Technology: Building Block or Road Block for Your Relationships?

By Jeff Kennedy, Global Business Development Manager, Leading Real Estate Companies of the World®


The use of real estate technology has exploded exponentially over the past 10 years, and most would agree it can help you work faster, be more thorough and operate more efficiently. However, even as our industry has evolved, the customer’s desire for a human connection is as strong as ever.

With the new influx of tech, most successful agents leverage multiple products for lead generation, CRM, post-transaction marketing and more. Technology is heavily used because agents are busy, and these tools allow them to do more in less time. However, therein lies the potential problem: in an effort to be as efficient as possible, an agent could be tempted to let technology take over the critical job of building relationships, and that could be a costly mistake.

What’s the problem with leaning too heavily on technology? One word: connection. It takes interactions to build new relationships, which are usually the natural result of repeated human connection. If used incorrectly, technology can act as a barrier to truly connecting with someone.

Here’s some sage advice from a past mentor: “All things being equal, people like to do business with their friends. All things not being equal, people still want to do business with their friends.” In my experience, people will choose to do business with you because they like you, even if another product they are considering is less expensive.

How can you safeguard against losing that essential personal connection when using technology to stay in touch with your clients?

Here are some do’s and don’ts for using technology in a way that actually strengthens your relationships:

Don’t: Choose Efficient over Effective

Do: Build Relationship Capital

Have you sent computer-signed holiday cards and automated birthday emails? If so, you may be fooling yourself into believing that you are using technology to be efficient. Do you find it compelling when you get those types of communications? At what point does the value of efficiency devalue the effectiveness of the communication? Instead of sending computer-signed birthday cards, just pick up the phone and leave a Happy Birthday message, or if you really want to make them smile, try singing that birthday greeting. Which one will make a bigger impact? Which one builds relationship?

Don’t: Be Reactive with Data Requests

Do: Be Proactive and Give Data Freely

The best way to build trust is to offer value first, second and third. Rather than pushing your agenda of wanting to sell someone’s house, give something of value and expect nothing in return. Send data on market trends and other community news that you think would be pertinent or interesting to the client — even before they ask for it. Use a tool like CoreLogic’s ePropertyWatch to provide automated valuations and information on surrounding listings, sales, forecasts and trends. They may not need you right now, but by offering this type of essential data, you are cementing your position as their real estate expert.

Don’t: Send Generic Emails

Do: Be an Original

You can detect a canned email, and rest assured that your clients can too. Spend the extra time to give it your personal touch, even if it’s just a quick paragraph at the top. With that in mind, try using a program like BombBomb, which allows you to send quick videos of yourself, in lieu of a standard email. A video message allows the client to read your face, hear your words (with the intended tone) and appreciate the undoubted twinkle in your eye. A delivery like this is a differentiator and therefore will make you memorable—even with something as mundane as email. Being memorable and connected is what builds a referral network that will propel you to success.

The challenge for most real estate professionals is using technology to its fullest potential, while staying true to the one thing that computers and technology will never master:  creating real connections with real people.

Leading Real Estate Companies of the World® understands the value of relationships and how important connecting is. It’s one of the reasons we have members in over 55 countries worldwide. Through these connections, our network receives an incoming referral every four minutes, on average.

Real estate is often called a “people business,” and there is no question that relationships are what fuels the industry. Keeping this in mind, the key to evaluating any new technology is to ask yourself whether it helps you strengthen relationships and/or create new ones. If the answer is “yes,” it warrants your attention.

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“Nicaragua” is not an Address: Success Strategies for Cross Border Referrals

By Beth Kinsella, Global Member Services Manager, Leading Real Estate Companies of the World®


Do you work with clients who have real estate needs outside of U.S. borders? As the global market place continues to evolve and more people purchase homes outside of their native countries, you can provide exceptional service to them by helping them connect with a broker just about anywhere in the world (“just about” being the operative phrase) through a referral. Working with referrals outside of American borders is an education, providing lessons in geography, math (read: name that time zone) and perhaps most importantly, cultural awareness. The norm is that there is rarely a norm. Real estate practices vary from country to country, and just when you think you have one country figured out you will be quickly confused by another.

The challenge of cross border referrals is made greater by the number of people involved. In some cases, there is the client who is buying or selling, the agent who is working with the client, the relocation or business development team who is working with the referring agent and, in companies that specialize in this type of business, a cross border referral team who is working between the originating company and the destination broker. Does that make your brain hurt? Here are some ways you can ease the pain:

Set the Bar Low and Beware of Tire Kickers

At the risk of sounding pessimistic, cross border referrals have many variables and numerous points at which the transaction can derail. Caution clients that this is a difficult and almost assuredly slow process. The clients should have their paperwork, finances and basic research in order before the process begins.  Is the client really prepared to purchase a €3-million-dollar chateau in the south of France, or is he having a midlife crisis and watching too much House Hunters International? Ensure that the client who is buying or selling is serious, not just testing the waters. Wasting the time of a valuable contact all but guarantees that he or she will not be interested in doing additional business in the future.

Communicate Clearly

Abandon the notion of “That’s how we do it here.” Your way of doing things is not universal; for instance, you might prefer conducting all of your communications via email. Many countries are not as email-centric as the United States. Also, keep in mind that if you are trying to establish initial contact with someone who does not speak English as a first or even second language, your email could easily be perceived as junk mail.

Contacting someone by telephone is always the best first step. Certainly this can be intimidating, even hilarious at times, but making the attempt shows legitimacy. Who would spend the money or time to make prank phone calls to another country? Anyone can send an email, and it doesn’t cost a dime; that phone call says you mean business (even if you butcher the language).

Google Translate is a huge help, even if you can only squeak out a few words in the language at hand. Occasionally you’ll get someone on the other line who speaks a bit of English, and you will make progress. Once you reach a point when you can get an email address for your contact, communication by email is easier with the help of Google Translate. A tip in regards to using any translation site: use the most basic vocabulary possible (caveman speak). Avoid slang or colloquialisms and remember that many English words have multiple meanings. Always follow-up by phone because if the recipient is receiving an email in a language other than their own there is a good chance they (or their email server) may think it is spam.

Know that “Nicaragua” is not an Address

Getting detailed information is key; this cannot be overstated. When gathering information from the client or referring agent, make sure to get all of the facts. This includes: client contact information, exact listing address (country, city, state/province and postal code), housing type, language requirements of the buyer or seller and any other pertinent details. The more information gathered, the smoother the process will be. Less back and forth with the destination broker will cut-down on placement time.

Exercise Patience

This can be easier said than done. We are in a drive-thru, next-day-delivery, order-from-your-phone culture. This is not always the way the rest of the world works. Getting a response from a broker in another country can take days, on occasion more than a week. Being patient is key and communicating that to all parties involved is essential.

Accept Differences in Business Practices

While your company might pay on a buyer referral, it is uncommon in some parts of the world, including the United Kingdom. Understand that this is not a character flaw of the destination broker or a bad policy of the company he or she represents, it’s simply not a business practice there. Take one for the team and understand that even though you aren’t getting a share of the commission, you are providing your clients with great service, and they will likely come back to you with future business and refer you to their friends and family. To avoid an uncomfortable situation, have the referral fee conversation up-front with the destination broker and make sure to send a referral agreement.

Another major difference to keep in mind is that in some countries, no real estate license is required to sell real estate — that means anyone can sell a house (yikes!). It’s always best to go on the recommendation of someone who has worked with the company before. When that’s not possible, research, research, research. Find out about the economy in the destination country; are they having any major political issues or other threats to the housing market? Dig around the Internet with the agent or broker’s name and the company name; look for a physical address of the company, not just a website. If your gut instinct tells you that something is off-base — keep searching.

Leading Real Estate Companies of the World®, a selective global community of the highest quality independent real estate companies, has made it a priority to effectively service this type of business with a Cross Border Referral Team based in several different countries. The team serves as a hybrid of liaison/concierge/matchmaker to assist member brokers and others when their clients have real estate needs around the world, reflecting the global focus of the network.

Despite the many differences between cross border referrals and business sourced closer to home, there is no discrepancy in what is most essential: the value of human touch and impact of an agent who is willing to go the extra mile. To learn more or to get assistance with cross border referrals, visit

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Nearly 30 Countries Represented at Upcoming LeadingRE Global Symposium

CHICAGO – (9/26/16) – Excitement is building for the 2016 Global Symposium of Leading Real Estate Companies of the World® in Amsterdam October 23-25. LeadingRE members from nearly 30 countries will be participating, including Australia, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Cayman Islands, China, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Panama, Portugal, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, the UAE, United Kingdom and the U.S.

This is the 9th Global Symposium sponsored by LeadingRE for its members around the world, with previous locations in Dublin, Rome, Valencia, Madrid, Lisbon, Venice, Dubrovnik and Berlin.

“Our network doesn’t just feature dots on a map,” comments LeadingRE President/CEO Pam O’Connor.  “Globalization is an integral part of our culture. We bring top-performing real estate brokerages together from around the world at events like this to learn what is happening in global real estate. We foster close relationships, and as a result, our members have sent cross border referrals to over 90 countries in the past 12 months. Other real estate organizations talk about being global. We truly live it.”

The Amsterdam program will feature topics ranging from the global role of wealth management firms in real estate, to the impact of BREXIT, to what is happening in the Russian market. Keynote speaker Caspar Berry is a former poker player who uses that background and 15 years of media experience to offer unique insights on risk-taking and decision making. A special LeadingRE announcement is also slated for the opening session of the Global Symposium on October 24.

To learn more about the event, visit To learn more about Leading Real Estate Companies of the World®, visit

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Global Real Estate Network Names Trendgraphix as Preferred Provider

CHICAGO (9/16/16) – Leading Real Estate Companies of the World® has selected Trendgraphix, Inc. as a preferred provider through its Solutions Group program, a group of select business tools offered to its international network of more than 550 real estate firms.

Using local MLS data, Trendgraphix provides online solutions that give real estate brokers and sales associates across the U.S. and Canada accurate information on market statistics, brokerage performance and sales associate activity.

“The insights that can be gained through Trendgraphix’s extensive reporting tools can support our members in so many ways – from helping brokers recruit and retain top talent to supporting sales associates in their efforts to provide consumers with the most current and relevant market information,” said Robin LaSure, LeadingRE vice president of corporate marketing.

Trendgraphix currently works with tens of thousands over 50,000 of associates and more than 200 real estate companies and looks to extend its reach through this relationship with Leading Real Estate Companies of the World®. “LeadingRE provides both local connection and global reach for the real estate industry. Its members are the leaders in each local market, and we are proud to be with the best,” said Trendgraphix President Jean Li.

To learn more about Trendgraphix, visit To learn more about Leading Real Estate Companies of the World®, visit





About Trendgraphix, Inc.

Trendgraphix, Inc. is a real estate reporting company based in Sacramento that uses local Multiple Listing Service (MLS) data to provide highly-visual market statistical graphs to real estate brokers, agents, and MLS/Realtor associations across the U.S. and Canada. Trendgraphix’s programs are currently used by tens of thousands of agents in more than 200 brokerages in 40 states. For more information about Trendgraphix, visit


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O’Connor and Dietz from Leading Real Estate Companies of the World Attend FIABCI 67th World Congress in Panama City, Panama

Global event positioned Panama as an expanding market as a result of the Panama Canal Expansion and related logistics development projects.


CHICAGO – June 2, 2016 – Leading Real Estate Companies of the World® President/CEO Pam O’Connor and Vice President Global Operations Chris Dietz joined hundreds of real estate industry leaders from 65 countries in Panama City, Panama recently at the 67th FIABCI World Congress. This is the first time this respected industry event has taken place in a Latin American country.

“As we expand our global footprint, which now extends to more than 55 countries, our participation in events such as the FIABCI World Conference is a vital part of our outreach,” Dietz said. “We especially welcomed the opportunity to travel to the Latin American region and connect with existing and potential members there.”

“The FIABCI World Congress in Panama offered our participants a unique perspective focused on ‘Connecting Development for a Better World.’ Panama’s expanding and dynamic real estate market and strong economic potential made this a perfect venue for this year’s event,” explained Danielle Grossenbacher, FIABCI’s immediate past world president.

The conference theme, “Connecting Development for a Better World,” served as the basis for the program, which was filled with world-class speakers, international networking and marketing sessions and exciting recreation and study tours where participants experienced all that Panama has to offer. Special guests included the President of the Republic of Panama Juan Carlos Varela and Panama’s Ministry of Housing Mario Etchelecu. There was also a unique presentation by the famous Venezuelan Kinetic Artist Carlos Cruz-Diez, whose innovative artwork integrates sculpture with architecture.

Eric Van Hoorde, president of ACOBIR, the organizing association of the event explained that “the organization of this global real estate congress represents a country event of great significance and was an excellent opportunity for Panama, due to the fact that in recent years we have grown significantly in the global real estate sector. Thousands of people consider Panama as the ideal place to live and do business because of the important first class infrastructure and its relevant tourist attractions that provide the city a cosmopolitan destination connotation. ”

Ivan Carlucci, president of FIABCI-Panama, added that this event created new business relationships with representatives of the real estate industry around the world who were visiting. “Our goal was to encourage multi-national real estate companies to become established here, especially with vast opportunities generated by the opening of the canal expansion next month. We were committed to being the best hosts for the more than 50 delegations from 65 countries on five continents that visited us,” said Carlucci.

Katherine Shahani, president of the Organizing Committee for ACOBIR and former president of ACOBIR, referred to the FIABCI World Congress program, which included global networking events, social activities that strengthened links between participants and organizations, theme forums, vital presentations from national and international exhibitors, as well as a social program filled with a series of sightseeing and shopping tours. The agenda was designed to combine robust international business with tourism.

One of the many highlights during the Congress was the FIABCI World Prix d’Excellence Awards Gala Dinner. The FIABCI World Prix d’Excellence is a prestigious honor that recognizes real estate development projects that best embody excellence in all real estate disciplines involved in its creation and illustrates the FIABCI ideal of “providing society with the optimal solution to its property needs.”

For more information about FIABCI, visit the website For more information about Leading Real Estate Companies of the World®, visit



About Leading Real Estate Companies of the World®

Leading Real Estate Companies of the World® ( is a selective global community of the highest quality independent real estate companies, with over 550 companies and 128,000 sales associates in over 55 countries. Last year, the network generated over one million transactions valued at $351 billion in annual home sales. LeadingRE exists to make its members better by connecting them to opportunities and people around the globe, supporting them with an international referral network, professional development programs, unique events and connections to people and opportunities worldwide.



FIABCI, the International Real Estate Federation, is a business network of real estate professionals worldwide. FIABCI provides access and opportunity for real estate professionals interested in gaining knowledge, sharing information and conducting international business with each other.  With members in 65 countries, including 100 Professional Associations, 65 Academic Institutions and 3000 individual members from all professions of the real estate sector, FIABCI is the most representative organization of the real estate industry in the world and holds special consultative status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations.

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Leading Real Estate Companies of the World and Luxury Portfolio International Partner with HGTV for Ultimate House Hunt

CHICAGO – June 1, 2016 – Leading Real Estate Companies of the World® and Luxury Portfolio International® are proud to announce the beginning of the HGTV Ultimate House Hunt, a month-long online contest held on each year. HGTV has joined forces with Leading Real Estate Companies of the World® and Luxury Portfolio International® as the exclusive real estate partners of HGTV’s Ultimate House Hunt 2016, the contest runs from June 1 through July 8.

The contest highlights exceptional homes from across the globe in eight exciting categories: Waterfront Homes, Master Retreats, International Homes, Living Large in Small Spaces, Backyard Retreat, Kids’ Spaces, Classic Living, Making an Entrance, and Curb Appeal.  All featured homes are represented by members of Leading Real Estate Companies of the World® and Luxury Portfolio International®. Consumers vote for their favorite, and a winner is chosen at the end.

“The Ultimate House Hunt is one of our favorite events each year,” said Rich Lacy, vice president of digital for “We can always rely on Leading Real Estate Companies of the World® and Luxury Portfolio International® to deliver the most stunning homes for our engaged audience to choose from.”

The contest is an annual event, and HGTV has partnered with LeadingRE and Luxury Portfolio on the contest since 2014. Last year’s contest attracted over 82 million page views with nearly 900,000 votes cast, proving the enduring appetite for viewing extraordinary real estate. The contest is also a microcosm of the changing tastes of the public. Last year’s overall winning property was a luxuriously rustic lake house in Tiger, Ga., represented by Harry Norman Realtors. Dream Hawaiian homes also fared especially well, with three residences from Hawaii Life Real Estate Brokers being voted favorites. In addition to bragging rights, the winning homes will receive additional editorial exposure on

“Each year we look forward to holding this contest with HGTV and selecting the most appealing properties from our members to share. From beautiful waterfront homes to properties with the most stunning master retreats, to the most appealing international properties, the contest showcases the best properties listed for sale,” said Paul Boomsma, president of Luxury Portfolio International®.

To view the contest and cast your vote visit:


About HGTV

America’s leading home and lifestyle brand, HGTV features a top-rated cable network that is distributed to more than 99 million U.S. households and the HGTV website,, the nation’s leading online home-and-garden destination. The brand also includes the HGTV HOME consumer products line which showcases exclusive collections of paint, flooring, soft goods and other home-oriented products, as well as HGTV Magazine, a new home and lifestyle publication published in partnership with Hearst Magazines.

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Global Real Estate Network Selects CityBlast as Preferred Social Media Solution

CHICAGO – (5/13/16) – Leading Real Estate Companies of the World® has named CityBlast as a preferred provider through its Solutions Group program, a collection of select business tools presented to its global network of more than 550 residential real estate firms.

CityBlast is a social media management company dedicated to the real estate industry, providing sales associates and brokerages with a team of social experts who write and publish high quality locally-focused articles and information directly on their Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn pages.

“CityBlast is a great addition to our program, giving our members an easy, systematic way to create a professional online presence and generate leads from their social media sites. Founded by a former agent who mastered the use of Facebook as a way to build new business, CityBlast brings a unique combination of proven industry experience with social media savvy,” said Robin LaSure, LeadingRE vice president of corporate marketing.

CityBlast founder and CEO Shaun Nilsson comments, “Adding to a select list of partners, CityBlast is proud to bring our industry-best social media services to LeadingRE members. LeadingRE has long represented a gold standard for real estate professionals, and that model has a natural synergy with our company philosophy. We’re very excited.”

Learn more about CityBlast at Learn more about Leading Real Estate Companies of the World® at


About CityBlast
CityBlast ( is the largest social media management company dedicated to the real estate industry, providing sales associates and brokerages with a host of social media services, including team of social experts who write and publish high quality locally-focused articles and information directly on their Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn pages, and audience growth and lead generation packages.

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Global Real Estate Network Exceeds $351B in Sales

CHICAGO – (5/10/16) – Chicago-based Leading Real Estate Companies of the World® has announced its most recent sales statistics for 2015, reflecting ongoing dominance in the residential real estate market. Network affiliates produced over one million transactions valued at $351 billion in home sales last year, outperforming its closest network competitor by $86 billion, which further widened the margin over the previous year.

Leading Real Estate Companies of the World® affiliates had 27% of the total sales among the top 500 firms in the U.S., outselling all other networks in home sales by 48%, according to REAL Trends 500, a ranking of the largest U.S. companies by transaction sides and sales volume. Members also represented 14 of the top 25 firms in the U.S. in sales volume among this prestigious group.

“The strength of these numbers says so much about the collective power of our member firms, illustrating how the focus on quality yields quantity in terms of sales,” said Pam O’Connor, LeadingRE president/CEO. “By pairing each firm’s local leadership with the global connections and resources LeadingRE provides, we have created an undeniable force in real estate.”

Figures for the top 500 firms are verified and published by REAL Trends. Figures for total sales of all networks are estimated by using average sales units per agent for each network’s firms in the REAL Trends 500, multiplied across each network’s entire agent population. 

Leading Real Estate Companies of the World® is a selective global community of the highest quality independent real estate companies. LeadingRE exists to make its members better by connecting them to opportunities and people around the globe, supporting them with an international referral network, professional development programs, unique events and connections to people and opportunities worldwide. To learn more, visit

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EVERYTHING BUT THE HOUSE Joins Leading Real Estate Companies of the World® Solutions Group as a Preferred Provider

Collaboration assists Realtors in creating a seamless experience for home sellers


CINCINNATI, OH, MAY 4, 2016 – EVERYTHING BUT THE HOUSE (EBTH), the world’s premier online estate sale marketplace, today announces the company has been selected by Leading Real Estate Companies of the World® (LeadingRE) as a preferred estate sale partner for its Solutions Group program. EBTH, which brings the thrill of estate sale shopping online, will work with LeadingRE’s Solutions Group, a collection of carefully-selected business providers to assist real estate professionals with creating a seamless home selling experience for their clients.

The relationship between EBTH and LeadingRE offers real estate agents and firms a unique service to share with their clients who are downsizing or need to sell their personal property. With attention to the often-sensitive nature of the process, EBTH’s expert team works with sellers to evaluate their items, identify hidden gems, and maximize the value of a collection. EBTH does all of the work, from photography and cataloging to managing payments and shipping. Profits from a client’s sale can go toward home renovations to improve the sale value of the property and assist with moving costs.

“We are excited to work with LeadingRE and its network of the best real estate firms in the industry,” said Jon Nielsen, chief revenue officer for EBTH. “LeadingRE consistently raises the bar in a competitive market and we are thrilled to share our commitment to unparalleled customer service with their community.”

“We are thrilled to introduce EBTH to our network of 550 top real estate firms,” said Robin LaSure, vice president of corporate marketing for Leading Real Estate Companies of the World®. “The company’s online marketplace for estate sales is yet another way our members can extend their offerings by presenting clients with a convenient way to sell virtually any household item – whether art, furniture or collectables. And, just as our members take a full-service approach, EVERYTHING BUT THE HOUSE assists home owners from start to finish.”

Founded in 2008, EBTH has grown to 21 cities across the US, over 2 million online visitors per month and an active bidder base from across 100 countries. EBTH currently hosts more than 220 sales a month, which typically generate proceeds 3 to 5 times higher than traditional alternatives such as auctions and yard sales.

EBTH has established partnerships with other LeadingRE members including Long & Foster, John R. Wood Properties, and F.C. Tucker Company.



EVERYTHING BUT THE HOUSE (EBTH) is a revolutionary online marketplace that provides the reach and convenience of an e-commerce platform for estate sales around the world. As a full-service provider, EBTH helps sellers maximize the value of their collections by handling every aspect of the sale from photography and cataloging to payment and delivery. Through its marketplace, EBTH also allows collectors and buyers to discover everything from rare antiques and original art to great deals on everyday needs. With more than 220 estate sales a month and all items starting at just $1, bidders from across the world always have something new to discover at

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LeadingRE Names Real Estate Webmasters as a Solutions Group Provider

CHICAGO (3/23/16) – Leading Real Estate Companies of the World® has selected Real Estate Webmasters for its Solutions Group program, a collection of carefully-selected business providers presented to LeadingRE’s global community of more than 500 quality independent real estate companies.

Founded in 2004 by Morgan Carey, Real Estate Webmasters is one of the largest custom technology providers offering end-to-end solutions for real estate firms, teams and agents. The company specializes in custom and semi-custom websites, marketing tools, lead management, customer relationship management (CRM) and consulting services.

“Real Estate Webmasters is ideal for brokerages looking to provide unified, state-of-the-art technology at the company level to improve SEO, brand control and lead generation. We look forward to introducing their solutions to our members across North America and beyond,” comments Robin LaSure, LeadingRE vice president of corporate marketing.

“LeadingRE is an impressive organization with highly professional leadership, and their members are among the best in the industry,” said Michael Audet, vice president enterprise for Real Estate Webmasters. “These are the people we serve and want to serve – who understand the importance of working with great technology – and it is a real honor to work with them.”

To learn more about Real Estate Webmasters, visit and To learn more about Leading Real Estate Companies of the World®, visit


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