Real Estate Education Enhances Transparency, Professionalism and Business Volume

Property broking profession lacks credibility and is always looked at with suspicion. However, the credibility of this profession can be enhanced through real estate education. A thoroughly planned system of property education can not only improve the credibility of property professionals by inculcating numerous changes in the profession but also enhance the business volume of educated and certified professionals. Suitably planned courses can teach property professionals the better, profitable and convenient way of doing real estate business. Few of the key changes that education system can bring into property market are as follows:

Transparency in transaction and business professionalism: Knowledge enhances transparency and professionalism and this is true for real estate market also. Today, several property brokers are active in the market without any structured knowledge of property sales and transaction process and therefore they are forced to provide wrong and partial information to their clients. They are not able to close the deal properly, mostly at the cost of prospective home buyers, because they have not studied how property ownership is verified, acquired, transferred and leased. In the Indian property market, there is a sub set of property advisors, who want to upgrade their knowledge and skill but are unable to do so in the absence of a system of real estate education in which they can study as well as run their business.

In this scenario, a proper system of property education and training, consisting of a network of real estate institutes offering full time, part time, evening, week end, distance and online real estate courses, could have improved the subject knowledge of professionals and in turn would have improved transparency in property transactions and professionalism in the business, especially property consulting business. A point to be mentioned here is the initiative of EduMark realty education services which offers courses for those looking for real estate jobs as well as for existing property professionals looking for professional development. EduMark is the first and only institute in India that offers full time, part time, week end, evening, distance and online courses.

Customer Service Efficiency: A knowledgeable and informed property advisor can serve his clients effectively and efficiently which in turn increases his demands in the market. Such demands increase his overall volume of business because one satisfied customer can create ten new customers. However, structured knowledge and information come only through a properly established process of education.

Subject knowledge and business volume: It is an established fact that buyers tend to prefer a knowledgeable advisor (knowledge displayed through his educational qualification) more than that of an advisor who is not well informed and knowledgeable. However, in the absence of property education system, courses and institutes, property brokers can’t display their knowledge because they can’t acquire any suitable real estate qualification and therefore potential home buyers can’t identify the best suited advisor.

Business ethics and business volume: By offering fraudulent advice, one can derive benefits in short term but it is a net loss in long term. This is very true for property brokers also. This is because, as mentioned above, one satisfied customer can create ten new customers but one dis-satisfied customer can dissuade hundreds of potential clients, so the losses are many folds. However, this fact can be explained to these property consultants only if they are inclined towards learning and there is sufficient opportunity for such learning.

Real estate jobs and cost of recruitment and training: One of the most important impacts of education in this business is on property jobs; While real estate courses offer a platform to potential candidates to start their career in real estate by taking up suitable property related jobs, it reduces the cost that employers make on the training of new employees. Those candidates who have done a property related course are already trained and ready for real estate jobs and therefore employers do not need to arrange fresh training of the such employees, which saves time and money both.

Overall, a proper devised system of education for Indian property market can enhance not only the transparency in transaction and business professionalism but also the business volume of the market players. Another advantage is the reduction in training and employee orientation cost.

Investment Real Estate Marketing Plan – Putting Details Into Action

Marketing is one of the most important things a real estate investor can do to grow his business. It is also one of the areas that is easiest to make multiple mistakes. From failing to properly plan, failure to track your results and even worse, failure to control spending; marketing is fraught perils that beginning investors and long time investors alike must be aware and prepared to avoid.

There are 3 main areas of marketing to concentrate on when seeking to grow sales and revenues. The first is education, the second is planning and the third is tracking for adjustments and success. All three are important for investors to watch as they seek to grow sales and revenues and more importantly, build a business model that is sustainable through any real estate cycle.

EDUCATION

Educating yourself as a real estate investor and marketer is absolutely paramount if you are going to have success and grow your business. There is simply no excuse for not understanding the basics of each as they both are extremely important for the longevity and ability to stay relevant and profitable. Here a few examples of places to become educated on good marketing techniques for real estate investors.

1. Local Library – There may not be a better place to become educated on real estate marketing than the local library. Break the topic down into two subjects and you can have the basics down inside of a week. Under the real estate section there are multiple titles that explain the basics of real estate investing from beginner levels to expert levels. In addition, many of these books will give a basic outline of some simple marketing techniques and tools to get you started. When you combine that knowledge with a good Marketing 101 book from the library, you can quickly pick up the basic outline of why marketing must be done and how properly set up a marketing plan. The best part about an education from the library is the cost – practically free!

2. Real Estate Investment Clubs – Often times, these clubs are referred to in the industry as REIA’s. Associations of local real estate investors who come together several times a month to discuss topics relevant to real estate investing. These are great sources for so many things related to real estate investing, including marketing ideas and plans. By attending and immersing yourself into these groups, it is easy to develop friendships, partnerships and even mentors who can answer questions and provide guidance. By paying attention to what the top performers are doing in the field and how they are marketing their businesses, you can pick up ideas and integrate those ideas into your marketing plan. It is called modeling and it is one of the best ways to educate yourself on what is working in a particular real estate market. The biggest upside to becoming educated at a REIA is that you are surrounding yourself with the type of people that are going to be vital to your future success. The costs are usually very affordable and you can often avoid mistakes made by other investors before you.

3. Go it Alone – There probably does not need to be a tremendous amount of discussion under this heading. It speaks for itself and generally goes against all advice I could ever give any business person, especially a real estate investor. As far as education is concerned, it is an approach that many investors choose to take and often at a tremendous cost. Going it alone means deciding to jump into the deep end of the pool with both feet and learning as you go. Trial and error can be good and can sometimes lead to good results, but often after many hours and many ups and downs. Strictly looking at costs, many investors have experienced huge losses in the areas of marketing to learn what works in their particular market and often are a little behind the actual trends due to not properly learning to track and adjust.

My suggestion when it comes to education to use all the resources available including those that come with little to no costs. When you are becoming educated on how to set up a proper marketing plan complete with tracking and adjusting, then I would make sure I was a part of a local real estate investors association so that I am always up to date with the latest marketing techniques.

PLANNING

When I talk about planning and marketing, I mean to process of laying out the actual strategies you are going to use to market your business, the time frame you are going to use those strategies, the way you are going to track those results and the possible adjustments you are going to make as your results come in on your plan. One of the biggest mistakes that we see today in the real estate marketing world is not a complete failure to plan, but a failure to lay the full plan out from beginning to end. That being said, here are a few tips to properly develop a plan.

1. Know what you are currently doing and what results you are currently achieving. Even if the answer is that you are doing nothing, you can not work on where you are going if you do not know where you currently are starting from. You should be able to pinpoint today any marketing you are doing and the cost of that marketing as well as any results you are seeing.

2. Know what results you are looking for before you begin. So once you know where you are starting from, the next question is were are you going? Lay out concrete results you want to achieve and be specific. One of the glaring mistakes in this area is not being specific enough. You cannot track abstract goals. Your goals must be specific and detailed so that you can verify if you are achieving them. An example would be a specific number of new leads you want to bring in from each marketing source.

3. Give yourself set time frames to test your marketing. This is definitely the second biggest problem for real estate marketers and most marketers in general. Marketing plans must be given time to take shape and develop. Most real estate marketers are developing marketing plans which are call to action in nature. They are asking their target audience to take a particular action so that they can capture that action and develop a new lead. An example would be to “Call Today to Sell Your House Quick!”. This is a call to action marketing phrase. Often times, there will need to be multiple impressions of that message before the action is followed. Failing to plan a specific amount of time such as 60 days or 90 days, leads to a marketer stopping his action before his target audience responds. If you allow your plan to last longer and stick with all of your marketing pieces and techniques longer, you give yourself a greater chance for success in the long run. It allows for you to see over a longer period of time the results you are getting and that provides a clearer picture of what works and what does not work. DO NOT quit marketing after a couple of weeks simply because your phone is not ringing off the hook. Set your time period on the front end and then let your marketing plan work.

4. Failing to get input from other experts can be costly. If you have access to other real estate investors, I would definitely get their input on your marketing plan before implementation. If they are able to give you advice and direction it can often times help you to figure out the best route to take or at least if you are on track for success. If you have taken your time and all the steps necessary so far to put together a quality plan, then take advice from other experts, but do not be persuaded to change everything. Simply let others take a quick look for feedback, but be prepared to move forward with your plan and any adjustments they think would make a difference.

TRACKING

Tracking means having a way to actually follow and measure all of the marketing activities you are doing and the number of results each gets you. Here are some examples of the things that real estate marketers need to track for every marketing action they take.

1. What are the total number of leads generated per marketing technique tracked daily, weekly and monthly.
2. How many of those leads turned into qualified prospects daily, weekly and monthly. (qualified prospect means you were willing to invest more time to develop the lead)
3. The number of offers made to purchase property daily, weekly and monthly.
4. The ratios of offers made to where the original lead came from.

I am going to insert a quick note here to make sure everyone understands exactly how to track. It is not enough to simply know how many calls you are getting or how many leads are generated or how many offers or deals are being done. When you actually purchase an investment property, you MUST know where that lead came from at the very beginning. Tracking ratios is extremely important to this. It is important to be able to track and measure not only the leads but the quality of those leads. You can have one lead generator that gives you a majority of your leads and another that gives you a majority of your transactions. It should be obvious that you would want to spend more time and resources with the marketing technique giving your more transactions unless you are in the business to simply feel busy and not necessarily to earn a living!

5. What is the cost per lead generated, per marketing technique daily, weekly and monthly.

6. What is the average income generated from each transaction generated by each marketing technique daily, weekly and monthly.

When you are able to track your business in this way, it makes it much easier to make adjustments as you go and it definitely gives a clearer picture of how well you are spending marketing dollars. Often times, as legendary basketball coach John Wooden would say “we mistake activity for productivity” The entire reason for developing and implementing a proper marketing plan is so that we can determine what works, what does not work and what changes we need to make so that we are spending the fewest dollars possible for the greatest impact and result. If we fail to implement any part of this type of marketing plan, then whatever success we achieve cannot be measured against any activities and therefore cannot be duplicated.

I am a big proponent of education and immersion as the best learning tools available and I believe that when it comes to marketing, it is simply too easy to learn the proper way to plan and track. When you have the basics down and solid plan to follow, success will follow.

How to Jump Over The Most Common Real Estate Pitfalls

Is it really smart to invest in real estate? Who can know for sure? Like any forms of investment, there are risks to consider. When the good outweighs the bad, then perhaps, putting money in real estate is a good way to start building up your investment portfolio.

How can we know which way to go? Real estate experts have identified major pitfalls to avoid if investing in real estate is what appeals to you:

Do not bank on intuition.

Intuition is defined as “hindsight”, or an inherent “inner warning”, that oftentimes does not veer towards the positive but leans on the unexplainable feeling of doom. Most people would sell their homes based on a pessimistic feeling that the real estate market will soon crash, or the long-perceived real estate bubble is beginning to burst, hence the sooner they sell their properties at prices they can still command, the better.

Most likely, the worse case scenario never happens. Panic paralyzes the mind from thinking logically through a situation, thus, past experiences are forgotten. When real estate prices do slide, they don’t happen overnight. Unlike stock market positioning where prices can nose-dive drastically, real estate values may only suffer a decline, but not a total burn-out. Those who sell their homes with the prospect of making a profit on it while they still can, and purchase another, when real estate prices slide are heading towards being homeless, or into rental homes themselves.

Look at the odds: selling your home will displace your family for a while, it will cost you your agent’s commission, new mortgage rates may even be higher than the previous ones you were paying, the inconvenience of moving and leaving a familiar neighborhood, including other attendant costs. In the end, your calculator will register a deficit rather than profit!

Keep a discerning mind; do not believe everything you read.

That value of real estate properties will always go up is more of an illusion, rather than fact. This line of thought is dangerous as it wafts “speculative” investing – a financial stratagem that can be potentially profitable but very risky. This can imperil your good investment approaches. Real estate agents are moved by the prospect of earning commissions, naturally, they will outsell one another by sales pitches that can close the deal.

Quandary with Rentals.

Purchasing properties with the prospect of renting them out is sound, however when this is done during an economic slump, this may jeopardize your investment.

When real estate foreclosures are high, some investors take it as a good sign for renting out properties. Some may experience demand, but oftentimes people move away when they lose jobs. By the law of supply and demand, when there are few renters, rents will plunge.

Avoid risky loans like a plague!

Mortgage loans come in many options, can be all attractive, but caution should be exercised. As in all things, not everything that sparkles is gold.

Interest-Only Mortgages don’t demand payment of the principal while other mortgage options may require regular payment of the principal, or no payment at all during the early years. But interest rates can increase monthly and the increase can cut deeper on your mortgage. If sufficient payment is not made, your total mortgage loan will cost you more than what you home originally costs.

Keep your investment straight and you have more to keep.

Funding your other investment portfolios with the equity on your home is risky. Same is true with financing second or third mortgages on a property. In the event of payment defaults, equity on such property shall satisfy the loan taken from the first mortgage lender; and any remaining amount, shall be used to satisfy obligations with the subsequent lenders. This, however, rarely happens.

Study. Probe. Evaluate. Do not speculate.

Real Estate Investment is flourishing – a sign that it is a profitable venture. No wonder, real estate industry remains a formidable choice among those who want to get a crack on the fortune pie. Having identified the common pitfalls in real estate investing will narrow down the margin of those who ventured but lost, and jumpstart the prospects of those who want to make it big.

Helen L. Erickson

Sarasota Real Estate