How to Handle Bad Reviews

What is the first thing a potential client does when looking for a real estate agent? If you answered "look for reviews" you're correct. So what do you do if you have bad reviews?

  1. Avoid being defensive. It's natural to have hurt feelings or want to retaliate when someone speaks poorly of your business. Avoid this reaction. Instead, do a little research.
  2. Google your name to see if there are any additional negative reviews about your practice. If you find a pattern, for example, multiple clients saying your staff is rude and unhelpful, you know where to start. If you only have one bad review, that's great news!
  3. Talk to anyone at your company who may have interacted with the unhappy client. It's possible a misunderstanding occurred or you have an unreasonable customer on your hands. Either way, it's best to know what you're up against before you respond.
  4. Now that you understand the problem, you're ready to respond. Make sure you respond to all reviews, both positive and negative, in a positive manner. When responding to bad reviews start by thanking the reviewer for their time and valuable input. Apologize for their poor experience without making excuses (yes, even if their complaint is unreasonable. This shows future customers you are dedicated to keeping your customers happy). Let them know how you plan to address the problem. The response below not only addresses client concerns, but also encourages the client to take the conversation off of a public platform, and shows potential customers your dedication to customer care.

Example: "Thank you for taking the time to provide us with feedback. We are very sorry you had a bad experience with our company. We are working with our staff to ensure we are able to provide top-quality customer service in the future. We would appreciate the opportunity to make things right with you, please call our office between 8am-5pm to discuss possible solutions."


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A Home for the Holidays

Nothing says holidays like having your family gathered in your home while you celebrate what’s important. Around this time each year, many homeowners decide to wait until after the holidays to list their houses. Similarly, others who already have their homes on the market remove their listings until the spring. Many sellers believe spring is the best time to put their home on the market because buyer demand traditionally increases at that time of year. What they don’t know is if every homeowner believes the same thing, everyone will list and buy at the same time and therefore encounter far more competition. According to NAR, the sweet spot for selling is November through January. Here are the top reasons why listing your clients house now (or keeping it on the market) may be the best choice they can make.

5 great reasons to tell your clients not to wait:

  1. Buyers at this time of year are serious. Purchasers who are looking for homes during the holidays are serious buyers and are ready to buy now. At this time of year, purchasers who are serious about buying a home will be in the marketplace. Your client and their family will not be bothered and inconvenienced by mere lookers. The lookers are at the mall or online doing their holiday shopping.
  2. The stage is set. Homes show better when decorated for the holidays. There is something about lights, bulbs and ornaments that make you want to cozy up and stay awhile.
  3. Prices are at a sweet spot. Over the past few months we’ve seen the supply of homes for sale decreasing year-over-year. Prices are projected to appreciate by 4.8% over the next year according to Corelogic. If your clients are moving to a higher priced home, it will wind up costing them more in both down payment and mortgage payment if they wait.
  4. The desire to own a home doesn’t stop during the holidays. Buyers who were unable to find their dream homes during the busy spring and summer months are still searching, and your client's home may be the answer. According to NAR, the median days on the market for a listing was only 33 days last month!
  5. Competition is low. The supply of listings increases substantially after the holidays. Also, in many parts of the country, new construction will continue to surge and reach new heights in 2020, which will lessen the demand for their house next year. Temperatures aren’t the only thing that heats up in the spring – so do listings! In 2018, listings increased from December to May. Don’t wait for these listings and the competition that comes with them to come to the market before your clients decide to list their house.

Freddie MacFannie Mae, and the Mortgage Bankers Association all believe homes sales will increase steadily over the next year. Real estate is impacted by the economy (and the consumer’s belief in the strength of the economy). The fact that most economic experts are calling for the recovery to continue through 2020 means the housing market will also remain strong for the foreseeable future. If you have a homeowner who has considered selling their house recently, let them know that now may be the best time to put it on the market.

 


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Tips and Tricks to Pass your Real Estate Exam

If you are like me, deciding to get your real estate license is a big deal. You’ve spent time looking for the best exam prep course for the best price and now you’re signed up to take your exam. You’ve circled the date on your calendar and the pre-test jitters are setting in. You have questions like “how much should I study? and "what should I study?” Every state's exam may be slightly different but the test taking skills you will need are universal. Here are some of the best exam taking tips to help you pass your exam.

Obviously the most important factor in passing the real estate exam is knowing the material. However, don't lose sight of the goal: passing the test! Learning is great but you can't use what you've learned if you don't pass.

  1. Start by only answering the easy questions. Read the entire exam and only answer the questions you absolutely know the answer to. This will give you a sense of progress and your subconscious will begin thinking about the questions you skipped. When you’ve got a timed test, there’s always the concern that you’ll get hung up in a section and not be able to finish the test. Don’t be one of those people--unanswered questions are marked wrong. Wouldn’t it be a shame if the last three questions on the test were easy ones— guaranteed points for you--but you wound up just having to fill in a random answer on them because you didn’t have time to actually read and think about them? By skipping through the questions you don’t know the answers to and focusing first on the questions you do know the answers to, you’re assuring yourself that you get time to answer the questions you are most likely to get right.
  2.  If you don't know it, wait. Skip questions if you don't know the answer--don't waste time on questions you don't know. For example, if math is difficult for you, skip the math problems until after you finish the rest of the exam. Occasionally, the answer to an earlier question will be revealed in a later question. It is not uncommon on the real estate license exam to have questions that relate to one another, like using the same purchase or sale scenario. These hidden answers are another reason why reading all the way through the exam once at the beginning is a great idea.
  3. Don't second guess yourself. As a general rule, once you've answered a test question, don't change your answer even if you're unsure of the answer you selected. It has been statistically proven that you are much more likely to change an answer from correct to incorrect. An easy way to get tripped up on the real estate licensing exam is to misinterpret an answer choice, thanks to complicated wording. Deceptive language is fair game on tests like this, so double-negatives, unrelated conclusions, or red herrings (especially in the math portion of the test) are common. Do your best to puzzle it out, but ultimately move on without answering if you estimate having to spend more than a minute thinking about the correct answer.
  4. There is no penalty for guessing. Once you have gone through the exam at least twice, time may be running short and now would be a good time to start guessing. The worst that can happen when you guess on a question is that you don’t get any point. The best thing that can happen though, is that you have a one in four shot at getting a point. Unanswered questions are marked wrong, and it is far better to take a chance on a wrong answer than eliminate any possibility of getting the correct answer. That being said, you can increase your odds by trying to make an educated guess--there is likely at least one answer that is obviously wrong, so don't guess blindly: read the question and answers first and choose the most likely answer.
  5. Don't compete with other applicants. You're given plenty of time to complete the exam and you should use as much of it as you need. Don't worry if other examinees finish before you do, most likely they are taking a completely different exam. All types of exams are given in one room. You may be sitting next to a plumber taking his exam or a beautician completing hers. If by chance, there is more than one real estate hopeful, remember that many students who finish quickly… fail.

Real estate licensing exams are pass/fail, there is no extra credit for a perfect score. If you’re like me, the allure of a perfect score on a test is hard to ignore, but in the case of the real estate licensing exam, we must. Remember, your goal is to answer the number of questions correctly that will get you a passing score. Use all your best energy to get to the passing threshold—anything beyond that doesn’t matter.

Bonus Tip: do as many practice real estate exam questions as you can. The test is multiple choice and you will perform MUCH better if you've been doing practice tests that mimic the exam. Use a trusted service like ours to prepare for the actual real estate exam.

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A Thriving Brokerage at Your Finger Tips

Brokers are driven. Of the fastest-growing real estate firms, 82 percent have a clear and focused vision for the company. Like any business in the real estate industry, brokerages must grow ahead of the communities they serve in order to flourish and profit. Growth is change and with change there is always risk. If you have your own brokerage, you’ve accepted the risk already. If risk makes you nervous, think about the larger risk of stagnation. There are plenty of business models out there so choosing one can be difficult. A good foundation for exponential growth in the real estate market is only a few steps away.

  1. Clients Come First: We need to behave like advisers, not salespeople. It’s our job to represent our clients, not coerce them into spending money. They’ve come to you because they’ve likely decided it’s time to make a move. Help them reach a decision. Of course, you should ask your clients lots of questions, but first try being quiet, listening and letting them talk about what they want and are willing to pay. Don’t rush them, but always call or email back quickly with useful information.
  2. Incentivize Your People and Delegate Responsibility: You and your fellow brokers are putting in long hours—52.7 hours per week on average, according to JP Morgan Chase Institute. One-third of your time is spent out of the office, meeting with clients, working from home, commuting, and traveling to other market areas. There is room to be more efficient. Leaders need lieutenants. If you grow, you’ll need someone to help you oversee your expanded business. Pick an agent in your office with the respect of his or her colleagues. Make them a senior associate, grant them responsibility and compensate them accordingly. A great incentive plan would be to hang a wall-sized map in your office. In blue, highlight municipalities where you commonly sell homes. In green, highlight where you want to expand. In red, circle neighborhoods where your agents rarely venture. If someone sold a house in a red zone, buy lunch for the office. Nothing fancy, but your agents will work hard to be the one everyone thanks for lunch.
  3. Research & Plan Your Marketing: Periodically analyze your brokerage’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Can you leverage your strengths to take advantage of opportunities? Are your weaknesses leaving you vulnerable to threats? Research and determine the most successful ways to improve sales and brand reputation. Measure against benchmarks when recruiting agents, spending on advertising, or testing new ad platforms, focusing on new geographic areas, investing in new technologies or other tactics. According to NAR’s 2017 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, 95 percent of all recent buyers used the internet at some point during the home search process. With this, you know your potential clients are looking at property online from their phones, so make sure your website meets those needs as you continue to grow your firm. Learn from your mistakes. If your marketing plan isn’t bearing fruit or your new ad campaign doesn’t improve your brand recognition, move on. Identify why it didn’t work and factor the answer into the next solution. Don’t be complacent. Be a problem solver, every day. Plan your day and work your plan.

 


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Colder Temperatures Cool Down the Colorado Real Estate Market

Over the past year or so, the media has deceivingly discussed the decline in the real estate market across the U.S. Will there be another 2008? Is another recession around the corner? While these words may instill some fear, that’s where the tall tale ends. Real estate projections in most of the nation all show steady continual opportunities. Most states, Colorado included, are seeing continued above average home sales for this chilly time of year.

After a 6 year long hot real estate market, it is to be expected that the market will cool down. The residential and commercial markets in general remain strong and agents are just now seeing properties remain on the market for longer. Coloradans have seen inventory increases and that’s resulted in increased price reductions and concessions. To put it simply, sellers can’t be as aggressive in their pricing strategy because the market is going from one (sometimes even less) homes per buyer to three or four. This increase gives buyers more options to choose from and less competition when putting in offers. After a heavy multiple offer scenario market, a cool down is a good thing.

Today, nine out of ten home buyers require financing to purchase property. Fortunately, interest rates are lower than this time last year. This dip in interest rates means that buyers shouldn’t just look at the sales price, but also factor in the cost of the loan. Buyers purchasing homes under $500,000 have some big advantages this time of year. Typically, November through February is a great time for buyers to purchase a home and more people should take advantage. Moving expenses are far lower and the power of negotiation and available choices have multiplied.

For agents, buyers and sellers, winter isn’t the easiest time for home showings because of the weather. For agents, this is a great occasion to spend time with family for the holidays and to complete your required continuing education.

This time of year can be stressful enough, completing your continuing education doesn’t have to be! With Real Estate Training Institute, you can stay in and use any internet enabled device to complete your courses.


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Michigan Broker Faces Charges for ‘Ponzi-type Scheme’

A civil lawsuit was filed against Viktor Gjonaj real estate broker and founder of the firm in question Imperium Group LLC, which collapsed in mid-August after he stopped going to work. No fewer than six lawsuits have been filed against Gjonaj in recent weeks in Oakland and Macomb counties alleging he owes nearly $5 million to a variety of investors and contractors.

A series of Michigan real estate deals that Gjonaj did in Macomb, Genesee and Montcalm counties over the course of the last few years alleges that Gjonaj doctored purchase agreements to make it appear to investors as if they were buying ownership interests in properties around the state, when in fact they were already owned by the plaintiffs, Krstovski and Masakowski.

One lawsuit filed in Oakland County in August states that a loan was made to Gjonaj totaling $1.5 million to buy the Monroe Center retail strip mall. In another complaint, Gjonaj is alleged to have secured a $2.475 million loan from another investor in exchange for membership interests in five limited liability companies, including two — Manchester Wilshire LLC and JVD I LLC — in which neither Gjonaj or his companies had a membership interest, according to court documents.

Still another lawsuit claims Gjonaj hasn't paid for $197,000 worth of work on a $2.25 million mansion that was being built for him in Washington Township that was allegedly purchased with investor money.

Gjonaj’s response to the allegations at this time have been brief. He states that he “lacks knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief" on the veracity of some of the allegations in the August complaint, including: whether there truly was a Ponzi scheme; if Gjonaj has already left the country to avoid prosecution; and if he fraudulently altered (real estate) purchase documents in order to 'sell,' really defraud, unsuspecting investors, interests in those and other properties that did not exist or that Gjonaj did not own.

At this time the case has been brought before civil court and they are accepting additional complaints as they come in.

 


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Prevent Danger and Keep Yourself Safe!

Recently at an open house in southern California a real estate agent was attacked by a man posing as a prospective buyer. Unfortunately, this is the world we live in and therefore real estate agents must remain vigilant and prepared. Agent safety can be tough when your job requires you to perform independently. To avoid issues, agents should be proactive and take safety into their own hands. The first step to doing so is to understand that safety is your responsibility to yourself.

Recognize the Traits that Make You Vulnerable

Agents always want to look well put together and professional, however, there are a few safety issues that should be discussed. For example, do not wear expensive jewelry and if possible, leave your purse in the trunk of your vehicle. These small details can make all the difference when an attacker is deciding if you would make a good victim.

Respond, Don’t Ignore

Typically, agents are taught to be polite and accommodating, so they will often ignore signs that something is wrong.  Experts on agent safety emphasize the importance to listen to your instincts.  Many agents who have been assaulted, like the agent previously mentioned, ignored the client’s unusual behavior before the attack.

Reduce Your Chances of Becoming A Victim

Ask clients for identification. Establish a special form for clients that includes contact information and a copy of the ID or driver’s license. Meet clients in the office first. This will prevent clients from trying to harm you later, because they know someone else can identify them. When showing a client, a house, avoid walking ahead of them or getting into confined places, like basements, with them.

Take Responsibility—Learn Self Defense

Agents are exposed to danger on a regular basis when they’re doing their job, and even more so for those who are not professionally trained to defend themselves. We know it’s rarely possible to have another trusted person accompany you while driving clients to showings or with you during every open house. That is why we created an online course for you to learn about personal safety and self-defense. We will help you plan ahead and make yourself a less appealing target. You will learn about safety responsibility, safety threats and safety measures to name a few. Remember the key is to let others know where you are, when you will be back and have an excuse to leave if ever you don’t feel comfortable with your circumstances.

These are just a few of the many valuable skills you will learn when taking Certified Training Institute’s Personal Safety and Self Defense 4 Hour CE Course. Real Estate Professionals: learn valuable safety skills and meet your continuing education requirements at the same time. Be prepared for the unexpected, visit Real Estate Training Institute, choose your State and take this class today!

 


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Falling in Love with Your Open Houses this Autumn

The beginning of autumn is like a breath of fresh air--a bit of relief from the offensive summer heat is more than welcome at this time of year. Real estate professionals can capitalize on buyers' eagerness to enjoy fall by bringing the best of the season into their open houses. By using the weather to your advantage and creating some seasonal charm, your open houses will be a hit!

Potential home buyers are likely to purchase a home before the holiday season gets in full swing--this means they will be more serious and ready to make an offer as soon as they find the right fit.  Here are some tips to planning a sensational autumn open house.

Up the Curb Appeal

Set the tone the second interested buyers walk up with a festive fall wreath and doormat. It’s an easy way to add color and style to the front entry, which is great for curb appeal. A doormat invites people in and can add a touch of personality. Bonus: the doormat can also help keep the floors clean.

Focus on Lighting

Lighting can be just as important during an open house as it is in your real estate photographs. Make sure any exterior lighting is working properly and utilize a mix of lamps and ceiling lights to create the perfect ambiance. Don’t go overboard with scented candles or similar items--some viewers may be allergic to the smell. To play it safe, look into electric candles or other lighting sources that can make your property glow without upsetting potential buyers.

Serve Seasonal Refreshments

Providing refreshments for an open house is an excellent, low cost way to incorporate fall touches into your open house. Think about pairing warm cookies with FAQ sheets on the neighborhood or hot cocoa next to a printed floor plan. This personal touch, while small, can make a big impact. Potential buyers will feel comfortable in the space and leave with all the information they need.

Add Autumn-Inspired Elements to the Decor

Continue the autumn theme throughout the house by adding touches of seasonal decor: fall-colored throw blankets and pillows on the couch, a pumpkin cookie jar and apple-cinnamon potpourri in the guest bathroom.

Open Up the Windows

Now is the best time of year when you can open the windows and let the crisp, clean air inside. If you have a fantastic view or outdoor living space, opening the doors and windows can also call attention to the features.

Hosting a memorable fall open house will rely on your ability to make potential buyers feel at home in the space. Create a cozy atmosphere by relying on little fall touches. Keep the inside of the property warm and incorporate subtle fall decor. To make the house even cozier, you can leave out a few fall activities for kids like coloring pages or word puzzles. Between the activities, the warmer temperatures, and any other fall touches, potential buyers will fall in love with the property.

 


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Why YOU Should Get Your Real Estate License In Texas

Recently, cities like Austin, Houston and San Antonio have become an alluring option for young Millennials who dream of owning their own home. Young people are looking to Texas’s vibrant culture and lively economy to set down roots.

It is projected that by 2050, Texas will have a population of 54.4 million. As people flood in, the Lone Star state will become more and more urban. With more than 400,000 new arrivals each year, current Texans now have a once in a lifetime opportunity to flourish in a growing real estate market. That means that YOU should consider a career in Texas real estate and cash in on this profitable and highly rewarding career.

Getting your real estate license in Texas is easier than you may think. The Real Estate Training Institute wants to help you fast track to your new career, and our new Texas pre-license course is ready to help you do just that. Our program is fully approved by the Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC), and it includes every subject you need in order to pass the licensing exam:

  • Law of Contracts
  • Law of Agency
  • Real Estate Finance
  • Promulgated Contract Forms
  • Principles of Real Estate I
  • Principles of Real Estate II

Making a career change can be nerve wracking, but a career in real estate is both rewarding and an opportunity to invest in your future. Our TREC approved courses are  a mix of video and text to help you study how you feel most comfortable. Additionally, our courses are available anywhere, anytime on any internet enabled device—making it simple and time effective to complete your pre-license education and get on the path to a rewarding new career today!

Two Real Estate Firms in Hot Water in Hawaii

 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has settled with both Century 21 Homefinders of Hawaii in Hilo, and Coldwell Banker Island Properties of Kahuhui, Maui for violating the federal Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). Collectively the companies have agreed to pay more than $26,000 in penalties for failing to provide proper lead-based paint disclosure to buyers and renters of homes built before 1978 in Maui and the Big Island.

The companies were cited under the TSCA’s lead-based paint disclosure rule, which applies to housing built before the residential use of lead-based paint was banned in 1978. The rule requires sellers and lessors of pre-1978 homes to provide prospective home buyers and tenants with a federal brochure about lead-based paint, any information known about lead-based paint in the home, and a warning statement about the potential dangers of lead-based paint. Buyers also have the option to inspect pre-1978 homes before becoming obligated to make a purchase. With this knowledge, potential home buyers and tenants can make informed decisions about whether to buy or rent a specific residence.

Century 21 Homefinders of Hawaii has agreed to pay a $6,962 penalty to settle alleged disclosure violations. Coldwell Banker Island Properties paid a $19,344 penalty in an earlier settlement. Both real estate companies have certified that they are presently in compliance.

High levels of lead in blood can cause permanent damage to the nervous system and widespread health problems, according to the EPA, including reduced intelligence and attention span, hearing loss, stunted growth, reading and learning problems, and behavioral difficulties. Young children with developing nervous systems are most vulnerable. “Reducing childhood lead exposure and addressing associated health impacts is a top priority for the EPA,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Mike Stoker in a news release. “These settlements protect Hawaii communities by ensuring that lead paint rules and regulations are followed.”

Click here to learn more about the Disclosure Rule.

 


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