Featured Agent: Tracey Hall

Featured Agent: Tracey Hall

Fun Facts:

Tracey Hall is a Partner Agent at Rebecca Del Pozo & Co. She chose Keller Williams because a friend of hers recommended the company. She starts her day off with one cup of coffee and is a mom to three kids. If Tracey could open a KW office anywhere in the world, she would open one in Italy.

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Retire Out of Real Estate

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If you have your real estate license, you know the true definition of hard work. You know the grind. You understand the time, energy and compassion it takes to do your job well. What if you feel called to something more? What if you are bored and are ready to start a new adventure and don't know how to transition out? 

 Did you know that we have a real estate business acquisition specialist who can sit down with you and help you put together your exit strategy?

Click "contact us" for more info today and book you career visioning consultation. 

5 Realtor Myths

 
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There are a few misconceptions about real estate careers that I'd like to address today. These are by no means the only ones (sadly), but there the one's that come up most often when I talk to people about this career. Okay, here we go...

Misconception #1: It's an easy job.

It's not.

It is a very rewarding career. It's a career that's challenging in some wonderful ways. It's a career in which you have the potential to define and achieve your own success. But it isn't easy. We work hard to earn a license and to stay current on the laws that regulate our industry. We spend time building our reputations and relationships, so that we can have long-lasting careers. I tell the aspiring agents I work with that I use the word "career" and don't use the word "job" deliberately. At my brokerage, agents are essentially building businesses within the company. We set our own goals and make plans for reaching them. As our business grows we can hire our own support staff, transaction coordinators, and listing agents. So, it's definitely not a 9-5 job. But I think that's a good thing!

Misconception #2: It's a cutthroat business and agents will do anything for a sale.

Oh my goodness, does this one bother me! I feel like the agents I work with and have gotten to know over the years are some of the most supportive and encouraging people I've ever met AND incredibly generous with their time and knowledge. Keller Williams really fosters this culture with our new agent coaching program, but there are specific examples that spring to mind. I work with an agent who has the corner on a particularly large market here in the Northwest. When new agents come on staff, he'll let them work his (many) open houses, so that they have the chance to meet prospective clients and gain valuable face-to-face marketing experience.

Secondly, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) has a code of ethics and standards of practice to which all of their members commit to honoring. If you'd like to check it out, click here. There are also laws that govern what Realtors can and cannot do and say. At Keller Williams we formalized our own belief system and gave it a name, WI4C2TS. It guides how we treat each other and our clients. It's on my homepage, but here it is again:

belief-system-poster
belief-system-poster

Are there unethical real estate agents? Sure. There are dishonest and unethical people in every profession. But the vast majority of us are honest and ethical and abide by a strict set of rules.

Misconception #3: It's expensive to get started.

It does cost some money for licensing, that's definitely true. But it's a far, far smaller financial investment than say, a 4-year college degree. The cost varies by state, so I can't give you a number that will be accurate. I guess my point would be, don't assume it's financially out of reach. You can easily research the costs in your area. If there's a brokerage you think you might want to work for once you're licensed, they can help you figure out what you need to budget for study materials, licensing exams and other fees.

Misconception #4: If I'm not a natural sales person, I won't be successful.

I would say that you have to be a good communicator and a good teacher, but not necessarily a "sales person," by the traditional definition.  You do need the ability to talk to people; to connect with them; to hear what their needs are and gauge whether your particular skills and expertise are a good fit for them. And then you need the ability to communicate who you are and what you offer in a genuine way. Lots of successful agents don't have a "sales" background. I think I may have said this before on the blog, but I find that teachers, baristas and bartenders are common backgrounds for real estate agents. It's something about the patience, communication skills, service mindset and attention to detail, that makes them successful. I think.

Misconception #5: Real estate careers are a good side gig/part-time job.

I've done a blog post dedicated to just this topic, but I'll give you the shortened version here and then you can go back and read that post by clicking this link.  I think it's impossible to stay up on all of the laws, regulations and details required to represent clients well if you aren't in it full-time. There are just too many moving pieces and the consequences of missing something are too grave to part-time this career. So if you find yourself in a position where you have to straddle the fence of 2 careers at 1 time, you would benefit from joining a team so that you can have the support you need to stay on it and your clients receive the best care possible. Or let's talk about referrals.... This is a great option for people who can't be 100% dedicated to the business. Ask me and we can go over the details together.

Thanks again for reading! I'll be back here with a new post again soon!

You Might be Surprised...

 
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Did you know that you could be a really successful Realtor and never represent a buyer or seller in a transaction? Or that you could build a real estate business for yourself that includes four distinct sources of revenue? Or mix and match those four elements to create something that's the perfect match for your interests, strengths, goals, etc.? People often think of being a real estate agent as only representing clients in the purchase or sale of a property. That's how I started my career, and may be how you start yours too. But it doesn't have to be the only way you put your skills to work.

I'm a big fan of variety and of diversifying sources of income, including building in some passive income where I can. I thought I'd share with you today some of the ways you can do that as a real estate agent. Keep in mind that my experience has been with Keller Williams exclusively, so the opportunities I discuss below are the ones available with this brokerage. I don't know for sure what other brokerages offer. Okay, caveat out of the way, so here we go.

Option 1: Representing Buyers and Sellers. This is pretty straightforward. As a real estate agent, clients will hire you to represent them in the purchase or sale of a property.

Option 2: "Flipping" Properties. This is where you buy a property, invest in renovating it, and then sell it for a profit (hopefully!). There are several shows on HGTV profiling people who do this. As a licensed real estate agent you can represent yourself as buyer and seller and you'll have access to new properties as they come on the market. Keller Williams has a book to help agents learn how to do this successfully. It's called, appropriately enough, "Flip."

Option 3: Investment Properties. This is where you purchase a property and then rent it out to a third party. Again, Keller Williams has educational materials to help agents do this successfully, maximize their earning potential, and avoid some of the mistakes people commonly make when starting out as landlords. It's called, "Hold."

Option 4: Referrals. I know agents whose entire business is built on Keller Williams' Referral Program. Keller Williams has agents licensed to sell homes anywhere in the world. If someone approaches you wanting to purchase or sell a home outside of the area in which you work, you can refer them to a Keller Williams agent in that region. If that client hires that Keller Williams agent and they purchase or sell a property, you could receive 25% of the commission on that sale. Just for referring that client. Pretty great, right? I've done it several times and it's a win-win-win experience. I know I'm referring someone to an agent who is going to provide them with excellent service; a great KW agent gets to serve someone that may not have otherwise found them; and I get a nice financial thank-you.

Option 5: Profit Sharing. Okay, this one is a unique option within the world of real estate. When you close a transaction, you pay a percentage of your commission to Keller Williams, until you've paid the company dollar CAP in commission in a calendar year. After that commitment is met, then you keep 100% of the commissions you make. Here's where the profit-sharing comes in. The person who "referred" you to Keller Williams gets a thank you for sending you to KW. So, if you go into business with Keller Williams and then you recommend it to a friend or acquaintance and they join as an agent too anywhere in the world), you could get a portion of the commission. You're fully vested after 3 years and the benefit can outlive you and be passed along to your heirs.

Option 6: Salaried Positions. For whatever reason, maybe you want a more predictable 9-5, salaried job. Keller Williams hires licensed real estate agents to provide administrative and transaction support to our Realtors. So, you could use your knowledge and skills in this way as opposed to representing buyers and sellers.  Or maybe you're a great leader and want to take on additional responsibilities on top of your work as an agent. KW has formal curriculum for people who want to pursue a leadership role, and there is additional income associated with those opportunities.

Was any of this news to you? Did one or more of these options make you think about a real estate career in a different way? Please share your thoughts in the Comments section below or contact me here if you want to talk more about real estate or Keller Williams.

Thanks for reading and I'll see you here again soon!

6 Things Every New Agent Must Do

 
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This is a quick post with my thoughts on how to establish yourself as a new agent. The term "brand" is thrown around so much now, that it's become a buzzword and something that can be tempting to ignore. But you really do need to be able to communicate who you are and what sets you apart from other agents from the beginning. It's important. So, here are a few of my tips. Hope they help you! Know your strengths. This is a slightly simpler version of knowing your value proposition. I had no idea how to do this when I was starting out. Keller Williams' IGNITE Program does this in the first class session, so if you join us you'll go through our process for answering the questions that will clarify this for you. It's a pretty basic series of questions, really. What are you known for? What are your strengths? How would someone describe you in 3 words? Ask a former employer, co-worker and an employee (if you ever supervised people) how they would describe you in just a few words. This can be a great starting point.

Develop your network. When I started I didn’t know anyone in this area. My family were all up in Canada and my only circle of acquaintances were a handful of co-workers from the airline I'd worked for and the people at my church.  So, I asked myself how I could expand my circle to hundreds of people. I started small with my own neighborhood and held a food drive there to meet my neighbors. Then I thought about all of the places I did business as a customer--my hair dresser, my local coffee shop, mechanic, etc.--and I networked with the people who owned those establishments or worked there. My advice is talk to everyone you know and if you don't know that many people, find ways to meet some. I also offered to work other agents' open houses. I did tons of those as a way to meet people who were looking to buy a home.

Get a coach. I've had a coach since I started at Keller Williams and meet with one weekly. A good coach will help you remember the basics and focus on your goals, which is especially important when you're starting out and everything feels new and overwhelming. Have them coach you on building a brand, on networking and communication skills. These things are important components of reaching your financial goals.

Develop an Authentic and Positive Online Presence. In many ways, being a real estate agent (or any business where you're front and center) is like running for political office. You must be clear and consistent in your messaging and you must be careful with your online image. You are building your tribe of prospective clients with the things you post on your blog, website, Facebook page and Twitter account. Don’t post anything you wrote after a stressful or frustrating day. Don't vent publicly about a bad experience with a client or colleague. Everything you write/tweet/post can influence a prospective client, so be thoughtful about the impression your online communications make. I teach a class for new agents and I tell them that I'm happy to read anything they're thinking about posting and give them my thoughts.

Know Your Story. This is in the same family as knowing your value proposition and is also covered in the IGNITE class I mentioned earlier. But I think of this as the more personal version of your elevator pitch. Know why you're an agent; what it means to you personally to do this work; and the kind of experience you want your clients to have. Know it and be able to articulate it in 30 seconds or less.

Lead with revenue. Inspect what you’re expecting out of the things you pay for. Meaning, I'm not going to invest in advertising or marketing without knowing how it will translate to more money in my pocket. In the first year especially, you need money in the bank and there are loads of free and nearly free ways to network and market. My first year I spent almost nothing and today I don't spend any more than $50 on any one marketing activity. My first year as an agent I paid $20 to join a breakfast networking group. That was really useful, actually. I'm still in touch with some of the professionals I met there and we refer clients to one another. When you do start investing in marketing, think about partnering with someone else (loan officer, insurance agent) and split the cost, if it's more than a $50 investment.

As always, feel free to leave your questions or comments in the Comments section below!

How To Know Where You Belong

 
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I’ve been with Keller Williams for my entire real estate career and I cannot imagine working anywhere else! For a number of reasons—the interdependent business model, the continuing education/support/coaching opportunities, and technology resources (the list goes on!)—I truly believe it is the best brokerage, bar none. That’s why I started this website and why I serve in leadership roles for the company. But…

There are other solid brokerages out there that might be a better fit depending upon your personality, goals, working style or preferred business model.

No matter where you ultimately decide to put your talents to work, make sure you’ve asked the questions (and received the answers) you need to make an informed decision. To help you a bit with that, I’ll share the 5 questions I’d encourage you to ask real estate brokerages before you decide which one is right for you.

 
Question Marks
Question Marks
 

What business model does their company employ? Is it an independent model in which you are completely on your own as an agent—essentially owning your own business with all the risks and rewards that can entail?

Is it a dependent model, in which you are an employee subject to their rules, regulations and job descriptions?

Or is it an interdependent model (Keller Williams fits into this model)? As you may have guessed, an interdependent model combines many of the best parts about independent and dependent modes. In this model you get all of the perks that come with a big name brokerage: name/brand recognition, access to technology, educational, coaching, staff and other resources. At the same time, you get to build your own business under the brokerage’s umbrella. You get to set your own goals and build a business that is the size and scope you want.

What are their commission splits and office fees? Do you ever sell enough that you get to keep 100% of your commission? This is a very big deal. You need to know how much of what you bring in is going to go back to the brokerage and for what. And whatever that percentage is, you must decide whether you think it’s a fair tradeoff for the support and resources you’re getting from that company and how it compares to the other brokerages for whom you could work.

At Keller Williams you do get to keep 100% of your commission, once you’ve reached your annual responsibility to the company. As of this writing, once I’ve paid $19,000 to Keller Williams I get to keep 100% of any other commissions I make.

What kind of training is provided and, if so, what does that training cost? You’ll want to know what kinds of educational opportunities exist for you at whatever brokerage you select. And I mean formal, established programs. If you want to move into a leadership role, is there a curriculum you can follow to learn what you need to know to do that? If you want to start investing in properties and being a landlord as part of your business plan, does that brokerage have a program to help you be successful in that venture? Is there a mentoring or coaching program established at that brokerage, in which you could be matched with a more experienced agent who has a career similar to the one you want to pursue for yourself?

Ask to see a list of the educational and coaching programs that brokerage offers and make sure that the things that are of interest to you are available.

What kind of technical support is provided and what does that cost? By tech support, I don’t mean someone who can fix your computer if it breaks, although that is worth knowing too! When I talk about technology in this context, I mean does the brokerage provide you with the following:

  • A Website
  • Contact Management Database
  • A Personal Mobile App
  • Listing Syndication (and how many sites?)
  • Technology Training
  • Marketing Materials

What kind of support/support staff is provided? Does the brokerage have administrative support to offer you? How about transaction coordinators to handle the paperwork and manage the due dates associated with the purchase or sale of a home? If so, how many hours per week will you have access to that support and for how much money? Will they provide you with a computer, a printer, copier or other practical support you need to do your job?

 
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My Plan.jpeg
 

These questions are by no means a comprehensive list of things to ask, but I think they are the five most important ones and a good place to start in drafting your list of questions.

I do office tours regularly for prospective agents (some already licensed and some who are not). If you haven’t taken one already, but would like to come in, ask me some questions and learn more about Keller Williams and careers in real estate, click on the Get Started page and send me a message.

Can an Introvert Be a Successful Realtor?

 
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(By Guest Blogger: Erin) The title of this post is a bit of a confession. Could you tell? I am totally, unashamedly, proudly an introvert.

Introvert is not the same as shy, although I think you can be both. And I probably am a little shy too. It doesn't mean you don't like people or lack social skills.

The truth is that there are wonderful things about being an introvert and there are loads of successful and influential people who reportedly join me under that introversion umbrella. People like: Bill Gates, Albert Einstein, Meryl Streep, JK Rowling, Warren Buffett, Dr. Seuss, and many more.

Whether you're an introvert or an extrovert really speaks to which kinds of activities energize you and which kinds drain you. Introverts find social situations draining, and are energized by quiet, solitary and creative pursuits. That doesn't mean we can't be social and charming (we totally can!). It just means that we'd prefer not to and when we are required to be, we have to plan for lots of quiet downtime afterward to recover.

All of that brings me back to the question posed by the title of this post--is being an introvert at odds with being a Realtor? I think to answer that accurately, we have to bust the myth that as Realtors we are primarily in the sales business. While it's true that we are helping people with the biggest purchase they will ever make, at its core, this business isn't about selling; it's about building relationships and connections. Something, incidentally, that introverts are really good at.

Here's a great example of an introvert in action. If I attend a networking event or a cocktail party, I will tend to have longer conversations with just a few people. Small talk isn't my thing. I'm kind of in awe of people who can work a room, meet everyone and end the party with a big stack of business cards in their pocket. I can't do that. And that's okay. If I tried to do that, my discomfort would show and I wouldn't make a great impression. So my goal generally is to meet five people; have a conversation where I learn something about them that can also be a point of follow-up; and exchange cards.

Hosting an open house is probably the most challenging task I do as an introverted Realtor. Those are the events where I'm most often having to interact with lots of people I don't know and where the amount of time I have to establish rapport is limited. So far what I've found is that having my scripts down pat is the most helpful preparation I can do. And I tell myself that it's okay if I can't make a connection with everyone who comes through. If I can have a nice conversation that leaves some avenues for follow-up with three couples/individuals, I'm thrilled with that outcome.

Introverts tend to be really good listeners and tend to spend more time doing that than they do speaking. Sometimes I think this comes across as aloofness, but it really isn't. We're just internal processors rather than verbal processors. And in a real estate context, where so much of your success depends upon listening and understanding what a client wants, that tendency often comes in handy.

So the short answer to my question is, yes, I think introverts can be great Realtors. And extroverts are too! I just think the strengths that extroverts have are much more celebrated generally, and seen as much more desirable than those of introverts. In an industry like real estate, I think it's important to highlight that introverts strengths are different but can be just as advantageous.

For more information about why it's great to be an introvert, check out Susan Cain's book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking. Another book I love that has a business application is Beth Buelow's, The Introvert Entrepreneur. That's been really helpful to me too.

And please leave your comments below! I'd love to hear from introverts and extroverts alike about how they leverage their unique strengths in their real estate careers.

 

 

What It's Like Being a New Agent

 
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I've now been a Realtor and a member of Rebecca's team for just about three months. If you've been reading my studying posts, I guess this is the point where I confess that they aren't being written in real time :-)  Anyway, it seemed like a good time to reflect on what it's like to be new...before I forget! So, if you're an aspiring or newly licensed agent, I hope this post will give you some insight into what to expect during your first weeks. Expect paperwork. Lots and lots of paperwork. I think mine took about 30-45 minutes to complete. Not quite as extensive as the paperwork when you buy or sell a house, but the time commitment was almost the same :-)

Expect to be inundated with information. There is simply no way the human brain can take in, process and retain all of the information people will fire at you. No way. Between new agent orientation, emails from your local MLS, your national and regional professional associations, your brokerage and others I'm forgetting at the moment, you will be swimming in due dates, logins, account balances, advice, instructions and names of people to connect with. I'm not sure I have any foolproof strategies for tracking it all, other than take lots of notes, keep a list (I used Excel) and add tasks with any associated due dates and costs to it as you go. Then you can cross off items as you complete them. I also set aside about an hour each week to go back through the notes and paperwork I compiled in the previous 7 days to file things away and to make sure nothing fell through the cracks.

Expect to develop a business plan right away. You need to be clear about why you're working, what your goals are and how you're going to reach them. Otherwise, it's too easy to get overwhelmed. And because for many of us this is the first time we've ever worked for ourselves--ever been in a job where a boss wasn't paying attention to when we clocked in and out or whether we finished our work for the day--it's oh so easy to procrastinate, especially when there's so much to do. Ignite is Keller Williams' signature course for new agents, and you'll come out of it with goals and a plan (literally daily, weekly and monthly activity and outcome goals) for achieving your target income. Ignite is open to all agents, not just KW agents. Contact Rebecca here for more info if you'd like to attend. For me, having that roadmap to follow has been invaluable. Can't say enough good things about it.

Expect to set boundaries. This is tricky for many of us (myself included). This is a career that can and will consume as much of your life as you will allow. And because you're excited about it, and because you're working with people who are excited for you, it is easy to take on too much.  Ignite is actually really helpful in this regard. (Wow, this is the 2nd Ignite plug of this post...they're not paying me to promote it guys, I swear.) But suffice it to say that KW gives you a blue-print for success and it is possible to do it without sacrificing all of your free time and neglecting yourself or your family, or losing all your friends and your sunny disposition.

Expect to feel excited, anxious and overwhelmed all at once. Being new at anything can be all of those things. Some days I felt way more anxious than excited and vice versa. Totally normal.

Expect to have fun. Everything I wrote above was true for me, but it's also true that this is so much fun! I really don't want that point to get lost in all of this. This is a fun job. Keller Williams is a fun company to work for. Rebecca's team is amazing and talented and are the first people to raise their hands to help me when I need it. It's been an amazing experience and I'm trying to enjoy each season of it before the next begins.

Are any of you new agents? What has your experience been like? Any advice for managing the logistics and the emotions involved with being a newbie? Please share below!

 

I Secret-Shopped Open Houses.

 
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Hi all! Erin writing again this week. This might be my first non-studying-themed blog post and my first new agent-y post. Hadn't thought about that until just now. You know how you have markers for new experiences that make it all seem more real or more official somehow? I think this is one of them. Anyway... I secret-shopped some open houses last weekend. It was really fun. Here's what happened.

 
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Windowboxes
 

Well, first let's start with why I did it. Part of my job on Rebecca's team is to capture the new Realtor experience and document it. I do some of that on this blog, but the rest of it we're using to create a roadmap for new agents in our office to follow. We want to create systems that anyone could jump into and feel confident in the process, be efficient and see success no matter how new they are to real estate.

Much of what I've been doing is taking myself on little field trips and then turning it into something that will be helpful and useful for other brokers. The open houses was one example. I'd shadowed Rebecca at a couple of hers, so I knew how she did things. But I wanted to see how other agents conducted theirs. I thought maybe there were things I could take back to Rebecca and the team that we could adopt.

 
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House 2
 

But what I found in my, admittedly, relatively small sample was not particularly inspiring. Here's what I noticed:

Not one agent introduced themselves by name or shook my hand.

Not one agent asked me to sign-in or leave a business card.

Not one agent kept me chatting to see whether I might need their services. (And at most of these open houses I was the only person walking through, so distraction wasn't an issue.)

With a couple of them I even volunteered information that, had an open house attendee shared it with Rebecca, she would have used as a point of conversation and follow-up.

 
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House 3
 

Maybe you read the above and think there's nothing wrong with what I describe. And you're right--there's nothing technically wrong with any of it. None of the agents were unkind or unfriendly, I want to make a point to say that. But there was nothing particularly right about it either.

Here's what I mean.

When we host an open house we always do three things: we introduce ourselves with a handshake; we ask people to sign-in; we do our best to connect with them somehow through conversation; and then we find a reason to follow-up.

Why? Well, let's take each of those things in turn.

We introduce ourselves because most agents don't, and doing so makes an impression.

We have people sign-in because that's how we collect contact information so that we can follow-up with them later. Following-up might be an email with the answer to a question we weren't able to answer at the open house. It's always either a handwritten note (if they leave their address) or an email, thanking them for coming and letting them know we're here to help them with anything real estate-related. It's proactive and you'd be amazed at the benefit we get from something so simple. It's also a way to track how many visitors we got, so we can share that information with our seller.

We engage them in conversation. We want to connect with them. If they're looking to buy or sell, we want them to like us and choose to work with us. If they aren't looking to buy or sell, we want them to remember us the next time someone asks them if they know any good Realtors. We also do it because we want to be of service. If there's something we can do--information we can share or whatever--we need to know what that is, so that we can help. We only find out those things if we talk to the person. The talking also often gives us our follow-up reason. We try to make note of something they said that we can mention in our note or email afterward.

If we have slow times during the open house we use that time to start on our thank-you notes. If we don't get at least 5 people through the open house, we knock on neighbors doors or we find some other way to meet someone new. We don't ever just sit in an open house doing nothing. It's lead-generation time, whether people walk through the door or they don't.

 
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House 4
 

The point of all of this is really being efficient and effective. Leverage your time so that you never look back on that two or three-hour block of time you spent at an open house and think it was wasted time. Some of these things seem simple, but you'd be surprised how many people don't do them. Don't miss out on relatively easy, relatively quick things that can make a huge difference in your business.