Archive for January, 2011

Branding: Subtle Secret to Explosive Marketing

Friday, January 28th, 2011

When I hear the word software I think of Microsoft.  The mention of soft drink means Coke or Pepsi to me.  Mention search engine and Google pops into my mind.  So how do you make your name pop into people’s minds when they hear the mention of Real Estate?

It’s Called Branding

Branding is the immediate association of a business name with its product type.  In Canandaigua, New York Cathy McWilliams means a successful Real Estate Experience.  In Springfield, Illinois Kyle Killebrew brings successful Real Estate to mind.  In Lahabra Heights, California it is Jan Fiore.  These Agent brands are worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, maybe more.  Can you establish a brand in your market in the same way?  Yes, you can.

Consistency is the key; consistency of your graphics and consistency of the experience of you.

It’s More Than a Name

To Xerox something means to make a copy of it.  You also believe that you can depend on a Xerox machine.  A Kleenex means a facial tissue.  You expect Kleenex to be decent quality.  When you Google (which is now a commonly used verb) you are confident that you will find what you want.  These brands are both recognizable by their name, their logo, and they are associated with dependable quality and service.  All of that, the name, the look, and the quality of service are all part of their brand.  A Real Estate Agent’s goal is to have the people in their market (which in most cases is simply their Spheres of Influence and farm areas) associate the mention of the Agent’s name, or seeing the Agent’s “brand” with a positive and successful Real Estate experience.

It takes more than a name, a slogan, or a logo.  A successful brand is also the promise of something verifiable by the consumer as they work with the Agent.  And to distinguish the Agent, the promise must be above the minimum expectation of quality.  For a Real Estate Agent, that means more than a basic level of service, attentiveness, and expertise.  So, how do you both create a recognizable brand and raise your quality of service above the basic levels?

Brand Graphics

Creating a successful look or visual brand is called Brand Graphics. It is not as intimidating as it sounds. Think of a Coke or Pepsi logo. It is a combination of a design, font, and colors.  And the Brand Graphic does not change for years or even decades. A Real Estate Agent’s Brand Graphics are also a simple combination of design, consistent font, colors, and use of their picture.  (View Agent branding samples.)

Brand Experience

Creating a successful Brand Experience is also easier than it sounds.  Many Agents have already done this and don’t realize it.  Think of your favorite store, restaurant, hair stylist, website, etc.  The way they greet you, speak to you, interact with you or in the case of a website, the navigation; there is consistency that you recognize and depend on.  When you call the Real Estate Agent, Thomas Howe in Lawrence, Kansas, you’ll hear some variation of “And a grand good day to you?” or “Hello and a glorious good morning.”  The way an Agent answers the phone, conducts their listing or Buyer presentation; the speed and frequency of communication, giving of gifts, how they report progress, use video or social media, all contribute to the experience of the Agent.  Consistency of that experience establishes their Brand Experience.

Be careful.  An Agent wants to choose the most positive experiences to construct their Brand Experience.  The way to discover which experiences to make consistent is to ask.  Call your Clients from the past year or two and ask the following questions.

In addition to learning the best experiences to build your brand around; you are making a strong professional impression and you will likely generate some referrals.

Ask, what they had heard about the way you do business? What do they remember most? What did they like and appreciate?

If they were to refer you, what would they say are the best things about the way you do business? Why did they choose to work with you? What do they think would be important for you to keep on doing, do more of, do differently, or stop doing?

Consistency is the Key

There is an important principle in marketing that says, ‘the time when you are getting bored with your brand is about the time when it is just beginning to work.’  Remember how long Coke, Pepsi, Kodak, Godiva, Google, and other extremely successful brands maintain their Brand Graphics and Brand Experience.  It is measured in decades.  Choose your brand characteristics and, unless there is a very compelling reason to change; keep your brand characteristics for at least two more years after you are feeling bored with them.

You Don’t Have to…

Finally, whenever I teach or coach marketing I ask Agents to write this down.  “You don’t have to get it perfect.  Just get it going.  And keep improving it.”  The way you do that is to choose deadlines.  By when will you have your web design chosen?  By when will you have your postcard designed?  By when will you choose the photo you will use?  Then, stick to those deadlines and move on to the next decision.  Keep it moving and you will realize that getting it going and then improving it, is a key to success in your marketing.

Rich Levin is a Real Estate productivity expert. His marketing expertise has transformed many average Agents into top Agents.  Rich conducts a free live 15 minute webinar every weekday morning to help Agents instill successful habits into their business.  Every Wednesday the webinar topic is marketing and branding.  You can register at  For coaching or speaking opportunities contact Rich at 585-244-2700 or

The Greater Rochester Association of REALTORS® Releases 4th Quarter & Year-end Residential Stats

Friday, January 28th, 2011

Fourth Quarter statistics released by the Genesee Region Real Estate Information Services (GENRIS), the information subsidiary of the Greater Rochester Association of REALTORS® (GRAR) reflect the consistent trend of 2010, a stable and growing appreciation in home values within the local housing market in the 11-county region.

The median sale price for the Fourth Quarter of $119,500 reflected a 5 percent increase compared to last year at this time.  Transactions for the Fourth Quarter 2010 showed a 31 percent decrease over Fourth Quarter 2009, with 2,134 homes sold, which is most likely due to a more traditional Fourth Quarter this year matched against one spurred by the Federal Homebuyer Tax Credit last year.  The number of homes listed was down 11 percent over Fourth Quarter 2009.

“With the Tax Credit, we essentially experienced nine months worth of buyers that went through the market in a period of four months,” stated Carolyn Stiffler, president of the Greater Rochester Association of REALTORS® Board of Directors.

Regardless of this Fourth Quarter being compared to a Tax Credit driven one, the slowing sales trend is typical and expected for the seasonal housing market in Greater Rochester at this time of year.  Home sales tend to slow during the holiday season and continue to do so through the early part of the New Year.  Resurgence in sales is usually seen toward the beginning of the Second Quarter, which signals the start of the spring market.

“Those buyers who remain active during the winter months, however, will benefit from continuing favorable affordability conditions and still-low mortgage rates,” said Stiffler.

GRAR Officials also noted that 2010 overall was relatively stable in our market despite the negative effects of the national recession in other markets across the country.  Overall, sales for 2010 decreased 5 percent and homes listed for sale was down 4 percent in comparison to 2009.  Median sale price rose 3 percent in 2010 over the previous year.

“The Tax Credit statistics in the midst of a recession make it difficult to accurately gauge activity as a comparison,” remarked Ryan Tucholski, chief executive officer of the Greater Rochester Association of REALTORS®.  “With a conservative economy like Rochester’s typically there is a delay that occurs entering into a recession and with that there is equally a delay in recovery.  However, the increase in median sales price not only in the slow Fourth Quarter but for the whole year perhaps provides a glimmer of uncharacteristic early recovery and points to the resiliency of the Rochester market.”

Other good news included the 5 contiguous counties to Monroe County all realized overall increases in median sale prices in the Fourth Quarter 2010 as compared to the same time in 2009 despite some of the major towns and/or cities in those counties seeing decreases in median values.  There were several towns within Monroe County that enjoyed sales gains overall in 2010 as compared to 2009.  They include:  Clarkson, Hamlin, Ogden (Spencerport Village), Parma (Hilton Village), Riga (Churchville Village), Penfield, Pittsford (Pittsford Village) and Rush.   Out of the total of 20 towns and villages listed in Monroe County, 17 saw an increase in the median sales price for the year.

GRAR will continue to support the local residential real estate industry through its TIME2BUY® marketing campaign, which focuses on the benefits of owning a home and using the services of a REALTOR® when buying and selling a home.

Home Staging is Essential for current market in Rochester NY

Friday, January 28th, 2011

By Kristen Noble

I am both a real estate sales agent and home staging & re-design professional. I can’t believe more agents are not using a professional home stager! There are fewer buyers on the market and Interest rates are going up. These two issues are a powerful combination. After attending the “Triple Play” convention in Atlantic City, NJ recently, it was advised to get all your clients that planned on listing in the spring to do it now. Your listings have to look the best compared to others in the same price range to sell. Here enters home staging.
Being an experienced professional home stager and saying as an agent that you “stage” all your listings are two completely different things. Home staging is far beyond doing common sense things such as de-cluttering and repairing rooms.
A home staging professional should have completed one or more home staging programs, have an inventory, take professional level photographs, and have a complete portfolio of before and after photographs of their recent jobs, and references.  Ask the stager the difference between staging and decorating.  Ask how your household will be able to function during the selling process. Balancing a rooms through colors, furniture placement, and accessories are essential for showings. A simple furniture re-arrangement can really showcase a room. Stagers should be able to give examples of their work through portfolios and have references as well. Look at their photographs.  If you had the option to view one of the homes in the portfolio, would you want to?
Many agents are now using professional home stagers.  Multi-million dollar sales agent for Danielle Windus Cook Properties, Cindy Ingraham, re- listed a home that she has been trying to sell for the past two years.  Once listed after several weeks she still had no requests for a showing.  Cindy hired a professional home stager.  Within four days she had an offer. Another one of Cindy’s success stories was when she had a home staged before listing it.  The home sold in 24 hours.  Cindy said, “It is no doubt that home staging helped sell these properties.”
Most recently I met an agent that dropped the price of one of his/her listings by $10,000.  The home is vacant.  It would have cost far less to have the home staged and professionally photographed.  Professional stagers offer consultations, free estimates, and hands on staging.  During hands on staging stagers use items from your own home and re-arrange them as well as bring in accessories.  RESA, the Real Estate Staging Association for professional stagers, released some statistics on the effectiveness of Real Estate Staging.  The study was taken between 1/09 and 12/09.
126 vacant and occupied homes previously spent on the average of 263 days unsold. Those same homes were staged and sold in 60 days on average. This is 78% less time on the market after staging.
Home staging in Rochester NY will not necessarily get you a lot more money in the sale of your home. The staging will get you more showings and offers closer to your asking price.  If you aren’t using a home staging professional your competition will be.

Design: What’s New For 2011

Friday, January 28th, 2011
By Lana Torre
It’s a new year. If a new home or remodeling project is in your plans, here is a memo of what is in and new for 2011.
Think green.
Save water by selecting new sink and shower faucets that use about one gallon of water per minute. Gray water systems can be implemented to recycle bath and shower water into water for irrigation for your lawns and flushing your toilets. Solar roof panels are back, and redesigned to provide 75% of your home’s energy usage, and some provide so much energy, you can even move your meter backward. Anderson Windows has developed a window with high E4 performance and the frames are made of a fiber that is 700 times more efficient than aluminum windows.
Fabric. Looking to add a punch to your family room without adding a great expense? Use toss pillows everywhere. The new fabrics are earthy, like linens and burlap, full of natural texture and interest. The newest patterns this year botanicals, ferns, sprigs and buds. Busy florals are back but the colors are muted and soft. Look for spring flower patterns in shades of light green and butter yellow.

    Marcia Glenn and Christine Nothnagle on PSR – Listen Now!

    Saturday, January 15th, 2011

    1/15/2011  – Looking to buy or sell this year? Tune in to Property Source Radio from 9-10AM on  Sportsradio 950AM ESPN! Marcia Glenn and Christine Nothnagle are talking about the buying and selling process.

    The Glenn Advantage Team is offering a FREE home buying seminar at Mario’s Italian Steakhouse on Saturday January 22 from 11AM – 2 PM. Talk to a panel of experts to answer all your real estate questions. Light lunch provided.

    CALL (585) 248-1046 for more information or sign up online at

    Join Steve Hausmann, Pat Coyne and Alex Lillig today as they help navigate the home buying process, and as always – Pat Coyne seems to get himself in a little trouble with our guest!

    Listen to this show online right now.

    Helping Kids With The Process of Moving through Home Staging

    Monday, January 10th, 2011

    By Kristen Noble

    I always hate to see this to my real estate clients, but selling a house isn’t fun or convenient. There seem to be less and less buyers. I think, and obviously believe, that home staging gives home owners the best chance to sell their property for the most money. One common obstacle I’ve run into with sellers is their concern with their children’s lives being disrupted during the selling process. Here are a couple of tips that I suggest if you run into the same situation:

    1. It’s always a good idea to take down all personal photos. When there are children in a home for sale, it’s even more important for safety purposes. It seems common for a child to have something in their room that boldly displays their name. Combine that name with a photo of a child and a people knowing your address and it is a very dangerous combination.
    2. See if the comforters in kid’s rooms that have a bold design on them are more neutral on their opposite side.
    3. Kids are afraid their things are going to disappear when they move. Suggest that parents give boxes to their children and have the kids decorate the boxes so they recognize which ones are theirs more quickly. Have each kid use one color.
    4. Have your kids gather what is going into a packing box and photograph the items. Put that picture on the outside of the box so that when moving day arrives they can quickly find their favorite toys are once the move takes place.
    5. Get a couple of short, but long plastic bins that can slide easily under a child’s bed. Have them pack those bins with their favorite toys for every day play. It’s a lot easier to ask a child to clean their room if they know where everything goes.
    6. There’s nothing wrong with a neat stack of plastic containers in the garage for kid’s items. Again, take photographs and tape them to the outside of each box.
    7. You can get cloth hanging boxes to put in a closet. They’re great for books.
    8. If your client is moving because their family has outgrown the home, tell them you don’t want your pictures to advertise that fact. Having kids rooms crammed with things from top to bottom doesn’t help!
    9. Leave a basket with the home owner with small rewards for kids who clean up their rooms before showings. I have used stickers, pencils, and treats as long as my client permits it.

    Getting Your Home Ready For Hibernation

    Monday, January 10th, 2011

    Fall is upon us. Now is the time to think about getting your home ready for the winter months. So, before you look for your woolies, mukluks, and flannel sheets, here’s your ‘to do’ list

    One of the most important jobs to attack is cleaning the gutters and downspouts. It is the messiest, but most important, job on your to do list. If left full of debris, gutters can freeze up causing structural damage, leaving you with a bigger mess to deal with in the spring.

    It is obvious to put all your flower pots and garden furniture away. If you don’t have room in your garage, clean the furniture with a pressure washer, let dry, then cover with a tarp and tie down with bungee cords. When storing flower pots, empty all the soil, and place plastic bags between them when stacking. Clay pots will crack if left filled with soil, and they are so expensive these days to replace. Drain your hose, coil it up and store it inside too. Push your garden tools into a bucket of sand and they retain their sharpness, and will be rust free in the spring.

    Here’s a little hint, if you wish to winter over your geraniums. Remove the plants from their pots and shake all the soil off the roots. Bring the plants to your dark basement and hang them upside down. They will remain dormant until spring, then you can bring them out and replant with fresh soil.

    If you use rock salt on your walk or driveway, now is the time to buy a couple of 50 pound bags. Empty one bag into a large bucket and buy a large scoop at the dollar store. You will kiss yourself when the cold January winds are blowing and you prepared.

    The obvious prep is to check for insulation in your attic space. Go to a big box store, or ask a professional. When your home has proper insulation, you will save many dollars. When at the store, check out kits that utilize plastic window film insulation. These kits are very inexpensive and it’s so easy to apply the film {usually using a blow dryer}. Remember, most heat is lost through the window glass.

    Have a professional check your chimney. Purchase a chimney cap to keep critters out. Have debris and nests removed so you are perfectly ready for that holiday fire, contained in the firebox.

    Have your furnace cleaned every year and replace the filter. And while you are in the basement, check out your ductwork. Are all connections in tact? Do your ducts need to be vacuumed?

    Here is a short list of jobs to do before winter

    • Replace smoke detector batteries.

    • Place an insulation strip under your door.

    • Wrap your hot water heater in an insulation blanket.

    • Install a programmable thermostat and keep it set at 68.

    • Find your holiday lights extension cords and spotlights.

    • Reverse your ceiling fan’s direction- when the blades turn clockwise, you are forcing the warm air down into your room.

    You are now armed and ready for the cold weather. Replace your doormat with a fresh, new one that greets “Welcome… Winter”