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Article Courtesy of: Inman News
By: Ian Hoover 

When agents love where they work and the people they work with, and they notice the effort you put into ensuring they have fun, it makes their decision to leave much harder

Retaining your agents should be your top priority when you own a real estate brokerage. It isn’t easy in our business these days, but having a fun and exciting culture can help combat the recruiting calls your agents receive daily. 

Tech giants like Google have revolutionized the culture experience. They, too, must compete with other giants that want to steal their best employees. Their retention rate is bolstered by building a culture that allows their employees to thrive. Here are six ways to create a great culture.

Prioritize recognition 

A year after opening the brokerage, I decided to start doing awards. We do monthly, semi-annual and annual awards, which include prizes. These prizes can be gift cards, free lunches and even event tickets. We also post the awards on social media to ensure our agents receive the outside recognition their accomplishments deserve. People love to be noticed, and this is a great way to add some excitement to your culture.

Have the right equipment 

Agents are always on the go, and they don’t always plan correctly. Equipping your office with the right tools to get work done is essential.

Complete computer setups, printers, strong internet connection and office supplies are all things they might need at the drop of a hat.

Why have them go somewhere else? Have your office ready. The more reasons they have to use your office, the better.

Our next step is building a recording studio where our agents can record their videos and podcasts. This is just one more reason they want to come in and be a part of our office. 

Stock the kitchen 

We stock the kitchen with snacks, coffee and other beverages; we also have alcoholic beverages. Agents often skip meals, and showing them that you care and have some healthy snacks on hand will show them how much you appreciate their hard work.

Our fully stocked kitchen also allows us to have an in-office happy hour without much setup because all the amenities are already here. A few hundred dollars a quarter will keep your office stocked with all the goodies that keep your agents refueled, refreshed and ready to sell houses. 
Remember to check with your regional and state regulations about ABC laws before setting up a full bar. Also, consider that some team members may be living sober, and make sure to create office happy hours that are not just centered around drinking.

Finally, if you have employees and independent contractors consuming adult beverages onsite and then driving home, you may want to have them sign a waiver or check with your insurance provider to review liabilities. 

Think location, location, location 

With agents being less dependent on offices these days, brokerages must plan carefully on the location of their offices. The days of neighborhood offices are probably behind us, but a central location is still important.

If your office is located too far from airports, downtown or other exciting attractions, it will be hard to recruit agents who seek to be close to those things. Having only a short commute to most areas in town will be critical to the growth of your business. Nobody wants to travel an hour for an office event. 

Create opportunities for fun and stress relief

If an agent is trying to decide between joining two offices, one that is more traditional while the other is out of the box with a casual low-stress atmosphere, which do you think they will choose?

Our conference table becomes a pool table with an attachment for ping pong. Our office also features a dart board, chess board and other multimedia entertainment accessories. Speakers around the office play music, creating a nice vibe when touring or hanging out. 

Focus on team building 

In addition to our monthly happy hours, we host multiple company outings per year. Our most popular annual event has become renting a suite at a Pirates game. It is incredible how much fun you can have when everyone gets along and wants to be a part of a fantastic team.

Culture is our top priority. In our market, like most, large companies are calling our agents regularly. They get told how fantastic these companies are, how they will have the “brand,” and how large of a check they will see if they join. 

When agents love where they work and the people they work with, and they notice the effort you put into ensuring they have fun, it makes their decision to leave much harder. Sure we have an excellent training program, fantastic support and great systems, but it is the culture that is the glue holding everything together.

Ian Hoover is broker of record and co-owner at Deacon Hoover Real Estate Advisor.

6 Ways to Create a Must-Stay Culture and Improve Agent Retention

 

Article Courtesy of: Inman News
By: Christian Barnes

Coaching encompasses a constant evolution of learning and implementation to help agents build their businesses. As many teams shift from professional development into coaching, these strategies can help

Over the last few years, I have seen a shift in how brokerages think about professional development for agents. While we previously relied on training to impart information and share business-building approaches, we are now seeing more focus on coaching to support the execution of this information. 

Traditionally, we have been very good at training both new and experienced agents. Learning platforms have been a critical component of brokerage value propositions that help us recruit and retain. Through these learning platforms, we can show agents how to write a business plan, use technology and set up social media accounts.

But we haven’t focused on helping agents implement.

For instance, agents can know how to use dotloop, but the knowledge is counterproductive if they don’t know how to write a contract. Over the past few years, here are some essentials I’ve learned about the coaching process. 

Tip 1: Bridge the gap

About five years ago, I noticed a gap between information and execution. I realized that there was a need to consistently help agents take what they had learned and apply it through coaching.

However, it’s not a “set it and forget it” mentality. Coaching encompasses a constant evolution of learning and using with the intension of helping agents build their business.

But it’s important to recognize that training and coaching go hand in hand. The goal is to bridge the gap between having the nuts and bolts and making them into a business-building machine.

Another way of looking at it is that coaching is a way to provide guided execution or present avenues to explore. Coaching is where the rubber meets the road in applying and evolving skills to help build a business.

Tip 2: Ask and answer

Effective coaching boils down to asking questions and helping agents answer them, often by being a sounding board.

Core questions to guide coaching conversations and lead agents down a path of self-discovery can include:

• What are you going to do this week to further your business?
• What have you done that’s working?
• What could you be doing differently?
• What resources do you need to reach your goals?
• What gaps exist in your skill sets?
• How will you apply the tools in your toolkit to further your business?

Critical to this process is setting up accountability with regular check-ins and status meetings. Regular check-ins can help to break big goals down into smaller achievable steps.

Tip 3: Make it personal

A valuable part of this question-based approach is that it can give agents the space to decide what works for them. I have found it very helpful to meet agents where they are and take my lead from them.

In this regard, coaching becomes very personalized. There is no one-size-fits-all approach.

The personalized nature of coaching also means that you will learn a great deal about your agents — not just the deals they are working on, but how they work, insights into their personalities and details about their personal life. The one-on-one nature of coaching allows you as the broker to build deeper relationships with your team based on building trust.

That trust, in turn, can support loyalty, which is what we all strive for with our agents. I’ve also found that these one-on-one coaching relationships are a great way to get feedback from agents on what tools are working, where they have skill gaps and how we can fine-tune our offerings.

These insights are invaluable in devising strategy and investments in products and services to best align with our agents’ needs.

Tip 4: Focus on resources

Another thing I have learned is that not all coaches complement all agents, so it’s helpful to have a variety of coaching resources available at your brokerage.

In addition to in-house coaching, explore working with outside coaches for both individual sessions and group training classes.

You may also have in-house talent in the form of mentors who would be able to add to your coaching bench. In this manner, you are the primary source of the coaching resources. And while it’s helpful to have options, it’s also important not to become too fragmented in your coaching offerings and to ensure that the resources align with your company culture.

Tip 5: Hone your coaching skills

Networking with other coaches, listening to podcasts, and watching videos are all valuable resources to explore. But it’s essential to incorporate the things that resonate with you, so you can build your own style and playbook.

Authenticity is so important when creating a coaching relationship. And just as we are helping agents grow their skill sets, coaches also need to have the eternal student approach as well. 

In my experience, today’s agents prioritize spending on coaching over any other business expense. Therefore, implementing a coaching program can be a valuable investment in enhancing a brokerage’s value proposition to attract and retain talent.

Brokerages have a tremendous opportunity to differentiate themselves by committing to coaching to help agents build their business, not just at the beginning of their real estate career but over their entire career arc. That’s great for their business and yours, too.

Christian Barnes is President and CEO of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Kansas City Homes and an active leader in local, state and national real estate associations.

5 Tips for Starting a Coaching Program at Your Brokerage
Article Courtesy of: Inman News
By: Eddie Oddo

How the move online is changing the mortgage market and customer experience

 After the housing boom of 2021, many people wonder if there is a crash in front of us, especially with rising inflation. However, experts agree that it’s unlikely that the housing market will drastically change with respect to demand.

What is changing, however, is how people buy homes, including what kinds of mortgages they choose, who they work with, and how they close. It’s important for real estate agents to be aware of trends in the mortgage industry and how they might affect homebuyer experiences and expectations.

Homebuyers like nonbank mortgages

Nonbank mortgage lenders like Guaranteed Rate continue to win new customers. As opposed to traditional big banks, these nonbank lenders can be easier to work with because they offer a faster path to mortgages, are open to more customers, and are often more digitally savvy in how they work with customers.

They typically offer more online services, and as they are completely focused on mortgage lending, their websites and apps are more intuitive for homebuyers— as opposed to big bank websites that have layers of other offerings.

Nonbanks demonstrate their expertise in meeting consumer expectations of speed, flexibility, and digital customer experience; This is something real estate agents can facilitate by embracing processes that deliver the same level of service.

eClosings are booming

The pandemic accelerated the use of fully-digital closings (eClosings) when social distancing made it difficult to close in person. The silver lining is that eClosings have a lot of long-lasting benefits that go well beyond social distancing. Lenders and homebuyers alike have increasingly switched to eClosings for their convenience and efficiency. For real estate agents, in particular, eClosings can allow for a quicker turnaround for closings, equating to a quicker turnaround for receiving a commission.

Fully-digital closings can be facilitated by using eClosing software like the NotarizeSM platform, which enables all aspects of the mortgage closing, including notarizations, to occur completely online. That means signers can participate from anywhere with an internet connection. This saves real estate agents (and their clients) considerable time that would be spent at an in-person closing, provides a convenient signing experience, and improves transaction quality.

Customer service is king (especially online)

With more homebuyers moving their buying process online, it’s important for all real estate professionals to offer excellent customer service, even if you’re not interacting face-to-face with a client.

For lenders and title agents, this means investing in tools that will give buyers a seamless digital experience — from loan pre-approval through the closing. JD Power rated Rocket Mortgage as having the highest customer satisfaction and notes that digital tools supported by live personal services is an especially important combination for younger customers. Making sure that the digital experience feels personal and is intuitive is now part of the customer service strategy for many online-focused lenders.

Real estate agents deal with a mix of homebuyers, which means quality customer service will look different depending on the situation. Some clients may live close by and can view all properties in person. However, agents need to be able to support customers who can’t (or prefer not to) travel to physically view properties. With video conferencing and virtual tours, agents can still offer great customer service even if they’re not physically with a client. It’s also helpful to have a lender and title agent you can partner with that will give your clients the option for eClosings.

Agents who are digitally-savvy and are focused on providing great service and flexibility (both online and in-person) will be in a good position to meet homebuyer expectations throughout the purchasing process. Learn more about Notarize.

Notarize is the leader in online notarization, which is simpler, smarter, and safer than notarizing documents on paper. From buying or selling a home, to adopting a child, Notarize is bringing trust online 24/7 for life’s most important moments. For more information, please visit notarize.com
Top Mortgage Trends Every REALTOR® Needs to Know About
The Massachusetts Association of REALTORS® is seeking candidates from Greater Boston to serve as trustees to the Massachusetts REALTORS® Political Action Committee (Mass. RPAC) and Massachusetts REALTORS® Independent Expenditure Political Action Committee (Mass. RIEPAC).  Each trustee position is a three-year term, beginning January 1, 2023 through December 31, 2025, and members chosen agree to serve voluntarily without compensation.  Elections will take place in August at the regional meeting of the MAR State Directors, and notification must be made to MAR Greater Boston Region Vice President Jim Major no later than August 2 in order for a candidate’s name to appear on the meeting agenda. 

Mass. RPAC operates exclusively for the purpose of collecting political contributions as defined by the IRS, including the expenditure of funds to support or oppose referenda questions and to further the candidacy of individuals for nomination or election to any federal, state or local elective public office.  Meanwhile, the RIEPAC was created as a program through which MAR can access funds from NAR to engage in independent expenditures (IEs) in contested state-level campaigns.  IEs expressly advocate for the election of a candidate without any coordination with a candidate or candidate’s campaign.  

Among the specific duties of individual RPAC trustees are:
 
1) To solicit RPAC investments from REALTORS®. 
2) To speak on behalf of the State RPAC program on all available occasions. 
3) To actively participate in all programs sponsored by the State RPAC. 
4) To approve contributions to State Legislative Candidates, and make recommendations to National RPAC for contributions to Federal Candidates. 
5) To keep informed of the political situation in their State and Congressional district. 

The responsibilities of RIEPAC Trustees include: 
a) To attend all Mass RIEPAC Trustees meetings 
b) To speak on behalf of the Mass RIEPAC program at appropriate occasions 
c) To approve expenditures on behalf of State candidates 
d) To keep informed of the political situation in their MAR Region

For additional information and questions about the work of the Mass. RPAC and Mass. RIEPAC Boards of Trustees contact Zach Ryan at 781-839-5515.
Nominations Open for RPAC & RIEPAC Board of Trustees
The best way to avoid antitrust liability is to ensure that all business decisions are made independently within the brokerage. The potential for antitrust liability arises any time two or more competitors discuss their business practices. REALTORS® must always be alert to discussions that focus on commission rates, pricing structures, listing policies, or marketing practices of other brokerages. If a discussion becomes troubling, immediately suggest a change of topic, or remove oneself from the conversation. Within the real estate arena, we most often hear of antitrust issues arising from price fixing and group boycotts.

Price fixing may be as obvious as two or more competitors blatantly agreeing to charge consumers the same commission on real estate transactions or agreeing to the same cooperating commission splits. Price fixing can also arise in more subtle ways, such as suggesting to consumers that there is a “standard fee” or that “everybody charges the same amount.”

A boycott results when two or more competitors refuse to do business with another competitor or are only willing to cooperate with that competitor on less favorable terms. These actions may cause the competitor to change their business practices (which could also lead to price fixing) or even force them out of business. 

REALTORS® must also be cautious in placing advertisements that may result in antitrust violations. Advertisements that directly compare or criticize a competing business model may not only implicate antitrust laws but may also lead to a Code of Ethics violation. Article 15 prohibits REALTORS® from making false or misleading statements about other real estate professionals or their business practices. 

Liability for antitrust violations can be significant with the potential for both monetary damages as well as criminal sanctions. 

Courtesy of Massachusetts Association of REALTORS® Legal Staff.

What Do REALTORS® Need to Know to Avoid Antitrust Liability?
Article Courtesy of: Inman News
By: Julie Busby

As buyers continue to rethink their lifestyle post-pandemic, you may be helping them to look for homes from a distance, with only a short trip to make their final decision in person

What has been dubbed the era of the “Great Reshuffle” has impacted all aspects of life: careers, offices, housing, consumer goods, the economy, real estate — the list goes on. The “Great Reshuffle” for real estate agents, hopefully, means expanding clientele to out-of-town transplants. 

In our current market, headlined by national record low-level inventory, it is crucial to use a detailed game plan when working with out-of-town buyers. Setting aside time to work through upfront steps virtually will save valuable in-person time, which should be focused on evaluating properties. 

Here are six essential tips to consider before hosting out-of-town buyers.

Make the most of a virtual intake meeting

Understanding your buyer’s motivations is more important than ever with out-of-town clients. Keeping a client’s goals in mind is the real estate agent’s primary objective when touring numerous properties per day.

Use a virtual intake meeting as a time to fully understand each real estate objective in a calm and quiet environment — and take detailed notes!

Keep their goals at the forefront

When you ultimately create a cover page and itinerary for showings, include the purpose for visiting each listing address.

For example, if one of their must-haves is proximity to public transportation, have a bullet point outlining the distance to and the name of the closest public transit option.

If their commute by car to work is at the forefront, take a few minutes to calculate the timing from each listing you will see. 

Give them one unbiased place for information

Neighborhood guides are an incredible resource for all buyers. Finding an unbiased source of relevant information like schools, neighborhood attractions and amenities, and transportation all in one place is not easy.

Printing out hard copies is a huge added bonus, too, so your clients can take notes for quick reference. Many brokerages create their own neighborhood guides for brokers to use, or you can go the extra mile and invest in designing your own. 

Pace it out

There is a delicate balance between capitalizing on an out-of-town buyer’s visit and overwhelming them. Eight homes per day with a midpoint lunch is an ideal schedule for the first two days of a three-day visit. 

By the third day, you ideally look at homes a second time and make final decisions. It also behooves you to make a lunch reservation in a convenient location and schedule a short coffee break ahead of time. 

Consider hiring a car service

If parking is an issue in your area, consider hiring a car service for your client’s visit. Not only does it save time and stress, but it also allows you to chat with your clients versus navigating traffic. 

Use a rating system

Use something simple like 1 is terrible, 5 is a dream home, and have clients rate a property directly after leaving. Fours and 5s are very uncommon, so clients should consider writing offers for properties that achieve these ratings.

This numerical framework helps clients calibrate their objective and subjective feelings about a home; sometimes clients will say “I love it!” and then rate a property a 2, so this framework helps add clarity for you and your clients about whether a property is truly a viable option.

After a whirlwind tour, sifting out anything under a 4 will also help facilitate conversations around offers. 

Movement across the country shows no signs of slowing down, so it makes sense to invest in these processes now. In a marketplace where it is hard to get buyers under contract with low inventory, putting systems in place also helps agents succeed in closing transactions. 

Julie Busby is the founder and president of Busby Group, and in the top 1 percent of Chicagoland brokers.
6 Tips For Giving Out-of-Town Buyers Next-Level Service
 

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Manageable Mondays: Selling Historic Properties - Webinar
Jul 11, 2022
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GBAR New Member Orientation- Agency Webinar
Jul 13, 2022
GBAR Webinar
YPN & Affiliate Networking Night @ Splitsville at Patriot Pl
Jul 13, 2022
Splitsville Bowling & Topgolf Suites
220 Patriot Pl
Foxborough, MA
GBAR New Member Orientation- Agency Webinar
Jul 26, 2022
GBAR Webinar
Accredited Buyer's Representative (ABR) - CE Webinar
Aug 09, 2022 - Aug 11, 2022
Zoom Webinar
GBAR New Member Orientation- Agency Webinar
Aug 11, 2022
GBAR Webinar
Manageable Monday Understanding Flood Zones in RE - Webinar
Aug 15, 2022
GoToWebinar
GBAR Awards & Networking Breakfast
Aug 16, 2022
Venezia Restaurant Boston
20 Ericsson St
Boston, MA
Spirit Of Boston Ethics Cruise
Aug 19, 2022
The Spirit Of Boston
200 Seaport Blvd. #75
Boston
 

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GoToWebinar
9:00am
 
GBAR New Member Orientation- Agency Webinar
GBAR Webinar
10:00am
 
YPN & Affiliate Networking Night @ Splitsville at Patriot Pl
Splitsville Bowling & Topgolf Suites
6:00pm
 

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