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CHICAGO EDITION

UNTANGLING THE BIDDING WAR:

MILLENNIAL BUYERS:

A BUYER’S & SELLER’S PERSPECTIVES

Where They Are & What to Know

COOPERATION, NOT COMPETITION, CREATES MUTUAL SUCCESS FOR AGENTS

FEATURED AGENT

ALEX MENONI COVER STORY

STEFANIE RIDOLFO FOUNDER AND CEO OF LIV PARTNERS


CHICAGO EDITION

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STEFANIE RIDOLFO

ALEX MENONI

ALEX MENONI

CONTENTS 4) 5 SOCIAL MEDIA MISTAKES REAL ESTATE AGENTS MUST AVOID

15) UNTANGLING THE BIDDING WAR: A BUYER’S & SELLER’S PERSPECTIVES

STEFANIE RIDOLFO

6) COOPERATION, NOT 20) MILLENNIAL BUYERS: FOUNDER AND CEO OF LIV PARTNERS COMPETITION, CREATES WHERE THEY ARE & WHAT TO KNOW MUTUAL SUCCESS FOR AGENTS

Phone 310-734-1440 | Fax 310-734-1440 mag@topagentmagazine.com | www.topagentmagazine.com No portion of this issue may be reproduced in any manner whatsoever without prior consent of the publisher. Top Agent Magazine is published by Feature Publications GA, Inc. Although precautions are taken to ensure the accuracy of published materials, Top Agent Magazine cannot be held responsible for opinions expressed or facts supplied by its authors. To subscribe or change address, send inquiry to mag@topagentmagazine.com. Published in the U.S.

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SOCIAL MEDIA MISTAKES

Real Estate Agents Must Avoid There is perhaps no greater marketing tool for agents these days than having a large presence on social media, but there is more to social media marketing than just opening an account and gaining followers. A lot of agents forget the social part of social media. It’s all about engagement, but it needs to be the right kind of engagement. This can often be the first impression potential clients or industry peers have of you, so make it count. There is no second chance to make a first impression, and that is especially true for real estate agents. Here’s just a few things you want to avoid.

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1 Using it to Vent

Social Media is a great place to complain and commiserate about things, but save that for your personal page. A real estate transaction is already a stressful ordeal, the last thing anyone wants is someone who seems like they’ll bring a negative energy to the process. Even worse? Bad mouthing other Realtors® or listings. You’re selling yourself and your skills, so don’t sell anything that shows you in a bad light. Much like marketing a property, everything you put out should be professional and inviting.

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Lack of Consistent Branding

Yes, social media is about social engagement, but it’s also about creating brand recognition. While you don’t want it to be purely promotional, you are running a business, so create a consistent branding across all social media platforms. If you can afford a professional graphic designer to help you out with this, that’s great. But at the very least, have the same profile pic, cover image and highly visible contact information, across the board. And don’t forget to share links to your other accounts, some people prefer different social media applications.

3Not Posting Enough

It’s good to create a schedule of how many times you’ll be posting per day and to pick times when you might have the most engagement. Don’t over do it, but three posts a day at the right time, tends to be a good goal. There are numerous tools on Facebook, for example, that

can let you see when interactions are the highest. Stick to your schedule and adjust accordingly. It’s also important to not just post your listings. Be a resource for people who follow your page. Post community events, or other informative articles that are relevant to home ownership. Be a page they want to follow even when they aren’t buying or selling a property. They’ll remember you when the time comes.

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Not interacting With Your Followers

It’s called social media for a reason. The more you engage with your followers, the more they see you as a real person, and not just a marketing tool. Not only do you get to know your past clients and potential clients, on Facebook, engagement actually will make your posts seen by more people. So it’s a win/win.

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Not Sharing or Linking to Others

It might not seem like a good idea to not promote the blogs, pages or listings of other people, but it’s not only an excellent way to build goodwill, it will also increase your own presence when they reciprocate. So make a point to share posts and links for local businesses and even the blogs of your peers, if it’s a post that offers valuable insight into an expertise you don’t have. That will encourage them to share your posts and even your listings, which will increase your potential buyer pool. This is another incentive to create your own blog. Unique informative content is always of value, and more likely to be shared than promotional links.

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Cooperation, Not Competition, Creates

Mutual Success for Agents When people get along during a business transaction, everyone comes out happier. And in a service industry like real estate, agents have the power deliver that happiness. By working cooperatively, sharing advice and helping each other help clients, agents not only enhance their own reputations, but that of real estate in general. 6

“Bring everyone together” Matt Kobelski, with Credentials Real Estate Group in Massachusetts, points out that providing good service involves more people than the party you’re representing. “I’m not afraid to bring together all the parties in a deal and say, ‘OK, let’s figure out a solution that works best

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Teaming up with an agent from a different brokerage on a transaction is not as uncommon or complicated as it might seem

for everyone,” he explains. “My goal is to avoid being adversarial.” Real estate, he believes, should always be a field in which each person can win. “It’s about working toward a mutual goal, shaking hands, and walking away happy that a seller sold, a buyer bought and everyone got what they wanted.” But Is it that simple? Most agents have experienced the ways conflicting personalities and tension during a transaction can heat up even the most cordial relations. In reality, however, it’s more productive to let down your guard and work with others as a team than it is to allow stress and competition to preside. South Florida REALTOR® and broker associate, Risë V. Siegrist, for instance, has zero interest in competing with other agents. “It’s more important to be professional and associate with competent, caring people,” she says. By serving others with a cooperative spirit, experienced agents like Risë set an excellent example for emerging real estate stars. Risë hopes to be a model for the next generation of agents, training people who may one day become part of her team. Risë’s position on cooperation inspires more reasons for nurturing relationships with other agents. Over the decades, many agents change brokerages several times. Who knows if that agent across the table will one day work at the Top Agent Magazine

same brokerage you do? Perhaps you’ll even have an opportunity to partner on an exciting, future transaction. Good relations keep doors open to endless possibilities.

Co-listing cooperation Teaming up with an agent from a different brokerage on a transaction is not as uncommon or complicated as it might seem. In fact, some agents cleverly capitalize on their collective attributes, rather than competing against one another. South Carolina REALTOR® Kimberly Pannit is a perfect example of the universal benefits of co-listings. Although she has always been an independent agent, Kimberly works hard to form professional alliances that give her business the feel of a cooperative network across brokerages. This cooperative approach may be nontraditional, but it benefits clients in unique ways. By working closely with agents at other brokerages, she shows how agents can improve client service while helping one another. Kimberly’s cooperative approach began in her own neighborhood, where an agent friend from a different brokerage also lives. “Several years ago, I approached her because both of us were friends with our neighbors. I asked, ‘Why don’t we give our neighbors superior service and

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co-list together? We both love our area and are passionate about our jobs, the location and schools.’” She also didn’t want to make their mutual friends choose between them when they could work together. “I said, ‘Let’s give them amazing service together!’” With their brokers’ permission, two weeks later the agents co-listed their first home and put extra energy into ensuring uninterrupted client service.

Networking and “Co-opertition” When the ultimate goal is to match a client with the perfect home or create optimal terms of sale for a listings, networking with other agents can facilitate that ideal buyer-seller match. Nashville REALTOR® and broker/owner Lisa Land embraced every opportunity to contribute meaningfully to the real estate industry and to her local market, even before building her own team. “Agents would frequently ask me for help or advice,” she says, noting that she shares, rather than guarding, the methods she uses to get through difficult or confusing transactions. “I was fortunate to have great mentors when I started in real estate, so I’m always

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willing to offer help, even to agents outside of The Luxe Collective.” Meanwhile, on Cape Cod in Massachusetts, Janet Leigh Scott describes the climate between agents as relaxed and professional. “While the real estate market is highly competitive, we’re truly a ‘co-opertition’ market; agents work together and a have greater sense of community than you might experience in off-island brokerages,” Janet says. “If I have buyer coming into town, I’ll reach out to agents I’ve done transactions with to ask if they have anything coming up that might not be on the market yet.” Even in hot, competitive L.A. real estate, independent agents such as Andrej Nagy of The Agency RE knows the importance of receiving and providing professional mentorship. “My relationships with clients are extremely important,” he says. “But my relationships with agents on the other side of a deal are also important.” For REALTORS® like him, working smoothly with other agents is a privilege. Doing so builds rewarding relationships while ensuring win-win transactions for everyone at the closing table.

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STEFANIE RIDOLFO FOUNDER AND CEO OF LIV PARTNERS

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STEFANIE RIDOLFO Top Agent Stefanie Ridolfo is the Founder, Realtor, and CEO of LIV Partners at Keller Williams Success Realty, where she provides clients with the highest level of service in the suburbs of Chicagoland. In 2014, Stefanie Ridolfo had grown tired of her corporate day job, so she decided to forge her own path. “I just wasn’t passionate about what I was doing in the corporate world ,” she says. “I always had an entrepreneurial spirit.” Stefanie was soon drawn to real estate, which 10 Copyright Top Agent Magazine

allowed her to channel her passion through the community she calls home. Today, Stefanie is the Founder, Realtor, and CEO of LIV Partners at Keller Williams Success Realty, where she provides clients Top Agent Magazine


with the highest level of service in the suburbs of Chicagoland. Even though Stefanie pursues her entrepreneurial aspirations through real estate, she appreciates the necessity of collaboration and Top Agent Magazine

understands the philosophy that you can’t succeed alone. At LIV Partners she mentors and coaches a team of professionals to ensure that their clients receive expert assistance in everything from staging homes to marketing listings to coordinating transactions. Stefanie’s husband, 11 Copyright Top Agent Magazine


At LIV Partners she mentors and coaches a team of professionals to ensure that their clients receive expert assistance in everything from staging homes to marketing listings to coordinating transactions. Vince, is her partner and has been instrumental in the growth and direction of their team. When preparing to market a house, Stefanie and her team take a holistic approach. Perhaps most importantly, her talented staging division can render any house immaculate by the time it lists. “Our goal is to pull as much equity out of the home for the seller,” she says. Stefanie and her team steer sellers through an all-inclusive presentation process, preparing their homes for sale and ensuring that everything is perfect from photography, videography, and social media campaigns. “When we nail our preparations,” she says, “we get the activity we need to sell the home quickly and for top dollar.” Copyright Top Agent Magazine 12

As for buyers, Stefanie stresses communication and clarity. “It’s all about education,” she says. “We hold our client’s hand through the process, letting them know we have their best interests at heart.” And Stefanie maintains this genuine approach long after the deals are done, staying in touch with former clients through newsletters, phone calls, and quarterly events. With this comprehensive care, Stefanie and her team have won themselves a sterling reputation, with well over half of their transactions coming from either referrals or repeat clients. For Stefanie, the formula is simple. “Our clients trust us,” she says. “They know that we have their back.” Top Agent Magazine


Stefanie grew up in Schaumburg, and she maintains a personal standard to give back to the community. As such, she is planning on opening an outreach division at her office, a devoted task force that could lend support to those in need while shining lights on local businesses. Until then, though, Stefanie and her team are more than happy to partake in Top Agent Magazine

yearly coat drives and holiday giveaways for needy families. “We like to be involved in any way we can,” she says. “As a team, we’re always looking to do things together.” While Stefanie certainly has come a long way since leaving her corporate job in 2014, she can’t help but look to the future. This Copyright Top Agent Magazine 13


year, she hopes to expand her staging division into its own business; elsewhere, she will continue to add fresh faces to her ever-growing team. “There’s always future plans,” she says with a laugh.

Despite her lofty ambitions, though, Stefanie has never lost sight of the entrepreneurial spark that brought her to real estate in the first place. “I love everything about what I do,” she says. “My clients. My team. It never feels like work.”

To learn more about Stefanie Ridolfo email stefanie@yourLIVpartners.com, visit yourlivpartners.com, or call (630) 200-2120 www.

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Untangling the Bidding War: A Buyer’s & Seller’s Perspectives In a competitive marketplace, bidding wars become the norm. While this may put sellers in an excellent position to recoup on their investment, it can push buyers beyond their budgets and test their temperaments in the process. As an agent, how do you navigate both sides of the coin? After all, you want to net the best results for your client—regardless of which side of the closing table they’re on. To fortify your approach to a heated bidding war, here are a few ideas and insights to better clue you in on the perspectives of buyers and sellers alike. Top Agent Magazine

Buyer’s Perspective: Emotions Running High? Channel it. When the market is booming, buyers feel the pressure—especially when affordable inventory is limited. This can create stress, feelings of hopelessness, and impulsivity. As an agent, how do you channel this emotional energy into something positive? Consider asking buyers to put those anxieties and high hopes onto paper. Have buyers outline

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who they are, why they’re inspired to buy a home at this juncture in their lives, and how they see their lives unfolding once they become a homeowner (or repeat homeowner). Think of it as a letter of intent. Buyers benefit from taking abstract fears and dreams and articulating them on paper. Likewise, this document can serve as a valuable tool during a bidding war. Letters like these can help sellers with multiple offers make a personal, emotional connection with a particular buyer.

Sellers Perspective: Manage expectations. When multiple offers are rolling in on a property, it’s easy for sellers to get carried away. Numbers are flying, expectations are heightened, and sellers may become hypnotized by higher and higher offers and ideal outcomes. While it’s good to celebrate prime market positioning, it’s also important to maintain an even keel so that your seller’s mind is clear and they’re thinking rationally through their options. Sometimes the highest offer isn’t necessarily the sure thing. Manage your clients’ expectations by leading by example, offering a balanced perspective, and talking them through all potential outcomes so that they don’t only hone in on the best-case scenario. During a bidding war, tensions are running high for seller’s too, who will soon begin their next chapter in another home. Keep a cool head and remind your client to see the big picture, recognize that it’s possible for some offers to fall through, and to sit tight until the closing table has been successfully reached.

Buyer’s Perspective: How do you authentically and convincingly convey your interest? When ten or so offers are in the mix, it can be hard to differentiate your buyer from the next. While numbers will obviously do a lot of the talking, you’d be surprised how much of a difference a 16

personal touch can make. Some popular approaches to standing out include personal letters—as mentioned above—tailored to the property. Was the property in question a family home for years? You might have clients detail their dreams of raising a family inside those walls, rather than tear the property down and rebuild something to boost the lot’s value. Including a family photo is also a good tact for personalizing letters in a bidding war. Likewise, little gifts included with your offer can speak volumes about your personality and due diligence as an agent. It may seem a little cheesy, but when sellers are looking at ten near-identical offers, those personal touches can really paint a compelling, personalized picture.

Seller’s Perspective: How powerful is cash? Data shows that cash offers—typical of investor clientele—double the chances of having an offer accepted. This goes hand in hand with waiving a financing contingency, which also helped boost the probability of an accepted offer, according to research. Cash is king, however, since offers that aren’t completely reliant on comprehensive financing seem to minimize risk for sellers, who are already eager to see a deal go through. Cash deals also tend to go through quickly, freeing sellers up to pursue their next property and move on to new horizons. While not every buyer has the ability to operate in cash, it’s a worthwhile consideration for those in ultra-competitive markets and with liquid capital. While the bidding process can be stressful for agents and clients alike, it’s important to remember that it’s a time of opportunity, too. If you want to make the most of it as a seller, data shows that a personal touch can endear buyers to their seller counterparts. For sellers navigating a competitive process, it’s important to keep a balanced perspective. For agents, here’s the bottom line: get creative, be resourceful, and use all the tools in your arsenal to achieve the best result for the clients you serve.

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ALEX MENONI Top Agent Magazine

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ALEX MENONI

Top Agent Alex Menoni is a broker with @properties, where he services clients in the heart of downtown Chicago and the surrounding suburbs, specializing in corporate relocation. When he’s not fighting to stay on the cutting edge of Chicago’s real estate market, Alex Menoni can be found playing hockey, cheering on his favorite Windy City sports teams, enjoying live music or taking photos of the city’s iconic architecture. Having grown up in the Chicagoland area, Alex takes a special pride in showing his clients around its historic neighborhoods. “I always point out why I love this city,” he says, “and why they’ll love it, too.” After studying marketing at Illinois State University, Alex spent a few years working in the professional sports industry. His focus shifted, however, when he met a successful Chicago Realtor who quickly became his mentor. “I’m not the kind of guy who can just sit at a desk,” Alex says, reflecting on 18

what attracted him to real estate. “Being a Realtor allowed me to meet someone new every single day.” Taking this insight, Alex earned his license and threw himself into the business. Today, Alex is a broker with @properties, where he services clients in the heart of downtown Chicago and the surrounding suburbs, specializing in corporate relocation. When listing a home, Alex utilizes advanced technology, such as geotargeted social media posts, to generate buzz. “The in-person showing is usually your second showing, given all the information available online,” he says. “So it’s important to have engaging content that draws people in—whether that be professional photography or a quick video Copyright Top Agent Magazine


distributed over social media.” On top of these targeted posts, Alex also provides an in-depth understanding of traditional listing and staging techniques, ensuring that a home is expertly presented at every step of the process. As for buyers, Alex provides rigorous and attentive service. Most of all, he loves collaborating with first time homebuyers. “There are so many misconceptions out there about how much it takes to buy a home,” he says. “By crunching the numbers, I can show my clients that homeownership is much more attainable than they think.” Leaning on his extensive network of lenders, attorneys and home inspectors, Alex makes the buying process accessible and safe for all. Meanwhile, Alex carefully educates his clients on not only their current listings, but also the state of the market. “I always have my finger on the pulse,” he says. “That way, I can have a good sense of buyer behavior and stay updated on market conditions.” By keeping ahead of the curve, Alex has developed a strong reputation, with over 60% of his volume coming from either repeat clients or referrals. On top of that, he has been honored with @properties Outstanding Achievement Awards in both 2018 and 2019. “Success is a blessing,” he says. “But it speaks beyond any number; I’m just happy to make a difference.” When Alex looks ahead to the future, he first wants to grow his team. Beyond that, he hopes to expand his reach beyond city limits. For now, though, Alex is satisfied leaving a mark in his beloved city. “I love where I’m heading,” he says. “Buying a home is one of the biggest investments someone can make in their life. More than anything, I want to remain a trusted resource in that decision.” Top Agent Magazine

To learn more about Alex Menoni email alex@atproperties.com, visit atproperties.com or call (708)790-8521 www.

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Millennial Buyers: Where They Are & What to Know Homebuyers and sellers come from all walks of life. If you’ve been an agent for long, you’ve likely worked alongside a wide variety of folks—from first-timer homeowners and down-sizers, to second home searchers and those finally hunting for their dream home. While there is hardly a shortage of diversity in the housing market, there 20

is one generation that is making big strides in homeownership these days: Millennials. Millennials can be loosely defined as those between the ages of twenty-two to thirtyseven. As you can see, this constitutes a wide swathe of the population. If you’re an agent who stands to learn a bit more about

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a demographic whose influence and homeownership goals are rapidly evolving, tune in below for a few pointers that can help you expand a segment of your clientele in the process.

Where do Millennials prefer to buy? Many Millennials came of age during or immediately following the Great Recession, and as such, many of them relocated or returned to mid-size cities and smaller communities where the cost of living was most affordable. Of course, there are countless Millennials that call the U.S.’s major cities home—especially those in the

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tech industry. The good news is that you can court Millennial clientele no matter where you service area is located. That said, community amenities are of great importance to this generation. They value public transportation, green space, and entertainment—from coffee shops and topnotch restaurants to farmer’s markets and boutiques. Emphasizing those attributes will be key in selling to Millennials and locating neighborhoods they’re most interested in.

What sort of communication do Millennials prefer? Most Millennials are digital natives, or close to. That means they grew up learning

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how to navigate digital spaces, and prefer to communicate through mediums like email, text, and social media. This isn’t to say that Millennials aren’t good communicators, but they’re often on the go, and have learned to research and shop online. To accommodate this, it’s best to build a presence across the most popular listing portals and social media platforms. Although, it’s not enough to establish a site and wait for the calls to come in. Responsiveness is a key factor for Millennials, who expect speedy response times. Make sure you’re checking your inbox frequently, responding accordingly, and engaging with your audience online. This will let Millennials know

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that you’re savvy, available, and understand the value of their preferred method of communication.

Are Millennials ready to buy? It’s a common misconception that Millennials are uninterested in the rite of passage of purchasing a home. While Millennials maybe waiting a bit longer than their parents did to buy a home, there are good reasons to explain this phenomenon. For starters, Millennials entered the job market during the downturn, which means they are more conservative when making big purchases, and have to play catch-up to reach a sound

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financial position. Likewise, student loan debt has proved a major financial inhabitation for Millennials. Instead of socking away a few hundred a month to save for a home, they’re forking over that cash to pay down their educational loans. How does a Realtor compete with this reality? For starters, a bit of understanding goes a long way. Work with your mortgage partners to find financing possibilities that cater to this younger demographic. Recognize that Millennials—like most buyers—have some trepidations when buying a home. Also consider fielding Millennial clientele with the long view in mind. You might be Top Agent Magazine

courting them for months or more until they’re ready to take the plunge, but they’re also famous for their reviews. When a job is done well, Millennials shout it from the rooftops—or at least share it a dozen time from their phone. As time passes, Millennials will continue to dominate the marketplace when it comes to buying and selling homes. A little self-education on this powerful demographic can go a long way. If you know your clients and your audience, you’ll be in a far better position to serve their interests and make a customer for life.

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