The Business of Being a Commercial Real Estate Agent

Working in commercial real estate is quite different from helping home buyers and sellers—you’re working with business owners and investors with a very different inventory.

A commercial transaction might deal with multi-family, mixed-use, retail, or office space. Therefore, successful commercial real estate agents must know about sales and leasing in a broad array of property types. There are different kinds of tenant negotiations that occur, and different types of marketing strategies. And a transaction could be for an owner occupied property or as a commercial real estate investment, adding additional factors to the transaction.

What do investors, buyers and tenants want from a commercial real estate professional

First off, commercial is a specialty, so it’s best that an agent gain experience and knowledge in this specific sector of the real estate field. Know (or learn) how to deal with commercial transactions—there are no uniform contracts or cookie cutter leases. That means sharpening your negotiation skills as well as understanding the leasing or commercial buying process.

Of course, just as with residential sales professionals, being proactive is important. Aside from canvassing the local market for properties and leads, research is key to commercial transactions.

  • Use your office’s systems and tools to research market rates for rentals
  • Become conversant in investment packages
  • Gain a full understanding of the different areas in your market. Do properties in certain areas attract certain kinds of businesses? Do the listing prices make sense for sale properties?
  • Can you provide a detailed and accurate financial analysis for commercial investors?

Aside from research, developing good relationships with area business owners can help create strong database and referral network. When that investor calls the office looking for help finding the right property, you’ll not only have the listings services as a resource, you’ll have local people to contact and potential space to visit because you’ve done your homework.

Speaking of referrals—remember that commercial real estate transactions often involve build outs and other improvements as part of the lease negotiations. Therefore, good power partners are architects, general contractors, and others involved in lease improvements.

More complicated investment deals may require partnering with others to make a successful transaction, so it’s important to know the players in your area or your office to create a winning team.

If you are working with tenants, it’s important that you show them you understand their businesses and that you are showing them space that makes sense for their needs. Whether it’s a restaurant, retailer, healthcare facility or law practice, every client has different needs in terms of square footage, utilities, parking and leasehold improvements.

When working with building owners, these clients want to know that you have a good performance record when it comes to finding strong tenants or solid buyers; your experience will speak for itself. They will also count on you to represent their interests to potential buyers or tenants, and that you can negotiate a strong deal on their behalf. Like the buyer or tenant, the seller or landlord will want to know that you have his/her best interests in mind throughout the transaction.

From any side of the transaction, building trust builds relationships that will in turn build business.

Build your book of business at Century 21 Cedarcrest Realty

Our office is growing—and we’re always looking for savvy commercial real estate agents to join our team. When you join our northern New Jersey office, you become part of one of the country’s most well-respected real estate organizations, with business-building tools and apps designed for commercial real estate agents. You can take advantage of commercial investment training that will position you for a broader range of transactions. Plus, you’ll benefit from our ongoing in-office training and development for agents at all stages of their careers—an important way we support our team, and why Century 21 Cedarcrest Realty consistently wins industry awards for sales volume and customer service—and accolades and awards from consumers as well.

Interested in learning more? Contact Susan Mazzetta at (973) 228-1050, ext. 126 for a confidential interview.

Are you an Experienced NJ Real Estate Sales Professional with a Career that’s Stuck in Neutral?

Experienced real estate agents know that a career in real estate has many rewards. To a large extent, you make your own hours and the earning potential is high—especially when you’ve nurtured great leads and have closed many successful transactions with happy customers.

However, as with many other careers, sometimes you need to make a change. Over time, motivation can lag and that spark can start to sputter when you’ve been in the same office for a very long time.

If you’re feeling like your real estate sales career has gotten stagnant, it might be time to change offices. And, if you’re working in northern New Jersey on residential sales and rentals, Century 21 Cedarcrest Realty in Caldwell, NJ has a place for you.

Our office is all about excitement and opportunity, working in an upscale market in northern New Jersey. In fact, Century 21 Cedarcrest Realty is a designated Fine Homes & Estates office; wouldn’t like a piece of that action?

Five great reasons to join Century 21 Cedarcrest Realty

  1. As one of our agents, you’ll be part of the vast Century 21 network, with opportunities to work with buyers and sellers from just about anywhere across the country—and around the world.
  2. We’re all about career development, and provide ongoing training in our own training center. Century 21 Cedarcrest Realty offers weekly training classes and provides guidance whenever you need it to help you keep your sales and marketing skills sharp and your customer relationships positive.
  3. No-fee leads – unlike other offices, Century 21 Cedarcrest Realty covers the cost of the lead management system to help maximize your earnings.
  4. Senior management that’s there and that cares. We’re not behind closed doors—we’re available every day for hands-on interactions with our sales associates, always ready to help you build your book of business.

Come rejuvenate your real estate career at Century 21 Cedarcrest Realty. Contact Susan Mazzetta at (973) 225-1050, ext. 126 for a confidential conversation about opportunities for seasoned real estate sales associates … and a future with Century 21 Cedarcrest Realty.

Are you Thinking of Getting into Real Estate? Century 21 Cedarcrest Realty is Hiring New Real Estate Agents!

Becoming a real estate sales professional can be an exciting and lucrative career for the right person – energetic, people-oriented, and with a passion for sales. At Century 21 Cedarcrest Realty, we’re looking for people who are interested in starting a new career in real estate. Experience is not required but a willingness to learn and work hard are definitely traits anyone must have to gain a foothold in this industry.

Benefits of working at Century 21 Cedarcrest Realty

  • You become part of a great team and an international network of real estate offices. Yes, our agents may work with buyers and sellers from just about anywhere.
  • Our corporate culture here is all about support, mentorship, and ongoing professional development.
  • Century 21 is a brand with powerful advertising and high consumer respect.
  • You’ll have access to industry-leading technology for maximum exposure and increased qualified leads.
  • Although we are specialists in Essex County real estate, our busy office represents buyers and sellers from throughout Northern New Jersey.
  • Century 21 Cedarcrest Realty was named 2015 “Best Realtor” by readers of Suburban Essex magazine in its Best of Essex Readers’ Choice Awards—and we’ve been nominated again for the 2016 honor.

We invest in your future with us

Century 21 Cedarcrest Realty also believes investing in the future success of our sales associates. One way we do that is to offer you a $100 discount off the mandatory state pre-licensing course, which prepares you to sit for the New Jersey real estate exam, in order to become a licensed real estate agent.

Then, after you’ve passed the exam and received your license, we provide ongoing expert training, led by seasoned real estate pros who’ve seen and done it all. They’ll teach you our winning sales and customer service techniques that get your foot in more doors with home buyers and sellers.

Upon your first closing with us, we then reimburse new agents for the out-of-pocket expense of the pre-licensing course, up to $275.

All our agents have access to Century 21’s superior real estate marketing, automation and communications systems as well as C21 University, an online resource that offers continuing education programs and a library of valuable assets to help you grow your book of business and refine your customer service skills.

About that training …

We offer weekly in-house training and professional development courses in our nicely appointed training room. These programs are managed by Susan Mazzetta, Century 21 Cedarcrest’s director of career development. Our agents also receive valuable mentorship about marketing their listings, customer relations, and sales techniques from Susan and Dennis DiSabato, our agency’s sales manager.

We have an open-door policy with senior management so that everyone at every level of experience can share challenges and gain valuable support and ideas; this extends not only to Susan, Dennis and broker owner, John Sass but to other team members as well.

Are you our next hire?

We’re looking for people with enthusiasm and motivation, strong interpersonal skills, and a passion for sales, to talk to us about their real estate career. The North Jersey market is hot right now and it’s a great time to get into the business (or build up an existing real estate career).
Prospective agents may upload a resume and get more information at http://century21cedarcrest.com/careers/. For a confidential interview, call Susan Mazzetta, director of career development at (973) 228-1050, ext. 126. We look forward to meeting you and bringing you into the world of real estate in Northern New Jersey!

Creating a Zen Garden for Your New Jersey Backyard

Zen—or dry—gardens date back to the late 14th century, when Zen Buddhist priests created these austere gardens for meditation and appreciation of beauty. These gardens had no water features; the priests created a feeling of water with rocks, even raking them to get a ripple-like appearance.

Zen gardens are appearing in backyards across northern New Jersey as well, taking a cue from Asian traditions by keeping the focus on nature. Homeowners may choose to create these gardens—made primarily of stone and gravel, often enhanced with moss, small plants or shrubs, and rock formations—to avoid having to water; others choose to install these for the quiet contemplation they invite and the serenity they provide. And, they are easy to maintain and are weatherproof. The homeowner needs simply to rake the gravel or sand, in desired designs. The very act of this raking can be in itself a meditation and is meant to be relaxing. Raked designs are often made to look like waves or streams.

Although they appear simple on the surface, Zen gardens have a complexity that is revealed as one takes time to enjoy the space. The homeowner takes an active (albeit, relaxing) role in changing the raked design, then stepping back to contemplate and enjoy it. The carefully groomed sand is meant to provide a refuge from the world.

Today’s Zen gardens may include enhancements such as ponds, bridges, lighting and sculpture but the raked sand and fine gravel are the canvas upon which these sit.

Designing your Zen Garden

This starts by defining the space: a corner of an existing garden, part of your yard or even the whole yard. Do some research or visit other Zen or Asian gardens for ideas about topography and the hardscape (the stone work). Do you want to include water or not? What about lighting?

Whatever you do, think nature—a space with rough edges. Plants are not the main attraction so select a few specimen plants that will enhance the design because of their color or texture. Also consider seasonal changes; in northern New Jersey we experience all four seasons very distinctly and so does plant life.

Then it’s time for your hardscape materials:

  • Stone – the structural basis for your Zen garden. Stepping stones, formations, borders, designs.
  • Pebbles – think river-rounded pebbles of various sizes that will create the fields, surround plants and outline paths.
  • Sand or fine gravel – this is used to create the illusion of water, raked as anything from a dry riverbed to roiling waves and ripples – the choice (and the fun) is all yours.

Other enhancements may include bamboo panels, statues (such as one of Buddha), low lighting (stone or concrete housing blends in best), and a koi fish pond. The plants you choose should offer some texture and color. Your landscaping professional or high-quality garden center should be able to make some smart suggestions.

You can find inspiration and ideas for your Zen garden on Pinterest and there are plenty of sources online or in your public library.

Adding a Zen garden to your New Jersey property will certainly make your home stand out, and will provide you with many tranquil hours enjoying and reconfiguring your creation.

Getting Ready to List Your Home – Steps You Can Take to Add Value for Buyers

Getting your home prepared for a listing with a real estate agency is an exciting time. Of course, your agent will want to be excited about your listing and bring as many qualified prospects as possible. Is your real estate professional providing you with guidance about how to add value to your home? These home maintenance and repair tips will help you increase your chances of a sale more quickly.

De-clutter and organize. No one wants to step through clutter, look in rooms or closets that are overflowing with unnecessary items, or have to imagine what the space could look like without a homeowners personal effects clouding the “scenery.” Before you list your home for sale, start going through all the rooms, from attic to basement, and clean out and organize. You can create piles for discard, donate and store; once you’ve done the first two, it’s time to organize your storage needs. Closet storage systems will help you keep clothes organized and make a great presentation. Garage and basement storage solutions are also available to keep items off the floor and in a safe place.

Refresh rooms with paint. That first impression will be largely influenced by the look and feel of your rooms. After you’ve cleaned and cleared, a fresh coat of paint in neutral colors will help rooms look larger and make prospective buyers feel better about your space. Bright colors might be your style but not theirs so avoid making too much of a “statement” in your color choice.

Update bathroom fixtures. Swap out those tired old bathroom faucets and the old sink; install a new vanity or a shower head; or put on new toilet seats if necessary. You need not spend lots of money to do these simple updates and a little goes a long way. Remember, clean and new is better than tired and worn.

Update kitchen appliances and fixtures. If this is in your budget, it is well worth the expenditure on this end of the sales process. There’s no need for a full remodel but a face lift is well worth it for making a quicker sale. New cabinet doors and hardware or a new sink or new faucet with sprayer (a popular feature) are good investments. If you can swing it and your dishwasher or refrigerator are outdated, consider installing new models that prospective home buyers will appreciate.

Boost your curb appeal. Landscaping and driveway appearance are what prospective home buyers will see first—and will encourage or discourage them about coming inside for a closer look. Get your lawn in shape, plant your garden beds, prune your trees and shrubs. Outdoor lighting is also a benefit, from the front porch to the walkway or gardens. If the driveway is in poor shape, have it repaired.

Make necessary exterior repairs. In addition to the driveway, your front steps should be in good condition; your gutters should be in place and doing their jobs to prevent water damage to the home; missing roof shingles should be replaced; problems with paver or concrete walkways, your sidewalk, patio and deck (where applicable) should be remediated. Remember, you don’t want to give anyone a reason to walk away (and you wouldn’t want anyone to trip and get hurt).

Insulate for energy efficiency. One way to show prospective home buyers that your home is prepared for 21st century living is to add insulation in order to improve your energy efficiency and reduce heating and cooling costs. This is a also good time to look at your windows to see where you can seal any seams or cracks where air penetrates.

At Century 21 Cedarcrest Realty, we guide our clients to make sure their homes are in “ready for sale” condition, in order to make the sales process as stress-free as possible for everyone involved. As part of our client service, our real estate agents will go over what we feel your home needs to prepare it for a listing, and help you hash out the pros and cons of certain upgrades and repairs. Want to find out more about the best way to sell your home in Essex County or other northern New Jersey areas? Call Century 21 Cedarcrest at (973) 228-1050 or visit our website to get started.

What is Real Estate Leverage?

What is Real Estate Leverage?

When it comes to real estate, finance, and investing, the language used can be a bit confusing and overwhelming. Today we want to take a closer look at real estate leverage and what it means to you, as a buyer and investor.

What is Leverage?

Leverage, by definition, is when you use borrowed money (or capital) or some other financial tool to increase the return you receive on a particular investment. It’s not an uncommon at all. As a matter of fact, most people purchasing homes with mortgages are using leverage.

Take a closer look at the example in this Investopedia article and you’ll see how it works.  The example provided is that you are putting 20% of your own money, or $100,000, down as a deposit on a $500,000 asset or home. The other 80% of the purchase price is borrowed money. If the value of the property appreciates 5% over the course of a year, the net worth of the borrower, as the owner of the property, is now $525,000.

If that same borrower had said, “I only have $100,000 and I don’t want to borrow any money,” and thus purchased a $100,000 home outright, that same 5% appreciation would only be worth $5,000 instead of $25,000.

So if an individual is in a position to borrow, the end return on the investment stands to be much higher.

Accessing Leverage

It takes money to make money, and that is especially true when it comes to real estate. While a mortgage company is the most traditional route, many investors will seek private capital or other means of investment. No matter what you choose, you’ll want to make sure you understand the numbers and negotiate the least amount of interest possible – something that will also help you to maximize your ROI.

There are Drawbacks

There are, of course, drawbacks. You need to have a strong understanding of the home you’re buying, the real estate market in general, and the area in which you are purchasing. While in the scenario above the individual’s net worth was increased by $25,000, a simple deflation in the value of the home could result in a negative impact and a decrease in the net worth.

Talk to your financial advisor or lawyer if you need help understanding your own financial position and whether or not leveraging the money you have to purchase a higher valued property is right for you. Once you’re ready, your real estate agent will be happy to help you find a property that fits the mold.

 

Increasing Google Visibility to Gain More Leads

Increasing Google Visibility to Gain More Leads

As a real estate professional, you no doubt realize how competitive the marketplace really is. Everyone wants to make sure their homes are seen. The popularity of the web has made it easier than ever before for you to attract the attention of the web-savvy world, but you still need to make sure your website is as high in the Google search results as possible in order to achieve success. So what can you do to make sure people are actually seeing your website?

Proper Website Optimization

If the thought of “proper website optimization” made you wish you had another cup of coffee, you might want to consider hiring help. In short, you want to make sure that your website is set up in a way that is easy for the search engines to find, identify, and understand. If Google can figure out your site is about real estate, you’re more likely to come up in real estate searches. Most websites use meta tags to show the web crawlers what your pages are about and each page should have one.

You’ll also need to make sure your website is using the right keywords, which means keyword research. Have another headache? Your web designer or SEO expert can help you with that, too. Keyword research isn’t just about knowing what terms are relevant to real estate, but what terms people who are looking to buy or sell houses are actually using when they search the web. Using those terms on your site – especially in the aforementioned meta tags – can help increase your visibility.

Visual Tools

When it comes to real estate, prospective buyers need visuals. You’re going to want to have lots of images, usually in the form of a gallery, for your site – whether they stand alone or link back to your favorite listing sites. You should also have video – tips about buying and/or selling, walk-throughs of homes, etc.

You will want to talk to your web designer about how to make sure your images have the right alt tags. Search engines can’t “read” pictures, so the alt tags will tell them what’s there, especially if they are keyword specific, like your meta tags.

Don’t Ignore Social Media

Social media is a critical component to your online strategy, and the search engines do recognize certain pages and posts within social media profiles. If you’re new to social media, you should not go out and create a profile on every platform at the same time. Start with Facebook and Instagram – the most visual – and make sure your images and posts link back to your website and listing pages. You can add Twitter, Google, and other platforms as you progress.

Truth? As a real estate agent, you have to figure out how to best spend the precious hours of your day. If you aren’t web-savvy, ask a pro for help so you can focus on your leads and business. Just don’t ignore your web presence altogether. It’s definitely important.

Sellers in the West, Buyers in the East

Zillow, an online real estate site, recently released a study that listed the markets for sellers and buyers in the United States. The study showed that there is an east/west divide. Basically, if you’re on the West Coast, it’s a seller’s market. If you’re on the East Coast (or Midwest), it’s a buyer’s market. Obviously, if you compare New Jersey to California, there’s a lot of difference, and not just in terms of miles. Things are different out there. But why is one coast showing one market, and the other coast an entirely different market?

For starters, there are relatively strong job markets on the West Coast, which is helping to create more demand. Since there is a limited supply, this is causing a rapid appreciation for homes and giving sellers the edge. And, housing prices and interest rates are still favorable, so some buyers want to buy NOW. They’re willing to pay a bit more for a home because they know it’s still a great deal, and the sellers get to take more of a profit than they would have a few years ago.

Here in New Jersey and our surrounding areas, however, the housing market is appreciating more slowly. Homes are staying on the market for a bit longer, and this gives buyers the edge. If a seller wants to take advantage of the market and sell off their existing home, they’ll be much more willing to take a little less and move on rather than holding onto the property. This isn’t the case in every township, but it is the picture for things at large.

So, what can you be looking at this fall? It depends on who you are. If you’re the buyer, then you can expect to have the upper hand, and you may be able to land your NJ dream home by asking the seller to come down in price. If you’re the seller, on the other hand, expect to have your home on the market a little longer and perhaps have to lower your asking price. Or, you could always wait for that perfect buyer to come along, which isn’t asking too much in this market. New Jersey does, after all, have unique, one-of-a-kind homes.