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How to Get More Listings

Friday, September 8th, 2017

As a real estate agent, acquiring listings may be one of the hardest things to master from the start as well as where your contacts should come from. Every Agent should want to focus on property listings. As a newer agent, you’re still trying to make a name for yourself, and unfortunately might not have the referrals or repeat clients that a longer-term agent would have. What you probably don’t realize is that cold-calling and referrals are not the only ways to get new clients. There is a myriad of different pathways that new clients can come from, and some of them are probably right in front of you! You can use a variety of information and contacts that you already have available to you to find another whole group of potential clients (and consequently, their referrals as well).

Here are some ways you can get more listings:

* Look for expired and withdrawn listings – By exploring the MLS for listings that were on the market in the past but that were never sold, you can find listings that may have been handled inappropriately before you, or were pulled off the market for whatever reason. The homes may have been overpriced, or the market may have been off at that time for what the seller was looking for. By reconnecting with these listings, you may have a second chance at selling them. Make sure you indicate to the seller (if it’s true) that the home is in a better position to sell in this growing market, and be perfectly clear what they need to do for the best chance to sell within their window of time if they suggest one. They are often much more prone to respond if they know that there is a chance you can sell it for them.

  • Interact with your already existing network – Are you already in a PTA group? Soccer leagues? A neighborhood association? Use the groups that you are a member of to advertise that you’re a real estate agent. You’ll gain more contacts from people that are like you with similar interests, and the people in your club, who needed services anyway, will be happy to use someone they already know and trust. In my opinion, this is the absolute best thing that you can do for yourself, because successful real estate agents do not form client lists, they form tribes of like-minded like-interested individuals. The more you have in common with your clients, the easier it is to work with them, get referrals, and build a better tribe.
  • Decide the kind of business you want to have, and act accordingly – If you’ve decided that you’d like to sell mostly mansion listings in upper class neighborhoods near your home, then you should hang out at the local country club or golf course, or business networking meetings. It would be fruitless to try to find these types of clients at places like the local discount market or the public-school parking lot because although it’s possible, it’s not extremely likely to meet a large majority of your clientele there. Think about the lifestyle of the clients you want and the neighborhood you want to target and act accordingly. You may really enjoy being an agent for renters, and if that’s the case- maybe you should hang out at the local college or health club. It’s all relative to what you want and what you want your niche to be. Just make sure you focus on acquiring listings.
  • Along these lines, your niche should be based on your already existing talents.

I’ve talked about interacting with your already existing network and acting according to the type of business you want to have- these two things should go together. Don’t try to pretend to be something you aren’t, or avoid the kind of people you already know to try to build your business a certain way. If you play golf, it makes sense to try to find clients at the golf course. But if you don’t, you’re only going to sound like a fraud by faking an interest in hobbies that aren’t yours. Use what you’re already good at and the skills you bring to the table through past experiences to find clients who can benefit from those skills and talents.

* Search social media hashtags and posts. – An out-of-the-box way to find potential sellers is to get on Twitter or Facebook and search the posts of people who might be looking for a real estate agent but not realize that fact yet. By putting in and searching for hashtags (a group of words or phrases starting with a # sign), you’re able to find a variety of posts that meet certain conditions, with hashtags that people may have used when they were considering selling their home or buying or renting somewhere new. Try #needtomove #ineedtomove #sellmyhome #iwanttomove #wanttomove and #lookingtobuy as your first hashtag search suggestions, but you can always add your own ideas.

  • Remember that everyone you meet is a prospective client – If you’re going to the post office, pass out your business cards. If you’re at the supermarket, start up a conversation with the checkout clerk. Ask to leave your postcards or business cards on every bulletin board at every business in your target area.

* Marketing Materials Are Not to Be Underestimated – A lot of agents feel that postcards, for example, won’t do them a lick of good. Often times these are newer agents who frankly do not want to spend the required amount of money on their business. You’d be surprised at how powerful marketing materials can be, and it takes money sometimes to make money. Consider investing in a magnet for your car with your name and number on it, a website with your contact information, and pens, corkscrews, or anything that you think your target market may keep and use often. Not only does this prove that you’re serious about your business, but it constantly puts your name in the back of people’s minds. When they’re ready to buy or sell, you will be the first person that they think of.

  • For Sale by Owner Signs – Looking for “For Sale by Owner” signs will help you identify homeowners that are looking to sell that definitely do not have a real estate agent. They may not want one, but it couldn’t hurt to ask- or at least to have a conversation about why it is that they want to sell. Worst case scenario, perhaps you can bring them a buyer and get a piece of the commission. When approaching “for sale by owner” owners, the best thing to do is word your pitch not as a sales pitch, but as an offer to help. “Do you need assistance making the flyers?” “Are you prepared for your open house?” “Has anyone given you comparables?” – These questions will show that you’re a professional, that you know your stuff, but most importantly that there is a lot to selling a home that maybe the homeowner hadn’t thought about.
  • Look Out for Garage & Moving Sales - Sometimes people have garage sales just because they want to spring clean, but in many cases, they have them because they’re selling their home and moving. Specifically search Craigslist and your local newspaper for “estate” or “moving” sales because those almost always indicate some kind of transfer of property. In many cases, people will clear out the homes before they even think about getting it on the market so you may be getting a head start versus competing with other real estate agents in your area. You can also try scanning Estatesale.com or Estatesales.com, or even advertising on those sites as well.

* Befriend Estate Sale Companies – Similarly, people who have estate sales almost always use an estate sale company to help them process and sell the goods. Link up with an estate sales company and you’ll get each of their referrals. You can return the favor by referring your clients who need someone to help liquidate assets before you list and stage the property. This can be a very beneficial relationship for both of you.

* Watch Out for Rentals in Your Area – Properties are often for rent as a last resort if a sale was unsuccessful. By keeping an eye on the rentals in your area may produce an owner that wants to try to sell again under better circumstances in the future.

  • Meet Clients at Open Houses – A lot of agents assume that Open Houses are only to find buyers for that property, but that can’t be farther from the truth. Sometimes you find people who want to buy or are not being represented by an agent. Other times, you meet sellers who are scanning open houses for ideas of what to list their own home for or to get a feel for what the open house process is all about. Of course, you should verify that they don’t already have an agent, but if they don’t- open houses can be an amazing way to meet new people that might need your services.
  • Hold Educational Events-Libraries, HOA club houses, churches, schools, etc. they are all fabulous locations to host an event with experts you already know. The home warranty specialist always has a wonderful short educational program. I have found that most homeowners want home warranty but through it had to be obtained at a closing. How about a Mold, Radon, or Lead Paint specialist to educate them on what they need to know? Since an educated consumer is your best customer, they will have you at the top of your list when they want a solid real estate agent.

* Find the Empty Nesters – Using the MLS or whatever listing search method you feel most comfortable with, search for homes that are larger than 3 bedrooms in your target market and neighborhood. Filter them to include only houses that were purchased over 20 years ago. Potentially, you can find some retirees who are looking to downsize, and you’ll be able to help them both with listing their current home as well as finding a smaller option that works better for their current needs. If they are moving out of the area, you can earn a referral opportunity.

  • Go the Extra Mile at Your Office – Volunteer for phone duty, if that is available, more than the average agent in your office. This will allow you to pick up more referrals or general calls than anyone else. You can also seek out the agents in your office who are vacationing or retiring from your brokerage and offer to take on their clients.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help - Don’t be afraid to reach out to more experienced agents to ask them if they have any advice or guidelines for you to follow. You may meet a retiring agent this way who hadn’t yet publicized that they were leaving your firm. You might also meet someone who’s simply overloaded with clients and needs someone to refer a few of them to, or someone who’s looking for a new member on their team.

Once you meet people or establish contacts, the key is putting them in your database and following up with them. Anyone can say they are involved in real estate, but we all know that there are some agents out there that do this as a hobby. You want your potential clients to know that you’re serious about your business, and follow up with them often.

Don’t spread yourself too thin, either. It’s tempting to take every new client you can get your hands on, but you don’t want to do this if you can’t legitimately help all of them. It’s better to focus on one small group or niche that you can perfect, and become an expert in that field, demographic, or area. Refer the rest to capable referral fee producing agents who can close deals and are assets for you.

Also nurture your existing clients. Send them a monthly educational newsletter as well as sporadic special drop offs or mailings like “Happy Anniversary” cards on the 5th, 10th, and 20th anniversary in their new home. By continuing this relationship, they’ll reach out to you when they’re ready to upgrade, and you can help them with this transition.

It’s not easy prospecting for clients if you’re not used to the methods, but if you follow this simple guide you’ll have more clients than you know what to do with in no time at all!

Deconstructing and Reconstructing the Universe

Friday, September 8th, 2017

The Universe can be pulled apart and put back together again, like Lego blocks. What might such a deconstruction and reconstruction tell us about the real nature of the Universe? Maybe that real nature is of a virtual nature.

Deconstructing the Universe: The most complex structure in our Universe are chemical compounds as everything that’s apparently more complex can actually be separated into their component chemical compounds, and of course there are multi-millions of compounds, some more complex than others.

Compounds can be deconstructed down to their component atoms, so water can be reduced to hydrogen and oxygen. Atoms in turn can be deconstructed down to electrons, protons and neutrons and protons and neutrons in turn deconstructed to up and down quarks.

Lurking in all of this are the neutrinos as well. Like electrons, neutrinos can’t be deconstructed down to anything more fundamental.

There are also three generations of particles that the above deconstruction can be applied to, although the second and third generations are so short-lived that they can for all practical purposes be ignored.

A similar deconstruction can be applied to antimatter as well as to matter.

All of the above deconstructions down to the fundamentals yields a small zoo worth of elementary bits and pieces. That’s Part One of our deconstruction.

Part Two: Such a deconstruction could actually be our (as in our Universe’s) fate. In the far, far, far future there might be a deconstruction of the Universe via the Big Rip, or perhaps just through complex stuff decaying into simple stuff. For example, any neutrons that get isolated will decay into a proton, and electron and a neutrino. The latter two are basic, but some speculate that protons too will ultimately decay into a positron and a neutral pion. The neutral pion then decays into a couple of high energy photons. So, any standard atom will eventually become just a bunch of electrons, positrons, neutrinos and photons, all basic staff that can’t be further deconstructed – unless of course the electrons and positrons deconstruct into pure fundamental electromagnetic energy.

Part Three: Because particles interact, we can deconstruct the fundamental bits and pieces responsible for those interactions. Those bits and pieces are the force particles and they can’t be deconstructed from anything more complex. Photons are photons and gravitons and gravitons and they don’t combine to form something else further on up the complexity chain.

Collectively the matter particles and the force particles all together consists or makes up that small zoo of elementary things called the Standard Model of Particle Physics.

One can now ask, what are the fundamental properties that these mass and force particles have? They would all seem to share motion – even if just vibration – and to exhibit mathematically predictability and have absolute causality in their actions and reactions.

Reconstructing the Universe: The simplest universe one could imagine would be an absolutely empty one – a universe of pure absolute nothingness. Boring!

The next rung on the ladder would be a universe with just one particle in it, like a lone electron universe.

Some interesting issues arise with a one electron universe. If there is a one electron universe, can there be any properties associated with said single electron? There can’t be mass hence gravity since there is no other object that can be attracted gravitationally. Our one electron can’t orbit anything. In fact our lone electron can’t even have motion. There can’t be motion for the motion of one particle is and can only be apparent if another particle is present. Lastly, though electric charge is a fundamental property of an electron, in a one electron universe there’s nothing for that charge to act on so one has to ask whether or not it is meaningful to attribute that electric charge property to that lone electron.

Logically, the next step would be a universe with lots of just one type of particle. One might imagine a universe that contained nothing but a multitude of electron-neutrinos.

Before you can even have atoms (hence molecular compounds) you actually need a variety of fundamental building blocks that can fit together like, well, Lego Blocks or like a jigsaw puzzle. If any of the variety of fundamental building blocks have the wrong shape or the wrong properties, then there can be no atomic structure.

Presumably there could have been a near infinite variety of fundamental particles and associated properties which could never physically associate with each other in order to build up more complex structures. That the fundamental particles and associated properties were just-so is in and of itself suggestive (but not proof) of intent or design.

For some reason(s) the Standard Model of Particle Physics is enabled or fine-tuned in such a way as to result in atoms and molecular compounds. That probably needs some explanation on the grounds that it would have been more likely as not, based on chance, that the variety of fundamental building blocks would have the wrong shape or the wrong properties. It would really appear that some degree of fine-tuning and design is afoot.

For example, the electric charge on the electron is EXACTLY equal and opposite to that on the proton although the electron and the proton are otherwise as alike as chalk and cheese. Even weirder, the electric charges on the up-quark and the down-quark have to be just so in order to form protons and neutrons, and how weird is it that one has a charge of -1/3 and the other +2/3? But, without those exact values, no protons and no neutrons.

Further, because positive charged protons will not willingly congregate in cheek-by-jowl arrangements, there’s the apparently designed and fine-tuned strong nuclear force (gluons) to bind them together. And because negatively charged electrons would be attracted to positively charged protons there has to be another apparently designed and finely-tuned mechanism in place to keep that from happening; to keep electrons in their ‘orbits’ and not spiral down and smash into their oppositely charged protons.

So, for an atom to exist at all, it’s not just one just-so element that needs to be in place but many just-so elements.

Now one would argue that using a card analogy that any one hand that is dealt is as probable as any other. However, we give special significance to, say, a Royal Flush. As far as we, the card player is concerned, a Royal Flush is finely-tuned to our needs (profit) and the wider community of card players have attached special meaning to that particular design. A Royal Flush was designed by the card playing community to be special. However, there was no intelligence or design behind you’re being dealt a Royal Flush.

So, are the laws, principles and relationships inherent in physics designed and fine-tuned in any way such that our fundamental particles can interact to form atomic and ultimately molecular structures? If our Royal Flush Universe is just as probable as any other type of universe, then we are indeed lucky to have been dealt that hand and there was no intelligence behind that design or fine-tuning involved just like there’s no intelligence behind you being dealt a Royal Flush. Or, and this can’t be absolutely ruled out, perhaps there was some intelligent design and fine-tuning involved and our Royal Flush Universe was deliberately dealt!

There’s one other piece of evidence I need to introduce here. That’s “The unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics in the natural sciences” (as stated by physicist Eugene Wigner) in describing those laws, principles and relationships inherent in physics and related natural sciences. Physicist Max Tegmark goes one step further to state that the natural (physical) world IS completely mathematical. Many a philosopher (like Immanuel Kant and Bertrand Russell) and scientist (like Albert Einstein) have pondered the meaning of this observation.

One related facet, the mathematics tends to be relatively simple with exponents and coefficients that tend to be low value whole numbers (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, etc.) or relatively simple fractions (1/2, 1/3, 1/4, 1/5, 2/3, 3/4, etc.). That would appear to defy probability based on random chance.

Now combining apparent design with apparent fine-tuning with the apparent unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics all suggests to me one possibility – software.

Now philosopher Nick Bostrum (Oxford University) has put forth a strong argument why our Universe could just be a software-generated computer simulation. My discussion here doesn’t duplicate that or draw on it in any way, and so is just complementary.

Now if you have a software program, any software program, it has to be intelligently designed (which doesn’t exclude design via an artificial intelligence). Software programs don’t write themselves. The software has to be fine-tuned such that you don’t get GIGO – garbage in; garbage out. That is, if, for example, you have a shoot-’em-up video game, the game has to be fine-tuned such that if you shoot straight you hit the target. And of course programmed software is mathematical, just bits and bytes.

So software produces the fundamental matter and force particles as simulations or virtual reality. Software then combines them in precise ways to generate simulations of atomic and molecular structures.