How can you truly trust someone when you can’t see their eyes?
If any business is a people business, it is real estate. Real estate auctions expert or not, an agent depends on networking to build their client roster and a solid referral network, over time. The first order of business is to build familiarity and trust with people we meet, and work to expand that pool every day. The first step is to genuinely connect with potential clients and come across as honest human beings they can trust. We must ‘connect’ with them.
Here is a question every agent needs to ask themselves.
How can I effectively connect with people when the first thing I do when I slide out of my house is to cover my most powerful asset for building trust and connect with people, my eyes?
We grab the darkest set of sunglasses we can find and the store shelf, and as long as we think we look cool in them, we slap them on our faces and walk the streets all day forgetting about the opportunities we are missing along the way. Every single day. Where did the good old days where everyone made eye contact and greeted other passers by? What would you be able to do if you were able to make eye contact with ten additional people each day whether on the street, at the neighborhood store or on the restaurant patio? How much more effective would your meetings be with prospective clients if you remove the mask off off your eyes when you meet with them?
If on the odd occasion you must don glasses during a showing outdoors on a very sunny day, it is best to do so after excusing yourself and preferably after you building a relatively reliable level of trust with the prospect.
The next time you reach for the Zoro mask, no matter how expensive or cool it is, ask yourself whether it is really helping, or hindering your growth as a real estate professional. If stacking the odds in your favour means suffering a bit of a glare every once in a while, that just may be the compromise you need to edge out your competition.
It’s exciting to mark a year since ListedBy.com launched. Like every startup with a big idea and certain resources to work with, we’ve had our ups and down and at the end of the day, made great headway.
We want to take the opportunity to thank all our community members, users and website visitors for their support and energy, our business partners for their confidence, and every member of our staff for painstakingly taking on more than they imagined they ever would under a single job title, and our leadership for their vision, perseverance and drive along the way, no matter what.
Property Portal Watch sums up ListedBy’s evolution quite nicely in an article published earlier today.
Thanks once again to all our friends and supporters. Onwards and upwards.
ListedBy Turns One
Property Portal Watch
By Gordana Davila on 3 May, 2013
in Company News
Spawned by Bay Area bulk REO specialist Stephan Piscano, who became frustrated with his own experience with the online real estate auction process, California’s ListedBy, the free online marketplace and social network with live bidding auction has turned one.
ListedBy made its debut last year, as a free online live auction, social network and services marketplace. The company saw a void in the market and felt it was time to launch a transparent online auction and property search arena where industry professionals, consumers, investors and service providers would be able to network, research, list and purchase real estate assets.
ListedBy managed to successfully merge the simplicity and effectiveness of a classifieds advertising website, with state-of-the-art live auction technology, to help accelerate sales and maximize asset value.
The company’s goal was to lift the secrecy off the real estate auction process, and to encourage wider participation from both buyers and sellers. ListedBy also aimed at eliminating typically restrictive costs including auction registration fees and share of proceeds, usually imposed on traditional auction venue, by having its marketplace be entirely free.
Stephan Piscano, ListedBy founder and chief executive officer, said that the company considers real estate professionals and service providers as critical success partners. Piscano gave as an example: “A listing agent on ListedBy is never overshadowed by another agent on his or her listing page, and leads are never collected and sold back to the listing broker or their competitors. We are working to build a thriving, positive community that benefits all our members.”
A short stroll down memory lane:
Soon after its launch, ListedBy announced the appointment of Roger Noujeim as Vice President of Marketing, to lead the company’s global marketing and branding strategy.
In June the company began publishing agent listings on their profile pages on ListedBy Social, the site’s networking system for real estate agents, service providers and consumers. In addition to the site’s property search area, the move strategically places agent listings in front of consumers researching local REALTORS® on ListedBy.com.
In July, ListedBy announced a co-marketing agreement with National Real Estate Business Insurance Group that will give to ListedBy.com members timely, convenient access to NREBIG’s deep national expertise and products.
A new online advertising campaign was launched by October, ‘Buy & Sell Real Estate With a Click,’ aiming to maintain ListedBy top of mind with recent visitors, and focusses on communicating the brand’s primary benefit of accelerating real estate buying and selling.
In December, ListedBy released ListedBy – Real Estate Auction Primer for Consumers, a ‘must-know’ guide for anyone looking to buy or sell real estate through auction.
Followed by the rollout of a self-managed search database which enables ListedBy users access to information on local real estate related services, and for service providers, free exposure and leads.
This past March ListedBy announced that, now its members are albe to publish and share feedback, recommendations and rate service providers listed on ListedBy.com, in real time.
One year later:
Now as a way of celebrating with all their users, ListedBy has sent out a message stating: “To thank you and celebrate all users today can get a FREE featured listing on the site by using promo code “ListedBy37″ upon adding your listing RIGHT NOW!”
Also, there is a special bidding for a an all expenses paid trip to stay in the ListedBy luxury condo in Las Vegas. The company stated: “We are doing this asa promotion to than our userbase and give you an opportunity to get exposure for your brand as a real estate pro!”
Imagine that you have a Bentley you want to sell. The car has been parked for a year, kid stuff on the back seat. Cleats, some dirt, coloring pens and paper, and fast food wrappings. In the front, some used up tissue paper still sits in the console area, the sun glasses nearby and the phone charger dangles. Before you advertise it online, you walk into your garage with a your iPhone, and in the shade of the walls, the car having gathered decent amounts of dust and mud from the last few rides she had been on, you take a couple of photos. One of the inside, the other of the outside.
Back at your computer you upload that photograph and make your posting on your preferred sites.
Now help me understand how you’d expect a buyer to get excited about your car, with all this negligence put in to showing it off? If the concern is not the condition of the car, it is the upkeep of the car. That is if any of the images look clear enough, to begin with. Remember lighting was dim at best when you walked in.
Next to your car posting there are another 3 Bentleys, all sparkling clean, enticing. Each comes with 25 shiny photos of a polished, well cared gem, interior even cleaner. The prospective buyers gets this uplifting feeling just flipping through the photos, zooming in to view things in detail, enabled through the well lit, high resolution shots. A video of the vehicle is also set up, to make things even more appealing. The buyer then get set to make a call to inquire further or come down to for a test drive.
Meanwhile you sit for days or months wondering why your car isn’t selling. And, if you get the adhoc call, you get frustrated with wholesale agents only calling and trying to low ball you.
Well you answer that one yourself. This morning right on ListedBy I came across a 1.2 million dollar asset listing, with a single photo of the entire project, taken off of a another photo print sitting on the kitchen counter. You could easily tell, because part of the counter was showing in the posted image.
The description of the project was weak at best, yet the seller’s agent expects people to hound them with offers.
This is not the only listing on a real estate website with a single, bad photo, and worse descriptions and details. You see them all over the place on the Web.
Folks, this complacency simply does not work in the world of sales, never mind one that involved assets worth hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars and where the competition is, at best, fierce. Even if you’re marketing REO Auctions or public real estate auctions, marketing an asset adequately is the difference between selling it or not, the ultimate asset value. and your commissions.
We have posted research about the importance of photos several times in this Forum and on the ListedBy Blog. It’s a no brainer. Why I won’t link to these articles to make it easy for some, is for good reason.
For those feeling guilty right now, its time to get that camera out, and do your work like a professional. Things will change faster than you think. The effort will always prove to be worthwhile.
In fact right now, I feel a smidgen embarrassed to release an article such as this one. But it just feels like all else has failed and it’s time to tell it like it is. The actions, and non actions of every agent affect not only their sales and business, but the reputation of our industry. Everyone must pull their weight to move us forward. Professional representation is a mandatory step.
There is a major issue that is plaguing America today whether you’re in the real estate auctions business, healthcare, retail, finance or entertainment. The concern may seem obvious to most, if not all, once I get to it. What is sad is that as obvious and simplistic as it is, we keep digging deeper as time goes, dragging with us our potential and the economy as a whole.
Business is a chain of events that must occur in a systematic, timely fashion and order for an end to be achieved as desired. Every step affects the next. Sometimes missing a step or deadline can be remedied by scrambling and often through compromise. Needless to say, this affects quality, credibility, income or all of the above. Whether the compromise is minimal or significant, over time it compounds, making the ultimate impact that much more grave.
What if on the other we operated a business where everything that is supposed to happen, happens the way it is supposed to, and on time? While it may seem like a major challenge, even unrealistic for a typical person in today’s world of business, hypothetically, such a business would decimate its competitors and in no time take a distant lead in its target market.
What is fascinating is business’ increasing complacency towards pursuing this dream operating model. We have become so lax that such a goal seems even laughable to many, depending on who you speak with. When was the last time you called on a support line or business partner frustrated and felt that the person on the other line did not exhibit or act in line with your expectations? I am not an economist but delays and slips almost seem to be the norm today in many a business. That’s actually scary on a macro economic level.
The solution is actually quite simple and would overnight take any business and its leaders from mediocre to stardom.
We must all start to do what we say we’re going to do, when we’re going to do it.
Yes, as simple as that. Let’s think about the impact on our business if all events take course exactly as, and when they are supposed to happen. Surely a 100 percent record may be reaching for the stars, but at least let’s start to aim up versus down. Achieving such status will put any business on the fast track to leadership and in fact, take the entire nation’s global competitiveness to a whole new plane others would soon envy.
It all starts at the leadership and management level.
We’re undeniably making great strides towards a paperless environment in real estate. With investors snapping up REO auctions and traditional listings, even sight unseen, the last thing high volume or frequent buyers and sellers want is to get bogged down with paperwork and unnecessary back and forth. These investors view this as a complete waste of time. Lost sheets, missing signatures, requests for additional forms, scanning, faxing and so on. It just seems endless. It’s frustrating and technically so not 21st century.
From a broker and agent perspective, cutting out the paper hassle has many positive implications on business that process improvement gurus would slot under the ‘increased efficiencies’ benefit category.
In a relatively high speed market, it literally means higher revenue, because an agent can simply process more deals more efficiently, all online.
In a slow market, it’s a way to stand out and open up time to prospect and generate business instead of the hustle and ‘busyness’ of going through paperwork that takes up half the day.
Virtually all paperless transaction solutions have to date concentrated on the back end of the process, meaning the mid to final stages of processing an offer and signing documents. A significant opportunity however still exists at the very front end of the equation. The initial tender offer and negotiation stage. The stage where a buyer chases shadows for days to reach the actual listing real estate agent, and where the latter needs to go through hoops to bridge buyer and seller minds on price and coordinate back and forth communication. Often days go by for a buyer to get an answer to a simple question. A complete waste of time for everyone involved.
This stage, tackled the traditional way, in unnecessarily counter productive when the entire phase can be shrunk down to hours or even minutes.
Combine a more efficient, one hundred percent online auction and buy now/best offer negotiation process of a site such as ListedBy.com, with cloud-based document signing capability on the back end, and you end up with the ultimate paperless real estate process that is bound to catapult our industry to an entirely new level.
It just seems like the natural next step in the industry’s growth.
We’re quite excited to release the ListedBy Service Provider star and feedback ratings system. To those who excel in their profession, such systems put in the hands of the consumer is a welcome event and a new path to more business.
For those who do not desire such systems, it’s a path to challenging and boosting current practices.
As an industry as a whole, such systems will bring new levels of transparency that can only help further enhance public perception and professionalism.
Here is the full announcement issued to the press earlier today, for our readers’ convenience:
ListedBy Launches Real Estate Service Provider and Agent Ratings
ListedBy (www.ListedBy.com), the first free online real estate marketplace and social network with live bidding public real estate auctions and ‘Buy Now/Best Offer’ functionality now enables members to publish and share feedback, recommendations and rate service providers listed on ListedBy.com, in real time.
The system reflects ListedBy’s goal to provide its members with everything they need to be successful in real estate both before, and after the transaction. Registered users on ListedBy.com can use the site’s Service Providers area to research services and related companies by state, and now rate providers including real estate brokers and agents using a five star rating system.
Users can also offer detailed feedback and recommendations on the same page, and share their feedback through email and social media with a single click, including on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and many others.
“From free access to rental and for sale property data, REO auctions and traditional listings, to clearly identifying the true listing agent and their contact information, to publicly displaying bids, bid history and bidders, to now agent and real estate related service provider ratings and feedback, ListedBy continues to move towards accelerating the real estate process through transparency and better access to information,” said Stephan Piscano, CEO and Founder, ListedBy.
“The time currently wasted at any stage of real estate buying and selling is unacceptable, as is the level of transparency on many real estate auction and traditional property portals, especially in this day and age. Everything that we do at ListedBy is designed to move the industry towards a higher level of efficiency,” added Piscano.
Concluded Piscano: “People who get exceptional service are always happy to spread the word. We’re introducing tools that make it easy for ListedBy members to share their experience and opinion, which benefits their service provider and works to drive higher levels of service in the industry.”
Service Provider pages on ListedBy have also been upgraded as virtual miniature Web sites, to further enhance service provider exposure and branding to ListedBy’s growing audience.
ListedBy launched its Service Providers module in January. The self-managed, self-populated free directory is designed to give ListedBy.com users convenient access to information on local real estate related services across the United States.
Traffic on ListedBy.com is expected to surpass 60,000 unique visitors for March 2013, with visitors spending an average of over five minutes on the site.
While the figure indicated above may not be statistically valid, it should nonetheless worry brokers and raise some flags. Mainly because it is based on a real, recent experience a close business partner of mine had when attempting to purchase investment properties.
Another reason for concern is that responsiveness has been an ongoing issue in the industry. Considering it is well known that one of every four consumers will do business with the first real estate agent they connect with, one would think agents across the board would have by now figured ways to bank on the statistic.
The story I’m about to share is actually scary.
This cash-ready investor was out to make several property acquisitions about four weeks ago, in different parts of the United States. During one morning, he called one hundred real estate agents (yes, ONE HUNDRED) to inquire about one or more of their active listings. The intent was in fact to place offers on the properties, not just ask questions.
The shock came when most of the calls went unanswered. You’d think that 75 percent of calls in any sales oriented business would be picked up. If that was your guess, you were wrong. In fact not 50, 40, 30 and not even 10 percent of the calls were answered. Only ONE out of the one hundred agents contacted that morning actually picked up the phone!
Now if that shouldn’t sound the alarm, not sure what will.
It gets worse though.
This buyer left messages to all 99 remaining agents clearly stating his wish to place an offer on a property. I repeat. He told the agents to call him back because he wanted to BUY their listing. Most were traditional for sale listings, others were REO auctions or regular residential real estate auctions.
Not to belabor the point, only five agents returned the call at some point that day.
This puts six percent of agents at a clear advantage over the remaining 94 percent, with only one percent set to truly clean up.
The difficulty in answering the phone in real estate remains a mystery and obviously an insurmountable challenge. But if the industry is to edge forward, someone has to figure this out.
Maybe it’s time brokers took a closer look at the issue – and perhaps a more active role addressing it.
One thing is certain though. Sites like ListedBy that allow buyers to instantly place offers online are a breath of fresh air and great time savers. But even these would only be of real value if agents are more click than phone friendly.
You know a site is hot when advertisers try to push the envelope. They run the same property ad multiple times so they’re always at the top of the views. Many also hire inexpensive overseas labour to stay on top of their listings and ensure they flood each site with their properties each day. Mainly those that generate the best and most leads.
New York got a special treatment from Craigslist a few years back, if you recall. It became the first city where Craigslist real estate posters would have to pay to advertise their listings. A reasonable and smart play by Craigslist, since listing duplication in New York got unbearable.
While the practice spoke tons to Craigslist’s power to generate leads, it affected user experience and annoyed honest brokers and agent – and consumers. Well, that happily turned into a new revenue stream for Craigslist. A nice turn of events indeed.
ListedBy.com today turned on a new tool that enables its admin staff to not only halt user accounts that push the envelope on the site, but also to delete all previously added listings by the entity. REO auctions, public real estate auctions and otherwise.
Since ListedBy is a free site, we opted to go this route to neutralize all the effort and expense the user goes through to create their account and post and re-post listings, than to start charging honest users for posting.
That’s how we chose to go about it and it seems to be working.
Shrewd advertiser #1 down, a few others to go. Thanks for the compliments anyhow.
Traffic to ListedBy hit 35,000 unique visitors in February and is on track to hit nearly 50,000 this month. Anyone can and is invited to add their listings for free. Just start a free profile then click on Sell on the blue menu bar at the top of the page to add listings.
On behalf of our management team, I want to take this opportunity to thank all our loyal users and industry followers for their support as we too push the envelope in real estate. But in a good way.