Every week, we ask a Houston real estate professional for their thoughts on the top three stories from the week before.
This week, we talked with Cookie Noak, a Realtor with United Real Estate in Houston. She has been a Realtor for 19 years and prides herself in her think “outside the box” strategy with her clients.
Houston Agent (HA): Our coverage of online marketing strategies never fails to attract readers; what forms of online marketing have you found the most effective for your business?
Cookie Noak (CN): For us agents licensed long before the internet, we realize that real estate marketing is changing constantly. I have used all the major search sites at one time or another and as the article stated, they all bring their own frustrations and promise to do more than the other guy but for a price!
I wish I had a fraction of the money I’ve spent on sites and lead generation in the past with little to show for it. The bottom line is that Zillow, Trulia, Realtor.com and the like, are created for the consumer but make money off of us. Some sites are great for rookies with no listings to promote due to random agent contact info popping up on other’s listings, while it takes away the benefits of the listing agent, so it depends on your perspective, as to who and how it benefits an agent.
For accuracy and real time information, I always recommend HAR.com. After relocating across Texas to a new market, working strictly as a buyer’s agent for a team, I was grateful for every lead sent to me from those sites but there was no conclusive evidence of one being “better” than the other. What DID matter, was how fast I responded!
It will always be profitable to focus on listing properties. With listings, you will always have prospective buyers calling you and no amount of Google Analytics can take the place of answering a buyers phone call. Mixing old school basics with SEO and social media is a good thing and closed numerous internet leads because I was the first agent that actually answered my phone or returned their email immediately. So apparently, SPEED matters…
HA: Our featured content on top-producing agents has also generated quite a bit of interest from readers; what two or three qualities would you say are essential for reaching top-producer status?
CN: Typically, first step in any successful transaction begins with a relationship, and since communication is key to any harmonious relationship , the REALTOR/client relationship is no different! Understanding your clients needs and motivations are essential, so asking the right questions and using active listening skills, will pay off during the transaction for everyone. The better you know your clients, the better you can represent them!
Being accessible to clients, keeping them informed and satisfied can boost an agent’s reputation very quickly. Another common trait with top-producers is the ability to be creative and having an “outside the box” mentality! Think about it…no two people are exactly alike therefore, no two homes, lots, financial situations, or families are alike either, so we become problem solvers, investigators and it’s often up to you to find a way to make things work and fit your client’s needs.
Obviously, top-producers know about market trends/areas, marketing strategies, and negotiating, but if they don’t understand and carry out their fiduciary responsibilites, then their Top-Producer status, I predict, will change.
HA: On the flip side, there are also numerous ways agents can slip up on the job; are there two or three mistakes that all agents, in your mind, should avoid making?
CN: I don’t know of many professions that deal with consumer’s past, present and future, so any agent NOT taking this job seriously should do everyone a favor and choose another career that doesn’t involve legal matters. Mistakes made by “bad apples” can be very costly, financially and emotionally and cause undo stress.
For those serious about growing your business, do NOT:
- Be rude, impatient or disrespectful to the co-brokering agent, their clients, title company employees, lenders, inspectors, etc. Be collaborative and even if someone drops the ball, do what you can to help out…it may be you needing help one day.
- Assume your family, friends and their co-workers understand the ropes about real estate and how you get paid. Educate seller prospects that you want to list their home, not just find a buyer for it and tell prospective buyers that unless they have representation, whoever shows them the home will likely get the commission, and you will work for them to find the best home for them. Your friend may think you only work in Katy and not know that you will drive to her end of town to be her agent. You will be surprised how many people don’t understand how it all works.
- Forget to register your buyers with prospective builders and let buyers know it is wise to have your representation, even if they buy new construction or custom build for obvious reasons and some think they will get a discount if they don’t have an agent.
And for goodness sake…you never know when a prospect or referral will call you, so ANSWER YOUR PHONE AND CLOSE MORE DEALS.