The scenario happened like a perfectly-scripted movie: a Keller Williams team based in Plantation, Fla. decides to play their odds at the lottery. For just $20 each, the 11 co-workers could have the chance to win a $338 million Powerball jackpot. Through a series of group text messages and e-mails, the team organized their efforts and collected $240—or 120 tickets—for the March 22nd Powerball. Everyone at Keller Williams Partner Realty participated, except for Jennifer Maldonado, the newest member of the team. “I just started work,” the administrative assistant told team leader Laurie Finkelstein Reader. “I think I can spend $20 on something else.”
Finkelstein Reader warned Maldonado about the consequences of her choice. “Jen, if you don’t pay we’re going to win,” she said, staring her co-worker straight in the eyes. “Don’t worry,” Jen answered with a slight laugh. “I’ll take the fall for you.” (Yes, we all know where this one is going…)
Cut to Saturday when the Powerball numbers were announced. Finkelstein Reader got back on the group text that night—her husband was too tired to stay up for the results—and inquired about whether or not anyone had checked the winning numbers. “We only got five out of six,” one co-worker replied with the nonchalance of someone unaware that the team had just won $1 million.
They celebrated until dawn—even Finkelstein Reader’s husband jumped out of bed screaming, “I’m not tired anymore!”—and chatted for hours about their good fortune, which would amount to $83,333.33 per person, after taxes. “We all got on the phone and it was just ten of us completely freaking out,” Finkelstein Reader says.
But festivities quickly came to a halt the next morning when the team realized that Maldonado hadn’t participated in the pool. Maldonado, who had been carefully monitoring her spending, was happy for the team but visibly shaken by the news.
“The next thing I did was what would come naturally to anyone on my team: I asked everyone what they thought about including Jen in the earnings,” Finkelstein Reader says. “Of course, they were all on board.”
After receiving unanimous consent, Finkelstein Reader handed over what she describes as “a fat stack of cash” to Maldonado, who was brought to tears by the thoughtful gesture.
And that may have been the end of this story, if not for one little Facebook post about the altruistic act that went viral faster than you can say, “cats singing on YouTube.” Within hours, word spread far and wide about the jackpot-winning team and their decision to include the ill-fated admin. Soon national news programs like Dateline, Inside Edition, The Today Show, and more all clamored for a chance to cover the philanthropic feat.
Even Hollywood has been calling, though the team isn’t willing to answer quite yet, that is unless the right offer comes along. “I would go to California if Ellen asked,” Finkelstein Reader admits. “I tell everybody I just want to dance with her!”
Fame and foxtrots aside, Finkelstein Reader says the money has only cemented the already cooperative atmosphere synonymous with a real estate team. “Before this happened, we were every bit the way you see us now,” she says. “The only thing different is that we won a million dollars.”
It’s one of those days, the kind when the sky is just a stretch of turquoise blue and a smattering of cotton-ball clouds. To the right, tall wisps of wheat and grass, to the left, towering hills shaded purple and green, cut in places by thin, glistening streams…
No, this isn’t a description of the backdrop for a soon-to-be released Western film. It’s the scene Greg Fay, founder of Fay Ranches brokerage, sees all the time while showing premium ranching and sporting properties to his clients. And with price tags ranging from $1 million to $100 million, Fay likens the complex process of taking a ranch from due diligence to the closing table as nothing short of real estate combat. But if this is a battle, Fay — whose gross sales for Fay Ranches topped $180 million last year — may have already won the fight.
“It’s not an investment prone to the vagaries of human whimsy like the SEC having a bad day and the stocks responding to it,” Fay says about the motivation behind the increasingly popular ranch ownership trend. In fact, for Fay’s clients — many of whom he describes as among the most successful businessmen in the world — ranch real estate is more viable an option than dealing with the fickleness of today’s stock market. “When it comes to ranches, my clients are very bullish,” he says, perhaps with pun intended.
But beyond the financial benefits, there’s a recreational and familial aspect to ranch ownership too. “You can just watch clients’ shoulders drop as they get to the ranch,” Fay says. “Then they get to see their kids or grandkids running around, skipping stones in the pond or riding 4-wheelers or a horse.” For Fay’s clientele, it’s about giving their children these “non-Nintendo moments” — like observing a bull moose ramble in an open field or listening to an elk bugle on a quiet night. “You can’t get those same experiences from stocks,” he says. “All you get from stocks is heartburn.”
However, convincing potential buyers that ranch ownership is an investment worth making still takes work — and a little bit of creative marketing. “Catching a big fish can be one of the strongest sales tactics we have,” Fay says, adding that many times, a “showing” consists of fly fishing, hiking, or even floating clients down the river on drift boats so they can get a better sense of the expansive landscape as they leisurely cruise on the water.
One of Fay’s favorite moments happened with two of his longtime clients: They were interested in purchasing a property but weren’t quite convinced. At dusk, Fay brought them to a particularly beautiful vista boasting panoramic views of the hilly, lush terrain. As the sun set between the mountains, Fay arranged a twilight happy hour, complete with folding chairs and margaritas for all. “My client’s wife was hurting a little the next morning,” he says, “but they bought the ranch!”
REALTORS® who are interested in specializing in ranch and land sales can learn more about becoming an Accredited Land Consultant at REALTORS® Land Institute.
Seeking to make a better connection with consumers online, Web site realtor.com® (yes, with a lowercase “r”) unveiled new branding this week. The rebranding effort covers — for now, anyway — the corporate logo and the overall design and structure of the Web site.
“We wanted to focus in the near term on the new look and feel,” says Andrew Strickman, realtor.com®’s vice president of brand and creative. “One of our desires was to clean up the design — make it more open, warmer, and brighter.”
The rebranding is the product of an “exhaustive” research and information-gathering project started by realtor.com® and its parent company, Move Inc. in the first quarter of 2012. That initiative involved input from internal stakeholders, REALTORS®, and consumers, Strickman explains.
Based on the feedback received, the overall strategy is to engage both the hearts and minds of visitors.
“People care deeply about the place they live in,” Strickman says. “It’s an emotional decision, but also a logical one. We really wanted to understand the role that a site like realtor.com® plays in the consumer’s mind as they think about and dream about buying a home.” Continue reading »
The Super Bowl is less than a week away and fans are abuzz in anticipation for the “HarBowl” or the “SuperBaugh,” as the matchup between San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens pits sibling coaches against one another.
But football in general is a family affair — especially among viewers. According to Century 21’s Big Game Survey conducted in December, 84 percent of Americans watch the game from the comfort of their own home, a friend’s home, or a family member’s home.
“It gives us an unprecedented opportunity to tell our story in front of the largest TV viewing audience of the year,” said Century 21 Chief Marketing Officer Bev Thorne. “What’s great is it’s set in the home, which is the heart and soul of the services we offer.”
Drawing a record 111.3 million viewers last year, Super Bowl game day has evolved into a celebrated multimedia phenomenon, infiltrating YouTube channels, Facebook statuses, and Twitter feeds. It’s also a big game day for advertisers — and Century 21 is in the huddle again this year.
Last year, they became the first real estate company to advertise during the Super Bowl in 21 years. The commercial featured Donald Trump, Deion Sanders, and Apolo Anton Ohno working with a Century 21 agent who does it “Smarter. Bolder. Faster.”
“Because [the Super Bowl] brings together friends and family in a very familial environment, it’s a great opportunity for lots of conversation, so we’re putting our Century 21 agents in the middle of those conversations,” Thorne said.
Super Bowl advertisers paying between $3.7 million and $3.8 million per 30-second ad spot. For Century 21, that investment paid off in 2012. Continue reading »
By Wendy Cole, Managing Editor, REALTOR® Magazine
Is it an art show or an open house? Brett Bender, a sales associate with Prudential Fox and Roach in Philadelphia, has decided that his listing for a 4,000 sq ft. single-family home in the City of Brotherly Love can do double-duty. Bender, who is also an artist, is taking advantage of the big marketing push behind the REALTOR® Nationwide Open House this weekend, April 28 and 29, to “stage the walls” of the unfurnished home with dozens of his journal drawings and paintings. He’s using Facebook to spread the word about the art reception he’s holding in the house on Sunday, and hopes the event will generate buzz for both the property and his evocative creative work.
REALTORS® and real estate associations across the country and worldwide hold thousands of open houses in their communities as part of the event, which is intended to give a boost to the spring buying season. Practitioners should keep in mind that nearly half of all home buyers visit open houses during their home search, according to the 2011 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers survey conducted by the National Association of REALTORS®. And the extra atttention this weekend, along with record home affordability, could well bring a notable foot traffic boost to homes on the market.
What other distinctive ideas are you incorporating into open houses this weekend?
By Katherine Tarbox, Senior Editor, REALTOR® Magazine
While I was at the offices of the Greater Capital Area Association of REALTORS® in Rockville, Md., for the Homeownership Matters Bus Tour, I was taken aback when I saw all of these signs available for real estate practitioners to purchase… mostly because they’re a bit of a twist on the usual “For Sale,” billboard. Check out the sign that says, “I’m Gorgeous Inside,” or the “Honey… Stop the Car” sign.
Do you have a unique sign that works for you? If so, what does it say?