Anne M. Lusk: Serving the Needs of Today’s Customers

Apr 14, 2018 by

Anne_LuskVitals: Lusk & Associates Sotheby’s International Realty
Years in Business
: 4
Size: 1 office, 30 agents
Regions Served: Lancaster, Lebanon, Dauphin, Berks, York, Adams, Franklin, Cumberland, Perry and Chester counties
2017 Sales Volume: $ 128,431,000
2017 Transactions: 419 sides

As someone who loves serving others, and also with a deep fondness of homes, Anne M. Lusk knew early on that marrying these two passions would help her succeed in the real estate business.

The owner of Lusk & Associates Sotheby’s International Realty, Lusk was running a different business in Florida when she came to this realization after helping one of her customers find a home.

“I noticed that I had this gift of putting people’s wants and needs together to find a solution,” says Lusk. “Once an entrepreneur, you’re always an entrepreneur, and that set the stage for my becoming a REALTOR® and starting in the business.”

Today, Lusk & Associates Sotheby’s International Realty is one of South Central Pennsylvania’s premier real estate agencies, with a reputation for providing exceptional service.

“It’s not just about finding someone a house, but helping them find their doctors, helping them find a babysitter and involving themselves within organizations in the community,” says Lusk. “You really are more of a concierge, and it’s enjoyable. You’re getting paid to help others.”

Coming off a year in which she herself did 182 transactions and $ 75 million in sales, Lusk expects to top those numbers this year—and judging by the early stages of 2018, Lusk sees both positives and negatives within her market.

“The negatives center around rates creeping up and buyers’ expectations being skewed by HGTV,” says Lusk. “Buyers walk in and expect brand-new granite, brand-new cabinets and new appliances, but that’s not a reality in many price ranges.”

While land isn’t cheap in Lancaster, Lusk notes that many prospective buyers searching for houses don’t understand the difference between purchasing a new home and buying resale. For example, if someone is buying a $ 200,000 property that sits on less than half an acre, they’re not going to get a 3,000-square-foot house for $ 350,000.

“Despite the fact that a lot of people get into real estate thinking that it’s a get-rich-quick business, you need to focus on how excited your customers are, as well as how well they think you did for them,” adds Lusk.

“I seek to add agents that serve their clients well, dress professionally and take personal accountability for what they do,” says Lusk. “I want agents who do their research, work hard and are ready to serve their customers’ needs.”

According to Lusk, agents are attracted to the firm because of the Sotheby’s brand and its comprehensive marketing plan.

“It’s constantly improving the marketing plan, improving materials and always seeking ways to better serve the clientele. I feel that there’s no other brand with such a plan,” says Lusk. “It also has a lot to do with the power of the network. The other agents in the brand want to help one another and they collaborate well. It’s fantastic for me to be able to pick up the phone and help one of my customers buy a property somewhere globally.”

The firm offers one-on-one training to agents at the office, but there’s also group training that Lusk says many take advantage of. The office even has a designated trainer.

“We have agents from all different backgrounds and all over the world in our office, so we try to tailor the training individually to each person,” says Lusk. “For instance, if I have someone that never did sales before but has a great personality and is highly educated, the type of training that person needs is different than someone who worked as a sales manager in a different industry.”

Lusk is also proud of the fact that the firm has a high volume for the number of individuals that work at the office, recording the highest average sales price of any office in the area.

“One of the things I really love about being in real estate is the outreach and the ability to better my community by serving on different boards and even charity events,” says Lusk. “I feel it’s an important responsibility to make our community a better place.”

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Serving a New Breed: Power Brokers Address Shifting Role at RISMedia Forum

Nov 8, 2016 by

Service first. It’s a business philosophy that’s stood the test of time for real estate brokers—serve your agents, serve your clients.

Your agents now, however, have more brokerage models to choose from than ever—and your clients, as well, are more knowledgeable than the most seasoned on your team. How can you put service first for both when it seems they don’t even really need it at all?

“We’ve made a decision in our company to go deep as opposed to wide,” shared Robin Dickson, executive vice president of J. Rockcliff Realtors, as a panelist at RISMedia’s Power Broker Forum, held Nov. 4 at the REALTORS® Conference & Expo in Orlando, Fla. “It’s really important to make sure that the people we have aren’t forgotten, and we’re providing them what they need.”

Dickson was joined on the Forum’s panel by Craig Beggins, president and CEO, CENTURY 21 Beggins Enterprises; Pete Galbraith, president, Coldwell Banker Select Tulsa and Oklahoma City; Marti Hampton, broker/owner, RE/MAX One Realty; Matt Widdows, founder and CEO, HomeSmart International; and moderators Rei Mesa, president, Florida Real Estate Services, president and CEO, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Florida Realty; and John Featherston, founder and CEO of RISMedia.

Meeting the needs of agents and clients, the panel agreed, requires expanding your capacity for service, be it building out your affiliate businesses, hiring an administrative staff, moving into new markets, offering an unmatched office culture, or supporting teams.

“The first thing I did was diversify, because the markets are hyper-local,” relayed Beggins. “I’ve got some markets in which when we list a house, we get 40 showings and 10 contracts in one day—but I’ve got other markets where there’s a 20-month supply of homes. No area goes up or goes down at the same time.”

“Culture trumps everything,” Galbraith said. “Culture is what will keep your people—if you develop great culture, you’ll develop great agents.”

“We inspire our agents to be the best,” explained Hampton. “With a team, they’re able to be their best. If an agent’s spending their time putting something in the MLS, doing something more secretarial, more receptionist-type work to be doing, they’re not spending that time on their biggest- and highest-earning duties, which are talking to buyers and sellers. We really seed the growth of teams.”

“Your affiliate businesses have to be service-minded and service-oriented,” Widdows emphasized. “If it’s one our [affiliate] companies that we work with, it’s a whole lot easier for me to make sure that the consumer gets that high-quality service and experience we want them to have…It’s a huge advantage for everyone involved.”

“The broker needs to be the team leader. That’s my job—we do most of the admin for them, and then they use my mortgage and title companies,” Beggins added.

Addressed head-on by the panel was the challenge of reduced commissions—an area with direct impact on service output, warranted by demand from more informed consumers and pressure from discount brokerages.

“Consumers are empowering themselves through the internet,” Widdows noted. “We have to prepare to have a smaller role in the process. There is pressure to drive down commissions. We have to change with that. We may have to do more volume in order to continue to make the dollars we make today.”

“That’s the reality of the big brokerage today,” added Galbraith. “That’s why mid-size brokers have become an endangered species—you’ve either got to be a Target or Walmart or a Neiman Marcus or Tiffany’s. You can’t be both.”

Consumers, in addition, have become reliant on social media to access services. Engaging them through that medium, according to the panel, is paramount.

“Until they over-regulate Facebook, we will continue to use it,” Hampton said, “because we spend about $ 15 to $ 20 on each of our listings that we’re onboarding and we have four, five, six, 700 people looking for that, ready for that, once we open the doors.”

“Facebook is making a huge play on the marketing and advertising side of things,” Widdows added. “They’re not going away any time soon.”

Underscoring this perspective was the launch of RISMedia’s Automated Content Engagement platform, or ACE, which was not only topic of discussion at the Forum, but also the recipient of InternetCrusade’s annual Best Tech Product award during the conference.

“REALTORS® need to get into using social media more efficiently and that’s exactly what this tool does,” said Saul Klein, CEO of InternetCrusade. “It builds consistent engagement and allows for a cadence in the use of social media. It’s a great idea, we love the look of the product, and it takes the requirement out of having to check your calendar every day for social media and allows you to build a publishing plan where you’re releasing information to your audience over a consistent timeframe for delivery. ACE does that for you and the benefits will help you truly differentiate yourself in your marketplace.”

Still, no consumer, however social media-savvy, knows as much as about the lifestyle of a specific community than the real estate professional entrenched in it—and that, the panel agreed, is another opportunity to exceed service expectations, be it through social media or other avenues.

“You can look on the internet all day long, and Zillow, if you’re a consumer, but you cannot see the lifestyle of a particular community,” said Dickson. “Our knowledge is what we still have. We sell lifestyle in our area…There isn’t anyone who knows it better.”

The role of the broker, according to the panel, has shifted to accommodate a new breed of both agent and client, who now have access to alternative brokerage models, technology, and, in the case of the client, the MLS. To stay ahead of that shift, expanding your service capacity—while keeping your core philosophy intact—is key.

“It’s one word,” Widdows concluded. “Service. It all comes down to service.”

Stay tuned to and RISMedia’s blog, Housecall, for more on this year’s Power Broker Forum, as well as the Power Broker Reception & Dinner.

Learn how RISMedia’s ACE can help you harness the power of social media at


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Millennials Serving Millennials: Reaching the Next Wave of Homeowners

Sep 13, 2016 by

Denise_GomezIf your company is hoping to cater to millennial clients, a good place to turn is inward—tap into the wealth of creativity put out by millennial real estate professionals.

Real Estate Advisor Denise Gomez (top left) and REALTOR® Erika Borunda (bottom left) serve the San Diego, Calif., market with Canter Brokerage, an innovative real estate firm that is home to dozens of young, creative real estate professionals.

Erica_Borunda“San Diego’s spot as one of the top housing markets is the result of a limited supply of homes for sale and an increased demand,” says Borunda, a NAHREP North County San Diego Board Member and president-elect for the NAHREP La Jolla Chapter, launching in January 2017.

Who is stoking the San Diego housing fire? Mid-level and first-time buyers. “Millennials are starting to come around now that banks are implementing first-time homebuyer programs with as little as 3-5 percent down,” says Borunda. “After the Brexit vote hamstrung the Fed’s ability to raise interest rates, 30-year fixed mortgage rates fell to historic lows. Combine that with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac bringing back 3 percent down mortgages, and increasing wages, we should see very strong millennial buying trends forthcoming.”

To position themselves for success with millennials, the Canter team is arming themselves with a league of young, innovative professionals. Here, Gomez and Borunda offer tips for working with millennial buyers.

Be tech-savvy. “Millennial buyers differ from other buyers in the sense that they start their home-buying process by utilizing online home search websites,” says Gomez. “Technology available at the click of a button definitely makes today’s buyers a bit more savvy.”

Be social. According to Borunda, millennials trust social media more than anything else. “They’re no longer going to websites to find you. If you’re not using some form of social media, then it’s likely you will not attract millennials,” Borunda says. “The first place they look is social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Snapchat. Yelp has been a critical place to find reviews on your business, on top of Zillow as well.”

Gomez concurs. “Being well aware of what technology millennial buyers are using to begin their searches can really give you a great screenshot of what sources are informing your buyers.”

Expand your communication avenues. The days of actually talking to your clients on the phone are gone…if your clients happen to be millennials. “Text is the preferred method of communication, and although they’re using a phone, there’s a hesitancy to actually talk,” says Borunda. Be ready to communicate with potential buyers through text, email, and even Facebook chat.

Understand their budgets. While it’s important to know your client’s budget, millennials are more in debt than any other generation, and it’s good to know why. “Salaries are lower for millennials, and they’re saddled with debt,” Borunda explains. “Even those who’re making good salaries are paying off big student loans.”

Understand their priorities. A home in the suburbs with an extra bedroom for a maybe baby is no longer the recipe for a starter home. “Millennials see workplace flexibility as critical to quality of life,” says Borunda. “They’re waiting to marry and start families. They want to live in places that are walking distance to restaurants, work and entertainment.”

Make sure you’re on the cutting-edge. “Our team really sets itself apart by ensuring our marketing material is always on the cutting-edge in content, style and design,” says Gomez. “We have a newsletter that goes out every week providing information pertaining to what events are going on in San Diego, along with what projects we have in the present, and future. Keeping our clients well aware of what’s going on makes them feel like they’re in the know of the latest and greatest.”

Create a winning buyer presentation. “A buyer presentation is just as important as a listing presentation, especially when you’re working with first-time homebuyers that don’t know what to expect,” says Borunda. “There’s only a tiny fraction of buyers agents who do buyer presentations, and it’s mind boggling!”

Borunda suggests creating a slick, easy-to-read packet that explains everything from getting pre-approved to submitting offers, opening escrow, releasing contingencies and receiving your keys. “If you can cover all these critical points over a lunch and ensure your client is informed and knows some basic terminology and expectations of the buying process, not only will you stand out as an agent in a very saturated industry, you’ll have very happy clients and a smooth transaction. Everyone wins.”

Be a system for support. “In spite of all of the confidence put out by millennials, there’s an inner insecurity in understanding the process of real estate,” says Borunda. “Experienced agents know the difference between the flow chart and how things really work. There’s no program or app for this knowledge—there’s just you.”

How else can you attract modern millennials? With a modern company. Gomez and Borunda both agree that the Canter brokerage isn’t your typical real estate company. With a rich company culture, appealing office locations and a collaborative vibe, the team is thriving. “We all bring each other up on a daily basis and share business practices that are working and are happy to collaborate and share ideas with one another,” says Borunda. “I’m a firm believer that you’re a product of your environment, so I surround myself with the best. It’s rare to find that kind of environment at other firms.”

One thing that allows Canter to stand above the rest is their Development and Wealth Management component.

“We constantly have clients who just sold their home and have equity and want to invest their money,” Borunda explains. “Lucky for us we have our Wealth Management Team that’s able to come in and help discuss financial portfolios with our clients and set them up.”

So how can you attract creative, young agents to your team? Have an office culture that promotes quality and individuality.

“When interviewing for other real estate firms, it seemed like a recruitment strategy based around numbers rather than quality,” says Gomez. “Our company owner Andrew Canter goes out of his way to show his appreciation for each and every one of us. Overall, I would say each of us feels like we’re truly appreciated as a person, not as just another number.”

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Article: Is Your Website Serving the Needs of Tomorrow’s First-Time Buyer?

Oct 18, 2013 by

couple_virtual-homeMembers of the Millennial generation are reaching an age where they’re considering buying a home for the first time. As the largest generation since the Baby Boomers, this means that an influx of first-time homebuyers is on the horizon. Are you and your business ready?

Every generation faces their own set of home buying challenges. For Millennials, these challenges are often financial, thanks to a sluggish job market and a massive increase in student loan debt. These factors mean that this generation of first-time homebuyers often can’t overcome the biggest obstacle to homeownership–saving enough for the down payment.

But did you know that there’s a tool you can add to your IDX website that can remove this common homeownership hurdle? It’s called Down Payment Resource (DPR), and it’s available as a free member benefit to an increasing number of agents whose MLS subscribes to the service. DPR integrates with your MLS to provide you with information about down payment[…]

Tagged: Mortgage IDX Webinar

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