Lab Tested Real Estate • Proven tips and resources for agents

How To Get Real Estate Testimonials (In Your Hands!)

Did you know that testimonials are one of most under-used sales tools in real estate? The power of your current clients to sell your value to others is far greater than your own power to sell yourself. And unlike most forms of real estate advertising, testimonials are free!

Unfortunately, most agents spend years generating happy clients without a written word to show for it, and here’s why:

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Don’t Let An Early Home Closing Sideline the Sale

Is your home purchase transaction going to close earlier than expected? If so, it’s vitally important to make sure the insurance company knows about it.  If not, you might find that on the closing day the lender’s underwriter red-flags the final review of signed documents because the closing date falls before the insurance coverage starts.

Here’s a recent real-life example:  The contract closing date language was appropriate (written as “on or before” a specific date, which in Washington state gives escrow the option to close early), but the loan processor didn’t catch the fact that the insurance policy was set to begin only on that specific date.  The buyer signed all of his loan documents, and it wasn’t until the lender was doing its final review – on the morning of the closing day – that an underwriter caught the oversight, triggering a flurry of calls to the insurance company.

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Don’t Lose the Listing Over the Home Staging Consultation

I talked with a real estate agent friend the other day and basically heard the story of how – for the second time now – she had lost a listing because of what happened when the home stager went to the property. (Different home stager each time, so I’m just saying – this is not the stuff of urban legend, it happens more than people might think.)  How ironic is it that an earnest attempt to provide more value to a real estate client ends up alienating them instead?

Here are some thoughts on how to prevent this from happening.

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A New Look For Our Real Estate Email Newsletters

Here at Tools For Real Estate it has been a few years since we rolled out a redesign of our email newsletters, so I’m excited to tell you about the improvements.  Our goal is always to stay current with the needs of your readers while keeping a clean, beautiful email newsletter format.  With so many people now reading email on smartphones and tablets, it was time to make sure we were using the best in responsive, mobile-friendly e-newsletter design, and we took the opportunity to make the overall format more appealing on all devices.

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Let Zig Ziglar Help You Achieve Your Goals

Have you set your real estate business goals the year?  Whether you already have or they’re still in the works, I highly recommend taking a few moments to watch this video of Zig Ziglar explaining how to set goals in a way that helps you successfully achieve them.  I’ve seen it a few times before, but I always find his advice really insightful – it falls into the category of things that intuitively make sense when you hear them but that are quite easy to forget when you’re bouncing around in the day-to-day world.

Some great Zig Ziglar quotes from the video:

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Is Your Real Estate Blog Breaking Copyright Law?

Please forgive the question.  (And if your first reaction is “Of course not, what is she thinking!” I totally understand.)  However, you would not believe the number of times I’ve seen real estate agents copy and paste entire news articles into their blog posts, mistakenly believing that they’re complying with copyright law by including the source and the author byline.

While this might seem entirely fair (after all, it’s clear that they didn’t actually write it, and the original source is noted), according to the law it is not.  The finer points of what complies with copyright law blend into a grey area, but there are some very clear standards that anyone who uses current material as a research base for their own writing should know about.

Here’s a great summary on copyright law from the legal site  Halfway down the page you’ll find the five guidelines explaining what constitutes “Fair Use.”

Seeing as I use information from a large number of sources as the basis for an original article in the real estate email newsletter Tools For Real Estate provides each month, I’m very aware of how important it is to treat your research bases carefully.  A good way to track things is to create a Word document that’s just for the topic you’re writing about, and paste into it entire articles along with their associated link.  This helps you by keeping the information consolidated and by keeping the exact wording in front of you, so that you don’t mistakenly parrot the language or lean too much on material from any specific article.  It also serves as proof that anything you wrote was the result of substantial research based on a number of sources.

Typically, by the time I’m done with an article I have a Word document of base material that’s between 20 and 30 pages long.  This would be overkill for a typical blog post because they take much less time to write, but you get the picture.  Keep track of your sources, and learn to know and love the “Fair Use” guidelines.

What Are the Requirements for General Contractors In Your State?

For years when I saw that someone was a bonded General Contractor, I assumed that they had passed a set of construction-related professional standards set by the state  I think many consumers make the same assumption, but did you know that depending on where you live, this could be completely untrue?

In Washington state, for example, there are NO professional expertise-related requirements for someone to register as a General Contractor.  They do have to meet certain business and residency requirements, have liability insurance, and post a bond of $12,000 (as of December 2012), but here’s what the state of Washington says about the professional qualification part:

Links to pdf pamphlet for WA state general contractor application info.

Washington state General Contractor professional requirements as of December 2012.

Requirements vary widely from state to state.  California, for example, requires four years of experience, or some equivalent combination of technical education and work history.

Since being able to recommend trustworthy service providers is a valuable part of what a real estate agent brings to the table, it makes sense to be aware of contractor requirements in your state.  Here’s a link to a Contractor’s License Reference Site – you can click on the map to go to the database with information about contractor requirements in your state.

Why We Love Hostgator for Real Estate Website Hosting

Link to Hostgator for real estate website hosting.I got off the phone with a Hostgator tech support person a few days ago and vowed to write a post reminding real estate agents of why we recommend them for real estate website hosting.

Finding a place to host your real estate website or blog is one of the first things you’re confronted with as a new agent, or at least as soon as you’ve decided to get a serious online presence (for many agents that second part comes later on, but it shouldn’t).   After trying three other web hosting providers, here’s why we recommend Hostgator for real estate agents:

Good uptime and industry leader:  Hostgator has been around since 2002 and has a 99.9% uptime guarantee.

24/7 customer support, including by phone:  The phone support option is huge for real estate agents – I just don’t recommend using a web hosting provider that relies only on email or chat.  I know that might sound funny from someone who runs an online-based marketing service, but even being more techie than the average real estate professional, if one of my sites is down I want to hear the warm breath of an actual mammal on the other end of the phone as soon as possible.

Hostgator has good phone support etiquette:  Twice in the past two weeks I’ve had long calls with support as they investigated an issue (this is not typical, by the way, and one of these issues was due to a mistake on my part).  Both times I noticed that when you’re on hold they check back with you every couple of minutes, without fail.  There must be some kind of timer that notifies them to check in after a set period of time so that you never feel abandoned.

The support techs are helpful and don’t make you feel stupid:  Even though I’m pretty techie and can hold my own with some of the web-spiel, there have been times with other companies when I felt like the support department was sure I was a doofus.  (Numerous studies have concluded that this is not the case, I am happy to report.)  The Hostgator reps have always been polite and dedicated to resolving the issue I was calling about.

Hostgator has reasonable pricing:  This is not the most important criterion, since we all know that cheaper is not always better, but it’s nice that their pricing is very reasonable.

If you have any questions about real estate website hosting, drop us a line or leave a comment below.  And here’s the standard affiliate link disclosure:

Just so you know, the link(s) to any companies on this page may be our affiliate link, meaning we get a small share of any purchase price if you buy from them.  We think of it as a way for people to say “thank you” for our resources and the time we’ve spent with our toes curled into fists of frustration with the wrong providers, but if you prefer to not use our affiliate link you can always Google the company name and go directly to their site.  It’s all good!


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