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Business Growth Hack:















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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Business Growth Hack: Absorb Your Clients’ Stress! Your business coach or a CRM software sales rep has probably described a number of products or services to help you grow your business. But sometimes the easiest way to increase the deals you’re closing is to simply be present for your clients. In doing so, you’ll find have the power to decrease the stress they feel. And when you decrease their stress, you increase your value to them, leading to new referrals and organic growth. 4

You may be thinking, “I have enough stress; how can I find the emotional bandwidth for other people’s stress?” But consider this: As their day-to-day point of contact in this life decision, you are already a strong presence in your client’s lives. Why not allow yourself to be the only seemingly calm part of this process? By asking them what’s on their mind, by truly listening, by showing that you truly understand and even by rolling up

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your sleeves to relieve some of their grunt work, you’ll prove yourself invaluable. Think of yourself as the equivalent of an anti-anxiety pill to your clients. All you have to do is form a few easy habits.

Laura and Raj, their agent and their loan officer soon came to learn that Laura’s 80-year-old mother may eventually move in with the family. This news not only helped the agent best meet Laura’s and Raj’s needs for a new home; it gave both the agent and the loan officer opportunities to go above and beyond for their clients. Their REALTOR® connected Laura with a senior services nonprofit near Laura’s mom’s current home that may be able to assist the family. And their loan officer outlined various, detailed options to Laura and Raj make smart, long-term financial decisions. Meanwhile, the agent and loan officer earned the trust of Laura and Raj, who felt less worried about the future.

Listen – really listen – with patience Behind every home purchase or sale is a person or a family with a uniquely complex set of needs, motivations, objectives and priorities. Asking the right questions and truly listening to the answers are the easiest ways to learn how to make clients’ lives easier. In doing so, you not only show that you’re interested in them as people, but you help yourself discover ways to surprise your clients with service. Take “Laura and Raj,” for instance – a couple in their 30s who wanted a larger home because their family of five outgrew their first home. By patiently getting to know Top Agent Magazine

Empathize Don’t be afraid to describe your own personal experiences as a homebuyer or seller, explaining how you felt at the time; let your client know you “get” it. The agent who is willing to open up and let buyers and

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sellers know that they personally understand their needs and concerns will connect with clients quickly, break down barriers and help the process move smoothly. Chayan Alavi, Broker/Owner of Alavi Agency in Long Beach, California, challenges himself and his team to ensure that every action of every day serves others. “If we can put ourselves in other people’s shoes with empathy, then we become stellar professionals and great human beings, too,” he says. “I like knowing that we remove the sales pitch from real estate and make it all about the customer.” Chayan and his team focus on customer advocacy and building trust. But they don’t take trust for granted. Instead, they know trust must be earned and nurtured over time.

Roll up your sleeves “You can’t be afraid to do anything!” says Matthew Todd of d’aprile properties in the Chicago area. “People know there’s nothing I won’t do to get the job done.” He has 6

mowed clients’ lawns, walked dogs and personally cleaned someone’s 8,000-squarefoot, $2 million home for a showing one day after his seller left the house. Two days before another closing, Matthew’s client was unable to move large amounts of unneeded furniture out of the house he sold. No problem! Matthew joined or created five online garage sales; sold or gave away most of the client’s belongings and had the remainder hauled away before cleaning in time for the closing. “The first time I sit with a seller on listing presentation or the first day I take someone on a buyer’s tour, they know I’m ‘all-in.’” Meanwhile, in the Cincinnati area, Aaron Denton of Summit Funding considers himself and his team members to be concierges for their borrowers. “We’re like personal assistants,” says Aaron. “People are happier when you remove the stress.” Included in their standard services are researching moving quotes; arranging and organizing movein day; scheduling utility transfers; assisting with children’s school registration paperwork; and even connecting buyers with local resources like daycares. If “rolling up your sleeves” isn’t your strongest skill, then an easy alternative is to get to know professionals in your area who can do these tasks for you. In the end, remember that by listening with patience, empathizing, and being willing to go the extra mile, you have the power to remove the stress your clients would experience without your help. When clients feel cared for, they remember the agents and partners who helped them.

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With 22 years in the financing industry, senior loan officer Lourdes Maria Rosado works under the branch of Paramount Residential Mortgage Group, and oversees five junior officers. Lourdes Maria Rosado was a finance director and working in the automotive industry, when she received a suggestion that she should try working for a mortgage company. She took the advice, but thought 8 Copyright Top Agent Magazine

she had bombed her first job interview. That’s when a call came in asking her to come back to the office, where she got a job offer. She’s been in the financing industry for 22 years now, and currently works as Top Agent Magazine

a senior loan officer under the branch of Paramount Residential Mortgage Group (PRMG), and oversees five junior officers. A large part of her work is focused on imparting her knowledge to her staff. “We work in sales, and sales isn’t something you can teach. Either you’re born with it, or you’re not. I can teach them techniques, but in this business it’s not really about Top Agent Magazine

selling a product, it’s about educating them on a service. I tell them not to chase the commission, but to chase the service. When you do that, the money comes naturally because people can sense you’re coming from a good place.” And Lourdes certainly knows what she’s talking about when it comes to clients and money, as she averages a staggering Copyright Top Agent Magazine 9

As a veteran, and someone who is married to a veteran, Lourdes specializes in VA loans. “It’s my way of saying thank you to my fellow servicemen and servicewomen for what they do.”

1 million to 1.5 million in volume per month, all from referral business. “I don’t buy leads, a 100% of my business is referral. These people trust me, and I get to know them in and out. The good, the bad, and the ugly. They truly know that this is my passion and my love. We become friends. People know that I’m sincere, and I don’t overpromise and underdeliver. If I tell you I’m going to do something, I will do it. I’m a person of my word.” As a veteran, and someone who is married to a veteran, Lourdes specializes in VA loans. “It’s my way of saying thank you to my 10Copyright Top Agent Magazine

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fellow servicemen and servicewomen for what they do.” With such an impressive level of volume, how does she find the time to stay in touch with past clients? “I don’t sleep. My business associates laugh because they get emails from me at three in the morning,” she says. And her world truly does revolve around her clients. “This is a big deal. For most people Top Agent Magazine

it’s the largest purchase they’ve made to date: a home. It’s the roof over their head, over their family’s head. When you meet a first time homeowner in a family, it’s such a big deal. Some people are born and raised here and never accomplish home ownership in their whole lives. So it’s a huge accomplishment. To know that I have a hand in that is inspiring.” Copyright Top Agent Magazine11

As her business keeps growing, she would like to ease up on her own production, and pass off some of her work onto her loan officers when she feels they are ready. For now, the greatest

piece of advice she wants to pass on is that they are in this business to help people. “I tell them that their morning affirmation should be ‘It’s a great day to help someone.’”

To learn more about Lourdes Maria Rosado email LTellez@PRMG.net, visit prmg.net, or call (786) 517–4600 www.

http://www.justingrable.com 12Copyright Top Agent Magazine

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3 Beyond-the-Office Activities to Inspire a Creative Business Boom Maintaining motivation year-round is a challenge, especially for those who are several years into a demanding real estate career. It’s easy to burn out, get stuck in a rut, or cycle blindly through a well-worn routine. But those that leave an impact on their industry understand that creativity holds the key to innovation and longevity. To stay ahead of Top Agent Magazine

the curve and build your brand, you’ve got to take the time to breathe new life into your practice and see things from a new angle. But where to begin? To invite change, you’ve got to look outside the box—or in this case, beyond the office. If you’re in need of a professional creative make-

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To stay ahead of the curve and build your brand, you’ve got to take the time to breathe new life into your practice and see things from a new angle. over, or at least want to experience a burst of inventive energy, consider some of the activities below. You may just shake up your routine, bend your brain in new ways, and inject some inspiration into your professional path.

Expand your mind through meditation. You’ve likely heard all about the supposed powers of meditation, and perhaps you’ve long considered it an over-hyped New Age invention. But did you know that some of the foremost entrepreneurs of our era practice this cost-free, mentally restorative routine? From Oprah Winfrey to Steve Jobs, practitioners of meditation cite its stress-relieving principles, in addition to improvements in concentration, energy, self-awareness, and overall health.


Even mainstream medicine is beginning to understand the preventative and restorative health benefits that meditation affords. As professional fields go, the mortgage and real estate industries require their fair share of emotional labor—you’re tasked with guiding clients through the investment of a lifetime. Meditation promotes peace and perspective, while reducing stress, adding a new level of self-awareness, and helping you mentally declutter. When it comes down to it, it only makes sense that taking time to go quiet and center your mind helps professionals find wherewithal amidst a hectic industry. Next time you’re feeling drained, out of ideas, or at your wit’s end—consider just fifteen minutes of meditation to get you started. Like most things, it takes some practice. But, if you commit the time, you’ll be thanking yourself later.

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Learn something new. If you’re facing burnout, then adding a new responsibility to your plate may seem like the least appetizing self-help solution there is. However, learning a new skill can reinvigorate your understanding of familiar tasks and dilemmas. Plus, learning a new skill doesn’t have to mean formal classes or time-draining homework. Select something that can even kill two birds with one stone. Want to let off some steam, too? Try a kickboxing class that meets just once-a-week. You’ll have something new to look forward to, meet new people, challenge yourself, and earn some feel-good endorphins, Top Agent Magazine

too. Want to cut loose and have some fun? Join a board game meet-up group, take a cooking class, or try rock-climbing for the first time. A stimulating new activity will light up long-dormant parts of your brain, and your clients and colleagues will surely notice the influx of energy to your outlook. Still don’t think you have enough time to add something new to the mix? Blend your morning commute with an audio language learning service. The point is to shake-up your habits and introduce a new challenge that’s unrelated to work. Doing so can make you look at things in a new light and boost your mood along the way.

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See new sights. If you can, there’s no better way to break from routine than to physically separate yourself from your surroundings. There’s nothing more inspiring than traveling to new destinations, experiencing new cultures, and getting a sense of the world’s true vastness. If a trip abroad isn’t in the cards, don’t fret. There are bound to be plenty of places relatively close by that you’ve never seen. And these trips don’t have to break the bank, either. Devote just one or two days to visiting a place you’ve never gone before, like a state park, protected forest, or a small seaside village. Perhaps you’re only a few hours from a National Park you’ve been meaning to visit but have never made time for. Or, there’s a lively city one state over that you’ve always wanted to try. Whatever the destination, near or far, you’ll refresh


your perspective entirely when removed from all your usual routines. New restaurants, traffic patterns, storefronts, weather—whatever the change may be, you’ll be experiencing everything brand new all around you. Taking the time for trips like these isn’t easy. In fact, making yourself devote those free days may be a difficult task itself. But it’s the most direct way to get a breath of truly fresh air, and when you return home you’ll be able to assess familiar surroundings in a totally new light. However you decide to add creativity to your professional life, don’t wait. Once you take the plunge, you’ll be regretting you hadn’t done it sooner. After all, the key to longevity is regular maintenance, so do your part and break the mold today.

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DIANA RODRIGUEZ Diana Rodriguez is now in her fifth year as a mortgage professional. Before that she was a real estate broker, but she decided that she would be able to make an even greater difference in her customers’ lives by working with them on their mortgages. “Now I have the ability to look at someone’s whole financial picture and advise my clients on how to get to the next level,” Diana says, “which is an opportunity I didn’t have when I was in real estate.” As part of New American Funding, Diana serves the greater Orlando area. She works with a great support team, which allows her to focus on working directly with her clients. “I like to meet with my clients face to face and form a connection with them,” she says. Diana takes care to stay in touch with clients via social media and other technology, especially when working with young people. But she finds that she can be more helpful when she really gets to know her clients. Diana’s background as a real estate agent, as well as working with insurance and taxes, gives her a special advantage when it comes to reviewing clients’ financial situation. “When you hire me, you’re not just hiring a loan officer,” she explains. “I’m reviewing your whole scenario, and if something was done wrong in the past, with your taxes or anything else, I can help you correct it so you can have more buying power.” Diana uses a credit simulator to help clients pinpoint ways they can improve their credit, so they can be in a better position to afford the home they want. “I take the time to get them ready, where other loan officers might not, because they’re looking at the present picture, not the future picture,” she says. Overall, this is Diana’s favorite thing about working as a loan officer. “I have the ability to advise people and help them get to the next level,” she says. “My customers need me to educate them in the financial aspect of buying Top Agent Magazine

a house. When you buy a house it’s not just about having a roof over your head, it’s also about financial planning for your family. It’s great that you have the house, but what are you going to do with it? Let’s build the wealth and the assets that you need, either to send your kids to college, to get your retirement plan/401(k) going, or to refinance your house in order to get extra money to use in whatever you might need in the near future. I want to make this your financial plan, to make sure you have a secure future for your kids, for your retirement, for what’s important to you moving forward.” Diana believes strongly in giving back to her community. She is active in a local boxing club for kids that helps them get off the street and into a positive activity where they can learn discipline and other life skills. She also volunteers at a local nursing home. When she is not working or giving back, Diana loves spending time with her family. In the future, Diana wants to keep providing valuable advice to her clients, and to become even more of an all-around financial planner who can help them achieve their long-term goals. “I come from a low-income family, so I always strive to be better,” she says. “I take pride in everything I do to make a better tomorrow for my customers.”

To find out more about Diana Rodriguez, please call (863)443-3325, email Diana.Rodriguez@nafinc.com, or visit XtremeHomeLoans.com Copyright Top Agent Magazine 17

Are Your Presentation Skills Costing You Money?


ometimes we’re so focused on technology and education that we forget this is a “people business”. And, a great deal of the money you make comes from your ‘point of contact’ skills. What do I mean by that? Lead generating dialogues and presentation dialogues. Yet, how much do we work on those verbal skills? Unfortunately, communication sales skills have gotten short shrift in the last decade. Why? I think it’s because many of us are so challenged by technological changes. But, slow down. Think about how you actually make money. It’s at point of contact. Getting better at point of contact skills translates into more money in less time.

We’re All Presenters Everyone in the real estate business presents: Agents present, when they are doing listing or buyer presentations. Managers present when they are recruiting, or doing their office meetings. Mortgage and title 18

By Carla Cross

When you’re doing a listing presentation, what do you want to happen? You want them to sign the listing agreement when you’re done. reps present when they are in front of a group of agents in an office, talking about their services. So, doesn’t it make sense to become ‘killer’ at those presentations? You’ll double your money and halve your time.

Bug Off: I Do Okay Just Like I Am Yeah. I know. As a musician, I’ve worked with literally hundreds of people who thought they ‘played good enough.’ Some people just get to a certain performance level and leave it there. Have you ever thought that, often, our presentation strategies (or lack of) work in spite of us, not because of us? As a musician, I know the thrill of performing at high levels. So, open your mind and consider

stepping up to a higher presentation level. Not only will you have personal satisfaction, you’ll make more money! Now, let’s tackle one set of presentation skills: Organizing that presentation effectively. Having heard listing presentations that wander all around the world, I know the importance of effective presentation organization.

Three Steps to Organize Your Presentation to Knock Their Socks Off Most of the time, we just get in front of people and say whatever we think of first. That leads to some big presentation mistakes, and costs us ‘sales.’ Instead of stumbling through a presentation, why not organize it to Copyright Top Top Agent Agent Magazine

grab their attention, persuade them to your way of thinking, and motivate them to action? You can. In my new resource, Knock Their Socks Off: Tips to Make Your Best Presentation Ever, I show a simple three-step format to create your persuasive presentation. No matter why you’re in front of people, we need to be persuasive Think about it. When you’re doing a listing presentation, what do you want to happen? You want them to sign the listing agreement when you’re done. So, it’s extremely important that you organize your listing presentation using a persuasive format, not just an information-heavy dialogue flow.

Grab Their Attention in the Opening Have you thought about your opening? Or, are you nervously standing at the sellers’ door, worried about what you’re going to say? Are you hiding in your office because you dread doing that sales meeting? When we haven’t organized our presentation, we come up with some really boring, off-putting openings, like: I won’t take much of your time, but... Top Agent Top Magazine Copyright Agent Magazine

We have a lot to cover today We won’t get through the outline I know you don’t want to listen, but... I’m not really prepared

You just open your presentation book, point to the pretty pages, and say, “here’s a keybox” (I’m not kidding. I’ve seen it….) Great openings, yes? Yet, we’ve heard them dozens of times. You don’t have to settle for whatever 19

If you’re doing a presentation to sellers, one of the major objectives of your presentation is to persuade them to your listing price point of view. comes ‘naturally.’ Instead, make your openings: Provocative Interesting Different Engaging I just attended a ‘Train the Trainer’ session (yes, I still learn great stuff every day!), where the trainer said it was important to engage the audience in a meaningful way in the first two minutes of your presentation. I think that’s a great rule to follow today, because people’s attention spans are the length of a gnat’s eyebrow. So, the next time you attend a presentation, see how much time elapses before the speaker/presenter/trainer gets the audience into meaningful action. I don’t mean to ask a rhetorical question, either!

A Middle That Educates Your ‘Audience’ to Your Point of View In the middle of your pres20

entation, add those stories, statistics, and visuals that support your point of view. By the way, as you create that presentation, jot down your point of view. If you’re doing a presentation to sellers, one of the major objectives of your presentation is to persuade them to your listing price point of view.

Retention is Key

Why Use Visuals?

Three days later:

There are two reasons to use visuals in your presentation:

We retain 10% of the information when we hear it

We believe what we see

We retain 65% of the information when we hear and see it

We retain the information much longer As you organize your presentation, ask yourself:

Have you ever met with sellers or buyers, given them lots of information—and then had them question you about it a few days later—as if they never heard you—or heard you backwards? That’s because people don’t hear and retain very well. Look at the statistics:

So, use visuals to prove your points, not to merely show pretty pictures of houses.

The Ending: What are the main, and fre- Back to the Beginning quently, unspoken objections my ‘audience’ will have? How do I educate them to show them the reasoning behind my point of view?

Have you thought about your wrap-up? Or, like many presenters, does your ending sound like this? CopyrightTop TopAgent AgentMagazine Magazine

Well, that’s all. What do you think?

pop tunes are constructed with this format:

We’re out of time. Thank you. I hope you’ll list with me


I don’t have time to close. I couldn’t get to much of the material, but you can read it In fact, even the most professional presenters frequently have trouble with their endings. One of the main reasons is that they run out of time. Another is that they haven’t thought the ending through.

How to Do a Stunning Ending Crafting an effecting ending is the second most important part of your presentation. (The first is the opening). To craft a great ending, Go back to your beginning opening theme Summarize the benefits of going ahead with you/take action Motivate your ‘audience’ to take action

A Great Presentation is Crafted Like a Pop Song As a musician, I know that all Top Agent Magazine Copyright Top Agent Magazine

This is known in the music business as the ABA format. Think of your favorite pop tune: Hum the beginning. Think of the end. They’re alike, right? It’s the middle— known as the ‘bridge’—that is the humdinger. It wanders all around. Your persuasive presentation should be crafted like that pop tune: A. A compelling start (think Billy Joel, Neil Diamond, etc.) B. An interesting, developed middle, with stories, statistics A. Back to that theme, with a motivating ending Now, you’re all set to craft a great listing or buyer presentation, great recruiting meeting or sales meeting, or awesome product/service presentation to any audience.

Carla Cross, CRB, MA, President of Carla Cross & Co., is an international speaker, coach, and resource provider specializing in real estate management. A former master level CRB instructor, and National REALTOR® Educator winner, Carla was recently named one of the 50 most influential women in real estate. For a free document on standards to establish, email Carla at Carla@carlacross. com and ask for standards document. Carla has written six internationally published books, and provides coaching programs for management, including her affordable inoffice coaching programs Up and Running in 30 Days and On Track to Success in 30 Days for Experienced Agents, which provide standards, focus, and accountability. Reach Carla at 425-392-6914 or www.carla cross.com.

P. S. Practice! Many more tips on presentations and presentation skills are in my new resource, Knock Their Socks Off: Tips to Make your Best Presentation Ever.


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. 22

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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