How Administrative Mistakes Can Cost You as a Broker

How Administrative Mistakes Can Cost You as a Broker

What is the real cost of administrative mistakes? As a broker, your clients depend on you to handle things professionally. Administrative mistakes by a broker can have a domino effect and affect everyone involved in the deal. Let’s take a look at some administrative mistakes to avoid and how they can cost you as a broker.

1. Grammatical and typographical errors

Part of a broker’s responsibility is handling paperwork between clients. The correct use of grammar and punctuation is imperative. One misplaced character and failure to carefully proofread documents can cause untold damage. The following incidents are examples of the catastrophic consequences that may arise from such errors.

In 2006, a typo by Alitalia Airlines resulted in business-class flight tickets being sold for $39 instead of $3,900. The result? More than 2,000 people purchased the $39 tickets leading to a $7.2 million loss by the airline. Another incident, albeit more costly occurred in Tokyo when a typing error saw the shares of a renowned company go on sale leading to a $340 million loss. Moral of the lesson? Grammatical and typographical errors are administrative mistakes to avoid.

2. Poor advice and or unethical behavior

When a client hires you or chooses to work with you as a broker, they expect you to act professionally and do your job in terms of giving them good advice. They are paying for your expertise and experience. Doing a half-hearted job and failing to provide clients with honest, accurate, and fair assessments of their situation can result in you being sued if the client loses money in any way.

You may be surprised to learn that as many as 25% of homebuyers said they would never work with their broker or recommend them to anyone. Brokers do get sued for a variety of reasons – fraud, breach of duty, giving advice that’s not within their scopes (e.g. offering legal advice) negligence and breach of contract. These are all administrative mistakes to avoid.

3. Poor data management and failure to document

If there are two administrative aspects of being a broker that should never be overlooked, its documentation and filing papers properly. Poor data management can result in you not being able to find a critical document when it’s needed. There is no excuse for not having a defined records system. This is certainly high up in the list of administrative mistakes to avoid.

4. Hiring the wrong brokers for the brokerage

Do you have a strategy for hiring people? Not having a time-tested solution can result in you hiring the wrong person. This can be extremely inconveniencing not to mention expensive. You’ll want to avoid having to repeatedly post job openings and screen candidates. By following our advice on hiring better agents, you can improve your retention rate.

When you cannot afford administrative mistakes look no further than Real Estate Back Ops (REBO). We’re one of the leading real estate technology and consulting companies in the US. For the best brokerage services don’t hesitate to contact us.

Selling Your Real Estate Brokerage? Either Way, Get a Valuation

Selling Your Real Estate Brokerage? Either Way, Get a Valuation

If you’re planning on selling your residential real estate brokerage, a valuation is an obvious necessity, since no serious buyer would consider purchasing based solely on the word of the seller. A comprehensive valuation can help the broker to discern what actions can be taken prior to shopping their brokerage to increase its fair-market value. But what if you’re not selling? Is there any reason to get a valuation in that case? An annual physical with a doctor is recommended for your measuring and maintaining your health, and the same is similarly true of a residential real estate brokerage. It turns out, valuations offer several benefits to your brokerage even if you have no intention of selling anytime soon. As the old adage goes, if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. Valuations can allow brokers to analyze their brokerage from a different perspective and make changes accordingly to optimize their business.

DETERMINE EXACT RECRUITMENT EFFORTS NECESSARY

Valuations will show a broker somewhat of an ‘X-Ray’ of their business. It will outline each agent’s transaction count, average GCI per transaction, and compare this to business expenses allowing brokers to effectively determine exactly how many agents are required, (by applying average GCI/agent), in order to break even, or how much recruitment efforts would increase the cash flow and profit of the brokerage given measurable recruitment expenses and expected outcome.

SPLIT EXPENSES INTO OPERATING AND NON-OPERATING COSTS

Valuations will additionally provide an actionable guideline with regard to where exactly brokers can cut unnecessary expenses. Any expenses deemed ‘non-operating,’ (not contributive to the bottom line), likewise don’t contribute to the value of the brokerage, and cutting or reducing these costs will increase the value of a brokerage. Any broker thinking about selling their brokerage will definitely want to identify these costs and make cuts where necessary to get the highest possible fair-market value for their company.

IDENTIFY POSSIBLE CUTS IN FULL-TIME EMPLOYEE SALARIES

Valuations can bring to light the agent to employee ratio as it’s applied to profit generation, and spell out how this margin is directly affected by each full-time employee. This allows brokers to first, recognize which employee duties are considered either non-operating costs or extraneous to the brokerage operations, and second, exactly how much this margin will increase by making according cuts and how much that will increase the value of the brokerage.

ANCILLARY BUSINESS OPTIMIZATION

Brokers may elect to include other business models to the operations of their brokerage such as mortgage lending, home warranty services, property management, etc. Often times additional income from these businesses will convince brokers that the functionality of their brokerage is above average by industry standards if the profit analysis of these other businesses is muddled with that of their brokerage. Valuations can help to not only identify where immaterial expenses have crept into their brokerage as a result of these misleading values, but determine how the expenses can be cut, and how to better optimize those ancillary businesses.

IDENTIFY WHAT TRANSACTION COORDINATION EXPENSES ARE NECESSARY

If a brokerage has transaction coordinators employed full-time, (they will soon no longer be allowed to hire them as independent contractors), they are likely lowering their EBITDA during down months when transaction coordinators are processing fewer files due to this excessive expenditure, and thus, lowering the value of their brokerage. Valuations can help brokers to determine if this is the case for their brokerage, and whether or not it would be prescient to consider an outsourced transaction coordination service instead.

Valuations not only provide an accurate assessment of the current value of a brokerage, but can help to point out practical ways to increase that value, and therefore, the profitability, which is a good business practice regardless of a broker’s interest in selling or not. To learn more about valuations and how one could benefit you and your brokerage, contact payton@realestatebackops.com for more information.

The AB 5 Employment Law For Real Estate Agents and Brokers: Anticipate, Don’t React

The AB 5 Employment Law For Real Estate Agents and Brokers: Anticipate, Don’t React

If you haven’t been keeping your pulse on the changing landscape of the real estate industry and the likely future of brokerage structures, agent payment, and transaction coordinator employment status, you may not be aware of the Assembly Bill (AB) 5, the important legal statute passed by California Governor, Gavin Newsom, that just went into effect this month.

What is Assembly Bill (AB) 5?

AB 5 is a bill the Governor signed into law in September 2019 addressing employment status when a hiring entity claims that the person it hired is an independent contractor. AB 5 requires the application of the “ABC test” to determine if workers in California are employees or independent contractors for purposes of the Labor Code, the Unemployment Insurance Code, and the Industrial Welfare Commission (IWC) wage orders.

The ABC test is intended to address 3 requirements:

  1. Is the worker free from the control and direction of the hiring entity in the performance of the work, both under the contract for the performance of the work and in fact?

  2. Does the worker perform work that is outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business?

  3. Is the worker customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, or business of the same nature as the work performed for the hiring entity?

How does this affect my real estate business?

As the real estate industry currently operates, agents and transaction coordinators are usually hired as independent contractors. Federal Law guaranteeing agents’ rights to operate as independent contractors will likely take precedence over AB 5, but the status of transaction coordinators will most definitely be addressed. Most brokerages hire transaction coordinators as independent contractors, and there’s an increasing trend of agents hiring personal coordinators as independent contractors directly. This will likely result in a tumultuous upheaval of business operations for brokers and agents alike for most in California, however, it presents a unique opportunity for those ahead of the curve to gain an edge on the competition. We’ll get to that soon, but first it’s necessary to go over the issue the unprepared brokers and agents will falter over.

What does this mean for transaction coordinators?

Of course, coordinators will no longer hold the opportunity to be hired as independent contractors directly by brokerages, but what about agents, (assuming they are afforded the privilege of maintaining their independent contractor status), who hire transaction coordinators directly? Independent contractors are responsible for paying their FICA taxes quarterly, (typically 15%), while employers of standard employees are responsible for paying half of these costs, and the employee the other half. Does this mean in the instance an agent contracts a transaction coordinator directly that the agent will now be responsible for half of the FICA fees incurred by the coordinator?

There’s no Federal Law in place advocating for the coordinator’s continued role as independent contractors, as is the case for agents, so someone, whether the agent or the broker, will now be paying this additional tax. If the broker has a degree of separation from these coordinators, since they hire agents as independent contractors, who then hire the transaction coordinators, the cost may very well fall to the agent.

How can brokers and agents capitalize on this impending shift?

While the future of employment status for agents is still an undetermined proposition at this time, there is good news for agents and brokers concerning the new requirement that transaction coordinators must be hired as employees. Outsourced transaction coordination services, like REBO, allow brokers and agents alike to circumvent these new incipient tax implications.

Transaction coordinators working for these services will uphold the new requirements as full-time employees, but they will be employees of these services, not of the brokerage or agent. Contracting these services, and allocating transaction coordination responsibilities from the broker and agent will effectively maintain broker and agent compliance with Assembly Bill 5, while passing the new tax costs to those services. It is apparent that these services are invariably the future of the transaction coordinator – agent relationship, and any broker or agent that resists this change breaks the law and invokes the wrath of the IRS at their own peril.

To learn more about adjusting the transaction coordination process of your brokerage or personal real estate business, contact REBO at payton@realestatebackops.com

3 Ways Real Estate Brokers Can Leverage Social Media Marketing

3 Ways Real Estate Brokers Can Leverage Social Media Marketing

Check out our interview with Brandon T. Adams on Social Media and Video Marketing then use the article below to get started! The advent of technology, especially social media has changed marketing dynamics for a lot of realtors. Social media has taken over and improved life for all involved – realtors, brokers, and buyers. One can reach a wider audience with more property offers and at less cost. Real estate agents are finding that social media marketing has indeed come at an opportune moment and is simplifying the entire buying and selling process. But to what extent is social media really being used by realtors?

Are real estate brokers really using social media to market?

According to the National Association of Realtors, as many as 77% of real estate professionals are now using social media in their marketing. 55% of realtors describe themselves as ‘comfortable’ using social media, 26% say they are ‘somewhat comfortable’ and 10% are ‘uncomfortable’.  And just which social networks are mostly used? Facebook takes the lion’s share with 79% use; Twitter comes in second with 48% use, LinkedIn places third with 29% use.  What’s clear to see is that social media marketing is fast becoming an integral part of reaching out to prospective buyers. Here are three ways you can use social media in your own marketing campaigns.

1.    Create demographic-specific ads on Facebook

Social media is not created equal. Some platforms are just inherently better suited for marketing than others and provide features not available on the other mediums. Take Facebook for example. Apart from being one of the most preferred apps, it gives you the opportunity to target your ads to a particular demographic. This is an excellent option as you can pay for your ads to be shown to people who are house hunting and ready to purchase.

2.      Use Instagram to draw attention to success stories

95% of people are emotional buyers. Clever use of social media marketing can help you tap into people’s emotional side. Who doesn’t love a heartwarming success story? Instagram is a picture-based platform which gives you free-reign to post as many pictures as you want. However, instead of simply showing staged property photos, you can use the app to document the stories of families who’ve found their dream home and the process. People are more likely to connect with you and reach out to use your services if they see other peoples’ success stories. 

3.    Use outsourcing platforms to keep marketing costs low

Creating social media profiles doesn’t cost anything. It’s free to create a LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, or Flickr account. However, opening an account is only the beginning of social media marketing as one of the key elements to this type of marketing is the need for constant engagement and interaction with people as you build your following. Now, if you don’t have time to grow your profiles organically you can outsource this aspect to freelancers. Online marketplaces like Fiverr.com and Freelancer.com will provide you with plenty of freelancers you can work with. You can get your marketing done at a fraction of traditional marketing fees. Want more advice on marketing and growing your real estate business or brokerage? Contact us today to see if we can help!
5 Advantages of Working as a Transaction Coordinator with an Outsourced Service

5 Advantages of Working as a Transaction Coordinator with an Outsourced Service

Residential real estate transaction coordinators have typically worked as salaried employees for brokerages. This traditional method of employment made a lot of sense before the digital age, when coordinators were physically shuffling through stacks of transaction documents, scheduling and overseeing signings, and a litany of other tasks that, at the time, required in-person involvement. Now that the large majority of transactions are handled through email, Docusign, Zip Forms, and cloud-based transaction management platforms, the in-person requirements in the job description of transaction coordinators have been rendered obsolete, and coordinators can now handle entire transactions from the comfort of their homes. Coordinator’s jobs have evolved from physical to digital. This begs the question, “Does it make sense that the employment structure has remained stagnant and attached to the conventional method of employment when the job description no longer requires the constraints the conventional method carries?” The simple answer is no, but this employment structure has continued to persist in the industry largely due to a lack of alternatives. REBO, an outsourced transaction coordination service, has bridged this gap between transaction coordination employment structure and efficiency, and provides a superior alternative for both the transaction coordinators, and the brokerages they work with.

THE ADVANTAGES OF WORKING AS A TC WITH AN OUTSOURCED TC SERVICE:

  1. Backup on Every Transaction

Coordinators in traditional employment models are largely left to their own devices after opening escrow for an agent. This means any potential mistakes, blame, or unforeseen hinderances are squarely on that coordinator’s shoulders with no room for reprieve. If a coordinator becomes ill during a transaction, wants to go on vacation, or commits an oversight on a contract resulting in non-compliance, that coordinator is solely responsible. With REBO, multiple coordinators have access to every transaction, allowing for checks and balances, as well as relief in the event a coordinator is unable to continue their work.

  1. Incentive-based Pay

REBO pays their coordinators per transaction. That means no more working longer hours during the busy season for the same meager paycheck. Coordinators with REBO work as little or as much as they want, and receive their pay accordingly.

  1. Benefits

Other outsourced transaction coordination services exist, but generally hire their TCs as independent contractors that don’t receive benefits. REBO similarly hires coordinators as independent contractors, but provides the option for all benefits typically associated with salaried work.

  1. Training Program

REBO has instituted a training program for newer transaction coordinators. No experience? No problem. REBO will provide pre-recorded training videos as well as hands on instruction from seasoned coordinators to train coordinators how to manage transactions, communicate with agents, and stay in compliance.

  1. Well-Defined Role

Many coordinators are often roped in to additional duties by agents that aren’t in their job description. REBO makes it clear up front that a transaction coordinator’s role is to manage the transaction, not to act as an assistant.

 

Transactions have moved on from desert of technology the real estate industry once was. It’s about time the role of the transaction coordinator did as well. Given all the new services and platforms facilitating real estate transactions, there’s no reason a coordinator shouldn’t be reaping additional benefits not provided by conventional coordinator employment structures, and receiving all the relief and training they may need from the comfort of their home.

To learn more about working as a transaction coordinator for REBO, contact us through our website:

 https://rebackops.com/contact-real-estate-back-ops/

 

 

Realtor Marketing to FSBOs and Expired Listings

Realtor Marketing to FSBOs and Expired Listings

It’s no secret that successful Realtors often rely on marketing directly to FSBOs and expired listing owners. A lot of realtors who attempt to create business through these means fall short by two barriers:

  1. Finding the contact information of these potential clients
  2. Qualifying them as warm leads early in initial contact

Many agents elect to scour their local MLS to find contact info and cold call recently expired listings. The problem here is this is the go-to tactic for Realtors to attempt to convert an expired listing to a client, which means there will be heavy competition. It’s better for Realtors to either use alternative platforms or a service that vets these leads first and/or contacts them for you. These are better ways to go about this marketing tactic that will illicit greater conversion rates with less competition.

We will discuss how contact information can be found early for these home owners so you can get a head start on your competing Realtor counterparts, and how you can quickly filter, and convert these warm leads into clients.

1. Finding the contact information of FSBOs and Expired Listings

FREE:

There are several ways Realtors can find and contact FSBOs and expired listing owners without going through a paid service. It’s more work, but for the penny-pinching real estate agent, this might be the desired route.

When you contact them, instead of delivering your typical elevator pitch for potential clients, try offering some basic services or advice for free to help them market. For example, offering to hold an open house for them will not only help you stand out amongst other agents that contacted them when they eventually decide to list with an agent, (which the large majority do), you might pick up some buyer clients that walk through as well.

Providing free advice or help is a good way to be non-intrusive and increase your chances of working with them in the future.

Keeping this approach in mind, let’s get into how you can find and contact these leads at no cost.

Facebook Marketplace

The Facebook Market is a good place to easily filter listed homes by FSBOs. Simply click the marketplace on the left-hand side, then click Groups. Type, “FSBO” in the search query after setting your search to your location and your feed will populate with a wide array of FSBO listings near you.

Craigslist

Same concept as Facebook Marketplace. Just set your search to your location, then select the ‘housing’ filter, then the ‘real estate – by owner’ filter. Remember to lead with advice or free help, not a pitch.

Other free FSBO contact information can be easily found on:

Local Newspaper Sites

Zillow

ForSaleByOwner.com

PAID:

Most paid services automatically find expired listings and FSBOs and upload them into your CRM. These tools are great time savers since they search your local MLS for you, and often provide the option to automatically leave a voicemail or text, prompting interested parties to call you back and saving you the trouble of contacting each FSBO and expired lead yourself one by one. They usually also provide their own scripts or other marketing materials for when those leads do call back. Here are some pros and cons for each FSBO/expired listings number providers and dialing services.

RedX

Pros:

  • Easy to search expired listing using their software. You can customize the search to find exactly the area you want to farm and input these leads into your search.
  • You can label/add folders for any leads based on zip codes/search criteria.
  • They have a built in CRM for which you can manage any follow-up task.

Cons:

  • A lot of phone numbers provided are invalid and or non-existent. You’ll have to use other services to cross check numbers like been verified or similar.
  • They usually charge a setup fee and you have to install a software platform.

LandVoice

Pros:

  • No setup fee.
  • More control over which expired listings you contact, as opposed to other services which just provide the list for you.
  • Multi-line dialer tool.

Cons:

  • Their cloud-based platform isn’t very search friendly. You can’t search based on zip codes so it only pulls all the leads and then you have to manually look for them.
  • Their CRM is non-existent, so there’s no automation involved with lead nurturing.
  • A quick Google search will show their customer service department needs work.

Vulcan 7

Pros:

  • Offer probated leads in addition to FSBOs and expired listings.
  • Verified email address option for contacting leads.
  • Vets leads before handing them off to filter out expired numbers or “do not call list” numbers.

Cons:

  • More costly than other number providers.
  • Expensive set up fee
  • No free trials

Espresso Agent

Pros:

  • Video marketing tool built in.
  • Full CRM platform.
  • Cheap ten-day trial option.
  • Built in power dialer.

Cons:

  • Expensive, (but not as expensive as Vulcan 7).
  • No real vetting process in place.

Mojo

Pros:

  • Triple line dialer tool.
  • Multiple integration possibilities, even with other number providers and dialer services.
  • Relatively cheap.
  • Built in CRM.

Cons:

  • UX design is lacking in presentation and functionality compared to the other providers.
  • Doesn’t filter out “do not call numbers,” which can lead to very unpleasant conversations and stain your reputation if the people contacted feel compelled to write an online review.

Arch Agent

Pros:

  • Pay per minute option – good for Realtors that don’t heavily rely on dial generated leads.
  • CRM integration with TopProducer.

Cons:

  • Doesn’t automatically track numbers or leads with CRM – lots more manual work on your part.
  • Doesn’t vet numbers to ensure they’re not expired or on “do not call list.”

Summary:

Different tools will work differently by market, but generally speaking, you get what you pay for. Vulcan 7 is probably the best service, but considering Espresso Agent’s cheap ten-day trial, you might want to try that first and see if it works for you before contracting Vulcan 7. If you’re stingy, and willing to learn a less than simple CRM and UX, Mojo is probably the best option for you.

2. Qualify warm leads early in initial contact

A lot of FSBOs and expired listing owners will remain unwilling to work with a Realtor. It’s important to identify these leads quickly and move on to optimize your time and business productivity. Be sure to establish the following criteria as soon as possible before deciding to pursue a FSBO or expired listing owner further. See that your leads are:

1) Willing to pay a full buyer’s coop off the bat.

-Nothing is worse than spending your time on a deal that eventually falls through due to a misunderstanding of how Realtors are paid. See that the lead is open to your commission rate.

2) Say they will consider hiring a Realtor if they can’t sell it in X amount of time.

-A willingness to hire a Realtor eventually means they probably will. Make sure you’re first in line.

3) Have a house in a price point that makes the follow up worth the time to actually spend the time    following up.

-In other words, if it’s a cheap listing, it’s not worth your time.

4) Are realistic with sales price.

-Convincing a FSBO to contract you is hard. Convincing a FSBO to contract you AND significantly lower their asking price is a lot harder.

5) Have actual motivation to sell.

-Ask questions to determine their sale is a necessity like, “Are you moving out of state?” Or, “Did you recently become employed somewhere that makes your current living situation impossible?” Prodding for life events that implicate a home sale are a good way of going about qualifying in this case.

6) Selling in a buyer’s market.

-In seller’s markets, it is a lot easier for FSBOs to succeed on their own. You’ll have much more success if you restrict this technique to buyer’s markets.