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By Ralph Roberts

RISMEDIA, Nov. 19, 2007-Last Monday, 50 of the top real estate agents and team leaders from across the country met at the Bally Hotel on the Strip in Las Vegas, Nevada for a meeting of the minds. Bill Barrett, a former CRS instructor and a national speaker, hosted the annual retreat to promote the sharing of ideas among industry leaders.

During this strategy swap meet, top producing agents and team leaders had plenty to share. Following are some of the ideas that emerged from the conference:

Sam Miller teams up with local businesses to offer discount coupons. Over the course of three months, he picked up eight sales by mailing 15% off furniture coupons to 2500 prospective clients.

Ron Campbell recommended taking classes to become a loss mitigator. One of five clients will choose to list and sell their homes with you, while one or two more will use your services to modify the loan. Either option generates additional revenue for you. You can obtain training through Titanium Solutions at

Several agent teams have added REO departments to their business. The department typically consists of an agent and assistant who specialize in working with mortgage banks and asset management companies to obtain listings. With foreclosures at an all time high, these REO departments are proving to be lucrative ventures.

Phil Herman set up his business like a doctor’s office. Instead of driving out to a prospective client’s home, clients come into his office and fill out a form. Then Herman comes in at the end for the consultation. The fact that he has never seen the home never comes up in the conversation. Herman also mentioned that he had audited 500 appraisals against his own CMAs and discovered that the appraisals are, by far, more accurate. He recommends that clients obtain an independent appraisal (for $195 to $395) and offers to reimburse them 10%, saving him the time of pulling together the CMAs and making it easier to set the right asking price.

In the past, agents would instruct sellers to pack, give, or throw away belongings to reduce clutter, but now far more agents recommend that sellers hire a stager to properly stage their homes prior to listing them. Some top producing agents even have a professional stager as part of their team. Brandon Fairbanks has a houseful of furniture he lends to clients who need to furnish their homes.

Joseph Brazen presented his innovative new office setup. He purchased a restaurant and then set up his office in the same building, increasing traffic tremendously. People show up to eat, watch ball games, and meet friends and family for dinner, often taking some time out to visit Brazen’s office to discuss their real estate needs.

At last year’s retreat, only two agents were marketing on the Internet via blogging. This year, 10 of the 50 top producing agents reported that they had their own blogs, and the remaining 40 were planning to launch blogs in 2008.

Advertising SOLD homes generated a considerable amount of discussion. When sellers are in the market for a listing agent, they want an agent with a proven track record-an agent who has sold plenty of homes in the area. The consensus was to focus 80% of advertising on SOLD homes, 20% on current listings, and perhaps leave one open spot for your prospective client.

I offered a tip on advertising economically in newspapers via remnant ads. Most newspapers plug in remnant ads when doing their final layout of the paper and they have some blank spaces to fill. You can purchase this remnant space for a fraction of what you would normally pay. The only hitch is that your ad needs to be ready to go well in advance and there’s no guarantee that it will make it in the paper. Using remnant ads, however, you can do a lot more advertising for less money.

Jean Shine sold 600 homes in her town where a total of 2200 homes were sold. One of her secrets is that she centers much of her charitable work on supporting veteran’s organizations-the town happens to be the home of Fort Hood.

Alan Shafran is well-known for his use of technology in making his real estate business more efficient. His latest addition is a service called SimulScribe that converts voice-mail messages into text and e-mails him the message. The transcription is reported to be 95% accurate.

Nearly everyone at the meeting was planning on retooling their charitable giving this year by weaving it into their business plan. Instead of giving at the end of the year, these top producers are planning on giving throughout the year. After all, charitable organizations need money year round.

What’s most impressive about the Annual Superstar Conference is how generous the top producers really are in sharing their insights, visions, and strategies. It really proves the age old adage that when you give, you receive much more in return.

Ralph R. Roberts, official spokesperson for Guthy-Renker Home and author of Advanced Selling For Dummies (John Wiley & Sons), can be contacted at 586.751.0000, or by e-mail at

For more information, visit