Category Archives: Agents

When do I have to turn in the earnest money deposit?

QuestionAround the holiday season more than any other time of the year I find I am frequently asked when agents need to turn in their clients’ earnest money deposit checks (also referred to as escrow deposits). The answer is the same as it is any other day of the year – as soon as possible!

18 VAC 135-20-180, B., 1., a. of the Real Estate Board Regulations stated that for purchase transactions “Upon the ratification of a contract, earnest money deposits and down payments received by the principal broker or supervising broker or his associates must be placed in an escrow account by the end of the fifth business banking day following ratification, unless otherwise agreed to in writing, and shall remain in that account until the transaction has been consummated or terminated.”

Keep in mind, however, that just because the Virginia Real Estate Board (VREB) states we have five days from ratification to deposit the check, an agent’s brokerage company still needs to process the transaction before depositing the check. Agents, do you brokers and your office support a favor this holiday season and turn in your EMD as soon as you get ratified!

Four Tips for Handling Objections in Real Estate

For new real estate agents and experienced agents alike Questionhandling the objections of clients, and prospective clients, is an art form that does not come naturally. Learning to successfully handle objections could have more impact on your success than any other skill. In the end you will find that it will help you secure more listings, earn higher commissions, put more deals under contract, close more contracts, and protect your final paycheck. Not only is the skill powerful, but it’s relatively simple to master.

Here are some basic tips from the Massimo Group to help you better understand and handle objections:

  1. Don’t take them personally. Some clients have objections that are truly legitimate, while other will throw them up just to see what they can gain in a negotiation. In either case, remember that it’s just business and stay cool. Not only will it make the negotiation easier, but it’ll also show what a calm negotiator you are and, hopefully, boost your perceived value.
  2. Understand them. For example, when a client says they don’t believe in exclusive listings, they could actually mean one of many things. They could be saying that they really aren’t serious about selling, in which case you might not want the assignment. In some cases, they just don’t understand what you can do for them if they retain you. Sometimes, they’ve had a bad experience in the past and you’ll need to prove you’re different from the previous agent that did a bad job for them. Once you know this, you can attack the objection the right way, instead of just making arguments blindly. In fact, to be sure you have it right, repeat the objection as you understand it back to them and get their confirmation before proceeding.
  3. Have evidence ready. Some clients will not just take your word for your capabilities. Instead of telling them what you’ll do – show them by bringing samples of marketing strategies you’ve performed for other clients. If they disagree with your pricing, bring comps to support it, and be ready to explain why the comps they have are wrong. As another example, if they think you aren’t experienced enough to represent them, bring your senior partner with you.
  4. Solve the problem. This might seem obvious, but I’ve seen many agents fail to do this. Once you’ve identified the objection, focus exclusively on it. For example, your track record isn’t the solution to a fee objection. Assuming you already described who you are and what you’ve done, the client is aware of your track record. They just don’t want to pay what you charge for it. You, instead, need to point to the specific value you add and why it’s worth what you’re charging. Remember you already had your client tell you exactly what their problem was, so you should be able to make a focused argument to solve their issue.

In real estate or any type of sales for that matter, objections are simply part of the process. Listening, understanding, and handling objections are your opportunity to shine and reinforce your expertise. If you follow these four simple steps, you will find that you will move past the objection and onto the transaction.

Fairfax County Home Sales Surpass $1 Billion in June

Prices IncreaseHold on to your boot straps, it looks like the real estate market in Northern Virginia/Washington, DC is on the rise again!  At least inside the beltway in Fairfax County, Arlington County, Alexandria City, and Falls Church.

The Sun Gazette reports that in Fairfax County alone, Home Sales Surpass $1 Billion Across County in June . Sales for the month totaled 1,838, an increase of 18.8 percent from the 1,547 transactions reported in June 2012.  The average sales price was also up 7 percent.

Is this a good thing or too much of a good thing?

You get your appraisal, all is good…Right?

Questions?  Call Maxine for answers! 703-836-1464

Questions? Call Maxine for answers! 703-836-1464

The home buying process is a complex puzzle. As each piece falls into place you move closer to settlement. Every once in a while we have a tendency to check off a box before it is no longer an issue. Appraisals are a perfect example. Most of us assume that if the value comes in at or above the sales price, then all is well but that is only step one in the appraisal review process. There are a number of checks and reviews that are placed on that appraisal through a lengthy process.

Generally speaking, an appraisal is ordered through a third party company and is completed by an individual appraiser.  The appraisal then goes through a review by a national firm before it is sent to the lender.   That is step one and where most agents will typically make the mistake of checking the box that the appraisal is complete.  It is important not to be hasty in removing the appraisal contingency until the next steps are complete.

Step two comes once the bank has the appraisal in house.  At that time it is reviewed by the processor or loan officer to pick up any obvious issues.  Next, and before the loan is submitted to underwriting, the loan is run through one of the Automated Underwriting Systems (AUS systems). This underwriting system then runs its own Automated Valuation Model (AVM) on the subject property. If the AVM identifies the sales price or estimated value is greater than 20% of its estimate, then a review appraisal is ordered at the lender’s expense.  As long as it is within the 20% range then we move forward to the next step.

Step three comes when the appraisal is sent to underwriting. Underwriters have the right to challenge a value or request additional items. If the underwriter does not agree that the appraiser supported the value with sufficient comparable sales, then a request is made for additional items to better support the value. If the underwriter feels the appraisal is flawed he/she may request that a review appraisal is conducted. If the review comes back clean then we get to move forward. If it comes back with suggestions, then the original appraiser is contacted and expected to make the requested changes.

Confused yet?  It gets more confusing if the appraiser disagrees with the underwriter or refuses to make the changes.  At that time a second appraisal is ordered!  If the second appraisal comes in lower than the first, then the lower of the two appraisals is used. Actually, the lower of the two appraisals is used no matter what – if they happen to come in for the exact same amount then I guess you could say both are used.

The long and the short of it is that you should always double check with your loan officer or originator to make sure underwriting has signed off on the appraisal before removing the appraisal contingency.  If the lender comes back and discounts the appraisal after the continency is removed the buyer client does not have a rememdy.  Even worse, they could still be on the hook and considered in default.

Peak Producers – Week 2 – Goals change all facts.

Goals change all facts, particularly written goals.

Have you ever noticed that when you take the time to make a plan and write it down you are usually more inclined to stick to it?  Something about the actual act of putting pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, whichever the case may be, makes it more real and makes us more likely to stay on track.

Without definitive, concrete goals we lack growth, we are like the proverbial boat without a rudder and end up in a rut.  Clearly defined, written goals differentiate the independently wealthy from the rest of the population.

I for one have started not only writing down my goals but also keeping them posted in front of me.  In looking at the Peak Producers in our class, I can tell by the results the agents that are journaling and working from written goals.  Everyone in our group is demonstrating results but those that have put their goals in writing are showing results that are exponentially higher than their classmates.

This week our group mailed out hundreds of Items of Value to their past clients and prepared for Valentine’s Day pop-bys.  I cannot wait to hear how things went on next Monday!


Peak Producers – Day 5

Wow!  Finishing up our first full week of Peak Producers has been awesome!

What a great group of agents we have working hard to not only grow their business but toHow would you like three extra transactions this quarter? learn how to better serve their clients’ real estate needs.

So often times people really do not see the value an agent brings to the table, usually because they genuinely do not understand exactly what it is that we do bring to the table.  True story, about eight years ago I interviewed a gentleman that wanted to join my company.  When I asked what interested him in the real estate business he replied that he had just closed on a house and when he saw that the agent make $30,000 for taking him and his wife to lunch and showing them a few houses he decided he wanted to get into real estate as well.  Either one of two things happened, this guy had a really lame duck agent or the agent did not do a sufficient job relaying the value that he/she provided.

Our Peak Producers are definitely learning how to show their value and better assist their clients in the process.  I cannot wait to see what week two brings!

Peak Producers – Day 4

Today Brian talked about about the elements of a strategic approach and that not only do real estate buyers need to fully engage with us but they also need to fully engage in the home buying process.

Although this is not news to most agents, the way Brian puts it into perspective really does make sense and should help real estate agents better serve their buyer and renter clients.  Brian suggests the following:

  1. Focus in finding a style and a neighborhood first, then look at actual homes.
  2. Use a property feedback form for each property viewed.
  3. Remember, finding a home is not a process of selection but a process of elimination.

The job of a real estate agent working with buyers is to help them make a decision by using a systematic approach.

Makes sense… what do you think?

Peak Producers Day 3

How would you like three extra transactions this quarter?


One thing that really resounded with me on day two was Brian’s point that Peak Producers prioritize.  They are not bumblebees flitting around doing a little but of this and that but they all have the same core competency: prioritization.  Prioritize your people so you can prioritize your time so you can then prioritize your activities.

I saw this really clicking with everyone on day three as we discussed the actions required to honestly build a professional business.

Again, it was another great day for our Peak Producers! The activity is breeding excitement which is contagious for everyone! We all re-committed to “just doing what Brian says” and completing all of our activity assignments for the day. I cannot wait to see what tomorrow brings!

OMG! It Works! (aka Peak Producers Day 2)

Yep, you heard it here folks! After our first day of class we have our very first success story!

One of our Peak Producers took Brian’s challenge that two hours of daily face-to-face, voice-to-voice contact with your past clients will result in business and came back to class today with five leads! Talk about an immediate return on investment.

Peak Producers Starts Red Hot!

Today was the first day of teaching my first Buffini and Company Peak Producers class as a Buffini Certified Mentor and, by all accounts, we are off to an awesome start!

How would you like three extra transactions this quarter?

Habit, Attitude, Skill

Eight enterprising and committed Peak Producers braved freezing rain to come into Old Town, Alexandria for our first class, all of them exhibiting the type of dedication and enthusiasm that spells success, given the right tools and strategies.  Retooling ourselves, we started the day with everyone pledging to put all preconceived notions and established habits aside and, then committing to just “do what Brian says” for the duration of the 12-week program.  If it works, don’t fix it, and Brian’s strategy has been proven to work a thousand times over. And with that, we dove into the course.

After the main session I asked everyone what their biggest take away was from Day 1. At the top of the list was Brian’s point that sales and marketing is your business and a Peak Producer needs to commit to spending at least two hours each day making face-to-face or voice-to-voice contact with his/her clients. This is your top priority. You make time for making flyers, putting up signs, and installing lockboxes. The personal contact must be your top priority.

The other great point was what a Peak Producer HAS:

At the end of the first day’s session, it was clear to all of us, I think, that we are all going to walk out of this program in 12 weeks a lot more capable and a lot better at what we do than we were when we walked in this morning.  

What a great start! What a great day! I love my business. I love my job!