By Jay O’Brien
Are you new to the industry? Have you been in the real estate business for 25 years? Well, it doesn’t matter whether you’re a novice, professional, or anything in between because I have a little gem of advice that is applicable to everyone.
Put yourself in the shoes of a consumer for a moment. Think about the house you are about to buy or the last house you did buy. Who represented you? Would you choose him or her to represent you again? What characteristics make up a truly great agent? If you had to boil it down to one word, what would the most essential characteristic be?
I am going to venture a guess and say that most people would have completely different answers on this topic. However, in my experience, I have found one significant common denominator that unites all descriptions of a successful agent and amplifies the possibility of future business:
No, not being the “local expert” or the agent with the most listings. The most important quality to possess is communication. You must always be someone who routinely explains contracts with thoroughness until a client fully understands; someone who reviews the market with them one-on-one; someone who answers and returns phone calls around the clock. You must never be the agent who leaves his or her client in the dark. A client would rather work with a REALTOR® who finds answers quickly than with one who knows the answer but doesn’t communicate them properly.
I used to work in the retail sector. Actually, that’s just a fancy way of saying I was a sales associate at Best Buy. Anyway, while immersed in the retail environment, I acquired an abundance of skills and learned many lessons that can be applied to any field, especially real estate.
A lesson that always resonated with my business compass was based around engagement. Studies continually show that customers who are not acknowledged by an employee when first entering a store will wait on average only a few minutes before leaving. Why don’t most of these neglected customers stay? Because people want to know you care. That’s all they need to know and the rest will work itself out. What’s worse than the professional you’ve trusted with the largest transaction of your life not being there for you?
In 2012, 48 percent of my business came from clients who were displeased with their current agent. My suggestion: Don’t be an agent who runs a sales prevention desk. As a REALTOR®, it’s your job to be the concierge to the guests of your personal business.
Jay O’Brien is a REALTOR® with RE/MAX Prestige in Anaheim Hills, Calif. Aside from real estate, he regularly supports the Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC) and is the co-founder of Mico York, a nonprofit organization that helps kids worldwide through their own personal artwork. Visit Jay on the web www.jayobrienrealestate.com or contact him at: Jay.email@example.com.
By Anthony James
Recently, I heard a local REALTOR® make this statement over the radio: “Even a monkey could sell real estate in this market.” As a professional in the industry with over 11 years of experience, I get it. I understand the message this REALTOR® was trying to convey: The market is hot and homes are selling quickly. However, I don’t think a monkey could do our job.
Surviving the downturn of the local California real estate market and pressing forward in my career has helped me understand the true meaning of being a broker/manager. When the game changed in 2007, many REALTORS® were left to either sink or swim. This was the defining moment in a REALTOR®’s career. During this time, the monkeys were definitely scratching their heads and eating bananas while the real professionals rose to the challenge and figured out a way to claw through one of the toughest real estate markets our nation had ever seen.
And don’t just take my word for it, let the numbers speak for themselves: According to the California Department of Real Estate (DRE), the amount of people entering our industry has substantially slowed. In 2007, California issued about 44,000 salesperson licenses—a relatively high number—but only 11,434 salesperson licenses were issued in 2012. If the business of selling homes could be taken care of by a monkey, why is this number dropping at such an alarming rate? Wouldn’t everyone want to get in on the act? Continue reading »
By Sam DeBord
When talking to associates and the public about real estate topics, it’s important to be educated on the issues that we value most as REALTORS®. Government fiscal and tax policy can be confusing issues that many REALTORS® don’t feel they have time for. Still, anyone working in the industry is bound to strike up a conversation that leads to the current budget shortfall and potential ways to fix it. Reducing or eliminating the Mortgage Interest Deduction is often suggested.
REALTOR® advocates need to know a few quick facts to show our clients and our communities why this deduction is so important to homeowners, families, and the country as a whole. This infographic makes the major points that every REALTOR® should be able to recount, without getting mired in the muck of too much tax policy:
The statistics make it plainly clear how valuable the Mortgage Interest Deduction is to Americans. Roughly three out of every four homeowners with a mortgage claims the deduction.
With an average tax deduction of $2,713, the MID is a major savings for home buyers who are investing in their futures. Without that deduction, we’d see some significant increases in taxes for middle-class Americans.
The typical taxpayer who claims the MID is under 45 years old, married, and has children. Their household income is under $200,000. This is the quintessential working family that is in the process of building a nest egg for their children’s future and long-term for retirement. Saving those tax dollars each year is encouraging them to make investments in their community.
One of the biggest concerns with proposals to change the MID would be the effect on home prices. Values of real estate across the country would be projected to fall 15 percent if the MID were eliminated altogether. After finally beginning to recover from the previous downturn, real estate markets would be devastated by another such a drastic drop in prices.
Real estate is one of the biggest components of the national GDP, comprising about 15 percent of the total. Consumer spending creates jobs and economic growth, and real estate has always been a leading driver for consumer spending. Our national economic well being is, and always has been, tied to a healthy real estate market.
As REALTORS®, we’re obligated to speak up when real estate issues are on the table. We know better than anyone the importance that the real estate market plays in every American’s financial well-being, whether or not they own a home. Political arguments may espouse some lofty theories, but the real-world facts support our position.
By Dave Robison
“Who Moved My Cheese?” by Spencer Johnson is an easy but great read. The narrative is a simple story that describes the trials and tribulations of two mice—Sniff and Scurry—who always rely on getting their cheese from the same source. When the cheese source is moved, they wonder why it disappeared and promptly go in search for more. But cheese was easy to find when they knew just where it would be, and Sniff and Scurry had much more trouble locating food once they weren’t sure where to look.
And so it is with the real estate industry, especially as it relates to REO/short sales. We had some mice who were in the right place at the right time and knew exactly where to find the cheese so they could feast. In this case, the mice were some advantageous REALTORS® and the cheese was the REO/short sales market. In my opinion, the REO/short sales industry seems to have come and gone. When the market flourished, the top producers of the REO/short sales boom were certainly finding their cheese, (and why wouldn’t they? They knew exactly where to look). Today, with the boom waning, the REO/short sales top producers are telling me they’re going to have to sell real estate the “normal way.” What’s the lesson learned here? Now that they’re not sure where to find the cheese, they’re having much more trouble making a sale.
What are the clues as to when there will be cheese and when the cheese will be gone? Marilyn Wilson with the WAV Group recently spoke to our Utah Associaiton of REATLORS® and left many clues. The following are statistics she quoted from her research, (mainly conducted in the Houston area):
1. Based on her own survey results, when the general public of Houston was asked about the first company that comes to mind when they hear the words “real estate,” the most common answer was Zillow.
2. Only 12 percent of those surveyed said they would rather work with a REALTOR® instead of a real estate agent.
3. WAV Group called 1,000 listings and only reached 30 percent of agents immediately. Another 30 percent never even returned the phone call.
So, if you’re type of mouse who banks on the fact that cheese—or the latest hot trend in real estate—will never go away, you may say these facts are interesting and move on with your life. However, if you’re the type of mouse who knows the importance of dwindling cheese sources in the real estate industry, you may sense the winds of change from these bits of information. Which type of mouse do you want to be? Where do you see change happening now? What’s the latest real estate trend ready to disappear?
Dave Robison, known as “Utah Dave,” is broker/owner of UtahDave.com Neighborhood Experts.
By Wade Corbett
It never ceases to amaze me how REALTORS® can treat each other sometimes. I recently had an experience with a buyer’s agent who could not have been more rude or bullheaded. I never like to talk poorly about anyone as it’s not my nature and I don’t think it’s very professional, but in this case, it may be necessary for today’s lesson. There are loathsome people throughout all walks of life and it’s impossible to avoid all of them. Why though, do some real estate professionals think that being difficult to work with helps anyone? Our primary duty is to provide our client with quality service in a lawful manor. After all, we wouldn’t make it too far without our clients, would we?
Recently, I sold a property that had a cracked septic system. Knowing that replacing this system would be financially impossible for my clients, I opened my bag of saved favors to ensure they would be able to sell their vacant home. I was able to convince one of my best contractors to replace the septic tank for less than cost, (yes, she actually lost money replacing it), as a massive favor for me. With breakneck speed, we obtained the appropriate permits, and the job was done in just a few days. Even so, the buyer’s agent was not impressed, and without going into any detail, was very unprofessional during the entire ordeal. The other agent actually called my favorite contractor to fuss about the pace of the work being done. Meanwhile, this agent called me horrible names and insulted my real estate abilities to my contractor!
The property did end up closing after continued scrutiny from the buying party. My sellers, a married couple who live several hours away, knew nothing of the troubles mentioned or the ugliness of the buying side. All they knew was that I was going to do everything in my power to ensure that the property sold. I ended up calling in a lot of favors and I took a significant loss on my commission. However, my hard work paid off. Since the deal closed, the sellers have referred me additional business, given me marketing space on their website—at no cost—and called me many times to thank me for all my help!
All in all, the buyer’s agent was very difficult to work with and at some point impossible to communicate with. It was clear from early on that this agent was only interested in making a commission and not on her client’s well-being. So what’s the lesson here? We should all try to be friendly and courteous to one another. There’s no reason to ever be hurtful to a fellow REALTOR®!
Have you ever had a negative experience with the other party in a real estate transaction? If so, how did you handle it?
By Dave Robison
When I first got into this business, I was immediately struck by the enigma that is a real estate team. No matter how closely teams resemble one another on paper, real estate teams will always vary in terms of production. Take two teams of five agents each, and even though experience level or age or any of those factors may match up perfectly, one team will still produce an average of ten home sales per agent in a given year while the other may only produce five. Now I ask: If you could somehow figure out how this successful team achieved such high sales, would you do it?
What we’re talking about here is almost like body building. What does it take to win a body building contest? Well… I’m not completely sure but I do know that if you’re going to create a high performance body, you better be committed to it and willing to the pay the price. For body builders, that probably means countless hours in the gym and careful monitoring of their food intake. While real estate success may not require you to put down the sweets and hit the weight room, building a high performance team takes just as much drive, dedication and willingness to change. Most agents will never build such a high performance team because they don’t put in the effort that’s required. Growing is not the easiest endeavor; in fact, it’s oftentimes downright uncomfortable. As the saying goes: No pain, no gain.
So what are the obstacles standing in the way of high performance team success? Here are the most common complaints:
- Once I train an agent, he or she will just leave to start on his or her own. Why would I train my competition?
- I know of agents or had an agent who worked with me and left and took some of my clients. Why would I want to risk that again?
- My clients call me because they want to work with me. So wouldn’t it reflect poorly on me if I hand them off to someone else?
- I don’t have enough time to put in this extra work. Don’t you know I’m already busy as it is?
- I don’t have enough money to build a brand or advertise this team. How would we succeed without a big marketing budget?
Many agents use these “excuses” as reasons why they shouldn’t join a team. Well, that’s just good news for you because now you’ve got less competition to worry about. As long as agents don’t want to jump across those hurdles, you will enjoy increased market share. The secret is for you to acknowledge these complaints and push on anyway. (Remember that whole “no pain, no gain” thing I mentioned?) Think of these obstacles as your weight room reps; overcoming each one makes you stronger and more likely to become a high performance team.
This method has worked for my team for the past five years. Last year, we averaged 40 home sales per agent. In our market, that’s more than ten times the average agent sales. The results are real. So how do you increase your sales with the same amount of agents as other teams? You focus on becoming a high performance team, acknowledge the stumbling blocks in your way—like those five common complaints listed above—and keep moving forward regardless. Continue reading »
By Jay O’Brien
Do your clients view your commission as hard-earned income or a jackpot paycheck? I would be willing to bet the majority view a REALTOR®’s income as the latter. In fact, we constantly hear about the bribery and illegal kick backs awarded to those referring clients in the way of their friends or family. The idea of this should really raise the red flags. Are there actually consumers out there who feel comfortable earning a credit solely in exchange for doing business with a certain “professional”? Sounds more like a multi-level marketing philosophy than a legitimate sales technique. Why are so many real estate agents quick to offer their compensation to someone else? In simple terms, they need the cash.
Consider these staggering statistics:
- 90 percent of agents complete no more than 3 transactions a year (Orange County MLS 2012)
- 65 percent of agents sell zero homes a year (Orange County MLS 2012)
- Only 1.8 percent of agents sell a minimum of one home per month (Orange County MLS 2012)
- The median real estate income was approximately $39,140 last year (BLS.gov / May 2012)
Now consider this:
According to a 2013 MIT study, for a single adult, the least required annual income to survive in Orange County (before taxes) is $27,284. For a family of 4 to keep their heads above water—or above the poverty line—one must earn no less than $50,390 a year.
Assuming an average commission of 2.5 percent earned (excluding taxes and brokerage splits), this means only 11.6 percent of agents can afford to live off their income.
Enough with the jargon, here’s the real question: Continue reading »