posted by on Contact Management

Here’s a fun interview I did with my good friend Rich Gaasenbeek of IXACT Contact about SOI & contact management. Enjoy!

IXACT Contact: I’m curious to know what motivated you to move from your successful career as a real estate broker to the work you’re doing now?

Jennifer: Well, it was a series of serendipitous events that led up to the career change – which at the time didn’t seem so serendipitous! I owned a real estate company with a partner who, one day, decided she didn’t want to be in real estate sales anymore. BAM! I wasn’t in a position at the time to continue without her, so I took the “opportunity” to finish up a book I’d started three years earlier. I had no idea at the time what was involved in becoming a world-famous author so I made a lot of mistakes, took a lot of wrong turns and enjoyed a bunch of “learning experiences!” But it’s been worth every single painful moment – I absolutely LOVE what I do and appreciate my extraordinary good fortune to do what I love AND get paid for it.

IXACT Contact: “Sell With Soul” is such a captivating phrase! What is the essence of the Sell With Soulapproach to a real estate sales career?

Jennifer: The definition of Selling with Soul is to enjoy a wildly successful career selling real estate by treating clients and prospects respectfully, as you yourself would like to be treated. Sounds suspiciously like the good old Golden Rule, huh? But to go a little further – on the cover of Sell with Soul (the book), there are four words: Respect, Competence, Enthusiasm and Confidence, which I believe are the inter-related pillars of success in a real estate career:  Respect your clients and prospects… Be competent (even exceptional) at what you do… Love what you do… all of which leads to a self-confidence that is far more attractive to your potential clients than any elevator speech, fancy brochure or scripted sales pitch will ever be.

IXACT Contact: That’s such a refreshingly common sense approach and I can understand why it has resonated so powerfully with so many people.  On the flip side, what are the most common mistakes you see new REALTORS® making?

Jennifer: Oh my… where do I start? The biggest mistake I see them make is to head out into the world looking for business before they know what to do with it – in other words, focusing on real estate prospecting without taking the time to learn how to BE a competent real estate agent. I’ve seen agents literally on their first day of work handed a list of expired listings and told to start calling them for appointments – before the agent can even spell MLS! Aside from the obvious issue of whether or not that agent is capable of handling any business his efforts might produce, this can be highly frustrating and discouraging for a new agent. I hear from these poor agents all the time. They think there’s something wrong with THEM. These REALTORS® would like to have a little training before they try to drum up business.Real estate prospecting - cold calling is not as effective as relationship marketing

Another very common mistake is to enter the profession without proper funding. Most people wouldn’t dream of opening their own business without a nest-egg to get them started, but it happens every day in real estate sales. Selling real estate is not a get-rich-quick career, or even a get-paid-in-a-reasonable-amount-of-time career in the beginning but I see agents every day who enter the field with less than $1,000 to their name. Crazy!

IXACT Contact: Good points Jennifer!  We would add that failure to capitalize on existing contacts is another common rookie REALTOR® mistake.  So many new agents feel they have to generate all their business from strangers that they completely overlook the gold in their own contact list.

Most seasoned agents know it’s important to stay in touch with their clients, but they’re not sure how to go about it.  How do you recommend REALTORS® keep in touch with and market to their clients better?

Jennifer: By “clients” I assume you mean their sphere of influence – the people they know (as opposed to just their current active buyer and seller clients). So, let’s use the abbreviation “SOI”, okay? The secret to an effective stay-in-touch campaign with one’s SOI is NOT to bombard them with postcards and newsletters and doo-dads every two weeks. Your goal in communicating is not simply to remind your SOI that you exist, but to inspire them to smile and think of you fondly. No off-the-shelf or boilerplate real estate marketing piece is going to do that; in fact, being bombarded with such material will likely have the opposite effect – that of annoying your sphere or at the very least, training them to ignore your communication efforts.

A better approach is to take the time to create quality real estate marketing pieces – and by “quality” I mean ones that will be interesting to the intended audience and reflective of who YOU are. If your marketing materials are quality materials, you don’t have to send them out nearly as much, but the irony is that your audience won’t mind if you do because they’re enjoying them!

IXACT Contact: We couldn’t agree more!  We’re big proponents of only sending quality keep-in-touch marketing communications that are relevant, personalized and timely.  It’s downright sad how many real estate sales people are still doing the old monthly “batch’n’blast” of a poor quality generic email or postcard that might actually be doing their reputation more harm than good.

Use IXACT Contact drip email to send personalized and targeted  communications

Let’s explore this a bit more.  Why exactly are relationships so important in real estate sales?

Jennifer: There are so many different ways to answer this question! If you look at it from a purely financial perspective, inspiring people you know to support your real estate sales business is going to be a whole lot less expensive than going after strangers with any mass-marketing effort. And most real estate agents don’t have it in the budget to implement a strong-enough real estate marketing campaign to create any real brand or name recognition in their market area.

So, if we agree that it’s more cost-effective to focus on the people you already know instead of strangers, then it becomes critical that you make an effort to nurture the relationships you have, and to always have your antenna up to make new friends. Not that you have to spend all day, every day hanging out with and making new friends (when would you get your work done?), but if you’re going to rely on your sphere of influence for most of your business, it’s obvious that you’ll have to stay in touch with the people you know and to come across to them as someone they can trust with their business and referrals. So, while I don’t consider real estate sales to be a traditional “numbers game” it is true that “the more people who know you, and like you, and trust you… and know that you sell real estate, the more real estate you’ll sell!”

IXACT Contact: This raises another question.  Why is building a business based on referrals such a great approach?

Jennifer: Well, building a business based on referrals is optional, of course. I see two paths to success in a real estate sales career – the first path is the traditional burn ‘em & churn ‘em – the heavy real estate prospecting model where the agent spends the majority of his or her time looking for new business. Since there are only so many hours in the day, if one is spending most hours on the hunt for new customers, it’s likely they aren’t spending much time taking care of the ones they have, which, unfortunately can mean that those current customers will never become good sources of future business for the agent (which may not be a problem for the agent as he enjoys and is good at the process of prospecting, or “making rain.”)

The other path to success is to take such great care of one’s current clients that in a few years, the agent has enough satisfied past clients to keep his pipeline full for the rest of his career. The beautiful thing about this path is that it creates a sweet cycle of business – the less time an agent has to spend searching for new business, the more time he can devote to his current clients, and therefore, the more raving fans he has in his database. If a real estate agent does a fantastic job for someone, all he has to do to guarantee their future support is to stay in touch with them on a reasonable basis after the transaction is closed.

For many agents, a referral-based business is the preferred model, not only because it’s easier business to get, but it also affirms that we did a good job for our clients and they obviously trust us with their precious referrals! To me, this is critical – if you’re getting referrals from past clients on a regular basis, it means you’re good at what you do – and if you’re going to get up every day and go to work, doesn’t it sound like more fun to be so darn good at what you do that your clients happily refer you to others?

IXACT Contact: That’s a very profound point.  Too often we focus only on what approach or system will make us the most money.  But isn’t it better to find a way to be successful that not only makes us money, but also lets us feel great about ourselves and our lives?

Let’s switch gears and talk about the execution side of the business as opposed to the relationship side.  Do you see poor time-management and/ or organization a common barrier to success in the field?

Jennifer: Yes! Many people think of real estate as primarily a relationship business – that is – the more of a “people-person” you are, the more successful you’ll be. While there’s some truth in that, and being a people-person certainly won’t hurt your business, it’s not the most important factor. What we do (if we do it well) involves managing a lot of moving pieces and parts, staying on top of dates and deadlines, making sure everyone involved is doing their job… all of which requires a fairly high level of time management and organizational skills. Sure, an agent who is socially outgoing and extroverted may bring in a lot of business, but if they can’t manage it, if things continually fall through the cracks, they will likely fail sooner or later.You are in control of your real estate sales career

IXACT Contact: How can a real estate contact management system help a REALTOR® become better organized and in control?

Jennifer: I think every busy real estate agent (or one who hopes to become busy!) owes it to him or herself to have (and use!) a contact management system to manage their business. I call it conTRACT management – that is – using the system to stay on top of their active listings, their listings under contract and their buyers under contract.

Once you have any business at all – that is – a few buyers, some active listings and some listings under contract, it’s easy to let things slip through the cracks if you don’t have specific, detailed checklists. And any time something slips through the cracks, you take the risk that 1) you’ll lose the trust and affection of your client (and therefore his future business and referrals), 2) you might get to write a check – maybe a big one – to correct the problem your negligence caused or 3) you’ll lose the sale all together.

Paper checklists are better than no checklists, but having your checklists in a contact management system that auto-populates your to-do list – ahhhhhhh – it’s a beautiful thing!

IXACT Contact: You’ve worked with many of the leading real estate CRM systems over the years. Why did you ultimately select IXACT Contact as the system you recommend to your clients and partners?

Jennifer: I used to be a Top Producer fanatic – I loved it! At one point, I was even a distributor for the product because I was such a fan. BUT, as I was introducing it to others, I was reminded of the steep learning curve. In the year I sold Top Producer, not one of my customers was happy with their purchase because they simply didn’t want to take the time to learn it.

So I went on the hunt for a simpler real estate CRM solution to recommend to my readers. I found several, gave them a test-drive and was very disappointed. The contact management systems either didn’t do the very basic functions I thought they should do (e.g. notify me of upcoming birthdays) or they just weren’t intuitive to learn so I gave up in frustration. I decided that there just wasn’t an easy-to-learn contact management system that would do everything I wanted it to do, so I stopped looking.

But then I discovered IXACT Contact and found it had the perfect combination of features and was very easy to learn for the average, non-technical REALTOR®. I call it Top Producer OFF steroids because it’s not overwhelming to learn and does 95% of what I think a real estate CRM system should do. And the 5% it doesn’t do – those features are either in the works or there are easy workarounds to them. I’m very satisfied with IXACT Contact. In fact, it’s one of only three or four real estate products I fully endorse and stand behind (outside of my own, of course!).

IXACT Contact: Any last words of wisdom you’d like to share with our readers regarding effective contact management and/or IXACT Contact?

Jennifer: For those who say they can’t afford contact management, I hear you – with every dollar being squeezed to death these days, an extra $35/month can seem like an unnecessary expense, especially if you don’t quite understand how it will help you. But when I recommend any product to a real estate agent, I do so with the caveat that it will pay for itself and more (if you use it, of course). And I’m 100% convinced that if you use a contact management system, even on a very basic level, you WILL see a return on your investment.

IXACT Contact: Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us, Jennifer.  It’s been a pleasure as always, and I know our readers will appreciate the ideas and insights you’ve shared with us today.

posted by on Consulting & Compensation

I’ve been a little absent from Active Rain for awhile now – no real good reason, just had to triage my time and blogging took a backburner. Happily, for me anyway, Loreena Yeo’s featured blog yesterday “It Costs $$$ to Do Business inspired me to jump back in and spout some opinions!

In case you missed it, Loreena’s blog was about how there are some deals NOT worth doing – and she referenced one in particular where both a referral fee was due and a buyer rebate requested. When Loreena did the math, she decided that the net paycheck simply wasn’t enough to cover her cost of doing business, and therefore respectfully declined to represent the buyer.

As her blogs always are, it was well-written, insightful and thought-provoking. Neato Frito.Math

However, I must respectfully disagree with the blanket conclusion that an agent’s full commission MINUS referral fee MINUS buyer rebate EQUALS not-enough-payday. Perhaps it does, perhaps it doesn’t; it really depends on the situation and the dollars involved. There certainly IS a cost of doing business, but that cost doesn’t change significantly depending on the price of the home being bought or sold. If a $500,000 transaction MINUS referral fee MINUS buyer rebate does not lead to an acceptable payday, does that mean the agent should turn down business in the $150,000 – $200,000 range which would lead to the exact same payday?

I’m not saying that we should (or should not) offer buyer rebates – I have no strong opinion on the matter. Nor am I saying that we should (or should not) work with lower-end buyers or sellers. Those are personal business decisions every agent (and his or her broker) can make for themselves.

What I am saying (as I’ve said many times before) is that our traditional compensation model where we are paid based on the price of the home we help our clients buy or sell is seriously flawed. And unless someone can give me a compelling argument (aside from “that’s the way it’s done“) as to WHY it makes sense to pay us twice as much on a $500,000 transaction than we’re paid on a $250,000 one, or, conversely, half as much on a $250,000 sale than on a $500,000 one… then I’ll probably continue to dance on this soapbox (in fact, I have two more blogs fired up and ready to go!).

The thing is – there ARE alternatives to this model; alternatives that make sense both for us, the real estate practitioner and more importantly, the real estate consumer. 

“No I Won’t Reduce My Commission, Do You Expect Me to Work for FREE?”
Alternatives to the Commission-Based Model – and yes, we still make a good living

posted by on Consulting & Compensation


For the record, let it be known that I have no problem with real estate agents charging their clients as much or as little as they care to, nor do I have any fuss with the manner in which they do it, as long as it falls within legal limits and doesn’t conflict with their brokers’ policies. Oh, and, AS LONG AS 1) they’re providing good value for the dollar paid, whatever that dollar amount is; and 2) they demonstrate integrity by playing FAIR – that is – not charging one person less than another as a business-buying strategy!

Anyway, a few months ago I wrote a couple of blogs about real estate compensation – specifically our traditional model where we are paid based on the price of the home we help our clients buy or sell. I questioned the appropriateness of this approach since the value of our service really isn’t based on the value of the product.

You can read those ramblings here:
“No, I Won’t Reduce My Commission, Do You Expect me to work for FREE?” 
Alternatives to the Commission-Based Model – and yes, we still make a good living

Today I want to pontificate about the comments left on those blogs that were along the lines of “Yeah, sometimes we make too little and sometimes we make too much on a specific transaction, but it all evens out in the end…” and “50% of Something is Better than 100% of Nothing.”

While quite common among real estate practitioners, I believe these two attitudes are a little dangerous, and even border on unethical in my opinion.

(Ooooh, such melodrama, Jennifer!)

Let’s start with “It All Evens Out”
The fact that it “all evens out” may be true FOR US, but is in no way fair or reasonable to the person paying the bill – that is – our buyers and sellers (and yes, buyers help foot the bill of our commissions just as much as the sellers do; some might argue they’re the ones who pay it).

When our clients pay for our service, they have every right to expect us to charge THEM fairly, which in their minds, has nothing to do with that $50,000 condo buyer we spend 9 months on last year and therefore need to “make up for” when we work with clients in higher price ranges.

“50% of Something is Better than 100% of Nothing”
Is this true? Absolutely! No question, if you do the math, that statement is 100% true, 100% of the time!


Again, is it FAIR to our clients?

In most cases, no.

Implied in that statement is that, if pressured, we’ll give into a buyer or seller’s demand that we accept less in payment than we normally would, because, shoot, something is better than nothing, especially when it comes to a paycheck.

But is that FAIR to our clients who do NOT request/demand that we accept less than we normally would? Is it ethical to charge one client your “full” price simply because he was too polite to ask for a discount, while charging someone else less because he was a little bolder? Sure, it happens every day, but is a part of the reason our industry is lumped in there with used car salespeople (who everyone knows you must negotiate with)!

Am I saying that you should charge everyone the same “rate?” Not at all. I think every real estate scenario is deserving of individual evaluation and “rated” according to its potential degree of difficulty, among other factors. But to simply discount your fee because someone asks you to while holding to your fee when someone doesn’t reeks of unprofessionalism and even a lack of integrity.

posted by on Random (Un)Common Sense

Did a show in the SWS Virtual Studio last week about setting appropriate boundaries and expectations with clients upfront – walking that fine line between being the best thing to happen to your clients and… losing your mind! It’s an imperfect balancing act, to be sure, but there ARE things you can do to minimize the likelihood of too much crazy-making!

As I explained in the first part of the show – a lot of it has more to do with YOUR attitude and expectation of what is reasonable and “normal.” Once you’ve adjusted YOUR expectations and are committed to going with the flow more often, you’ll find that your clients’ behavior isn’t nearly as frustrating and crazy-making as it used to be. Just because someone is different from you doesn’t make them unreasonable or unusually demanding; in many cases it simply means they’re DIFFERENT, but perfectly normal.

On the other hand, some people are crazy. Maybe not technically crazy, but their behavior IS outside the realm of normalcy and they are unreasonably demanding or critical. But many agents, especially new ones, don’t realize this and beat themselves up for not being able to please these crazy people, even though, looking in from the outside, it’s obvious they can’t be pleased. When dealing with a crazy person who is driving YOU crazy, you may need to make a mercenary decision as to how likely they are to lead you to a payday – and fire or not fire accordingly. I can put up with a lot of nonsense if I’m pretty sure there’s a payday for it in my future!

Anyway, at the end of the show, I asked the audience to tell me what they learned that was the most helpful to them. And here are the results!

Favoritest Tip #1: Ask, don’t tell
Instead of telling your new clients what to expect from you, ASK them what they expect from you. Once they’ve said it outloud, it becomes their expectation. And most normal people will not demand unreasonable availability and response times out loud if they’re asked. Say something like: “Bill, I’d like to talk about your expectations for me as to availability and responsiveness. For example, will you be okay if I’m with clients and can’t return your call for a few hours? Or if I’m with my family on Sunday afternoon and don’t get back to you until the evening? I just want to make sure I don’t disappoint you.”

Favoritest Tip #2: SHUT UP
If a client asks something of you that is unreasonable, respond respectfully, but briefly, and then stop talking. This is a fantastic strategy for declining monkeys.

Favortest Tip #3: Don’t change your business model for crazy people
As mentioned above, some people are just crazy. In most cases, it’s not necessary to change your business model just because a crazy person made your life hell for a few months. In other words, don’t “punish” (and risk alienating) your perfectly normal future clients by setting off-putting ground rules unnecessarily. Most people will be respectful of your time and attention without being pre-emptively scolded about it!

Favoritest Tip #4: Different does not equal Difficult
As mentioned above, just because someone processes information differently from you doesn’t make them difficult. For example, if a buyer needs more time than you think is reasonable to decide whether or not a house suits him, that’s not wrong, it’s just how his mind works (and you’re not going to change him). So, be patient, be respectful, and let him do his thing, in his own time. When dealing with someone who is frustrating you – ask if they’re truly unreasonable… or just different from you.

Other tips from the show:

  1. Ask a seller prior to listing: “What will you do if the house doesn’t sell?” (What’s your Plan B?)
  2. When things get difficult, STAY CALM. If you get antsy, your client will, too. And they’ll become nervous and demanding.
  3. Don’t apologize for not taking (or returning) after hours phone calls. Just return the call in the morning, no apologies, no defensiveness, no explanation. Many people call after hours not realizing they’re not calling an office and don’t really expect you to answer or respond.
  4. You can say NO. Just because someone asks doesn’t mean you have to say YES. In most cases, a polite, respectful NO, with an alternative will be perfectly satisfactory.
  5. Let the buyer low-ball if he wants to. If he wants your opinion on offer price, he’ll ask for it. If he doesn’t, and you try to talk him up in price, he’ll wonder if you’re truly on his side. At some point you may decide to let him go, but don’t try to persuade him to change his offer strategy.

posted by on An Exceptional Agent

double your businessSo… whatcha’ thinking I might be thinking here? More lunch dates? More blogs? More Facebook, Twittering or Linking In? Or, egads, more cold-calling, door-knocking or referral-begging?


Here’s a reeeeal easy way to double your business every single year.

EARN one referral from every single client.

If every buyer and seller you serve, every year, were to send just one buyer or seller your way in the twelve months following your time together, you’d double your business, wouldn’t you? And of course, if your buyer or seller is that tickled with you that they’ll send one person your way, I’m guessing they might do it again… and again… and maybe even again!

So, how do you go about inspiring your buyers and sellers to refer business to you?

Expensive closing gifts?

Incessant reminders of your affection for referrals?

Monthly newsletters and postcards showcasing your listings?

Boilerplate greeting cards on the one month, three month, six month and one year anniversaries of their closing?
No again.

A contract signed at closing where your buyer or seller commits to sending you at least three referrals?
OMG, no.

Gifts, drips, cards or contracts won’t inspire anyone to send you business. Oh, they might remind someone that you exist and how to find you, but unless they already think highly of you as a real estate agent, ain’t no business coming your way as a result of said gifts, drips, cards or contracts.

It’s so, so, so simple. Just be great at what you do. Take care of your current clients as your very first priority. Go the extra mile (where, to paraphrase Roger Staubach, there’s not much traffic). And then stay in touch just enough to remind without becoming a nuisance.

And watch your business grow…

posted by on An Exceptional Agent

We real estate agents long to be respected by the general public. We ache to be considered as worthy of acclaim as our CPA, MD and JD friends. We fuss among ourselves when our clients appear to disrespect our time, our knowledge or, worse, our gasoline.

We claim that even though doctors and lawyers and accountants (oh my!) may have a few more years of education compared to our month (or maybe two) of real estate school, that doesn’t mean they are any smarter, more dedicated or more qualified to practice their craft than we real estate agents are to handle one of the most important financial transactions most people will ever make.

We encourage our new agents to charge a full commission “because they’re worth it!”, even though they’ve yet to hold an open house, prepare a market analysis or successfully negotiate a low offer.

Okay – so now you know where my brain has been all weekend. I talked myself out of writing this blog a few times in the interest of winning the first annual Active Rain popularity contest, but after reading a few other blogs this morning (which shall remain nameless), I could no longer restrain myself.

So… finally… here’s my point. Wander through any real estate forum… read your latest Broker/Agent news, even peruse the conference schedule of the NAR National Convention – most of what you see is advice on how to PROSPECT! More Customers! More Referrals! More Leads!

Apparently, that’s what our business is all about. At least, as far as I can tell from the topics that seem to interest our industry. In fact, most trainers come right and say that Prospecting is Your Number One duty as a professional real estate agent. Hmmmmmm. Is that really why it’s a licensed profession? Because our JOB is to be great prospectors?

But back to my opening statement. We want to be respected just like doctors and lawyers and such. But I’ll venture to guess that the professional journals, the annual conventions and the online forums of these industries aren’t focused on cold-calling techniques, farming campaigns and web-lead generation. I’ll bet that their memberships’ interests lie more in being BETTER physicians, more KNOWLEDGEABLE lawyers and more COMPETENT veterinarians. While there may be an article or a seminar or a thread devoted to business development on occasion, something tells me that it’s a wee bit more, dare I say it, RESPECTABLE, than what we tend to obsess over.

Where are the sexy seminars on being an effective Buyer Agent? (And no, I don’t mean the ones telling you How to Sell a Buyer a House in One Trip or Less or How to Convince Your Buyer to Offer Full Price so You Don’t Waste Your Time). I mean the ones that actually teach you how to be a GOOD buyer agent. Where’s the article on how to successfully negotiate a tough inspection, or prepare for an appraisal on a unique home? How to properly price a custom home in a tract home neighborhood?

Hey, we all know that doctors and accountants and veterinarians are business-people, too. They, just like us, need a steady stream of business to keep their doors open and their Beemers gassed up. They, like us, need to promote themselves and their services to the public. But somehow, they’ve managed to do it without being called a salesperson. They are “Professionals.”

We real estate agents need to make a choice. Either we’re salespeople, and we accept our role as such. Our job is to prospect, prospect, prospect. We’ll leave the details to our assistants who actually care about the clients we bring in.

Or, we can leave the salesperson persona behind and strive to become professionals who attract business by being competent, knowledgeable and, most of all, RESPECTABLE!

posted by on Jennifer's Best, Prospecting & SOI

Whatchu talkin’ ‘bout Jennifer? You can’t be serious!

Yes, I am.

If you’re asking the question “What is the best way to ask for referrals?” that tells me that something about doing it bothers you.

And if it bothers you, don’t do it. Your discomfort will be crystal clear to the person you’re asking, which is probably worse than not asking at all.

(If you don’t mind asking for referrals, it probably comes naturally to you. Keep up the good work and ignore the rest of this blog.)

Do YOU like being asked for referrals? I don’t.

When a friend asks me to refer business to her, I feel uncomfortable. What was five minutes ago a friendship suddenly feels like an obligation. If she asks me twice, our friendship may very well be in danger. I don’t want to have to explain to her why I haven’t referred anyone to her lately (or ever). I don’t want to listen to her sales pitch… again. And, frankly, if I haven’t referred anyone her way, there may be a reason. But I’d hate to lose a friendship over it.

When a business professional asks me for referrals, it lowers my respect for them a notch. Right or wrong, I assume everyone is as successful as they wanna be. So when I receive a marketing letter from my insurance agent or my accountant asking for referrals, I suddenly question their level of success… and therefore, just a teeny bit, their competence. Where five minutes ago, I perceived them to be a prosperous, crazy-busy professional… now they’re a … salesperson. Ick.

Don’t get me wrong, I love to refer. I’m a referring madwoman when I find someone I believe in. You don’t have to ask me to refer, I’m all over it! Aren’t you the same way? If you have the world’s best hairdresser, dog trainer, chiropractor – don’t you tell everyone you know? Do these people have to constantly ask you for your referrals?

Here’s a better way.

Be a friend first. If not a friend, then a reasonably competent human being. Be happy, excited and enthusiastic. Act as if your career is everything you always dreamed of. Practice saying “I’m a real estate agent and it’s the coolest job in the world!” with a huge smile on your face. Or how about “I had no idea how much I would enjoy selling real estate, I’m having a blast!” Followed up by a sincere “How are YOU doing?”

To ensure that every potential referrer in your life knows you’re a reasonably competent human being, make sure your self-promotion materials are professional and error-free. Return phone calls promptly, even social phone calls. Show up on time for appointments and lunch dates. Do what you say you’re going to do, when you say you’re going to do it. No excuses. Dress appropriately. Watch your language.

It really is that simple.

posted by on Introverts Are Awesome!

The sales gurus tell you to step outside your comfort zone. Take that first painful step. Push yourself to do the things you’d rather not.

Makes sense, I s’pose.

But is it really necessary? Maybe not.

Frankly, I think I’m pretty darn cool just the way I am, without stepping out of my zone. I think that I can be me, and succeed just fine.

Don’t wanna cold call? So don’t. If you don’t wanna, you’ll probably suck at it anyway. Call your mother instead.

Don’t wanna hunt for FSBO’s? Join the club. Meet three friends for brunch or bang out a few personal emails.

Don’t wanna spend the weekend handing out cards from your company’s Peanut Festival booth? Me neither. But I might stop by and say hi!

So what DO you wanna do?

Make a list of the things you’re good at, the things you enjoy, that don’t give you the jitters. Chances are, hidden in that list are plenty of ideas to generate business for yourself. I’ll bet you’re creative enough to come up with some great ones (and please share!)

You got this far in life being YOU. Just ‘cause you’re in real estate doesn’t mean you have to change. You’re already terrific!

posted by on Introverts Are Awesome!

Here’s a great article about US and how to love us properly…

(by the way, don’t miss the part that says we’re “gifted”.)

Caring for Your Introvert

By Jonathan Rauch, The Atlantic Online, reprinted with permission

The subtitle of this article as it appeared in the March, 2003 issue of the Atlantic Monthly is “the habits and needs of a little-understood group.” It is a humorous and informative piece by the self-confessed introverted author.

Do you know someone who needs hours alone every day? Who loves quiet conversations about feelings or ideas, and can give a dynamite presentation to a big audience, but seems awkward in groups and maladroit at small talk? Who has to be dragged to parties and then needs the rest of the day to recuperate? Who growls or scowls or grunts or winces when accosted with pleasantries by people who are just trying to be nice?

If so, do you tell this person he is “too serious,” or ask if he is okay? Regard him as aloof, arrogant, rude? Redouble your efforts to draw him out?

If you answered yes to these questions, chances are that you have an introvert on your hands-and that you aren’t caring for him properly. Science has learned a good deal in recent years about the habits and requirements of introverts. It has even learned, by means of brain scans, that introverts process information differently from other people (I am not making this up). If you are behind the curve on this important matter, be reassured that you are not alone. Introverts may be common, but they are also among the most misunderstood and aggrieved groups in America, possibly the world.

I know. My name is Jonathan, and I am an introvert.

Oh, for years I denied it. After all, I have good social skills. I am not morose or misanthropic. Usually. I am far from shy. I love long conversations that explore intimate thoughts or passionate interests. But at last I have self-identified and come out to my friends and colleagues. In doing so, I have found myself liberated from any number of damaging misconceptions and stereotypes. Now I am here to tell you what you need to know in order to respond sensitively and supportively to your own introverted family members, friends, and colleagues. Remember, someone you know, respect, and interact with every day is an introvert, and you are probably driving this person nuts. It pays to learn the warning signs.

What is introversion?

In its modern sense, the concept goes back to the 1920s and the psychologist Carl Jung. Today it is a mainstay of personality tests, including the widely used Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Introverts are not necessarily shy. Shy people are anxious or frightened or self-excoriating in social settings; introverts generally are not. Introverts are also not misanthropic, though some of us do go along with Sartre as far as to say “Hell is other people at breakfast.” Rather, introverts are people who find other people tiring.

Extroverts are energized by people, and wilt or fade when alone. They often seem bored by themselves, in both senses of the expression. Leave an extrovert alone for two minutes and he will reach for his cell phone. In contrast, after an hour or two of being socially “on,” we introverts need to turn off and recharge. My own formula is roughly two hours alone for every hour of socializing. This isn’t antisocial. It isn’t a sign of depression. It does not call for medication. For introverts, to be alone with our thoughts is as restorative as sleeping, as nourishing as eating. Our motto: “I’m okay, you’re okay-in small doses.”

How many people are introverts?

I performed exhaustive research on this question, in the form of a quick Google search. The answer: About 25 percent. Or: Just under half. Or-my favorite-“a minority in the regular population but a majority in the gifted population.”

Are introverts misunderstood?

Wildly. That, it appears, is our lot in life. “It is very difficult for an extrovert to understand an introvert,” write the education experts Jill D. Burruss and Lisa Kaenzig. (They are also the source of the quotation in the previous paragraph.) Extroverts are easy for introverts to understand, because extroverts spend so much of their time working out who they are in voluble, and frequently inescapable, interaction with other people. They are as inscrutable as puppy dogs. But the street does not run both ways. Extroverts have little or no grasp of introversion. They assume that company, especially their own, is always welcome. They cannot imagine why someone would need to be alone; indeed, they often take umbrage at the suggestion. As often as I have tried to explain the matter to extroverts, I have never sensed that any of them really understood. They listen for a moment and then go back to barking and yipping.

Are introverts oppressed?

I would have to say so. For one thing, extroverts are overrepresented in politics, a profession in which only the garrulous are really comfortable. Look at George W. Bush. Look at Bill Clinton. They seem to come fully to life only around other people. To think of the few introverts who did rise to the top in politics-Calvin Coolidge, Richard Nixon-is merely to drive home the point. With the possible exception of Ronald Reagan, whose fabled aloofness and privateness were probably signs of a deep introverted streak (many actors, I’ve read, are introverts, and many introverts, when socializing, feel like actors), introverts are not considered “naturals” in politics.

Extroverts therefore dominate public life. This is a pity. If we introverts ran the world, it would no doubt be a calmer, saner, more peaceful sort of place. As Coolidge is supposed to have said, “Don’t you know that four fifths of all our troubles in this life would disappear if we would just sit down and keep still?” (He is also supposed to have said, “If you don’t say anything, you won’t be called on to repeat it.” The only thing a true introvert dislikes more than talking about himself is repeating himself.)

With their endless appetite for talk and attention, extroverts also dominate social life, so they tend to set expectations. In our extrovertist society, being outgoing is considered normal and therefore desirable, a mark of happiness, confidence, leadership. Extroverts are seen as bighearted, vibrant, warm, empathic. “People person” is a compliment. Introverts are described with words like “guarded,” “loner,” “reserved,” “taciturn,” “self-contained,” “private”-narrow, ungenerous words, words that suggest emotional parsimony and smallness of personality. Female introverts, I suspect, must suffer especially. In certain circles, particularly in the Midwest, a man can still sometimes get away with being what they used to call a strong and silent type; introverted women, lacking that alternative, are even more likely than men to be perceived as timid, withdrawn, haughty.

Are introverts arrogant?

Hardly. I suppose this common misconception has to do with our being more intelligent, more reflective, more independent, more level-headed, more refined, and more sensitive than extroverts. Also, it is probably due to our lack of small talk, a lack that extroverts often mistake for disdain. We tend to think before talking, whereas extroverts tend to think by talking, which is why their meetings never last less than six hours. “Introverts,” writes a perceptive fellow named Thomas P. Crouser, in an online review of a recent book called Why Should Extroverts Make All the Money? (I’m not making that up, either), “are driven to distraction by the semi-internal dialogue extroverts tend to conduct. Introverts don’t outwardly complain, instead roll their eyes and silently curse the darkness.” Just so.

The worst of it is that extroverts have no idea of the torment they put us through. Sometimes, as we gasp for air amid the fog of their 98-percent-content-free talk, we wonder if extroverts even bother to listen to themselves. Still, we endure stoically, because the etiquette books-written, no doubt, by extroverts-regard declining to banter as rude and gaps in conversation as awkward. We can only dream that someday, when our condition is more widely understood, when perhaps an Introverts’ Rights movement has blossomed and borne fruit, it will not be impolite to say “I’m an introvert. You are a wonderful person and I like you. But now please shush.”

How can I let the introvert in my life know that I support him and respect his choice?

First, recognize that it’s not a choice. It’s not a lifestyle. It’s an orientation.

Second, when you see an introvert lost in thought, don’t say “What’s the matter?” or “Are you all right?”

Third, don’t say anything else, either.

-© Copyright 2003, the Atlantic Monthly Group, reprinted with permissionarrow up to top of page

Jonathan Rauch is a correspondent for The Atlantic and a senior writer for National Journal.


posted by on Prospecting & SOI

The new agent asks… “What can I tell people about myself in 30 seconds that will make them want to work with me?”

That’s a tough one. I’ve seen some pretty creative answers. Most answers center around bragging about one’s expertise, one’s helpful nature and one’s successes.


I’m trying to think of a time someone bragged to me about themselves and I was so impressed I asked for their business card. Can’t think of one. We human beings tend to be contrarians and will argue (at least mentally) with just about anything. Tell me how great you are, and I’m already thinking of reasons to disagree with you.

So, what do you say to someone you just met to motivate them to want to know more about you?

Try this secret phrase.

“I’m a real estate agent!!!”

If you announce it with your shoulders back and a big smile on your face, like being a real estate agent is the coolest job in the whole world…it’s magnetic. People will be irresistibly drawn to you and can’t help but want to know more about you.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t work if you fake it. If you don’t love your job and don’t think it’s the coolest in the world… no one else will either.

But if you do love your job and think you’re pretty darn good at it… try the secret phrase a few times and let me know how it goes.


copyright Jennifer Allan 2007

posted by on Working with Sellers

I just read Paul Hiebing’s blog about Updating Listing Photos ( which reminded me of something else to think about…

Especially in these days of extended marketing periods, we listing agents need to stay on top of HOA fees which can and do change. If you listed a $50,000 condo last November that had a monthly fee of $175, you might want to check and make sure the fees weren’t increased recently. If your MLS listing says $175 and the fee is now $200… everyone will be in for an unpleasant surprise, quite possibly at the closing table.

Twenty-five bucks may not seem like a big deal to you or me, but believe me, to a $50,000 condo buyer (and his lender), it may be a deal-breaker. And whose fault will it be?

Yours? Well, yes, of course, your advertising was wrong.

The Buyer Agent’s? Yes, she should have confirmed it.

But does it really matter? What DOES matter is that you both look bad!

Don’t let this happen to you! Make the phone call!

posted by on Prospecting & SOI

Okay, so I’m reading my latest edition of the Broker/Agent News.

Came upon an article entitled “The Four Pillars of Prospecting.” Well, I never prospected much (Thank you, SOI!), but now that I’m a writer and consultant, I figure it’s good to learn how the other half works. 

Tip 1:  “Set a daily time and place for prospecting.” Got it.

Tip 2:  “Fight off distractions.” Fair enough… oh, wait… what’s this?
“The truth is most agents welcome distractions taking them away from prospecting obligations. An inbound phone call, a problem transaction, a home inspection question, an incoming e-mail or a broken fingernail, anything will do. It’s called creative avoidance and agents generally excel at the art.”

Now he has my attention… continuing…

“What do you do when distractions hit? Do you postpone prospecting while you put out a fire? Do you make just a few calls to settle the pending issue….? To fight off distractions, you have to bar their access….”

You may recall that on the home page of the Selling Soulfully group I make the statement that soulful agents “care as much about the clients they have today as the clients they hope to have tomorrow.” I take that philosophy VERY seriously.

“So,” the author asks, “Do you postpone prospecting while you put out a fire?” Uh, YEAH. My current clients pay me darn good money to care about them and their fires. One silly cold call, even two, will never be more important to me than the good will and appreciation of my current client.

Which, I dare to say, is why I never HAD to prospect.

copyright Jennifer Allan 2007

posted by on Working with Buyers

Buyers can be hard to nail down and you’ll hear agents talk about the “Buyers Are Liars” phenomenon. It’s a phrase usually used in frustration either when an agent loses a buyer or when he’s at his wit’s end showing homes that the buyer says work for her, but don’t inspire her to make an offer. It simply means that buyers don’t really know what they want, and often it’s true.

Remember, buyers don’t shop for houses every day and they probably don’t know what they’ll respond to until they see it. So you’ll need to have a little patience with them.

Find out your buyer’s preferred neighborhood. If he is unfamiliar with your city, find out what kind of neighborhood he thinks he’d like – urban, suburban, rural, mountains, coastal? Any particular commuting distance? Does he like charming older homes near the city center or new contemporary homes near the shopping malls? Price range?

Moving on… number of bedrooms, baths, garage? Any special needs? Don’t get too specific though. Pushing buyers for too many details is counterproductive, believe it or not. If you keep pushing, he may start making things up to please you. Doesn’t everyone want a garage and more than one bath? But he might not really care that much and, if you limit your search to his non-critical parameters, you’ll miss a lot of great homes.

The other danger in asking for too many details is that your buyer will start telling you things like, “I really want a window over the kitchen sink” or “I want an open floor plan with lots of light.” Depending on your inventory, you may end up with nothing to show her if you rely strictly on her wish list. And if you show her homes that don’t meet her “requirements,” she may think you weren’t listening. You (and she) need to gauge her reactions to different styles of homes in person. Remember, buyers don’t shop for homes every day and don’t really know what they will respond to until they’ve seen it.

When I was shopping for a second home in Alabama, I told my agent that my “must-have’s” were four bedrooms, a two-car garage and high-speed Internet access. What did I buy? A three-bedroom home with no garage and dial-up access only. But my agent was sharp enough to switch gears in the middle of our search when she saw that I was emotionally responding to homes in the country, even if they didn’t have everything I claimed I had to have.

No, buyers aren’t liars. They’re just human beings who need our help… and our patience. And we are well-paid to provide both. In my opinion…

copyright 2007 Jennifer Allan


posted by on Introverts Are Awesome!

(To read Part One, Click Here)

… In retrospect, I realize that the ability to work from home changed my life. For the first time, I truly flourished and discovered a creative side to myself I’d never known existed. Being somewhat shy and a bit of a privacy freak, working in an office made me feel self-conscious and ‘on display’ all the time. And it was so distracting! I need peace and quiet to focus. I need a sense of privacy to recharge my batteries. Surrounded by chatter, I feel myself getting anxious and frazzled. But that’s just me.

The other thing that annoyed me about working in the office was sharing equipment with other agents. The copier was always jammed (and abandoned), the fax machine always in use (or jammed & abandoned), the printer was out of toner (and abandoned) or the central computer was frozen (and abandoned). Real estate agents can be a bit self-absorbed and technologically challenged which is a bad combination when you’re sharing vital office equipment.

If you’re Just Like Me, give some serious consideration to setting up a true home office, and not just a corner of the dining room for your computer desk. You’ll need your own room, preferably away from any hustle and bustle of the living areas of your home. And not just to ensure your peace and quiet, but so that your family doesn’t feel as if they live in a real estate office. In many of the homes I’ve lived in during my career, my office was set up in a central location in the home and when I was married, my husband deeply resented it.

The phone rang constantly and I was always working, right under his nose. He felt neglected and ignored – that my business was more important than he was, and that his home was not a sanctuary from his own busy work day. Had my office been separate from the main living area, he could have enjoyed his own solitude and peace, but the way I set it up, he could not. It seemed to him that the whole house was my office and not our home.

So anyway, if at all possible, find your own space that won’t interfere with family life. Once you get busy, your phone will ring constantly and you will need to be able to escape from your office too! That’s hard to do when your office is in the dining room.

You’ll need a good working desk in addition to a computer desk. You’ll need plenty of shelves and drawers. The more horizontal storage space you have, the happier you’ll be. Storage is the secret to happiness in your home office! You’ll need some good file cabinets, a fax machine, a telephone with speaker, desktop file storage, a fax machine, a postage meter, a 3-hole punch, a paper cutter, a paper shredder, a few reams of presentation paper, a box of regular copy paper, legal paper, labels, scotch tape… etc., etc., etc. A multi-function fax/copier/printer/scanner is a necessity.

One year, I got overly ambitious and purchased a $2000 color laser printer because I thought I was a big shot and needed it. Don’t do it!! That monster cost me $1000/year in toner and other supplies and broke down at least twice a year. It was too heavy for me to move, even two feet across the room. I’d rather wear out a couple mid-quality multi-function machines every year than deal with that beast again.

Do not use your home phone as your business phone unless you are the only one who ever answers it AND you answer it professionally every time. Use your real estate office address on business cards. After I got to the point where I worked exclusively at home, I was comfortable meeting my clients there, especially when preparing purchase offers. You may or may not feel the same way. For me, it’s just easier to put contracts together on my own computer, rather than figuring out how to work the computer and printer in an office I rarely visit. It’s worth the half an hour I have to take to clean up my house! Perhaps it isn’t as professional as meeting in a stuffy office, but it works just fine for me.

If you work from home 99% of the time and are willing to give up your desk at your real estate office, you may be able to negotiate a better commission split. After all, the broker can put another agent at your desk (more $$$ for him) and you aren’t using the office resources to the extent that the other agents do. Many companies offer an alternative split for agents who work from home, although it may not be available to you until you’ve been selling real estate for a year or two. Working from home can be expensive – aside from the obvious costs of stocking your own supplies, you’re also using your own electricity all day long! Don’t underestimate this – my utility bills were twice what they “should” have been. But maybe you’ll offset that by not eating out as much… after all, your refrigerator is just down the hall.

copyright Jennifer Allan 2007

posted by on Jennifer's Best, Prospecting & SOI

You’ve heard the cold caller’s philosophy…for every 100 phone calls you make, you’ll get five appointments; for every five appointments you go on, you’ll get one listing. Therefore, if you make 500 phone calls, you can count on five listings as a result. If your average listing commission is $5,000, then every phone call is worth $50 since it takes 100 phone calls to get a listing. Supposedly you will actually start to enjoy each rejection, because you realize that every 99 “no’s” equals a “yes” which leads to a paycheck, since every “no” means you are one step closer to a “yes.” Sound fun?

Not to me. In fact, it sounds like an awful way to make a living. Pestering people for three hours a day asking the poor sap who answers the phone if he “knows anyone who’s thinking of buying or selling real estate?” Being rejected 99 times out of a hundred, voluntarily? Ick. Phooey. Blech.

So tell us how you really feel, Jennifer!

Okay, thanks for asking, I will.

The State of Colorado’s Division of Real Estate did not grant me a real estate license so that I could be a professional prospector. I have to assume that good old DORA intended for me to spend a significant amount of my time serving the clients I am honored to have today instead of tracking down the ones I hope to have tomorrow. Taking good care of my listings and my buyers. As my first priority. Not as an afterthought when I can squeeze them in around my prospecting and networking efforts.

But, but, but….!

Yeah, I know. As self-employed types, we have to ensure ourselves a steady stream of business to keep the home fires burning in the style to which we intend to become accustomed. Hey, believe me, I never took a vow of poverty and I don’t sell real estate out of the goodness of my heart. I’ve had $50,000 months before, more than once, and I could happily get used to that!

But you know what? I have never cold called, I have never knocked on a stranger’s door… in fact, I’ve never even asked a stranger for business. Ever. No, not even FSBO’s or expireds.

For ten years I have depended on my SOI for 100% of my business. And they have generously delivered. Sure, I’ve picked up the odd client here and there from floor time or open houses; maybe two or three a year, which is nothing to sneeze at. But the vast majority of my business comes directly or indirectly from the people I know or meet.

And every client is special to me. Even precious. Okay, admittedly some are a pain in the ass, but I still appreciate their business and the juicy commission checks I get as a reward for putting up with them. But most of my clients are pleasant people with a real estate need who simply want to be treated as if their business is valuable to me. Not like a number.

When you depend on your SOI for business, you bow out of the numbers game. And it’s wonderful. No more dragging yourself to the phone for your daily cold calling session. No more searching the real estate ads for your next FSBO target. No more beating yourself up because you’d rather take a nap than finish up your 10 HouseValues CMAs that are due today.

When your pipeline is running low, you have a little Super Bowl party. Or send out some friendly personal emails. Or ratchet up your “take-a-friend-to-lunch” campaign. You don’t need 20 more clients today; just two or three good ones will restore your mood. And pad your bank account.

SOI business is good business. It’s loyal business. It’s fun business. The success ratios are more like 50%-75%, compared to 5-10% from traditional lead generation (and that’s being optimistic!). So if you get 100 leads from your SOI, that will result in 50-75 closings from you.

So how does it work exactly? Glad you asked.

SOI business comes in one lead at a time. But the leads are good leads, leads that will likely result in a closing. And, depending on your market and your broker split, each lead-that-will-probably-result-in-a-closing is worth thousands of dollars to you.

So let’s say you have 20 close friends. If you have implemented a respectful, consistent SOI campaign, you, obviously, are the agent of choice for most of them if any happen to need a real estate agent this year. Maybe that will only get you one or two sales; or maybe your friends are a restless bunch and you’ll get five or six.

You should also get the family business of your 20 nearest & dearest. Katie’s grandma moves to town to be closer to her grandchildren. Fred’s brother-in-law needs a referral to a Las Vegas agent. Maria’s sister gets engaged and needs to sell her condo. Her fiancé wants to sell his too. There’s a good chance you’ll get first dibs on this sort of business. So let’s say you pick up three family members.

Let’s not forget everyone else your 20 friends know. If just half of your friends refer you to just one person, that’s 10 more clients for you. What if all of your friends refer you to one other person? Or if three of your friends each refer you to five of their friends? What if you have 30 friends? 50?

Oh, and what about everyone else in your SOI? The other 150 people you know and stay in touch with? Your husband’s assistant? Your dog trainer? Your massage therapist? Depending on the strength of your SOI campaign, you might see 5-15 sales a year from these folks.

And we haven’t even talked about the NEW friends you’re going to make over the next 12 months! If you’re out there in the world, with your antenna up, you will run into people who happen to be in need of real estate services. If you approach them right, that business is yours. Maybe that’s another five sales for you.

So add it all up and you’re selling some real estate! All without treating anyone like a number.

Unless you’re striving to be a mega-producer with 10 buyer agents scurrying around underfoot, you really don’t need to go after every buyer and seller in town. This is what I mean when I say that Real Estate is Not a Numbers Game. The business that you can generate from your SOI and from your own social encounters really ought to be enough.

And the best part? If you spend a few years building a strong cheering section (i.e. your SOI), you can coast through the rest of your real estate career. NO prospecting, NO marketing budget, NO sleepless nights worrying about where your next closing is coming from. Now, that’s a lifestyle I could get used to (and I have). 

copyright Jennifer Allan 2007


SOI in Action


posted by on Prospecting & SOI

Yesterday, I got a call from a former client of mine. She was one of my biggest investor clients during the Denver real estate boom in the late 1990’s, but has since left town and no longer invests in the Denver market. We stay in touch and she sends referrals my way when she can.

Anyway, she called asking for my help in appealing a low appraisal her brother received on his home he’s trying to refinance.

No problem, I tell her. I pull the comps, confirm that the appraisal is ridiculously low and email her the information, which she forwards to the lender handling the refinance. The lender calls me, asks for a little more information, including a copy of the tax assessor’s record, which I immediately fax to him. He emails me the low appraisal and asks for my input which I provide. I explain in detail why the comps the appraiser used are inappropriate.

He thanks me profusely and tells me I’m awesome. I smile.

From the time my client called me to the point I evaluated the appraisal for the lender, about 90 minutes passed. All in all, I spent maybe 25 minutes of my time. Piece o’ cake to do.

The moral of the story… this is pure SOI in action. Do you think I’ll need to constantly remind my former client that I LOVE Referrals? Uh, no. I’m her real estate resource in Denver, no question about it. Because I dropped everything and helped her out right away, she knows she’s a high priority for me. She knows she’s special. I don’t have to tell her, I showed her. And I won’t have to remind her.

This is pretty simple stuff. But what if I followed my buddy Dirk Zeller’s advice and put her off until later in the day (or even tomorrow) so I could finish up my prospecting or other more critical work? I mean, isn’t it way more effective to pester ten strangers than to take care of one person who has already proven to be a source of business for me?

What do you think?

copyright Jennifer Allan 2007

posted by on Blogs for the Public

How to Sell Your Home in 30 Days or less – Part I

As described HERE, every home seller and his real estate agent should strive for a 30-day sale.

Fair enough. So, how do we do that?

Price is King
Your home must excite the market, not just be ‘fairly priced.' If the comparable competition is priced between $315,000 and $365,000 (and isn't flying off the shelves), you need to be at the lower end or even lower. Just ‘cause the identical house down the street is priced at $329,900 doesn't mean you should price yours there too. Your home needs to blow away the competition, to the point where the buyer wonders if the listing agent blew it on the price because your home is SO MUCH nicer than everything else he saw! We want him screaming "WHERE DO I SIGN?"

In your market, there may be five buyers for every 20 listings. This means that ONLY the top five listings will sell, if those top five are lucky. The other 15 will not sell – there simply aren't enough buyers. And, don't forget, there's new competition coming on the market every day, with fewer Days on Market (DOM) than yours. Buyers know this and are willing to wait for the home that blows them away.

And, no, don't count on overpricing and hoping that "buyers will make an offer." Oh, don't worry, buyers aren't shy about making "offers" (that is, LOW ones), but not if they don't ever see your home. Here's the thing… if your 3-bedroom home is priced alongside comparable 4-bedroom homes, the buyers for that 4-bedroom competition won't even look at your home because it doesn't meet their needs for that additional bedroom. They don't want your house at any price. And thus, won't "make an offer."

Conversely, the perfect buyer for your 3-bedroom home won't see it either because it's out of his price range (and he probably has plenty to look at IN his price range, anyway).

Does this sound overly negative? I don't mean it to be! In fact, in a way, it's good news! Who controls the price? YOU! In most cases, if your home is priced right, it will sell.

But it's just not quite as much fun as the good old days, is it? Yeah, I know.

Stay tuned for more tips to Sell Your Home in 30 Days or Less – Next installment "May I be perfectly frank with you?"


posted by on Blogs for the Public

I can't speak for the rest of the world, but in the Denver metropolitan area, there are very few excuses for a home to be on the market longer than 30 days. (And believe me, our market is no picnic.) In fact, the longer a home is on the market, the less likely it is to sell and most certainly, the less likely it is to get you that full-price-or-close-to offer you're hoping for!

There is an energy in a newly listed home that dwindles significantly once you're past the 30-day mark. When a home is fresh on the market, everyone is excited… and that excitement truly is palpable in the air. The owner is all revved up and is diligently cleaning the cat litter box and wiping up his toothpaste spit. He dutifully leaves the home for showings and is happy to accept showings on short-notice. He cheerfully bakes cookies for the Sunday Open House and offers to help his agent put up her Open House signs.

Hopefully, the agent is also excited. She's proud of her new listing and can't wait til her Internet marketing kicks in and the inquiries start to flow. She loads her photos and descriptions onto the MLS, and Craigslist. She puts up her Open Sunday! sign rider. She produces beautiful home brochures. She follows up with every single showing and immediately reports the feedback to her seller.

At least we hope this is what your agent does.

After 30 days… eh… the energy is gone. The homeowner is tired of showings (or the lack thereof). He's sick of cleaning the house before he leaves for work every day, tired of no-show buyer agents, bored with the same ol' feedback. He heats up Chef-Boyardee for lunch and doesn't even rinse the dishes (ick). He refuses showings on the weekends. He demands open houses, but doesn't even make the beds beforehand.

The agent is also a little less enthusiastic about her Fabulous Listing. She's tired of following up for feedback and getting nothing useful. She's tired of explaining to her seller why no one came to the open house. She feels bad that she hasn't Done Her Job and Sold the House, like she promised she'd do. She starts to wonder if maybe, just maybe, she blew it on the price or, just as likely, starts to wish she'd never given in to her seller's pressure and agreed to HIS price. She knew better. Drats.

The market is certainly less excited about the Fabulous Listing. There's a whole different feeling when the buyer asks his agent "How long has this been on the market?" and the answer is: "8 Days" versus "63 Days" or even "122 Days." Who's gonna pay full price for a 3-4 month old listing? Doesn't matter if you Just Reduced the Price, ain't nobody gonna pay what you're asking.

So, how DO you sell a house in 30 days?? Stay tuned


posted by on Blogs for the Public

I'm pulling my hair out this week. Trying to get ready to move, which, as you know, is utterly chaotic. Painters coming and going, carpet cleaners not showing up, my Realtor wants this and that from me… then the CHECK ENGINE light goes on in my car and my renters decide to go MIA (with no rent busypayment in sight).

Sheesh. But I'm still smiling.

Here's the problem. I am a full time writer (for another week anyway) and I work from home. Whenever anyone tries to schedule something with me, the first words out of my mouth are "Sure, whatever works for you, just let me know!" Baaaaad answer. Is it true? Sure – I'm almost always around. But I get NO RESPECT!

Yesterday, my painter told me he'd be by around noon to finish sanding a drywall repair. So, I scheduled my rather hectic day around being home at noon. Lunchtime comes and goes … and no painter. Waiting waiting waiting… at 5:30 he calls and says he'll be by at 9:00 am today. I still have tons of errands to run that didn't get done yesterday (while I waited).  It's almost 9:00 now…we shall see…

This happens to me all the time. I get frustrated and curse the world for being imperfect. But maybe… it's all my fault. After all, I freely give the impression that my time isn't already spoken for which implies that it's not valuable.

So, from here on out, I am BUSY! I have this time and this time available; which one works for you? I think this will be life-changing…

posted by on Blogs for the Public

When you cross the border into Alabama, the state line sign welcomes you to Alabama the Beautiful. And for those whose only experience with the Deep South is connecting through Atlanta, that may surprise you. But, oh my, Alabama is, indeed, beautiful.

I’ve lived here in L.A. (Lower Alabama) for a little over two years. I transplanted from Denver in 2006, for love and weather, but am now heading back to the Rockies. It’s bittersweet and I’m sure I will shed more than a few tears as I see that Welcome to Alabama the Beautiful sign fade from my rear-view mirror.

There’s a lot to love about Alabama, especially my little piece of paradise down here in the southeast corner, just outside of Dothan. So, lest anyone from the Great State of Alabama (a la Forrest Gump) feels dissed about the blog I recently wrote entitled “What I’ve missed about Denver,” I want to share what I’ve found precious about this wonderful place:

•        WARM WATER! Just ½ mile from my house is a fantastic dog-walking creek that is great fun to splash around in for a few hours on a sunny afternoon (and most are). A few miles farther is the Choctawhatchee River where I’ve swam, row-boated, fished and laid out on a quiet white sand beach. Drifting down this river is my idea of heaven – it’s sheer bliss and unbelievably beautiful. Oh, and of course, the blue waters of Destin and Panama City Beach are only 90 minutes away.fairway

•       AFFORDABLE REAL ESTATE! I thought I was dreaming when I first got here. I bought two rental homes on the south side of Dothan and, for those in more expensive markets – get this… The houses were brick, 2500 sqft on ¾ acre lots in a beautiful GOLF COURSE neighborhood with windy streets and lots of trees… I paid $150,000 for one and $160,000 for the other. Yowsa! They’ve appreciated nicely over the last two years, but the market here is stable, so great prices still abound. (Contact my local agent Millie Miller if you’re interested in the area!)

•       The TEN MONTH SUMMER! Okay, so this may not be a big selling point for everyone, but for me… heaven. It gets warm in April and stays nice til Christmas. Yeah, we have a few months of winter, but it never snows , ices or otherwise inconveniences you. I haven’t found the heat or humidity to be oppressive, but I’m a human icicle, so it suits me. (I must say, however, that I absolutely HATE the frigid temperatures that the grocery stores set their a/c to – you literally have to take a coat inside with you in July!)

•       The FRAGRANT FLOWERS EVERYWHERE! In my yard, I have gardenia, jasmine and wisteria growing naturally, all summer long. It’s overwhelming sometimes (in a good way).

•       LEARNING TO THROW DARTS! I’ve become quite a proficient Dart Thrower! (that’s the proper term, not “dart-player”). It’s a lot of fun and attracts a good, although interesting, crowd. Wonder if darts is big in Denver?

•       SWEET HOME ALABAMA – WHERE THE SKIES ARE SO BLUE! Colorado with its 300 days of sunshine has nothing on Alabama. Yep, it rains here and rains hard, but most days are absolutely perfect.