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.