The Accidental Entrepreneur: It Takes More

kristinia bouweiri

Kristina Bouweiri, President & CEO Reston Limousine

The Entrepreneur Business to Business forum at NVAR yesterday featured an accidental entrepreneur, Kristina Bouweiri.  She calls herself this because she never thought or had the desire to become a business owner.  She was a 100% commission based sales person selling advertising when she was offered a position at Reston Limousine.  It was there she learned what it was like to operate a business.  She did booking, invoicing, hiring, you name it – she did it all plus was a mother of four.

There were several events that helped shape her business to where it is today.  One is when she was approached to provide a shuttle service for the National Geological Survey which got her company into the government and getting government contracts and the other was 9/11.  When 9/11 occurred her business ground to a halt and she had to get out behind the desk and out on to the street to make things happen.  She got involved in Chambers, Charities and multiple Boards which all helped her gain clients and not only survive but thrive.

Her philosophy of how to run a successful business mirrors running a real estate business whether you are a broker or an agent.

Here are a few things owners and agents need to consider:

  • Get out and get involved – network with other professionals in the business but also outside the business to help create opportunities for each other.
  • Continually grow your database and maintain regular contact with them through email, phone calls and visits.
  • Get into a mastermind group of others in the business from around the country to share ideas on all aspects of the business and to help you develop best practices.
  • Join a peer advisory group like Vistage to help you grow your business as well as hold you accountable.
  • Attend conventions, seminars and be a continuous learner. Be knowledgeable about your business.
  • Develop strategic relationships to grow your business.
  • Learn to delegate. Take an hourly calendar and track what you are doing each hour for two weeks.  See what your hourly rate of pay is and any tasks you are doing that don’t pay your hourly rate, hire someone to do it.
  • Don’t spread yourself too thin
  • Hire to your weakness and develop your strengths.
  • Always look to hire the top talent and weed out the under performers.
  • Be relational not transactional – make great and long lasting relationships and help others to succeed.
    • Hold client appreciation events and solicit sponsors to help fund the events.
    • Figure out what you are good at delivering and make that your niche.
    • Be tech savvy and be an early adopter
    • Embrace social media – have a blog, website, LinkedIn, Facebook and email blast strategies to gain awareness, provide valuable content and to be seen.
    • Get involved in charities

    As you can see, she was a wealth of knowledge to the numerous agents in attendance and it was great information that parallels our industry.  To learn more, feel free to reach out to me.

    Now, go sell something!

Scott MacDonald

RE/MAX Gateway


Northern Virginia Real Estate Market UPDATE! What You Need To Know To Sell Your Home

House inventory has dramatically increased in Northern Virginia. Buyers have more options. Real Estate Agents & Sellers alike… You need to watch this video blog for tips and tricks to help sell the home. Want to talk about your property in specific? Call Scott MacDonald (703) 652-5777 or email read more…

Scott MacDonald

RE/MAX Gateway


7 Ideas For A Successful Real Estate Open House

The Spring real estate market is already warming up and due to low housing inventory, an Open House can be an effective way to get your listing seen. Listen as Scott offers some great ideas that were shared in “The NEW Agent” training series on how to help ensure a successful real estate open house.

Scott MacDonald, Broker/Owner/President of RE/MAX Gateway mentors and offers practical advice to real estate agents. Want to learn more? Contact Scott MacDonald (703) 652-5777 to learn more about how to be your best as an entrepreneur in the real estate world. Read more at


How Productive Real Estate Agents Make The Most of Winter Storm Janus

Real Estate is more than just showing houses. Learn how to take advantage of inclement weather, snow days, and how to build your relationships and business as winter storm “Janus” pushes her way through the Midwest and up the east coast.
Scott MacDonald, Broker/Owner/President of RE/MAX Gateway mentors and offers practical advice to real estate agents. Want to learn more? Contact Scott MacDonald (703) 652-5777 to learn more about how to be your best as an entrepreneur in the real estate world. Read more at

What You Need To Know To Prepare For A Home Appraisal

We had a great training session with John Chapman and Nathalie Palmer from Omni Appraisal Services about the current market and how to help get your properties to appraise for the contract sales price or at least get better results.

Here are a few key items to take into consideration when know who you are working with on your appraisal:

There are two types of appraisers – licensed and certified.  Licensed Appraisers can only do values up to $1,000,000.  Certified Appraisers can do any property value.  Additionally, Certified Appraisers must take a test and have a Bachelor’s degree.  Only Certified Appraisers can appraise FHA loans.

Did you know there are two types of appraisers?
– Licensed and Certified
Do you know the difference?

  • Larger banks are paying less to appraisers through Appraisal Management Companies.  Almost all of the banks own them so they can make more money.  This is not always a “good thing”.  Often times you will get an appraiser with less experience or one that will rush through the process because they have to make up their income by doing more volume.  Appraisal companies are in place to put a buffer between the lender, Realtor and appraiser to perpetuate a more “arm’s length” transaction.  What has resulted is that the banks are using this as a profit center and not always employing best in class appraisers.
  • Check with the appraiser’s competency and local knowledge.  Ask where they are located and if they are familiar with your property/area.  Additionally, ask how long have they been appraising homes?  Lastly, check and see if they work from home or office?   Many small owner operators work from home and as a result, don’t get exposures to other appraisers.  This lack of networking, idea sharing and updates on the market can hurt appraisals.
  • Education for appraisers is getting tougher.  There is an apprenticeship for 2 years now.
  • There are two types of appraisers – licensed and certified.  Licensed Appraisers can only do values up to $1,000,000.  Certified Appraisers can do any property value.  Additionally, Certified Appraisers must take a test and have a Bachelor’s degree.  Lastly, only Certified Appraisers can appraise FHA loans.

What you need to be prepared for your appraisal:

  • Always bring your own comparable sales – make sure they are good comps so you can build creditability.  Even bring low sales and let them know what the issues were that resulted in their low sale – pet odors, back to power lines, short sale, foreclosure, etc.
  • If at all possible, provide plat/floor plan – proper measuring is critical because if its 100 square feet off the true square footage you will have issues
  • Bulls eye approach – first look in subdivision, then do a radius search of 1 mile, 2 miles, etc. to find the right comparable properties.
  • Use a couple of higher sales, couple of smaller home, the radius approach to finding properties and a couple within the timeframe of settling within 3 months or less
  • You now need to have 5 to 6 comps
  • Provide 1-2 under contract comps as part of your presentation
  • Find FSBO too!  They can help your cause
  • Pass on any and all information you know about your property – list all recent improvements and their cost/value to help support your price.
  • Provide details on other offers if you had multiple offers
  • Provide additional pricing details like the Home Pricing Wizard, RBIntel statistics, and articles relating to escalating prices.

Steps to overcome low appraisal

  • Get a “good” conversation going, kill them with kindness
  • Provide new info that the appraiser might not be aware of when you met initially at the property
  • Be there when the appraiser wants to meet at the property
  • Use their language
    • Beneficial
    • Neutral
    • Adverse

Appraisers need to be concerned with the following items:

  • Safety –  the house needs to be safe, easy to explain
  • Soundness – the house needs to have structural integrity including but not limited to the roof and foundation
  • Security – the house needs to have locks on windows and doors

Integral issues for appraising

  • You have to know the condition and the subsequent ratings of the properties condition.  The rating scale goes from C1-C6.  One is the best and 6 is the worst.  Speak with the appraiser in terms of the condition to get more value for your clients
  • You also have to know the quality of the construction in order to help get more value.  Was the home custom built or was it a cookie-cutter built in the late 70’s with 7.5 foot ceilings?  These rankings range from Q1-Q6

As you see, it is extremely important for you to be a professional agent, do you job thoroughly for you clients and get the results that everyone is looking for from the appraisal process.  Get it?  Got it?  Good!

Now, go sell something!

Scott MacDonald

RE/MAX Gateway, LLC


How Do Top Producers Create Their Success? REMAX Gateway Round Table May 2013

The Spring Real Estate Market has really taken off and as we enter the month of May, rounding out the 2nd Quarter of 2013, it’s a great time to look at the some of the best practices of a few of RE/MAX Gateway’s Top Producers and what they attribute to their success, year after year.

RE/MAX Gateway Top Producer Panel MAY 2013 Share Successful Business Techniques

RE/MAX Gateway Top Producer Panel MAY 2013 Share Successful Business Techniques

Our May 2013 Top Producer Panel consisted of Joe Doman, Bryan Felder, and Kathy Worek. These seasoned Agents offered some of their most trusted techniques and business strategies.

Joe Doman “Joe Knows”

Where is your business coming from?

Sphere, internet leads, referrals. 25 closed and pendings, just wrote 4.5 million in contracts and working them out.

4/4/4 – shoot for the numbers: reach out to sphere/internet leads/people in process, in this order

I just got off a call and overall the stats from across the country are:  38% sphere, 19% direct mail, 15% open houses and geo marketing, 9% expired(s) – especially older ones,  7% online and 12% other – like fsbo’s, sign calls and relocation(s). That does actually add up to 100.

What is different from last year to this year?

We have our WordPress site up and running, more focus, getting more things done. We are tracking of our numbers.

What has made the biggest difference in your business?

I think a combination of things like positive affirmations every morning; coaching is critical to my success – keeps me focused and on target, mindset & attitude my positive/upbeat, an assistant and time blocking.  I color code the calendar to see how I am spending my time.

What is the best piece of advice would you give the agents today?

WordPress is the wave of the future, conveying useful information via blogs and/or video and social media, and setting appropriate expectations for you clients. Google + is a good tie in with SM.  More than anything: believe in yourself.  Be unique.

What do you wish you started doing sooner rather than later?

Real Estate in general. Direct mail, I’m really particular about things that I do so it takes me forever to roll something out. I wish I had done it sooner who knows though, maybe now was the right time. (EDDM)

What do you wish you didn’t do if you had to do it all over again?

Most of the things I wish I didn’t do have nothing to do with Real Estate. Although, it’s all lead me down the path I’m on today and it’s pretty awesome.  A lot of things have made me the person I am now, they’ve built character, made me compassionate, appreciative and made me better in general.

Anything else to add that others should know?

“You can’t grow tomatoes if you plant corn.” When you plant seeds of doubt, worry, fear and failure , that’s exactly what you get. You need to plant seeds of positivity, wealth, abundance, happiness, success, greatness, love and gratitude. Don’t let your mind sabotage you; keep the course.  I have been in a position where I didn’t know where my next dollar was coming from and didn’t have one left either. You need to have faith in yourself, believe in yourself and you’ll surprise yourself.

Bryan Felder of The Virginia Realty Group

Where is your business coming from?

Everyone’s business is different – Bryan’s is business to business.  Set up 2 databases – one for business and one for clients. This system drives business to your business database from your client database.  This will get you referrals from the businesses.  Develop this piece of business.

What is different from last year to this year?

Networking with agents outside the area to get referrals for people moving to the area.  I attend seminars and set a goal for collecting cards and start to market to them with a quarterly newsletter.

What has made the biggest difference in your business?

Focus on 4 categories and go deeper with database – 37 touch points with them every year.

What is the best piece of advice would you give the agents today?

Leverage your team to gain balance – push leads, do team huddles and meetings consistently, and educate.

Do a “To Do” list every day, then set 3 goals to keep the focus and my time managed.  Keep records so you can bench mark your success.

What do you wish you started doing sooner rather than later?

You can make a lot of money. You cannot make a lot of money. You can spend a lot of money. So, you need to track your numbers.  Review your P&L and check bank accounts.  Do this now – don’t wait.

 Is there anything else to add that others should know today?

Don’t grow your team too big.  Only bring on the right people at the right time.  You’ve got to have fun!  Team activities, go out with agents – do stuff outside the office.  Pick a niche.   Ask your clients, “What one thing could I improve upon that would have made your transaction smoother? What about my staff?”  There is always room for improvement and if you don’t ask you won’t know.

Kathy Worek  of Kathy Worek Group

Where is your business coming from?

Business is growing through consistency in communicating with sphere – just listed cards, constant contact advertising, company newsletters and post cards.  Four times per month is the number of contacts with sphere per month.

What is different from last year to this year?

Focus on sphere – professional marketing – client reviews online.  Use WordPress with good content and quality information.  List contractors on website and post RBI stats on the site and encourage clients to go to my site.  Focus on neighborhoods and zip codes for Trulia and Zillow.  Team rhythm is good – not as consistently as Bryan but still good.  Take your professionalism to the next level by providing your client your checklists.  Use the power of the team to leverage exposure for your clients.

What is the biggest difference in your business?

Consistency in marketing, consistent in processes has added to my business.  Getting bigger internet presence and get reviews

Best piece of advice for agents to take in.

Appreciate your clients and let them know.  Communicate your understanding of their situation.

What would I have done sooner?

Don’t be afraid to spend money on assistants – it frees up your time and allows you to get in front of clients and new business opportunities.  Trust your staff.  If you want to get to the next level – you need to hire the assistant.  Speaking of assistants, Joe does videos to train his assistants. He tells them to watch the video and ask questions after they are finished.

Get a good database management system in place early and use it to the fullest.

Be firm in your listing agreements and commissions you charge.

Budget – and stick to it!  You are running a business.

Anything else to add?

Get in front of people – be positive and optimistic.  Network.  Be nice to other agents.

Please feel free to contact me or (703) 652-5777 if you would like to attend our next RE/MAX Gateway Top Producer Round Table or if you have any comments or suggestions.

Get it?  Got it?  Good!

Now, go sell something!


High Performance In Real Estate: From Basketball to Business

It’s that time of year again – college basketball’s Final Four time.  As you think about the potential winners of this year’s tournament and past winners, the teams that will win or have won in the past are all high performing.  This got me thinking, what represents a high performing team and how can this relate to your business?

HIGH PERFORMANCE from Basketball to Business

Here is what I came up with for you to consider:

  • High energy – Get rest, exercise and be ready to tackle any challenge that comes your way.  Do what it takes to pump yourself up.  Read motivational quotes, talk with mentors, rally yourself or do whatever gets you excited to have energy.  High energy is contagious.
  • Integrity – Always do the right thing for your clients and your team – especially when no one is looking.
  • Goal oriented – Each and every team needs to be working towards a common goal or goals to keep them focused.  Review with the team on a regular basis and make adjustments quickly and as necessary.
  • Happy – Always be positive and optimistic and remember to celebrate achieving your goals.  Also, high performing teams have fun and laugh with and at each other to keep the atmosphere light and entertaining.
  • Performance driven – The best way to be performance driven is track and measure results of the goals you have set.  Depending upon the goal, this can be daily, weekly, monthly or quarterly.  I wouldn’t go out any further than quarterly so you can make adjustments to keep you on track.
  • Educated – Always be seeking to learn new things about your business, your clients, and other industries that you can take and adapt to your business.  Review what was done right or wrong to build upon your accomplishments or learn from mistakes.
  • Resilient – They don’t get down easily. Failures are learning experiences and setbacks are temporary.  They understand that no is not personal and gets you closer to the next yes.
  • Forward thinking – Incorporating strategic planning, careful analysis of trends, and reviewing industry data will enable you to think about the future and make the right decisions for success. Don’t get caught up in what you have now, but project on what you will have one month from now, two, etc. Agents always get hung up on what they have going on now that they often times forget to prospect for the next month, and going forward.
  • Opportunistic – They continuously look for opportunities in their fields.  In the recent past it was foreclosures, short sales, and working with investors  but remembering to work and grow their database is important.  Recognition of trends is key.
  • Realistic – Remember to never get too high or too low.  Set attainable goals, stay the course or make the appropriate adjustments to be on top of your game and focused where you should be spending your time.
  • Money driven – They are driven by money but not money focused and they don’t sell from their wallets.  They realize by helping others, they too will succeed.
  • Accountable – The teams are accountable to each other but most importantly, to themselves.  The leader keeps himself accountable through meeting with the team or trusted advisors regularly.  The leader needs to set the example.
  • Nonconforming – They set the pace and don’t follow, they are leaders and approach things differently from others.  Additionally, they look at things from all angles to determine the best course of action.
  • Communication – They provide positive feedback and praise in public, constructive criticism in private, face to face meetings, emails, texts and phone calls on consistent basis is critical to achieving great things.  Most importantly, you need to be consistent in your communication, i.e. messaging, relevance and timing.
  • Enthusiasm – Be ready to tackle any challenge and celebrate your success.  As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm”.  Be enthusiastic.

HIGH PERFORMANCE success tips from Basketball to BusinessNow that you understand a little more about becoming a high performance individual or team, incorporate these philosophies and make things

happen.  Get it?  Got it?  Good!

Now, go sell something!

Agent Success: Professional Courtesy

As the Spring market begins and Real Estate Agents are showing and listing more properties, Scott MacDonald offers a few tips and reminders when showing properties. Want to learn more about the REMAX Gateway?  or contact Scott MacDonald directly at (703) 652-5777

REMAX Gateway Agents Training for Anticipated New Home Sales

This year the real estate market trend will shift to incorporate more new home construction sales as we are seeing fewer resale properties on the market. Inventory levels of resale existing homes were down as much as 30% throughout 2012 in NOVA. So we brought in the new home sales expert Suzanne Neff to educate our agents on how to be more successful in selling new homes and how to add more value as an agent in the new home sales process.
We also heard from Leslie Strittmatter with New Homes Guide . They provide a list of all new homes in an easy to use directory. If you don’t see a builder you know, just let Leslie know as this is a free service to the builder.
Suzanne offered us some very practical and insightful information that I would like to share with you:home under construction

  • Be wary of registration policies – every builder is different, time of registration & period, must be present upon registration.
  • Remember: 1st agent in – is their agent
  • Preview the new home – just like a resale
  • Ask to see entire agreement in advance of writing contract and review with the client prior to writing the contract.
  • Prior to writing contract talk with sales person about the negotiating position of the builder. It is important to know all the facts.
  • Ask about communication process of sales person – how often, with whom, etc.

Did you know … There are differences in builder’s contracts – builders add paragraphs when something happens in the past, deposits (flat fee, %, at contract writing, at selection time), no appraisal contingencies allowed, sometimes deposit on contingent contracts it is not refundable, days to make color selection – loan application, loan approval, etc., notice to close 2 days to 2 weeks.
Did you know … Some builders have in house mortgage/title with credit back for closing/options/etc. (have client get GFE to compare to your lender to see if builder will match) – do a chart to show what the breakeven time-frame would be for them to “not” use the builder contract. Often times, it is more difficult for the outside lender to work with the title company and vice versa. Builder likes control.
Did you know … Keep client in property 2 weeks past closing because it is your responsibility to keep a roof over their head – not the builders. Permit process may delay closing, weather may delay closing. Never schedule back to back moves.
Did you know … Get a copy of the contract at contract writing or you may not get one for over 30 days.
Did you know … Many contracts say- products/offerings are subject to change without notice and builder has the ability to switch out products of similar quality – make your buyers aware of this clause so there are no surprises. Shortages may occur as factories are not ready for increase in sales. Prices – hello, the market is hot and manufacturers may raise their prices and builder may switch manufacturers.
Did you know … You need to ask how many inspections are there and which ones can we, as agents, attend and which ones can the buyer attend.
Did you know ... Most builders will want the home inspector there before or after scheduled walk through. Some will want you to use their approve inspectors.
Did you know… Most builders want to build a product they are proud of and will stand behind their product. Most every builder will have a form that “waives their right to warranties” because they, the builder, will offer a better warranty than what is required by Virginia and often times, the vendors they use give longer warranties than what the state requires.

Have you ever considered “why do people like being new home sales agent?” This is good to think about just so you know the basic type of personality you may be potentially working with throughout the sales process:

They like to sell; they also strongly desire and rely on support of administration staff; they typically like to know where they are going everyday; a salary and/or draw is often part of their compensation; they typically participate in health care benefits that the builder potentially offers; sales commission structures differ between builders but obviously, the more they sell, the more they earn; two days off with 40+ hours a week – days off vary during the week (so be sure to call and find out their schedule because not all assistants know the neighborhood, offerings, etc.); and new home sale persons must be ready to sell at any time because you/your client may be the only person they see all week – this is another reason why it is so important to call ahead, so you can get the data and let them sell their product when you bring your client in.

Suzanne strongly suggests taking the time to call before taking your client in to the sales office. This introductory conversation shows your level of professionalism to the new home sales person, and even more importantly, the information you provide to your client shows them that you are doing exactly what you promised: helping them find a home and representing them in their purchase of their new home.

Here are some great questions to ask the sales person:

  • What is the Registration policy?
  • How much will Agent be paid?
  • What is the commission percentage based on?
  • What are their hours?
  • When is the sales person available?
  • What is available?
  • What is price range?
  • What is average sales price?
  • What is building time frame/delivery time?
  • Are there any buyer incentives being offered by the builder?
  • Do you know of any price increases in the near future?
  • Convey something about your clients and background of their move.

Kevin Harris is an award-winning residential architect, international speaker, champion of culture-based design, an LSU and Harvard GSD graduate, father of 3, Eagle Scout, blue water sailor and Fellow of the AIA. For more information on Kevin or the firm go to

Remember this is an emotional time, so be sure to be there for your clients.

As market continues to move in the builder’s favor, negotiations on pricing and incentives for mortgages using mortgage and title partners will be less, credits for upgrades go away, and in some cases, deposits will become non-refundable. Be sure to be a professional Realtor and know more so you can earn the trust and respect of your clients and the new home sales professionals. Get it? Got it? Good!
Now, go sell something!

Success in the Real Estate Business

Scott MacDonald the Broker, Owner and President of REMAX Gateway speaks on the importance of successful business model and practices for real estate agents. With over 25 years experience in the real estate market world, Scott offers his insight to agents. REMAX Gateway serves the Northern Virginia, Maryland, and DC Metro areas with locations in Chantilly, Brambleton (Ashburn), Lorton, and Gainesville. A 5th office location in Arlington, Virginia is scheduled for Spring of 2013. Contact Scott MacDonald (703) 652-5777 or follow along at