Realtor Q & A: Max Dewitt, East Valley Expert with Realty One Group

Q&A With Max Dewitt, East Valley Expert with Realty One Group

Q. Can you tell us a little about yourself and how you got into real estate?

A. I was born and raised here in the East Valley. I am a fourth generation Arizona native, and my son (and daughter on the way) makes it five generations! I graduated from ASU and then failed out of medical school, got divorced, had a quarter life crisis and wound up in real estate in 2014. I met my wonderful wife in 2015, have been married for three years and we have a little girl on the way. We love to get outside and honestly, we love to work. We get to be together and help people we care about and even find ways to get our son Waylon involved. He probably knows more about this business than most agents. My wife (who is also an agent) and I together average about one house a week, and approximately 50 homes a year. We have eight agents that make up The Steadfast Group. In 2018 we did 108 homes sales and about $32 million in production.

Q. In hind sight, is there anything you wish you had done differently as a new agent?

A. Be more assertive. I had a lack of confidence when I first started out, and in my opinion, I lost out on opportunities as a result of that. I also built a custom home that I couldn’t sell. These mistakes cost me time and money and were a huge learning lesson.

Q. What does a typical day look like for you and what are your hours?

A. Normally I’m up at about 5:30am. I leave the house between 7am and 8am, take Waylon to school, get to the gym, then to the office for a few hours. I wish I was better at keeping a set schedule, but I find some of my most productive days are when I can make time for an unexpected showing or meet a new client. My days tend to be pretty long. I’m usually working through transactions with my wife or sending emails after our son goes to bed, but I make it a priority to find time to dedicate to my wife and son throughout the day. This business is stressful, and if you care about your clients, it’s hard not to work. So often, your own life gets neglected. Being able to really maximize the family time we have together takes discipline but it’s worth it!

Q. How do you survive the summers/slow times?

A. Every year is different. During slow times I focus on my marketing. For example, I like to send CMA’s to those that may be ready to sell. We usually come up with a good list of new clients and prospects.

Q. How do you stay engaged with past clients?

A. We like to keep it basic. We focus on interpersonal relationships and try our very best to follow the “golden rule.” I send holiday cards, thank you cards, and postcards with seasonal messaging, and I take it one step further and have extras printed to hand out as necessary. I always take time to personally and sincerely engage on social media. I like to host client events like Easter egg hunts, movies, shoot out competitions, etc. I always post these on social media as that’s great for referral business. My repeat clients and referrals amount to about 90% of my business. I don’t do any farming and I stay as far away from Zillow as I can!

Q. What is your recipe for a successful open house?

A. My agents do the open houses. We always advertise on social media and go door to door and invite the neighbors. We utilize the open houses to network the neighborhood and always use 20 signs.

Q. What Valley area do you anticipate being the next hot spot?

A. I like watching the freeways grow and tend to focus on those specific areas. I also use that as an opportunity to educate potential clients, which helps them make informed decisions on the neighborhood they want to buy in.

Real Estate Direct Mail

Are you looking for a summer project? A direct mailer should be at the top of your list.

While direct mailing may not yield a vast number of sales in a short period of time, it can result in a steady flow of clients listing with you because they first saw your name in a postcard or brochure that had arrived in their mailboxes.

As a matter of fact, at least one realtor had executed an extensive postcard campaign and continued to get clients from it for five years after sending the last postcard.

But how do you do this? And does the benefit really outweigh the costs? Fair questions to be sure but rest easy, if you are willing to invest a little extra time and money into the process, you will likely be reaping the benefits of your labor for years to come.

Postcards – The typical realtor postcard will tend to feature a generic but nice looking house, the agency logo or mascot and a picture of the agent doing the mailing along with some contact information.  These are certainly well and good.

Such mailings get your name and number out there and a number of recipients may well put it in their junk drawer for later reference. But that generic approach does not really draw much attention to you or provide a compelling reason to act sooner rather than later.

Get creative with different designs and catch phrases to encourage those potential clients who may be riding the fence on whether or not to enter the housing market to get off the fence and jump in.

Here are a few examples to try:

Get the deal of your dreams in today’s buyer’s market! – Couple this with a picture of someone sleeping.  Include a thought bubble filled with a picturesque home with a big yard for better effect.

This can be directed at apartment complexes filled with first-time buyers or starter neighborhoods with young and growing families.

Tired of throwing money away? Stop renting and buy now! – Put this over a picture of a landfill, possibly with a bulldozer pushing piles of money around.

With a little help from Photoshop, this should be easy to accomplish. Clearly, this is directed at apartments and neighborhoods with a lot of rental properties.

Time to move up! – Include an image of a ladder.  A close up or a wide angle shot with a family climbing up it.

Maybe even with that picturesque house at the top. Again, this is marketed mostly to the starter neighborhood.

Sell high and have something left over. – The picture possibilities are endless here.

You can use a stack of bills changing hands, images of various kinds of vacations, from the beach to the mountains, a new car (parked in front of a home to minimize confusion) or even a new larger home.

These ideas can be marketed to many people from starter neighborhoods to retirees.

It’s a seller’s market.  Move now and pad that nest egg! – The image here could be a bird carefully arranging hundred dollar bills around its nest. Send this one to older couples likely looking to downsize now that the kids have moved on.

These are just a few ideas. You can mix up the designs, change the fonts (just don’t do anything too elaborate), alter color schemes and more to suit your taste and keep things fresh.

In fact, if you are planning on doing postcards over an extended period of time, make sure that you do change this up a bit just to avoid repetition.

The big thing to remember is to always have your name and essential contact information (website, email, phone number) on the card.

You can also include postcards that feature recent listings to encourage people to buy or even postcards with recently sold homes.  Target these to the neighborhoods the homes were sold in to show that you know the area and can succeed in it.

This should help people to get off the fence a little sooner.

Newsletters – One other option is to use a newsletter format.

These can include recent listings, reports on the local market, profiles of local business that specialize in home improvement or tips on home upkeep and what to do to sell a home.

Whichever option you choose, or if you use both, make sure that you are keeping the focus on the customer and include your contact information so that when your marketing material has inspired someone to sell or buy, you are easy to reach and ready and willing to help.

If you have additional questions or would like to learn brainstorm some more direct mail ideas, give us a call today at 480-759-1500.

Have a great summer!

Matt

 

How To Win in Real Estate… Long Term

We sat down with Jason Crittenden of Realty One Group for part two of our video marketing series. Jason is a multi-million dollar producer ranked in the top 1% of agents in the United States and an East Valley expert. His video marketing practices have been so instrumental in propelling his business to the next level that he started his own video marketing company, Permanent Estate Media. Below, he shares a little about his views on real estate videos and the importance of incorporating it in your overall marketing strategy.

There are a lot of ways to do a lot of things; of that I have no doubt. You can build a business calling expired listings and FSBO’s. That works, but it’s not very fun.

You can build a business by holding mega open houses three to four times a week. That really does work! But again, not very fun.

You can pay third party platforms to provide lead generation, and that can yield some success, but like the others, is definitely not fun.

For me personally, the way to build a business in real estate has, and always will be, with referral business. There is no better feeling than hearing prospective new clients call and say, “John told me I should call you.”

Besides referral business, what other business should you be intentional about pursuing? Are you leaving money on the table? The answer, if you’re not doing consistent video, is absolutely!

Here’s why. A couple of years ago, I committed to producing 4K ultra HD cinematic listing videos for all of my personal listings. It was a Christian decision, to be honest. I believe all humans deserve the best service, regardless of how much they are paying me. From mobile homes to mansions, we spent money on producing the best quality photos and video for every listing.

However, like many principles, they sometimes have unintended consequences. I started getting more calls from strangers asking me to list their home, and to help them buy a house. Where were they coming from? How did they find me?

What I found is that these clients were seeing my listing videos on Facebook or Zillow and thinking “I want that kind of agent representing me.” I was starting to gain a reputation as a professional in my space, all because of a commitment to deliver high quality video. What started out as just a video for marketing my client’s listings, quickly turned into brand growth and recognition for my company.

As a bonus, when I went on these “cold” listing appointments, I never lost when going up against other agent interviews. When sellers listed their home, they always listed with me. Why? Because the other agents showed up with just the standard listing materials: comps, numbers and photos. The sellers saw my listing presentation and professional videos and in their mind, there was no comparison. All three agents are charging the same commission, but only one agent (me) is spending money on high quality videos and photos that will sell their home faster and for top dollar. Choosing me was a no brainer for the sellers.

Bottom line, video marketing has been a game changer for my business all because of the decision to shoot quality cinematic videos for every listing. I went from $250K in GCI to $500k in just two years and you can too. What I’ve learned is that the investment of $20-30k a year in production costs yielded $200-$250k in new business. That’s more than 733% ROI.

The overall takeaway is if you make the investment in your clients, your business will undoubtedly flourish. I’ve experienced it firsthand in my business and know the same can happen for you.

Jason Crittenden – Jason Crittenden Team at Realty ONE Group and CEO of PERMANENT ESTATE Media

Real Estate Video Marketing: You Need It and Here’s Why

Video Marketing is more important than ever for Real Estate Professionals in 2019 and there are several reasons why.  We will start with a few stats and move to the heart and soul of why video is taking over the industry.

-Instagram recently reported 500 million people watch Stories every day.

-YouTube has 2 billion monthly active users.

– LinkedIn is rolling out live video.

-Video marketers get 66% more qualified leads per year.

-Video marketers achieve a 54% increase in brand awareness.

What’s the key take away? Around two-thirds of marketers are using videos for marketing; you can’t afford to be left out. Also, humans retain 58% more information when we are shown HOW to do something.

I would like to share some valuable info from our friends over at Hub Media. They are leaders in the real estate video world and I have seen their success stories first hand.

Most real estate agents are using some variety of video in their business whether that be Facebook live or professional cinematic home tours, but using video is something still relatively new to many agents. Facebook Is the logical place to put your videos when marketing properties for sale but there is a problem: FB is a horrible search engine, it’s hard enough for you to find a post you did on your own page a few weeks ago so imagine how challenging it can be for others to find your best content. Facebook is a place where consumers discover content by accident where as other platforms like Google and YouTube are on purpose.  Real estate agents need to clearly establish their value in the eyes of the consumer by creating high quality, unique and valuable content consumers are searching for online.

 Video is very effective when used properly to educate and inform consumers, market properties for sale, build brands and much more. Whether you are a savvy video pro or just getting your toes wet, there are some videos that are essential for every real estate professional.

 1.The Home Page/About Us Video – Personally connect with potential prospects and customers

2.Tips and How To Videos – Show your expertise and experience without bragging.

3.The Community Video – Most know which community they want to live in. These not only show your expertise on a community but also to help you get found online.

4.Testimonial Videos – These are the 21st century version of the written testimonial and are the ultimate form of social proof which humans are easily influenced by.

5.Cinematic Property Tour Video – This video will help the consumer mentally move in to the property, and because the real estate agent is in the video introducing the property it is priceless face time at the exact moment the consumer cares most about what you have to say!

6.Facebook Live Videos – When it comes to marketing, your product (YOU) needs to be at a place everyone visits frequently. Facebook is where we accidentally discover content. Facebook live videos, when done effectively, can create valuable engagement.

7.Video Email – This shows the personal side of you, bringing consumers closer. Did you know people are 80% more likely to do business with people they can see compared to only speaking on the phone or through email?

Real estate agents are busy and this may seem like a lot to take on, but believe me, it is worth it. Video marketing can change your business, which will change your life. Vacations, retirement? Video will help get you there.  For more information on video marketing, please visit Hub Media’s blog https://hubmediacompany.com/blog/ or reach out to them at 480.223.8113. They would love to help.

Loan Options for those Looking to Downsize

(5 min read)

Over the past decade, Baby Boomers (those born from 1944 to 1964) have been the generation to watch both as consumers and home buyers.  Although a shift is taking place and many industries (including real estate) are beginning to focus on the Millennial generation – their housing needs, preferences and purchasing behavior — the Boomers still represent a significant portion of overall home sellers and buyers in 2019. Why? With their children out of the house, many Boomers are looking to downsize.

While they may be looking to transition into smaller homes, they still expect the same high-end amenities, finishes and offerings that come standard in a larger multifamily residence, and complements their modern, active lifestyle.

In this article, we’re sharing a couple of tips for those Baby Boomers looking to downsize, as well as mortgage options that complement their next forever home.

Reverse Mortgages

Reverse Mortgages hit the scene in 1961 and really gained popularity in 2018. It is a type of loan available to homeowners that are 62 years of age or older and have a high amount of equity built up in their current home. Borrowers are not required to make monthly principal and interest payments to their bank or lender, as they would be required to do with a traditional purchase or refinance mortgage. Instead, their bank or lender pays them in a lump sum(s) or via a line of credit based on their home’s equity.

Why is this a good option for the Modern Boomer? Picture a couple that would love to find a smaller home with less maintenance, etc.  They no longer need to live in the best school district and want a lifestyle that allows them the freedom to travel and be more active. The amount of equity they have in their current home, although high, may not allow them to buy a small house or townhome outright because of their desired area’s higher home values.  A reverse mortgage would allow them the opportunity to purchase the home they want, and still have money left over to travel because they are receiving their equity as additional income vs. rolling it into a traditional purchase.

 

Condos

Many of today’s higher-end condo communities offer a variety of upscale amenities to complement their convenient location and accessibility – making it  a very desirable option for the modern Boomer. However, it has been difficult in the past to acquire a loan on a condo because of factors like community occupancy percentage (how many units are owner occupied versus investment properties) and HOA status – including financial reserves and arrearages. Good news, tools like Freddie Macs Condo Project Advisor now lets the buyer request unit-level exceptions for existing condominium projects early in the loan origination process so condo sales and financing are more streamlined.

There are many finance options available to homebuyers looking to downsize.  If you have questions regarding any of the loan programs mentioned above, be sure to contact a Cardinal Financial expert today at 480-759-1500 and we’ll be happy to assist in finding your client a solution that works best for their lifestyle.

Top 5 Marketing Trends for Realtors in 2019

(5-minute read)

In this ever-changing digital landscape, marketing professionals recognize that online marketing will continue to be one of the most important channels for your overall marketing strategy moving into 2019.

With all of the advancements in video, live streaming, predictive analytics, messenger bots, etc., social media marketing continues to be one of the most prominent tools when it comes to marketing your business online. However, several things have changed in the past year. Social media algorithms have transformed, Facebook announced the decline in organic reach for business/brand pages, Instagram began deleting “fake accounts” and removing likes and comments from those who were using third party apps and bots to inauthentically engage with their followers, and brands are being asked to produce more genuine and engaging content now more than ever.

So, what does all of this mean for Realtors? We’ve put together a list of the top five real estate marketing trends we see as being key for real estate agents in 2019.

1. Virtual Open Houses
With everything becoming digitalized, virtual open houses provide massive exposure and should be at the top of your to-do list in 2019. One advantage of virtual open houses is that only serious buyers will inquire about viewing the property in person. Video marketing is key, whether it is a professional video or quick segment from your phone.

2. Automated Marketing
Make your life easier with programs that automate tasks like emails, social media posts, text messages, and website chatbots. Time block an hour each week to set up content and you are done! For more information, take a look at the 7 Marketing Automation Tools That Could Change Your Small Business by Forbes.

3. Content Creation
The internet is chocked full of the same information. 2019 is your time to shine! We recommend updating your professional website to include more personal information. Your bio is a great place to differentiate yourself by sharing personal interests, hobbies and passions, as well as include your listings, client testimonials, social media channels, videos and a blog section.

The blog should consist of topics that are customized to your specific area or niche. Think about what clients typically ask you and then fulfill their needs through your blog with helpful tips, articles and links. For example, create content about the schools in the area, transportation, or what amenities the neighborhood offers (best coffee shops, patios, happy hour, dog parks, etc.)

4. Refreshed Email Marketing
Take a look at your 2018 email marketing campaigns and note what performed well and what did not. Did certain subject lines produce exceptional open rates? Did a particular format get more clicks than others? Once you establish those points, adjust your current email marketing strategy to reach your audience more effectively.

Ensure your campaigns are mobile friendly and that you are personalizing your email content based on data from website visits, purchase history, and email preferences. Finally, remember that the quality of your email marketing campaigns always trump quantity.

5. Authentic Social Media
Customers do business with people they know, like and trust. Clients are interested in getting to know who you are as a professional and as a person. It’s not only about promoting the properties you want to sell, but it’s also about educating them on who you are and showcasing your personality.

By being genuine and engaging in your posts, you will create the right audience following. Post encouraging reviews from customers to demonstrate that you have experience working with real people who made successful purchases. When using stories to promote an open house or new listing, show your face, use your voice to describe the space, and look professional.

I hope you found this information helpful. By turning these trends into action, I am sure your real estate business with thrive in 2019.

What do you see as being an important or emerging marketing trend for real estate? Let us know in the comments below!

Real Estate Agents: 3 Steps For End Of Year Goal Planning

As the end of year approaches, many begin looking to define their next year’s goals. Recent studies show that about 3% of adults have clearly written goals and accomplish 5 to 10 times more than those who do not. Goal setting not only allows you to take control of your life’s direction, it also provides you a benchmark for determining whether you are actually succeeding.

As someone who has been actively business planning for 10+ years, I can personally attest to the power of the physical act of writing down a goal. It helps clarify the things you truly want to accomplish; and by writing it down, you no longer have an excuse to forget about it.

First things first, to accomplish your goals, you need to know how to set them; but, don’t worry, in this article, we’re sharing three steps that will allow you to formulate goals that you can accomplish.

Step 1: Set Your Goals

Identify clear, concise and SMART goals that motivate you. (SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time Bound) In more specific terms, your goals must be clear and well defined, include precise figures and dates, are possible to achieve, are aligned with the direction you want your personal and professional life to take, must include a deadline and, last but not least, must be written down so that they inspire you to take action.

Step 2: Create a Business Action Plan

Now that you’ve identified and written down your goals, it’s time to put a plan in place to achieve them. To get yourself into the business planning mindset, start by conducting a review of your current or previous year. Some great questions to ask yourself: What did I accomplish? What are some road blocks or challenges that got in my way? What opportunities did I miss? What did I learn? It is important to review what worked last year and to know your basic numbers (i.e. average days on market, listing to sale ratios) before you begin planning for the year ahead. Once you know your stats, begin writing down the individual tasks you need to carry out to achieve your objective, and in the order you need to complete them. Keep this list close by so that you can easily mark off tasks as you complete them.

Step 3: Track & Measure Your Results

How do you know if what you’re doing is yielding positive results? Using a suitable tracking system – whether that be a simple tracking form or a CRM platform to record your results – will allow you to track your progress and make necessary corrections throughout the year.

I hope you found these points helpful. By following these three steps, I am confident you can set goals with certainty and enjoy the satisfaction that comes along with knowing you achieved what you set out to do.  If you’d like a copy of the forms I use for my personal and business goal setting, please email me at matt.askland@cardinalfinancial.com and I’ll be happy to share them with you. Good luck!

Real Estate Agents: 5 Ways to Get Involved With Your Local Community

I’m a firm believer that getting involved in your local community and volunteering your time is beneficial not only for your mind and body, but also your business. There’s a sense of connection and community that occurs when you surround yourself with other like-minded charitable people — that quite often — results in the deepening of relationships with existing clients, as well as the fostering of new ones.

We’ve all heard the old saying, “people do business with people they know, like and trust.” Volunteering is a great way to network and meet new people, but more importantly, when the effort is genuine, can result in new business opportunities and referrals.

If you’re a real estate agent and you’ve been thinking about donating your time and service but aren’t quite sure how to get started, here are five ideas to consider:

  1. Rotary International not only offers help locally and worldwide, but membership offers tremendous networking opportunities. The Rotary motto is “Service Above Self” and Rotary is an organization of over 33,000 local clubs serving their communities around the world.
  2. HandsOn Phoenix partners with a wide range of community service organizations and government agencies to put volunteers to work where they are needed most – tackling issues like homelessness, hunger, education, animal welfare, environmental challenges, and more.
  3. Kiwanis International offers volunteer opportunities to help enhance the physical, emotional, educational, and social wellbeing of our children. Click the link to to see what opportunities are available in your community.
  4.  Smaller groups that cater to different ethnicities may be ideal for the agent who specializes in a certain ethnic market. The Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, for instance, can help you get in touch with local groups that offer help to the Hispanic community.
  5.  Hyper-local volunteer opportunities like coaching a community athletic team, volunteering at a local school in your farm area, your church or community theater groups are also great ways to donate your time while meeting new people.

The important part is to think about what’s important to you. What are you passionate about? Then, reach out to that organization and ask how you can help. Making the time to start giving back will come back to you tenfold. In the words of Bryant McGill, “Giving is the master key to success, in all applications of human life.”

I hope you find these ideas helpful. We would love to hear about other ways you are volunteering your time and service to your local community, and how the act of ‘giving back’ has impacted your business. Feel free to comment below or share your stories with me via email at matt.askland@cardinafinancial.com.

To learn more about Cardinal Financial and our charitable work here in the Valley, please visit our Community & Charity page.

Real Estate Agents: 4 Tips for Effective Time Management

We’ve officially entered fall. The kids are back in school; snowbirds are making their way back to the Valley; business levels are waking up from their summer slumber; and we’ve officially entered the fall home selling season.

For many real estate agents and mortgage lenders, fourth quarter is crucial – to assess current business levels and determine what objectives need to be met to achieve those year-end goals. How often have you said, “If I only had more time,” or, “I wish there were more hours in the day?” We don’t really need more time in the day to achieve our goals. What we really need are strategies to better manage our time.

Here are four tips to help you eliminate mental distractions and finish the year strong.

Implement a Time Block System
Map out your ideal work week using a time blocking system that includes a start and a stop time every day, as well as time for yourself and your family. Key components to incorporate into the schedule include: daily team meetings and emails; power hour spent selling – either on the phone prospecting or face-to-face with clients; afternoon appointments (listing, buyer and channel appointments); and follow up. Having a structured, time blocked schedule to follow will ensure you are consistently marking off tasks that will help you make those monthly/yearly goals. I have personally found success using The CORE Training’s Ideal Work Week – developed by Reeta Casey and Rick Ruby. Their structured calendar and time block system has been a game changer for my productivity.

2. Set Up Your Voicemail Message
This one may seem obvious but can make a huge difference in managing your time. Explaining your communication process upfront with your clients not only establishes boundaries but sets expectations for the relationship moving forward. Creating a voicemail that reiterates your hours of operation and when you’ll return voicemails provides the space you need to recharge and connect with family.

3. Delegate Your Emails
Admittedly, one the biggest disruptors to your productivity is emails. Having a member of your team manage your inbox will do wonders for your time management and eliminate those unnecessary distractions. Tip: Create an email address that no one knows about and have your team member forward time sensitive messages to that address to be answered from your business email address during your “scheduled” time block twice a day. Imagine what you could do for your business if you replaced five hours a week spent on answering/responding to emails with five additional hours of prospecting?

4. Schedule “Brain Dumps” Into Your Day
A ‘brain dump’ is a scheduled 15-30 minute meeting every week with yourself or the appropriate team members. Meeting topics can include operations, marketing, leads and client gifts. Each team member brings their operational updates, success stories, issues or roadblocks to be discussed (unless it’s a fire). The key to these brain dumps is learning to table these topics for the weekly meeting vs. interrupting one another’s time throughout the week.  I then schedule one hour in my calendar post meeting to address any time sensitive issues.

Effective time management is possible when you have a plan and stick to it. This means being disciplined, setting priorities that communicate clearly what’s really important, making wise decisions that help set realistic goals, and setting firm boundaries that allow us to keep the promises we make to ourselves and others.

Additional information about the Ideal Work Week and The CORE Training time block system referenced in this article can be found in the book “The Roadmap to a Profitable $30 Million Real Estate Business,” by Reeta Casey and Rick Ruby. 

I hope you guys found this article and some of these tips helpful. If there are other time management tools/systems you use, I’d love to hear about them.  Feel free to let me know in the comments below!