By Christopher M. Leporini, REALTOR® Magazine
Ever gotten involved in real estate negotiation where the other side started using obscure terms you didn’t understand? Don’t get caught at a loss for words, again. Race to your copy of The Encyclopedia of Real Estate Terms—a comprehensive reference book for real-estate practitioners. The original author, Damien Abbot returns for this second edition (Delta Alpha Pub, $145.00).
Published 14 years after the first edition, it provides detailed definitions for over 8,000 terms, with entries spanning from “a fortiori” to “zoning variance”and everything in-between.
Not only does the encyclopedia provide basic definitions for just about every real estate term, it also features extensive cross-referencing. The book contains citations to 3,900 cases, 2,100 statutory or code references, and 4,500 bibliographic references. This allows you to track down additional information about the origins of many entries. The book also features an appendix, which includes a bibliography, major laws and enactments, professional associations, financial formulas, and acronyms.
Though primarily geared toward North America, The Encyclopedia of Real Estate Terms also touches on European real estate law,as most U.S. real estate law is based on an English model.The book is also scattered through with materials from Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, India, and New Zealand.
No one can know every real estate term, but with The Encyclopedia of Real Estate Terms on your desk, you don’t have to. As either practical handbook of current terminology or a historical reference tool, it proves a thorough, easy-to-use guide to the real estate word.
By Stacey Moncrieff, REALTOR® Magazine
John Tuccillo and James F. Sherry offer a detailed look at the new world of real estate in Click & Close: E-nabling the Real Estate Transaction (Chicago: Real Estate Education Co., 2000).
What’s new, of course, is the Internet. And Tuccillo and Sherry make the case that the driving force behind the Internet’s integration into real estate isn’t the technology itself but individuals. What the consumer wants, the consumer gets.
Both authors are consultants to the industry and are well grounded in the principles of real estate sales. Tuccillo is NAR’s former chief economist. Sherry is former president and CEO of Interealty Corp. (now GEAC/Interealty of Vienna, Va.), a large MLS vendor.
What real estate consumers want, they say, is
- More involvement in the transaction
- A single point of contact
- Minimum disruption of their lives during the transaction
- A continuous orchestrated event
Oh, and don’t assume you’ll be the conductor of that orchestra. The authors warn against getting complacent during a time of booming sales: “That kind of thinking underestimates the ability of new entrants to perform the same functions with more involvement from the consumer, more function integration, and at a significantly lower cost.”
Tuccillo and Sherry are actually pretty confident that the real estate industry will be able to adapt to the Web-enabled world. Their book outlines step-by-step how to create a business model that meets the demand of Web-empowered consumers: Create a strategic plan that spells out your company’s vision and how you’ll get there; create a technology plan that eliminates the “islands of knowledge” that characterize a real estate transaction; and put in place the human resources you’ll need.
The new model, they say, involves four critical technology components: a first-class consumer Internet site, a one-stop-shopping platform, transaction management, and client-for-life value delivery.
The key to the last component, say the authors, is data collection that allows you to truly understand your customers and create multiple, lifelong opportunities to serve them.
By Christopher M. Leporini, REALTOR® Magazine
Did a lime green business suit throw a twist into your most recent showing? Could your smiley face-yellow brochures make it difficult for clients to take you seriously? Face it, your color choices affect how others perceive you . . . and that’s not always a good thing. But don’t be blue, you don’t have to remain at the mercy of these subconscious messages any longer. Remix your personal palette and create a better image for yourself and maybe it’ll improve your sales.
In ColorSmart: How to Use Color to Enhance Your Business and Personal Life (Pocket Books; $12.95), authors Mimi Cooper and Arlene Matthews provide an engaging and humorous guide to color and its psychological effects. Understanding the impact of various colors allows us to control the unconscious signals these selections convey, say the authors. The book examines each color’s subliminal impact. For example, did you know that red provokes the most numerous physiological responses of any color, causing heart and pulse rates to quicken? Or that yellowish-green hues incites negative psychological responses? By changing colors, the book states, you can change your life.
Real estate professionals might want to take special notice of Chapter 4, “Applied Color Smarts: Using Color in Your Life.” In addition to taking a thorough look at how to choose the colors in your wardrobe to project your desired image, it also has a section on using color to help sell a house. It’s common knowledge that buyers prefer soft neutral colors, but you can also:
- Use color to make your house seem more up-to-date—Large surfaces such as wallpaper and carpets should be soft neutrals, but using accents in the latest fashion colors can make a house look current and well maintained.
- Use color to make your home seem more luxurious—Purple, scarlet red, or jewel tone colors present an upscale image
- Use color to make your house look larger— Certain shades, such as a soft putty color, can make a house seem smaller. Adding accents to a house’s exterior can give it added dimension.
- Use color to make your house look lighter and brighter—The combination of too much blue and too little light can drain the life from a room. Lemon or coral accents can brighten it up.
Written in a breezy, accessible style, ColorSmart provides an excellent introduction to color theory. Of course, you don’t need a book to tell you whether your color choices gravitate toward bold passions or old fashions. But the book also helps identify how your color choices affect how others perceive you, and that’s a valuable commodity in the high-touch business of real estate sales. Sometimes there’s only a shade’s difference between looking great and becoming a color disaster.
By Robert Sharoff, REALTOR® Magazine
We’re entering an era of sales specialization, say Neil Rackham and John De Vincentis, authors of Rethinking the Sales Force (New York: McGraw-Hill; $24.95). “Different customers demand different approaches,” they say. “The key to success will be figuring out which selling approach will best fit the customer.”
The book divides selling into three categories: transactional, enterprise, and consultative, with the third having the most meaning for real estate brokers who manage a sales force. Consultative sales are those in which “buyers don’t enter the buying process knowing enough to make a sound buying decision” and so must rely on the expertise of a salesperson.
The book recommends dividing the sales process into individual milestones that must be carried out during the sales cycle. The point is to take some of the mystery out of selling–to make it less dependent on rainmakers and “rock star personalities” and more a matter of carefully following a program. “Dependence on rock-star talent,” the authors note, “is a serious business risk” because such personalities typically regard themselves as free agents and display little company loyalty.
The key to effective consultative selling is “seeking” rather than “telling.” Seeking is asking questions and finding out what customers need. Telling is describing a product in a take-it-or-leave-it manner. “Telling fails dismally in consultative sales,” say the authors.
The book also recommends minimizing the number of meetings that salespeople must attend and focusing reporting and paperwork in areas that will pay off in higher sales: “A call report completed after a customer visit adds very little value. The same effort, however, put into call planning can result in a more purposeful meeting.”
Finally, many companies may want to look into skill and strategy coaching for salespeople. The former involves evaluating face-to-face selling skills, and the latter focuses on improving planning.
By Robert Freedman, REALTOR® Magazine
Ralph Roberts sells 600 houses a year and doesn’t mind sharing with you some of the ideas that have made him, as Time magazine puts it, “America’s scariest salesperson.”
He’s even made it easy to dip into his new book, 52 Weeks of Sales Success (New York: HarperCollins; $21), by giving you at least one new idea for every week of the year. We dipped in, and here are a few worthwhile ideas we picked up:
- Stay put. Jumping from company to company pursuing higher commission splits confuses your clients and increases your expenses. You make money by digging deep where you are and making things happen in the here and now.
- Don’t hold on to all deals. If bad chemistry between you and your client is making it difficult for you to work on the deal in the best possible way, get out of the relationship. That will free you up for deals that work.
- Meet with your clients in their kitchen. Some places are more conducive than others for getting clients to relax and reveal their feelings about a deal. No room is better for this than the kitchen. Ask for a glass of water or just to see the kitchen, and once you’re there, try to hold your conversation at the table.
- Buy and sell houses for yourself regularly so that you can stay in touch with what’s going on in your market area.
- Even when sales are strong, maintain an active marketing program and always reserve time to make new contacts each week.
- Tap for-sale-by-owner business by offering sellers a do-it-yourself kit. A kit can include a training video, a 24-hour voice message system, a pager, a yard sign, information flyers, and cards with a photo of the home. “Some salespeople think I’m helping cut all our throats by showing customers how they don’t need us. But it’s a fact that 25 percent of all homes sold are FSBOs, and the trend is increasing. Unless we adapt to this sort of trend, a lot of us will be out of business.”
By Robert Freedman, REALTOR® Magazine
More than any other vocation, sales is a profession of attitude. Mastering technique and product technicalities is helpful only if you’ve mastered control of your attitude, says sales training pro Dave Anderson in Selling Above the Crowd: 365 Strategies for Sales Excellence (Los Altos, Calif.: Horizon Business Press; $18.95; this book is available through BarnesandNoble.com).
Anderson gives you a message and an activity a day in a 365-day calendar that helps you keep your eye on client No.1—yourself. On April 8, for example, he asks you to practice “reverse paranoia,” the habit of thinking that whatever happens to you during the day, whether good or bad, is part of a conspiracy to make you successful.
Once you’re thinking positively, turn your attention to your technique. Anderson’s advice: Measure your performance so that you can set goals. Surprisingly, few salespeople can quantify their performance. If you can’t do that, how can you plan improvement? He suggests that you calculate the ratio of
- Sales from repeat and referral clients to the number from walk-ins
- Phone calls made or taken to the number that result in appointments
- Appointments set to the number who actually show up
Anderson also recommends the old time management technique of completing your day before it begins. It’s not enough to plan your day when you get in the office; by that time you’re reacting to events. Spend at least 15 minutes each evening planning your next day.
Finally, Anderson says, don’t focus on closing. Knowing the right lines to seal a deal is worthless unless you master the steps that get you to closing. They include building rapport, determining needs, and presenting the appropriate product. “Closing is anything you do that has a positive effect on the customer from the moment that customer sees you,” he says.
Anderson is director of training for Anderson Dealership Group, Palo Alto, Calif.
Have you ever helped clients and customers find a property, and then watch them get denied for a loan because of their blemished credit history? Help prospects secure the financial assistance they need to lease or own property with tips from the “dastardly duo of debt,” Steve Rhode and Mike Kidwell, in their latest book, Get Out of Debt: Smart Solutions to Your Money Problems.
The authors answer consumers’ common personal finance questions at MyVesta.org, their nonprofit financial assistance site, and outline the steps for repairing and overcoming a blemished credit record.
Late payments, defaults, repossessions, liens, or bankruptcy need not deter prospects from obtaining a new home. Help clients and customers with flawed credit buy a home, say the authors, by
- Finding several lenders or mortgage brokers to discuss their financial situation and obtain a pre-qualification letter. “This is a letter stating that they have been ‘pre-qualified’ for a loan up to a certain amount, based on income and credit history, and how much will be needed for a downpayment and closing costs.”
- Educating yourself on loan basics. “For many years, mortgage lenders wrote only A loans for clients with flawless credit. However, some lenders will approve loans for clients with late mortgage payments, late credit card payments, even bankruptcy and foreclosure in their credit history, if they have had 12 months of clean credit prior to their application. These loans are known as B, C, and D loans.” The more you know about lenders in your area, the more assistance you can provide prospects.
- Discussing private financing. “Propose a written business deal to a financially secure friend or relative. Ask to borrow the money at a rate less than you’d pay a conventional lender but more than your friend would earn on the money invested conservatively.” With private financing, your client will secure a lower interest rate and incur smaller interest on their loan, allowing for more manageable monthly payments.
- Approaching the seller for a direct seller-financing contract. “Some sellers don’t need or want the money from the sale quite yet. Perhaps the seller will owe taxes on the profit. Suggest that sellers carry the note. This means your client will make the mortgage payments directly to the seller without the involvement of a mortgage lender.” A seller financing agreement requires a far less rigorous qualifying standard than a conventional lender’s.
By Elyse Umlauf-Garneau, REALTOR® Magazine
You don’t need to be born to wealth, win the lottery, become a corporate CEO, or exist on tuna fish to get rich, according to Getting Rich in America–8 Simple Rules for Building a Fortune and a Satisfying Life by Dwight R. Lee and Richard B. McKenzie (New York: HarperBusiness, 1999; $25)
The authors say virtually anyone can amass wealth by following eight simple rules. Among their rules: Take the power of compound interest seriously, resist temptation, and take prudent risks.
Although much of the advice is extremely practical and probably familiar to you, it bears repeating. To create substantial wealth, you need to have discipline and create a long-term vision of where you want to be financially.
In the book, you’ll find exercises and methods of number crunching that aren’t mind numbing or inaccessible to a beginner.
Whereas other books use a chart to explain how your money grows, Lee and McKenzie offer real-life examples of average Americans who’ve amassed big nest eggs by living a frugal–and happy–life.
Also, if you’re really wondering whether that splurge purchase will really make a difference in the long run, the authors illustrate the long-term cost one of our most treasured status symbols–a Rolex watch. If the $4,000 you spend on the watch is instead stashed away and left to earn 8 percent a year, the authors say, in 30 years that one-time investment will be worth $68,983.
By Elyse Umlauf-Garneau, REALTOR® Magazine
If you’re ready to brave the chilly waters of Wall Street and pick your own stocks, the Motley Fools, founders of the Web site by the same name, let you in on some of their secrets for making smart choices in The Motley Fool’s Rule Breakers, Rule Makers by David and Tom Gardner (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1999; $25).
They give you insight into looking behind the hype about a company and evaluating whether it has staying power.
The authors talk about the rule makers (stocks–such as Coca-Cola and General Electric–that will give you good returns over the long haul) and the rule breakers (upstart businesses–such as Amazon.com–that, as the book’s dust jacket says, “take their industries by storm”).
You’ll learn techniques for evaluating a company and how to identify the rule breakers that, if you’re lucky, will lead you to a bright financial future.
By Elyse Umlauf-Garneau, REALTOR® Magazine
Everyone tells you to invest in mutual funds, but what funds to pick and how to allocate investments within a fund family can send the most money-savvy person running for the hills.
In Mutual Funds for Dummies (Foster City, Calif.: IDG Books Worldwide Inc., 1998; $19.99), author Eric Tyson demystifies the mutual fund game, telling you in straightforward, digestible bits what mutual funds are, why they’re a smart investment, how to choose the right fund, and how to read those dense prospectuses (he even provides pictures).
If you’re beyond the basics, you can cruise by the easy stuff and get into the nitty-gritty of creating a portfolio that meets your personal needs.
Speed your read even further by looking for icons throughout the book that give you down and dirty information on the chapters’ topic. Little shark tails, for instance, denote deadly mistakes. Bull’s-eyes denote tips.
One of Tyson’s tips: “The most valuable information–the fund’s investment objectives, costs, and performance history–is summarized in the first few pages of the prospectus. Read these. Skip most of the rest.”
One of his shark tails: “Context matters. In their marketing literature, fund companies usually compare their funds’ returns with selected benchmarks. Keep a wary eye on these comparisons. In the great American advertising tradition, fund companies often pick benchmarks that make it easy for their funds to look good.”