Archive for the ‘Random (Un)Common Sense’ Category

As my mother once said about my book “Well, Jennifer, it’s very well-written, but I don’t see what all the fuss is about. It’s all common sense!” Which, unfortunately, is not all that common in the real estate industry.

posted by on Random (Un)Common Sense

I believe this is segment 5 in my little series about the realities of Real Estate in the Olden Days – before the advent of all the technological gizmo/gadgets we enjoy today. Back when we had toget OUT there in our market to learn about it… and to stay on top of the MLS for our clients… and to actually know our way around town without the nice voice speaking to us from our dashboards!

Today I’m going to share with you how we did contracts, disclosures and other important paperwork back in the day…

…brace yourself…

We actually met with our clients. In person. Face2face, voice2voice. In a serious pinch, we MIGHT fax, but it was frowned upon and all faxed signatures MUST be followed up upon immediately with real live inked signatures.

Yes, you read that right. We had to DRIVE to our clients’ homes or workplaces (or have them drive to us), sit down in the same room and TALK… voice2voice… about these somewhat significant pieces of paper we were asking them to sign. In ink, preferably blue.

No emailed contracts, disclosures or amendments. No Docusign or her cousins. Real paper, real ink, real people.

In the spirit of this series, I believe the forced face2face interaction served us old fogies very well. Don’t get me wrong, I’m as big a fan as anyone of NOT getting in my car and driving anywhere I don’t have to, especially if the drive involves rain, snow or traffic. Or, as was often the case in Denver, blinding sunglare.

But since we didn’t have a choice, we did it. Why do I feel this was a good thing? Ah, let me count the reasons…

1. Meeting face2face with your clients more often than less often is better for the relationship. And since discussing contractual issues is an important part of a real estate transaction, it seems to me to make sense to have these conversations in the most conducive environment most to facilitate full discussion and understanding.

2. Perhaps I’m overthinking this, but it seems to me that having a face2face conversation about contractual matters (as opposed to shooting off an emailed file with instructions to sign here, here and here) would give the client the distinct impression that you know your stuff. That you ARE an expert in contractual matters, which you will demonstrate as you review the document they are about to sign provision by provision.

3. Related to this, it seems beneficial to be face2face with the client while going over the documents so you can more clearly tell if they are confused or concerned about a particular provision. And, of course, they will be more likely to ask you questions if they feel they have your undivided attention in a face2face setting.

4. And finally, since the main objective of putting a contract together (whether that’s a listing agreement, a purchase offer or a counterproposal) is to come to agreement on the best strategy to move forward with, it seems that being face2face to do said strategizing might result in a BETTER strategy than one discussed over the phone or email. Or, egads, text!

So, that’s my opinion and I’m sticking to it. Thoughts?

posted by on Random (Un)Common Sense

To continue this FUN discussion of how real estate agents worked back in the age of the dinosaur, let’s talk today about the GPS… or lack thereof.

We didn’t have one. We didn’t even have Mapquest. Nope, the best we had was the handy-dandy Pierson Guide which was a big book of maps for the Denver Metropolitan area, divided into 270-some inter-related pages. If you didn’t know how to get from place to place, you referred to your Pierson Guide, figured out which page was relevent and planned your route.

Which, as you can imagine, is difficult, not to mention dangerous to do while driving (perhaps this was the 1990’s version of texting and driving). Yeah, I did it. But perhaps worse than being difficult and dangerous, it was also kind of embarrassing when you have clients in your car! I mean, you’re a real estate agent! You should know your way around town! Right??

Right.

Well, along comes the GPS which makes the Pierson Guide obsolete. Whew!

Not so fast.

One of the benefits of not having a GPS was that it put pressure on real estate agents to actually be able to navigate their way around town, especially with buyers in the car… or risk looking like an idiot (or worse). Compare the credibility factor of an agent who is constantly pulling over to look back at her map versus one who effortlessly drives from property to property, making intelligent conversation about the various parks, shops and landmarks as they pass by.

Now, sure, taking instruction from the GPS isn’t quite as disruptive as pulling over, but it still gives the clear impression that the agent doesn’t know her market all that well.

But there’s more! When you don’t rely on your GPS, you are forced to develop a mental picture of your town – how it lays out, how the parks, shopping centers, major highways and byways relate to each other. To this day, I can draw a fairly accurate picture of the City and County of Denver, placing all neighborhoods, major cross streets, parks and shopping districts. I understand how the neighborhoods, highways, attractions and commercial districts relate to each other geographically which gave me tremendous credibility and confidence when talking with buyers about their location preferences and needs.

So, the moral of the story… if you do rely on your GPS when showing buyers, try to, well, not do that. For a month. TURN IT OFF and force yourself to get around town the Old Fashioned Way!

posted by on Random (Un)Common Sense

To continue the discussion of real estate TODAY versus real estate 20 years ago, I want to chat a bit more about the benefits of NOT having information about homes for sale readily available at the touch of a button or click of a mouse.

Back in the olden days, buyers (and sellers to a degree) were far more dependent on their real estate agent for information. Only WE had access to the precious MLS and while we could certainly fax our clients the spec sheets on listings (or even surreptitiously loan them our Big Book of Listings), the only way for our clients to get the full story was to hire a competent, hard-working real estate agent who was regularly out in her market previewing!

And I believe this was a very good thing. NOT just for the reason you might be thinking – not that holding the golden key to the MLS, buyers (and sellers) were forced to come to us, but rather…

…because I WAS the keeper of the MLS information; my clients relied on me for it – which forced me to stay intimately involved with the inventory! I got on the MLS several times a day; I previewed several times a week – and having that up-to-the-minute market knowledge served me well… very well throughout my career, but especially in the early days.

But this doesn’t mean that even though consumers now have access to maps and pretty pictures that there is no need for you to be out there IN the inventory. I have personally been a buyer many times in my life and while I like looking at the pictures and reading the descriptions, I probably don’t know enough about the area to make a wise decision about what house I want to buy  – or even what houses to look at. Just last spring, my husband and I wanted to rent a beach house in the Tampa area and we were overwhelmed just looking at all the listings on the VRBO site!

So, the moral of the story today is that while we won’t ever go back to the days of being the Keepers of the MLS, we can still provide a LOT of value to our clients (and therefore to ourselves) by being conversationally familiar with the local real estate market and the only way to do that is to be out in it!

 

Real Estate the Old Fashioned Way – the Series
A Series with Soul
Remember the Big Book of Listings?
The Keeper of the MLS

 

posted by on Random (Un)Common Sense

As promised, today I will begin a series of ramblings on what life was like in the olden days for real estate agents – before ZTR, Docusign, GPS and smarty-pantz phones. And contrary to what you might assume, I believe real estate agents were BETTER equipped (in some ways) to be successful when they WEREN’T equipped with all these gizmos, gadgets and techno-toys!

Let me set the stage. Back in late 1996, I hung my shiny new real estate license on the wall of my first brokerage firm – Coldwell Banker Van Schaack in Denver, Colorado. By the end of the year, I’d had four closings and in the next 12 months, enjoyed 25 visits to the closing table. Maybe not set-the-world-on-fire numbers, but it was good enough to get me Rookie-of-the-Year runner-up and, heck, I was pleased with myself.

This was back in the day of the Big Book of Listings – remember that? Every Tuesday, the real estate board would distribute the Big Book with grainy pictures of active listings and the bare basic specifications of each. Or, for the more technically-inclined among us, we could log onto the DOS-based MLS and scroll through the listings (no photos included).

Sounds dreadful, doesn’t it? How on EARTH could a real estate agent possibly keep up with the market when the only information available about a listing was a grainy black and white photo and a brief just-the-facts write-up?

How, indeed?

WE GOT OUR BACKSIDES OUT INTO THE INVENTORY AND LOOKED AT IT! TOUCHED IT! SMELLED IT!

Instead of perusing property profiles online, we had no choice but to go out and preview. And preview. And preview some more. In fact, that’s how I spent my very first day as a licensed real estate agent – previewing property with two other agents ’cause that’s what you DID to learn your market. It was a habit I got into early that served me well, very well, throughout my career, even after color interior photos, virtual tours, videos and google earth hit the scene.

I was lucky that in my Denver, Colorado market, previewing was accepted, even encouraged. I was stunned when I started writing for real estate agents and discovered that previewing was not mainstream in all markets; in fact, in many, it Simply Isn’t Done.

The moral of the story – if previewing is allowed in your market, even if it’s frowned upon but technically allowed – DO IT. You will be a far better agent for your effort!

***

Related Blogs at Searchable Soul: http://swsconnect.com/searchable/soul/tag/market-mastery/

posted by on Random (Un)Common Sense

A little while ago I hosted a teleseminar called “Real Estate the Old Fashioned Way” where I described the life and times of a real estate agent in the good ol’ days before the advent of all this whiz-bang, fancy-schmantzy technology. I was listening to a recording of the show recently and thought (in my never-to-be-humble opinion) that there was some good stuff in there I should share!

Here was the promo for the show:

“With all of today’s fancy-schmantzy technology, tools and systems, you’d think real estate agents in 2016 would be selling circles around those of us who practiced back in the olden days when a fax machine was the latest and greatest time-saving device! But that doesn’t appear to be the case; in fact, even in strong markets, most agents struggle to close even a dozen properties a year – and that’s only one per month! Why is that? Heck, I dunno, but as an agent who sold 25 houses her first full year (back in those olden days), I thought it might be fun to explore what’s different about the business of real estate now… and then!”

Sound fun? I will officially get started tomorrow, but as a teaser, can you imagine life as a real estate agent before…

  • … your MLS included 25 interior photos?
  • … your clients had access to those 25 interior photos + google maps + property videos +++?
  • … you could rely on your GPS to get you from home to home?
  • … you could fax/email/docusign contracts and disclosures to your client?
  • … you could text/email/Facebook your clients instead of calling them on the phone?
  • … potential buyers and sellers could find out about you on the Internet?
  • … Facebook???

Contrary to how dreary you may think life was for us old-timers (OhMyGoodness, you actually had to drive across town to get a contract signed??), let me assure you that it was NOT! In fact, I attribute a lot of my early and ongoing success to the fact that I started my real estate career before the advent of most of the technology that agents rely on today – and it instilled habits in me that endured throughout my career.

So, stay tuned. This will be FUN!

posted by on Random (Un)Common Sense

A few weeks ago, I came across one of those enlightening Facebook quizzes that promised to “determinemy dominant personality trait” based on my responses to a number of questions. Okay, I’ll bite.

I took the quiz. Here was my result:

“Your answers reveal that kindness is your most dominant personality trait. You are very sensitive to others and rarely have a bad thing to say about anyone. People are constantly impressed by your thoughtfulness. If someone is having a bad day, you always seem to know how to make it better.”

Huh.

Now, lest you think I am sharing this with you to brag how awesomely well I’m doing on my 2016 New Year’s resolution to Be Kind, well… I’m not. As much as I would like to claim that I’ve been a little ray of sunshine everywhere I go since making my Resolution to Be Kind, I can’t, at least, not with a straight face.

The truth is…I’m finding it very hard to Be Kind. Oh, sure, it’s easy to Be Kind to people who behave themselves; people who aren’t inconsiderate, incompetent or otherwise irritating, but… well… nearly every day I find myself failing miserably when I encounter inconsiderate, incompetent or otherwise irritating humans.

But as they say, the first step in solving a problem is to admit you have one. So, here I am, publicly proclaiming that I’m having a problem Being Kind.

I want to do better. So here is how I’m going to try to Do Better at Being Kind:

  • I shall try to remember that when I choose Kindness, I don’t have to fret about seeing the person I was unKind to and feeling weird;
  • I shall try to remember that when I choose Kindness, I don’t have to worry about what others who may have observed me being unKind are thinking about me;
  • I shall try to remember that when I choose Kindness, the person I am Kind to might have been expecting an unKind response and be grateful not to have received it;
  • I shall try to remember that when I choose unKindness, I hurt myself as much as the other person, due to the emotional state I put myself in (related to the above three factors!).

Off I go to Be Kind!

posted by on Random (Un)Common Sense, Working with Buyers

I just realized I promised a to be continued on an earlier blog post and, well, never continued.

The blog in question was called “To Pop-Tart or Not to Pop-Tart” and was related to the disappearance of Beverly Carter, the Arkansas real estate agent who was later, sadly, found murdered, allegedly by a buyer she agreed to meet at a vacant property.

At the time (and since) I have publicly said that if I were still in real estate, I would probably still be willing to Pop-Tart. Here’s why:

Every day in our businesses and our personal lives, we take chances. Most of the time, either consciously or subconsciously, we weigh the potential risk of our activity against the potential gain and make our decisions accordingly. When we get in our car to drive to a listing appointment – not knowing if a drunk driver is heading the same way; when we walk into Walmart – not knowing if a psychopath is shopping there today; when we’re the first one to arrive at the office – not knowing if we might be interrupting a burglary in progress…

In my rescue work, I interact with shelter dogs I don’t know on a daily basis, not knowing if one of them might be so frightened or unstable as to take a bite out of my face.

Risk. Reward. We make those decisions every day.

Presumably, Ms. Carter made the decision on that fateful Thursday that doing her job (as she perceived it) was worth the statistically unlikely risk that she would be harmed. Real estate agents across the country do it every day and the vast majority of the time, nothing bad happens; in fact, very often something good happens!

So yes, even after the murder of Beverly Carter, I would still include Pop-Tarting in my business model, using Reasonable Caution.

Reasonable Caution? What might that look like?

Reasonable Caution Tip #1: Use common sense when scheduling appointments. Don’t show homes at night or, frankly, any time of day to anyone who gives you the creeps over the phone.

Reasonable Caution Tip #2: When talking with the potential buyer, casually mention you will be bringing your husband (for women) or partner with you. No need for explanation, just say it. Or, related to this Tip, casually mention the owner may be home for your showing.

Reasonable Caution Tip #3: Carry mace or another legal, easy-to-use self-defense product on your keychain. Ensure that the buyer sees it, but make sure you don’t set it down where they could grab it!

Reasonable Caution Tip #4: Don’t go into basements with strangers, or be the first one to enter a room. Always keep the exit available to you.

Reasonable Caution Tip #5: Make it your personal policy to take a picture of the buyer’s driver’s license and text it immediately to your office (or shoot, just to anywhere!). Tell the buyer ahead of time you will be doing this. Be sure to do this for ALL buyers so you won’t be accused of profiling.

And finally, Reasonable Caution Tip #6: Realize that 99.999% of the people you cross paths with as a real estate agent mean you no harm (other than your ego from time to time). Even if you gave them every opportunity to abduct you or otherwise hurt you, they wouldn’t dream of doing it. MOST PEOPLE ARE NOT MURDEROUS PSYCHOPATHS! Please don’t go out into the world thinking the worst of people; what you expect to see is what you WILL see.

I have a few more thoughts on this subject, but will save those for another day…

 

posted by on An Exceptional Agent, Random (Un)Common Sense

If you follow my blog, you know that from time to time we do a “Favorit-est Tips” post where I share the feedback I got from a recent Sell with Soul teleseminar. This installment is from the show we did earlier this week called “Guiding Your Clients to the Right Decisions” where we discussed various strategies for helping clients, well, make good decisions in a real estate transaction!

Are you asking if it’s really our job to assist in the decision-making process? Aren’t we just supposed to give them three options and let them decide? And advise them to contact their attorney if they have questions? Or conversely, aren’t WE the experts so shouldn’t WE just tell them what to do?

In my opinion, no. Part of the job description of a professional real estate agent is to help our clients understand their options and respectfully guide them to the right decision for THEM. NOT the “right” decision for us and our paycheck, but to truly be looking out for their best interests, even if that means a delay in our own payday (hey, I didn’t make the rules, but that’s how it works in our business).

Anyway, at the end of the show, we polled the audience for their favorite tip or tips of the day and here’s what they told us:

Favorit-est Tip #1 (by far): When talking with clients, always use “we,” “our,” “us” and “let’s.” This put you on the same side as your client, both in your mind and in theirs. Try it, it’s incredibly powerful.

Favorit-test Tip #2: Give your client a back door. Always give your client an “out” when discussing their options. The bigger the “out” the better. Reassure them that they can say no, walk away or do nothing. The less pressure a client feels from you, the more open they will be to suggestions and the less likely they are to actually use the back door!

Favorit-est Tip #3: Don’t try to “bust” a buyer’s objections. If a buyer is complaining about features of a home, it’s actually a sign they are interested in it. Don’t argue with them about their objections; in fact, agree with them! “Yes, the closets are a little small, aren’t they?” Your buyers aren’t stupid – they know no home is perfect and need to work through their objections without being argued with.

Other tips from the show:

  • Use reverse psychology so clients don’t feel pressured or coerced by you
  • Offer alternatives to a price reduction (e.g. staging, cleaning or making improvements to the home)
  • Offer to “try that price for two weekends” when a seller wants to price higher than your recommendation
  • Be mad with your client when the other side annoys them – help them blow off steam

posted by on Random (Un)Common Sense

A few weeks ago, we did a show in the SWS Virtual Studio called “Conflict to Cooperation” where my awesomely awesome co-host Mr. Bob Burg himself (co-author of the Go-Giver books and the recently released Adversaries into Allies) joined me to discuss various strategies to take potentially adversarial relationships and situations and, well, make them NOT adversarial! Or at least, get to the point of being closer to a win/win than you might be otherwise.

I got SO much out of the show that I want to share, so this will probably become a little series – we shall see!

So, first things first – WHO do you have conflict with in your real estate career? Well, I polled the audience prior to the show asking just that question and the results were interesting. You can see them here, but the jist of the general response was that the Number One party you fuss with is the agent on the other side of your transactions, followed closely by your seller clients.

Interesting, huh? That one of the most common adversarial relationships in your business is with your CLIENTS, specifically, your sellers?

Actually, it’s not so surprisingly given the unique nature of the traditional real estate agent/seller client relationship. On one hand, we are obligated by our Code of Ethics and agency agreements to place our clients’ interests above our own, but on the other, we are compensated only if our clients make certain decisions that we are supposed to be guiding them on! And sometimes, the best path for our clients to take is NOT the one that ensures we get paid!

Anyway, that’s a soapbox for a different day, but suffice it to say that unless a real estate agent takes extreme care when communicating with their sellers, it’s ridiculously easy for the agent/seller relationship to become adversarial. (Here’s a blog I wrote several years back about it.)

But first, let’s define “Adversary” or “Adversarial.” In the context of Conflict to Cooperation discussion, an adversary isn’t necessarily an enemy or even someone you’re negotiating with. No, an adversary is simply anyone who is standing in the way of an outcome you desire. And you’d sure like to help them see your perspective! And work with you accordingly!

Unfortunately, an awful lot of traditional real estate training teaches us to manipulate or coerce clients and colleagues into seeing things our way by using objection busters and memorized closing scripts. But is that really the best approach? Does ANYONE appreciate being manipulated or coerced with such techniques?

Um, no.

As Dave Ramsey often says “Those convinced against their will are of the same opinion still.” Fortunately, there is a better way! A way to create a win/win attitude between you and your potential “adversaries” where everyone comes out feeling, well, like they won/won! And that’s the subject of this Conflict to Cooperation series… stay tuned for more!

posted by on Random (Un)Common Sense

Last week we did a teleseminar show in the SWS Virtual Studio called “Getting Help!” which was on the subject of, well, getting help – in the form of an assistant (as opposed to a partner). At the end of the show we polled the audience to tell us what tip, idea or strategy they found most insightful and here is what they told us!

Favorit-est Tip #1 (by far): When you’re thinking it’s time to get some help, start out with a part-time unlicensed assistant and see if that does the trick. An unlicensed assistant (aka personal assistant or “wife”) can free up a lot of your time and energy by running personal and business errands for you, without the commitment and risk of an employee or licensed assistant.

Favorit-est Tip #2: Make a list of all the things you do as a real estate agent and then identify which activities you enjoy and/or are good at. What’s left (i.e. the things you don’t enjoy and/or aren’t good at) might just be a great place to start to create the job description for your assistant! Don’t get stuck in the idea that an assistant has to do paperwork – YOUR assistant can do whatever YOU want them to do, even if it’s not something an assistant typically does!

Favorit-est Tip #3: Don’t automatically assume that an assistant should handle “administrative” duties while the agent goes out and prospects. If an “assistant” is capable of managing a real estate transaction from start to finish, he or she is more of a partner, not an assistant.

posted by on Random (Un)Common Sense

Last week we did a teleseminar show in the SWS Virtual Studio called “Time Management for Real Estate Agents” (catchy, eh?) where we shared tips and strategies for getting the most out of those 24 hours we all have in which to get stuff DONE. At the end of the show we polled the audience to see which of the dozen+ tips we shared were the Favorit-est, and this is what they told us:

Favorit-est Tip #1: Use a white board (dry-erase) to list your long-term projects. Put the board somewhere in your office where you don’t see it every day, but glance at it from time to time to see how you’re doing. You’ll be surprised how many of your projects get DONE, some without your even realizing you did them!

Favorit-est Tip #2: When prioritizing your day, always put your clients first, ahead of your prospecting. If you focus on caring for your current clients instead of hunting down your next ones, you may never have to formally prospect another day in your career. Seriously.

Favorit-est Tip #3: When tackling your to-do list, do everything that will take you five minutes or less to complete, regardless of its importance. Once those little to-do’s are DONE, your mind will be much clearer and better able to focus on the subject of the next Favorit-est Tip…

Favorit-est Tip #4: Get the ugly to-do’s done first (after you’ve handle the five-minutes-or-less ones) – anything on your to-do list you’re dreading – DO IT. You’ll be amazed how much better you’ll feel and how open the rest of the day will seem!

Favorit-est Tip #5: Realize that not all problems are yours to solve. Just because someone is willing to dump THEIR problem on you doesn’t mean you have to accept it.

Other tips: Hire a Wife, Change Your Self-Talk, Answer the Phone When it Rings Instead of Letting it Go to VM when possible, Rely on a Planner.

posted by on Random (Un)Common Sense

Until about six months ago, I wasn’t much of a fan of Facebook. Oh, I wanted to be since it seemed like the Place to Be, but I just couldn’t get interested in what really did appear to be simply a collection of those cliche’d “what I had for breakfast” posts. In my quiet moments (i.e. when I was bored) I’d log on and desperately try to find entertainment there, but almost always failed in that endeavor.

So, what happened six months ago? Well, I got involved in animal rescue and now Facebook is my new best friend. I’ve found a community of similarly-obsessed people, both locally and across the country, and together we make miracles happen every day for abandoned dogs in kill shelters. It’s honestly the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done and Facebook is a HUGE part of enabling us to do what we do.

Now, I’m sure that I’ve “lost” a lot of Facebook friends since my personal page was taken over by doggie chatter and I’m fine with that, truly. I’d much rather someone block my posts than be annoyed with me on a daily basis! By the way, if you want to see the rescue FB page I run, you can visit us here:www.SavingWaltonCountyDogs.com. We truly are making miracles happen every single day.

But enough about me.

I’ve noticed a trend on Facebook of posting “cute” little postcard-like graphics with provocative, sometimes even offensive quotes. Hey, I’m no prude and sometimes they make me LOL, but some of them, well, don’t. And given the nature of what I do, I see a disturbing number of these posts on real estate agents’ pages.

Here are a few examples I’ve seen in the last week:

Drunk 1

drunk

gps

Funny? Yeah, I guess. But are these REALLY the messages these real estate agents want to be putting out there for all their friends to see? That they spend their days anxiously awaiting happy hour and calling people names?

I know a lot of people say that they keep their FB “friends” list intimate so that they can let their hair down and truly be themselves without worrying about offending potential clients, but guess what?! Our friends CAN be a tremendous source of business for us and in my humble opinion, implying that we live for happy hour  and can’t control our mouths might give even our friends the wrong impression of our professionalism. Like it or not, when you’re self-employed, you’re always on display. And while someone may think you’re a hoot to hang out with (and drink and curse with), the fact is, we choose our friends using a different set of expectations than we choose the people we hire and refer to.

Just something to think about!

posted by on Random (Un)Common Sense

Last Thursday we did a show in the SWS Virtual Studio called “Are You an RCHB?” 

Um… huh? What on earth is an RCHB and why might you care to be one (or not)?

Well, RCHB stands for “Reasonably Competent Human Being” and the context is whether or not we give the people we know and the people we meet in our day-to-day wanderings reason to believe we are RCHB’s… and therefore capable of handling their real estate business and referrals. 

Hopefully most of us realize the importance of being Reasonably Competent when it comes to our businesses – when we’re working with our buyers and sellers. But where a lot of people (myself included) fall short is in our personal lives – with our friends, acquaintances and people we meet outside of business. But since someone who has never had the pleasure of working with us in a real estate transaction doesn’t know if we’re any good at what we do, they must make a hiring or referring decision based on what they know of us on a personal level. 

During the show, we described six potentially problematic areas where it’s easy to “let your hair down” and, well, demonstrate to people that you might NOT be the RCHB real estate agent they’ve been searching for. 

At the end of the show, we polled the audience to see which of the six tips hit closest to him for them and which one they’d be making an effort to do better in…

Favorit-est Tip #1
Do what you say you’re doing to do instead of making excuses for why you didn’t do it. It’s so easy to overcommit and then scramble to get out of doing whatever it is you committed to… or apologize afterwards. But to come across as an RCHB, you want to be the person who does what she says she’s going to do, not the “Yes” person who constantly overpromises and underdelivers. 

Favorit-est Tip #2
Be on time. Not only for professional appointments, but in your personal life as well. Don’t keep other people waiting for you, not even your friends. Sure, your friends may put up with your lack of punctuality; they might even laugh about it, but it very may affect how your friends view you as a professional. The factors we use to choose our friends are very different from those we use to choose the people we hire and refer, so strive not to give the appearance of disrespecting others’ time or being too unorganized to show up when expected. 

Favorit-est Tip #3 
Return phone calls promptly. Again, not just business phone calls, but personal ones as well. You only have a small window to “return a phone call promptly;” after a few hours that opportunity is lost and you’re left with apologies for not calling back sooner. While the people who call you might not expect a prompt return phone call, it will certainly make a great impression if you do call right back! Sure, sometimes you simply can’t, but when you can, do. 

Favorit-est Tip #4
Watch your language. Curtail your use of profanity, if that’s a problem for you. Yes, even among friends. It’s very easy (trust me on this) to become unaware of the effect a potty mouth has on others who don’t use profanity on a regular basis. If you don’t believe me, cut out all four-letter words from your vocabulary for a week or two and you’ll see what I mean…

Related to this is to watch your Facebook and Twitter posts with regard to alcohol use. I can’t tell you how many posts I see from real estate agents about being drunk or wanting to be drunk. I’ll probably write a whole separate blog on this subject soon!

Favorit-est Tip #5
Review your marketing materials for errors, especially your website. Anything you put out there in the world in writing needs to be as close to 100% error-free as it can possibly be. If your website contains typos, misspellings, broken links and glaring grammatical errors, it will raise the question in your visitors’ minds if you’re (note, not “your”) a Reasonably Competent Human Being. 

Favorit-est Tip #6
Be emotionally mature. This simply means to do your best not to whine, moan and complain to your friends and acquaintances about your business, your health, your love-life, your dog or your car. Sure, from time to time you need to vent, but part of being an emotionally mature human being is to be able to handle your problems. 

So, there you have it… I see myself in a few of these… not at all in others… no one is perfect, of course, but if there is an area or two in which you could use improvement, no time like today to start doing something about it!

posted by on Random (Un)Common Sense

Did a neat little show in the SWS Virtual Studio called “Creating a Low-Drama Real Estate Business!” You can read more about it here.

As we often do during SWS Teleseminars, I asked the audience to tell me what their favorit-est tip from the show was – what they learned that made them say “Wow! That’s the most brilliant thing I’ve heard all day!” or something to that effect.

Well… I have tallied up the results and here they are:

Favorit-est Tip #1
Recreate your belief system about your business, and therefore, your reality. Write down (on an index card) what you DON’T like about your business and turn it into an affirmation of what you’d like instead. For example, if you’re frustrated that your transactions fall apart so often, you would write on one side of the card something like: “I hate it that I work so hard on my deals and then they fall apart.” Then, on the other side, write: “It’s amazing how often my transactions stay together even when problems arise. I love being able to solve the problems or even head them off before they become potential deal-breakers.” Put your affirmation in YOUR words; words that feel natural and make you feel good when you say them out loud. And watch your reality change like magic!

Favorit-est Tip #2
Change your beliefs about what your reality is and get more of what you want. But if you hold onto negative beliefs, you’ll get more of what you don’t want. “Worrying is praying for what you DON’T want!”

Favorit-est Tip #3
Watch Your Language. Stop complaining about your clients and telling dramatic stories about all the things that are going wrong. While it can be entertaining to share horror stories, it might be creating more of them to tell, which is NOT what you want!

Favorit-est Tip #4
Bask in your successes. When something good happens; when you do something right; when you’re feeling proud of yourself… take a moment to ENJOY the moment. Relish it, luxuriate in it, appreciate it. FEEL how good you’re feeling!

Favorit-est Tip #5
Don’t take overpriced listings! ‘Nuff said.

Favorit-est Tip #6
Appreciate a negative experience for the lessons learned, take steps to ensure it doesn’t happen again and move on. No need to dwell on mistakes or be traumatized by them.

Favorit-est Tip #7
When presented with a problem or dilemma, ask yourself if this is truly your problem to solve. If so, stay calm and visualize the perfect resolution and work toward it. If it is NOT (and that will often be the case), gracefully decline to take responsibility for the problem and politely hand it back to the person whose problem it IS to handle. (Related Reading: the Declining the Monkey series).

posted by on Random (Un)Common Sense

“The seller countered at $435,000 and said that’s his bottom line.” Negotiate

Well, shucks. I guess the deal is done, then. The buyers said they won’t go above $415,000, so there’s no point in wasting any more time on this negotiation.

Uh, HUH?

Never, ever, ever believe that anything is anyone’s bottom line! Not saying that they’re lying or even that they didn’t mean it when they said “this is as low (or high) as we’ll go.”

They probably weren’t lying and they probably did mean it.

But that doesn’t make it true.

No one knows what the bottom line is until they reach it. Not the listing agent, not the buyer agent, not even the buyer or seller. And chances are that any proclamations of bottom line (or top offer) are thousands of dollars from what the seller would be satisfied taking or the buyer satisfied paying.

As the representative of the buyer or seller in a negotiation, never, ever allow the negotiations to die on your side of the table. Always counter a “final” offer, even if you “know” the parties involved are as low (or high) as they’ll go.

Because you don’t know. And, frankly, neither do they.

On a related note, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen an agent on a real estate reality show push her OWN client to accept an offer or counteroffer because “the other agent says this is their bottom line.” Nonsense!

Never, ever advise your buyer or seller client to pay any attention to such proclamations, and push them to accept a “final offer” just to save you the trouble of drafting up yet another counter-offer. If your buyer or seller wants to push a little harder, just write it up! I think you’ll be surprised (pleasantly) how many times a “dead” deal will come together if you don’t accept anyone’s “final offer!”

posted by on Random (Un)Common Sense

I posted a blog the other day called (very cleverly, I thought) “Manners Matter” where I b!tched about someone who neglected to thank me for the wedding gift I gave them back in September.Thank You

Well, had some more thoughts on the Manners Matter matter and wanted to share.

I have a friend who is in a similar industry to mine; she’s an expert in her field and really puts herself out there to help people in need of her expertise, often without any compensation for her time and energy. We talk on a regular basis and I noticed that in the last month or so, her enthusiasm for her career has really cratered. Usually she’s all upbeat and optimistic; a little fireball of energy who gets a serious kick out of helping people See the Light and Change Their Lives, but lately… eh… not so much.

We finally talked about it, and while she hadn’t read my Manners Matter blog, that’s EXACTLY what’s got her down. An utter LACK of good manners from many of the people she helps. Specifically, a conspicuous lack of appreciation for the free advice and counsel she generously provides day in and day out.

She described several situations where she spent a lot of time with someone on the phone or email, came away from the encounter euphoric that she’d clearly made a difference, and then… NOTHING. No Thank You cometh, not even after she followed-up.

Coincidently, one of the non-thankers was someone we both know; someone who is in the real estate industry and could definitely benefit from both my and her high opinion of him. Which she no longer has. And after she told me the story, I don’t either.

All the guy had to do was send her a two-liner email thanking her for her time and wishing her a nice day. Or shoot, even a smiley face would have made a difference. Had she gotten her smiley face, she’d have thought nothing further about it and continued to think he was a pretty cool guy. As would I. But the utter lack of any expression of appreciation spoke so loudly to her about his character that now she wouldn’t dream of sending any business his way. Ever.

Scary, isn’t it?

So, how about this for an assignment this week… commit to saying Thank You ten times a day. LOOK for opportunities to express your appreciation for someone’s time and attention. Even if it’s just shooting off a little smiley face in an email…

And let us know how it goes!

Manners Matter

Feb
2012
09

posted by on Random (Un)Common Sense

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I just realized something. I never got a thank you note.Gifts

In early fall, I attended a wedding. Took a gift, signed the card, left the gift in the appropriate spot with the other gifts. I have to assume that the bride and groom got my gift.

It’s now February. I’m guessing I won’t be getting my thank you note and even if I did, it’s kinda too late to make much of an impression on me.

Now, neither the bride nor the groom are real estate agents, or even self-employed, so what I’m about to say might not be at all relevant to them. But to US, all of us self-employed people in the world who depend on the good faith of the people who know us? It means a lot.

IF the bride or groom were real estate agents, the simple non-act of not-thanking me would have blown their chances of ever getting business or referrals from me. Seriously.

Trite? Perhaps. But there are plenty of real estate agents out there to choose from and if someone can’t show me the common courtesy of thanking me for my gift, I’ll take my business elsewhere.

Manners matter. Don’t think people don’t notice, they do.

And having good manners can make a world of difference in how the people IN your world think of you.

posted by on Random (Un)Common Sense

smaller_daisy

Last week, I found myself involved in an unpleasant discussion with a service provider in my life. In the interest of discretion, I won’t share the details here, but suffice to say that this unpleasant encounter was above and beyond your typical “Someone forgot to take his happy pill today” behavior that we all deal with from time to time. Shoot, sometimes it’s US who forgot that happy pill and we lay into others with a hostility that the situation really didn’t warrant.

Usually when someone is rude or otherwise unpleasant with me, I try to take the high road and diffuse the unpleasantness with a prompt, polite, apologetic response (if an apology is at all warranted) and 99% of the time the other person apologizes for their rudeness and compliments me ;-] on my gracious reaction. We resolve our issue and part as friends.

Well, that’s not what happened last week. This recent atypically unpleasant encounter has escalated into a full-out, one-sided battle that the situation at hand truly didn’t deserve. My best attempts at staying calm and polite were ignored and actually seemed to fuel the fire of her discontent.

Again, I won’t go into the details, but trust me that the hostility displayed by the other party was truly leaning toward the bizarre.

At first, I was hurt…then irritated…then a little angry and finally resigned myself to simply being amused. I decided the person must be a little crazy and therefore, there really wasn’t anything I could have done to avoid the unpleasantness. I gave a little mental shrug, said to myself “Well, she’s obviously a fruitcake,” and went on about my day.

But it suddenly occurred to me that she might, indeed, be mentally unstable. Not the kind of instability that should be made fun of or dismissed, but the kind that should inspire compassion and empathy. I imagined, if this is indeed the case, the pain of her family, watching their loved one change into a different person – someone who formerly wouldn’t have dreamed of verbally attacking a client with unjustified accusations – how awful that would be for them, and how helpless they would feel.

Now, I have no idea if this person is mentally ill or just extremely unhappy and unpleasant, but Assuming the Best (if you can call assuming someone is mentally ill “the best!”) really did take the wind out of my “I’ll show HER” sails! So, now, when I think of her and our now-soured relationship, I just feel a little pity, a little sympathy and wish her and her family the best.

And, if she’s not mentally ill, that should REALLY annoy her ;-]

posted by on Prospecting & SOI, Random (Un)Common Sense

Have you ever heard the little ditty about the “What’s the Best Time to Plant a Tree?”Plant a tree

25 years ago.

What’s the next best time to plant a tree?

Today.

Put another way – What, one year from now, will you wish you’d done today?

Or even another way – What, one year from now, will you be thrilled you did today?

Do that. Today.

So tell me… what’s on your To-Do-Today list that you’ll be tickled with yourself for doing one year from now?

posted by on Random (Un)Common Sense

During a recent SWS Teleseminar show (Negotiate with Soul) a discussion arose as to whether or not a listing agent should “remind” the buyer agent of the buyer’s contingency deadlines. We didn’t exactly call it “reminding,” but rather “checking in” or “following up,” but to my ear, it’s the same thing as “reminding.”

For example, in Colorado, there is a loan approval deadline which somewhat functions as the Drop Dead date in a transaction. If the buyer does not have loan approval by that deadline (typically a few days to a week prior to closing), he can do one of three things. He can:

1. Terminate the contract and receive a refund of his earnest money, no questions asked, or

2. Ask for an extension of the loan approval deadline (which the seller has the option to grant or not), or

3. Do nothing.

Please note – the onus is on the BUYER to notify the other party if there is a problem with the loan. If the buyer does nothing, it is assumed that the loan is fine, and the earnest money goes “hard” – that is – if the transaction does not close on time, the seller has the option to keep the buyer’s earnest money. But NOT HAVING LOAN APPROVAL DOES NOT TERMINATE THE CONTRACT and if it still somehow can close on time, great!

So, back to the question, (assuming an agency relationship exists) should a listing agent remind the buyer agent about the loan approval deadline?