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Agents

How to prepare for the next 2yrs in Real Estate

By | Agents, brokers

As 2019 revs up, we are entering into a new phase of real estate. It’s important for real estate brokers, property owners and investors to know where the market is headed in the coming years. Companies are now beginning to leverage new technologies like virtual reality and machine learning to work smarter and sell like never before. To prepare, we’ve outlined our predictions on the upcoming trends and changes that will forever change the future of the real estate industry.

Technology

The real estate industry has gone years without major disruption by technology. Established systems and processes have remained consistent and even outdated. Recently,  $2.7 billion was invested in real estate technology a month by month increase of 132%. This investment in technology has the ability to alter the landscape on how agents are selling and how buyers are searching and buying their ideal homes. Technology will help you reach thousands of more customers while also giving you tools to show homes like never before.

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The buyer

The real estate buyer is now more informed than ever. Buyers now search online to get better insight into the types of properties they’re interested in as well as the neighborhoods. They can also see a home’s estimated value and use tools that tell them if it’s a good investment or not. The buyer will become more independent of the agent which will result in a different sales process all together. Buyers will even be able to get more information about their agent from online rating platforms which will force agents to build a positive online presence if they want new business from online search.

Virtual Reality

The latest trend of VR will soon hit the real estate market.  Buyers will begin to use VR technology to “view” homes without ever having to step foot inside one. This will change the process of open houses. Sellers can even stage their homes using VR. This will help them cut the cost of staging while begin able to show the potential of a home using updated decor. As an agent, it’s important to familiarize yourself with VR to stay ahead of the trend and ultimately save yourself valuable time and money.

Millennials

According to Danielle Hale, the chief economist at Realtor.com, “Millennials will continue to make up the largest segment of buyers in 2019, accounting for 45% of mortgages, compared to 17% of Boomers, and 37% of Gen Xers.” There will be a surge in millennial demand which will change the market to adjust to the needs of millennials. As an agent, it’s important to start researching not only how millennials will buy, but what they are looking for in their first home. Get to know the future buyers and how they navigate buying a home. We’ve compiled a list of tips on our predictions for how millenials will bring their preferences to the market.

  • Online. For millennials, all searches start online. As an agent, you’ll need to create a powerful online presence for yourself and for your listings. Make the extra effort to invest in good photos and a well designed website.
  • Quality over size. Millennials have shown that they are more concerned about the quality of properties over the size. They prefer open spaces with lots of usable space.
  • Location. Make sure to highlight the location of your properties. Even if you think a home isn’t in the most desirable location, get creative and list some notable local spots close by.
  • Low-maintenance. We live in a day where Amazon Prime, Grubhub and Uber make life easier while saving millennials their valuable time. Homes with energy efficient and smart appliances are more appealing.

At Lofty, we pride ourselves on keeping our agents ahead of the curve through constant proactive research and learning. 2019 offers lots of potential for agents who prepare for the industry changes and use them to their advantage.

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Top 8 Ways to Make a Great First Impression

By | Agents, brokers, first impression, real estate

You've probably heard time and time again the importance of first impressions in career development. In real estate, first impressions are so vital that they can make or break your career and reputation. The customer experience you provide is the one thing in this industry that you have complete control over. Technology will never compare to the human interaction and the value you can bring to the home buying/selling experience.

Prepare

If you have the opportunity to have a call before meeting a client, ask a few quick questions that can give you insights into who they are and what they are looking for. Their answers will help you better prepare for the first in-person meeting. Before your first meeting with potential clients, conduct some brief research on the person you’ll be meeting. With LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram you can determine their career and personal interests with a few clicks. Also, it’s not uncommon, that you will find mutual friends which are great for a conversation starter. If they’ve already reached out to you with some information, make sure that you go back and re-read so that you’re prepared and not asking questions that they’ve already given you the answers to. If you’ve had a previous phone call with them, refer to your notes and show that you are an active listener. Try to prepare at least three talking points that you think are important to your client. Top real estate agents never come to meetings empty-handed. Print out ideas, suggestions, information about sites and pricing. This shows you are the expert in the industry and are taking the lead. Without preparation, you can come off as unorganized and unprofessional.

Appearance is also extremely important for first impressions. Dress professional, clean, and polished. Don’t overdo your look with flashy jewelry or accessories that can be distracting. Avoid the fancy attire, and stay true to you. It’s also important to dress for the market. Don’t wear a black suit and tie or a gown to show a beach house.

If clients are coming to your office, create a clean and organized environment that also has character. Local artwork is a great way to get away from the sterile office stigma.

The in-person meeting

It’s game time! You’ve done your prep work and you’re now ready to meet with your client for the first time! Be positive, confident and remember that you are the expert. Always arrive at the location early, because showing up late is a great way to ruin any first impression. Introduce yourself and thank them for taking the time out of their day to meet with you.

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Body language

Some may argue that body language can have more power than words. Try to walk with your chest high and practice sitting up straight without crossing your arms. Be completely open towards them and refrain from closing yourself off.

Build rapport/common ground

Finding common ground is a great way to start off on a positive note. Common ground is something that you both can relate to and can connect on. It could be anything from sports teams, to attending the same college, to kids. This is where your social media research will come in handy! The more information you have on someone, the easier it is to make that initial connection.

Ask the right questions 

By now, you should already know what questions you want to ask your client to ensure that you walk away from the consultation with all the information you need to immediately get started helping them and so that they feel as if you’ve proactively done your part to help them.

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Active listening

If you’re asking the right questions that don’t always end with a yes or no answer, you should be getting your clients to speak with depth on what they need/want. The power of active listening has a positive impact on people. Really listening to what they’re saying and engaging lets them know that you understand them and want to know more. People love talking about themselves and your thought-provoking questions will help you find out more about them on a deeper, mutually beneficial level. Try not to look at your phone or computer unless you are showing them something.

Show how you stand out from the rest

Now that you’ve built rapport and connected with your clients, it’s time to show them your abilities as an agent and the unique experience you bring to the table. Introduce why you’re passionate about real estate and share your background. Highlight your credentials and go into some detail on the markets you’re familiar with and the technology you use to make the buying/selling process easier for them. Clients will pay more for an agent that offers an experience that makes their life easier.

Follow Up 

You should follow up with them almost immediately with a thank you note and outline of next steps. If possible, put in any extra work you can to show that you go above and beyond for your clients. For example, stop by the neighborhood they’re interested in, take pictures and send to them. Anything you can do that shows how you take customer service to the next level is always appreciated.

Great first impressions are a sure way to win more clients and keep them happy. Don’t forget that over 60% of business each year comes from the people you know, past clients, and referrals. One great first impression can lead to countless future clients.

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What To Expect Throughout The Buying Process

By | Agents, closing on a home, home buyer, home buying

Whether it’s your client’s first home, or they’ve been through this process before, every experience is different. However, top real estate agents know the core elements of what to expect during a buying process.

Determine housing needs

In order to deliver the best service to your clients and make the home buying process as enjoyable as possible, it’s important that you get to know them very well. Ask the right questions to find out their motives for buying, what they’re looking for, and what they truly need to be happy in their new home. This will not only help you find them homes to show, but it will also help you tailor your efforts to their needs and wants and create a trusting relationship.

Set a clear budget

It’s important for your clients to know their numbers. As an agent, you never want to put your client in a position of buying a home that they can’t afford and vice versa. You want to be able to show them all the options for homes that they can afford. Show them how to determine the cost of homes they can look at by accessing their financial situation and taking into consideration their current debt and bills etc. If they haven’t already, make sure they are pre-approved for a mortgage.

Begin the home search

Once all the prep work is done and you have a clear understanding of your client’s needs and expectations, let the home search begin! While seeing homes, take note of what they love and what they hate. This will help you narrow down the homes you show in hopes of finding the right home, faster.  Top real estate agents say that their client will know within the first 30 seconds of entering a property if they’re interested or not. Pay attention to your clients during those critical moments. If clients are interested in a certain property, make the extra effort to do repeat tours at different times of the day so they know what the neighborhood is like at night, and they can see the lighting at peak daytime. For pre-construction homes, check the floor plans and get to know the reputation of the developer.

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The offer

Use your expertise as a real estate agent to guide your clients in negotiating a fair offer that they’re happy with and is comparable to homes in the same neighborhood.

Escrow

The hardest parts are over! The offer was accepted and your clients are ready to start getting excited. The home is now in escrow, the period of time it takes to complete all remaining steps in the home buying process.

Home inspection

It’s common for offers to be contingent on a home inspection of the property to ensure there are no signs of structural damage or to take note of things that may need fixing. As a real estate agent, you should have developed trusted contacts who you can refer to your clients to conduct the home inspection. Work with them to schedule the inspection within a few days of the offer being accepted by the seller. Keep them well informed during this process and review the inspection in person with them if possible. Explain to them the power behind the contingency and how it protects them by giving them a chance to renegotiate or withdraw their offer without penalty if the inspection finds any substantial damage. Also, review with them if there’s anything that they want to ask the seller to fix before closing. Once everything is agreed upon, you will do a walk-through with your clients as one last chance to confirm any repairs that were requested. Make sure the seller / previous owner has vacated. If you or your client does find an issue, you’ll need to bring it up to the sellers as soon as possible.

Closing

To avoid any delays, it’s extremely important to properly prepare your clients on what to bring and what to expect during closing. Remind your clients that they must bring proof of homeowners insurance, a copy of the contract, home inspection reports, government-issued photo ID

and the down payment. Make sure that you explain that a personal check will not work and it has to be a wire transfer or a cashier’s check. It’s also common for most lenders to require a title search of public property records to make sure there aren’t issues with transferring the property to your client’s name. There will be lots going on that day and lots of signatures. Set the correct expectations for your client, but also let them know that it’s not uncommon for things to go wrong like a missing document or a misspelled name. As a real estate agent, take all precautionary measures to make sure everyone is prepared and the day goes by as painless as possible.

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How To Write A Killer Property Description

By | Agents, how to, Photography, property descriptions

If you’re in the real estate industry, you’ve probably already experienced the power behind compelling content. Professional photos receive more clicks and great property descriptions can help sell a home faster. Writing a killer property description is also a great way to get creative and have fun with your listings while also creating clear communication that sets the proper expectations for all potential buyers.

Stand out

Many real estate agents think that they need to begin writing their property listings like everyone else. Trying to fit in is one of the worst things you can do when marketing your listing. Making your property sound average and repetitive is an easy way to be forgotten by your reader. Try to think outside of the box and think about your potential buyer. Who are they and what would best resonate with them?

Structure and Plan

To make sure that your listings include all the necessary information and call-to-action without rambling, make sure to structure and plan your listing before you begin to write. Ask any journalist about the hardest, yet most vital part of writing and they’ll tell you it’s creating the headline. It’s the one chance you have to grab the reader’s attention, set the expectation, and compel them to learn more. This first impression has to be short, yet engaging enough to attract the attention of the already distracted reader.  Once readers click on your headline you then present them with an opening statement. This can be a sentence or two and should inform readers on what they are about to see and set expectations. The opening sentence gives readers a reason to keep reading and entices them to learn more. For example, “Come see this charming ranch complete with panoramic views of mountains and only steps from a quaint downtown.” Now onto the property features. This is your chance to get creative and really highlight this home through words. Most property ads are written like “New paint, backyard pool, 1 large master bedroom, new garage door.” To stand out and make it interesting for your reader, you’ll want to tell a story. “You’ll love this 4 bedroom walk-up, perfectly placed in Chicago’s hottest neighborhood. Enjoy the stunning views of State Street while still having the option to escape to the backyard oasis complete with greenery and privacy.” This paints a better picture for the reader and becomes a more attractive way of listing out the house features. Don’t forget to include all the property upgrades. Top real estate agents will tell you that buyers love when homes have recent upgrades. It also makes potential buyers feel like the previous homeowner really took care in keeping the home up to date. While it’s important to paint a picture, try not to get too specific. However, there is a fine line between telling a story, and over exaggerating features to the point where it sounds like you’re lying. If readers detect anything deceptive, you could lose their attention forever.

Promotion

Another great way to step up a property description is to add a promotion (if you can.) Having a promotion can be as simple as stating “For a limited time, offering a small discount from the listing price.” This will be a statement that influences your call-to-action, which should follow next. Call-to-action statements are a way to summarize your listing and tell your readers what to do next. If possible, include a sense of urgency to show that this property could go quickly if they don’t act fast.

As you write more property descriptions, keep in mind of best practices but also take note of what works best for you and your clientele. Recently, Zillow conducted a study and found that around 250 words is the sweet spot for listing descriptions. Strategically use those 250 words to tell the story of your listing and the neighborhood. Be sure to spell check, grammar check, and don’t overuse trendy lingo! It’s important to make sure you appeal to all ages and demographics.

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Mortgage Interest On The Rise, Why You Should Buy Now

By | Agents

For years, interest rates have been at historic lows since 2008. By now, you’ve probably heard from either the media or a real estate agent on how the Fed is raising interest rates. For example, the average rate of a 30-year fixed rate mortgage is around 4.40%, which is the highest rate since April 2014. This upward pressure comes at a time we’re all familiar with, home buying season, which typically lasts spring through early fall. If you ask any real estate agent or market expert, they will all agree on telling you that now is the time to buy. Not only will the higher rates get in potential home buyers way, but also the limited housing supply could allow matters to get worse for those who wait to buy.

The Federal Funds Rate

The Federal Reserve controls the Federal Funds rate which is the interest rate in which banks lend to each other.  According to Financial Samurai, “If a bank has a surplus over their minimum reserve requirement ratio, they can lend money at the effective Federal Funds rate to other banks with a deficit and vice versa. You can see how an effective Fed Funds rate of only 0.15% would induce a lot more interbank borrowing in order to re-lend to consumers and businesses and keep the economy liquid. This is exactly what the Federal Reserve hoped for once they started lowering interest rates in September 2007 as home prices began to collapse.”

The Impact

Although you may not understand how the growing interest rates could directly affect you, they do have potential to impact you in a meaningful way. Mortgage rates are generally known to move in the direction that the Fed Funds rates move. Aside from rising mortgage rates, housing prices are also on the rise. Home prices nationwide are up 48% since 2011, according to the National Association of Realtors. The prices for single-family homes hit record highs in 114 of 177 major metropolitan areas that were tracked. Throughout this time, incomes have only risen 15%.  Real estate agents also advise taking advantage of the low rates by locking in an interest rate now with a 15-30 year fixed rate mortgage if you plan to stay in the home for a long time.

This year’s spring homebuying season has been off to a relatively slow start. According to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey,  mortgage applications have dropped 3.3 percent week over week. Many believe that this is a result of the growing lack of affordable housing.

Nationally, the collective data shows that interest rates and home prices will continue to trend up. However, you do have time to get your finances in order if you feel like you’re not truly prepared to buy. However, to take advantage of the optimum benefits, it’s best to buy sooner than later.

While there are positives and negatives to the rising and falling interest rates, the bottom line depends on what your financial goals are. For those who’ve been thinking of buying a home, it’s best to stop putting it off and take action to buy now before rates get too high.  Many experts say that if people begin to take advantage of the current lower rates, buying homes can lead to more home building, construction, and decor sales and even boost our economy in a unique way.

Next Steps

If you haven’t started already, immediately begin doing your research on homes and neighborhoods where you’re interested in moving.  Look for housing trends in certain areas and take note of the average home listing prices.

The top real estate agents and industry experts recommend that people look for homes that cost around 3 – 5 times their annual household income while planning to make a downpayment of 20% of the home price.

When you think you’re ready to start looking for a home, it’s best to get pre-qualified for a home so you know exactly how much you’re able to spend. Once you provide financial information to your mortgage banker, you can review the price range of homes that you should be looking for. As always, we’re available to support you and answer your questions whenever you may need us.

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real estate agent tax deductions

Real Estate Agent Tax Tips: What You Should Know

By | Agents

Real estate agents know that this career often requires investing much of your own time and personal finances before seeing the fruits of your labor. Tax season can be rough, but if you stay on top of your finances, document all important deductions, and understand your true profit by year end, you’ll appreciate the savings. It’s extremely important to set up a basic filing system to organize all paper receipts, income documents, checks and credit card statements for all transactions that relate to the business you conduct. It’s also important to keep receipts for property that depreciates for as long as you own them. Documenting all of your eligible tax deductions has the potential to help you save thousands of dollars.

Usually, real estate agents receive a 1099 tax form and receive compensation as an independent contractor, meaning that most agents are considered self-employed. Therefore, a schedule C (profit or loss from business) must be filed. Agents can write off deductions directly from income but may be subject to Self-Employment Tax on profits.

real estate agent tax deductions

Learn about The PATH ACT

The Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act provides real estate agents and brokers relief when it comes to business-related purchases by changing the IRS Section 179 deduction. The PATH Act was established in 2015 and allows you to deduct all or a greater portion of your business related purchases which translates into bigger savings on taxes. For example, since agents use their cars for showings, you can write off up to $25,000 for the price of a new car the year you purchased it.

Important tax deductions to remember

Aside from large purchases, there are minor costs that add up over the year that can also be deducted. Some may not even be apart of your every day business, but are still allowed. Make sure that you are only deducting things that you pay for personally and not your brokerage.

Take advantage of these common real estate agent and broker deductions:

-Marketing and sales assets. Open house signs, flyers, cards, mailers etc. You can also deduct marketing expenses like website development and maintenance and even the money that you paid to have the assets designed.

-Marketing and advertising spend. This includes all money you put towards digital advertising.

-Internet and phone. Any bill that you pay for and are not reimbursed can be written off.

-Real estate training. Coaching, and education costs including books bought for personal use.

-Real estate licensing. Any renewal fees, licensing fees, association dues, and MLS dues.

-Desk fees.

-Transportation. Automobile maintenance repairs, gas, mileage, auto insurance, parking and new car purchase or lease costs. Tolls, ravel airfare, lodging, meals during real estate education or conducting business with clients. Taxi and uber fare when seeing clients is also included.

-Home office costs.

– Gifts ($25 deduction limit)  & entertainment. Entertaining and client thank you’s can be a large expense of any successful real estate agent. However, be careful here, as you may have a hard time explaining a $2,000 dinner at the Ritz. In most cases, you are able to write off half.

-Cold callers. Sales assistants and virtual assistants also qualify for this deduction. If their earnings come out of your pocket, you can deduct them.

-Prospecting lists. This is often overlooked by agents, but can be deducted if you purchase them using your own money and not by the brokerage or firm.

-Commissions paid.  Absolutely do not forget to list all of the commissions you pay to other agents or brokers. Top real estate agents say that commissions paid on split listings or other arrangements can add up to by the biggest tax deduction.

-Retirement plan contribution. If you haven’t already began this process, you should!

-Insurance. General business insurance and E&O Insurance is deductible. You must have your own policy and cannot be covered by your brokerage, unless it’s covered by desk fees, then it’s deductible.

-Legal services. This includes all lawyer fees that you’ve accumulated from your business over the year.

-Franchise fees.

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Keep in mind that to qualify as deductible, real estate business expenses must be: ordinary and necessary, directly related to your business and a reasonable amount. IRS Publications 463 and 535 can help you determine whether a specific expense is tax deductible (SOURCE: TURBOTAX.COM). 

Be smart about how you claim your deductions and make sure you have the correct documentation to back them. Use your calendar to remind yourself to file receipts or use an app to take a picture of everything and digitally organize it. While there are many ways to cut corners in the tax system, the potential harm outweighs the benefit and may ruin your career.  Stay organized throughout the entire year so that when April rolls around, your prepared to receive the best outcome for you and your business.

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How to Maximize Your Realtor Network

By | Agents

Every real estate training class, article, webinar, or book will introduce to you the power of effective networking in real estate. Having an expansive list of leads and potential clients puts you ahead of the game and gives you the upper hand on where to look for your next deal. Many agents turn to family, friends, and local events to look for clients to add to their pipeline and begin marketing to. However, many agents have not successfully leveraged their own network of realtors that they’ve met or worked with over the years. Your industry peers are equally as important to leverage as potential clients.

Learn From Each Other

The real estate industry is continuously evolving with new ways of marketing, new laws, and changing best practices. Take the time and make an effort to connect with realtors who you admire and look up to. Offer to take them out to lunch or coffee and pick their brain on industry best practices or helpful tools and systems they’ve learned over the years. Top real estate agents share that at one time in their career, they’ve asked someone to mentor to them. By connecting the new with the experienced, both parties end up reaping the rewards. When established properly,  agents can learn news skills under the direction and advice of a seasoned expert and vice versa, the seasoned expert can learn new skills and tools from the person they are mentoring.

Beyond business objectives, it’s important to leverage your network for social well-being purposes. Taking the time to get together and talk for reasons that aren’t related to strictly business is a great way to decompress while strengthening your peer relationships. Sometimes the feeling of competition can put a strain on relationships with your local realtors.

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Collaborate on Marketing

Digital marketing has now become the #1 way real estate agents receive and manage inbound leads. With the power of social media advertising, realtors can target potential buyers and effectively walk them through the funnel. An important aspect in marketing, is marketing yourself! Pair up with other agents who you admire and take a cross marketing approach. You can each leverage each other’s online network to double your exposure. Create a plan on how together, you can establish yourselves as thought leaders in the industry and both add content that is engaging and beneficial for the viewer. Or if one of you is having a hard time getting traction on a property, having other realtors share with their network is a great way to get new exposure. Top real estate agents have also began to group together to create successful podcasts on industry news.

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Refer Leads to Each Other

Referring leads and clients to other realtors can sometimes be a tough line to cross and make many realtors stay away from the thought altogether. Other realtors find it valuable in helping them leverage their network and strengthen both their peer and client relations. In real estate, there are times when you have done your best with a client, but have been unable to help them any further. Although, it may hurt to give them up, it’s important to place them in good hands  and even help out your industry peers. They may do the same for you one day. However, it is extremely important to asses the situation and only make the referral if you think the client and realtor are a good fit. If things go South between them, you don’t want any responsibility or damage to your reputation. Really be sure to have complete clarity on what the client wants and give detailed notes to the new realtor to best prepare them for the relationship.

Industry Events

Networking within your industry means more than meeting with other agents. Industry networking events are a great way to meet vendors, developers, and designers, who are all important to engage with to diversify your experience and knowledge. Top real estate agents say that building a solid list of vendors is great for client relationships. You can offer solutions instead of sending them to look online, and of course it helps establish trust and commitment with clients which leads to great referrals. Pro tip: A great home inspector is a powerful tool to help you limit your liability and build trust with your network.

Many realtors let the fear of competition get in the way of leveraging their most powerful network; their peer realtors. These fellow industry professionals provide valuable insight and opportunities on new market information and innovations that you may be unaware of.  Working together can also help with your digital content strategy and broaden your online reach. If you’ve been slacking on building your realtor network, use LinkedIn to connect with new peers, join online groups, and learn about local real estate events.

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What is a 100% Commission Real Estate Brokerage?

By | Agents

You’ve completed all necessary certifications and you’ve passed the test. You are officially a real estate agent. You’re hungry, passionate, and ready to dive into your career with full force. Your next step in becoming a licensed real estate agent is selecting a broker to sponsor you. Even though, it may feel as if you work for yourself, you by law need to work on behalf of a broker. This decision can affect the direction of your career, determine your growth rate, and ultimately; your paycheck.

Most brokerages are consistently hiring agents to fill their desks. However, there are important differences among companies in structure, operations, and ethic. Make sure to take the time to find the brokerage that is the best fit for you and will ultimately be the right place for your growing business.

The Traditional Model

In traditional real estate business transactions, a seller would contract to have their property listed for an agreed upon percentage of the selling price. The listing brokerage lists the property in the MLS and shares that commission with any MLS broker member that brings a buyer that completes the purchase. That is considered split #1. Each of the brokers would then split their portion of the commission with the agents involved as split #2.

Until now, the typical real estate brokerage would pay their agents a percentage of the total commissions.  In many cases, a majority of that commission ( sometimes even up to 50%) would go the brokerage in exchange for allowing that agent to work under the brokerage license. The traditional brokerage would provide the agent with some training, leads, and access to MLS information.

This traditional brokerage model may no longer make sense. With the booming digital age, agents have direct access to all data, communication, and contracts; and can support themselves and their clients without much help from the brokerage.

The 100% Commission Model

The traditional model has all changed with the introduction of the 100% commission real estate brokerage. This new concept allows real estate agents the ability to keep full commission value without any splitting.  This makes it even more convenient for agents to manage all transaction documents and truly be in charge of their own finances. Not only do you keep your full commission, allowing you to quickly ramp up your career, but also 100% brokerages have no sales quotas to follow and actually support you in however they can to help you build your book and close faster and more effectively.  This allows agents to set their own base and determine their own personal goals that are best for them and their career.

100% commission model brokerages are also offering marketing programs that can generate leads at a lower cost than if the agent was to do it alone. Instead of letting sales quotas cause unnecessary competition between real estate agents, they help foster relationships between agents that will benefit both of their careers.  

Making Your Choice

When making a decision to choose a 100% commission brokerage in Chicago, compare what services come with what fees. Some brokerages offer digital tools necessary for agents to be competitive in their market. Even if you are keeping 100% of  your commission, you need the tools, support and training to help you sell. The 100% model will continue to evolve in favor of the agent since there is no doubt a paradigm shift occurring.

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How To Add The Most Value To A Listing For The Least Cost

By | Agents

While the real estate market has had its changes over the years, there is one thing that most agents can agree on: it takes effort, skill, and strategy to sell a home. Taking advantage of easy home renovations could add value to your home and increase ROI. Not all sellers may be willing to spend the time and money for renovations, so it’s also important to come with a plan to support your claim. The recommendations below come from top realtors in Chicago and have been proven to add the most value to a home, without an intimidating budget.

top kitchen remodels to sell home in Chicago

Budget-Friendly Kitchen Remodeling.

The best real estate training and top agents will remind you that kitchens and bathrooms are key factors on how fast a home will sell. There’s an old saying that everyone always congregates in the kitchen, so naturally people want an impressive one. An old kitchen can be negative to buyers, yet there are many ways to refresh and redo a kitchen to wow potential buyers. Replace black and white appliances with stainless steel and switch out old laminate countertops for granite. (Chose colors that appeal to all home buyers) There are plenty of affordable options for granite and you can find discounted appliances at outlets. Another key feature to any kitchen is the sink.  Upgrading an old sink can really grab the focus of a buyer.

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Refine Your Flooring.

Similar to paint, flooring can also change the look and feel of a home. Top realtor have confirmed that hardwood is always the most appealing to buyers. If you do happen to have hardwood floors in a home, make sure to refinish them if they’re beginning to look dull. A refinish can turn old floors new again and brighten up any room. If the home does not have hardwood floors, there are many high quality laminate options that work beautifully and are affordable. Carpeting may be acceptable in bedrooms if it’s good quality. However, many buyers are beginning to turn away from carpeting altogether. If your sellers are thinking about replacing the carpeting altogether, you may want to opt for hardwood, or basic snap-to hardwood instead.

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Upgrade Fixtures.

Upgrading a home’s fixtures is an easy way to create a modern look at a low price. From lighting fixtures to new hardware, you can chose which fixtures you think have the most impact and go from there. Be sure to make sure that fixtures match to avoid a randomized style look.

Curb Appeal.

The exterior of a home is the first impression on potential buyers. Manicuring the front yard with flowers, new mulch, and a fresh coat of paint on shutters is a great way to enhance your curb appeal on a budget. Make sure the porch is clean and organized and, if it’s a selling point, add lighting to draw more attention to it. If the siding on your home looks dirty or old, take time to power wash and refresh the exterior.

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how to be a better real estate agent in Chicago

Top 4 Ways To Tap Your Network For Business

By | Agents

The first thing that any sales or business class teaches is that building authentic relationships is important in any and all business. In real estate, agents are helping their clients with life decisions that may not only impact them financially, but personally and mentally as well. Some clients may be starting a new chapter in their life, while others may be going through enormous life changes. You may be interacting with your clients at their most vulnerable state in life, which forms a connection, unlike many other industries. The relationships that you build with all clients, family, and friends will have an effect on your business. Leveraging your personal and professional network to help build your business is one skill that top realtors live by. The best real estate training will teach you how to use these networks to expand your client base. However, activating your network is not something that can happen overnight, but a process that can take months and even years.

top realtors

Value All Your Relationships

When thinking about your relationships, top realtors recommend immediately starting to add value with every person you interact with.  Examples:

  • Helping co-workers and other agents with resources that you think they’d find helpful
  • Taking friends or family members out to coffee or lunch for the simple sake of “catching up”
  • Sending Christmas cards to past clients and thank you notes to everyone who has greatly helped you this year
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Provide Your Network With The Right Information.

We all have those family and friends who ask what you do every time they see you. Sometimes showing your network what you do can leave a better impression. Always be sure to share your branded web page and social media profiles with your network. Take the time to digitally connect with everyone you know personally and professionally. When creating your content, make sure that it is appealing to a general audience so that more people engage and potentially share your information with their networks. Brand yourself professionally, yet keep the same character and personality that your network knows and loves. Be sure to regularly update your profiles to reflect your recent real estate work and progress so those you may not see often are still updated on your recent business. Avoid posting too much yet post enough to show reminders that you’re ready and willing to help your network buy or sell. Another way to engage them beyond social media is to add them to a once a month email list. Use that email to showcase some fun statistics, gorgeous homes, or honorable achievements on your part. Email newsletters are a great way to get content to your network that they can then forward on.

Successful real estate agents have recommended giving your close family and friends business cards for them to hand out to potential clients. Those who work in industries where they are in contact with many people a day (Uber drivers, hair stylists, bartenders etc.)  are more likely to have personal conversations with people who could be potential clients. If they do happen to produce a referral turned client, make sure to thank them in a meaningful way and timely manner.

networking in real estate

Know When To Leverage Your Network.

Timing is everything. There may never be a perfect moment to ask for leads, referrals, or favors from your network, but knowing these tips may help you choose the best moment for you. There are 3 questions you can ask yourself to help you decide:

  1. Is there an authentic amount of trust built within the relationship?
  2. Are you able to clearly communicate the message in a way that is respectful yet simple?
  3. Is the timing right on their end or do they seem stressed/overwhelmed and preoccupied?

Keep up with your network’s milestones and accomplishments. Social media is a great way to keep tabs on people who you may not talk to every day. For example, use LinkedIn to monitor when people get new jobs. You can strike up a conversation by congratulating them on the transition while seeking out more details on their life. Or use Facebook to monitor life events that may soon follow with a home purchase. Engagements, weddings, babies, and graduation are all great opportunities to follow up with people to learn more.

Ask.

The average person moves every 7-10 years. It’s almost a guarantee that everyone in your network knows someone who is in the process of trying to buy or sell their home. The only thing between you and these potential clients is the ask. After building trust, and deciding on the right time, be confident and ask the simple question. If you don’t ask, the answer is already no. Be clear and specific about what you want. Asking “Know anyone wanting to buy or sell their home?” will receive a completely different answer than “Can you please give me the contact information for anyone you know in the Chicago area who is serious about buying or selling a home?”. Being direct with detail can help avoid confusing follow up conversations or having to ask your contact twice.  Make sure to also be intentional with your requests. Instead of asking 60 people for referrals at once, ask 6 people who you think can provide you with the quality leads you are looking for.

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