By Dave Robison
Marilyn Wilson with the WAV Group has been visiting brokerages and state associations with data that her company compiled about our industry. While attending one of her recent presentations, I snapped a quick photo with my phone of one of her graphs.
She said there are two different types of companies listed on the graph. The companies with the massive revenues are companies that the public loves. The companies with the lower revenues on the graph are companies that could be viewed as a commodity. One broker yelled out during Wilson’s presentation, “That’s why we are all not profitable! No wonder why we are having a hard time, we are all the bottom companies.”
Wilson explained that the brands people love have the most revenue, and as a result, the most room for profit, while other companies will fight to be profitable. The room was filled with “a-ha moments.” She then stated that the WAV Group conducted a survey in the Houston area where they asked members of the public to “name the first company you think of when you hear ‘real estate.’” Can you guess what company ranked No. 1? Wilson claims the same company was named more than 90 percent of the time when the question was asked. The public said, “Zillow.” Wow! When people hear real estate, that is the first thing that comes to their mind? She proved her point that our industry doesn’t have a brand that people love.
Here’s an example: What comes to your mind when I say, “Nordstrom?” Continue reading »
By Christian Zarif
I almost didn’t answer my phone. I was in San Francisco for our national REALTOR® convention and rushing to get out of my room to an engagement (running 5 minutes late, of course). The strange number called twice in a row so I figured it must be urgent. When I answered, I could hardly make out the gurgled voice on the other end. I understood that the caller was inquiring about my new listing. I later learned the caller, Richard, had suffered a stroke a few years ago that affected his speech, among other things. I made out most of what he told me: He and his wife were interested in seeing the home I had listed as well as a few others in the area. They had called four other agents and all of them either wouldn’t return his calls or refused to show them any homes since they didn’t have a pre-approval letter. He was positive he could get a loan and was approved for a VA loan, but just waiting on his eligibility paperwork. I told him I was out of town until Monday but would be happy to set up a time Tuesday to show them homes.
Over the course of the weekend they called a handful of times to make sure I was still willing to meet them…you could hear the strained optimism in their voices. Each time they called, they had eliminated another home (they drove by all of them daily). We were down to only seeing one: my listing.
Tuesday rolled around and having just arrived back in town, you can imagine how insane my calendar looked that day. Driving the 45 minutes each way to show them one house wasn’t ideal, but I made it work.
The first time I met Richard and Connie in person I couldn’t put my finger on it, but I knew there something absolutely special about them. At 70 years young, they still had the twinkle of first time buyers. I spent about an hour with them (much longer than I had planned given the home was a small three bed/two bath ranch). They wanted to check out every nook and cranny. I learned they had owned a home about 10 years ago but the neighborhood had become overrun with a gang. After pouring everything they had into that home to fix it up, they were forced, by gun point out of their home in the middle of the night and told to never return unless they wanted to be shot. They had lost everything. I also learned that Richard had served in Vietnam and was a POW. And Connie shared with me a picture of their 40 lb. cat…Baxter. They had moved into a local retirement community about a year ago to be near Richard’s ailing mother. She passed away last Fall and they decided it was time to live out their American Dream and buy a house they could enjoy in their golden years. One problem: they had very little money and a fixed income. However, they had done the math and knew owning a home was far less expensive than the outrageous rent they were paying (in the end, they are saving almost $900 a month!). Continue reading »
By Sam DeBord
When I started out in the real estate business, my biggest fear was probably the same as many other agents’: “What if they ask me how many homes I’ve sold?” There was an almost inescapable fear that every new client I met would find out that I hadn’t been selling for very long, and abandon me for a more experienced agent.
The interesting part, looking back, was that I’ve probably only ever been asked that question a half-dozen times by the hundreds of clients I’ve worked with. Those that did ask, always kept working with me, whether it was in my first year, or after five years. The fact that I didn’t lose clients over that single question isn’t nearly as satisfying today, though, knowing how much mental stress it put me through in my first year, as well as how it was detrimental to my ability to concentrate on my clients at the start of my career.
Being experienced in real estate is a big advantage. To downplay it would be disingenuous. However, a calm, practiced response to questions about experience can make the real estate transaction much more relaxed for the new agent and to the clients. More importantly, it allows the agent to focus on what the client really wants – a partner who is easy to work with, listens to their needs, and follows up professionally.
It’s very easy when you’re new in the business to try to craft the perfect answer to every client question. You may feel you need to know everything, and if you can’t answer a question about a certain home or property type, you’ll be exposed as inexperienced. In reality, most home buyers and sellers would prefer that you have an affable personal relationship with them, and let them know that you’ll “look into it a bit and get back to them.” While your knowledge is important to the client, your ability to make them feel comfortable is even more important. Nobody likes to spend their day with a fidgety, nervous wreck of an agent. Continue reading »
By Dave Robison
My brokerage had one crazy month a few months ago. We had five buyers who failed to perform on a contract and lost their earnest money. Now in Utah, getting the buyer’s earnest money is supposed to be as easy as the buyer’s broker writing a check in about 24-48 hours. But in all five cases it was a fight, with hours of discussions and arguments. In the end, our sellers received their checks — although, in some of the cases the buyers and their agents were very bitter about turning the money over to the seller.
In the midst of the stress, there was one agent in particular who shined through. I believe this person will always be more successful than others (and he is, actually). His attitude reminds me of the attitude held by one of the most successful people I have ever met: Bill Child.
Bill Child sold his furniture store called RC Willey to Warren Buffett. Bill met with me and several friends and told us his story. I also read the book written about him: How to Build a Business Warren Buffett Would Buy. The great thing about Bill is that his attitude toward working with others never changed from the time he took over RC Willey to when he sold it.
Bill took over the business when his father-in-law died. He didn’t realize it at the time, but the company was laden with customer service problems, debt, and tax burdens. Bill turned all that around. For example, the company had sold an appliance that later became known to have a defect. There wasn’t a manufacturer warranty or guarantee on the product, but Bill wasn’t about to let his customers down. He took on the responsibility himself to do the repairs on all the units, even though he knew it would make his company go in the red. Most companies would just blame the manufacturer and keep their money in their pockets, but Bill’s customers were his No. 1 priority and he took the responsibility himself when legally he didn’t have to. He cared more about his relationships and his customers than he cared about profits.
Now, I don’t know the details about all the conversations the agents had with their clients regarding deadlines and earnest money, Continue reading »
By Anand Patel
With all the methods of communication today — from e-mail, to social media, to text messaging — it almost seems like the ancient art of having a conversation on the telephone is dead.
As a broker, inevitably part of our jobs is putting out fires (or stopping them before they can start) with agents and their transactions. I find MANY of the problems that arise can be avoided in the first place if either agent involved in the transaction would just pick up the telephone and call the other party rather than texting or e-mailing.
Yes, texting is very convenient. And yes, you can send an e-mail at 3 a.m. without bothering the other person. But there is so much that can get lost in the interpretation of written text that could have been clearly explained over the phone with your vocal tone, the style of your conversation, and your word choice.
I am as much in tune with technology and the use of social media as the next guy, but there comes a point in a transaction when one must step back and think to themselves, “Would I be better serving my customer by communicating with the other party over the phone in this particular situation?” If the answer is “yes,” then pick up the telephone! I still recommend following up the conversation with an e-mail, but sometimes it’s just better to start the dialogue with a phone call.
What are your thoughts? Have you been in a transaction that could have been saved if someone just picked up the phone and called?
Anand Patel is broker and president of Pangea Realty Group based in Tampa, Fla. You can connect with Anand on Twitter: @anand_tampa; Facebook: www.facebook.com/prgtampa; LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/anandpatel1; or on the Web at www.anandsblog.com.
By Scott Newman
Real estate is back in 2012 in a big way. Many markets are seeing price increases in response to dwindling inventories as more and more buyers are getting off the fence every day. With that in mind — especially since it’s been so long since we’ve had the opportunity to use the phrase “multiple offer” — I felt it would be pertinent and relevant to go through some best practices for handling multiple offer situations to make sure you’re in line with ethical and fair business practices.
Don’t Forget Your Loyalties: This is a big one, and it’s obvious, but many agents forget that you can’t disclose information that your client doesn’t authorize. No where is it written that you must disclose whether or not you have other offers on the table. Unless your seller has specifically directed you to do so, you should not automatically answer that question if asked by a buyer’s agent or buyer.
I have seen situations where a buyer will pull out of a deal because they think there is too much competition, and you can be legally liable for any negative consequence that results from your disclosing information you shouldn’t have.
To summarize, don’t ever forget that your ultimate loyalties lie with your seller, and just because you’re asked a question doesn’t mean you have to answer.
Treat Everyone the Same: This is another obvious one, but it’s important and bears repeating. To avoid accusations, legal action, and overall negative impact to your reputation as a professional, it’s imperative that you treat everyone the same way.
If you’re sending out a request for highest and best, send the exact same e-mail, forms, etc., to all interested parties who have seen the property so there is absolutely no doubt that everyone was informed of the status and had a chance to make an offer if they wanted. It’s better to e-mail an agent that showed the place six months ago along with everyone else, than it is to have your deal blown up by a lawsuit from a buyer who feels they were unfairly kept from knowing the latest update and opportunity to place an offer.
Keep Unbelievably Good Records: Continue reading »
By Chris Nichols
There’s an interesting story from the Middle East I want to share with you. A dying man leaves his 17 camels to his three sons. To the first son he leaves half, to the second son he leaves a third, and to the third son he leaves a ninth. Well as the three sons do the math they find that none of their portions divide very well into 17 camels. Arguments ensue and before blood is shed they decide to consult a wise old woman who tells them she’s not sure if she can solve their problem, but instead she offers them her one camel, thus giving the three sons 18 camels. This gives the first son 9 camels, the second son gets 6 camels, and the third son gets 2 camels. Well… 9+6+2 = 17 camels, so the three sons return the 18th camel to the wise old lady!
In real estate, life, and in leadership positions I often find myself searching for that 18th camel. It’s interesting how we as humans tend to focus our time, energy and thoughts on the problem versus the solution. Getting to yes shouldn’t be as hard as we tend to make it on ourselves.
I used to work at The Little Nell hotel at the base of Aspen Mountain in Colorado. This amazing resort hotel is owned by the Aspen Skiing Company and is rated a 5 star/5 diamond property. Guests pay top dollar for just a standard (insert luxurious) room. With that, they expect amazing service (insert treatment). One of the challenges posed to us as employees was to never, ever tell a guest ‘NO’. This gave us the unique opportunity of always finding ways to say yes, or offering different options/solutions that kept us away from the dreaded ‘NO’. Unfortunately, that experience was many moons ago and I have sadly fallen away from the practice of always finding the yes or solution and avoiding the ‘NO’. Continue reading »
By Randy Pereira
Regardless of what we call ourselves; REALTOR®, Agent, Consultant, salesperson… the bottom-line is, we are in a “Customer Service” business. Our service is what sets us apart in this field.
You can impress customers with the latest and greatest toys, perhaps even with the remarkable gift of gab. However, at the end of the day, it is how well you serve your customer that leads to repeat business and/or referrals.
So what does all this “Customer Service: C.R.A.P.” mean…
C is for Communication: Lack of communication is always cited as a problem, especially in our industry. Discuss what is to be expected communication-wise from you and your customers. *Is your definition of a timely response really the same as your customers?
R is for Respect: Treat your customers with the same level of respect you would give your boss… let’s face it, they are! If you need to quit, don’t burn your bridge in the process.
A is for Attention: Never be too busy to pay attention to the little details. It is the little things we do in this business that add value.
P is for Pride: If you are going to do the job, take pride in your work. Always look for ways to improve on a process, not just go through the motions. Your customer is watching what you’re doing, and your next customer probably is, too!
We’ve all had terrible customer service experiences in our own lives. Are you being that terrible experience for your customers? Hopefully these basic principles will help you, as they have for me.
By Toby Boyce
It was a quiet Monday night until the cell phone rang. My mother-in-law was on the other end, and five hours later my wife and I arrived in Cleveland – via Bellevue – and the Cleveland Clinic as my father-in-law was admitted.
It would go without saying that we were scared, nervous, and extremely worried as we were settling in for what would be a four-day stay in a hotel that we were barely prepared to stay for a single day. We were not prepared for this situation – but the Cleveland Clinic was. They have dealt with this on a daily basis for hundreds – if not thousands – of patients that arrive on a daily basis to the premier health facility.
They were prepared for us to ask questions we didn’t even know we had. We knew the clinic’s reputation – that’s why we were there – for health care, but its total commitment to the patient and family care is where the correlation to real estate begins in this post.
The first night we were there, I was wondering around looking for some food. It was going on 11 p.m. and none of us had eaten since lunch. I was half-awake, half-aware, and totally-hungry as I stepped off the elevator at the first floor. I looked left, then to the right, and stopped. A gentleman pushing a broom stopped and smiled asking, “Can I help you?” He directed me to the all-night diner where I picked up food for the mother-in-law and headed back to the room.
But that was the beginning of my amazement. “How can I help you?” Five words, none more than two syllables and they changed the entire way I looked at the clinic experience. Continue reading »