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Apple Unveils New iPhone XS—Do Agents Need One?

Sep 14, 2018 by

Each year, smartphones play a bigger role in our everyday lives—to the point that for most of us, our entire livelihood is managed by this small device. On September 12, Apple unveiled its latest iPhones, the iPhone XR, starting at $ 749; iPhone XS, starting at $ 999; and iPhone XS Max, starting at $ 1,099.

However, Apple didn’t unveil a “revolutionary” device, but, rather, a better, faster version of its predecessor. It even goes as far as saying, “iPhone XS is everything you love about iPhone. Taken to the extreme.” In other words, the new iPhone XS is a much better, faster version of the iPhone X. The question becomes: Do you need one?

Design
Design isn’t necessarily a key factor when deciding if one should purchase a new phone; however, it’s hard to say that one can’t be lured by the shine and appeal of a new object. In this case, the new iPhone XS looks just like the latest iPhone X. It has a stainless steel frame and comes in three colors: gold, silver and space grey. Perhaps the most important aspect to its design is the display; it essentially takes over the entire screen in its 5.8-inch and 6.5-inch screens. This means the end user has a bigger surface area to work and communicate than ever before on an iPhone. One could say that is a distinguishable attribute that sets the new iPhone apart from others.

Battery Life and Storage
The iPhone XS will also have a longer battery life than the original iPhone X. The iPhone XS will have 30 more minutes of battery life, and the iPhone XS Max will last up to an hour and a half longer. Despite rumors suggesting the iPhone XS would include wireless charging, this is one feature that was not included in the latest update.

Additionally, the iPhone XS Max will have larger storage capabilities than ever before, with as much as 512 GB of storage. This is one of the reasons why the iPhone XS Max is the most expensive iPhone to date.

Siri Shortcuts
According to Apple, the new iPhone XS series will have a “smarter Siri.” Think of this as your own personal assistant who is communicating your entire schedule with you on a daily basis. For instance, Siri will wake you up in the morning at 8:00 a.m., and as you head out the door, order and pay for your coffee (just the way you like it), so all you’ll have to do is grab it and go. As you pick up your coffee, Siri will pull up the address of your first listing appointment of the day and configure the fastest route to that appointment.

As 11:00 rolls around, and the time has come for you to wrap up your listing appointment, Siri will remind you that you’ll need to email comps to your other clients Mr. and Mrs. Smith by 1:00 p.m., so they have time to review them before your listing appointment the following morning. Then, at 3:30, Siri will remind you that your dry cleaning is ready for pick-up, and that you must stop by the office to pick up some contracts before heading home.

For those who can’t afford a personal assistant, the iPhone XS offers a great solution to stay organized and on top of things in your busy day-to-day.

Camera
Perhaps one of the most exciting aspects of the latest iPhone is the camera. The freedom to carry such a powerful device has made it possible to take quality pictures without relying on a photographer or a professional camera. Just like the previous version, the new iPhone XS has two rear cameras with an improved true tone flash that’s reported to be twice as fast as the previous version.

Additionally, Apple has added some new photo editing features to the iPhone XS models: one can now edit the depth in the background of a picture, which means you can adjust the blur after taking a shot. For instance, if you wanted to take a picture of your listing with the focus primarily on the home and not the neighborhood and yard, you can adjust the blur to ensure the home itself is the focal point of that picture. This new functionality could also be useful in updating your headshots more often; in fact, Apple showcased a few headshot photos as examples when unveiling its new camera features.

Dual SIM Capability
Although dual SIM has already been adopted by some Android models, Apple announced Wednesday that its new iPhone XS will be the first model to carry this capability. Dual SIM allows you to keep work and personal life separate. One can have a SIM card for business and a separate SIM card for personal things. Dual SIM phones will let you know which line a call or text is coming through on. This means you’ll be able to differentiate between business or personal calls before answering the phone.

Dual SIM also allows you to have better coverage, since you can add SIMS from two different carriers to a single smartphone. Basically, if your showings are in an area with poor service, the other SIM card can work as back-up if your second carrier has better coverage in that particular area. In order to utilize this feature, you’ll need to find a carrier that offers this service. Apple displayed logos from major carriers, so it’s safe to say the majority will have this functionality.

New technology is always exciting, but whether or not the new iPhone XS is right for you is a decision only you can make. Speaking of new technology, Homes.com has completely reimagined how consumers search for a home. It’s now easier than ever for homebuyers to find the home they love. To learn more about the new technology on Homes.com and its innovative, new advertising opportunities, click here.

Monica Torresi is the senior marketing manager at Homes.com. For more information, please visit marketing.homes.com.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

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Flipping the Model to Put Agents on Top: Realty Group Inc.

Jul 21, 2018 by

(L to R) Long Doan, Broker/CEO, and Mike Bernier, President/Co-owner, Realty Group Inc.

Realty_Group_Cover_300x420For Long Doan, broker and CEO of Minnesota’s fast-growing Realty Group Inc., success is measured by the achievement of his partner-agents. “Every one of our agents is the CEO of their own business,” he says. “They don’t work for me. I work for them.” Doan and company President and Co-owner Mike Bernier are committed to providing a business platform designed to help their agents excel—and the strategy is working, driving the company’s net growth by more than 3,000 percent in the four years since they started growing Realty Group. But an out-of-the-box approach and a commitment to excellence are just the beginning of the story. In this exclusive interview, Doan and Bernier discuss the unique culture at the core of their company’s success and the changing role of agents and brokerages in today’s competitive environment.

Barbara Pronin: Let’s begin with a little personal background, and a brief description of your firm’s history and positioning in the marketplace.
Long Doan:
I have been in the industry for over 25 years, although the first 15 years were spent on the mortgage side. I started Realty Group in 2009 and closed more than 1,000 transactions in our first four years. Mike, who was a top producer ranking in the top 1 percent of Minnesota real estate agents, joined me in 2011. In 2014, when the real estate landscape changed and the market began recovering, we decided to partner and launch Realty Group 2.0 with a grand total of eight agents and some very definite ideas about the way we wanted to run our brokerage.

Mike Bernier: We are grateful to have had remarkable success in these first four years, doubling our net growth year-over-year and expanding from our original eight agents to 250-plus real estate professionals and growing. We currently operate out of three Twin Cities-area offices, and we expect to open two more offices within the next 18 months.

BP: So what approach have you been taking to fuel this kind of growth?
MB:
To start with, we recruit very carefully. There is a lot of buzz in the real estate community here because we are ranked as one of the state’s fastest-growing companies with the sixth most-recognized brand—so we get a fair number of inquiries. But most of the agents we take on board are referred by our current agents, so our growth has been both organic and controlled.

LD: In effect, we have 250-plus recruiters, and the reason our agents do the recruiting for us is that we attract, promote, develop and support them in ways that encourage and foster their success as business owners. We provide them with cutting-edge technology and marketing support, coaching and training at every level, and one of the most competitive commission payouts in the industry. It’s a partnership model that works, and it benefits everyone, including consumers, who are getting industry-best service from the most qualified agents in the business.

BP: How would you describe the state of your market? What are the challenges and opportunities?
LD:
There is still an inventory shortage in Minneapolis-St. Paul and surrounding areas, but we maintain a proactive and collaborative environment with a high success rate in winning listings and multiple offers in this hyper-competitive market. Our greatest challenge, I think—which is also our greatest opportunity—is keeping up our forward-thinking approach and improving on our own growth rate.

Bernier_Doan_pp88-89

BP: What is it that you do differently to set your firm and its agents apart from the competition?
LD:
In a word, it’s our partnership model. Each agent is truly the CEO of his or her own company. We flip the traditional real estate model so that instead of our agents working for us, we work for them. Our job is to bring value to them, which we do by providing a 100-percent commission with a flat fee. Our core purpose is to help them grow their business, which we do via leadership, marketing tools, leads, facilities and, most of all, the culture of success that defines us. We understand that this is a people business—that there is more than one path to success and that one size doesn’t fit all. And we take the time to encourage every one of our agents to find the best path for them.

MB: There are no layers here between us and the agents. We take a family approach to the business and are directly available to our agents when they need us. Taken together, our agents are given everything they need to succeed in running their own business. We must be doing something right because here in Minnesota, the average number of sales per agent is between four and five per year. Our agents are, for the most part, closing between 10 and 11 transactions a year, and our core of top agents will sell hundreds of homes this year.

BP: You’ve mentioned your strategy for attracting and recruiting agents. What’s your retention rate like?
MB:
The fact is that Realty Group becomes home to our agents. People retire, but they rarely leave for any reason other than that.

LD: Again, we believe that our central purpose is to help each of our 250 CEOs to grow their business. We provide so much value to them that they don’t unplug and leave us—so we typically don’t lose people, especially the people we don’t want to lose. There is always some friendly competition, of course, but there’s also a lot of mentorship. Our mandate is to help other people achieve their dreams, and in doing so, we achieve our own.

Doan_PQ_p89

BP: I would imagine that kind of giving philosophy spills over into the larger community. What are your charitable efforts like?
LD:
All of our agents are active in the community, from serving on local boards and in our state real estate association to raising funds and volunteering for various local causes—mostly centered around the needs of housing, children and veterans.

MB: Specifically, we support Toys for Joy, a local holiday gift-giving program, Eagles Healing Nest for homeless veterans and Habitat for Humanity, among others. They are all programs that are dear to our hearts and give us lots of opportunity to contribute in many ways.

BP: What are some of your most innovative marketing strategies, and how are they helping you to connect with today’s consumers?
LD:
Branding is important. Our obligation is to market our people, and we are gratified to know that our brand is so recognized and well-respected throughout the state. That said, we expect—and train—our agents to market themselves in innovative ways. The fact is that the landscape continues to change, and consumers don’t care what flag you are flying. They only want the best buy or sell experience they can get. Statistics tell us only 4 percent choose the brand over the individual agent—so it’s up to that individual agent, using technology, reputation and personal interaction, to become the agent of choice.

Doan_PQ_p90MB: We do some direct mail, but realistically, our aim is to help our agents brand themselves via effective networking and the innovative use of social media—letting people know who you are, what you stand for, and why you do what you do. It’s the best way to build relationships that matter in the digital world we live in.

BP: How do you stay ahead of the curve on technology, online marketing and social media?
MB:
We are very focused on customer relationship management, and we have invested heavily in the effort to help our agents market themselves. For example, we have organized a full-scale production studio, where agents can film videos and other audio-visual marketing aids they can use on social media and elsewhere.

LD: At the same time, we never lose sight of the fact that we are first and foremost a people business. Our objective is to use technology to enhance customer relationships, not replace the personal connection.

Bernier_PQ_p91BP: What’s on deck for the future of the firm?
MB:
We surprise ourselves constantly with the rate at which the firm is growing. The road ahead is clear, and I can see us having 1,000 agents on board in the not-too-distant future. I think it’s mainly because we know who we are and what we stand for, and we are scaling organically with passionate real estate professionals who have the same kind of goals and commitment.

LD: Beyond that, we will continue to maximize opportunities in Minnesota to expand both our team and our footprint—and we’ll continue to work to raise the standards of real estate professionalism, one agent at a time. With so many real estate companies out there, both big box and independent, I think our growth will be driven by one overriding fact: We add more value for our agent-partners than any other brand in the industry.

For more information, please visit www.realtygroupmn.com.

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Building a Virtual Brokerage with Strong Agents and Superior Online Leads

Apr 2, 2018 by

Monroe_LucasFor Lucas Monroe, broker and chief executive officer of Kendrick Realty, Inc. in Pleasant Hill, Calif., it’s all about accountability, systems and success with online leads. In the following interview, learn how in just the first few months of the year, his office has already surpassed last year’s sales.  

Region served: Greater San Francisco Bay Area
Years in real estate: 8 in real estate, 2 years as a broker
Number of offices: 1 in California under Kendrick Realty, Inc., and a second in Florida under a different name
Number of agents: 17 in California; 19 in Florida
Average sales price: $ 550,000 in California; $ 285,000 in Florida
First thing you do when you arrive at the office? Power up the computer and have an assistant give me the daily schedule.

Can you tell me about your office structure? I got my start on the real estate investment side of things, and this approach has carried over to the way in which my co-owners Dan Sundberg, director of people and culture, and Lisa Sickman, director of learning and performance and I operate Kendrick Realty. Our view is agent investment-focused. We spend a lot of our time looking at our REALTORS® as individual businesses that we as a brokerage are investing in.

Do your agents work from your office or remotely? We own our office outright, and it’s available to our agents, but while we get agent traffic every day, not everyone comes in every day. For the most part, our agents are virtual, which is how we set up our business model. Our view is that agents are most productive when they’re out in front of clients, so we try to provide enough opportunities so that they can do that daily rather than spend time in the office.

Since your agents spend less time in the office, how are you creating camaraderie within your company? Once a week, we have a team huddle call, which is a quick phone call with each agent where we go through stats, goals and company announcements. Since real estate is all about community, we’re very involved in ours, so we participate in monthly charitable events. We rotate month to month between our covered counties. We might do a local beach cleanup or a food packaging day, and we invite our whole team to come help with those events to do something social together and give back. We also do a monthly all-hands meeting where we invite the entire team to our office to go over new company updates.

All of our agents have a unique level of access to us as owners. We make ourselves accessible for one-on-one discussions to make sure our agents can continue learning and overcome difficulties to maximize productivity.

Who pays for the marketing and advertising? We put our money where our mouth is: we invest about $ 4,000 a month per agent, just in lead generation.

What gives you confidence that these opportunities are not wasted? Our custom CRM gives us a lot of transparency. We can look at agent leads and see how our agents are planning their day to make sure nothing falls between the cracks. We also have a core team of 20 full-time employees that we refer to as our client concierge. They are responsible for following up with our pipeline of leads and focusing on lead engagement.

Where are you getting your leads? We get the majority of our leads from realtor.com®.

What kind of results are you getting? Realtor.com® has allowed us, as a brand-new company just over a year old, to build up a lead pipeline of about 22,000 leads between California and Florida, which is incredible for any brokerage, but especially for one as young as ours. In addition, realtor.com® has enabled us to grow and scale into new areas, providing us with a predictable look at a fixed cost and a fairly consistent pipeline.

How do you train your agents to close online leads? Dan and Lisa have put together a new agent boot camp that all our agents go through. This boot camp is a week-long, eight-hour-a-day intensive intro to the way Kendrick Realty approaches the business, and a big part of that is focusing on how to be successful with online leads. The biggest problem other real estate professionals typically have with online leads is a lack of consistency. A typical real estate professional investing in their own business might spend $ 400 – $ 700 a month and that might bring in 4 – 8 leads, which is not a sufficient volume. So, a big focus for us is making sure we have enough lead scale that we’re able to sift through everything. Some will be golden, easy sales, some will be hard work, and some won’t turn into anything. But with a sufficient volume, we’re able to make consistent money for our agents and ourselves as a brokerage.

Any projections for the future of the company? We have intentions to open two additional offices this year. On the financial end, our sales from January and February 2018—plus what we have in contract—is already equal to our entire sales for all of last year. So, we’re having phenomenal growth. Last year was all about making sure our fundamentals were strong, that our systems were in place. Now, we’re looking forward to continuing to grow in 2018.

For more information, please visit www.realtor.com/brokerwin.

Zoe Eisenberg is RISMedia’s senior content editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at zoe@rismedia.com.

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Looking for Low-Hanging Fruit? Point Your Agents Here

Mar 3, 2018 by

Brokers are always searching for ways to help their agents be more successful. In terms of gaining more clients, it would be hard to argue that a strong online presence isn’t a top priority. After all, consumers’ first impulse is to turn to the internet to research every important decision, including finding their next home, and selecting a real estate professional to help them purchase or sell one.

Fortunately, one of the best ways to boost your agents’ online presence also happens to be free. Every member of the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) automatically receives a free profile on realtor.com®. The question is, are your agents taking full advantage of this asset?

A Knife That Cuts Two Ways
Increasingly, consumers are using realtor.com to gather intelligence on agents. Is he/she actively listing and selling in our market? What do other buyers and sellers say about him/her? These questions, and others, are top of mind for both buyers and sellers.

Agents who have taken the time to provide complete, robust profiles on realtor.com report that they are much more likely to receive buyer and seller leads. It’s a great way for relatively new agents to put their best foot forward and earn new business. On the flip side, a seasoned, experienced agent may actually lose business if they ignore their profile.

The Strength of Realtor.com
When surveyed, both agents and brokers agree that realtor.com does the best job of delivering leads for serious buyers and sellers. According to the spring 2017 realtor.com brand tracker study, more professionals said realtor.com provides the best value for leads vs. other real estate portals. Additionally, more consumers indicate they found the agent they actually purchased their home from on realtor.com, compared with the other national real estate portal sites, according to addendum questions asked in the most recent National Association of REALTORS® Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers survey.

Part of the site’s success stems from strong consumer awareness, which reached 87 percent in 2017, an all-time high. In terms of engaging consumers, realtor.com ranks third among the largest consumer brands for time spent on the site, outpaced only behind YouTube and Facebook.

Coaching Your Agents
When a broker claims their office profile on realtor.com, they gain access to a dashboard that displays each of their agents’ profiles. It’s an easy way to identify areas that would benefit from more attention. Some of the things you’ll want to check:

  • Photo – Has everyone added one? Ideally, agents should use the same photo on your brokerage site, on their business cards, yard signs, etc. Consistency is an important part of a successful branding strategy, partly because consumers need to see an image several times before it “sticks.” Agents without a photo will not appear in any searches, other than a search for their name.
  • Bio – Is their bio written in helpful, consumer-friendly language? Does it include important keywords that will help their profile appear in search results (e.g., areas served, types of properties and/or clients, etc.)?
  • Contact Details – Does their profile include a current, working phone number and email address?
  • Testimonials – Have these been solicited from verified clients (ratings/reviews) and other sources (recommendations)? Recent research has found that 84 percent of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.

For more tips on creating a business-building profile, visit hub.realtor.com/profiles. You’ll find short videos from industry-leading agents and brokers, as well as articles on creating a great headshot, writing a strong bio, and much more.

Encourage your agents to take full advantage of the business-building benefits of a complete realtor.com profile. It’s free, and it delivers a lot of value. To get started, visit hub.realtor.com/profiles.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

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