Closing Gifts to Keep the Doors Open

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”  ~Winston Churchill

Showing appreciation to our clients in our own special way does work wonders. In order to receive, we have to give. And in giving out, although our mindset is to instill impression to keep the business relationship, we should gift as a token of appreciation for the trust they bestowed upon by choosing us among other hundreds of realtors in your area. 

Stuck with what to give your clients at the closing? Here are some of the Closing Gift Ideas compiled from the minds of the members of the National Association of Realtors:

1) Home Warranty

2) Gift basket of cleaning supplies

3) Donation to your clients’ choice of charity organization naming them as the donors

4) Gift baskets to cater to your clients’ taste (www.gourmetgiftbaskets.com)

5) Gift cards like Visa, Amex, Lowes, Home Depot 

6) Personalized items – http://www.personalcreations.com

7) Gift certificates from local restaurants 

8) Home-made pies 

9) Welcome Mats 

10) Have a locksmith change all the locks or re-key.

11) Magazine subscription for 12 months-( you have to know your clients’ interest for this one)

12) Betsy Payton and East Bay Cutting Boards-(this company engraves your logo and info on the back)

13) Customized 3-dimensional pictures (Happy Hang-Ups.com)

14) Cutco steak knife and spreader (with your info engraved on the item for additional $$$). Note:The knives have a life time warranty 

15) Artist’s sketch of their new home. http://www.artistkacollins.net/PenAndInk.html

16) Green house plant with some fresh flowers

17) If they have a pet, get a little something for that member of the family

18) Windchimes

19) Return address labels and Note Cards to announce the new address with a picture of their new home.

 20) American Flag for the front porch

In determining what is the best gift for your clients, use your own judgement. You can tailor it according to their needs and interests and what you can afford. It is the thought that counts. Moreover, check if there is any restriction in the dollar amount that you can gift as regulated by your state.

Make an impression through expression

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Walk Forrest. Don’t Run in Catching up with the Technology

Do we feel compelled to engage in technology in order to keep up with the way our business is going? Does tech tools truly boost our business? To answer my own question, I put two of the top and most successful real estate persons under the microscope. My first specimen is recognized nationally and internationally for his outstanding and phenomenal sales performance almost annually by a prestigious real estate company. He has been in the business for almost three decades. However, he is not into social networking. His tool is basically old school. The only technology he wants to adapt to and use is the fax machine and computer to access e-mails and MLS.

My second specimen is a dynamic realtor with less than 10 years of experience. His sales  started skyrocketing two years ago. Since then, he continually amazes his company with the millions of dollars in sales he brings into the company. His tool–technology. 

The first specimen is an excellent example of success through sphere of influence and word of mouth. The second specimen, although sphere of influence and word of mouth are his biggest contributors to his success, his techonology savviness and his keeping up with the Joneses attitude (tech wise), has given him vast web presence. 

Without the thirty some years experience, investing time, effort and money in technology is synonymous to business pay off. Indubitably, in my case, nothing has exposed me to technology lexicon than social media. The most popular and commonly used words are widgets, SEOs, hubspots, APIs, bit.lys, blip.tvs, blogs, HTMLs, URLs, etc,. “There is an app for that” has also become a widely used phrase.

While I am still digesting these high tech words and keeping my sense intact to elude feeling overwhelmed, I read yesterday a new breakthrough. It is a voice-activated application that can change the way consumers find us. 

Before we get crazy about the the ever-changing technology, we should just take it one step at a time. Let us not run with the pace because it can be overwhelming. Catching up with technology, albeit necessary, is almost next to impossible. I am speaking for myself. What is necessary is to optimize the tech tools available to you. Walk it within your manageable pace. Don’t run with the changes. Change is good only if you enjoy it. 

Walk Forrest. Don’t Run in Catching up with the Technology

Do we feel compelled to engage in technology in order to keep up with the way our business is going? Does tech tools truly boost our business? To answer my own question, I put two of the top and most successful real estate persons under the microscope. My first specimen is recognized nationally and internationally for his outstanding and phenomenal sales performance almost annually by a prestigious real estate company. He has been in the business for almost three decades. However, he is not into social networking. His tool is basically old school. The only technology he wants to adapt to and use is the fax machine and computer to access e-mails and MLS.

My second specimen is a dynamic realtor with less than 10 years of experience. His sales  started skyrocketing two years ago. Since then, he continually amazes his company with the millions of dollars in sales he brings into the company. His tool–technology. 

The first specimen is an excellent example of success through sphere of influence and word of mouth. The second specimen, although sphere of influence and word of mouth are his biggest contributors to his success, his techonology savviness and his keeping up with the Joneses attitude (tech wise), has given him vast web presence. 

Without the thirty some years experience, investing time, effort and money in technology is synonymous to business pay off. Indubitably, in my case, nothing has exposed me to technology lexicon than social media. The most popular and commonly used words are widgets, SEOs, hubspots, APIs, bit.lys, blip.tvs, blogs, HTMLs, URLs, etc,. “There is an app for that” has also become a widely used phrase.

While I am still digesting these high tech words and keeping my sense intact to elude feeling overwhelmed, I read yesterday a new breakthrough. It is a voice-activated application that can change the way consumers find us. 

Before we get crazy about the the ever-changing technology, we should just take it one step at a time. Let us not run with the pace because it can be overwhelming. Catching up with technology, albeit necessary, is almost next to impossible. I am speaking for myself. What is necessary is to optimize the tech tools available to you. Walk it within your manageable pace. Don’t run with the changes. Change is good only if you enjoy it. 

Honey is Sweet and Sour- A Caveat

When a complete stranger calls you honey in person or on the phone, what is your first reaction? My answer is IT DEPENDS. First, let us check how our hearing sense works.

Our auditory sense transmits the words we hear to our brain. “While our brains provide us with a tremendous amount of information about the sounds we hear and what they mean to us, at the most basic level our auditory system answers two major questions about any sound. First, what is the sound? The auditory system must identify what tones or frequencies we are hearing. And second, where is the sound? We must be able to locate the origin of the sound in space. Once we know what sounds we are hearing and where the sounds are coming from, our brains can begin the complex task of assigning meaning to the sounds we hear.” (Source:How Hearing Works).

As described above, our brain interprets the sounds we hear and what they mean to us. Hearing the word honey can mean the way it tastes depending on the person who says it. Fact: Even total strangers call us HONEY. The nature of our job requires us to meet, talk and correspond with people with variegated personality and character. During our interaction with these people, there are instances when one or a number of them would call you HONEY. There was an instance when a small girl called me honey when I met her for the first time with her mother while showing houses. I connected with the child and whenever she called me Honey, it was transmitted as sweet, adorable and innocuous. 

However, HONEY and I like you from the very first interaction should FLASH a RED FLAG. Just three days ago, a man from out of state e-mailed me to inquire about the ongoing rental rates in one of the towns in Connecticut. It was a lead from one of the real estate websites. I called the number provided and let me call him Mr. X for the purpose of this narrative.  As a normal procedure, I introduced myself and continued on with the reason for the call. Mr. X put me on hold for a moment—perhaps a good thirty-seconds—then came back with “Oh, yes, I remember you now.” 

He explained that he would like to meet me in the town where he intended to buy condo units as investment properties. He sounded serious when he asked questions about Section 8 and how the process works. He ended our phone conversation with “Oh you are so nice honey. I like you already. Okay honey. I will see you there- -referring to one of the units”. To me, the word honey did not sound right and pleasant. Compounded with the statement “I like you already”, my hearing sense was telling me “Maria, use discretion.” 

So, I called a  friend of mine and asked him a favor to call  Mr. X and introduce himself as my partner and to advise that I could not make it on the scheduled date. My friend proposed that he would be at the property instead to assist if that is fine with him. Mr. X  did not mind at all and answered with “no problem, it is quite alright.”  I was relieved but not 100%.

A day before the meeting, I called Mr. X to follow up and remind him of the meeting. He did not pick up. I left him a voice mail and then tried calling again after six hours. Mr. X did not pick up again nor returned my calls. I never heard from Mr. X again

As a conclusion, Mr. X was up to no good.  At all times, not only in the conduct of our business, we should exercise common sense in the uncommon degree as advocated by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Allow our instincts to prevail when something does not sound right.

Have you been called Honey by strangers? Share with us your experience and how you react to it.

Y I love Working with Generation Y Home Buyers

When you hear the word Gen Y, you associate this demographic with high tech devices and internet /cyber savviness. Understanding their behavior and buying patterns is critical as realtors if we are to cater to their real estate needs. Here are the reasons Y.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, National Population Estimates & Projections, in 2009, Generation Y comprised roughly 25 percent of the population. In 2010, out of the 308,745,538, population, 27 percent is composed of the age groups distributed as follows:

22,677,194 (15 to 19 years old)

21,585.999 (20 to 24 years old)

21,101849  ( 25 to 29 years old)

19,962099  (30 to 34 years old)

 The Generation Y’s number is BIG. And I love working with Generation Y as much as working with other demographics.This demographic creates fresh and upbeat mode because of the fast-paced culture they infuse in the process. Technology has been embedded in their lifestyle. They are the almost absolute multi taskers when it comes to gadgets and devices. 

Because of their technological savviness, online sources affect their purchasing decisions tremendously. In dealing with the Gen Y, your response time should be quick because their attention span is very short. If you can respond to their questions and concerns immediately, trust me, they recognize it. And the probability of getting their loyalty is higher because of the reliability factor. 

Although their tastes and preferences are diverse, they tend to make their decision based on what they can afford. Other factors become secondary.Their behavior might have been affected by the boon and bane of real estate market and the economic collapse that unfolded before their eyes. 

It can’t be denied that they still seek the expertise of the realtors in their buying process even though they have done multitude of online research. You will be amazed by how much information they have at their disposal when you interact with them. Don’t be surprised if they have called the police department or have checked the websites already to get the crime statistics on particular neighborhoods.

The key is you have to listen intently to what they say because this is the information you need to muster to assist them better. For instance, one of the couple will bring up swimming pool as one of the plus but not a very significant factor. The other half could have mentioned that swimming pool is a NO because of maintenance Therefore, swimming pool becomes irrelevant and should be taken out of the criteria. 

Don’t get offended when they have other properties lined up instead of the properties you forwarded to them. They are ultra resourceful people. Try to accomodate the properties they would like to see and include what they could have missed which you think fit their criteria by telling them that “since we are in the neighborhood, we might as well see this other property.” In my experience, they ended up buying what I have picked up for them. 

Generation Y has strong relationship and ties with their parents. So, getting the parents’ approval or vice versa before finalizing the decision is just as important as finding the home that suits their needs. Remember that parents watch out for the best interest of the children. If you are watching out for the clients’ best interest, don’t get intimidated by the presence. You should welcome and respect the parents’ input because they too have vast experience and knowledge about houses.

This time, listen to what the parents say. If you encounter negative remarks about the house, don’t negate or contradict them. Give them your honest and genuine opinion based on other properties your clients’ have seen and feed them the information on how the subject property fare or compare to other properties. You can’t be defensive. If necessary, you can show them the other properties the couple have seen. Let them feel that you are there to protect their children’s interest as well. if you do this genuinely, it resonates. Not only do you get the Generation Y’s approval. You also gain the Baby Boomers’ trust.

The question now is how can the Generation Y finds us. Aside from the word of mouth which they value immensely because of the small sphere of influence they keep, online presence is a must. A simple with clean lines design, real time and user-friendly website is a huge factor. The Gen Y has little patience. Therefore, your website should capture their attention in less than a minute. Making them stay on your website is something you have to consider seriously. Moreover, take the plunge and swim into the social media: Tweeter, Facebook, Linked-in, etc. 

The use of QR  and text codes on brochures, signages  and business cards can be helpful although I have not proven its efficiency yet. However, I received a comment from my most recent Gen Y buyer that I am current with the tech because of the QR code on my business card. 

Without a doubt, the Generation Y’s slice on the pie chart for home buyers is becoming bigger. We need to embrace it. We have to make sure that we have the right tools to assist them lest be left out by the innovative realtors or sadly, be left out by them.

 

 

 


Y I love Working with Generation Y Home Buyers

 

When you hear the word Gen Y, you associate this demographic with high tech devices and internet /cyber savviness. Understanding their behavior and buying patterns is critical as realtors if we are to cater to their real estate needs. Here are the reasons Y.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, National Population Estimates & Projections, in 2009, Generation Y comprised roughly 25 percent of the population. In 2010, out of the 308,745,538 population, 27 percent is composed of the age groups distributed as follows:

22,677,194 (15 to 19 years old)

21,585.999 (20 to 24 years old)

21,101849  ( 25 to 29 years old)

19,962099  (30 to 34 years old)

The Generation Y’s number is BIG. And I love working with Generation Y as much as working with other demographics.This demographic creates fresh and upbeat mode because of the fast-paced culture they infuse in the process. Technology has been embedded in their lifestyle. They are the almost absolute multi taskers when it comes to gadgets and devices. 

Because of their technological savviness, online sources affect their purchasing decisions tremendously. In dealing with the Gen Y, your response time should be quick because their attention span is very short. If you can respond to their questions and concerns immediately, trust me, they recognize it. And the probability of getting their loyalty is higher because of the reliability factor. 

Although their tastes and preferences are diverse, they tend to make their decision based on what they can afford. Other factors become secondary.Their behavior might have been affected by the boon and bane of real estate market and the economic collapse that unfolded before their eyes. 

It can’t be denied that they still seek the expertise of the realtors in their buying process even though they have done multitude of online research. You will be amazed by how much information they have at their disposal when you interact with them. Don’t be surprised if they have called the police department or have checked the websites already to get the crime statistics on particular neighborhoods.

The key is you have to listen intently to what they say because this is the information you need to muster to assist them better. For instance, one of the couple will bring up swimming pool as one of the plus but not a very significant factor. The other half could have mentioned that swimming pool is a NO because of maintenance Therefore, swimming pool becomes irrelevant and should be taken out of the criteria. 

Don’t get offended when they have other properties lined up instead of the properties you forwarded to them. They are ultra resourceful people. Try to accomodate the properties they would like to see and include what they could have missed which you think fit their criteria by telling them that “since we are in the neighborhood, we might as well see this other property.” In my experience, they ended up buying what I have picked up for them. 

Generation Y has a strong relationship and ties with their parents. So, getting the parents’ approval or vice versa before finalizing the decision is just as important as finding the home that suits their needs. Remember that parents watch out for the best interest of the children. If you are watching out for the clients’ best interest, don’t get intimidated by the parent’s presence. You should welcome and respect the parents’ input because they too have vast experience and knowledge about houses.

This time, listen to what the parents say. If you encounter negative remarks about the house, don’t negate or contradict them. Give them your honest and genuine opinion based on other properties your clients’ have seen and feed them the information on how the subject property fare or compare to other properties. You can’t be defensive. If necessary, you can show them the other properties the couple have seen. Let them feel that you are there to protect their children’s interest as well. If you do this genuinely, it resonates. Not only do you get the Generation Y’s approval. You also gain the Baby Boomers’ trust.

The question now is how can the Generation Y find us. Aside from the word of mouth which they value immensely because of the small sphere of influence they keep, online presence is a must. A simple with clean lines design, real time and user-friendly website becomes imperative The Gen Y has little patience. Therefore, your website should capture their attention in less than a minute. Making them stay on your website is something you have to consider seriously. Moreover, take the plunge and swim into the social media: Twitter, Facebook, Linked-in, etc. 

The use of QR  and text codes on brochures, signages  and business cards can be helpful although I have not proven its efficiency yet. However, I received a comment from my most recent Gen Y buyer that I am current with the tech because of the QR code on my business card. 

Without a doubt, the Generation Y’s slice on the pie chart for home buyers is becoming bigger. We need to embrace it. We have to make sure that we have the right tools to assist them lest be left out by the innovative realtors or sadly, be left out by them.

 

 

A Bite from the Big Apple

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” SJ

Isn’t this quote by Steven Jobs poignant and instrospective. It is so parallel to Abrahamn Lincoln’s “At the end of the day, it is not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” How do we live the life we like to live? How do we follow our heart and intuition? Can we just wake up one day and pack our bags because we realize that instead of blogging for the reasons beknown to us, we should be somewhere else dramatizing the novel Under the Tuscan Sun, immortalizing Beethoven’s piano pieces or as simple as hopping in the Sonoma Valleys to savor the richness and texture of wine.

Are we living a life free of liens and encumbrances that we can quickly deliver ourselves to some place else where our hearts lead us? Most of the time, we are intertwined with moral responsibility that our life we like to live needs to take a back seat. Years will pass by to bump yourself up to the passenger’s seat. Until you have the wheel all to yourself to steer selfishly to your heart’s content, we can only try to make the most of what life can offer us at the moment.