Real Estate Code of Ethics- Violations Going Public (Almost)

Have you ever heard the phrase, “A few bad apples can spoil the whole bunch?”

If you’ve ever had interactions with another agent who didn’t follow the Code of Ethics, violated TREC rules, or just didn’t keep up their end of a transaction, than you know exactly what we mean.

At Benchmark, we focus on QUALITY of agent, over Quantity of agents.  We even have a formal Agent Behavior Policy that requires our agents to operate morally, ethically, and legally – or they cannot stay. Combine that with a proprietary check and balance system to ensure our document compliance and you will see that we believe in always doing the right thing.  It’s just who we are.

Does that mean we are perfect?  Nope.  We don’t claim to be. When humans are involved in the process, sometimes humans make bad decisions.  But we try hard.  Towards that aim, we have established a proprietary “brain trust” that is available to our agents 24/7 to provide input on any sticky situation that they might find themselves in and in need of advice.  More importantly, one thing you will never hear about Benchmark is that our brokers are not accessible.  With multiple points of contact and tremendous depth of experience across the board, you will ALWAYS be able to get help when you need help.Real Estate Ethics- Benchmark Realty TN

Code of Ethics Violations Soon to be on Display

If you are one who pays attention industry news, you know there is a growing national movement that believes Ethical agent behavior should be defined and monitored on a larger scale. The National Association of Realtors® just approved a pilot program that will allow the California Association of Realtors® to publish the names and photos of members who violate the Realtor® Code of Ethics.  To us, this sounds suspiciously like a first step toward voluntary national regulation of our industry – sort of like what the Dodd-Frank Act does to the banking industry.

According to Kevin Brown, president of CAR, “We just want to shine a light on the people that misbehave in our industry.”

The list won’t be public (for now); it’ll only be available to other members. So what does this mean for you as a Tennessee Realtor®?  Your local associations are talking privately about doing the same thing, and TREC already posts the names of errant licensees on their website.  That website IS available to the public.

Some agents feel like this is a positive step forward, while others think it’s a bit too personal for public display. CAR’s idea is to not only keep unethical Realtors from gaining traction in their communities, but to use them as examples of what not to do.

This is just a pilot program, and it’s only in California right now. However, if it’s successful and gets positive feedback, it could quickly expand to other states. Generally speaking though, you have nothing to worry about if you’re an ethical, honest Realtor®.

Is There Such a Thing as an “Accidental” Ethics Violation?

We’re all human, and we all make mistakes. But that does not excuse an ethics violation. Your best approach is to stay on top of the Code of Ethics…if you’re not sure about whether you should do something, STOP and ask somebody who knows.

One of the best ways to make sure you know what you’re doing is to participate in Benchmark Realty Agent Training. You can learn a lot at our Mastermind Meetings, Agent Orientations, Broker Forms Reviews, and our monthly Coffee with the Broker.  These growth opportunities are important not only because of the content we present but because they expand your networking with fellow agents.

Are You a Benchmark Agent?

If not, you’re missing out. We’re one of Middle Tennessee’s premier real estate brokerages, offering  100 percent agent commission. (No, you don’t have to clean your screen. You read that correctly.)

Call us at (615)371-1544, fill out the form below, or use our contact page to get in touch. We’ll be happy to schedule a confidential meeting where we’ll explain Benchmark’s Total Freedom concept and refresh your memory about that 100% commission.

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Agents Speak Freely about a Career with Benchmark Realty

At this month’s Mastermind Meeting, we caught up with a few agents and asked what they enjoyed most about working at Benchmark Realty.

Reggie Polk, an agent who has been with Benchmark for over a year spoke highly about the agency.

“I really love the flexibility of managing my own business…I feel like at Benchmark Realty, I have the most opportunity to keep all of my commission and make as much money as I can. I have a great leadership staff — John and Philip give us a lot of great support.”

Agents Lisa Wurth and Clayton Williams both agree that integrity is a characteristic they greatly value at Benchmark.

“I love the integrity that Philip and the other brokers have established in the company and the standards he sets for the agents is something that brought me here and absolutely keeps me here,” Wurth said.

“My favorite thing about Benchmark without even thinking about it is the high level integrity,” Williams said.

We then asked what advice the agents would give to those considering a career at Benchmark.

“I tell everyone that asks me how I feel about joining Benchmark, the only regret that I have is that I did not join sooner,” Wurth said. “It absolutely helped elevate my career; it caused me to live to new standards. The standards Philip has put in place are absolutely unprecedented.”

“You really need to come in today and sit down with John or Philip and talk about the opportunity in front of you…see if you get a good feel for the company, we have a great culture here, people are really willing to help you out and give you answers that you’re looking for,” Polk said. “We want to make sure that we have a right fit with you in the company.”

Watch this month’s agent testimonial video.
Are you considering a career with Benchmark Realty? We would love to talk to you. Please fill out the form below or give us a call at 615-371-1544.

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3 Tips for an Open House that Generates REAL Leads

Lighting a citrus candle and setting up your open house signs is only half the battle when you want to bring in qualified leads. So what’s the other half?

Really, there are three big things to keep in mind when you’re holding an open house.Benchmark Realty Open House Tips

1. Invite the Neighbors.

Nosy neighbors are the perfect unpaid advertisers. Sure, they’re not going to buy the house – but they have friends in the market, and if they like what they see, they’ll mention it left and right.

Make it a point to knock on neighbors’ doors, mail out flyers and invite people in when they’re strolling by, because that could be the ticket to a sale.

2. Make Visitors Register.

This is a good one, not only for your own safety and peace-of-mind, but for your contact list as well. Asking visitors to sign a guestbook is a great way to add people to your contacts who are looking for homes (just make sure they know that you’ll be sending them periodic emails).

To compound that and make your open house even more effective, post it to your social media profiles and link to the MLS listing so people can read the details on the home as they stroll through. Ask your friends to share the link or tag a friend in the comments that might be interested. As a follow up post create a gallery with the listing photos. Photos generate much more engagement on social media than any other type of post. This could spark conversations with potential buyers.

3. Kick Out the Owners.

This one may go without saying, but the homeowners and their pets need to take the day off. More than that, all of the pet gear needs to be tucked away safely so you don’t have potential buyers wondering if the floorboards are secretly soiled by pet accidents or thinking that they smell a dog when there isn’t one for miles around.

What can stay? Fish. Fish are harmless and might even add ambience to the space, making it look more tranquil and inviting. Forget other cold-blooded animals, though – an iguana or a snake can send potential buyers screaming from the house.

Are You Ready to Become a Benchmark Agent Yet?

If you’re not already one of our award-winning Realtors®, it’s time to call us and set up a confidential meeting. Benchmark Realty’s Total Freedom concept puts more time on your clock and more money in your pocket, and working with us means 100 percent agent commission – no caps to meet or crazy hoops to jump through.

Just fill out the form below or call us at (615)371-1544. Isn’t it time you took control of your real estate career?

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3 Killer Ways to Save Money on Direct Mail Campaigns

Direct mail is a given in real estate marketing – it practically always has been. Some of us view it as a necessary evil, especially when the costs start racking up (and even more so when we don’t see immediate results). Direct mail has traditionally been, and still is, one of the best methods for bringing in new clients.

That’s why it’s important to find ways to keep the cost down. The less that has to come out of your pocket, the better!How to save money on direct mail- Benchmark Realty

Partner Up

Is there someone you work with regularly who might want to partner up and run a direct mail campaign with you? Maybe there’s a local moving company who’d like to share some mail space with you, or a cleaning company who specializes in move-outs; perhaps there’s an interior decorator that all your past clients love.

The point is that partnering up can save you half of what you’d spend on your own – and you don’t have to partner with another Realtor® to do it. (Use caution when selecting a co-marketer.  Once you put both names on a postcard, their reputation becomes your reputation.  So it is crucial to either know them WELL or have thoroughly investigated them beforehand.)

Save Cash on Printing

If you’re doing postcards, you can always find a good deal on Vistaprint (check RetailMeNot for Vistaprint coupons before you order, too; you might find an even better deal). If you’re working with a local printer, ask him or her to provide you with the total cost – often, they don’t include the cost of the printing materials – and then see if you can negotiate a better rate. You may be able to trade in the glossy finish for a more affordable price or include the printer’s logo on your cards for a deep discount.

Save Cash on Postage

The USPS has an Every Door Direct Mail program that can save you big, even over metered mail. This is a good option if you’re blanketing a specific area, whether you’re targeting renters or current homeowners. It’s delivered indiscriminately to every house on the mailing route you choose. However, if you’re trying to reach a very specific market, such as couples in their 20s or people who have done business with a Realtor in the last five years, it’s much better to use a mailing list and mail your pieces out at the metered rate.

Right now, Every Door Direct Mail costs $0.175 (really… 17-and-a-half cents). That’s a substantial savings over the regular postcard rate.

Bonus Tips

Don’t waste resources on an outdated mailing list. Make sure yours is updated before you launch your next campaign.

Do remember that return on investment is more important than cost.

Let’s Talk About a Career with Benchmark Realty

When you’re ready to discover how different your real estate career can be with Benchmark Realty, let’s talk. Call us at (615)371-1544 or fill out the form below. We’ll be happy to set up a confidential meeting when you have time. 

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