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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


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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CAROLINE GOSSELIN Real estate was the calling Caroline Gosselin didn’t know she had when nearly a decade ago, she was working in international affairs in New York City. After her son, Lucas, was born, she moved to the suburbs of New Jersey and soon began trying to figure out what came next. As it turned out, real estate would. Caroline has been in the business full-time ever since and now leads The Gosselin Group at Prominent Properties Sotheby’s International Realty in Short Hills, New Jersey. Caroline bills herself as the “Midtown Direct Specialist.” The Midtown Direct train line cuts through North Central Jersey, stopping at several quaint towns along the way. It is this area that Caroline specializes in, traveling as far as 25 miles west of NYC. Over the past two years, she’s been focused intently on growing her team and putting systems in place to run like one of those well-oiled trains. She now has three buyer specialists, a full-time client concierge, and a client relationship manager. “Nothing I do is by accident,” Caroline says. A transaction can be lengthy and have many moving parts, but because of her organizational efficiency, Caroline’s clients never get lost in the shuffle. “Clients know I care. They know I have their interest at heart and that I am here to serve them. They can call me anytime—I want to be their real estate advisor for life.”

Though Caroline has experienced a great deal of success during her time in the industry, it’s not that measure that defines her. Her involvement in the community, more than anything else, has helped grow her business and provided a great amount of personal satisfaction. As a local mom, she’s involved in the PTA, was an officer for the Maplewood Rotary Club, and to this day, still volunteers at fundraisers and other local events. She co-founded a local chapter of the national women’s group, B.I.G. (Believe. Inspire. Grow), in order to give back to other female entrepreneurs and also partners with Giveback Homes by donating a portion of the proceeds from every closing to build a home for a family in places in need around the world. Caroline’s sights remains firmly fixed on continuing the growth and development of her current team, as well as expansion. During her free time, Caroline loves being a mom to her 9-year-old son. She loves to travel and speaks three languages: English, French, and Spanish. She also enjoys cooking, reading, and can often be found hiking with her rescue dog, Toutoune, in the South Mountain Reservation, a large 2,000plus acre area of protected land in Maplewood’s backyard.

With repeat and referral clients accounting for over 60 percent of her business, Caroline stresses the importance of a multi-faceted approach to keeping in touch with clients. A closing does not end the client relationship; it begins a new stage of that relationship. She hosts an annual client appreciation event, sends out monthly newsletters, stays active on social media, and touches base with her clients many times a year. “I consider myself a ‘connector,’ whether that means connecting businesses in the community or connecting clients with the resources they need,” Caroline says. “I use my experience to make sure they’re taken care of.” When it comes to marketing, Caroline also takes a variegated approach. She is an avid marketer on channels such as Facebook, You Tube, Instagram, and LinkedIn to reach people outside of Zillow and the MLS. Each of Caroline’s listings is professionally photographed, and for luxury listings and larger properties, drone photography and cinematographic video are used to accentuate the advertising. “I wear many hats. It’s what I love about real estate,” Caroline says. “The work is part sales, part marketing, and part technology.” She aims to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to marketing and advertising so her clients are always reaching their maximum audience. Top Agent Magazine

To learn more about Caroline Gosselin, visit, email, or call 973-985-6117 www.

Copyright Top Agent Magazine 7

g n i p Kee h c u in To


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: 8

Top Agent Magazine

Top Agent Magazine

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 inter-

Top Agent Magazine

Top Agent Magazine


ests. 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 REALTORSÂŽ 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 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. 10

Top Agent Magazine

Top Agent Magazine

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.


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. Top Agent Magazine

Top Agent Magazine


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.


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. 12

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Top Agent Magazine

Making A ‘Lead Generator’ Work For You by Carla Cross

When it comes to sales, some people just seem to have the ‘golden touch’. There are agents who seem to be able to convert ‘leads’ into appointments, while others struggle. I had an opportunity to observe this time and again as a manager. Jerry, in my office, seemed to be able to convert ‘floor time’ calls into appointments with ease. (Floor time, as you may remember, is a scheduled time when agents answer inquiry calls from consumers). George, on the other hand, seemed never to get an appointment while he was assigned floor time. In fact, George accused me of giving Jerry “all the good floor time”. From Jerry’s conversion rates of calls to appointments, it may have seemed like it. However, we simply rotated floor times with all the agents. No one got any better ‘floor time’ than any other agent! Why did Jerry convert calls to appointments, while George struggled? You would know the answer if you just listened to each Top Agent Magazine

man on the phone. Jerry immediately established rapport, asked great questions, and answered objections masterfully. He followed up immediately. He had awesome sales skills. George had no skills, seemed not to care much about the caller, and acted as though he was doing the caller a great favor simply by answering the phone! A “lead generator” is anyone or thing that generates leads for you. There are two types of lead generation: Pro-Active: You go find the lead (like calling on for sale by owners) Re-Active: You wait for the leads (like lead generating companies, floor time, and open houses) Too often, agents like George blame the re-active lead generating source for lack of quality of leads. On the other side, lead generating sources feel that agents don’t convert enough of the leads provided. Instead of blaming each other, we can take 13

positive steps to assure that you can screen your leads effectively, and turn good leads into appointments. Now, both agents and lead generating sources are happy! The First Principle: Follow Up on the Lead Now! A web site lead costs $215 to generate, on average. Yet, a majority of real estate agents don’t even get back to a lead—ever! Why? I think there are three reasons:

you can’t just get back to a lead three days later. The consumer today expects to get a reply quickly. I’m constantly amazed when someone thanks me for responding quickly about a product or a question about our coaching. Our standard for answering product and coaching inquiries is within the day. What’s your standard for answering lead inquiries? (Which require much faster responses, in my opinion, than my ‘leads’).

There’s Competition For That Lead • Agents mistakenly think that the A few days ago, I was visiting with lead will be theirs forever—that my cousin, whose daughter just went there’s no time sensitivity to into real estate (she’s twenty-two). She has immediately put technology answering that lead to work, creating an awesome • Agents believe there’s no database and contact management system. She’s selling up a storm— competition for the lead and making the agents in the area • Agents don’t know the cost of a mad at her. Why? Because she’s lead—in both time and money so getting to the consumers before the they don’t treasure that lead as if it other agents do. They thought they ‘owned’ those consumers’. But, my were gold cousin’s daughter is proving that no With the instant information age, one owns the consumer. She’s 14

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turn that lead into an appointment. In my coaching program, Carla Cross Coaching, we find that developing agents lack the sales skills to optimize their time and energies. So, we The Second Principle: Give provide sales skills training resources to shore up their motivation and desire the Lead Its Value to reach their goals. If you’ve ever spent time generating your own leads, you know what this Set Your Sites And Raise Your means. As a new agent, I knew Skills To Mastery about two people in the area. Because I had no built-in network, I Our high accountability training did every kind of lead generation program, Advantage, is helping new known to man. I worked all the and newer agents capture the sales time. I learned by all my mistakes and organizational skills it takes to how to generate leads—and the convert leads more often. But, value of a lead. Purchasing a lead is training is only the start. It takes so much easier than generating your coaching to master any skill, along own. But, you must treat that lead with your determination to get like the potential gold it is, so you’ll really good at lead conversion. be the Jerry of sales, not the George. Decide today your standards for performance, what you want to The Third Principle: Develop master, and how you’ll go about it. Now, you’re on your way to Your Sales Skills becoming a top producer! Following up on the lead immediately shows you value the lead. But, that’s Copyright©, Carla Cross. All rights not all. It takes specific sales skills to reserved. demonstrating that those who put technology to work effectively today capture the consumer’s attention and loyalty.

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Facebook: Q & A Top Agent Magazine Asked, You Answered: Finish this sentence: You know your clients think you are the best when… • They give you a Tiffanys key necklace as a gift at closing! • You get calls from past clients' family and friends saying that they heard you were the best agent in the business and that they want to meet with you. • When two past clients without knowing both referred you to the same person. • You are the family REALTOR® for several generations. • They send referrals and bring a gift for me at closing! • They hire me again! • They need someone to call that they can truly trust and rely on. • Promise little but deliver over and above. • They consider you their friend—not just their REALTOR®.” • They say, “Wow, you do have a really hard job. This is nothing like HGTV! Thank you so much!” • They rave about you and send everyone your way! • You get them a great interest rate. • They insist on taking you out to dinner and give you a recommendation for your advertising. • When you are a problem solver. • You begin receiving calls to help their family and friends (shoot, maybe even their enemies) buy and sell real estate! It’s the best job ever! Top Agent Magazine


A Powerful Marketing Tool Defer Taxes When Selling A Residence

By David Fisher

Winston Churchill once said, “There is no such thing as a good tax.” Of course, he also said, “I like pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals” so Winston was a pretty sharp guy. For purposes of this article, however I will focus more on taxes and less on pigs although there are probably more similarities than differences between the two. Pork is more than just the other white meat. I don’t mind paying my fair share of taxes but I want my taxes to go to things like fixing infrastructure, educating poor kids or feeding the hungry. However, it seems that much of our tax dollars go to pork projects to help members of Congress get reelected so that’s why I have become more focused over the years in my practice in helping my clients defer taxes when selling real estate and other highly appreciated assets. 18

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Most of us are familiar with what is called a 1031 exchange. A 1031 exchange is a great opportunity to defer capital gains taxes,state taxes and depreciation recapture when selling an investment property and by following IRC 1031, the seller can purchase another investment property of equal or greater value and defer the previous mentioned taxes to some point in the future. It’s a great opportunity for the seller and it’s a great opportunity for the real estate broker to buy additional property for their clients. It’s a win-win. But what if the property being sold is a primary residence or a property that does not qualify for a 1031 exchange. We all know that a primary residence might be the largest investment that many will make and hopefully the primary residence will appreciate in value over the years. Even though there are various exemptions and exclusions for capital gains when selling a primary residence,it’s quite possible that there could be a sizable capital gains and state tax liability once the residence is sold. For example, I worked with someone recently who bought a home wisely and now, a couple of decades later, is selling the property and after crunching the numbers is facing a $4 million capital gain. The property is in Texas so the seller is looking at a capital gains tax of $800,000 (4 million x 20%), no state income tax in Texas but add that in for the 43 states that have a state tax and also the CPA said that there might also be the alternative minimum tax as well but he wouldn’t be sure until crunching all of the numbers. If so, that’s additional income tax due. So if the property sold was in California, you can add about another $400,000 in state taxes. If the property was in Colorado, you could add an additional $200,000 in state taxes and so on. Top Agent Magazine


We all know that a primary residence might be the largest investment that many will make and hopefully the primary residence will appreciate in value over the years. But take the taxes due to the next level. Let’s say that this individual paid $1 million in taxes, he is 60 years of age and will live for another 20 years. If he could defer that $1 million in taxes and invest that amount wisely, that could be $3 million or more that could be passed on to his heirs at his passing. Remember that this is only the taxes deferred and not the rest of the sales proceeds. So the question is this... Can a property owner defer taxes when selling a high end residence or luxury property that does not qualify for IRC 1031. The answer is YES. It is absolutely possible. Having said that, there are a number of moving parts to accomplish this tax deferral strategy and the seller’s CPA and /or attorney would have to be involved but yes, it’s possible. Imagine if you will the day you started selling real estate and you decided to work as hard as you could and put as much money away into your retirement plan as is possible. You would make whatever sacrifices needed in order to make as large a contribution to your retirement plan as allowed and when you had $3 million in your account, you were going to retire and do all the things that you choose not to do until you retired and had enough money to enjoy life. 20

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You opened your monthly statement and you couldn’t believe your eyes. There it was... $3 million in your account. You made it. So you worked more hours than anyone in the office. You talked to potential clients that no one would talk to. You kept your car a couple of extra years before buying another one and you took shorter vacations rather than longer more expensive ones so you could make larger contributions into your retirement plan. Sound familiar? And this went on for 3 decades until one day, it happened! You opened your monthly statement and you couldn’t believe your eyes. There it was... $3 million in your account. You made it. You could now retire and do all the things you put off until now. You could not contain your excitement as you dialed your CPA with the great news. Your CPA was thrilled at your good fortune and mentioned to you that he had a tax form you needed to sign and then you could begin your well deserved retirement. So he says to you...I need you to sign and date the form and then write a check made payable to the US Treasury for $900,000.00 and as soon as the check clears, you retirement can begin. You feel like you were just hit by a truck. You try to speak but nothing is coming out of your mouth. Your CPA explains that a couple of years ago, Congress passed a tax law that said that before a taxpayer can retire, they must pay a 30% tax on the lump sum amount in their retirement plan. So you realize that you actually have $2.1 million in your account and probably need another 10 years of working to net the $3 million you want to retire. You’re devastated. Top Agent Magazine


“Have you considered the potential capital gains tax liability you will have when you sell.” Well, there’s good news and there’s bad news. The good news is that there isn’t a 30% tax on retirement plans for now. I made that up. The bad news is that your sellers could be facing as much as that 30% tax on the capital gains they have earned when you sell their property. You don’t want to pay that tax so why would you let your clients pay that tax now that you know it might be able to be deferred indefinitely. But imagine the powerful tool you now have in your briefcase. You’re talking to a prospect who is selling a high end property in LA, Aspen, Miami, New York, Chicago or any other location in the country and you want to list that great high end residence. The problem is that as good as you are, there are 3 other talented brokers that are also competing for the listing. Those 3 make outstanding listing presentations and the prospect is absolutely impressed with all of them. Now it’s your turn to hit the ball out of the park and you make Babe Ruth proud. As you’re finishing, you ask the prospect one final question. “Have 22

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Again, this tax deferral strategy may not be for everyone but if it helps you make 1 sale a year, that’s a great opportunity for all involved. you considered the potential capital gains tax liability you will have when you sell.” The prospect responds that his CPA informed him that there will be a rather large tax bill to pay and he just has to take a deep breath and pay it. You then smile and ask him if he knew that he might be able to defer those taxes. He looks at you a bit stunned and asks you to explain and you do. Even if he decides to pay the tax, you have set yourself apart from the others and I can tell you that we have a number of success stories where the agent took the time to show concern for the prospect after the commission check would be paid and got the listing. Again, this tax deferral strategy may not be for everyone but if it helps you make 1 sale a year, that’s a great opportunity for all involved. As I mentioned earlier, there are a number of moving parts to this strategy but a short phone conversation probably could give us insight to the viability of this strategy in a specific set of circumstances.. Now go sell a great property, defer the capital gains and state taxes and invite me to dinner. But please don’t serve pork. Churchill probably wouldn’t approve. Best wishes until the next time we visit. Copyright©, 2015 David Fisher. All rights reserved. David Fisher is the founding partner at Creative Real Estate Strategies. His firm specializes in helping brokers all over the country buy and sell real estate for their clients in a tax efficient manner. He can be reached at His cell is 713-702-6401 and there is more information at Top Agent Magazine



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New Jersey 2-5-17  

New Jersey 2-5-17