Monday, January 30, 2006

"The best listing of my one year career"

No matter where you get your prospects (online, offline, referrals, etc.), it's important to treat every lead the same. Jerry Van Pelt gives a great example below of how persistence and professionalism can win you listings you otherwise might not have achieved.

Posted by: Jerry Van Pelt
Post subject: Treat all leads the same

During HouseValues training and seminars they stress treating all leads the same. Good advice.

Last night I signed a listing agreement for a $585,000 home here in Frisco TX, which is a high priced home here. The best listing of my one year career in real estate.

This was a lead that was listed with another agent when I got it. It expired a few months later and the client called me to list based on the professionalism of the materials and my approach (The HouseValues way).

So, best advice is just follow the HouseValues plan with every lead no matter what you think of it. I do drop off one of the pocket folders in a HouseValues-branded envelope with the CMA, county info, some info about me, the HouseValues letter from the president and a few other odds and ends.

Good luck.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Blanche Evans Mastermind Call Transcript

Last Thursday, Blanche Evans was the featured speaker on two Mastermind Calls, sponsored by HouseValues, Inc. She spoke live to more than 1,000 agents nationwide, and a transcript of the first call is below.

Blanche gives some great insight into the current real estate market, plus offers loads of advice in response to agent questions about neighborhood marketing tips, niche selling, Web site marketing and more.

If you'd like to listen to the entire call, you can do so on-demand at any time by using the below phone number and PIN number. Be sure to add the # sign at the end of the PIN number to get through.

Phone Number: 1-800-349-8037
PIN: 409381#

Featured Speaker: Blanche Evans, Realty Times Senior Editor
Moderator: Raymond Gravelle, Distance Learning Specialist

Raymond: Blanche, where do you see the real estate market heading?
Blanche: I don’t believe in the bursting bubble predictions. Let’s get some perspective. Prices were up 16% over 2004 at the end of 2005. Tax deductions are still a great benefit of having a mortgage. The stock market is still going down and real estate still a good investment. There may be a little pull back in some areas, but undervalued areas are going to get a surge of business.

Raymond: As market conditions change, what can a real estate agent do to stand out?
Blanche: The number of real estate agents has doubled in five years. They have all been trained the same way though, to list and sell. There are other ways to use your license. For example, one third of homes sold last year were non-owner occupied. This is a good opportunity for agents to work in property management for an ongoing money stream. Conduct buyer education seminars to prospect for buyers. You won’t stand out by doing what most other agents do. Differentiate yourself by working a niche market, such as investors, seniors, first-time buyers, condos, etc.

Raymond: Can you give us some examples of a real estate niche?
Blanche: Read the news to understand real estate in your area. Condos are selling for more than single-family homes because less than 25% of households have children and easy loan programs allow young buyers. This huge condo market isn’t being addressed well. Another example is looking at what isn’t selling in your market and make that your niche. In most communities that would be older, ranch-style homes. Partner with an interior designer to renovate these homes.

Raymond: How can a real estate agent differentiate themselves from their competition without having to reduce their commissions?
Blanche: Justify your fee by showing your professionalism. Your business cards, Web site, and marketing pieces must be high quality. Your seller is paying you to get a buyer. Show how you’ll get them. All agents tell sellers that they will use the MLS to help them sell the home. Instead, don’t even mention MLS. Show how you will market their home in ways your competition won’t, such as online. Show them the ways you will cultivate buyers at seminars, online, etc .

Raymond: How can an agent use technology to build a larger pipeline?
Blanche: Everyone knows lots of people but they don’t look at them as potential buyers or sellers. Those people need to be reminded that you are a real estate agent and can help them when they’re ready to buy or sell. Put them into a database, stay in touch via email automatically and send notes about their specific needs (such as tax tips or information on a house in area they like).

Raymond: What should an agent look for in a technology company?
Blanche: Choose a company that makes it easy and seamless for you to manage your prospect pipelines and build relationships. The more automated the better, such as a monthly newsletter and reminder activities.

Raymond: Why did you say that agents need to have an online presence?
Blanche: According to N.A.R. 77% of buyers start their search online. You need to be there. In 2009 more dollars will be spent on Internet ads than conventional ads. The more information you can provide online, the better presence you have. You should provide multiple photos of homes, neighborhood information, and an easy way for consumers to email you. The #1 reason buyers choose a home is the neighborhood. Your site is a perfect example of providing that information. It shows the locations of grocery stores, parks and schools.

Caller Q&A

Question: What are your thoughts on HomePages as a listing tool?
Blanche: It’s an excellent tool. You can show sellers how you will get buyers by marketing their home on the site.

Question: I’m a new agent. How can I compete with experienced agents?
Blanche: Capitalize on the experience you already have. Did you come from the technology industry? Get certifications like e-Pro to differentiate yourself from others. If you are a teacher you can show how you market to other teachers and educate first-time home buyers, etc. Point out ways you can find a buyer and market their home that other agents, even if they are more experienced, can’t.

Question: I plan to go after higher end listings. Do you have any advice?
Blanche: Start working with developers with homes in a higher price range. Educate yourself about homes in that price range. Are your past buyers ready to buy up? Stay in contact with them.

Question: How do you find out about neighborhoods? Can you do that online?
Blanche: Go to and you’ll see how much you can explore neighborhoods online. You can have your own site that will show you as the neighborhood expert to your prospects.

Question: What’s the best way to market my Web site?
Blanche: Keep it constant and consistent. Put your address on your business cards, signature line on emails, marketing pieces and mention it to everyone.

Question: Do you have any advice on receding areas?
Blanche: Be proactive. Markets recede if you don’t have the right product available. If you need more condos, or senior housing, go to your planning commission. Talk to your broker about buying land and building condos. Real estate agents shouldn’t follow the market, they should create the market.

Friday, January 27, 2006

"Why I left, and why I am back"

This is a perfect story of how a prospect management system works and a testament to how treating Internet leads as long-term pays off.

UPDATE: Jesse's story was found and picked up by Realty Times. Read that story here.

From: Jesse Vasquez
Post subject: Why I left HouseValues, and Why I am back

Many of us in this world are very skeptical of quick rich schemes and "if something is to good to be true" then its not true. I joined HouseValues in early February for 2004 like all of you I signed a year contract and I began my journey with many months passed by without a sale from these subscriptions, however about 5 months later I closed 2 deals, I wanted more and more and felt that I should be getting more leads and closing more deals for the $$ I was paying monthly, so i began to complain ie: leads are no good, bogus emails, bogus phone numbers, bogus names, you name it I complained about it , not getting enough leads etc.

Well another 5 months passed by and I only closed 1 deal, what the heck that deal paid for the renewal of my contract, so, I started another year with HouseValues. About 3 months into the contract I didn't close anymore deals, I kept complaining about everything and anything so, I decided to cancel all of my subscriptions; in June 2005 i bought out the contracts and left. But before I left I took ALL AND I MEAN ALL of my leads and prospects.

WHY AM I BACK!!!? Well in my Market leader I had accumulated 80 leads or prospects that I wanted to stay in touch with to see what I could do. I had also accumulated 30 "loser" prospects as I call them. I left HouseValues and went about my business with RE/MAX, did my follow up calls etc. all of a sudden my HouseValues leads started to close!

WHAT? No, that can't be that has to be a fluke, then another one, "oh what a coincidence" then another, well long story short, I closed 25% of those 80 leads. that is 21 sales(!) from HouseValues.

So months after quitting this great company I AM BACK and plan on staying and not being so impatient. The system works it just needs to be worked. I have spent all morning updating Market leader on all my sales.

The reason I am posting this is so that you all hang in there and not get inpatient, work the leads work the system, it works.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

13 transactions in six months

Six months after joining HouseValues, Tina Whetsell-Mounger of ERA Top Producers in Knoxville, Tennessee booked her 13th transaction generated from HouseValues leads.

“My most productive business for the year was generated after I came on board with HouseValues—including four listings and nine properties sold to folks from out of state,” says Tina.

And that was before she began using HomePages. “Being able to offer sellers a HUGE Internet presence AND market their property with the latest technology of HomePages lets me set myself apart by offering a level of marketing no one else can.”

It’s a difference Tina is quick to leverage. “I have a template letter ready to go out to all my prospects introducing them to HomePages right now,” she shares. Tina credits the total HouseValues system with generating positive replies from her prospects, which she had been lacking in the past. “HouseValues gives me the tools, a massive support system, and a new professional approach. Prospects put together my name and face with my branding and they respond. It’s just amazing!” remarks Tina.

With $1.8 million in transactions for 2005, Tina is an Internet-savvy agent who knows the power of the X and Y generation. “They are educated, sharp, and use the Internet as their first choice of communication,” Tina begins. “If you’re not offering these clients superior marketing tools you will not be in this business five years from now. HouseValues has the perfect plan to help you grow your business and SUCCEED—all with the click of the mouse!”

Read more of Tina's story here, or visit the Agent Success Network to see more Agent CEO success stories.

The power of seminars and networking

Nice post on the HouseValues MasterMind Forum from an agent that attended a seminar in New Jersey this past Tuesday. Talks about the power of seminars, community and networking with other top agents...

Posted by: David J. Weiner
Post subject: Always something new at the HouseValues Seminars!!

Hi everyone on the Mastermind Forum,

I just got back from an impressive HouseValues seminar in Jersey City, New Jersey today, and while I did have to leave early because of an appointment, I did want to share with all of you what I got out of this.

First, Bruce Downs does what he does best, and really gives great info on subjects pertaining to HouseValues, and good insight into what helps make our business more successful, to both the newcomers and the "oldtimers".... I can always count on getting a few "gold" nuggets of info when I go to the HouseValues seminars that will enhance my business even thanks to Bruce and my coach, Traci Mason, who I finally had the pleasure of meeting there. The team in place there together with Scott Smith who really touched on a variety of good things help make their presentation excellent as always.....and the food was delicious also!!

My point here is this.... I think we all can use seminars to help our learning curve and for me, it gives me a rush of enthusiasm about my own business. We all face so many ups and downs on a daily basis, and its refreshing to me to go to a seminar and hear positive things about many issuses relating, not only to HouseValues, but items to help us grow our business.

I recommend the seminars to all.... and being a part of this Mastermind Forum is a great way of expressing so much to so many who do what I do everyday!!

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Live tips on succeeding in a down market

The National Association of Realtors reported today the third-straight month of declining home sales, another sign that the white-hot real estate market may be slowing down - especially in larger markets.

Tomorrow morning, Realty Times senior editor Blanche Evans will host a conference call open to all real estate professionals, sharing her thoughts on the current market and how real estate agents can actually grow their business, even in a down market.

Learn more about the call here. The free January 26 conference call will be held at 7:30 a.m. PDT and again at 9 a.m. PDT. To access the call, real estate professionals should call: 800-349-8037 and enter the pass code 173546.

We'll post a recap of the call in a few days.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

What does it mean to be an Agent CEO?

What would your life be like if you approached real estate as if you were the CEO of your own business? Would you have a thriving business, earning the amount of money you deserve? Would you have people doing some of the onerous tasks (like the paperwork) that you got into real estate to avoid? Would you run out and show a house to someone who just called in or would you work by appointment only with qualified prospects? Because, when you stop to think about it, you are ultimately responsible for the success or failure of your business.

Top agents have an entrepreneurial approach. They treat real estate as their business, not as a job! They think like a CEO and plan like a CEO. Their planning most often includes these 6 Steps to Success:

- Set Goals
- Create a Business Plan
- Develop a Budget
- Create processes and systematize
- Staff and delegate
- Evaluate for Effectiveness

To begin with you need to know what you want. It is critical to set financial goals, break them down into transactions needed and prospects (leads) needed to accomplish those financial goals.

When you create a business plan, one of the most important things you will be doing is planning ways to generate leads. Agents generally plan marketing and advertising campaigns. Some of their efforts are focused on building their image and name recognition. The most important aspect of marketing should be lead generation. Without enough prospects, you cannot and will not reach your financial goals.

Budgeting is essential, because you are in business to make a profit. Many agents do not even know how much they have made year to date, much less how much they have spent! You need to know how much you have coming in-and plan for it-and how much you will be spending. You should be able to evaluate what sort of return on the dollar (ROI) you are getting for your advertising/marketing spending.

Without a system in place to generate and cultivate leads, you are starting each day as a brand new agent, complete with the peaks and valleys inherent in a disorganized business.

What if you had a system to keep in touch with all of your prospects automatically? What if you had an automatic contact management system to follow-up with your past clients? Don’t you think you would be able to make more money in less time? There are Web based programs which will allow you to do just that, so you can focus your time where you have the highest return: face to face with buyers and sellers.

Since highest and best use of your time is face to face, can you delegate some of the time consuming tasks that have less impact on your bottom line. Are you doing $10/hour jobs (like filling flyer boxes) or are you doing $300/hour jobs?

Evaluate what is working: How many listing appointments does it take to obtain a listing? How many prospects do you need to obtain an appointment? How much money are you spending on advertising? How many leads are you generating? To be effective, you need to know your numbers!

How are you spending your time? Can you plan, hire help and delegate like a CEO, or do you feel like you need to do everything yourself. According to the National Association of Realtors, agents who hired assistants earned twice as much money. They also had more fun, because they delegated the tasks they didn’t want to do and concentrated on the tasks that they enjoyed and made them money, like showing, selling, negotiating and listing.

As the CEO of their own business, they had the opportunity to do the things they got into the real estate business to do: make more money and have more free time!

Monday, January 23, 2006

The right tools lead to success

Tony Martinez is a HouseValues subscriber from San Antonio, Texas. He joined HouseValues less than a year ago, and credits his HouseValues and JustListed leads for more than half of his 2005 commissions.

A few words from Tony:

"I sold my first JustListed house less than 30 days after starting with the program. I now get an average of one listing from HouseValues and three buyers from JustListed every month."

"At the end of the day, a hammer is still a hammer. You can build a fence or a house with it, the choice is yours. HouseValues is the best tool I’ve found for building my business."

Read more of Tony's story here, or visit the Agent Success Network to read more Agent CEO success stories.

New agent to Market Leader in under three years...

Another great story from an agent who built a pipeline of future business, and is now bypassing her local competitors with better customer relationships. This comes straight from the HouseValues Mastermind Forum...

Posted by: Gillian Goldrich

I have been pretty successful with my JustListed leads and am working on my 5th client now. I have several that will be ready to go this year and will probably more than double my numbers from last year. This system does work if you are patient and you work it. I think that too many people give up before they get it going. As with all things in real estate it is a numbers game. Mailers, people contact, advertising, etc. the more people you make contact with the more business you will have as there are bound to be several buyers and sellers in your numbers. My patience and perservernce has moved me to the 2005 Top Producer at Coldwell Banker Select Sites in just a little under 3 years.

If you are ready to give up......I'm ready to try and produce something from your lead base.

Gillian Goldrich, REALTOR
BrokerColdwell Banker Select

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

New buyer/seller survey from NAR

The National Association of Realtors today published their 2005 Profile of Home Buyers & Sellers. Some really interesting statistics and findings worth looking through.

Some highlights:

  • 77 percent of home buyers use the Internet to search for a home (up from 74% in 2004)
  • 24 percent of buyers first learned about their home via the Internet (up from 15% in 2004; 36% learned about the home from an agent)
  • 81% of Internet shoppers used an agent, vs. just 63% of non-Internet shoppers
  • Most important factors in choosing a home: 68% said neighborhood qualities, 43% said proximity to school and/or job; 23% said school district

Important to note the rising prominence of the Internet as a research tool for consumers, but also just how many of those Internet shoppers end up working with an agent.

Consumers who use the Internet are more likely to use an agent than those who don't.

What does your Internet strategy look like? Are you capturing your share of Internet-savvy home buyers and sellers?

All in the family

Great story from agent Tina Arant in Florida.

One recent lead turned into 3 listings: herself, sister, and parents.

Not a bad way to start 2006!

Subject: Success story Success in the first month...

My first month with HouseValues I recieved my three leads...I did my coaching call and learned to do a quick CMA on the Market Leader system. As I followed up with the post-CMA e-mail and made several attempts to talk one on one with the interested parties, I got a little discouraged with answering machines. I noticed that one of the prospects had not viewed the CMA yet.

So, I phoned and left a message for her that it was ready and she could view it in her e-mail. I always end with "If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to call or e-mail me." I got a call from the prospect the next day. She lives on the same street as her sister and her parents are on the same block too. They are all looking to sell their homes and move out of state to a large ranch. I just listed all THREE homes this week!!!

Thank you for kicking off my 2006 year of business!!!

Tina M. Arant
Watson Realty Corp.
Palatka, Florida

Thursday, January 12, 2006

A kick-start back into business

After taking three months off at the beginning of 2005, Ann Henning of Prudential Sussex Realty in Vancouver, British Columbia found it hard to get back into prospecting. A veteran with 16 years in the business, she knew she needed to make a change when things didn’t turn around by mid-June.

“JustListed seemed like an excellent way to get back into the swing of a busy market which seemed to be passing me by,” comments Ann. By November, Ann had four transactions from JustListed leads, which accounted for nearly 30% of her business in 2005.

“JustListed has such great tools that it makes keeping in contact with leads easy. Before, I tended to lose touch with leads I picked up from open houses and other sources if they weren’t immediate business. Market Leader simply doesn’t let you do that,” explains Ann.

The JustListed transactions Ann closed in 2005 are leading to new business in 2006. “I certainly have a lot more business in the pipeline at the beginning of 2006 than normal,” she begins. “Today, a number of my JustListed leads are getting close to turning into transactions—including leads that are from other parts of Canada,” shares Ann.

One strategy of Ann’s that’s paying off is personalizing the preface to the email listings. “I am getting good response that way, and two couples will be coming out to Vancouver during the next few months to meet with me and start viewing properties,” concludes Ann.

Click here to read more about Ann, as well as the success stories of thousands of other real estate professionals nationwide.

Monday, January 09, 2006

14 transactions in 2005

This note came in from Donna Richey-Harris of RE/MAX HiNet-All Cities on the HouseValues Mastermind Forum.

Donna’s been very successful with HouseValues. Donna knows it takes time to be successful. She did two transactions in 9 months and then ended the year with 14 transactions.

I'm not an HV employee and I'm "actually making money with this service!"

I've said many times before, I didn't have my first transaction for almost 5 months and then I didn't have my second transaction until almost 5 more months. Basically, it took just over 9 months to have 2 transactions, but then I ended the rest of the year with 14 total transactions from HouseValues and JustListed. Once they're in your system and they're cultivated, they just call out of the blue ready to buy.

I have a JustListed lead that came in last March. She said at that time she would buy the following March. I spoke with her last week and we're waiting for her BK to discharge and she's talked with my mortgage person. It looks as though her time frame of March was exactly correct last year. I have another JustListed lead that came in 2 months ago that said April-May time frame. They were in town last week, and we're submitting an offer tomorrow on a house. Their time frame was wrong. You just never know!!

Hang in there and drop off the CMAs.

Donna Harris, REALTOR®
Re/Max HiNet-All Cities

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Follow-up, focus and patience = Success

David Albertson from Prudential NW Realty in Federal Way, Washington is a very busy agent. He manages a team of real estate professionals, and hundreds of prospective home buyers and sellers.

His secret? Streamlined follow-up, focus and patience.

“HouseValues has provided me a way of streamlining my ongoing follow-up with prospects and past clients,” David said. “I focus on a tight geographic area near my home that is easier to manage. Now I’m one of the premier listing agents in my area.”

“I find that HouseValues clients are very loyal. I get more referrals from them than other clients. I’m continually adding to my database of prospects and moving my previous prospects and clients over.”

“The beauty of the HouseValues system is that it offers the complete package for successful prospecting, marketing and contact management,” David added.

“Since becoming a HouseValues subscriber, my business is more consistent, more reliable and more manageable. I’m cultivating immediate business and building long-term, enduring relationships.”

To learn more about David, click here or visit to read David's story as well as success stories from other Agent CEO's across the country.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Is e-marketing part of your 2006 plan?

Maybe it should be. Sending 1,000 postcards is time-consuming and costly, but sending 1,000 emails is virtually free. Plus, is takes far less time, and has a higher potential of reaching your audience.

A good article in Realty Times earlier this week talked about the value of e-marketing and how it can impact an Agent CEO's business on many levels. Worth a read...

Are you putting e-marketing to good use in you business? Do you have a recommendation of an e-marketing vendor or partner for other Agent CEO's? If so, email me at, and I'll post some of the best ideas back on this blog.

Three listings, $1 million dollars...

Here’s a great story sent from an agent in Kentucky to her HouseValues coach, with 3 listings worth over $1 million…..

Happy 2006 to this agent!

From: Barbara Grandon
Subject: Tina Mounger wow

Called this HomePages agent about her new subscription and featured listings. She’s been a HouseValues subscriber since August 2005. She shared with me that due to her HouseValues leads in the last two weeks she has taken 3 listings worth a total of $1 million (3 separate properties) and already has a buyer for the $400k house. Her share will be at least $42,000 in January if they close as expected. And this is in Kentucky!

She admits she was a very hard sell initially, but now says HouseValues is the ‘’best investment’’ and smartest business move she has ever made. Tina attributes her success to ‘’jumping’’ on them once they get the CMAs, and understanding Internet consumers.

Just thought I’d share!

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Great new marketing ideas from iSucceed

A great way to start the year is by reviewing what's been important to other successful agents recently, and to think about how you could incorporate that into your own business.

The folks at iSucceed recently published a list of ten hot marketing topics for real estate, worth scanning to see if there's something you want to dig into further.

Happy New Year!