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TEXAS EDITION

A Powerful Marketing Tool— DEFER TAXES WHEN SELLING A RESIDENCE Buyers and Sellers: UNDERSTANDING HOW HOME INSPECTIONS ARE NEGOTIATION TOOLS DON'T FORGET Your Clothes

COVER STORY

LESLIE CAIN

REACHING THE MILLENNIAL MARKET through Social Media


TEXAS EDITION

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LESLIE CAINLESLIE CAIN

CONTENTS 4) REACHING THE MILLENNIAL MARKET THROUGH SOCIAL MEDIA

20) BUYERS AND SELLERS: UNDERSTANDING HOW HOME INSPECTIONS ARE NEGOTIATION TOOLS

13) A POWERFUL MARKETING TOOL— DEFER TAXES WHEN SELLING A RESIDENCE

22) DON'T FORGET YOUR CLOTHES

Phone 888-461-3930 | Fax 310-751-7068 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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#Reaching the Millennial Market Through Social Media by Bubba Mills

The old adage in marketing says if you aim at everyone you’ll miss them all. I know REALTORS® sometimes fall into the trap of attempting to reach everyone and then scratch their heads when they only hear crickets chirping. If you’re one of those (or even if you’re not), stick with me and I might be able to help you.

know how to reach them. For that part, I’ll share two words: social media. Many surveys have confirmed that social media is the Millennials’ dominant source of information, even above search engines. So the best way to build relationships and trust with Millennials is through social media.

The true beauty of social media is not only its reach but its implied advocacy. When Millennials find content they relate to, they share it with their The National Association of REAL- peers. So if one person shares your TORS® has found that Millennials message, it could instantly go to hunrepresent the largest share of recent dreds (or even thousands) of people buyers (32 percent of all buyers last with the inferred praise of the person year were Millennials). But here’s sharing it. the kicker: the overwhelming majority use real estate agents. Are If you’re not using social media, lights and bells going off in your again, check your pulse. Then start learning about social media and get head? If not, check your pulse. active on it. I promise it’ll be well So a great place to sharpen your worth your time. The big ones are marketing aim is with Millennials. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr That’s half the equation—knowing and Instagram. You can Google each who to go after. The second half is to and get a feel for which ones make Let me start with one word: Millennials—those between the ages of 18 and 34.

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Many surveys have confirmed that social media is the Millennials’ dominant source of information. the most sense for you, but all of them have something to offer REALTORS®.

I’m proud of that because I know in this day and age anyone who sells anything must use social media.

Now I’m not one to toot my own horn, but for this topic I will only with the hope that you give what I say a little more weight. Last year, a national magazine named me to its 25 most connected professionals list.

So here are some tips you can start using to reach Millennials on their terms:

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1. First, take time to understand social media. Join them (they’re free!) 5


Millennials under stand marketers and they’re open to their messages on social media—if the messages are relevant to their lives. Otherwise, they simply ignore it.

and just take it all in. See what it’s all about and what kind of information people share. Spend at least several days learning before you share info. 2. Make sure what you share fits the specific social media outlet. For example, Facebook and Twitter are primarily personal tidbits, news and they’re both fairly casual, while Instagram is geared almost exclusively for visuals and photos. 3. Make sure your information is relevant and useful to improve the chance it gets shared. Millennials understand marketers and they’re open to their messages on social media—if the messages are relevant to their lives. Otherwise, they simply ignore it. 6

4. Make it interesting. Instead of saying, ‘Gee, I have this great listing.’ Why not just share a picture of a cool looking wrap-around front porch of a house (that just happens to be one of your listings) that was built in the 1940s. Bubba Mills is co-owner and executive vice president of Corcoran Consulting and Coaching Inc. (www.corcorancoaching. com/programs, 800-957-8353), an international consulting and coaching company that specializes in performance coaching and the implementation of sound business systems into Real Estate Companies, Mortgage Companies and Small Businesses. Bubba Mills is a nationally recognized inspirational and education speaker, coach and mentor to the top real estate agents and mortgage companies. To find out more about Corcoran Consulting & Coaching, call 1800-957-8353 or visit us at www.Corcoran Coaching.com. Top Agent Magazine


LESLIE CAIN Top Agent Magazine

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Serving the greater East Texas area, Leslie Cain Realty has office locations in Lindale and Mineola, and will soon open a third office in Tyler.

Seven years ago, Leslie Cain entered the real estate business, not knowing it would lead to immense success and growth. “I was working as an assistant for several agents prior to that, and I decided it was time to go out and get my license,” Leslie says. In 2014 she opened her own company, Leslie Cain Realty. “We will be 15 agents strong in a month or so,” she explains. With office locations in Lindale and Mineola, they are always expanding, and will soon open a third office in Tyler. They serve the greater East Texas area, and have maintained a referral/ repeat client rate of 80-85 percent. In 2012, Leslie was the recipient of the Greater Tyler 8Copyright Top Agent Magazine

Association ‘Chuck Gregory Rookie REALTOR OF THE YEAR’ Award, and in 2016, her company completed 33 million dollars in sales, which is no small feat for a rural town. It is clear that Leslie and her team are going above and beyond expectations, with a bright future ahead of them. “Everything we do communicates the same message. We are consistent and adhere to our brand image,” Leslie says. That brand image includes not only the perception of quality, but also integrity. “I want us to be recognized for our character and reputation.” After a transaction is complete, Leslie stays Top Agent Magazine


in touch with her clients, sending them letters or calling them. “I consider my clients to be my friends. We do special things for them throughout the year, like client appreciation events and parties.” It is this commitment to building relationships that sets Leslie apart from others in the industry, as she truly cares about each and every person she helps. “I do what is right for them, not what’s right for me. My goal is to always be honest and available. The commission is not what drives me. I always say, I would still be in this business even if I won the lottery,” she explains. She finds joy in assisting others, and it’s not uncommon to see her rolling her sleeves Top Agent Magazine

up to help a client. “I’ve done everything from going out in 40 degree weather to trim hedges, to cleaning a home, to packing up a house before closing.” Appreciating her hard work, Leslie’s clients do not hesitate to spread the word about her. One recent seller said, “Leslie was completely engaged in our property from the moment we contacted her for a simple property value estimate. She was thorough and fair in her assessment of our property. Once we verbally agreed to list with Leslie, she went into active duty. She and her staff came and brought out the very best in our Copyright Top Agent Magazine9


home with beautiful accent pieces. We were showing the property before it was officially listed on the MLS. After multiple offers, a contract was signed within days of the listing. We could not ask for a better, more assiduous agent.” While Leslie’s dedication is seen through her solid client relationships and helpful nature, it’s also visible in her marketing efforts. “I always have my listings professionally photographed, filmed and staged if necessary,” Leslie says. Staging is one of her passions, and she has a warehouse full of furniture and decor to help every property look its best, if needed. Copyright Top Agent Magazine Copyright 10

Although real estate takes up much of Leslie’s time (and she wouldn’t have it any other way), she is also involved with the community. She serves as a PR director for Hope Haven of East Texas, a long-term home for foster girls ages 13-17 years old. Leslie is an active member of her church and is involved with her local Chamber of Commerce. As she looks towards the next few years, she is excited to continue to expand to other areas. She can’t imagine doing anything else. “When working with buyers it’s very satisfying seeing that twinkle in their eyes when we have found the perfect home.” Top Agent Magazine


Lindale Office Location

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For more information about LESLIE CAIN, please call 903-520-7696 or email lesliecainsells@gmail.com Copyright Top Agent Magazine 12

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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. Top Agent Magazine

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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. 14

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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. Top Agent Magazine

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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. 16

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“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 Top Agent Magazine

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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 david@cresknowsrealestate.com. His cell is 713-702-6401 and there is more information at www.cresknowsrealestate.com 18

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Buyers and Sellers: Understanding How Home Inspections are Negotiation Tools That stunning home or vacation property may seem perfect. But Top Agents advise anyone buying or selling to prioritize the importance of professional home inspections. For sellers, many agents recommend preparing for two separate inspections, one for your own information before listing and the second at the buyer’s obligation. For buyers, know that the listing agent is required to disclose certain major issues discovered on professional inspection. But every buyer should also order a thorough home inspection. For both buyers and sellers, inspection provides knowledge and knowledge may translate to power, time saved or money. THE SELLER’S INSPECTION You’ll save time before closing if you find potential “sticking points” before listing your home. Even those repairs that a seller isn’t required to fix may be worth the upfront investment. Replacing or repairing leaky faucets, wornbut-not-compromised sections of roofing or cosmetic masonry work will go a long way to build trust between you and buyers in your market. In addition, the last thing a seller wants right before closing is a major surprise. If your inspection uncovers a significant issue requiring disclosure, you’ll have an opportunity either to make repairs or to get professional estimates on cost, which you then can present to buyers either as a credit or reduction in sale price. 20

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THE BUYER’S INSPECTION Selecting your Inspector: Before hiring an inspector, your agent may ask if the seller conducted an inspection and who conducted it. With this knowledge, you’ll hire a different inspector. Consider some important factors when choosing your home inspector: First, remember the adage that “you get what you pay for.” This property is one of your biggest investments it’s the place you’re going to cherish as your home or vacation destination for years to come. Entrust it to a highly rated and properly licensed inspector with the appropriate professional affiliations and credentials. Your Top Agent is your best referral source, but read online reviews or ask for recommendations to learn more about inspectors and the inspection process. As a buyer, know that a home inspection report gives you opportunities to request repairs, a lower sale price or credit for work to be done. Talk to your agent about how to make the most of your inspection report. Your agent will likely have contacts with local professionals you can consult with for fair estimates on the cost of the repairs you would like made. In extremely competitive markets however, your negotiating power may be limited to major issues requiring disclosure. Heed the advice of your agent in making necessary requests without risk of losing your dream home. Be sure to attend the inspection or assign a proxy if you’re out of the area. Then, go above and beyond and give a luxury property the attention it deserves. Your inspector should help you find concealed issues that can help you negotiate. Honest oversights on the part of the seller, for instance can only be rectified if discovered before closing. For example, clogged exterior drainage inadvertently concealed by hardscape may become a flooding issue down the road. On the flip side, recent partial-room painting may indicate something more than the seller’s beautification efforts. HOW SERIOUS IS IT? Remember that a home inspection is one of the most useful items in the buyer’s toolkit, but be careful not to get overwhelmed by the results. Prioritize issues by immediacy (safety) and break down each category by cost to repair to determine how the issues may impact negotiations. Top Agent Magazine

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Don’t Forget Your Clothes We’re sure your goals are lofty, and to hit them, your marketing needs to be on point. But is your brand and position defined? If not, it’s like leaving the house each day without clothing. And while some would argue that this would certainly gain attention, we don’t believe it’s the kind of attention you had in mind when you set out to become #1 in your market. A common misconception is that if you are recognized, you are well branded. Almost a year ago we had a conversation with a Realtor about personal branding. She said, “I feel like I’m already well branded in my market. When I walk into a restaurant, they know that I’m Susan, the Realtor.” We replied, “That’s a great start, Susan. But what happens when other Realtors are in the restaurant, too? What sets you apart from them?” At that point, the light bulb came 22

on and she realized that she wasn’t truly positioned or branded. She was seen as just another Realtor. We explained to her, “Great branding isn’t about being known for your profession. It’s about being known for being DIFFERENT in your profession.” Another misconception is that you should begin marketing before your brand is defined. For instance, we’ve spoken with numerous Realtors who say they plan to finish their website, conduct a photo shoot, create their collateral materials or even launch a social media marketing campaign, then they will think about branding and positioning. But how do you know what types of photos to take? What will you put on your website to differentiate yourself from others? What will your business cards, brochures and even your social media

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platforms say that will encourage prospects to connect with you first? And finally, why on earth would you waste all the time and money on these very important marketing elements before you establish your brand? In order to develop an iron clad position and brand, here are some questions you should be asking yourself BEFORE you begin ANY kind of marketing.

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What is my ultimate goal? Take a strong look at what you want in terms of both professional and personal achievement. What makes you most fulfilled? Where would you like to be financially? Define your path of intended growth.

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Who is my ideal customer? Trust us when we say that you don’t want just any customer. You want a customer who appreciates your expertise and dedication, will take repeat advantage of your services and will recommend you enthusiastically to others. Define this person in detail so you have a clear understanding of who you’ll be marketing to and what your message should be.

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What is my point of differentiation? This is the most critical question of all. It’s not about what makes you ‘better’. It’s what makes you different. Better is subjective. Different is inarguable.

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What am I willing to be known for that is authentic to me and significant to my  ideal customer? Find a position that you’re willing to put forth every day. We call this ‘breathing your brand’. It must also be a position that is meaningful to your ideal customer. We’re trying to create an image that makes your ideal customer immediately connect with you and feel as though they simply shouldn’t be working with anyone else. A well-defined brand will help you stand out among your competitors. It will serve as a magnet for your ideal customer. And if promoted consistently and passionately—and lived authentically—it will make you instantly recognizable among your community in an unforgettable way. And finally, a solid brand can give you the confidence you’ve likely never experienced at the same level. There’s such power in walking out the door every morning knowing who you are, what makes you unique, who you will be helping today and exactly how you’ll be helping them. And when all of your marketing materials are consistently branded with the same image and messaging, there is undeniable pride as well. So before you dive into more marketing, don’t go out the door without your branding clothes. You wouldn’t want to portray the wrong perception, now, would you?

Tonya Eberhart is the Branding Agent to Business Stars and founder of BrandFace®, LLC Michael Carr is America’s Top Selling Real Estate Auctioneer & BrandFace® partner. Together, they focus on personal branding and marketing designed to help real estate professionals become the face of their business & a star in their market. BrandFace® for Real Estate Professionals is a book, professional speaking series and an exclusive workshop for agents, and is currently active in 18 U.S. states, Canada and New Zealand. For more information, visit www.BrandFaceRealEstate.com. Top Agent Magazine

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