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President’s Message | News from Mary McCall, CRS

CRS Pride

Jensen Larson Photography

Sell-a-bration® provides the perfect platform for promoting yourself, your skills and your business.

As I’ve traveled around the country this past year attending educational sessions and special events, I’ve met many outstanding REALTORS® from different CRS chapters. What an inspiration it has been to hear about how the CRS Designation has helped you grow both personally and professionally. As you may know, CRS Designees represent just 3 percent of all REALTORS® in the industry. For many top-producing agents, the CRS Designation truly is the proven path to success, exemplified by their commitment to excellence, professionalism and achievement in the industry. I am so proud to be part of this elite group of top-notch real estate professionals. Looking ahead to the New Year, I hope to see you at Sell-a-bration® 2014, which will take place in Coronado, Calif., at the Loews Coronado Bay Resort, Jan. 31 – Feb. 2, 2014. Many residential real estate professionals who attended previous Sell-a-bration® events say it is the one REALTOR® educational and networking event they will never miss. The workshops and goal-specific sessions energize you and prepare you to implement new ideas to jumpstart your business for the coming year. For many, the connections they make at this annual premier Council event evolve into lifelong friendships that are renewed annually. Referrals are so important in our business, and this opportunity to socialize with and learn from fellow successful REALTORS® from other locales just can’t be overlooked. People want to do business with professionals that they know, like and trust — and Sell-a-bration® provides the perfect platform for promoting yourself, your skills and your business. For more information, see page 36 in this issue, or visit In January, I wrote about the six E’s for real estate success: Education, Experience, Ethics, Energy, Enthusiasm and Empathy. I want to add a seventh “E” now as I step aside from my role as CRS president: Everlasting appreciation. As I prepare to conclude my term, I want to express my gratitude to the members, CRS leadership and Council staff for their support over the past year. It has been an honor to serve as your CRS president. I look forward to working with our Council and chapter members for years to come.

4 | November/December 2013

Live-at-Home Millennials A record 21.6 million millennials (ages 18 to 31) lived at home with their parents in 2012, representing 36 percent of the nation’s young adults, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data. This marks the highest share of young adults living at home in the last four decades. By comparison, 18.5 million millennials lived at home in 2007. At least onethird to half of these young adults are college students. Younger millennials (ages 18 to 24) are more likely than older ones (ages 25 to 31) to be living with their parents (56 percent vs. 16 percent), and men are more likely than women (40 percent vs. 32 percent) to live at home. The steady rise in the share of young adults living with their parents is driven by a combination of factors: declining employment, rising college enrollment and fewer marriages. But how much time is too much for young adults to live at home with their parents? According to a recent Coldwell Banker survey, Americans over 55 think it is acceptable for adults to live at home for up to three years after graduating from college, while those 18 to 34 feel it is acceptable for adults to live at home for as

long as five years. Four out of five Americans believe that it’s OK for young adults to live at home if they are saving money to buy their own home. However, the acceptance of adults living at home has its limits. Nearly 70 percent believe that too many adults are living with their parents to avoid responsibility, and 65 percent believe too many young adults living at home are overstaying their welcome. Nearly one in seven Americans (13 percent) believe adults should never live at home with their parents.

The Renters’ Market As the market recovers, more renters are thinking about purchasing a home now than in past years, while fewer people say they prefer to rent, according to the 2013 National Housing Pulse Survey by the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®. About 36 percent of renters are thinking about making a home purchase, up from 25 percent in the last survey in 2011. Those who say they prefer to rent dropped from 31 percent in 2011 to 25 percent this year. Half of renters say homeownership is one of their highest personal priorities. Survey respondents also expressed an improved attitude about the national economy. Just under half (48 percent) say job layoffs and unemployment are a big concern, down from 61 percent in 2011. The number of people concerned about foreclosures also declined, from 47 percent two years ago to only 29 percent this year. However, many obstacles to homeownership remain. Many Americans still struggle with low wages and student loan debt, and they have little savings for a down payment and closing costs, the survey finds. | 7


The Council of Residential Specialists is pleased to introduce the CRS Idea Network, an online social learning platform that allows CRS members to learn from industry experts who freely share content they have created for their businesses. The CRS Idea Network aims to create a more interactive experience among members and provide greater access to timely and relevant content in various multimedia formats, including videos, photos, news articles and business forms. Content contributors include CRS instructors, Sell-a-bration® speakers and Legends Series presenters. As a CRS Member, you can post questions on specific topics, follow your favorite authors and posts, "share" or "hi-five (like)" content that you enjoy, and quickly find topics of interest by using the platform's search tools. Access the CRS Idea Network today. Log in at, select the blue Resources button at the top right of the home page and then select the CRS Idea Network button from within the Resources page.


Trends | Today and tomorrow

ante up Are multiple offers on the rise again? CRSs offer insight on managing bids in the recovering market.

Home inventory fell from a 9.4-months’ supply in 2010 to a 4.9-months’ supply in August 2013. Source: NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®

14 | November/December 2013

he all-cash offer came through an hour and a half after the listing went live. But David Sprindzunas, CRS, with Central Properties in Washington, D.C., waved it off — temporarily. “Wait,” he advised his seller. He was pretty sure they would get other bids for the property in the trendy 14th Street area. He was right. After eight showings in the first 48 hours, his seller had four offers by the end of the week. The winning bid was that first all-cash offer, but it’s always good to compare and contrast with what else comes along. The housing market is heading into recovery, and many areas across the country have high demand and low inventory: These are the basic ingredients for multiple-offer situations. Agents with a strong sense of the


market can guide their sellers on how to get the best bid — and their buyers on how to ensure they make the right offer.

Similar Story, Different Time Sprindzunas ticks off what encourages multiple offers: an appealing location (in a good school district or a trendy area); the seller’s asking price (not underpriced, nor overpriced); a good presentation; and low interest rates. While interest rates have ticked up over the last few months, a Freddie Mac, 30-year fixed mortgage was 4.49 percent in September 2013. That’s down from 5.06 percent in September 2009, according to Mortgage News Daily. In D.C., the market is reminiscent of the last housing boom — save for one notable difference: “Lenders,” Sprindzunas says. Financing was dished out “like it was

Andy Roberts/Glow Images

By Emma Beck

Up Close | Profiles of people to watch

sasha farmer,


Montague, Miller and Company REALTORS ®, Charlottesville, Va.

REALTOR® since: 2007 CRS since: 2009 Contact: 434.260.1435; sasha@

How do you market yourself? Mostly networking and word of mouth. In my first couple of years, I spent a lot of money doing all sorts of advertising like print, billboards, small commercial spots and radio. About two years ago, I took a hard look at where all my business was coming from, and I found that none of it was really coming from mass advertising. After studying this, I essentially pulled back from advertising from just about everything that I couldn’t track or justify. My team still does marketing on social media, but that’s not really mass advertising, that’s advertising to my sphere and to their next sphere. We also do a lot of direct mail to our clients to keep in touch. Aside from that, it’s client parties, networking and just seeing people face to face. I spend as little as possible on advertising to “strangers” because that has never worked all that well. How did you learn mass advertising wasn’t working? The thing that got me really focused is a tool I use called the Lead Tracker. I use it to keep track of every interested buyer or seller that comes in: every time we get a phone call, a call off of a sign, or someone clicking on our website and inquiring about a property. I record all of those things and then track them through to fruition to see who actually sets appointments with us and who eventually closes on a house. I tracked those leads for a solid year, and I realized that 22 percent of my leads were coming from mass advertising, yet I was spending 90 percent of my marketing budget there. The rest of my clients were coming from people that my team already knew or were acquainted with somehow or were referred to us.

16 | November/December 2013

We were then able to pull out that 90 percent and put some of it back into doing things to better get to know and care for our current sphere. It’s been much more successful. We do occasionally get calls off of signs and the Internet that work out, but those are marketing tactics I’m doing for all my listings anyway. It’s not me proactively trying to reach out to people we don’t know. You said you still use social media. How so? We post all of our listings on our Facebook business page. We also post our client events, as well as articles, polls and pictures of the area. One thing we do that has been pretty successful is post ‘Coming Soon’ announcements when we have a new listing coming on the market — we do a sneak peek the day before and post all the photos and the price range, but we don’t tell people the street address. We’ve gotten tons of leads off of that because people feel like they’re getting insider information … it creates a sense of urgency. There’s a strong correlation between traffic online and the houses that get absorbed by the market. If over 2,500 people look at a house on Facebook before it’s on MLS, it often directly results in that listing going under contract in a few short days, which is not the market norm here. How do you get involved in your community? Something that I’ve loved doing that’s really cemented my relationship with other business owners in town is helping them learn how to improve their own businesses, track profit and loss, and track ROI. That’s been super successful. You gain trust, they come to you for advice, and it’s a really nice way to forge a friendship with them in the meantime. It is also really rewarding to mentor people on parts of the business that I’ve been able to figure out, often in exchange for some of their own expertise somewhere else. We have a business in town called Care is There. It is a company that provides support for independent and assisted living people all through Central Virginia. I meet with the owner, Elizabeth, each month and we work together to improve our businesses each time. She also sends me a couple of potential clients a year. I’m sure she’s someone who is going to be supportive of me for years and years and will advocate for me anytime someone needs help in real estate, and I will always do the same for her now that I am so entwined in her success.

Michael JN Bowles

How did you get started in real estate? I had a job as a staffing coordinator just out of college, where I was hiring and firing people for companies throughout Charlottesville. I didn’t love my job, and I realized that, based on the types of companies and job opportunities that were available in town, and based on my degree, I really needed to start a business of my own to be successful and really enjoy what I do. That happened to be around the time my husband and I were buying our first house, and I discovered how little I knew about real estate. I decided to start taking the real estate class just for some backup knowledge. Two months later, I got a license and decided this might be the perfect opportunity.

“I spend as little as possible on advertising to ‘strangers’ because that has never worked all that well.”

Sasha Farmer, CRS | 1 7 | 1 9

In most cases, clients agree with Haddad’s suggested list price after hearing her analysis of the market, and they have been rewarded with multiple offers at or above list price within days, and sometimes within hours, of listing their homes. Helping clients set a list price for their home is one of the most important services a REALTOR® can provide, especially during a market transition like the one many areas of the country are experiencing now. CRSs like Haddad can help clients make choices that will get them the best possible price in the shortest time and with the least amount of hassle.

Education Matters One suburban couple Haddad worked with this summer wanted to list their fourbedroom, two-and-a-half-bath home for just over $240,000. Given the tight inventory, Haddad thought it should be listed at $250,000. The couple was heavily influenced by an experience they had during the depths of the recent housing downturn: Another home languished for more than six months before they took it off the market and relisted it at a lower price. Haddad sat down with them and explained how today’s housing market is different. She showed them statistics on market conditions, emphasizing how few properties were available and how comparable homes had sold closer to her price point than theirs over the last six months. She ended the conversation with a sly smile and said, “Trust me, you know I sell a lot more homes than you do.” The couple remained skeptical, but agreed to Haddad’s list price of $250,000. Within hours of the home hitting the market, two full-price offers came in. Haddad huddled with her clients before going back to the two potential buyers and saying, “If you want this house today, this is what it will take to buy it: $259,000.” Within minutes, one of the buyers agreed, and the deal was done. 20 | November/December 2013

“Developing pricing strategies is really at the heart of what we do as real estate agents,” says Mary-Lou McDonough, CRS, with the Higgins Group Realtors in the Boston suburb of Lexington, Mass. A former teacher, McDonough is keenly aware of the importance of educating clients about the strategy behind a list price. “Clients need to understand that a pricing study is not just something we pulled out of a hat, but is based on careful research and analysis of competing inventory and what’s recently sold.” This education strategy is equally important when dealing with buyer clients, especially if they don’t quite understand that market conditions no longer favor them like they did a few years ago, says McDonough. With these clients, she prints a list of all home sales in the last six months to one year and directs the buyer’s attention to the sale versus the list price. “Once they see it in black and white, they are much less inclined to come in with a crazy low offer,” she says.

Overeager Expectations As in Indianapolis, it is definitely a seller’s market in Lexington. McDonough says many of the homes she sold through midSeptember of this year went above list price, some by as much as $100,000 over list price. This has led some sellers to have an overly optimistic sense of what their homes are worth. This spring, McDonough represented a husband and wife who wanted to list their five-bedroom, three-and-a-half-bath 1980s colonial for close to $1.6 million, some $200,000 above what she thought was realistic. McDonough sat down with the couple, pulled out her iPad and showed them detailed interior and exterior photos of the homes in their area listed at that price. The couple was surprised to see that while these homes were approximately

ABSORBING INFORMATION Are you in a buyer’s or seller’s market? Calculating the rate at which homes are selling in your area, or the absorption rate, can help you determine that, as well as an appropriate list price for your seller. Here’s how to calculate the absorption rate and months’ supply. First, check the MLS to determine the number of closed transactions in your area over a specific period of time, say, six months. Then, divide the total number of closed transactions by the number of months in that time period to get the per-month absorption rate, or average number of homes closed per month. Then determine how many houses are for sale right now, and divide that number by the average number of homes closed per month to find out the months’ supply of houses, or the ratio of houses for sale to houses sold. For instance, if there were 30 closed transactions in an area over a six-month period, you would divide 30 by six for an absorption rate of five, or an average of five homes closing per month. If then there are 10 houses currently for sale, 10 divided by average homes closing per month (5) is two. You have a two-month supply. A six-month supply is considered a balanced market, less than six months’ supply a seller’s market and more than six months a buyer’s market. Source: Zan Monroe, CRS, The Monroe Company, Inc., Fayetteville, N.C.

the same size as theirs, they were almost all new construction, decked out with expensive features such as hardwood floors throughout, full granite bathrooms and brand-new appliances. To bolster her argument, McDonough had a colleague tour the home and provide the couple with her own independent price study. Her suggested list price was only $1,000 different from what McDonough had recommended. McDonough further explained that even if the couple went ahead with substantial upgrades, they still couldn’t compete with new-home construction prices. “It doesn’t matter if we get two offers or 10 offers, but you would be better positioned if you had more than one offer,” she told them. “If I can tell a buyer’s agent that we have another offer, or multiple offers, on the table, it typically changes the outcome for the seller.” The only way to generate those multiple offers, McDonough told them, was to price

the home closer to $1.4 million. The couple agreed to list it for $1,398,000, and it sold for 9 percent above that five days later. In the Columbus, Ohio, suburb of Bexley, Jan Kanas, CRS, with Street Sotheby’s International Realty, finds it helpful to let her seller clients play an integral role in setting the list price. After talking with clients to gain an understanding of their specific situation

THE RIGHT DIRECTION The NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (NAR) projects total existing-home sales will increase 10 percent this year to about 5.1 million and will reach approximately 5.2 million in 2014. NAR projects the national median existing-home price will grow nearly 11 percent this year to $195,600 and reach $206,500 in 2014. Below, a look at where we’ve been:

Ariel Martin/Veer



2012: 4,660,000

2012: $176,800

2011: 4,260,000

2011: $166,100

2010: 4,190,000

2010: $172,900

2009: 4,340,000

2009: $172,500

2008: 4,110,000

2008: $198,100

2007: 5,030,000

2007: $219,000


and goals, she presents them with her detailed market analysis, which includes comparable sales going back six months. At that point, instead of telling them what she thinks the list price should be, she asks them, “Where do you think your home fits in the market?” “This gives them a sense of ownership in setting the price,” she says. “It’s not just me coming in and telling them what they need to do. It makes them more invested and active in the entire process.” Most of the time, clients come up with a list price that is in line with what Kanas thinks is right. If they don’t, and refuse to budge from their top-dollar number, Kanas goes over options for upgrades and improvements they can make to have a better chance of achieving that price. With home prices bouncing back around the country, people looking to sell have an even greater need than ever for guidance and advice on how to price their homes. CRSs who possess in-depth knowledge of their local markets and a clear pricing strategy will quickly establish themselves as an invaluable partner for clients not only during this confusing period of transition, but for years to come. Daniel Rome Levine is a writer based in Wilmette, Ill., and is a frequent contributor to The Residential Specialist. | 2 1

22 | November/December 2013

Growing Plant: cosmin4000/Thinkstock; Global Cycle: Zoonar RF/Thinkstock

strong link between their business lives and their personal beliefs create a winning situation for everyone involved.

Assist Seniors Silberstein was a social worker for 35 years before becoming a REALTOR®. She now combines both careers through her volunteer work at the Center in the Park (CIP), a large senior center. “I brought a social work piece of myself with me to real estate. I wanted to stay connected with community agencies, and I had always liked working with seniors.” CIP’s housing advisory program was focused on helping low-income members avoid going into foreclosure; Silberstein suggested a new workshop that has attracted higher-income members to the center. As part of the workshop, she conducts a presentation called How to Sell Your Home, and she recruited an expert, who specializes in helping seniors pack up and move, to give a presentation. This workshop has led to a collaboration between the CIP and Mt. Airy, USA, a community development corporation for which Silberstein teaches classes for firsttime homebuyers. In May 2014, the two organizations will present a weeklong program on senior housing issues. Silberstein will be a presenter, and her agency will sponsor the program. “This can only lead to good things for me — publicity and clients,” she says. Already, several clients have come from her volunteer work and she expects more. She plans to propose a housing workshop to the senior organization in her synagogue and is considering offering to do the same for other Jewish senior groups in the city. Silberstein says the personal rewards of her volunteer work are twofold: gratification and referrals. “I feel good and I can eat!”

Promote Sustainability For Mark Deutschmann, CRS, brokerowner of Village Real Estate in Nashville, a commitment to community revitalization and sustainability underlies his volunteer efforts. In 1984, he 24 | November/December 2013

CHAPTERS DO THEIR PART CRS chapters not only offer educational and networking activities for members, they also do great volunteer and fundraising work to help their communities. The Council’s annual CRS Chapter with a Heart awards recognize these chapters for their humanitarian and charitable efforts. To qualify, CRS chapters must have donated at least $100 in cash or goods to a local charity between Sept. 1 and Aug. 31. Last year, 43 chapters and their members collectively donated more than $87,410 plus food and supplies. They also have devoted extensive time and energy to help others in their respective communities.

put together a partnership that bought 11 properties on a street that was 70 percent vacant and created a master plan that helped turn the 12South neighborhood into a vibrant place to live. In addition, as the chair of the Urban Land Institute’s sustainability issues committee, he founded the Go Green Nashville campaign, which helps individuals work with contractors to retrofit their houses for energy savings. A Go Green canvassing kit allows his agents to go into the community and talk to people about the program. “I think climate change is a major issue, and buildings are a place we can really make a difference,” he says. Currently, about 25 Village agents are using the kit, either as part of their normal business with sellers, as a marketing tool at Go Green events, or through canvassing in local neighborhoods. Not only is the Go Green campaign creating greener neighborhoods, it has also been a great business-building strategy. Deutschmann recalls that early in the canvassing process, he helped one couple retrofit their house, and they

Leigh Prather/Thinkstock

In 2011, 64.3 million Americans volunteered approximately 7.9 billion hours in a formal organization — the highest number of volunteers in five years, according to the Corporation for National and Community Service. Giving back has become an integral part of community life, with a vast array of opportunities to lend a hand and make a difference. And on top of the personal fulfillment that comes from volunteering, CRSs find that working on behalf of worthy causes can also help them build their businesses. “Nothing feels better than helping someone. And having your name and face out there by giving back to the community is one of the few kinds of advertising that doesn’t cost any money,” says Marilyn Silberstein, CRS, with Elfant Wissahickon REALTORS® in Philadelphia. “You get to know your friends and neighbors, and they get to know you.” Many CRSs participate in community service activities sponsored by their offices, while others take a more personal path to activism. Either way, agents who create a

experienced a 20 percent energy savings. “When I called to get a testimonial from them, they said, ‘We just discovered we’re having twins and we have to move!’ ” He sold their house for $500,000, and he was the listing agent on the $800,000 house they bought nearby. “It was a nice relationship I wouldn’t have had without this work.”

Share the Wealth Deutschmann has also created the Village Fund, a nonprofit arm of his company through which he gives 5 percent of his revenue to the community. “I saw that places like Ben and Jerry’s and The Body Shop were using their businesses to do something for the community and I thought, why not try to shift the way real estate is practiced?” Every year the Fund awards grants ranging from $500 to several thousand dollars to local nonprofit organizations in the fields of arts, social justice, environment and housing. The total amount he gives away depends on his revenue that year. “We gave about $80,000 this year, and we have given as

much as $230,000,” says Deutschmann. “I think we’ll hit the million-dollar mark soon.” Grantees have included Nashville Children’s Theater, Salama Urban Ministries and the Homeless Power Project. “If you’re giving and working with community groups and supporting the work they do, they’re more apt to want to work with you,” Deutschmann says. “I have an agent currently who serves on the board of Hands on Nashville, one of the organizations we support. He has now sold three homes to other board members.” Deutschmann has also begun to encourage his agents to contribute to the fund. Although agents are not required to participate, about 75 percent are doing so. Additionally, some of the title companies and other vendors with whom he works are contributing to the Village Fund.

Focus on Faith Volunteerism doesn’t have to be housingrelated to have a positive effect on one’s real estate business, says Matt Yeager, CRS, with the Danberry Co. REALTORS® in


• • • • •

The top four national volunteer activities are fundraising or selling items to raise money (26.2 percent), food collection or distribution (23.6 percent), general labor or transportation (20.3 percent), and tutoring or teaching (18.2 percent). The top four volunteer areas are for religious (34.4 percent), educational (26.6 percent), social service (14.2 percent), and health (8.2 percent) organizations. 88 percent of U.S. households give to charity. 62 percent of high net worth donors cite “giving back to the community” as a chief motivation for giving. Americans gave $298.3 billion in 2011. This reflects a 3.9 percent increase from 2010. Corporate giving held steady in 2011 at $14.55 billion. Foundation giving increased in 2011 to $41.67 billion — a 1.8 percent increase from 2010. Source: National Philanthropic Trust

Toledo, Ohio. He has been an active volunteer with the Most Blessed Sacrament Parish for more than 20 years, coaching soccer, serving on the parish council and the diocesan board, presenting retreats and conducting ministry for the homebound. Yeager initially chose to volunteer for the parish because he wanted to be a part of where his children were going to school. “I like the people I’m working with and I’m building deep roots. Volunteering is a smart business strategy if your heart is in it.” He has sold homes to people he’s worked with at the church, including a former priest, and now he is selling homes to the children of his former clients. “People know me personally as well as spiritually and professionally. I have a built-in trust factor.” Volunteer work can also help agents build important people skills that are useful in the office or with clients. Yeager says his committee work has helped him hone his problem-solving and consensusbuilding skills, and working closely with fellow parishioners has helped him become more intuitive. “I remember showing a client a house and I wasn’t saying a word. He finally looked at me and said, ‘You’re doing a pretty good sales job, aren’t you?’ I thought, ‘Oh, maybe I should be saying more,’ but then he said, ‘You just let me picture myself living here.’ I had read his body signals and knew I just needed to be quiet and let him see himself there.” The gentleman bought the house. Clients have various reasons for choosing a REALTOR®, and civic-mindedness will be a desirable attribute for some. But being seen as someone who walks the walk when it comes to improving the community is never going to hurt you. “The No. 1 reason people come to Village [Real Estate] is because of the work we do in the community,” says Deutschmann. “How could you not make time to do this when it’s going to be the best tool to grow your business?” Mary Ellen Collins is a writer based in St. Petersburg, Fla., and is a frequent contributor to The Residential Specialist. | 2 5

Gail Flagel, CRS 2004 CRS President A good leader must be a team player, says Gail Flagel, CRS, with Grinnell Realty in West Des Moines, Iowa. “Even though you are the team leader, you have to learn how to gather consensus from others and get people to buy in to common goals. While it’s important to listen to other people’s ideas about how to do things, you are ultimately responsible for the outcome,” she says. Good leaders should surround themselves with a strong team of professionals, she says, even if you did not select them yourself. “I recommend that you find out what each individual’s strengths are and help them work with those strengths,” Flagel says. The key to resolving conflicts is to listen well, especially in situations where people feel passionate about a particular issue. “Sometimes there’s not one answer that will meet everyone’s needs. It’s best to talk to people in small groups where they may be more comfortable sharing different view- “AS points,” says Flagel. REALTORS ®, She says the WE HAVE biggest challenge AN INNATE she faced during her term as a ABILITY TO CRS President MANAGE was dealing with OUR the temperament TIME.” of the industry. In 2004, the housing market was hot, and that spurred huge growth in CRS membership and course offerings. “We had to push the envelope to keep ahead of what was happening in our industry, and we had to work through a strategic process to keep up with the demands,” Flagel recalls. 28 | November/December 2013

Balancing family life, a real estate career and leadership responsibilities was challenging, but Flagel says her business actually improved during her CRS presidency. “It seems odd, but when someone is under the gun, they react more quickly and make decisions faster,” she says. “As REALTORS®, we have an innate ability to manage our time. It’s no different than raising a large family. I was able to separate my time a little, designate time to leadership activities and plan what I needed to do in advance. I also had a lot of support from CRS staff, other CRS members, the leadership team and my family.”

ness running and still have time for family. “Because I still actively sell real estate, I had to keep my business covered, so I would pay another agent their commission because I knew I wasn’t going to be around because of my volunteer activities. It didn’t happen often, but I knew when those periods would come and I prepared ahead of time for them.” She says her time as CRS President was gratifying, and she encourages other CRS Designees to move into leadership roles either with the Council or within their own communities. “It helps you to learn about the CRS organization and learn about yourself. You grow a lot because you develop new skills, and you end up getting more than you give. You’re giving back to an industry that’s given back to you,” West says.

Kay West, CRS 2007 CRS President “I don’t think it’s difficult to be a leader. It’s one of those things that evolves in a person’s life,” says Kay West, CRS, with Virginia Cook REALTORS® in Fort Worth, Texas. Leading an organization is different than managing one, she says. “As a manager, you are it. You get the final and maybe the only vote. You can ask for opinions, but ultimately decisions are yours. But as a leader, you have to be more receptive. Leadership requires a more democratic process because you need to build consensus,” West says. During times of conflict or when faced with negative responses, she says it’s important to remain objective. “You can’t take criticism personally. You may know that they are not happy with a decision or with a certain situation. Being able to listen and communicate with others is the primary skill you need to have to be a leader.” West knew going into her role as CRS President that she would have to make some sacrifices in an effort to balance her CRS commitments, keep her real estate busi-

Gregg Fujita, CRS 2010 CRS President Long before he became involved in CRS leadership, Gregg Fujita, CRS, preferred to work quietly behind the scenes. But Lois Cox, CRS, with Prudential California Realty in Pleasanton, Calif., whom Fujita met at a local CRS chapter event, saw his potential and encouraged him to get more involved with the Council. Since serving as CRS President, Fujita, who is with Harbor Bay Realty in Alameda, Calif., has served as a facilitator for the chapter leadership training program the past two years. “I never thought I could do that when I first started with CRS. I was the guy behind the scenes, a wallflower. My involvement in leadership helped me to develop my interpersonal and public speaking skills.” He also learned the art of diplomacy. “Everyone involved with CRS is a leader, so I learned to work with great minds and some strong personalities.”

His best advice to REALTORS®: Stay accessible. “As President, I attended as many meetings as I could, all the way down to the chapter level. Chapter officers told me they were comfortable approaching me because I was accessible. They knew they could stop me in the hallway to talk and I would be available to listen to them.” Fujita also advises agents to be positive, high energy and enthusiastic. “People prefer to deal with other people who are positive. That’s important because you will most likely garner more support if you are enthusiastic about what you are doing.” His proudest moment came when his family witnessed his swearing-in as CRS President at the inaugural ceremony in Nov. 2009. “My father was 86 years old. He was amazed when he saw the crowd of people at my inaugural. It’s cool when your family gets to share that experience and see what a big deal this was for me and why I spent so much time with the Council,” Fujita says. “I don’t think I would have my family or the success of my business without CRS. It built my confidence and self-esteem in a way that helped me nurture my family and business to where they are now.”

popular, but I knew they were the right things to do for most members,” he says. When trying to move new initiatives forward, Serio says effective communication can help defuse potential conflicts. “People sometimes don’t understand what you want to accomplish. So you have to slow down so everyone understands what is in the best interest for the organization. Once you get buy-in from everyone, it’s easier to move the initiative forward.” He dealt with his many commitments and priorities by tackling each one as soon as it came up. “You just have to do it when it hits the table. The reality is, whether you sell real estate or teach a course, you have to do the most important task at that time. Otherwise you get nothing done.” Serio’s fondest memory is having his family present during the inaugural ceremony, where his wife, Audrey, installed him as CRS President and his daughter and granddaughter were also involved. “I wanted this [experience] to be different and more personal to me.” Leaders must exhibit creativity, vision and good listening skills. “Too many people want to micromanage. You must listen to members, develop a vision and lead them in the direction they want to go. A strong leader can contribute to the growth of the organization and leave it in a better place than when they started,” Serio says.

Frank Serio, CRS 2011 CRS President Those in leadership positions always learn something new, says Frank Serio, CRS, who is with RE/MAX by the Sea in Bethany Beach, Del., and is a CRS-certified instructor. That “something new” for Serio was learning to make difficult decisions. “Everyone has a passion for the CRS organization, and they want to contribute. During my term, we couldn’t accept everyone’s ideas and some decisions we made were not

Michael Selvaggio, CRS 2008 CRS President “Your job as a leader is to do something that others find worth following. You can suggest a direction and see if there is a consensus [from members] to follow it. But if there’s no consensus, then you may have

to go in another direction,” says Michael Selvaggio, CRS, with Delaware Homes, Inc., in Townsend, Del. Like other CRS Presidents, he believes listening skills are the most valued asset a leader can have. “You cannot be effective unless you listen well. You have to take the pulse of the patient, which could be a chapter, a customer in real estate or a regional vice president.” Being CRS President came with a few sacrifices, and for Selvaggio, a CRScertified instructor, that meant turning down teaching opportunities. But he received a lot of emotional “YOU support from his CANNOT BE wife, Christine, EFFECTIVE and his busiUNLESS ness partner kept things going YOU at work in his LISTEN absence. “Any- WELL.” thing worthwhile is worth sacrificing for. Without great people and support, you won’t be successful.” For Selvaggio, the significance of his accomplishment did not hit home until late in his term when his daughter Andrea received her CRS Designation. “She was so excited; she ran into my office to tell me about it,” Selvaggio recalls. “She said to me, ‘Dad, you’ll never guess who signed my designation certificate. You did!’ ” When she showed me the certificate, my signature was stamped on the bottom with the title 2008 CRS President.” Selvaggio says the key to his success was having great people around him. “I’ve told other CRSs, ‘It’s an opportunity you will always remember.’ It’s about change — and change for the good. If you can effect that, you can call that a successful year.” Regina Ludes is the associate editor of The Residential Specialist. | 2 9


Her dedication paid off. In her first year, Mehmen won “Rookie of the Year” at Iowa Realty’s Jordan Grove office in West Des Moines, where she is still a REALTOR®. Since 2007, she has ranked in the top 10 percent of all REALTORS® in Iowa. The NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS’® 2013 Member Profile report shows that agents who devote themselves to full-time careers in real estate reap higher financial rewards. Ninety-one percent of survey respondents in the highest income group said real estate was their only occupation. It’s probably not a surprise that those who commit to full-time real estate careers are typically more successful. But just logging hours isn’t enough, of course. The Residential Specialist asked highperforming CRSs and career REALTORS® to offer their best tips to help agents reach their highest potential.

successful in real estate if you’re doing it as a side job or part-time business. It’s hard to build a business that generates healthy income and referrals without proper attention, he says. “As REALTORS®, we’re just as important as the accountant or a lawyer. We have legal ramifications [if we don’t do our jobs],” Chavez says. “If you’re not taking it seriously, you might not be up to date on all of the changing laws and requirements.”

Take it seriously.

Find the right firm.

The first step on the path to real estate success is to treat it like you would any new business venture. Waylon Chavez, CRS, with ABQ Premiere Properties in Albuquerque, N.M., says it’s hard to be

Will you do your best work at an affiliate of a large real estate company or a local, independent firm? It’s important to figure that out. Chavez liked the close-knit nature of an independent firm, while other

Part-Time PRODUCTIVITY You’re committed to your business and working full time, but you’ll inevitably have to work with agents who operate on a part-time schedule. Here are some tips to getting the most out those working relationships. Understand availability. Find out exactly when the part-time agent is available so you know when to send paperwork and correspondence, says Waylon Chavez, CRS, with ABQ Premiere Properties in Albuquerque, N.M. Discuss under what circumstances you may call during hours when the agent is not working. For example, if there is a problem with an inspection, you may need to reach the agent immediately. What should happen in such a case? Ask about backup. Is there someone the part-time agent works with when he or she is out of the office? Find out if there is an assistant or co-worker who might be available in case questions or problems arise, Chavez says. Go the extra mile when necessary. Remember that the goal is to get the deal done, so you may have to do some extra work. “Sometimes, you just have to take the bull by the horns and take care of what needs to be taken care of for the client,” Chavez says.

32 | November/December 2013

REALTORS® prefer the training programs and other resources available at a larger company. Both have benefits, Chavez says, but agents should choose the environment that will be the best fit for them.

Stick to a routine. Once you find the right home base, spend time in the office and work from a schedule, says Bettie M. Meinel, CRS, executive vice president of career development at Laffey Fine Homes in Greenvale, N.Y. She sees a marked difference in the success of people who spend time in the office instead of working from home. Chavez’s consistent daily schedule helps him get things done. He spends two hours prospecting, 30 minutes confirming appointments, an hour doing administrative work, 30 minutes following up on the previous day’s activities and two hours out on appointments each day. He also includes one to two hours of listing appointment preparation where he reviews the materials he’ll need, such as information about similar home values in the neighborhood and other promotional materials. Other things may come up, but by keeping to this schedule every day, he doesn’t slack off on marketing and prospecting when other aspects of his business get busy.

Invest in technology and systems. From a good smartphone to a reliable database marketing program, investing in your business is essential. Create a budget and include the technology, print materials, training and other investments necessary to run your business properly and at its

best potential. Meinel also advises agents to maintain active social media accounts and an updated website to show that they’re actively engaged in the marketplace. Mehmen uses Top Producer to send out quarterly email marketing messages to her customer and prospect list. “Every single time I send out a mass email or direct mail piece, I get leads back. Every single time,” she says.

Meinel leads the training program in her firm, both organizing and leading training sessions. She says that she can usually predict who will be successful based on their commitment to it. The red flags: “They start missing sessions or sit in the back row close to the door and don’t get involved,” she says.

Build your network.

Perez hired a career coach to help her set goals and hold herself accountable. Other REALTORS® hire coaches who are real estate specialists, such as those found through NAR’s REALTOR® University Coaching Center. According to NAR data, real estate coaching improves sales performance levels by 20 percent or more, even among experienced professionals. Some firms offer mentoring programs for newer REALTORS®, but you can always seek out mentors on your own. Meinel weaves a mentoring component into her training sessions in which REALTORS® have access to her and other experienced professionals who provide advice and give feedback. Trainees can then begin practicing what they’ve learned and also have someone who can answer the questions that come up in applying the concepts, she says.

Being a successful REALTOR® also means being an active member of the community. Elizabeth L. Perez, CRS, a Coral Gables, Fla.-based broker associate and assistant district sales manager of The Keyes Company, advises agents to join business groups like the Chamber of Commerce and get involved in professional associations. She is the 2013 president of the Women’s Council of REALTORS’® Miami-Dade Chapter, which positions her as a leader in the field and allows her to meet many other REALTORS®.

Caroline von Tuempling/Getty Images

Learn as much as you can. From courses to seminars to industry publications, successful REALTORS® take advantage of as many resources as they can. Mehmen says earning her CRS and GRI designations were among the best things she’s done for her career. She learned how other people became successful and how to employ best practices while running her own business, including how to write her business plan.

Seek out a mentor or coach — or both.

Take personal time. Successful REALTORS® log full-time hours and develop professional business

It Pays to Be

FULL TIME In real estate, income is very closely correlated with hours worked. Here’s how the numbers stack up: Hours worked

Median gross annual income

20 to 39


40 to 59





systems, but they also take time for themselves and their families. Chavez works only by appointment on Saturdays and takes every Sunday off — a fact he shares with prospective clients immediately. Mehmen says you have to take that time for yourself to be as sharp as possible for your clients. After all, being burned out and tired won’t help you make it to the top. Gwen Moran is a writer based in Wall Township, N.J., and is a frequent contributor to The Residential Specialist. | 3 3

With 60 percent of U.S. households now owning at least three Internet-enabled devices, and 25 percent owning at least five, we spend an average of 60 hours a month online. and Overcoming Its Hold on Us, which promises to “teach us how to stay human in an increasingly technological world.” A week later came Catherine Steiner-Adair and Teresa Barker’s The Big Disconnect: Protecting Childhood and Family Relationships in the Digital Age, whose subtitle says it all. And 2011 saw the release of the granddaddy of the genre, MIT technology maven Sherry Turkle’s Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other. Turkle’s book was one of the first to bemoan the fact that connectedness breeds solitude. The Distraction Addiction can hold its head high in such lofty company, even if its approach sometimes feels a bit Zen for mass tastes: The chapters, designed as a sort of eight-step program for modern types whose brains have become “as manic as a monkey after a triple espresso,” are titled Breathe, Simplify, Meditate, Deprogram, Experiment, Refocus, Rest and Contemplative Computing. It’s tempting to describe the book as “woo-woo,” but every time I found myself chafing at Sedonan terms such as “restorative space” and “extended mind,” I had to acknowledge that I’d been underlining maniacally and nodding vigorously as I read. Pang’s prototypical “distraction addict” sends and receives an average of 110 messages over the course of a typical day, checks his or her phone 34 times, visits Facebook five times and spends at least half an hour “liking” things and messaging friends. To

solve this problem, here’s the Withdrawal Workout I gleaned from his pages — do try this at home (and work):

1 Breathe when you open an email; you’re about to read a message, not choose between fight or flight. 2

When you place your phone on a table, turn it screen-down. You can’t be distracted by alerts you can’t see.

3 Check out self-disciplinary software programs such as Freedom, which blocks your Internet access for up to eight hours, and WriteRoom or Dark Room, word-processing programs with simplified interfaces to help you focus. Other examples of such so-called “Zenware” — programs designed to “pull you back from the world of online ads, games, updates, and real-time information” — include Backdrop, Think, HazeOver, Isolator, Chrome Nanny, SelfControl, Antisocial, LeechBlock and StayFocusd (the latter replete with “hip, Web 2.0-compliant misspelling,” notes Pang). Visit the website 4 Purge your email inbox of newsletter subscriptions, list memberships and the like. Analyze your incoming messages and you may conclude, as Pang does, that 99 percent of email is “fluff or stuff that can wait.” 5 Carve out a couple of blocks in each workday — an hour in the morning, say, and another in the afternoon — to read and respond to email. The rest of the time, avoid it. 6

Slow down; be more intentional; stop multitasking. The latter often amounts to nothing more than switch-tasking, where you waste time changing gears. “Switchtasking makes us less creative and productive, addicts us to inefficiency, and causes us to be more susceptible to self-delusion,” writes Pang. It is also, he learns from a UC Berkeley psychologist who specializes in memorization, “a lot harder for the brain to manage than we once thought.” Indeed, says the author, switch-tasking may gobble several hours each workweek.


Patronize coffee shops without Wi-Fi.

8 Just because you read something online doesn’t mean you have to respond to it. (Compulsive tweeters — present company included — this means you!) 9 Stop “checking in” every time you’re at a red light or in line at the grocery store. To foil this temptation, stow your phone at the bottom of your bag. 10 Take a “digital Sabbath” each week: Turn off every screen you own from one sundown to the next. “You’ll discover that your world doesn’t fall into chaos when you go offline.”

11 On Facebook, experience now, share later. This gives you time to “make sense of what you’ve done.” 12 Short-circuit long email chains by walking down the hall to speak with a colleague face to face. 13 Tweet mindfully. In the words of Buddhist monastic Damchoe Wangmo, “investigate your motivation before each online action.” If you observe that you’re being driven by “aff lictive emotions” such as anger, jealousy or fear, stop typing! In short, keep in mind that on the other side of your computer screen are … other people! 14 Indulge in real-world “restorative experiences,” such as a daily walk over the same terrain. It worked for Charles Darwin! Alex Pang’s ultimate purpose in The Distraction Addiction is to reinforce what distinguishes humans from their machines. Stop treating computers like people, he urges us. And for God’s sake, stop treating mobile devices like toddlers, for they’ll only respond in kind: “[T]hey’re superresponsive, simultaneously eager to please and oppressively demanding, always on, and insistent that we pay attention to them.” Allan Fallow is a magazine editor in Alexandria, Va. Feel free to distract him on Twitter @TheFallow. | 3 5

Chapter Training

New CRS Benefits

Course Listings

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p. 38

p. 43

inside CRS N E W S






he sea, sand and sky of Southern California are calling. Make plans today to join the Council of Residential Specialists and several hundred of your real estate peers in Coronado, Calif., for Sella-bration® 2014 at the Loews Coronado Bay Hotel and Resort, Jan. 31 – Feb. 2, 2014. 36 | November/December 2013

Hundreds of real estate professionals from across the globe are expected to attend the annual educational conference presented by the Council of Residential Specialists. Since its inception 26 years ago, Sella-bration® has attracted thousands of Certified Residential Specialists and other real estate experts who gather together to learn from each other and expand their professional networks.

Agents who attend Sell-a-bration® 2014 can earn 16 credits toward the CRS Designation. “It’s not just an event, it’s a community,” says Craig Nowicke, CRS, at RE/MAX ACR Elite Group in Tampa, who attended the event in 2013. “CRSs are unique in that they share everything, and that is extremely valuable.” Both first-time attendees and Sell-a-bration® veterans will walk away armed with fresh ideas, new contacts, and a renewed commitment to their business. Sell-a-bration® 2014 kicks off Jan. 31 with a series of interactive, topic-driven and solution-focused workshops. Scheduled workshops include: iPhoneography; Working With Virtual Assistants; Online Advertising; Shared and Virtual Workspaces; Zillow, Trulia and Web Lead Strategies; Going Paperless; Pinteresting Real Estate; Engaging Audiences With Video; Facebook Groups and Graph Search; and Old-School Lead Generation with NewSchool Approaches. “I went last year and I thought it was the best event I had been to in almost 13 years in real estate, says Lisa Ancich, CRS, of Coldwell Banker in Whittier, Calif. “I loved the camaraderie, the willingness to share information and help one

Sailboats (left) and Pool (right): Michael Kleinberg


SELL-A-BRATION® AT A GLANCE Loews Coronado Bay Resort 4000 Coronado Bay Road Coronado, Calif. Thursday, Jan. 30 Legends One-Day Program 8:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. Friday, Jan. 31: Pre-Conference Workshops Luncheon (ticketed)

another, and general overall feeling that CRSs are family.” The Council worked with Brian Copeland, CRS, of Village Real Estate Services in Nashville, Tenn., to develop the program for Sell-abration®. Copeland will serve as emcee for the event and present one of the keynote speeches. Additional keynotes will feature Ashton Gustafson, CRS; Matt Hames; and Travis Robertson. Conference sessions include: Cultivating Business Referral Partners; Becoming the Neighborhood Mafia; Team, Health & Wealth; Building an Unshakeable Referral Base; Selling Luxury; and Becoming an Investor Specialist Sell-a-bration® also will include two MegaPanels, Inventory 911 and Building Tomorrow’s Business Today. The MegaPanels will be facilitated by top-producing CRS-designated agents who will share their insights and experiences. After each MegaPanel, attendees will have an opportunity to meet in smaller groups to engage in more personalized discussions about key issues affecting their business. “With the addition of these conversations and implementation workshops, the Sell-a-bration® program has been completely transformed to optimize your time with the best and brightest in the industry,” Copeland says. Attendees will hear from a group of top pros on the main stage in the morning sessions, “and then be able to get one-on-one with them

afterwards to discuss your personal needs in your business.” Agents will have plenty of opportunities to network with their peers at the Sell-a-bration® welcome reception on Friday, Jan. 31, and two luncheon events planned for Friday and Saturday. Tickets for the two luncheons are purchased separately. Brenda Wade, CRS, with Signature Realty Associates in Valrico, Fla., near Tampa, says that no matter how much experience you already have in the real estate business or how successful you have become, there is always something new to learn. “I produce a high volume of transactions and I still learned from everyone at the conference. There’s a lot of information to be gained from each session, and opportunities for growth were all around. It’s a great way for any agent to start the year,” Wade says. To jumpstart your education, arrive a day early to attend the CRS Legends program on Jan. 30. For details and registration information, visit events/crs-legends. For more information about Sella-bration® 2014 and to register, visit, or call customer service at 800.462.8841.

Topics Include: • iPhoneography • Working With Virtual Assistants • Online Advertising • Shared and Virtual Workspaces • Zillow, Trulia and Web Lead Strategies • Going Paperless • Pinteresting Real Estate • Engaging Audiences With Video • Facebook Groups and Graph Search • Old-School Lead Generation With New-School Approaches Welcome reception (Sponsored by Cutco Closing Gifts) Saturday, Feb. 1 Keynotes, panels and breakout sessions Luncheon (ticketed event) Sunday, Feb. 2 Keynotes, panels and breakout sessions Saturday and Sunday Topics Include: • Cultivating Business Referral Partners • Becoming the Neighborhood Mafia • Team, Health & Wealth • Building an Unshakeable Referral Base • Selling Luxury • Becoming an Investor Specialist | 3 7



ore than 100 CRS chapter leaders, regional vice presidents and national officers participated in the annual CRS Chapter Leadership Training Program at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess Hotel and Resort in Scottsdale, Ariz., Aug. 2 – 3, 2013. CRS Designees who attended the two-day event took part in sessions that covered strategic planning, leadership development, and chapter administration and management. The Chapter Leadership Training Program prepares incoming chapter presidents and officers for the challenges and demands of their leadership positions, while giving them the confidence to do the job well. 2010 Council President Gregg Fujita, CRS, with Harbor Bay Realty in Alameda, Calif., and President-Elect Ron

38 | November/December 2013

Canning, CRS, with Comey & Shepherd REALTORS® in Cincinnati, facilitated this year’s program and provided incoming leaders with a practical “nuts-and-bolts” perspective of chapter administration. Rachel Tristano, the Council’s director of volunteer services, says the revamped program provided a more comprehensive training experience for

attendees. “We felt our chapter leadership already had strong leadership skills, and we needed a more focused approach that emphasized chapter operations, strategic planning and leadership development,” Tristano explains. “Instead of having an outside speaker teach only leadership training skills, this year’s program was facilitated by CRS members who are experienced chapter leaders themselves and can teach from that perspective.” Holli Woodward, CRS, 2013 president of the Oklahoma CRS Chapter, says the retreat was an opportunity for chapter leaders to come together, network, share ideas and learn about CRS leadership in a nonthreatening way. “Being able to meet and mingle with each of them at the retreat was priceless,” Woodward says. “We have such amazing partners in our national leadership, regional vice presidents, and CRS staff who unselfishly want every chapter not only to succeed, but to excel. I know that if I have a question, I can pick up the phone and call [CRS headquarters], and I will hear a smile on the other end and get the information I need.” John Stark, CRS, president-elect for the Iowa CRS Chapter, says every minute of the retreat was valuable. “It’s good to know that other incoming chapter presidents share the same goals of chapter growth and improvement for their year. Many friendships were made quickly, and with them, the opportunity to exchange ideas, discuss plans and see how other chapters make things happen,” Stark says.

Johnny Stockshooter/Alamy

inside CRS


C Anthony Clark, CRS

Jennie Wolek, CRS

RSs work hard to earn the trust of their clients and customers, as well as their fellow CRS-designated colleagues. After Jennie Wolek, CRS, with Keller Williams Realty Advantage in Tulsa, Okla., gave birth to her daughter in the summer of 2007, she knew she wanted to turn her clients over to another CRS agent while she was on maternity leave. She reached out to Anthony Clark, CRS, who worked in the same brokerage office at that time. “I chose Clark because I was familiar with his work ethic and trusted him with my business,” she says. After Clark moved back to his home town of Fayetteville, Ark., in the summer of 2008, he was also faced with fi nding the perfect referral partner for his clients. Remembering the success he had with Wolek’s referrals the previous year, Clark immediately reached out to her to return the favor. Now with Bassett Mix & Associates Inc. in Fayetteville, Ark., Clark has sent subsequent referrals to Wolek over the past six years. “We both feel confident that our clients will receive the best service throughout the real estate transaction,” says Clark. “We have earned our CRS Designations, so we know from our experience that we can trust each other with referrals for years to come.”

Statement of Ownership, Management and Circulation The Residential Specialist (USPS# 021-699, ISSN# 1539-7572) is published (bi-monthly) six times a year by the Council of Residential Specialists. The annual subscription price is $29.95. The mailing address of both the publication and the publisher is Council of Residential Specialists, 430 N. Michigan Avenue, Suite 300, Chicago, IL 60611-4092. The publisher is the Council of Residential Specialists, and the Editor is Michael Fenner. The owner of the publication is the Council of Residential Specialists. There were 31,181 copies of The Residential Specialist published in September/October 2013; the average for the preceding 12 months was 32,055. The paid/requested outside-county mail subscriptions for the September/ October issue were 29,586; the average for the preceding 12 months was 29,964. 592 free copies were distributed by mail in September/October, and the average number of free copies distributed during the preceding 12 months was 581. 703 copies of the September/October issue were distributed outside the mail (to classes, membership kits, etc.), and the average number of free copies distributed outside the mail for the preceding 12 months was 1,210. 300 copies of the magazine were not distributed in September/October (office use, leftovers), and an average of 300 copies were not distributed from issues in the preceding 12 months. The percent paid/requested circulation in September/October 2013 was 94.9 percent, and for the preceding 12 months it was 94.4 percent. | 3 9

Personalize, Reproduce and Mail This Newsletter to Your Clients


CRS Reviewed Products CRS members can find the latest and best-reviewed products in today’s competitive real estate marketplace in the new CRS Reviewed Products section at com/reviewed-products. Browse a selection of products and services, each reviewed by members of the CRS Product Review Committee. The diverse selection of CRS Reviewed Products can help members find what they need to build their business and enhance their professional life. CRS Idea Network An online social learning platform that allows CRS members to learn from CRS instructors, industry experts and their peers, the CRS Idea Network aims to create a more interactive experience among members and provide greater access to timely and relevant content. To access the CRS Idea Network, log in at com, select the Resources link and then select the CRS Idea Network button. The CRS Idea Network is just one more way to pursue lifelong learning while building relationships with some of the most successful agents in the business.

PLEASE NOTE: The images featured in the YOUR HOME newsletter may only be used within the PDF version of the newsletter. These images may not be reproduced or republished elsewhere outside of this newsletter format. CRS members are free to re-use the text of the articles contained in the newsletter, however.


Do it yourself with your office copier, or take the newsletter or electronic file (in addition to your photograph and any information you want inserted) to a printer who can prepare and reproduce the newsletter for you.


Help Report Designation Misuse


he CRS Designation is one of the most prestigious in the real estate industry, and CRS Designees work hard to achieve it. It indicates to buyers and sellers — and to fellow REALTORS® — that agents adhere to the highest standards of professionalism in the industry and are committed to continuing their education. To protect the integrity of the Designation, the Council encourages Designees to report any suspected misuse of the Designation to the Council. Whether the misuse is an honest mistake or a deliberate misrepresentation, the Council takes every offense seriously, as does NAR. Its Code of Ethics prohibits REALTORS® from misrepresenting their status as members or Designees of NAR’s Institutes, Societies or

40 | November/December 2013

Councils. If a REALTOR® is found to be misusing the Designation, chapters can take that member to the grievance committee of the local board. Use the “Find a CRS” tool on www. to see if an agent is a current Designee. If you believe an agent is misusing the CRS Designation, please contact or call customer service at 800.462.8841.

Mail. If you photocopy YOUR HOME or use it “as is,” please note that it is designed to be folded in a Z fold with the words YOUR HOME facing out on one side and the mailing panel facing out on the other side. Postal regulations require that Z folds have three closures (tabs or tape) — one on top in the center and two on the bottom. For your convenience, we have placed asterisks (*) where the closures should be. Be sure to check with your local mailer or post office to make sure you have prepared your mailings properly. Electronic File. Attach the customized newsletter file to an email to your clients or create a Web link to the file on your website. Consult your webmaster or technician to make sure the file is prepared correctly for these purposes, since these basic instructions will vary by person and system. * This newsletter is for the exclusive use of CRS members.

For a complete step-by-step guide to personalizing and reproducing the YOUR HOME newsletter, visit yourhomenewsletter.

Don’t Miss New CRS Benefits

Leave YOUR HOME as is, or personalize the newsletter by adding your photo, logo, address and phone number to the mailing panel.* You can also substitute any article in the newsletter with one of your own. Edit the newsletter electronically by downloading the Microsoft Word version at yourhomenewsletter.



eed a little more light in your life? See for yourself the difference that light bulbs and lamp shades can make with a room’s mood. Check out these bright ideas from Type Cast In the bathroom, use overhead lights to get rid of shadows; sidelights flanking the mirrors are perfect for makeup application. In the kitchen, overhead lights brighten surfaces. In the bedroom, try cozy tinted, low-wattage bulbs to give a candlelit, romantic effect. To create a grand atmosphere in the



Buying or selling a home can seem like an overwhelming task. But the right REALTOR® can make the process easier — and more profitable. A Certified Residential Specialist (CRS), with years of experience and success, will help you make smart decisions in a fast-paced, complex and competitive marketplace. To earn the CRS Designation, REALTORS® must demonstrate outstanding professional achievements — including high-volume sales — and pursue advanced training in areas such as finance, marketing and technology. They must also maintain membership in the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® and abide by its Code of Ethics. Work with a REALTOR® who belongs in the top 3 percent in the nation. Contact a CRS today.


Do you know someone who is thinking about buying or selling a home?

Safe and Secure Use ambient lighting to brighten the exterior of your home. Motion-activated or timer-equipped lights can ensure your home’s exterior is well-lit in the evenings. Don’t go too dim or too bright — no need to attract intruders or bother your neighbors.


Say Yes to CRS


dining room, use a chandelier. Place one directly over the table, but make sure to measure the ceiling height and table height before making a purchase. Indirect lighting — in all parts of the home — softens spaces. Small table lamps or wall sconces can also add a subtle glow.

Using a programmable thermostat to adjust the temperature in your home by roughly 7 to 10 degrees for eight hours a day might save you 10 percent a year on heating and cooling.

Please mention my name.

This newsletter is for informational purposes only and should not be substituted for legal or financial advice. If you are currently working with another real estate agent or broker, it is not a solicitation for business.


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CRS Classroom Courses

CRS 202 — Buyer Sales

CRS classroom courses earn either eight credits (for 100-level, one-day courses) or 16 credits (for 200-level, two-day courses) toward the CRS Designation. CRS courses listed below are from Nov. 15 to Feb. 28, 2014. For more up-to-date listings, visit

DEC. 4 – 5 AKRON, OHIO Akron Area Board of REALTORS® 330.434.6677 Instructor: Jackie Leavenworth, CRS

CRS 205 — Financing Solutions DEC. 9 – 10 ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. New Jersey Association of REALTORS® 866.229.2386 Instructor: Dale Carlton, CRS

CRS 103 JAN. 30, 2014 FRESNO, CALIF.

Rich Buyer, Rich Seller, Part I: Positioning and Branding Yourself as a Luxury Market Expert

DEC. 4 MIAMI Miami Association of REALTORS® 214.485.3000 Instructor: Tami Simms, CRS Rich Buyer, Rich Seller, Part II: A Luxury Marketing Idea Blitz

DEC. 5 MIAMI Miami Association of REALTORS® 214.485.3000 Instructor: Tami Simms, CRS

CRS 206 — Technology

Fresno Association of Realtors 559.490.6400 Instructor: Chuck Bode, CRS

Silver Bullet Solutions

NOV. 20 – 21 INDEPENDENCE, OHIO Cleveland Area Board of REALTORS® 216.901.0130 Instructor: Michael Selvaggio, CRS, CCIM

CRS 200 — Business Planning and Marketing

NOV. 19 INDEPENDENCE, OHIO Cleveland Area Board of REALTORS® 216.525.4840 Instructor: Michael Selvaggio, CRS, CCIM

Elective Courses

NOV. 19 – 20 BELLEVUE, WASH. Washington CRS Chapter 866.556.5277 Instructor: Gee Dunsten, CRS

Elective courses vary in length and credits earned toward the CRS Designation. Please visit the CRS website for details.


CRS Legends

Cincinnati Area Board of REALTORS® 513.842.3011 Instructor: James Nellis, CRS


Note: Instructors listed on all courses are subject to change.

Council of Residential Specialists 800.462.8841 Instructor: Varies

RESOURCES • November/December 2013


residential Specia li s t

Price Check

Rise & Shine

Giving Cycle

Follow the Leader

Pat Haddad, CRS, Keller Williams Realty,

Kris Mehmen, CRS, Iowa Realty,

Gail Flagel, CRS, Grinnell Realty,

Mary-Lou McDonough, CRS, Higgins Group Realtors, marylou@

Bettie M. Meinel, CRS, Laffey Fine Homes,

Marilyn Silberstein, CRS, Elfant Wissahickon REALTORS®, marilyn@

Jan Kanas, CRS, Street Sotheby’s International Realty, jan.kanas@

Elizabeth L. Perez, CRS, The Keyes Company, ElizabethLPerez@Keyes. com Waylon Chavez, CRS, ABQ Premiere Properties, Waylon@

Mark Deutschmann, CRS, Village Real Estate Services, markd@ Matt Yeager, CRS, Danberry Co. REALTORS®, mattyeager@realtor. com

Kay West, CRS, Virginia Cook REALTORS®, Gregg Fujita, CRS, Harbor Bay Realty, Frank Serio, CRS, RE/MAX by the Sea,

Your referral source for the greater




I help clients make the Wright move Nancy Wright, ABR, CRS, GRI RE/MAX Realty Brokers 5608 Wilkins Ave. Pittsburgh, PA 15217 OFS: 412-521-1000 x170 CELL: 412-508-0040

Serving Northern Virginia and the Dulles Tech corridor OfďŹ ces in Ashburn and Sterling Re/Max Select Properties, Inc.




@ RE/MAX Town & Country






Contactually effortlessly manages your contacts and strengthens your relationships by prompting you to take meaningful action with those in your network who matter the most. CRS Members Save 10%!

Whether you simply want to stay in touch with existing customers or build a new client base, Teldon can help you achieve your goal with their wide selection of highly useful and professionally designed products.

Negotiating should not be a battle, as it is truly an art. Learn to artfully create more and better deals by reading Create a Great Deal, which focuses only on real estate negotiating.

https://www.contactually. com/CRS

http://createagreatdeal. com/order-the-book-now/

Fellow CRS Reviews... “Contactually reminds me when to contact my clients, which is the part I love and use most often. Great for brokers, managers and agents — just what we need to keep on top of and engaged with our contacts.”

“Teldon has a suite of high-quality products and plans that allow you to customize how often you stay in touch. I highly recommend Teldon for all who wish to keep in touch with their clients/customers by mail and in person.”

Lois Cox, CRS

“All agents, new and experienced, should read this book and keep it as a reference source. It is an easy book to pick up and use when you are experiencing problems in a transaction. All in all, a great book.”

Marylea Todd, CRS

Prudential California Realty

Sharyn Rose, CRS

Prudential California Realty

Pleasanton, CA

Gulf Coast Realty Team

Fullerton, CA

Venice, FL


To participate in the Reviewed Product Program, contact | 4 5

Ask a CRS | Advice from the country’s top Certified Residential Specialists

giving thanks Q U ESTIO N : What tips do you have for holding a successful client appreciation event?

IN O U R EXPERIEN C E ... “I’VE HELD an event at a local apple orchard the weekend before Columbus Day. I invite families to “pick a bag of apples on me,” and I set up Open House signs in the picnic table area. I hand out a bag with my business card; the orchard gives me a discount on each bag. I mail over 120 invites, and about 40 families come. The cost of the event is less than $400.”

“ONE EVENT we’ve done several years now is a Christmas Lights Trolley Tour. We invite clients to one of our offices in Richmond, and we have a heated trolley pick up groups for a 30-minute Christmas lights tour. They can enjoy food, wine, beer, etc., before or after the tour. We get a great turnout every year, and it’s kid-friendly. It’s well worth the cost to let our clients know that we appreciate them.”

Diane Dabrowski, CRS

“RECENTLY, I rented a Shred-It truck and invited people to bring documents to shred. That idea was suggested by a West Coast CRS colleague. Someone else suggested getting a dumpster, and people can bring junk that generally costs money to be removed. But I haven’t tried that yet.” Diane Cadogan Hughes, CRS The Higgins Group REALTORS® Bedford, Mass.

Alliance with ERA Key Realty

Wally Hughes, CRS

Charlton, Mass.

RE/MAX Commonwealth

Richmond, Va.


Please submit real estate questions for “Ask a CRS” to Mike Fenner at

48 | November/December 2013

CRS WEBINAR RECORDINGS LUNCH AND LEARN WITH CRS WEBINAR RECORDINGS CRS webinars are perfect to download and watch during lunch anywhere that you have an Internet connection. These 2013 webinar recordings are one-hour sessions filled with the latest technology tools and business-building strategies.



One is the Loneliest Number Five Exit Strategies to Help You Leave the Business Rich Planning for Profit * Systems Keep You Sane How to Build a Rock Star Real Estate Team Rev Up Your GPS: Goals, Plans and Systems The Roadmap to Success: Creating a Business Successful Content Marketing


Put Your Business in the Cloud with the iPad Using Facebook as a Contact Management System Why the Cloud Rocks * Land the Listing: Delivering an Unforgettable Listing Presentation on Your iPad Don’t Worry…Be “Appy” How to Use Video to Take Over Your Local Market Powerful Profiles and Super Strategies Mobile Applications That Can Bring You Business ** Choosing and Editing the Right Photos Learn to be More Productive with Evernote Google Universe: Gmail, Google Drive and Google Voice LinkedIn: A Beginners Guide to Using it Effectively Beating the Beasts: Trulia & Zillow


The Power of Proper Pricing The Five Irrefutable Rules for Listing Success * Handling Multiple Offers in Real Estate Home Inspections and the Buyer Client Sell-a-bration Rising *


Hard Core Prospecting Success with Direct Mail Call Me, Maybe * Creative Ways to Touch Your Sphere **

* free to everyone ** members only


CRS Designees


CRS Members and Non-members


Learn about new recordings and LIVE webinars today by visiting

NOTE: pricing for recording will change in January 2014. STOCK UP NOW!


EARN FROM WHAT YOU LEARN Grow your business and boost your income when you learn invaluable new tools with our eLearning courses.


2 credits toward CRS Designation NAVIGATING THE SOCIAL MEDIA MAZE

coming soon


Develop a social media strategy to set goals, target interactions, maintain consistent engagement, and assess the impact of your efforts.

The economy has changed and an agent’s marketing strategies need to change as well. Discover the world of online marketing.



coming soon

Learn how to manage your online presence across forums such as your business website, social media and real estate aggregator websites.

Learn how to be more valuable to your clients and maximize your income.



Identify uses, desired project outcomes, self-produced vs. professionally produced, home-tour levels and add on tags and titles.

Learn how to work with buyers and sellers of distressed properties in the online version of the popular classroom course.


*This course also completes the core course requirement for NAR’s SFR Certification.

Close more transactions by identifying your clients’ underlying interests beginning with first contact through post-transaction follow-up.


Each course takes only 2 to 8 hours to complete.

eLEARNING COURSE PRICING: 2 credits 8 credits CRS Designees CRS General Members All others

$30 $40 $50

Expand your knowledge of today’s real estate technology to be better prepared to work effectively with online consumers.

$125 $150 $175

Register for a course today by visiting

All 8 credit courses are available for continuing education credit in some states.

The Residential Specialist, November/December 2013  

The November/December issue of the CRS magazine, The Residential Specialist

The Residential Specialist, November/December 2013  

The November/December issue of the CRS magazine, The Residential Specialist