Rebrand today for a successful 2017

Marketing your business well takes effort. Make the most of your time and market dollars. You can put a new spin on old school techniques and get creative with new technologies to get the word out. The rest is all about networking and following up on your efforts. Keep your pipeline flowing through the winter doldrums and get ready for an active spring by building these efforts into your business today.

Find Your Niche. Your niche doesn’t need to be based solely on geographical areas. Think about the people you’ve worked with in the past. Is there a common thread among your favorite clients that really allowed you to connect with them? Target the demographic where you’re most likely to find success and gain referrals. It could be that you work best with pet owners, or have a great relationship with a particular immigrant community. Maybe you work really well with young families. Your marketing and networking efforts should focus on connecting with that target.

Create a Slogan. When done well, a great slogan sums up your business in a short, memorable phrase. Avoid smarmy puns and aim instead for a sincere, reassuring tone. Great slogans will create an emotional connection. Keep your slogan short for maximum impact. Think about your niche and how your slogan can reflect that. Some examples we’ve seen online include luxury brand Kerwin & Associates’ Exceptional Properties. Exceptional Clients and Podley Properties’ Your Next Chapter Starts Here. Both are simple and direct and convey a certain message about the client. Kerwin & Associates slogan gives them an air of exclusivity. Podley Properties convey that they are able guides through the transition that a move brings. What feeling do you want to convey about your brand?

Update your value proposition. Write a short statement about yourself and your company that highlights your unique strengths and qualifications. Underscore how they benefit your clients and your community. Be prepared to use your value proposition when you meet someone new and in your marketing materials.

Write your Bio. With your target audience, slogan and value proposition in mind, write a short bio that emphasizes your professional qualifications and your values. Clients should get a sense of your personality, experiences, and interests. Use this in your presentations and on the “About Me” page of your website.

Get a professional headshot. Unless you’ve had a headshot taken in the past couple of years, it’s time to update your photo. No selfies, please! You are your brand and you want people to respect you as a professional. Hire a photographer who can give your photo proper lighting, positioning, and in several formats and sizes for reproduction. A good photographer can show you how to optimize your headshot for social media, websites and print materials.

Create a marketing plan. Now that you’ve defined your target market and your brand identity, it’s time to develop a strategy to make it all come together. What strategies can you incorporate to underscore your brand this year? Dream up a big, audacious goal and take small steps every day toward achieving that dream. For instance, break up your marketing strategies into time-specific increments: what can you accomplish annually, quarterly, monthly, weekly, and daily? Taking the time to plan out the year will help you prioritize.

Now you’ve got a good foundation for creating a successful marketing campaign. Watch for our upcoming blogs where we’ll discuss how to implement your new brand through altruism, networking, social media campaigns, and advertising.

Top tips for making the most out of your website

We all know that everyone goes to websites when they are checking out a new business. Unfortunately, a lot of agents don’t really have a strong online presence, or they rely on their broker’s website. The problem with relying solely on your broker’s website is that their site is not going to help you reach your sphere or stand out from the crowd. If you really want to up your online game, you should have multiple websites. Keep your broker’s site, of course, and also have a site for your existing sphere to get your personalized message. Take it a step further and add sites for prospecting. Fortunately, you don’t have to be tech savvy these days to set up great looking websites or to keep them active. Use this guide to help you along.

Find a service to help you. There are a ton of services that offer website design and hosting at very reasonable prices. Search for website design and hosting or check out well-known services like SquareSpace, Wix, Bluehost, or Weebly. They offer simple tools to get you started.

Be mobile. No matter how many sites you have, the one critical factor must be that it looks good and works well on every device. This is called having a responsive website. That means that no matter if your client is looking online through a computer, phone, or tablet, the site is easy to use and makes sense. You want to make sure that anyone who goes to your site has a good experience and is left with a positive impression. First impressions matter. They won’t be back if the website is clunky.

Make it easy to get in touch. Put your contact info on every page of your website. Include a clear Contact Us page. Be consistent and friendly.

Be easy to find. Include content in your website that make it easy for search engines like Google and Bing to find you. This is called Search Engine Optimization (SEO). It sounds tricky, but it’s really not to add keywords to your site if you keep your target market in mind. Think of terms that would be attractive to them, including the name of your town, school district, popular neighborhoods or attractions near you, or popular features that are found in your listings.

Be useful. Make sure you update listing information and add new content at least once every week. Offer online calculators that help figure out monthly payments. Offer a local calendar of events and invite your clients to participate. Include maps of local features like school zones, parks, restaurants or bike trails.

Blog. Create a blog to answer common questions and offer advice. Use it to present a local monthly market report (note: if you don’t have the data, call us and we’ll be happy to send it to you.) Ask local businesses or your entrepreneur clients if they want to offer a guest blog. It helps them get the word out about their business and gives you fresh content. Not all of the content you post must be your own. You can publish other’s blogs as long as you give the author credit and include a link. Make sure to share your blog on social media and in email campaigns so you know it is being seen and read by your sphere.

Create online guides or ebooks for prospecting. Create a short ebook that offers tips for buyers, sellers, and homeowners. For instance, think about topics like “Top Fall Maintenance Tips” or “Secrets of Successful Staging.” Create a separate website that hosts these guides and make sure to require prospects to provide an email address to access the full content.

Make it visually appealing. Include pictures from around your town, including landmarks, familiar sites, festivals, or annual events. Include original art to make your brand stand out. Not the creative type? Sites like Canva and BeFunky offer user-friendly graphic design tools to create interesting icons and images with ease.

Use Video. Marketing with video can go way beyond property tours. Showcase your local knowledge, tell prospects about your company, and yes, show off listings. But you can also create short, funny videos that riff on popular culture. Some agents have been known to make parody videos out of popular songs, or offer a light-hearted look at current events or review a new local restaurant. Keep them short and shareable.

Include an e-mail opt-in. Offer to send market updates, newsletters, or monthly tips for homeowners, for example, and ask people to opt-in. This will help you build your base for your drip campaigns (we’ll get to drip campaigns in an upcoming blog).

Add sharing. Most website builders will let you add the ability to share your site or blog to Facebook, LinkedIn, or other social sites and by e-mail. Make sure to use them. Sharing content is critical for generating traffic and building online recognition.

Include reviews. You earned a great review from a client, so show it off! Solicit testimonials from happy customers and include them on your site. They matter.

Remember, a successful website will be mobile, relevant and updated. Start small by incorporating a few of these tips and build up to a full site as you get more comfortable with your online presence. Block out a little time every week to make certain your site is refreshed and visually appealing. You’ll be amazed at how much difference a great website makes.

Are your clients in line with local and federal Non-Discrimination policies?

Guest blog by David Sparling, Diversity and Housing Initiatives Chair

"Every American deserves to live with dignity, regardless of who they love or who they are. HUD is committed to fighting unjust discrimination and to expanding housing opportunity for all. We believe there are no second-class citizens. And I will do every single thing that I can to make sure that everyone is protected."
- HUD Secretary Julián Castro

While the NAR Code of Ethics clearly prohibits discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation, local and federal housing policies are often unknown or unclear to the public. Protect your clients and make sure they understand current non-discrimination policies wherever they are in the Metroplex.

Working towards ending housing discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation is part of HUD’s ongoing mission to give every person and family access to a safe, secure and affordable home. Though the Fair Housing Act does not specifically include sexual orientation and gender identity as prohibited bases, HUD’s position is very clear: one may not discriminate based on gender identity or sexual orientation.

HUD believes the Fair Housing Act offers protection for people who do not conform to gender stereotypes. For example, a landlord may not discriminate against an individual because he believes the person acts in a manner that does not conform to his notion of how a person of a particular sex should act. In addition, HUD uses the Gender Identity Rule to further require that transgender persons and other persons who do not identify with the sex they were assigned at birth be given equal access to programs, benefits, services, and accommodations in accordance with their gender identity.

On the local level, Dallas, Fort Worth and Plano also have specific non-discrimination ordinances offering lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender residents protection against discrimination in housing and other environments.

Rules your clients should know:

It is prohibited for any landlord or housing provider who receives HUD or FHA funds to discriminate against a tenant on the basis of real or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity or marital status.

It is prohibited for a lender to deny an FHA-insured mortgage to any qualified applicant based on their sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status.

It is illegal to deny housing because of someone's HIV/AIDS status under the Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

It is prohibited for homeless facilities to segregate or isolate transgender individuals solely based on their gender identity who are homeless and seeking shelter.

If you believe your clients have experienced (or are about to experience) housing discrimination, you may contact HUD's Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity for help at (800) 669-9777. You may also file a housing discrimination complaint online.

Additionally you may contact your local HUD office for assistance with alleged violations of HUD’s Equal Access Rule and other program regulations.

Tips for Buying a Home with Friends

With housing inventory low and prices going up, some people are making the decision to partner with friends and buy a home together. This scenario allows people who otherwise would not be able to afford a house to share expenses and achieve the dream of becoming homeowners. But how do you know if buying property jointly is the right move for your clients?  

It is important to remember that this is a business transaction, so your clients and their friends will have to approach it as such. You are going to have to have a very open, very frank conversation with all parties about their finances, their plans for the future, what to do if someone wants to sell, etc. If these are conversations they are uncomfortable having or they are worried about the effect they might have on their friendships, then buying a home with friends is probably not the right choice for them.

However, if your clients and their friends can come to terms, owning a home while sharing the burden of all the costs can help you build their savings while gaining equity in a home.

Here are some tips on purchasing a home with friends you can share with your clients.

Review your friends’ finances. This is most likely the largest financial decision of their lives, so now is not the time to hem and haw on questions of finance. They will need to be aware of everyone’s credit scores, income, savings and any other relevant assets. It is important to make sure that your clients and their friends are financially prepared to become homeowners.

 

Decide how payments and costs will be split. Questions to consider are how much each person will contribute to the down payment and if that will affect how your clients and their friends divide the mortgage payments? Will the utilities be split evenly every month or will they alternate who pays? It is important that these details be worked out and understood by everyone involved before the home is purchased.

Decide on the type of house. Are they planning on buying a single-family home or a multi-family home? Do they see themselves sharing a kitchen and bathroom, or are they looking to buy a place where they will each have your own private residence. Your clients and their friends should also decide ahead of time on everyone’s must-haves for the home. Knowing that the friends will only buy a house with a big backyard or that they will not buy a house on a corner lot can save you a lot of time house hunting.

Get everything in writing. It is important that all of the co-purchasers keep written documentation of all of the agreements regarding financial and other responsibilities. So many people think that because they are dealing with friends that there is no need to write up a contract, but it can help you to avoid conflicts and surprises down the road.

Work with a Realtor. Buying a home is an important decision, and whether your clients and their friends are doing it on their own or with a friend, using a Realtor® is a smart move. A Realtor can provide counsel, discuss listings, show homes in person, negotiate on your clients’ and their friends’ behalf and help them stay focused on the issues that are most important.

If your clients and their friends enter the arrangement educated and prepared, co-purchasing a home can be a great way to get your clients and their friends on the first rung of the homeownership ladder.

Matrix New and Enhanced Features

Auto Email
Includes direct links to the customer full display on the customer portal. A single click will now take the customer to the full details of the property by clicking on any one of the following: the photo, the MLS # or the “More Details” link:

Currently, users get an email warning notification if a contact has not activated the initial welcome auto-email after 7 days. A new email warning notification will be sent to notify a user 7 days prior to when an auto email is about to expire. The time-out on an active auto email is being increased to 60 days.

A user will now also get an email notification warning them when an auto email has not found any matching listing within the past 30 days and gives them the option to renew it. The auto email will automatically expire if no matching listings have been found within the past 180 days.

If a contact already has opted in to one active auto email from an agent and are currently receiving updates, they will not have to click the link in subsequent Welcome emails in order to begin receiving updates:

Further, if a contact clicks on the link in the initial Welcome email, it will automatically enable all outstanding searches for that contact.

Data Checker Widget
A new Data Checker widget is being added to the home page indicating whether or not the user has any Current Violations. The link will only be visible if there is an outstanding violation; however, the user can access their Violation History and view their Notifications at any time. Office Brokers/Managers will be able to access the “My Office Violations” link to view that particular office’s violations.

Edit Contacts from the Send Email Screen
When sending emails to clients, users will have the option to modify the contact’s information director from the “Send Email” screen without having to exist the send mail process. When selecting a contact from the pick list, the user will see a new “Edit Contact” link. This is only visible when a single contact is highlighted and will be hidden if two or more rows are highlighted.
 

Widget Headers and Speed-Bar Background Color
The current default light-gray background will now be a light blue making it easier to see each widget and allowing the speed-bar to be more visible to the user.

Portal
When viewing a customer full display in the Client Portal, the “X” button in the top right corner is getting overlooked, so it’s being replaced by a more prominent “Back to Results” link in the left side of the top bar.

Map Legend
Displays all the map pins and descriptions currently in use and both Matrix and the Client Portal will be the same.

Share Listing
The “Share Listing” option for Facebook, Twitter, etc. has been improved; now the shared listing link will display the address, list price and property description. Also, the image that will be used is automatically set to the primary photo for that listing.

Map Search
When running search using either the Map search on the search form to find listings within a certain distance of a specific location OR the single radius search shape on the map, the results grid will now automatically display a sortable distance column showing the distance “as the crow flies” of each listing from the location entered or from the center point of the radius search.

In the CMA Wizard, if the subject property is mapped, the comparables step will include the distance of each comp from the property.

Statistics
When using the “Customize” tab, the “Group By” option previously allowed a bucket of 5-20; the user now has two additional options of 25 and 30.'

Issues Resolved

Images
Previously, the Rotation Image Tag was supposed in Win10 but not in Win7 so images taken on a mobile device could appear sideways or upside down when viewed in Win7 but correctly in Win10. A fix has been put into place that will detect the Rotation Tag and prompt the user to correct the rotation when uploading images to a listing.

Users are now able to re-order photos when the maximum number of images are added for a listing.

Search
The behavior of the “Not” search operator has changed so the results will now include listings if the lookup field is “null.”

Upcoming MetroTex Classes and Events

3 Not-to-be-Missed Classes in July

With the market as active as it is, getting the price right the first time is more important than ever before. Whether you’re representing buyers or sellers, you need to have the depth of knowledge to give your clients the very best advice. Fortunately, MetroTex is offering three classes in July to improve your CMA skills.

CMA v. Appraisal, July 8: Provide your clients with the best possible comparables and learn the differences between comps and appraisal. This course will look at legal, ethical and regulatory requirements needed for appraisals as well as help you develop a process for determining the best comps. It will also explain lender requirements when it comes to appraisal, so you can better handle a successful resolution to the deal when the appraisal doesn’t land where you thought it should. July 8, 2016. 9 AM – 12 PM at MetroTex Dallas and via interactive simulcast to Grapevine, Garland, Lewisville, and Duncanville locations.

Next Level CMA, July 8: Take your CMA skills to new heights when you learn how to properly make adjustments to your comps. Price the property correctly for buyers and sellers alike. July 8, 2016. 1 PM – 4 PM at MetroTex Dallas and via interactive simulcast to Grapevine, Garland, Lewisville, and Duncanville locations.

Pricing Strategies: Mastering the CMA, July 12: Earn the Certification! The Pricing Strategy Advisor (PSA) certification is specifically designed to enhance your skills in pricing properties, creating CMAs, working with appraisers, and guiding clients through the anxieties and misperceptions they often have about home values. This robust course will teach you how to price homes properly, make adjustments to comps, how to work with appraisers and more. At the end of the session, you will have the skills needed in this fast-moving market to get the price right.  July 12, 2016. 8:30 AM – 5 PM at MetroTex Dallas location.

MetroTex is offering more than 50 classes and webinars in July. Check out our full schedule at mymetrotex.com.

Avoiding Scams

Among the legislative sweep going on in Austin this week is House Bill 2590, a bill which would impose significant penalties on scammers who are claiming vacant houses that don’t belong to them through fraudulent adverse possession claims often known as “squatter’s rights.”

Unfortunately, there are a number of other housing schemes happening around the country right now. With prices on the rise and houses in short supply, the Dallas area could also become a target for these scams.

So what are these scams and how can you protect yourself and your loved ones from becoming a victim? First and foremost, whenever you enter into a real estate transaction, consult a MetroTex REALTOR. Aside from being licensed professionals, REALTORS use standardized contracts which protect both buyers and sellers. Further, REALTORS will advise their clients to use title companies to help ensure that the property is actually owned by the seller without disputes or claims on the title from third parties. If you aren’t sure whether the person selling the house is a REALTOR, you can check for licensee information online at trec.state.tx.us. Remember, the reason we have REALTORS is largely to protect consumers against unscrupulous real estate bandits.

The FBI warns about a number of scams currently being reported across the country. Here’s a run down of the most common schemes and specific steps you can take to protect yourself.

Reverse Mortgage Scams

Reverse Mortgages can be a legitimate option for senior citizens to benefit from equity in their homes without having to move or sell. Legitimate reverse mortgages are insured by the FHA and have specific age, residency and mortgage balance requirements.

Unfortunately, fraudsters are using the legitimate programs as a springboard for some very unscrupulous practices. Basically, they either steal the equity from property of unsuspecting seniors, or use seniors’ good credit and identities to steal equity from other properties. In many cases, people are offered fake foreclosure or refinance help, free homes, or shady investment opportunities.

FBI Tips for Avoiding Reverse Mortgage Scams:

  • Do not respond to unsolicited advertisements.
  • Be suspicious of anyone claiming that you can own a home with no down payment, unless it is a specifically insured mortgage program, like USDA or VA.
  • Do not sign anything that you do not fully understand.
  • Do not accept payment from individuals for a home you did not purchase.
  • Seek out your own licensed reverse mortgage counselor.

Phony Online Rental Ads

Online ads for finding rentals can lead to consumers losing thousands of dollars and ending up without a place to live. In these scams, people will post a classified ad with a great looking house most often at a relatively low rent. The landlord –who is leaving the country quickly, often for business or on a mission trip - will accept your application and will ask you to wire a couple of month’s rent to his account. But when you show up at the house to move in, the house isn’t available and the owners have nothing to do with your agreement. Not only are you out two months’ rent, you might also find that your identity has been stolen.

FBI Tips to Avoid Rental Scams:

  • Only deal with landlords or renters who are local;
  • Be suspicious if you’re asked to only use a wire transfer service;
  • Beware of e-mail correspondence from the “landlord” that’s written in poor or broken English;
  • Research the average rental rates in that area and be suspicious if the rate is significantly lower;
  • Don’t agree to accept a larger payment than is needed and refund the remaining balance.

Foreclosure Fraud

Unfortunately, scammers find a big target in people who are desperate to stay in their homes. Distressed homeowners can be presented with offers that allow them to stay in their homes at half their current mortgage payment so long as they sign over title to their homes and pay an upfront fee. In reality, these schemes are run by people who never pay off the existing loans, instead pocketing the money for themselves and causing the unwitting homeowners to ruin their credit and eventually wind up evicted from their homes.

FTC Tips to Avoid Foreclosure Help Fraud

  • Avoid offers that guarantee to get you a loan modification or stop the foreclosure process;
  • Only use people who advise you to contact your lender, lawyer, or a housing counselor;
  • Deny requests for upfront fees before providing you with any services;
  • Do not transfer your property deed or title to others;
  • Be suspicious of people who only accept payments by cashier’s check or wire transfer
  • Don’t sign anything you haven’t read or don’t understand.

House Stealing

This scam is a variation of the adverse possession schemes being addressed by the Texas Legislature. Basically, scammers steal your identity, forge sales documents and register deed transfer paperwork with the county. Then they claim to own the house and sell it. This often happens with unoccupied or vacation homes. Untangling this mess can be costly and difficult.

Avoid House Stealing

  • Check your property records. When you get your tax bill for the year, verify information pertaining to your property. If you see any changes to title or names you don’t recognize, ask for more information from the deeds office.
  • If you receive correspondence or a payment book from a mortgage company that’s not yours, whether your name is on the envelope or not, don’t throw it away. Read it and if seems suspicious or you don’t understand what it means, follow up with the company that sent it.

For more information on buying or selling a home in Texas, visit dfwrealestate.com

5 Networking Habits of Successful REALTORS

We all know we need to do it, but like diet and exercise, regular networking is a habit that can be hard to start and even harder to maintain. Like long-forgotten New Year’s resolutions, networking is one habit that REALTORS tend to get into when times are slow, and which fades off with the first taste of success. But in order to maintain that healthy glow, your business needs networking year-round. Keep your business steady through all kinds of market cycles and embrace the power of your network.


Listen to new clients. Obviously, the biggest point of networking is to meet new people and get them to use you. One of the best ways to do that is to train yourself to listen. Ask about families, challenges people are facing, work, milestones approaching. Elicit conversation from people and they will begin to trust and appreciate you more.

Bring clients together. You know people. That’s your job. Most of them probably either have a business or work for one. Find out what they do and what they need. Think about other people in your network. Could any of them fill that need or would they know someone who does?  Introduce them. You’ll gain referrals if you give referrals first. In fact, plan to give out more referrals than you receive. Actively look for opportunities to give out referrals.

Smoother transactions. Look, we all know a lot of real estate agents. And no, you’re not going to score both sides of every deal. At some point you’re going to have to work with other agents to get a deal done. So don’t shy away from talking to other agents and getting to know them. Negotiating is easier if there’s already a history of friendly conversation. Think of other agents as resources. After all, they’re only your competition if they’re better than you. And you are a master at networking, so there’s no problem, right?

Gain a mentor or two. Sometimes when you are networking you’ll run across someone whom you really begin to admire. They may or may not be in your industry, but they are successful in what they do. Harness that success. Take your would-be mentor out for coffee and ask about that success. Find out how you can incorporate their successes into your own life and business.

Collect cards. Collect more cards than you give out. If you are collecting a lot of cards, it means you’re talking to a lot of people. And that means that you are finding new connections to make. Remember, give referrals and make connections without expectations that you will receive an equal number in return. Your job is to make people feel like you value them, you listen to them, and you want them to succeed.

Get your head in the game and refocus your networking efforts for the year. Remember, we’re only halfway through 2015. There’s still plenty of time to make this your best year ever!

Agents, now is the time to register and upgrade for free with www.dfwrealestate.com. Claim your leads and give your clients the most accurate listing information available.

 

Buyers Agents! Are you doing everything you can for your Buyers?

Capture the buyers’ market and earn both referrals and customers for life.

Are you going the extra mile for your buyers after you close? Are you employing all of the best strategies for actually getting them to close in the first place?

Sometimes the best way to give your clients the best possible service is the small gestures you make after the sale. An offer to arrange for a babysitter or a dog walker in the first day or two of moving if they’re new to the area goes a long way to helping out without getting in the way. Or, send them a link to their neighborhood online newsgroup (NextDoor is a popular choice) gets your clients into the loop. A month or so after they’ve settled in is the best time write a thank you note with a little extra thrown in, like a lottery ticket or a gift card to a local restaurant, nursery or pet groomer.

Little touches show you care and reinforce the relationship you’ve formed with your clients.

Want more? MetroTex offers a suite of classes just for buyers’ agents. In fact, there are several on the calendar in May. So come on out and find out how to become your very best with MetroTex! Want to know what class to take next? Call our CE Sleuth hotline at 214-540-2716 and ask Amy.

Register online at mymetrotex.com

Here is a sample of just some of the classes we’re offering in May:

Business Development:

·         5/17/2016        8:30am - 5pm     Senior Real Estate Specialist

·         5/18/2016        11:30am - 12:30pm   Buy & Hold Real Estate

·         5/19/2016        8:30am - 5pm  Generate Buyer & Seller Leads

·         5/24/2016        9:00 AM -  1:00 PM  Secrets of Top Buyers’ Agents

Understanding the Industry:

·         5/10/2016        10am - 12pm   New Construction: Porch-Patio

·         5/14/2016        1:30pm - 5:30pm   From Sold to Close

·         5/14/2016        8:30am -12:30pm   Write it Right

Tech Tools to Increase Efficiency:

·         5/10/2016        1pm - 4pm      Introduction to RPR

·         5/12/2016        9am - 12pm    MLS-Accessing PropertyTax Info

·         5/12/2016        1pm - 4pm      MLS-ZipForm On Line

·         5/13/2016        1pm - 4pm       MLS Advance Matrix

·         5/18/2016        1pm - 4pm        MLS-NTREIS Find

·         5/31/2016        11:30am - 1:30pm   iPad for Buyers' Agent

10 Power User Features of the RPR app

The RPR app and busy REALTORS® have much in common. Mainly, they are each constantly in motion. We know that to keep up with an agent’s need for quick access to property and market trend data, the app must continually build in new features and related usefulness. Fast forward, here are the top 10 features of the RPR app power users should know about, including some important new enhancements.

1.    Choose your start screen
When you first open the RPR app, the default screen shows recent activity around your location. Although if you find yourself searching for properties by address more than your location, change the default home screen. First, swipe left or right to find the screen you want to see first when you open the app: Search, Nearby Properties, Local Market Data. Once you’ve landed on the screen you want to see first, press the home icon in the top right for two-seconds. It will turn green, and confirm the change.

2.    Draw map search
The name says it all. When you want to restrict searches to a particular geographic area, start by either pressing the Locate Me button on the home screen, or search for a general geography (i.e. City or ZIP). Once on the map, pan and drag to the neighborhood/area you want to search and then press Draw.  Now, use your finger to outline the boundaries of the search area. To save your custom search area, choose the Star icon located at the bottom right of the screen. When the Save This Search screen opens, type a name and choose Save With Custom Name. That custom search will now be available by pressing Saved from the home screen and then Searches. From here you can also choose the pencil to edit the saved shape name.

3.    Compass mode
With the addition of Compass Mode, reviewing the RPR map while moving has become easier. When turned on, the blue compass marker at the top right of the map turns into a compass with a North arrow. If you rotate to face a different direction, the map will rotate with you in real time. So the map always displays the direction you're currently facing, even if you've moved around.

4.    Map, Hybrid and Satellite map view
Each map view has its advantages, so knowing how to quickly switch between the views is useful. Tap on the map, and the toolbar will display on the bottom of the screen. Press the Map Settings icon on the left. Now switch between Standard, Hybrid and Satellite.

5.    Zoom to parcel level to see all homes
There are many reasons you may need to see each home in a neighborhood, like when walking your farm area.  To do so, zoom in on your map to reveal each property in the area. Start by either pressing Locate Me, and then from the map pinch and zoom into the street level. Gray pins will show up with their RVM value represented.

6.    Swipe in List View
Sometimes it’s about how quickly you can get to the information or feature you’re seeking. If that includes saving a property, calling the listing agent, adding property notes, or creating a report, try swiping left on a property in list view. This will show you shortcuts to each of those actions.

7.    See comparable properties
The RPR app does not have the comps analysis tool, for that you’ll need to use the website. But when you need access to comparable properties while mobile, this feature will come in handy. Start by searching for the subject property, or if you are standing at the location use the Locate Me button. Once you’ve opened the property record, scroll down to Location/Details, and choose Find Nearby Comps. This will take you to a map view with recent sales and active properties. To see only sold properties, select Filter and turn For Sale and Sale Pending to No and then press Apply Filters. Switch to List View and now scroll the list and review the system generated comparable properties.

8.    Report cover photo
It’s easy to add a new cover photo to the RPR app’s report covers From within the app, locate the subject property, choose Notes and then Photo Note.  Snap the photo or upload a saved photo from your phone album, and choose Upload. Then choose Edit, select the radio button for Report Cover and press Save. Now, when you generate a Property, Mini-Property or Seller’s Report, your photo will appear on the cover.

9.    Print / share reports
Do you print the reports you create? Or perhaps you email, text or share them to social media sites like Facebook or Twitter. All of these are easier with the new Print/Share button that has been added to the report viewer. See for yourself next time you view a report, press the Sharing button at the top right.

10.  Research schools
It’s no secret that schools are consistently ranked as one of the most important factors in parents’ decisions about where to buy a home. With the RPR app, delivering school information to your clients and prospects when they need it is simple. From the app home screen, choose Advanced Search. Now press Schools. From here you can drill down by your location, a geography or school district. Also, use the filters to choose the type of schools you want to search: Elementary, Middle and High School. From the results page choose Get a School Report.

What are you doing to achieve your goals tomorrow?

If you’re still breathing then you probably haven’t accomplished everything you want to do in life just yet. The thing is, if you’re not actively trying to reach your goals, then they’re most likely going to stay wishes than realities.

Write down your goals. Do it. Right now. We’ll wait. How big is your list? Write more. Go big and write down 100 things you’d like to see in your life. Make them big and small and in some cases wildly audacious. If you cant’ think of 100 things, then keep stretching until you’re close. When you write things down, you not only have a visual reminder, but you also form a more concrete vision for yourself in your mind.

Now, that’s a lot of ideas. You probably can’t imagine how you’d ever possibly accomplish all of those things, much less get started. Don’t worry. We’re going to break these down into manageable chunks.

Pick 10 things from your list that you want to work towards this month. Pick a mix of long term goals and more immediate ones. Now, break each one down into micro steps you could take toward meeting that goal. Want to lose a few pounds? Break it down into small bits, setting your micro-goals in increments in ounces rather than pounds, or finding an app to log your food consumption, or adding 10 minutes of walking to your day. How about that goal of getting organized? Tackle one desk drawer, shelf or even one file folder this week. Do this for all of your goals. Write all of the micro goals down, too.

Now for the fun part. When you accomplish a micro goal, acknowledge it. Cross it off the list, take a picture, give yourself a gold star. Whatever makes you enjoy that sense of accomplishment. Every month go back and look at your accomplishments and see how much closer you are to achieving that one big thing. In a year, you’ll be able to look back and see that you really have been productive and you’ll feel great about it. Audit as you go. Add more goals to your Top Ten as old ones are reached. Modify the steps you need to take to reach your bigger goal if they don’t seem to be getting you closer. And remember to celebrate your big wins. You’ve earned the 

Tax Deductions For Real Estate Agents And Brokers

As the tax filing deadline looms, don’t forget to review all of the possible deductions that are available for real estate agents. Remember, as a self-employed individual, you could shave quite a bit off your 2015 tax bill. 

First, take a look at your health insurance premiums. If you provide your own (and don’t rely on an employer or a spouse’s employer’s plan) your premiums could be 100% deductible.

Next, consider your accounting fees. If they’re connected with your business or if you’ve installed a new accounting system, they could be deductible. Similarly, attorney’s fees related to your business may also apply.

If you’ve spent money advertising your business, bought business cards, spent money to create presentations or hold open houses, you might be able to add those into your calculations. Small business gifts (under $25) and website fees are eligible.

Your car can be a big source for deductions as well. You can only deduct that portion which was used for business, so If you use your car 50% of the time on your business, you can deduct 50% of your expenses related to your car . Remember, this includes things like taxes, insurance, maintenance, mileage, gas, interest, car washes, and parking. Pretty much anything you spend money on in relation to your car for business.

Speaking of travel, if you’ve spent time at a convention, or done other business travel, consider adding lodging and travel expenses to the pot. Meals, entertainment, newspapers, and magazines may all be deducted. And while you’re thinking about that great TAR meeting from last fall, don’t forget to deduct professional memberships to your associations and chambers of commerce.

Once you’ve returned home, make sure to look at your office expenses. From rent to utilities, supplies, cleaning and maintenance may all be legitimate claims. So can phone, security and interest expenses. 

Of course, you’ll want to have a professional tax preparer go over all of these items with you (and more). And don’t forget to sign up for the class Your Taxes and You, offered twice a year at MetroTex. Just like all of our CE classes, it’s tax deductible!

 

Trinity Treasure Run 5K – Get Moving For a Great Cause (And a Great Time)

Attention Realtors, readers and friends! Whether you’re one of those fitness types who can run a 5K without breaking a sweat, or one for whom “running” is merely a euphemism for rushing to the next appointment while breaking a few traffic laws – this event is for you. Run or walk (or sign-up somebody else from your office to run or walk) this easy, FUN trail and help raise money for a great cause. Or, if the extent of your exertions lies in lifting a pint – join us after the race at Four Corners Brewery for good times and great networking.

The Trinity Treasure 5K run/walk (3.1 miles) will follow the Trinity Skyline Trail with its picturesque views of downtown and the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge. Grab your friends and colleagues and sign up today to show some DFW Realtor Spirit!

Proceeds from the event benefit the MetroTex Charitable Trust and Be the Difference Foundation. The MetroTex Charitable Trust awards grants each year to local school programs that benefit students and help build communities. Be the Difference Foundation raises funds for research and programs in the fight against ovarian cancer.

What better way to spend a Tuesday evening than doing something great for your body and your community? Find the Trinity Treasure 5K on Facebook and invite your friends!

Use the code 2016TREASURE for $5 off entry to the 5k! 
April 12th  $35
5:00pm - 7:00pm

Sign up for the Trinity Treasure 5K here.

Contributed by: Brenda Masse, Green Scene Home Inspections