International Travel Tips For The Best Family Vacations – Part 2

Traveling abroad has it’s own rewards and challenges and it’s good to think and plan ahead for any trip outside the boundaries of your own country if you don’t want unpleasant surprises to crop up. In Part 1 of this article series we covered several tips on what paperwork may be needed as you travel, how to prepare for driving an auto in a foreign country, medical insurance concerns and much more. Now here are more international travel tips that can help you have the best family vacations while you are abroad:* Most major credit cards are often accepted in foreign countries, but just be sure that the ones you have can be used successfully everywhere you intend to go. It may also be a good idea to notify your credit card companies in advance that you are leaving the country and how long you plan to be gone just so they do not flag your account and deny charges due to suspicion of fraudulent activity.* Credit cards are also beneficial to use in many cases since the credit card companies will handle all conversion rates for you, which can save you a lot of money because of not having to make those kind of complicated money conversion calculations on your own whenever you buy anything.* Try to drink bottled water as much as you can to avoid sickness while on the trip. Water quality can vary considerably from one country or even one area to another, so protect yourself by drinking as much bottled water as you can while on the trip. And avoid putting ice cubes in your drinks as they are usually made with local water and will melt in your drink.* If you have some health concerns that require treatment, be sure to carry a copy of your medical history along with you in case it may be necessary to get treatment while you are away.* If you have food allergies, find out how you pronounce the words to describe that food in that country’s language so you can be sure to avoid those foods while you are on your trip.* Remember that Medicare and Medicaid do not pay for any treatment given outside the US, so determine in advance if additional coverage is needed and purchase trip insurance before you leave in that case.* If you carry cash while away, it’s often a good idea to keep it in a security belt rather than a wallet that is in your pocket. There are many pickpockets in foreign countries that are tremendously skilled in separating you from your money if it isn’t well guarded.Be sure to read Part 3 of this article series to get even more valuable international travel tips that can help you have the best family vacations.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Foreclosures and Residential Real Estate Markets

The number of foreclosures will affect both the timing and the severity of the deflation of the Great Housing Bubble. It is foreclosures that drive prices lower quickly. Foreclosures control the timing of the crash because they directly impact the must-sell inventory numbers: the greater the number of foreclosures, the greater the rate of decline in house prices. By early 2008, most real estate markets had already surpassed the peak set in the price decline of the early 90s of Notices of Default and Trustee Sales (foreclosures).Lenders faced high foreclosure rates in the early 90s because they were too aggressive with their lending practices in the rally of the late 80s: it was their own doing. Lenders overheated the market then, and they got burned. Apparently, they did not learn the lesson of history.One of the problems with the collapse of a financial bubble is the causes get incorrectly identified. When the housing market in California collapsed in the early 90s, the recession and job layoffs were blamed for the problems with the housing market. The recession and layoffs came after the housing market was already in trouble. Unemployment slowed the recovery and added to the foreclosure problem, but it was not the primary cause of the entire pricing downturn. The ultra-aggressive lending practices of the Great Housing Bubble caused a huge spike in foreclosures by early 2008. Just as in the early 90s, the increase in defaults and foreclosures is being caused by the past sins of the lenders: karma on grand scale.The importance of the foreclosures cannot be overstated: sellers do not lower their prices voluntarily. Prices do not drop without massive numbers of foreclosures to push them down. The entire “soft landing” argument boils down to one supposition: the number of buyers in the market is able to absorb the must-sell inventory on the market. If this is true, prices do not drop. If this is not true, prices do drop until enough buyers are found to purchase the foreclosures.There are always a number of buyers when prices are declining; some are long-term homeowners who are present in any market, but many are speculators betting on the return of appreciation. These people are few in number, but they buoy the market if there are not many foreclosures. If foreclosure numbers really spike, prices fall until Rent Savers and Cashflow Investors enter the market and absorb the excess.If current trends continue, the number of foreclosures will be too great for long-term owners and speculators to absorb. Foreclosures also control the depth of the decline to some degree. Once prices fall down to their fundamental values, new buyers enter the market and begin to absorb the inventory. If there are not enough buyers at this price level to absorb all the foreclosures, prices could overshoot fundamentals to the downside; in fact, this does tend to happen at the bottom of the real estate cycle.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Copywriting For Real Estate Agents – If You Want to Close More Deals, You Need Powerful Copywriting!

When we talk about copywriting for real estate agents, it pertains not only to sales letters you might be writing and sending to your list but also classified ads, postcards, your website, business cards, everything that is a marketing piece for your services that uses text. Copywriting for real estate agents boils down to writing great sales pitches, essentially.

It’s OK if you have no interest at all in copywriting. Some people love it and others don’t want to even try it. And yet others love it but are horrible at (which is the worst). So you need to decide which category you’re in so you can proceed with having effective copywriting in your business. If you’re one of the many people who despise copywriting in any form, your job is simple; hire someone else to do it. There are tons of freelance writers who perform copywriting for real estate agents. The 2 places I’d point you towards are and Craigslist, in that order. is a great website where freelance writers of all kinds offer their services and you can pick and choose who to hire. There are reviews and background info on most of the freelancers listed who provide copywriting for real estate agents. With Craiglist you need to look under the “Services” category and then under “write/ed/tr8″. There are more professions other than freelance copywriters offering their services there so you’ll need to sift through the listings.

Now, if you’re in the category who loves writing, or trying to write, sales copy but are horrible at, you need to just realize that and hire a professional as I mentioned above. The bottom line is that this is about your business and making money. You need to have the best copywriting you can. If you want to have a hobby of copywriting, do it on the side in another capacity. But for you as an agent trying to get business through marketing and advertising, you need solid, intriguing, eye opening copywriting intertwined throughout your marketing pieces. I know it sounds a bit harsh but just admit that it’s not your “thing” at this moment and hire someone who’s great at copywriting for real estate agents. You’ll save more money and make more money this way, trust me!:)

OK, so that leaves the group who enjoys copywriting and is actually good at it. How do you know if you’re good at it? Well, you can ask your friends and family to read some pieces you have and hear their opinions. Better yet, if you’ve been copywriting for a little while and have had good results from it, that’s the best indicator. There are entire books on copywriting (like Dan Kennedy’s, “The Ultimate Sales Letter “) so we’ll go over the foundational steps and get you off to a good start, on your way to raking in the dough.

The first thing you need to do is know your audience. That will dictate how you write, what words you use and the style you incorporate in your copywriting. In your case, you’re writing to consumers of real estate. But that could be segmented even further into high-end homes, first time home buyers, VA clients, etc. Each segment will relate and act differently than another, generally speaking. For example, if your target market is first time home buyers, they will typically be more youthful and respond differently than would 5+ million dollar home owners. You’ll write differently to each on of these categories. But don’t get too crazy with this because your market may just be a geographic area and not necessarily different demographics.

The main point about copywriting for real estate agents is that your prospects are consumers, as opposed to solely business professionals like doctors, so you can write in a personable, conversational way (for the most part). What I’m trying to say is let your personality shine through your copywriting! The second thing you need to do is know your brand. You’ll want to incorporate your brand and its style in your copywriting. If you’re brand is all about elegance, for example, you’ll want your writing to reflect that upper-end, “hoity toity” style.

If your brand is about being youthful and hip, you need to write in such a style that people recognize it and differentiate you from other agents out there based on your copywriting. Basically, you just need to bring your brand into your copywriting. Get your personality in there, which is probably closely related to your brand. The third item to deal with, regarding copywriting for real estate agents, is knowing what message you’re trying to convey and how to word that message. This is the essence of copywriting.

Always keep this in mind: talk ABOUT your prospect, not TO them. What I mean is always talk about what they’re thinking, feeling, wanting. Don’t talk to them about you and how great you are. They want to be talked about, not talked to. Hit their emotions. Find out what they desire and write in such a way that it grabs them and hits them in the heart. Put yourself in their shoes at all times. When you write something, clear your head and pretend you are your prospect. Read the piece to yourself and see if it hits you, if it grabs you or if you throw it away and keep walking. Always be thinking like your prospect and write ABOUT them and not TO them. Relate to them, on a personal and emotional level.

The last item we’ll discuss is the organization of copywriting for real estate agents; the technical side of writing sales copy. There are 3 main components (actually there are a lot but these are the most important) that are in almost every marketing piece from postcards to letters to text ads…

1) Headlines
2) Benefits
3) Call-to-Action

Headlines are so vital to the success of your sales copy but overlooked by so many. Everyone says don’t judge a book by its cover but we all do. And that’s what a headline is; a cover. For example, think about when you go to Barnes & Noble and look under the cooking section for a book on “Thai Stir Fry“. You’re flipping through these books, reading the titles (headlines) and either reading more or putting it back. You’re making a split decision to continue or stop based on the title (yes, the images come into play but that’s another topic). If the title sounds good, you’ll usually pick up the book and read the back. If the title stinks, you won’t think twice and you’ll move on to the book next to it.

Another example is to look at the job ads on Craig’s List. All you get is a headline and you have to click it to see what the actual job is that’s being offered. Do you sit there and click on every single headline? No. You browse through the headlines and click on the ones that are intriguing enough to do so. Your headlines need to tug at your prospect’s emotions. Make them curious. Make them surprised. Make them want to know what will happen next. Are you seeing what this is all about? As for benefits, those are your golden nuggets. You might have heard this before, “emphasize the benefits, not the features“, or “features tell but benefits sell“. There’s a gigantic difference between features and benefits and you need to know this cold in order to have success in writing your own sales copy.

A feature would be “5 bedrooms“. A benefit would be “5 spacious bedrooms so your kids aren’t yelling at each other trying to share a bed“. The feature just says what it is. The benefits say what it does for the prospect; in this case it relieves them of screaming, fighting kids. A benefit does something for someone. There could be an “oversized dining room” but that won’t catch anyone’s attention unless you describe what that oversized dining room will do from them, which is enabling them to have lasting memories when the whole family can come over for Thanksgiving and have dinner together.

Make sense? You need to write benefits that hit your prospects and not just tell them stuff that passes them by. When writing small classified ads, you need to focus on a strong headline and benefits that cause the reader to react. When designing your postcards, the headline is still your top priority along with solid benefits but you need to incorporate color and images that your prospects relate to.

When you’re writing sales letters or emails, a good outline to follow would be an opening paragraph that draws your reader in and makes them actually want to read more, not toss it threw the shredder. Next, you’ll want to identify with your prospect about the issue they may be facing or that you’re trying to help them with. Relate to them on an emotional level. Reiterate how they feel about it so they know you can relate to them. You’ll want to follow that section with a paragraph about the problem their facing that they need you for. Talk about the problem, not that you can help them just yet. The next section will be the solution you have to that problem and you’ll end it with directing them on what to do next.

Which leads me to the 3rd main component…

Have a clear and concise “call-to-action”! Tell your prospect what you want them to do. If it’s a sales letter, tell them at the end that they need to sign up today for their “free access to….whatever”. Whatever you’re offering them, tell them how to get it. Make it easy and clear to them. If they don’t know where to go or what to do, that spells disaster for your marketing campaign. Your results will go straight down the toilet.

As you can tell, there’s a lot to writing really good, solid, effective sales copy. But we’ve touched on the fundamentals, which should get you started. As I said, there are entire books on the subject so I’d check out Dan Kennedy’s, “The Ultimate Sales Letter”. He’s a fantastic author and super successful in this area. Remember, this is a skill that you can hone and improve on. It’s not something you’re just born with. If you have interest in writing your own sales copy, don’t give up. Just learn and practice, practice, practice!

Posted in Real Estate | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off