From Restaurateur to REALTOR®: Converting Leads in a Competitive Landscape

Nov 7, 2019 by

In the following interview, Mike Novak, team leader and REALTOR®, The Novak Team, eXp Realty in Everett, Wash., discusses his journey into real estate, generating leads, and more.

Region Served: King and Snohomish Counties
Years in Real Estate: 2.5
Number of Team Members: 20
Had a Team Since: The end of 2017

You were a well-known restaurateur prior to joining the real estate industry. Why did you ultimately give up restaurants for real estate?
It’s a long story, but the short of it centers around the fact that Washington State changed its minimum wage in October 2016. We had 400 employees at that point, which changed our overhead $ 50,000 a month—putting us in a position that was no longer economically viable. Luckily, we saw the headwinds coming, so we decided to get our real estate licenses as all of this was taking place because we didn’t think there was a way to survive. I had worked as a real estate developer and builder prior to getting into the restaurant business, so it was a natural place to go back to.

Being new to the business, where did you source your customers?
While we jumped into pay-per-click (PPC) immediately, as it was a cheap and easy way to get started, we transitioned over to® last May after meeting the team at an industry conference. In getting to know the company, it became clear to us just how ready their leads were when compared to those being generated through a pay-per-click strategy. This is what ultimately gave us the incentive to dabble in and eventually scale it. It didn’t take long to discover that the leads we were getting from were warmer, which led to them converting at a much higher level.

What else are you doing to let local homeowners know about your successful new company?
We do a lot of video marketing on social media, in addition to continuing to take advantage of PPC and, as well as a variety of mass media marketing. As far as the videos we’re sharing on social media, most are either market reports or educational videos that we use to help people understand common misconceptions or myths surrounding the home-buying or -selling process. Additionally, we recently began using Local ExpertTM, which seems to be going well so far. Since we have 50 percent of the marketshare, we have a lot of impressions, and we’re excited to see where that goes as we head toward the future.

How is it working now that you’re this far along with the lead programs?
We’re seeing high conversion rates, north of 5 percent, which is really good when you consider the fact that PPC leads typically convert anywhere from 1-2 percent, while Facebook is closer to 0.5-1 percent. In 2018, we closed nearly $ 400,000 gross commission income (GCI) with

Final Question…

What influenced your decision to form a team?
Wanting to help other agents become productive and thrive, while at the same time being able to help more buyers and sellers that we couldn’t get to ourselves.

For more information, please visit

Paige Tepping is RISMedia’s managing editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at

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The Best Real Estate Lead Generation Strategy to Stand Out From the Crowd

Sep 11, 2019 by

Nothing in my career took less time, cost less money and produced bigger results than personal notes. It is the best real estate lead generation strategy out there—and you get to make someone’s day at the same time!

Data shows that the average American receives only 10 pieces of mail per year (excluding holiday cards and invitations), which makes any handwritten note stand out. What better way to set yourself apart from your competition than by expressing your gratitude, care and concern through a thoughtful note? Here are some note-writing FAQs to help you implement this powerful relationship-building strategy for your best real estate lead generation strategy yet. 

Who do I write to?
Write notes of thanks and gratitude to anyone and everyone in your life. This includes:

  • Current and past clients – Check in with a personal note, express gratitude for their business and remind them you are never too busy for their referrals.
  • Family and friends – Tell them how much they mean to you and watch these relationships grow.
  • Lenders and agents you work with – We love to work with people we genuinely like. Deepen those relationships by sending a personal note after you work with them to thank them for the experience and open the door to future opportunities.
  • Business owners you respect – Thank them for their great service and show your appreciation for their work to develop professional and personal relationships that last.

When should I write these?

  • As a follow-up – Write a short note after you speak with a client on the phone, deliver a Pop-By, meet with them or after you send them your monthly Marketing Flyer to touch base.
  • When you receive a referral – Show your client your appreciation for the referral and give them a warm message of thanks for thinking about you.
  • To appreciate a friend or colleague – When someone goes above and beyond to help you, send them a quick note of thanks.
  • During a real estate transaction – Occasionally send notes to your current clients during the transaction process. Give them peace of mind and reassurance that you are working hard to give them the best possible experience. When the transaction has closed, write a note explaining that you enjoyed working with them and look forward to providing them with excellent service, so you may form a lasting relationship.
  • To reconnect – If you lost touch with a client, send a note to re-establish contact without sounding like a sales pitch.
  • To brighten someone’s day – A personal note with a kind word is sure to put a smile on the recipient’s face and make their day, plain and simple.

How often should I write these?
Write these notes at any time! Make it a habit to write a few a day, and soon, it’ll become as automatic as brushing your teeth.

At Buffini & Company, we provide our clients with 50 note cards each month through the Referral Maker®PRO marketing kit. Our most successful clients write that many, and even more, on a regular basis. These notes build relationships, and those relationships are the foundation of any successful referral-based business. Start harnessing the power of personal notes to unlock your best real estate lead generation today!

Brian Buffini immigrated to San Diego from Ireland in 1986 and became a top-performing REALTOR®. He then founded Buffini & Company to share his powerful lead-generation system. Buffini & Company has trained over 3 million business professionals in 37 countries and currently coaches more than 25,000 business pros. Today, Brian’s a New York Times best-selling author and reaches over 6 million listeners a year through “The Brian Buffini Show” podcast. For more information, please visit

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Innovative Tech Tools for REALTORS® From the REACH Class of 2019

Aug 31, 2019 by

In real estate, and every other industry, technological change is as exciting as it is inevitable. But the number and pace of new technologies coming to market can be mind-boggling. So how do you decide what tech will best benefit your customers and provide the most value for your business?

The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) has done the legwork and taken the guesswork out of this challenging question. The REACH technology accelerator, developed by Second Century Ventures (SCV), NAR’s investment arm, reviews thousands of emerging technology companies and vets them for you. The result is the REACH Class of 2019—eight cutting-edge companies chosen for their potential to improve the customer experience by giving brokers and agents powerful new tools that provide quicker answers, better services, increased security and more accurate data.

REALTORS® Have First Access to REACH Technology
As an NAR member, you’re eligible to join the Insight Panel, put these new products to the test and take part in shaping the technological picture for REALTORS®. Participants choose one or more REACH company offerings to test and receive exclusive discounts in exchange for product feedback.

Sign up by July 31 to take part and impact your industry. Learn more at

REACH Class of 2019
These companies, ranging from seed stage to well-capitalized startups, rose to the top in providing solutions that help brokers and agents serve consumers’ best interests.

Two companies offer groundbreaking ways to deliver exceptional ROI for home sellers. Curbio helps homeowners unlock the full potential of their property with a “renovate now, pay when you sell” model, and Staging & Design Network offers the first online shared rental pool for home furnishings built for the real estate and home staging communities.

New, efficient and effective marketing tools allow you to better connect with customers and meet their needs. Amarki is a seamless, automated marketing platform that unifies all of your systems in one place, and Evocalize connects content with the right audience across the Facebook family of apps, generating demand when and where it’s needed. RateMyAgent‘s digital marketing tool helps consumers find trusted agents by providing verified reviews, and it allows agents to collect, share and promote customer feedback.

REConsortia uses distributed ledger technology to build transparency and simplify the referral tracking process, while Propy‘s end-to-end transaction platform helps facilitate secure, fast and simple real estate transactions entirely online.

Safety is a primary concern for REALTORS®, and Kleard not only provides tools to increase safety—like real-time verification for open houses—it also makes agents more productive through a check-in app with an integrated CRM.

Accelerating Real Estate
SCV and REACH help ensure the real estate industry is adopting and integrating new technology that supports your essential role in every transaction and maximizes value for property buyers and sellers.

REACH Commercial Coming Soon!
REACH will announce its first accelerator class focused on the commercial marketplace later this month.

About REACH and Second Century Ventures
REACH is a growth accelerator created by Second Century Ventures, the National Association of REALTORS® strategic technology investment fund, which leverages the Association’s more than 1.3 million members and an unparalleled network of executives within real estate and adjacent industries. REACH helps the most innovative new technology companies launch and accelerate in the real estate vertical. For more on REACH, and to meet the class of 2019, visit

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Avoiding Risky Business With Helpful Resources From NAR’s Legal Team

Aug 3, 2019 by


Legal issues permeate all aspects of the real estate industry, and the business of brokerages is no exception. The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) is committed to helping brokers negotiate the complex and ever-evolving legal landscape.

Our Legal Affairs Team produces an abundance of resources designed to keep you informed, current and compliant with your legal obligations. You can protect your business and reduce your risk of costly litigation with a proactive approach and an educated, engaged team. Visit for information, advice and best practices on dozens of topics, plus hundreds of case summaries, videos and articles.

Here are several common legal challenges that brokers face, along with some of the many resources NAR offers to guide them:

Wire Fraud
Costly wire fraud scams impacting real estate transactions across the U.S. are on the rise. A hacker sends a fake, but authentic-looking, email to homebuyers at closing with “new” instructions for sending funds. The buyers then unwittingly wire the funds directly into the hacker’s account. According to the FBI, real estate scams have climbed more than 1,000 percent since 2015, and in 2017, $ 969 million was “diverted or attempted to be diverted” from a real estate transaction to criminally controlled accounts.

NAR has several resources available to help you prevent your buyer clients from becoming part of these statistics, including videos like “How to Avoid Wire Fraud in Transactions” and “Wire Fraud Alert for Buyers”; a downloadable handout, “Protecting Your Business and Your Clients from Cyberfraud”; the downloadable “Data Security and Privacy Toolkit”; and a “Wire Fraud Email Notice Template” to alert customers as part of your standard email signature.

TCPA–Telephone Consumer Protection Act
If you or your agents use texting or cold-calling for marketing purposes, you need to comply with the TCPA. Recently, texting has been targeted by plaintiff’s lawyers in class-action lawsuits alleging that real estate companies are violating the TCPA by sending text messages without the recipient’s consent.

Prior consent is required for most texts and calls, and our team offers guidance on how to legally use these tools. Refer to NAR’s Window to the Law monthly video series for the “TCPA and Texting,” and the brand-new “Do Not Call Compliance” videos, as well as a variety of legal case summaries addressing this issue. Another video, “Hot Topics in Broker Risk Reduction,” released this May, also provides specific tips to reduce your risk of violation.

Sexual Harassment
Sexual harassment is a serious offense that can interfere with productivity, create an intimidating workplace, and result in significant legal liability.

For advice on navigating this issue, watch “Preventing and Addressing Sexual Harassment” and “NAR’s Code of Conduct and Anti-Harassment Policy.” Also, read “Time to Update Your Sexual Harassment Policy” and “Best Practices for Conducting Internal Harassment Investigations.” Plus, take the Sexual Harassment Awareness Quiz to build your understanding.

Resources at
And that’s not all. Take advantage of these important broker resources to help you manage risk, safeguard your business, and avoid legal pitfalls:

  • The Window to the Law monthly video series covers timely legal topics like social media issues and cybersecurity.
  • The Legal Pulse quarterly newsletter analyzes recent trends and emerging issues that impact real estate professionals.
  • NAR’s legal team has compiled hundreds of legal case summaries to give brokers perspective on potential legal problems and insights into courts’ findings.
  • Plus, you’ll find many additional resources on dozens of legal topics.

A Must-Have for Brokers
“Real Estate Brokerage Essentials®: Navigating Legal Risks and Managing a Successful Brokerage, Fourth Edition” is a comprehensive guide to key legal issues. Order through the REALTOR® Store at

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