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WASHINGTON EDITION

Developing Your PRICING PHILOSOPHY PRODUCTIVITY KILLERS: 4 Ways to Make Better Use of Your Working Hours

6 Things You Need to Do to BE A GREAT MENTOR Why Millennials are Now the HOTTEST SEGMENT OF THE BUYERS MARKET

COVER STORY

KAREN TIMMER


WASHINGTON EDITION

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KAREN TIMMER

CONTENTS 4) 6 THINGS YOU NEED TO DO TO BE A GREAT MENTOR 13) WHY MILLENNIALS ARE NOW THE HOTTEST SEGMENT OF THE BUYERS MARKET

18) DEVELOPING YOUR PRICING PHILOSOPHY 22) PRODUCTIVITY KILLERS: 4 WAYS TO MAKE BETTER USE OF YOUR WORKING HOURS

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6 Things You Need to Do to Be a Great Mentor

Everyone reaches the point in their career where they feel they have gained enough experience and wisdom about business and what it takes to succeed, to actually help someone else achieve the same. Although you may have trained or given advice over the years, taking on the official status as a mentor to someone is a whole new ball game. 4

Although mentorship is an unpaid endeavor, you’ll be surprised to find out how much you’ll gain from the experience. You’ll also grow as a business person through the process of teaching someone else. It’s also an endeavor that many will pay forward one day, creating a business atmosphere that is based more on mutual success than competition, which is better for everyone.

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If you were mentored, you may already have an idea of what it entails, and what you liked or didn’t like in your mentor/mentee relationship. Although it is a personal relationship that will need an individual approach, there are certain things that are key when it comes to being a great mentor: 1. Be a good listener

est about your own failures. It can be a huge relief to find out someone they look up to has gone through similar experiences and still managed to come out on top. As we all know, oftentimes the greatest lessons come from failures, which can be times when our character is truly tested. Building trust through mutual respect and honesty will make every aspect of your mentorship more effective.

You’re basically a sounding board who needs to hear your mentee’s ideas, plans and goals in order to advise them. Strong, constant and clear communication is key to any successful mentoring relationship. Sometimes just letting them talk things out with you, will lead to them to discovering the solution they were looking for. 2. Set expectations and goals at the start When listening to your mentee in your first meeting about the potential relationship, it’s important to establish the parameters of what that relationship will be: What can you give them? What do they need or expect from you? Once the terms are agreed upon, you may want to set specific goals you’ll be working on together so that there’s a defined plan of action, timeline and result you can both expect. 3. Be honest This is important when it comes to offering them constructive criticism or tough love, but more importantly, you need to be honTop Agent Magazine

4. Get them to think, don’t make decisions for them Sometimes being a mentor is being a bit like a psychologist. By asking certain ques-

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tions you can lead your mentee to their own conclusions about their business dilemmas and strategies to reach their goals. Being a mentor is all about guidance. Build confidence by drawing out the best in your mentee rather than just presenting them with solutions. 5. Look at the situation objectively One of the key strengths you offer your mentee is a complete emotional detachment to their business. You have no sentimental attachment to doing things a certain way or working with an incompetent vendor because you ‘go way back’. Your only motive is what’s best for your mentee and their business. Although emotions cans still get in the way sometimes, having a detached perspective on hand to guide you is invaluable. 6. Don’t just offer constructive criticism, be supportive Yes, being a mentor is sometimes advising your mentee that he’s doing something ineffectively, but your main purpose is to alway approach everything like cheerleader. You need to let them know that through it 6

all, you are a reliable support to them and have a complete belief in their abilities. Make sure to always praise their accomplishments. Remember: your job as a mentor is more about guidance than constant feedback. Your goal is to help someone become the best they can be, not someone who just does everything the way you do it. You’re helping them build confidence in their own intuition, which will hopefully lead to a lifetime of success, and one day, they too might be a valuable resource to another mentee down the road.

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KAREN TIMMER 7


As the designated broker with Windermere Whatcom, Inc., in Lynden, Washington, Karen Timmer counts a remarkable 85 percent of her business as repeat clients and referrals. as repeat clients and referrals—a direct result of her high-quality service. Her designations include Certified Residential Specialist (CRS), Accredited Buyers Representative (ABR) and Certified Negotiating Expert (CNE).

KAREN TIMMER Great communication skills, outstanding customer service and expert negotiation are just a few of the reasons Karen Timmer’s clients love working with her. Born and raised in Whatcom County, Washington, Karen is a vital member of the community and enjoys nothing more than helping people and seeing that their needs are met. “I put my clients’ needs in front of my own,” she says. As the designated broker with Windermere Whatcom, Inc., in Lynden, Washington, Karen counts a remarkable 85 percent of her business

Real estate wasn’t originally on Karen’s radar, but she’s glad she found it! Back in 1990, when she started, she had a job change and was looking for work. She also had kids at home. Her husband, who later got his own real estate license, thought the industry would be a good fit for her and encouraged her to try it. With nothing to lose, she decided to take the classes and see what would happen. What happened was that she was a natural! She passed, got her license and went to work. “I went through lots of ups and downs as the market changed,” she says, “but I’m still here! And I plan to keep going!”

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Karen’s marketing savvy is head and shoulders above some of her competition. Couple that with her excellent negotiation skills and storied integrity, and sellers win every time. Following her tips, they can repair and stage their home so it looks fantastic. Then it’s photographed and the listing is posted everywhere: on social media, on her Windermere web page, in print advertising such as the Home Magazine book. With open houses bringing buyers in, the home rarely sits long on the market.

Once a transaction closes, Karen stays in touch. In addition to using social media, three or four times a year she hosts customer appreciation events, such as a paint party or Christmas open house. She also stops by to chat, leaves small gifts on the porch or calls Copyright Top Agent Magazine

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“I really love the people I meet in this business. Every day is different, and I love that, too.” past clients. “The ways I stay in touch are different, depending on the client,” she says. “Some people don’t want much attention, others enjoy the parties.” Regardless of the type of person they are, Karen’s clients all seem to appreciate her friendliness, availability and negotiation skills. Buying or selling a home can be stressful, yet clients say she makes it easy and is fun to work with. “I really love the people I meet in this

business,” Karen says. “Every day is different, and I love that, too.” She shows the love through community activism. A member of the Mt. Baker Rotary, Karen will be on its board of directors next year. She also raises money for PeaceHealth St. Joseph Cancer Center, the local cancer care facility, and supports local schools, sponsoring events such as the 5K. She enjoys donating and helping any way she can—in fact, this year she Copyright Top Agent Magazine

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plans to do more for her clients, becoming more involved in the organizations and charities they support. When she has time, she loves to relax with her family—which includes grandchildren—and read, knit, shop or travel to the sunshine.

Business is still on the front burner, of course. Karen has a daily regimen that keeps her successful, and she’s happy to share it! Meanwhile, she plans to continue selling real estate for at least another 10 years. If the previous years are any indication, Karen has much to look forward to!

To learn more about Karen Timmer, visit karentimmer.com or Facebook.com/KarenTimmerRE, http://

www.

call 360-410-0848 or email ktimmer@windermere.com

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Why Millennials Are Now the Hottest Segment of the Buyers Market

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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• Less Maintenance: Many Millennials work different schedules that

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

• Energy-Efficient Appliances: Millennials have been educated on

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Knowing what Millennials are looking for in a home will ultimately help you make the necessary changes that will attract these buyers to your home. Since they are the a serious segment of the market now, updating your home to fit their needs will lead to more buyers and better offers. So, get with the times and embrace the Millennial buyer. 16

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Developing Your Pricing Philosophy By Dirk Zeller

Ask a dozen agents to explain their home pricing philosophy, and you’ll

hear a dozen different approaches. And if the talk reveals frank responses, you’ll also learn that the most common pricing strategy is no strategy at all. Here’s my advice: Break out of the ranks by establishing and following a specific strategy for arriving at the ideal selling price for each home. Adopt the philosophy that, in real estate sales, price is king. Price trumps all other factors—including marketing approaches, home condition, market competitiveness, and sales approach. I believe that, in the end, marketing and condition of the property are controlled by the price. The alternative, advocated by many agents, most sellers, and even some sales trainers, is to emphasize marketing over pricing. Rather than working to set the ideal price, they believe success will come from optimizing the home’s condition and presentation and then marketing it with skill and savvy.

I take the opposite belief, based on years of experience working with sellers who wanted unrealistic prices for their homes and who experienced firsttime sales failures as a result. Over my sales career, I resurrected and re-listed more than 600 expired listings—nearly 75 a year. Among all those transactions, I never met an owner with an expired listing who thought that an unreasonable price had anything to do with the home’s failure to sell. They all blamed the previous Copyright Top Agent Magazine 18

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agent and that person’s approach to marketing. Each sought some magic marketing strategy to change the reality of the law of supply and demand. There is a magic strategy: Price the home correctly. Price is the only factor that can overcome sales obstacles, compensate for a home’s deficiencies, and motivate a purchaser even if the condition of the property and your marketing approach is less than perfect. Getting the listing at any cost Does this scenario sound familiar? An agent (usually a newer agent) is short on business or maybe even desperate for the chance to stake a sign in someone’s yard. The agent wants a listing at any price – even if the chance Top Agent Magazine

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to seal a deal erodes the likelihood of selling the property. To gain a seller’s nod of approval, the agent makes a flatteringly high pricing recommendation, throwing out a number the client wants to hear and then hoping something good will result from the bad situation. I can think of few examples, if any, where this philosophy works. Hope isn’t a successful pricing strategy. Worse, the please-the-client mindset is a hard one to abandon. Agents who achieve listings with unrealistic prices find it hard to later counsel their clients honestly.

If you take and price a good listing competitively, it will sell. You can’t keep a good price a secret! The pitfalls of a “please the buyer” approach are many and significant. By overpricing, you can practically count on a reduction in your productivity, profitability, and salability, and here’s why: It’s impossible to keep your productivity high when your time is spent in conversations with an unsuccessful seller who lacks motivation to take corrective action. The seller’s negativity, concerns, and phone calls will only increase with each week or month the house remains on the market. 20

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As time goes on, you’ll devote more and more time unsuccessfully trying to create a sale not only for your seller but also for yourself. This will pull you away from activities that are more likely to deliver income. The ensuing frustration will de-motivate you and stunt your ability to secure better appointments that create other income opportunities. An unsold, overpriced listing negatively impacts your profitability because it costs you time and money to service while it delivers no revenue to your business. And the situation only gets worse the longer the listing languishes on the market. You’ll end up deducting the expenses of this in-limbo listing from the proceeds generated by any revenue-producing deals you manage to close in the meantime, reducing your net profit and business success. Unsold homes that linger on the market seriously diminish your salability, which is the term that describes your sales success track. Your salability is based on such key statistics as your average ratio of listing price compared to sale price and the average number of days your listings are on the market. Obviously, these statistics, which prospects rely on when choosing one agent over another, can be crushed by a “get the listings at any cost” philosophy. They’re also harmed by the “start high and reduce later” tactic. If you take and price a good listing competitively, it will sell. You can’t keep a good price a secret! Dirk Zeller is an Agent, an Investor, and the President and CEO of Real Estate Champions. Copyright© 2014, Dirk Zeller. All rights reserved.

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Productivity Killers: 4 Ways to Make Better Use of Your Working Hours

Even on the busiest of days, it can be hard not to get distracted by social media, smartphones, chatty colleagues, or personal to-do list items. So how do you keep your professional blinders on and power through your tasks with efficiency? Practice these four tips and witness your productivity skyrocket—easing stress and bringing renewed energy to your daily duties. 22

1. Create a sense of peace and quiet The office may not be your idea of a tranquil oasis, but for most, focus requires quiet and calm to best lend attention to the task at hand. If you find yourself seated next to talkative coworkers or in the center of a bustling office atrium, consider noise can-

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celing headphones, earplugs, or carving out an empty conference room for your work day. Turning the volume down creates fewer chances for disruption, allowing you to make the best use of your time.

4.Take your smartphone off the table

2. Organize your workspace A messy work area breeds anxiety and distraction, but a clean and organized desk inspires efficiency. If you’ve got a busy day ahead, take fifteen minutes and organize your workspace: gather miscellaneous papers into their proper place, dispose of out-of-date or unnecessary documents, or give your keyboard a dusting. Not only does cleaning and organizing your workspace prepare you for the work ahead, it also helps you transition to a productive, goal-oriented mindset.

3.Create a goal-oriented reward system Coffee breaks, coworker catch-up, and social media check-ins tend to break up our workflow on an hourly basis. Instead of trying to go cold turkey on these workplace routines, reframe them as rewards. For every to-do list item you complete, allow yourself a fives minute treat, whether that’s a fresh cup of coffee or a walk around the block. Not only will creating a reward Top Agent Magazine

system help you stay motivated throughout the day, it will also provide you with much-needed mental breaks that actually boost long-term productivity.

The number one productivity killer in this day and age? Smartphones. With access to endless social media portals, web browsing, text conversations, and games, smartphones are one-stop shops for distractions. While you may not want to delete apps from your phone, try leaving your smartphone in a locked desk drawer until your next break, or safely in your car. By simply putting your smartphone out of your line of sight, the impulse to distract yourself is muted. Even though technology and the modern office create ample opportunity for distraction, making these few small adjustments can go a long way in safeguarding your productivity. After all, a productive day allows you to enjoy your time at home and outside the office, without the worry of incomplete tasks and looming deadlines darkening your day. Keep these productivity tricks in mind as you mount your daily to-do list and you’ll be thanking yourself tomorrow.

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