The ToolkitCMA™ Features You Need to Know

C21_CMAToolkit_Blog-HomeAs part of our promise to be smarter, bolder, faster, the CENTURY 21® System now provides its agents with the ToolkitCMA™ at no additional cost. The product, which is used by over 100,000 agents across the country and priced at around $200, is just one of the many resources that CENTURY 21 offers in order to support its members at the local level.

Among its features that you can view on the right, the ToolkitCMA offers the following:

  • 98% Market Coverage
  • Mobile & Tablet Branded Presentations
  • MLS Interface
  • Marketing Flyers

C21_CMAToolkit_Blog-FlyersWhat does this mean for you as an agent? Professional quality marketing, along with easy-to-read content from virtually any MLS in North America. Here, we’ve provided small sample of the various styles and formats in which you can create flyers, but you’ll find even more options one you’ve signed in under your account.

Of course, the ToolkitCMA allows for customization, as seen in the preferences tab of the program below. This way, agents can tailor the product to their individual work.

C21_CMAToolkit_Blog-PreferencesRemember, as part of the CENTURY 21 ® System, you’ll receive all of this at no additional cost. This is just one way that our brand gives you the edge you need to succeed in real estate.

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Lessons from Mom That Help You Be a Better Agent

This Mother’s Day, CENTURY 21 ® wants to showcase the values that the women in our lives have taught us to uphold, since they align with the ones that make our brand what it is today. These life lessons from Mom, Grandma, or even your Aunt, not only guide you through your personal life, but may also help you be a better agent.

  1. Do Your Best

While you may have first heard this saying in school, laboring over a late night project or term paper, this phrase fully applies to the real estate world. As an agent, you should always present your best work, whether it’s in the form of fully researched market analyses and listing presentations or well-staged open houses to elicit offers from potential home buyers. While only you can put in the effort, CENTURY 21 offers the support and resources you’ll need to make Mom proud.

  1. Learn from Others

Opportunities for growth aren’t just limited to the classroom, and Mom emphasized this at your young age when talking about your friends, coaches, and relatives. Now, take this lesson to heart when networking. Everyone you meet, from clients to fellow agents to industry leaders, has something to offer. It’s your job to discover what that may be with genuine conversation and active listening. Attend networking events, join social media groups, and chat up potential home buyers during open houses.

  1. Embrace Change

Moving to college may have been daunting when you were younger, but Mom was right there supporting you. Use this tactic with your clients who might be making an especially big or stressful move. Focus on the positives of the experience and instill confidence by showing them a new home sweet home that’s a perfect fit for their future life.

  1. Put Family First

Mom didn’t even have to mention this since she practiced it each and every day of your childhood. Today, make sure your clients know how important family is to you, by fully understanding and accommodating their family needs. For example, if you’re working with a couple who expects kids in the future, focus on neighborhoods with nearby schools, parks, and family friendly recreational facilities. You can even ask them which structural features are important to them when raising kids, such as the master bedroom placed close to the other bedrooms, or a finished basement that provides extra room for activities.

A strong career in real estate may be as simple as going back to the basics with these four core lessons. CENTURY 21 thanks all the women who have helped shaped our agents with their wisdom. Happy Mother’s Day!

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Popular Real Estate Hashtags

When you have a new house to sell, you can maximize the momentum behind posting its listing through social media. However, posting can get complicated; you want the right people to see AND interact with your content. To target the right people, use hashtags. They’re an easy way for someone to look up a specific subject (in this case, homes for sale) and find relevant content all in one spot. So what hashtags do you use, and when? Here’s a breakdown.

  1. #RealEstate, #Realtor, or #Realty

Let’s start with the basics. These three hashtags are the most obvious, which means that you’ll probably be pulling from the largest pool of users. For example, #RealEstate has been used over 3 million times on Instagram alone. When using these tags on their own, your content could get lost in the sheer number of posts. So what should you add next?

  1. #ForSale and #NewHome

These two hashtags are very popular. #ForSale might just as commonly feature a home being sold as it could a car. #NewHome could also come from people who have just moved in. Their popularity leaves an opportunity for you – especially when using them in tandem. Add the two consecutively, such as in #NewHome #ForSale, and people may easily find your listing.

  1. #DreamHome

This hashtag essentially shows off the beauty of the home you have to offer. So, if you have a great listing, #DreamHome is the perfect hashtag to use – especially on Instagram, which focuses primarily on photography. People might search for this hashtag at any point in their process (because, who doesn’t like to dream?). Consistently post great photos with #DreamHome, and you may build up your following, attract some long-term clients, and potentially find buyers for other homes you’re listing.

  1. #OpenHouse

This is an essential hashtag for the event. Posting a photo and hoping that someone will make an appointment isn’t always a reliable plan, but putting that news out on social may improve your turnout. It’s also a good practice to add the neighborhood or city of the open house as a secondary hashtag, to make it easier to find for potential buyers.

  1. #Renovation, #HomeMakeover, #OldHouseCharm

These hashtags are getting more into a niche market. If you’re selling a home that is a fixer-upper, this is a great way to go. Many people look specifically for homes that need a little renovation help – either to save money, or to flip. This way, being upfront with your hashtags may help you in the long run.

  1. #MillionDollarListing

On the opposite end of the spectrum, agents selling expensive real estate can take a page from the luxury lifestyle when trying to land a deal in the seven figures. #MillionDollarListing consistently appears on lists of the best real estate hashtags to use – and for good reason. Photography of luxury homes performs well on social media.

Hashtags can be incredibly useful in real estate if done right. Do you have a favorite hashtag to add to your tweets or Instagram posts?

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How to #Hashtag

The (#) is an ever-evolving symbol. Some may remember it as the pound sign. Others may think of it as the number sign. A small number may even know it as the octothorp. Today, you know the sign as a hashtag, a social media feature that may benefit your online marketing presence as a real estate agent. In this article, you’ll learn the basics of hashtag use, including which platforms suit them best and the difference between trending and custom tags. You’ll also hear about the dos and don’ts of hashtags such as the pitfalls of overuse and tagging without research.

What are Hashtags?
A brief refresher: Hashtags serve as keywords in a search function. You can identify one by the pound sign (#) followed by a word or phrase, as in #RealEstate. When used this way, hashtags group pieces of digital content on social media that share a common theme to create searchable topics. So, a search for #RealEstate on Twitter gathers all recent and popular content with that tag in one location for you to view.

Which Platforms Support Them?
Hashtags may be used on any social media post, but only on certain platforms. Instagram, Twitter, Google+, and Vine are all ideal because users can easily search for content and receive a list of posts containing a particular tag. Facebook has a similar search function, but doesn’t work as well due to a high number of private profiles. In turn, this makes tagging less prevalent on that network. Hashtags are not supported on Pinterest, Snapchat, or LinkedIn, so avoid using them on those sites altogether.

How Do I Label Content?
All hashtags should follow a certain format, and each platform has different guidelines for them. When using ones that contain multiple words, as in #RealEstate, do not separate them with a space, punctuation, or symbol. This means that signs like the ampersand (&), dollar sign ($), and even the pound sign itself (#) should not follow the hashtag. While there is no actual limit to length, six characters are optimal . Stay away from longer tags, as they’re harder to read. In terms of number of hashtags, you may find more engagement on Twitter with just two. You can add more on Instagram posts, since the platform allows up to 30. However, it’s not recommended to use such a high number because they may make your post seem cluttered. On Facebook, however, your content may actually fare better without any hashtags at all, due to their unwieldiness within the platform.

Which Hashtags do I Use?
Since the basic function of hashtags is to reflect the content of the post, consider descriptive terms. For example, a photo of a loft in Boston might have the tags #Boston and #loft in it. As a realtor, you may want to incorporate industry terms, such as #Property, #ForSale, #JustListed, or #DreamHome to reach others interested in real estate. Make sure to search for the hashtag before using it to avoid obscure or even controversial topics. A seemingly innocent phrase may not be so. Try a search for your local area (#Boston, #Springfield, etc.) plus #RealEstate in order to find popular local tags your potential clients use. You could also utilize tools to find popular hashtags in your area, but only use ones relevant to your content. Your loft photo won’t benefit from the popular hashtags #foodie or #love.

Now that you know the ins and outs of hashtags, you can start using them like a pro!

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How to Manage Your Personal Brand

As a real estate agent, you represent something more than the company that employs you – yourself. After all, you’re the one who faces clients and deals with their needs on a daily basis. Just like the logo printed on your business card, your personal brand should be well maintained in order for clients to perceive you in a positive light. No doubt you’re already working on this with friendly conversation and trustworthy insights during open houses, but there’s more to do. Here are ways to manage your personal brand and create something that’s unique to you.

Get to Know Yourself
You can’t portray the image you want if you don’t know what it is. Take the time to sit down and write down the qualities you want to embody, as well as the ones you don’t want. Consider which ones you already own and play them up as your strengths. For the traits you want to have, make a clear plan how you’ll work on incorporating them into your personality. This list of qualities should serve as your edge. They are distinguishing factors that set you apart from your competition.

Develop Your Values
Most companies have core values that determine the personalities of their brands. Follow the example and develop a set of solid principles for yourself. Are you always timely? Do you prioritize transparency? Or would you rather highlight how you stay current on market trends? Once you decide on these values, don’t keep them a secret – let clients know what they are and how they define your personal brand. That way, clients will have concrete evidence of what you can provide to them.

Deliver Consistently
After you’ve defined who you are and who you want to be, stick to that. Your core values should be guidelines for how you do business. If you promise to be punctual, always deliver on that promise. If you have a bad day, as everyone does now and then, and for some reason don’t live up to the standards you’ve set, admit to it. Acknowledge what you’ve done, apologize for the less than stellar service, and offer a solution to ensure it won’t happen again. Clients might be more understanding of a mishap if you take full responsibility for it, rather than explain it away with an excuse.

Maintain Online Accounts
Social media is no longer just for you and your circle of friends. Assume that potential clients can see every post or photo on any account, and that you can’t delete anything permanently once it’s out there. Protect your image by only showing posts that you would deem appropriate in a professional setting. Also, set your Facebook privacy settings so that you must approve all friends’ posts before the public can see them, in order to control the type of content associated with your name. To be more proactive, consider creating a professional Facebook page. There, you can focus on information relevant to your business, such as helpful articles and current events in real estate. For example, CENTURY 21® has some valuable resources you can share, from mortgage calculators to a real estate focused blog.

Welcome Feedback
No one’s perfect, so don’t expect that you will be. However, you can still strive for perfection by regularly looking for ways to improve. For this reason, feedback serves as an invaluable asset to target your weaknesses. There are a few ways to ask how you’re performing as an agent, depending on who you’re asking and in what type of situation. Feel free to ask other trusted agents on a casual level how you’re perceived in the field. For clients, try emailing a questionnaire after you’ve helped them with their real estate needs, but always ask their permission to do so first.

Get started today on developing your personal brand with clear qualities and maintained values. You may find you have a more positive perception among clients because of it.

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The Science of Selling

You know that there’s more to selling than charisma and a charming smile. Even when you’re showing the best house on the market, you have to stage it to appeal to potential home buyers or else they might not see its true value. However, there’s even more that comes into play than just a beautifully set living room. Here are some science-backed techniques that may help your clients make a decision when it comes to buying.

Emotions Come First
Though general advice consistently warns against letting emotions get in the way of decisions, psychology studies report that it still happens. Home buying decisions are emotional at their core: Clients are considering whether they can envision a future there. However, these same studies show that the buyers won’t admit to this reasoning. Instead, they want facts to corroborate their feelings. As an agent, use this information to wow clients initially with a warm, welcoming open house, and then further impress them with the reasonable price, new plumbing, or other positive concrete facts that could support a decision to live there.

Less is More
The notorious “analysis paralysis” is, in fact, true. When confronted with too many choices, overwhelmed decision makers freeze up and tend to withdraw from the situation. Don’t let this happen to your clients by inundating them with superfluous information. Only show them listings that you genuinely believe would be a good fit for them. If you show them houses that don’t meet their preferences with the good intention that they might be interested, you may be doing a disservice to both yourself and to your clients.

Outside Opinions Matter
Buying a home may be one of the biggest purchases of your clients’ lives, so they may not want to feel alone in the situation. Since they may be anxious about committing to something so big, it’s important for them to have support from others. Give them time to digest information and discuss it with their partners, family, or friends. Even better, ask a neighbor to attend an open house to answer your clients’ questions as an unbiased third party.

The Price Isn’t Always Right
Homeowners often succumb to the idea that everyone will see their home in the same loving light as they do. However, as the agent you should know that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Whether you’re advising sellers on a listing, or working with home buyers through a negotiation, keep in mind that most people tend to overestimate their asking price by 5 to 10%.

Keep these things in mind when working with your clients, and you may find selling to be just a bit easier.

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5 Tips for Email Marketing

As a real estate agent, email marketing can be an invaluable tool in creating and maintaining relationships. Well-executed emails can help secure new clients, communicate information to current ones, or even rekindle the interest of those from a previous time. However, there’s some strategy behind it. The following five tips may make your online messaging more effective.

1. Acquire an Email List

Collect a directory of clients’ contact information by asking them specifically for their email address. From there, email them with a choice to opt in to regular content. This method ensures that everyone on the list is interested in receiving your information. Unsolicited emails may tarnish your reputation as a real estate agent or come across as spam. To encourage people to opt in, use gated content, or content that can only be seen after entering an email address. For example, e-books, webinars, or virtual tools should be available only after a client has chosen to receive regular emails from you.

2. Provide Valuable Information

Send an email flyer about recent home listings and closings that may genuinely be of interest to the email recipient. Additionally, send a newsletter with data on the housing market or tips about real estate to demonstrate your expertise. Think: market trends, real estate how-to guides, and government initiatives for buyers and sellers. Make sure to send these sparingly though—no more than once a week—so clients have time to digest the information.

3. Be Concise

Short, digestible messages are optimal, since most emails are read on smartphones that make blocks of text intimidating. Subject lines should also be short, specific, and interesting enough to entice the reader. Aim to have them between 28-39 characters, and definitely no more than 50. The body of the email should take no longer than two minutes to read through. To fit this requirements, try cutting out sentences that don’t pertain directly to the crux of your email.

4. Be Personal

Your email should sound like it’s coming from a trusted ally, not a salesperson. Create this tone by asking questions and using the client’s first name. Focus on using the word “you” more often to shift attention towards your client. Also, always sign the email with your first and last name rather than just your company’s name, and provide additional ways for them to contact you.

5. Send Transactional Emails

Sometimes simply known as thank you emails, transactional emails can be a great way to show clients you appreciate their interest. If someone has opted into your mailing list or responds positively to your newsletter by requesting more information, send a thank you email. It will show that you care about your customers and that your email marketing is genuine.

Almost all real estate agents participate in email marketing, so don’t get left behind! Follow these tips so your efforts may stand out.

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What Singles Look For in a Home

Single and ready to…own a home? Today, more and more people are looking to buy a home before they enter into relationships. In 2015, singles made up over 20% of the home buying market, and that number may grow this year. As a real estate agent, are you ready to cater to this growing demographic? Here are some things to remember that may help you navigate this type of home buyer.

Their Safety is Top Priority
While most people generally value their safety, singles may make it a higher priority since they will more likely be leaving and returning home on their own. When showing a home to potential home buyers, make sure to highlight aspects that may make them feel more secure. These can include structural features such as an attached garage and window locks, as well as neighborhood qualities like well-lit streets and bustling businesses nearby. Guide them towards properties in close-knit communities, since neighbors there may be more on the lookout for each other’s well-being.

They’re Not High Maintenance
With only one source of income, potential home buyers may not want to spend the money on home maintenance tasks. While this may differ from client to client, start with listings that won’t require too much upkeep. For example, show houses with no paint siding, which cuts down on the need for additional coats. Also consider simple landscaping, so a homeowner won’t have to do much more than mow the lawn and water a small garden occasionally. Something more intricate outside of the house may look nice, but can involve more gardening than one’s willing to commit to financially.

They Like to Have Fun
Unlike their coupled counterparts, single homeowners may not be ready to settle down and stay in at night. After all, with no tykes to tuck in early, they can stay out late. Show them properties in areas that have a nightlife or cultural scene, such as one with bars, restaurants, museums, or recreation centers. To narrow down on their interests, ask single clients about their hobbies and how they like to meet new people. Their answers may help you gauge which businesses they would like to have nearby.

An Agent Relationship is Key
Couples who buy a home together can turn to each other to bounce ideas and seek advice. However, a single home buyer who doesn’t have the same access to a sound second opinion must rely on you for advice. Most experienced single homeowners have stated that they left agents because they didn’t listen to what he or she was saying, ranging from home preferences to safety concerns. Combat this stereotype by hearing out your clients and restating their messages back to them so nothing gets lost. If you focus more on the nature of your relationship with a specific client, he or she may feel more comfortable when it comes time to make a decision.

These considerations should serve as a guide, but they are not all inclusive. All clients are different, so remember to talk to yours and listen to their needs in order to figure out what is best for them.

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Removing Carpet: 3 Things to Know

Old carpet can be an eyesore for many homeowners, as it can collect dust and age the room. If you are put off by the wall-to-wall covering, consider removing it. You might improve your home aesthetics and increase your home’s value by doing so. Here are three things to know before you get started.

1. Decide What to Do with Your Old Carpet

Figure out what you want to do with your carpet before you remove it, so you’ll know whether to save the integrity of the material while working on it. An ecofriendly option is to recycle it, but that may cost an additional fee. However, if you think this is right for you, you can find out more from the Carpet America Recycling Effort. You can choose to donate if your carpet is in good condition, or even save it for yourself to repurpose for other household uses, like a cushion for your knees when cleaning low spaces or for a pet’s scratching post.

2. Prep the Room and Gather Tools

You may want to have a crowbar, pliers, gloves, utility knife, dust mask, and knee pads on hand. First, vacuum the carpet to cut down on dust and debris. If you can, temporarily remove doors that swing open into the room to avoid possible obstructions. This might also make new carpet placement easier, if you’re choosing to do that. Then, remove all furniture from the room.

3. Start in the Corner and Roll as You Go

Dislodge one of the corners of the carpet with pliers. You’ll find it’s attached to a piece of wood underneath, known as a tack strip. Once the carpet is loose from that, pull it away from the rest of the walls. If you’re not worried about saving the carpet, cut it into smaller more manageable strips to roll it up one section at a time. Beneath the carpet you’ll find a cushioning pad, which you can remove by the same method.

While these tips may make carpet removal easier for you, remember that you can always call a professional for assistance, if any part of the job seems too daunting.

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How to Incorporate Oscars Glamour into Your Home

If you love to watch the glitz and glam that surrounds awards ceremonies, then this weekend might be the most wonderful time of your year. Sure, you can host a viewing party to “ooo” and “aah” at celebrities’ outfits, but have you considered making your house just as swoon worthy? Try some of these tips to incorporate a glam style into your home that may last longer than just the awards night.

Roll Out the Red Carpet
An actual red carpet might be a bit much, but you can still hint at the iconic pathway with splashes of its deep, red hue. Follow the 60-30-10 rule, where your main decorating color takes up 60 percent of the space, your secondary color takes up 30 percent, and your accent color, 10 percent. Keep the red carpet vibe as an accent, and bump up it up to with pillows, throws, and candles in the vibrant color.

Dress Up in Black Tie
If you feel elegant when you dress in black, why don’t you apply the same dress code to your home? Consider painting a few pieces of furniture, such as a kitchen table set or a dresser. Be sure to apply a deglosser beforehand, so that the surface can accept new paint. Always use gloves, and work in a well ventilated area.

Shine like a Diamond
While diamonds aren’t the most practical item to incorporate into your home, you can capture their light reflecting qualities with a few tricks. Hang mirrors near light sources, such as near a lamp or across from a window and replace your coffee table with a glass one. The light reflected from the mirror can flow through the glass and potentially brighten up the whole room.

Set a Gold Standard
A bit of glittering gold is sure to catch the eye of anyone in your home, so add some sparkle where you can. Replace the hardware on cabinets and drawers with gold metallic ones — it’s an easy project that can refresh the whole look and feel of your room. Most hardware will have a clear coating to protect the metal from oxidation, so be sure to protect that outer layer when cleaning. Use a soft damp cloth to wipe them down and stay away from acid based cleaners.

With this décor style, your home may be award-worthy every day of the year.

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