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Updated: 44 min 13 sec ago

iOi 2019: Innovation Worth Exploring

Tue, 06/25/2019 - 13:42

NAR PULSE—The National Association of REALTORS® is thrilled to invite you to attend our second annual Innovation, Opportunity and Investment (iOi) Summit, August 21 and 22 in Seattle. Register now—early-bird discount ends on July 1. Follow #iOiSummit or visit nar.realtor/ioi to keep up with the latest news about the event, speakers and sponsors. 

Celebrate Homeownership With MVP
June is Homeownership Month and the perfect time to promote the American Dream! Just share a social post from Homeownership Matters with your clients by June 30 and you’ll receive a free copy of Social Media for REALTORS: 101+ Dos and Don’ts – Download. Act now! 

Special .realestate Domain Promotion With GoDaddy
Between now and July 2, get $60 off on .realestate domains on GoDaddy.

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NAR Broker Tip of the Month: Celebrate Homeownership Month

Tue, 06/25/2019 - 13:31

June is Homeownership Month, and the National Association of REALTORS® is celebrating the #HomeownerHeroes of today, tomorrow and the future. Join us as we commemorate Americans whose success and determination have made them homeowners. Visit homeownershipmatters.realtor/stories to share a story of someone you know who is helping protect the American Dream of homeownership.

The post NAR Broker Tip of the Month: Celebrate Homeownership Month appeared first on RISMedia.

Existing Homes: Low Mortgage Rates Revive Sales

Sun, 06/23/2019 - 10:09

Fueled by low mortgage rates, existing-home sales in May sprang 2.5 percent, with inventory leveling up to 1.92 million, according to the latest National Association of REALTORS® report.

“The month of May ushered in the home sales upswing that we had been expecting,” says NAR President John Smaby. “Sales are strengthening in all regions while we see price appreciation for recent buyers.”

“The purchasing power to buy a home has been bolstered by falling mortgage rates, and buyers are responding,” says Lawrence Yun, chief economist at NAR.

Compared to last May, sales are still subpar, down 1.1 percent.

Credit: National Association of REALTORS®

“More new homes need to be built,” Yun says. “Otherwise, we risk worsening the housing shortage, and an increasingly number of middle-class families will be unable to achieve homeownership.”

Across all house types (single-family, condo, co-op and townhome), the median price was $277,700, a 4.8 percent increase year-over-year. The median price for sales in the single-family space was $280,200; the condo median was $257,100. By region:

Midwest
Existing-Home Sales: 1.22 million (-3.9% YoY)
Median Price: $220,500 (+5.6% YoY)

Northeast
Existing-Home Sales: 670,000 (Unchanged YoY)
Median Price: $304,100 (+6.6% YoY)

South
Existing-Home Sales: 2.32 million (+1.3% YoY)
Median Price: $241,400 (+3.6% YoY)

West
Existing-Home Sales: 1.13 million (-3.4% YoY)
Median Price: $409,100 (+4.1% YoY)

Currently, inventory is at a 4.3-month supply, according to the report. In May, the average listing was on the market for 26 days, two days longer than the prior year. Fifty-three percent of homes were on the market for less than one month.

Of May’s sales, 4.75 million were single-family—a bump from 4.63 million the month prior, but a decrease from 4.79 million year-over-year. Condo and co-op sales totaled 590,000, a 3.3 percent drop year-over-year. Nineteen percent of sales were all-cash, and 13 percent by individual investors. Two percent were distressed. First-time homebuyers comprised 32 percent of sales.

The hottest markets, according to realtor.com®’s Market Hotness Index, which is included in NAR’s report, were Rochester, N.Y.; Fort Wayne, Ind.; Lafayette-West Lafayette, Ind.; Boston-Cambridge-Newton, Mass.; and Midland, Texas.

For more information, please visit www.nar.realtor.

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Marketing to Luxury Consumers With Compelling Content

Sun, 06/23/2019 - 10:06

For agents just entering their careers, or just looking for a new niche, the luxury space can feel intimidating. The same can even be said for agents already in the field, but who are having difficulty standing out.

However, as Stephanie Anton, president of Luxury Portfolio International®, the luxury segment of Leading Real Estate Companies of the World®, emphasizes, “at the end of the day, people who have money are just like everybody else.”

Anton was recently interviewed during a Facebook Live session hosted by Katie Lance, CEO and founder of Katie Lance Consulting and founder of #GetSocialSmart Academy. Anton and Lance discussed best practices for breaking into the luxury markets and maintaining a competitive edge, citing results from the recently released Luxury Portfolio International whitepaper, “Media and the Message: Marketing Real Estate to the Affluent.”

At the core, said Anton, is focusing on inclusion rather than exclusion. Luxury consumers want to feel a part of something bigger.

“We throw around words like ‘experience’ and ‘lifestyle,'” said Anton. “If you watch luxury travel or luxury car marketing, they are using the concept of lifestyle. Focus on how the home will help people live their life to the fullest.”

That’s why compelling, original content is essential, according to Anton. Due to an onslaught of marketing, capturing eyeballs is not as easy as it used to be. In fact, the whitepaper states that 77 percent agree there is so much advertising that consumers don’t really pay attention to it. On average, this segment spends 44.4 hours per week consuming media.

“It’s about cutting through that clutter. Find out who your buyer is and create something that is compelling to them,” said Anton. “If you’re just pushing out self-promotional things, people are immune to that and will stop paying attention quickly.”

Authenticity is equally important. Anton said, “the luxury consumer is someone who is educated—they can sniff out someone who is fake.”

“In our training, we teach agents the importance of share-worthy content, rather than like-worthy content,” says Diane Hartley, president of The Institute for Luxury Home Marketing, an independent training and membership organization for real estate professionals selling to the affluent. (Hartley was not involved in the Facebook Live session.) “Curating your sphere of influence online through social media is no different than networking in person. It requires an intentional strategy and purpose so you that will be liked, trusted and remembered when the time comes.”

In terms of marketing a luxury listing, Anton recommends a three-step process:

  1. Understand who the buyer is for the particular listing. Do this by analyzing the seller. At the same time, analyze the competition. Who are the buyers in the neighborhood? What’s the demographic?
  1. Put a written plan together with content as the primary focus. Think of headlines focusing on emotions, beautiful photography or things that make you think.
  1. Plan the media. If you let the message drive the media, it will naturally fall into place.

In order to create this customized marketing, however, today’s agents must become familiar with the profile of the average luxury buyer or seller. According to the whitepaper, their average income comes in at around $473,000, with $8.75 million in assets and $5.95 million in liquidity. Additionally, these consumers hold an average of $2.6 million in real estate holdings.

This profile has changed over time, however. According to Anton, 10 years ago, the typical luxury buyer was a boomer that made their wealth instead of growing up with it.

“Today the buyer has gotten younger. The average age is 46—a Gen Xer,” said Anton. “They are generally married and have kids in the home, and it’s not their first purchase, but it’s not their last either. They are inheriting wealth more often than previously.”

By keeping this in mind, agents can target their marketing by generation. For example, Anton explained that baby boomers tend to peruse the internet between 8 p.m. and 12 a.m.

“If you’re trying to share content, and your audience is someone over 60, do that at night because you’re more likely to reach them,” she said.

According to the report, millennials consume the most media through the week, with 45.2 hours. They are followed by boomers at 44.4 hours per week and Gen X at 42.9 hours. When it comes to television, however, boomers take the lead (12.3), with Gen X close behind (11.3). Marketing communicated via reading materials may be more effective with boomers first (13.5), millennials second (11.2) and Gen Xers third (9.6).

The most important thing to remember, however, is that finding luxury clients can be like dating, Anton explained.

“It’s about making a match, not getting a listing,” she said. “You have to find the right one for you. If you don’t think the same way, it’s not going to end well.”

A recording of the Facebook Live session can be viewed below:

For more information, please visit www.luxuryportfolio.com.  

Liz Dominguez is RISMedia’s associate content editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at ldominguez@rismedia.com.

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Striving for Constant Improvement

Sun, 06/23/2019 - 10:05

In the following interview, Paul Ekstrom, broker/owner of Realty ONE Group Choice in Andover, Minn., discusses affiliating with the brand, generating leads, and more.

Region Served: Andover and Northeast, Minn.
Years in Real Estate: 12
Number of Offices: 2
Number of Agents: 70

What makes Realty ONE Group the best fit for you?
I was with Keller Williams for 12 years, and while I learned a lot during my time there as both an agent and team member, when I wanted to expand my business, I needed a brokerage to help me take my business to the next level. It was right then that I was approached by Realty ONE Group. In addition to the platform they have that combines superior technology, websites and marketing, I was truly impressed with the people. Real estate is a people business, and Realty ONE Group is all about the people. We have an unbelievable relationship, and they treat me like I’m the most important person in the world.

How do you stay ahead of the competition?
On the brokerage level, we’ve done it organically. I’m very well respected in the industry, and our agents tell other agents who they believe will fit in well here. We haven’t done an aggressive marketing campaign because our doors aren’t open to everyone. I believe that if I bring in even one bad egg, it’ll take us down and keep us from growing. So, we grow the right way. And while we may not be growing as fast as we could, doing it the right way allows us to bring in solid producers.

What is your best advice for new agents?
If you aren’t committed to lead generation, you’re in the wrong business. The technology is there, so we have to use it. Also, we’re the leaders in video production, so my advice is to learn to put out excellent videos, which can also be used to generate leads. Videos personalize the business like nothing else we have today in tech terms.

In what ways do you go the extra mile for your agents?
We’re kind of crazy in Minnesota. In fact, we cut holes in the ice and jump in. Last year, I convinced 25 agents to jump in with me and we raised $4,830 for childhood cancer with our Polar Plunge. I would never ask anyone to do anything that I wouldn’t do with them.

What would you say is the key to your success in real estate?
Lead generation. It’s always lead generation—and, of course, never being satisfied with the status quo. We always strive for constant improvement.

For more information, please visit www.realtyonegroup.com. 

Lesley Grand is a contributing editor to RISMedia.

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Why Brand Advocacy Matters: Introducing REW Partners

Fri, 06/21/2019 - 21:02

(Above) Real Estate Webmasters’ Laura Monroe and Tim Collins with REW Partners Tiffany Kjellander and Laurie Weston Davis

https://rismedia.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/DailyNews_062219.mp4

 

While brokerages are fighting for marketshare and vetting an ever-growing flood of new tools and business models, it’s vitally important for the individual agent or team to focus on the content they own and will always own: their online brand.

We’ve seen a generation of real estate professionals give up their web domination to national home search portals, but agents, teams and brokerages who have stayed committed to mastering their corner of the web are dominating at a hyper-local level.

Ultimately, name recognition is what will future-proof your real estate business. Whether your focus is luxury marketing, lifestyle marketing or another niche, your real estate brand matters.

Your Brand Needs Advocates
Branding isn’t a one-way street. A brand is only as strong as its advocates. Word-of-mouth referrals have always been important in real estate, but with customers constantly connected through social media, there are more opportunities for advocates to influence the purchasing habits of potential customers. You have to harness the enthusiasm and influence of your advocates, clients and strategic partners. You have to guide and reward your brand’s biggest and most influential fans.

Introducing REW Partners
At Real Estate Webmasters (REW), our business is much like yours: built on repeat business, referrals and word-of-mouth marketing. Our clients—and partners like Gary Ashton, Justin Havre and Fredrik Eklund, to name a few—have helped build what REW is today.

At Real Estate Webmasters, we’ve come to fully realize the power of this influence. It was a natural idea to build on the now buzzworthy “network effect” of our community. After all, REW had its origins in forums, and was the front line of education and shared knowledge around real estate SEO, lead generation, digital marketing, great web design and staying ahead of the curve. Now, we’re formalizing that advocacy through the REW Partners program.

Our Mission
REW Partners is about bringing together a network of industry rock stars to help bring out the best education, tools and products to help others reach the top 1 percent in the industry. This year-round program is dedicated to giving back to the individual agent making big moves as a rising star, to the broker or team leader growing a team or branching out independently, or to the large brokerage dedicated to their agent core.

REW Partner Benefits
REW Partners earn generous referral fees for every new client they bring to Real Estate Webmasters—but this is much more than a referral program. REW Partners will shape the future of real estate technology through innovative think tank sessions and thought leadership opportunities on REW’s blog and social channels.

Partners will also participate in first-class networking opportunities at REW Summit and other marquee industry conferences.

Are You a Fit?
If you understand the value of online branding and content marketing, have a strong network, are a true industry trendsetter, and are known to have a good time while you’re at it, consider this your call to arms.

Check out realestatewebmasters.com/partners for all the details.

Laura Monroe is head of Industry and Partners at Real Estate Webmasters. For more information, please visit www.realestatewebmasters.com.

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Tools, Training and Technology

Fri, 06/21/2019 - 21:01

In the following interview, Richard Raspantini, broker/owner of HomeSmart Premier Living Realty in Williston Park, N.Y., discusses leveraging technology, in the backend of the brokerage and in marketing.

Region Served: Long Island, Queens and Brooklyn
Years in Real Estate: 5
Number of Offices: 4
Number of Agents: 92

What do you like most about the region in which you work?
I love Long Island because it’s close to everything. A true bedroom community, we’re within an hour of New York City and a short ferry ride to Connecticut. With Long Island Sound to the north and the Atlantic Ocean to the south, we offer the best of both worlds. In my opinion, there’s no better place to live.

Please describe some of the current trends you’re seeing in your market.
We’re seeing a sweet spot when it comes to properties that are listed at $500,000 and below. In fact, anything in that price range is currently flying off the market, while properties listed at $800,000 and up are sitting a bit longer.

How does your company make its agents’ jobs easier?
By offering them all the tools, training and technology they need to be successful. Through our backend system, RealSmart Agent, agents have the ability to work anywhere, anytime—as long as they have an internet connection. Taking this one step further, agents can access flyers, manage their website and download listing presentations all from the backend. They can even upload paperwork to RealSmart Agent for broker approval. In the end, the higher commission they’re earning allows them to make more money on any given deal, which leads to them having more money to spend on marketing.

In what ways do your agents use technology to better serve their clients?
In addition to our large social media presence, I recently built a TV studio in the office so that our agents can get in front of their clients through a variety of different mediums. Whether they’re talking about market conditions/trends or highlighting a new listing, video is a great way for agents to showcase themselves. While some of our more experienced agents shy away from the TV studio because it’s different, it’s a great way for newer agents to launch their business and help it grow.

What sets HomeSmart Premier Living Realty apart from other brokerages?
Our culture. We’re a non-competitive brokerage where we all learn from each other and are always available to help one another. In fact, it’s not uncommon for experienced agents to take newer agents under their wing and show them the business. Because we offer a unique brokerage model, we appeal to a different kind of agent.

Final Questions… 

What is your favorite part of your job?
Mentoring agents. I love the look in their eyes when they do their first deal.

Who has most influenced your success?
West Coast real estate professionals. Long Islanders tend to be slow in terms of adapting to new and changing technology, so when I got into the business, I followed the lead of those working on the West Coast. This led to my becoming a top-producing agent within my first six months in the business.

For more information, please visit www.homesmart.com.

Paige Tepping is RISMedia’s managing editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at paige@rismedia.com.

The post Tools, Training and Technology appeared first on RISMedia.

Single-Family Rents Rise 3 Percent

Fri, 06/21/2019 - 21:00

According to CoreLogic’s April 2019 Single-Family Rent Index (SFRI), rents are up 3 percent year-over-year.

“Slowing price appreciation started to take hold of the home sales market a year ago…but, that’s not the case for the single-family rental market, which has seen steady rent increases,” says Molly Boesel, principal economist at CoreLogic. “While the housing market is cooling, home prices remain high in some of the nation’s top metros. This may be contributing to the growing rental demand, as many potential buyers are being priced out of the market.”

Credit: CoreLogic

For more information, please visit www.corelogic.com.

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‘Ask Agent X’: Realogy’s Alexa Assistant Kickstarts Productivity

Thu, 06/20/2019 - 12:33

For a growing percentage of the population, the new normal is voice. With 66 million Americans (and counting) owning a smart speaker, the trend is undeniable—except, possibly, in real estate, where businesses have largely overlooked it, save for searches tied to the transaction.

Realogy is changing that with a new tool: Agent X.

Agent X (Credit: Realogy)

With the Agent X assistant, affiliated agents with an Amazon Alexa device gain insight into their performance and schedule, with calendar and CRM integrations, as well as housing and industry news. In leveraging the tool, agents can cruise effectively through their to-dos, boosting productivity and saving time—and, are given the latest news in real estate, helping to inform their interactions.

“Voice is going to change the way we do business, and it fits very nicely with the way our agents work on a day-to-day basis, and helps them unlock that productivity potential,” explains Chris Padilla, Realogy’s senior director of Product Development. “Our agents are able to ask for the information they’re looking for via voice when they don’t have time to dive deeper.”

“Alexa, start my day with Agent X.”
With a bevy of brands to consider in developing the tool—all with distinct information stores—Realogy culled data from a slew of sources, across its brands, history, products and services. As a result, Agent X is an integrated solution, capitalizing on the company’s comprehensive data trove.

“Agent X is built to augment our product offerings, via voice and with very minimal effort,” Padilla says. “Through the dozens of products that each of our brands has to offer, Agent X leverages the relevant listings, transaction, calendar and lead-generation information, along with aggregating those across the board.” 

In practice, when Alexa is asked to “start my day with Agent X,” Agent X delivers a “Daily Digest,” or a customized productivity and schedule summary. For example: 

“You have four listings under contract and six appointments today, starting with Jim Murphy at 8 a.m.”

With the Daily Digest, agents begin their day equipped with the information they need, communicated instantly, whether at home readying for work, or driving to the office or to a presentation or showing. The Daily Digest includes appointments for the day, listing and news updates, and a performance scorecard. With this knowledge, agents are better prepared to tackle their tasks, driving efficiency and organization.

“Agent X taps into, contextually, that agent’s profile to be able to walk them through what they need to know for the day ahead, and give them the info they need most via the giant breadth of data we have,” Padilla says.

Additionally, Agent X can access their CRM database and describe their listings, categorized by status (e.g., active, pending). As an assistant in the real world would, Agent X has calendaring capabilities, as well, including the ability to add appointments into their schedule.

“Whether it’s lead generation, market intelligence or CRM transaction management, Agent X is there to assist our agents in their daily lives, making them more efficient and effective,” says Padilla.

Agent X debuted at the new Realogy Global Exchange, a conference gathering the multiple names under its umbrella, where attendees were given the opportunity to preview the tool. In earlier testing, Realogy called on Century 21 agents and brokers, including Adam Clemens of CENTURY 21 Clemens Group.

“I eagerly signed up for the initial pilot,” Clemens explains. “Ever since, I use Agent X daily. The mere thought that I could use it practically to streamline my day-to-day work-related activities was pretty awesome. I was very excited about the opportunity to see how this admittedly consumer-focused technology could be used to help me in my daily work routine.”

For Clemens, the calendar integration and news are powerful. Agent X downloads him on the headlines in the market—”I like to stay on top of all things real estate,” he says—and connects to his Google Calendar so he can optimally prioritize his time.

“I can block time for client meetings on-the-go without missing a beat, or, worse, double booking,” Clemens says. “It’s easy and it’s reliable—like having a digital assistant around me at all times.”

According to Padilla, consumer home-related searches were the start (e.g., “Alexa, find me houses for sale in Des Moines”). Bringing business into the fold is the next pivotal step—one that Realogy has committed to implementing.

“Voice in general is a new frontier—the next era for individuals to unlock potential value,” Padilla says. “Most people are checking the weather, playing their music or turning the lights on via voice. What all of those areas have in common is that they’re consumer-based activities. What’s missing are the business-related activities.”

Currently in the latter phases of testing, Agent X is expected to hit the masses in Q3, according to Padilla. When the roll-out starts, affiliated agents and brokers will have an invaluable new tool, helping them improve productivity without sacrificing time.

“The most valuable thing any piece of technology can provide an agent is time, so the fact that Agent X saves me time makes it a tool that I think every agent should use,” Clemens says.

Suzanne De Vita is RISMedia’s online news editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at sdevita@rismedia.com.

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NAR: Homeowners Are Rethinking Staying Put

Thu, 06/20/2019 - 12:29

After a bout of hesitation at the start of the year, homeowners are cozying up to the prospect of selling.

According to the latest National Association of REALTORS® quarterly report, 46 percent of homeowners are optimistic about selling, climbing from 37 percent in the first quarter of the year.

Why the change of heart? Appreciation is softening, and homeowners know it, explains Lawrence Yun, chief economist at NAR.

“With home-price appreciation slowing, home sellers understand that the days of large price gains from holding an extra year are over,” Yun says.

According to NAR statistics, the median national price is up 3.6 percent year-over-year—a departure from 5.3 percent the prior year. Sixty-three percent of homeowners believe home prices have risen, according to NAR’s quarterly report, and 49 percent expect them to keep rising.

On the buy side, confidence is strengthening, as well. Sixty-five percent of homebuyers are optimistic about purchasing, with 38 percent “strongly” believing now is an ideal time. In contrast, 35 percent believe now is not a good time—and 27 percent believe it is “very” difficult to get a mortgage.

The economy is a factor. According to the report, 55 percent believe the economy is improving—a belief common to $100,000-or-more earners and residents in rural spots.

“Lower mortgage rates, along with job and wage growth, will lead to an increase in sales and thereby contribute positively to economic growth in the upcoming quarters,” says Yun.

Notably, Gen X’s economy positivity ticked up, from 50 percent in the first quarter to 53 percent this quarter.

“Many in the Generation X population find themselves needing to purchase multigenerational homes,” Yun says. “Also, they may be feeling financial stress from caring for aging parents and children of all ages. Nonetheless, they have an optimistic outlook about the future.”

NAR based its findings on 2,708 responses.

For more information, please visit www.nar.realtor. 

Suzanne De Vita is RISMedia’s online news editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at sdevita@rismedia.com.

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How to Write Copy That Sells High-End Homes

Wed, 06/19/2019 - 13:53

Summarizing the best features of a property with real estate descriptions is just as important as great photography. Writing in a friendly yet professional tone is a challenge in itself, let alone creating a hooky introduction that leaves the reader wanting to learn more about the property.

Though writing real estate descriptions can be daunting, especially for high-end homes, there are ways to ensure that your copy is effective. The nature of the home should be reflected in the vocabulary of your real estate description, which means that extra care should be put into illustrating the magic of an upper-tier home. 

Want to craft the best possible real estate descriptions for your high-end listings? Here’s what to remember.

  1. Frame the story carefully.
    Before diving into a description, think about how you would like to frame a given property. The same home could potentially be marketed as a spacious living situation ideal for entertaining or a family home with the potential for a playroom or nursery. While it’s usually a good idea to allow the buyer to picture themselves in the home by keeping the description vague, sometimes it helps to get specific. For homes with defining qualities, try framing them accordingly. Here are some examples of framing with a given feature of a house:
  • Large Pool: Summer spot perfect for throwing pool parties
  • Treehouse: Whimsical family home with a backyard full of wonders
  • Wine Room: Wine collector’s paradise
  1. Choose a strategic title for real estate descriptions.
    Building on the idea of framing, choosing a title that grabs your intended audience is crucial to writing a successful description. After all, it’s not helpful to have cohesive and well-written copy if nobody reads past the title. Consider using unique adjectives, or at least adjectives other than “beautiful,” “awesome,” or “amazing,” as they will make the title stand out. If a home is rare for the area in terms of either price or features, try adding “rare” to the title. Additionally, try to avoid rambling phrases and opt for a concise title instead. Getting important information into a title is important, but making a title too long also impairs the effectiveness. As a general rule, aim for 5-10 words in a title.
  1. Hook the reader.
    If you get readers past the title, it’s important to try and hook them further into reading the details of the property. This opportunity lies in the first sentence. Try to pack in as many details as possible while still remaining coherent. If possible, including the area of town, the number of rooms, nearby local spots and any recent updates or modifications that add value in the first sentence are often enough to get readers to continue reading. Scan through the headlines of similar listings and pay attention to what grabs your attention.
  1. Be selective with word choice.
    The vocabulary you choose to use in copy sets the tone for the value of the home, especially when dealing with upper-tier real estate. Paint the picture of a lavish property by using tactile imagery. Being selective with word choice allows the reader to picture themselves in a given property, which could ultimately make them more likely to request a tour. Check out a thesaurus for ideas if you’re stuck.

Remember: It’s probably a good idea to avoid excessively abstract or confusing vernacular when considering word choice. Trying too hard to sound overly intelligent when writing copy can result in the reader feeling belittled and confused about what the property actually has to offer. As a general rule, keep it simple.

  1. Use photos as a guide.
    Though the emphasis of advertising property online is usually placed on the photographs, the right wording is just as important. When writing real estate descriptions, try playing off the pictures to create the most cohesive copy. Tell the story of the home with the help of both written details and photos that display a clear image to the potential buyer.

If nothing else, make sure that the features mentioned in the copy are included in the pictures. It doesn’t cost anything to add as many pictures as desired on sites like Zillow and Trulia, so try to make sure that you include a picture if you mention a feature of the home.

  1. Cater to your audience using buzzwords.
    “High-end homes” can mean different things to different people. Are you looking to list a beach house in Malibu? What about a cabin in Aspen? Do you find yourself listing family-friendly homes in prestigious New York City boroughs? Regardless of the type of home, try to think of the buzzwords your audience is looking for. For example, the buyer for a family home will probably be attracted to being close to nearby schools. The buyer for a high-end home in Aspen might be looking for a place with mountain views. Put yourself in the shoes of the buyer when writing copy, and include the most important buzzwords, as they might even be filtering their property search based on one or two words.
  1. Inspire action with verbs.
    This literary trick is an industry standard. Do you currently have a property that hasn’t sold? Try starting the copy with an action-oriented phrase. It may seem like a small detail, but adding this touch can add urgency to a listing and make a buyer feel like locking it down more quickly. Adding verbs could look something like the following:
  • Retreat from the busy city to this Hampton getaway.
  • Soak up the sun with this Malibu Beach paradise.
  • Embrace Chicago winters with this city haven, complete with an indoor sauna.

Now that we’ve discussed some tips for making your copy more effective and polished, have fun with it! Whether you’re putting together a property brochure or writing an online ad, writing real estate descriptions effectively can catch the eye of prospective buyers and ultimately help you list and sell more properties.

Diane Hartley is president of The Institute for Luxury Home Marketing, an independent authority in training and designation for real estate agents working in the luxury residential market. Hartley brings her passion for luxury marketing and more than 20 years of experience growing and leading businesses to her role as president of The Institute. For more information, please visit www.luxuryhomemarketing.com.

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Amid Cloudy Outlook, Fed Keeps Rates the Same

Wed, 06/19/2019 - 13:40

Amid graying economic factors and global tension, the Federal Reserve left rates the same on Wednesday, aligning with the broad consensus, but, importantly, leaving open the possibility of a rate reduction.

“The [Federal Open Market] Committee continues to view sustained expansion of economic activity, strong labor market conditions and inflation near the Committee’s symmetric 2 percent objective as the most likely outcomes, but uncertainties about this outlook have increased,” according to the Federal Reserve’s statement.

In considering cutting interest rates, the Fed is hoping to keep momentum strong. In March, the agency indicated an intent to postpone raising rates this year, chiefly due to inflation lingering short of its target. In May, employment gains and pay stagnated—but, with historically low unemployment, as well as other encouraging indicators like spending, there are fair odds of routing a slowdown, analysts say.

A determining factor is the trade war, which has come to a head in recent weeks. President Trump and China’s President Xi have agreed to resume talks, and are expected to meet next week, during the G20 Summit. According to experts at Freddie Mac, the dispute has driven a drop in long-term mortgage rates, which are averaging 3.82 percent (at press time).

Fluctuations, however, are largely moved by treasury yields. In a Freddie Mac forecast released this week, analysts anticipate an average 4.1 percent, 30-year rate for the year, and an average 4.2 percent 30-year rate in 2020.

Suzanne De Vita is RISMedia’s online news editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at sdevita@rismedia.com.

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3 Creative Ways to Deliver Your Next RPR® Report

Tue, 06/18/2019 - 13:14

NAR PULSE—Meeting your clients when and how they prefer, with extra special touches, could tip the scales in your favor. Here are three simple, creative ways to deliver your next RPR® report that will definitely distinguish your services as unique, customer-focused and on the ball.

Add These Ads to Your Agent Communications
Keep your agents informed about the Center for REALTOR® Financial Wellness with print and digital ads, flyers and social media content you can find at NAR.realtor/FinancialWellness. Encourage them to take advantage of this resource-rich program designed just for them!     

‘That’s Who We R’ Now in Spanish!
“That’s Who We R” print ads have been translated to Spanish and are now available for download at ThatsWhoWeR.realtor! Add your company branding to one of the new Spanish print ads from NAR”s national ad campaign to highlight your expertise as a REALTOR® in your market. You can also download the That’s Who We R logo to add to your already-created advertising and listing materials.

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By and Large a Positive Recovery, Homeowners Say

Mon, 06/17/2019 - 13:03

According to 66 percent of homeowners, their homes have recovered in value, and at a higher level than prior to recession—this, despite 46 percent who believe their homes were impacted negatively in that period, new research shows.

While there are adverse echoes of the recession today, in the housing market, many have been minimized, according to a Bankrate survey. In the aftermath of the crash, affordability has improved for 23 percent of respondents to the survey; only 11 percent are eschewing homeownership today.

Twenty-one percent, however, believe their homes have not recovered in worth—aligning with the 23 percent who believe their financial outlook overall has worsened. Despite the downturn, 29 percent of Americans have not changed their financial habits since.

“While the current economic expansion is on track to set a record for duration, there will be a downturn at some point. We just don’t know when,” says Mark Hamrick, senior economist analyst at Bankrate. “That’s why it is critically important for Americans to try to save now for emergencies and for retirement while paying down or paying off debt. Don’t wait to prepare until after it is too late, when a financial storm has already arrived.”

Bankrate conducted the survey with YouGov, with 2,740 adults participating.

Suzanne De Vita is RISMedia’s online news editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at sdevita@rismedia.com.

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Affordability: Is This the Issue of the Day?

Sun, 06/16/2019 - 10:05

The affordability challenge is discussed in this month’s National Association of REALTORS® Power Broker Roundtable. 

Moderator 

Jim Imhoff, Chairman, First Weber Real Estate, Madison, Wis., Liaison for Large Firms & Industry Relations, National Association of REALTORS® (NAR)

Panelists

LP Finn, COO, Coach, REALTORS®, Long Island, N.Y.

 

Steve Brown, President, Irongate, REALTORS®, Dayton, Ohio

 

David Cooper, President, Better Homes & Gardens, REALTORS® Kansas City Homes, Kansas City, Mo.

 

Mark Stark, CEO, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Nevada Properties, Las Vegas, Nev. 

 

Jim Imhoff: Brokers and agents in most parts of the country still face a shortage of inventory. New-home starts lag behind the need, increasing the competition for existing homes. Yet as interest rates stay relatively low, even rising prices don’t seem to be turning off buyers—and what’s interesting in this relatively robust season is that affordability is playing out a bit differently in various market areas and among different consumer groups. So we thought it might be an interesting time to do a geographic spot-check. Is affordability the issue of the day? LP, let’s start on the East Coast.

LP Finn: Affordability is always an issue, but it’s a tough question to answer across the board. In our market, it’s just a great time to buy. At the high end, buyers can pretty much get what they’re looking for, though everyone looks for “value buys” and there’s concern about the property tax deductibility cap. At the lower and middle tiers, there’s a lot of movement, especially among first-time buyers, who can afford more at today’s interest rates.

Steve Brown: There’s no magic answer, of course, but for a broker, I have to agree: It’s a good time to be in the business. The market remains strong in our Midwest region, and strongest at the low end. I’d say 30-35 percent of our market are first-timers. They’re qualifying left and right, and paying premium prices, full price or higher. It’s a phenomenon I’ve never seen before.

David Cooper: It is a phenomenon. In Kansas City, where the average selling price is under $300,000, there’s increasing activity not just among first-timers, but also among move-up buyers and even millennials, who are snapping up condos and small units. Multiple offers are the order of the day, and qualifying is not the issue. It’s demand that’s greater than supply.

Mark Stark: That’s true in all our markets but especially at the low end, where affordability is not the problem. The challenge is no new inventory. There’s not enough new construction because, given all the restrictions, builders can’t build and make a profit—so, the fact is, we’re dealing with super-low inventory at a time when the market is super-hot.

DC: I hear you—and for us, the squeeze is across the board. Properties are moving so fast, even at the high end, that a right-priced home at the million-dollar level doesn’t last long. At the low end, it’s a seller’s market for sure. I had an agent so frustrated just the other day because every property she tried to show her qualified buyers was sold before they had a chance to see it.

JI: So we all agree it’s a good time to buy and it’s great for our business overall. But you’re right David—move-up buyers are hesitant to put their homes on the market, because they’re not sure they can find what they want. That’s also true for downsizers, because there’s so much competition at the lower end. So the lack of inventory at all levels is putting a damper on both agents and prospective buyers. But if that’s the de facto issue of the day, where do we go from here?

SB: We need to get builders building, for one thing. The industry needs to continue advocating against high property taxes and restrictive land-use regulations, among other things—and perhaps lobby for denser housing developments, with homes built closer together instead of on larger lots.

JI: True. We need something like 1.4 million new homes each year, and since the recession, we are still 5-6 million short. The shortage of building starts stems from a combinations of factors: lack of available building sites, a shortage of qualified tradesmen, and, to some degree, the cost of development driven by municipal regulations that are now estimated to add 30 percent to the price of a new home. We all need to work on these issues, too!

LP: When you look at price, cost and value ratios, we need to remember, too, that on the upper end of the market, because of higher tax rates and costs that are no longer deductible, the cost goes up even when price goes down. There’s got to be a better way than what we’re seeing after the latest tax act.

MS: On the whole, however, I can only repeat it’s a great time to be in real estate. Our April sales are higher than a year ago.

DC: Another thing that’s encouraging is the numbers of millennials who are coming into the market—and in today’s very competitive environment, they seem to be quite willing to get offline and work directly with an agent.

SB: There you go. There’s an upside to everything.

For more information, please visit www.nar.realtor.

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Trey Wallace: Creating Exceptional Experiences

Fri, 06/14/2019 - 21:00

Vitals: Intracoastal Realty
Years in Business: 42
Size: 9 offices, 345 agents
Regions Served: Southeastern North Carolina
2018 Sales Volume: $1.064 billion
2018 Transactions: 3,138
www.intracoastalrealty.com

Trey Wallace’s father started Intracoastal Realty in 1976 with the goal of being a boutique, high-end sales and marketing firm focused on waterfront properties in Southeastern North Carolina. As president of the company, Wallace is most proud of building fulfilling relationships with sales agents and their clients and leveraging those relationships to help clients move from the life they live to the life they dream about living.

What’s the secret to attracting new agents to your firm and retaining top producers?
Trey Wallace: We’re very fortunate to have built a culture where teamwork and the Golden Rule are our guiding principles. Our mantra is “Experience the Exceptional,” and this permeates through our entire company both with our agents and support staff. Because we’re known for this culture, we attract agents from other firms who are looking for more support for their business, and for the culture of family and community commitment.

What traits do you look for in someone new coming into the company?
TW: Someone who has a good work ethic and integrity—you’ll never realize your full potential in this business without it. A big plus for prospective hires, in our eyes, is if they held other jobs where they were successful and dedicated. We find that these types of people generally have the fervor and drive needed to make it in real estate. Coming into this business or our company with a large sphere of influence can certainly help, but if you don’t have the determination to leverage it, you’ll find yourself treading water.

What was 2018 like for the firm?
TW: 2018 was trending to be the third-best year in the history of our company—our market was strong. Hurricane Florence put a damper on that, but we still were able to finish the year with over $1 billion is closed sales.

Any growth plans on the horizon?
TW: We opened two new offices in 2018 and are well positioned in coverage right now. Our goal for 2019 is to recruit more high-quality agents to our existing offices. We focus on quality over quantity in this area, and, as a result, we have some of the highest production per-agent in our market. We may expand if a strong opportunity presents itself.

What most sets your firm apart in the marketplace?
TW: The Intracoastal Realty brand is recognized as the real estate firm for the area’s most discerning clients. We have a high concentration of our market’s top agents who are all very knowledgeable about the areas they serve, and have the marketshare to back that up. Our reputation and support of the local community is esteemed—something that has taken 42 years to build, but never something that we take for granted.

How are you updating your technology and training to provide the resources agents need to succeed?
TW: We’re heavily invested in this area. We have a technology department led by a very talented CIO, and a training division that’s second to none. Both groups do an outstanding job helping our agents adopt and leverage technology. We’re constantly looking for new opportunities and innovations to make sure we’re on the leading edge. When we’re evaluating technology and training opportunities, we look for things that’ll help our agents save time or win more clients. If it doesn’t lend to one of those primary needs, we usually pass.

What are the biggest opportunities for increasing business right now?
TW: We think our biggest opportunity right now is more investment and development of our existing agents to help them maximize their potential. Training is a top priority for us. We’re working closely with the team at Ninja Selling, which we strongly believe in, and over 200 of our agents have taken the one-week immersion program. Compelling marketing initiatives in digital, print and television will be key to our success, as well.

Keith Loria is a contributing editor to RISMedia.

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The BE HEARD Act Addresses Workplace Harassment in All Industries

Thu, 06/13/2019 - 13:02

Harassment in the workplace has been the subject of countless news articles and segments in recent years, as professionals from diverse industries continue coming forward to report their experiences. Thirty-five percent of American women, and nine percent of men, have been sexually harassed or abused in the workplace, according to a 2017 poll by PBS NewsHour, NPR and Marist.

Professional women are also more likely than men to deal with discrimination, or microaggressions, on a daily basis, according to McKinsey & Company’s Women in the Workplace 2018 report. Sixty-four percent of women reported that they face microaggressions in the office.

Women and men both agree that companies need to do more to create a safer, more inclusive work environment. As of now, 40 percent say disrespectful behavior toward women is quickly addressed, while 32 percent state that their company acts swiftly in response to sexual harassment claims. The need to eradicate this harassment and abuse in all sectors including the workplace is imperative, as the damage it causes to a person’s life and career is irreversible and has lifelong effects.

To address this issue, Congress recently introduced the Bringing an End to Harassment by Enhancing Accountability and Rejecting Discrimination in the Workplace Act, otherwise called the BE HEARD in the Workplace Act (BE HEARD Act), in an attempt to end workplace discrimination across all industries and in businesses of all sizes by improving current workplace harassment laws.

The legislation promises to strengthen discrimination protections for LGBTQ workers; prohibit mandatory forced arbitration and non-disclosure agreements that prevent employees from speaking about their experiences of harassment; eliminate tipped minimum wage; and make it easier for employees to report instances of workplace harassment and receive compensation from their employers.

The BE HEARD Act distinguishes itself among other bills that have addressed workplace harassment—which have focused on sexual harassment on college campuses, the military, government and other areas—because it will encompass all industries that deal with this global issue.

Some of the legislation’s key provisions include:

  • Extending civil rights protections, such as the prohibition against employee discrimination, to all employees regardless of business size and to those who are not considered “employees” (e.g., interns, volunteers, trainees, etc.)
  • Offering guidelines for judges and employers to help identify which conduct does and does not constitute unlawful harassment
  • Prohibiting employers from making employees sign blanket non-disclosure agreements upon job acceptance
  • Restoring protections for employees harassed by supervisors and making it easier to hold supervisors liable for harassment, even though the supervisor does not have authority to fire, demote, promote or transfer
  • Assisting employers in creating workspaces that are free of harassment through research and data collection, model policies and trainings, best practices per industry and workplace climate surveys

The BE HEARD in the Workplace Act is taking steps in not only identifying, reporting and responding to workplace harassment, but also in preventing its future occurrence. Everyone deserves to work in an inclusive environment free from discrimination no matter their gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation or position.

Desirée Patno is the CEO and president of Women in the Housing and Real Estate Ecosystem (NAWRB) and Desirée Patno Enterprises, Inc. (DPE), as well as chairwoman of NAWRB’s Diversity & Inclusion Leadership Council (NDILC). With 30 years of experience in housing, Patno is a champion for women’s economic growth and independence. In 2017, Entrepreneur.com named her the Highest-Ranking Woman and 4th Overall Top Real Estate Influencer to Follow. For more information, please visit www.nawrb.com.

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4 Tips for Working With Wealthy Clients

Tue, 06/11/2019 - 12:52

Getting your clients to complete a successful transaction is as much about managing their personalities as it is about finding the right property.

For those looking to find a buyer for a higher-end property, it’s important to note that affluent clients have a different mindset than many of those in the traditional market. Learning the psychology behind why these clients are looking to buy or sell, and how they prioritize their decisions, could help you interact with your potential clients more effectively.

Here are a few tips that can help you work with the upper-tier.

  1. It’s about the experience.
    Affluent clients appreciate the importance of beautiful properties and making a sound real estate investment, but there’s an added element that needs to be recognized in today’s market: lifestyle. If buyers are looking for properties that’ll cater to the experiences they dream of, then sellers need to answer their needs by reflecting the lifestyle opportunity of their home. Your job is to find out what experiences buyers are looking for, what sellers have to offer, and connect the dots for them.
  1. Don’t put people in a box.
    You might be tempted to categorize your clients based on how much their property is worth or by how much money they seemingly have by the price point they request to view. While you need to do some work to pre-qualify these buyers and sellers, make sure you don’t rely too strongly on data and metrics to determine what you think your client wants. Focus on their specific needs and wants instead of looking at a list of prices and drawing an arbitrary line around what they should and shouldn’t do.
  1. Find opportunities to steward family wealth.
    Most wealthy clients are concerned about keeping their wealth in the family for future generations. Providing your clients with insights on how other families or individuals have passed wealth on to their children can help you establish yourself as an expert. In addition, let them know how you’ll work in tandem with their financial advisor, accountant or wealth planner to find properties that best fit these goals.
  1. Find like-minded segments.
    Not all high-net worth individuals are the same, so don’t treat them as a homogenous group. By finding segments where you feel you can naturally fit in, you’ll have an easier time blending into the psychology of high-net worth individuals. Here are some categories high-net worth individuals tend to fall into and how you can better interact with these segments:
  • VIPs – This segment tends to be motivated by social standing and prestige. These clients will focus on the opinions of others in their circle. To break through to them, make them feel like a priority.
  • Entrepreneurs – These people are successful because of their innovations, hard work and ability to stick to projects. They’re used to taking a hands-on approach and may be less comfortable completely outsourcing all of the duties to you. Allow them to be as engaged as they want while guiding them to their desired goal.
  • Moguls – Due to their experience leading their field, moguls feel confident proclaiming that they’re subject matter experts. If you feel like a mogul yourself, bring your inner mogul into the decision-making process by creating points for them to give their approval throughout the transaction.

While it’s useful to understand these factors when working with clients, it’s important to stay genuine. Putting honesty at the forefront of all your transactions and acting out of a sincere desire to create wins for your client will be mutually beneficial for both you and your clients.

Diane Hartley is president of The Institute for Luxury Home Marketing, the independent authority in training and designation for real estate agents working in the luxury residential market. She is passionate about luxury marketing and has more than 20 years of experience growing and leading businesses. For more information, please visit www.luxuryhomemarketing.com.

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Celebrate Who We R!

Tue, 06/11/2019 - 12:49

NAR PULSE—NAR’s national advertising campaign, ‘That’s Who We R,’ shines a spotlight on REALTORS®. Now merchandise is here, available exclusively through REALTOR Team Store®. You’ll find pins, badges, hats, branded promotional items, and more. REALTOR Team Store® is a REALTOR Benefits® Program partner, offering 10% savings off first purchase of $25 or more. Use promo code “NARmember.”

Land Customers Online with realtor.com®
More consumers found their agent online at realtor.com® than on any other national real estate site, according to NAR’s 2017 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers. Clearly, having a strong presence on realtor.com® is key to being discovered. Read how realtor.com® has impacted the business of four successful brokers, and how you can follow their model. 

Surveys—in a Snap!
Asking clients a handful of targeted questions can reveal surprising—and invaluable—results. Your agents can take advantage of the survey tool available through NAR’s Commitment to Excellence (C2EX) platform using a template or by creating a custom survey. Remind them to log in and get started!

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7 Sneaky Ways Restaurants Get You to Spend More

Tue, 06/11/2019 - 12:32

(TNS)—We’ve all been there: You go out to dinner with a set budget, having already decided what to order and set aside the perfect amount for a tip. Then, your bill comes at the end of the night and you’ve somehow spent way beyond your limit.

Don’t be too hard on yourself. There’s science behind persuading you to spend more. You can scope out the city’s best happy hour deal, take advantage of online coupons and even save on your first round of drinks at home, but restaurateurs and menu engineers have nearly perfected the psychology of making you spend money during a night out.

Here are some common tactics restaurants use to get patrons to fork over more cash.

  1. Menu Minimalism
    From eliminating dollar signs to adjusting font weights and kerning, there are all kinds of theories for what draws a buyer’s eye on a menu.

Ryan Gromfin, author, restaurateur and founder of TheRestaurantBoss.com, says the most successful menu designs, for restaurant owners, are those that make price the last thing you see.

“Bury the price in the text,” he says. “Put the price in the description, not in the header of each menu item.”

Because numbers tend to automatically look larger than letters, it also pays to reduce the font size of prices so your eye isn’t immediately drawn to them.

Menu engineering, from fonts and lettering to page layout, can influence your choice of meal, but tricking customers isn’t the objective.

“We’re not trying to deceive anyone; we’re not trying to make them solve riddles to figure out the price,” Gromfin says. “I just don’t want it to be the first thing they see. I want them to read a description and fall in love with an item and then see the price.”

  1. Server Enhancements
    Upselling isn’t exactly an industry secret, but it’s important to be aware of the tactic so you don’t catch yourself splurging on something you may not really want.

To encourage upselling, especially on one specific product or special, many restaurant managers will offer incentives for servers. This can include a cash bonus or other reward for the servers who sell the most of that particular item.

Gromfin says the most effective servers offer enhancements not just to pull more money from you, but to actually enhance your meal.

“This is giving people a better experience,” he says. “Don’t ask someone if they want avocado on their hamburger because it’s more expensive; ask if they want avocado on their hamburger because it’s a better hamburger with avocado.”

  1. Details, Details, Details
    The best servers know that adding flourishes to their description of specials can help upsell a guest, but the same holds true for menu designers. For your entree, would you prefer a “100% Angus beef burger on a golden brioche bun with melted American cheese, fresh green lettuce, juicy Roma tomatoes, caramelized onions and tangy, spicy secret sauce,” or simply a “cheeseburger”?

According to a study by researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, adding descriptive menu labels increased sales by 27 percent and also improved attitudes toward the food and restaurant itself and increased repatronage.

  1. Trojan Horse Menu Items
    Even the most mouth-watering descriptions can be more effective for profits when paired with what Gromfin calls a price juxtaposition or price decoy, which is the practice of “putting something that is artificially substantially more expensive than the rest of your menu and then putting something else directly under it that looks expensive on its own but isn’t when it’s next to the really expensive thing.”

When listed under a $30 steak, the $20 fish entree you were hesitant to order can suddenly seem more appealing to your wallet.

  1. Comfort and Concept
    Once you’ve finished a glass of wine and settled in under a restaurant’s low lighting and comfortable seats, you may be more open and receptive to spending extra time (and money) on your meal.

That comfort level is something that successful restaurants aim to provide their customers through every step in the process, from the moment you enter the restaurant until you leave.

“If I don’t feel comfortable, I’m not going to take a risk on a menu,” Gromfin says. “If I walk into a restaurant and there’s no energy and no vibe and the cashier is fumbling through his words, I’m instantly going into protective mode.”

Not only does your comfort mean more profit for the restaurant; it also means you get your money’s worth.

  1. Heavy-Handed Pouring
    Anytime your table orders a bottle—whether it’s wine or sparkling water—keep an eye on your server’s attentiveness. Excellent service is always a plus, but they likely want you to finish that first bottle as quickly as possible so they’ll have the chance to replace it before your meal arrives. This means a timely refill whenever your glass starts to drain.

The same applies to beer or cocktails, which are some of the most profitable items on the menu. The quicker you finish each glass, the more time a server has to sell you on another.

  1. Visible Desserts
    Dessert-savvy restaurant owners may leave dessert menus on the table for you to peruse throughout your dining experience or even have you walk past a dessert display before you reach your table.

As a result, you’re more likely to approach your experience with dessert in the back of your mind. Throughout your main meal, you’ll be more likely to save room so you can splurge on that strawberry cheesecake or apple crumble. There’s nothing wrong with treating yourself every now and then, but make sure you’re not impulse-buying something that may leave you unsatisfied later.

Gromfin says the real secret to any long-lasting and successful restaurant, both in terms of bringing in revenue and in encouraging repatronage, is exceeding expectations. Any good restaurateur knows that menu engineering and tricky tactics will go only so far if you leave unhappy.

If you have confidence in a restaurant and your expectations are exceeded each time, you’re going to feel better about spending more money. Just remember to be smart about the choices you make so you don’t spend the next two weeks after payday regretting that pricey entree or extra glass of wine.

©2019 Bankrate.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

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