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By Liane Luckett

RISMEDIA, Dec. 31, 2007-As the holidays and long winter months quickly approach, December brings many real estate professionals extra time to anticipate their success for the upcoming year. Instead of facing a bleak and potentially slow month of business and leads, utilize this exclusive downtime to your advantage.

Try these 10 actions to lay the groundwork for a successful and profitable 2008:

1. Create a specific, realistic and competitive business plan for next year and stick to it! Develop short term goals for each season and set aside four specific days each year to assess how you’re reaching these goals. You want to make sure to set goals that help sustain your drive and vision of success for the whole year. Don’t push yourself too far and remember that a lot of your learning will come from the mistakes you make.

2. Define your marketing niche and go for it! Seek out a professional to help you focus on a particular market segment if you are unaware of successful marketing techniques. Look at the area surrounding your properties. Should you appeal to expecting parents? New college graduates? Retiring, older adults? What generation are you trying to target? Make sure your advertising appeals to whichever market you’ve selected. If you’re very ambitious, look into becoming a short sales expert. The short sale occurs when the net proceeds from the sale of a home are not enough to cover the sellers’ mortgage obligations and closing costs. Lenders will pay a reasonable commission to the real estate professional as an incentive to get into short selling.

3. Incorporate new technology into your Web site. Add moving graphics, virtual tours and request forms for potential clients to elicit more information from you. Ensure that the message “I’m available to help you” is loud and clear. The more accessible you are, the more opportunity you give potential clients to make contact with you. Remember – people need a fast response to an e-mail or phone call. If they don’t hear from you within a couple of hours, they will find someone else to answer their questions.

4. Make phone calls. Set a minimum number of phone calls to make each day and stick to it! Figure out how many phone calls you usually make during the busy season and double that number during the winter months. Call past clients to wish them a happy holiday season and check in with them to see if they have any friends or relatives looking to buy or sell a home. Call your prospects and figure out if they are hot or cold leads. The stronger the connection you have with a potential client, the more likely they will choose you to guide them through the home buying process.

5. Host a seminar. Choose a topic that is pertinent to the local community.

6. Volunteer. By getting involved in the local community you’ll be able get your name out and make connections. Community service gives you the chance to express yourself outside of work and to develop the personal relationships that you need to promote growth and future referrals. The more people that recognize your face, the more likely they are to turn to you for real estate advice.

7. Master your home staging techniques. Read a few books or articles on what real estate professionals are doing now in terms of staging and make sure that you’re equipped to do the same for your customers. Look into a home staging training program that upon completion will provide you with a certificate as an Accredited Staging ProfessionalTM. This certificate provides you with a competitive edge and yet another free service that you can offer to potential clients.

8. Attend open houses. Take time to see what’s available in your area so you are aware of the close competition and how other real estate professionals are selling. (While you are perusing the open houses note the other real estate professional’s home staging techniques for tip 7.)

9. Improve your ad copy. By practicing your writing techniques you will increase your ability to make your ads more appealing. Focus on spelling out amenities and highlighting any benefits that homeowners would want to find in their ideal home. Make sure the description is not vague and avoid euphemisms. Practice by reading current listings and try to spruce them up.

10. Get a designation or certificate. The more qualifications you can add to sell yourself and widen your client base as the best agent in your area, the better. There are several different areas that you can get a designation in from becoming an Accredited Buyer Representative to becoming a Certified Real Estate Brokerage Manager. Turn a professional weakness around by becoming an expert!

After exhausting this list, you have covered many bases for the upcoming year and surely you will enjoy some new degree of success. But your improvement doesn’t stop here. Throughout the year continuously refer to these top 10 tips and ensure that you’re updating and adapting your business techniques and personal approach to becoming the best real estate professional you can!

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