Posts Tagged ‘Market Mastery’

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??


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?


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:

posted by on An Exceptional Agent

Last Thursday, we did a little show in the SWS Virtual Studio about Mastering Your Market for Fun & Profit. The format was that my guest and I (thank you, Chiara Petro!) took turns sharing our tips for Market Mastery and asked the audience to vote on their favorites.

By far, the most favorit-est tip was to “Leave the GPS at home.

Here’s why you might want to do that. To become a true “master” of a market or neighborhood, you need to be able to get TO it and THROUGH it, and understand how it fits into the Big Picture of the area, without relying on that little computer on the dashboard to guide you.

When I started selling real estate in Denver in 1996, we had no choice but to learn our way around town, or risk looking like idiots when we put buyers in our cars. And that knowledge served me well, very well, throughout my career. 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.

The funny thing is… now that I don’t live in Denver and I don’t sell real estate anymore, I have no clue how the town in which I currently live is put together. After more than two years here, I still need the GPS to get to Walmart, the health food store and the dog park. If someone tells me they live “west of downtown” or “north of I-10,” I have absolutely no mental picture of where that might be. And if I were trying to sell real estate here, that would drive me nuts.

One of my definitions of being a Master of Your Market is that when someone tells me where they live, I can mentally “place” their home on a map and have a reasonably accurate idea of what their neighborhood is like. If you’ve been relying on your GPS to navigate your way around town, it’s likely that ability and familiarity will never fully develop.

So, as you’re working toward Mastering your Market, try it the old fashioned way. Yeah, it might be a bit frustrating and take more time, but you’ll be glad you made the effort, I promise.

posted by on An Exceptional Agent

On Thursday, we held a show in the SWS Virtual Studio entitled “Mastering Your Market for Fun & Profit” where my guest Chiara Petro and I discussed WHY being a Market Master is something you might want to be and HOW to go about becoming one!

My definition of being a Market Master is that if someone tells me where they live, I get a mental image of their neighborhood, subdivision or condo building. I don’t necessarily know what year their house was built or how big it is, although I might be able to guess pretty accurately, but I have a general sense of the overall ambience, what amenities are nearby and I probably have a real estate-related anecdote or two about the area I can toss out. I call it being “conversationally familiar” with the Market when I can easily and confidently chat about the real estate in an area without resorting to the tired old “Well, I don’t really know, but I’d be happy to find out for you!

At the end of the show, I asked the audience to send in their favorite tip-of-the-day, and here are the results:

Favorit-est Tip #1: Leave the GPS at Home!
As you’re working toward becoming a Master of Your Market, leave the GPS at home to force yourself to learn how to find your way around without relying on that voice coming from the little box on your dash. Not only does this give you far more credibility when buyers are sitting in your car, but you’ll also have a much better mental picture of your market area and how the various neighborhoods, highways and commercial districts relate to each other geographically.

Favorit-est Tip #2: Preview, preview, preview!
If “previewing” is allowed in your market, take advantage of it… as often as you can! There’s no way you can become a Master of Your Market by memorizing MLS statistics or even looking at pictures – you need to be out IN it. And your previewing tours will be far more effective if you practice “opinionated previewing” which means you look at similar homes (i.e. similar price range, vintage, architecture, etc.) and compare the homes to each other as opposed to just heading out and looking at a bunch of unrelated properties.

Favorit-est Tip #3: “Averages” are meaningless; instead, research the “ranges
The “average” price, square footage, days on market or list-to-sold ratio statistic in a market area is likely a meaningless indicator of what’s really going on there. When researching a Market to become a Master of it, focus on identifying the “ranges” – highest and lowest price, largest and smallest square footage, highest and lowest days on market, etc.

Favorit-est Tip #4: Identify alternatives to the Market You’re Mastering
As you’re Mastering one Market area, try to identify alternatives to that area that a buyer might also consider. For example, perhaps a buyer loves a certain style of home that can be found in the neighborhood you’re mastering, but needs a larger lot than is typically available there. Or perhaps they can’t quite afford that neighborhood, and would appreciate knowing what other parts of town offer similar homes and amenities for less money. Being conversationally familiar with the alternatives will give you tremendous credibility when talking with buyers.

Favorit-est Tip #5: Patronize businesses in the Market You’re Mastering
Hey, you gotta shop somewhere… you gotta eat sometime… you gotta get your hair cut, your dog groomed and your dry-cleaning done, so why not do it in the Market You’re Mastering? Not only will you be likely to meet people who have real estate needs in the area, but you’ll also be able to speak intelligently to clients about the local businesses and amenities.

Favorit-est Tip #6: Identify all landmark buildings in the Market You’re Mastering
Drive around the Market You’re Mastering and make notes of the buildings you see that aren’t readily identifiable. Schools, churches, rest homes, etc. Find out what they are so when you’re working with a buyer and the buyers asks “What’s that?” you’ll know the answer!

Other favorit-est tips from the show included:

  • Blog and create market reports about what you learn while previewing
  • Read other agents’ blogs & newsletters
  • Know school district boundaries & statistics
  • Choose one geographic area at a time to master
  • Know your office inventory

posted by on Prospecting & SOI

The other day I wrote a blog, basically admitting that I’ve lied all this time when I said that virtually all of my real estate business came directly or indirectly from the people I knew, otherwise known as my sphere of influence (SOI).

As part of my re-entry into the wonderful world of real estate sales, I’ve been more closely analyzing where my business came from the first go-around and had an AHA moment of… “wow – I got a lot of business from strangers!” Now, don’t get me wrong, I hadn’t forgotten about these Very Important Clients; I just kinda forgot how I met them since, of course, they all ended up in my SOI and many became friends or semi-friends.

But the difference is… I never prospected for the business of strangers. Never cold-called, door-knocked; rarely advertised or farmed. I never, ever approached a stranger with the intent to prospect to them.  All of my Business from Strangers was serendipitous

They say that luck is when opportunity meets preparation. BINGO!

Opportunity: Being out in the world with a smile on your face and your antenna up.

Preparation: Being ready to hand out your business card and spout your elevator speech? NO!!! Preparation means being ready to speak intelligently and knowledgeably about the local real estate market without a hint of a sales pitch.

Don’t want to prospect? Then don’t. Spend that time learning the heck out of your market. Preview, preview, preview. Read neighborhood newspapers. Preview some more. Visit neighborhood grocery stores and shopping districts. Preview. Visit new home communities, attend meetings on Transit Oriented Development. Preview. Know your office inventory inside and out.

When a Stranger Calls…(on one your listings or while you’re on floor duty), you’ll get ‘em. When an open house visitor expresses in an interest in the neighborhood… you’ll get ‘em. When another guest at a wedding wants to talk real estate investment… you’ll get ‘em.

KNOWING YOUR MARKET is the best way to “prospect” to strangers. No fancy business card, well-rehearsed elevator speech or slick closing technique will beat the confidence that exudes from you when you know your stuff. It’s magnetic.


p.s. remember the part about leaving out the sales pitch. If you impress someone with your market knowledge, then hit ‘em with a sales pitch, you’ll likely un-do all the good you just did. When you’re confident and enthusiastic, people will ASK for YOUR business card. It’s a beautiful thing.

posted by on Prospecting & SOI

For over a year now I’ve been extolling the virtues of an SOI business model – that is – basing your business on the power of your personal relationships instead of the power of your marketing budget. (If you don’t believe me check out my tag cloud under “soi”).I’ve claimed that I ran a nearly 100% SOI business literally from Day One – a business that was very successful by anyone’s definition – in which virtually all of my business came directly or indirectly from the people I knew. I’ve implied (or outright said) that I never pursued business from strangers.

Well, since arriving in Denver last weekend, I’ve hardly slept. My 40 year old body has not yet adjusted to the altitude and I can’t seem to stay asleep more than a few hours. Can’t nap either. So, in my sleep-deprived haze, I had a stunning revelation this morning.

I’ve been lying to y’all. Didn’t mean to, but I have. Sorry about that.

Here’s the thing. A lot of my business DID come from my SOI, no question about that. I was lucky to have a large circle of acquaintances when I entered the business and was able to generate quite a bit of support among the people who knew me. God bless ‘em.

However, upon closer reflection, I realize that a not-insignificant amount of my business through the years came from total strangers. People I had no personal relationship with, nor did we know anyone in common. While I’ve always referred to these sales as SOI-generated, technically, they really weren’t.  THESE PEOPLE WERE STRANGERS TO ME.

But I’ll stand behind my statement (modified slightly) that I never actively pursued business from strangers.

I never cold-called, I never door-knocked, I rarely advertised. I never called a FSBO. I didn’t farm.

Yes, I GOT business from strangers, but that business was never the result of PURSUING it.

Stay tunedsoi