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Posts from the ‘AgentThink’ Category

10
Apr

What Does It Cost To Farm A Neighbourhood?

farming So you want to be a Realtor? Well most books you read out there will tell you that you need to farm a neighbourhood. Hey, I’m not saying that rule is written in stone because in this day and age you can prospect from your social groups or by targeting a particular age or demographic through tools like Facebook. But there are advantages to working one neighbourhood…especially one that you live in. Obviously you are familiar with it. People see you out and about (maybe with your dog) so there maybe some recognition. You go to the local stores and of course you tour properties in the vicinity to gain expert knowledge. Your geographic farm is only as big as you determine, but the realities are that the bigger the area, the more expensive it is to farm it and promote it. I like to tell new agents that you should target one or two buildings or about 500 homes before taking on more. So, last week we did a little noodling in our office about just how expensive farming can be. We outlined the action and the cost associated with it. Here’s what we came up with;

farm 2

farm 1

As you can see there is a healthy mix of the good old tried and true techniques that I believe should not be disqualified. They still work and provide the public with name recognition. They include newsletters, flyers, local paper ads, door knocking, cold calling. Add into the mix some ideas, like joining local BIA’s and neighbourhood committees, holding buyer or seller seminars and sponsoring kids teams and you have the making of a fairly substantial marketing program. On top of those more traditional approaches, social media has given the savvy realtor even more tools. Agents are creating neighbourhood channels, websites and Facebook groups, to speak with authority about what’s happening in the area. They are using video to promote local attractions and businesses and are tweeting out the latest gossip. They aren’t mentioning that they are Realtors right away though. It’s a round-about marketing technique that aims at gaining trust before asking for the business. It’s about proving to buyers and sellers that you are more dialed in to the nuances of the neighbourhood than the next guy.
You do all these things are for the sole purpose of networking (prospecting in real estate parlance). For the most part the things that you do take more time than money, but when you are starting off, you’ve got nothing but time.
Add it up and you have an idea on what it’s all going to cost you. About $20,000 per year. That falls in line with our company’s belief in spending about 10% of your earnings on marketing. The cost associated with the actions we came up with were based on actual costs that agents in my office spent and we tried to limit the size of the farm area to 1000 doors. Obviously there are some economies of scale in farming. For example, the cost to produce a video isn’t going to change depending on the size of your farm but the cost of gifts, newsletters and flyers will. There is one other factor to consider and that is location. A billboard in Rosedale (one of Toronto’s most affluent neighbourhoods) is going to cost a lot more than one in Kingston Ontario. Don’t let these numbers scare you. In a perfect world you would accomplish all this and more. For now though it’s important to recognize that some of the best things you can do is get out there and shake some hands. That’s the most cost-effective farming you can do!
Is there any downside to geographic farming? Sure. a Client you’ve taken out a bunch of times decides to look across town and thinking that you don’t know anything about it hires another agent. The best defense is a good offence so while you are out, let the clients know that you are familiar with all the neighbourhoods of the city.

mark mclean is the Broker/Manager at the Bosley Real Estate Queen St W office and President-Elect for the Toronto Real Estate Board. The opinions expressed here do not reflect the opinions of TREB or Bosley RE.

31
Mar

Client or Customer? If It Quacks Like A Duck…

duckWe all know it. In real estate there are differences between clients and customers. We learn these differences very early in our education and training. We talk about fiduciary duties, accounting, fair and honest service etcetera, but the reality is that often those lines get blurred and that puts us into a difficult situation. Case in point. An agent, lets call him Terry, gets a call on one of his listings. The couple want to look at it at 5pm on a Thursday. Terry is not available to show the property so he gives the lead to Fran, an agent in his office who often acts as a buyer agent for him. Fran meets the couple at the condo and shows them around. They spend a long time there and ask Fran a bunch of questions about the property such as, what closing are the sellers looking for, what is included and excluded, and what facilities are in the building. Fran is happy to answer their questions. After a few minutes, it is clear that this couple is very interested in the condo. They start asking more questions about past sales, additional parking costs, maintenance fees and reserve funds. Fran knows the building and answers their questions. Finally the couple tell Fran that they are prepared to make an offer. They want to know why the seller is selling, what the Seller is likely to accept, closing date, and how much commission the seller will be paying and what clauses they should include in their offer. Fran is no dummy. She advises the couple that the property is inline with past sales and is well priced but gives no details into motivation or details into the listing contract.
The couple tell Fran that their lawyer has advised them not to sign a BRA and that they should only enter into a customer agreement. They also feel that it is only fair that since they contacted the Selling agent directly they should only pay 1/2 the commission however they still want Fran to prepare the offer. So here is the crux of the situation. Fran, has treated them, for the most part, like clients. She has provided information and offered advice on the property before establishing what kind of relationship the couple wished to assume. This creates a problem for Fran. If something were to go wrong during the transaction the couple could hold Fran responsible. She has after all put herself into an implied client/buyer relationship. If she knew that the couple wanted only to be customers, her answers on most of the questions would have been much simpler…”Please have your lawyer direct his questions to the Sellers or the Sellers agent”. By doing so, she exonerates herself from any potential question of representation.
As to the comments about commission, the answer again is simple. “My firm has been retained by the sellers to market their property for sale. The details of that contract are confidential and do not impact the sale price”.
It is only human nature to want to help and that desire becomes stronger when there are dollar signs on the other side, but the pitfalls of taking too many assumptions can be equally devastating. The example above highlights the importance of that critical first interaction with a potential buyer who you meet through a direct call or even at an open house. The realities of the Toronto market are that buyers are looking for a price advantage, just don’t let your eagerness to make a deal cloud your judgement.

mark mclean is the Broker/Manager at the Bosley Real Estate Queen St W office and President-Elect for the Toronto Real Estate Board. The opinions expressed here do not reflect the opinions of TREB or Bosley RE.

27
Jan

When Bad Things Happen To Good Agents

karma babyRejected, scuttled, jilted and abandoned. These are just some of the words to describe that moment when life hands you a real estate loss. You know, that exact time when the client you’ve been working with for the past few months emails you to say…”hey we were out this weekend and walked into this amazing house AND well, we bought it…isn’t that great?”. Or how about “we were going to list with you but my boss’s wife is an agent and…”. Oh and my favourite (that’s happened to me twice in 2014) “We figured since you were a manager now you wouldn’t be able to help us, so we hired someone else”. Nothing, absolutely nothing, is worse than having to look that person in the eye and congratulate them even though you would rather kick them in the stomach. The reality is that these clients aren’t out to intentionally cause you harm (at least we hope so). They just weren’t thinking.

If you are a Realtor, I have just one thing to say…get used to it. After 25 years in the business, no one knows more than I do that there is no loyalty when it comes to saving a buck and no matter how good you are at staying connected, one of your clients is going to buy or sell a property without you. It’s how you recover that defines your career. Someone once told me that when you get bad news, you should take 24 hours to cool down. Formulate your response but keep it under your hat. The hotter you are the longer you need to cool down before you press send. I would be the first to admit that there are times when I don’t necessarily follow that very sage advice. When (and if) the sting subsides, find out what went wrong. Was it just a timing thing? Was the new agent at the right place at the right time? What did they say that sealed the deal? I believe it’s important to have that “exit interview” in order to learn from the experience. Maybe, if you acted quicker, you could have saved the deal.

So what can you do when you get that inevitable call? First and foremost…take a deep breath. This is only a minor setback. There is truth to the old saying, ‘what goes around comes around’. That basically means that one day you will be the guy that fluked into a deal that some other agent was hoping to close. So hold your head high and keep those clients in your data base. NAR reported that over 70% of home buyers and sellers never hear from their agents once the transaction closes. This is your hall pass to return the favour. Send them flowers, congratulate them on the purchase (or sale). Work that CRM like no one else. Trust me, nothing is as constant as change. Those clients will move again and when the time is right they will look to the person who has been by their side the whole time.

mark mclean is the Broker/Manager at the Bosley Real Estate Queen St W office and President-Elect for the Toronto Real Estate Board. The opinions expressed here do not reflect the opinions of TREB or Bosley RE.

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