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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Notes from the NAR Convention 11/11 thru 11/14/2011 in Anaheim CA

1). Greening the MLS
Energy Efficiency Mortgages (EEMs) are 20 years old and hardly anyone knows about them. Lenders are overwhelmed or disinterested, and Realtors don't promote them. HUD's 203(K) program is only slightly more utilized.  EEM dollars can be in excess do the $35,000 allowed for other improvements in the 203(K) loan. VA allows up to $6,000 in its version of the EEM, and more if savings justify the excess.

Fannie Mae has a "HomeStyle Renovation" program.  Inexplicably, FHA eliminated the Smart Commute form from its package of forms.

Consumers are more conscious of indoor air quality and energy costs, which is a start.

Inability to obtain value for sustainability improvements upon the sale of one's home could be a disincentive for making such improvements, especially if a homeowner doesn't anticipate remaining in the home long enough to enjoy a return on their investment. Fortunately there is some movement in getting appraisers to give value to such improvements without the burden of finding comparable sales which demonstrate that increased value.

The problem is that no national player is engaged in the concept of EEMs, although I'm told that Fannie Mae does require consideration of energy efficiency when valuing a home.

The Appraisal Institute has released the first definitive approach for green appraisal with its Residential Green and Energy Efficient Addendum.

There is a rule in place that appraisers must be competent both geographically and in terms of features when valuing a property, but unfortunately no one involved in a conventional, FHA or VA transaction gets to be involved even peripherally in the selection of the appraiser, thanks to the Home Valuation Code of Conduct (HVCC) implemented a few years ago.  Perhaps some regulation of the unregulated Appraisal Management Companies (AMC's) could help to correct this problem.  Certification of appraisers in the area of sustainability could also be an answer.

Aside from the above issue of valuation, homeowners interested in increasing the sustainability of their homes can visit for help in choosing and valuing improvements for their home.

2) The One Thing Power Brokers Can't Live Without

Observations and advice from...

Margaret Kelly, CEO of RE/MAX International (also sits on the Federal Reserve Bank regional board of directors): there will be no double dip recession. Household formation has dropped from 1.2 million per year a few years ago to 500,000 and ultimately to 350,000 last year  That represents lots of pent-up demand for homes. However you feel about immigration, know that every immigrant is seeking the American dream, which includes buying a home. The biggest buyers of homes in Arizona last year was Canadians. With immigration, our population would have declined.

TJ: We are in an epic battle against FUD -- Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt.  One  strategy is price protection. See what Syracuse has done in this regard. Now buyers can purchase price protection.  Interesting!

3) Mobile apps class has an app for tracking QR code users to capture inquiries. 

Evernote:  Take and store notes in any format

Voice: A dictation app

Skype:  Face to face calling, Can add Skype button to your website.

Expensify:  Easily categorise, tag and add comments to expenses. Saves you keeping receipts on the road

Milebug:  Simple and IRS friendly tracking of mileage

Magic Plan: Create Floor plans using iPhone. Just hold in the air and take a spin. Creates a plan

My Measures:  Take a photo and add dimensions to a room picture

Trulia, Zillow and apps:  It's what consumers are using.

4) High Tech/High Touch

Use Google Alerts - sign up at, click on More, then Even More to find it.

Do your social media posting at 8am and 8 pm, which is when most people are online.  Use Hootsuite to schedule posts so you don't have to actually write your posts at those hours.

Check out Handwriting Pro app for iPad.

Make your client calls between 5:30 and 6pm when people want to get off phone, to keep these conversations shorter.

Use videos within emails.

Include interviews with neighbors about neighborhood in listing videos.  Much more effective than just describing the house.  People like to know that the neighbors are friendly and welcoming!

5) Branding Yourself

Learn from "Ritz Carlton Service":

Credo - it's all about the customer

Motto -"We are ladies and gentleman serving ladies and gentleman."

3 Steps of service - warm greeting by name, anticipation & fulfillment of each guest's expectations, fond farewell using guest's name

Make customer feel special

Demonstrate that you perceive and share their interests, values and priorities

Note: Branded products command higher prices

Leverage your broker's brand with your personal brand to create a unique selling proposition (USP)


   Be consistent

   Be yourself

   Be professional

   Deliver what your brand promises; Don't try to be someone you're not

Ask yourself: How do you define your brand?

Who is your target audience?

How do you communicate your brand to your target audience?

Who is your competition and how do they communicate their brand?

Remember: If you're standing still, you're losing

One agent's motto worth stealing: "Your home, our expertise "

6) Marketing Masterclass

There is lots of pent up buyer demand.

Don't play it safe.

Include interview of owner describing what they loved about their house when they bought it and what they love about it now.

Have a historian write about house, when applicable.

Try walking tours or bike tours of neighborhoods which have concentration of listings.

Consider a travel time heat map.  Website idea: link to Sigalert ( so people can see if highways are congested.

Check out Loku, which provides local info.

Advertise in unexpected places - e.g., romance ads

Vary promotion of same house (especially main picture) on different websites

Use Vizzishots to change weather of pix (take picture with gray sky and turn it blue)

Make pictures full-screen with insets for info -- e.g., Te Atrium features million dollar properties with full screen pix

Promise specific service - e.g., "We deliver feedback within 24 hours." -- not just "We provide great service"  or "We are available 7 days a week on our cell phones."

Check out "Get Satisfaction" - turn likes to loves

Check out "Twitter full" - capture key word activity on Twitter

Good Facebook app - PropertyPage

Set  property search for sellers so they know about activity in their area.

Offer free signs for schools,  events -- If they put your sign in their yard promoting a school event (with your name at bottom, "sponsored by..."), they're more likely to envision your sign in their yard when they sell.

Use DropBox to make flyers and other collateral material available to all -- keep it updated!

(Note: DropBox or other cloud applications are how to get documents onto iPad easily.)

Don't publicize website, so people have to call for info.

In summary: Essentials + Separators + Gosh = success

7) Lead Generation Tips for the Green Market

Publicize the new Appraisal Institute green addendum, which most may not know about

Google "Appraisal Institute webinar" to learn more.

Be a green consultant to builders, whether green or not.

Find energy raters and introduce yourself.

Publicize availability of energy audits and HERS ratings

Speak about healthy homes instead of green features when prospecting to Moms.

Find out if your lender does Energy Efficiency Mortgages?

Check out Better Buildings program from Dept of Energy

Note: Energy Upgrade California pays agents for leads

Create a Green Homes IDX website.

Create a drip email campaign with suggestions and tips to send to prospects/clients

Put RSS feeds from others on website

Check out - LA offers scholarships for certified Green designation

Calif. Assn. of Realtors subsidizes HERS ratings for members' clients.

Check out what Better Buildings benefits might be available in Colorado

8) Double Your Business Quickly (Walter Sanford class)

Have lenders call FSBOs for you (long explanation....)

Ask info on buyers before showing homes (has form)

Advertise buyer needs - will attract sellers

Advertise team - not just agents, but inspectors, lenders, title, etc.

Stress surety of close over price -- promote percentage of your contracts that close (unless it's not good)

Weekly to-do's:

  Call buyers on Monday morning - find out what they did this weekend, where they visited, etc.

  Give value every time you call - useful info, "thought you should know that..."

  Get updates on pendings every Wednesday

  Call Thursday for price reductions/value enhancements (for example, change in inclusions, carpet allowance)

9) Selling a House Using Madison Ave Methods

Realtors tend to talk features, whereas Madison Ave ads aim at emotions

What is it like to live in the house?

Do not ignore negatives -- "Some highway noise, but that's why it's priced $35,000 less than comparable homes!"  "This home is for people who enjoy the freedom of no yard to maintain." Principle of sacrifice - (embodied in these examples)

Ask seller what they liked when THEY bought it.

Promote a primary theme that other properties can't match

Only 3 elements to a good ad:

  Headline most important

      Never put address in headline - it's not a feature!

      Use decisive headlines -


      Madison Avw would never accept a so-so photo.  Don't upload so-so photos!

      Wide angle photos essential

      Do opposite of open house: Take the house to the buyers thru great photography

  The Story:

      Use conversational voice

      Ogilvy: pretend you're talking across the kitchen table. 

      Sell lifestyle

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