REALTOR® TALK Newsletters

April 2024 - One-on-One Conversations: The Best Tool in your Toolbox

One of the beautiful things about being a registered real estate agent is that you can achieve a very high level of success without a lot of formal education. Good agents can earn as much as doctors, lawyers or other professionals, without having to go through the painstaking rigors of medical school, law school, residency, bar exams, etc.. And of course you can do this without incurring nearly the same amount of debt as an entry into the profession.  When real estate sales trainers tell you "the sky's the limit" in this business, they're not exaggerating. You really can start and finish ahead of other professionals if you put your mind to it, and are disciplined in your approach. You really can become totally financially secure as a real estate agent. 
Yet the opposite is also true. New agents join our ranks every year with light in their eyes and vigor in their demeanor, only to become totally disenchanted with the real estate profession in a year or two. Many quit altogether within five years.
So what's going on here? What makes the difference between an agent who is highly successful and one who continually struggles to keep their head above water?
Well, the answer to this question is multifaceted. Some people are extremely self-disciplined. Some people lack discipline. Some people have great leadership and interpersonal skills. Some haven't yet developed these skills. Some are organized, some are unorganized, and some people have clearly defined goals and an overarching vision that supports those goals, while others lack adherence to either one or both of these. It might even be in some cases that people are afraid to succeed. Whatever the reason, each person is a unique individual, so you can't just assume that it's one thing or the other.
Everyone's challenges will be unique and specific to them in some way. Yet, it's important to know that regardless of where you are in business and in life, you can achieve more. You can actually succeed beyond your current expectations or limitations. And if you're committed to it, you can do so as a professional real estate agent. BUT (and this is a big BUT) to do this you are going to have to make some changes. And change is not easy. In order to make the appropriate change in as little time as possible, we recommend that you seek out a qualified mentor who can help you analyze your business, and walk you through the needed adjustments. 
Apart from that, even before finding the right mentor, we recommend doing some basic tweaks to your work routine. Try to focus on the basics that will help you get on the right footing. 
Here are some thoughts in that regard:
Most importantly, understand that this is a people business. That means you've got to talk to people. Texting, and being in front of your computer creating emails and social media posts is good in some ways, but it can't be a replacement for voice-to-voice or face-to-face conversations. These one-on-one conversations are critical to your success. So keep that in mind. Transactionally speaking, nothing of substance happens until you engage in one-on-one conversations.
So who do you talk to? Well, there's no shortage of strangers, if you want to go that route. There are millions of people right here in southern Ontario. But apart from them, particularly if you're struggling to gain traction in this business, it's probably better that you focus on your sphere of influence first. In other words, talk to the people you already know who already know you.  If you put your mind to it you should be able to come up with a list of at least 100 names of people that fit this category. That's a bare minimum. For many people the list is actually quite a bit larger. In any case, if you start reaching out to these people, using all the modes of communication available to you, but especially making sure to not neglect voice-to-voice and face-to-face conversations, you should begin to gain traction in your business. 
Make sure you are systematic in your approach to these activities. Always use your calendar or a CRM to plan the next interaction. People are all at some stage in their real estate journey. At some point they're going to need the services of a friendly, competent, committed, disciplined real estate agent. If you're the agent who has maintained regular contact with them, demonstrating professionalism and competence, showing a sincere interest in them all the while, then who better to engage in that service than you? You're the person they already know, already like, already trust, having established the relationship through regular contact. So the answer will be obvious.
Now, you may think to yourself, that's all fine and dandy. But I need business now. We understand that. But here's the thing. If you develop this disciplined approach to having conversations with people, keeping in regular contact with them through emails, text messaging, newsletters, and of course telephone conversations and in-person meetings, you ARE going to find those people who are ready to do business now. That will happen. So don't worry about it. Just do the things that will help you build a stable long term business, and trust that the immediate business will manifest itself through that process.
There's lots more that could be said in this regard, but we'll leave it at that for now. If you've got questions or comments about any of this, or would like to delve into it further, reach out to me (John) or my partner (Devin). Either one of us, or both of us, would be happy to chat or help you in any way we can. Or maybe it's not even that. Maybe instead it's you helping us. Either way, that's one of the beauties of this business. We as agents are motivated to collaborate with each other to generate business; and this collaboration often works to bring out the best in each other.
Again, that's all for now. Until next time, we hope your days and weeks ahead are efficient, effective, productive and profitable. 


John Zwart, Broker of Record, Owner Partner

Devin Hulett, REALTOR®, Owner Partner

March 2024 - Why social media marketing is the new sliced bread

If you have been in real estate for any length of time, you've most likely gone through phases in terms of your focus. At the beginning maybe it was simply about getting in front of people. So you offered to do open houses on behalf of "experienced" agents at your brokerage who had listings. Or maybe you were encouraged to call your sphere of influence, or do cold calling or door knocking in a specified neighbourhood. Then, as you got to meet more people and engage in conversations about real estate, perhaps you realized that developing a skill set around what to say and how to move a conversation along in a desired direction was important. So you focused on developing skills in that area. And then, perhaps as you gained traction in your business, there was a concerted effort put into branding and marketing using various print, digital and social media platforms. 

While each of these methods for gaining traction is important, and while any one method on its own can help you advance your business, it's this last focus on branding and marketing, especially on digital and social media platforms, that has become increasingly important in the real estate sector. I think it's fair to say that most successful agents are employing some form of social media marketing in their business. What often sets these top producers apart from the rest, however, is a robust commitment to a comprehensive digital marketing plan. 
The reasons why they do this are not difficult to understand. If you have an in depth conversation with a prospective client about a given topic for example, that conversation lives only in the moment, and effectively only in the mind and heart of that one client. If you have that conversation in digital format however, and post it on various digital and social media platforms, whether in written or video format, that conversation has the potential to reach hundreds, and perhaps even thousands, of people in your market area. And if you happen to do that conversation well, and then regularly add to it with many more conversations that are equally compelling, you have the ability to position yourself, amongst people who you may have never even met before, as the "go to" expert for real estate in your local market area. 
That's a pretty compelling reason to dig into social media for business. 
The problem or question however, is how do you effectively reach your target audience using social media? 
Well, the answer to that is a little more complicated. It involves learning, implementing, then more learning, implementing again, and then more learning still. Just as with real estate itself, social media marketing involves a concerted commitment to "Constant and Never-ending Improvement".
That said, here are some basic ideas to help you get started:
1. Whether it's Facebook, Instagram. LinkedIn, YouTube, or TikTok, make a commitment to one platform to start, and then over time seek to add to it, until you have a robust presence across various platforms.
2. Develop a systematic plan for the types of information you'd like to post on these platforms. Then produce and roll out this information on a consistent and persistent basis. Now of course, as you get busier working with clients, consistency will become more and more challenging. So it's important to plan ahead. With that in mind, use the rhythms in your weekly, monthly, and annual work cycles to your advantage. Utilize the time when you're not working with clients to produce content, and then schedule that content so that you develop a reputation for being professional and reliable in the way you approach your business.
3. Seek out inspiration. Look at what other agents are doing well, and then use this for inspiration to produce your own unique content. Now to be fair, this can be a two edged sword. When looking at what other agents are doing well, it may be easy to become overwhelmed and compare yourself to them in a negative way, thinking I could never do what they do. This is a mindset problem. Don't allow yourself to go there. Recognize that they are using their unique skills and abilities to their own advantage. You need to do the same. Don't compare yourself to others. Focus on what you're good at, and then use that to create your own unique selling proposition. If you are authentic in what you put out there, your authenticity will resonate with people who will want to connect with you. You don't need everybody. You just need to find those who like you and trust you for who you are, and will thereby want to work with you.
4. If you're still in need of inspiration, here are some topics or themes that can help you get started:
-success stories and testimonials
-career milestones
-Industry and market news
-Home tips and renovation ideas
-Real estate events you've participated in
-Documenting your day
5. Make it a habit to include a call to action in your content. It doesn't need to be every time (though it could be), and it doesn't need to be anything earth shattering. It can be something as simple as "This is what I think. Let me know what you think." In any case, it should be related to the topic of your post. Try to get people to engage with you. If you are particularly "sales oriented", think of it as a "trial close". The more you can get people to align with you on minor points of interest, the more comfortable they will become with you over time, and the greater the chance will be down the road for them to want to work with you when selling or buying a home.  
6. Be willing to hire expertise in areas where you may be lacking. None of us is good at everything, so don't be embarrassed by that. Rather, seek out those who may be able to help you with video production, or writing, or search engine optimization, advertising, aerial photography, or whatever else you may need help with in developing and growing your social media presence. If you're on a limited budget, work within that budget. But don't just leave it at that. Make plans to grow and expand your social media marketing efforts in a professional way. In other words, treat your business as a business, not just a job or a hobby.
There's lots more that could be said about this topic. And there's lots more for all of us to learn as well. If you're interested in the learning journey, we're interested too. So reach out to us at any time to delve into this topic, or any other real estate topic, in more detail. As we like to say here at Home and Property, "Iron sharpens Iron". We can all learn from each other. So if you're like-minded, let's expand on these ideas in conversation in whatever format suits your fancy - by text or email, in person, or by telephone. 
That's all for today. Until next time, we hope you are happy and productive in all you do.


John Zwart, Broker of Record, Owner Partner

Devin Hulett, REALTOR®, Owner Partner

February 2024 - How to Leverage the Power of Your Sphere of Influence

When deciding to grow your real estate business it can be tempting to search far and wide for the magic bullet that will lead to your success and fortune.

Think back to when you just started out. You went through the RECO registration process, took courses, learned everything you could from books, videos, in class training, and conversations with savvy professionals at the brokerage where you intended to "hang your shingle". You were motivated and ready to make your mark as a Realtor. This was the beginning of your new "forever" career.  

So what did you do in those early days?

If you were like most new agents, you probably experimented with what you learned. You tried a bit of this, tried a bit of that. You knew that you needed to prospect, so maybe you tried your hand at cold calling. Maybe you tried going door to door. Maybe you sent out some flyers or postcards. Maybe you did some advertising. Maybe you arranged to do an open house on someone else's listing. And maybe you also reached out to family and friends, as well as to those you knew in other ways (your sphere of influence) to let them know you were embarking on this new exciting career,

Each of these traditional ways of prospecting works well, provided you work it properly. Some of the newer electronic methods of prospecting also work well...again assuming you work them properly. But if you're wanting to gain traction in your career, either as a newby or as a veteran, it would be foolish to not put concerted effort into working your sphere of influence (SOI) in addition to whatever else you're doing. Why? Because, statistically speaking, more agents sell more homes on behalf of their SOI than any other source. In fact the numbers, depending on the source for data, are consistently somewhere between 70% and 80%. That is, 70-80% of all transactions are sourced through agent spheres of influence. Those numbers are pretty high. So why wouldn't you be persistent and consistent in nurturing and developing that source?

"But, I'm new to the city" you might say. "My sphere of influence is small. I don't know very many people."

Sorry, but that is simply an excuse. If you don't have a large sphere of influence, take steps to expand it. Your SOI is not just family and friends. It's also:

- past colleagues
- neighbours and community members
- hobby/interest/spiritual groups
- professionals
- business owners
- volunteers
- contractors
- past clients
- buyer leads you have interacted with
- seller leads you have interacted with
- investors
- other Realtors you know...

...and the list could go on.

Don't just think of people in your immediate geographic area. Think of anybody and everybody you know. Even if they're in another province, or perhaps even another country. People know people who know people. And the people you know could lead you to someone you don't know who is nonetheless ready, willing, and able to do a real estate transaction in your market area.

Growing and working your sphere of influence is not hard. It's just a matter of getting out there, putting yourself in front of people, engaging in interesting, stimulating thoughtful conversation. The important things here are to be positive, encouraging, helpful, interested, and interesting. Most importantly of all, get in motion, and stay in motion. As we say at Home and Property Real Estate, "It's hard to steer a parked car."

If you're wondering what to say, or how to advance the conversation, try using a conversational aid like C.H.E.F. or F.O.R.D.  

C.H.E.F. is an acronym that stands for:
C - Community - ask about the person's surroundings, neighbourhood, workplace.
H - Hobbies - ask them about their hobbies or interests
E - Entertainment - what types of entertainment do they engage in? What do they like to do or watch?
F - Food - ask about favourite restaurants or what foods they are currently enjoying.

F.O.R.D. is an acronym that stands for:
F - Family - what's new in their family?
O - Occupation - what's happening in their work life?
R - Recreation - what do they do for fun?
D - Dreams - what goals or plans do they have for the future?  

The important thing here is to talk less and listen more. And the way to do that is to ask questions that get people talking about themselves. Don't worry about steering the conversation toward real estate. If you're asking questions, they will reciprocate, and ask questions about you and your interests in turn. This will be a natural segue toward areas of common interest, including real estate.  To do this well is both an art and a skill. To that end, it takes practice. If you practice enough, eventually it becomes a habit. And as we also like to say at Home and Property Real Estate, "At first you make your habits. But eventually your habits make you."  

That's all for today. Until next time we hope you have an awesome day, a fantastic week, and an amazing career ahead.


John Zwart, Broker of Record, Owner Partner

Devin Hulett, REALTOR®, Owner Partner

The trademark REALTOR® is controlled by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) and identifies real estate professionals who are members of CREA.

January 2024 - Honing your communication skills

As we look forward to 2024 and set our personal real estate goals, as REALTORS it's tempting to focus too much of our attention on market prognostications. Is it going to be a good year for the market? Or a not-so- good year? Are sales going to pick up again? Will the current trend toward a buyer's market continue? Are interest rates going to stabilize or even come down slightly?  How will the broader economy impact sales? What about employment? What about core inflation??

The problem with prognostications is that even we, the experts, are conflicted about what's going to happen next. Some of us say the market is going to rebound. Some say it's going to be a challenging year. Many agents offer variations between these extremes. The truth is, no one knows for sure. Yes, we can make reasoned estimates. And yes, it's important to speak about the market in an informed way when conversing with clients.

But even so, it's more important that we listen to our clients, to their hopes and dreams, as well as their fears; and that we then speak into their specific situation in a wise, nuanced and personal way. It's important to remind clients and ourselves that the market is not some monolithic entity, but a compilation of hundreds and thousands of individual decisions. At the end of the day, the decisions they make with our help are contingent mostly on personal factors beyond broader market dynamics. Of course, they are looking to us for professional expertise in concert with an understanding of their situation.  This is why people hire real estate agents - because they are making one of the most important decisions they'll ever make, and they need our help in navigating the complexities around that decision.

Regardless of the uncertainty of the broader market dynamics, one of the surefire ways for us to grow our respective real estate businesses, is to hone our communication skills. To that end, we encourage our team members at Home and Property Real Estate Ltd., to write down their thoughts in a blog or newsletter, or at the very least in a personal journal. Putting pen to paper so to speak, writing your perspectives about various topics related to real estate, helps you to develop clarity. This in turn, helps you to speak with authority when conversing with clients or prospective clients. It's really a mode of communication. And communication, again, effective communication, is critical to a successful career in real estate.

Now of course, not everyone is adept at writing. For some this can be an overwhelming challenge. To these people we suggest that they communicate their perspectives via video. Pre-planned oral communication can be even more effective than written communication. The important thing here is to not just ramble, but present your ideas in a compelling, concise, coherent form. Your presentation skills are enhanced through this exercise, and (assuming you publish your videos on social media) they help you gain credibility in your market as well.

Communication doesn't just happen in these pre-planned (written or video) formats however. The most important format may well be simple conversation. Though this may seem self-evident, too often we see agents sending text messages or emails when they ought to be picking up the phone or going to meet with clients in person. Again, written communication and video productions are both useful tools. But they are only two among many,

Always keep in mind that we are in the business of selling. And selling is in many respects largely about relationships. When it comes to real estate no sale is ever solely advanced on the basis of written communication. At some point, there has to be face to face or voice to voice communication. If you're at all nervous about that, then begin by writing a text or an email, and then follow up with a phone call. Then another email perhaps; and then arrange a meeting in person. Alternating between these modes of communication can be very effective - certainly much more effective than communicating through writing alone.

Anyway, there's lots more that can be said about the art of communication as it relates to selling real estate. If you ever have the need to reach out to my partner Devin Hulett or myself about this or anything else, feel free to do so by text, email or telephone call. Just know that whatever mode of communication you begin with will at some point be transplanted by one of the other modes of communication. That's just the way it works.

Until next time, we hope you have an awesome day, a fantastic week and an amazing year ahead. 


John Zwart, Broker of Record, Owner Partner

Devin Hulett, REALTOR®, Owner Partner

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