The Zebra Blog

Safari Real Estate Coaching Comes to Seattle Area This Fall!


We are very excited to announce the return of Safari, our premier real estate coaching event, with two free events in Washington State this coming Fall 2014:

September 24th & 25th – Everett, WA
October 21st & 22nd – Issaquah, WA

For ever a decade our passion has been to help real estate agents become more successful. Come, have fun, improve your skills and discover You-nique Technique: Five Steps to Thrive! This is a free, fun and educational two-day real estate coaching experience that will change your business and help take you to the next level!

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Use Your Life Resources to Develop a Strong Niche Market


Niche marketing is something that few agents choose to do. However, the ones who do it well will tell you that it was one of their smartest business decisions. Agents are leery to name and claim a niche because they worry that it will limit their business. But remember, specialists are in-demand and agents who specialize in and claim a niche market often do much better than generalist agents and the way to tackle this is to slowly build it into their business until the niche is strong enough to replace their general business.

Once you have a niche market and claim a particular area, type of real estate, or specialization that will require you to be the expert in that niche and you need to make sure you know more about this niche than your competition. For example, if you name golf course properties as your niche market in your area, you need to know all about the different golf courses, the appeal of the different holes, the homeowner information, and landscaping guidelines along with appreciation rates, average days on market, price per square foot, and perhaps even home builder information.

When you have a niche market it also makes it easier for potential clients to find you either through direct mail marketing or online. When you are the expert or the specialist you stand out and potential clients want to talk to the expert.

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Ask Denise: My Client Database

Denise Lones

Q:  Denise, I was in your Safari class this week and you talked about the importance of having your client database on your own computer. I have my database on my company’s server via their CRM. Can you elaborate a bit?

A:  You bet! I firmly believe that you should have control over your client database. That means it lives on your computer, you back it up, and no one else has access to it. Remember, although you are with a real estate company, you are likely an independent contractor. That means that unless it stipulates in your contract, your database of clients is yours.

I have had an agent client who once had an dispute with her office and wound up having to leave in a hurry. She didn’t even have time to think about her database which was on her company’s CRM – and she didn’t have a backup. Long story short, that information was now in the possession of her brokerage and she could not get those back and needed to start building it again from scratch.

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Helping Sellers Get Realistic About Price

lingering home for sale

Unrealistic sellers have been a big challenge for real estate agents for decades. It is common for sellers to have a different view of their home value than the market does. The difficulty comes when it is time to get the home listed and the seller believes that they are leaving money on the table if they listen to you and list their home at the price you recommend. Even though they did call for your expert opinion, many sellers discount your expertise when they don’t like the price  recommended.

Real estate is one of the only professions where our expertise is so easily challenged by the client. Can you imagine going to see a doctor who diagnoses a broken arm you disagree, getting him to prescribe a remedy based on your own diagnosis? Although this may be dramatic example the principle is the same when a seller challenges their real estate agent’s price recommendation.

What do you do when your sellers are unrealistic about price? The sellers have seen your in-depth CMA and your supporting data clearly showing the seller the price you are recommending to list their home at is $X. They tell you they are shocked! They can’t believe it! They can’t possibly sell their home at that price! Does this sound familiar?

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Design Spotlight: Beach Grass

Beach Grass Design

Today’s design spotlight features the newly refreshed Instant Identity branding design, “Beach Grass.” Golden sunset hues tinge the simple and natural background of this brand. Dark strands of beach grass are silhouetted against a caramel colored sky. The natural theme is complemented by a simple, modern body copy font and a textured, hand writing style decorative font.

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Ask Denise: Education Designations

Denise Lones

Q:  Denise, I believe agent education is very important and I have made an effort in my career to achieve a series of designations, which are featured on my business card. But recently I had a client ask me in kind of a snarky way why I had all these letters under my name. Should I keep my designations or do clients just see alphabet soup?

A:  Great question! Actually this question does come up often because these are decisions that are made during the brand development process. The bottom line is when designations are abbreviated on something like a business card, the general public does not know what these abbreviations mean. On an agent to agent level, that is a different story, so you have to think about who your target audience is for each marketing piece you create.

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Design Spotlight: Cupcake

Cupcake branding design

Today’s Design Spotlight features our BRAND NEW (pun intended) Instant Identity design, “Cupcake.” This yummy design looks good enough to eat! A soft, cotton-candy pink background is framed by delicate strawberry, chocolate and vanilla stripes on the sides and cute little sugar-dots on the top and bottom. A central, monogram button gives a personalized focal point at the top and a friendly, swirling script font provides the icing on the cake. Pretty, sweet, and yet substantial, this brand will satisfy your sweet tooth!

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Ask Denise: Client Negativity

Denise Lones

Q:  Denise, I had a listing that I knew was overpriced, but I agreed to it with the expectation that we would revisit the price if it was still on the market after few weeks. When that time came, the seller blamed me, claiming the lack of traffic was my fault. Although I was armed with facts and spoke calmly, her negativity really rattled me! How can I keep negativity from clients like this from affecting me?

A:  It is not unusual to encounter a client who is either passive aggressive, or just downright confrontational. The key to deflecting it is to be comfortable with how you operate and to know in your heart what it takes to get the job done.

For this listing, you indicated that it was overpriced and that was why it didn’t sell. However, there may have been something she said that made you doubt that price was ultimately the reason it didn’t sell. Do you have a specific marketing system that you follow with listings similar to that one that had been successful in the past? Did you market to the other agents in your office and company? If you feel good about the job you performed regarding the marketing – and if you would market that house the exact same way again – then this isn’t about you. Unfortunately there are just people in this world who have learned how to communicate in this way.

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The Pulse of the Market

Sharing market update with clients

How to Take and Benefit from the Pulse of the Market:

Agents have been contacting me these past few weeks asking me when the market was going to come back.

I didn’t realize it had gone anywhere.

I wrote about the strength of our market a few weeks ago, but it seems that any time the market takes a pause or a breather, agents will become concerned. However, a healthy real estate market ebbs and flows with fast and furious moments and times that are slower. Many areas have been experiencing a slightly slower period during the last few weeks of August and the first two weeks of September.

I can assure you that the fundamentals of the real estate market are currently strong and any pauses are natural. I could easily present a strong case that this temporary slowdown will be good for the market because it slows down multiple offers and inflated prices. When prices rise too quickly it upsets the market because it takes some buyers out of the buyer pool. When buyers are priced out and are unable or unwilling to buy, then inventory increases, and sellers can end up with listings that languish on the market.

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