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CHICAGO EDITION

How to Make Your Commute Productive

By the Numbers:

Understanding the True Value of Square Footage

RECONSIDER REFERRAL-ONLY WHEN PLANNING FOR THE FUTURE

Why Millennials Are Now

The Hottest Segment of the Buyers Market COVER STORY

LANCE KIRSHNER


CHICAGO EDITION

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LANCE KIRSHNER

CONTENTS 4) HOW TO MAKE YOUR COMMUTE PRODUCTIVE 6) RECONSIDER REFERRALONLY WHEN PLANNING FOR THE FUTURE

15) BY THE NUMBERS: UNDERSTANDING THE TRUE VALUE OF SQUARE FOOTAGE 20) WHY MILLENNIALS ARE NOW THE HOTTEST SEGMENT OF THE BUYERS MARKET

LANCE KIRSHNER

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How to Make Your Commute Productive The highest caliber business owners and entrepreneurs utilize every minute of their day. Though this may be a lofty goal, there are certainly ways to make our daily routines more efficient and productive. Consider the morning and evening commute—time blocks that are accounted for every day. For some of us, daily commutes may mean a lengthy drive through gridlock traffic, or perhaps just a quick fifteen-minute crosstown excursion. However short or long your commute may be, there are ways to maximize this component of your daily routine and reap the rewards. With that in mind, take a look at some ideas below to inject some energy and productivity into your daily commute. 4

Listen to the latest industry-centric podcasts or audiobooks Whether you drive, bike, walk, or take public transportation, a commute is the perfect time to tune into an industry-oriented podcast or audiobook as a way of building your skills or getting into the zone for the day. Instead of letting your commute time be passive, you can process insights from leading industry professionals, or develop your skillset on a topic you haven’t yet made time for. Perhaps you’d like to develop your social media presence, or maybe you’d like to tap into the millennial homebuyer market—whatever the case may be, there is audio material out there suited to your interests. What’s more, podcasts are free and easy to incorporate on your smartphone or

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tablet, and there are ample audiobook subscription services out there that make regular listenership cost effective.

Create a mental to-do list to get a head-start on your day, or to prepare for tomorrow Getting your thoughts in order with a straightforward to-do list can help you dive in once you make it to your desk, or serve as a conclusive mental routine to end your work day. If you drive to and from work and don’t have your hands free, don’t fret. Speaking your to-do list aloud can help you detangle your thoughts and tasks by vocalizing them. You can also try breaking down your to-do list by verbalizing the day’s goals, the week’s goals, and the month’s goals as a way of structuring priorities. If your commute is hands-free, you can incorporate a variety of apps that serve as custom-made todo lists that’ll organizationally map your duties for the day. In either case, use your commute window to identify and name the tasks ahead of you, and you’ll be able to hit the ground running when the time comes to perform.

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Tend to your personal commitments and planning A productive commute can boost your professional performance, but it can also serve your personal growth and out-of-the-office responsibilities, as well. Perhaps you can think out and plan your meals for the week so that you don’t come home burnt out and with nothing in mind for dinner. Maybe you check in with a relative or partner and catch up for a spare twenty minutes. Not only does this eliminate a few items off of your personal to-do list, it can actually give you a more focused mind at the office. If your personal life is in good order, you’ll be able to devote your full attention to work tasks. As the old saying goes, there are only so many hours in a day. If you added up all the minutes spent commuting around town, how many hours would amount? Though the trek to and from the office is an engrained part of professional life, it doesn’t have to be a drag. Account for those spare commute windows in productive ways, and in only a month you’ll have devoted a significant portion of your time to bettering yourself as a person and a professional.

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Reconsider Referral-Only When Planning for the Future

A 100% referral rate is a testament of client happiness. But even a 30% referral rate is proof of client satisfaction. It’s all relative, say some agents. One number pays tribute to past success, which is certainly a story worth telling. But the other might better predict the future. Many agents plan for the idea that 6

working only on referral may not be sufficient during slower times of the year, in a down market, or when an agent needs to expanding into a new sector. Unless you are clairvoyant enough to flawlessly predict every market change or every

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Many agents plan for the idea that working only on referral may not be sufficient during slower times of the year, in a down market, or when an agent needs to expanding into a new sector. life change that your clients and referral partners may experience, it’s wise to maintain an active marketing presence. The reasons vary, however, depending on the goals and trajectory of each individual’s business. If long-term success, a growing team, a legacy or expansion into new areas are not priorities, then working a sphere of influence may be enough for some agents, especially those who may be in the industry mostly for the love of the business. But for a majority of agents, no matter how much they love their work, their real estate and mortgage businesses are careers, first and foremost. Let’s start with the team-builders and mentors. Agents and brokers who are building teams are wise to invest in business marketing, advertising and community outreach. Ty Hutchins, who owns and operates Ty & Company Real Estate in Colorado’s Front Range, says that, while she could personally live off referrals alone, her goal is to build up her agents. “I do the marketing piece for my team, so I can help them succeed,” she says. That marketing includes running commercials on TV and in movies theatres, as well as lead generation that identifies potential buyers, sellers and Top Agent Magazine

investors between the Colorado Springs and Denver markets. Her team’s goal, she adds, is to promote their reputation of being honest, hardworking professionals with the reach of a major brand but the personalized approach of a boutique. Then there are the growers. Khrista Jarvis and Nicole Jung of The Khrista Jarvis Team in the San Francisco Bay Area, are on a considerable growth track. “We’re the #1 team in our area and the top team in Compass Real Estate nationally,” explains Khrista. While high marks for service on behalf of their clients have led them to these heights, they know that they must continue to evolve and market their brand. “We do a good deal of social media marketing for our listings and for our business,” she says. Their names, therefore, are frequently linked to sentiments of trust, dependability and market knowledge, both in their marketing and in their reviews. Next, there are those who weathered the worst of times. Susan Roche entered real estate sales in 2003, following several years of property management in North Carolina. The key to her sustained triumphs through major market swings lies in her long-range planning. “If the market starts to dip or fall,

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I have safety nets in place,” says Susan Roche, team leader of Simply Real Estate, based in Charlotte. “When it’s a seller’s market, I still plan for a buyer’s market and when it’s a buyer’s market I plan for a seller’s market..” In other words, no matter how comfortable her existing work may feel, she networks consistently. She also employs a full-time marketing director who leads several projects including ongoing research, events and social media exposure in addition to listings marketing. By staying ahead of market changes, Susan knows she can unfailingly represent her clients’ best interests while still maintaining a safety net for her business. Even professionals with more than three decades’ experience and deep referral networks know the importance of business

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marketing. Cathy Richards, co-owner with Nancy Dalaska of Epic-Wasatch Homes in Park City, UT, entered real estate in 1987 and still draws at least a fifth of her business from lead generation, social media marketing and community outreach. Her business partner, Nancy, adds that real estate is about much more than their own business. “We love collaborating and brainstorming with other agents to help them prosper,” says Nancy. “We believe the healthier the market, the better we all are.” Regardless of market conditions, even the best reputation can’t guarantee long-term success. To sustain and grow, it’s wise to feed your business by increasing exposure, remaining flexible and maintaining systems for customer service, networking, research, marketing and lead-generation.

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LANCE KIRSHNER Top Agent Magazine

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LANCE KIRSHNER A broker with @properties, Top Agent Lance Kirshner specializes on hot neighborhoods within Chicago’s city limits plus North Shore and Northwest suburban communities. People who hire Lance Kirshner and the LAKE Group discover how real estate teams should operate. “We’ve taken the whole concierge-style real estate concept to new heights,” says Lance, who entered Chicago 10 Copyright Top Agent Magazine

real estate in 2004 as a rental agent and appraiser before pursuing residential sales more than a decade ago. While some real estate teams may exist for the sake of volume, Lance’s exists for the sake of service. Its Top Agent Magazine


seasoned professionals include 5 full time brokers, a co-listing agent, a buyers’ agent, a transaction coordinator and a fifth person with the skillset to help wherever needed. A broker with @properties, Lance specializes on hot neighborhoods within Chicago’s city limits plus North Shore and Northwest suburban communities. A vast majority of their transactions are in Chicago neighborhoods of West Town, River West, Bucktown, Wicker Park and Logan Square, or Old Town, Lincoln Park and Lakeview. And their holistic approach to real estate and willingTop Agent Magazine

ness to go above and beyond leads to a high percentage of business from referrals or past clients. “We do extras that people don’t expect,” says Lance. From helping sellers with odd jobs to being a trusted resource for referrals of other professional over time, they earn generations of business. Although the LAKE Group is a smaller team, they have had fabulous results, with a combined volume of over $125 million since 2016. Lance’s team has become known as the “family real estate brokers” they aim to be. “In one case, when it was time for Grandma 11 Copyright Top Agent Magazine


to sell her house, her granddaughter said, ‘We trust you like family,’ after having a great experience purchasing her condo with us,” says Lance, who enjoys that people feel as if they’re his only client. While the team may have 25+ pending transactions at a time, they leverage their teamwork to provide hands-on service. Clients also have direct access to Lance himself and describe him in reviews as a knowledgeable, proactive, resourceful and “always available” to field questions.

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Marketing savvy is a large part of the team’s concierge service, including the robust resources available to them through @ properties. “It starts with good marketing collateral and we’ve branched out to the 3D walk-through floorplans so people can Top Agent Magazine

experience the home before showing up.” They hire a professional photographer for every listing and adopt whatever technology will help best showcase each listing. “That includes geographical marketing to push our listings to people looking in Copyright Top Agent Magazine 13


specific ZIP codes. And we’re on every website and social media outlet possible, without abandoning print.” Multi-faceted client communication includes connecting with clients multiple times a year by phone, text, client appreciation parties, e-blasts, gifts and mail. Lance also stays active with the Chicago Association of REALTORS®, for which he chairs the grievance committee,

and he donates his time and resources to his alma mater University of Illinois (UrbanaChampaign). “That’s where it all started,” he says, remembering a lecturer who suggested that Lance would excel in real estate. The rest is history. But history has a ways to go for Lance, who plans to increase his work in development and rehabs. “Every day and every client is different, and every deal poses its own twists. We’re ready for each challenge.”

To learn more about Lance Kirshner, visit LanceK.com, go to his Facebook page, email lancek@atproperties.com or call 773.578.8080 https://www.facebook.com/Lance-Kirshner-is-my-properties-Realtor-245889616184/

www.

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By the Numbers:

Understanding the True Value of Square Footage Measuring the square footage of a property may seem like an objective and straightforward task, but you’d be surprised at how many agents and homebuyers misunderstand this pivotal figure. True square footage provides homebuyers a concrete understanding of their prospective domain, but here’s the problem: the rules to determine a home’s square footage are not always uniform across the board. What’s more, much of Top Agent Magazine

a home’s value is determined by its size, so accuracy is certainly important. While many real estate agents have their own systems for determining or confirming a home’s true square footage, it doesn’t hurt to update your practices and become an expert on the subject. After all, you may learn a few techniques that could add value to a listing, or better prepare you in guiding house-hunters on the lookout.

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1. Do your due diligence Most towns and cities have a local records department where floorplans and blueprints are kept on file. It’s worth noting that these records don’t typically include any subsequent additions or remodels on a property, but they still give archive hunters a legal baseline when outlining a property’s square footage. Oftentimes, a straightforward online search of a city or county’s records office can pull the information necessary, or else agents can poke around in person to uncover informative blueprints at the records office. Either way, access to original blueprints or floorplans is a great tool for determining livable square footage. As a bonus,

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original blueprints and floorplans—especially in historic properties—can be intriguing visual aids for prospective buyers, as well.

2. Know the rules While there aren’t universal standards when it comes to measuring square footage, there are general guidelines that can help determine square footage in an authentic way. Per the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), here are the official recommendations for measuring a home’s real square footage: n

Called “below grade spaces,” basements and sunrooms beyond a home’s typical

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living quarters do not count toward a home’s true square footage. According to ANSI, even big draws like finished basements don’t count toward a property’s Gross Living Area. Of course, even below grade spaces have their own desirable value and should be outlined as such on listings. n

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Did you know the space inside closets and on stairways counts toward a home’s square footage? Even if these areas are relatively small, they still add to a property’s calculable square footage. When recording square footage, ANSI actually suggests performing measurements from a property’s exterior—though this method does not account for the

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thickness of exterior walls, which could skew square footage numbers. n

Just like below grade spaces, a garage, a pool house, or even a guest house should not be included in a property’s Gross Living Area. The rationale at work here is this: if you must go outside to access additional living areas, then they are beyond the square footage scope of the primary dwelling and should not be included in a home’s Gross Living Area.

3. Double-check by doing the dirty work Buyers and sellers have or will make a sizable investment in a property, so isn’t it fair to double-check all the relevant facts and figures

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when it comes to true square footage? If you want to take on the endeavor yourself, here are a few helpful steps to take. n

First, you’ll need a few things to get started, including a tape measure that can measure at least 100 ft., graph paper, and a pencil.

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Next, choose a room to start measuring wall-by-wall. Measure Wall 1, then proceed to assign each square on the gridded paper a corresponding measurement, rounding to the nearest tenth of a foot for the sake of clarity.

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From there, draw out the wall you measured and measure the remaining walls in the

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room. Once you’ve completed the room’s measurements, multiply the room’s length and width to determine its square footage. n

As you go measure throughout the home, using your own system to scale, you will construct a failsafe floorplan.

Mastering your craft is everything, and the real estate industry is no different. Every now and again, it’s worthwhile to update your well of information, take matters into your own hands, and continue to innovate with the industry. While square footage may not seem like the juiciest starting off point for such a venture, never forget: mastery of technical knowledge is a sure sign of expertise.

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Why Millennials Are Now the Hottest Segment of the Buyers Market

and How You Can Attract Them to Your Home There are many factors when it comes to knowing how to sell your home to the Millennial generation. Millennials are becoming an important part of the buyer market, and to fail to cater to their needs will cut you off from a large and important segment. But, why have Millennials all of a sudden become interested in buying houses when they were perfectly content to rent for the rest of their lives? 20

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A number of factors contribute to what has recently made Millennials the hottest segment of the Buyers market. One factor is the improved job outlook for Millennials. Millennials took a serious blow during the recession. Unemployment in this group soared to 14 percent, compared to the 9.6 percent for the population as a whole. But, in recent years that number has been decreasing, with unemployment for Millennials being 9.3 percent this past year. Rising rents are also contributing to making Millennials more interested in purchasing homes now. Rents have risen so much that buying a home now just makes more sense. Half of all renters spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing. Millennials are becoming increasingly stressed over the constantly increasing financial obligation to something that isn’t even theirs to own. The near-historic low mortgage rates are luring Millennials towards purchasing a home with their promise of affordability. When compared with the skyrocketing rental rates, buying a house looks even more enticing. Another factor helping Millennials get over the hump of purchasing a house is the lower down payment requirements. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are now offering new loan programs that require as little as a 3 percent down payment. This may just be the last push the Millennials needed to turn toward buying a home rather than rent. So, now that we’ve established that Millennials are finally joining the Buyers market, the next thing that it is important to understand is what exactly Millennials are looking for in a home. What kind of floorplans do they prefer? What locations are they interested in? Here are some of the essentials that Millennials are looking for in a home: • Updated Kitchens and Baths: Almost everyone wants to buy a

home with new kitchen and bath fixtures, but this is especially true for Millennials Buyers. Millennials are going to spend most of their savings on the down payment and furnishings, leaving little room to update the Kitchen and Bath, which are also the most expensive parts of a home to

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update. Millennials who are on a budget simply won’t have the money to sink into those areas. An updated Kitchen and Bath is sure to bring in a younger crowd. • Big Kitchen with Open Floor Plan: For Millennials, the kitchen has

become the room where they hangout in addition to the family room. This is why having an open space that can transition easily from the kitchen to the TV room is high on the list of things Millennials are looking for in a home. Along a similar vein, Millennials are attracted to an open floor plan rather than one that compartmentalizes the home. This has to do with how Millennials entertain. Millennials want their guests to flow through the rooms and mingle together, rather than be sectioned off in different rooms.

• Home Office: More than 13 million Americans now work from home,

and if you look at the trend, that number is only going to increase as the time goes on. With technology steadily increasing, more Millennials than ever have the flexibility to work from home. But, the home office isn’t just for someone working from home full time. Having a separate space dedicated to work helps people concentrate and focus on work while they are at home. They can separate themselves from the activities going on around the house and have a quiet space where they can set up their workday, plan a presentation, hold a meeting on Skype, or even pay bills.

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• Less Maintenance: Many Millennials work different schedules that

don’t conform to the 9 to 5 workday, as well as full social calendars. This doesn’t leave them much time to clean a big house. Lawn services and low-maintenance front yards are particularly appealing, as they take less responsibility to still keep the curb appeal high.

• Energy-Efficient Appliances: Millennials have been educated on

keeping the Earth clean from the time they were born. They want to do their part to help the environment and appreciate the long-term cost savings that come with it. Energy-efficient appliances and greener ways to heat and cool the home might end up being the tipping point that makes them choose one house over another.

• Hardwood Floors: Millennials don’t have the time or patience to clean

dirty carpets, especially those that own pets. Hardwood and laminate flooring is easy to mop up if there’s been a mess. The more time they can conserve, the better.

• Good Location: Millennial buyers are looking for homes that are in

proximity to public transportation and have a good walking score. Young Millennial buyers without children are more likely to want a location closer to the action of the city, while Millennials with children would prefer more residential areas.

• Technology: Technology rules the Millennial’s life. They do work on

their computers through an Internet connection and solely use cellphones for communication. They are going to ask about how strong the cell service is and about the Internet service provider. While these amenities are out of the seller’s hands, Millennials are still going to ask these questions, and you will need to know how to answer them.

Knowing what Millennials are looking for in a home will ultimately help you make the necessary changes that will attract these buyers to your home. Since they are the a serious segment of the market now, updating your home to fit their needs will lead to more buyers and better offers. So, get with the times and embrace the Millennial buyer. Top Agent Magazine

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