An Interview with the Talented Kathy Casarin
By Julie Escobar
I’m so fortunate in my travels to have met and connected with some creative and talented real estate professionals. One of those, who I met through Facebook actually is Kathy Casarin! She’s a full-time REALTOR® with Nasser Real Estate who believes that Real Estate is all about networking, getting yourself and your name out there to be known. Her top advice: “Get testimonials, volunteer, use social media, get involved in your community, children’s school, attend fundraisers, and participate. All that is free and comes back to you in spades. Real Estate is a very social business, people want to feel they know you and can identify with you. So I would tell you to not be shy, or sit around the office waiting for leads to come to you. Instead – get out there and meet your next client!”
Q: Most agents coming out of real estate school have high aspirations and goals, but lack clear direction on how to even get started. What would your top three pieces of advice be to head them in the right direction?
A: First: Distinguish yourself. Find a way to stay apart from what everyone else is doing and ahead of your competition. How? Get designations! You can take the classes online or even travel to do that. I recommend the Certified Negotiation Expert Designation first. How impressive does that sound – right? Another designation that requires more course work but you learn a lot is the Certified Residential Specialist. Once you have your designations, be sure to use them everywhere. On your business cards, social media, advertisements etc. Designations and awards if you can get them from a publication, board etc. help you stand out and validate you. During my first year in the business, I earned RISMedia’s National Top 50 Realtors On the Rise award. During my first listing appointment, I remember getting the listing, because the client said how professional and prepared I was and that having awards and designations meant that I was serious about my business. The results spoke for themselves. Confidence won and I then tackled the market with ease. I was also told I was so much more prepared than the prior agent and they I know were in the business for years. So it’s all up to you be prepared, read, stay up to date on Inman News, Real Estate blogs, feeds…talk up your local market – and BE the expert. Will it take work? Absolutely. But when you take the time to be the source of information, data, and real estate facts in your market, you will blossom.
Next, saturate yourself in social media. Remember this: It all works — you just have to do it! Get on Facebook, create a business page…use Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. Create accounts on Realtor.com, Trulia, Zillow, ActiveRain and start to get your name out there. Once you’re up and running, Google yourself to see how much you fill the internet. You want clients to find you!
If you’re new to Real Estate? Don’t be an Invisible Agent! Take phone time, go after expired listings, offer to hold other agents’ open houses. Get involved in community groups and by all means, make sure people know you’re in real estate. Your business cards and all correspondence should have your professional headshot on them so that people can identify who you are. Write a press release announcing that you’ve recently joined the XX Real Estate Group and submit it to all local media outlets with your headshot. This is free press if you don’t write it for yourself who will? It’s a good start to building your business profile.
Q: What common misconception do you think most agents have in terms of making it in today’s market and what myth-buster would you share with them?
A: Do not speak negatively about the market. In fact, don’t dwell on the negative at all. Every day, no matter what market you’re in, people are out there looking to buy. In tough markets, lazy agents give up — and that means those agents aren’t doing the work – so their market share could be yours. Take the reins! Don’t forget referrals, and past clients either. Build your book of business database from day one and watch it grow. You never know when someone’s cousin, co-worker, or friend needs a home. You want to ensure they remember and then contact you!
Q: Building a Book of Business is one of the smartest things an agent can do, yet so many agents instead continuously “chase new business”. What advice do you have for building a strong sphere of influence?
A: Perfect – since I just mentioned building your book of business! Your book of business is a database that contains past, present and possible future clients. Think of everyone you know, everyone you do business with – get them all into one big database, and use identifiers so you know who is who. (Friend, family, acquaintance, past client, etc.) Use your social media to gain new clients for this book, engage them, with blogs, e-newsletters, post cards, letters and more. And here’s an out of the box idea: always consider doing what nobody else doing. Like attend a bridal expo and host a drawing for a prize to one lucky couple! These people are getting married and will soon be looking to buy their first home! Obtain their contact info for the prize and follow up with them. Congratulate them when they do wed that thoughtfulness costs nothing and will earn you their trust.
Q: Prospecting is a crucial component for agents (new and experienced) – what tips would you give someone new to the process?
A: Get involved, attend local chamber events, network, business to business breakfast meetings where you exchange referrals with professionals in other lines of work. Read! Know your market and what is going on. You are the expert. You are the one they will come to. Example: “I just read this morning on Realtor.com that…”
Q: Follow up is where a lot of agents fall short. Do you have any strategies for helping agents get over the fear of the phone and following up?
A: There are services that help you with this, small fee…tap them. Software that offers to generate newsletters, such as iContact and Constant Contact are great. Think of every Monday as new business Monday!
Q: Any business planning tips that you think would be important to share?
A: Your board most likely offers classes, scholarships, officer and board roles, and awards opportunities. Check into this…it’s an easy way to get involved in your local market and your best bet is to act like a sponge and learn all you can from the well-seasoned agents all around you. Look for a broker than will be a mentor. You know what they say, “there aren’t any stupid questions.” Ask and learn as much as possible. About sales, and about your contract and deadlines.
Q: What are the top 5 tools or sites that you would recommend to new agents just starting to build their business and marketing platforms?
A: Get online! I love Facebook, LinkedIn, Inman News, and REALTOR.com. I also recommend that you create a comprehensive pre-listing presentation package! I created one years ago when I got my start and would mail it out to expireds several times per week. It contained testimonials, information about me, my company, articles I thought pertinent to someone thinking about selling, information on what sells a home, staging information, and more. I put all this together with the intent of addressing and answering any question these potential sellers would ask me during a listing interview. It worked like a charm. I would not only get an interview — once they read through my packet, I got the listing. Why? They weren’t my client and I already delivered way more that all the other agents sending a quick expired letter. This one tool alone helped me to fast-track my start in this business.
Q: Any last bits of advice for agents to take to heart?
A: You build your reputation on how you conduct yourself with each transaction. Always give it your best. It’s not about you, it’s about your client or potential client. Always put yourself in their mindset. Think like they would and this helps you best direct them. It also helps you when showing houses, as you listen to them, you can help narrow down their searches and keep them focused.
Q: How can our readers best connect with you to share their success and referrals?
Thank you Kathy for your powerful insights. You’re a rock star!
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