By Sam DeBord
Realtor.com®’s president, Errol Samuelson, has been hired away by Zillow. I’ve met Errol and he’s a nice guy, very smart, and very successful. Business is business. But, naive as it might be, there’s plenty of disappointment from the REALTOR® community. It comes from a belief that we have a common cause greater than just our businesses. Whether we’re aligned with NAR or realtor.com®, we believe in unified goals that are good for the country as a whole, and create significant loyalty to our brand.
Like I said, it sounds silly to an outsider. Why wouldn’t a top executive, who clearly received a more lucrative employment offer for a position he saw as a step up, take that proposal? In the world of publicly-traded real estate ventures, you could be selling soda ads one day, and interviewing the president the next. The landscape changes drastically every year, and when your skills are in business management and strategy, you’re always looking for the next challenge.
And still, there’s a bit of an empty feeling from the REALTOR® masses when an exit like this happens. It’s just another day at the office when your insurance company’s CEO changes companies, or your old business partner switches brokerages. But when someone leaves the REALTOR® fold to work for a direct competitor, it ignites much stronger emotions from the membership. A quick scan of discussions online makes it clear that this isn’t just some job change. Reactions range from frustration to outright anger. This is someone who did a good job and likely had no direct contact with most of the commenters, but many take his departure so personally as to feel betrayed.
As simple-minded as it sounds, I can’t help but feel a bit of the same disappointment. Real estate agents hop between companies like mercenaries until we find the right fit. We don’t feel remorse for changing our workplaces, because it’s simply a business decision. At the same time, those of us who are advocates for the REALTOR® brand would be incredulous if our associates left the membership. Your career is your business, but your commitment to supporting REALTOR® causes is ours. Continue reading »
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 Scott Newman
Your business is on the way up, and everything is perfect because you’re making more money, right? Wrong! As the Notorious B.I.G. once said, “Mo money, mo problems.” One of the biggest as a real estate professional is how to spend your money wisely to continue to grow your business.
Today’s blog will focus on when it’s the right time to bring in an assistant or other support staff. Here are 3 signs you’re ready:
1. Promptness is becoming difficult.
If everyone got what they wanted right when they wanted it, you’d be out of business. I get that, so I’m not expecting miracles. However, if you’ve built a reputation on being fast to respond, easy to reach, and quick to get people information, then you risk doing major damage to that reputation if you can no longer live up to those expectations.
If you are finding that you’re no longer able to get people a comparable market analysis the same day you meet with them to preview their home, then it might be a good time to think about what portion of your daily tasks could actually be handled by an administrative person. If there are too many A-level tasks to finish by their due dates because you’re constantly bugged down by B- and C-level tasks (which never seem to end), then it’s definitely the time to consider staffing up.
2. Things consistently slip through the cracks. Continue reading »
By Lynn Minnick
When I was a new agent back in 2000, I took a rental call. It was a young couple, around my age, looking for a rental in town. Once we started talking, they told me they could spend $1,400 per month. That was higher than my mortgage payment at the time, so I asked them if they’d considered talking to a lender about being approved for a mortgage. It hadn’t occurred to them that they could be homeowners for the same payment…and so our relationship started! I got them into an adorable little house by the lake and they began to build equity.
Fast-forward to 2014, when this week I’m starting my ninth transaction for them (including all of the referrals they’ve sent me). There’s a possible tenth transaction on the horizon if I can find the dream home for a friend of their family. (Challenge accepted!)
I call them my “A+ Clients.”
We’ve been through a lot together – births and deaths, good markets and bad, and even though they’re now in their “forever” home, I know that all of the time and work I’ve put in with them will continue to bring business my way. I’m happy to help anyone they refer, because I know they are quality referrals.
As a side note, if my A+ Clients hadn’t been able to qualify for a mortgage, I would have put them into a rental and kept in touch, because eventually (as Laura Rubinchuk Schwartz points out in a previous Lounge post), they would have become buyers. It’s a mistake for agents to place renters and forget about them. They just may be your next A+ Client.
By Brooke Wolford
In the past year since I started my real estate marketing company Organamx, I’ve noticed one growing trend: Many people have the notion that you can pay to somehow prove that you’re successful.
While you can pay for an amazing website, for placement on Google, and even for leads, spending money will never prove that you have experience. Your experience is at the heart of everything you do – how you conduct your business, how you behave when you interact with clients, and the value you provide.
If you want to get ahead and get the highest ROI for the dollars you invest in advertising, your website, and leads, then you have to prove to everyone around you that you can truly back up any claim you present.
Being honest is the greatest thing you can do. People like to deal with people who speak from the heart. Honesty creates trust very quickly. The most obvious way to do this is to not misrepresent your experience.
Some of the most successful people I know get the majority of their business from past client referrals. Referrals prove that you can provide a good experience. Nothing you pay for can ever prove that.
Your No. 1 priority should be working to create the best possible experience for your current clients. If you do this, your clients will be compelled to talk about you and use you for other transactions. Then use everything else (your website, online advertising, and social channels) to promote that you have the experience to get the job done.
Brooke Wolford is a real estate practitioner with Coldwell Banker Burnet in Woodbury, Minn. Follow her blog at www.thehousingword.com.
By Scott Newman
So you just found out your buddy got a big promotion and is now ready to buy a sexy luxury condo in downtown Chicago. He’s your boy–you’ve known him since grade school–of course he’s going to give you first crack at the business, and you’ve already started spending the commission check. But before you blindly agree to be his agent, stop and think of the potential consequences of working with close friends and how you can make sure it’s a positive experience for both of you.
Treat Them Like Any Other Client
Many real estate pros go one of two ways when they work with friends – and both are bad. The first is when all their professional experience and training goes out the window and they act super lax and unprofessional thinking it will be OK because they know the client.
The other is the agent who takes things so seriously that they literally suck all the fun out of the entire process for the client, who then ends up never wanting to work with–or refer anyone to them–again.
What’s the lesson here? Forget about the personal relationship you have with this particular client and give them the same high level of service and overall experience you provide to all your other clients. If you follow that golden rule, you virtually eliminate the risk of damaging the personal or professional relationship with the client.
Expect To Go Above and Beyond
I have literally seen agents arguing with close friends they are representing while in the hallway outside the closing office. The expectations the client had vs. the expectations the agent had might as well have existed in two separate universes. Continue reading »
By Scott Newman
So you’ve made it through the worst of the real estate bubble, you’ve developed a nice client base, and you’re taking over the entire industry – great! If that’s the case, then this blog isn’t for you.
Instead, this blog focuses on what we as veterans of the industry can share with the newbies to shorten the learning curve and help create another reputable professional who gives our industry a good name.
The following are my top three “I wish I knew that when I first started” tips to make your transition into a real estate career as painless as possible.
1. Simple Math
So many real estate agents come into this business thinking of the riches they’ll make selling homes for a living. Many even come up with lofty goals for themselves, “I’m going to make $200,000 my first year in the business.” Does that sound familiar?
Well, the problem is that most agents don’t stop and break down the math behind creating that kind of volume. They end up focusing on the big picture when it’s the attention to the little details that will create the success they desire.
For example, let’s say you’re new to the business and don’t know a lot of people, and that the average home price in your area is $200,000. Simple math tells us that you will make $3,500 per transaction at that price, assuming you have a 70/30 split. At $3,500 per deal, you’d need to complete 58 transactions a year to make your $200,000 – that’s more than one house a week, which is a large volume even for a veteran real estate pro. Continue reading »