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8 Ways to Attract New Clients

8 Ways to Attract New Clients

For real estate professionals, building business usually means attracting new clients. With long hours and busy days, it can be difficult for agents to find the time and energy target prospects and market to them. If you feel like you’ve plateaued recently in your prospecting efforts, here are some ideas that may help:

1) Include testimonials in your promotional materials.

Testimonials are a highly effective marketing technique, especially in service-oriented businesses. Ask former clients if they’d be willing to write a few sentences describing the service you provided to them, and then ask for permission to publish their statements and their names on your website, social media accounts, and printed materials. These testimonials could tip the scale in your favor when prospective clients read them.

2) Target your advertising.

Instead of taking a blanket approach to marketing your services, think about the segment of real estate clients you want to attract, and then narrow your efforts to avenues that would reach those demographics. For example, you might want to send mailings to certain zip codes or place door hangers in specific neighborhoods. If you specialize in relocations, contact companies in your area that transfer personnel into the area.

3) Personalize your social media.

More than most avenues, your social media accounts enable you to let your personality shine through, which can attract people to you. In addition to advertising listings, use your social media pages to post recent pictures, share videos, and to give a glimpse into what you do as an agent and who you are as a person. Interacting with other accounts can help increase your online profile and express your individuality as well.

4) Ask for referrals.

​​​​​​​It may not occur to people that your business can benefit from referrals, so don’t be afraid to let them know. Tell former clients, friends, and family that you’d appreciate them sharing your name and experience with others, especially those who are actively looking for real estate assistance. Supply them with business cards and other printed marketing materials to pass along. Periodically share on your social media accounts that you welcome referrals and include information about how you can be contacted. When someone does refer a client to you, don’t forget to thank them promptly with a phone call, card, or small gift to let them know that you’re grateful for their trust and their effort.

5) Be social.

​​​​​​​Networking doesn’t just happen at industry events. In fact, you can meet new clients at just about any social occasion. Accept invitations, attend events, be active in your community, and volunteer for charity work. While you’re participating, talk to people about what you do, work your experience and knowledge into the conversation, and share your contact information.

6) Be an excellent communicator.

Check all your message portals frequently, and return calls, texts, emails, and direct messages as soon as possible. You don’t want to miss a message from a prospective new client, and you want to make a good first impression by getting back to them promptly.

7) Ask for the business.

​​​​​​​When you hear that someone is about to sell their house, wants to find another, or maybe just wants to look around at real estate and kick some tires, don’t be afraid to offer your services. A personal phone call or visit from you at an opportune time may be all it takes to land a new client.

8) Go the extra mile for your clients.

​​​​​​​Satisfied clients will be more likely to tell others about you and the service you provide. One way to provide personal service and to let clients know that you care about them even after deals close is to add an American Home Shield® Home Warranty to every transaction. American Home Shield offers valuable protection for home buyers and sellers alike for many of a home’s most critical home system components and appliances, as well as a reliable resource to call for help with covered malfunctions. When clients feel that you care enough about them to go the extra mile, they may be more willing to refer you and to return in the future as repeat customers.

As important as it is to attract new clients your business, don’t forget to stay in touch with previous clients, too. In addition to being a great source of referrals to you, building long-term relationships with people can be one of the biggest joys of having a real estate career.

For more helpful tips from our partners at American Home Shield, check out their blog!

10 Tips for Avoiding Germs While in the Field

10 Tips for Avoiding Germs While in the Field

When you’re out and about showing homes, meeting clients, and networking with colleagues, you may be exposed to harmful germs that could possibly lead to illness. As a busy real estate professional, unplanned time away from work can cause disruptions for you, your clients, and your transactions. While you can’t avoid every single germ, it’s important to take prudent steps to protect yourself and to give yourself the best shot at remaining healthy and productive. Here are some practical tips to that can help keep certain types of germs at bay:

1. Wash Your Hands

Wash hands often and well with soap and warm or cold running water, then rinse and dry them. When you don’t have access to running water and soap, substitute with hand sanitizer. Remember to clean under your fingernails and around rings and jewelry, which can harbor germs.

2. Social Distancing

Avoid standing or sitting too close to people, leaving at least six feet of space on either side of you. Remember to do this even when standing in lines or sitting in waiting rooms.

3. Wipe Down Surfaces

Frequently wipe down surfaces such as your phone, keyboards, door knobs, desk and counter surfaces, and car door and faucet handles.

4. Avoid Touching Public Items When Possible

When in public spaces, such as restrooms or elevators, avoid directly touching things like door knobs, handles, hand rails, and buttons. Instead, use a disposable wipe, paper towel, or operate the items with your clothed elbow if you can.

5. Avoid Touching Your Face

Avoid touching your face as much as possible. When you must, wash your hands first.

6. Don’t Share Personal Items

Don’t share food, beverages, straws, cosmetics, dishes, or towels with others.

7. Stay Up to Date on Vaccinations

Make sure to get an annual flu shot, and check with your medical provider to see if you’re up to date on other important vaccinations.

8. Use Technology for Interactions

Meet clients at showings instead of driving them in the same vehicle to avoid close contact. When possible, use FaceTime or Zoom to connect and communicate.

9. Take Common Sense Measures

To avoid food poisoning when you’re eating at restaurants, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests taking common sense measures like checking health inspection scores and food safety training certificates, watching for safe food handling practices, ordering properly cooked food, and avoiding food that’s served lukewarm.

10. Take Care of Yourself

Take care of yourself. Give your immune system every advantage by eating a balanced diet, getting adequate rest, exercising, staying hydrated, and avoiding stress. Talk to your doctor to see if you should be on a vitamin regimen.

If you feel like you’re getting sick, stay home and isolate yourself from others as much as you can. While you might not be able to protect yourself at this point, you can protect others and help prevent the spread of some illnesses.  Even if it’s a false alarm, it’s best to err on the side of caution. With online access and remote office capabilities, you may even be able to stay in contact with your clients and get some work done when you’re feeling better.

For more helpful tips from our partners at American Home Shield, check out their blog!

How to Buy a House When You Have Student Loans

How to Buy a House When You Have Student Loans

If you went to college in the U.S., chances are you have student loans. One in five American adults, or 44.7 million people, has student loan debt. And while most Americans with student loan debt are young, many are older — the number of people over 60 carrying student loan debt has doubled in the past decade. Some will be paying off student loan debt for their entire lives.

But just because you have student loans doesn’t mean you can never buy a home. Even large student loan debts don’t have to preclude homeownership, as long as you’re comfortable carrying two long-term debts at the same time. You need to plan carefully for a home purchase, but that’s true of every first-time buyer looking for a home, even those without student loan debt.

Prepare for the Costs of Homeownership

When homeowners have buyer’s remorse about a home purchase, it’s usually because they didn’t prepare themselves adequately for the realities of homeownership and its hidden costs. The costs of homeownership don’t end with your down payment and mortgage payment. They also include the cost of homeowners insurance, property taxes and homeowners association (HOA) fees.

If you have a small down payment, you’ll have to pay for private mortgage insurance (PMI), which is an additional fee tacked on to your monthly mortgage payment. Get pre-approved for a loan so you can get some idea of how much you can afford and what your average closing costs will be. You’ll also have to pay for home maintenance and repairs, which can total thousands of extra dollars in a bad year, or no extra dollars in a very good year.

By preparing yourself to face these costs, you can mitigate their impact on your life. You can choose a home in an area with low property taxes or without an HOA. You can learn about the things that tend to drive up homeowners insurance, like wood-burning furnaces or pools, so you can avoid homes with those features. Educate yourself on current real estate trends in your market and what to look for when buying a house, so you can find a property that needs minimal or no work to make it move-in ready. And you can buy a home warranty to offset the out-of-pocket costs of home maintenance and repairs.

Clean Up Your Credit Score

You’ll be more likely to get a home loan and get a better interest rate if you have a good credit score. You should aim for a score above 680. Credit scores above 740 get the best rates.

To improve your credit score, pay your bills on time. Paying your bills in full and on time is one of the biggest factors of a healthy credit score, because it shows lenders that you can be trusted to make your payments. Keep your credit utilization ratio, or the ratio of credit account balances to total credit usage, below 30 percent. To help with this, keep old credit accounts open — doing so can improve your credit utilization ratio. Plus, the older the age of your open credit accounts, the longer your credit history, and the higher your credit score.

You should also try to use different types of credit. While using credit cards wisely can improve your credit score, showing a mix of installment loans and revolving credit accounts on your history shows your ability to juggle different types of credit.

Bring Down Your Debt-to-Income Ratio

Lenders will look at your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio, which shows what percentage of your monthly income goes to debt repayment, when deciding whether to give you a mortgage. Ideally, your monthly debt payments should be lower than 36 percent of your total income, and your total housing expenses should be less than 28 percent of your income. However, some lenders and loan programs are more flexible when it comes to DTI.

To improve your DTI, you can consolidate your student loans to get a lower monthly payment. If you have credit card debt, try paying it off or consolidating it with a lower-interest personal loan. If you have federal student loans, try applying for an income-based repayment plan to lower your monthly payments. You can also try improving your DTI by raising your income, either by asking for a raise or taking on a second job or side gig.

Get Down Payment Assistance

The biggest challenge most prospective home buyers face is getting together the down payment. While you can use money gifted from a relative towards your down payment, your lender will require a gift letter to verify that the money is, in fact, a gift rather than a loan, and that the giver is someone you’re closely related to. Lenders will examine your financial history closely and will require an explanation of any large, out-of-payroll amounts counting towards your down payment.

Traditionally, you’d need a down payment of 20 percent, but that’s no longer the case. FHA loans require a down payment of only 3.5 percent, although you’ll have to carry PMI if you have a smaller down payment. If you want to buy in a rural area, you can get a USDA loan with no down payment. Veterans and active military members may also qualify for down payment assistance, and some states offer down payment assistance to low-income residents or single parents. With down payment assistance from a government program, you don’t need a substantial savings account or help from relatives to swing a house down payment.

Student loan debt might seem to preclude homeownership, but the truth is that you don’t have to let it keep you from realizing your dreams. With careful budgeting, almost anyone can afford a home of their own. Once you’ve got the keys in hand, protect your budget with a home warranty from American Home Shield®.

For more helpful tips from our partners at American Home Shield, check out their blog!

What First-Time Homeowners Need to Know About Filing Taxes

What First-Time Homeowners Need to Know About Filing Taxes

If you bought a home for the first time in 2019, you probably have questions about filing your taxes. Learn more about filing taxes for the first time as a homeowner.

Buying your first home is a big deal. It’s perhaps the biggest purchase you’ll ever make, and it can bring independence, privacy, self-reliance and stability, as well as setting you on the path towards financial security, freedom and flexibility.

If you bought your first home in 2019, you’ll be filing taxes as a homeowner for the first time this April. You may have heard that first-time homeowners can get a big tax break. Well, we have some bad news and some good news regarding that.

Bad news first: The homeowner tax credit for first-time home buyers is a rule that no longer exists. You can only take advantage of it if you purchased your first home on or before September 30, 2010.

But the good news is that there are still tax advantages to homeownership. The added good news is that you don’t necessarily have to be a first-time homeowner to take advantage of them. You can continue to benefit from homeowner tax advantages for the entire length of time you own your home and even after you sell it. These tax tips for new homeowners will show you how.

You Can Deduct Mortgage Interest and PMI

Under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (TCJA), you can deduct any interest you paid on your mortgage, as long as you borrowed $750,000 or less. This includes mortgage interest you paid as part of closing costs. If you bought your home on or before December 15, 2017, you’re grandfathered in under the old limit of $1 million, so you can deduct loan interest on mortgages up to that amount. You can take this deduction every year you’re paying on your mortgage, and for subsequent home purchases as long as your loan amount is below the threshold. You can also deduct the interest you paid on a home equity loan up to $100,000, as long as you use that money to improve your home.

If you borrowed for your home with a downpayment of less than 20 percent, you probably have private mortgage insurance, or PMI. You can deduct PMI payments as long as your adjusted gross income is less than $100,000 if you’re married or $50,000 if you’re single.

You Can Deduct State and Local Taxes

You can deduct your state and local taxes, or SALT, from your federal taxes, up to a limit of $10,000 under the TCJA. If you pay your taxes through an escrow account, you’ll see that amount on your Form 1098. If you pay local taxes directly to your municipality, make sure to keep a record of your payments so you can deduct those from your taxes, too.

A caveat: you have to itemize in order to deduct SALT payments, PMI payments and mortgage interest. SALT deductions, and mortgage interest deductions, too, might benefit you at tax time if you live in an expensive, high-tax area. Otherwise, you may be better off taking the standard deduction, especially if you’re married. If you’re single, on the other hand, your mortgage interest, PMI and SALT might easily exceed your standard deduction.

Do You Qualify for a Homeowner Exemption?

In many states, some homeowners qualify for a homeowner exemption or homestead exemption, which can lower your property tax bill, usually by lowering the assessed value of your home.

Who qualifies? Well, that really depends on your local laws. Typically, these things are decided on the state, county or municipal level, and requirements can vary widely. Commonly, homeowner exemptions are given to the elderly, the disabled and veterans, but some jurisdictions give them out to homeowners below a certain income threshold or homeowners who make specific improvements to their property, such as planting a rain garden or a coconut tree. Typically, you do have to use the home as your primary residence in order to qualify.

Some Energy-Efficient Upgrades Still Bring Tax Benefits

You can’t get tax breaks for most energy-efficient home upgrades anymore, but you can still get them for solar panels through 2021. If you had solar panels installed in 2017 through the end of 2019, you can get back 30 percent of your costs in the form of a tax credit. If you install panels in 2020, you can get back 26 percent of the cost, and if you install them in 2021, you can get back 22 percent of the cost.

Home Office Deductions May Be Available, Too

Whether you work from home full-time or just have a side hustle, you may be able to take a business use of home deduction. You can deduct $5 per square foot for up to 300 square feet of office space for a total deduction of up to $1,500. However, you should make sure that your home office is exclusively used for business purposes, and check with a tax professional to make sure you’re meeting the strict guidelines required to qualify for this deduction.

Before you file taxes as a homeowner for the first time, you need to know what tax credits and deductions you qualify for. Homeownership brings many tax advantages on the federal, state and local levels. It’s just one of the many reasons why owning your own home pays off.

For more helpful tips from our partners at American Home Shield, check out their blog!

What First-Time Homeowners Need to Know About Filing Taxes

What First-Time Homeowners Need to Know About Filing Taxes

If you bought a home for the first time in 2019, you probably have questions about filing your taxes. Learn more about filing taxes for the first time as a homeowner.

Buying your first home is a big deal. It’s perhaps the biggest purchase you’ll ever make, and it can bring independence, privacy, self-reliance and stability, as well as setting you on the path towards financial security, freedom and flexibility.

If you bought your first home in 2019, you’ll be filing taxes as a homeowner for the first time this April. You may have heard that first-time homeowners can get a big tax break. Well, we have some bad news and some good news regarding that.

Bad news first: The homeowner tax credit for first-time home buyers is a rule that no longer exists. You can only take advantage of it if you purchased your first home on or before September 30, 2010.

But the good news is that there are still tax advantages to homeownership. The added good news is that you don’t necessarily have to be a first-time homeowner to take advantage of them. You can continue to benefit from homeowner tax advantages for the entire length of time you own your home and even after you sell it. These tax tips for new homeowners will show you how.

You Can Deduct Mortgage Interest and PMI

Under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (TCJA), you can deduct any interest you paid on your mortgage, as long as you borrowed $750,000 or less. This includes mortgage interest you paid as part of closing costs. If you bought your home on or before December 15, 2017, you’re grandfathered in under the old limit of $1 million, so you can deduct loan interest on mortgages up to that amount. You can take this deduction every year you’re paying on your mortgage, and for subsequent home purchases as long as your loan amount is below the threshold. You can also deduct the interest you paid on a home equity loan up to $100,000, as long as you use that money to improve your home.

If you borrowed for your home with a downpayment of less than 20 percent, you probably have private mortgage insurance, or PMI. You can deduct PMI payments as long as your adjusted gross income is less than $100,000 if you’re married or $50,000 if you’re single.

You Can Deduct State and Local Taxes

You can deduct your state and local taxes, or SALT, from your federal taxes, up to a limit of $10,000 under the TCJA. If you pay your taxes through an escrow account, you’ll see that amount on your Form 1098. If you pay local taxes directly to your municipality, make sure to keep a record of your payments so you can deduct those from your taxes, too.

A caveat: you have to itemize in order to deduct SALT payments, PMI payments and mortgage interest. SALT deductions, and mortgage interest deductions, too, might benefit you at tax time if you live in an expensive, high-tax area. Otherwise, you may be better off taking the standard deduction, especially if you’re married. If you’re single, on the other hand, your mortgage interest, PMI and SALT might easily exceed your standard deduction.

Do You Qualify for a Homeowner Exemption?

In many states, some homeowners qualify for a homeowner exemption or homestead exemption, which can lower your property tax bill, usually by lowering the assessed value of your home.

Who qualifies? Well, that really depends on your local laws. Typically, these things are decided on the state, county or municipal level, and requirements can vary widely. Commonly, homeowner exemptions are given to the elderly, the disabled and veterans, but some jurisdictions give them out to homeowners below a certain income threshold or homeowners who make specific improvements to their property, such as planting a rain garden or a coconut tree. Typically, you do have to use the home as your primary residence in order to qualify.

Some Energy-Efficient Upgrades Still Bring Tax Benefits

You can’t get tax breaks for most energy-efficient home upgrades anymore, but you can still get them for solar panels through 2021. If you had solar panels installed in 2017 through the end of 2019, you can get back 30 percent of your costs in the form of a tax credit. If you install panels in 2020, you can get back 26 percent of the cost, and if you install them in 2021, you can get back 22 percent of the cost.

Home Office Deductions May Be Available, Too

Whether you work from home full-time or just have a side hustle, you may be able to take a business use of home deduction. You can deduct $5 per square foot for up to 300 square feet of office space for a total deduction of up to $1,500. However, you should make sure that your home office is exclusively used for business purposes, and check with a tax professional to make sure you’re meeting the strict guidelines required to qualify for this deduction.

Before you file taxes as a homeowner for the first time, you need to know what tax credits and deductions you qualify for. Homeownership brings many tax advantages on the federal, state and local levels. It’s just one of the many reasons why owning your own home pays off.

For more helpful tips from our partners at American Home Shield, check out their blog!

Why You Should Create a New Year’s Resolution List

Why You Should Create a New Year’s Resolution List

Here it comes. The question that everyone gets asked at least a zillion times toward the end of each year. “So, what are your New Year’s resolutions?” If you’re reluctant to make a New Year’s resolution list (or even reluctant to answer the question), maybe you should reconsider. Resolutions can be healthy, productive ways to make positive changes in your life. Here are some reasons you should join in on the tradition:

Goals are good.

Resolutions are purposeful goals that you set for yourself. When you set goals, you take stock of where you currently are and where you’d like to be. This process can be helpful in shaping the future that you’d like to have. If you look at resolutions as short-term goals, it may be easier to set them.

Resolutions help keep you focused.

Our work and personal lives are full of distractions that can sometimes take our attention away from our goals. Resolutions can help us set priorities and stay on target.

Resolutions are motivating.

It’s easy to think about making changes, but it’s harder to put them in motion. Committing to a resolution can help you follow through. Sharing your resolutions with others can help keep you accountable, which can also be motivating.

Resolutions help get you out of your comfort zone.

Sometimes it takes a gentle nudge, or even a firm shove, to get us out of our comfortable spaces. New Year’s resolutions encourage you to pursue opportunities and reach accomplishments that you might not have reached otherwise.

Resolutions are fun.

Too often, we look at New Year’s resolutions as being difficult to accomplish, but who says resolutions can’t be enjoyable? For example, instead of resolving to lose weight or get organized, maybe your New Year’s resolution should be to spend more time with friends or to travel more often. Do yourself a favor and select a resolution that you actually want to accomplish and will relish doing.

Resolutions can be business-oriented.

The goals you set don’t have to be personal. You can set specific business-related resolutions and objectives, such as to gain more listings, to network more, or to pursue career development activities.

A good resolution to make is to add a home warranty to every transaction in 2020. American Home Shield® home warranties cover the repair or replacement of important appliances and system components that break down over time, offering your clients important budget protection and reassurance. American Home Shield offers a variety of plans and coverage options to fit your clients’ needs. Your AHS® Account Executive can tell you more about the plans and about the effective real estate marketing tools available to you.

For more helpful tips from our partners at American Home Shield®, visit their blog!

Ways to Make the Winter Selling Season Bearable

Ways to Make the Winter Selling Season Bearable

The winter season can be challenging for real estate professionals. In many areas of the country, listings, and lookers may be fewer. If you live in a cold-weather climate, just getting around town can be difficult or unpleasant when temperatures drop and snow and sleet roll in. Here are some ways to make the best of the winter real estate season.

Prepare your car for inclement weather.

Make sure your tires are in good shape, have sufficient tread, and are properly inflated. Keep plenty of gas in your tank. Put together an emergency kit for your car with a flashlight, blanket, gloves, jumper cables, and tow strap. If it snows frequently where you live, also include a windshield brush, scraper, and a small shovel. The National Weather Service offers these winter weather driving tips.

Dress for the elements.

The best way to stay warm and comfortable in cold weather is to dress in layers. Make sure the layer closest to your skin is a breathable fabric and add accessories like a scarf, gloves, and a hat for extra warmth. Keep a water-resistant jacket or coat in the car, as well as several umbrellas to use yourself and to share with clients when unexpected rain and snow showers pop up.

Take a thermos of coffee, tea, hot chocolate, or apple cider with you in the mornings.

Being able to warm up with a hot drink between showings and appointments can give you a needed boost and help you save money at coffee shops.

Take advantage of slower business to help advance your career.

Take continuing education classes, seek a certification you’ve been wanting, or sign up for a class at a local college.

Make sure to eat healthy foods and find ways to exercise.

If walking or running outdoors isn’t pleasant where you live, join a gym or use exercise equipment at home.

Use this time to rest and recharge with a change of scenery and possibly a warmer climate.

Slow winter months are the perfect time to schedule a vacation.

If you find that your days aren’t as tightly scheduled with client appointments, take advantage of the time to network.

Meet colleagues and suppliers for lunch or coffee to exchange ideas, share experiences, and build relationships.

Even if the winter season means fewer listings in your market, it’s still important to help properties stand out in the market and appeal to potential buyers. An American Home Shield® Home Warranty offers your clients industry-leading coverage at special Real Estate Edition prices. Contact your AHS® Account Executive today to find out more.

For more helpful tips from our partners at American Home Shield, check out their blog!

How to Sell a Home in the Off-Season

How to Sell a Home in the Off-Season

In many parts of the country, conventional wisdom often dictates that the best time to sell a home is in the spring or summer. While the most productive selling season can vary by region and by market, many sellers strive to get their home listed during these months for the best shot at selling quickly – and for the right price. But what happens if clients need to sell their home during an off-season in your market? Here are some suggestions:

Make the price attractive.

With fewer potential buyers, setting a realistic price right out of the gate is a smart strategy to help attract interest.

Manage seller expectations around interest and the number of showings they might get.

There may not be as many showing appointments, listing viewings, or inquiries about the home as there might be in busier seasons.

Include videos in online listings.

Taking video footage will add an extra step to the busy pre-listing preparation, but could pay dividends in attracting interest.

Host a realtor open house to spur interest.

During the off season, you may get better attendance and you won’t be competing with a lot of other listings for attention.

Creatively advertise.

Look for seasonal avenues, such as holiday circulars and programs for sporting and performance events.

Play up the best features of the property in listing descriptions, photographs, and videos to drum up interest.

Remember, you may need to appeal to buyers who aren’t actively looking to purchase at this time.

Share the home on social media, and ask your friends and family to share, too.

Talk about the property at social and business events.

Keep former clients in mind. Let them know about the property in case they are interested or know someone who might be.

Add an American Home Shield® Real Estate Home Warranty to differentiate the property and reassure potential buyers.

The Seller Coverage Option gives your sellers and buyers valuable coverage at Real Estate Edition prices, including American Home Shield ShieldEssentialSM protection for major components of crucial home systems that can be the most expensive to repair or replace. In addition to important coverage for your clients, American Home Shield gives you a dynamic marketing tool that can attract interest and help smooth the negotiation and closing process.

The fact is that people need to sell homes throughout the year, and real estate transactions are completed year-round. Tell sellers not to be discouraged just because they may have missed the “best” selling window. With your guidance and expertise, a successful sale can happen in any season.

For more helpful tips from our partners at American Home Shield, check out their blog!

Setting the Stage on a Budget

Setting the Stage on a Budget

Having a home professionally staged has many benefits. Staging can help present a property in its best light, potentially making it more appealing to prospective buyers. Many times, staging may help a home sell more quickly and sometimes even for a higher contract price.

Bringing in professional home stagers can be expensive, and sellers may not always be eager or able to assume those costs. In those cases, homes can be staged by the sellers themselves with input and advice from you. Here are some tips you can share that can help get a home ready to show:

Prioritize the best features.

Ask yourself what will most likely attract buyers to the home, and then focus on those things first. For example, if the home has a beautiful fireplace or a fantastic view, be sure to have sellers arrange furniture and lighting to play up those features. If a large master bathroom is a selling point, have them spend time spiffing it up.

Clear clutter and personal items.

You probably get tired of hearing this and of saying it, but when it comes to getting a home ready to show, your sellers shouldn’t skip this step. Whether they donate it, sell it, or pack it up to move to the next house, getting the clutter out can help draw potential buyers in.

Get other opinions.

When you live in a home, especially for a long time, it’s natural to start to overlook flaws and imperfections. Suggest that sellers ask close friends and family members to tour the house and offer honest feedback and different ideas about how to make the home more attractive and inviting.

Focus on spaciousness.

Remove extra furniture and put it in an attic or in storage. Add as much light as you can to each room, either by using more lamps, opening window treatments, or installing brighter bulbs.

When in doubt, take it out.

If sellers question whether something should remain in the home for showings, it probably shouldn’t. This goes for furniture, accessories, collections, photographs, and closet contents.

Add inviting touches.

Look for ways that each room can welcome potential buyers. Drape a cozy throw across a chair, place a book on a bedside table, stack folded towels by the tub, and set the table with placemats and place settings.

Don’t forget outdoor areas.

Today’s buyers often want to enjoy outdoor living areas, so be sure to play those up as much as possible. Borrow or rent outdoor furniture to showcase decks, patios and porches. Spruce up gardens and landscaping and add color with blooming potted plants.

Add home warranty coverage.

An American Home Shield® Home Warranty with the Seller Coverage Option can help reassure potential buyers by offering important coverage during the listing period. For up to six months, until the coverage transfers to the buyers, sellers can enjoy the benefits of American Home Shield ShieldEssentialSM protection, which includes coverage for major components of the most crucial home systems that can be the most expensive to repair or replace, including heating, air conditioning, plumbing, and more. Ask your Account Executive for more information and for signs that you can place in the home to alert potential buyers about this special added-value coverage.

Staging a home is a lot of work, so be ready to give your sellers a standing ovation when the curtain goes up for the first showing. One way that you can do this is to take before and after photos to show the difference that their efforts have made. Be sure to pass along any compliments from agents and potential buyers, too.

For more helpful tips from our partners at American Home Shield, visit their blog! 

Real Estate Marketing Ideas for Real Results

Real Estate Marketing Ideas for Real Results

Is your marketing strategy getting stale? If you’ve been in a promotional rut or have not been seeing the results that you’d like, maybe it’s time to revamp your efforts with new ideas. First, take an inventory of your marketing efforts and expenses over the past 12 months. Analyze how much money you invested, how much time you spent, and which efforts were the most successful. If you think your marketing approach would benefit from new concepts, you might want to consider these:

Ask for testimonials from former clients. First-person testimonial statements can be an effective and persuasive marketing tactic for agents, mainly because prospective clients can often identify with other home buyers and sellers. Include testimonials from satisfied clients on your website as well as in email communications, social media postings, and printed materials.

Give your business cards and marketing materials to service providers that you recommend sharing with their own clients. These types of referrals and cross-selling efforts can often benefit both parties. Be sure to keep family and friends supplied with your business cards and promotional materials, too.

Post some YouTube videos featuring your services and industry expertise. Unlike printed materials, online video sharing helps you get your personality across as you demonstrate your real estate market expertise and knowledge. The videos don’t have to be lengthy, but should incorporate topics that would interest prospective home buyers and sellers.

Update your photographs and videography. If you haven’t had a set of professional photos done in a while, book an appointment soon. In addition to traditional headshots, consider having some informal photos taken, too, to give marketing materials a more relaxed and relatable vibe. If possible, have some photos taken that show you interacting with clients and showing properties.

Revamp your personalized promotional giveaway items to reflect the lifestyles, habits, and interests of prospective clients today. Instead of refrigerator magnets, pens, and fans, consider putting your name and logo on koozies, cell phone accessories, memory drives, reusable shopping bags, or environmentally friendly notepads made from recycled paper.

Get help from American Home Shield®. In addition to distinguishing homes from others on the market and attracting prospective buyers, AHS® can help you with your own marketing strategies. For example, AHS offers a dynamic marketing automation tool that lets agents build and send personalized marketing materials to their clients, as well as open house kits and other selling instruments. Your knowledgeable AHS Account Executive will gladly share additional resources to help you build your business and reach your goals.

Whatever your marketing strategy, it’s a good idea to take stock and re-evaluate your efforts periodically to gauge your results. Talk to colleagues and find out what works for them, and be sure to ask your clients, too, about what factors they consider when choosing a real estate professional.

For more helpful tips from our partners at American Home Shield, make sure to check out their blog!