Friday, September 29, 2006

Alan Goldbarg, RE/MAX Heritage Homes

In this two minute video, Alan Goldbarg, San Diego RE/Max Heritage Homes agent and 2 year HouseValues subscriber, talks about how his Internet marketing strategy is helping him win listings.

Click here to view his video.

Joel Persinger, RE/MAX Heritage Homes

In this short video clip, Joel Persinger, RE/MAX Heritage Homes agent and HouseValues subscriber in the San Diego area, shares best practices and the Internet marketing strategies that make him successful.

Click here to view his video.

The Bubble Has Burst


Maggie Bloodworth from Columbus, GA shares a great turn around story today on the HouseValues MasterMind forum:


“Thank God for encouragers who got me through. I was so discouraged last week I wanted to quit mainly because I was stood up by a JustListed couple relocating from Florida & this person was so nasty and rude when he unsubscribed that I cried. 1 year in the business and not much to show for all that hard work & expense. I started HouseValues in May and switched to JustListed one month later. I have 220 total prospects and most ignored me, a few (very few keep in contact) and finally 2 are paying off.

This week things turned around. I am very close to the sale of a good priced home through JustListed. Also, I am receiving a listing with HouseValues from May. These should net me $ 8,000 before taxes.”

Way to go Maggie!!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Michael Beauchman, ReMax-experience

Check out this short video interview with Michael Beauchman, a five-year HouseValues subscriber from the Los Angeles area. He discusses the importance of follow up in real estate and how he stays fresh on new ideas by networking with agents at local seminars.

Click here to view his video.

HouseValues Agent Support Network


One of the things we are so proud of at HouseValues is our network of agents offering advice and feedback one another. Here is a great example of this support network from our HouseValues MasterMind forum:


“Like the others have said, it's a numbers game. I joined HouseValues in June and before this past weekend, have had zero results. Each month I pay for 10 HouseValues leads, like you said it's a lot of money going out to received nothing. Being new to HouseValues, I am not sure if everyone goes though the "THIS DOES NOT WORK, WHY BOTHER" phase but from the messages on the forum, I believe a lot of us do. I did! Then I got mad, I was not going to spend this kind of money and not show any return. I started reading everything I could on the forum that was positive (stay away for the negative stuff it will only get you down) and/or offered ideas about how to work the program. As a result, last week I picked up 2 listings.

What did I do?

Day 1 - Act quickly. First email went out as quickly as possible, followed up by CMA at earliest possible time.

Day 2 - Send Post CMA

Day 3 - Drop off prelisting package/CMA.

Day 4 - I make my first phone call. After sending the CMA I choose follow up in 72 hours when I get reminded. If they say that they never received the CMA, I ask what would be a good time to drop by with a hard copy. (I also ask them to check their junk mail box). Key, when talking to a prospect is to ask open ended questions. Like: What do you think of the information I sent you? Remember, you are prospecting for gold, in order to find it you have to keep asking questions. If all the questions require yes or no answers you won't get the details need to find your payday. People like to talk about their favorite subject: themselves and/or family. Why are you thinking of selling? Why were you curious? Where are you planning on moving to? What is your timeframe for moving?

Day 5 and beyond - If they seem the least bit interested in selling, I schedule a follow up call in a week. If there not interested, I follow up the next time they come up on my activities list. But follow up and more follow up are the only things that I know that work.

Hope this helps some.”

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

A thank you from Boston

A couple HouseValues team members were in Boston last night, and had dinner with several of our subscribers. We've done a few of these meetings across the country over the past few weeks (read about a few here, here and here), and we walk away from every one of them awe-struck at what fantastic customers we have.

Today, a HouseValues team member who was in Boston yesterday got this "thank you" e-card from a customer. We thought it was both a nice gesture, and a cool card, so wanted to share it here.

Thanks Nancy!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Good food, great conversation with more agents in the Los Angeles area

We had yet another chance last week to hear about the opportunities and challenges agents are facing in the Los Angeles market. We had a great conversation with a group of nine agents over dinner at Mr. Stox in Anaheim. The following morning we met with a group of seven agents for breakfast in Garden Grove before the seminar and learned even more.

One customer shared a great story with us about how she uses Market Leader to set up prospects on email campaigns to build relationships and loyalty. “I had just started working with a buyer that came to me through JustListed. I set her up on an email campaign and then one day I received a phone call. She had just returned from an open house where the agent wanted to work with her. Her words exactly: ‘there is no way I could go with the other agent since you’ve already done so much work for me!’ This was all because of the personalized emails that were automatically being sent to her.”

Here are some other topics we covered that agents felt were important to discuss given the current market conditions in Los Angeles:

● Agents and lenders are seeing more foreclosures today. They anticipate foreclosure becoming a bigger part of their business in the next 3-5 years.

● Seasoned agents believe the market is returning to a normal one, like the one they experienced five years ago. They feel like they have a strong chance of surviving in the industry having done business in this type of market before.

● Sellers are more likely to choose an agent to take their listing if they follow up with a hand-delivered CMA.

● The biggest challenge agents are currently facing is that there are not enough buyers, while the number of listings are increasing.

Best sources of prospecting today: Internet lead generation, referrals, word-of-mouth, door-knocking, open houses, online advertising.

Click here to view photos from our dinner and breakfast with the agents.

Top Lead Quality from HouseValues Mortgage Program

Chris Vargas of Illinois Mortgage Funding has been a loan officer for only 7 months and he is enjoying great success with his HouseValues Mortgage Leads. Already, Chris has had 6 closings earning a total of $36,191 in commissions from his HouseValues leads. Chris anticipates he we will have another 12 to 15 closings in the next six months.

Lead Quality from TLP is the most important aspect of the system for Chris; he has a 70% contact rate with a 60% appointment rate. By listening to his prospective customers and helping them achieve their goals Chris is quickly becoming a top mortgage professional within his profession!

An opportunity for agents to dish out in Pasadena

We had the pleasure of dining with nine enthusiastic agents at Café Santorini in Old Town Pasadena last week. The following morning we met with a group of nine more agents in the area for breakfast before the seminar.

Over the course of dinner and breakfast, we heard about the opportunities and challenges these agents are facing in the Los Angeles market. They gave us insight into how HouseValues can help them see success in a shifting market. One customer commented on how Market Leader is “a great tool which organizes my business and allows for easy follow up.” He went on to say that “Market Leader is helpful for seasoned agents as well as those just getting started in the industry.” This statement really stood out in our minds with the market conditions the way they are today.

Here are a some key pieces of information we took away from our discussions:

● When using the Internet as a source of generating leads, it is important not to forget about the personal follow up to establish relationships. Email correspondence is convenient for the customer and highly effective, especially when paired with a hand-delivered CMA to gather more information about the seller.

● The Los Angeles market is changing back to the way it was five years ago. Agents in the area are finding that it takes patience and the understanding that it is taking longer to sell homes as they enter a buyers’ market. Homes are staying on the market significantly longer than before. Buyers today have more options and there is not as much urgency to buy right away with homes being on the market longer.

● The biggest challenge agents are currently facing are getting sellers to realize the pricing they desire may not be as realistic as before as the market changes.

● The more opportunity agents have to get their name in front of consumers, the higher the chance they feel they will be perceived as agents that sell the most homes.

Click here to view photos from our dinner and breakfast in Pasadena.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Connie Marks, One Source Realty in San Diego

This less-than-a-minute video of Connie Marks, a three-year HouseValues subscriber from the San Diego area, says a lot about how many agents feel about what the HouseValues system has meant to their business.

Check out her video here.

Customers Speak Out At HouseValues Company Meeting





Today we held our quarterly HouseValues company meeting to learn about current company focus and initiatives. Ian Morris, HouseValues CEO began the meeting talking about what an honor it has been to spend time with our customers on the "Customer Listening Tour". The focus of the entire meeting surrounded our most important company focus, listening and meeting our valuable customers.

We had two fantastic customers speak about their experience with the HouseValues system, leads and most important customer service. Our first speaker was non other than Don Love, HouseValues 25th customer. Don has been a customer since 2000. Our founder Mark Powell drove to Portland Oregon to sign Don up in the evolutionary phases of our company.

Don stated: "HouseValues changed my business as the systematized methods of MarketLeader helped me become more organized so I can deliver the highest level of service possible to each and every customer."

Our second speaker Katrina Williams from Lynwood, Washington has been with HouseValues since 2003. Working 20 hours a week, Katrina has mastered her MarketLeader system and leads "the foundation of her business". Her first year in real estate Katrina made $1 million. She still works only 20 hours a week managing a team who runs her entire business from MarketLeader. Katrina is on track to make $18 million this year. The HouseValues system and leads have enabled Katrina to have a fulfilling personal life in addition to achieving her career aspirations as a real estate consultant.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Year one results from a happy subsciber

HouseValues CEO Ian Morris received this happy voicemail earlier today from Maggie Mouscardy, a subscriber in Southern California who shared her results after one year on the HouseValues system.

Maggie and Ian worked together at Microsoft, before Maggie left to first join Realtor.com and eventually go out on her own as a real estate agent.

As you'll hear in the voicemail, she's making more money now than she ever has - and expects more in the future.

Congratulations Maggie!

Click the "play" arrow on the left-hand side of the player below to hear Maggie's message.

Building Relationships


Donna and Dennis Smolinski from North San Diego share some great wisdom about building relationships on the HouseValues MasterMind forum:

"We joined HouseValues 90 days ago in hopes of developing a higher quality "farm". Our contacts from HouseValues certainly seem better than blindly sending mail to a geographic farm. Also, keep in mind that our marketing material costs in our geographic farm was about the same as our HouseValues monthly cost.

We are quite impressed with the thoroughness of the HouseValues system. It is not only thorough, but it's quite easy to learn and to use. We have not generated a sale from our leads yet, but we have cultivated several good relationships with a few leads (one of these leads didn't even give a phone number, but we've already been invited to view his home). Another widowed lady allowed us to preview her home and personally review a detailed CMA with her. She's started looking at property with us, as she's considering moving from a two story to a one story home. This client will most likely turn into a "double pop".

Leads from HouseValues or JustListed cannot be looked at as "immediate" transactions. A couple other leads that I have spoken to are not ready to sell yet, but I am sure if we continue with proper follow-up, drip, etc., they will eventually turn into an earned commission. They just aren't ready quite yet. This industry is based on "relationships" and a relationship is not developed overnight."

Persistence Pays Off


Bob Ginn, JustListed subscriber shares a great story on the MasterMind forum about the importance of persistence:

"I have been with JustListed for 181 days. I pay for 6 leads a month but JustListed has always exceeded that number. About 4 months ago I received a local lead. I Did what I normally do with follow up as I have learned from many members of the forum over the past few months. Three months went by with no response and then I received my first money call from this prospect. We went out looking for several weeks and closed yesterday on a condo. It is her first home. That is always a treat to help someone get into a home for the first time.

I hope this encourages some of the new folks. There is no "silver bullet" for Internet sales. But persistence does pay off."

Thursday, September 21, 2006

HouseValues Mortgage Success

HouseValues Mortgage customer Matthew Ingalls from Castle & Cooke Mortgage Company describes how his system and leads are helping him make more money in less time:

When we asked Matthew how HouseValues Mortgage products are helping him succeed he stated "I receive serious inquiries for information, complete contact information and great turn time for delivery."

Matthew has only been in the mortgage business for a year and a half, but with HouseValues has closed 4 transactions with an additional 3 pending transactions in process. In addition, he anticipates a closing run rate of 6 transactions a month from here on.

He has a 20% lead closing rate.

Great job Matthew!

Ken Hansen @ The Kirkland 500

OK, first a little context.

Our sales team is running a promotion where each sales group has a race car on the wall, and they'll all competing to get to the finish line. Cars inch forward based on team achievements for the day and the week. They're calling it "The Kirkland 500."

To spice things up, account executives this week who bring a new real estate professional into the HouseValues network are entered in a drawing to race these remote-controlled cars around a pre-designated lap (through the kitchen, past the training department, etc.).

This picture is of Ken Hansen, our Vice President of Sales, who was challenged in this morning's sales meeting to complete the same "lap" his account executives have been competing on this week.

He made us all proud.

Mortgage lead conversion rates

Inman News did a nice job yesterday covering a new study from consulting firm Real IQ, measuring conversion rates of mortgage leads generated by HouseValues. The net of the findings was that nearly one in four loan requests convert into a transaction within a year.

Two other very interesting angles that the Inman story also picked up on:

1) Conversion rates are relative: Individual mortgage brokers, and real estate agents as well, can accelerate their own conversion rates by staying active in managing their pipeline of prospective customers.

2) The conversion rate is still growing: We know from past research that consumers often take up to two years to actually buy or sell a home. Some of those unconverted leads after one year will almost certainly transact within the next few months. And the smart real estate agent or mortgage broker who maintains the relationship over the long-term will have a distinct advantage in winning that consumer's business.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Success in Columbus

Mike Whiteman, a HouseValues subscriber in Columbus, Ohio, wasn't a believer early on. But after working with his HouseValues coach and recommitting to use the entire Market Leader system, things started to pop.

Within a week of going back and re-connecting with many of his past leads, he'd already listed a few homes. Now he's completely back on track, working all of his leads with fast and frequent follow-up, and looks quite successful.

As of this week, he's had 13 homes sold with six more listed.

Great work Mike!

MasterMind Call Notes: "Don't Do It!"


MasterMind Call Notes:"Don't Do It!"September 12, 2006
"Don't Do It!"

Highlights$500 account credit winners:

Don Riner: Indianapolis, IN
Cynthia Shaw: Mississauga, ON

"Don't Do It!"Featured Speaker: Joel Persinger, San DiegoModerator: Scott Smith, Vice President of Customer Success

Today’s Mastermind has been in real estate for 16 years. He comes with a 20-year background in sales, which has helped him become one of the top negotiators in the real estate field today. His career has included positions as Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Director of Business Development and Regional Sales Manager for major corporations and internet-based companies alike.

It’s this sales and technology background that allows our MasterMind to consistently earn six-figures even as the market continues to shift. Listen closely as Joel shares how he uses technology to continually grow his real estate pipeline. You’ll want to take special note as he shares his techniques for mining his database. In addition, you want to take away the importance of calculating your ‘return on investment’ and why this is key to growing your business.

When sales slow, some agents slash marketing to cut costs. Don’t do it! Joel Persinger, top producer and 6-figure income earner, advises instead to get creative! For Joel, it’s the HouseValues’ system that delivers. During lean times, Joel ramps up business with a “get something started call” to prospects in his MarketLeader database. Plus, he self-generates 60-80 leads EVERY month. Simple, powerful and market-proven techniques produce transactions—even in a shifting market. His MarketLeader pipeline holds pockets full of gold. Yours does, too. Listen in as Joel shows you how to find the gold. Scott: How is the market in La Mesa?

Joel: The market has changed quite a bit over the past year or so. Like many areas of the country, there were a number of years where real estate was really booming and as a result the cost of homes went up dramatically around here. When it started you could buy a nice house for around $250,000-$350,000 where now the median price is $500,000-$550,000 range.Now things have flattened out a little bit. I would actually say it’s more of a normal market. It takes about 30-60 days to sell a house and there are more sellers than there are buyers. So sellers have to be more eager to negotiate and price their houses more aggressively. We are still reasonably busy, it’s just not the slammin’ crazy market we had before.

Scott: What have you done to more creatively shift into this buyer’s market?Joel:Selling strategies have gotten more creative. As an agent who likes to take listings more than anything else, you have to figure out how to get yours sold when there are 80 gazillion on the market trying to get their’s sold, too. So you change your approach to selling those. Part of that is pricing more effectively and getting them ahead of the downward price curve. In our neck of the woods, the downward price curve is the seller’s expectations getting more in line with reality than it actually is houses declining in value. We are still seeing an increase in value, but it is very slight by comparison. So the seller’s expectations are becoming more real in regards to the market.

So you have to adjust the way you sell the property by being more aggressive in your pricing so that you can focus the attention of all the buyers on that particular home as competitive item and hopefully generate multiple offers on it. It’s just a little different strategy. I sold three different houses this month, and did that with each one and we were actually able to get more than the sellers thought they would get out of it.

Marketing strategies are a little bit different. We’ve essentially gone through and looked at expenses and started trimming in various parts of the business, which is what you do when things slow down no matter what type of business you are running. So we’ve made some cuts there.

Scott:So, you educate sellers on the market and get them to understand what is happening in a market they perceive as actually slowing even though they are still actually appreciating. What is the secret to get them to list with you?

Joel:Tell the truth. It sounds like an old trite thing of being honest and ethical, but part of it is just telling the truth. I have a motto, which I got from someone else, of ‘I like to work with people I know and like and trust and with people who know and like and trust me.’ I follow that, so it’s an issue of approaching clients from the standpoint of looking at the business as a representation business not a sales business. Houses sell themselves if you market them right. My goal is to represent my client’s best interest so that their goals are achieved somewhere along the lines, in a way that makes sense for them and a timeframe that makes sense for them and with as little hassle to them as possible. In order to do that, I have to tell them the truth about what is going on with the market and what the possibilities of their home selling at a particular price are. Otherwise, they can’t make well-informed decisions. For them, it is oftentimes the largest commodity they will sell. I sell more houses in a month than most people do in a lifetime, so I have more experience than they do. So it behooves me to communicate that to them and help them by virtue of that experience. If I do that, then getting them to price the house right isn’t nearly as difficult because they don’t look at me like a guy looking for another commission. They look at me as a guy trying to help them reach their goals. As a result, I don’t have clients that think I’m trying to snow them or lead them down the garden path.

Scott:Do you actually use the phrase “I’ll sell more houses in a month than you’ll sell in a lifetime, Mr. and Mrs. Seller”?

Joel: Sometimes I’ll ask people ”how many homes have you sold?” They’ll say “two, three, five, one.” I’ll ask them “would it be of benefit to have someone in your corner who probably sells more houses in a month than you do in a lifetime?” The answer is universally “yes.” And I say “you know what, that’s me. I may not know everything, but I’ve done this for sixteen years and I’ve learned a lot in that time.”

Scott:In the intro we say your mottos is “don’t do it” when it comes to slashing marketing costs. Given your background, can you share how you think through that in a changing market?

Joel:There is a HUGE difference in slashing marketing costs and trimming them. You mentioned my background. My background is with large companies for the most part in some form of management. What I discovered during that time is when things slow down everybody pushes the sales department to go get more sales and cuts the marketing budget like crazy, so the phones stop ringing. This is precisely what they shouldn’t do. Yeah, go push sales but you also want to get the phone ringing. So the time to really focus on marketing is when the market is slow, because that’s when you have more competition. The key is that you must understand what to trim and what not to trim, and how to go about figuring that out. We trimmed our marketing budget. We also had to cut some employees who weren’t producing; basically back down to my assistant and me. So we trimmed some expenses there.

So I looked at marketing, and what I looked at was what is returning money on my investment and what wasn’t. What little marketing things had I done, and what could I trim from that? What I discovered was that I was able to trim $1100-$1200 per month from our marketing. That’s now $1100-$1200 I get to keep in my pocket or my business coffers. There are two ways to make money -- make more or spend less.

But what we NEVER did was look at the hub of our marketing system and start chopping away, and that is a very common thing to do. For example, I look at MarketLeader as the hub of my marketing system; it’s the trunk of my tree. I will never start chopping my trunk apart because that is the main core of my system. What I’ll look at is how am I generating leads to populate that system, and maybe this isn’t working or that isn’t working, but this is working. So HouseValues doesn’t get messed with. What does get messed with is the little things that generate leads along the way.

Scott:So if you were to take a pure strategy of to make more spend less, you would gravitate toward reducing the highest dollar expenses but that’s not what you did. You looked at the ROI on each investment, and additional let me build a core foundation and not touch that as well.

Joel:It is enormously common, particularly in large businesses, and I think the average individuals have the same impulse. I had my bookkeeper pull the income statements for the past several months so I could see what our expenses are. If we were to just look at the profit and loss statements, just look at the expenses and say this one is the biggest expense so let’s cut that, then that’s like a blind man with a chain saw. This would have done away with the trunk of my tree. Instead, what we did was look at the marketing items and analyzed each to see which was being effective and which are not. Then the ones that were not effective, we cut. What ended up happening was we actually reduced the cost of marketing a little bit more than I would have if I had first chopped the most expensive item. As a result, we still have a very effective marketing system, we just don’t have all the fluff that wasn’t accomplishing anything.The impulse to avoid is to start slashing by looking at the most expensive item without regard to whether it is being successful.

Scott:You took a very methodical approach and trimmed things on the fringes. How did you go about that decision process of cutting things on the fringes?

Joel:When I try a new marketing item, I generally try things for three months. When I decide to try something new, I say okay, that’s the end of my marketing budget and I’ll have to look at this for three months to see if it’s generating activity. If it is generating activity, I might continue with it; if it isn’t generating activity then I cut it and go try something else for three months. It doesn’t have to generate business; it just has to generate activity. In other words, is the phone ringing, are people hitting the Web site, are leads being generated that we can then put into the MarketLeader system and then follow up with over time and generate business? I’ll look at the balance of how much activity is being generated, what type of activity is it, and does it justify the amount of money I’m spending on it. The problem is when business is just bopping through the door and you are just slammed all the time, you kind of get out of the habit of watching those kinds of expenses. So what happened when the market slowed down, I had a whole bunch of those going on and I wasn’t so good about saying I’ll try this one and see what happens and then I’ll try this one. So I just tried a bunch of them because I wanted to see if they would work and we had all the extraneous kind of stuff going on. We looked at each one individually and tried to determine what was happening in regards to that. There were also expenses associated directly with the buyer’s agent, so when that person was let go we didn’t need those things anymore so we cut those expenses as well.

Scott:You said something there, you don’t have to generate business but you do have to generate activity?

Joel:Right. Business comes if you have activity. If the phone is ringing, if I’m talking to people, or if people are hitting the website wanting to look at properties or wanting a CMA on their house, if I’m getting that kind of activity then business is going to come because we will keep contacting them over and over again.I have a listing right now in a little town called El Cajon. The lady entered our system as activity, she just wanted a CMA in December of 2004. Well, I just listed the property a couple of months ago and I just got an offer yesterday. So we keep in touch with those folks over time, knowing that over time business will be generated. The key is populating the database with more and more leads by creating activity and then keeping in touch with those people.

Scott:That one came from 2004 and had you analyzed that as business generated in 2004, it would have been a very poor return on investment, but since you analyze it as activity you were able to turn it into business over time.

Joel:Right. As I’ve shared with people a million times, my grandfather was a 40-year real estate broker and he used to tell me that you track the houses, you don’t track the people. I’d ask him what he meant, and he would say “see that house” as we were driving down the road, “I’ve sold that one four times; see that one over there, well I’ve sold that one five times.” He would stay in touch with the people who lived in that house because he wanted to keep selling the houses over and over again. So once there is someone in our database who owns a house, whether came in as a CMA lead or as a house I sold as a listing agent but didn’t represent the buyer, we now know who the buyer is. We keep that house in the database and we continue to keep in touch with those people. From time to time, I’ll pick up a listing that way and people will say “I appreciate you being my agent when we bought the house.” Well, I wasn’t their agent when they bought the house, but statistically we know that most agents don’t stay in touch with people after they sell a house so they ended up thinking I was the guy.Scott:So not only do you have prospects you are working with, you take every property and say I’m going to adopt who ever owns that property?

Joel:Yeah. Then when we update the CMA every six months, if we find in the interim that house was sold, that’s fine. We just update the information from the public records and we continue to send them a CMA every six months to stay in touch. We now end up with a database with thousands of people and thousands of homes in it that we are keeping in touch with on a regular basis and it just dribbles out business.

That’s why I call it the trunk of the tree. The idea is to feed the tree and then out of the top of the tree comes all this fruit. And if you are going to trim your marketing, you might prune the tree, but you don’t take the axe and start chopping at the tree. That is a very common thing for people to start doing when the market starts to slow down; they go chopping down their marketing efforts because they are doing it indiscriminately because it happened to cost more money. As a result they kill their business and have to go get a job.

Scott:You’ve been in real estate for 16 years. As the market is changing back to a more normal market, do you find real is harder or easier than it was before? Have things changed?

Joel:Yeah, a lot has changed. Technology has changed tremendously. But from the standpoint of is it harder to make a living in real estate than when I started? No! It’s easier to make a living than when I started by far because the tools are phenomenal by comparison.There is no way in the world when I started in late 1989 that I had a tool like MarketLeader. I mean everything was done with 3x5 cards and nobody had a cell phone unless you were the top agent in an area and then it only worked sometimes if you were standing just right. The tools today are just tremendous. The major difference I think those tools have brought along with them is that people now have an expectation of instant return on questions and information. They want to use the web and they want to find out things now. So turnaround time is extremely important as a result.But the tools we have now are amazing. Anyway I want to print something, I can order it on the web and it shows up the next day. You used to have to go down to the printers. I remember having to hand-make fliers. I took the pictures, had to take the pictures down to the photo place and then hand wrote or typed up the flier and glued the pictures to the fliers. That’s how you made fliers with pictures on them, and that was only for the really nice houses. Now you do it for every house and you order them on the Web and --- boom -- they are in your office or at the house the next day.

Scott:Do you do electronic postcards as well?

Joel:Sure. We send out e-fliers to agents, all kinds of things that are available. One of which is MarketLeader. As I mentioned, it’s the hub of my system and manages a tremendous number of things for me. I don’t know that I could do business without it as well as I do.

Scott:As we mentioned in the introduction, you generate between 60-80 leads per month outside of what you do with HouseValues. How do you do that?

Joel:That is an average over the year. We generate them primarily by using the webcapture feature, although we do other things that generate leads as well. We use webcapture a couple of different ways, we try to get creative. There are some ways we could pay, but I try to get creative to try and get people to come to the website.One example: A lender and I split the cost of some ugly yellow signs that say ”find out what your home is worth” and give the website. My title rep takes and puts those out in certain neighborhoods, then people visit the Web site and request a CMA. It costs very little because the signs are cheap. The title rep puts them out for nothing because he knows he’s going to get the business, and I’m only paying for half the signs because I took the website and linked it to the lender. So the lender, who is paying for half the signs, is now getting some benefit because: a) I referred that business to them and b) they also have a link on my Web site they didn’t have before. Of course there are lots of other things you can do.

Scott:You are driving people to your Web site, generating 60-80 leads per month, and only paying for a portion of it because your lender is involved.

Joel:Well the signs are cheap. You are buying 200-300 signs that will last 4-5 months before they disappear, and then you go but them again. So it’s not a real expensive item, and I’m not paying the title rep to it, he’s making money as he goes as we send him business.

Scott:You also mentioned another creative marketing strategy in the past around sending updated CMAs and coupons from Chili’s restaurant?

Joel:That was actually Alan, my assistant’s, idea. We had for sometime sent CMAs every six months or so, to update people because it is something of value. People want to know how much their house is worth. We tell them at the outset that we’ll be sending them an update every six months. We used to send the entire HouseValues package every six months with the HouseValues folder and the whole deal, but that got very cost-prohibitive the bigger your database gets. Instead, now we send the HV CMA printed out with three comparables on one sheet from the MLS and the tax record information. In there, we put a coupon from Chili’s restaurant or whatever restaurant we happen to have. At this point we just happen to be using Chili’s because my assistant went to lunch and was talking with the manager and mentioned that we mail out a hundred or two hundred of these per month and I wonder if you have some coupons you could throw in there; maybe we could stir up some business for you. The guy was happy to reach in his desk and pull out a huge handful of coupons for $20 bucks off for lunch or dinner. So it cost us nothing for the coupons and made the manager very happy. So it’s one more excuse for someone to open up the envelope. They have opened it before and seen a coupon so they open it again. Maybe they don’t care about the CMA but they care about the coupon and they still see my smiling, happy face and they’ve got some information about their house.

Scott:You just never know what kind of partnerships you can find.

Joel:Right, and we do that a lot. One thing Alan does in his telemarketing effort on a regular basis is keep a sheet of preferred vendors. Every real estate agent who has been around a while has an electrician, a handy man, a plumber, etc. So we have them in a file on the computer. Then when Alan is talking with, he finds if they are remodeling or whatever and he’ll just ask them “do you have a this” or “do you have a that” and we’ll refer those people to them and we get referrals back. At the same time, it makes us a “go to” company for these folks in our database to call. Oftentimes I’ll get calls from people who don’t care about real estate right now but they need a plumber or an electrician or whatever; we become the hub for them.

Scott:You haven’t trimmed your assistant?

Joel:No, he’s not trim-able. He is a core guy here.Scott:What does Alan do for you and your business?Joel:I call him my assistant, but he is more the marketing guy. He is my assistant as well, but 99% of what he does is chase business. He manages the MarketLeader database, I don’t. I work it from time to time, but my view is that my job is to go spend time with people face to face, talk with current clients, spend time with the sphere of influence, be the chamber meetings, be out and about, that kind of thing.His job is to get on the phone and contact the people in the database we have phone numbers for or a regular basis, and make sure that cycles on a regular basis, putting together the CMAs, make sure the marketing material goes out, that sort of thing. His job is to generate appointments and business. He’ll often generate appointments for me based on those phone calls and contacts.

Scott:Sounds like each of you brings a unique skill set.

Joel:Don’t hire someone just like yourself. We are different enough that he’ll come up with things I never would. I would have never thought of the coupon idea, he just went and did that on his own. He has made some real enterprising steps toward managing the database that I would have never thought of.

Scott:If you had one opportunity to take a new agent and tell them how to think about running their business, what would you tell them?

Joel:Be patient, realizing that if you are starting out brand-new, it’s like any new business. It would be just like if you were a doctor starting a new practice, or if you were starting a $3 million business, or if you were starting a coffee shop or anything else. Starting a business takes a lot of effort, a lot of time. It’s like rolling a giant steel ball. It’s hard to get rolling, but once it is rolling you just have to reach up and push it from time to time and it will roll all by itself. The first part takes a lot of hard work and a lot of patience.The second part? Build it as a business. Realtors tend not to do that. They look at it as job or part time thing or whatever. If you build your practice as a business, then you are going to look at your marketing from a business perspective and you are going to want to build a system that has at its core a systemized way of approaching customers from the minute you get them as a lead to you’ve sold them a house to you’ve followed up with them as a past client to you’ve generated referrals from them. If you work it that way, business just sort of bops through the door through the years. You may not realize where it came from, but it’s probably something you did six months ago, a year ago, or three years ago or as an ongoing thing where you developed a relationship with someone in your database.

Scott:A couple of things I heard right here: 1) think about this as a business -- as building a business; 2) analyze this from a business perspective. Lastly, do you look at this on a lead-by-lead basis when you calculate ROI?

Joel:No, I really don’t sit down and calculate we brought in X number of leads this year and out of those we sold so many properties. I do look at it from a money standpoint, from a profit and loss standpoint. I measure activity. If I look at it from a short-term basis of I got 30 leads and none of them turned into business today, I’m ignoring the fact that will turn into business down the road. As I pick a marketing activity, does it do one of two things: 1) will it help me manage my marketing and home my prospects along or 2) does it provide me with a lead I can turn into a client, and if so how many and how many are real? If I can generate activity that will generate business down the road, that’s good enough for me as long as it is commensurate with the amount of money I spend.

Scott:You can’t have sales without activities, and activities drive sales.

Joel:Let’s take activities one step further. You mentioned salespeople. We used to buy leads for a sales department I ran, and the salespeople would come back and complain about the leads, complain about the leads, complain about the leads, complain about the leads. I had a guy that never showed up in the office and was a top sales guy and I had another guy who showed up at the office all the time but didn’t sell anything and he use to whine about the other guy cause he wasn’t doing anything and he was never in the office. I said “yeah, but the difference you and him is he is out generating business all day and you are sitting here in the office complaining and that’s the issue.” The issue isn’t necessarily are the leads coming in but what am I doing with them when they get there? That’s where MarketLeader comes in. If I just let them sit there and do nothing then nothing will happen. It just so happened that this sales guy made most of his sales on the golf course so he played golf constantly. The other guy made most of his money finally by picking up the phone.

Alan picks up the phone in the evening. I chase business during the day. Between the two of us, we generate business for the company because not only do we generate activity, we are active in our sales efforts and that is required in order to make the business work.

© 2006 HouseValues, Inc. All rights reserved. HouseValues, JustListed and Market Leader are trademarks of HouseValues, Inc.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Turning It Around In Texas


Wendy Warren from Houston Texas shares a great turnaround testimonial on the HouseValues MasterMind forum yesterday:

"I have been with HouseValues for 4 months now. Before the 1st month had even passed I called to cancel because it seemed like a big waste of my time and effort. Last month I stopped preparing all CMA's because I was through with this system and hated it and had strong feelings against it, UNTIL I stopped and thought to myself, this system is putting people in my hand who actually said, "I am Ready to Sell my House in 90 days or less". I thought to myself, the problem is not the system, its ME. I have a really hard time with telemarketers so it was very hard for me to keep calling people back to back and I became very discouraged when my calls went unreturned and I received no responses to my emails.

Foolish as it may sound, I now call until no end and just try to allow them to listen to a message from me everyday. I also send a personal handwritten note in the mail letting them know I am trying to get in contact with them and would really appreciate an opportunity to speak with them. In addition I have been hand delivering the CMA's and hand wrote a very similar letter on my letterhead saying I stopped by and was sorry I missed them but to please call me and let me know how I can help. I also leave a plastic bag, with the hardcopy CMA, refrigerator magnet or personalized pen. On my electronic CMA's through HouseValues, I have only been including a price range instead of actual listings, and on the hard copy I hand deliver I include the individual comparisons.

This is my new system which I have only used for the past two weeks and it has paid off as I have my first listing appt tomorrow. We have already agreed to a listing price on the phone and discussed the details of the listing and how their home will be marketed.

Just don’t give up!!!"

Consistency Pays Off


Melissa Stewart subscribed to JustListed and HouseValues back in May of 2006. She is closing her first buyer tomorrow on a $228,000 house giving her a total $6,800 in commissions which pays for the entire year. She loves the system and works each and every leads diligently.

Great Job Melissa!

Monday, September 18, 2006

Genuinely Generous


Claudia Wicks shares a great HouseValues seminar story about a very generous HouseValues subscriber in Salt Lake City:


"Orren Bateman has been a sub for 4 years. He was our guest speaker in Salt Lake City. He LOVES us and he especially loves Market Leader. At the end of the day we had a drawing for a PDA. He won and came down and drew another name. He said he already had one. The agents went nuts. What a classy guy. Talk about being willing to help and share."

Continued success in a tougher market

Congratulations to Kay Burgess, a HouseValues subscriber with Heritage Realty in Colorado Springs.

In this quick video interview, Kay discusses her three homes under contract, thanks to her HouseValues subscription, as well as the impact her HomePages advertising has had with prospective customers across the market.

Great work Kay, and thanks for sharing!

You can see Kay on video here.

HouseValues Customers Innovating By Using Whole System


HouseValues agents share their best practices with each other during last week’s seminar series.


E-postcards

Jeremy Davis, from the Denver area provided us with a great idea he is using. It is a good example of viral marketing. He sends a Just Listed e-postcard to his sellers, featuring their home. He lets them know that they are welcome to forward it to their family and friends. I think that is so smart and he says his sellers love it. He knows he will get response from that.


Borders Books

Sharon Martin, from Salt Lake City is a new person in town and fairly new to real estate. She wanted to figure out how to meet as many people as possible and grow her pipeline. She came up with this great idea which has worked well for her. She checked out what the busiest time in Border’s Book Store was and sat down in the real estate section with a sign up sheet for email addresses. She knew many people who were interested in buying or selling would go there and check out the books on how to sell their homes. She met them, obtained their email addresses and offered to send them info and help them buy and/or sell.

More Success in Seattle

Several more customer success stories in the Seattle market were heard at last week's Customer Appreciation Night. Here's a sample:



Wes Neal
Van Dorm Realty
Olympia, WA
Wes has been with HouseValues for nine months, and has had five transactions. Wes attributes his success to his follow up with the Market Leader system. He immediately puts his prospects in some sort of email campaign.


Keith Hanson
John L. Scott
Bellevue, WA
Keith joined HouseValues in the Bellevue area three years ago. In his first year with HouseValues, he did not see the success he was hoping for. He said it was because he didn't have time to follow up with his prospects, or effectively use the system. Toward the end of his second year, he made some big changes. With so much money out, and no money coming in, he held himself accountable. He started following up with his leads immediately. He took the extra effort of driving by the prospect's home to drop off CMA's in hopes to get some face time. His extra effort is now paying off big-time. He has made 10 transactions this year with HouseValues leads, with commissions exceeding $150,000.


Katrina Williams
John L. Scott
Lynnwood, WA
Katrina signed up two years ago. She received her first transaction six months into the program. According to her teammate Joel Kois, Williams's business didn't just snowball after that. Instead, it experienced an AVALANCHE. Katrina's team currently generates approximately 40 percent of their business through HouseValues. Kois says the team is projected to do $6 million in sales volume this year and another $10 million next year from HouseValues.

“$32,000 of My Yearly Income from HouseValues”


Great post on the HouseValues MasterMind forum by Agent Joe Russell sharing his personal ROI from the HouseValues system and leads:


"I think the system works very good just like I was told when I signed up. I get about 1 sale for every 20-25 leads. Currently I receive 144 leads per year totaling 7 sales per year. My normal commission is $6,000 per home = $42,000 - $10,000 investment = $32,000 of my income every year comes from HouseValues. I think that is very good."

Friday, September 15, 2006

Double Dipping

Grateful for the HouseValues automatic email system, this agent shares her phenomenal success with repeat business on the HouseValues MasterMind forum:

“Hello All, I just had to share this great success story. I joined HouseValues in August 2002. My first HouseValues listing was in October 2002. The client was a delight, her home immaculate and colorful. It sold within the initial listing period. I kept in touch with her through the HouseValues automated email system. She called again a month ago to list her "new" home for sale. She's getting married next month and is moving in with her fiancé.

The "new" home sold in just 1 month and in addition I will also list her fiancé’s house for sale in June, when they move overseas.

Thanks HouseValues!!!”

A great group in Denver

It was my privilege to join a lively group of 10 agents for dinner at Il Fornaio in the Denver Tech Center earlier this week.

I enjoyed meeting with this group and learning about the opportunities and challenges in the Denver market and how HouseValues can help them in their businesses. Agents are having good success making Market Leader the center of their business. Potential buyers and sellers put high demands on the agents time and agents need to be responsive to have the best chance of winning the business. One customer said: "I do what Market Leader tells me to do every day".

Throughout the dinner we addressed many topics. A couple that stood out for me:
* Build teams with unique and varied skill sets and learn how to delegate more.
* Be willing to not take a listing if you and the seller don't agree on list price.
* Check in with your sellers weekly to hear both the good and the bad (mostly the challenges - what are you doing, why aren't we getting enough showings, etc).
* Use this time to address the sellers concerns.
* You can't control the demand in the market, but you can manage your relationship with your customers.

Best sources of prospecting today: Sphere of Influence, Referrals, and Internet Lead Generation.

“The Backbone of My Advertising Budget”

One agent writes on the MasterMind forum why her HouseValues system has helped her achieve unimaginable business results:

“I have been with HouseValues since 2004. In my first year with HouseValues, I had nine sales from HouseValues and one from my Just Listed leads. In two of these transactions, I was actually the listing agent.

Year to date, I have eight closed transactions from my HouseValues and JustListed leads with two more in escrow. One of these sales is from a JustListed lead I never met who referred a relocating co-worker to me. Additionally, I have my first closing scheduled for 2007 already! I've also referred out and received a fee on another closing. Plus, I've have two other active listings from my leads. I'm also working with more than a handful of active buyers. I love it.

I know that HouseValues is why I'm where I'm at today. The volume of leads has created a situation where I have critical mass. When I was just starting out, I had too much time to think, and having a steady supply of leads kept me busy, positive and focused on servicing my business. The system is working for me.”

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Successful Agents Speak Up at Boise Seminar

Earlier this week we caught up with a few agents during registration at the Boise seminar. Here is a list highlighting a few agents that spoke up about their success with HouseValues:

Beyond expectations at John L Scott
Jay Schram in Boise, ID has been a subscriber since May 2006 and has closed his first transaction.

Juanita Glaubitz in Nampa, ID has been a subscriber since February 2006 and has closed 1 transaction and 4 additional sales from referrals from the original lead.

Taking the lead at Team One Services
Jill Kindall in Nampa, ID has been a subscriber since March 2006 and has closed 3 transactions.

Two transactions in six months at Taylor Real Estate
Steve Williams in Blackfoot, ID has been a subscriber since March 2006 and has closed 2 transactions.

Steady flow of business at Silverhawk Realty
David Elsey in Eagle, ID has been a subscriber since October 2005 and has closed 5 transactions.

Six transactions in the first year at Cluff Real Estate
Karen Nelson in Donnelly, ID has been a subscriber since September 2005 and has closed 6 transactions.

HouseValues Wins Agent Review

Melissa Tidd with Real Estate III in Harrisonburg, VA subscribed to HouseValues a day ago and already understands the earning potential of the JustListed buyer leads she receives. She shared with us that she researched a number of lead generation companies before subscribing to HouseValues. She was instantly impressed, especially with the level of customer service provided. So impressed, in fact, she can't wait to get started working the system.

We’ll gladly take this feedback any day…thanks Melissa!

Internet Consumers Want Real-Time Responses


Lauren Nemeschansky of Santa Clarita, CA shares her secrets to success with HouseValues and JustListed:

“When I started the program I told the sales rep I must be crazy but would take a chance and give it a try. I have been with the program for 5 months now. After 3 months I sold a home in one week to an out of town buyer. Last week I listed and put in an offer on a home from another client that I received through the program. Three days ago I listed another house from a neighbor who visited my open house and was impressed with me and my "House Water Bottles" I learned about on the forum. Today we just put in an offer on her "move up" home.

I think Just Listed and HouseValues is a wonderful marketing tool, much better than any other marketing or lead service that I have tried so far. I do believe based on my customer feedback that being fast to respond to the customer requests is the key to success. I have had a couple of leads tell me that they had an agent or felt obligated to use a friend BUT I do believe that in the future it is likely they will send business to my website since they feel that it is a useful tool and have told me that I provide an excellent service. Internet marketing is the "new" way to canvass and lets all agree that it is a whole lot better than door knocking.”

Way to go Lauren!

Much to WOW about in Washington DC

Good news for HouseValues subscriber Thomas Gormley in the Washington DC area. He closed his first deal on a $780,000 house from a JustListed buyer lead, and earned $17,550 in commissions.

He believes his recent success comes from the new HouseValues lead satisfaction guarantee. He feels it makes working the leads much more effective.

Congratulations, Thomas!

Agent Appreciation Night in Seattle

Last night, we invited many of our Seattle-area customers to share an evening of drinks, conversation and billiards at Jillian's in downtown Seattle.

More than 40 subscribers from across the Seattle market came down, and it was a great event. It was fantastic to be able to mingle and network with so many customers face-to-face, especially in an informal setting. It was even better for our subscribers to network with each other, sharing ideas and business cards throughout the night.

We had four-year veterans of HouseValues sharing ideas with agents who have been on the system for just a week or two. Special thanks to all of the agents who took the time (and braved the traffic) to be with us last night.

Click here to see a few photos from the event.

Click here to watch a short video of the event.

Be a "MilkMan" Agent


HouseValues subscriber Bruce Hallock shares his "milkman" philosophy with other agents on the HouseValues MasterMind forum.

“I have been with JustListed since August and if your market in Colombus is anything like it is here in North Georgia, it’s slow. However if you want to make money sometimes you need to have the faith and spend money to make money.

For four years I have farmed with professional newsletters and post cards like clock work and never received thanks. This system of JustListed is supportive and I am happy to say at least I have warm leads to work with.

I read in Realtor.com that it takes an average of 25 internet leads to generate one sale and so it becomes a numbers game. My advice as a past sales trainer and national salesperson is to treat each prospect as if you were a milkman. When you make a commitment to follow up call or email the prospect back. Do it and let them know when you will follow up again and give them a date and time. Prospects will see that you are an agent who caring and trust worthy because you do what you say you are going to do.

Keep up the good work, it will pay off”.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

The Power of Hand Deliveries

Another powerful post on the HouesValues MasterMind forum as a Seattle agent shares how her steady stream of business and hand delivery techniques have turned into cash money:

"I just got my first listing and it sold over this last weekend. I was also called from a client to list their home and I now have that listing as well. The second client interviewed me 2 months ago, but she went with someone else. They overpriced her home and it sat for 45 days. They got frustrated with no showings and decided to fire the other agent. She was so impressed with me leaving the folder earlier she called me after she cancelled with the first agent.
4 months to the day... I am real excited now, because these two sales cover my cost of HouseValues for the entire year.

I have found the service so helpful, even when I was stressed out, the kept encouraging me, and were always very professional.

Thanks for all your help”.

Treat Every Prospect As If They Will Transact Tomorrow

A new Maryland HouseValues agent had a great post on the MasterMind forum sharing her success as she marches to the HouseValues beat by treating all leads equally:

"I just joined HouseValues in August. The first lead I received stated he was not interested in moving until 6 months from the date of his inquiry. I called to confirm his information, sent an email thanking him for his time and begin locating New Construction in his areas of interest. Just 5 days later, I sent him a listings which he expressed immediate interest.

We viewed the property together the following week and he loved it but he was not ready to write a contract. A few days later he was ready to put a contract on the house. Today, we submitted an offer - we are waiting for the Builder to ratify the contract (in this market, we rarely have a counteroffer or refusal on New Construction Developments). The contract is contingent on the sale of my clients home and does have a 48 hr first right of refusal. Other than that it’s a SOLID CONTRACT! Oh and by the way, I meet another HV lead next week!

Happy Sales and Best Wishes"

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

True All-Star in Houston, TX

Four days ago, Long Tran with Texas Real Estate All-Stars in Houston signed up with HouseValues to start receiving JustListed buyer leads. He admits in the beginning he was feeling a bit overwhelmed, but that feeling didn't last long. No sooner than he started using the system to follow up with leads, he started seeing results. In just four days, he is already in contact with four prospective home buyers. He knows that two of these buyers are interested in working with him and the other two have shown interest in working with him at some point down the road. Now that's impressive!

Way to go Long!

An Update from ThinkEquity

Ian and I had the privilege of presenting HouseValues at the ThinkEquity Partners Growth Conference in San Francisco earlier today. The firm and their conference focuses on companies demonstrating strong potential for "outsized" growth, and we were very pleased to present the HouseValues story to a large and engaged audience of institutional investors.

As part of that presentation we announced progress in our stock buy-back program. On our last quarterly earnings call on July 25, we announced that our board had authorized us to repurchase up to two million shares of HouseValues common stock.

Today, we announced that we have already acquired 1.3 million shares, or approximately 5 percent of outstanding shares. To many investors we addressed today, this decisive execution on our buyback program was impressive and clearly demonstrates HouseValues' confidence in our business model and long-term growth.

Measuring success in Minneapolis

Mike Carlier has been a HouseValues subscriber in the Minneapolis area for two years. Mike understands the value of a long-term lead and takes a moment to share some inspiring words about how he’s been successful with JustListed buyer leads. Here’s what he had to say:

“I joined JustListed in August 2004 and started out receiving three buyer leads a month. In 2005, I increased the amount of leads to six and then twelve leads a month. JustListed has delivered considerably more than the guaranteed number of leads. So far, JustListed leads have yielded six buyer transactions and three listings, of which one has sold and closed. My return on investment is about 5 to 1. Business continues to flow in, keeping my pipeline full from the JustListed leads I receive. I believe my success comes from understanding the value of a long-term lead. It is important to build a pipeline and nurture leads for as long as it takes until they are ready to transact. My favorite lead is a valid email address period.

Early in the home search process, most serious Internet shoppers want only information and they want it anonymously. Each additional bit of info, real name, real phone #, real address, etc., increases the possibility that the lead is either not very serious or not very cautious, and may be submitting requests to more than one Web site.

Less information increases the level of relative exclusivity in the lead.

Thank you JustListed for helping me succeed in this business!”

Heating Up in Arizona


Great post on the HouseValues MasterMind forum yesterday from subscriber Joe Bullock outlining his secrets to success:

“I have been with HouseValues and JustListed for about 8 months. I am receiving 40 JustListed leads and 10 HouseValues leads per month. I hired an assistant to keep up with the leads. The market here in Phoenix has slowed quite a bit. I have been spending about $2,000 per month for leads and nothing to show for it. I have looked at some of the other complaints posted and knew I did not want to go down that path. I had to let my assistant go but I kept my subscription with HouseValues and JustListed. I will be closing on $10,000 dollars worth of commission from JustListed and $9,000 from HouseValues this month. My investment is already paid for and anything else I get this year will be gravy. I have been persistent making about 20 to 50 calls a day. I just decided to stay positive and keep plugging. Don't give up and work your referrals.”

HouseValues August Agent of the Month

The Agent of the Month selection committee has chosen Dave Lewis from the greater Birmingham, AL area.

Dave has been in real estate almost two years and has been with HouseValues almost one year. He loves the JustListed system and says it has transformed his business. Dave estimates he’ll close $1 million in volume from JustListed leads this year. He says the system has earned him almost 20 times what he has paid into it.

Dave regularly speaks with other subscribers to offer encouragement, guidance, and advice. He also speaks with prospects about the JustListed system. In addition, he uses MarketLeader to the fullest by adding transactions, prospects and past clients and taking full advantage of the automatic drip campaigns.

Thank you Dave, congratulations on earning the August Agent of Month award.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Happy Birthday Matt Heinz!

Last week our HouesValues team had the honor of celebrating Matt Heinz’s birthday with him. Matt inspires us all with his infectious positive attitude and passion for life.

On behalf of the HouseValues team “Happy Birthday Matt”!

Swapping HomePages Success Stories

Great dialogue on the HouseValues MasterMind forum surrounding HomePages success:

“Congratulations on your deal! Sounds a little like our success with HomePages thus far, after 1.5 months we closed on our first HomePages deal paying for our 3 HomePages subscriptions for the year and then some.”

Prestigious investor joins HouseValues

Bill Miller, manager of the prestigious Legg Mason Opportunity Trust Fund, disclosed today a purchase of 3.5 million shares of HouseValues stock.

While investors are not typically household names, Bill Miller is widely considered one of the world’s smartest long term investors. Miller has achieved an unprecedented market record by investing in great companies on their way up, and holding them for long periods of time. By betting on great companies and focusing on their long term performance, he has come out ahead of just about every other investor in the long run.

Legg Mason now owns 13% of HouseValues, according to their filing today, and we’re very excited to have an investor of this caliber on board with HouseValues.

You can read more about Bill Miller and his funds here, here and here.

Shared Success in Minneapolis

During registration at last week’s seminar in Minneapolis, excitement and inspiration filled the room as we heard about the success of many agents in the area.

Here’s a recap of our conversations, highlighting the success these agents are having with HouseValues:

Success strikes twice at Coldwell Banker Burnet:
Ryan Platzke in Eden Prairie, MN has been a subscriber since December 2003 and has closed 10 transactions.

Craig Van Ausdall in White Bear Lake, MN has been a subscriber since January 2006 and has closed 2 sales and taken 1 listing.

Early Success at Edina Realty Inc:
Gene Roering in Coon Rapids MN has been a subscriber since March 2006 and recently won his first listing.

Scott Stabeck in Wayzata, MN has been a subscriber since March 2006 and has a listing and a sale.

On a roll at PLJ Inc Realty:
Don Allard in Fridley, MN has been a subscriber since October 2005 and has closed 6 transactions, which earned him $25,000 in commissions.

Business is steady for Re/Max Associates Plus agent:
John Zavodnick in Eagan, MN has been a subscriber since September 2005 and has closed 15 transactions.

Making it happen at Marketlink Realty:
Mike Carlier in Eagan, MN has been a subscriber since August 2004 and has closed 9 transactions.

#1 at Realty Executives Northland:
Cindy Riddle in Princeton, MN has been a subscriber since January 2006 and has closed her first transaction.

Success around the corner at Prudential Metrowide Realty:
Anita Shaw in Edina, MN has been a subscriber since April 2006 and is getting ready to close her first transaction.

Optimistic at RE/MAX Affiliates:
Matt Meyer in Minnetonka, MN has been a subscriber since March 2006 and is very optimistic about his experience at HouseValues. He expects great success to come.

It’s a numbers game at Realty Executives "Stoneridge":
Michael Sak in Owatonna, MN has been a subscriber since May 2005 and has closed 12 deals with 750 names in his database.

Turning the Corner

What a great MasterMind forum post from a HouseValues subscriber rounding the corner:

“Let me preface this by saying that I have been with HouseValues since March. I have to admit that despite being a very positive person and having some degree of confidence in my abilities, by July I was wondering why I was spending this kind of money on leads that weren't working out and on a system that wasn't always user friendly. For some reason I saw the potential and I kept going, picking up ideas from my more experienced colleagues, a tip here, a strategy there and it finally happened."

"In the past week I have had three appointments from HouseValues leads. One is probably going to list with me in the next several weeks for about 300K. I got a call this morning from another HouseValues client whom I interviewed with last week and she made an appointment with me for early this coming week to list for 400K! But the big news is I just returned from an appointment where I procured a 600K listing. I do believe that this one will pay for HouseValues for this year. Now all I need to do is get on the plus side of the ledger a bit further. Consider me content in Connecticut!”

Another Month Another Transaction

Check out a day in the life for this new HouseValues agent as he shares his success on the MasterMind forum:

“I consider HouseValues to be my lifeline. I've closed nine transactions in the last eight months and listed three different people in the last three days. I'm so pleased with this lead generator! I have leads coming not only from what I pay for but loan officers, my broker and referrals from previous transactions!”

More Success in Detroit

Our Seattle Seahawks started the NFL season with a win yesterday against the Detroit Lions. It wasn't a pretty win, but it counts.

Still, our friends in Detroit played a strong game, and in honor of the Motor City here's a quick success story from a subscriber in suburban Detroit, who's seeing success with his HouseValues leads:

"In my first week with HouseValues, a lead came through for a CMA. I responded the same day. The prospect emailed me the following day -- ready to list! I met with the home seller and not only did I get the listing, but I’ve also been asked to list a condo -- two listings in week one from the same lead! Fast response works wonders!"

Bob Ermanni
Coldwell Banker Schweitzer
Grosse Pointe Woods, MI

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Success in Chicago

Success abounds in the Windy City! Check out the successful real estate professionals across Chicagoland below. They're using a better marketing strategy to earn more business and make more money!

Six Months and Six Transactions
John and his wife started with HouseValues in March of this year, and in the past six months have already closed four transactions with two more in the works.

An Interview with Donna Largen
In this video interview, Donna talks about her advice for other agents interested in building their business with Internet-enabled consumers.

Use The Entire System, She Says
Kelly Weis has been with HouseValues for two years, and loves the leads she receives. But in this video interview, Kelly talks even more about the broader business support she receives from the system - including prospect management from Market Leader, training, coaching and much more.

Dan Volker's Secret FSBO Strategy
Dan has closed more than 100 transactions with HouseValues, many by using a HouseValues-based strategy to convert FSBOs. He describes his strategy here, and provides links to his FSBO packet for buyers and sellers.

Video Interview with Scott Bliss
Scott Bliss has been a HouseValues subscriber for a couple years. With RE/MAX Action in the Chicago area, Scott credits HouseValues for helping him achieve a 500% ROI on his marketing dollar, with at least eight transactions in just the past six months alone.

More Success throughout Illinois
Read stories and profiles of more agents in Chicago and throughout Illinois who are profiting from HouseValues.

Friday, September 08, 2006

HomePages Slam Dunk Success

HomePages success has recently been a hot topic on the HouseValues MasterMind Forum!

“Today at 10AM we had our first HomePages closing and it paid for my three subscriptions for the rest of the year. If we can close anymore leads it will be purely profits from here on out. An additional prospect is actually putting in an offer today to buy the lot next door, and we've built two good relationships from him (a new buyer from CA and his daughter looking for properties). THANK YOU HOMEPAGES!

We have been a subscriber since February this year and have really enjoyed the quality that we've gotten from HomePages thus far.”

Six months and six transactions

We caught up with John Blin from NetSurf Realty at our Chicago seminar last week, and caught a few minutes of him on video talking about his business, his Internet marketing strategy, and HouseValues.

John and his wife started with HouseValues in March of this year, and in the past six months have already closed four transactions with two more in the works right now. They're very excited about what HouseValues has done for their business, and look forward to much more online business to come.

Congratulations John!

See more straight from John here.

John Zavodnick, RE/MAX Associates Plus

John Zavodnick, an Agent CEO with RE/MAX Associates Plus in Eagen Minnesota, has been with HouseValues for just under a year, but already has 15 transactions under his belt from the service.

In this short video, John talks about how he's using the full HouseValues system, including Market Leader and his personal coach, to learn new ways to attract and convert Internet-savvy home buyers and sellers.

See more from John here.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Fast Success at First Horizon

Congratulations to Erin Patterson from First Horizon Home Loans, who started a mortgage subscription with HouseValues in June of this year and has already closed three deals.

His secret? Quick follow-up and outstanding customer service. And that quick follow-up, Erin says, is made all the easier by the real-time delivery of leads by HouseValues, vs. a lag time he's experienced with other partners.

Great work Erin!

A 90% converstion rate on listing presentations

At a dinner with several Minneapolis-area HouseValues subscribers last week, we heard some fantastic news from Ray Singhal, a long-time HouseValues subscriber who has had significant success with his HomePages subscription this year.

Ray said that he uses HomePages in every listing presentation, giving prospective sellers marketing materials that demonstrate how he will market their home via a television and online campaign centered around HomePages.com. He demonstrates how their home will be a Featured Home on the site, and how Ray's marketing system will help that home get increased prominence to both help it sell fast, and at the highest possible price.

The result? A 90% conversion rate on his listing presentations this year.

Congratulations Ray on your continued success!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Spreading the good word...

We measure our success by the success of our customers, so when we hear good news about our agents, we can’t wait to spread the good word.

The other day, subscriber Michael Gendreau in the Minneapolis area, sent us a quick note sharing his recent success. He shared with us that he has been with HouseValues for eight months and already has closed two deals, has two listings and a referral! He describes HouseValues as one of the most comprehensive and successful tools he’s used so far!

Nice work, Michael!

The Snowball Effect

Fantastic post on the HouseValues MasterMind Forum yesterday about how patience and persistence pays off!

Read On:

I started with HouseValues in January of last year - took four listings and listened to all the advice that things might be slow getting started. So far this year I have taken 7 HouseValues listings and two of them are high-end for our marketplace. In most instances I didn't even have any competition. I didn't start using a coach until about July - and didn't do any drop offs or much follow up until then. I know this activity will surely increase my success rate. My most recent listing (yesterday), wanted to know if I started HouseValues. Don't I just wish!! Thanks HouseValues. You've been a great help to my business.

Early Success in Des Moines, IA

Subscriber Jim Hughes is getting ready to list his first HouseValues prospect after using Market Leader for only one month! The prospect received a phone call from Jim letting him know he would be dropping by with the CMA. The prospect mentioned to Jim that he was in contact with two other agents at the time. Jim followed through on his word and hand-delivered the CMA. As a result he won the listing! He will officially list the home next week! This just goes to show that overcoming the fear of delivering a CMA for any reason can make all the difference!

Congratulations Jim!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

People LOVE Bruce (and his seminars)

Last week we had the privelege of spending a couple days with customers at our seminars in Chicago and Minneapolis. Our customers are just great, and we love it when they come away from our seminars with a fresh set of ideas they can use to impact their business immediately.

This short video clip from Bill Barnes, with RE/MAX City in Chicago, is a quick but powerful example of how HouseValues seminars are both different and valuable to real estate professionals across the country.

Check out Bill's words here.

The Parlay Effect

Great post yesterday on the HouseValues Mastermind Forum, this focused on the fact that one prospect can often lead to several transactions from that initial contact's sphere of influence.

Read on:

I have not seen this addressed on the forum before, I refer to it as The Parlay Effect.

I received my first HouseValues lead that has led to a listing about 1 month ago. I closed on it last week, the price was $125,000. While the sign was up I got a sign call and those buyers made an offer on Saturday. They accepted a counter offer Monday for another $125,000. Those buyers were brought to me as a direct result of me getting the listing on the HouseValues lead. $125,000 is just about average for a home in the Oklahoma City market, all brick on a slab, 3 bed, 2 bath, 1500-1600 sq ft, built in the 1980's. My take on those two homes will be $5640 which just about covers my subscription for the year.

But that is just the first level. The wife of the buyers is a surgical nurse at the local med school hospital. In combination with my mortgage partners we are going to do a Lunch and Learn session with the nurses. They do the mortgage presentation and I do the real estate part. Any buyers from that group will also be a result of the HouseValues lead as will any referrals down the road.

Another direct result of the HouseValues lead is that the sellers were so pleased with the service that they received, they would like me to sell their other home in Tulsa. They bought a new home outside of Tulsa directly from the builder, but still need to sell the other home once they get it fixed up. I told them that although I could sell it for them, I would not be able to service it properly, but that I would find them a Tulsa Realtor to list it. For which I will receive a referral fee.

The Parlay Effect. Where does it end?