With many markets experiencing low REO inventory and with talks of a recession on the way, the FORCE hosted an informative webinar in March to give its members some actionable advice for thriving today and amid whatever changes the future holds.
During the webinar, titled “The Surviving Agent: How to Be Successful in the REO Market,” five veteran REO professionals addressed the following topics: new technologies, how to recruit more listings and referrals, driving revenue, recruiting and retention, and diversification.
FORCE Advisory Council Vice Chair Jim Hastings and FORCE Advisory Council Chair Nancy Braun presented some new and developing technologies agents can use to manage leads, engage with clients, and streamline their business processes.
Hastings, Broker/Owner of Hastings Brokerage and maker and founder of BrokerBrain, is preparing to release a new technology soon. While the real estate world continues to dive into the tech world with both clients and agents taking advantage of new offerings, Hastings said according to NAR? 50 percent of clients found their agent from a yard sign. Hastings also found that it takes an average of 30 minutes for agents to respond to a buyer’s text. He aims to help agents respond immediately while the buyer is still in front of the property, which he says is much more effective.
His system will automatically respond to texts and capture the buyer’s information for further engagement. Agents can choose to send property information, a 3D video tour of the property, and more. Agents can also choose to leave voicemails on the clients’ phone, and they can set up a meeting through Calendly.com, which Hastings says, “provides a subtle way of collecting important pre-qual data prior to the meeting.”
“Remember, most people are on their phones,” Hastings said. “And most people don’t really want to talk to us. They don’t really see a ton of value in us unless we respond clearly and fill the gap. So if we fill the gap and respond clearly and become low-maintenance and super-efficient, we hold great value.”
Apps for Your REO Business
Braun then took the floor with a list of tried and true apps she encourages agents to use.
ListReports is a free program that produces professional informational flyers in minutes with images, property details, and community information. “The thing I like about it is it takes about three seconds to produce,” Braun said. “My staff used to spend hours making brochures, and now it’s just a click of a button.”
Google Sheets is also a free resource, and Braun relies on it for tracking tasks. Each task is color-coded and includes a deadline, the assignee, the assigner, and more. At a glance, Braun can see who is responsible for what and what tasks are complete.
SkySlope is what Braun uses to track transactions. SkySlope holds checklists of all documents necessary for closings, and Braun has customized hers for REO, HUD, and retail properties. Everything is stored in the cloud, and she can verify that every document is complete before a closing. SkySlope also tracks all conversations, and users can CC any texts or emails to their SkySlope account to keep a record of them.
Braun also recommended apps for dictating voicemails, tracking mileage, capturing testimonials, and several that help clients to give away or sell items before moving. They include:
- Scanner for Me
- Facebook Live
Braun said Facebook Live is a great way to market properties and announce open houses. She said it is a tool “we should all be using much more than we are,” adding, “I hope we all start seeing each other on Facebook Live more.”
A Formula for Revenue
Terry Rasner-Yacenda, Broker of Reno Tahoe Realty Group, spoke about driving revenue, revealing her own formula for success. Starting with the knowledge that the average agent commission in Reno is $5,000, Rasner-Yacenda set up her formula with a goal of earning $100,000 per year.
This requires 20 deals closed per year, which works out to about two deals per month. The key to closing two deals per month, she says is lead generation.
She says agents need to establish 160 leads per month, about 40 per week, or about eight per day in a five day work week.
To accomplish this, she said agents need to spend two hours per day on lead generation.
“It takes discipline, creating a schedule, and doing it,” she said.
Additionally, she has created multiple lines of business with separate income streams. From manufactured housing and commercial real estate to authoring and co-authoring books, Rasner-Yacenda has been ambitious in her pursuit of multiple income streams. As such, she is prepared to weather nearly any market or economic shift.
Recruiting and Retention
No matter how hard you work, some of your success depends on those around you. “I think in our business today one of the most overlooked facets of our business is recruiting and retention,” said Steve Pagano, a Coldwell Banker Broker.
“One of the most income-producing potentials we have is recruiting,” he said.
He suggested listeners devote 90 minutes per week to growing their businesses. A great way to start is by reaching out to agents you’ve worked with in the past. Also, brokers can encourage their agents to create and nurture their own teams.
As for retention, Pagano said, it all comes down to caring. Invest time and care in your agents, and they will be loyal.
He also said a mentor of his once told him to “lead from the front.” Pagano said being a good role model and approaching with an attitude of service can inspire loyalty in employees. “Don’t ever ask people to do something you’re not willing to do yourself,” he said.
Diversifying Your Business
Any real estate agent who weathered the last financial crisis knows the importance of diversification. Many economists are pointing to signs of another economic recession and housing downturn. Regina Shaw, Broker of Intero Real Estate, is not worried.
“Diversification allows us to continue to do real estate full time and remain financially sound,” she said.
Her suggestions to FORCE members are to register with as many REO platforms as possible now and to sign up with companies that request BPOs. “Companies tend to reward the agents they’re already working with,” she said.
She did caution agents from working with companies that only do BPOs, advising agents to seek out companies that also manage REOs so there is potential for REO assignments in the future. She also suggested agents reach out to real estate attorneys and CPAs in their area to gain referrals.
Lastly, Shaw spoke about the importance of marketing yourself and nurturing positive relationships. Agents should make sure to have a professional website and advertise in the newspaper, where she personally has had much success with older buyers. “You can’t afford not to,” she said. “We must do this. We must promote ourselves.”