Florida Realtor Magazine - Florida Realtors

Florida Realtor Magazine - Florida Realtors

2007 ™ W E C A N H E L P Online Leads Better Over **1 million Unique Users to LivingChoices.com/RealEstateBook.com and 15 other strategic onlin...

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2007



W E

C A N

H E L P

Online Leads

Better

Over **1 million Unique Users to LivingChoices.com/RealEstateBook.com and 15 other strategic online partner sites

Business

Local Magazine Distribution

We print *9.3 Million Magazines Monthly in 450+ markets (More than TIME and Newsweek’s Per Issue Circulation combined)

Better

Technology

Out of Market Book Requests Relocating buyers order magazines from the 800# (printed on over *9.3 million magazines monthly)

Relocation Leads

Approximately 30,000 magazines mailed to relocating employees monthly

Home Valuation Leads *BPA Audited Circulation June 2006 **Media Metrix June 2006

Better

You... Better Marketing

Only

R E A L E S T A T E B O O K . C O M

To receive high-quality leads, contact Todd Walker at (800) 643-1174 or [email protected]

Supplement to Florida Realtor magazine

®

YOU KNOW THE BEST HOMES FOR YOUR CLIENTS. WE KNOW THE BEST LOANS. The Power of Yes

®

Aventura 18149 Biscayne Boulevard Aventura, FL 33160 (305) 937-6700

Fort Lauderdale 6225 North Federal Highway Fort Lauderdale, FL 33308 (954) 229-6950

Palm Beach Gardens 2000 PGA Boulevard, #2100 Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33408 (561) 625-2470

Boca Raton 7000 North Federal Highway Boca Raton, FL 33487 (561) 981-4170

Fort Myers 4310 Metro Parkway, #100 Fort Myers, FL 33916 (239) 936-3339

Plantation 200 South Pine Island Road, #102 Plantation, FL 33324 (954) 635-6000

Central Palm Beaches 2601 10th Avenue North, #206 Lake Worth, FL 33461 (561) 642-5907

Jacksonville 10601 San Jose Boulevard Jacksonville, FL 32257 (904) 260-5500

Sarasota 2300 Bee Ridge Road, #400 Sarasota, FL 34239 (941) 361-3200

Clearwater 18167 US Highway 19 North, #180 Clearwater, FL 33764 (727) 533-0514

Kendall 7556 SW 117th Avenue Miami, FL 33183 (305) 270-7500

Tampa 14502 North Dale Mabry, #101 Tampa, FL 33618 (813) 963-0082

Coral Gables 1300 Ponce de Leon Coral Gables, FL 33134 (786) 552-7520

Melbourne 4100 North Wickham Road, #108 Melbourne, FL 32935 (321) 752-2000

Winter Park 807 West Morse Boulevard Winter Park, FL 32789 (407) 975-5640

We are committed to service excellence

1 - 8 8 8 - WA M U - L E N D ( 1 - 8 8 8 - 9 2 6 - 8 5 3 6 ) Programs subject to change. Certain restrictions apply. We have loan offices and accept applications in: Washington Mutual Bank, FA – many states; Washington Mutual Bank – ID, OR, UT, WA; and Washington Mutual Bank fsb – ID, MT, UT.

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18

The Real Estate

Guide07 ™

You... Only

Better Business, technology and marketing solutions ready to go for the real estate professional.

Better Technology

6

Creative Web Gems (Try them today!) Hot new ways to market using the Web. Here are some great options! by Bridget McCrea





14

It’s Web-ariffic! Learn from this year’s Web site contest winners. by Richard Westlund

18

Can’t-Live-Without-It Tech Gadgets (Heard here first!) Techno overload? Sales associates share their must-haves. by Dan Rafter

Better Marketing

Better Business

You…Only Funnier

26

40

60





10 Ways to Sell a Home Fast (And we mean speedy!) You’ve heard it a million times—the market is changing. What are you doing to sell your listings fast? by Bridget McCrea

8 Broker Challenges (Including the solutions you’re craving!) Hiring quality sales associates, maintaining profitability—typical challenges when you own or manage a brokerage. Here are common issues and thoughtful solutions. by G.M. Filisko

34





46



6 Outside-the-Box Promo Ideas (Some are wacky but they work!) In a tight buyers’ market, your name can easily blur gray among an endless list of sales associates. Find out how these Realtors® pop and sparkle. by Heidi Russell Rafferty





Laugh-Out-Loud Tales from the Field Showings can be unpredictable and entertaining, as these sales associates reveal.

Help Wanted: 10 Types of Personal Assistants Just aren’t enough hours in the day? Try these tested strategies for hiring help. by Bridget McCrea

Photo by doug scaletta



The Real Estate Solutions Guide 2007

The Real Estate Solutions Guide 2007



Get a Sharper Edge To be you, only better, we’ve got hot tips and tricks in our 2007 Real Estate Solutions Guide. Navigating the ever-changing real estate profession requires a flexible sales associate and an adaptable marketing program. From off-the-wall promotions to how to hire personal assistants, we offer scores of solutions in three main sections—Better Technology, Better Marketing and Better Business—and then create your go-to list of industry-leading suppliers. See our exclusive Real Estate Pro’s Source (page 48). Here are shortcuts to supercharge your business.

Blogs 8 Branding 27, 28

Broker Profitability 41

Brokers, offer services that prove your sales associates are worth what they charge.

Community Web sites 9 Cost-saving Tips 43

Digital Cameras 22, 24 GPS (global positioning systems) 24 Laptops 18, 21 Lead Capture Systems 45 Listing Promotions 28 Multiple Listing Service (MLS) 30

Online Classifieds 9, 12, 36 Open Houses 32 Personal Assistants 46 Personal Digital Assistants 20

Personal Marketing 35, 37, 38, 39, 42

With a digital camera and presentation software set yourself apart. Find out how.

Virtual Tours 27 Web sites 9, 14, 15 Wireless Technology 18, 20, 21

Supplement to Florida Realtor® magazine

Publisher Jeffrey M. Zipper EDITORIAL Florida Realtor Magazine Editor in Chief Doug Damerst Real Estate Solutions Guide Editor in Chief Tracey C. Velt Associate Editor Leslie C. Stone DESIGN Creative Director Jim Angel Art Director Tracey M. Flanagan Senior Designer Sean Kiem Production Specialist Tracy Bardwell ADVERTISING Associate Publisher-Advertising Joseph A. Bono Advertising/Marketing Assistant Gina Wittenhagen Communications Committee Chairperson Lydia Pisano 2006 FAR OFFICERS President: Michael A. Dooley, 9148 S.E. Bridge Rd., Hobe Sound, FL 33455, (772) 546-5250; [email protected]; Pres-Elect: Nancy J. Riley, 3401 4th St. N., St. Petersburg, FL 33704, (727) 560-2000; [email protected]; Treasurer: Maggie Morris, 15690 Briarcliff Lane, Fort Myers, FL 33912, (239) 229-7069; [email protected]; Secretary: Bob S. Hudgens, 111 Beal Parkway S.E., Fort Walton Beach, FL 32548, (850) 244-2100; [email protected] 2006 DISTRICT VICE PRESIDENTS District 1: G. Matthew Wilson, (800) 226-3130; District 2: Shawn Goepfert, (386) 304-3033; District 3: Nancy Cardone, (561) 743-2331; District 4: Israel V. Ameijeiras, (954) 885-4990; District 5: Betty Jean Christensen, (239) 992-3392; District 6: Bob Memoli, (727) 372-6611; District 7: John T. Barnes, (352) 628-2410; District 8: Penny Herman, (850) 980-0951; District 9: Benjamin F. Anderson, (850) 654-5300; District 10: Vera Tungate, (863) 688-2822; District 11: Larry Rowe, (954) 7636764; District 12: Lydia Pisano, (407) 579-0760; District 13: Darla Furst, (941) 966-8000 Florida Realtor (ISSN 0199-5839) (USPS 522-170) is published monthly except August by the Florida Association of Realtors. Postmaster: Send address changes to Florida Realtor, Attn. Membership, PO Box 725025, Orlando, FL 32872-5025. Periodicals postage paid at Orlando and additional mailing offices.

Improve your position in a Google search by entering your listings free into Google Base. Check it out.

A fancy bus, a soccer dad and band-aids are madcap ways sales associates are getting their names out.

Podcasting 10 Property Marketing 29, 30, 36 Real Estate Teams 48 Sales Associate Retention 44 Staging 32 Transaction Management Systems 43, 59

Virtual Assistants 50, 51

Every Minute, A Star is Born.

Overloaded at work? Consider hiring a virtual assistant on a per-project basis. You can focus on selling.

Annual dues of every Realtor member of the Florida Association of Realtors include $3.50, for a one-year subscription to Florida Realtor. Additional member subscriptions, $3.50. Subscription rate to others, $19.95 annually. Opinions expressed in signed feature articles are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the opinions of the Florida Association of Realtors. Advertising of property or products does not imply endorsement. Copyright© 2006 by the Florida Association of Realtors. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is prohibited. To communicate via a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), call Florida Relay Service, (800) 955-8771 (long-distance phone charges apply). EDITORIAL Doug Damerst (407) 438-1400 ext. 2322 [email protected] ADVERTISING Joseph A. Bono (407) 438-1400 ext. 2327 [email protected] ADDRESS 7025 Augusta National Drive Orlando, FL 32822 floridarealtormagazine.com

The Business Magazine of Florida Real Estate



The Real Estate Solutions Guide 2007

Chart your path with RE/MAX today. For a confidential interview: www.remax-florida.com, or call 407-829-7303

®

Equal opportunity employer. Each office is independently owned and operated. © 2006 RE/MAX of Florida, Inc.

5

real estate solutions

Better



by Bridget McCrea

Innovative Ways to Use the Web

The Real Estate Solutions Guide 2007

(Try them today!)

Looking for hot new ways to market using the Web? Here are some great options!

The Internet can be a complicated place for sales associates who know the majority of their customers go there first for homebuying information, but who don’t always know how to best harness those buyers. To help you weave through the maze, we’ve come up with five new ways to use the Web in your own business. Here they are:

illustrations by andy potts/agoodson.com

The Real Estate Solutions Guide 2007



Better

“Once an RSS feed has been implemented into your Web site, it requires no further work on your part,” says technology trainer Randy Eagar. “The [news] feed simply comes in

and changes daily or weekly.”

Blogs are simple to set up, cost next to nothing to maintain and can be updated with just a few paragraphs of text on a regular basis.

1

Blogs

A Web site where regular entries are made in a journalor diary-like format, a Weblog (or simply, “blog”) offers commentary or news on a particular subject, such as food, politics, real estate or local news. Blogs combine text, images and links to other blogs, Web sites and additional content related to a specific topic. Some also include photos, videos and audio features. According to Randy Eagar, president of Salt Lake City–based Computer Camp (computercamp.net), cybersurfers 

The Real Estate Solutions Guide 2007

use search engines like Blogdigger. com, Feedster.com and Technorati. com to search for blog content, with sites like Google Trends (google. com/trends) allowing for tracking and comparison of the popularity of search terms over time. Blogs are simple to set up (using a service like Blogger.com, for example), cost next to nothing to maintain and are updated with just a few paragraphs of text on a regular basis (ideally four to five times a week). Real estate professionals can place blogs on their own Web sites, says

Eagar, complete with home photos and listing links. They can also use blogs to increase Web site rankings in the search engines, due to their contentrich nature. “A blog offers your own commentary on issues of the day or even of a ‘how-to’ nature, and are invaluable for getting input from clients, prospects and viewers in general,” says Eagar. “Once prospects find an interesting blog site, they’re much more likely to bookmark you to see ongoing discussions.”

international to the local neighborhood,” says Eagar. “Agents can create their own local community Web site for the use of their neighborhood farm area, for example, and can place information to raise awareness of their business services.” Consumers can then use the sites to rate, review, recommend and reach the real estate professional. “Local community sites are a great place for the real estate community to spend a little bit of time and listen to what folks are talking about,” says Eagar.

2

3

Community Sites

Sponsored by sales associates, community sites are online venues that contain information about specific neighborhoods and communities. On a global level, MySpace. com and Craigslist.org stand as the two most popular community sites online today. Craigslist is a classified service where sales associates can promote their listings and services, while MySpace.com allows users to post almost anything they wish about themselves as well as comments about other topics and reviews of interest. Drilling down to the community level, Eagar says community sites can be particularly useful for sales associates looking to do target marketing. On ConnectingNeighbors. com, for example, consumers can find information on 10,000 neighborhood Web sites that cover topics like choosing a neighborhood, or buying or selling a home. “Community sites are very effective at reaching communities from the

RSS Feeds

RSS is a family of XML-based Web feeds that are used for Web syndication. Used by Web sites, blogs and podcasts, RSS stands for “Really Simple Syndication” and provides Web content (or summaries of Web content) along with links to the full versions of the content. “Think of [using] an RSS feed as [being similar to a newspaper’s use of] UPI (United Press International) or API (Associated Press International),” says Eagar. “These feeds come to them direct, and the paper has a decision as to whether to use the information or not.” But where a newspaper pays for these feeds, Eagar says, RSS feeds are almost always free. Real estate professionals use a program known as a feed reader or aggregator to check a list of feeds on behalf of a user (in this case, the home buyer or seller) and display any updated articles that it comes across online. There’s no software to install, and the feeds are available on any computer that has Internet access. “Once an RSS feed has been imple-

The Real Estate Solutions Guide 2007



Better

mented into your Web site, it requires no further work on your part,” says Eagar. “The feed simply comes in and changes daily or weekly.”

4

Podcasting

A method of distributing multimedia files, such as audio programs or music videos, over the Internet, podcasting stands as a way to promote yourself as a professional. Sharon Simms, a broker-associate with RE/MAX Metro in St. Petersburg, became a podcaster a few months ago, and uses a service offered by RealPro. She invests about

$50 a month in the podcast, which is updated several times a week. On it, she discusses the housing market, statistics, insurance and other topics of relevance to home buyers and sellers. According to Eagar, a podcast typically features one type of “show,” with new episodes released either sporadically or at planned intervals, such as daily or weekly. In addition, there are podcast networks that feature multiple programs on the same feed. Podcasts can also be used for more sophisticated users who want to go beyond the technologies of blogs or

Broker Sharon Simms uses podcasts to discuss the housing market, statistics, insurance and other topics of relevance to home buyers and sellers.

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10

The Real Estate Solutions Guide 2007

EXPERIENCE

Better

RSS feeds. “For example, multimedia presentations of agents, their listings, communities and other personalized presentations can be given more effectively,” says Eagar. “For the viewer, it’s just a simple download.”

5

Google Base

Google Base is a free new product that allows users to submit content that Google hosts and then makes searchable to the rest of the world. An online database, Google Base (http://base.google.com) allows users to add just about any type of content, with a major component of the service centered around a classified ads service, says Eagar, “However, it has also been used for such items as protein structures, current events, real estate, recipes and more.” Supported by advertisers, Google Base matches ads to the user search

An online database, Google Base allows users to add just about any type of content, with a major component of the service centered around a classified ads service. (much as the main Google site does), with advertisers purchasing a Google ad and paying online when a user clicks on it. Real estate professionals can submit information about all types of online and offline content to Google Base, using either a standard Web form or—if there are more than 10 items to submit—a bulk upload option. Google Base allows users to add attributes describing their content,

so that searchers can easily find it. The more popular individual attributes become, the more often Google Base will suggest them when others post the same items. Similarly, items that become more popular will show up as suggested item types in the “choose an existing item type” dropdown menu. Bridget McCrea is a Clearwaterbased freelance writer.

CULTURE SHOCK! KELLER WILLIAMS CULTURE! You may be shocked by the level of attention we provide to our associates.

Agent Coaching - Training Mentoring - Profit Sharing Call today and learn why Keller Williams Realty is the 4th largest real estate company in the nation and still growing. Are you ready to experience Keller Williams? ®

Where all agents are business partners. Regional Director: Nikki Ubaldini • 727-216-8232 • www.kwopportunity.com 12

The Real Estate Solutions Guide 2007

Better

Web-ariffic! by richard westlund

No.1:

“This is truly an outstanding Web site,” says Dan Gooder Richard, one of the national experts who judged the Florida contest. “The content [on www.orlandohomeowner.com] is so substantial and exhaustive, it is almost overwhelming.” Ken Thompson and Alisha Weisser, associates with Keller Williams Classic Realty, Orlando, redesigned the site after teaming up in early 2005. While the site is based on a template by WebAgentSolutions, Thompson says there are almost no limits on the customization of design and images. “We want to acquaint people with the market, especially buyers from outside the area,” says Weisser. “We include new construction as well, giving visitors a good idea of the price ranges in different areas.” Judge Randy Eagar praises the site’s layout for presenting so much content “in an organized manner.” Judges Ira Serkes and Richard agree that the site’s numerous lead-generation links are vital to its success. Referring to the extensive list of buyer and seller

14

The Real Estate Solutions Guide 2007

10 Company

Web Sites

OrlandoHomeowner.com: Substantial and Effective

lead-capture special reports, Richard says, “I stopped countWeisser and Thompson ing when I got to 40.” Weisser says the site has been extremely effective in generating online leads, which account for a high percentage of the team’s business. Thompson and Weisser also use a “pay-per-click” marketing strategy to ensure their site appears as a sponsored link when prospects type in certain keywords using major search engines like Google and Yahoo. Weisser adds that she and Thompson also follow up personally. “It’s more time consuming than using an automated system, but we get a good response that way,” she says. “Most people today start their search on the Internet, and you want to capture their interest in an early stage. But you have to be patient, because it may take six months or more to develop a relationship that leads to the sale.”

No.1:

Top 10 Sales Associate Web Sites 1. www.OrlandoHomeowner.com Ken Thompson and Alisha Weisser, Keller Williams Classic Realty, Orlando 2. www.MySanibelRealEstate.com Eric Pfeifer, VIP Realty Group Inc., Sanibel 3. www.OrlandoHomesandEstates.com Patty Willis, Stirling | Sotheby’s International Realty, Orlando 4. www.SarasotaHomes4Sale.com Debra Pitell, Michael Saunders & Co., Sarasota 5. www.KassanRealty.com Elizabeth Kassan, RE/MAX Direct, West Palm Beach 6. www.GingersDestinConnection.com Ginger Lundstrom, Platinum Realty, Destin 7. www.GregEllingson.com Greg Ellingson, Golden Realty, Rockledge 8. www.DeborahBeacham.com Deborah Beacham, Coldwell Banker Residential, Sarasota 9. www.FineHomesofSarasota.com Robin DiSabatino, Michael Saunders & Co., Sarasota 10. www.Powerhouse-Team.com Jody Rydell and Caroline Dowling, Keller Williams Realty, Miami

Learn from the winners of the 2006 Florida Realtor® Magazine/ Florida Real Estate Headlines Web Site Contest.

Winning

illustration/photo credit

10 Associate

Super Sales

Meet the Judges

Dan Gooder Richard is founder of the Gooder Group and is an authority in real estate marketing and lead management. www.goodergroup.com Ira Serkes is a Realtor® and broker with RE/MAX Real Estate in Berkeley, Calif. He is an instructor who teaches other sales associates how to use computers to better serve clients. www.berkeleyhomes.com

Web Sites

BocaExecutiveRealty.com Site Designed to Sell

Zev Freidus says there’s no substitute for a clear vision when it comes to building a successful company Web site. “It’s essential to get the design, the contents and the functionality just right,” says Freidus, broker-owner of Boca Executive Realty in Boca Raton. Freidus launched his site in August 2005 in conjunction with the company’s opening. “I wanted a site that looks different to the consumer,” he says.” Freidus says he used a graphic designer, but developed the navigation approach and site functions himself, drawing on his background as a former product marketing manager for General Electric. One of the keys to the company’s success, he says, was signing an agreement to have multiple listing service (MLS) data sent directly to the site rather than through an IDX (Internet Data Exchange) provider. “That lets us maintain our own database and present the data in a format customized for our visitors,” he says. Judge Randy Eagar praises the site’s focus on local residential communities, which includes satellite maps

Randy Eagar, CRS, is founder of Computer Camp, a computer training center in Salt Lake City and is a senior instructor for the Residential Sales Council. www.computercamp.net

that show all listings and streets from a bird’s-eye view. Judges Dan Gooder RichFreidus ard and Ira Serkes say the site’s 10-button navigation makes it simple for visitors to find information and conduct searches. “The home page puts the consumer first, and is almost entirely dedicated to property searches by type, then by area,” says Richard. For the first few months, Freidus provided site visitors with free, open access to property searches. “We had tons of hits, but very few calls,” he says. “Then we decided to implement a registration program, and that’s really worked well for us.” “We send weekly e-mails and encourage them to come back and look for more properties.” Freidus says regular follow-up is essential because people searching for property on the Internet may not remember the sites they have visited. “They don’t want to start over from

Top 10 Company Web sites 1. www.BocaExecutiveRealty.com Boca Executive Realty, Boca Raton 2. www.JohnRWood.com John R. Wood Realtors®, Naples 3. www.MarcoRealtySource.com RE/MAX Results Realty, Marco Island 4. www.DunawayMckenzie.com Dunaway McKenzie Realtors®, Key West 5. www.KeysResortRealty.com Resort Realty & Appraisals, Key West 6. www.RealEstateInvestments bonita.com Babon Group Real Estate Co., Bonita Springs 7. www.AventuraForSale.com AventuraForSale.com Real Estate Co., Aventura 8. www.GraytonCoastProperties.com Grayton Coast Properties, Grayton Beach 9. www.BlueOneRealty.com Blue One Realty, Doral 10. www.1stOrlandoRealEstate.com Century 21 Real Estate Professionals, Orlando

scratch—and you don’t want them to have to Google your site again,” he says. “So, we use e-mail to bring them back to our site.” The Real Estate Solutions Guide 2007

15

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You Can’t Live Without Techno overload? Sales associates share their must-haves.

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Portable Power

Tracy Wisneski couldn’t do business without her laptop computer or her smartphone. The sales associate with Tampa-based Keller Williams Tampa Properties relies on her mobile technology to create and display hightech listing presentations to potential clients. With just a few clicks, she can use it to search the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) while she’s on the road. And, she can send her customers intriguing listings as soon as she discovers them, no matter how far she is from her office and desktop computer. Wisneski has her listing presentation loaded onto her laptop, and she brings the laptop to all her prospective client meetings. Her PowerPoint

illustration/photo credit

What technology do successful sales associates recommend? We spoke with five sales associates who told us that BlackBerrys, smartphones, laptop computers, Tablet PCs, digital cameras, presentation software and big computer power are the tech tools that you should have at your disposal. What did we find? We learned that the average associate uses technology judiciously. What you read here may not be innovative or earth shattering, but it can help you decide what technology to embrace and what to ditch. Here’s a look at these must-have tools:

The Real Estate Solutions Guide 2007

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Tracy Wisneski Keller Williams Tampa

Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) 1. Axim X51, Dell—from $308, (800) 999-3355; www.dell.com. 2. iPAQ Pocket PC, HewlettPackard—from $299.99, (800) 888-0262; www.hp.com. 3. Tungsten E2, Palm—from $199, (800) 881-7256; www.palm.com/us 20

Doreen Clark Amerivest Realty Naples

equivalent AMD K3) and have an “active” display, you can operate as a truly mobile professional.”

The BlackBerry

You’ll never catch Cyndi Andrews without her BlackBerry. The sales associate with the Davenport office of Florida Real Moves Realty brings the device with her ev-

4. T/X, Palm—from $299, (800) 881-7256; www.palm.com/us

www.motorola.com/us 3. Treo 700w, Palm, Inc.— from $399, (800) 881-7256; http://www.palm.com/us

Smartphones (PDA with phones)

Tablet PCs

1. BlackBerry 7130c, Research In Motion Limited—$499.99, (519) 888-7465; www.blackberry.com 2. Moto Q, Motorola—from $199.99, (866) 289-6686;

1. Compaq tc4200, HewlettPackard—from $1,499, (888) 999-4747; www.hp.com 2. Gateway Convertible Notebook, Gateway—from

The Real Estate Solutions Guide 2007

erywhere. The BlackBerry allows her to pull up listings from the MLS, send and receive e-mail messages, check appointments and, of course, make phone calls, all without being tied to any wires or land lines. “It’s like having a little computer in my car,” Andrews says. “ [Central Florida] is a huge geo$1,400, (888) 888-2075; www.gateway.com 3. LE1600, Motion Computing Inc.— from $1,999, (866) 682-2538; www.motioncomputing.com 4. ThinkPad X Series, Lenovo—from $1,499, (866) 968-4465; www.lenovo.com/us

Laptop Computers 1. Inspiron E1705, Dell— from $1,199, (800) 449-3355; www.dell.com 2. MacBook Pro, Apple— from $1,999, (800) 692-7753; http://store.apple.com 3. Pavilion dv8000, HewlettPackard—$1,080, (888) 999-4747; www.hp.com

photo by Paul Schmidt

The expert weighs in: Stephen Canale (canale.com), technology expert and trainer, says, “For most salespeople, the days of needing a desktop computer are over. Today’s notebooks have more than enough power to run entire businesses, and can also plug into all of the commonly desired accessories such as: monitors, keyboards, printers, scanners, backup drives, etc. As long as you’re running a Pentium III–class machine (or the

In fact, recently a client from Ireland sent Andrews an e-mail message requesting information about a condominium he had purchased from her in 2005. He needed the information in less than an hour. Instead of racing back to her office, she pulled over to the side of the road, found the information on her BlackBerry and sent the client a quick e-mail, long before he needed it. This kind of service, made possible by technology, explains why Andrews’ business is constantly growing. “I can communicate back and forth with my clients so easily with my BlackBerry,” she says.

photo by Mark wemple

presentation includes samples of the marketing materials she creates for sellers, her bio and price statistics for the area surrounding the seller’s property. Wisneski is reminded daily of how important technology is to her career. Recently, a buyer from Utah was looking for a house in Tampa, and Wisneski took her to see several homes on the market. The buyer saw one house that she didn’t like, but instantly fell in love with the community that the house was in. After dropping off the buyer, Wisneski connected to the MLS with her smartphone and quickly scanned other listings in the area. When she found possible matches, she text messaged them to the buyer. Within hours, the buyer found a house she liked and made an offer, which was accepted. “She was ecstatic,” Wisneski says. “That deal never could have happened before we had this technology.”

graphic area, so I spend a majority of my time in my car. The BlackBerry helps me do business while I’m on the road.” Andrews works with several international clients, and must juggle different time zones to serve them. Thanks to her BlackBerry, she can communicate with these clients at hours that are convenient to them.

4. Qosimo G35-AV600, Toshiba—from $2,399, (800) 316-0920; www.toshiba.com Digital Cameras 1. PowerShot A620, Canon— from $298, (800) 652-2666, www.canon.com 2. EasyShare Z740, Kodak— from $250, (800) 235-6325, www.kodak.com

The expert weighs in: Allen Hainge, founder of the real estate Cyber Stars group of sales associates, says, “Today, cell phones incorporate everything from basic cell phone service to e-mail and the Internet, to productivity tools like cameras (both still and video), calendars, calculators, text messaging and MLS access (the latter of which typically has to be set up with the local MLS).”

Working from Anywhere

Doreen Clark doesn’t spend much time in her real estate office. She doesn’t have to. Thanks to wireless technology and her Tablet PC, Clark can transform any space into an office—the park, a restaurant and

3. Nikon D50, Nikon—$700, (800) 645-6687; www.nikon.com 4. Olympus Stylus 800, Olympus —from $250 to $350, (888) 553-4448, www.olympus.com E-mail Providers and Software 1. AOL, America Online— $23.90 monthly,

(888) 698-6892; www.aol.com 2. Earthlink, Earthlink Network Inc.—from $12.95 monthly, (888) 327-8454; www.earthlink.net 3. Eudora 7, QUALCOMM Incorporated— $49.95 annually, (800) 238-3672; www.eudora.com 4. Outlook, Microsoft—$109, (800) 936-4900; www.microsoft.com

The Real Estate Solutions Guide 2007

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The expert even her car. weighs in: Rolf Clark, a sales associate Anderson, CRS, a with Amerivest Realty in national technology Naples, relies on a Bluespeaker, writes in the Hewletttooth wireless headset to Packard Real Estate Center communicate with her (www.hp.com/sbso/solutions/ clients and customers. real): “With your Tablet PC She uses her BlackBerry you can easily navigate your to send and receive e-mail e-mail program with the digimessages on the road, to tal pen and write in your own log onto the Internet and handwriting. The ‘thank-you to connect to home listnote’ takes on a new digital ings. She uses her Tablet facelift. And, every time I PC to draw up contracts send an e-mail in my own wherever she is, and then handwriting, it makes such an she prints them out with impression on the recipient. her portable printer. Impressive. Try that with a In May, she met with regular Notebook PC.” a customer interested in a property. She brought with her three versions of Making Digital Art a contract on her Tablet Barb Malz is a real estate PC. After making changes professional and a phototo one, she printed it out grapher. Her photos have Barbara Malz on her portable printer. appeared in local magazines RE/MAX Realty One She then scanned the and newspapers. Inverness signed document into her For Malz, a sales associate photo by Kinzie-Reihm, Inc. computer and e-mailed it with RE/MAX Realty One to the title company, buyer and seller. or delivering things by snail mail. In in Inverness, few pieces of technology This gave the title company the 48 hours, I received documentation are as important as her Cannon Rebel opportunity to get started quickly. back from the title company. We were digital camera and Microsoft Publisher The customer had three weeks to get a week ahead, and we started the propresentation software. By using these a jumbo loan and close the purchase. cess less than 48 hours earlier.” two pieces of technology skillfully, Every day Clark could shave off the The biggest surprise to Clark? Not all Malz sets herself apart from other process, thanks to technology, was sales associates are as connected. “I’m sales associates trying to nab listings. important, she says. amazed that not all [sales associates] “It’s hard to think about going back “I was able to get everyone on the rely on this technology,” she says. “I’m to days past where you had to develop same page in minutes,” she says. amazed, but I’m also thrilled to death. film and use those big MLS books. It’s “That’s better than running around It gives me a competitive advantage.” so much easier now,” she says. Web Development Applications

(800) 426-9400; www.microsoft.com

1. Dreamweaver 8, Adobe®—$399, (800) 833-6687; www.adobe.com/ products/dreamweaver 2. GoLive® CS2, Adobe®—$399, (800) 833-6687; www.adobe. com/products/golive 3. Microsoft ® Office FrontPage 2003, Microsoft—$146-$199,

Presentation Software 1. HP Real Estate Marketing Assistant, HewlettPackard—$99, (888) 999-4747; www.hp.com 2. PowerPoint 2002, Microsoft—from $223, (800) 936-4900; www.microsoft.com

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3. Publisher 2003, Microsoft—$169, (800) 936-4900; www.microsoft.com 4. The Print Shop® Pro Publisher™ Deluxe 22, Broderbund—$99, (800) 395-0277; www.broderbund.com GPS Systems 1. EZ Road GPS Pocket Navigator, Pharo—from $489, (310) 212-7088; www.pharosgps.com

2. Garmin iQ3600, Garmin— from $549, (800) 800-1020; www.garmin.com 3. RoadMate 300, Magella— from $399, (800) 669-4477; www.magellangps.com 4. StreetPilot i3, Garmin— from $325, (800) 800-1020; www.garmin.com 5. TomTom Navigator 5, TomTom—from $299, (866) 486-6866; www.tomtom.com

Better

Good photos are essential to getting a house sold. By snapping her photos with her digital camera and then uploading them to the MLS, Malz makes sure that customers see her listings in their best light possible. And she makes sure her photos do justice to her properties. Out-of-focus shots? Bad angles? Poor lighting? You won’t see any of that with her listings. Malz also uses Microsoft Publisher, in conjunction with her digital camera, to create professional marketing materials. She takes samples with her on listing presentations, so her potential clients can see how good she can make their homes look. “It makes such a difference in listing presentations,” Malz says. “The clients really like seeing what I can do to promote their homes. Having really good photos that people can look at online makes a big difference when you’re trying to sell a house.” The expert weighs in: Hainge says, “[A digital camera] is my favorite method [of marketing]. You can get good resolution (get a camera with at least 640x480 resolution), and get the ‘Wow!’ effect when you use it in front of buyers or sellers. It’s a tremendous listing and selling tool. My favorite at the moment? The Polaroid PDC 800: pcm card storage, high resolution, LCD viewfinder, and the ability to record a small sound file to each picture you take.”

Finding His Way

Todd Thompson hasn’t gotten lost in more than half a year. And, he thanks his new global positioning system (GPS) for that. Slightly more than six months ago, Thompson bought a Magellan 300 GPS. Now he simply tells his GPS where he wants to go, and the system provides him with accurate directions. Should Thompson miss a turn, his Magellan 300 automatically figures a new route for him. Thompson, an investment associ24

The Real Estate Solutions Guide 2007

Todd Thompson Real Net USA Orlando photo by Debi Harbin

ate with the Orlando office of Real Net USA of Central Florida, considers his purchase money well-spent, especially since he paid just $250 for his GPS on eBay. If he spells a street name wrong, the GPS will help him find the right address. If he doesn’t know an exact address, Thompson can punch in intersections or points of interest to find his appointment location. The machine also stores up to 50 previously inputted addresses. “Mapquest printouts are so messy and cumbersome,” he says. “I always had to print out each comp address I was using to formulate my CMA. It wasted time and money.” Thompson’s GPS has even made him money. Recently, he was out in the field and needed to look at an investment property that a competitor was already heading toward. Using his GPS, Thompson was able to input the property’s address, find a short cut and reach the property within minutes, before his competition

arrived. Thompson made an offer on the property immediately, he says and gave thanks for his GPS, which he estimates paid for itself 10 times over that day. “I’m surprised that more people don’t rely on GPS,” Thompson says. “The ones [who] don’t [own a GPS] don’t understand the true advantage it gives you” The expert weighs in: Randy Eagar, technology trainer and founder of Computer Camp (www.computercamp.net) says, “I think Todd’s very wise in buying a stand-alone GPS rather than buying it built into the car. For a new car, it’s a $3,000 option. While that’s nice, what Todd has done is better because you can save. Other than being able to find houses quickly, I see the biggest benefit to having a GPS is the buyers’ reaction. It’s one impressive tool.” Dan Rafter is a Chicago-based freelance writer.

Better

real estate solutions

By BRIDGET McCREA

10

Ways to Sell a Home Fast You’ve heard it a million times—the market is changing. What are you doing to sell your listings fast? We’ve got answers.

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The Real Estate Solutions Guide 2007

(And we mean speedy!) W

hether your market is booming or things are slowing down, it’s smart business to get back to basics. Since homes are staying on the market longer these days, even where sales are steady, it’s vital for you to put more of an effort into getting your listings sold quickly, and at the highest possible price. So, blow the dust off your digital camera and create your own virtual tours. Or, do what one enterprising sales associate is doing: Climb into an airplane to snap aerial photos of your listings. And, you can always create gimmicks, offer incentives and bonuses, and maximize the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) to its fullest potential. Here are 10 tried-and-tested ways that sales associates are making their listings move quickly:

1

Shoot My Good Side, Please When the market began stabilizing last fall, Jenny Wemert knew she’d have to start doing more to get her listings noticed and sold. A Realtor® with Keller Williams Advantage Realty in Orlando, Wemert pulled out her digital camera and started shooting her own virtual tours. “When we were in a seller’s market, I didn’t even have time to get a virtual tour done on a home before it sold,” Wemert

illustrationS by Alec Sacui

The Real Estate Solutions Guide 2007

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The Legal Eagle says...

Play Nice

explains. “We saw a shift in [the market], and now all of my listings have virtual tours.” But they’re not your typical tours. Intent on highlighting the best aspects of her listings, Wemert shoots her own tours, then uploads them to VisualTour.com. “When a virtual tour company comes in and does a 360-degree tour, you get what you get,” says Wemert. To maximize the virtual tours, Wemert incorporates photos (that she takes) of the community and information into them, and e-mails them to clients for distribution through a virtual marketing–type network. “The sellers send them to everyone, who in turn forward them to even more people,” says Wemert. “That not only helps sell the home, but also results in more referrals.”

2

Once Upon a Time Intimate knowledge of Orange County’s historic and lake homes has helped Michael Derenthal sell properties faster in the current market. A broker-owner at Derenthal Realty Group in Winter Park, he and his three-person team have extensive experience renovating older and historic homes. They’ve tapped that experience to help create a viable niche

homes for sale. Take the lakefront home that started as a fishing camp in the 1930s, and was later owned by an eccentric politician who incorporated European architectural elements into it. Instead of positioning it as “just another lakefront home,” Derenthal marketed the property—under contract at press time—as a piece of Orlando’s his-

“We can look someone in the eye and know that we have more expertise in older homes than most [sales associates] out there,” says broker-owner Michael Derenthal, who spends time learning about the history of older homes in his market. in residential real estate sales. “We can look someone in the eye and know that we have more expertise in older homes than most [sales associates] out there,” says Derenthal, who plays up the homes’ unique points, as compared to many of the newer tract homes available in the area. In addition, Derenthal always has a story to tell about the historic 28

The Real Estate Solutions Guide 2007

tory. “We played that up, and piqued people’s interest,” he says. “That gets them in the door and helps the home sell itself.”

3

Kitsch Marketing When 823 White Street in Key West’s Old Town Historic District went on the market recently, Jim Smith, broker-associate with Realty

Smith, “and the property is very nice too.”

Executives Keys, knew he had to do something special to get potential buyers interested in the property. When he learned that back in the 1870s the property was owned by a dairy farmer and known as “Cold’s Milk Farm,” a light bulb went on over his head. “We put a life-sized, plastic cow out on the sidewalk to draw people into our open houses,” says Smith, who has loaned the cow out to several local entities (such as the tax assessor’s office, for a surprise birthday party), and used the gimmick to attract other brokers to show the property. “I visited their offices carrying a milk pail, distributing postcards and Milky Way candy bars.” Priced at $2.4 million, the property hasn’t sold yet, but Smith is hopeful that when it does, the cow will have played a role in attracting the right buyer. “Everyone loves the cow,” says

4

Throw in a Tee Time Because Dave Cullen works primarily in golf communities, it only makes sense that he would shape his marketing strategy around the sport. A sales associate with Century 21 Horizon Properties in Port St. Lucie, Cullen says one buyer incentive that’s gone over well is a one-year membership to a local country club. “Assuming that most interested buyers will be golfers, we reasoned that having somewhere to play for a year as the homeowners acclimate themselves to their new surroundings would have a positive effect,” says Cullen, who just started using the strategy, which costs him about $2,000 per family. “I’ve seen a slight increase in the number of showings on my listings,” says Cullen. “When I talk to people about the listing, the first thing they want details about is the golf membership.”

In your rush to get the transaction closed, it’s vital not to overlook the very ethics to which the National Association of Realtors and state licensing groups require you to adhere. Blaming the slowing market and the huge number of inexperienced sales associates who entered the market in the last five years, Michael Derenthal says comments like “Look Mike, this is just the first round, give us the counter,” are common, yet unethical and potentially harmful to the buyer. “It can take thousands of dollars out of someone’s pocket,” says Derenthal. Jim Smith, who sits on his Board of Realtors’ grievance committee, points to simple moves, like Photoshopdoctoring of photos, as possibly being unethical. “How much can you really remove or change from a property photo before you slip into unethical practices?” he asks. Basic courtesy also comes into play in the industry, where sales associates are expected to cooperate in the best interest of their clients. Here are a few of the most common misconceptions when it comes to adhering to the Realtor Code of Ethics.

1

If You Can’t Say Something Nice. “Article 15 of the Realtor Code of Ethics says that you aren’t supposed to say anything bad about another Realtor,” says Linda Dix, owner of Linda Dix Realty in Tallahassee and a Code of Ethics instructor. “That pertains to speaking badly about flat fee and discount brokers as well. What they’re doing is legal and ethical.”

2

Just the Facts. Don’t take a guess when you’re entering property descriptions into the multiple listing service (MLS), says Rus Saboe, a sales associate with RE/MAX Oceanside in Flagler Beach and chair of the Flagler County Association of Realtor’s Professional Standards Committee. “We have a case where a [sales associate] entered a home into the MLS and said it was block and stucco construction when, in fact, it was a wood

frame house. This case still hasn’t been resolved.” Saboe recommends that you know your facts before filling out any property description in the MLS. Don’t guess on square footage, construction or lot size, to name a few.

3

Let the Sellers Do It. Saboe also cautions that sales associates aren’t allowed to fill in the sellers’ disclosure form. “Real estate agents routinely assist sellers without realizing that it’s not allowed,” he says. And, says Saboe, don’t forget, “Even if a roof leak has been repaired, it should still be disclosed.”

4

Stick With What You Know. According to Article 11 of the Realtor Code of Ethics, sales associates are supposed to inform a customer or client up front what type of property (residential or commercial) in which they specialize, says Dix. “If I have a client come to buy a commercial property, I must disclose that I don’t specialize in commercial,” says Dix. “You can still go forward with the transaction as long as the client understands [and agrees with] this. And, you must disclose this to the buyer even if you’ve dealt with this person before on another transaction.” “The best results come when Realtors work together with their customers’ [and clients’] best interests in mind, and work in the spirit of cooperation and fairness to get the transaction to closing,” says Charlene DeWitt, a sales associate with Dean and DeWitt Properties in St. Petersburg. Got a question about the Realtor Code of Ethics? You can view the Code of Ethics online at www.realtor. org/realtororg.nsf/pages/narcode or call Kristy Harrington at FAR’s Legal Hotline, 407-438-1409, Mon. through Fri. from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Please have your real estate license number available when you call. The Real Estate Solutions Guide 2007

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9 More Ways to Manage the Listing 1. Price it right. Prices aren’t appreciating as they once were. Keep that in mind when helping the seller price the home. 2. Make it look good. From planting flowers and adding mulch to the flower beds to clearing up the clutter inside the house, starting with a clean palette will help a new listing sell faster. 3. Use the Multiple Listing Service. Market the house with lots of pictures and complete information in the MLS. 4. Use alternative methods. Consider an auction for a quick sale. 5. Multiply your marketing. Try more than just a couple of postcards. Create virtual tours, use the newspaper, have an open house. Multiple marketing methods will give the seller more exposure. 6. Get back to basics. Take sales associates on caravan to view new listings. 7. Specialize. Use your knowledge of a neighborhood or specific type of home to your advantage. 8. Sell it to your peers. When marketing the property, don’t forget to talk it up to other sales associates. 9. Know your financing. Brush up on creative financing so you can explain to buyers alternatives to the 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage.

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5

The Devil Is in the Details Sometimes all it takes is attention to detail and a professional attitude to get the job done right, according to Janie Coffey, broker/ co-owner of Papillon Properties in Coral Gables. Take basic spelling and grammar, for example. After reviewing current MLS listings in her area, Coffey estimates that well over 50 percent of them contained misspelled words, with some lacking any property description at all. On many of the listings, she says, photos are either sparse or of poor quality. If you want people to show your listings, she says, it’s smart to use the MLS to your full advantage. That

quick review of posted listings will prove that many [sales associates] fail to observe this basic principle,” says Coffey, who advises sales associates to use all the photos they can and to carefully select a variety of good shots in an effort to add to the impression the potential buyer receives. “In the last month alone, I’ve seen fuzzy pictures, toilet seats up, pictures of computer screens (because they couldn’t figure how to get the image to the MLS), groceries on counters, images turned sideways and even shots with taxidermy (this alone could rule out a showing),” says Coffey. If the listing doesn’t have eight great shots, Coffey suggests using an aerial

Including and

“If you want people to show your listings,” says broker-associate Janie Coffey, “it’s smart to use the MLS to your full advantage.” means lots of quality pictures, carefully worded property descriptions and filled-in blanks on the MLS form. And, it goes without saying that all sales associates should return phone calls, have a working knowledge of their listings and show up for appointments, says Coffey, who says she takes the high road by acting professionally at all times and by treating all contacts and colleagues with respect. Those values go a long way in helping this Realtor sell her listings quickly and professionally, she says.

6

Take Great Photos, and Use Them The MLS can be a sales associate’s best friend, if used properly. By using all its features and options to highlight properties, Coffey says, sales associates can maximize their listing exposure while also standing head and shoulders above many of their competitors. “This may seem elementary, but a

view, a floor plan or other informative images that draw the buyer in. “If you have a condo listing, make every effort to get in and take pictures of the actual unit,” says Coffey. “If you only show the building exterior and the amenities, the message comes through that the unit itself is outdated or in poor condition.”

7

Deal or No Deal? No one can resist a free giveaway, even when buying higherend homes priced at $500,000 and up in the Fort Lauderdale area, says Erica Stowers. Knowing this, the sales associate with RE/MAX Alliance offers buyer’s brokers a $5,000 bonus for selling her listings (on top of the negotiated commission rate). On certain transactions—particularly for firsttime homebuyers—Stowers will also offer to pay some of the closing costs. She says she does it in the name of getting maximum exposure for higherend listings, which aren’t moving as

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The Real Estate Solutions Guide 2007

quickly as they were a year ago. Stowers says her full-service approach, combined with the incentives, has kept her business on track.

8

He Flies Through the Air … Not all sales associates can get into the seat of an airplane and fly over their listings to take aerial photographs of them, but Cliff Clover can. A licensed pilot, this sales associate, with Watson Realty Corp. in Kissimmee, takes to the air once a week to snap photos of all his listings. Clover started using the strategy three years ago, and he incorporates the home itself plus the surroundings into the photos, which he then publishes online and uses in his marketing materials. “It gets the phone ringing, and tells the story upfront for the other [sales associates] who would bring a buyer,” says Clover, who has about $20,000 invested in camera equipment and flying time. “It’s just one of the things I do for clients outside of the normal realm of things, and it really helps me—and the properties themselves— stand out in the marketplace.”

9

Dress It Up Perception is everything in residential real estate, where small flaws, bad color schemes and ugly carpeting can turn off buyers. To make sure each of her listings is presented in the best way possible, Charlene DeWitt, a broker with Dean & DeWitt Properties in St Petersburg, recently began offering home-showcasing services to her clients. From a local decorating consultant who charges $100 an hour, DeWitt and her sellers receive a prioritized list of recommendations for preparing the house for sale and cost estimates (for the implementation of each suggestion). Before scheduling the consultant, DeWitt asks clients if they’re willing to do what it takes to get the maximum sales price for their property. “Then, by employing a neutral third party with expertise in decorating

and preparing a home for sale,” says DeWitt, “we get a better response from the customer, regarding openness to change and investing in improvements.”

10

Open Up the House Buyers may be starting their home searches on the Internet, but Terri Steck knows that when it comes right down to it, what they really want to do is see homes in an up-close and personal way that only a showing or open house can provide. “I hold open houses virtually every day,” says Steck, a sales associate with Windermere Realty Group Inc. in Central Florida. “I approach open houses, not as a courtesy to sellers but as a viable part of the buying/selling process,” says Steck, who also drills into her clients’ heads the fact that their properties are less of a “home” and more of an “investment” that needs to be kept open house–ready throughout the length of the listing agreement. To get foot traffic at her open houses, Steck uses helium balloon bouquets on her directional signs and stocks the home with fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies, cold bottled water and juice for the kids. She also uses four-color fliers that highlight the property and include floor plans, color photos, feature lists, buyer incentives, seller contributions, a location guide, a school list, information about taxes and homeowners’ association fees, the year built, nearby recreation and shopping information, as well as professional affiliations and how-tocontact information for Steck and for her broker. “I’ve [put] all of this information on one sheet of paper because I invest in the services of a professional graphic designer,” says Steck. “High-profile companies are memorable because their ‘look’ is consistent. That’s my goal too.” Bridget McCrea is a Clearwaterbased freelance writer.

Attention Florida Realtors: You may not be getting all the commissions you deserve.

Find out more Call 877-389-3501 or visit

6

By Heidi Russell Rafferty

Outside-the-box

In a tight buyers’ market, your name can easily blur gray among an endless list of sales associates. Find out how these Realtors pop and sparkle. ®

“In a very competitive marketplace; it’s always a challenge to be creative. But what I’ve seen is that the tried and true always win out,” says Dr. Charles Matthews, director of the University of Cincinnati’s Center for Entrepreneurship, Education & Research in Cincinnati. “Folks who have always been in the marketplace are always keeping their name out there in the community, and [those] who are knowledgeable are the most successful.” Your goal is to assure that people can easily dredge your name from memory, he says. “You need to come up with something unique so that when people sell or buy, they think of you first.” Some Florida sales associates have done just that. From wacky to wonderful, here are some ideas.

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The Guy with the Bus

photo by Ray Stanyard

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In rural Blountstown (population: 15,000), it’d be hard to miss “The Christmas Bus.” Every December, Danny Ryals, broker of Danny Ryals Real Estate, decorates the 1972 PartridgeFamily-era bus with lights and holiday themes—or whatever else strikes his fancy— along with his real estate advertisements. He gives free nighttime rides to community groups so that they can enjoy the seasonal lights and go caroling in style. And everyone remembers his name.

Promotional Ideas

(Some are wacky but they work!)

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More important, they call him when they’re ready to buy or sell a house. “People stop me all the time,” he says. “In the grocery store, I’ve gotten business and referrals. They say, ‘You’re the guy with the bus!’ [Some] of them don’t say it, but I know that’s how they got my name.” He bought the bus in 1980 for $600. Although it’s old in years, it’s been driven only 53,000 miles. “I only drive it a few hundred miles a year, so this bus will outlast me,” he says. Because Ryals transports the public, insurance is high—up to $1,500 per year. Even so, it’s worth it, he says. The bus has taken on a marketing life of its own; Ryals prints Christmas cards with a bus photo, and his 7- and 9-year-old children and their friends throw more than 100 pounds of candy from the bus during neighborhood rides (cost: several hundred dollars, which includes new lights, too). He also takes out a $250 ad to get the bus on the front cover of local home magazine, “Buy a Home.” And he drives it in the local Christmas parade. Business advertising signs that he displays on the bus cost $100 each. “There’s nothing I do as far as advertising that gets our name out better,” Ryals says.

Danny Ryals, Danny Ryals Real Estate, Blountstown The Real Estate Solutions Guide 2007

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Advice from the Legal Eagle...

The Downtown Mural Artist

Amy Rosebush had never taken a painting class in her life. That didn’t matter to officials who gave her an award for her 19- by 18-foot mural on the side of a historic downtown building in St. Cloud.

“The traffic that comes in from eBay is phenomenal,” says sales associate Vince Remele. “I’ve had contact with people in Israel, Belgium, Sweden, Chad and Puerto Rico.”

It earned her a lot of free press. Not only was she touted as the mural artist, but in interviews she was also able to publicize that she was a real estate professional. Rosebush, a sales associate with Sapphire Realty Services Inc. in Kissimmee, puts the mural image on her business cards and Web site. She pays about $200 for 1,000 cards. “I saw a pickup in business after I did the mural,” she says. “I would hand out my business card and mention that the painting on it was one I had done for St. Cloud. People would say, ‘I know that painting!’ I immediately click with them as a human being. It helps me break the ice.” One of her clients, a man from New York, had visited the mural with his daughter. He told Rosebush that he was excited to be working with the sales associate who had created it. Now Rosebush is expanding on the idea. She’s targeted a high-end neighborhood with a mailing, saying that, if they list with her, she’ll create paintings of those owners’ homes as a memory keepsake after they sell. She spent about $300 on the mailing. “I will pay for everything, the canvas and frame and paint, and I’ll do the painting in any size. These are million-dollar homes, so even if I spend part of my commission on the painting, someone will have friends [that they can refer to me]. It works for me if I get my foot in the door and create a relationship,” she says.

Amy Rosebush, Sapphire Realty Services Inc., Kissimmee 36

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photo by rey villavicencio

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The eBay Guy

For $150 a month, Vance Remele gets worldwide exposure to more than 181 million shoppers in 35 countries—on eBay. Since November, Remele, a sales associate with Southern Realty Enterprises in Longwood, has closed five sales, averaging $190,000 each, from his eBay listings. “It’s $150 well spent. You can’t get that kind of exposure even on TV. I’ve had contact from people in Israel, Belgium, Sweden, Chad and Puerto Rico,” says Remele. “The traffic that comes in on eBay is phenomenal. You

get a lot of tire kickers, but that’s fine.” Here’s how it works: While most eBay listings are auctions, Remele’s is a straight advertisement. He puts together a photo show with $69 software called Nero. One ad takes hours to assemble, he says, “but it only takes one person to make it worthwhile,” he adds. When he gets a bite, he points the potential buyer to his Web site and continues to build a relationship. “Both of us are online at the same time, so I’m speaking to them while they’re surfing my site,” he says. Although Remele discourages people from buying properties sight unseen, some do it anyway. One of his condo listings sold for $128,000 to an Ohio woman who saw the property for the first time on closing day. “About 78 percent of homebuyers shop the Internet. So in my opinion, 78 percent of real estate associates need a good Web site. You’re missing the boat by not participating,” he says.

4

The Soccer Dad

outfitted them with his “BestBrokerFlorida” slogan. During the games, he takes digital photos of the team players and e-mails them to their parents. “So they’re getting a subliminal message!” he says. Manning also strategically placed an 8- by 3-foot banner at the entrance of the soccer complex that announces: “BestBrokerFlorida Kicks It with Brandon Soccer.” Other team spon-

Jim Manning, RE/MAX South Shore Realty, Tampa Jim Manning, photo by Mark wemple a broker-associate at RE/MAX South Shore Realty in Tampa, calls himself sors’ banners weren’t as colorful, the “team owner” of two enterprishe says. He designed it and worked es—the “BestBrokerFlorida Thunder” with a Kinko’s graphic artist to put it and the “BestBrokerFlorida Sharks.” together. All told, he spent about four Yes, they’re his kids’ teams—11hours on it. He paid $700 for both year-old Jesse’s and 5-year-old Lucy’s. teams’ uniforms, plus $200 for the This year during the Decemberbanner. to-March soccer season, Manning “At RE/MAX, you’re encouraged to sponsored each team’s uniforms and create a sub-brand, so I spent a lot of

Exemplary Behavior Ready to put together a promotion? Anything beyond the required office sign can be considered an advertisement. This includes business cards, letterhead, yard signs, billboards, newspaper ads, name tags, television and radio commercials... and yes, even first-aid kits and soccer banners, among other promotions. Keep in mind these legal requirements:

1

In any ad, you must include the licensed name of the brokerage firm. If it’s not obvious from the name of the firm that you are in the real estate business, for example if your firm name does not include Realty or Real Estate, you should also include some additional disclosure so that a reasonable person would know they’re dealing with a licensee. This could include your Realtor ® designation (i.e., Realtor or Realtor-Associate), or the inclusion of the phrase (below the firm name) “licensed real estate brokerage.”

2

You don’t have to include your name in an advertisement, but, if you do, then at the very least, you’re required to include your last name as registered with the Florida Real Estate Commission (FREC). As long as your last name is used, you may use your first name or a nickname on the sign.

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In August 2005, the Florida Real Estate Commission approved a change to its advertising rule—61J210.025—to require that all real estate advertisements include not only the licensed name of the brokerage firm but the phone number as well. But don’t start replacing yard signs, newspaper ads, business cards and other materials just yet. At press time, the Florida Real Estate Commission decided not to enforce the rule change until after a workshop on implementation of the rule is held. Watch for updates in Florida Realtor magazine. Questions? Call FAR’s Legal Hotline, Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at (407) 438-1409. Please have your real estate license number available when you call. The Real Estate Solutions Guide 2007

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they want information about the area, hopefully they’ve kept their map,” Smith says. “I believe you can best sell what you know and love.”

Cynthia Smith Cridland & Cridland PA GMAC Real Estate, Inverness

time honing in on ‘BestBrokerFlorida,’” he says. Manning notes that the complex has 12 fields and that daily attendance is “huge.” “Every day, there are tons of kids and games and parents. There are traveling squads of teams,” he says. He hasn’t been able to directly tie any sales to his efforts yet, but he expects them to pay off soon. He notes that socializing with other parents builds rapport. “The costs are relatively low for the amount of exposure I get,” he says.

5

The On-the-Trail Specialist

Cyclists comprise a tight community, especially those who regularly use the Withlacoochee Trail State Park. The 46-mile trek is the longest paved trail in Florida. Cynthia Smith, a sales associate with Cridland & Cridland PA GMAC Real Estate in Inverness, fell in love with cycling three years ago and moved from a home near the ocean in St. Augustine to Citrus County so that she could use the trail regularly.

Come Up with Something Great! How can you think beyond the obvious approach and come up with a promotional idea that will catch the public by storm? Here are a few suggestions from Dr. Charles Matthews, director of the University of Cincinnati’s Center for Entrepreneurship, Education & Research in Cincinnati. 1. Offer yourself as an expert. Teach free informational courses at the public library or a local community college. “The customer values information. You may not be getting business immediately, but eventually people will value and appreciate you,” Matthews says. 2. Offer a memorable or humorous service. Danny Ryals’ Christmas bus is a perfect example, Matthew says. “It’s a winning combination. It’s not direct, but it gets your name out there because people like to laugh, especially at themselves.” 3. Don’t be gimmicky. “There’s consistency and then there’s over-the-top consistency,” Matthews says. “Consistency usually wins out. People remember it—a catch phrase is oftentimes the best approach.” 38

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“When I moved to the area, I had difficulty finding a [sales associate] who knew where the trail was,” she says. So she parlayed her hobby into a business-getting opportunity. Smith sponsors riders in the Clean Air Ride for the American Lung Association and the annual October Rails to Trails Ride. Each participant receives a goody bag that includes a T-shirt, power bar and water bottle. Local businesses can also contribute to the bags, so Smith contributes firstaid kits. The kits are small and include a Band-Aid, an alcohol swab, a dose of Excedrin—and Smith’s business card, which is orange and touts her as the “On-the-Trail Specialist.” Each kit, ordered from Branders.com, is also imprinted with her logo. They cost $1.70 each, and Smith orders 1,000 per ride, plus an extra 200 so that she can offer them in her office. She also provides riders with a county map, which she buys from her broker, already stamped with the company logo. She marks each with the location of her office in relation to the trail. The cost is $400 per 1,000. “If I have to e-mail [participants], and

photo by Kinzie-Reihm, Inc.

6

Shhhh ...

Getting people to recognize you as a real estate specialist becomes easier once you find the venue in which to display your knowledge. Lidya Gongage, a sales associate with Stirling/Sotheby’s International Realty in Winter Park, is organizing free classes in conjunction with the Seminole County Public Library. “The library is a friendly, neutral environment, and we’re not selling anything—just giving information,” Gongage says. Gongage plans for a mortgage banker (usually her daughter, Michelle, of The Mortgage Firm in Winter Park) to teach a class to first-time homebuyers. “There are a lot of young people who can’t afford to get started, and she helps people bring their credit up so that they can buy a house,” Gongage says. She has also lined up a representative from First American Title Co. to do an informational session on Internal Revenue Service Code 1031 for investment property buyers. “I’ll be in attendance to shake hands and bring refreshments. I’m a good cook, so I’ll make some special European cookies,” she says. In addition, Gongage and two other sales associates in her office have paid $2,300 each to get their contact information on shopping carts at the local Albertsons supermarket. Ad Carts Co. designs the ads and puts them in jackets in each cart. “It’s all about name recognition. Maybe someone will recall my name, but won’t be able to place where they heard it. But they’ll still contact me. At this point in my career, it’s worth it,” she says. Heidi Russell Rafferty is a Georgiabased freelance writer. The Real Estate Solutions Guide 2007

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Broker

By g.m. filisko

(Including the solutions you’re craving!)

Challenges Lead generation, hiring quality sales associates, maintaining profitability—typical challenges when you own or manage a brokerage. Here are some common issues and some thoughtful solutions. Fighting to maintain your company’s profitability? Facing consumers who demand that your agents lower commissions? If you’re like most brokers, you’re dealing with these challenges and many others. We can help. We talked to brokers and experts about what they consider the biggest challenges for brokers in the next several years and what they consider to be the best ways to solve them. Here’s their wisdom and advice.

Challenge 1: Everyone wants a piece of your pie.

There isn’t a broker in the country who isn’t trying to maintain profitability in the face of demands from consumers to lower their commissions and from agents to raise theirs.

“There’s a ‘scissors’ effect,” says Linda Sherrer, president and CEO of Prudential Network Realty in Jacksonville. “Consumers are trying to lower commissions, agents’ commissions are higher and the broker’s caught in the middle. No matter what company, what part of the country, that’s the biggest outcry from brokers,” she says. Phil Wood, CEO of John R. Wood, Realtors® in Naples, says he’s facing the pressure from sales associates, and he’s willing to give a little more. “We can afford to pay agents what they want if we deliver a lot of services and grow enough,” he says. “Although our margin might be lower, we’ve got enough profit in the long run.” Wood also says paying sales associ-

illustrations by susan sanford

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ates more is smart business. “Profitability is important, but if we don’t make quite as much as the broker down the street, that’s OK,” he says. “We want to see our personnel have a good family life and income, and when that happens, it’s a win-win. They stay with us longer and are more productive.” On the consumer side, the explosion of the number of real estate

to resist the price of the commission, not the percentage. It’s one thing to pay a $12,000-$13,000 commission on a $200,000 home, but in a lot of markets, the commission is $35,000$50,000, and those numbers get people’s attention.” Wood says a key way to address consumers’ demands for lower commissions is to educate them about your value. “A lot of online companies put out the message that they can help consumers find a property, which can result in paying less to real estate agents,” he says. “Finding the property is only a tenth of the way there. The rest is holding the transaction together. We’ve not done a very good job of communicating to customers that we do a lot more than find properties.”

Challenge 2: It’s challenging to adjust to a normal market.

practitioners combined with fewer listings over the past 10 years has led to “a whole lot more people chasing a smaller piece of business, so you’re going to get price competition,” says Steve Murray, president of REAL Trends, an industry research company in Denver. “The lack of measurable differentiation among brokers and agents leaves most with little to compete on except price,” he says. Pressure from consumers has also come, Murray says, because of the “much greater availability of discount brokerage alternatives than there ever has been before,” he says. “From our studies,” Murray says, “we know that consumers are starting 42

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Right up there with the commission crunch is adjusting to markets that are slowing after years of frenzy. “What we’re seeing now is a market that’s normalizing,” says Alex Perriello, president and CEO of the Realogy Franchise Group in Parsippany, N.J. “As the market changes, agents and brokers need to change their strategy because most agents who’ve been in the business for the last 10 years have seen the market only one way, and that’s up.” Mike Pappas, president of The Keyes Co./Realtors in Miami, says newer sales associates need training to help them transition to today’s market. “For the last four years, we had a real estate market on steroids, and you didn’t need skill to sell,” he says. “Now, we’re communicating more aggressively with associates and going back to the fundamentals because this market requires a new set of negotiation skills. Before, it was speed, and we took orders from customers, and now, it’s managing clients and offering expertise in things like managing the listing and positioning the property properly.” Perriello agrees. “When agents deal

TransactionDesk: FAR Offers Transaction Management What if you had the power to easily share and manage a real estate transaction with your clients and customers, the building inspector, appraiser, lender, contractor— anyone and everyone involved? What if you could do it all online using electronic postmarks and signatures? What if you could start using this ultimate power tool for managing your online business today? With TransactionDesk, a Web-based real estate transaction and document management solution free to FAR members, you can. TransactionDesk provides users the ability to manage real estate transactions online from any computer that has a Web browser with Adobe Acrobat installed; users can securely manage their transactions, contracts and forms. The program doesn’t require any software installation prior to use. You also can access all FAR and FAR/BAR contracts and forms for the transaction, or you can add your company’s own forms and contracts. A “Super User” account for brokers and office managers gives you access to all your associates‚ TransactionDesk accounts so you can monitor the transactions and even make corrections to the contracts. With the recent launch of AuthentiSign, an easy-to-use online document-signing service that uses the U.S. Postal Service Electronic Postmark technology, Instanet Solutions offer a truly integrated transaction platform incorporating a full-featured transaction management system, electronic forms and a digital-signing solution. To start using the program, simply log in to TransactionDesk on the home page of Planet Realtor ® at http://planetrealtor.com. Still have questions? Call FAR’s Technology Help Line at (407) 587-1450. TransactionDesk is powered by Real Estate Industry Solutions (REIS), a wholly owned subsidiary of the Florida Association of Realtors.

with sellers, they have to be far more prepared with facts and figures about the reality of the market to help sellers make intelligent, informed decisions on pricing and how to prepare the house for sale,” he says. “Agents need to be more informative, consultative and reality based.” Market changes are “very healthy,”

‘We’re going to get more mortgage and title business, and that’ll fix the problem.’ You have to fix the whole business.” Fixing the whole business requires that brokers learn to say no, he says. “One word brokers never use is no. You’ve got to decide what kind of business you’re going to run. What

Broker Phil Wood says he’s reining in costs including marketing expenses. “Newspapers produce less than 10 percent of sales for the industry, so we’re a company working to reduce its newspaper advertising while increasing our presence on the Internet.” says Sherrer. “Companies like ours live to see this happen because it makes everybody stretch and be better.”

Challenge 3: Brokerages need to tighten their belts.

Intertwined with a changing market is the issue of rising costs. Murray says that as time on market increases, brokers will have higher advertising and carrying costs, which will chip away at profitability. That’s true, says Wood, and he’s reining in costs, including marketing expenses. He says newspapers produce less than 10 percent of sales for the industry, so his company is working to reduce its newspaper advertising while increasing its presence on the Internet. “Personnel and facilities are also becoming very costly to us,” he says. “The cost to build or rent a new office is extremely high.” That’s led to the company expanding its “cyber-agent” program so that about 40 percent of the company’s sales associates now work out of their homes. In response to these rising costs, many brokers are focusing on increasing revenue from mortgage, title and other nonbrokerage services. “That’s not the end answer,” advises Murray. “You’re not going to be able to say,

will you stand for in terms of service, culture and other things? Then, you need to say, ‘No, we won’t provide a full set of services at a discount price. No, we won’t give agents higher splits on top of more service. No, increased advertising isn’t the answer to every problem.’” “You’re going to have to run a financially tight ship by saying no,” says Murray.

Challenge 4: You’ve got to know what type of business you’ll operate.

Tied in with tightening your belt is a more fundamental issue. Before you can decide where to best put your endangered resources, you must determine what type of business you’ll operate. “A lot of brokers have gone through fluctuations [in their identity],” says Sherrer. “There are so many different business models, and you need to sort out the profile of the consumer you’re going to work with and how your business model answers that consumer.” Her company has done just that. “We’re 17 years old, and we took a hard look at ourselves and asked what our true business model is,” she says. “We decided we’re extremely full The Real Estate Solutions Guide 2007

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service, so if consumers want only someone who can stick a sign in the yard, we’re not that company.”

Challenge 5: Keep quality sales associates on board.

Where would you be tomorrow if your top sales associates left your company today? In hot water, no doubt. That’s why brokers say another challenge is holding onto their best associates. “Our assets walk out the door every night,” says Sherrer. “You have to be very mindful of the people who brought you to the dance, so to speak. They helped you get where you are.” Being mindful includes reminding them what you do for them, she says. It’s normal, when markets change and income is harder to sustain, for sales associates to ask whether the problem is something they’re doing or their company’s doing. “They assess

things,” says Sherrer, “and you have to show them your value and that you appreciate them.” For instance, Sherrer has an advisory group of sales associates from each office whose input she values. “Recently, they started saying, ‘We need back-tobasics training and advice on how to address this market,’” she says. “Within two weeks, we had our trainers doing workshops office to office, and we’ve had resounding applause from that. They know we’re listening.”

Challenge 6: Lay the groundwork for growth.

Bringing great leaders into your company is another challenge, says Pappas. “Your organization is only as good as your leadership team,” he says. “You’ve got to have the structure and organization for growth by hiring the right people as part of your leadership team.” “Brokers tend to think they can do it all,” he says, “but you’ve got to delegate, or you’ll spend all your time

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putting out fires and never getting into a proactive thinking mode.” Pappas says his company wouldn’t have been able to grow if he hadn’t made the tough decision to hire people to do things his former management team didn’t have the time or expertise to handle. “We were doing everything with our family, and we definitely would have tapped out,” he says. “We’ve added a chief financial officer, another marketing director, an information technology director and regional managers. Once you start delegating, it’s easier to clearly define your goals and manage expectations.” The toughest part of expanding your management team, says Pappas, is dealing with the responsibility it brings. “If you bring on all those people, you’d better deliver,” he says. “I feel more responsible for the business than I ever did.”

Challenge 7: Capture online leads.

“In researching online leadgeneration firms like RealEstate.com, ZipRealty.com and HouseValues.com, we’ve seen national close rates in the single-digit range, typically around 4 to 6 percent,” says Murray. “Those brokers who actively work the leads, however, are reporting close rates of 15 to 20 percent.” Based on REAL Trends research, Murray says, the leads themselves aren’t lacking, but the brokers and associates working them are. “The broker who allocates a certain amount of personnel and resources to setting up, managing and diligently working those leads will see the more profitable 15 to 20 percent capture rate,” he says. “The lack of capture rate from Internet inquiries lies not in the fact that these are junk leads, but in the fact that the brokerage industry as a whole has yet to build the proper infrastructure for servicing those leads.” Enter a new wave of technology, companies whose mission is to help brokers and associates make better use of leads coming at them from (continued on page 59) The Real Estate Solutions Guide 2007

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Help Wanted

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By Bridget McCREA

Types of Personal Assistants

( You’ve got options!)

Just aren’t enough hours in the day to get your work done? Try these tested strategies for hiring help. Elaine Wren was at the end of her rope. In real estate for eight years, she’d been handling her entire workload on her own. She was ready to hire someone who could help her manage the day-to-day business activities while also upping her sales volume. After talking to her business coach about the issue, this brokerassociate with Century 21 Dynasty Ocean in Hallandale decided to hire a full-time assistant to handle specific projects. Wren immediately realized that she should have made the move eight years earlier. “If I knew then what I know now, I never would have started in this business without an assistant,” says Wren, who sold $10 million in properties last year. She’s gone through four assistants since 1998, and is happy with the licensed buyer’s agent who’s working for her now on a salary-plus-bonus basis. 46

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The first three didn’t work out as well. “My first assistant was so taken with my business and lifestyle that she tried to be me,” says Wren. “She wanted to do everything that I did, but nothing that I asked her to do.” When hiring and training that assistant’s successors, Wren ran into a few more challenges. For example, she says “letting go” was one of the tougher obstacles to overcome. “When you’re used to doing everything yourself, you always think you can do it a little better than anyone else,” Wren explains. “It was a little rough for some of my assistants, until I learned to just turn it over.” These days, Wren “turns over” a number of important tasks to her assistant, including telemarketing, computer work (such as searching the MLS for new listings), appointment setting, e-mail monitoring and responses, and showing properties. The Real Estate Solutions Guide 2007

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Having worked with four different assistants, Wren says she’s learned to conduct in-depth interviews when recruiting. During those interviews, she looks for those who are already licensed or willing to become licensed quickly. “If I want to take a day off, I need to know that someone can legally show properties for me,” says Wren, who also seeks out people who seem willing to work hard in the real estate business, which she knows isn’t for everyone. “Being a real estate assistant isn’t a job that you’re going to get rich from right away, but if they apply themselves, they’ll make good money at it.”

Type 1: The Team Concept

Across the real estate industry, sales associates are finding creative ways to maximize the limited number of hours in a day that they have to run their businesses. Some, like Wren, have found success by working with one or more licensed or unlicensed assistants who work part time or full time, handling the day-to-day tasks that tend to weigh down a busy professional. Others find relief in virtual assistants, or independent contractors who work off site, handling tasks like transaction management and marketing coordination, while some prefer to join forces with other sales associates to create both formal and informal teams and partnerships. George Philbeck and Jenny Wemert chose the latter and haven’t looked back since. Already working with a (Type 2) transaction coordinator who is employed by Orlando-based Keller Williams Advantage Realty, Philbeck and Wemert paired up in August 2005 after realizing just how synergistic their two businesses were. 48

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Types of

Personal Assistants

1. Team up with another sales associate. Use each other for support. 2. Transaction/closing coordinators can help you manage the sale paperwork. 3. A virtual assistant can be indispensable for marketing campaigns and other duties. 4. A buyer’s agent can show properties while you focus on getting listings. 5. On the flip side, a listing specialist can generate listings while you focus on buyers. 6. The unlicensed administrative assistant can be useful for placing your ads, stuffing envelopes and handling phone calls.

7. Call coordinators follow up with past clients and customers as well as returning phone calls. 8. Online/database manager: This person inputs your listings into the MLS and online sites as well as following up with any online leads. 9. Marketing assistant/director: From building your campaign to coming up with innovative promotions, this person serves as your creative mastermind. 10. A licensed personal assistant can serve as a jack-of-all-trades.

“Sales associates with good communication skills and the ability to delegate tasks in a clear, succinct manner tend to be the best match for a virtual assistant, says Omni Support Services president Michele Sharrieff. “Our businesses were identical, so we got together and built our practices on identical business plans, marketing plans and systems,” says Wemert. “Yet, we’ve maintained our individual brands (The Wemert Team and Philbeck & Associates), and we don’t share sales.” From the outside looking in, Philbeck says, he and Wemert function just like any other real estate team. Marketing materials feature both Realtors®’ photos and contact information. And when important business decisions need to be made, the Realtors turn to each other for support and advice. “We consider ourselves business partners,” says Philbeck, who sold $10 million in properties last year. Both Philbeck and Wemert, who sold $12 million in properties last year, have their own (Type 3) full-time licensed assistants, and continue to use the services of the office transaction coordinator. Their licensed assistants

have been trained as experts in the transaction itself, taking care of the basic steps that need to be taken prior to closing, such as client and customer support, documentation, obtaining signatures, working with third-party service providers and other key tasks. They also handle phone calls, messages, showing coordination and other day-to-day tasks that free up Philbeck and Wemert to sell properties. The transaction coordinator takes over once a purchase agreement has been accepted. She handles everything from scheduling home inspections and appraisals to ensuring that all documents are signed in an orderly, timely fashion for closing day. Just a few months into their alliance, the pair expects higher sales volume for both practices this year, despite the cooling market. “Our listings have quadrupled since pairing up,” says Wemert. “Whereas in the past we had individually reached our limits at 40 transactions a year, now there is no longer a ceiling in terms of listing management.”

Sizing ‘em Up Looking for help figuring out whether or not you’re hiring the right person for the job? While gut instincts can be accurate, you may consider a more scientific method. Rebekah Rivers, as broker–co-owner of Keller Williams Town and Country Realty in Tallahassee and Jacksonville uses the principles laid out by the DISC Profile (an assessment tool that helps you explore a recruit’s personal styles, including his or her approach to home and work life, communication style and motivation, and particular strengths) to size up potential recruits and decide quickly which positions would suit them best. The approximately 40-page test is telling, says Rivers, who when hiring buyer’s agents looks for high I’s and high D’s—scores that tell her they are influencers and dominant personality types. Office staff and tech types should score high S’s and C’s, she says, who are steady, conscientious team players

Rivers

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Jenny Wemert (in black, center left) and George Philbeck (in black, center right) and their team of real estate assistants. photo by rey villavicencio

Advice from the Legal Eagle...

What Brokers Need to Know As a broker, the fact that sales associates with your brokerage hire assistants affects you too. FAR attorneys advise you to be aware of the following:

1

If a licensed assistant is going to perform licensed real estate activities, then the assistant’s real estate license must be placed with the broker/brokerage firm for whom they are performing these activities.

2

If a licensed assistant is performing real estate work that requires a license, then the compensation paid to the assistant in connection with the licensed activity must come from the broker/brokerage and not the sales associate or broker associate for whom they are acting as an assistant. Concerns or questions? Call FAR’s Legal Hotline at (407) 438-1409. Calls are answered Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Please have your real estate license number available when you call. who tend to be compliant and mindful about details. Listing specialists should be high I’s, she says, who tend to be likable, yet firm and able to get their points across to sellers. “They need to be very forceful at listing appointments,” says Rivers, who considers the DISC to be an effective tool for sizing up job candidates before hiring them. “It tells me what the person is like, and also the dos and don’ts of dealing with them,” she says. “It’s very insightful.” More about DISC Profiles: Used by many recruiters and job placement professionals, DISC provides insight into individual styles that helps employers predict the likely future behaviors of potential employees. Learn more online at www.discprofile.com. The Real Estate Solutions Guide 2007

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Type 4: Going Virtual

A growing number of sales associates are finding virtual assistants to be a good middle ground between working solo and hiring full-time assistants who need desks, benefits and steady paychecks. Working virtually with the assistance of technology, these independent contractors handle myriad tasks for busy professionals, including comparative market analysis development, virtual tour assembly and posting, drip e-mail campaign creation, e-mail inquiry filtering and Web site maintenance. “Literally anything can be done from a distance,” says Michael Russer, CEO of REVA Teams, a Pleasanton, Calif.–based virtual assistant organization for the real estate industry, and president of Russer Communications in Santa Barbara, Calif. He says sales

Is It Time?

If you’re curious about whether a virtual assistant is right for you, check out these clues, which might help you make the final decision: • You need help on a per-project basis that doesn’t warrant a fullor part-time staff member. • You need more time to sell property. • You aren’t focusing on your core competencies (sales, consultations, investments, etc.). • You have limited space available in your office for additional staff members. • You’re totally overwhelmed in your business and aren’t able to keep up with the details. • You’re willing to delegate and give up some control over noncore tasks to an off-site assistant. • You’re a people person who doesn’t like hanging around the office doing paperwork.

Virtual assistants can handle myriad tasks for busy professionals, including virtual tour assembly and posting, drip e-mail campaign creation, e-mail inquiry filtering and Web site maintenance. associates generally pay either $250 to $350 per transaction or $25 to $45 per hour, depending on the scope of the project. In Central Florida, Michele Sharrieff has been providing virtual transaction coordination services to real estate professionals since 2003. As president of Orlando-based Omni Support Services, Sharrieff says her firm manages all contract details—from purchase contract signing to closing day. Fees are paid on a per-transaction basis, and the coordinators themselves generally do not hold real estate licenses. Sharrieff says virtual assistants can be invaluable for the sales associate who doesn’t want to hire and manage on-site employees, but who needs help managing his or her workload. Because most documents can be faxed or 50

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e-mailed, handling transaction management from afar is fairly seamless, she says, and can be orchestrated by a virtual assistant who is well versed in the basics of transaction management. And while Sharrieff’s firm specializes in that aspect of the business, some virtual assistants offer basic support services (phone answering, email monitoring, etc.) and others provide marketing coordination (preparing fliers and postcards, creating and e-mailing online newsletters, etc.). Sharrieff says Realtors with good communication skills and the ability to delegate tasks in a clear, succinct manner tend to be the best match for a virtual assistant. By the time the third transaction rolls around, she says the relationship begins to “gel” well, with both parties becoming comfortable with the process. “By that third sale,

• You’re a brand-new sales associate who has experienced early success and needs assistance, but is not ready to hire full-time help. • You don’t have the time to handle all the necessary marketing tasks that need to be done. • You’re not technology oriented, and would rather have someone else handle responsibilities like updating accounting software and creating virtual tours. • You know what needs to be done, but you just don’t have time to do it all. • After months of training your last on-site assistant, he or she became your competitor.

everyone is on board and comfortable,” says Sharrieff. “After that, the virtual assistant pretty much goes on automatic.”

Covering All the Bases

For Gene and Rebekah Rivers, the ability to delegate important tasks to professionals who specialize in certain areas of the transaction has been an extremely effective business strategy. As broker-owners of Keller Williams Town and Country Realty in Tallahassee and Jacksonville, Rebekah Rivers says, after 17 years in the real estate business, they’re at the point where they no longer list and sell, but instead direct their team to success. For Rebekah Rivers, who runs the 209-agent Tallahassee office, that team includes (Types 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10) one team leader (who coordinates the entire team and manages the office), five buyer’s agents, two listing specialists, one database manager/call coordinator (who coordinates and manages inbound and outbound contacts), a marketing director (who handles the company’s marketing efforts), a new-construction listing coordinator (who works solely

Of the assistants, only the buyer’s agents, listing coordinators and team leader are licensed, says brokerowner Rebekah Rivers. Compensation structures vary, with administrative personnel working on salaries and buyer’s agents operating on 50-50 commission splits. on new-home listings), a resale listing coordinator (works solely on resale listings), a marketing assistant (who supports and executes marketing activities), two closing coordinators and two runners (who work with all the others, delivering documents and transferring pertinent files among the designated parties). Among them, only the Riverses and the buyer’s agents, listing coordinators and team leader are licensed. Compensation structures vary, with administrative personnel working on salaries and buyer’s agents operating on 50-50 commission splits. Rebekah Rivers, whose Tallahassee office posted $70 million in property sales last year, says she hired her first assistant in 1990. That position slowly split into two jobs, one centered on closing and the other on listing. A buyer’s agent soon followed, as did several administrative personnel. “As we got bigger and bigger, we had to separate jobs and hire new employees to fill them,” says Rivers. “It’s been quite a process.”

To sales associates looking to hire their first assistants or add to an existing team, Rivers says simply: Hire slowly, and fire quickly. “Hiring out of need is just not a good thing. Even if you need immediate relief, you should take your time with hiring and find someone who truly fits your business.” She points to college students or interns as good choices for those who need help, but who may be apprehensive about the financial commitment and training involved with hiring employees. “Even if you just hire a college student to handle mundane tasks like putting up signs, making fliers and running around checking lockboxes, you’ll be in good shape,” says Rivers. “That $8 an hour that you pay that person will be well worth it. Just look at how much money you’ll save if you don’t have to do all of those things.” Bridget McCrea is Clearwater-based freelance writer.

Virtual Assistants

Virtual assistants can help you with a variety of marketing and general tasks. Here are a few to call: 1. Allie Milicevic, www.virtualresources.net, e-mail: [email protected] net, (321) 206-1277 2. Anna Baron, www.TheVirtualLink. com, e-mail: [email protected], (972) 359-9655 3. Jeri Winkler, www.secretassistant. com, e-mail: [email protected], (315) 482-6819 4. Kim Hughes, www.KimHughes. com, e-mail: [email protected], (903) 569-6763 5. Omni Support Services, Michele Sharrieff, (407) 656-7519 6. Pro Step Marketing, Tricia Fink Andreassen, e-mail [email protected], (866) 799-9888, ext. 81 7. REVA Teams, www.revateams.com, e-mail: [email protected], (888) 842-3232, ext. 8000 8. The 24 Hour Secretary, Sharon Williams, e-mail: [email protected], (410) 521-7001

7 Tips for Hiring a Helper • Organize your goals and systems first so you can easily decide what type of help you need and can train someone quickly to meet your needs.

company who already knows about real estate or at least someone who knows real estate terms.

• Don’t hire someone just like you; hire someone who balances your weaknesses. You need someone who can handle the part of the business you don’t want to do.

• Consider an administrative assistant who loves real estate but doesn’t want to be a full-time Realtor. He or she will be interested in the work, but won’t use you to jump start his or her career — however, that’s not always a bad thing.

• Hire someone from inside your brokerage or from another

• Once you find the right assistant, it’s important to compensate that person

well and partner with him or her to create loyalty. • If you have more than one assistant, cross-train them so you won’t be at a loss when someone leaves or goes on vacation. • If you’re not ready to take the step to hire a part-time or full-time assistant, consider delegating some services to a virtual assistant or to a mailing company.

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The Real Estate Pro’s

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David Knox Productions Inc 7300 Metro Blvd, Suite 120 Minneapolis MN 55439 800-822-4221 • 952-835-1878 FAX www.davidknox.com

2007 Real Estate Industry Directory Now there’s a one-stop directory of businesses who offer real estate solutions and products for the real estate professional. Whether you want help marketing, managing your business or upgrading your technology, you’ll find vendors in this directory from around the nation whose mission is to satisfy your needs. Keep this directory handy throughout the year. It’s your connection to an army of industry-leading suppliers. This directory is offered for information purposes only. The Florida Association of R ealtors ® does not endorse or recommend any of these companies unless otherwise noted.

Directory Index Affiliated Organizations & Associations.............................................52 Contract Preparation...................................52 Do-Not-Call Compliance..............................52 Education & Professional Development...............................................52 Franchise....................................................53 Insurance....................................................54 Mortgage.....................................................54 Multiple Listing Service...............................54 Sales Promotion..........................................54 Home Guides...............................................55 Leads..........................................................55 Magazines...................................................55 Newspapers................................................56 Maps...........................................................56 Newsletters.................................................56 Postcards....................................................56 Premiums & Incentives................................56 Signs...........................................................57 Technology..................................................58

Women’s Council of Realtors® (WCR) 430 N Michigan Avenue, Chicago IL 60611 800-245-8512 • 312-329-3290 FAX www.wcr.org

Contract Preparation

The Institute for Luxury Home Marketing 1409 S Lamar St Suite 215, Dallas TX 75215 214-485-3000 • 214-485-3310 FAX www.luxuryhomemarketing.com

Forms On-Line Gold 800-668-8768 www.instanetforms.com

Gryphon Networks 249 Vanderbilt Ave, Norwood MA 02062 866-366-6822 • 781-255-7209 FAX www.gryphonnetworks.com

Mike Ferry Organization 1100 Main St Irvine CA 92614 800-448-8423 • 949-852-0210 FAX www.mikeferry.com

Formulator — Realigent, Inc 101 Academy, Suite 200 Irvine CA 92617 800-336-1027 • 949-777-2901 www.formulator.com

PossibleNOW 4375 River Green Pkwy, Suite 200 Duluth GA 30096 800-585-4888 • 770-255-1025 FAX www.possiblenow.com

Pat Zaby Seminars & Systems 5023 Sea Pines Dr, Dallas TX 75287 972-407-1337 • 972-407-0780 FAX www.patzaby.com

Realfast P O Box 4700, Frisco CO 80443 800-571-0277 • 970-668-0268 FAX www.realfast.com

Education & Professional Development

Council of Residential Specialists (CRS) 430 N Michigan Avenue, Chicago IL 60611 800-462-8841 • 312-329-8882 www.crs.com

TrueForms 1880 Industrial Circle, Suite D Longmont CO 80501 800-499-9612 • 303-774-7160 FAX

National Association of Realtors® (NAR) 430 N Michigan Avenue, Chicago IL 60611 800-874-6500 • 312-329-5960 FAX www.realtor.org

ZipForm PO Box 130, Fraser MI 48026 866-693-6767 • 586-790-7582 FAX

The Real Estate Solutions Guide 2007

IFREC Real Estate Schools 5029 Edgewater Dr, Orlando FL 32810 888-647-7277 • 407-647-5227 FAX www.IFREC.com

Jerry Bresser Institute 400 Maple Park Blvd, Suite 401 St Clair Shores MI 48081 586-776-8800 • 586-776-8900 FAX www.jerrybresser.com

See display ad on Inside Front Cover

52

Hobbs/Herder Training 2240 University Dr, Suite 200 Newport Beach CA 92660 800-999-6090 • 949-515-5005 FAX www.hobbsherdertraining.com

Contact Center Compliance Corp 350 E Street, Suite 300A Santa Rosa CA 95404 866-362-5478 • 707-571-0271 FAX www.dnc.com

Alta Star 7700 North Kendall Dr, Suite 612 Miami FL 33156 877-279-8898 • 305-279-7188 FAX www.farforms.com

Affiliated Organizations

Real Estate Buyer’s Agent Council (REBAC) 430 N Michigan Avenue, Chicago IL 60611 800-648-6224 • 312-329-8632 FAX www.rebac.net

Call Compliance 90 Pratt Oval Glen Cove NY 11542 888-674-6774 • 513-676-2420 FAX www.callcompliance.com

Ed Hatch Seminars 2012 Huntcliff Dr, Gambrills MD 21054 800-334-2824 • 410-451-8785 FAX www.edhatch.com

See display ad on opposite page

See display ad on p. 10

Do-Not-Call Compliance Call Command 11500 Northlake Dr, Suite 240 Cincinnati OH 45249 800-464-8500 • 513-792-9212 FAX www.callcommand.com

Bert Rodgers Schools 1855 Porter Lake Dr Sarasota FL 34240 800-432-0320 • 941-378-3883 FAX www.bertrodgers.com Buffini Systems 5770 Armada Dr, Carlsbad CA 92008 800-945-3485 • 760-476-9072 FAX www.brianbuffini.com Darryl Davis Seminars 4 Ring Neck Court, Wading River NY 11792 800-395-3905 www.darryldavis.com Dave Beson Seminars 7200 W 78th St, Minneapolis MN 55439 800-242-3031 • 952-947-9110 FAX www.davebeson.com

Richard Robbins International Inc 302 Town Centre Boulevard, Suite 400 Markham Ontario L3R 0E8 CANADA 800-298-9587 • 905-477-3684 FAX www.richardrobbins.com Roger Butcher 2851 Gold Tailings Ct Rancho Cordova CA 95670 800-422-1462 • 916-340-0844 www.rogerbutcher.com Star Power Systems 4772 Walnut St Suite 200, Boulder CO 80301 800-635-6750 • 303-449-4222 FAX www.gostarpower.com Thomson Learning 5191 Natorp Blvd, Mason OH 45040 800-543-0487 • 513-229-1020 FAX www.thomsonedu.com

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Wally Conway Seminars 12708-2 San Jose Blvd, Jacksonville FL 32223 800-270-9791 • 904-268-8213 FAX www.wallyconway.com

Franchise Amerivest Realty 10001 Tamiami Trl N, Naples FL 34108 800-966-4356 • 239-593-3121 FAX www.amerivestrealty.com Avalar Network Inc 6430 Medical Center St, Suite 100 Las Vegas NV 89148 877-895-8988 • 702-895-8998 FAX www.avalar.biz Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate Inc 5951 Cattleridge Ave, Sarasota FL 34232 888-937-6426 • 941-342-2990 FAX www.floridamoves.com Coral Shores Realty 2699 East Oakland Park Blvd Fort Lauderdale FL 33306 866-476-1331 • 954-566-3288 FAX www.coralshoresrealty.com Crye-Leike Franchises Inc 5111 Maryland Way Brentwood TN 37027-7513 866-603-2470 • 615-221-0445 FAX www.crye-leike.com EXIT Realty Corporation 2345 Argentia Rd, Suite 200 Mississauga Ontario L5N 8K4 CANADA 888-668-3948 • 905-363-4060 FAX www.exitrealty.com EXIT Realty Florida 701 Northpoint Pkwy, Suite 150 West Palm Beach FL 33407 800-305-2711 • 561-681-1433 FAX www.exitrealtyflorida.com Help-U-Sell Real Estate 900 West Castelton Rd, Suite 230 Castle Rock CO 80109 800-366-1177 • 303-814-3400 FAX www.helpusell.com

directory

Prudential Real Estate Affiliates Inc 3333 Michelson Dr, Suite 1000 Irvine CA 92612 800-666-6634 • 949-794-7036 FAX www.prudential.com RE/MAX International Inc 8390 E Crescent Pkwy, Suite 600 Greenwood village CO 80111 800-525-7452 • 303-796-3599 FAX www.remax.com See display ad on p. 5

Real Living Inc 77 East Nationwide Blvd, Columbus OH 43215 866-438-7325 • 614-459-5417 FAX www.realliving.com Realogy Corporation 1 Campus Dr, Parsippany NJ 07054 973-407-2709 • 973-496-7188 FAX www.realogy.com Realty Executives International Inc 2398 E Camelback Rd, Suite 900 Phoenix AZ 85016 800-252-3366 • 602-224-5542 FAX www.realtyexecutives.com See display ad on p. 45

Realty World America Inc 1503 S Coast Dr, Suite 111 Costa Mesa CA 92626 800-685-4984 • 714-436-9010 FAX www.realtyworld.com See display ad on p. 39

Sellstate Realty Systems Network Inc 12800 University Dr, Suite 575 Fort Myers FL 33907 866-661-3847 • 239-437-0890 FAX www.sellstate.com See display ad on p. 25

Weichert Real Estate Affiliates Inc 225 Littleton Rd, Morris Plains NJ 07950 877-533-9007 www.weichertaffiliates.com

Keller Williams Realty International 807 Las Cimas Pkwy, Suite 200 Austin TX 78746 512-327-3070 • 512-328-1433 FAX www.kellerwilliams.com See display ad on p. 13

Prudential Florida WCI Realty 800-386-1554 www.prudentialfloridawci.com

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Insurance

Errors & Omissions REO Advisors Inc 1881 University Dr, Suite 110 Coral Springs FL 33071 800-753-3557 • 800-228-5525 FAX www.reoadvisors.com

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QuickMortgageLoan.com 999 Berkshire Blvd, Wyomissing PA 19610 800-650-4301 • 610-376-4223 FAX www.quickmortgageloan.com

Rapattoni Corporation 98 W Cochran St, Simi Valley CA 93065 800-722-7338 • 805-520-9894 FAX www.rapattoni.com

Washington Mutual 888-926-8536 www.wamuhomeloans.com

Real Edge Inc 446 S Anaheim Hills Rd, Suite 212 Anaheim CA 92807 800-848-3343 • 714-844-4811 FAX www.realedge.com

See display ad on p. 57

See display ad on p. 1

Mortgage

Wells Fargo Home Mortgage 800-869-3557 www.wellsfargo.com

American Home Mortgage 759 S Federal Hwy, Suite 219 Stuart FL 34994 772-781-2575 • 877-304-3100 www.americanhm.com See display ad on p. 11

Bank of America 100 N Tryon St, Charlotte NC 28255 800-432-1000 www.bankofamerica.com Chase Home Finance 800-873-6577 homeloan.chase.com Countrywide Home Loans 4500 Park Granada, Calabasas CA 91302 800-556-9568 realtors.countrywide.com E-Loan 6230 Stoneridge Mall Road Pleasanton CA 94588 800-356-2622 • 925-847-0831 FAX www.eloan.com First Franklin Financial 2150 N First St, San Jose CA 95131 800-464-8203 www.ff.com GMAC Mortgage 800-888-4622 ww.gmacmortgage.com Genworth Financial 800-444-5664 homeopeners.gemortgageinsurance.com NationPoint 25530 Commerce Centre Dr Lake Forest CA 92630 800-770-4277 • 866-744-4970 FAX www.nationpoint.com Olde Marco Mortgage 144 Royal Palm Drive, Marco Island FL 34145 877-389-3501 • 239-642-9614 FAX www.oldemarcomortgage.com See display ad on p. 33

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directory

Multiple Listing Service 1st Team Technology 548 Mary Esther Cut Off NW, Suite 258 Fort Walton Beach FL 32548 775-363-3263 • 775-361-5776 FAX www.1st-team.com Advanced Marketing Services Inc 1150 Hancock St, Suite 400 Quincy MA 02169 800-428-0004 • 617-769-0445 www.internetmls.com

RealGo Inc 2000 S College Ave, Suite 306 Fort Collins CO 80525 970-493-5177 • 970-484-3965 FAX www.realgo.com Showingtime 11 E Adams St, Suite 600 Chicago IL 60603 800-746-9464 • 312-222-9740 FAX www.showingtime.com

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Bizvine Printing Inc 2281 W 205th St, Suite 107 Torrance CA 90501 866-782-9888 • 310-782-9870 FAX www.bizvineprinting.com Colour Tech Marketing 356 Sonwil Dr, Buffalo NY 14225 800-939-2520 • 716-206-0477 FAX www.colourtechusa.com Direct Color Inc 3120 W 84 St Unit 6, Hialeah FL 33018 800-545-6698 • 305-819-3879 FAX www.direct-color.com Discounted Printing 20115 Corporate Drive Boynton Beach FL 33426 561-740-7399 • 561-740-9783 FAX www.discountedprinting.com

Solid Earth Geographics 109-B N Jefferson St, Huntsville AL 35801 800-335-0228 • 509-461-0413 FAX www.solidearth.com

DPI, Digital Printers International 16200 NE 13th Ave North Miami Beach FL 33162 877-774-6847 • 305-947-7695 FAX www.dpibizcards.com

ARIS Inc 124 N Main St Suite C, Berlin MD 21811 888-657-2747 www.arismls.com

Stratus Data Systems 400 Columbus Ave, Valhalla NY 10595 800-822-2588 • 914-747-3582 FAX www.stratusdata.com

expresscopy.com 6623 NE 59th Place, Portland OR 97218 866-397-2679 • 503-234-5562 FAX www.pulsemailing.com

dynaConnections Corp 1101 S Capital of Texas Highway Suite 130-H, Austin TX 78746 866-306-9898 • 512-306-9869 www.dynaconnections.com

Systems Engineering Inc P O Box 8709, Greensboro NC 27419 800-367-8756 • 336-664-0023 FAX www.seisystems.com

Harris Printers 3320 W Vernon Avenue Phoenix AZ 85009 800-258-7746 • 800-316-2379 FAX www.harrisprinters.com

EZList – MLS Systems Real Estate Technologies Inc 18215 Paulson Dr, Port Charlotte FL 33954 866-472-6600 • 218-844-5332 FAX www.ezlistmls.com Fidelity MLS Systems & Solutions 17300 W 119th St, Olathe KS 66061 800-468-6221 • 913-693-0020 FAX www.fidelitymlsolutions.com MostHome Technologies Corporation Unit 1 -11491 Kingston St Maple Ridge, British Columbia V2X 0Y6 CANADA 800-347-4701 • 604-460-7681 FAX www.mosthomewireless.com Offutt Systems Inc 405 Pomona Dr, Greensboro NC 27407 800-334-0831 • 336-547-2723 FAX www.getoffutt.com Promatch Inc 2251 Arbor Blvd, Dayton OH 45401 877-299-0185 • 937-299-3520 FAX www.promatchinc.com

Tarasoft Corporation 206-2537 Beacon Ave Sidney, British Columbia V8L 1Y3 CANADA 800-899-8470 • 250-656-4988 FAX www.tarasoft.com Threewide Corporation 709 Beechurst Ave, Suite 1B Morgantown WV 26505 877-847-3394 • 304-296-9433 FAX www.threewide.com

Sales Promotion Business Cards

Aardvark Labels 8964 Excelsior Blvd E, Hopkins MN 55343 800-553-2856 • 952-894-5271 FAX www.aardvarklabels.com Beyondee Corporation 2730 Monterey St, Suite 107 Torrance CA 90503 877-333-9988 • 310-212-5990 FAX www.beyondee.com

Lifestyle Media USA Inc 131 Dummer St, Suite C Brookline MA 02446 877-314-1889 • 416-977-5365 FAX www.realestate.lifestylemedia.ca The Personal Marketing Company 11843 W 83rd Terrace, Lenexa KS 66214 800-458-8245 • 800-234-9423 FAX www.tpmco.com Power Broker Printing 1498 NW 3rd St, Deerfield Beach FL 33442 888-453-4820 • 954-247-0084 FAX www.powerbrokerprinting.com

Calendars Beach House Logos PO Box 204, Pittstown NJ 08867 866-232-2402 • 908-713-0945 FAX www.beachhouselogos.com Direct Color Inc 3120 W 84 St Unit 6, Miami FL 33018 800-545-6698 • 305-819-3879 FAX www.direct-color.com

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Magnetic Attractions 2700 Angier Ave, Durham NC 27703 800-421-3251 • 866-339-3996 FAX www.magneticattractions.com Magnets USA 817 Connecticut Ave NE, Roanoke VA 24012 800-869-7562 • 800-788-6872 FAX www.magnetsusa.com Magnetstreet 4325 Pheasant Ridge Dr, Suite 602 Blaine MN 55449 800-788-8633 • 763-786-9393 FAX www.magnetstreet.com Melco Marketing Inc PO Box 1578, Manassas VA 20108 800-854-8669 • 703-369-0492 FAX www.melcocalendars.com Sellsmart 3400 E McDowell Rd, Phoenix AZ 85008 800-522-0852 • 866-914-4262 FAX www.sellsmart.com Superior Real Estate Supply 20805 N 19th Ave Suite 11, Phoenix AZ 85027 800-234-0095 • 623-516-9209 FAX www.erealtysupply.com Teldon Print Media 925 Boblett Street Unit B, Blaine WA 98230 866-280-9347 • 800-983-5366 FAX www.teldon.com

Closing Gifts The CD Guys 566 Mainstream Dr, Suite 500 Nashville TN 37228 888-448-6410 • 888-448-4393 FAX www.thecdguys.com Hickory Furniture Mart 2220 Hwy 70 SE, Hickory NC 28602 800-462-6278 • 828-322-1132 FAX www.hickoryfurniture.com

directory

Ross-Smith Premium Pecans 800-841-5503 • 229-859-2382 www.ross-smith-pecans.com

Home Guides Adwriter Inc 165 E Washington Row, Suite 312 Sandusky OK 44870 800-646-7323 • 419-621-2134 FAX www.adwriter.com Harmon Homes 888-638-8713 www.harmonhomes.com www.usahomes.org The Real Estate Book 2305 Newpoint Pkwy, Lawrenceville GA 30043 800-643-1174 • 770-822-4313 FAX www.realestatebook.com See display ad on Back Cover

Leads

Lead Conversion Home Hub Connect Adigida Solutions, 401 N 3rd St, Suite 601 Minneapolis MN 55401 866-234-4432 • 612-341-0768 FAX www.adigida.com

Lead Generation Rainmaker Lead System Gooder Group, 2724 Dorr Avenue Fairfax VA 22031 703-698-7750 ext 1476 • 703-698-8597 FAX www.goodergroup.com/1476

Magazines Dupont Registry 3051 Tech Dr, St Petersburg FL 33716 800-233-1731 • 727-572-5523 FAX www.dupontregistry.com

Creature Comforts Toys Inc 203-2428 King George Highway Surrey, British Columbia V4P 1H5 CANADA 888-228-5001 • 888-228-4888 FAX www.cctoyscustom.com Lowe’s Home Improvement Warehouse 1000 Lowes Blvd, Mooresville NC 28117 888-913-6060 www.lowes.com Perfect Closing Gift 567 Camino Mercado, Suite A Arroyo Grande CA 93420 800-782-6790 • 805-474-1238 FAX www.perfectclosinggift.com

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Estates West Magazine 8132 N 87th Place, Scottsdale AZ 85258 480-460-5203 • 480-460-2345 FAX www.estateswest.com Florida Realtor Magazine 7025 Augusta National Dr, Orlando FL 32822 407-438-1400 • 407-438-1411 FAX www.floridarealtormagazine.com HistoricProperties.com 2523 Grove Ave, Richmond VA 23220 888-507-0501 www.historicproperties.com Home By Design Magazine 11626 N Tracey Rd, Hayden ID 83835 877-423-4567 • 208-772-8061 FAX www.homebydesign.com Homes & Land Magazine 1830 E Park Ave, Tallahassee FL 32301 800-458-9520 • 850-575-9567 FAX www.homesandland.com Preservation Magazine 1785 Massachusetts Ave NW Washington DC 20036 800-944-6847 • 202-588-6172 FAX www.preservationonline.org Unique Homes Magazine 720 Wilshire Blvd, Suite 205 Santa Monica CA 90401 800-732-4092 • 310-393-4804 FAX www.uniquehomes.com

Newspapers The New York Times Company 229 W 43rd St, New York NY 10036 212-556-7777 • 212-556-7787 FAX www.nytimes.com The Wall Street Journal 1155 Ave of the Americas, New York NY 10036 800-366-3975 • 212-597-5744 FAX www.realestatejournal.com

Maps Dolph Map Company 430 North Federal Highway Fort Lauderdale FL 33301 800-877-3649 • 954-763-3518 FAX www.dolphmap.com iMapp Inc 5660 W Cypress St, Suite H Tampa FL 33607 888-462-7701 • 813-289-3035 FAX www.imapp.com

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E state

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Moving Services Two Men And A Truck Call the location nearest you www.twomenandatruck.com See display ad on p. 44

directory

Colour Tech Marketing 356 Sonwil Dr, Buffalo NY 14225 800-939-2520 • 716-206-0477 FAX www.colourtechusa.com

Newsletters

Direct Color Inc 3120 W 84 St Unit 6, Miami FL 33018 800-545-6698 • 305-819-3879 FAX www.direct-color.com

Custom House Publishers 6797 N High St Suite 213 Worthington OH 43085 888-493-7059 • 614-431-3324 FAX www.customhousepublishers.com

DPI, Digital Printers International 16200 NE 13th Ave North Miami Beach FL 33162 877-774-6847 • 305-947-7695 FAX www.dpibizcards.com

DPI, Digital Printers International 16200 NE 13th Ave North Miami Beach FL 33162 877-774-6847 • 305-947-7695 FAX www.dpibizcards.com

expresscopy.com 6623 NE 59th Place, Portland OR 97218 866-397-2679 • 503-234-5562 FAX www.pulsemailing.com

Gooder Group 2724 Dorr Ave Suite 103, Fairfax VA 22150 703-698-7750 • 703-698-8597 FAX www.goodergroup.com

Harris Printers 3320 W Vernon Avenue Phoenix AZ 85009 800-258-7746 • 800-316-2379 FAX www.harrisprinters.com

Nostalgic America Inc 100 E King St, Edenton NC 27932 888-212-0207 • 800-214-2434 FAX www.nostalgicamerica.com

Lentz Design Postcards 21605 Tiffany Court, Kildeer IL 60047 800-773-0095 www.lentzdesign.com

Planner Systems 320 108th Ave NE, Suite 520 Bellevue WA 98004 800-752-6448 • 800-243-1390 FAX www.plannersystems.com

The Personal Marketing Company 11843 W 83rd Terrace, Lenexa KS 66214 800-458-8245 • 800-234-9423 FAX www.tpmco.com

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The CD Guys 566 Mainstream Dr, Suite 500 Nashville TN 37228 888-448-6410 • 888-448-4393 FAX www.thecdguys.com

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directory

Experience the BEST! Test Drive the RealBiz360 Virtual Tour with Only the RealBiz360 High-Definition Virtual Tour with HD Zoom™ delivers an unparalleled experience in viewing, enabling buyers to see the “BIG” picture and ZOOM in to see fine detail.

Magnetic Attractions 2700 Angier Ave, Durham NC 27703 800-421-3251 • 919-598-3996 FAX www.magneticattractions.com Sutter’s Mill Specialties 2249 W Fairmont Dr Suite 2, Tempe AZ 85282 800-824-0594 • 602-437-5551 FAX www.suttersmill.com

Signs 1-800-THE-SIGN 2381 Griffin Rd, Fort Lauderdale FL 33312 800-843-7446 • 954-989-9099 FAX www.1800thesign.com Aztec Marking Company 601 Wilbeck Dr, South Hutchinson KS 67505 800-835-2548 • 800-321-7265 FAX www.aztecsigns.com Britt Kennedy Signs Inc 100 E Chestnut St, Amite LA 70422 800-535-5680 • 985-718-6246 FAX www.brittkennedysigns.com

Create Virtual Tours the way you

want them! Stills, 180º and 360º Panoramas, 360ºx360º Fisheye or Slideshows – all with the power of High-Definition ZOOM!

Virtual Tour Marketing System

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www.realbiz360.com

Dee Sign Company 6163 Allen Rd, West Chester OH 45069 800-333-7446 • 513-779-3344 FAX www.deesigncompany.com

Power Broker Printing 1498 NW 3rd St, Deerfield Beach FL 33442 888-453-4820 • 954-247-0084 FAX www.powerbrokerprinting.com

Planner Systems 320 108th Ave NE, Suite 520 Bellevue WA 98004 800-752-6448 • 800-243-1390 FAX www.plannersystems.com

Resulti.com 13750 Ventura Boulevard, Suite 206 Sherman Oaks CA 91423 www.resulti.com

Postcards 4 You 6 East Main St, Wentzville MO 63385 888-458-3400 • 636-639-3002 FAX www.postcards4you.com

Lowen Sign Company 1302 N Grand St, Hutchinson KS 67501 800-545-5505 • 800-846-4466 FAX www.lowensign.com

Sellsmart 3400 E McDowell Rd, Phoenix AZ 85008 800-522-0852 • 800-522-8329 FAX www.sellsmart.com

Power Broker Printing 1498 NW 3rd St, Deerfield Beach FL 33442 888-453-4820 • 954-247-0084 FAX www.powerbrokerprinting.com

Oakley Signs & Graphics 3497 All American Blvd, Orlando FL 32810 800-373-5330 • 407-581-2148 FAX www.oakleysign.com

TrueWire 1880 Industrial Circle, Suite D Longmont CO 80501 800-499-9612 • 303-774-7160 FAX www.truewire.com

QuantumMail.com P O Box 140825, Austin TX 78714 800-637-7373 • 512-837-2777 FAX www.quantummail.com

Reichert’s Signs Inc 150 E Stevens Ave, Santa Ana CA 92707 800-513-9199 • 714-513-9192 FAX www.rsisigns.com

See display ad on p. 55

Premiums & Incentives

Postcards

Beach House Logos PO Box 204, Pittstown NJ 08867 866-232-2402 • 908-713-0945 FAX www.beachhouselogos.com

Superior Real Estate Supply 20805 N 19th Ave Suite 11, Phoenix AZ 85027 800-234-0095 • 623-516-9209 FAX www.erealtysupply.com

Beyondee Corporation 2730 Monterey St, Suite 107 Torrance CA 90503 877-333-9988 • 310-212-5990 FAX www.beyondee.com

RB360_SQ.qxd

E state

Excel Sign & Decal 1485 N Milpitas Blvd, Milpitas CA 95035 800-747-0445 • 408-942-6928 FAX www.excelteam.net

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Technology

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directory

Real Edge Inc 446 S Anaheim Hills Rd Suite 212 Anaheim CA 92807 800-848-3343 • 714-844-4811 FAX www.realedge.com

VisualTour.com 10235 West Sample Road, Suite 200 Coral Springs FL 33065 800-873-0700 • 954-345-9703 FAX www.visualtour.com

Multimedia

Transaction Management

Gateway 7565 Irvine Center Dr, Irvine CA 92618 888-888-1094 www.gateway.com

Floorplanonline SM P O Box 1782, Issaquah WA 98027 866-810-3816 • 206-260-3155 FAX www.floorplanonline.net

TransactionDesk 1105 Lorrain Street Austin TX 78703 800-668-8768 • 800-533-2230 FAX www.transactiondesk.com

Hewlett-Packard 3000 Hanover St, Palo Alto CA 94304 800-888-8177 www.hp.com/go/realestate

Imprev Inc P O Box 53346, Bellevue WA 98015 800-809-3356 • 425-458-4801 FAX www.imprev.com

Lenovo 9229 Delegates Row, Indianapolis IN 46240 800-426-7235 ext 3887 www.ibm.com/businesscenter/nar

RealtyComposer 269 Mt Hermon Rd Suite 200 Scotts Valley CA 95066 831-440-9044 • 831-440-9050 FAX www.realtycomposer.com

Computer Hardware Dell Inc One Dell Way, Round Rock TX 78682 877-648-3355 www.dell.com

Office Depot 2200 Old Germantown Rd Delray Beach FL 33445 800-463-3768 • 800-685-5010 FAX www.officedepot.com

Mapping Aerials Express LLC 7855 S River Pkwy Suite 205 Tempe AZ 85284 888-482-2336 • 480-777-9966 FAX www.aerials-express.com AirphotoUSA 7122 N 27th Ave, Phoenix AZ 85051 866-278-2378 • 602-864-3420 FAX www.airphotousa.com Dolph Map Company 430 North Federal Hwy Fort Lauderdale FL 33301 800-877-3649 • 954-763-3518 FAX www.dolphmap.com

Lifestyle Media Inc 131 Dummer St Suite C Brookline MA 02446 877-314-1889 • 416-977-5365 FAX www.realestate.lifestylemedia.ca

Training REIS Innovations Technology Training Real Estate Industry Solutions LLC c/o Florida Association of Realtors® 7025 Augusta National Dr, Orlando FL 32822 888-784-5404 www.reisinnovations.com See display ad on p. 23

Virtual Tours CirclePix.com 1159 South 800 East, Orem UT 84097 877-390-6630 • 801-818-2749 FAX www.circlepix.com

Geojet E-Mapping 910 7th Ave SW, Suite 740 Calgary Alberta T2P 3N8 CANADA 866-243-6538 • 403-262-7861 FAX www.e-mapping.com

Obeo 57 West 200 South, Suite 550 Salt Lake City UT 84101 800-729-6236 • 801-524-9848 FAX www.360house.com

iMapp Inc 5660 W Cypress St Suite H, Tampa FL 33607 888-462-7701 • 813-289-3035 FAX www.imapp.com

RealBiz360 14175 W Indian School Road Suite B4-613 Goodyear AZ 85338 888-732-5249 • 888-276-4494 FAX www.realbiz360.com

Mapmuse Inc 1326 14th St NW, Washington DC 20005 202-387-3857 • 202-387-3245 FAX www.mapmuse.com Offutt Systems Inc 405 Pomona Dr, Greensboro NC 27407 800-334-0831 • 336-547-2723 FAX www.getoffutt.com 58

The Real Estate Solutions Guide 2007

See display ad on p. 57

Real Tour Vision 160 E State St, Suite 103 Traverse City MI 49684 866-947-8687 • 231-947-4248 FAX www.realtourvision.com

See display ad on p. 31

Web Sites a la mode 800-252-6633 www.alamode.com See display ad on p. 16 & 17

Advanced Access 8101 East Kaiser Blvd, Suite 300 Anaheim CA 92808 800-902-4653 • 714-923-1950 FAX www.advancedaccess.com See display ad on Inside Back Cover

CyberSunshine Inc 12811 Kenwood Ln, Suite 105 Fort Myers FL 33907 239-949-0012 • 614-573-7180 FAX www.cybersunshine.com EasyRealtySites.com 4414 NW 69th St Gainesville FL 32606 888-693-2797 ext 801 • 888-693-2797 www.easyrealtysites.com Homes.com 866-500-857 • 866-600-5857 FAX www.homes.com See display ad on p. 12

iHouse Web Solutions 2030 Franklin St, Suite 500 Oakland CA 94612 866-645-7702 • 530-753-7033 FAX wwwihouseweb.com Myers Internet 2160 Lundy Avenue, Suite 128 San Jose CA 95131 800-693-7730 • 408-425-9961 FAX www.myers.com Pullan Communications 10680 West Pico Blvd, Suite 250 Los Angeles CA 90064 866-578-5526 • 310-945-2029 FAX www.pullan.com

advertisers index of

Successful Realtors® know that using the right tools can make all the difference in enhancing productivity and achieving sales success. When looking for products and services consider contacting the advertisers listed below. When contacting these companies, let them know you found them in The Real Estate Solutions Guide.

Advertiser Telephone Internet Page No. a la mode Inc............................................................800-252-6633.......................................www.alamode.com........................................................ 16, 17 Advanced Access......................................................800-335-1563.......................................www.AdvancedAccess.com..........................Inside Back Cover American Home Mortgage........................................Call the location nearest you...................www.americanhm.com........................................................ 11 Homes.com..............................................................866-500-5857.......................................www.homes.com................................................................ 12 Keller Williams..........................................................727-216-8232.......................................www.kwopportunity.com..................................................... 13 Olde Marco Mortgage...............................................877-389-3501.......................................www.IncreaseYourFairShare.com ....................................... 33 RE/MAX....................................................................407-829-7303.......................................www.remax-florida.com........................................................ 5 RealBiz360.............................................................................................................................www.realbiz360.com........................................................... 57 Realfast....................................................................800-571-0277.......................................www.realfast.com....................................... Inside Front Cover Realty Executives......................................................888-540-5300.......................................www.realtyexecutives.com.................................................. 45 Realty World.............................................................800-839-0708.......................................www.RWAGroupInc.com...................................................... 39 REO Advisors Inc.......................................................800-753-3557.......................................www.reoadvisors.com......................................................... 57 Sellstate Realty Systems Network.............................866-661-3847.......................................www.sellstate.com.............................................................. 25 Technology Training..................................................888-784-5404.......................................www.reisinnovations.com.................................................... 23 The Real Estate Book................................................800-643-1174.......................................www.RealEstateBook.com......................................Back Cover Transaction Desk......................................................800-668-8768.......................................www.transactiondesk.com.................................................. 31 TrueForms................................................................800-499-9612.......................................www.TrueForms.com........................................................... 53 TrueWire...................................................................800-499-9612.......................................www.TrueWire.com............................................................. 55 Two Men And A Truck................................................Call the location nearest you...................www.twomenandatruck.com............................................... 44 Washington Mutual...................................................888-926-8536.......................................www.WaMuHomeLoans.com................................................. 1 ZipForm....................................................................866-627-4729.......................................www.zipform.com/brokers.................................................. 10

For more information on advertising, please call Joseph Bono at (407) 438-1400, ext. 2327

Broker Challenges (continued from page 45)

various online sources. Introduced in January 2005, the National Association of R ealtors’ Messenger service (which is free to members) uses voice synthesis to convert consumer queries received from real estate Web sites into voice messages, which are then sent to a subscribing member’s cell phone based on geographic information. NAR members may download the software at no charge. Other options include Most Home Corp.’s ClientBuilder, which helps brokers attract more traffic to their Web sites, then tracks the leads generated from the time of capture up until closing; Wolfnet Technologies’ lead-management and -tracking system; BirdView’s BirdTalk centralized lead-management platform; Reply! Inc.’s lead-validation program (which reviews, qualifies and validates all leads); and Katabat’s leadgeneration, lead-management and Web site solutions.

Challenge 8: Manage the transaction online.

Online transaction-management systems are electronic applications accessed through the Internet that help brokers and sales associates manage the information and communications that comprise a real estate transaction. Such systems were defined in a 2005 Clareity report on the state of the transaction-management industry as “an online platform and tool that supports (the following) basic functions as they relate to residential real estate brokerage transactions: • task to-do tracking and management, • digital document management, • participant setup and security, • communication, notification and logging, • service ordering and • t ransaction management (searching and reporting).” Brokers and sales associates have been watching these systems for some time, but many have been reluctant to implement them if only because transaction-management companies

have been frantically trying to integrate title companies, MLS systems, back-end accounting and other functions into the programs. It’s all starting to come together. “2005 was pretty instrumental in that a lot of the moving parts of the transaction have started to come together,” says Mike Lancaster, executive vice president of sales/client management for First American Residential Group in Irvine, Calif. “Integration is happening with back-end accounting systems and front-end lead-management systems. If you look back five or six years ago, it seemed like it would be an easy thing to bring to adoption, but it’s been a slow evolution.” Despite these tough challenges, Murray is optimistic about the future. “There are opportunities for brokers,” he says. “I believe the best days of the industry are still ahead of us, not behind us.” G.M. Filisko is a Chicago-based freelance writer.

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You... a project in the garage. She dutifully went room to room exploring all doors. When she opened what she thought was a linen closet at the end of the hallway, they saw the owners’ college-age son sitting stark naked on a toilet reading a magazine. “Everyone yelled at one time, including the young man,” says Trinque. “You never saw anyone close a door so fast!”

Laugh-Out-Loud Tales

illustration by james shepherd

Ready for a chuckle? Showings can be unpredictable and entertaining, as these tales from Florida sales associates reveal.

Coming Unhinged Pete McGlade’s sellers left town for the week, and friends were living aboard a boat tied at their Key Largo home’s dock. When McGlade, with RE/MAX Tropical Realty in Key Largo, arrived with buyers, he left them at the front door and went around back. “As I rounded the house, I saw a woman lounging on a folding beach chair,” he says. “I called out to her. She didn’t respond, [but] as I got closer, I could see she was wearing MP2 player headphones.” After spotting McGlade, the startled woman tried to jump up. “I could see she was wearing only a bikini bottom,” says McGlade. The folding chair partially collapsed, tangling her long blond hair in the hinges and causing her to fall back into a position where she was unable to untangle her hair, pull her 60

The Real Estate Solutions Guide 2007

body up out of the chair or rip off the headphones. She covered her torso with her hands, slumped back into the half-folded chair, laughing, and asked for help. “It took us a minute or so to get her hair out of the hinges and unfold the chair so she could roll out of it,” laughs McGlade. Her husband, who was on the boat, missed the entire incident. “As I finished showing the property, her husband came off the boat and asked if I had seen his wife,” says McGlade. “I answered, ‘Yes, as a matter of fact I have.’” Screaming Linens Ana Trinque, a broker-associate with RE/MAX Showcase in Brooksville, showed her buyer a house while the owners were home. The wife let them in while the husband worked on

Breathtaking Showing Jamie DiSalvatore, a sales associate with Realty Executives in Orlando, always arrives prepared for anything, but one recent showing gave her the shock of her life. While touring listings with an investor, DiSalvatore stopped at a downtown property that looked promising. DiSalvatore looked around the lower level while the buyer checked upstairs. Suddenly, the buyer yelled that there was a dead man in a room! Stunned and breathless from vaulting up the stairs, DiSalvatore peeked in the room, walked over to the man and put her hand on his chest. He was breathing! “He never woke up,” says DiSalvatore. “We tiptoed out of the room and left the house in a hurry!” A Broken Tale It’s a floor-time daydream—a couple walked in, Joan Crothers (now a sales associate with Wilson Realty in North Redington Beach) took them to her listing (in Pennsylvania, where she lived and worked at the time), and they wrote a contract on site. As though still dreaming, she “proceeded down an inclined driveway, turned to shake hands with the buyers and fell flat on my posterior,” says Crothers, who deduced that fresh sleet had formed a sheet of black ice on the driveway. “When paramedics placed me in the ambulance, I insisted they put my briefcase right by my side,” she says. Diagnosed with a broken tailbone, Crothers got a hospital nurse to dial the seller’s number, and the seller came to the hospital to sign the purchase agreement. “I then called my broker to let her know I truly ‘broke my butt’ on the sale!”