Realtor Resources; Real Help

Realtor Resource

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My husband has a tool in his tool belt that he swears he can’t live without called the multi-tool.  It has as wide a variety of uses as a Swiss Knife without all the bulky attachments and in his field as a handyman it has become invaluable in saving him time and getting things done just the way he wants them.  Real Estate Agents and busy Professionals have a tool like that available to them, which harnesses the power of technology allowing them to leverage time and get things done the way they want and need them.

The Virtual Assistant industry does away with the need to maintain offices and the attendant overhead associated while offering the best of both worlds.  Factor in technology and these services don’t necessarily need to be locally offered.  Outsourcing can be done quite successfully right here in the States without state boundaries being a limitation.  GhostbloggerMarie caught up with Michelle Anatasio, owner of  CT Virtual Assistance LLC  for an open discussion about the many benefits a Virtual Assistant provides the savvy Professional.

My company specializes in offering a range of virtual assistant, marketing consulting and concierge solutions to busy professionals, entrepreneurs and small businesses.  Our administrative, creative and technical services can be ongoing or per project basis.    I believe that we are offering affordable solutions and customized alternatives to the need to hire and fund in-house administrative, creative or technical staff.  Our services can be packaged or available a la carte.  We maintain some flexibility in order to meet the need of the client” Michelle shared.

As a value addition to most business models there are three main courses an offsite Virtual Assistant brings to the table:

1)     Relieving clients of tedious administration tasks so they can focus their attention on growing their business

2)     Substantial financial savings

  1. eliminating the costs of onsite staffing
  2. minimizing the need for equipment including repair/maintenance costs
  3. minimizing or even eliminating acquisition and storage of office supplies

3)     Clients receive greater flexibility and reliability for increased productivity when working with  a Virtual Assistant service company

Thought you couldn’t afford the help you need?  You may be very pleasantly surprised to discover that you can indeed afford and receive the help that will free you to pursue greater business growth with a Virtual Assistant corralling those administrative tasks that steal so much of your time.

Your comments and thoughts on this subject are welcome!  

Follow this link for more  information about Virtual Assistance and Michelle Anastasio.

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1 Very good reason all Real Estate Agents should be blogging

Real estate is all about RELATIONSHIPS.  One on one getting to know all about you relating to another human being on an intimate level kind of relationship.  How do you build relationships in a world that’s all about technology?  When everything is online even if you are online how do you make that personal?  How do you share enough with online connections that will turn into personal face to face connections?  Social Media is the general answer, but isn’t there something more specific?  Sure, you can build a following one status update, one tweet at a time, but that is going to take you as long as it used to take agents who made the rounds door to door in their “farm” areas back in the day.

So what is the answer?  Is there a way to engage your audience that isn’t limited to 140 characters, that allows interaction based on meaningful dialog you’ve initiated?  CIO makes an interesting observation in a recent article they wrote about content concerning a magazine John Deere started back in the 1800’s to engage their potential customers and ultimately brand themselves as the supplier of Tractors and farm equipment.   I think they did a pretty good job of it, and I believe the blog as platform on Social Media sites does that same good job for Realtors.

By including a Blog on your website, clients can not only access your site to search for homes, which they can also get on plenty of other sites, but through the blog they can also get personal information, interact with you for questions and answers and by your posts, get to know you personally.  The blog also serves as an excellent SEO tool, as search engines LOVE fresh content and new information.

If you are like most Realtors the majority of your time is best spent out in the market place rather than behind a computer screen.  Although you certainly should contribute personally to your Social Media, a blog about things your potential clients will be interested in doesn’t have to be written by you personally to engage visitors to your site. There are content providers available who provide this service for the busy professionals who haven’t the time themselves.

GhostbloggerMarie provides fresh and relevant blog content, ghost written by this former Realtor and posted to your site under your byline.  Contact me today and start posting fresh, dynamic blog content in as little as one week regularly to your Social Media sites.

CIO article about content

Ego Balance

ego balanceEGO:  the very thing you absolutely NEED in order to drive you to success and the very thing that will trip you up and cause you to FAIL.  Balance makes the difference.  A balanced ego makes a WINNER.

I certainly don’t always get this right, but once in a while I manage to turn a weakness into a strength, balancing my ego rather than letting it defeat me.  Let me show you what I mean.

When I first began selling Real Estate in 1991 out in Marysville, Washington I found the design of the streets of extreme concern.  I have a natural lack concerning sense of direction, and whoever designed the streets had a lack of continuity problem (apparent to me anyway!).  A street would start in one area then stop with no rhyme or reason that I could fathom and begin again several blocks away and not necessarily in a straight line.  One section here, another section starting again two or three streets over with no way to get straight through.  Needless to say, and in spite of a very good Thomas Map system, I often found myself wandering in search of whatever home for sale I was attempting to show my client.  (This all took place as I said in 1991 – no GPS was readily available and we didn’t even have the MLS system online at this time.  We looked addresses up in books and called to see if it were still for sale.)

I could have insisted on “being in charge”  which would have ended disastrously thereby allowing ego to  trip me up and bring failure.  Instead in this instance, my ego was in balance and I was able to turn this weakness to strength by PUTTING CLIENTS IN CHARGE OF NAVIGATING to the homes we were viewing.  This not only covered my inability in the area of directional functioning, but drew clients into the process, empowering them and ultimately earning me a good reputation as an Agent people wanted to refer others to.

A strong sense of self, a strong desire for success; ego drives these motivations.  A strong ego draws others to you at first, but left unchecked, it can also cause you to drive right over others, wounding them and leaving them anxious to get away from you.

Now, I am no psychiatrist but just a humble people observer.  In my observations I’ve managed to get my ego out of the way just often enough to learn one or two things about people.  One of the things I’ve learned is that we all need helpful little reminders along the way in the path of life.  What observations have you made about ego that have helped or enhanced your business experiences?  Comment and share those below so we can all get our egos a bit more balanced.

GhostbloggerMarie shares observations about Real Estate and business in general.  Subscribe using the widget at the top right of the posts and get articles like this one delivered right to your email inbox once or twice a week.  Interaction is encouraged and appreciated.  Your comments are always welcome!  Thanks for stopping by and come again real soon.

A Broadened Narrow View

BROADEN YOUR VIEW BEFORE YOU NARROW YOUR THINKING.

GhostbloggerMarie sees two distinct ways this sentence can be applied.  (There may be many more, I’m hoping you’ll share others!  Be certain to let us know in the comment section below!)

1.  Narrow thinking may keep you from seeing the fullness of a subject matter.  Take a look at the bigger picture.

2.  Business application:  Take a look at the whole picture before you choose the niche you want to serve.  Seeing the whole field can help choose the small part you’ll have the greater success with.

A simple weekend exercise to keep our muscles flexed for Monday.narrow path

Your turn…..

Ethics and the Real Estate Agent

One or possibly two of the misconceptions the public has about Real Estate Agents may actually be based on a little piece of truth, along the lines of  ‘one bad apple makes the whole barrel look rotten’ kind of thing.   Agents take heart – for the general public isn’t so easily fooled and most Agents give them very good reason to see how great the difference and how few and far between those bad apples are.  When I first became a Realtor in 1991 I was proud of  the  Code of Ethics  provided by the National Association of Realtors.  It holds the entire Industry to a high standard the public can appreciate and I believe it also fosters a race to excellence skunksamong the great majority of Agents!  So why do those images of Agents as “skunks” continue to persist?

To some degree that misguided public perception continues precisely because of articles such as these two I’ve highlighted here.  These two headlines are real and are actually taken from stories advocating that Home Buyers and Sellers run from agents, but only after using the agent to find the house they want or gain the information they need.

“Why the Buyer doesn’t seem to trust you.”

Could it be because they are getting bone headed advice like this article goes on to give them?  The writer of this article goes on to claim Agents are no more than self serving lieing scum who will say and do anything and cheat anyone to get a transaction closed so they can collect their commission no matter who gets hurt or used in the process and with no thought for anything or anyone else outside their own narrow selfish interests.

And then this encouraging, happy headline:

“Why You Can’t Trust Real Estate Agents When Buying A House.”

by ________________ (I’m saving this soul from getting hate email by blocking his/her name!)

I should point out however that real estate agents are normally quite useful during the search since they often know more than you do about the general real estate and can get you access to private showings. The other big benefit is their access to sale price information for similar houses.
It’s important to know the market so that you don’t have to rely on the asking price or your agent to tell you the proper market value of the house.

(Italics are the EXACT QUOTE).

After the insulting comment that agents are useful, this boneheaded article goes on to tell you how to use, then dump an agent so they work for you but don’t get paid for their efforts.  Articles like these two which were published online in January of 2013 make my blood boil.  Sure, there may be some unethical agents but they are not the norm!

We cannot regulate everyone’s behavior in this industry since all Agents are by definition Independent Contractors.  We can, however, continue to work together to dispel this false image of the Agent as blood sucking scum.  Almost every agent I know or have met in my years of practice were wonderful, warm and caring people dedicated to helping others find happiness in the home of their dreams.  At the worst those who fumbled a transaction did so out of inexperience rather than malicious intent.  The very nature of the Real Estate transaction dictates the necessity of objective third parties to represent the best interest of the selling and buying parties.

Thank goodness the majority of the public see’s past this kind of crass article as well and recognizes the worth and value of having a knowledgeable source of information working on your behalf during what is often a stressful and emotionally charged time in one’s life.   And shame shame on those who tarnish an entire industry with a brush stroke of such false color.

When was the last time you, the Agent read the Code of Ethics?   It really is  worthy of a fresh reading even if you are not a member of the NAR. Click the link in the article above for a PDF copy.   For the record, this ghost blogger is no longer an active agent or active member of the NAR.  I remain active on the fringes of the Industry, writing articles about Real Estate, and providing blog content for Real Estate Agents to publish on their web and Social Media sites.  The opinions expressed here are my own.  You are welcome to comment and add your opinions as well as share this article with others you think will find it interesting reading.  Subscribe to this blog for updates delivered direct to your inbox once or twice a week.  Thanks for joining in!

*@#^% & other words…

bleep Cussing, curse words, swear words – things like f**k, s**t, G**D**n and so on, you all know just what I’m talking about.  Are they appropriate in the workplace?  Are they appropriate for business use?  In my opinion words of that nature used routinely by someone simply make that person sound illiterate, uneducated and low class.  I still find it shocking to hear and lately read words of that ilk spewed out as commonly throughout a conversation, discussion, discourse or BLOG and especially in the context of a business discussion as words such as THE, OF, AND, FOR.

Some may think I’m prudish, others may think it’s some weird “religious” stand.  It isn’t.  It is simple courtesy, a showing of decency and respect.  These kinds of words carry a certain veneer to them.  A trashy, contemptible sort of veneer in my opinion.  I find it downright rude and embarrassing both to me and the person speaking (or writing as the case may be)  in that manner particularly in a business setting.

Do I sound too much like Paula Prim of the Etiquette Society?  Am I the only one who finds it offensive to be addressed by such gutter, trashy street style lingo in a business arena?  And for some reason, it all sounds so much WORSE when coming from the mouth or keyboard of a female.  What ever happened to being a LADY?more bleep

These kinds of words don’t make anyone tough or one of the guys, or hip or trendy, not in my opinion.  They only make you uncouth.  Undesirable.  Dagnabbit carries as much weight when said forcefully yet somehow manages not to make any ears burn or stomachs churn.

I’ve been in love with words since I was a very young girl.  I talked extremely early and according to my family I haven’t shut up since.  I read the dictionary FOR FUN as a preteen.  Words impact.  Words inspire.  Words lift up and words cast down.  Words change people.  Words wound people.  Words heal people. WORDS are a powerful force and for that reason should not be treated lightly and most certainly should not be picked out of the gutter and brought into our lives if we can help it.  An occasional “slip of the tongue” besets us all at one time or another (Ghostblogger has been guilty of “potty mouth”) but I firmly believe and am happy to share my opinion with all:

FILTH  BELONGS  IN  THE  GARBAGE  AND  THAT  INCLUDES  WORDS  OF  QUESTIONABLE  CHARACTER.kid bleep

IT  MIGHT  SEEM  “CUTE”  AT  THE  TIME  BUT  POTTY  MOUTH  IN  A  CHILD  RESULTS  IN  FILTHY  MOUTHED  ADULTS.

Just sayin”

As always, you are welcome to share your opinion by commenting below.  You are welcome to share this blog by clicking on the appropriate buttons.  You are welcome to disagree with GhostbloggerMarie, but I will delete any expletives that I deem disrespectful.  Happy Monday all.  

 

Time for Realtors to think PAY RAISE?

It has always amazed me that Real Estate Agents essentially perform a great deal of work related activities for free.  As a consumer and home buyer I wondered “how did they afford it”?  After I became a licensed Agent in 1991 that question haunted me as I attempted to get my business off the ground while sustaining my home as a single Mom caring for my three sons, pay the Office fees required by the franchise I associated with and keep my vehicle full of gas, which was about $1 something a gallon back then, so I could drive potential buying clients all over creation only to have them call the listing agents number on the yard sign to ask a question and be convinced to sign a contract, leaving me out of it entirely! Had I known then what I know now… I am not so sure I would have chosen any differently as I loved selling Real Estate, but I probably would have prepared a whole lot better. And that’s just one instance where we pay but don’t get paid to do business as an Agent.

Yes, I know there are some safeguards in place, now I know that, but back then as a new agent I was largely ignorant and sorry to report that my managing broker failed to protect me and all the other agents like me.  Things may be slightly different now, but only slightly.  However, this isn’t a piece about the fair or unfair of Agent behavior in what is the Real Estate Industry.  This is a piece to explore if maybe the time has finally come that Realtors should raise up and collectively change the way business is conducted in the Industry between themselves and the client.

With gas prices continuing to rise and no end in sight along with rising office fee structures, house prices failing and many other negative changes that I’ve been observing as I read articles to stay current with the Industry now as a content provider for other Realtors, I am just wondering out loud if the time for real change has come?  I’m not going to try to research every nuance and consideration in this piece.  I just want to get you, currently active Real Estate Agents thinking about possible change in your Industry. People do not value what costs them nothing.  Perhaps a fee for your time and resources is in order?

Before I changed career paths in 2007, many things in the Real Estate Industry had me scratching my head and considering if I wanted to become a crusader for change.  The way commissions are structured appears to encourage  cut throat behavior between agents and rarely fosters genuine team work.  I understand we were all independent contractors and therefore competition to each other.  However, we also claim to adhere to a Code of Ethics.  Just before I let my license expire, I actually had a client call my brokerage and ask for me as they couldn’t find my cell number.  The call happened to be answered by another agent rather than office personnel as it was the weekend.  Instead of my cell number, clearly listed on the Agent Roster of the office, my client was told I was no longer ‘in the business’ and they would list the property real estate for sale instead!  Very devious and underhanded, but not as rare as we’d like to think! Shame on that person, but lets not pretend that happens rarely as we know that isn’t the case.

Even after a sale is made, there remains as great a chance you will NOT be paid nor in any way reimbursed for your actual expenses in bringing the sale about than there is that the sale will successfully close and you will receive a commission check.  In negotiations your commission is often treated as a dispensable item which you may find yourself being asked to “give up” a portion of in order to make the deal happen or you may be expected to pay for things out of pocket that wouldn’t be expected in almost any other industry – all with no consideration of your costs and office fees.  You could take the attitude that I’m whining about not being as successful as you are, or you could consider the idea that change may be due in this industry.

And so, a simple question.  Asked only with the intention of stirring the thought process, not to offend anyone.  Has the time come for Agents and perhaps even the National Association of Realtors that collects fees to represent them, to take on the task of making some serious changes to the way the Real Estate Industry conducts business???

Just a little food for thought from your friendly GhostbloggerMarie.

Seeking ways to increase your visibility in the Social Media realm?  Blogs are still the most productive platform to get your message out to the public as minimum cost with maximum returns.  Time and writing talent shouldn’t stop you from pursuing this avenue of marketing!  Make GhostbloggerMarie part of your Team NOW!