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NEW JERSEY EDITION

KEEPING IN TOUCH: How to Stay in Your Clients' Lives for the Long Haul Top Agent Tips and Questions for CHOOSING YOUR LISTING AGENT Are Your Presentation Skills COSTING YOU MONEY? 5 Steps to Achieve LONG-TERM SUCCESS AS A REAL ESTATE AGENT

COVER STORY

MESINA RUTSTEIN


NEW JERSEY EDITION

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MESINA RUTSTEIN

CONTENTS 4) TOP AGENT TIPS AND QUESTIONS FOR CHOOSING YOUR LISTING AGENT 13) KEEPING IN TOUCH: HOW TO STAY IN YOUR CLIENTS' LIVES FOR THE LONG HAUL

18) ARE YOUR PRESENTATION SKILLS COSTING YOU MONEY? 22) 5 STEPS TO ACHIEVE LONG-TERM SUCCESS AS A REAL ESTATE AGENT

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Top Agent Tips and Questions for Choosing Your Listing Agent Now that you’ve decided to sell, it’s time to select the professional to help you market your property. Before meeting with agents, however, consider Top Agent Magazine’s tips for preparing yourself. Frist, ask yourself what kind of relationship you’d like to have with your listing agent. Are you seeking a casual, personable relationship and the latest marketing tools or are you interested in a more formal, traditional relationship and approach to marketing techniques? Next, populate your list of agents by attending open houses and asking for recommendations from recent buyers and sellers. Finally, schedule your meetings at your home, where you’ll be able to gauge the chemistry between you and each agent. During your meetings, expect any Top Agent to ask you several questions, but also consider discussing the following: 4

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Will you please describe your sales experience and local network?

Ask your Top Agent to describe recent listings and sales of homes comparable to your own. Ask about the sellers’ priorities, the original list price, market time and number of offers. Top Agents will also describe how well they are connected with other REALTORS® in the region as well as their contacts with relocation companies, local corporations and chambers of commerce. Be sure to ask about each agent’s knowledge of how your market has changed over time and what has influenced change.

You’ll learn a lot by listening to agents’ opinions.

How will you market the property? Each

Top Agent has a unique set of online or local marketing tools at his or her disposal. Some use lead-generation applications and nearly ever luxury agent take advantage of video. Even video marketing tools vary from agent-to-agent, however. You’ll get to decide if you prefer an agent with higher-end video production and 3D Matterport tours or an agent with more intimate techniques featuring walk-and-talk style video tours. What factors influence your list-price recommendation? Before an-

swering this question, most Top Agents will have several questions for you, including whether you’re more focused on a faster sale or a higher list price. They’ll also educate you on how best to balance both market time and list price relative to sales histories your area. Now that you’ve seen the home, what repairs or improvements do you recommend before listing? You’ll learn a lot by listening to agents’

opinions on your home’s sale potential with or without some improvements. Most Top Agents will also recommend a full professional inspection prior to listing to avoid surprises during buyer inspection.

How will you help with staging? Some Top Agents will pay for part or

all of the staging costs. At a minimum, however, a Top Agent will have a staging professional or two in their partner network. While they’re at it, they may provide referrals for carpet cleaning, painting, gardening and other minor finishing touches. Top Agent Magazine

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What attributes of the property will you want to highlight? Each Top

Agent will have a somewhat different answer to this question, but that’s a good thing! Even if you have your own ideas about your home’s greatest attributes, you’ll glean insight into the current market by considering different agents’ opinions. In learning their views, you may even change your mind about your home’s most marketable features!

What is your approach to Open Houses? How many agent-only Open

Houses will your Top Agent want to host? How many truly Open Houses? Some Top Agents may even reveal a “swankier” approach to the Open House – such as an evening cocktail party or by-invitation “open” hours to which buyers visit along with the agent representing them.

Who will be our primary point(s) of contact from your office? This

important question will help you understand the scope of your agent’s practice. You’ll get to see if your agent runs a robust team with many hands on deck or if he or she works by close, one-on-one contact with each client. Either approach is wonderful; you get to decide what suits you. Now, let’s list! 6

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MESINA RUTSTEIN 7


MESINA RUTSTEIN Mesina Rutstein always had a passion for real estate. She got her start as a licensed interior designer and project manager, working mostly on corporate, higher education and healthcare multi-million-dollar projects throughout the country – usually the only woman on large construction teams. After moving to New Jersey, Mesina chose to channel her creativity and experience into project-based real estate 8Copyright Top Agent Magazine

transactions. Her career quickly took off and she soon became the top-producing agent at Sotheby’s competitive Westfield office, while simultaneously becoming a licensed builder and real estate broker. Leveraging her experience working with builders, she soon realized the imperative need for streamlined communication and organizaTop Agent Magazine


tion skills between builders and buyers. “Many builders began to notice my unique skills and the value I brought to the table. I identified land acquisition opportunities and was able to give my clients creative ideas as to how to maximize the property’s greatest use, ensuring significant ROI’s for my clients. Once I started focusing on that niche, my business increased exponentially.” In fact, Mesina’s business increased so much that she branched out on her own and opened Mesina Realty Group, LLC, a unique boutique Top Agent Magazine

residential and commercial real estate firm that specializes in the marketing of luxury properties and project-based real estate transactions for buyers, sellers, builders, investors and developers. Her company offers a complete customer support system including an in-house design studio. “We work with our clients throughout the entire process. When you hire an agent that does not understand construction when purchasing a new home, it can end up costing buyers more in upgrades and change orders down the road, and ultimately lead to an unhappy experience. We help our clients Copyright Top Agent Magazine9


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through the design process and the building phase, making sure everyone is clear on what’s happening, so there are no mistakes and no regrets.” After a little over a year in the business, the Mesina Realty Group has already built the reputation as the ‘go to’ agency for project-based real estate, as well as for luxury listings. “Since 2016, Mesina Realty Group continues to be the number one brokerage in Watchung, NJ for homes listed over $2 million and sold. We also continue to be the number one brokerage in Watchung, NJ for the fastest selling homes listed over $2 million. We initially thought we would be supporting small builders, however within Top Agent Magazine

our first year, the largest builder in America has chosen Mesina Realty Group to market their million-dollar-plus luxury collection of new homes throughout New Jersey. That is an accomplishment I am really proud of.” Mesina credits her high repeat referral business rate to the fact that they spoil their clients by offering a level of customer service that truly goes above and beyond. “I genuinely care and my clients know they can trust me. I am an expert in my field, and I offer knowledge that leads to exceptional results.” Mesina is big on giving back to the community. She teams up with charities at her open Copyright Top Agent Magazine 11


houses, which are more like red carpet events, with catering, live music, photographers and local press. These events create excellent marketing exposure for her properties, with the added bonus of helping a good cause. When she isn’t working, Mesina enjoys spending quality time with her daughter, Milana.

Mesina is expanding into new areas, offering even more people the incomparable level of service that she has built her reputation on. “I love what I do. Seeing my clients accomplish their goals is what drives me. I want people to know that when you work with Mesina Realty Group, you can count on us to make sure your transaction is successful.”

To learn more about

MESINA RUTSTEIN

email mesina@mesinarealty.com, call 214-505-5607, or visit mesinarealty.com www.

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HOW TO STAY IN YOUR CLIENTS' LIVES FOR THE LONG HAUL

One sign of a great real estate agent is there long list of loyal client following. Part of achieving a great referral base is being a great realtor during the transaction. But, that’s only half of the work. To truly be your client’s realtor for life and keep them coming back to you as well as referring others to you, you have to stay in their lives past the transaction. Keeping in touch with your past clients can be one of the most important parts of your business, and one that many realtors tend to push to the wayside. Do you stay in your client’s lives, or do you disappear? People refer people that they feel they know well and that they trust, people they consider friends. However, earning and keeping your client’s trust involves maintaining a delicate balance with how much you contact them. Experts recommend reaching out to your clients at least quarterly. But, it’s not just about how often you stay in touch. You also need to be mindful about how you are reaching out to them. Here are some tips on how to keep in touch with your clients for the long haul: Top Agent Magazine

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INDIVIDUAL PERSONAL CONTACT One of the best ways to keep in touch with your clients is to simply give them a call every once in a while. Follow up and see how your clients are doing. Offer them assistance if they need it. Personalized contact helps to ensure that you remain as important to your clients long after the sale as you were during the transaction. Giving your clients a call on special occasions such as birthdays or holidays also makes for a great personal touch. Of course, nothing beats face-to-face contact. Stopping by to say hello can be a great way to keep in contact. An even better way to catch up and maintain that friendship is to set up a lunch or coffee date with past clients. Giving individual clients your undivided attention goes a long way towards maintaining that bond you formed during the transaction and earning your client’s loyalty and trust. Interactions like this make a lasting impression on your clients. Of course, many busy REALTORS® may not have time to follow up with every client oneon-one. A great way to still give personal attention to your clients without meeting each and every one for lunch is to throw a client appreciation party. This allows you to get in some face-to-face time with each client and make sure they all get your undivided attention and quality time to catch up with you, even if it’s only for a short time. Now, if you have a lot of past clients, this can be difficult to manage during one party. One way to get around the numbers problem is to organize smaller events based on client’s interests. Instead of throwing one giant party, host a pool party for the families with kids or a wine and cheese get together for single clients. Hosting special events like these ones goes a long way towards keeping your contact with past clients more personalized and setting you apart from those businesses that simply send them a calendar once a year.

PROVIDE CLIENTS WITH USEFUL NEWS PROVIDE CLIENTS WITH USEFUL NEWS One way that many REALTORS® keep in touch with their clients is by sending them newsletters. This form of contact can be a double-edged sword. You want to make sure you provide them with useful information that reminds them of your value as a real estate professional. Otherwise your communication will amount to nothing more than spam, and clients will think of you less as a trusted friend and more as a nuisance salesperson. Clients react much more positively to communication containing information that is pertinent to their lives. Update your clients on what is going on in their local community and 14

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TAKE ADVANTAGE OF SOCIAL NETWORKS

Social networking sites make staying in contact with past clients in a more informal and friendly basis much easier. Connect with your past clients on Facebook. This will help you stay up to date on the important things happening in your pact clients’ lives. In return, it provides you a great platform for keeping those past clients up to date with what is going on in your business as well as keep in contact in a more informal manner. Use Facebook to remind past clients to check their basement after a heavy rain or that they can contact you for help during tax time. You can even organize your contacts on Facebook into customized lists such as “past clients,” “industry contacts,” etc. This will help you better manage your Facebook contacts. This will also allow you to view specific news feeds based on these lists and send messages to a particular list of contacts. Don’t forget about the many other social networking sites such as Twitter or LinkedIn either. Utilize this technology to drive personal contact with your clients.

STAY ORGANIZED No matter how you choose to keep in contact with past clients, make sure to be consistent. Consistency will help you stay organized and diligent about reaching out to your past clients regularly. A tool used by many real estate professionals to stay organized is a customer relationship management solution. Whether you use one that is online or a computer software program, this will help you stay organized when managing your contacts and allow you to set notifications to alert you when you need to contact certain clients, send out gifts, plan a client appreciation event, and many other things throughout the year. Staying organized and consistent in your contact with past clients will help you continue to build and manage your referral base, as well as open the door to repeat and referral business. Top Agent Magazine

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housing market. Demonstrate your knowledge about the community and the things that are important to your clients. Include information about local cultural events, community news, housing statistics, information on the mortgage market, home maintenance advice, home design tips, and anything else that your clients will find personally useful. Your clients will always be interested in value.

SEND CLIENTS MEMORABLE AND PERSONAL CARDS Sending your clients cards related to important events in their lives and letting them know that you remember those events and care will go a long way towards building and maintaining a close personal relationship with them. You want to make sure your cards stand out, though. Sending popular holiday cards can be a mistake, as they will most likely get lost amongst all of your clients other holiday cards and will be quickly forgotten. Instead send something more personal such as: HOME ANNIVERSARY CARDS: Send cards to each client on the anniversary of the closing of their home.

CONGRATULATORY CARDS: Remember important events such as wedding anniversaries, graduations, new babies, etc.

SPECIAL BIRTHDAY CARDS: Instead of just sending your typical birthday card, add something special to yours that will stand out. Include a $1 scratch off ticket or a $5 gift certificate to Starbucks. Make sure to include a handwritten personal note.

GIVE CLIENTS AN UNUSUAL GIFT Make sure the gifts you send your past clients stand out. Send your past clients an odd gift at the beginning of the year or on a holiday. Think outside the box and send things like funny magnets, customized mugs, a personalized piece of wall décor, and other fun and unusual items. A great way to make your gift stand out even more is to include a funny note with it that will catch their attention as well as make them think of you. For example, one cute idea is to send clients a bag of popcorn with the note, “Real estate is popping, give me a call.” You could send a bag of goldfish with a note attached that says, “I’m fishing for your referrals.” Get creative and have a little fun with it, your clients will notice and remember you for it. 16

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Are Your Presentation Skills Costing You Money?

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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... Copyright Agent Magazine Top Agent Top 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? Copyright Top Top Agent Agent Magazine 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

theme—variation—theme

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 Top Magazine Copyright 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.

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5 Steps to Achieve Long Term Success as a Real Estate Agent Real Estate can have a reputation as an industry with a high turnover as far as agents go. Being a ‘people person’ with an entrepreneurial spirit is a great start, but what some fail to realize when starting out is that this is a business. So if you’re in it for the long haul, you need to treat it that way. Here are some key steps you need to take to have your own successful real estate business.

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FIND A MENTOR

Once you get your license and hang your sign at a Brokerage, you’ll find that you’re pretty much on your own. That’s why it’s a good idea for new agents to find a large Brokerage that offers in-house training and mentorship or a boutique brokerage that has more seasoned agents who are eager to take a new agent under their wing. Being able to shadow a more experienced agent is invaluable and allows you to mirror what you’ve seen and run through the numerous scenarios that will arise when you are representing a client.

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CONTINUOUS TRAINING

This is a business that is constantly changing, so it’s smart to always stay ahead of the curve when it comes to new technological innovations and systems. There are even numerous online resources, where you can keep up on your trade, such as blogs by top producing agents that are a treasure trove of information. A confident agent with an in-depth knowledge of the business is one that easily earns the trust of their client, leading to repeat and referral business, which will be the bread and butter of your business.

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BUILD A STRONG ONLINE PRESENCE

Yes, referrals are the basis of your business, but building a strong online presence and marketing yourself to new clients is also important, especially before you’ve built up a strong referral base. Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, and other social media tools are great way to get leads both for your listings and for yourself. It’s even a good idea to buy several domain names when you start, so that when you’re ready to build a website, you can ensure you have the names you want. Obviously the internet is also a great resource to find leads. Before you find a niche for yourself, it’s important to take advantage of every avenue there is. A lot of successful agents started off doing things no one else wanted to take on like foreclosures, expired listings or lower priced homes. But as you’ll find out, helping those who need it most is a great way to build a loyal client base, that will not only come back to you when they are ready to sell or buy again, but will be your biggest cheerleaders when it comes to referring you to friends and family.

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BUILD A SOLID FOUNDATION

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SET GOALS

One thing you’ll find in this business is that doing a lot of work up top, will lead to a more successful outcome down the road. That goes for marketing plans for your listings, as well as your business as a whole. It might not be the fun part, but it will allow you to one day focus on what you do best, dealing with your clients. Set up your CRM and the other systems you want to use from the get go. Getting these things established before you’re hopefully a busy agent is the best time to really learn them and decide what’s best for you.

Once you build a strong foundation and are establishing your client base, it’s important to continually set goals that help you implement your business strategy. You can even invest in a real estate coach if you need someone to hold you accountable. It’s also important to constantly reevaluate what you’re doing. Set up a monthly audit, where you go over what is and what isn’t working. As we mentioned above, this is a fluid business and things are constantly changing, the same can be said of your business. What worked a year ago, might be losing you money as your business grows.

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