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How Community Service Can Help Real Estate Professionals

How Community Service Can Help Real Estate Professionals

Real estate professionals play a unique role in the community and are in a great position to get more involved with charitable and community-based service organizations. Not only does it feel wonderful to work for a worthy cause, but it is also a great way to network with people who share a passion for the community where you live and work. Here’s how to make the most of it.

They say one of the best things you can do for yourself is to do something for someone else. That is especially true if you are a real estate professional doing a service project in your community. It feels good, it relieves stress and infuses you with positivity. As a real estate professional, you have a unique role in the community. You come in and out of the lives of so many residents. The more relationships you have, the broader your business becomes. The more your community pulls together, the stronger the community becomes. It’s a win all around. It is also good to associate your name with causes you believe in.

Network with people who share your passion for your community

Charitable projects are a great bonding experience for people who want to improve their community. Serving this cause speaks volumes about your belief in your community being a great place to live. Plus, it gives you something else to talk about other than business.

What you can do: Find creative ways to leverage your philanthropic role in the community.

Looking for your next charitable activity? In addition to volunteering for an established organization such as the local Rotary Club chapter, here are some ideas that have worked well for other real estate professionals.

1. The quality of the schools in any community is an important benefit to local families. Why not support the local schools and teachers by organizing a school supply donation drive? It’s a great way to attract people to your office.

2.  Do the furry citizens in your community have a place in your heart? Organize a donation drive for pet supplies for a local animal shelter or organize a donation drive for their medical needs.

3.  A great way to support or partner with local businesses-—organize a charitable gathering at a local restaurant with proceeds benefitting your charity of choice. Add a table of silent auction prizes donated by other local businesses. Come up with a catchy name, i.e. “Brunch for Books” supports a local library, “Happy Hour to Support Happy Kids” provides scholarships to a local Arts Camp or an After-School Program.

4. Sponsor a walk or run for a cause, such as for cancer awareness or a local children’s hospital. Be sure to include donation opportunities for people who don’t attend the race.

5. Tie into the home theme by serving on the board of a homeless shelter or a soup kitchen.

6. Tie with the moving theme by co-sponsoring a charitable garage sale or rummage sale. Sometimes these are organized by a local church or community center. You can mention it on your marketing materials and they can mention you on theirs.

7. Offer to donate a portion of your commission to your favorite local cause, whether that might be an animal shelter or a program for kids with disabilities. This is a great way to differentiate yourself and create awareness on social media. This is a successful technique for some realtors in creating buzz and helps encourage referrals.

8. Find a cause that benefits your business AND your community directly—historic preservation, walkable communities, affordable housing or sustainable economies.

What it can do for you: Supporting a deserving cause can also support your business.

While your main goal is likely to help a great cause, there are added benefits for your business to consider, too, including the following:

1. Networking with other people involved in the charitable effort helps build your sphere of influence. This is especially important for newer realtors just starting to build their customer base.

2.  Building awareness, especially on social media. Supporting a charitable cause helps your business brand and your personal brand stand for something.

3. Having the ability to support local causes reinforces your business success. People like to work with successful people.

4.  Having a philanthropic presence strengthens your community ties.

5.  More and more, younger people are involved in activism — and they are the next generation of homebuyers.

Choose the charitable option that suits you best and enjoy the good that comes of it.

For more helpful tips, visit the American Home Shield® Home Matters blog.

NextHome Preview Properties opens in Washington

NextHome Preview Properties opens in Washington

Marty (left) and Jasmine (right) Loberg

Pleasanton, CA — November 7, 2018 — NextHome is proud to announce our newest addition to the franchise, NextHome Preview Properties. The brokerage represents the sixth location opened in the state of Washington for the NextHome franchise.

Based in Mount Vernon, NextHome Preview Properties will be owned and operated by longtime real estate veterans and husband/wife team of Marty & Jasmine Loberg. Joining them on the management team will be David Huynh, Sara Fish, and John Combel. Teri Huynh will handle all financials for the company.

The brokerage will provide real estate services such as single-family residential sales, first-time home buyers, rehab and resale property listings, investment sales, commercial, second home and vacation home purchases, and land sales for buyers and sellers for the cities of Mount Vernon, Burlington, Clear Lake, Big Lake, Whitney, Bay View, and the remainder of Skagit County.

Located one hour north of Seattle, Mount Vernon is the largest city in Skagit County, with more than 30,000 residents.

Marty has been in real estate for more than 30 years. Getting his real estate license in 1987, he came from a background of selling camping and vacation memberships. Jasmine worked in escrow and title in the local area before she attained her real estate license in 1994.

The Lobergs opened their Skagit-based real estate brokerage, Preview Properties, in 1999 after working for Preview Properties in Everett. The couple moved to Skagit County for better weather and a better quality of life.

After moving to Skagit, Marty felt renting a location for their brokerage didn’t make sense, so they purchased a building to house their company. Once they opened Preview Properties, they remodeled the location to best fit serving the agents in the area.

While starting the business on their own and growing to more than 50 agents, Marty and Jasmine are quick to credit the leadership team at Preview Properties as the big reason for the company’s growth and success. All of the leadership team are top-producing agents in addition to leaders at the company.

“David’s 28 years of experience has been invaluable for our company,” said Marty. “He’s in the office every day and is not only an office manager who helps agents on a daily basis, but also is a top-producing agent himself.”

“John steps up to help our agents with all things technology,” he said. “His steady work ethic and his commitment to growing as a leader are an example of why we trust him to be a leader here.”

“Sara has an incredible personality and is always available to help out any agent in our company,” added Marty. “Knowing how much she dedicates herself to learning, she is our primary educator for Preview Properties.”

The Lobergs were running a top-producing brokerage with hundreds of closings a year, but they felt they could be better and provide more for their agents.

“We needed a better technology platform to offer not only our agents, but for other agents in our area that we would like to join us,” said Jasmine. “After researching NextHome and seeing how our brokerage could benefit from the partnership, we knew joining the franchise would be the right move for us.”

“We are really happy about our new method of consistent branding and now having a national network of real estate brokerages to refer to,” she added.

NextHome Preview Properties recently had their Grand Opening and NextHome Chief Executive Officer, James Dwiggins, was on hand for the launch of the newest NextHome franchisee.

Please join us in congratulating Marty, Jasmine, and the rest of the team at NextHome Preview Properties on the opening of their new NextHome office in Mount Vernon, WA!

 

Interested in being a part of the NextHome Real Estate Franchise? Contact VP of Sales Charis Moreno at Charis@NextHome.com.

 

Each office is an independently owned and operated business.

NextHome Hive Properties Opens in the San Diego Area

NextHome Hive Properties Opens in the San Diego Area

Jose Frausto (left) and Nichole Quiroz (right)

Pleasanton, CA — November 1, 2018 — NextHome is proud to announce our newest addition to the franchise, NextHome Hive Properties. The brokerage represents the 60th location opened in the state of California for the NextHome franchise.

Based in Chula Vista, NextHome Hive Properties will be owned by Jose Frausto and will have Nichole Quiroz serve as the Director of Operations for the brokerage. Warren Barrett will be the Broker of Record for the company.

The brokerage will provide real estate services such as single family residential sales, first-time home buyers, rehab and resale property listings, investment sales, commercial, luxury purchase and sales, vacation home purchases, and land sales for buyers and sellers for the cities of Chula Vista, La Jolla, Carlsbad, Oceanside, Encinitas, North Park, South Park, Kensington, Point Loma, and the rest of the greater San Diego area.

With more than 14 years in real estate, Jose is no stranger to all phases of property development. An experienced house flipper, he started a holding company, Main Group Holdings LLC, in 2016 in order to acquire properties for rehab and resale.

After meeting Nichole in 2017, Jose found her to be a perfect fit to run the real estate division of Main Group Holdings LLC. At that time, Nichole was working for a hard money lender who was working on funding of a development project Jose was involved in.

“I was so impressed with Nichole’s attention to detail and her straightforward honesty and her ambitious nature,” said Jose. “She says what she is going to do and always delivers on her promises.”

“The opportunity to work with Jose came at a perfect time in my career,” said Nichole. “I have a background in land development for more than ten years, so expanding the real estate division of Jose’s company was something I was very interested in.”

Jose and Nichole say that the NextHome Hive Properties difference is their ability to provide several services a home buyer or home seller would want.

“NextHome Hive Properties is just one division under the Main Group Holdings LLC family of companies,” said Jose. “With companies that handle solar, plumbing, and title just to name a few, we can provide a one stop shop for all of our clients.”

Wanting to provide that edge for Nichole and the real estate division, Jose looked into franchising and found NextHome to be the right fit.

“By aligning with NextHome, we are now able to leverage a nationwide network of real estate professionals,” said Jose.

“We really love the clean and beautiful branding, the forward-focused technology, and the ability to run our local business as we see fit,” added Nichole. “We love having a real estate company where adding value is easy for us to do.”

When not selling real estate, Jose and Nichole each find family to be their real focus.

Jose and his wife, Xilma, have been married 15 years. They have two children – Isabella (age 7) and Aaron (4). Jose says his favorite activity is anything that allows him to spend time with the family. You’ll often find them enjoying most Southern California theme parks, specifically Disneyland.

Nichole and her husband, Alfonso, have also been married 15 years and the couple have two children – Dylan (age 14) and Nora (12). Nichole is a Certified Holistic Health Coach and helps people achieve optimal health through workout and nutrition. She also volunteers time and efforts in helping with breast cancer research.

Please join us in congratulating Jose, Nichole and the rest of the team at NextHome Hive Properties on the opening of their new NextHome office in Chula Vista, CA!

 

Interested in being a part of the NextHome Real Estate Franchise? Contact VP of Sales Charis Moreno at Charis@NextHome.com.

 

Each office is an independently owned and operated business.

Blog Reboot: 5 Ways to Revive a Tired and Neglected Real Estate Blog

Blog Reboot: 5 Ways to Revive a Tired and Neglected Real Estate Blog

The new year is approaching fast and so is your chance for a blog reboot! If your goal is to put out more content in 2019, there’s no better time to step back and reframe your blog ideas and posting goals.

Before you get started, think about what makes you likely to come back to a website. People tend to revisit sites that offer value — and we don’t just mean monetary value. As a real estate agent, you have a wealth of knowledge about topics that most buyers and sellers will have to research before they get started on a transaction. Put this knowledge to use to gain blog fans who come back for more.

Below are five foolproof content ideas that real estate agents can deploy as they make a 2019 blog plan.

1. Don’t please everyone at once. Segment your audience and speak to them separately

If you work with first-time buyers, move-up buyers, empty nesters looking to downsize, relocating buyers, military personnel, celebrity or frequently relocating buyers, you know you’ll need pointed and timely content to entice them to read your blog. Start out the year by making a list of your top five buyer or seller segments, then write out 2-3 different posts you could write that would appeal to each of those segments.

Once posted, boost traffic to the post by running a targeted Facebook ad. Set up an ad group dedicated to each market segment in your area.

Looking for inspiration? One of our clients, Dana Hall Bradley, Better Homes and Gardens in Celebration, FL, recently wrote this post aimed at military officers preparing for retirement or deployment.

2. Channel your inner Dear Abby and write an advice column

Buyers and sellers turn to you advice every day. Why not leverage your knowledge by creating an advice column blog where you offer these same insights?

We love this post from SmartZip client, The Loken Group sharing their professional knowledge by offering the uncommonly known details surrounding Home Warranties.

Important: Be sure to present pros and cons for any decision and stop short of making a recommendation that could be construed as legally binding. Notice that Katie mentions that for the right buyer who understands the risks, buying a rental home on a college campus can be a good investment.

3. Create engaging FAQs for your visitors

Not sure about an advice column? If you want a less personal approach, create separate FAQs pages for both buyers and sellers. List out typical questions then briefly answer how you handle these scenarios as the agent in charge.

FAQs are also excellent for cross-linking opportunities. Remember to link to a free CMA offer, your contact page, free content offers or to your mortgage loan officer’s page. Check out this excellent example of an FAQ page with optimal cross-links.

4. Create a buyers’ dictionary or sellers’ dictionary

If you ask buyers and sellers to define FHA, DTI or MLS, their response will likely be IDK (or something a little more colorful). Consider creating a list of terms that buyers and sellers need to know, then update it as you have time. The NAR has a glossary that can be a good resource as you get started.

Another idea — which may provide more SEO juice — is to take one term per week and tackle it in an individual post. Because you’ll be familiar with these terms, each post should take you only 15-30 minutes to write. Then, you can continue to cross-link to the specific terms across your site, ensuring that visitors stay on your turf even when they run into words or terms they don’t understand.

5. Create evergreen or market-based infographics without the help of a designer

Infographics haven’t lost their popularity, so consider tackling this visual content tactic in 2019 with the use of a free infographic generator.

Our favorite free infographic tool is Canva. But if you’re willing to spend a bit of money, Piktocharthas more than 500 templates that can greatly reduce the time it will take you to concept and design an infographic.

Looking for inspiration? Here’s our Pinterest board of past infographics we’ve created, plus more trending infographics from the real estate industry.

 

For more helpful tips, visit the SmartZip blog.

The AHS Top 10: Best “Smart Home” Voice-Control Devices

The AHS Top 10: Best “Smart Home” Voice-Control Devices

Wondering what the thermostat is set on, but you really don’t want to get out of bed? Wishing the TV was on in the background while you cook, but you’re already elbow deep in the mixing bowl? Have no fear — voice-controlled home automation devices are here. The selection appears to grow every month; however, here’s our latest list of the top 10 “smart home” voice-controlled devices.

1. Vocca Light

Forget clapping; voice-controlled lights are where it’s at. And they’re easier to obtain than you may think. Vocca is a plug-and-play gadget that works straight from the box. In fact, it’s as easy to set up as it is to change a lightbulb. The best part? It can recognize your voice commands from up to 15 feet away.

2. Ivee Sleek

Speaking of 15 feet away, Ivee Sleek’s microphone can pick up commands from that distance, as well. And we’re not just talking about adjusting the thermostat. Want to create a new playlist? Schedule a ride with Uber? Ivee Sleek can handle it.

3. Jibo

The Jibo goes beyond connecting to your smart devices. Its built-in, high-resolution cameras (that recognize and track faces, might we add) can also capture pictures and enable video calling, too.

4. Athom Homey

Live in a multi-lingual household? You can take advantage of home voice control, too! The Athom Homey’s unique ability to understand commands in several languages makes it stand above the competition.

5. LG Vacuum Cleaner

No, we won’t judge you for talking to your vacuum cleaner. Especially if it’s one that can perform different cleaning patterns, such as spot cleaning those extra dirty areas, with a simple command.

6. Mycroft

Mycroft doesn’t simply lock the doors or switch on the lights. It can actually sync up with your streaming services, such as Netflix, and stream the content right on your Roku or Chromecast.

7. Samsung Smart TV

Tired of looking for the remote? Too lazy to get up and push buttons on the back of the TV? No problem. Samsung’s Smart TV allows you to control it — including apps like Netflix — without lifting a finger.

8. Honeywell Wi-Fi Smart Thermostat With Voice Control

This device goes beyond the typical learning thermostat — it can actually expand its “command vocabulary” based on interactions with you.

9. Amazon Echo

Alexa is going to become your new best friend. We just know it. Can she play music? Sure. Answer questions and tell you the news and weather? Of course. Control your lights, thermostat, etc.? Easy.

10. Apple Homekit

Of course we couldn’t talk about home voice control without mentioning Siri. After all, she basically pioneered our voice-activated obsession, right? With Homekit, you can control all your smart devices at one time, ensuring a unified home environment. What’s more, you don’t even have to be home to have control. Just ask Siri to handle everything.

NextHome Brandywine is the Newest NextHome Brokerage

NextHome Brandywine is the Newest NextHome Brokerage

(clockwise from top right) Pete O’Brien, Mike Schmidt, Dan Pizzi and Vince Tallercio

Pleasanton, CA — October 19, 2018 — NextHome is proud to announce our newest addition to the franchise, NextHome Brandywine. The brokerage represents the eighth location opened in the state of Pennsylvania for the NextHome franchise.

NextHome Brandywine will be owned and operated by business partners Dan Pizzi, Mike Schmidt, Pete O’Brien, and Vince Taliercio. Dan will be the managing partner handling the day-to-day operations for the brokerage. Mike will be in charge of all financials and compliance issues. Pete will be responsible for business development and public relations for the company, while Vince will serve as the broker of record.

The brokerage will provide real estate services such as single-family residential sales, first-time home buyers, rehab and resale property listings, investment sales, and land sales for buyers and sellers for the cities of Downingtown, West Chester, Coatesville, Pottstown and the counties of Delaware, Chester, Bucks, Montgomery, and Philadelphia.

The relationships formed back in 2004 when Dan and Pete worked together in the telecommunications industry at MCI WorldCom. For three years they worked at the company with Dan as a Project Manager and Pete handling sales.

As the market changed with the economic downturn in 2007, Dan pivoted towards home sales with his family’s background in the real estate industry. His cousin owned a Century 21 office, so Dan started selling real estate part time.

In 2013, Dan and Pete reunited once again at Communications Test Design Inc. The friends worked together for two years before they were caught in another round of downsizing.

“After being part of another round of layoffs, I knew that I was ready to take control of my own destiny and get into real estate full time,” said Dan.

From 2016 to 2018, both Pete and Dan worked at Weichert Real Estate. Working their sphere of influence and using sales skills from their previous career, the partners did very well and were two of the better selling REALTORS® in the area.

After two years of selling as agents at a brokerage, Dan and Pete were ready to go out on their own and open their real estate company.

“We had the opportunity to purchase an existing brokerage, but after exploring all of our options, NextHome was the right fit for our new brokerage,” said Pete.

In 2011, Dan met Vince who was looking to open his own office at that time. They stayed in touch over the years. When it came time to open NextHome Brandywine, Dan reached out to have Vince be the broker of record.

“Vince has the well-rounded knowledge of not only the real estate compliance, but also how to manage a business,” said Dan. “Vince is skilled in multiple ways that will be huge in helping out our company.”

“With Mike, we have a business partner with an attention to detail like no other,” added Dan. “His strength is providing business insight into our brokerage unlike anyone else I know. Just his thought process brings a level that really charts the course for NextHome Brandywine.”

Please join us in congratulating Dan, Pete, Mike, Vince, and the rest of the team at NextHome Brandywine on the opening of their new NextHome office in Downingtown, PA!

Interested in being a part of the NextHome Real Estate Franchise? Contact VP of Sales Charis Moreno at Charis@NextHome.com.

Each office is an independently owned and operated business.

NextHome Closes Biggest Transaction in the Franchise’s History

NextHome Closes Biggest Transaction in the Franchise’s History

Orli Rudolph (left) and DJ Khaled (right)

High-profile artist, producer and social media star, DJ Khaled, added another win to his list of successes with his recently purchased 12,750-square-feet Miami Beach mansion. Represented by one of our NextHomies, the hip-hop icon’s new home is the biggest transaction closed by a member of our franchise.

Listed at $25.9 million, the lavish waterfront property features a total of nine bedrooms and 10.5 bathrooms—including a five-bedroom main house, four-bedroom guest house, safe room, outdoor shower, home theater, elevator, and a swimming pool nearly 80 feet long. Khaled was able to scoop up the listing for only $21.8 million.

Our very own Orli Rudolph from the Rudolph & Jerry Team with NextHome Realty Professionals represented Khaled on this deal. Born in South Beach and raised in North Miami Beach, Orli has a keen awareness and unparalleled intuition of Miami’s luxury real estate market.

Orli and her business partner, Matthew Jerry, joined the Ft. Lauderdale-based office in early 2017. Prior to joining NextHome Realty Professionals, the team spent five years building a client base that has resulted in hundreds of happy homeowners and lifelong friendships.

Orli has a strong reputation for professionalism, commitment and has helped numerous clients invest, buy, sell and rent properties.

Please join us in congratulating Orli Rudolph on closing the largest transaction thus far for our NextHome franchise!

Photo Credit: Douglas Elliman Real Estate
Photo Credit: Douglas Elliman Real Estate
Photo Credit: Douglas Elliman Real Estate
NextHome Central Realty Opens an Office in Lake Mary, Florida

NextHome Central Realty Opens an Office in Lake Mary, Florida

Roger Michaels

Pleasanton, CA — October 16, 2018 — NextHome is proud to announce our newest addition to the franchise, NextHome Central Realty. The brokerage represents the 47th location opened in the state of Florida for the NextHome franchise.

NextHome Central Realty will be owned and operated by top-producing REALTOR®/Broker Roger Michaels. The brokerage of nine agents will be based out of Lake Mary, which is located 20 minutes north of Orlando.

The brokerage will provide real estate services such as single-family residential sales, first-time home buyers, rehab and resale property listings, investment sales, and land sales for buyers and sellers for the areas of Lake Mary, Sanford, Winter Springs, Winter Park, Longwood, Oviedo, and the rest of the Greater Orlando Area.

Roger started real estate in 2012 after years of owning a car dealership with his brother. As part owner of Michael’s Autos, Roger was in charge of all sales and marketing for the dealership. The strong internet marketing and lead generation skills he learned through car sales have been a great advantage for Roger in the real estate marketing world.

In his first year in real estate, Roger sold 25 transactions and his business only got stronger year-over-year.

In 2015, he opened R Michaels Realty and used his online marketing savvy to grow his sales numbers. From 2015 to 2017, Roger grew his business over 25% annually to more than 40 transaction sides.

In 2018, he has built his business to be on pace to close more than 60 transaction sides.

Earlier this year, Roger was looking for a solution that allowed him to grow his boutique brand to one that would attract quality agents to work alongside him.

“I knew there had to be a solution out there for a brokerage like mine,” said Roger. “NextHome was the answer for our brokerage.”

By not having to reinvent the wheel, combining his brokerage strengths with NextHome’s franchise platform has proven to be a great match for everyone involved.

“Having NextHome’s high-level of technology in addition to our brokerage’s strong internet lead generation, I’m really excited about what NextHome Central Realty is poised to do for our community,” said Roger.

When not selling real estate, Roger and his wife of 17 years, Rachele, are raising two boys – Gavin (age 15) and Gabriel (age 12). The family loves to travel and often takes trips to visit the boys’ grandparents in Indiana.

Please join us in congratulating Roger and the rest of the team at NextHome Central Realty on the opening of their new NextHome office in Lake Mary, FL!

Interested in being a part of the NextHome Real Estate Franchise? Contact VP of Sales Charis Moreno at Charis@NextHome.com.

Each office is an independently owned and operated business.

Zillow Group: Friend or Foe?

Zillow Group: Friend or Foe?

When it comes to Zillow Group, there seems to be a lot of fear and anger in our industry and it has been this way since the company launched in 2004. I experienced this first hand while working on the portal side of the business, starting with Realtor.com in 2003 and leaving Trulia in 2014. What I learned during these years has provided me insight into what the consumer needs and demands, as well as the fears of real estate professionals across the country.

Fear in business can be dangerous and detrimental. Some of us pull old quotes from Zillow executives and use them today to justify our concerns. Have we never changed course in our business or personal lives? Is it wrong for Zillow to shift direction? If the plan is not working, then perhaps the plan should change but not the goal.

One thing is certain: Zillow has never been shy about their goal of giving power to the people when it comes to making the best decision on the single greatest investment of their life. It’s not as complicated as we have made it over the last several decades. Instead of seeing them as a threat, why not look at Zillow Group as a way to learn and adopt what is working?

Yes, you could ignore them or pull your data as a way to fight against them. The reality is Zillow Group has captured over two-thirds of the total market share of online real estate shoppers and has more than double the audience of Realtor.com, the official site of the National Association of REALTORS®. We used to pay at least five times more for this kind of reach in print advertising without any guarantees readers would even flip to the real estate section. And don’t even get me started on TV or Super Bowl commercials.

NextHome’s leadership team understands that change is inevitable, but transformation is optional. And we choose transformation.

We are focused on transforming the franchise model into something fun and desirable; our franchise owners and their offices into a profitable and enticing place to work; and our agents into the most valuable part of the transaction, so there are no objections at closing time when the commission is paid.

We are also focused on transforming our relationship with industry partners, such as Zillow Group, so our agents and franchise owners are one of the first to be called upon when our partners want to try something new.

Especially if it means we can hold Zillow accountable for providing a service that will need to be successful if they want to get paid. And why shouldn’t they? After all, they are consuming all the financial risk to position themselves as the most visited real estate site in the world. How is it any different than hiring Cartus or paying another broker for a referral, except in this case the referring company is Zillow?

Is this a risky move? Of course! But it becomes a shared risk and without risk, there would be no progress. And without progress, we will not transform into the best version of ourselves.

6 Ways to Go Outside Your Comfort Zone for Real Estate Success

6 Ways to Go Outside Your Comfort Zone for Real Estate Success

Many seasoned sales professionals suggest shaking things up now and then, and venturing outside of your comfort zone in order to go from a good sales person to a great sales person. It is an exercise that can help you break that sales plateau and expand into techniques you may not have thought of before. But there is an art to stepping outside of your safe zone effectively.

When it comes to professional growth, sometimes change can be a valuable ally. This can mean shifting your approach to gaining new business, reexamining your relationships with current clients, or possibly venturing into new real estate markets.

Yet despite the potential benefits of entering unknown or unfamiliar territory, it can be challenging to know how or where to start. Here are six ways to challenge yourself to go beyond your comfort zone.

1. Take a look at what you’re doing now

Many times, the best way to challenge yourself is to take a look at your current situation. What are your approaches to building your business? How about your strategies for developing your client relationships?  If you find that your professional path has become overly familiar, it may be a sign to explore new tactics.

2. Get inspired by new ideas

Do you have a colleague who seems to have a great plan for growing their business? Or a friend in another industry who is up-to-date on technology and other resources? Don’t hesitate to ask others for their insights and advice. Increasing your exposure to new ideas in books, podcasts, blogs and more, can also help prepare you to take on new challenges.

3. Make a plan

Instead of plunging immediately into unknown waters, take time to develop a plan. Creating an outline of what you want to achieve, what you’d like to change, and how you see yourself attaining the best end results, can help you stay on track.

4. Explore different markets

Perhaps you’ve reached your sweet spot with a certain real estate market or clientele. While it’s great to keep a good thing going, you may be missing out on opportunities to expand into areas with strong growth potential. Look into neighborhoods that you may have overlooked in the past, or try researching groups of buyers or sellers who may be new to you.

5. Take on unfamiliar situations

Is there a course or networking event you’ve been curious about but have avoided due to a lack of familiarity with the subject? Or maybe there’s a professional area that you’ve wanted to improve upon (such as giving presentations or hosting educational seminars). Despite the discomfort that can come with tackling potentially uncomfortable situations, taking them head-on can help boost your confidence, knowledge and skill set.

6. Don’t be afraid to experiment

It’s hard to get new plans off the ground without giving them a chance. And, sometimes this can mean experimenting with different approaches or ideas. Give yourself the time to try out something new then observe and record what happens. Sometimes the best results can come from the most unlikely situations or sources.

Another way to go outside of your professional comfort zone is to take a look at resources that you may not have considered before, like American Home Shield® Home Warranties. Consider advising your clients on the benefits of getting coverage from AHS. They have plans that help protect homebuyers and sellers’ budgets and over 21 appliances and home system components from the costs of unexpected breakdowns.

For more helpful tips, visit the American Home Shield® Home Matters blog.