By Maddie Jostol, Senior Marketing Manager
The customer service that you provide to your clients is what sets you apart during, and long after, a transaction. Consumer expectations are rising, which means that real estate agents are pressured to adopt new ways of delivering on these expectations. Think about how you could make the home buying or selling process a breeze for your clients from the moment you reach out to them to the time they receive their ‘welcome home’ gift from you.
For those of you with a MoxiInsights subscription, you’ve taken an important first step. MoxiInsights provides agents with aggregated public data on everyone in your sphere, right there in your MoxiEngage account. You instantly have valuable insights for every contact, for you can use to create a better experience, and you’ll be notified when someone in your sphere is likely to list.
So, how do you use data like this to your advantage? Here’s how you can up your game and deliver unforgettable customer service.
Get the timing right for you and your clients. With a system that keeps you in the loop with your sphere, you’ll have an idea as to who has kids heading off to college in the next few years, who recently got married, and who may have seen career success and is looking for a bigger place. This will nudge you to get back in touch with that person, anticipating what changes might be coming in their life so you can be prepared with resources and start helping them right when they’re ready to make a move. Why does this matter to the client? They don’t have to look around. You’re there right when they need a real estate agent, and you’re ready to help them find their next home.
Make it personal. As with any predictive analytics tool, some people feel as though leveraging data in this way makes them less “human” as if they’ll come across robot-like to their sphere. If it feels this way, then you’re using the data incorrectly. Agents who are focused on delivering the highest level of customer service use tools like this as a prompt. It’s for their own workflow, to make sure they don’t miss a beat. The agents who are on top of their game are leveraging such data to deliver superior customer service by letting the technology do the busy work, so you can take those insights and build stronger relationships. At the end of the day, you’ll know your sphere better and you’ll be able to offer them a memorable experience and leave a lasting impression.
Leveraging consumer data allows you to deliver the right content at the right time. Being able to segment your database based on the information you now have available will increase the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns. You’ll know who to invite to your charity golf tournament, and who to send your spring gardening tips to. Without calling people out specifically, you’ll have a much better chance of getting the right information to the right people. You will be delivering them with a tailored, personal experience before they even reach out saying they’re ready to sell.
You might be hesitant to begin using consumer data because of the fear you’ll come across as ‘knowing too much,’ but the truth is, when used correctly, it simply gives you the background information you need to build stronger relationships. It’s become common practice to look prospects up on Facebook, Google, and LinkedIn before engaging with them. Tools offering this data for you are no different, except for the fact that it’s all in one place, it’s easy to consume, and you don’t have to spend hours aggregating it yourself. It’s out there for the taking, and it is sure to heighten your level of customer service, so who wants it?
By Maddie Jostol, Senior Marketing Manager
Your database of contacts is only as good as the data you put in. It is absolutely vital for real estate agents to keep their database up-to-date, complete, and well segmented in order to get full value out of it. Segmentation enables you to group your contacts based on requirements that fit your sales process. Reach the right people, with the right message, at the right time.
In MoxiEngage, for example, we call them Groups. Associate your contacts with certain groups so that you can effectively filter your database, include groups in marketing campaigns, or reach out to certain segments.
Below are four efficient ways to organize clients contacts in order to keep your database neat and tidy and reap all of its benefits.
1. How you know them
Have a bunch of contacts from your son’s years of playing select soccer? Or from the charity auction you help plan every year? Or maybe from that sewing class you go to occasionally? Whatever it is, consider grouping contacts based on how you know them. Not only will this jog your memory and help you keep track of the hundreds of people in your sphere, but it will also enable you to plan events that gather these like-minded people together, since most of them will know each other as well.
When you group people based on common interests, you can keep them engaged in ways that matter to them. Group together your dog lovers, your baseball fanatics, and those who like to fish. This way, you can send them tailored content that is relevant to them and their lives. When you go to host meet-ups or local events, you’ll know exactly who to invite, by reaching out to your groups with relevant interests.
3. Likeliness to buy
If you want a more fluid system, organize client contacts based on where they are in your sales funnel. Most agents already have a system in place, whether it’s a 1-2-3, A-B-C, or hot-warm-cold system. The key here is that you have to be committed to keeping your database updated and squeaky clean. This type of system only works if you keep these groups updated, so you’re sending the right people the right information. Nobody wants to receive a “have you considered selling?” email from an agent they just purchased a house with.
4. Past clients
This is your starting lineup. These are the people who are in your camp. They’re your biggest fans, who you should take particularly good care of. When you purchase a table at a charity event and can invite six people – this is the group you go to first. Or, when you host a community event, you add these people to the Facebook event invite because you know they’ll get everyone else excited about it. When you need new testimonials for your website, these are the people who are more than willing to take a few minutes to talk about their experience working with you.
Keeping in touch with your past clients is a vital piece to growing your repeat and referral business. When you have a well-organized, up-to-date database, your life as a real estate agent becomes infinitely more simple. Your marketing efforts go further and you see more engagement from your sphere of influence. After all, your sphere is the future of your business, so make sure you show it some care.
By Jessie Trapp, Marketing Coordinator
Excuse the cliché analogy, but photography really is the jelly to your content’s peanut butter. Without it, your online presence would be dry and subpar at best.
With real estate being as dependent on visuals as it is, you’re practically expected to be a professional photographer (or at least be exceptional at pretending to be one) in order to produce the quality images that clients have come to expect.
These expectations make sense, as you want your clients to know the perfect home when they see it without poor photography getting in the way. Although hiring actual professional photographers is usually the norm when it comes to getting snaps of homes that you’re listing, the quality of your pics should be consistent across all of your channels. Here are a few ways to take real estate pics like the pros!
It’s a big deal. Bad lighting can cause graininess and take away the texture that would otherwise tell viewers a lot about the subject. As a general rule – let the light in! Open the shades and curtains in the homes you are listing to capture as much natural light as possible. We aren’t all professional photographers with loads of equipment, but investing in a simple and transportable lighting kit would likely be worth your while in case you find yourself in need of a lighting boost.
Take the time to define your subject
Although it can be tempting to take a quick snap, it’s usually a smart idea to slow things down and take a moment to plan out your image. Using grids can be a great way to make sure your photo is balanced and visually appealing. If you’ve ever taken a photography class, you’ve most definitely heard of the rule of thirds. There’s a feature on most smartphones that will allow you to bring up a grid and make sure you are abiding by the photography law (or at least getting the general idea of it).
Keep negative space in mind
Another element of the rule of thirds is referred to as “negative space”. Incorporating it into your images makes a huge difference when it comes to gravitating people’s eyes towards what you want them to see. Check out some examples for inspiration on how to integrate it into your real estate pics.
Keep symmetry in mind
People love symmetry – it’s why nose jobs are so popular. It’s hard to explain, but there’s this weird sense of accomplishment when you see an image that can be divided into two equal parts. Whether it is a vertical or horizontal line of symmetry, adjusting some of your real estate pics to have it is a great way to further enhance them.
Make sure that your photography inventory contains a wide variety of shots. We’ve all seen those accounts that seem to post the same image over and over again – we don’t usually follow those for long. Make sure you find ways to mix it up, make your real estate pics interesting and produce content that keeps your audience engaged. Close-ups, portraits, landscapes – you’ll want to have them all!
By Maddie Jostol, Senior Marketing Manager
The kids are off to college and the big house just doesn’t make sense anymore. The cost, upkeep, and empty space is often what motivates empty nesters to think about downsizing.
As their real estate agent, it’s your job to guide them to the perfect downsized home. Below are a handful of tips for you to pass along to your clients. Take some of these tips and create your own guide to offer to clients. This is a great tactic for getting back in touch with someone you think might be a soon-to-be empty nester. If you’re using MoxiInsights, for example, and see that someone is flagged as ‘likely to list’ because they could have kids approaching an age where they’re likely to move out, it might be the perfect time to offer up your guide and get back in touch.
Here are a few tips to get you started when it comes to clients downsizing:
1. Look for space that truly matters
First and foremost, they need to find the right home. As you know, downsizing can be overwhelming for many homeowners as it’s likely they’ve spent their life growing into larger spaces.
As their agent, remember to help them look for the right space. Every family has different needs. When downsizing, the homeowners should consider what space is non-negotiable to figure out which homes make the most sense. Want to downsize, but you host Thanksgiving every year? Look for a home that still has a formal dining room, even if it means smaller bedrooms. Love to garden? Look for a smaller home that still sits on a decent sized lot where you can grow your veggies.
2. Get the location right
Location, location, location. It’s important with any home purchase, but when it comes time to downsize, this is a particularly important consideration.
Many homeowners will choose to downsize as a part of a move that gets them to their next phase in life. Whether that’s retiring on a farm or moving into the city, it’s important for these homeowners to think about their ideal lifestyle and match their new home’s location to that.
3. Take inventory
We often don’t even know what we have. Stuff accumulates over the years, and before we know it, we have closets and containers full of stuff that just gets shoved away, never to be seen again. Encourage your clients to take inventory of what they have during the home search process, so they have a realistic idea of how much space they need.
Then, once you help them find the perfect home, encourage them to purge. This will make their move easier and living in their new place more comfortable. This includes any storage units, sheds, or storage rooms. Taking inventory of it all to give them a clear picture of what they do and don’t have.
4. Get the right storage systems
Once the move is taking place, consider sending your client a list of your favorite storage systems. This is a small but powerful favor, as they’ll be trying to figure out how to get all of their stuff into their new, smaller home. Offer them suggestions for storage systems that have multiple uses and actually save space. Pinterest is a great resource for nifty storage systems that they likely don’t already have.
5. Out with the old
Garage sales are a lot of work, and we often don’t have enough stuff to warrant spending an entire Saturday hosting one. Here are a few ways your clients can get rid of the stuff they no longer need – whether they want to donate it or make a few bucks.
Clients downsizing is a difficult process, from the moment a family decides to make the move, to finding the perfect home, and all the way through the move. Help ease the pain of the process by offering valuable tips as your guide them through. Be the real estate agent they always think of when they tell their friends about how excited they are for this new phase in their life.
By Tiana Baur, Content Marketing Manager
While every consumer out there has their own taste, personality, and priorities, there are certain things all home buyers look for when it comes to choosing their real estate agent. If you’re looking for more ways to attract more clients, make sure you’re working on improving these essential traits. And if you’ve ever wondered what made a client pick you over someone else, these could very well be why.
Honestly, just being easy to find is often the reason why a real estate agent is chosen. It doesn’t sound glamorous or exciting, but it’s the truth. Everyone knows that a surprising percentage – 74 percent to be exact – of home buyers go with the first real estate agent they contact. It’s why we’re so crazily adamant about agents focusing some of their efforts onto marketing their skills on social media, across multiple channels. The more people that see you as an option, the more will pick you. It’s as simple and as complicated as that.
We don’t mean literally. Please don’t reach for your prospects hand – it’ll get awkward quick. We mean they need a little extra help and encouragement along the way. Make them know how much you care, how much you know, and how far you’re willing to go to help them reach their first-home purchase objectives out of the gates.
Believing in the dream.
Buyers have dreams. They picture themselves in a certain house in a certain setting. Don’t go to the interview or take the call and immediately tell them Santa doesn’t exist. Find out more and what it will really take to achieve their home goals. Often, first time buyers don’t really know what they’re looking for until they’re going through the process. To recap: let them know you believe in their dream as much as they do.
And we don’t just mean knowledge of the home buying process itself. It means knowledge of the current market not only in the city, zip code or, neighborhood, but on the exact street they’re looking to buy.
It also means knowing tips and tricks for avoiding bumps in the road during the home purchase or even after they’ve signed on the dotted line. The more information you can provide upfront, the better clients feel, the easier it is to say “yes” to you.
If trust is the foundation and the walls, then communication is the roof. You can never overcommunicate. Ever been on vacation and wish you received more pics from your dog sitter, but instead you’re lying there at the beach wondering how your dog is doing and if they’re happy? When it comes to anything close to the heart or heavy on the wallet, don’t worry about being annoying. Worry about not being communicative enough.
Cutting out those little white lies.
Honesty is everything. It’s the foundation and the walls of a trusting, long-term relationship. Prospects will appreciate your integrity and honesty when you’re 100% upfront with them about their home buying goals and how you can help them reach them. If they’re being completely unrealistic – tell them. Gently. Help them find a balance for a realistic home buying journey, while keeping that dream intact.
Negotiation skillz that save the billz.
While this agent trait might not be a reason someone goes with you in the first place since these skills aren’t seen immediately (besides from your impeccable Zillow reviews), it’s why that client will choose you in the future and refer you time and time again. Being a good negotiator takes practice, but also an innate talent that others out there just don’t possess. If you’re an agent that kills it at the negotiation table, make sure you’re marketing that skill above all else. Those that look for this trait in real estate agents (especially more seasoned home buyers and investors) will pick you faster than Usain Bolt picked off his competition.
By Maddie Jostol, Marketing Manager
Virtual reality, augmented reality, 3D imaging, mixed reality – overwhelmed yet? These flourishing technologies are just getting started. Yes, even imagery and video are getting more advanced. If you think these things aren’t going to start seeping into your role as a real estate agent, think again. They already have. Don’t worry though – in many cases, they’re actually helping agents deliver a higher level of service to home buyers. The way we show spaces is no longer limited to open houses and still images – there’s a whole array of options for experiencing a space even when you aren’t physically in it.
First, let’s define VR and AR since they’re buzzwords that might be unclear.
Virtual Reality (VR)
Virtual reality is the more immersive experience, as a computer-generated simulation of a realistic situation. VR typically requires a headset display – yes, those big, futuristic-looking goggles. It immerses the user in an entirely new environment, so it is often used for gaming, entertainment, and training. Think: flight simulators.
Augmented Reality (AR)
Augmented reality does not close people off to their surroundings like VR does. In fact, it simply augments the user’s current surroundings, enhancing or changing aspects of reality. It adds new layers of content to reality in order to enhance a person’s experience. Think: Pokémon Go.
So, how are these tech advances working their way into the world of real estate? Here are a few ways.
Create a virtual tour to show off a property. Rather than a prospective buyer having to drive out to the property and view it in person, a video walk-thorough can serve as an effective introduction to the property so they can decide if they’d like to take the next step. Services such as Matterport enable agents to construct 3D walk-throughs of a listing. Basically, it models the space so the viewer can experience the space just like they would in reality. 3D imaging offers a true experience, giving a potential buyer a true feeling for how the space is situated and laid out.
Tip: even if you don’t have a high-tech tool to accomplish a 3D walk-through, you can still add a video walk-through to your listing presentations. It lends a personal touch and enables the prospective buyer to truly experience the home and picture their own life taking place there. With the incredible quality of smartphone cameras now, you can accomplish this without investing in expensive video equipment.
Virtual staging is a rising trend in real estate – it means augmenting images of the home to enhance or update the space. PadStyler, for example, specializes in virtual home staging and makes it especially simple for agents. Agents pay a flat fee for an image, and PadStyler does all the heavy lifting. A virtual staging service such as this is particularly important for properties that are outdated or have an undesirable curb appeal. Buyers are often quick to overlook properties that lack polish, and this is an easy way to help them visualize the property’s potential.
Virtual reality is increasingly commonly being used for new construction. Companies such as Virtual Xperience and VR Global are using VR to bring properties to life before they’re built. Instead of making a decision purely based on plans and 2D mock-ups, prospective buyers are able to put on a VR headset and explore the home as if they were in it.
Whether or not you have access to these technologies, consider the trends and how you can improve your service to meet client expectations. The key here is to help buyers visualize their lives in a space, no matter where they are or what the current state of the home is. Put the property’s best foot forward and enable your clients to experience the home in its best light.
By Jessie Trapp, Marketing Coordinator
So, you’ve decided to take a vacation. I applaud you for taking initiative to achieve a healthy work-life balance! The bad news – nearly 60% of people say that they continue working while they’re away. As an agent, it can be tough to hit the “off” button, but it’s essential in order to truly enjoy your well-deserved time out of the office.
To avoid you becoming the person checking their email at the beach (no one wants to be that person), we’ve compiled a quick pre-vacation checklist to ensure that you can make the most of your trip and feel confident that your business is covered before you take off.
1. Let your clients know ahead of time.
The more notice, the better. Scheduling your vacation as far in advance as possible will make this process run more smoothly – but we get it, things occasionally come up last minute. Regardless of when it happens, send out an email or pick up the phone to let your clients and coworkers know you’ll be leaving the second your plans are solidified. This will remove any potential guilt on your end and they will appreciate your efforts to keep them in the loop.
2. Set expectations.
Make it blatantly clear to clients when you will be leaving and when you will be available again using exact dates and times. No one enjoys feeling overwhelmed the second before a trip, so consider extending the dates you tell your clients by an extra day on either end. This will allow you plenty of time to wrap up last minute tasks without being bombarded by more to-dos prior to your vacation, and a day to ease back into the flow of things upon your return.
To prevent things from getting messy, prioritize exactly what you need to do before you leave and what is best left until after. Make a clear plan of when you will complete your tasks by to avoid leaving everything until the last day which, if you’re anything like me, will already be filled up with the packing you have successfully procrastinated until the very last second to do.
4. Send out a last call email.
You don’t want to leave your clients in the dark, but you also want to enjoy a work-free vacation. In order to accomplish both, send out a “last call” email one week prior to your departure to see if there are any last-minute tasks you can complete before you log out of your email. And just to make things clear, you will be logging off your email. Trust us, it’s a must in order to avoid any temptation to work during your vacation.
5. Set up an automated reply.
Setting up an automated “out-of-office” reply for your email is the key to avoiding any mix-ups and hurt feelings. You want to choose one that leaves a positive feel, possibly even a laugh – so check out this article for some inspiration to get it right.
6. Assign points of contact.
If you are vacationing somewhere where you can absolutely not be reached – good for you. In this case, make sure to dedicate someone to handle emergencies for you in case any arise. Your brokerage manager or someone equivalent will likely do the trick!
Six simple steps to a work-free, stress-free vacation – that’s not so bad, right? Covering all your bases prior to your vacation will ensure that your reputation as an agent remains in-tact and will allow you to rest assured that your vacation will do no harm to your career long-term. Rest, relax & recharge – you’ve earned it!
By Jessie Trapp, Marketing Coordinator
Today’s typical seller has lived in their home for 10 years prior to making the move to put it on the market. Clearly, the decision is a major event, and far more complex than planting a shiny “For Sale” sign in the lawn and calling it a day. Facing the terror that often lies within attics and basements following years of neglect, organizing all of the belongings that have now stacked up to a borderline-hoarder status, and desperately bribing friends to move it all to the next place are all aspects of the selling process that immediately come to mind. However, getting as much of a return out of a house as possible is always at the very top of sellers’ to-do lists.
So, your client has decided to sell. What’s next? At this point, many facing this move likely wonder: How much money should I actually invest into my home before selling? What aspects of my home are worth sprucing up? Will the increase in home value actually be worth the time, effort, and cost of making these adjustments?
Obviously, the answers to these questions are often very situation-specific, but there are several small aspects of homes that sellers should have in tip-top shape in order to get the bang for their buck they’re hoping for. Agents are often the go-to consultants for home value questions, so here are a few home selling tips to always have on your pre-sale checklist!
We are all told from a young age to never judge a book by its cover, but let’s be real – buyers won’t be able to help it! Think about it- What is the first thing your clients see during your listing presentation? This one’s easy, they look at the lovely exterior shot of the prospective home. They expect this image to be impressive, as it’s the first impression that neighbors, friends, and family will have of their brand-new home. According to a Michigan State Study, enhancing the curb appeal can increase perceived value by 5-11%, so if their budget allows, enhancing the front of the home will surely pay off. It’s usually smart to discourage them from any massive investments in features such as fountains, as not everyone wants a fountain and getting your money back won’t be guaranteed here. Instead, keep the renovations modest and visually appealing.
Update the little things.
Even small hardware such as cabinet handles and doorknobs can contribute to a home looking outdated if not replaced and updated somewhat regularly. Again, keep the styles as neutral as possible but avoid choosing pieces that look tacky or cheaply made.
Make it sparkle.
Investing in a cleaning service or bribing friends to partake in a cleaning party is definitely worth the effort. Buyers expect to have to clean their home throughout their ownership of it, but they most definitely won’t want to start cleaning it from day one. The driveway and siding should be power-washed, carpets should be free of stains, the windows should be smudge-free, and dusting should be done throughout. Making a house appear spotless will contribute greatly to the positive impression that potential buyers get of the home from the second they walk in.
So, your client’s favorite color is neon green. While some may find that to be a quality choice in color, unfortunately not all will agree. Repainting a home with neutral tones will increase the likelihood that a wider variety of people will find it attractive and help them envision how they would decorate the home with their own style. The clean and fresh feeling provided by a clean paint job will also give it a newer feel, something that buyers will view as a definite plus.
The main takeaway is that increasing home value shouldn’t usually require a massive remodel and months of construction. It should however simply start with you, an outside perspective, consulting your clients on what about the current condition of the home will likely be seen as desirable to potential buyers, and what could use a facelift. You’re the expert – don’t forget it!
By Jessie Trapp, Marketing Coordinator
The changing trends within the housing market are often fast paced and challenging for agents to keep up with. Thanks to the popularity of smart homes and Joanna Gaines (the queen of home-remodel TV), today’s home buyers and sellers are becoming surprisingly knowledgeable about home design, and specific about which features and trends make up their never-ending lists of must-haves.
While this heightened level of clarity can be helpful for some, it also tends to make the process of finding a client’s dream home an increasingly difficult task for agents. Buyers are constantly perusing the internet and covering their beloved Pinterest boards with professionally designed inspiration, driving their expectations for their future home to seemingly impossible heights. Knowing what trends are attracting attention will ensure that you are looking at prospective listings through the eyes of clients you are bound to work with in the near future. Surprising your customers by highlighting popular trends in your presentations will likely deepen the value they see in your proposed listings and heighten the overall interest they have in them. The wow factor is a huge part of what you do, and every bit helps! Don’t worry, we are here to keep you in the housing trend loop (you’re welcome).
That’s right, get out your shovels and rakes – gardens are making a major comeback. With cities expanding and becoming increasingly crowded, tiny homes are “in” and the concept of having a significant chunk of land is becoming a thing of the past for the vast majority of urban dwellers. Many of today’s current homebuyers are looking to bring surrounding greenery back into their living space, especially in the form of a garden. Whether it is incorporated into the actual property or merely a local community garden close by, it is a trend that is likely on the minds of your clients. Be sure to familiarize yourself with nearby community gardens or consider a home’s potential for an indoor or outdoor garden when prepping for your next open house!
This is a hot topic that we recently wrote a full blog post about. Smart locks, smart thermostats, smart windows, and smart kitchen appliances are just a few of the most popular smart products stirring up excitement among homebuyers. If a home has smart technology, be sure to showcase it. If a home is lacking in this department, make sure to have a trusted technology source on hand to pay a visit and provide an estimate for incorporating some of this smart tech into the home. Dare I say, a closing gift? Here is a breakdown of some of the potential costs associated with adding these types of tech.
The industrial style of showing off raw building materials is a trend that homebuyers are taking to quickly. Neutral tones, exposed pipes, wood beams, concrete, and metal surfaces are quickly growing in popularity within the interior design universe. If you are working with clients who are in search of this style, point out aspects of homes that can serve as a starting point for them to create this style within the existing space. These are a few great examples of how this trend is being showcased.
Think grandma’s “exotic” wallpaper. In addition to the industrial trend, there is a large population of home decorators that are using patterns as their go-to for creating flair within their home designs. Whether they are found in the bathroom tiles, bedroom wallpaper, or merely accents throughout the house, patterned fabrics and materials are making waves in today’s design trends. While these may have steered clients away in the past, today they could be viewed as a selling point. Bring along a catalog with some examples of how others have incorporated patterns into the look of their homes to share with clients.
As you know, tastes and trends are not one-size-fits-all and often differ greatly among clients. As always, feel out what your clients are looking for and help them visualize how they can rock the trends they love in their new home.