7 Must-Haves for Every Realtor

7 Must-Haves for Every Realtor

The word “must” gets thrown around a lot in real estate.

You must be active on social media.  You must use video.  You must work with internet leads.

The truth is, you can be successful in real estate without social media, video, internet leads and just about every other “must” out there.

In fact, there are only seven true must-haves for every Realtor.

#1 – A Plan

You don’t need a formal business plan, but you do need to know what you want to achieve and how you’re going to achieve it.  Make sure your plan is in writing and set aside time to review it at least once per month.

#2 – A Clear Value Proposition

In your marketing materials and in-person, you must communicate to potential customers why they should work with you instead of someone else.  Your value proposition could center on your experience, track record, previous careers, local knowledge, or anything else that distinguishes you from other agents in your market.

#3 – A CRM (Customer Relationship Management)

Your network is your most valuable asset as an agent.  You must have a reliable place to store, manage, and access the contact and personal information of the people in your database.

#4 – A Consistent Way to Generate Leads

If your income is unpredictable from one month to the next, inconsistent lead generation is the likely culprit.  To smooth out the peaks and valleys, invest in marketing and prospecting systems that give you a consistent flow of potential buyers and sellers.

#5 – A System for Tracking Lead Sources

You can’t know what’s working and what isn’t unless you track how you get your leads.  You can use something as simple as an Excel spreadsheet, or you can use your CRM.

#6 – A Place to Log Expenses

You might have heard the saying, “It’s not what you earn, it’s what you keep”.  If you don’t know how much money you’re spending, you can’t know how much money you’re keeping.

Programs like Quickbooks, or apps like Expensify, make logging expenses easy so you always know what you’re keeping.

#7 – A Transaction Management System

The quickest way to damage your reputation and endanger your license is to drop the ball during a transaction.  You must have a system in place to ensure you have the proper paperwork, meet contract deadlines, and follow-up on all outstanding issues.
P.S. – The most common missing item of the seven is a plan.  If you don’t have one, now is the perfect time to put one together. Without a business plan, you will struggle to hit your goals.

For Realtors: How to Organize a Perfect Real Estate Day

How to Organize a Perfect Real Estate Day

If you asked 100 (or 1,000) real estate agents to name their top three biggest challenges, time management would make almost every one of those agents’ lists.  Calls, emails, texts, and social media demand instant attention and can distract even the most focused among us.

The key to controlling your time is by organizing your calendar to ensure you complete your most vital tasks every day.  Here’s how to do just that.

The Night Before
A perfect real estate day starts the night before.  Begin by writing down everything you want to do the following day.  If you end up with more than a handful items, rank them in order of priority.

As you create your list, you might find certain tasks must be done at specific times of the day.  Block off those times in your calendar and set reminders so you remember to do the tasks.

First Thing
Important …  Whenever it is you start your day, resist the urge to check email or social media.  Put your phone on silent or use the Do Not Disturb setting.  Then, get to work on your to-do list (in order of priority).

The exception to the rule of not checking email is when you are expecting a vital message.  But even when that’s the case, you still don’t want to look at every email.  Instead, do a quick scan of your inbox to see if that message arrived.

Your concentration, willpower, and discipline are all at their highest in the morning.  That’s why morning is the best time to knock out as much of your to-do list as possible.

Checking email and your phone for urgent messages is ok from time-to-time.  But, do it in-between tasks.  Interrupting one task to start another is a good way to get little, if anything, done.

Late Morning/Noon
Sometime in the late morning or around noon, stop working on your to-do list and reflect on your progress to that point.  Have you completed all your high priority items?  Do you need to shuffle the priority of certain tasks or add or remove tasks?

Many agents describe their days as “putting out one fire after another”.  A midday break ensures you’re focused on the important items and not just the urgent items screaming for your attention.

The afternoon is the perfect time to work on tasks that require lower levels of concentration.  It’s also a good time to return phone calls and emails, check and update social media, and prepare for any upcoming buyer or listing appointments.

If you’ve managed to knock out your to-do list and are looking for ways to make your afternoon productive, consider reading industry news or training materials, making calls to your database, or prospecting for new business.

Late Afternoon/Early Evening
You probably have a “quitting time” even though you may continue to check email or take phone calls into the evening.  Before you wind down your day, take a few minutes to ensure you completed everything you needed to do.

This end-of-day review serves two purposes.  First, it helps prevent necessary tasks from slipping through the cracks.  Second, it allows you to mentally transition out of work mode knowing you aren’t forgetting anything.  That transition is crucial for preventing burnout.

P.S. – Every day won’t look like the perfect real estate day.  But, the more days you can string together that follow this general structure, the more you’ll find yourself in control of your time.

2017 – A Year of Hope?

The common message from buyers and sellers today is one of exuberant optimism. Whether or not you like Trump, financial markets have embraced his election win with open arms. In the micro, this may appear to be adverse, but mortgage interest rates are rising in anticipation of increased economic growth and a rise in the GDP. After many years of lackluster economic growth, this nation is overdue for financial expansion.

In any given year, the level of real estate activity can be be easily predicted based on three factors: 1) Mortgage interest rates 2) Fuel prices 3) Consumer Confidence Index. So, simply predict those three index levels are voila! You are a real estate clairvoyant!!










Dodd-Frank … The gift that keeps on giving

The Dodd-Frank Financial Reform act was a joke. And like any bad joke, it just keeps on getting recycled, over and over and over again. Now come TRID. The new financial “reforms” to the tune of hundreds of millions in taxpayer dollars to accomplish exactly nothing. How politicians in DC can allow this to happen simply defies reality.

What is TRID?  Basically, it’s a new set of guidelines, enacted in the name of consumerism, to confound, confuse and protract the entire mortgage and settlement process. The time, effort and resources required to close a real estate transaction today far exceed that of a year ago. Buyers can expect regulatory delays as the “30 day closing” has now gone the way of the dodo.

If anything contained within the new TRID guidelines serves to benefit any consumer in any way, I cannot find one person who knows what it is. I would welcome any comments that could illustrate any TRID-related consumer benefit.

Big Changes for Home Buyers Coming October 3rd!

Thanks to now-retired U.S. Senators Chris Dodd and Barney Frank, aggravating changes will take effect on October 3rd, 2015 which will make home buying more difficult for those who are obtaining a home loan to make their purchase. Ten things consumers should know:

1. A new closing statement form called the Closing Disclosure or CD will be used for most loan applications taken for new mortgages, effective on October 3, 2015. This replaces the HUD-1 that is in place today. And now, the lender, not the closing agent, may be preparing and delivering the CD.

2. The CD must be delivered to the buyer/consumer at least three business days prior to the scheduled closing date.

3. Closing agent must get information to the lender approximately 10 to 14 days prior to the closing date for completion of CD to meet the delivery requirement. The closing agent must know about ALL buyer paid charges 10 to 14 days prior to the closing date.

4. The closing agent will need the real estate company’s state license number and the individual real estate license number for the new CD.

5. The CD sent to the buyer/consumer won’t include the “seller’s side” of the transaction. The closing agent (not the lender) is responsible for completing and delivering the seller’s side of the CD. The closing agent may decide to prepare a separate CD for the seller.

6. Although responsible for its accuracy, the agent/broker may or may not receive an advance copy of the CD before it’s delivered to the buyer/consumer. The lender will likely send the CD to the closing agent when it’s sent to the buyer/consumer. The settlement agent will not automatically be permitted to send a copy to real estate agents. The agent/broker may have to obtain a copy from the buyer or seller.

7. Changes to the CD after delivery to the buyer/consumer MAY trigger a new three-day waiting period if changes cause the Annual Percentage Rate to be inaccurate, the buyer changes loan product or a prepayment penalty is added. Changes and adjustments affecting the value of the property (as determined by the lender) may trigger additional disclosure and review periods under the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA) controlling the delivery of the appraisals. Buyers should consider two pre-closing inspections (walk-throughs) in addition to a home inspection.

8. The CD refers to Owner’s Title Insurance as “optional” in some circumstances. Lenders will require a mortgagee policy, but the addition of a simultaneous owner’s policy to protect the buyer’s equity may be optional. Without owner’s insurance, only the lender’s interests are insured. Buyers should obtain appropriate professional advice before before declining this coverage.

9. The new TRID rules may affect the actual contract terms between buyers and sellers. As an example, a closing date to occur within 30 days may no longer be a realistic expectation if a mortgage is involved. The consensus is that an additional 15 days should be added to any otherwise realistic projected closing date.

10. And remember … If a closing date is breached, a seller in a strong seller’s market may very well decide to put a property back on the market rather than sign an extension to further protract the closing. Buyers must understand the urgency in responding to lender requests for information and documentation. Buyers must have past three year’s tax returns, current pay stubs, brokerage and bank account information available at the onset.

I own my home that is in a flood zone. Are flood insurance issues going to make it difficult to sell now?

At least in terms of the astronomical rate increases that you have been reading about lately, probably not.

The U.S. Senate just passed the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act which had already been passed by the House this month. Once signed by the President, this Act will negate the majority of the devastating changes that were enacted by the House and Senate last year. More on this at: http://rem.ax/1fXPi7o

For information on this or other real estate topics, please visit www.DestinFloridaRealEstate.com or email us at smith@realtor.com

Are flood insurance premiums still supposed to go up?

Flood insurance (NFIP) premiums have already gone up astronomically in the case of pre-FIRM homes, the result of the Biggert Waters Act. In this area, pre-FIRM generally refers to homes that were built before 1974.  Our elected politicians in D.C. are going through the motions but making little progress in the re-writing of this very bad legislation.
Our salvation may lie in the fact that FEMA failed to follow the rules and did not conduct the required cost studies before enacting. Therefore, a now pending lawsuit in federal court may provide our best option for relief.

As always, please visit us at www.Ed-Terri.com or for questions, email us at smith@realtor.com


We want to sell our condo after the rental season ends this year. How far in advance should we put it on the market to sell it by then?

According to local MLS statistics, you will on average, spend six months on the market before a sale is consummated. This assumes that you are priced within normal market parameters.

By contrast, those properties that are overpriced by more than 7 percent tend to stay on the market for an average of 10 months before expiring and dropping off the market altogether.

25 years ago or today, good markets or bad, if you want it sold, price it right!

As always, please visit us at www.Ed-Terri.com or for questions, email us at smith@realtor.com

Ed & Terri Smith, Broker Owners
RE/MAX Coastal Properties
850-837-5500 x1



Is Foreclosure Activity on the Rise?

According to RealtyTrac, January foreclosure filings nationwide increased by 8% over December, one of the largest month-over-month increases in recent history. For purposes of RealtyTrac’s report, the term “monthly foreclosure filings” includes lis pendens filings,  default notices, foreclosure auctions and bank repossessions. A total of 124,419 such events occurred in January.

At least in part, the increase was the result of the “holiday lull”, which is the period during the fourth quarter during which lenders typically forgo foreclosure actions, only to start making up for lost time in January. Yet and still, January marked the 40th consecutive month in which foreclosure activity declined on an annual basis, with filings down 18%.

“California foreclosure starts jumped 57 percent from a year ago, following 17 consecutive months of annual decreases,” according to RealtyTrac’s vice president Daren Blomquist.

On the one hand, actual scheduled foreclosure auctions jumped 13% in January compared with December. On the other, that specific activity remains 8% down from one year ago. This equates to 38 consecutive months in which scheduled foreclosure auctions nationwide have decreased on an annual basis.

And, the foreclosure process was initiated in the case of 57,259 properties in the U.S. in January, which represents a 10% increase over December, yet remains 12% less than last year.

Before Closing a Loan

Do's and Don'ts before closing_Blossman