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"Boost Your Income With Moneymaking Tips!"

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Ira Serkes Photo
8/6/04 Interview with Ira Serkes

Pacific Union International Real Estate
1625 Shattuck Avenue #101
Berkeley, CA 94709

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The Ira Philosophy

  1. As a real estate investor, Serkes found that agents were trying to sell him something, but he wanted an agent who would look after his needs providing him information to make a decision to buy a property or not to buy it.
  2. As an agent himself, he is interested in more than just selling a house;he considers a client's informed decision not to buy a house a good outcome.
  3. The same view applies to people coming to his web site; if they don't like what they see and don't make contact, it means that the match would probably not have been a good one.
Working Efficiently

  1. Serkes has plenty of time to travel (60 days last year), yet he works with a very small team himself, his wife and partner Carol, and a virtual assistant; the key component is the Internet; rather than attempting to be all things to all people, Serkes has identified strengths on which to focus.
  2. The first contact for online leads is the virtual assistant, who conducts "triage" i.e., screens people to identify buyers whom Serkes can help immediately, those who could be helped later or who should be referred out,and those who can't be helped at all.
  3. Referrals are made to agents, within and outside Serkes' company, who work well with buyers; referral fees (25%­30%) are a lucrative stream of income; a few minutes of work can yield $2,500­$3,500 on average.
  4. Serkes checks email when he travels; the virtual assistant sends him a summary of contacts, and Serkes calls people back personally or directs the assistant on how to handle each case.
  5. His secret is being satisfied not to get every bit of business; referrals are a high component of his operation, but he and his wife still close $15­20 million in sales each year.
Regret Minimization Framework

  1. Jeff Bezos coined the term to explain his decision to take the risk of founding; he imagined himself at age 80 looking back on his lifeand asking what decisions he wished he had made differently.
  2. Serkes applies this process as a strategy to maximize happiness indeciding what to do.
Technology as the Enabler

  1. The Internet lets Serkes communicate with people in his neighborhood or anywhere in the world and make connections otherwise impossible.
  2. Agents who depend on physically taking buyers to see houses tend to be fearful of the Internet because buyers can access information about properties online and conduct a transaction without the help of the agent.
  3. Although buyers can access property information online, in reality, most don't have time to search out everything themselves, so Serkes' system provides them with information based on how the Berkeley market works.
  4. In Berkeley, houses come on the market Mon.­Wed., a brokers' tour occurson Thurs. (buyers welcome), open houses run on Sun., and offers are generally entertained the following Tues.­Wed.
  5. On Wednesdays for their buyers, Ira and Carol Serkes produce a summary list of new properties and maps; on Thursdays, they add digital photos they take themselves of the houses with objective notes they also give eachproperty an LTC (Lucy the Cat) score of one-to-four paws or a hairball.
  6. Their buyers can select homes of interest to visit on Sunday and still have a chance to put in a bid; disclosures and offers can be sent via scanner and web site without the clients coming into the office; the processsaves valuable time for buyers.
  7. The Serkeses create a customized web site for each buyer filtered by city, number of bedrooms and price range; they are working toward using a full transaction platform.
  8. Ira and Carol Serkes will arrange private showings of any house to accommodate clients' wishes.
Quantum, Zen and Star Trek!

  1. "The Quantum Theory of Home Buying" emphasizes that the only two possible conditions for buyers are getting or not getting the house; if buyers really want a property in a competitive market, they need to give it their best shot.
  2. "The Zen of Listings" is based on the knowledge that buyers will become sellers; a secret for getting listings is to work effectively for buyers and stay in contact with them so that they can come back to you as sellers later.
  3. "The Star Trek Transporter Beam" is the Internet, a server site and AdobeAcrobat faster and cheaper than overnight delivery; using these tools, you can work with clients at a distance in real time to refine documents (e.g.,contingency removals) to their exact specifications.
The Most Dollar Productive Activity

  1. Placing referrals is the most time-effective way to generate revenue; listing and selling homes provide good commissions, but these activities take a lot of time.
  2. The biggest payoff comes from developing a team of referral agents and having a referral web site where people come, decide they like what is offered and then are transferred to a team member for service; the Society's national referral system (free to members) lends itself to this kind of use.
  3. Converting 5% of leads to sales is reasonable; allowing 5 minutes toplace a referral and assuming a 25% referral fee, you can make the equivalent of $2,400 per hour if the average commission on a house runs $16,000.
Long-term Plans for Web Site

  1. When Serkes no longer personally represents buyers and sellers, his website can continue to be used for placing referrals; it should generate retirement income of at least $100,000/year through referral fees.
  2. Serkes plans to donate his web site to his alma mater after his death so that the college can benefit from the income stream the equivalent of a $4million endowment.
Favorite Web Sites

  1. Google is a standard for searching.
  2. The Berkeley Public Library site is useful for renewing materials.
  3. Merriam-Webster Online is a good resource for looking up words.
  4. allows Serkes to stay current with computer-related developments.
Contact Information for Ira Serkes:

(v) 510-526-6668
(f) 510-524-6869

Real Estate Sites & Tools in this Briefing:

Serkes' web site
Berkeley Public Library
Merriam-Webster Online
Apple Computer: