Make Every Deal a
Pro Tips & Winning Strategies
WIN BIG WITH REILLY, REALTORS®
As your broker, I want to see YOU win. I want you to win more clients, more listings, and ultimately, more sales. In fact, I want you to win BIG, because when you win, your clients win, and REILLY, REALTORS® wins!
As a 15 year REALTOR®, I’ve learned a few secrets to success in real estate. I’ve created this guide to share these important strategies and tips that will help you succeed in your career and make every deal a win-win.
Whether you are new or have been with us for some time, I want you to succeed and get the most benefit from your association with REILLY, REALTORS®. Please read this guide in detail and let us know if you have any questions, or if there is anything more we can do to help you have an incredible career with us!
- Michael Reilly
You and your clients have access to the best technology in the business including a highly personalized, lead capturing website with an abundance of content, plus tools to manage your relationships.
As a REALTOR®, you're running your own business. As a REILLY, REALTOR®, you're not on your own! Take advantage of the creative marketing, leading-edge technology, and fanatical support we offer, and build lasting relationships with our team of experienced agents. Let's make being part of the REILLY team rewarding - financially, professionally, and personally!
Take Advantage of our Services
You and your listings are center stage with a strong online presence, printed materials, custom buyer and seller guides, seasonal marketing, and more.
You have a hands-on broker, dedicated support staff, and friendly team of like-minded agents to help you run your business well and have fun while you're at it!
As a REALTOR®, you are expected to be an expert in the process of buying and selling real estate, therefore, you must fully understand the process and terminology! Be careful to use the correct terms to avoid confusion. For example, don't say we have a contract or deal if you don't have signatures - at that point, you are still in the offer stage. Another common misunderstanding is thinking Title has to have the contract for it to be enforceable. Once all parties have signed during the Acceptance/Delivery stage and everyone is notified, you have a contract!
Executed Date Noted & Effective Date Established
All Parties Notified - You have a contract!
Your listing? Mark it as Pending in the MLS!
A counteroffer negates the original offer or counter, so be careful in a tight market! Learn how best to negotiate for your seller.
Understand the contract process & terminology
Only written agreements, signed by the buyer and the seller, are valid. The best practice is to put it in writing!
Only signed contracts/amendments are enforceable.
Time is of the essence when negotiating. If documentation is not signed by both parties, there is nothing to enforce.
If your buyer submits a counteroffer, the original offer is null and void and without the seller’s signature, there isn’t a contract to uphold.
While verbal negotiations of contracts can be a quicker way to reach an agreement, verbal agreements are not enforceable for the sale of real property.
Don't make VERBAL AGREEMENTS!
Never make promises on behalf
of your client(s).
Always write agreements on a contract or amendment! For example, never say "we have a deal!" until you have an executed contract. You may be held liable for misrepresentation if for some reason the contract is never executed.
If you are negotiating verbally or via text or email, until you have a signed contract, you should use a disclaimer stating your communication is not binding. For example: ”My client has authorized me to tell you they will accept $X, but until we have it on the contract, signed by everyone, this is not binding."
Email provides an important documentation trail you may need down the road, so be sure to deliver any contracts, addendums, important documents, or important advice to relevant parties via your REILLY, REALTORS® email account, even if you are also providing the information in person. For example, if you had a verbal conversation with another agent or your client about expectations, document it in an email like this: “Sally, it was great talking to you today! As we discussed, ....”
Be extremely careful about offering your opinion on matters where you are not a subject matter expert to avoid exposing yourself and REILLY, REALTORS® to unnecessary risk. If a client has a question about a subject that you are not 100% sure about and qualified to answer, you should always put in writing that the client needs to seek the advice of an expert.
Be Careful with Opinions!
Document important communications
Or if you are delivering important information via email, like an IABS Form, document it in an email like this: "I look forward to helping you. By the way, please take a moment to review the required TREC IABS form when you have a minute by clicking this link..."
If there is ever a question related to a conversation or delivery of a document, you'll have a record of it.
We created email@example.com to make it easier for you to keep track of your deals, so please help us make Quickbase as complete and accurate as possible!
Incomplete documentation or mistakes on contracts, amendments, or other deal files can open you and your client up to unnecessary risk. You can avoid many problems by thoroughly reviewing your documents before finalizing them! While a missed detail may not seem like a big deal, it can make you look unprofessional, nullify a contract, lead to confusion requiring legal assistance, or result in disciplinary action with TREC.
Use Docs@Reillyrealtors.com and avoid common mistakes
Blanks on the Contract
A contract with missing signatures, initials, or details is unforgivable! Paragraphs with checkboxes that have not been selected are not enforceable. Missing contact information (including broker info!) can make it difficult for parties involved in the transaction to communicate important info. Take the time to protect yourself and your client - review the details of all required deal documentation!
Intermediary relationships exist if you have a situation where you or two agents within REILLY, REALTORS® represent both sides of a transaction. An intermediary relationship only occurs when our represented buyer wants to see or buy one of our listings. If an intermediary relationship exists, you must:
understand the intermediary relationship
Did you know articles and photographs found on the web are protected by the U. S. Copyright Office? This means you could find yourself faced with a lawsuit if you use photos, blogs, neighborhood descriptions, and other content without explicit permission. Read more below on how to avoid copyright infringement.
Because photo copyright is a big concern across our industry, our board has established the
ABoR Verified MLS Photography Partners Program
to help protect its members. We recommend choosing a photographer from this list for all listing photos as these photographers have agreed to license their photos to the MLS in perpetuity.
Guess who owns the rights to the photos you purchase? Your photographer, most likely! Typically, you are granted permission to use photos you purchase for a specified purpose or duration, so make sure you have written permission. Likewise, if you are marketing someone else's listing or want to use the previous listing agent's photos for your new listing, be sure you have both the agent's and the photographer's written permission.
USE ABoR VERIFIED MLS PHOTOGRAPHY PARTNERS!
Avoid Copyright Infringement
With over 90% of consumers using the internet to find real estate information, it is essential to pay attention to your online presence! That means making sure your social media and website information complies with all rules - both statutory and ethical!
Stay Out of Trouble with Online Content
FOLLOW ADVERTISING RULES!
The Texas Real Estate Commission has rules on everything from how big our brokerage name needs to be in advertisements to where you need to display certain disclosures. In addition, NAR has rules on how you use their trademarked word REALTOR®! We've studied the rules to keep your REILLY, REALTORS® website and online marketing compliant. If you create an advertisement or website on your own, you MUST get approval from firstname.lastname@example.org! Don't trust outside vendors who say their products are compliant - they won't be liable if they are not! Read the rules here and here - or just call Agent Services and we'll help you out!
Additional safety guidelines
If you ever have a concern when meeting someone, feel free to tell your client your office requires a copy of their ID before you visit a property. Just take a photo of it and email it to email@example.com, letting us know your plans with the client. We can even have someone check in on you with a phone call!
NEVER visit a vacant house without having first met the client. If it is a new client, follow #1.
If you are waiting for your client to view a home, wait in your car with your doors locked until they arrive. You should approach the home together.
If you are hosting an open house, do it with a friend. If you have to do the open house on your own, be sure to have someone check in on you periodically.
If you ever have a concern about a client or someone at an open house, go with your gut! Drop the client, or make an excuse to get away.
Call Michael or let someone in the office know if you have concerns for your safety.
Your safety and security is very important! A good place to start is to watch this 3-minute Personal Safety Video and review this list of Safety Tips from NAR. This video/list doesn't specifically cover a situation in which a complete stranger approaches you while you are preparing a showing, so please consider specifically what you would do in that instance.
Establish your own personal safety protocol
Despite your best efforts, you may at some time be faced with difficult circumstances in your real estate career. This could involve any issue where disagreements have escalated to a point that a formal complaint or legal action is a real possibility. Regardless of which side is right, when serious issues arise, here are the steps you need to take:
what to do when serious issues arise
Cease communication with all parties until you have spoken with management at REILLY, REALTORS®. As your broker, we will help you navigate the situation and respond in such a way as to protect you, the brokerage, and our clients. We will need as much information from you as possible to help find a solution to the problem.
Make sure all required documents are loaded in your Quickbase deal file. Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org ASAP if you have not previously done so.
Create a file containing a timeline of all communication related to the deal, including screenshots of texts, copies of emails and important documents, and details about important phone conversations with relevant parties.
Your listing clients expect you to be an internet marketing expert!
Let Agent Services help!
Our goal at REILLY, REALTORS® is to get the most exposure possible for every listing. For each of your listings, Agent Services will send you an email with marketing solutions we provide, but there are also things you should do to ensure your listings stand out in the busy Austin real estate market!
Market Your Listings Right!
Description provides an accurate view of the property & doesn't include showing instructions or fair housing violations (e.g. perfect for families!).
Professional photos loaded before MLS listing goes live! New listing alerts only go out once & should showcase the property. Make sure your first photo is horizontal, not portrait, for best viewing in online search results.
Correct neighborhood listed in subdivision field so listing appears correctly in searches (e.g. Spillman Ranch is really Falconhead to the general public!).
Your REILLY, REALTORS® website has great information for you to pass on to your sellers. Be sure to use your branded links to direct sellers to pages like Preparing for Home Photos
and Disclosures and Documentation. Your personal website will help build trust with your clients and prospects, and make it easy for you to share important information!
Drive clients and prospects to your website by creating personalized links using your personal website identifier. Questions? Ask Agent Services!
USE YOUR SITE WITH SELLERS!
Avoid a TREC complaint with "coming soon" listings! Only use “coming soon” if the seller is still preparing the property for sale. If your goal is to use “coming soon” to try to acquire a buyer before the listing is exposed to other agents, you're putting your interests before your clients' and could end up with TREC disciplinary action.
Per TREC: "To avoid any violations of Article 12 of the Code of Ethics, REALTORS® shall be honest and truthful and present a true picture in their advertising and ensure that their status as real estate professionals is readily apparent in their advertising." This means you MUST include our brokerage name, REILLY, REALTORS®, in all advertisements.
SPECIFIC USE OF PROPERTY
If you have a listing that would be perfect for a specific use (e.g. commercial, rental, addition) make sure you have supporting legal documentation BEFORE you market the property as such! Either way, ALWAYS suggest that buyers independently verify the property is suitable for the intended use.
Avoid Legal Problems with Your Listings
SQUARE FOOTAGE ISSUE
Seller was convinced his house was larger than that reported by the appraisal district. Agent listed the home with seller's reported sq ft with no supporting documentation. When appraisal sq ft came in lower, buyer demanded a price reduction.
SELLER BUY BACK
We represented a buyer who purchased property that was advertised as no-zoning but in fact, unbeknownst to the seller, the property was annexed by the city and zoned agricultural just prior to close. Our buyer hired a lawyer to force the seller to buy back the property.
Did you know the #1 cause of home sale lawsuits is related to mistakes on the Seller’s Disclosure? Failure to disclose known defects exposes your client, you, and REILLY, REALTORS® to legal liability, so remember this rule of thumb: Disclose, Disclose, Disclose!
Instruct your seller to complete their Seller's Disclosure to the best of their knowledge and belief.
NEVER complete or help your seller complete their Seller’s Disclosure.
Read the Texas Association's Seller's Disclosure FAQ and then encourage your seller to purchase Sellers Shield, a helpful resource that also provides your seller with litigation insurance.
Disclose, disclose, disclose!
Do not commit your seller to anything!
Put the onus on the buyer to submit a new offer.
Whenever you are negotiating on behalf of your seller, convey what your seller wants from the buyer without making a formal counteroffer to the buyer. The best way to do this is to use the "Seller's Invitation to Buyer to Submit a New Offer" (TAR-1926 Form). The form makes it clear that your communication is NOT a counter offer, but rather a list of items the seller would like to see on a new offer.
Use these Tips when Negotiating for Your Seller
The truth is, it's very difficult for a seller to terminate a contract with a buyer, and pretty easy for a buyer to back out. Here are common ways buyers can terminate the contract outside of their option period without losing their earnest money.
Third Party Financing Addendum: This is the most common way a buyer backs out of a contract and may occur if the buyer is approved but learns the appraisal falls short. It's important to understand that the buyer getting loan approval is a based on the date negotiated in the contract, but the lender's approval - which includes the appraisal - is not. If the appraisal is a concern, be sure to use the Addendum Concerning Right to Terminate Due to Lender’s Appraisal.
Seller's Disclosure Notice: Buyers have seven days after receipt of the SDN to back out. Best practice for a seller is to deliver the Seller's Disclosure at the time of contract signing.
HOA Documents: A buyer can back out without losing earnest money after reviewing the HOA Documents, so when representing a seller, be sure the title company delivers HOA docs early in the transaction to give the buyer time to review them within the negotiated time frame.
Statutory Tax District (e.g. MUD Notice): According to Section 6 E, Paragraph 3 of the 1-4 Family Contract, the seller must provide, and the buyer must sign, any notice disclosing a Statutory Tax District, including MUDs and Conservation Districts, prior to executing the contract. If you are listing a home in a MUD/Conservation District, it is your responsibility to ensure your seller completes the MUD Notice and has it notarized if required prior to contract signing.
Common Ways Your Buyer Can Back Out
BUYERS REP FORM
While we do not require Buyer Representation forms, there are times it's a good idea to have one signed. For example, if you are working with a lead or are unsure of someone's loyalty, use our one page Buyers Rep Form for your protection.
In addition to contract related forms, ammendments, and disclosures, you will need to present and obtain signatures from your buyers on the following TREC Forms and REILLY documents:
At the first substantial communication with a buyer, please obtain signatures on these documents:
Information About Brokerage Services (IABS)
(REQUIRED, signature needed)
General Information and Notice to A Buyer
(REQUIRED, signature needed)
USE THESE FORMS WITH BUYERS
DON'T WAIT TO PRESENT!
Required forms help your buyers understand their risks, and also help protect YOU. For example, the Wire Fraud notice is intended to help your buyer watch for suspicious activity - if you wait to present the Wire Fraud notice, it may be too late!
When contracts are signed, present buyers with these REILLY, REALTORS® specific docs:
REILLY Wire Fraud Notice
(REQUIRED, signature needed)
REILLY Inspection Notice
(signature required if no inspection)
REILLY Home Warranty Notice
(no signature required)
If the subject property is a home built before 1978, a signed Lead-based Paint Addendum is required BEFORE the contract is executed! Additionally:
Use the correct form! There is a Lead Based Paint Addendum for Leases and for Residential Sales.
The seller must sign first because the seller has the obligation to provide information to the buyer regarding any known lead-based paint and/or lead-based paint hazards, including any records or reports the seller has pertaining to lead-based paint/hazards. Your buyer must sign AFTER the seller!
You must provide the EPA’s “Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home” pamphlet to your buyer. Be sure to send the pamphlet via email so you have a record of delivery!
Have the addendum signed before you execute the contract! All sections must be completed (checkboxes in B, C, and D) and signatures from all parties are required (buyer, buyer’s agent, seller and seller’s agent).
understand the Lead-based paint addendum
If you are working on a deal where the appraisal is a potential issue, use this TREC FORM:
Handle Potential Appraisal Issues Correctly
Appraisal Addendum Deciphered
Option (2) means the buyer is forced to cover any shortfall in the appraisal with an increased down payment, but is limited to a specific, predetermined amount. Only use this option when you know your buyer has the cash available to make this adjustment. If they don't have the additional cash, the buyer would be in default and lose their earnest money. This option is preferable to the first option since there is a limit to the additional cash for down payment required from the buyer.
Option (3) would be used by a buyer who already has a larger than normal cash down payment, but still wants protection in case the appraisal comes in low. Typically, the benefit of a larger down payment is that it can cover an appraisal shortfall, but this would allow the buyer the ability to terminate if the appraisal is low.
Option (1) means the buyer is forced to cover any shortfall in the appraisal with an increased down payment. Only use this option when you know the buyer has the cash available to make this adjustment, otherwise the buyer would be in default and lose their earnest money if there is a shortfall. Be very careful with this option!
To best protect your client, also consider:
Including in special provisions: "Buyer to order appraisal and deliver copy to seller within 10 days of executed contract date." While this doesn't necessarily obligate the buyer to put up more, it moves the issue to the beginning of the transaction, keeping it from becoming a last minute issue.
Increasing the down payment on the contract up front to handle the anticipated appraisal shortfall. If the appraisal comes in fine, you can write an amendment to change the down payment back to 20%.
If the house HAS to appraise for the sales price AND the buyer CAN'T increase the downpayment, do NOT use the appraisal addendum. The first two clauses obligate the buyer to increase the downpayment while the third is for a cash buyer or someone with a large downpayment.
While it may be tempting, it is illegal for you to draft and use escalation clauses.
In a hot market where multiple offers are common, remember, escalation clauses are not allowed. An escalation clause is when a buyer promises to automatically increase their offer above any other offer the seller may receive.
Don't draft escalation clauses
TREC has repeatedly noted that "making the purchase price vary from the amount set out in the contract based on the outside variables could affect the rights and remedies of one or both of the parties to the contract and is considered the unauthorized practice of law."
Only an attorney may draft such language and it must be an attorney working for that specific client on that particular deal. In other words, we can't hire an attorney to create boiler plate language that can be re-used on any deal. To read more about TREC's opinion on this practice, please click here.
adopt the 7 habits of highly successful realtors®
Acquire leads any way you can! Work to constantly grow your network and ask for referrals!
Stay connected to past clients.
Communicate often with clients, and explain things along the way.
Know everything you can about your neighborhoods.
Always work to earn your clients' trust and act in their best interests.
Maintain positive relationships with other agents.
Take the high road and show respect to all parties in everything you do!
Increase your success with these habits!