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Real Estate Brokerage

Without preventative measures, real estate safety apps lull agents into false sense of security

The latest safety apps are great preventative measures, but they shouldn’t be the only measure you take to protect yourself.

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The latest safety apps offer ways for people to feel less alone when they are afraid, but are these apps really safe, or do they lull you into a false sense of security? Apps like Companion are great for walking alone as they offer a way to alert friends and family of your last known location in case the worst happens.

However, walking down a dark road afraid of unknown assailants is not the same as meeting a prospect at a pre-determined time and place. General purpose safety apps like Companion, BeSafe, Safe Trek, Bugle, and others, are wonderful, but they should be not replace other available preventative measures. These apps are inventive and helpful in most situations, but Realtors may need something more to ensure their safety.

What preventative measure should be taken

By relying too heavily on safety apps, users can be lulled into a false sense of security, assuming this will work for every situation. While they are a wonderful safety step, it should not be your only step. Rather than waiting for something to happen and then pressing the “panic button” on your app (which you may not have time to do in some situations), what if you took an additional step before you ever met your prospective client?

Pre-screening a client gives you more information. It allows you to make a decision about meeting a client before you put yourself in a potentially dangerous situation. For example, Verify Photo ID is a safety app that allows you, or your Broker, to screen prospects before meeting with them in person. Your prospect provides their driver’s license and then information is collected and stored. If you are uncomfortable asking for this information, Verify Photo ID suggests saying, “It’s my Broker’s policy that we ask for identification before showing.” Many other industries do this to ensure safety and security.

The prospect is sent a text link that allows them to submit their photo ID. It is then verified by Verify Photo ID and you are provided with the prospect’s financial and demographic data, as well as, whether or not they appear on the national sex offender’s list. The app will also pull information from the prospect’s social media accounts.

After verification, Verify Photo ID then takes this one step further by integrating a safety monitor into the app so that after verification, you can alert someone if a showing goes wrong. The distress alerts that are sent contain the verified name and address of the prospect, along with their DMV photo and their exact location as determined from the integrated geo-location tool.

Completing your toolbox

While the general safety apps are certainly something you want in your Realtor toolbox, they should not be the only tools that you carry. Pre-screening clients is an additional step that should be taken to ensure your safety when showing alone. Verify Photo ID is just one of the tools to add to your superstar toolbox.

You should already be carrying a gut instinct: if something doesn’t feel right, don’t go, or remove yourself from the situation as soon as possible. However, by pre-screening clients, you should be able to have enough information about the client to make a better judgment as to whether or not you want to show them. It is certainly a step in the right direction to ensuring Realtor safety.

#RealtorSafety

Jennifer Walpole is a Senior Staff Writer at The American Genius and holds a Master's degree in English from the University of Oklahoma. She is a science fiction fanatic and enjoys writing way more than she should. She dreams of being a screenwriter and seeing her work on the big screen in Hollywood one day.

Real Estate Brokerage

Red flags that signal potential homebuying regrets for your clients

(BROKERAGE) When helping clients buy a home, steer your buyers away from these potential dangers in order to avoid regrets.

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Man seated in trunk of car, head in hands as he feels homebuying regret. Avoid these with your clients.

Satisfied clients aren’t buyers who have just found the perfect home – their customer swho bought the perfect home, and still feels great about it a year later.

Buyer’s remorse is a real risk, especially on a large, expensive purchase like a home.

Not just a number

As a real estate agent, you can certainly pressure your customers to make a quick decision just to close the deal, but that’s not how you create lasting relationships or satisfied clients.

Instead, help buyers make the best decision they can so that they don’t have regrets later.

Tim Lemke at Wisebread has offered a list of the “Biggest Regrets of New Homeowners.” By examining what homeowners are most likely to regret after purchase, you can help your clients avoid find a home that they can be happy with for years to come.

Money regrets

According to Lemke, most post-purchase regrets arise when the buyer fails to budget or properly finance the purchase. This includes buying a home that is too expensive, making a down payment that is too small, setting up the wrong kind of mortgage, or making the purchase with a low credit score or while still in debt.

Help your client create a budget for the home that does not exceed 30% of the household’s gross income – and stick to it!

The budget should also factor in at least 20% of the cost as a down payment. If the down payment is too small, the available loans will be less than ideal, and the buyer will lose money on private mortgage insurance.

False hope regrets

You should also advise clients to avoid other common pitfalls that can leave homeowners dissatisfied. A fixer-upper is great if the client is handy, but if he or she doesn’t know how to do home repairs and renovations, they could easily end up with an unlivable property that will cause stress and require a lot of time and money to repair.

In order to avoid other unforeseen repairs, make sure your clients also get the house inspected so that they don’t end up with surprise problems.

Diligence regrets

Finally, encourage your clients to not only check out the house itself, but to research the surrounding area. Too often, buyers fall in love with a house, but end up regretting their choice of neighborhood.

Help your clients make the best decision they can – no regrets!

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Real Estate Brokerage

How to spot If a client or fellow agent is lying to you, and get the truth out

(BUSINESS NEWS) When a client or even an agent on the other side of the deal is lying, here is how to pull the truth out of them.

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Woman and man in an argument determining if one was lying.

Trust is important when it comes to running your business. So what should you do if you suspect that one of your team members, or even a client might be lying to you?

Shining a blinding light in their eyes and pounding on the table to demand answers may work on TV, but it’s not very effective for real people, says retired Green Beret Sergeant Major Karl Erickson.

Erickson, who perfected the art of identifying fibbers and extracting truths while in the military, and by studying interrogation techniques with John E. Reid & Associates, recently shared his insight.

First step – establish truthful behavior.

He notes that it is harder than people think to tell if someone is lying based on their body language alone. Sure, liars may have shifty eyes and jiggling knees, but so do honest people who are just nervous.

He suggests starting off by asking innocuous questions about things that the person will likely be truthful about. You could even use Facebook to find out more about the person, so that you can ask them innocent questions about their family or their latest vacation.

That way, you can establish an idea of the person’s general behavior.

If they break a sweat and bite their nails while telling the truth, then you’ll know that these habits aren’t necessarily associated with lying.

If you start by asking questions they won’t lie about, then slowly turn up the heat, you’ll be more likely to notice if they start behaving differently when you get to the juicy stuff.

Ask a question in various ways.

Erickson also recommends asking the same question at least three different ways. A liar won’t likely mess up their story, even when asked repeatedly.

However, they may reveal “carefully repeated phrases” and an “overly deliberate choice of words” that suggest that they’ve rehearsed their answers.

Don’t try to intimidate.

Being friendly and compassionate works better than intimidation. Erickson says that he’ll tell someone, “if I was in your shoes, I’d probably have done the same thing.”

Soften them up, and they’ll be more likely to confess.

Tell a version of the story.

Lastly, Erickson suggests telling the version of the story that you imagine could have happened.

The more you elaborate and exaggerate, the more likely the person will interrupt you to correct your assumptions, resulting in at least a partial confession.

Good luck! You deserve to know the truth.

This story was first published here in September of 2016.

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Real Estate Brokerage

5 steps you need to take in order to provide next-level customer service

(BROKERAGE) Some small steps that business owners take in order to show customers appreciation, loyalty, and service that turns into business success.

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Person holding phone representing customer service.

I can’t think of the last time I called a business in need of help – it could have been my cable provider or the electric company – and I was immediately reminded of what they couldn’t do for me rather than what they could. It makes me wonder if customer service is becoming a lost art or maybe it’s a generational thing, that people at a certain age demand too much as customers.

I’m not expecting a mint under my pillow or even a gift card. Although both would be nice. But what I am expecting is to be treated as the asset that I am: a customer. Call me silly, but last time I checked, without customers, the bills don’t get paid and the mouths don’t get fed. If that’s not enough to treat customers like royalty, I don’t know what is.

It’s the little things

It’s easy to be on the outside looking in, but I’ve noticed that some of the most successful small (and even large) business owners got to where they are by keeping an eye- not on the bottom line- but on the little things. You know, those crazy small steps that business owners take in order to show customers appreciation and loyalty and that can go a long way in building and sustaining fruitful relationships (that in turn translates into sustained business).

Every face-to-face is showtime

It’s been said that time is money, so think of time well-spent as an investment. Three minutes spent talking to a customer shapes his or her impression of your company more than the combination of your name, pricing, design, website, and product features. This is your shining moment to be the best you can be, to blow the person away with how cool it was to contact you.

Customer vs. Company (and guess who wins)

This is probably a no-brainer, but if you want great customer service, you need to make a choice up front and decide that your customers’ happiness is your top priority, even above company profitability, and then make sure everyone in your company knows it and acts that way.

Be generous

All great service comes from a feeling of generosity and abundance. All terrible service comes from a mindset of scarcity, from business owners who feel they’ll go out of business if they don’t fiercely guard their bottom line. So share. Be nice. Give refunds. Take a little loss. You can afford it. Of course, it’s also just smart business. Losing 10 cents on extra sauce can mean winning the loyalty of a customer who will spend $1,000 with you over the next 10 years and tell 20 friends you’re awesome.

Take the high road

Whenever a customer is upset, let the person know he or she was right and the company was wrong. The customer wins. You lose. And you’re prepared to do whatever it takes to make the person happy again.

Happily ever after

There are a lot of great lessons to be learned out there and certainly, this is not the be-all-end-all when it comes to customer service. But if you treat your customers right, after awhile the mindset becomes part of your social fabric.

It’s just the right thing to do.

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