By Amy Steele
I love to take photos. Love. It has been one of my passions and creative outlets since moving up here to paradise (Crestline region of California). I bought a Canon Rebel EOS about a year and a half ago and I have enjoyed taking some great pictures with it.
One day when shooting in sports mode and taking about five frames per second of my son, I went home and noticed that the autofocus wouldn’t work anymore. Gasp and horror — what did I do to break my still new, expensive camera???!!! I fiddled with it for a bit and realized that it was the lens and not the camera. I gently tried to focus it manually while still in autofocus mode and then took some shots. It worked again! Two days later when I went out to shoot again it stopped. It seemed that the autofocus is sticking. So I tried manual mode, which I’d never done before. I hated it. I haven’t ever really learned how to use this fancy camera and relied on autofocus to get my shots quickly.
Well today I was out taking shots of some beautiful ice formations and I had to use manual because the autofocus was sticking again. I realized that I could really get the shot I wanted that autofocus never would have allowed. I could change the field of view much easier and take closer shots than I ever could before. Suddenly I love manual focus.
How does this relate to real estate some of you may be asking? I realized this year that my business has all been on auto. I take advantage of online leads coming to me — people finding me online to be their REALTOR®. I know that I need to be much more proactive to really set myself apart and provide more personal service, not only to clients, but also to potential clients. I have been fortunate to have some pretty fabulous clients who have all become friends and neighbors. What if I showed that to potential clients? Wouldn’t they want to work with someone that was more personal to them and their needs? I say yes.
So my shift is now manually focused. I am providing a more personal touch with the help of some new automated systems that I’m getting into place. I’m working to set myself apart in the mind of my potential clients as the one they couldn’t forget and would love to do business with over my competition. Thanks, camera, for a lesson I’ll not forget.
Amy Steele is a full-time real estate practitioner with Coldwell Banker Sky Ridge Realty in Crestline, Calif. Visit her Web site: www.CrestlineHomeForSale.com.
By Crystal Webster
I’ve been to a national office supply store what seems to be about every day this month in an attempt to get ready for the spring and summer months. Occasionally, I purchase the wrong item and it takes me a little bit to return it to the store.
I returned a day planner the other day because it just wasn’t going to work for me. I present the cashier with my item and my receipt and she immediately tells me that I purchased the planner 32 days ago so the receipt was no longer valid, BUT she could do the return without the receipt and just put it on a gift card. Seeing as that’s how I paid for it in the first place, and the fact that I’d just turn around and spend it, I had no problem.
After about 10 minutes of fumbling with the computer system she tells me that I’m getting a refund of about $35. “That’s great! But, I only spent $25. See, here’s my receipt.” I was politely reminded that my receipt was no longer valid because it was more than 30 days old and I would just have to accept the return as is, or keep the item.
Well, of course, I took the cash and went about my day.
This got me thinking about how I run my business and if there are things that I do “just because that’s how they’re done” or “because that’s how I’ve always done them.” I realized just the other day I spent three visits with a seller trying to get all the paperwork put together when it would have been more convenient for everyone if we just did it through Docusign.com. I realized I can be way too eager and accommodating when it comes to meeting people places (friends and business acquaintances alike).
Are there things you do in your business that might not be the most productive or profitable?
By Jennifer Klein
Sometimes short sale clients need to be referred to a tax professional or real estate attorney. Overcome your fear of losing the listing and do your due-diligence as a real estate professional.
Jennifer Klein is a REALTOR® in Northern California who is experienced in short sales, investments, and property management. Connect with Jen at RosevilleAndRocklin.com, JenKlein.com, and @JenKleinSac.
By Jeremy Williams
I recently found myself watching the Veggie Tales episode about the “Rumor Weed” with my 4-year-old daughter. As the Rumor Weed spread more untruths, sometimes only slightly bending the truth, the weed would grow. After watching this moral-based show directed at children, I wondered what type of environment do I live in on a daily basis; a pristine garden with flowers and plants or a field of out-of-control weeds?
If you’re in the field of out-of-control weeds, how do you seek resolution to your weed problem. First you have to determine what kills the weed. The only way to kill the weed is to get to the root. Removing the leaves or leveling the weed to ground level will not kill the weed, and often times will make your weed problem worse. Who are the weeds in your market center or in your life in general? How do you address your rumor weeds?
Step 1: Do not become plant food for the rumor weed. In other words, don’t get yourself into that mix. Avoid this at all cost, or you will soon be surrounded and choked by the weeds.
Step 2: If you’re in a leadership position, have a fierce conversation with your weed. Remember, killing a weed requires getting to the root. Determine who your weed is, schedule a time where you can meet with your weed with no distractions, and have that fierce conversation. This will more than likely be a confrontational conversation, but a necessary conversation to prevent your Veggie Tales rumor weed problem from growing. Before this conversation takes place, you might want to read Susan Scott’s Fierce Conversations. Continue reading »
By Jared James
Tell me that you have not ever had the experience of being fully committed to someone else, passing all of your leads to them, only to look on the MLS one day to see that they have listed their house through some other REALTOR®. Is there anything more frustrating in the world? Well, of course there is. But this is maybe a close second.
So the question becomes how do you avoid this in the future; or even better put, is this avoidable?
The obvious answer is “yes”… but how?
I have had the fortune of hearing from and working with thousands of REALTORS® from all over the world over the last 12 months and I truly believe that the answer lies in something as simple as being intentional with your business. It amazes me how many real estate professionals create a network of other business professionals that they refer their clients to on a regular basis and never really bother to make sure that the people they are referring to are just as committed to them and the success of their business.
Now, if you can relate to this say “aye,” but don’t worry because you find yourself exactly where the majority of REALTORS® do. The only question now is what are you going to do to make a change and become more intentional with your business?
Step 1 – Contact everyone that you have referred business to in the past, or will consider referring business to in the future, and have what I call “the talk” with them. Have a casual conversation with them and then at some point mention that you run into people all the time that you could possibly send their way and are they interested in receiving these referrals. Their response is obviously going to be a resounding yes. Now is the time to let them know that you just have certain business practices that you follow and one of them is that you don’t commit to any other business that is not just as committed to you. Follow this up by asking them if they have a REALTOR® that they are committed to. The best way to get to the bottom of this question is to ask them if they were to buy a house, or sell their own right now, do they have a REALTOR® in mind who they would be working with. If they don’t have anyone in mind, use this as an opportunity to form a reciprocal relationship with them where you are both just as committed to each other’s businesses. Keep in mind that you may want to have this conversation with some of your people over the phone, while others may be better suited to be had over a cup of coffee. It is up to you to determine which is appropriate according to the relationship that you have with them. Continue reading »
By Chris Nichols
Assumptions — we all make them. But have you ever stopped and thought about the dangers involved in making even just simple assumptions?
Wikipedia states, “In logic an assumption is a proposition that is taken for granted, as if it were true based upon presupposition without preponderance of the facts.”
Have you ever assumed what the needs of a client were without asking them specifically? This generally results in expectations missed, whether it be a buyer seeing houses he or she doesn’t really want, or a seller who is more concerned about selling quickly versus getting top dollar. These are all assumptions that can be costly to our pocketbooks as missed closed transactions and frustrated clients.
There’s also another type of assumption that can be costly: Oftentimes, in the middle of a transaction, we make assumptions about the REALTOR(R) on the other side of the transaction. Or perhaps about their client.
It is so easy to fall into this trap and allow our unfounded or preconceived notions dictate how we handle negotiations. I recently had this very thing happen to me as a seller allowed their assumptions cloud their judgement of my buyer due to an FHA appraisal coming in short of value. Unfortunately, the seller’s REALTOR(R) could not change their client’s presupposition that this was a ploy on the buyer’s part.
The last assumption I want to touch on is the assumption we sometimes make about leaders in our association. I can speak from firsthand experience as the president of a local association that I have learned much in the two plus years leading up to taking this office. I can remember the many misconceptions I had about all three levels of our association. But as I’ve taken the time to learn, to ask questions, and to get involved, it has been easy to replace incorrect assumptions with actual facts and understanding. Continue reading »
By Kelly Reark
We were all standing around complaining about our feet hurting in the shoes we chose, wondering if it was our third or fifth cup of Starbucks that day, when the idea hit me that maybe I should put together a quick list of dos and don’ts for anyone attending one of our marathon REALTOR® conferences throughout the year. I have been to a half dozen of these events, and I should know better. With the REALTORS® Midyear Meetings & Trade Expo quickly approaching, here are my survival tips:
1. Wear comfortable shoes (or go ahead and show off those cute pumps but bring a big purse with a pair of flats just in case). Guys, just make sure you have on socks. Invest $3 for a stick of Band-Aid’s blister block. Shoes you’ve not walked in for awhile will do you wrong at a conference.
2. Take it outside. Now, I know this should be rudimentary, like arriving on time or not interrupting the speaker, but make sure you switch your phone to silent mode. If a call comes in, and you must answer it, go out of the room. Business is definitely important, so don’t gab in the middle of a room full of people. I sat in more than one class during the mid-winter event thinking, “are you kidding me?“ Oh, and the “looking around acting like it’s not you” thing while your phone plays your entire ring tone really doesn’t work.
3. Bring an extra cell phone battery. Twelve hours of checking voicemails and texting between events will leave you powerless.
4. Dress in layers. Even in sunny Florida, dressing in layers is critical. A few minutes in the sun will have you sweating, but the event center might have cranked the AC in anticipation of all of us hot-heads. It’s good to be versatile on the fly.
5. No time for a workout this trip? Says who? Don’t offer to hang on to someones stuff unless you really want to work your arms, back, and patience for the day. Even 5 pounds feels like 50 after you have lugged it all over an event. Continue reading »
By Stefanie Hahn
What are QR codes? How can they work for my business? This video tutorial offers tips and suggestions for utilizing this hot new marketing tool.
Stefanie Hahn is the education director for Coldwell Banker Hearthside, REALTORS® in Malvern, Pa. Visit her Web site: www.StefanieHahn.com.