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    3 Ways Real Estate Portals Can Maximize your Exposure

    September 5th, 2018

    Maintaining a strong online presence is a good practice for real estate professionals who want to build their reputation and establish themselves as experts in a competitive industry. However, with so many agent websites active online, it can be hard to stand out. This is where real estate portals come in.

    With more and more people being comfortable with buying a home online, real estate portals are emerging as an all-inclusive destination for purchasing property, where potential clients can view homes and also find out about other aspects of the  process.

    Here are just some of the benefits of posting your listings on a real estate portal:

    Gain Exponentially More Exposure

    Posting your listings on a real estate portal is a sure-fire way to boost your online presence and draw eyes to your listings, providing you with more exposure, more leads and ultimately more sales.

    Highly trafficked real estate portals like Point2 Homes are the perfect place for agents to connect with millions of buyers and sellers. Agents who want to sell more properties, faster, can easily promote their listings and their profile for extra exposure and transfer views to their own websites.

    Develop Your Agent Reputation

    A well-established real estate portal will not only offer you exposure, but will also help build your reputation as an expert in the field. All the listings are already verified, so users don’t have to question the authenticity of the data; this means you won’t have to waste any time trying to gain the trust of your potential clients and establish your credibility.

    Many online portals also allow you to build an agent profile, where you can include your qualifications, advertise your website and get in contact with other professionals in the industry. Potential customers are able to search for properties easily, taking advantage of various filters and useful interactive features such as virtual tours and map-based searches to simplify the decision-making process.

    Take Advantage of All the Features 

    On established online listing portals, you can take advantage of all the built-in features in order to guarantee the best exposure for your listings and get everything you need in one single place. But if you want your own site, products such as Point2 Agent make it easier for professionals to create high quality, user-friendly websites, which are linked to the main portal, maximizing exposure for your listings and sending a lot of traffic your way.

    Many real estate portals go beyond property search and offer plenty of other add-on services, such as sales history, mortgage calculators, comparables, photos and more. These add-on services not only improve the user experience, by offering value to customers and helping them during the decision making process, but they also position you as a knowledgeable agent and a true expert when it comes to helping them achieve their home-buying goals.

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    Here Are 4 Easy Ways to Improve the Quality of Your Listings

    September 4th, 2018

    We all know what we are looking for in a listing. Generally, it should include, at the very least, the address of the property, the price, a short description of its features, and some pictures. These are all indispensable when trying to make a good first impression, but it might not be enough.

    If you want to get your property noticed and generate more leads, it’s important to remember that writing a good listing requires more than sticking to the basics.

    So what makes a good-quality listing? Read on for the best tips on how to write listings which will help you turn home seekers into home buyers.

    Use High-Quality Pictures to Make your Listing Stand Out

    As good as your listing description might be, the first thing buyers look at is the photo gallery. This is why badly focused smartphone snaps just won’t cut it. A good way to ensure that viewers actually go through your entire listing is to invest in the quality of your pictures.

    Besides purchasing a high-end camera, planning your photo shoots is also crucial. Take the time to find the best angles and the best light. Also, consider staging the home’s interior. Another way to make sure your pictures stand out is to hire a professional photographer to do the job for you.

    Focus on Prospective Buyers’ Needs

    Another great way to engage with potential customers is by addressing their specific needs. Imagine what is important for them and then emphasize those aspects in the description. For instance, first-time buyers might be interested in getting the best deal. You can start with a direct question, and then provide them with a list of more affordable properties or homes that saw a price drop in the past few weeks.

    Also, providing these buyers with valuable information, such as the estimated mortgage of the property, a list of similar properties on the market or other useful facts about the local real estate climate is a great way to position yourself as an expert in the industry and build your reputation.

    Pay Close Attention to the Flow of Your Descriptions

    Highlighting key features of the property is a good way to attract viewers, but in order to make a listing really stand out, your description should also have good flow. Do some research, read other descriptions, see what you like and what you don’t and, most importantly, think about what you would like to read about if you were a prospective home buyer yourself. This helps to develop a structure, starting with the property’s most important features and ending with a description of the amenities that are nice to have, but are maybe less important.

    Help Prospective Buyers Imagine their Future Home

    If you’ve managed to keep home seekers interested thus far, make sure the rest of your description is relevant and valuable as well. Tell people about the specific features of the property you’re trying to sell, mention practical amenities and don’t go overboard with generic phrases like ”the home of your dreams.”

    Instead, help your potential customers imagine themselves enjoying their new home by using phrases like ”cozy back deck to enjoy summer sunsets” and you’ll be one step closer to helping your clients and increasing your sales. One surefire way to pique buyers’ interest is by using engaging words that describe key aspects of the property. Terms such as spacious, open concept, or landscaped will help them imagine their future home. 

     

    Just like a well-written narrative, the story of the house you’re trying to sell should help buyers picture it. And while using impressive, over-the-top phrases seems like the obvious path to take, it is better to focus on writing creative, yet clear and comprehensible descriptions. While getting used to the specific vocabulary might take some time, on the long run, you’ll notice that it’s well worth the effort.

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    Becoming a Millionaire Real Estate Agent – 5 Keys to Make it Happen!

    March 14th, 2017

    Article provided by Sue Styles, business coach and local board (CREB) Instructor, MaximizedResults.com.

    You can feel the instinct inside of you to become an entrepreneur. There is a drive and a passion stirring your ideas together and you can’t wait to make your first million. But just the dream and desire are not nearly enough to make a successful REALTOR®! You need the other half of the equation – the skills to make it happen.Sue Styles Real Estate Coach

    Do you know that Your Daily Habits Determine Your Yearly Results? When I speak to any group of real estate agents I usually begin with this point. There are a multitude of activities you can do to build your business but the core of success comes down to the actions you take every single day. So, what have you been doing? Could you be doing it better?

    If you want to build a better business I can tell you how. I have been in millionaire offices for over a decade, hands-on as administrative support and then as a manager of a brokerage and now as a business coach, author and speaker. I know what it takes to build a successful business, have been behind the curtain and now I want to share some of these keys with those hard-working agents, like you, who just need to know what they can do to get to the next level!
    Here are four high level habits those REALTORS® grossing over $2 million each year are masters of.

    #1 They Build Their Reputation

    What do you think your reputation in your industry and in your city is?

    What do people say behind your back? A reputation can’t be fabricated; it is created by what you do behind closed doors for the good or the bad. Past clients, past employees and industry members are very often quick to share their own opinions about you and your business.

    So, you must imagine what you want others to say about you and then go out and start acting like that!

    Beef up your online image

    Hire a professional photographer and when you take your own shots use something like Snapseed to touch up your pics to make them super appealing. Everything that you post reflects on you, as the saying goes “How you do one thing, is how you do everything.” Make sure your brand online is doing you a favor, not embarrassing you!

    Brand

    Affiliate yourself with other products or people that help your brand. I sat down with the owner of a cold pressed juicing company that skyrocketed to profitable popularity in Alberta within a short three years, and one of the things that the CRU Juice owner told me was how she was able to align the product with other successful brands that were synergistic, such as Holt Renfrew. The cross-marketing helped people to define and like her brand quickly.

    Find your words

    Who are you and what is your service? Put three clear words to it so you and everyone else knows! One team I worked with wanted to make it their goal to become the #1 team in their small town. We went through some branding exercises and came up with the words reliable, responsive & respectful. Then they made it into a promise; “We represent your interests by being reliable, responsive, respectful and ultimately bringing you the results you want!”

    # 2 They Aren’t Afraid to Ask

    real estate agent and customersThe top producers have learned how to ask for business without being aggressive or annoying! When you are starting a solopreneurial business your whole effort might seem like it is on lead generating – because without a customer there is no commission.

    The best in the industry have taken training to become better at asking, they have made themselves reach out and call when they didn’t want to. They have built relationships with current clients so that they could invite referrals in. And after the deals close, they continue to ask for business through e-newsletters, personal phone calls, social media and even snail mail.
    They never give up!

    # 3 Don’t be a Stranger

    A little saying in sales is that ‘when you meet someone for the first time you’re strangers, when you meet the second time you are friends.’
    I know some agents prefer the 2-step market analysis for precisely this reason: they will have their initial meeting and then not give their opinion on price until they see the clients for the second time – and then in meeting an old friend they hope for a new client.
    I might suggest a new and improved strategy that will make your leads feel like friends when they meet you for just the first time.

    Video

    The benefits of sending a quick message using technology will wow your leads and connect you to them right away. There are three well-documented elements to communication: your words, your voice/tone, and your body language. Studies have shown that:

    • words only help communicate about 7 percent of what you mean,
    • your voice and intonation help with about another 38 percent and
    • it’s your body language that drives home 55 percent of your message!

    If you took 3 minutes to create a little video message such as:

    Hello, I’m looking forward to meeting you tomorrow night! I will bring all the sales in your neighborhood and answer any questions that might be on your mind…

    Then, the potential clients will have ‘met’ you once, and when you arrive they will feel like they are meeting you for the second time. You can verify this yourself by considering a news anchor or some TV personality you watch. If you ran into them on the street, wouldn’t you already feel like you know them? Certainly! Use this to your advantage and you will be able to help more clients get the results they want by working with you!

    #4 A Big Business Needs a Big Foundation

    In Calgary, Alberta, Canada, stands the Calgary Tower. It’s a landmark standing 626 feet high in the heart of Downtown. It weighs approximately 10,900 tonnes; however, 60 percent of that is underground. Over half of the structure is underneath the surface, supporting the height!
    Often in business and life we only recognize the accomplishments we see above the surface. The tip of the iceberg, so to speak.

    There are preparations that must be made if you want to erect a high-rise. The base must be able to support the height. To build an impressive structure, product or reputation, you must have an appropriate foundation and for the solopreneur that foundation consists of:

    CRM / Database

    If you don’t have a database to take care of your clients and leads, then I will assume you must be in a government job! For the rest of us, we need help keeping in touch and keeping the details straight about each person we do business with. With all the amazing choices offered online there is no excuse for not having a Client Relationship Management (CRM) system.

    Checklists & Systems

    You will need checklists and processes that support every stage of business and are scalable. If you can take all the details out of your head and put them on paper, you will arrive with some brilliant checklists. Right from the first inter-action with a potential customer through to closing, you need to have a process that your business follows.

    Annual Marketing Plan

    Make your strategic plan and then project manage it so that you are preparing ahead of time and staying ahead of the curve when it comes to promoting your business.

    These core competencies may not seem all that glamorous, but without them your business will continually implode under the weight of success.

    #5 You Need to Scale or You are Going to Fail

    Just in case I have not convinced you to pay attention to your business base, let me remind you what happened when Groupon came to be. Groupon (and there are other lead generating coupon style sites) offered small businesses an optimal opportunity to increase leads by offering discounted coupons for services.

    The consumer was captured by the money-saving site and bought up the product. All these businesses increased their customer base ten-fold! Then do you remember what happened?
    If any of you were like me, you might have had one of these experiences. I bought a coupon for house cleaning, I called in to redeem my coupon but couldn’t get an appointment for over a month. Then, when I finally received the service it was terrible!

    Turned out that the cleaning company was so inundated with coupons they just didn’t have the ability to service the large amount of volume! They weren’t able to scale their business to increase quickly. They didn’t have the support and very soon went out of business.
    The hopes for increased business resulted in just the opposite as customers received terrible service, and others couldn’t arrange their service in a timely fashion.
    I heard over and over of many small businesses having to close-up shop because the massive lead generation led to a system crash. If you think all your business needs is more clients, think again.

    Experienced sales people have learned how to handle lots of business at the same time. They take a new client and feed them through their system: paperwork, product, sales, scheduled follow up, negotiating final deals and finally staying connected to stay top of mind.

    It takes time and effort and practice to go from one deal a month to ten. Every time you feel overwhelmed you must learn new skills that hehouselp you expand your capacity. It can take a few years to put systems in place that help you to juggle your sales so that you can handle more.

    Be diligent and implement one thing at a time. I would suggest that within three years you should be able to handle all you want – and that may include needing to hire your first administrative assistant!

    I highly encourage agents to continue their education with regular participation in courses offered through their own Boards and Industry Associations.

    *More of the habits are detailed in my new book:
    “The Little Red Stick – What Gets Measured Gets Done” Coming out this summer, 2017!

    Sue Styles has been immersed in the real estate industry for over a decade supporting agents as a brokerage manager, business coach and local board (CREB) Instructor. She has spoken at conferences and will be presenting at Canada’s largest real estate event, REALTOR® Quest this May, 2017. Her new book “The Little Red Stick- What Gets Measured Gets Done” is hot off the presses in summer 2017. Find her on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or visit her blog.

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    Expert Interview: How To Keep Your Edge In A Competitive Market

    February 10th, 2017

    The Calgary real estate market has been through much turmoil throughout 2016, as the city’s economy is affected by low oil prices. We’ve reached out to Peter Ng, expert agent and associate broker, who has watched Calgary develop both as an agent, and as a lifetime resident. His key to staying on top of the competitive market? Build a mature client base. Read on to find out how.

    Tell us a few words about the KORE Real Estate Team and the role you play in leading it.

    Expert broker Peter Ng offers advice on starting out as a real estate agent, and insights on the Calgary market.

    Expert broker Peter Ng offers advice on starting out as a real estate agent, and insights on the Calgary market.

    CIR Realty | KORE Real Estate Team is a leading residential and commercial real estate team serving Calgary and surrounding areas. Our team of REALTORS® represent a wide range of clients from first time home buyers to investors in re-sale properties, condominium pre-sales, and new home sales.

    As a dynamic and innovative team, our mission is to deliver solid results to our clients by providing unparalleled customer service and leveraging the latest technologies. The “client first” philosophy has always been our approach and technology has allowed us to do everything we’ve always done – only with much more precision and effectiveness.

    Having won numerous awards and top producer standings, we continually strive to improve our skills and ways of doing business. Whether you’re looking to buy or sell a home, our team is dedicated to helping you navigate the real estate market and achieve your goals.

    My role in leading the real estate team is as the team leader. I spend the majority of my time mentoring and training new team members and with marketing strategy and business leadership.

    What do you love most about your job?

    Here are five reasons why I feel I have a dream job:

    1. Freedom – As we are self-employed, whatever efforts we put into our business creates value for me in the long term. Being your own boss also allows me to pursue the goals that I want and puts me in the driver seat of where I can to go in life and the only limitation to where I want to go is how hard I am willing to work.

    2. Financially Rewarding – I became a REALTOR® in January of 2005, perfect timing to catch the real estate boom. I found that I enjoyed what I did and was good at it and I was very fortunate the timing was right.

    3. Flexibility to set our own schedules, pursue personal goals, and take vacations especially when setup as a real estate team which allows team member’s to support each other and for the business to run itself even if I am away from the office.

    4. Challenging – Every day I am presented with a different challenge and each day I deal with different people with different requirements. This keeps my job interesting and dynamic.

    Like any job, there can be administrative work that can be heavy at times, but you would rarely find yourself sitting down for an 8-hour workday working only on paperwork.

    Being in a team allows us to specialize our skills and tasks, which involves nowadays mostly training team members, client consultations, and showing clients homes.

    Without a doubt, real estate is competitive, but if you thrive on competition, this is truly a place you feel right at home.

    5. Personally Rewarding – Every day I wake up to go to work, I get to work with clients, sometimes even my own family and friends, whether it is answering any real estate questions they may have, or helping them find their dream home. The experience is very personal and I sometimes work closely with clients over several years to find them the right home, with many clients becoming my very good friends.

    Many of my clients have been with me since I first got into real estate, almost 9 years ago, which is why one of the most rewarding parts of my job is to see them happy with my service and their home, or to get invited to their house warming parties or BBQs. And to this very day, the highest compliment I can receive from my clients is when they refer a family, friend, or a co-worker to me.

    If you think about your first years in the industry, what were the biggest challenges that you have faced and how did you manage to overcome them? Tell us some agent must-haves.

    The first few years in the industry presented many challenges to me as an individual agent without any mentoring from an experienced REALTOR®. I was faced with a huge learning curve and had to figure it out quickly, while on the job already, in many cases.

    This brought a lot of extra stress to me but it also forced me to adapt and learn quickly. It taught me to be prepared for each and every day, and each and every scenario. Preparation, asking lots of questions, and not giving up was what helped me the most in the first few years.

    What would you do differently if you were at the beginning of your career right now?

    That’s a great question! When I became a REALTOR®, the concept of a real estate team existed but still was not mainstream at that point. If I could turn back time, I think I might have joined a team so that I could have learned and had support from experienced REALTORS®, rather than having to learn everything on my own.

    What is the main challenge for the real estate industry at this time? What’s your key to staying on top of the competitive market?

    The main challenge to the real estate industry right now is the general economy in Alberta. In the next few years until oil and gas prices recover, it will be a test of survival of the fittest for many REALTORS®.

    The ones that can ride out the recession will come out even stronger, and capturing an even larger market share. For newer REALTORS® with a less established and mature client base, the approach to survival is to work even harder to sustain their businesses until better times.

    Have you spotted any interesting market trends recently in Calgary?

    There have been many interesting market trends in Calgary recently, but one particularly worth mentioning would be the urban densification of the city. In the last 5 years, there has definitely been more momentum than previously in the construction of high rise condos in the downtown of Calgary.

    I believe this trend will continue, despite it being slowed down currently due to the recession. The desire to live downtown for both convenience and lifestyle will continue to grow as our city matures, and because of urban sprawl.

    Calgary night view

    How was Calgary’s residential real estate market in 2016 compared to 2015?

    The year of 2016 was a challenging year in sales activity, absorption rates, and price declines alike. It is interesting to note that not all communities are affected equally, as some established subdivisions have been left virtually unaffected by the recession, both in prices and days on markets.

    The inner city and downtown have suffered the most in terms of price decreases, particularly in the luxury and condo market. There have been price declines on average of 8-10% in these markets in the last 12 months.

    Is there a specific feature that could describe the profile of the Calgary home buyer?

    Currently, the buyers that are still buying are either real estate investors, or buyers who are out looking for deals or value.

    Have you spotted any trends in the Millennials’ attitudes towards home ownership?

    The main trend with millennials is the trend to purchase condos, whether apartments or town homes, to reduce the amount of home maintenance work required. Most millennials are looking for less square footage, less or no backyard, and a lifestyle where they sacrifice space for time and convenience.

    This desire for convenience and lifestyle is the same driving force pushing people to buy condos in inner city and downtown Calgary.

    Did you notice any preference for the green-certified properties over the last year?

    No, this is a trend in other cities like Vancouver and Toronto. I have not seen this trend become very popular in Calgary as of yet. It is an added value to a property, but, in my humble opinion, it is not a deal breaker for most buyers, especially if it is at a cost premium to the buyer.

    Have you noticed a rising interest from foreign investors in the Calgary properties?

    We are specialist and industry leaders in the foreign-buyers niche, and my opinion is there is added interest, but nothing overwhelming. Our city differs very much from Vancouver and Toronto, where foreign buyers actively seek out those markets to invest in. Calgary lacks the same degree of awareness, and our city and province have done very little to promote Calgary real estate to foreign investors.

    This responsibility will rest in the hands of the private sector and with time and proper marketing, this market will hopefully grow and mature like the other cities.

    In the first quarter of 2016, Calgary commercial real estate vacancies hit an historic high of 20%, according to CBRE Canada. Why do you think this happened and what do you think the situation will be by the end of the year?

    The reason is quite simple, with low oil and gas prices and massive layoffs from every company, there is now a massive surplus of office space available. There are also zero dollar subleases available, where companies have office space under contract, and now have no use for the space. They are willing to rent the space out to other companies, as long as the company pays the operating costs, just to mitigate a portion of the costs of the lease.

    Where do you think the prices of Calgary properties are headed by the end of 2016?

    The honest answer is no one knows with real estate. The general direction of the market is that is has now leveled off, with some even believing that the market has bottomed out. I would say prices should stay relatively stable for at least the next 3 to 6 months, unless something dramatic was to occur to the price of crude oil, or there were to be further massive layoffs.

    The geopolitical environment is another variable to keep a close eye on. My thoughts are that crude prices will just stay stagnant.

    Check out more predictions on the Calgary market in particular, and Canadian real estate in general, in these expert interviews:
    Expert Interview: The Unparalleled Power of Perspective
    Real Estate Industry Predictions for 2017
    Calgary Real Estate Trends

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    National Association of Realtors Code of Ethics – How they Apply to Everyday Business

    July 6th, 2016

    Article provided by Jeff Knox, Dallas Real Estate Broker at Knox & Associates.

    Code of Ethics

    The National Association of Realtors Code of Ethics is a set of ethics guidelines, articles and rules set forth to govern the ethical behavior of all Realtor Members of the Association. Each member takes a pledge to follows these principles as part of their membership to a higher authority known as the National Association of Realtors. With the Code of Ethics, the National Association of Realtors sets rules and stipulations for Realtors in (1) Duties to Clients & Customers; (2) Duties to the Public: and, (3) Duties to other Realtor Members. This article is about what parts of the Code apply to almost daily practice of real estate. I hope you find this useful.

    While some of the duties and standards written within the Code do not apply to everyday practices of real estate, many of the ethical guidelines do.  With over a decade of licensed real estate experience, I have personally observed many of the sections of the Code being misapplied, possibly forgotten or, worst, totally ignored.  The last observation of “totally ignored” is inexcusable and is what gives some Realtors and brokerages a bad name among both other Realtor Members and the public.

    Consider this article a refresher course as to the duties and mindset all Realtor Members should have and uphold when both operating in business and dealing with clients, customers and members of the public.

    The Difference Between a Realtor & Real Estate Agent

    Many members of the public and, sadly, some Real Estate Agents do not understand is the actual difference between a Realtor and a Real Estate Agent.  In our state, Texas, the State Commission issues a Real Estate License.  There are two types of Real Estate License in the State of Texas – (1) Salesperson; and, (2) Broker.  Each new license holder must start their career as a Salesperson and work directly under a Sponsoring Broker.  Simply getting your real estate license does not make you a Member of the National Association of Realtors.  A license holder would then have to join a local Realtor board to become a Realtor Member.  A license holder may practice real estate without be a Realtor.

    A Realtor Member is a license holder who has chosen to join a professional organization to adhere to an even stricter policy of ethics and rules as a National Association of Realtors Member.

    Remember this – you must have a Real Estate License to be a Member of the National Association of Realtors.  But, you do not have to be a Member of the National Association of Realtors to hold a Real Estate License.  In fact, most commercial Real Estate Salespersons are not Members of the National Association of Realtors.  Why?  Because the MLS which is controlled by the local Realtor Associations is primarily geared toward residential real estate and not commercial.  Therefore, most commercial Brokers do not consider it greatly beneficial to be a part of the local Realtor Association(s).

    National Association of Realtors Code of Ethics: Preamble (a Great Place for Us to Start!)

    The Preamble is the beginning of the Code of Ethics.  Frankly, it is both wordy and can be described as having a lot of “flowery” language.  If you would like to read the National Association of Realtors Code of Ethics Preamble in its entirety, click here.  It is about a page long and has seven paragraphs summarizing the true nature of the Code’s existence.

    All the flowery language set aside, it does provide some immediate “advice” and obligations assigned to any Realtor who decides to undertake the responsibility of being associated with the organization.

    First example of importance within the Code’s Preamble:

    “They impose grave social responsibility and a patriotic duty to which REALTORS ® should dedicate themselves, and for which they should be diligent in preparing themselves. REALTORS ®, therefore, are zealous to maintain and improve the standards of their calling and share with their fellow REALTORS ® a common responsibility for its integrity and honor.”

    This language is written within the second paragraph of the Preamble and is already stating that Real Estate Salespersons who choose to be a part of the organization should be prepared to dedicate themselves.  The Preamble uses strong language in how the Association expects their Members to accept responsibility for the Code.

    The word dedicate does not mean “halfway,” “somewhat,” “when I have time,” “when it is convenient,” etc…  Dedicate is defined as “to devote wholly and earnestly, as to some person or purpose.”

    This is the first strong mention as to how seriously the Association and its Members should take the following Code.

    The second bit of language I find interesting from the Preamble is located in the fourth paragraph and we will explore this statement more in depth later in the article as pieces of this statement apply to individual Code of Ethics Articles.

    “Realizing that cooperation with other real estate professionals promotes the best interests of those who utilize their services, REALTORS ® urge exclusive representation of clients; do not attempt to gain any unfair advantage over their competitors; and they refrain from making unsolicited comments about other practitioners. In instances where their opinion is sought, or where REALTORS ® believe that comment is necessary, their opinion is offered in an objective, professional manner, uninfluenced by any personal motivation or potential advantage or gain.”

    The statement and language in the quote above is addressed in detail in several of the individual articles within the body of the actual Code of Ethics.  In addition, the quote above from the Code is a great thing to store in the back of your mind as we continue the article with ways the Code is applied in everyday situations by Realtor Members.

    National Association of Realtors Code of Ethics: Duties to Clients and Customers

    This section of the Code details our duties, as Realtor Members, to clients and customers.  So what are the sections of this part of the Code which apply to everyday situations in real estate.

    Standard of Practice 1-3  – REALTORS®, in attempting to secure a listing, shall not deliberately mislead the owner as to market value.”

    My take – Unfortunately, this happens almost daily.  In an effort to secure listings, some Realtor Members will deliberately mislead the owner as to the market value of their home in order to get a property listing.  Some Realtors have decided that in lieu of providing honest, ethical information to help a potential client (not a client until the owner signs a listing agreement), the Realtor will inflate the estimated value of the listing while knowing it is only human nature for the seller to want to believe their home or property is worth more than market value.  In doing so, the Realtor Member knowingly misleads the seller.  As much as I am convinced this intentionally happens, I am equally as convinced that many Realtors do not remember this is a direct violation of the Code of Ethics.

    Setting a price on a home is NOT an exact science.  And, just because a home fails to sell at a certain, original list price does not make this an automatic violation of the Code.  Sometimes homes just don’t sell at a certain price.  It happens.  That’s why price reductions exist.  However, intentionally inflating values to mislead potential seller clients is, in fact, a direct violation of the Code.

    Standard of Practice 1-5 – REALTORS® may represent the seller/landlord and buyer/tenant in the same transaction only after full disclosure to and with informed consent of both parties.”

    My take – Also known as an intermediary.  Be careful with this one!  I try and avoid the conflict of interest created by an intermediary at all costs.  As we are required to say, I am NOT an attorney but I see this as one of the best ways to get sued.  It is our job to represent our client with all self-interest as secondary.  In my opinion, it is not in the best interest of the client to represent both parties in the role of intermediary.  While acting as an intermediary is not a direct violation of the Code of Ethics, taking one false, unintentional step or saying the wrong thing could easily violate several Articles of the Code of Ethics while in the position of Intermediary!

    Standard of Practice 1-15 – REALTORS®, in response to inquiries from buyers or cooperating brokers shall, with the sellers’ approval, disclose the existence of offers on the property. Where disclosure is authorized, REALTORS® shall also disclose, if asked, whether offers were obtained by the listing licensee, another licensee in the listing firm, or by a cooperating broker.”

    My take – Honestly, one I was not familiar with until writing this article.  So, if, as a Realtor, you are allowed (by your seller clients) to disclose to potential buyers or cooperating brokers that another offer on the property exist(s).  I was not familiar with the second part of the Code – as a Realtor, you are also required to disclose the brokerage firm from which the other offer was submitted, if asked.  In essence, if asked, you are required to disclose if you are in Intermediary (either by yourself or by virtue of your brokerage with another agent from your same firm), or if the offer is by another, independent brokerage firm.  Interesting and good to know.  Make note of this part of the Code.

    Article 6 (Case Interpretations for Article 6) REALTORS® shall not accept any commission, rebate, or profit on expenditures made for their client, without the client’s knowledge and consent.”

    “When recommending real estate products or services (e.g., homeowner’s insurance, warranty programs, mortgage financing, title insurance, etc.), REALTORS® shall disclose to the client or customer to whom the recommendation is made any financial benefits or fees, other than real estate referral fees, the REALTOR® or REALTOR®’s firm may receive as a direct result of such recommendation.”

    My take – I see this time and time again where a Realtor representing the buyer will be accepting monies from a cetain home warranty company, home security company or other business as compensation for a referral to that certain business.  Each time I see this on a contract, I have to ask myself if the $25 to $50 the agent is receiving is worth it?  What happens when something goes wrong with the service you, as a Realtor, have referred to your client?  The client will get angry.  The potential damages – best case, they will simply never refer you to another client when something goes wrong with the service you “represent.”  Worst case, you will get sued along with the service if something major occurs.  Notice I state you are “representing” the service you refer.  Make no mistake, by accepting money from another business by guiding your client to purchase services from a specific business, you are now a direct representative of that business.

    It makes me shudder each time I see a Realtor disclose they are taking money from a third party business by guiding a client to that business.  The small amounts paid by the third party business are not even close enough to possibly compensate me for the potential future issues.  In addition, I personally believe receiving any money for guiding a client to a certain business is the exact opposite of the section of the Code which states – “When representing a buyer, seller, landlord, tenant, or other client as an agent, REALTORS® pledge themselves to protect and promote the interests of their client.”  I believe it is a direct conflict of interest to accept money from a third party company not involved with the transaction for referring our clients in exchange for nothing more than our own financial gain…a very small financial gain.

    Some Realtors do this now.  Other Realtors will continue to do this.  But, I can honestly say that I’ve never accepted money from a third party vendor for referring a client and I never will.  If you do it, you’re not in direct violation of the Code, but be sure to disclose your relationship.

    Article 8 (Case Interpretations for Article 8) – REALTORS® shall keep in a special account in an appropriate financial institution, separated from their own funds, monies coming into their possession in trust for other persons, such as escrows, trust funds, clients’ monies, and other like items.”

    My take – Good Lord commingling funds is a bad idea!  Thankfully in my state, I never touch any money during a sale’s transaction.  All checks are either written or wired to the seller (option monies) or to the title company (earnest monies and closing monies).

    And, in a lease transaction, I make sure all checks are written to the landlord.  If I have a lease property and I am representing the landlord, have a potential tenant write any checks directly to the landlord (application fees, deposits, first and last month’s rent checks, etc…).  That way, no monies ever touch your account.  Messing with peoples’ money is dangerous.  Make a paper trail where you never touch any of the money.  It isn’t worth it!

    National Association of Realtors Code of Ethics: Duties to the Public

    Standard of Practice 10-3 – REALTORS® shall not print, display or circulate any statement or advertisement with respect to selling or renting of a property that indicates any preference, limitations or discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, sexual orientation, or gender identity.”

    My take – 99% of Realtors would never intentionally violate the Code of Ethics on the Article above.  However, here is where to be careful – I see way too many Realtors who have certain demographics posted on their websites.  I think it is very easy to get into trouble and be misquoted as potential “steering” by having demographic statistics posted on an agent’s website.  Mentioning an area as being “family oriented” on your website could absolutely violate this Article of the Code.

    The Code is often revised and please note where the Code now references “display.”  I have a strong opinion and feeling that the term “display” was inserted into the Code largely in part, and in reference, to “electronic display”…as in the Internet.  So, I bring up this section and its small intricacies to help you avoid accidentally violating the Code of Ethics.

    Standard of Practice 12-5 – Realtors® shall not advertise nor permit any person employed by or affiliated with them to advertise real estate services or listed property in any medium (e.g., electronically, print, radio, television, etc.) without disclosing the name of that Realtor®’s firm in a reasonable and readily apparent manner either in the advertisement or in electronic advertising via a link to a display with all required disclosures.”

    My take – OK, another Internet type of issue for which a Realtor should be aware.  I see multiple agent-owned websites (almost daily) which try and almost hide their affiliation with their sponsoring broker.  Not only is this a Code issue, but most state Real Estate Commissions are also very strict on this policy.  While, as a Realtor, you are technically an independent contractor and therefore do, in fact, own your own business, both the Code of Ethics and most state Commissions (of which I’m aware) are very strict in requiring the use of your brokerage being displayed within certain specifications on any piece of advertising.  This “advertising” includes but is not limited to “electronically.”  When the Code says “electronically,” you are smart enough to know this means Internet sites.  Unless you are your own Broker, don’t take chances in breaking this rule.  It isn’t worth it.

    Standard of Practice 12-9 – REALTOR® firm websites shall disclose the firm’s name and state(s) of licensure in a reasonable and readily apparent manner.”

    “Websites of REALTORS® and non-member licensees affiliated with a REALTOR® firm shall disclose the firm’s name and that REALTOR®’s or non-member licensee’s state(s) of licensure in a reasonable and readily apparent manner.”

    My take – Another clause of which I honestly was not aware.  The National Association of Realtors states that any website should display the “…state(s) of licensure…”  I’m licensed in Texas.  As such, I already had all of my Texas licensure affiliations in the footer section of my website’s homepage.  If you have an agent-owned website, I suggest you do the same as well.  Agent-owned websites have almost become a regular marketing “must” for most agents.  If you have a personal real estate website (and I’m betting you do), be sure to follow this article of the code.  This has to be a little known Article of the Code because I pride myself on my website’s compliance and even I was not aware of this section until writing this article.  This is a good piece of the Code to know.  If you aren’t currently within compliance of the Article, I suggest you either make the correction yourself or have your website administrator make the correction as soon as possible.

    National Association of Realtors Code of Ethics: Duties to REALTORS®

    Probably the section where I see the largest number of Code violations by Realtor Members.

    Standard of Practice 15-2 – The obligation to refrain from making false or misleading statements about other real estate professionals, their businesses and their business practices includes the duty to not knowingly or recklessly publish, repeat, retransmit, or republish false or misleading statements made by others. This duty applies whether false or misleading statements are repeated in person, in writing, by technological means (e.g., the Internet), or by any other means.”

    My take – Don’t badmouth other Realtors.  It’s as simple as that.  You are more than welcome to tell prospective clients (buyers & sellers) how you would market a listing property or how your services are superior in representing buyers.  However, don’t sling mud.  It isn’t becoming of you or the profession.  It will catch-up to you.  People have loose lips and whatever you say about another agent or brokerage will eventually make its way back to that other agent and/or brokerage.  Set yourself apart by your excellent representation of clients, not by badmouthing other Realtors.  Remember, there is a very good possibility that you will want to do business with that other agent or brokerage firm in the future and badmouthing could absolutely come back to bite you.

    Article 16 (Case Interpretations for Article 16) – REALTORS® shall not engage in any practice or take any action inconsistent with exclusive representation or exclusive brokerage relationship agreements that other REALTORS® have with clients.”

    My take – In simple terms, do not solicit buyer clients or listings for which other Realtors have an existing, exclusive representation agreement.  Do not intentionally send postcards about listing a home to homes which are already listed.  Do not tell buyers (solicit) how much better you are than the agent they have representing them in the purchase of a home.  The worst and most egregious examples are Realtors who know exclusive representation agreements exist, yet ignore the agreements and proceed in essentially stealing a client from another Realtor Member with an exclusive representation agreement.  This generally happens with buyers as it is much harder to ignore exclusive agreements when a listing sign is sitting in the seller’s yard.

    Standard of Practice 16-2 – Article 16 does not preclude REALTORS® from making general announcements to prospects describing their services and the terms of their availability even though some recipients may have entered into agency agreements or other exclusive relationships with another REALTOR®. A general telephone canvass, general mailing or distribution addressed to all prospects in a given geographical area or in a given profession, business, club, or organization, or other classification or group is deemed “general” for purposes of this standard.(Amended 1/04)”

    Article 16 is intended to recognize as unethical two basic types of solicitations:”

    “First, telephone or personal solicitations of property owners who have been identified by a real estate sign, multiple listing compilation, or other information service as having exclusively listed their property with another REALTOR®, and

    Second, mail or other forms of written solicitations of prospects whose properties are exclusively listed with another REALTOR® when such solicitations are not part of a general mailing but are directed specifically to property owners identified through compilations of current listings, “for sale” or “for rent” signs, or other sources of information required by Article 3 and Multiple Listing Service rules to be made available to other REALTORS® under offers of subagency or cooperation.”

    This speaks to my point of mailing postcards intentionally targeted at current listings.  The Code stipulates that you are within the Code of Ethics if the postcards are part of a “general mailing” or “distribution address to all prospects in a given geographical area…”  However, targeting current listings is absolutely off limits.

    Standard of Practice 16-5 – REALTORS® shall not solicit buyer/tenant agreements from buyers/ tenants who are subject to exclusive buyer/tenant agreements.”

    Standard of Practice 16-9 – REALTORS®, prior to entering into a representation agreement, have an affirmative obligation to make reasonable efforts to determine whether the prospect is subject to a current, valid exclusive agreement to provide the same type of real estate service.”

    To my point above of egregiously soliciting buyer clients who have exclusive agreements with other Realtors.  This is completely, 100% out-of-bounds.  This is not like some of the things mentioned in the article above where a Realtor may unintentionally violate one of the Articles within the Code of Ethics.  This is flagrant.  In fact, Standard of Practice 16-9 specifically states that Realtors have an obligation to determine if a prospect is subject to a current and valid agreement.

    And, in addition, of all things which have the potential of having Ethics Complaints filed against you with the National Association of Realtors, soliciting clients with exclusive representation agreements is probably at the top of the list.

    National Association of Realtors Code of Ethics: Conclusions

    No doubt the Code of Ethics exists for a reason, obligates Realtor Members to “dedicate” themselves to the Code, and should be reviewed by Realtors on a regular basis, I believe I have pointed out most of the Code’s Articles which apply to almost daily practices of real estate.

    Did I miss anything?  Let me know your opinions on this article.

    If you are a proud Member of the National Association of Realtors and believe ethics are something which should be constantly enforced and protected in our industry, please consider sharing this article socially with your business peers.

    Good luck out there and be careful!

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    11 Creative Real Estate Advertising Ideas

    May 9th, 2016

    Getting visibility on your listings is the age-old struggle for realtors. Of course, it’s vital to use the bread and butter real estate advertising methods like open houses, MLS and newspaper listings, referrals, email, and social media. These methods are highly effective, but maybe it’s time to take your real estate advertising to the next level. So if you’re ready to think outside the box to make a sale, then try out some of these unorthodox real estate advertising methods before they hit the mainstream.

    11 Inventive Ways of Advertising Real Estate

    1. Make yourself, and your listings, the life of the party

    Open houses are standard fare, but what about renting out premier properties for events or corporate gatherings? Whether you want to sell a listing now or need brand awareness, you can bring referrals and potential buyers to you without the looming pretense of a sale. Your local familiarity and credibility will soar when you’re visible at enough of these events that you’ve facilitated. Plus, you could just sell a listing! Look at EventUp or MeetUp to get started.

    2. Take pictures and videos from above

    Professional photography is a given, but what about drone footage? This may only be possible for certain locations, but when possible, the wow factor is off the charts. A sweeping overhead shot is sure to impress potential buyers and shows hesitant sellers that you’re serious about moving properties. If you specialize in rural locations, there is no better way to capture the wide open spaces than with aerial footage. If you’re on a budget, look for local drone hobbyists or amateur drone photographers. For specialized, on demand service, check out Go For Drones.

    3. Host an MTV (or) music video

    If you’re near even a medium-sized city, chances are good that there’s an active music scene. Get some publicity for your listings and brand by opening up properties (with owner permission) for music video filming. Get in touch with local music producers, promoters, or artists and show them some of your locations that are available for film shoots. If the video makes a splash, then you get massive exposure – if not, then you’ve at least expanded your personal network.

    4. Let potential buyers spend a night in the home

    You wouldn’t buy a car without driving it, so why would you buy a home without spending some real time in it? Have your homeowners create Airbnb accounts to help qualified prospects get a better feel for a place. It’s impossible to truly give prospective buyers a feel for the kitchen or a sense of just how nice the jet tub is by description alone. Test-runs enforce an emotional connection through experience that could pay off big time.

    5. Sponsor local activities to promote your brand and grow your community

    Whether you sponsor a race, the local arts, a high school team or a youth sports team, your name should be present in the community. But large-scale sponsorships can be expensive, so try going small-scale but big impact. Since t-shirts are cheap, sponsor a few runners or cyclists in a local race. Even better, have a few less serious participants dress up in costume while racing.

    Of course, sponsorships can just mean being involved. Buy snacks for your local book club or dinner for the fire station. Many people might categorize this under “networking”, and these small displays of support are appreciated and remembered. Others notice you when involvement is genuine and goes beyond what’s required. Plus, it looks good to prospective buyers to see that their realtor is invested in the community.

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    6. Reach out to popular social media influencers

    We know that social media is a great way to advertise and get leads, but local niche influencers are often especially cheap and reliable ways to get your brand out. Instagram and Twitter influencers with large followings in niches like fashion, architecture, lifestyle, family, and pets, will find creative ways to integrate a listing or your brand with their content.

    You can do this yourself, or use a service like Upfluence to boost your social footprint (without hiring a social media manager).

    7. Become the “most wanted” on local bulletin boards

    Post your business cards or brochures on local bulletin boards. People actually look at these boards, and yet it’s surprising how few realtors view bulletin boards as quality lead generators. So carry fliers and cards at all times to leave at restaurants, salons, college campuses, schools, and coffee shops.

    8. Start a selfie frenzy with a photo contest

    Social media contests are a great way to generate a buzz. Start a contest with a compelling grand prize (it’s ideal if you can get the prize for free as a sponsorship item). Simply set your parameters and hashtag, e.g.#123Mulholland, and watch the entries roll in. The picture with the most likes or shares is the winner.

    Remember, it’s important to interact with each photo – so comment on every entry and provide a link to your listing with the home’s details. Be sure to include your contact information in your comment.

    9. Become the go-to person for first-time home buyers

    Who are guaranteed non-homeowners? Renters, of course! Find rental communities and offer a free first-time home buyer class at their community clubhouse. You get your name out there, but more importantly, you demonstrate your usefulness to a large segment of the existing community. There are few better ways to establish rapport than to be helpful. So get your educational materials ready, and start teaching!

    10. Get people to advertise for you – on their t-shirts

    People love free things – especially if they’re cool and useful. Design trendy t-shirts that integrate your logo and pass them out to past clients, referral partners, and friends. You can get walking billboards more quickly than you think. Look to sites like CafePress – or, better yet, your local screen print shop – to get started.

    11. (optional, you’ll understand why) Write unforgettable ads for your business and your listings

    Creative advertising idea

    When your livelihood depends on your ability to get attention for your listings, why not go out on a limb? Think outside of the box and take your real estate advertising efforts from predictable to extraordinary! What are some of the advertising methods that have worked well for you?

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