Thursday, July 21, 2011
Is Social Media necessary for my business?
Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Tumblr, Reddit, Digg… there are so many social media and community websites online. More and more REALTORS® are spending time setting up and utilizing these sites to build their business. But is this really necessary?
The answer is maybe (of course!). Social media can be a great tool for communicating with your network, and keeping in touch with those you might not see that often. Plus, on sites like Facebook, users tend to post lots of details about their life. This can be a perfect opportunity for you to know when they might be looking for your services, e.g. a friend from high school posts that she’s pregnant; maybe they need to upgrade from their one bedroom condo to a house!
Social media is also a great platform for getting to know real estate related professionals, such as mortgage brokers or lawyers, who work in a particular area. You can pre-screen these professionals by following and interacting with them online, and see if you have a rapport. This can save you time meeting people face to face.
But REALTORS® do not sell real estate through social media. REALTORS® make connections and work on relationships through social media. To seal the deal, you need that face to face contact. You need to show those clients around, and be skilled in negotiation, contract writing, and other associated skills in order to make that deal work!
Also, realize that users of social media are overwhelmed with information when they log on. Most are not going to be interested in the latest market updates, mortgage information, or what you have listed, unless they are ready to buy. So keep your content 30% real estate and 70% real life! You’ll get more engagement, and build deeper relationships.
And remember, social media has only been around for a few years. Royal LePage REALTORS® have been selling real estate since 1913…
Social media does have its place, but don’t waste your time on it if you aren’t comfortable. It’s only a small part of your larger marketing plan. There are many other ways you can build and maintain relationships with your current and future clients.
Do you have an opinion or further questions? Don't hesitate to get in touch! Contact us by clicking here.
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
10 must-have skills for every entrepeneur!
This morning I read a brilliant article in the Globe and Mail, which I felt compelled to comment on. The article is titled "10 must-have skills for every entrepeneur!". Below I have listed the 10 skills from the article, and commented on how each relates to real estate. You can read the full Globe and Mail article by clicking here.
1. Be Persistent
Persistence is extremely important when starting in the real estate business. Unless you have a huge network of wealthy friends and family, chances are you’re going to have to work your butt off for the first couple of years. Be persistent in the key aspects of your business – innovating to get new business opportunities, following up with clients, getting open house opportunities, making professional connections, and so on.
2. Be Engaged
By engaging with colleagues, clients, and other professionals, you will convey the energy and persistence you carry in to your new business. With so many new agents joining the real estate business each year, it is important for you to make yourself stand out within your office and professional community.
3. Be Inclusive
Being inclusive is important, in that you should treat all of your clients and professional contacts with the same respect and professionalism. However, you should also be aware of clients who are not qualified. New agents often fall in to the trap of spending lots of time with buyers who cannot afford to purchase in the price range they have stated. Having a great relationship with a mortgage broker can fix this problem, as you can refer clients to get pre-approved before starting the home search!
4. Be Flexible
As with any new business, expect the unexpected! You’ll need to be flexible in doing any task the business throws at you. Accept that real estate is not a 9am – 5pm, Monday to Friday job, and that you will have to work evenings and weekends. Realize that no 2 days will ever be the same, and that a fixed schedule will be challenging to keep in the first couple of years.
5. Be Knowledgeable
Know your product, and know your market area. But also know the technicalities of the business. If a client asks you a question you don’t know, tell them you need to research the answer, and go ask someone. Never stop learning, and never stop wanting to learn. Real estate changes all the time and it’s important to keep up with those changes!
6. Be a Perceptive Communicator
Having top notch communication skills is one of the most important aspects for real estate success. If communication is not your strong point, then join Toastmasters! Learn to listen and to ask questions.
7. Be Resourceful
Learn how to learn! Learn where to find the answers to your questions. Bookmark http://realtorlink.ca, http://mlslink.mlxchange.com, and any resource websites for your chosen company. Know where your Professional Standards Manual and Applied Practical Class notes are. You will retain the information more if you read it yourself than if you continually just phone others to ask questions. That being said don’t be afraid to call your manager or colleague if you need clarifications!
8. Be a Builder of Professional Relationships
Relationships are probably the most important aspect of your business. Take the time to build good, solid relationships with real estate related professionals, such as mortgage brokers, home inspectors, lawyers, and notaries. In times of crisis, it pays to have these solid relationships to lean on. Plus there’s the opportunity for referral business!
9. Be Tight fisted with Cash Flow
Having enough financial backing before you embark on your new business venture is the best preparation you can make. You will have to spend money on marketing materials, training, and other business expenses. Making a budget and planning your expenses can help you manage your finances.
10. Be Able to Laugh at your Mistakes
No one comes in to this industry with all the answers of how to run a successful business. So don’t worry if you make mistakes! Just make sure you learn from them J
If you have any questions about getting started in the real estate industry, please do not hesitate to contact me by emailing email@example.com.
Monday, July 4, 2011
What can I do to prepare for my new career?
This is probably the question I am asked the most by people seeking information on a real estate career. There are a number of items you can work on while on course, so you are prepared to hit the ground running!
Criminal Record Check
As of July 22, 2011, all new applicants will have to supply a criminal record check, dated 90 days from the date of the license application. So this isn’t something you’re going to run out and do straight away, but definitely should be added to your ‘to do’ list once you have scheduled your exam. See my past blog post for information on Criminal Record Checks.
Compile your database
Most of your clients are initially going to come from your group of friends and family, or your ‘sphere of influence’. So get a pen or your computer, and get a list of all your friends, family, work colleagues, service providers (hairdresser, plumber, etc.), and anyone else you can think of. Add contact information, phone numbers, email addresses, etc., so when you go to contact them, all the information is there. Also think about where these people are in their lives, and whether buying or selling real estate is likely to be on their horizon. Will they be downsizing, upsizing, do they have kids going to university where there might be an investment opportunity, etc.
NOTE: you CANNOT solicit business before you have your license, so please DO NOT hand out business cards or tell people you can help them with their real estate needs. However, if it comes up in conversation, you can casually mention you’re taking your licensing course, and would love to help them out when you have your license…
Think about marketing
First, you’ll need to basics – business cards. There are companies that offer template cards to get you started (http://colourtech.com), or if you have a design eye, then you can make your own. This will just be a draft, as you’ll need to conform to the branding and marketing guidelines of your chosen real estate company.
You might also want to consider branding. Most agents tend to wait until they’re really going before tackling branding, and Royal LePage has lots of great templates for you to use if you’re not too design saavy! But if you have the time and expertise (or maybe have a friend who’s willing to help you out!), then why not start while you have the time. Consider feature sheets, just listed/just sold postcards, thank you cards, letterhead, etc. Again, watch for branding and marketing guidelines from your chosen real estate company.
You also want to think about strategy. Where are your clients going to come from? Do you have a huge group of friends and family, or do you need to think outside the box? Open houses are a great way to pick up potential buyers, but you might also want to consider joining a club, such as Toastmasters. There are business referral groups that accept real estate agents, but they are usually very difficult to get in to, given the number of real estate agents in Vancouver.
Get to know your market
Most REALTORS® choose an area or specialise in a type of dwelling (e.g. condos). So what is your market going to be? Which area do you want to base yourself in? Take time to decide; then learn everything there is to know about your area! Where are the schools, parks, shops, transit? What is the inventory like in the area? If you want to work Downtown, then start to learn about the various condo towers available; e.g. rental restrictions, parking situation, inventory, special assessments. Most of this information can be found online. Visit open houses, but be professional when asking questions. Don’t outstay your welcome or become an annoyance, especially if the REALTOR® is busy!
Start to speak real estate
Nothing beats reading about the current market, and discussing your ideas with friends, family, or other professionals. Be prepared to listen and learn!
Be financially prepared
Real estate, like any self-employed business, will take a toll on your finances. There is a number of start-up costs involved, plus you have to be prepared to go for a couple of months before making your first sale. Even then, you don’t get paid until the deal closes, so it could be a few more months! We recommend you have at least 1 year of living costs saved up, so you can throw yourself full time in to building your business without having the additional financial worry.
Should I get a job in a real estate office?
After ‘how can I prepare’, this is the next most asked question. My personal opinion is that it’s probably not worth it. If you apply for a job in a real estate office, it is likely that you only want a job for a few months, and most real estate companies are not really prepared to hire an administrative assistant on a temporary basis.
The other option is to be an assistant to a REALTOR®. There are 2 types of assistant – licensed and unlicensed. Licensed assistants work for the agent, usually helping out with buyers. An unlicensed assistant is an administrative assistant, and is limited in the scope of what they can do, as they are not licensed. Again, most REALTORS® don’t want to be hiring every few months. However, you might find short term contracts or someone who is looking for a licensed assistant, and will hire you unlicensed to train you.
It might be worth of you to look for a position that fits with your schedule, and it is possible that you will find something suitable, but I wouldn’t rely on this as a way to learn the industry.
Be ready to work hard
Real estate is NOT a 9-5 job. You will have to work evenings. You will have to work weekends. You need to be organizing to cover open houses. You need to be out meeting potential clients. You need to decide where and how to focus your business. We offer great support and training to help you be successful, but in the end it’s up to you!
Interested in how Royal LePage can help you get off to the best start? Or have a question about the article? Please contact Alison at 604-408-9311.
Monday, June 20, 2011
RECBC, CREA, BCREA, REBGV ~ Who are they and what do they do?
We can forgive those new to the industry for getting confused between the Council, the Board, CREA, BCREA, REBGV…. It took me a good while to get it all straight in my mind! Who are all these people and what do they do?! Here’s your handy guide to understanding the various organizations who manage and assist REALTORS®.
REAL ESTATE COUNCIL OF BRITISH COLUMBIA (RECBC)
The Real Estate Council of British Columbia, also known as The Real Estate Council or RECBC, is the provincial body in charge of licensing. Their mandate is “to protect the public interest by enforcing the licensing and licensee conduct requirements of the Real Estate Services Act” (RECBC website.) The Council processes and approves real estate, property management, and strata management licenses, and enforces any infractions under the Real Estate Act.
CANADIAN REAL ESTATE ASSOCIATION (CREA)
The Canadian Real Estate Association, or CREA, is the trade association that represents all REALTORS® across Canada. When you sign up as a member of the Real Estate Board (see below), you automatically have CREA membership. You are then obliged to work within the REALTOR® Code, which outlines the conduct and ethical guidelines within which you should practice your business.
BRITISH COLUMBIA REAL ESTATE ASSOCIATION (BCREA)
The British Columbia Real Estate Association, or BCREA, represents all REALTORS® in BC on provincial issues. The BCREA provides standard forms, continuing education requirements, economic research and analysis, as well as a communication network. They also run the Real Estate Trading Services Applied Practical Course, which all new REALTORS® in BC must complete within 6 months of being licensed.
REAL ESTATE BOARD OF GREATER VANCOUVER (REBGV)
The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver, also known as the Real Estate Board or REBGV, is a member run organization that represents the REALTORS® working in the Greater Vancouver area (including Whistler, Sea to Sky corridor, North and West Vancouver, Tri-Cities, Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows, Tsawwassen, Vancouver, Delta, Richmond, and Burnaby).
The Real Estate Board manages the MLXchange system for the region. It runs education courses, and technology training, to ensure REALTORS® are properly trained to serve their clients. It also represents members and the public interest in pertinent legislation.
All real estate representatives must be licensed through the Real Estate Council in BC. However, not all are members of CREA, BCREA, and the Real Estate Board. There are brokerages in the Vancouver area that are not affiliated with the Real Estate Board. These individuals cannot access the MLS system. They also cannot use REALTOR® as their official title, as CREA owns the REALTOR® trademark and only its members are allowed to use the trademark.
Hopefully this clears up the confusion! If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 604-408-9311.
Friday, June 10, 2011
Real Estate Council Criminal Record Check - Policy Change
Currently, the Real Estate Council performs criminal record checks for all new licensees. As of July 22, 2011, new applicants will have to provide a police check, which they obtain through their local police department. The original criminal record check must be submitted with the license application.
Does this apply to me?
If you fall in to one of the categories below, you must obtain a criminal record check:
- First-time licence applicants.
- Re-licence applicants (unlicensed for more than 90 days after licence expiry).
- Reinstatement licence applicants (those who have been unlicensed for more than 90 days within
- Director/officer or partner applicants who are not currently licenced or who have not been licensed or
registered as a director/officer or partner under the Real Estate Services Act in the last 90 days.
- Pre-screening applicants.
How do I get a police check?
You have to contact the police department for the municipality you live in. In most cases you take a couple of pieces of ID (with photo and address), pay your fee, and walk out with a Police Record Check. Here is the contact information for some local police departments:
Vancouver Police Department – information on their website.
Richmond RCMP – Call (604) 278-1212.
Burnaby RCMP – information on their website.
West Vancouver Police Department – information on their website (scroll down to the bottom of the page)
North Vancouver RCMP – Call (604) 985-1311
What if I have a criminal record?
If you have a previous record, you must get a Certified Criminal Record Check, which is obtained through finger printing. Contact your local police detachment for more information
Things to note:
- The Police Record Check must be dated within 90 days of the license application.
- You must submit the original copy of your Police Record Check
- You must provide the Police Record Check to your administrator to send along with your license application
Any other questions? Contact me at email@example.com