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Posts from the ‘AgentThink’ Category

14
Feb

Video Use in Real Estate Sales And Marketing

video iconI like video. I’m a visual person, and maybe a bit lazy too. If I’m trying to do something around the house I will almost always see if there is a how to video first before I read ANYTHING. So it’s no surprise that video plays an important role in our company’s strategy and I wanted to share some of those successes here, if only to demonstrate how important video is becoming. For years our agents have done virtual home tours. There are any number of companies out there that will show up at a property, take some still shots, shoot some video, add some titles and stitch together a 2 minute clip that gets uploaded to our YouTube account. No fuss, no muss. On the Bosley Real Estate YouTube channel, those videos can generate 20-30 views and may hit 60 if we’re lucky. These videos also show up as attachments to agent’s listings on MLS and Realtor.ca and get a lot more views outside of YouTube.
Several years ago someone came up with the idea of shooting “lifestyle” videos. Conceptual in nature, these videos add a unique angle to the traditional home video by using actors to show what LIVING IN THE HOUSE is like. Cool idea. These videos have gained some success and have contributed to the house being sold. In fact some of our agents are using them quite successfully. Of course they are more expensive to produce and once the property is sold the video has limited appeal except as a tool to get other listings. Which begs the question, if a potential client says he wants a lifestyle video and the house is a dump, how are you going to back out of that one?
For our part, our video success has come from two sources. First we recognized that Bosley Real Estate has deep and long-lasting roots in the various communities in Toronto and so we were the best ones to talk about neighbourhoods. We created a video series called “Neighbourhood Navigators”. Currently we have 13 done and another 4 in post production. We also have one of the most experienced management teams and advice that is worthwhile and relevant so we created advice videos with topics like “Do I have to accept a full price offer on my home?”. These videos have responded to the statistics that are available. A 2013 Google Consumer Survey reports that 47% of RE researchers use YouTube to view video home tours, 21% use it to learn about neighbourhoods, 18% use it to learn about RE companies of agents, and 13% use it to watch “how to” and “advice” videos. With barely 9 months under our belts our success has been extraordinary. Check out a snapshot of or analytics. We were basically flatlining but the major jump happened the moment we published our first neighbourhood video in June of 2013. new Youtube analytics. Video continues to play an important role in our online presence too. On our new website we created a Neighbourhood Navigator and Advice page. Our agents are embedding the videos into their own websites and are reporting additional traffic. Of course we still have a lot more up our sleeve. Version 2 is coming out in a few months and will see some video content coming out in our app.
It is no surprise that video is an important tool for the real estate brokerage. In our fast paced, no time to read, life, video plays a critical role. We are also a big fan of agent videos as they give a consumer the chance to meet someone before they meet them face to face.

mark mclean is the Broker/Manager at the Bosley Real Estate Queen St W office.

12
Feb

Forget Professionalism. Lets Talk About The Real Estate Profession

broken recordIt’s starting to sound like a broken record. How many people have said that we need to promote “professionalism” in real estate? I’m perhaps a little guilty of it too, in fact it’s one of the reasons why I write this blog. I figure that if I write about mistakes some agents make, other agents might learn about the right way to work. I blog my meeting topics out and encourage other managers to engage their agents the way I hope I engage with mine. Trust me, it hasn’t come easily but blogging has definitely helped me be a better manager and Realtor. But (and there’s always a “but”) I propose that we stop talking about professionalism in real estate and start thinking about real estate as a profession. When we choose to believe that this is an skilled, caring, ethical and honest way to make a living, professionalism just kinda comes along for the ride. It’s a small tweek in thinking but a powerful one.

I think most would agree that we are fighting a losing battle trying to teach professionalism in an industry that has low barriers to entry. Sure, RECO, our governing body, has increased minimum education requirements for people wanting to take the courses, but more could be done. Last year RECO replaced the continuing education credit system with a 6 hour online update course along with two elective online courses. I get their logic. In fact I would be the first to agree that the 24 credit education system had its flaws. Do we need to study Feng Shui and different roof styles? Will that make us better Realtors? Does this help in consumer protection? Because, make no mistake, that’s what RECO is all about…looking after the consumer. A RECO-administered update at least keeps the content relevant and consistent and online learning is the way of the future. I’m just not convinced this was the right answer. It is, after all, a system that could be corrupted and abused.

Currently The Ontario Real Estate Association or OREA is the entity that delivers the real estate education program in Ontario on behalf of RECO. That course content, which took years to develop and fine tune, is owned by RECO as a result of a previous transfer from OREA. I believe that at some point RECO has designs on administering the courses directly. Some agents might think that might be a good thing as much of OREA’s income is generated by education. No more OREA would save us in dues, but I’m worried about what could happen next. RECO was established under the Real Estate and Business Brokers Act to, first and foremost, protect the public, but their acts of simplifying the process could have the opposite effect. In a time when the real estate transaction is getting more complicated, does it really make sense to make the courses easier and faster? It’s no surprise the Toronto Real Estate Board has nearly 40,000 members.

I’m concerned for our industry and while I don’t want to sound the alarm bells I believe it is important for real estate boards across Ontario to stop talking about professionalism and start promoting real estate as a profession. If doctors, lawyers, plumbers and mechanics take years to get their ticket, why aren’t we? Third party educators of additional accreditations like the ABR, SRS, SRES, ePRO have helped but I would also ask why prospective agents aren’t given standard aptitude tests before beginning the programs?

Here’s the other problem…when you talk to good, successful agents they say, either charge Realtors $5,000 a year to keep their memberships or have a minimum sales standard. In theory, that’s not a bad idea but real estate boards across the country, survive on membership. Think of it as belonging to a gym. The more members you have the cheaper the dues. As far as a minimum number of transactions…well I’m sure the Ministry of Labour would have something to say about that.

Thinking about real estate as a profession starts with a solid educational base. Let’s start by turning the licensing program into a three year curriculum where students need to get passing grades to move ahead. Let’s encourage designations, and solid in-class learning. Least we forget that this is an industry full of entrepreneurs. Brokers should be encouraged to provide more training and serious career counseling.

As a two-time past education committee member I believe OREA is the best organization to deliver a college level real estate program. As for me, I hope to continue to promote education, OREA and the real estate profession through my blog and in my role as director at the Toronto Real Estate Board.

mark mclean

11
Feb

Going For Real Estate Gold

going for real estate goldOk, I can’t help myself. I’m a sucker for the Olympics. I love the ceremonies, the interviews, the back stories, the performances, and the replays. Just like ABC’s Wide World of Sports I like the ” thrill of victory and the agony of defeat”. So, I’m using the Olympics as a metaphor for real estate. A bit of a stretch? Well maybe…. but here goes.

So let’s say your dream is to represent your country in speed skating. It’s not likely that your going to head over to your local rink and skate around for a few hours and expect to walk on to the Canadian team. It’s going to take a lot more time, training, dedication and practice to get anywhere near competition ready. In Malcolm Gladwell’s book The Outliers, he talks about how individuals achieve greatness. His research indicated that to be exceptional, you need to repeat (practice) whatever it is you want to be great at for a minimum of 10,000 hours. Greatness comes in all forms, athlete, businessman, scientist and dare we say it…. even realtor.

If Gladwell’s numbers are correct then the goal of real estate mastery is easily attainable. Consider this; 40 hours of work per week X 50 weeks a year X 5 years = 10,000 hours. Now you just need to figure out what to do in those 40 hour work weeks and do it every week for five years.

I asked my agents to come up with a list that would fill in that time. Here’s what we came up with, in no particular order; take continuing education classes, attend meetings, inspect properties, write blogs, make phone calls, read real estate news articles, door knock, write post cards, show houses, write offers, negotiate deals, attend home inspections, oversee just listed and just sold cards and make sure they get delivered, attend conferences, conduct buyer and seller interviews, prospect, take clients for lunch, buy presents for clients, write thank you and birthday cards, spend time building your social media network and post valuable information on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Pinterest, oversee floor plans, video productions …really, we’re just getting started here. How many things could you add to the list? So here’s an interesting thing. Look at the top agents in your office and you will find that they do nearly all of this. They’ve been doing it for years AND they are the best in the business. Are you surprised?

But before we get carried away, let me just say that there should be some caveats to Gladwell’s 10,000 hour rule. For instance, making cold calls for 10,000 hours isn’t going to make you a real estate expert. To really stand out you not only need to understand everything about real estate, you need to know how to use your knowledge to create success and wealth for your clients. The reality is that in real estate, you don’t need to be a rock star (unless you want to be). Simply being an expert may still require thousands of hours of “doing” real estate related things.

So, hunker down for the next few years. The hard work has its payoff just like any Olympic athlete who trains for years just for a chance to stand on the podium.

mark mclean

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