By Jessie Trapp, Marketing Coordinator
It’s a cut-throat market out there. Inventory seems to become increasingly scarce by the day, and sellers continue to hold tight to their reign as the power players of the real estate world. With agents scrambling to find a competitive edge, it’s no surprise that some of the tactics being used are stirring up serious controversy within the industry.
Enter: pocket listings. The actual usage of the term “pocket listing” can be somewhat confusing, as it is often used to describe multiple types of property listings that agents have different intentions for. Put simply, a pocket listing is a signed property that an agent has acquired but hasn’t listed on the MLS (Multiple Listing Service). In some cases, the agent intends to list it but simply hasn’t yet, however, for the most part it means that they have a property and intend to sell it to someone in their sphere without ever even placing it on the MLS at all. If you haven’t already, now is the perfect time to put this method on your radar because the secrets out – and clients are asking about it.
The topic of pocket listings is a fiery one among agents because it tends to walk on a fine line between tactical and, arguably, unethical. Agents are, in compliance with the Code of Ethics, required to do everything in their power to ensure that they get the best offer for their client. Those against the practice claim that withholding a pocket listing from the MLS presents the risk of missing out on higher offers that could result from making it accessible to the general public, therefore failing to act in the best interest of the client. Transactions for pocket listings also generally remain in the hands of the listing agent, as they often represent the both the seller and the buyer. Some opposed to the practice also express concern that some agents are too biased in favor of it due to the potentially higher commission in it for them, and fear that clients might not always be well educated on the ramifications associated with the practice.
Although these risks likely account for why pocket listings are usually not considered to be the standard practice in real estate, sellers occasionally prefer it and it has the potential to give agents a notable advantage. Not only can the limited exposure component of the method offer a more private experience for the seller, but it can also simplify the offer process all together and speed up the transaction time. For sellers who are wanting a quick sell, this aspect can be a major incentive to sell their home as a pocket listing. By avoiding listing a property on the MLS you lower the amount of wide spread interest and walk-throughs but, in the right situation, you can also increase the quality and seriousness of the interest received. This brings it back to the agent- because pocket listings take the MLS exposure out of the equation, the quality and health of your CRM and overall sphere plays a major role in how successful you can actually be with this strategy. Not sure if your sphere is up to par? Take a look at this piece we wrote to help you gauge where you stand.
Buyers also occasionally prefer to make offers on pocket properties because less competition means that they are more likely to avoid the grueling bidding war process. Again, depending on the situation this can be negative for both buyers and sellers, but some continue to prefer its more simplistic approach and pursue it anyway. For the sake of transparency, some in the industry feel as though agents should always present pocket listings as an option on the table for their clients. This could be risky for both the client and the agent if handled improperly. As the agent, it’s your responsibility to make sure you’re practicing within the laws, which vary among states, and making the pros and cons associated with the method abundantly clear so that sellers can make informed decisions and you can cover yourself against any potential violations.
Like I said, this topic is complex, and people are all over the board in relation to how they feel about it. The practice is very unregulated, meaning there aren’t reliable statistics reflecting how many agents are actually engaging in it. It does, however, seem safe to say that it’s usage is significant considering tech companies, like this one, are viewing it as an opportunity to create a structured platform for it. Regardless of whether you believe this approach to be an epidemic or a tool, it’s important to analyze its effect on the market from all angles because let’s face it- you’re bound to run into it eventually, and you’re going to want backup.
By Maddie Jostol
First of all… yes, you need a CRM. If you haven’t onboarded a standard agent CRM for your brokerage, then 2018 is the year to do so. A CRM (customer relationship management system) is where all of your agents keep and nurture their contacts, market to their sphere, manage their sales flow, track their goals, and much more. The CRM glues everything together.
What impact could a CRM have on your business? Here are a few quick facts:
- ” 74% of businesses using a CRM report improved customer relationships (Annuitas Group).
- ” Conversion rates can improve by 300% with a CRM in place (Cloudswave).
- ” Lead cost is reduced by 23% with a CRM in place (Cloudswave).
Vetting technologies can be challenging and complicated, especially a system as robust as a CRM. So, what should you be looking for in a CRM for your agents? Below are our recommendations for what you should consider when it comes to a CRM for your brokerage.
Your CRM should ‘understand’ the real estate business.
In general, CRMs should be intuitive. The system’s sales flow, prompts, and coaching should align with your business process. The home sales process is a unique one compared to other businesses. When considering an agent CRM, make sure the system makes sense for this sales process, taking into consideration sphere marketing, a long sales cycle, GCI goals, the transaction process, etc.
It must support your sphere-selling efforts.
The sphere-selling methodology is the way of the future. When agents strategically leverage their spheres of influence, their businesses grow in a sustainable way. In a competitive landscape, where all markets are thirsty for leads, an agent’s sphere is their power.
If you’ve invested in training and coaching to encourage your agents to leverage sphere-selling, they should be using a CRM that supports those efforts. What’s this look like? It means having your CRM integrated with your other contact databases, relevant segmentation options, and aggregated public data to keep up with the people in your sphere.
Integration will power your business.
Integration powers your business. In a sea of ad hoc tools, we’re all left attempting to remember passwords and experiencing tool fatigue. Select technology solutions for your brokerage that integrate with each other. This means that an agent can use all of their tools with a single sign-on and a cohesive flow.
Take lead generation, for example. When leads are generated – whether they’re from the agent’s website, or purchased from a lead provider, they should immediately appear in the agent’s CRM, and the agent should be prompted to follow up. This is bare minimum for a CRM. When it comes to sales enablement, guiding an agent through the necessary tasks from lead generation all the way through closing is key.
Integration goes far beyond lead generation. With Moxi Engage CRM, for example, an agents’ leads flow straight into their CRM, but they can also purchase client gifts, advertise on Facebook, execute print marketing campaigns, manage transactions, and much more, directly from their Engage account.
It must have live MLS data.
When it comes to a CRM in real estate, MLS integration is a must-have. When agents win listings, those listings automatically with their CRM, enabling them to truly manage the transaction from start to finish. It means agents never have to manually enter property data, saving time, and negating errors.
It should improve agent productivity.
When we talk about CRMs, we often talk about “tasks” and “actions” which, for some, can feel like the system is adding work. That’s just not true. The tasks that your CRM prompts should be actions that agents are already taking (and if they aren’t, then it’s even more reason to get a system in place). What the CRM does is streamline these tasks and remind the agent, so they don’t miss a beat.
Logging into your CRM and seeing everything you need to accomplish that day will change an agent’s workflow for the better. They always know what they need to do in order to reach their goals. They’ll be able to see who in their sphere they should reach out to, and be reminded to follow up with that one lead they talked to last week. They’ll be able to look back and see when they last spoke with so-and-so, and be reminded to send Mr. and Mrs. Smith a gift for their house-versary.
This increase in productivity all comes back to your business. Agents are not only able to accomplish more, closing more deals, but they also find better work/life balance, improving retention at your brokerage. Improved productivity adds up to revenue, having a nice effect on your business’ bottom line.
It’s a component of your open platform.
Your agent CRM is a (vital) piece of a larger puzzle. Your brokerage platform is the ecosystem where all of your technology tools and services live, integrate, and share data. Powering that is the CRM, hosting agent databases, consumer data, property data, and driving business results.
To learn more about the Moxi Engage CRM and the Moxi Cloud open platform, reach out to us to talk to a member of our team.
By Tiana Baur
Time to take the “pitch” out of your marketing strategy. Content is the here and now, and the future of marketing as we know it. Growing your business is all about leads, and attracting said leads comes much easier when leveraging content marketing.
Chances are you’ve heard of content marketing, but maybe you aren’t exactly sure what it entails. According to the Content Marketing Institute, a resource for – you guessed it – all things content marketing, describes it like this:
“Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience – and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”
The general concept behind it, is getting rid of the “pitch” aspect many marketers in the past have come to love. With this style, instead of pitching your real estate services as an agent, you are providing truly relevant and useful content for your prospects and current clients, helping them problem solve and get their wanted information. In doing so, they will keep coming back for the valuable content you’re providing them on your agent website or blog, making their decision to choose you for their next transaction an easy one.
Unfortunately, content marketing takes some work. It takes quality planning and regular distribution of content that builds your brand and your awareness in the market. There are three things you must do in order to have the content marketing foundation that will pay dividends:
1. Start with a content calendar
A content calendar is the engine that keeps your car running. It also keeps you focused, with your eyes on the road, knowing which turns to take and which roads to drive on. A little content here and there isn’t going to give you the leads and return you are looking for. Consistency is key. Building a proper content calendar that fits your schedule and style is essential. If you’re looking for a template, we suggest taking some notes from this one.
2. Create unique, highly shareable content
A content calendar means nothing if the content you’re putting out is total crap, so play to your strengths and your specializations. You can’t know everything about every topic; pick three or four main umbrella topics and build out your content from there. Maybe it’s DIY projects, fixer-uppers, or interior design. Maybe it’s deep market analytics and investment properties. You know you best and you want to be able to talk intelligently about the topics when you meet these potential clients in person.
3. Provide value
This can mean different things depending on your unique audience. Think about who you want to target. Is it the neighborhood you do the most business in? Or first-time home buyers? Whatever your ideal client looks like, focus on them.
At the end of the day, you get out of marketing what you put into it. Content marketing can take more planning, creating, and time in general. However, it is a prime example of quality over quantity and your audience will thank you for it. This is what gives prospects that little extra motivation to do the one thing you want them to: pick up the phone and dial your number.
If you want more info on content marketing, see Content Marketing Institute’s getting started guide.
CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL ARTICLE The real estate technology startup Moxi Works has secured an unspecified investment stake from Hanna Holdings of Pittsburgh. Moxi Works has created an open-platform system, called Moxi Cloud, for large residential real estate brokerages, which serves over 100,000 agents and 50 brokerages nationwide.
By Andrew E.
How to protect your email account from getting hacked or phished
Equifax. Target. Uber. LinkedIn. Yahoo. If there is one thing we have all learned, it is that nothing is safe these days, these companies – and others – clearly cannot be counted on to safeguard you from the dangers of hackers. In 2016 alone over 4 billion data records were stolen across the world.
Your email account should be treated as one the most closely guarded personal effects in your life. What were to happen if your email account were compromised and all the escrow money or their social security numbers your client had entrusted to you vanished due to you clicking on a suspect email link? That is a scenario none of us want.
To help safeguard you, and the interests of those you represent, use these five stages of email password security to protect your email account.
Level #1: “Uh, duh.”
The first stage is all about covering the basic best practices of email security.
Don’t use password, abcedfg or 1234567 as your email password
The best thing you can do today is to not use the things like “password,” abcdefg or 1234567 as your email passwords. According to Betterbuys.com these types of passwords can take a hacker just 0.29 milliseconds to hack and compromise your account.
0.29 Milliseconds: The amount of time it takes a hacker to crack a generic password.
Don’t believe me? Betterbuys.com has this nifty tool you can use to test the strength of your password (don’t worry they don’t keep the passwords.)
Use at least 12 characters when creating a password
The longer your password, the longer it takes hackers to crack your accounts and access sensitive information. On average, passwords with at least 12 characters can potentially take two centuries to crack.
Use Lowercase, Uppercase, numeric and special characters
Just how you construct, your password is just as important as a character count. The more thought you put into how your passwords are constructed, the more time it can take hackers to crack your account.
Level #2: “So you’re telling me there’s a chance.” – Lloyd Christmas
Even with a strong password, your chances of being compromised are still high. Hackers and phishers use a variety of programs and tactics to bilk people out of the personal information and other valuables (Mr. Robot anyone?)
At stage two it is about adding extra protection.
Use two-factor verification
The short version: When you use two-factor verification should someone have your password, they should not be able to login to your account(s) without first entering a security code sent via SMS text or through the use of an authentication app. The thinking behind this is “prove whom you say you are” especially if you are attempting to log in from a new phone or laptop.
Increase your phishing detection skills
Phishing occurs when a nefarious entity falsely represents themselves under the guise of being a legitimate company. Their end goal: tricking you into providing sensitive personal information, erroneously sending them money, and the list goes on.
To help you get better at recognizing fake websites and not giving up the proverbial farm, LifeHacker has some great tips, tricks, and tools you can use to protect you from phishing attempts.
Level #3: “That’s interesting, man.” – The Dude
Proactively monitoring your email account can be a great tool for keeping yourself safe and it is easy to set up. At this stage, it is all about keeping yourself informed about what is going on with your account(s) and making sure nothing funny is going on.
Turn on recent event monitoring
If you use notification messages for any apps on your smartphone or tablet, recent event notifications work in a similar way. This type of security helps you to know the exact time, place, and device that was used each time to access your account. Each email provider has different ways of customizing this type of security, so check with your email provider which options are available. I use both email and text notifications for my Gmail account to make sure I am not potentially missing out on any suspicious activity.
Level #4: “I’m putting it in the vault.” – Jerry Seinfeld
With the new layers of security for your email account (and, hopefully, your other important accounts) it can feel overwhelming trying to manage all the new changes. Fortunately, there’s an app for that.
Invest in a password manager vault app
It may seem counterproductive to stage one, but, utilizing a highly encrypted third-party solution for managing all of your passwords can be a lifesaver both for your sanity and time. The concept is simple: enter your login credentials for an account and utilize this as your single source of truth for managing all your accounts including your email account.
There are a lot of great options out on the market. To help you pick the one that is the best fit for you, LifeHacker has put together a great article highlighting the top five options ranked by consumers (I use LastPass).
Level #5: “You will lose.” – Ivan Drago
This stage is not for the lighthearted. If you want to have the highest level of protection against hacking, then read on.
Invest in a YubiKey
A Yubikey is the ultimate last line of defense in email security. Yubikey is a small thumb drive about the size of a quarter, fits on your keychain, and acts as a physical password vault. Translation: if you do not stick the Yubikey into your device, you can not access your email account.
You might be skeptical, but I can personally attest that this is one of my top three best personal investments of 2017. After experiencing my email account being hacked this year, I swore never to let it happen again, thus stumbling upon Yubikey. You can also have multiple Yubikeys tied to your accounts, so, just like your keys, if it happens to get misplaced, you can use a spare until finding your primary one. There is a variety of Yubikey options, so choose the one that best fits your needs.
By Maddie Jostol
It’s something you likely only update if you’re thinking about changing brokerages or you get a new website. If you’ve been in the game a while, but haven’t updated your bio – now is the time.
Your bio is your opportunity to tell someone who you are and what you’re about before you meet. It’s a first impression, in a way. The start of a new year is the perfect time to review your online presence and get those websites and LinkedIn profiles updated, so we’ve compiled a list of tips to help guide you to a winning agent bio.
Don’t sound like a robot – Make it human. Use language that reads similarly to how you would speak while remaining professional. Someone is reading your bio to get to know you, not to see a standard agent boilerplate. Start building a human connection when they read your bio.
Don’t write a novel – Keep it short and sweet. Provide the reader with just enough information to make them decide they want to work with you, without telling your entire life story. 200-350 words is plenty.
Don’t look like everybody else – Focus on unique expertise. Do you know a lot about housing for veterans? Do you speak a second language? Are you well-connected in a particular community? Play up your strengths and set yourself apart.
Don’t start from the beginning – Start with what makes you the best now, and then support that with your past experience.
Don’t be a stranger – Real estate is all about community. People take pride in where they live, so use that to your advantage. Talk about your local area as if you love it there and people will respond positively.
Don’t start with how many years you’ve been in the biz – “I’ve been in real estate for 25 years” doesn’t make me want to keep reading. Experience absolutely matters, but because of what you’ve accomplished and the service you provide your clients, not in the number of years. Not to mention, starting your bio this way will sound generic and unimaginative.
Don’t limit yourself to text – Try a video bio. Video gives you the opportunity to show your personality and resonate with viewers as a true consultant.
Don’t use gibberish – We’ve all seen those bios with so many designations following the author’s name that you can’t decipher it all. By all means, note your qualifications and don’t shy away from sharing your designations, just don’t make it look like your cat sat on the keyboard while you were typing. Include your professional experience in a thoughtful, selective way.
Don’t advertise – There’s a time and a place for advertising. Maybe they clicked on an ad to get to your website where they’re reading your bio. However, your bio is an opportunity for someone to get to know you. Sure, the end goal is to win a listing, but that’ll happen because they want to work with YOU.
CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL ARTICLE Hanna Holdings, the holding company for Howard Hanna Real Estate Services, announced on Thursday it has invested in a Seattle-based real estate technology firm that provides a suite of tools to make agents more productive.
The O’Hara real estate company first partnered with Moxi Works in August 2013, becoming a customer of the Moxi Cloud platform offering tools and services to help real estate agents.
In today’s competitive market, everybody is thirsty for more leads. Lead generation is becoming increasingly challenging and expensive and it’s tough to know what lead quality you’re going to get. The truth is, a jackpot of leads might be right under your nose. Yes… you might have a goldmine and not even know it! Your sphere of influence could be chock-full of leads – both those who are thinking about buying or selling, and those who have friends who are thinking about buying or selling.
Always be growing that sphere.
As an agent, your sphere is your book of business moving forward. Those relationships will only become more valuable as lead generation gets more competitive. A strong sphere of influence will give you an instant leg-up against other agents because it’s a base of relationships that powers your business. When you meet people at PTA meetings, holiday parties, and community events who could be clients down the road, you’re growing your sphere, and in turn, your business.
Keep that database up-to-date.
As you do your farming, add those people to your database. Those connections are valuable, but only if you have a fighting chance of keeping in touch with them. That’s what your database is for. When the database of contacts in your CRM is up-to-date, you’re able to nurture those contacts as a lead source. Your CRM should guide your daily work routine. Who do I need to follow up with today? Where did I leave off with so-and-so? Use your CRM as a point of reference.
Stay in contact.
When you have a solid, growing sphere of influence organized into a database, you can nurture those contacts for sustainable business growth. The beautiful thing about having a well-organized database is that you can segment your database to stay in contact with certain people. Have a charity golf event you’d like to invite a handful of past clients to? Segment your database by golfers so you don’t miss a beat. Staying in contact with your sphere of influence will lead to an increase in repeat and referral business. These are the highest quality leads an agent can ask for, so don’t let them fall through the cracks. If you’re a Moxi Engage user, subscribe to Moxi Insights for consumer data that notifies you when someone in your database is likely to buy or sell.
When it comes to your database, your goal is to be each contact’s go-to person when it comes to real estate. When their neighbor mentions they might take a job in another state: you know a great real estate agent. Or when their friend mentions they’re considering buying an investment property in the next year: you know the perfect person to help. The vast majority of people end up working with the agent who reached out to them first. Your goal: always be there first. If you’re present when they’re just toying with the idea of selling their home, there’s no doubt you’ll be top of mind when they’re actually ready to start the process. Lead generation happens by default when you’re top-of-mind for your sphere of influence.
Don’t discount the value of those already in your database. Rethink how you look at lead generation and start with the people you already have a relationship with. Instead of purchasing leads and attempting to win over strangers (sure, we all need to do some of that), start with your sphere and leverage your database.
By JoDee Aspin, Database Developer at Moxi Works
I started working for Moxi Works in 2012. At the time, the Moxi Fund had existed, but wasn’t being treated as the priority I felt it should. There was about $4,000 sitting in the fund, mostly from donations that staff made over the years. No one was overseeing the fund or guiding it along to a prosperous future. Fortunately, that soon changed.
Mark Carlson, VP of Software Engineering, knew I had interest in the Windermere Foundation, which has always been extremely visible to Moxi Works since our founding roots are in the Windermere Real Estate brokerage. Because of that, Mark asked if I wanted to take control of it and as you can imagine, I jumped at the opportunity! In fact, it’s one of the reasons I said yes to taking the job at Moxi.
The fact that people on staff had donated money that was just sitting in a pot and not getting to the people it was intended for, bothered me to no end. Under the Executive Director of the Windermere Foundation’s guidance, I formed a team and we began troubleshooting ways to generate more donations to the Moxi Fund.
Initially our team included Tom Harnett, Jillian Igarashi and Jeff DeMelle. We determined that we really had two main goals, first, to continually promote awareness about the Moxi Fund within the organization, and second to generate enough interest that the entire staff thought of new ways to fundraise and help in growing the pot. I think we were all surprised at how quickly this took hold. We started to generate more and more interest and thus our funds began to grow little by little. It really kicked off once our CEO, York Baur got behind it (whom at the time had just joined Moxi Works). From that point on, there was only up. In fact, the Moxi Fund has raised more than $80,000 for charities in our community.
The Moxi Fund is a win for our entire company, and one that makes me proud of each person that gives to it, whether through volunteering for the Moxi Fund team, donating funds, or participating in the activities around it. More than that, it makes me proud to work for a company that promotes and fosters programs that give back to the wider community. So many took ownership and it was so lovely to see and be a part of. Today, because of logistics, I am no longer there with the team, in fact there are many new people involved, but my heart is there and always will be. The growth of the Moxi Fund is my proudest moment at the company (one of many I might add). Can’t wait to see how the Moxi Fund continues to grow in the years to come!
By Tiana Baur
To recap quite possibly the most significant announcement of 2017 for our industry, Softbank invested a whopping $450 million into the new, shiny tech brokerage: Compass. Emphasis on the brokerage, emphasis on that dollar amount since it’s the largest investment into real estate technology ever, from the world’s largest technology investment fund. They basically did a mic drop to cap off an already crazy real estate tech announcement year. Needless to say, our CEO had some words.
So, Compass is now valued at $2.2 billion. Casual pocket change, am I right? On a serious note though, they aren’t just planning and raising money, they are doing and achieving. That alone makes this all the scarier.
A few months ago, CEO Robert Reffkin announced a 2020 by 2020 plan. Which meant they are going to expand into 10 new markets in the U.S. by 2020, and grab 20 percent of the market share in the 20 largest U.S. cities. The cities they’re expanding to being Seattle, San Diego, Phoenix, Dallas, Austin, Houston, Atlanta, Charlotte, Philadelphia, and Chicago.
Only a couple exasperated brokerage breaths later, they announced they had ALREADY expanded to Chicago, rapidly growing from a team of 20 top tier agents they plucked from the competition. If that doesn’t make you want to vomit in your own shoes then I don’t know what will. This is real, and it’s terrifying for most brokerages out there.
How on earth do you compete with that?!
Chances are, you’re not going to get Softbank to invest millions upon millions into your brokerage. But that’s okay, because there is another way to survive and even become a stronger, more productive brokerage than you ever thought was possible.
The not-so-secret ingredient: an open platform. In fact, it’s not just an ingredient, it’s THE ingredient for brokerage success. Ever tried baking a cake without some type of flour? Pretty. Freaking. Awful. Think of an open platform as your brokerage’s flour. It provides the structure and strength, holding everything together, in one tasty package. You can add in nuts, chocolate chips, even peanut butter. The options are endless and it’s up to you to decide what is going to taste the best.
Take the Moxi Cloud open platform for example. We have over 40 tools and services – DocuSign, Imprev, Intuit, Buyside, Offrs, Flipt – to name a few. Our brokerage clients get to pick any and all they wish to, and all their data and tools and services are put together, working seamlessly with their roster, brokerage assets, CRM contacts, MLS data, and more.
Compass might be trying to make all their own software, but you don’t have to in order to provide your agents with the tools and services they’re craving. An open platform delivers higher flexibility, efficiency, and profitability to your brokerage and agents.
An open platform is the only way to future-proof your brokerage against the rapidly-evolving technology space. It’s the Compass killer. What are you waiting for? A Compass announcement in your neck of the woods?