Posts Tagged ‘Lessons from a Recession’

posted by on Reflections From a Difficult Market

Last week we did a teleseminar show in the SWS Virtual Studio on a rather sensitive subject – QUITTING. Yeah, quitting. As in, throwing in the towel and calling it a day. The goal of the show was not to talk anyone out of quitting, or shame them into staying or even to sell them a bunch of my books so they’ll miraculously turn their career around; no, the goal to assure agents that IF quitting is right for them, there’s no need to apologize, feel guilty or be ashamed. In fact, I believe it takes a lot of courage to admit that something isn’t working and go do something ELSE!

QuitDuring the show I described seven Reasons to Leave that I believe are perfectly valid Reasons to Leave. Not that anyone needs my permission or blessing, of course, but if you, or someone you know is struggling, and any or many or all of these apply, leaving might very well be the best course of action.

1. Your market truly sucks. Contrary to the rah-rah’s and Pollyannas, there may NOT be enough business to go around and some markets are truly awful. If buyers aren’t buying and sellers aren’t selling, there’s nothing we as real estate agents can do to change that. To determine if your market is viable or not – take a look at how the top five agents in your office are doing. If they’re busy and seem to be going to closings on a regular basis, then there probably IS business to be had if you could figure out a way to get some for yourself. But if even the top dogs are struggling, your market may not be viable, right now anyway.

2. You aren’t suited for self-employment. Not everyone is cut out to be self-employed. And there’s no shame in that. Here’s a great article about the entrepreneurial personality:

3. Your understanding of what a real estate agent does all day was wrong. Before going into real estate, many agent-wanna-be’s think the job revolves around showing property, writing offers, attending closings, creating home brochures and holding open houses. Which, as we all now know, isn’t the case at all. If you didn’t realize how much of your time would be spent pursuing business, trying to solve unsolvable problems and dealing with grumpy idiots, and you don’t particularly enjoy these activities, perhaps real estate wasn’t a good choice for you.

4. You don’t handle confrontation and conflict well. Most normal people would prefer not to have a lot of conflict and confrontation in their lives, but if you tend to avoid it at all costs and literally make yourself sick when in the middle of a disagreement, it’s likely a career in real estate will be miserable for you.

5. It’s simply time for a change. No one ever said real estate had to be your last career. Hey, if you’re bored or burned out or ready to do something different, go for it!

6. Your lifestyle has changed. Perhaps you’ve had children since you got your license… or maybe your children are now at an age where they’re more demanding of your time. Maybe you’ve gotten married… or divorced… maybe you’re having health issues or are caring for an aging parent. Life happens… and sometimes a lifestyle change will also require a change in career to accommodate your new reality.

7. And my favorite… Real estate is just too hard right now. You know what? Selling real estate is freakin’ HARD right now. And often not much fun. And often not too profitable. If you aren’t having any fun; if you aren’t sleeping well at night; if you aren’t making any money and don’t see that changing – GO DO SOMETHING ELSE! Life is way too short to get up every morning and hate what you do.

If you’re struggling with whether Real Estate is/was a good career choice for you, you might check out a new (free) newsletter mini-clinic I just put together. It’s specifically for aspiring agents (people who are thinking about going to real estate school), but it’s a fairly hard-core look at the realities of the career – and might be helpful for you in making your decision. Just go here:

posted by on Working with Sellers

Last fall, I wrote a book specifically for the NAR convention called: 74 Ways to Sell Your Listings in Today’s Market.

But after it went to press, I slapped myself in the head because there’s one topic I didn’t cover in the book and I should have.  So, I’ll address it here. 

The question I didn’t answer was: “If I do each and every one of your 74 thingees to sell my listing, can you swsguarantee that it WILL sell?”


Sure wish I could. With all my heart, I wish I could promise everyone who buys my book and puts my advice into action that their listings will sell within xx days. But that would be a lie and I’d never lie to my friends.

Here’s the thing. There simply may not be a demand for your listing right now. There may literally be NO buyers for what you’re selling.

I had a broker once who made the statement “There’s an a$$ for every saddle.” Cute, huh? All she meant was that every home will sell eventually. And it was true, back then. Today? Not so much.

There simply aren’t enough buyers out there. Very few of today’s buyers are willing to take a chance on their home purchase. If your listing offers any sort of investment risk, it may not be sellable. Right now, anyway.

So, if your listing isn’t selling and you’ve done everything you could possibly do, it’s NOT YOUR FAULT!  Please stop agonizing over what else you can do or who else you can call. You’ve done your best and none of us are miracle-workers.

Stop losing sleep. Rest easy. You’re too cute to look so stressed out!

posted by on Positive Thoughts for Tough Times

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock since August of 2007, you know that the real estate market in most areas of the country has sustained a massive blow to its ego. Not that things were booming before August, no, we were all a little nervous about and frustrated with our slow-moving inventory, but we figured we’d snap out of our doldrums soon enough.


Along comes the mortgage crisis and, just like that, a good chunk of the home-buying public is suddenly un-mortgage-worthy. Crap.

So here we are.

As I write this, it’s late 2007. Sellers are slashing prices, buyers are making ridiculous offers and closings are crycanceled without warning when the lender closes its doors two hours before. Sheesh.

Not fun.

So, what’s a nice real estate agent to do?

1. Cry
2. Quit
3. Adjust

I’m going to assume that anyone reading this has decided to Adjust. And you know what? If you make it through this crisis, you’ll never look at the career of real estate sales the same way again.

Because, in order to survive, you’re going to have to Get Good. Really, really good. Forget about prospecting, forget about networking, forget about lead generating. You need to focus on Selling Houses.

Yeah, Selling Houses. You know, that activity for which you are licensed?

Trouble is, Selling Houses in a Sucky Market is a lot of work. You’re going to have to do things you’ve never had to do before. You’re going to have to solve problems that, at first glance, seem unsolvable. You’re going to have to communicate difficult concepts to people who don’t want to hear them.

In short, you’re going to EARN your commissions. And you’ll be a much better agent because of it.

And… when the good times return (and they will), you’ll have set a higher standard for yourself … and for your business … and you will be an exceptional real estate agent. Not just good… Exceptional.

Go, you!


posted by on Reflections From a Difficult Market

Ahhhhhhhhhh… I remember when my average monthly income was $23,500… which meant some months were even higher. I remember two $50,000 months in a row. I remember the year I broke the $300,000 mark. I remember the year I burned out and half-heartedly worked only six months … and brought in $179,000.


Trouble is, I got into the habit of spending those dollars, not frivolously, but spent them I did. If I wanted a new kitchen, I got it. A sweet little investment property that seemed like a good deal – I bought it. And yes, there was a bit of the princess in there – weekly massages, daily “maid” service and a cute little Caribbean blue Miata I just had to have.

Easy come… easy go.

And speaking of easy – it’s an easy habit to fall into when you work on commission – treating those enormous commission checks like Monopoly money and assuming there are plenty more growing on that money tree in the back yard.

I haven’t seen a $23,500 month in awhile! Neither has anyone I know.

We Old Fogie agents developed some poor spending habits during the days of prosperity; habits which are hard to break.  But break them we must. We need to practice using that dirty little word… NO.

I can proudly admit that I have curtailed my lifestyle, although it took awhile to admit to myself that I needed to do so. And then some more time to actually listen to myself when I told myself NO. I’m far from perfect and I still spend money I probably shouldn’t, but I can promise you, when those $50,000 months return, I intend to maintain my frugal lifestyle (although I really miss those weekly massages)!    

Many of my Old Fogie agent friends are giving lip service to the idea of cutting back. But they aren’t doing it. They’re so used to the good life they don’t see that many of what they consider “necessities” are actually ridiculously luxurious. New Years Eve in Aspen, a ski pass to Vail, season tickets to the Nuggets, gourmet coffee imported from Costa Rica, monthly facials and weekly visits to the acupuncturist.

Hey, I understand how hard it is to sacrifice in response to what we hope is a temporary downturn in the economy. And I hope with all my heart that my current state of frugality soon becomes a choice, rather than a necessity. But in the meantime, I can almost FEEL that character building!

posted by on Reflections From a Difficult Market

While I don’t advertise it, I do some one-on-one consulting for Very Special People. By VSP, I mean, people who buy into the Sell with Soul philosophy (yeah, I discriminate) and who are intelligent and self-aware enough to 1) be willing to play outside the box and forego traditional wisdom most of the time and 2) are willing, even eager to ask “How did I contribute to this problem” rather than simply whine about how everyone else on the planet sucks.

Anyway, wanna guess what the most common consultation I’m doing these days is? Seducing a Sphere of Influence? Nope. Writing a Non-Dorky Announcement or Reconnection letter? Nope. Getting a difficult listing sold? No again.

I’m thinking of quitting. Can you help me decide?”

Sounds kind of grim, doesn’t it? And yeah, most agents who contact me with this question are, frankly, out of time. Either something has to happen RIGHT NOW or they’re in deep doo-doo. Or, rather, deeper doo-doo.

What I’m about to say here may not be popular but the answer many of these consultees have gotten from me is: “Yes, I suspect you need to quit, at least for now. Maybe not forever, but for now, it’s probably the right thing.”

Are you asking yourself this question, or some version of it? You don’t have to answer me out loud, but if you’re at this point in your career, please don’t be afraid to explore your options. There is NO SHAME in redirecting your career if that career is putting you and your family at risk of financial ruin. THIS IS A TOUGH BUSINESS! Yeah, we all know that, but sometimes we forget the reality of that statement. When something is “tough” that means a whole lot of people aren’t going to make a go of it – maybe even you or me!

I’m not saying that giving up is the only option; of course it isn’t. But it IS an option. Don’t let your pride, ego or fantasies get in the way of making the right decision for you.

I’ll probably write some more on this topic – stay tuned.

posted by on Prospecting & SOI

As promised, I’m writing a little series of blogs on how I’m coping with this … ahem… more challenging real estate market that my not be going away any time soon. Phooey on affirmations and positive thinking – let’s get to WORK! (okay, so there’s nothing wrong with positive thinking – please continue to do it).

In the past, I’ve written about how it’s just fine to stay in your comfort zone – especially if you’re an introvert. My assertion has been that most of us are just fine the way we are – that we have plenty of skills and talents and wonderfulness about us that we can utilize in our business-building efforts, without doing something new and, well, scary.

Been thinking about this lately, especially with the dramatic decrease in the volume of business up for grabs in this less-than-vibrant real estate market.

When the pickin’s are scarce, sometimes it’s necessary to be a bit more aggressive to get your share of the available pie. Let’s face it; in many markets there simply aren’t that many buyers and sellers out there, so it’s likely gonna take some extra effort to track down the ones who are.

For the Power Prospectors among us (which certainly doesn’t include ME), this is no big deal. In fact, the PP’s might actually enjoy the challenge. But what about us more Reluctant types? Those of us who shudder at the thought of chasing down our prey? Am I advising us to do it anyway? To ignore our fears, our hesitancies, perhaps even our conscience?

Probably, maybe and no.

Ignore your fears? Probably. Your hesitancies? Maybe. Your conscience? NO.

FEAR: Earlier this year I started speaking publicly which terrified me at first, but I got over it and now I LOVE it. I conquered that FEAR by facing it and am a better person for it (and a bit wealthier since now people pay me to speak!).

HESITANCY: I have a HESITANCY of approaching FSBO’s and Expired listings. I worry about making a fool of myself and dread the thought of being rejected, although I believe with all my heart and soul that I can help and might just be the best thing to ever happen to them. To date, my hesitancy to prospect to FSBO’s and Expireds has kept me from doing it. I also HESITATE to spend any money on advertising, farming or web-lead purchase because I don’t believe it’s an effective use of my precious dollars. However, if you think it might work for you, there’s certainly nothing wrong with such promotional activities.

CONSCIENCE: However, my CONSCIENCE will not allow me to do anything that resembles making a nuisance out of myself – that is – pestering my friends or pestering strangers with cold-calls, door-knocks or annoying pleas for referrals. No matter how desperate for business I might find myself, I will not subject other human beings on this planet to that desperation. That good old Golden Rule… don’t do to someone else what you wouldn’t want done to you…(and I tell ya, I despise telemarketers).

So, what’s the punch line?

Well, that it may very well be necessary to step out of our comfort zones in order to survive this real estate market. However, that doesn’t mean we have to abandon all our principles and throw ourselves on the altar of Old School sales philosophies.

When considering a new prospecting technique that you aren’t terribly excited about…check with your gut. If your gut is just nervous because you haven’t done it before, you might want to give that idea a shot. However, if your gut is telling you that it’s wrong, then mark that particular idea off your list!

What are some of your fears & hesitancies that you’re willing to explore? REO’s & Short Sales? Daily blogging? SOI’ing? FSBO’ing? Foreclosure auctions? Open houses? Networking? I’ll share mine if you share yours!

posted by on Working with Sellers

Okay, rumor has it that the real estate market is in a slump. Is it true? S’pose so, everyone says it is.

I’ve been previewing my little heart out here in Charming Old Denver, catching back up on the market since my return to the trenches. I gotta tell ya, if YOUR market is anything like MY market, I can see why buyers aren’t buying.

The inventory is CRAP! I’ve looked at 25-35 houses in the last two weeks and of those 25-35 homes, I found 4 that I would actually consider showing a buyer. The others? Well, they’re way overpriced (like up to $100,000 in a $350k – $450k range), and/or they show poorly and/or they’re HARD to show.

Now, these properties aren’t listed by “discount” brokers or otherwise unpopular types – they’re listed by some of the biggest names in the area.

I’m dismayed and frustrated. I actually HAVE buyers that would like to buy something, but I have nothing to sell them. And I blame the listing agent community. It’s our job to tell our sellers what they need to do to in order to sell their homes. I really want the listing agents in my area to do their job better so my buyers will fall in love!

Now I remember why working with buyers frustrated me. No, not because “buyers are liars” or because I hate being run all over town. I don’t mind that. What I do mind, deeply, is the inability, even in a “buyer’s market” to find enough decent listings to show my reasonably fussy buyers.

Okay, that’s my rant for today.

Related Rants

Preview Ten Listings and Report Back
Get Good… Or Get Out!
What Our Sellers May Not Know… But Need To