10 Tips For Choosing a Real Estate Agent

Whether you are buying or selling a property, choosing a real estate agent may be the most important decision you make. Good real estate agents can save you a substantial amount of time and money. They can also ensure that the buying or selling process is an enjoyable and memorable experience. Here are some tips for choosing a real estate agent:

1. Ask Friends/Family for Referrals

Ask family and friends for their advice on local agents. This way you will be sure to find an agent with a good reputation.

2. Consider More than One Agency

There is an array of agents that will kill for your business. That is why you should interview as many agents as you can. Compare agents with regard to their knowledge of the area, experience and qualifications. Also, ask for references from previous clients.

3. Choose an Agent that Knows the Importance of Customer Care

While interviewing different agents you will be able to establish their level of customer care or how far they will go to satisfy the customer. Look at things like their attitude towards returning phone calls and their willingness to meet with you.

4. Choose an Agent that Handles Homes in Your Price Range

When you opt for an agent that deals with homes in your price range, you will be sure to end up with an agent that will give his or her best effort. Some agents deal only with high-end properties and are used to high commissions. They are more likely to attend to these properties first.

5. Choose an Agent that Respects Your Time Schedule

If you will not be able to view properties during office hours, you need to find an agent that is willing to do business after hours or over weekends.

6. Look for an Agent that You Can Communicate With

Communication is vital when buying or selling real estate. Make sure that you choose an agent that understands your needs and that communicates them well. You will be best off if you choose and agent that registers a high level of comfort with you or with whom you are compatible with.

7. Choose an Agent that Provides Multiple Services

It will be a bonus if you can find an agent that can handle the buying/selling process as well as other additional services like arranging property inspections or who can refer you to a trustworthy real estate attorney.

8. Choose an Agent That Can Negotiate

Negotiating skills is an essential quality of a good real estate agent. Make sure you choose and agent with impeccable and proven negotiating skills.

9. Choose an Agent with Lots of Resources

Ask agents where your property will be advertised. Make sure that the agency uses print advertising (newspaper/magazines) as well as other promotional material such as brochures. Also check if the agency makes use of the Internet for advertising their listings.

10. Follow Your Instinct

Choose an agent that makes you feel comfortable and whom you trust. You level of comfort and satisfaction will let you know if you’ve met the right agent.

Tips for Writing the Best Real Estate for Sale by Owner Ad

The property ad is your chance to create a great first impression and to make the potential buyer contact you to find out more. When planning a private property sale, it is vitally important to spend some time thinking about the wording of your real estate ad.

Writing a real estate for sale by owner ad can be difficult, despite the fact that most publications have a strict word limit. There are several important things you need to say and a few tricks that will help you make the real estate ad text more exciting.

A Great, Catchy Title

Most people interested in real estate for sale take a look at the title of the listing and the photographs that accompany it. These are the two factors that will often determine whether a person will continue reading.

Work on a catchy and descriptive title. It should mention the location of the real estate for sale by owner, the size, the price and the most important features of the house. Squeezing that much information into a title may appear to be a great challenge. Do a bit of brainstorming and write down your ideas. You can refine the most promising titles after you put all of your possibilities on paper.

Make It Very Specific

The lack of specifics and details will instantly kill the interest of potential property buyers. Do your best to include enough descriptive information in your listing.

Refrain from saying that the house has a modern and beautifully designed bathroom. Say what makes the bathroom modern – is there a water massage system in the bathtub? Did you install faucets that decrease the consumption of water? Such details make all the difference in the world.

Avoid the Real Estate Ad Cliché

Go through several property ads. You will see a number of phrases repeated in the majority of ad listings. These real estate ad clichés are very dangerous. They make your listing boring and very similar to everything else that the market has to offer.

Clichés are safe and easy but they will never give your real estate for sale by owner the attention that it deserves.

Some of the most common ad clichés include hidden gem, conveniently located, original interior design, vibrant, spectacular, amazing view, modern, easy access, majestic, stunning, just renovated and special offer.

Write a Little Bit about the Neighborhood

As a house owner and a private property seller you have one great advantage over the realtor or the agent – you know the property and the neighborhood by heart. Use that knowledge to create the perfect real estate ad.

Adding a sentence or two about the neighborhood will help paint a complete picture. Get the reader interested. What makes the neighborhood special and worth relocating to? Mention these interesting details towards the end of the listing.

Encourage Potential Buyers to Ask More Questions

Finally, encourage the potential buyers to contact you and to get their questions answered.

Provide a few communication options. Instant messaging, emailing and calling are the most popular possibilities. Each potential buyer has a preferred method of communication, so you should have a few options available.

The perfect private property sale listing is difficult to create. See what the competition is doing but do your best to keep your text original and fresh. Provide specifics and be as descriptive, as possible. Spending some time on writing a house listing that stands out can help you sell your house faster. The results are worth the effort.

Commercial Real Estate Agency Blogs – 5 Tips For Success

It’s no secret by now that one of the cornerstones of a great marketing strategy, you need to have great content, well-written and helpful to your site visitors. Perhaps the easiest way to achieve this is through creating and actively maintaining a blog. You’re probably thinking, wait, I’m a commercial real estate agent, where do I even start with having a blog? Here are some tips to get you started on your way to becoming a CRE wordsmith.

1. Don’t cover too much at once

As an author, your space on the blogosphere is pretty much unlimited. However, this does not mean that you should try to cram all you know about one topic into one single blog post. If you think that the topic can be broken down into smaller sub units, you should also make blog posts covering only those sub units. It will be easier for your readers to process, it will be easier for you to write, and it will give you more content and more traffic.

2. One topic = one blog post

Related to our previous point, your blog posts should revolve around one single topic. The reason is simple – both you and your readers will be able to stay more focused. If you’re already brewing with ideas, write them down and expand them in future blog posts.

3. Answer the right questions

Writing helpful content is one of the best ways to get your visitors engaged and keep them returning to your site. However, you need to make sure that you’re answering those questions which they need help with. Put yourself in the prospects’ shoes and see what kind of concerns and problems they might have.

4. Cover common problems

In your average working day, you come across dozens of clients and they all have similar questions and doubts. Why not use this knowledge to your advantage? Your blog can be a platform where you address frequently asked questions, problems and concerns your clients might have.

5. Look at the bigger picture

You might think that having your own blog implies that you should use it to write about yourself, your agency and your work experience. However, your potential clients will not be looking for information specific to your agency. Instead, they will be looking for more general information pertaining to the commercial real estate industry. This is why your blog posts should rarely touch upon your own agency, unless it’s something really worth noting – such as an important deal you closed, company anniversary, charity event you hosted or similar.

Tips On Picking "Sleeper" Real Estate Property

Real estate investing is all about perception. Your perception of where the market is going, in conjunction with where it’s actually going. The aim, as always is to buy low and sell high.

You want to buy a cheap tract of dirt and sell it as a high priced piece of developed real estate, after it’s appreciated enough to turn a tidy profit. Selling the property is an art in and of itself.

Buying an initial tract of dirt lends itself to some solid, rational guidelines:

First, look at trend lines for housing prices in your area. While most housing markets are in decline (and the housing markets in Florida and California are adjusting from more than a decade of over-valuation), there are markets where the housing prices are going up. This is a decent leading indicator that there’s a market for expansion.

Second, look for job related news. Home purchases require a steady source of income. New employers moving into a city, or a government branch office opening up are a strong indicator that good, well paying jobs are likely to come up. Where well paying jobs roost, home purchases follow.

Related to this, talk to your local city planning office. Are there recent purchases of “right of ways” to lay down sewer lines? Is the local telephone cable making plans to run out fiber optic lines – a “must have” trend in new home construction. These things point to areas where home growth is immanent. Other big tip offs are school bond issues (found in your local news paper) and new parks being opened up.

Before you look at the land, check out the adjacent commercial real estate usage. Look for “family friendly” or “residential friendly” commercial properties: Houses that are close to grocery and clothes shopping tend to fetch a higher price than ones that are farther away. If there’s a movie theater nearby, or plans for an elementary or middle school, factor that into the size of the homes you build, and what their amenities will be; buyers looking for those features are looking for “mover upper” homes – with a bit more floor space, and two (or three) bedrooms for the kids. Other spots to look for are anchor stores, like Wal-Mart and Best Buy. These companies spend millions on surveys of purchasing patterns before buying a store location; if they’re buying a plot of land, you’ve got about a year to a year and a half window to look into nearby real estate for single family residential and rental residential properties.

You can even flip this on its side – if you can talk to a group of commercial real estate investors, building a shopping center as the nucleus for home development is also a viable combined strategy. This also applies to highly urban areas. Many downtown areas that have been abandoned by businesses can be converted to apartment buildings, and some of the older housing projects are being torn down for mixed-use spaces with combined commercial and residential areas. In particular, you can often get block grants to help with the financing on projects like this, and there are programs from HUD that can help out a great deal with “urban renovations”.

Another source to investigate is the demographics in your area. Look at the US Census figures (and local county figures) for median age, and median birth rate per capita. You want to invest in areas where the population is growing already. High skews in the ’40s and ’50s indicate that you’ve got a bunch of people who are going to retire soon, and retirees are highly prone to selling properties off. Places to watch carefully are most of the urban parts of California, and great swaths of the rural Midwest, where demographic trends have been changing entire towns since the 1950s as the country’s population has shifted to urban areas.

If there’s a local planning council, or urban development council, make it a point to get the minutes of all the meetings from the past year. The city council offices will have them on file as a matter of public record. Also try to get into the next range of meetings as an observer. Discuss with the city and county managers where they see housing and construction trends moving. What you’re looking for is real estate that will be desirable in two to three years; look at road planning atlases, and look for all the data you can find. Also look for real estate that will be scenic – lake front property is as close to a guaranteed bet as you can get in real estate investing, particularly if there’s a lake that’s at the “far end” of a development axis. Likewise, if there’s land that the city council is looking to acquire for parks, buying the adjacent lots now means you’ll be able to sell them later.

Lastly, talk to the professionals in your communities. Talk to architects who can tell you if they’re busy or not. Maintain professional contacts with engineers, bankers and attorneys. They will usually know about projects well before the general public. Also make a habit of reading the local newspaper’s business section. Often times, the first clue that a business may move in to your area is buried at the bottom of a column on page 8.

Using the guidelines suggested above will help you to find “sleeper” raw land properties. These “sleeper” properties are perfect for the buy low, sell high strategy used by successful commercial real estate investors.

Top Ten Tips when Buying Real Estate!

In today’s financial climate, real estate continues to be a strong investment in many areas. Educated buyers will always make the most out of the real estate market. These top ten tips to buying real estate will help you enter into your next real estate transaction with confidence.

TIP #1: Hire the right Agent!

Hiring the right Real Estate Agent is invaluable. If you are unfamiliar with the area, the realtor you choose is your link to important information regarding schools, zoning, city and county regulations, neighborhood trends, building and remodeling and rental restrictions, and property values. Every city has different laws governing what can and can’t be done with a property. Sanibel is one of the most beautiful cities in the United States due in part to its strict building codes and city planning. Having experienced many aspects of real estate transactions on a personal level, I understand situations and concerns of my buyers and sellers. I have been an island property owner for many years and have walked through several local real estate transactions myself. From buying and selling lots to building new homes with local builders, to investing in rental income producing properties and utilizing 1031 Tax free exchanges, I don’t just sell island real estate; I invest in it because I believe there is no place in the world like Sanibel and Captiva. Whether you work with me or someone else, finding the right realtor is invaluable.

TIP #2: Utilize 1031 Tax Exchanges and Save Money!

1031 Tax Exchanges are tax free exchanges of investment property. Section 1031 of the Internal Revenue Code is one of the last great tax shelters. If you purchase an investment property of “like kind” within 180 days of the sale of a similar type property, and you are willing to increase the amount of debt or value of the property, your capital gains taxes can be completely deferred. Having just completed a Reverse 1031 tax exchange myself, I believe in using this powerful tax shelter. Feel free to contact me if you are considering using a current Sanibel, Captiva, or Ft. Myers property in a 1031 Tax Exchange, or want to purchase an investment property that might qualify in the future for a 1031 Tax Exchange. A Reverse 1031 Tax Exchange is the same exchange concept as a 1031 Tax Exchange except you have purchased your replacement “like kind” investment property first, before selling the property to be exchanged. Learn more about 1031 Tax Exchanges, and how to use them to your financial advantage. Keep in mind that a neutral party must have act a Qualified Intermediary. Real Estate may also be bought and sold through your self directed retirement account. Whether you utilize a traditional IRA, Roth IRA, SEP, or company plans such as 401 (k) plans, Keogh, or profit sharing plans, investigate your options.

TIP #3: Pre-qualify for Financing!

Pre-qualifying for a loan may not seem that important until you find your perfect paradise property at the same time as another buyer. When a property is priced to sell, it will usually attract more than one buyer. Once a seller receives an offer, the two most important things they consider are …the price, and the contingencies. For some sellers, a contract contingent on the buyer obtaining financing makes them uncomfortable with the offer. Eliminate any doubt in the mind of a seller, by pre-qualifying for the amount you may spend on the purchase of any property. This is especially important if your dream property suddenly has a price reduction. When this occurs other buyers might come into the picture, that didn’t look at that property before it went “On Sale”! Often times a seller will take a financially solid contract over a higher offer. Be ready to put a deal together!

TIP #4: Location, Location, Location!

“Location, location, location”, while overused as a real estate phrase, is still and always should be a huge consideration to you as the buyer! If something about the location of a property bothers you, be aware that the same location drawback will bother any buyer you hope to attract when and if you need to resell the property! It’s important to ask a lot of questions, but often times it is difficult to know the right questions to ask if you are unfamiliar with the community. This is why it is so valuable to choose and hire the right real estate agent to represent your interests when buying a property.

TIP #5: Get a Home Inspection!

Obtaining an inspection report performed by a licensed professional building inspector of your choice, can protect you from many defects that are hidden from view. Why gamble with such a large financial investment? Let a professional building inspector point out areas to be fixed or replaced that aren’t obvious. A good inspector will give you a lengthy report covering all systems in the home from electrical, to plumbing, to roof conditions, and structural concerns. Once you receive a report you may begin negotiations again concerning repairs. Often a seller will agree to make necessary repairs up to a specified financial amount. When a seller lists their property “as is” they are letting you know that they are not willing to fix or replace any part of the property. If you are interested in an “as is” property and aren’t going to level the structure and build new, it is still in your best interest to obtain an inspection report. Don’t rely on the building inspector to look for termites and other harmful pest problems. Although an inspector will see pest damage, it is best to have a separate termite inspection conducted by a licensed company that understands pests and can eliminate them.

TIP #6: Obtain a Survey and Title Insurance!

Surveys will show easements, encroachments, and boundary lines of a property. By surveying a home in an established neighborhood you are assured that the property boundary lines have been maintained. As homeowners add on the their properties over time with fences, sheds, docks, garages, and other structures, boundary lines can be crossed placing part of their structure on your property, or vice versa. Surveying vacant land is also important for same reasons as a home, plus a survey will help determine the size home, or amount of coverage the lot will allow.

Title Insurance will protect your investment from another party claiming ownership interest in your property. Title searches will uncover liens placed on a property by vendors, or mistakes in past transfers of the title. The last thing you want to discover when you’re in the back stretch of a transaction is that there are encumbrances on the property such as tax liens, undisclosed owners, easements, or leases. Should a claim arise after the purchase of a property, the title insurance company is there to protect your ownership interest in that property.

TIP #7: Be Realistic!

“Wants” and “Needs” are very different when is comes to real estate features. If every home you see has the upgrades you “want” but exceeds the price range that you “need”…. be realistic. Who wouldn’t love a large, oceanfront, professionally decorated home or condominium, with all the bells and whistles? Looking at properties that exceed your price range is always fun, but it can be extremely frustrating and upsetting. Be realistic by looking at listings in the price range you “need”, keeping an eye out for that special property that has the potential to evolve into the dream home you “want”. Always look beyond the furnishings, wallpaper, and floor coverings to the architecture of the home; it is then that you will find properties with potential.

TIP #8: Use Contract Contingencies Wisely!

Contingencies in a contract for the purchase of a property are designed to protect you, the buyer! This may seem silly to mention but it’s important to remember that you need to work with the seller to come to an agreed upon contract. Valid contingencies to an offer are expected by the seller. Common contingencies include building inspections, termite and pest inspections, financing, and surveys. Many deals fall apart over small details, and easy to fix issues. Remember that sellers are emotional about their property. If you can see that major repairs or replacements need to be made due to neglect or age, make allowances for this in your offering price. The old adage “Everything is negotiable” still holds true, unless you upset the seller so much that they refuse to work with you. Try to avoid listing cosmetic changes you would like the seller to make as contingencies. Cosmetic changes are subjective, be objective when writing a contract.

TIP #9: Understand Regional Health and Safety Issues!

An informed realtor will help you understand other health and safety issues that should be considered when purchasing a property. Safety and Health topics can include EIFS (Synthetic Stucco), indoor air quality, mold, radon, and lead paint. Many of these require the seller to sign a disclosure statement, while others may not apply due to the age, type of construction, or location of the property being purchased.

TIP #10: Ask for Information!

Don’t be shy. When you have hired a realtor to work for you, ask them for information. Do you want to look at all the properties in your price range, with the features you need, or just the houses a realtor wants you to see? You deserve all the information you need to make an educated decision. Can you imagine buying the home that you felt was good for your family, only to find that you never received information on a similar property that is perfect for all your needs? I provide many services to insure my buyers always have information at their fingertips.

Commercial Real Estate Agents – Technology Tips and Tools You Must Have to Succeed Today

In commercial real estate you will need some technology tools to assist your progress in commercial property sales and leasing. When used fully and correctly they will drive more opportunity towards you and help you keep it under control.

At the bare minimum in today’s commercial property market you should be able to work with all of the following:

  • Mobile smartphone with your personal diary and database
  • Computer for presentations and property information
  • Database that is easy to use and comprehensively captures the enquiry
  • Website that promotes your listings and your business
  • SMS technology for sending messages to clients and prospects of new listings and updates
  • Email contact and the use of attachments such as brochures and flyers
  • PDF documentation and formatting of promotional material
  • Creation of adverts and marketing material on your computer
  • HTML email that updates all your contacts of recent listings
  • Auto responders for automated contact via email
  • Internet placement of advertised properties
  • Use of word processing for reports and information memorandums

Some salespeople will have a PA to do this work for them and that is fine; it is the fact that you or someone working for you is doing it that really matters.

Presentational and communication tools today are part of business in commercial property. If you use the tools to their fullest capability then your market and the prospects around you will see it.

So let’s add a few extra technology tools to the process now that you may not use. They have something to do with the internet and they are all critical to the online profile you would like to have.

  1. Start to grow your personal profile on the internet by establishing an online community of contacts. You can do this with something like LinkedIn or similar internet based community tool. Importantly you should separate your business life and personal friends to two different sites as they are looking at you from different angles. Most professional business people will have a profile on the web that is searchable and is likely to be looked at by business prospects before or as part of business contact. Establish your profile on the internet the way you want to be seen.
  2. Establish a blog in your name so you can write short informational grabs about property industry trends in your area on a regular basis. Everything you write should be linked back to your main office website and your listings. It is remarkable how this simple regular practice will help lift your personal profile on the World Wide Web as long as you do it regularly.
  3. Write short online articles about commercial real estate and publish them to a recognised internet articles directory on a regular basis. There are some very good article directories on the web and many of them take articles on commercial real estate. That is where you need to go to write about things of interest in commercial investment property. Each article you write should be linked back to your website and personal profile. It is the link back to your site that is really critical to your branding and internet profile.

These extra 3 things will assist your profile on the largest and most important part of the promotional stage in commercial property; the internet. More than ever before the internet and your profile in it will be essential to your success and image in your market. Get ahead of your competition and start the 3 extra processes above before they do.

Tips to Hire a Commercial Real Estate Agent

If you don’t want to handle your relocation project or commercial lease renewal yourself, you can go to a commercial real estate agent. All you have to do is choose the right professional for your needs. Given below are 6 things you may want to consider during your evaluation. Read on.

Likability

A relocation or lease renewal is similar to a construction project. The difference is that it takes a bit longer than expected. So, it’s a good idea to go with someone who you like. This way you will enjoy throughout your journey and the process of negotiation may also go well.

Trust

Make sure the professional agent that you are going to hire can be trusted. It may be difficult to find out who can be trusted but it can be done during the interview. By asking a few relevant questions during the interview, you can get a pretty good idea as if they are trustworthy or not.

Conflicts of Interest

What does a conflict occurs? Actually, the conflict may occur when you go with an agent who already is a representative of many property owners in the same area. Now, the agent wants to serve you despite that the fact that they have given their word to the property owners that they will find a way to earn them the highest rate of rent possible. So, you may want to get a clear idea of the conflict severity and its importance for you.

Experience

Experience of the agent is of utmost importance as far as choosing the best professional is concerned. Ideally, it’s a good idea to go with a commercial real estate agent who has over 10 years of experience in the field. Their grey hair may be a sign that they have been in this business for years. You can ask about their experience during the interview.

Age

Age of the professional should not be taken as an evidence of their experience in the field. The million dollar question is how long have they been actively involved in the business. You need to keep in mind that commercial real estate is on the list of those businesses that people do part time. So, make sure you choose a professional who has been working full time as an agent. What matters is experience not the age of the agent. After all, age is just a number.

Specialization

Typically agents specialize in two ways. They can do it by industry vertical or location. As far as importance is concerned, location specialization carries more weight. An agent with location specialization has a pretty good idea of what is happening in the market. They know about the best deals and best property owners. Aside from this, their negotiation style is pretty impressive.

Long story short, if you have been thinking of hiring the services of the best commercial real estate agent, we suggest that you take these factors into consideration. This will help you choose the best service provider.

Buyer Beware – Panama Real Estate Information At A Premium!

Because real estate is a relatively new industry for the Republic of Panama, buyers are experiencing both the prizes and pitfalls of entering a market ahead of the curve. Prices are low, demand is high, and certain currencies are very strong which makes Panama a convenient investment hub. But getting in early can be a double-edged sword for many, considering the distribution of good, quality information is very much suppressed.

The dissemination of information dilutes power…information is a beacon, a cudgel, an olive branch, a deterrent, depending on who wields it and how. – Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, Freakonomics

Freakonomics talks about this phenomenon and the rise of the internet as a way of giving regular Joe-Shmoe the opportunity to the ability to examine real estate in depth, thus shifting information to the hands of people who have it, into the hands of those who don’t. In Panama though, there are few, if any internet resources that collect or divulge this kind of information: in some cases because it’s too difficult, in other cases because it would make the owner of the information significantly less powerful.

Outside of website owners and real estate agents, even so-called experts depend on the fact that you don’t have the information that they do. Luckily, in these cases, oftentimes the information has a price tag that you can pay for to acquire like my $99 eBook, The Panama Real Estate Report.

In Panama, the real estate agent is king. They are not only the possessors and the hoarders of valuable information such as market prices, trends, and buying power: they are also oftentimes so busy with an excess of potential buyers chomping at the bit, that they can quite easily afford to kick you (the persistent and inquisitive one) to the curb, simply because you take more time and energy to attend to. They are the almighty beholders of information (albeit information they’ve acquired through experience) and they’ll be very selective in how they relinquish that stronghold to little old you.

It’s a shitty situation to be in as a buyer: You want desperately to be provided with fair and honest information as you are accustomed to so you can make the right investment choice, but you realize logically that the agent could make more money faster probably skipping to another, easier sell. The stars have aligned and they are simply not conducive to buyer research and analysis.

Because Panama has nothing close to a Multiple Listing Service (MLS), information is rarely shared about properties between developers, agents and buyers. Against what anyone will tell you, there is no efficient distribution of information in Panama and it’s very difficult to gather comparison data unless you’re doing all the gathering yourself (which will take a lot of time, money, and misery). This is all reinforced by a poor overall real estate infrastructure (trivial legal repercussions, unorganized public records, incompetent public officials).

What do real estate agents, the beholder of the gold, want to sell you in Panama? In order to synthesize the information you receive from your real estate agent, it can be useful to take into account where they make the biggest (and immediate) paycheck. Real estate agents in Panama collect commissions percentages just like agents elsewhere, but it is the time table by which they receive their commissions that’s worth noting.

Pre-Construction: Most Panama real estate agencies only get paid for pre-construction sales when the developer has gotten paid. Meaning, if a pre-construction condo won’t be finished for two years and the payment plan is staggered, the agency won’t get paid for a while (which means your agent won’t either). Some agencies experience enough cash flow that they’re able to pay agents on the up front, and there are even some developers who pay commissions full and up front. Many though, do not.

Raw Land and Re-sales: Land, existing condos, homes, or commercial property are preferable to agents because they get paid right away (as opposed to waiting for a developer to finish a unit). It would be advantageous therefore, for the agent to push these sorts of transactions and accordingly get paid quicker.

I don’t know about you, but if I was an agent, I would much prefer to be paid all at once, and thus portray the more favorable investment as superior. Understanding this is half the battle. Inquire about how your agencies commissions are setup to know how to interpret the agent’s advice.

“Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants.” – Supreme Court Justice, Louis D. Brandeis

Before you make your investment, try to shed as much sunlight as you can. Meet as many people and read as much information as humanly possible. Become a consumer of everything related to your real estate area of interest. Panama real estate is not like the industry you’re used to at home. You’ll rarely find agencies sharing property listings, you’ll often see developers changing their minds mid-project, and comparing different investments can be an act akin to crocheting a sweater for a mosquito.

As the Panama real estate market grows, the line between the experts and the buyers will begin to blur. Information will slowly but surely seep into the hands of the public, but until it does, and until this serious information asymmetry dissolves, buyers should certainly beware.

Dual Nature – Using Your Facebook Profile to Sell Your Real Estate

Some people find that it’s most expedient to create a new Facebook profile for selling their real estate. However, if you already have friends and family that are also contacts, you might want to just go with the profile they already have friended. In any case, setting up a Facebook profile to further your real estate business is easy, but requires some thought.

Unfortunately, Facebook is not yet to the point where you can automatically designate specific posts or applications as not-to-be shared. If you have your Wall open to the public or your News Feed, you may want to ensure that everything posted is client-friendly. This may mean censoring both your and your friends’ contributions to your Facebook profile.

Setting the Privacy controls on your Facebook account will help you make this a dual account for both clients and friends. Depending on the nature of your contacts, you may want to designate certain areas as “certain friends only” and similarly restrict who can contact you certain ways.

Deciding whether or not you want to open your entire profile to the world depends on how accessible you want to be. You can always request a client as a friend or give them your Facebook contact info to request you. However, if you want people to be able to access your real estate information on Facebook, it could be a good business move to judiciously open up a few key parts of your profile to the public.

Your basic information is probably something you should keep to a select group of friends. Your clients don’t need preconceived notions about you based on what they can read about your sexual preferences, your religion, or your political views. Unless you are aiming to sell real estate only to persons of a certain religion, noting that you are a passionate follower of the Flying Spaghetti Monster may cause people to pass you by, even if you aren’t actively proselytizing to them.

Your profile pictures are a good one to leave open, but make sure they are professional and simple. Don’t post pictures of your family or your dog or your wood tick farm. Your clients like to be able to see a clear photo of you, so they can recognize you. It’s okay to have a photo or two of your family in a different album (some people like to have a feeling of connection with their realtor) but don’t overdo it.

Applications are a hard one. Consider not adding too many frivolous ones. If you absolutely must have some, place them at the very bottom of your Facebook page, where only the determined ever go. And, whatever you do, don’t use them to contact clients with. Attacking someone with your zombie is generally not a good way to convey a professional impression. Applications can also work for you if you install a few good real estate-related ones, so take some time to check them out.

Your Wall may best be hidden. Many spammers will use the Wall to place ads or phishing scams. Also, if your friends are using your Wall, it doesn’t make for a professional impression if they’re posting things like “U R so hawt! Wanna see U soon, sweetcakez!” Use your own discretion. Remember that clients can always use the Message function to send you private messages into your Inbox.

Keep an eye on your photo albums and keep your personal ones to selected friends lists. The real estate albums you will, of course, wish to keep open to the public. Make sure every photo is properly tagged and given some kind of information. A link to the listing your actual website is good, but including as much information as possible can make a photo a better tool to get people to your website.

The Search function can be modified to show as much or as little information as you want. Since you are using this profile as a business tool, you will probably want people to be able to contact you. Set the Search Visibility to Everyone, create a public search listing and allow people to find information about you and send you messages.

Your News Feed and Mini-Feed you should keep open. Every time you change something on your profile, it will be noted and is a great way to let people know what you’re doing with your real estate without actually annoying them with direct messages. This can be modified to show people certain actions and hide certain actions. Play around with the Facebook Privacy controls to find the best combination. This is where you can hide updates to personal information that clients need not see.

Use the Privacy Applications section to restrict views of anything else you don’t want people to see. It’s up to you to consider whether they would benefit from knowing which groups you belong to or events you’ve been invited to.

Look at your Facebook profile from a client’s view. Block everything that could leave them with a negative impression, but leave enough that they get a definite idea of your approach to your business. Facebook is an incredibly fast-growing social networking site which is enhanced by its easy-to-use, professional-looking layout. It definitely can be a valuable tool when used to enhance a professional image.

Letters to Potential Clients From a Real Estate Agent – Tips for Writing Marketing Letters

Introducing yourself in person is pretty easy. You make eye contact, smile, and shake hands. You tell the other person your name, and he tells you his name. Pretty easy, right? But what if you need to introduce yourself and you can’t see the other person? One way you can tackle this problem is by writing a marketing letter.

Whether you are new to real estate or just new to the area, you’ll want to send out some letters and let everyone know you are in the area and ready to sell. You can also use marketing letters to entice people who had listings expire to relist with you.

You can trick people into opening your letter and not just tossing it straight into the recycling bin by using a key word. “Free”. As a late-night ad used to say, “Free is a very good price.” So let everyone know you have something free inside. It might be a fridge magnet, or a set of free energy-saving tips, or a pocket calendar.

Now that you have their attention, you need to give your reader an introduction to you. Tell her who you are, and why you are the home expert she should trust. Give some tips or useful information in your letter that will be of use to your reader. Perhaps this might be a fall-cleanup checklist or winter weatherization tips. If you are targeting an up and coming area, you might want to give a list of local merchants for people to get started frequenting.

If you get completely stuck and have the worst case of writer’s block, you can download free templates from the internet. They can be introduction letters, prospecting letters, expired listings letters, or new agent letters, just to name a few. These are useful to help you get started and trigger a thought trail. They’re also good if writing is not your strong suit, but you are great at the verbal deal. (Some of these sites offer templates to help you with your listings, too.)

Keep the letter simple. Overcomplicated or technical newsletters will just confuse your readers and make them toss it. That also means your name is not the one they will tuck in their dream home folder for when the time comes to buy.

It might seem obvious, but be sure you use a good spell checking program and a grammar checker if you are not strong in either. It only damages your reputation if you have errors that can be easily fixed by these programs.

Last, close with a call to action. It could be asking the reader to visit your website for more information or to subscribe to your newsletter or podcast. It might be a link to your Facebook page on which you have a coupon to a local merchant. Or you may have some DIY tips on your YouTube channel. Whatever it is, you want it to be a good reason to follow up, something that will be worth your reader’s time. And time these days is more valuable than ever.