What is a Short Sale?

by Brad Hanks on January 5, 2012

Have you fallen behind on your mortgage payments, and don’t know what to do? Watch this brief video, and find out what a Short Sale is, and why it may be the solution you have been searching for.

Then contact me at 360.966.6726 or brad@bradhanks.com for a FREE consultation to find out if a Short Sale is right for you.

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NAR Convention: Anaheim

by Brad Hanks on November 15, 2011

Hard to believe another year has gone by. And what a year to remember (forget?) – 2011.

Foreclosures and short sales still on the rise. Property values continuing to decline nationwide. Mortgage requirements and appraisal guidelines that make it more difficult for the average American home buyer to qualify for a loan. And consumer confidence levels in the basement.

Yet there was an air of optimism at this year’s National Association of REALTORS convention in Anaheim. Even though the attendance numbers didn’t stack up to past year’s numbers, the atmosphere seemed charged with attendees looking for a brighter future in the real estate industry in the year ahead. It wasn’t “irrational exuberance.” It was “cautious optimism.”

And while it’s difficult to make assumptions based on a trade show that attracts less than 2% of our membership, it does provide an opportunity to ask the question, “Is 2012 going to be a good year for real estate?”

What do you think?

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REALTOR Convention in the Big Easy

by Brad Hanks on November 8, 2010

The National Association of REALTORS annual convention just wrapped up in New Orleans today, and by all accounts it was a great success.

Even with a marginally improving economy, a large inventory of distressed properties and flagging consumer confidence, it seemed there was a feeling of optimism in the air in NOLA for NAR’s “NARdiGras” event. Whether it was optimism for an improving market or optimism for a shrinking number of REALTORS competing for fewer sales (the convention numbers have not been confirmed yet, but most observed that the event attendance was down from previous years), there seemed to be a more positive air about the convention center as attendees soaked up presentations and exhibits. And probably a fair share of Hurricanes.

If you were there, what did you think?  Were you happy with the education tracks and presentations?  Did you find the exhibit hall beneficial?  Did you get the same feeling of guarded optimism for real estate in the months ahead?

What did you think of NARdiGras?

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I’ve been through tough markets before.  1990-1996. Northern California.  The reason the front of my head is flat is due in large part to the head banging I did to get me through that challenging period.

Back then we had Desert Storm (I), base closures and massive layoffs in the California market.  And while we had our fair share of short sales and REO’s to deal with, it was a minor blip compared to what we have now.  Not only do we have unprecedented numbers of short sale and foreclosure transactions to deal with; we’ve got a buying public that has no confidence in their ability to keep their jobs, let alone believe in an economic recovery.

I don’t believe we’re left “up a creek without a paddle,” but I do believe our paddle has been split, leaving us to work harder to move ourselves (and our clients) further downstream.  Or is it upstream?  I guess it’s a matter of perspective…

Not for the Faint of Heart

To be certain, this is a challenging time to be in the the real estate sales business.  Much more challenging than when I was selling.  A period of time that is not for the faint of heart to be sure.  But it is still a market that presents opportunity – opportunity for us to assist our clients in need: sellers that are looking to sell and buyers wishing to buy.

If you got into this business in 2005 or 2006, it appeared back then to be an easy business.  Just show up to work and you were nearly guaranteed to close some sales.  Buyers were everywhere and financing was easy.  But it was a “fantasy” market – created by unrealistic expectations.  Expectations that real estate would continue to appreciate and that money would continue to flow to the mortgage industry regardless of mortgagors’ abilities to pay.

Time to Roll Up Our Sleeves

Now it’s time to get to work. Get back to the basics, and the hard work we used to have to do to get business.  Network like crazy.  Knock on doors.  Market the heck out of our services through direct mail, social media and referral networks.  A time to work smarter AND harder.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but the days on easy street are over.  It’s time to roll up our sleeves and get to work.

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SEO Secrets Sold Here

by Brad Hanks on October 10, 2010

Not really.  We’re giving them away.

Did you know that you can do more for your web presence with your social media activities than you can by hiring an SEO (search engine optimization) specialist to increase your search engine ranking?

That’s right.  Your Facebook profile, YouTube channel, blog posts and tweets will do more to elevate your ranking on the search engines than employing a consultant to massage your keywords and meta tags on your website.  And those social network activities will work faster to move you up the Google food chain than any tweaking that a web developer will do for your site.

Consider this: Google indexes Twitter updates every 15 minutes.  Facebook updates show up in Google searches within hours of posting.  And new blog posts are crawled and weighted more favorably than standard web pages.  All of this means that if you want to control your space on the web, you need to be updating, tweeting and blogging regularly.

As a comparison, look at the time-line for an average website change.  Let’s say you want to insert a new paragraph on your site promoting your recent CDPE (Certified Distressed Property Expert) certification, and you don’t have access to the back-end of your site to make the changes yourself:

  1. CDPE certification awarded (Tuesday)
  2. Press release received from CDPE (Wednesday)
  3. Press release forwarded on to web developer (Wednesday)
  4. Conference call or email-a-palooza with web developer for proper placement of press release (Thursday)
  5. Nothing on the site (Friday)
  6. Still nothing on the site (Saturday)
  7. Again, nothing on the site (Sunday) – Hey, it’s the weekend
  8. Are you kidding me? Nothing on the site (Monday)
  9. Rough draft of press release as it looks on the site (Tuesday)
  10. Minor changes of press release for web site (Wednesday)
  11. STILL nothing on the site (Thursday) – Your web developer is at a conference
  12. What? It’s still not there?!? (Friday) – Didn’t your web developer tell you it was a two day conference?
  13. Fuhgetaboutit (Saturday and Sunday) – Another weekend (see #7)
  14. Starting to pull your hair out because your site has not been updated yet (Monday) – Everyone’s swamped Mondays
  15. The change has finally been made (Tuesday) – Wait, there’s a typo!
  16. Go back to step #10 (Wednesday) – Rinse and repeat

That’s fifteen (15) days waiting for new information to be added to your website.*

Stop leaving your web destiny in the hands of someone else and take control.  Use social media as your SEO secret weapon.

*Individual results may vary. But likely not by much.

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Why You Need to Network Now More Than Ever Before

by Brad Hanks on October 5, 2010

When I’m instructing CRB classes around the country, attendees tell me that even though they don’t like being away from the office for an extended period of time, they enjoy the live courses so much more than webinars or on demand offerings.  Why?  Certainly the learning environment – away from the demands and constant interruptions of the office – is a factor for many.  But a recurring theme from all seems to be the value they find in the interaction they have with their peers and the informal learning that goes on during and after the class.  It appears we learn a tremendous amount from others who have “been there, done that.”  This is also one of the biggest plusses for me as an instructor in these courses: I learn something new in each and every course.  I learn from the class participants.

I believe the interaction we have with our peers is critical to survival in today’s business climate.  Given today’s frenetic pace of business and the amount of information available, we can’t possibly take it upon ourselves to keep up.  Myriad new regulations, more paperwork, rapidly changing technology, changing consumer habits…I could fill up the page with all the things we face in a given day or week in the brokerage business.  Suffice it to say it’s a lot more complicated than when I got started 21 years ago.  So what do you do?

Go Big

My advice?  Network.  And network big.  Whether it’s face-to-face in designation courses, conventions, conferences or retreats; or the online social networking environs of Facebook, Twitter or ActiveRain, we need to be plugging in to the collective intelligence and experience of those who have “been there, done that.”

Since most of us have been networking IRL (in real life) for some time, I’m not going to spend much time talking about the face-to-face type of networking except to say that it’s critical in today’s business climate.  Even though finances might be tight and you’re watching your shekels, don’t scrimp to the point of avoiding the chance to learn something new in a live environment with your peers.  Chances are you’ll pick up at least one idea for cost cutting or one piece of business (revenue) from the experience.

What I do want to address in this column is how to take the IRL networking experience and apply it to our online networking experiences. Sites like LinkedIn, Twitter and others are not just areas to connect with people and hope to receive referrals.  Social networking sites offer a wealth of opportunity for us to brainstorm and crowd source ideas.  But most people are not using these sites to their full potential for problem solving or idea sharing.

Have you run into a problem you’ve never encountered before, or one you’re unsure of how to resolve?  Chances are someone out there in your social network has an answer.  Thinking about making a major investment in your technology infrastructure?  Throw a question out on the social web – my bet is that someone has a recommendation.

Which leads into the question of who to connect with on the web: Should you accept friend requests on Facebook from competitors?  Follow other brokers on Twitter far outside your market?  Connect with real estate professionals on LinkedIn?  My answer is simply “yes.”

By expanding our networks to peers in and outside of our markets, we can gain a different perspective to what’s going on and how others might be solving the challenges they’re seeing in the marketplace.  Even those with dissimilar offices to ours can offer ideas, and peers that do business in markets far different than our own can have some pearls of wisdom and sound advice.

There are two great books I recommend to people trying to get their heads around the business application of social networking sites.  “The Wisdom of Crowds” (James Surowiecki) and “Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything (Tappscott and Williams).  Both underscore the importance of crowd sourcing and the power of collective thought and experience in problem solving.  You see, it’s not all about connecting with people that can send you business – it’s also about connecting with those that can provide guidance, insight and a different perspective to the things we deal with.

The key to survival in this rapidly changing business climate is leverage.  Learn to leverage your time, resources and problem-solving capacity by enlisting the aid of a capable team: your network of professional peers.

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Establishing a Web Presence

by Brad Hanks on October 1, 2010

We’ve been talking about the importance of web marketing for years.

But the reality is, most agents and companies do a woefully inadequate job at establishing themselves on the Internet. The vast majority buy a domain and prop up a web site with little thought given to how they’re going to promote themselves. “We’ve got a website!” they proclaim, and promptly go about their business with very little commitment to update the site, optimize it for search results, drive traffic to the site, or convert prospects to customers using their website.

That has to change if we’re going to be competitive in today’s changing world. Consumers are looking on the Internet for companies they can do business with. Over 90% of real estate buyers start their search for a home on the Internet. And once they find a company (or agent) on the web, they want information. They want to see all the properties that are available in your market, mortgage information and tips for buying.

So if you’re not analyzing your web traffic, conversion rates and engagement from consumers on your website, I’d recommend you get doing it quickly. A web presence isn’t what you need in this business climate. What you need is an effective web presence.

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Expose Yourself to Social Media

by Brad Hanks on June 10, 2010

The world of marketing is changing rapidly. To reach your customers, you’ll need to engage in the new medium of the World Wide Web – social media. Expose yourself.

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Social Media and Your Business

by Brad Hanks on January 5, 2010

An interview done in late 2008 that I believe still has relevance today.

Brad Hanks on Social Media and Your Business

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