to help other people in our sphere, and the opportunity to once again showcase our ability to help anyone with one of the most significant financial decisions they’ll ever make.
Ever want to catch up with someone and think you should pop by to see how they are? Next time, take something with you! One of the ways CENTURY 21 Redwood Realty agents connect with their clients is through seasonal pop-by presents.
What Are Pop-Bys?
You may have called them by another name, but pop-bys are small gifts given face-to-face to clients, usually seasonally or around holidays. They provide another opportunity to catch up and connect with people, as well as to provide them with something useful and fun to remember you by.
Do you live in the Northern Virginia, Southern Maryland, or Washington, D.C. area? Then, you’ll want to keep your eyes peeled, as we’re launching our CENTURY 21 rebrand across all 13 of our CENTURY 21 Redwood Realty offices.
What you’re seeing is the external indicators of a refreshed and renewed brand – from our house signs to our business cards to the new brochures, postcards, and other forms of branding available to our CENTURY 21 Redwood Realty agents...but these are only half of the changes happening within our walls.
Labor Day came and went. The kids are back in school, and summer is coming to an end. In the real estate world, this means a couple of things: The people who wanted to move to a different location are finally settling into their new house and routine. The people who thought about moving to a new home, but haven’t yet made the move, will most likely stay put for at least a few more months. There is still some market activity, but the general spring market frenzy is coming to an end.
Pretty soon, fall will be here, and with it will come another wave of real estate opportunities for buyers, sellers, and renters. Those prospective customers will most likely look for a ready, able, and well-suited agent to assist them with their needs. That agent will probably be either a recommendation from a close friend or relative, or an agent that they found online.
The criteria for choosing said agent will be based on either service reviews, the strength of the recommendation, or the way that agent carries himself or herself either in person or online. Some will choose you. Others will not. You’ll service the ones who decided that your help is something they cannot live without. You’ll close on a transaction and ask them for a referral. They will either share one or several with you or not. You’ll still feel proud of your services to them, and that service will earn you a commission. You’ll celebrate. You will thank your clients for their trust in you, and you'll look into your pipeline with great anticipation and expectation for your next source of business.
You've done the legwork, put in the hours, and now it's settlement time. It's time to relax, right? Not quite yet. There are many potential pitfalls in the settlement process that you'll want to avoid. Last week, we gave you 5 Items That Need to be on Your Pre-Settlement Checklist. But what about pitfalls that your clients may fall into? We spoke with some of our experienced C21 Redwood agents and got their advice on what your clients should avoid, what they should bring and who is responsible for paying what. Everything you need to guarantee a smooth settlement process.
Anne Overington of The Overington Team, C21 Fredericksburg says that knowing requirements is critical. She offers a breakdown of what all parties need to know and bring.
"Make sure everyone knows what is required on the day of settlement. Instruct your clients to do the following for a smooth closing:
In a time when the lines are becoming more and more blurred on Facebook between business and life, Facebook Friend Lists might be what you need to help you rethink the way you use Facebook for your real estate business.
Here’s a typical scenario: You work with a fantastic seller. You did a great job of selling their home. You want to stay in touch. They want to keep in touch. You put them in your CRM. They friend you on Facebook.
What do you do next?
For some real estate agents, this is a bit of a dilemma. Maybe you post a lot of photos of your kids for your out-of-state family members to see, and you don’t want your new seller friend to see all of them. Maybe you like traveling, and there are pics of your latest adventures, waving a margarita like it’s a flag and sporting your new sparkly bikini. Again, maybe something your new friend doesn’t need to see first thing in the morning. Or, on the flip side, perhaps your friends and family have accused you of being too ‘real estate-y’ on Facebook, and you want to spare them from future “Just Listed” and “Another happy client” posts.
Enter Facebook Friend Lists.
I have been having many conversations regarding brand and service lately, but more so around branding. In particular, how your brand’s value proposition needs to be in perfect alignment with the services you offer.
Often, agents think of their brand as merely a collection of trendy colors, logos, images, and regularly scheduled social posts, but it is, in fact, a whole lot more. A brand is a unique identifier for your business, and encapsulated in that brand is a single value proposition to your current and potential customers.
Your brand is of great importance for many reasons. In addition to the monetary value you bring to the table, this is something to which recruiters and brokerages looking to acquire companies pay close attention. Your brand is such a differentiator that, when built correctly, a business will consider whether or not acquiring you will enhance its brand to the point that a consumer would be willing to pay extra for doing business with them over another company. This is what is often referred to as brand equity - an intangible measurement of a brand’s power that can either enhance a company’s standing in the marketplace or cripple it completely.
Do you have a checklist for actions you need to take with your buyer or seller clients before you get to the settlement table? Check to see if these are on your list! We asked our CENTURY 21 Redwood Realty agents for mistakes they see real estate agents make before getting to the settlement table, and here’s what they answered. (Consider it a real estate agent’s wish list for other agents.) It’s an excellent opportunity to learn what not to do – and maybe even have a few additions to your “preparing my client for settlement” checklist!
Title Companies and Title Insurance Advice
“The worst for me is having a buyer shocked to see title insurance cost. We can't sell title insurance and have to be careful what we say because we are not licensed to do so, but it is important to introduce the topic and refer them to a good source. I do it with my buyers when I review their estimated closing cost list when writing an offer (or earlier).” – MaryEllen Rubenstein, C21 Redwood Reston
Tina Bodolosky, aka our “Relo Queen,” has recently returned from the Navy Federal RealtyPlus Broker Network Summit with a shiny new award once again recognizing CENTURY 21 Redwood Realty agent excellence.
This annual Navy Federal Credit Union (NFCU) conference, held in San Diego provided “the network broker partners an opportunity to learn more about Navy Federal’s latest mortgage products and services, and also served as a forum to discuss broker best practices and recognize exceptional service.”
Has your brokerage ever made you feel like an afterthought?
One of the worst feelings in the world is to feel alone, and by alone I mean being among people day in and day out, and still feeling like you are the only person in the room. Luckily for our industry, we have remedies for combat such feelings. We come up with different ways to ensure inclusion. Sales meetings, for example, are a good time for agents and the brokerage's leadership to get together, give some updates on the market, company policies, and special announcements. Company outings provide ways for agents to connect on a more social setting - away from listings and contract discussions.
Company trainings provide ways for agents and staff to learn and grow their knowledge on a particular topic. Also, let us not forget about the multiple luncheons and happy hours we put together. We do everything we can to ensure that agents are part of some company function, which is designed to make them feel part of something higher than just a sales-driven career because sales can get lonely at times.
It's tangible proof of what we already knew - CENTURY 21 Redwood Realty agents are on pace for another record-setting year in their business and across the real estate industry! We've recently heard from CENTURY 21 that they have recognized many of our agents, teams, and offices with CENTURY 21 Pacesetter Awards. It's a great check-in and recognition for all the hard work these agents, teams, and offices have done so far in 2018...and gives everyone a big goal to aim for at the conclusion of the year.
The real estate agents and teams being recognized with CENTURY 21 Pacesetter Gold® Awards are our sales affiliates who are on track for the CENTURY 21 Masters Award program at six months. The real estate agents and teams being recognized with CENTURY 21 Pacesetter Platinum® Awards are our sales affiliates who are on track for the Centurion® Producer Award at six months.
It’s settlement day, and you grab a bottle of champagne in a gift bag, ready to give to your clients as a “thank you.” What a nice gesture! What slipped your mind, though, is that your clients don’t drink…and your gift is about to be relegated to the ‘regift’ closet in your clients’ new home.
Client gifts, although not expected, are a fairly common occurrence on or just after settlement day. When it comes to what to give clients, though, real estate agents sometimes default to the usual nice bottle of bubbly.
If you’re looking for some other ideas, including some more personalized options, however, here are several we’ve gathered from our CENTURY 21 Redwood Realty agents:
It’s not just the new CENTURY 21 brand that we love seeing everywhere – it’s also seeing CENTURY 21 Redwood Realty being represented in some (sometimes) very unexpected places! With new red hats to complement our awesome C21 Redwood shirts, you may get travel inspiration (or envy!) based on where we’ve been spotted.
Take a look…
It started with Redwood Rocking the Red at the Washington Nationals game as part of our annual gathering at the ballpark:
This is the time of the year - August in particular - when we come to a realization: We are satisfied with everything that has transpired so far this year, or we cannot believe that three quarters of the year went by without a single bonafide achievement. Even worse, people have already started talking about laying the groundwork for a fantastic sales year in 2019.
It is a frightening thought because there are about four months left until this year is over, but the tendency at this point is to coast through the rest of the year, hoping and praying for a better year next year. We start to make plans for better things: better processes, better outreach, better marketing, or social media strategies - all because we begin to think that the year is practically over, so beginning or pivoting from anything right now would be an exercise in futility.
August seems to be one of those months that puts everything in perspective for me as well, more so this year, since it marks the 20th anniversary of me leaving my home country of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and arriving in Richmond, VA to start a brand new life in the US. I came to the United States with no family and no plan, other than to survive and surmount whatever changes, obstacles or setbacks this new life would hand to me. I had no choice but to make it work. I couldn’t take a flight back home and pick up where I left things off in the DRC. I had to believe that this journey was worth what was a momentous undertaking for a 17-year-old boy.
As the end of August approaches (already!), it can be tempting to start thinking about 2019 without stopping to appreciate all that you’ve already accomplished in your real estate business in 2018. It also can help you understand which tools, technology, and training you have put into practice, and which can potentially keep helping you into the future, versus those that sounded like a good investment at the time, and never again saw the light of day.
With that in mind, we asked our CENTURY 21 Redwood Realty agents, “What do you think are the top things C21 Redwood offers that you've used to grow and/or maximize your business this year?”
C21 Redwood Gaithersburg agent Anthony Pertesis said, “As an agent new to Maryland Real Estate [Anthony is licensed in NJ and MD], so far I have utilized the following and have found them very helpful in getting accustomed to real estate in Maryland: Help from my office’s EVP & OC, capitalizing on all the aspects of accessRedwood [C21 Redwood's Intranet], and taking advantage of both the in-office classes and online tech training.”
Last week, our Director of Technology and Training, Tara Christianson, talked about her most significant takeaways from This year's Inman Connect San Francisco. She spoke about some of her favorite panels, real estate trends, and what content stuck with her from the whirlwind week.
We also asked Tara to share her thoughts on the technology she saw at Inman Connect, and what she thinks real estate agents should have on their radar based on what she saw and exhibitors she met. This week, she discusses her "big four" from Inman: artificial intelligence, 360 photography and video, augmented reality, and virtual reality. Here's what she had to say:
As one of our two Inman Ambassadors (along with Billy Ekofo) for the recent Inman Connect conference in San Francisco, Tara Christianson had a front-row seat for all the speakers and training that Inman had to offer.
Here, Tara shares what she took away from this year's Inman Connect San Francisco as a whole. She talks about how speakers focused on how we all take care of someone in the real estate industry - from the real estate community as a whole down to the fiduciary care agents have for their clients. She explains why storytelling is still an essential aspect of your business, and shares some of her thoughts about things to think about based on conversations had at Inman Connect. Watch after the jump:
Let’s clear up any confusion.
Yes, I recruit agents. I am always on the lookout for incredible talent to join our company.
Yes, I think we have the best tools, support, and programs available to help any real estate agent out there take their business to an even higher level. Yes, I am fully aware that my opinions regarding the merits of our company are utterly biased. Any attempt to convince me otherwise would most likely reinforce that as a company we are better positioned to help agents succeed.
Now that this is cleared up let’s dive into the goal of this post.
A couple of days ago I was having lunch with a Realtor friend. Yes, my instinct was to convince her to leave her company and join ours. I was heartbroken but happy to hear that she’ll be moving out of the area, and because of this, wouldn’t consider leaving her current company. In fact, the national headquarters of her company is in the state she is moving to. As a result, any hope of recruiting her has been completely shattered.
relentless /rɪˈlent·ləs/: adjective - continuing in a determined way without any interruption
When CENTURY 21 launched their new branding, their mission behind it was to, “Defy mediocrity and deliver extraordinary experiences.” Along with this mission statement, they vowed to recognize CENTURY 21 agents who already embodied that spirit in their real estate business in a relentless fashion - agents who continue their quest for buyer and seller client satisfaction in a determined way, without pause or hesitation.
And they chose not just one, but TWO CENTURY 21 Redwood agents as personifications of that spirit. Like many of their fellow CENTURY 21 Redwood agents, Arlington agents Brittany Camacho and Matt Leighton defy mediocrity and deliver extraordinary experiences for their real estate clients every day, so it was no surprise they both were chosen to represent CENTURY 21 and C21 Redwood Realty on a national platform as part of CENTURY 21’s integrated cross-channel media partnership with ESPN.
Ensuring our agents have everything they need to market themselves and their clients’ properties at their fingertips is essential to us at CENTURY 21 Redwood Realty.
Included in the numerous marketing tools available to our agents are our brochure builder and our interactive property website, both of which have proven to be beneficial ways of showcasing a property to prospective buyers, both offline and online.
Last week, I wrote about my takeaways from Inman Connect and how being an Inman Ambassador has affected my career and my life. My real estate career has been a series of ups and downs. Though there have indeed been more ups than downs, I went through a dark period early on. With bills mounting, I was having a hard time getting my real estate career off the ground. It got to the point that I thought that maybe this wasn't the industry for me. I was prepared to walk away and leave real estate behind.
But then one agent showed an act of kindness that not only helped me at the moment but put me on a trajectory to success. I went on Facebook Live yesterday to discuss the impact this agent has had on my life and my subsequent prosperity.
Making the world a better place is something that we strive for every day. That's why we created Redwood Gives Back, CENTURY 21 Redwood Realty's charitable initiative. Since its inception, we've worked with local, national, and global charities. At our Redwood Rally back in April, co-owner Nick Pasquini announced that the company would be matching up to $10,000 in charitable donations made by our staff and agents. In three short months, we reached our goal.
We offered a 50% match on Redwood Gives Back events organized by agents and a 100% match on donations made to New Story Charity to build the world’s first 3D-printed community. The results of our event efforts, contributions, and the company match resulted in over $26,000 raised for New Story Charity, The Madison Small Foundation, Communities in Schools of NoVA, and The Alzheimer's Association.
It’s the social platform often overlooked in favor of more ‘glamorous’ platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. However, LinkedIn can be a robust platform for those who prefer to engage on a purely professional platform, those looking for business-to-business connections, and those who want to make a reasonably quick, strong impact while growing their network.
There are a number of ways that a real estate agent can leverage LinkedIn to their advantage. Before you start working on a LinkedIn strategy, however, you’re going to need to have LinkedIn set up correctly. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is as up to date as possible, with a current profile picture and a header picture that indicates where you work and what you do (Canva is a great tool to use to make sure your sizing is correct). Your profile should also include information that illustrates your specific real estate specialties (first-time homeowners, military, seniors, etc.), and relevant information around awards and background.
Last week was an exceptional week in San Francisco. Over 2,000 real estate professionals from all across the industry and the world made the journey out west to learn, grow, and think of better ways to develop themselves and their services. In a roundabout way, Inman Connect has become a bit of a pilgrimage - Realtors and other real estate practitioners from all across the industry journey to this gathering. Our temple is a conference hall. Our faith is in the belief that we are meant to be the conduits of better lives for our clients, our communities, and the world. The journey we take has its perils - we lose our luggage, our flights are delayed, and sometimes our reservations are nowhere to be found - but the result is still the same. We come together as an industry to challenge ourselves, ensuring that we are always looking to break our self-imposed limits.
With all the opportunities available to new real estate agents, there are many stumbling blocks a new agent can run into if they’re not careful. Some of those include not creating a business plan from the very beginning, being overly reliant on making a lot of money from the start, and not being choosy when it comes to picking your first brokerage. Below are a few tips to help you sidestep those pitfalls as you make your way to real estate success:
Since I'm in San Francisco for Inman Connect, I decided to do something a little different for my blog post this week. We've been posting #DispatchesfromInman over on our Facebook page since the conference started. It's been a fun time full of friendship, networking, and learning and I want to share some of my big takeaways with you:
It’s the annual summer tradition at CENTURY 21 Redwood Realty everyone looks forward to –CENTURY 21 Redwood’s Night at the Park, where we gather all our offices together (13 now!) for a celebration of family, fun, and fan-ing for the Washington Nationals!
Our President and co-founder Eddie Berenbaum recently gave an in-depth interview to Inman News as part of their “Fighting back” profile series, where they interview broker-owners like Eddie about their response to industry disruption.
In an area with a large number of traditional and new real estate business models, CENTURY 21 Redwood Realty is a prime example of how a ‘traditional’ real estate company can continue to compete in an environment where both agents and clients seemingly have more choices than ever.
So, according to Eddie, what’s our secret sauce? It’s pretty simple, actually:
It is hard to put into words what Inman Connect genuinely represents to me, only because I have in many ways attempted to put in writing how this event became more than just a yearly industry gathering that I attend. Inman has transcended the conference status. It has become more of hallowed ground for me, and in some respect, a place of rediscovery. As I prepare to attend what will be my 7th Inman Connect (4th as an Inman Ambassador), I am rediscovering my path to the conference - because merely remembering where you have been, helps to focus and shape the path you are heading toward.
Rediscovering the Industry
Among the many things I took away from my first Connect back in 2015 was a sense of rediscovering this industry that I have been part of for more than a year. My industry experience was limited to the deals I was working on, the local association events that I would occasionally attend, and the rest to my company. Inman allowed me to think bigger than my local perspective and grasp the immensity of the real estate industry.
There are a number of reasons to create or continue to have a Facebook Page as a real estate agent, including providing information useful to those in your local community, giving insight into your real estate activities (including sneak peeks into your listings, open houses, and real estate work life), and to use as a base for your Facebook advertising. If you have a Facebook Page or are in the process of setting one up for yourself, use the checklist below to help make sure your Facebook Page is set up for success.
At CENTURY 21 Redwood Realty, we enjoy a blend of real estate agents from all stages of their real estate careers. Providing the tools, training, and technology for each agent is something on which we put a lot of importance. We especially recognize the necessity of individualized instruction and guidance for new real estate agents. We are incredibly lucky to have not one but two extremely qualified people –Sandy Rosengarden and Trish Szego - on our staff as Directors of New Agent Growth who provide that service for every new real estate agent in all 13 of our real estate offices.
If you’re new to the real estate business, here is some advice Sandy and Trish have shared to make sure your career gets off to an amazing start.
Recently, the president of a large competing real estate company made a very audacious claim regarding his company’s technological influence in the real estate industry. The opinion piece that this executive penned on LinkedIn read as if technology was simply non-existent in the industry before his company came in the scene. While this company has undoubtedly influenced the industry in many ways, including regarding technology, the idea that they ushered it in immediately caused controversy. This article of course lead me to evaluate my own experience in the industry, and how technology made and still makes an impact on my career as a real estate professional.
This story begins in late 2013 when I was looking for a real estate brokerage where I could hang my newly acquired license. Even at that time, there was talk about using technology to enhance your business as an agent. What sold me out on CENTURY 21 Redwood Realty was the fact that the company built its own set of tools to help its agents have the absolute best resources to compete in an extremely localized marketplace in the DC area. If your real estate market is anything like mine, then you need to have a hyperlocal mindset. Most brokerages accomplish this by paying for a third party product and rolling it out to their agents. But CENTURY 21 Redwood didn't want to do that. Instead, they built something from the ground up. To do this and still be profitable as a company requires a whole lot of sacrifice and investment. So yes call me biased, but knowing the minimal margins that brokerages have to work with, investing in technology is a sizable (and frightening!) undertaking.
Is Instagram already your jam, or are you still deciding how you might be able to include it in your online real estate business plan? If you’re still unsure whether Instagram is for you, here’s an introduction to Instagram and a few ways you may enjoy using the app in your real estate business.
Instagram is a social networking app made exclusively for use by mobile devices, specifically smartphones. By 2019, it’s projected there will be at least 104.5 million Instagram users in the United States alone. Currently, there are somewhere around 600 million monthly Instagram users in the world, and the majority of those people follow a business account of some sort.
If there’s one thing all real estate agents love, it’s their clients. However, figuring out how to express appreciation for those clients is something some agents struggle with. The solution varies from agent to agent, but many successful real estate agents usually either use client appreciation events or pop-bys to express their thanks and gratitude. Below are three ideas for those events as shared by CENTURY 21 Redwood agents and managers.
A couple of months ago, I took my car to get serviced at the dealer where I purchased it. I walked in and immediately recognized the person who sold us our previous vehicle. He had on the same company shirt and was talking to a younger couple.
I was making my way to say hello when I noticed a change in his body language. My best guess is that he thought I was going to mess up his sale. He was dealing with clients right then and could not take his focus away. I sat down and watched him as he wrapped up his consultation with that couple. I thought that when he finished, he would probably walk over and say hello. An hour and a half went by without him stopping by. Maybe he forgot about me, or was on his way home - maybe he left early. I would never know the reason, but I expected a bit more from someone who sat down with my wife and me for a little over four hours and sold us our first family SUV just a little shy of 2 years ago. Maybe I wanted too much or was merely in need of some acknowledgment. I wanted to feel as if this person, who help us secured a family car, didn’t just sell me a car and forget about me.
“Neither rain nor sleet nor snow stays our agents from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.” OK, so maybe the U.S. Postal creed wasn’t originally written about real estate agents, but after the onslaught of some of our winter and spring weather, perhaps it should have been!
Everyone who’s been in real estate for any prolonged period realizes that there’s no such thing as a ‘fair weather’ real estate agent. When the skies threaten, the winds howl, the water rises, and the snowdrifts get out of hand, it can be tempting to pull the covers over your head and wait it out. Not for our CENTURY 21 Redwood Realty real estate agents, though!
Here are some tips on how they handle their clients and their real estate business when the weather is less than cooperative:
It’s not too late to help our goal of assisting one of our favorite charitable partners, New Story Charity, in their goal to create the world’s first 3D-printed community.
Housing costs and affordability is a continued and growing issue around the world, especially in developing countries, and New Story is hoping to meet these issues head-on by using the innovative technology of 3D printing to create homes – homes that they can build in 24-48 hours at the cost of only $4,000 each.
We've expanded our family!
The Infinite Game
This is the title of the upcoming book by one of my favorite authors and speakers, Simon Sinek. I watched a short video segment of him explaining the rationale behind this book, and I thought it was brilliant. To paraphrase his idea, most people in business are hyper-focused on measurable goals or milestones and devote their entire career to achieving them. But once we meet these goals, the drive that once propelled us to reach them is no longer present. Often, the drive is even substituted by depression and a complete loss of passion.
I recently experienced something similar with my oldest son. He was so convinced that us buying him the latest video game craze (Fortnite) would gain him more friends. He was entirely convinced that this was his path to being admired, respected and valued - so much so that he instinctively believed that his friends would never set foot in our home unless he had the latest game system and toys. He also honestly felt that he didn’t have that many friends at school because he couldn’t measure up.
The word “content” encompasses everything from podcasts to blog posts to email newsletters to Facebook ads, and there seems to be a lot of it everywhere you turn. In a world where you’re getting constantly inundated by content, how do you make sure what you create stands out?
Make It Thumbstopping
Scott Shapiro from Facebook has used the word “thumbstopping” in several of his presentations at the Inman Conferences to describe the kind of content that works best both in an organic and paid form on Facebook. What does it mean? A close cousin to “eye-catching,” it means that when a prospective client is scrolling on their mobile device (phone or tablet), your content makes their thumbs stop scrolling.
One of the primary ways a real estate agent can grow and maintain business over the years is through referrals. Some studies even claim that 75% of the average real estate agent’s business comes from referrals and word of mouth! Being a part of a network that provides and takes care of referrals can give a massive boost to an agent’s business.
Referrals can go both ways, however. While receiving referrals is extremely important for the longevity of your business, the quality of referral you give to your clients moving out of the area is also essential for your overall reputation.
At CENTURY 21 Redwood Realty, we have systems for our agents for both kinds of referral situations to ensure their real estate clients always receive the quality service they expect and deserve.
Does success scare you? It scares me.
Most of us operate in two distinct realities: on one end, we view success as the result of hard work, extreme discipline and a mélange of talents and training that propels us to reach our full potential. The stories of people who have gone through an inconceivable amount of hardships to finally rise and achieve either wealth or fame inspire us to do the same. If they can do it under the life’s worse possible conditions, the thought goes, there is hope for the rest of us.
Other agents' successes have always inspired me. Especially those who, much like me, came from out of town and found themselves in the real estate business through a series of circumstances or challenges. They hustled and worked tirelessly to achieve their goals. When I see them now and watch them enjoy the fruits of many years of labor, I feel inspired. I don't view their constant success as something to be feared or to feel threatened by. Instead, it serves as a reminder that with the proper discipline and a will to succeed, I could achieve the same results.
However, then something else entered my mind and created a second reality.
When a prospective real estate buyer or seller searches for you online, what do they find? When they go to research you, do they find sites and profiles you created and control, or do they find information written about you by someone else?
It’s arguably never been more critical in your real estate business than now to be in control of your online reputation. There are a few simple steps you can start doing today to take control of your image and some safeguards you can put in place to ensure your online reputation remains spotless.
Whether real estate agents like it or not, prospective buyers and sellers are still searching for homes, and for their next listing and buyers agents, on Zillow and Trulia. That’s why having your real estate agent profile fully filled out on those sites is so important, and why encouraging reviews on those sites still matters.
Fortunately, getting started with creating an agent profile on Zillow and Trulia is actually a one-step process. Since Zillow bought Trulia back in 2015, there’s been a great symbiosis between the companies, and now you only have to fill in your information when you register through Zillow to have it also show up on Trulia’s site. Even better, the reviews you collect on Zillow will also automatically feed to Trulia, so you don’t have to make any extra effort.
Real estate conferences are about many things. You attend to discover new ways to be the best agent you could possibly be. You attend because you need to rediscover what it means to belong to your brand. You attend because you want to rediscover what it means to love your profession. You attend because you no longer believe in your ability to be an effective agent given your current level of resources and knowledge.
Then you attend Inman Connect and everything changes.
On the surface, Inman Connect is simply a conference. But when you peel back the layers, it is much more than that. This July will be my seventh Inman Connect experience and I can’t tell you how valuable and touching this event has been for me. I owe my many “Inman Moments” to several people, but today, I would like to highlight one of the people who has made my Inman experience exceptionally memorable since 2015; the person who helped me shine: Tara Christianson.
In a world where people are increasingly getting their information from online sources like Google and voice assistants that scour the web for answers are becoming more mainstream in people’s homes, maintaining fresh content online is more important than ever.
One of the main places that real estate agents can continuously provide updated, local, informative content is on their own websites. Agent websites should be about more than just the search feature – they should have a component that allows them to consistently post updated information so current clients, prospective clients and search sites like Google are all receiving the timely content they’re looking for.
Enter: the blog.
Leadership and support are two of the main foundations that make our CENTURY 21 Redwood Realty offices so successful. While our Executive Vice Presidents (EVPs) provide the expert leadership, our Operation Coordinators (OCs) make everything happen with their hands-on guidance and in-depth knowledge of all of C21 Redwood's tools and systems. When you’re looking for answers in one of our offices, chances are that an OC is the one who’ll answer them first for you!
Instead of giving you more insight about OCs from an ‘outside’ level, we talked directly with some of our OCs so that they could give you a deeper insight into their everyday lives on the job, including what qualities they bring to the table and what they really like most about being an OC. Here’s what they had to say:
Tammie Mason knows that when opportunity knocks, you have to answer. She was happy in her current position at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, but when Elsa Rake, the long-time Executive Vice President and Managing Broker of CENTURY 21 Redwood Realty's Stafford office retired, it presented a rare opportunity to lead one of the area's most prestigious real estate offices. Tammie threw her hat into the ring and it quickly became clear that the decision was a good one. Tammie says, “Once I met the owners of C21 Redwood, the energy and passion they showed for the company and their agents was something I knew I wanted to be a part of."
Your Realtor® is not who you think he or she is.
Somehow you, and the rest of the world, have been led to believe that being a Realtor® is just about selling homes. You’ve been led to think that every Realtor® out there pockets an insane amount of commission money and that luxury living is part of our everyday life. Now, there's a reason for this. As an industry, we’ve gotten really good at letting the world know just how much we enjoy our profession. We love to remind people through different means that we #loveourjob. We open the dream of homeownership to everyone and even spend time advocating for it on the Hill in DC.
Our brands have either a house or a key on it, which serves as a reminder that we are constantly on the prowl for a house to sell - ok, maybe not always - but every house that we sell means a family gets to experience something that other places around the world cannot: owning a property. Our story is a story of success; the very essence of the American Dream. where everyone is in charge of his or her destiny.
It’s a happy, joyous, fruitful life aided by the seemingly successful real estate agent. It’s picture-perfect... Or is it?
Every house you list immediately gets multiple offers. Every person you talk to seems to be thinking about selling their property and needs your expert advice. Every buyer you work with insists on seeing at least 12 houses because there’s a chance at least half of them will be gone by the next morning. What else could it be but spring market?!
When the going gets hot in real estate, how do you handle it as a real estate agent? We asked some of our CENTURY 21 Redwood Realty agents how they handle a hot spring market.
When you’re a real estate agent, it can feel like there’s never enough time in the day to get everything done. From managing buyers and sellers, to prospecting for new clients, to nurturing past clients, to phone calls and pop-bys and showings…when are you supposed to have time to create and put out all the marketing that will help you keep and build business?
At CENTURY 21 Redwood Realty, we want our agents to keep doing what they’re the absolute best in the business at: creating and maintaining relationships while helping people buy and sell houses. That’s why, late last year, we launched our Marketing Concierge Service.
Every year, Forbes Magazine ranks the world’s most reputable companies. The data and findings come from the Reputation Institute (RI), a reputation management consulting firm based in Boston, MA. Rankings are assigned according to seven categories: product & services, innovation, workplace, governance, citizenship, leadership and performance. RI believes strongly that reputation is a major factor in driving strong business performance. The higher a company scores on this ranking, the more likely its product and/or services are to be purchased or recommended.
I have been following this survey since business school because the subject of company reputation has always interested me. The companies highlighted in the article are multi-billion dollar corporations, so they dedicate a tremendous amount of time and resources to ensure that they deliver on what they offer their customers. Regardless of the industry, that boils down to one thing: an outstanding customer experience.
Now that we’ve addressed what time of year is the best to list a home, there are two other questions many real estate agents get about selling a home, especially around bigger holidays like Christmas and Easter. Those questions are: “Should I list a house around the holiday?” and “Should you hold an open house over the holiday?”
We asked some of our CENTURY 21 Redwood Realty agents to weigh in with their thoughts, and here are some of their responses.
What’s red, white, and blue and wears its heart on its sleeve? Our newly redesigned Montclair office!
To celebrate this beautifully redecorated office located in the heart of Montclair, we held a Grand Re-Opening Celebration:
One of the many obstacles we face as real estate agents is that at times we feel the need to separate our real estate and non-real estate personas. We do this because we believe that this separation allows us to focus on what the job requires us to do, which is help our clients navigate the highs and lows of a transaction in a professional manner.
Congratulations! It’s officially spring market and it’s time your 2018 business plan is truly put to the test. How’s your 2018 going so far? Is your business plan going as expected, or have some unforeseen speed bumps popped up along the way?
We reached out to our CENTURY 21 Redwood Realty agents to find out how their 2018 business plan is going. While some are dealing with local market fluctuations, most are seeing a huge improvement this year as they've been implementing strategies and exclusive tools that C21 Redwood has provided to them.
Baby Boomers. Gen X. Millennials. Gen Z. A multigenerational world demands multigenerational marketing from its real estate agents – or does it?
We asked some of our CENTURY 21 Redwood Realty agents whether they marketed to different demographics and here were their responses.
There is a high probability that if you’ve been in the real estate industry for any significant amount of time, you've heard the name Heather Elias. Heather ran the social business practice for the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and laid the foundation of our current marketing initiatives as both the VP of Marketing and VP of Industry Relations at CENTURY 21 Redwood Realty. She did all this while staying involved in her local market as the co-owner of C21 Redwood’s LoCoMusings real estate team. As an agent and co-worker, I was inspired by her involvement in the business. I often found myself seeking out her counsel, as her grasp on the industry was simply unmatched. She always looked at the bigger picture and found a way to distill it down to a level that made me more aware of the implications of certain industry-wide initiatives. To this very day, she is one of my most trusted friends and her guidance is still something I revere.
Ask almost any prosperous real estate agent the one thing they absolutely need in order to keep doing consistent, successful business, and we’d bet almost all of them would reply, “An effective database.”
What does it really mean to have an effective database?
First and foremost, you should be able to understand the client relationship management (CRM) system that houses your database. That means that there are easy to understand instructions and trainings available for the CRM, that you’re keep apprised of any and all changes, and that you have invested the time to fully comprehend all the capabilities your CRM has.
When you’re crafting a listing presentation in real estate, you want something that
- showcases who you are
- notes your local area expertise
- highlights the quality of your marketing
- illustrates the respect you have for your clients
- demonstrates your tech-savviness
- and irrefutably says to the home seller (and your prospective client) that you and only you are the agent to work with
Phew! That’s quite a lot to think about, isn’t it? And when it’s a busy market, it can be difficult to create one of these on the fly for every listing opportunity you may encounter.
Two ways real estate agents can generate more interest in a listing are through holding Open Houses and through holding Broker’s Opens. While Open Houses are meant to bring in interested buyers and open the house to the general public for inspection, Broker’s Opens are meant to attract other real estate agents who may have potential buyers for the property. Broker’s Opens also serve to help an agent get valuable feedback on the presentation and pricing of a property before the general public sees it, allowing that agent and their seller to make any necessary last-minute adjustments.
So, how exactly do you hold a successful Broker’s Open? We reached out to our CENTURY 21 Redwood agents with that question, and here’s what they had to say:
It’s that most wonderful time of the year: the time right after tax season. Every form is filled out, the checks have been written, so now you can relax until next year, right? Wrong.
The two consistent things about tax day are (a) you always know it’s going to happen, and (b) as soon as you’ve filed for the previous year, you’re usually already behind on this year. In a world of growing technology, however, the question of, “Is there any app for that?” can actually be answered with, “Yes!” Here are some of the top apps that real estate agents use in their businesses that could help make next April less stressful.
Quick question: Which do you prefer: people or paperwork? If you’re like most real estate agents, you’ve probably answered "people." And yet we’d bet at least half of your working time in real estate is spent on processing transactions - especially if you’re a solo agent.
Welcome to the launch of our new CENTURY 21 Redwood Transaction Concierge service. This program sprung out of our desire to help our agents spend more of their time growing their business instead of stuck in the grind of behind-the-scenes non-income producing activities.
Administrative work is a necessary evil in the real estate business, and one that is difficult for many agents to do consistently well when their hearts are really in helping their clients buy and sell houses. If you’ve ever wished you had an extra set of hands – preferably connected to a real estate-savvy brain – wish no longer. Our Transaction Concierge team is here to help.
We had several special guests join us for this year’s Redwood Rally, but an extra-special treat was a coaching session from none other than top real estate coach Tom Ferry, who joined us as part of C21 Redwood's exclusive partnership with the Tom Ferry Organization.
Regaling our CENTURY 21 Redwood Realty agents with real-life examples of exceptional clients he works with who put the principles he preaches into practice every day (with extraordinary results, no less), Tom challenged our agents and left us with some tips and tasks to immediately start implementing in our real estate businesses.
In late March, several real estate industry leaders gathered in Palm Springs to debate, discuss and come up with sets of principles to usher in a new era of leadership in the industry. The event was a way for the participants to totally disconnect from daily distractions in order to fully flush out guidelines and generally accepted principles that will elevate the level of practice in real estate. The result was the Parker Principles: 12 tenets detailing causes and actions that the industry should address and act upon. You can read the entire principles on Inman News, but I will focus on just a few points that I believe have the potential to impact our industry for the better.
Here at CENTURY 21 Redwood Realty, we’d argue that April is actually the most wonderful time of the year. Why? Because that’s when we hold our Redwood Rally!
This year's Redwood Rally was held in Wolfgang Puck’s Sunset Room, located in National Harbor. With its awesome view of the Potomac River and The Capital Wheel, plus lots of room to host our agents and all their trophies, it was the perfect choice.
When The Buggles sang “Video Killed the Radio Star” in 1979, they probably didn’t realize how ubiquitous video would become for both entertainment and informational purposes. Real estate agents have really started to embrace video, and, more than ever, there are a number of ways video can be used by real estate professionals to communicate with and reach a wider audience.
This year marked our third-annual Redwood Rally, which never disappoints. The Rally began as an opportunity to unite our entire company - staff and agents alike - with an event dedicated to inspiration, recognition and celebration. This year, we were fortunate enough to be graced with the presence of two amazing leaders in the CENTURY 21 corporation: our new CEO Nick Bailey and the company’s CMO Cara Whitley. Both spent time walking us through the thought process behind the new branding and discussing the role of real estate agents in the changing industry landscape.
Having an online digital footprint is more important than ever, and one of the easiest places for real estate agents to start is with his or her own website. One of the things CENTURY 21 Redwood Realty has put a lot of time, effort and thought into is our own website at C21Redwood.com. So, it made sense when we were deciding what websites to offer our agents that we would choose something based off our original design but branded to our individual agents, with custom URLs (web addresses) and design (if they so choose).
Aside from the customizable abilities we give our agents with their websites, we also have some really important features built in that their clients love, too.
Real estate transactions often involve more people than a buyer or seller may initially realize. From real estate agents to home inspectors to appraisers to mortgage professionals, there are any number of people who ‘touch’ the transaction before it’s done.
And, oftentimes, those people have to seamlessly work with each other to make sure the real estate settlement is successful. When a buyer needs a mortgage, finding the best mortgage professional to assist with a buyer’s needs is extremely important. That begs the question:
How involved should a real estate agent be in the mortgage process?
As the original franchise pioneer, CENTURY 21 has taken great pride in being the most globally recognized brand in real estate for two straight decades. A lot has changed since our founding in 1971 though, and it was time for a remodel. So, we collectively tore the old house down to the studs and rebuilt it with our most valuable asset in mind: our agents.
One of the real estate conferences we look forward to (aside from CENTURY 21’s One21 and our own Redwood Rally, of course) is the Inman Connect Conference, held twice yearly, one in New York City and one in San Francisco.
CENTURY 21 Redwood Realty has a history of strong and active participation in these Inman conferences, with C21 Redwood owners, staff and agents involved in everything from moderating marketing tracks and speaking on panels to ruling the main stage. One way that C21 Redwood has really made a difference in these conferences, however, is by having its members be a part of the Inman Ambassador group, and this upcoming Inman Connect San Francisco is no exception.
Mercedes. Nordstrom. CENTURY 21.
They’re all brands that instantly evoke a certain expectation of comfort and class combined with an unsurpassed level of customer service. By name alone, those brands have the power to let their clients know they’re in great hands.
And when the actual physical branding matches the feeling clients get when they hear your name? That’s priceless.
In a society where even a microwave takes too long and everyone wants everything yesterday, if you're a real estate agent and you're not using automated searches for your clients, your business could be suffering without you even knowing it.
At CENTURY 21 Redwood Realty, we offer our agents a number of different kinds of collaborative home searches so you and your client can ensure they're getting the information they want, when they want it. One of those search systems is Zap, which is offered for free by CENTURY 21 via their 21Online portal (exclusive to CENTURY 21 agents).
How do you kick off the grand opening of the real estate office of the future, aka CENTURY 21 Redwood Realty Reston? With a good old-fashioned ribbon-cutting ceremony, of course!
Early last year I met with an agent who told me that she had tried every single lead-generating scheme that she could possibly try. They never yielded any tangible results for her. She wanted to know what she was doing wrong, especially since her own money was involved in acquiring said leads.
We went through an analysis: she wanted to know if she was calling them fast enough because, according to some statistics, you should be calling a lead within 3 minutes or less. We looked at her follow-up program. It was specific and well-organized. We looked at the different drip campaigns she had set up. Again, no fault there. Everything was set up appropriately, with no real deficiency that I could see. Her system was flawless. She received leads from her company and followed up with them, doing everything absolutely right. The system was solid and the quality of leads she received was great. So what was missing?
When somebody starts to think about selling their home, one of the most common questions they’ll ask their real estate agent is, “When is the best time to put my home on the market?” Traditionally speaking, you’d probably think that the answer would be ‘spring,’ as most people associate spring market with the top selling season.
However, you might be surprised to hear that it’s not as simple as a one-season answer. If not driven by necessity (the need to move elsewhere or the need for immediate funds), here are a couple of questions to consider first before listing a house.
Contactually is the primary contact management system of CENTURY 21 Redwood Realty. We chose Contactually because it’s relatively easy to use, its features include drip email campaigns and the ability to personalize mass emails, it plays well with other companies we use (like Spacio), and Contactually is a company open to adapting to the needs of a real estate organization and its agents.
I was inspired by my friend Peter Brewer who just spent a week with Brad Inman in Australia and wrote about the lessons he learned from his time with him. I have had the pleasure of volunteering with, and recently working on staff at Inman, which afforded me the opportunity to work closely with Mr. Inman himself. When I left Inman and returned to C21 Redwood, I did so with a healthy dose of meaningful life lessons from Mr. Inman. Brad’s desire is to change the status quo on everything, and his recent call to bring about more conversations into Inman events resonated with me to the point that I want to share parts of conversations with Mr. Inman that left me wanting more in both my personal and professional life.
It's always a pleasure to be unveil a new CENTURY 21 Redwood Realty office, and the grand opening of our Fairfax office was no exception! Conveniently located on the ground floor, this reimagined space was designed for the comfort and enjoyment of our real estate agents and their clients.
On March 1, CENTURY 21 corporate released its new and improved branding, and, from where I stand, it was well received. The design, look and feel of the new logo and the associated branding have completely changed the way I look at the brand as a whole. It is modern, edgy, and completely diverges from the previous CENTURY 21 look and feel. We’ve definitely turned a page with the company leadership, and now the brand speaks to our new direction.
Creating new opportunities from lists of potential buyers can be a time-consuming process, especially if there’s no system behind it. That’s why CENTURY 21 Redwood Realty has been exploring changing its processes and implementing a company that’s been at the forefront of the real estate industry for its innovation and spectacular user experience. (After all, happy clients make happy agents!)
At this January’s Inman Connect conference, several of us at CENTURY 21 Redwood Realty had the pleasure of seeing speaker John Henry. One of his most notable quotes was: “There’s riches in niches.” Henry was referring to finding a niche in the super-competitive world of New York City drycleaners – specializing in handling the cleaning needs of movie wardrobes. That same motto, however, holds true in the real estate world. There are so many benefits to dominating a tight niche market in your real estate business, whether it’s a specific farm area or your local church group.
CENTURY 21 Redwood Realty offers a number of in-house marketing options that we’ve created to be as easy to use as possible. One of the most popular marketing options is our postcard builder, which is a great way to market listings and stay top-of-mind with your targeted mailing lists.
“I am not here to tell you what to do; I am here to help you hold yourself accountable - to your goals, your promises, and your business. I am here to hold you accountable to yourself”
- Kay “Coach Kay” Fairchild, Tom Ferry Organization
One of the most popular tools CENTURY 21 Redwood Realty offers its agents is Spacio, a paperless open house app that encourages and automates visitor registration. With its integration with a number of great companies, including RealSatisfied and Contactually, Spacio seamlessly works to enhance our agents' open house experiences.
He’s a name many in the real estate industry are already familiar with, and we’re thrilled he’s now working with C21 Redwood Realty – that’s right, Tom Ferry is going to be yet another reason Redwood Rocks in 2018!
It’s an exciting feeling getting a listing – you get the opportunity to help another member of the community move on to another part of their life while welcoming others into the community to start anew.
My Home, My Life, My Family
Late last year I made the decision to leave my real estate home at CENTURY 21 Redwood Realty to go work for Inman News. The move allowed me to experience another side of our industry; one that offers people the opportunity to speak their truths in front of an audience and revel in the fact that they are able to influence and change someone’s course of action through a simple, yet powerful presentation.
There comes a time in every real estate agent’s life when they have to deal with an extremely discerning, dare we even say “picky,” buyer. While it’s admirable to know what you want and be confident in asking for it, being too hard to please can actually work against a buyer’s interests. We asked some of our CENTURY 21 Redwood Realty agents how they work with choosy buyers and here were their top tips:
CENTURY 21 Redwood Realty has once again been named a Triple Platinum Award winner by the Cartus Broker Network for its outstanding achievements during the past year. Platinum is the highest level of the Excellence Awards presented to principal brokers, and Triple Platinum was achieved by C21 Redwood Realty for overall exceptional performance in all the areas we service – Maryland, DC/Northern Virginia, and Stafford/Fredericksburg. Excellence Award recognition is based on a wide variety of goals including customer service, sales conversion, agent behavior, cost management, and effective analysis when marketing homes.
It’s an event several of us at CENTURY 21 Redwood Realty look forward to every year – Inman Connect in New York City. A short train ride up from Washington, D.C., ICNY (as it’s affectionately known) always provides an opportunity for sharing knowledge and learning about what’s new and what’s working in and around the intersection of the technology and real estate spaces.
Our C21 Redwood family descended on the National Harbor this past weekend to celebrate the holidays in style. Shawn, Nick and Eddie rented out Bobby McKey's Dueling Piano Bar for a fun-filled night of music, dancing and celebration.
“It’s easy to sell what you love.” That’s been Sita Kapur’s motto for the past 20 years, as she’s been building her brokerage, Arlington Premier Realty. Now, she’s bringing this belief to CENTURY 21 Redwood Realty’s Arlington office as our new Executive Vice President.
CENTURY 21 Redwood Realty is extremely excited to welcome Kathy Colville and her team to the Redwood family! Kathy Colville & Associates’ focus on communication, trust, confidence and work ethic is a perfect fit with the core values and client-focused attitude of C21 Redwood Realty.
The quality of a company can be measured by many things, but the biggest factor is its people. That’s why we’re so proud to have created a company that people love to work for and be a part of. Our people - agents, employees and owners alike - aren’t just locally recognized and respected for their many accomplishments...they’re sought out by others in the national and international communities to be mentors, trainers and leaders.
Giving back to our local, national and international community is at the heart of everything we do at Century 21 Redwood Realty.
Our Redwood Gives Back program is a 501(c)(3) charity, and our 12 offices across Maryland, Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C. support global initiatives like New Story Charity.
When you build partnerships with companies like we have at C21 Redwood Realty, whenever you see each other, it’s more like old friends meeting than two businesses formally greeting each other.