April 30, 2011

Maybe in May?

Four Down...

Another month is behind us. There's just 8 months to go until 2012. It's the perfect time to pull over and check your progress so far.

Dig under the pile of papers on your desk and find your 2011 Business Plan. You did create a written business plan, right?

Are you on track? Have you achieved one-third of your goal for closed transactions? How

about your net income? Did you know that according to the National Association of Realtors Member Profile from 2010, the median number of transactions of all Realtors was just 7 closed units. The median income was $26,600.

You're not going to be satisfied to be in the bottom half of all Realtors are you? Don't tell me you kicked off 2011 with the idea that "being an average agent is all I have every dreamed of."

For Your May to Be Great, It's Be Great If Your Stopped Saying "Maybe"

Maybe I'll call some For Sale By Owners this week...

Maybe I'll contact some of my past clients....

Maybe I should update my data base....

Maybe if I stare at the phone long enough, someone will call me to buy a house.

Make May Your Time To Ship

Last month, I wrote about moving forward and not letting distractions get in your way. I said "don't let that stop you."

One of my favorite authors and thought leaders is Seth Godin. In Godin's best selling book Linchpin, he talks about the "lizard brain." Steven Pressfield speaks of "the resistance" in his book The War of Art. The lizard brain and the resistance are those voices in everyone's head that tries to stop you from "doing the work."

Godin's speaks about the concept of making things happen instead of just sitting back and fearing failure. In his newest book, Poke the Box, he talks about the concept of "shipping" things.

"What's the distinction between carrying around a great idea, being a barnstormer, tinkering - and starting something?

Starting means your going to finish. If it doesn't ship, you've failed. You haven't poked the box if the box doesn't realize it's been poked.

...I have no patience at all for people who believe they are doing their best work but are hiding it from the market. If you don't ship, you actually haven't started anything at all. At some point, your work has to intersect with the market. At some point, you need feedback as to whether or not it worked."
I guess what I am trying to say is stop thinking about what you're going to do and just do it. Stop sitting still when you have got to get moving. Start taking chances and quit playing it safe. Remember, the status quo is comfortable but that's not where the big money is made.

If you are an agent who needs more clients, it's time to focus on business development activities.

If you're a manager or broker, perhaps recruiting should elevate on your priority list today. Don't leave the office until you have an appointment scheduled with someone who could help your office sell more houses.

If you're a lender, schedule a time to meet with a Realtor you don't know and help them understand the changes that are taking place in today's market.

You've got eight months to achieve all of your goals. There's no sense in waiting.

Just think. When you purposely build relationships, go out of your way to solve problems and look for ways to have fun...Ship Happens.

April 27, 2011

Would It Pose a Problem for You?

"Doctor, Make Me Feel Better....Just Don't Do It Too Quickly"

Can you imagine ever saying this to someone in the medical profession as you're writhing in pain on the guerney in the ER? Would you ever tell your attorney, "take your time getting me out of jail and proving my innocence? I want the District Attorney to come to that conclusion on his own and come down here and let me out personally."?

I am guessing that you are shaking your head, right?

I heard a disturbing story from one of our associates yesterday. Let me know if you've heard this before or had it happen to you.
Please Tell Me You're Making This Up

A Seller had recently received an offer on their new listing. It wasn't a full priced offer but in today's market, it was a very good offer. It was a border-line "acceptable with no counter offer" kind of offer.

Sadly, the Seller felt that the house must be underpriced and decided to not reply to the offer. It seems that the Seller felt that any offer coming in that quickly after placing the home on the market should have been at full price or perhaps even higher. The Seller feels that they will certainly get higher offers. 

When (and if) this home finally sells, I wonder if the Seller will be upset if the future buyers don't leave them a tip on the table after the closing too? You know, for all the hard work and kindness they showed.

Is Your Best Offer Your First Offer?

Many agents have said this to their clients, especially when negotiating an offer. I don't think there is anything that can definitively prove this is true but experience tells us that offers usually don't get higher the longer a home stays on the market, right?

The longer a home is listed, the more potential buyers will begin to question it's perception of value. The lower the perception of value, the lower the demand for that home. Add to that an increasing supply of inventory and that's not a good recipe for the market value of that specific home ever going up in value.

Three Questions from Buyers

When a home hits the market, has great curb appeal, shows well and is positioned properly on the pricing scale, the buyers that walk through the door (having seen all the other competing homes on the market) will most likely ask themselves or their Realtor, "What's it going to take to get this house?" That is the kind of reaction every Seller should be aiming from the day they put their house on the market.

After a house has been on the market for a month or two, the slowly dying stream of buyers begin to ask, "I wonder how much the Sellers would come down from their asking price?" There doesn't seem to be urgency on either side of the table with the Buyers not encouraged to submit a "test" offer and the Sellers are just standing their ground.

Once a home has been on the market for more than three months (sometimes less depending on the local markets) the main question out of their mouths will be "what do you think is wrong with it?

Address It Up Front

Here's a quick and easy way to avoid the issue that came up with the unfortunate Realtor and his unrealistic Seller from the top of this post. Ask the Sellers during your initial marketing presentation or interview, "If I was able to sell your home in 30 days or less, would that pose a problem for you?" You're not saying you guarantee it will be sold and you're not even saying it will be sold at all. You're just trying to find out if that would pose a problem to the Sellers.

Most Sellers would say "No, that would be great," or "Wow! Do you really think we could have an offer that quickly?" And while it's true that some might say "I would think that meant that we underpriced it, right?" at least you would have a chance to educate them on the customs of your local market, current statistics (such as list/sale ratio vs. days on the market) and their options when negotiating offers.

You could even address the three "questions" Buyers will be asking during the Selling process. Ask them if they went through those phases when they purchased the house they are now selling.

You Can't Answer Someone's Prayers Until You Know What They Are Praying For

Under the same logic, it's hard to exceed your clients expectations when you don't even know what they expect. Use the pre-listing process to set expectations of the market, how it functions and what everyone's role will be - before the home hits the market, during the listing period, after a successful contract has been negotiated and all the way through the successful management and closing of the transaction. 

Let me ask you, if you were able to work with Sellers who were better prepared for all the scenarios that could occur, "Would that pose a problem for you?"

Until next time, keep building relationships, solving problems and having fun.

April 24, 2011

Not a Bad List...

Monday Morning Match is a short post - maybe a quote, inspirational story or idea - intended to spark some motivation inside each of you so your week gets off to a fantastic start on Monday morning.

I was surfing through some miscellaneous files on my laptop, looking for some inspiration for something to blog about and I came across the list below buried amongst some old files .

I'm not sure where I got it so I am not going to take credit for creating it. According to the "properties" it looks like I added it to my files in 2007? I will assume the list came from someone very smart but without any more details on the document, I will credit it to that person who is credited for many of the best quotes and statements in history - the person known as "Anonymous."

How many of the following "keys" can you use this week to unlock a door?

The Keys to Success

  • Take responsibility for yourself...
  • Contribute to others' success...
  • Put customers first...
  • Be a "team player"...
  • Volunteer and show some initiative...
  • Follow the rules...
  • Work the hours you're paid for...
  • Exceed expectations...
  • Keep your commitments...
  • Get with change...
  • Be considerate...
  • Don't whine or spread negativity...
  • Give and earn respect...
  • Embrace diversity...
  • Keep learning...
  • Ask for feedback...
  • Be patient...
  • Think "safety"...
  • Think "health"...
  • Look your best...
  • Keep the boss informed...
  • Act like an "owner"...
  • Perform with ethics and integrity
Oh yeah. There are three more "keys" you might want to try and use this week to unlock the door to success...

#1 - Build relationships
#2 - Solve problems
#3 - Have fun

April 21, 2011

When the Student is Ready, The Teacher Will Appear

Hey student!

Yes, you.

As long as you're in this thing called "life," you are but a student in the class. A player. A cog in the big wheel. A rider on the rotating earth.

As you sit there, do you think you are smarter than the teacher? Are you closed to outside influence? Do you ignore the feedback? Have you stopped listening?

Or are you open to listening to feedback? Will you continue adjusting your direction based on the results you get or don't get? Are you ready to try new things? Are you ready to leave the status quo behind like chewing gum under the desk?

If you're looking for a passing grade in this class, you better be ready to participate. Raise your hand. Start doing the homework. Ask for extra credit. Sign up for the extra-curricular activities. 

Start building relationships. Start solving problems. Start having fun.

Start now.

April 19, 2011

A Realtor Walks Into a REBar....

What the heck is a REBar?

Last week I enjoyed my first ever REBar Camp in Nashville, Tennessee. I was excited to attend one of these "un-conferences" to see what they were all about. It was an opportunity to connect with some old friends, meet some new friends in the real estate industry and spend the day sharing and learning.

It was nice to attend an event out of my normal territory because I was really able to just be "a face in the crowd." My buddy Brian Copeland of Village Real Estate was the co-chair of this event along with Kevin Pellatiro from Encore Realty. Kudos to these guys and all the sponsors for an incredible event.

Documenting the Day

I decided to bring along my trusty Flip Video camera and a tri-pod to record some of my experiences and then compile the video into a "First-Timer's View of REBar Camp." The video below doesn't include footage from the night before - a session called Beer with Bloggers that serves as a mixer to connect with those you know and meet those you don't - or the post event mixer which I couldn't attend due to my return flight back to Columbus. (I heard it was a great end to the day)

If you don't see the video below, watch it here

Thanks to all my new REBar buddies. I had a great time and I'll look forward to my next time "away at camp."

Until next time, keep building relationships, solving problems and having fun. 

Reason #37 To Be a Dad

You get to be the subject of your 3rd grader's project...

April 17, 2011

Welcome to the Wide World of Real Estate?

Monday Morning Match is a short post - maybe a quote, inspirational story or idea - intended to spark some motivation inside each of you so your week gets off to a fantastic start on Monday morning.

With many sports in full swing right now, there's a lot of emphasis on teamwork. You've got  the National Hockey League and the NBA starting their repsective playoffs while Major League Baseball just kicked off their 8-month season. MLS  Soccer is in full swing as are many of the high school and little league sports teams.

Yes, it's true. In most cases, real estate agents consider themselves to be "independent contractors." They don't really have a boss and they technically can't be told what to do. But this is much more of a team game than people realize.

How's your teamwork this year?

How supportive is your branch manager in your efforts to achieve success in real estate and remain balanced in other areas of your life?

Do you have a coach helping hold you accountable? Can you share your goals and dreams with this person as easily as you share your challenges and fears?

Do you have affiliates who help you with your additional services such as mortgage, title, home inspection services and home warranty coverage?

Does your office or company have staff members who help make you look good? Do your receptionsists and office administrators work tirelessly to make you look good?

“The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don't play together, the club won't be worth a dime.”
~ Babe Ruth

Perhaps you have specific departments that help you leverage your talents to better serve your Buyers and Sellers such as a Marketing Department or a Relocation Department or Training Department.

How successful could you be if your IT Department and help desk wasn't available to help you navigate through viruses, email spam and other computer issues? 

Are you a "team leader" who enjoys all the credit and recognition but you have assistants and specialists who work behind the scenes to get the deals to the closing table?

Do you have a recognizable brand behind you that has great recognition and respect in the community? You don't have to work for a huge company or the biggest branch in town but you should be proud to wear the logo on your chest each day. Do you?

When you meet with your Buyers and Sellers, do you use words like "we" and "us" more than you say "I" and "you"? When you make it more of a "team" effort to find the right house or get a home sold, there's more people invested in the outcome.

You see, real estate is much more of a team sport than people think. Sure, the "buck" stops with you but you don't have to be the one to feel all of the pressure either. When transactions successfully make it to the closing table, there are a whole lot of people who get to bask in the "thrill of victory" while each time something occurs that causes a deal to fall through, people will feel "the agony of defeat."

Just make sure that every once in a while, you thank your teammates for keeping you on top of your game.

Until next time, keep building relationships, solving problems and having fun.

April 10, 2011

Imagine the Possibilities

Monday Morning Match is a short post - maybe a quote, inspirational story or idea - intended to spark some motivation inside each of you so your week gets off to a fantastic start on Monday morning.

"If I were to wish for anything, I should not wish for wealth and power, but for the passionate sense of the potential, for the eye which, ever young and ardent, sees the possible. Pleasure disappoints, possibility never. And what wine is so sparkling, what so fragrant, what so intoxicating, as possibility!" ~ Soren Kierkegaard

What do you believe is possible for you in the remainder of 2011?

Will you reach your goals in 2011 and beyond?

Will the next For Sale By Owner you visit say "Thanks for coming. I need your help."?

Could your next phone call lead to a new listing?

Do you take advantage of coaching opportunities to increase your levels of accountability?

Can you gain your next referral at your next networking event?

Is there a chance that the next time you deliver your marketing presentation with poise and professionalism that the clients will gladly pay you your full fee without any questions or objections?

Are there any new agents who have joined your company that might need a mentor who can share some "tricks of the trade" in exchange for some "tricks of technology"?

It's time to start turning all that potential into profits.

Nothing is impossible.

Start today.

How Does Jack's 6th Compare to Your Client's First?

I remember it well.

I was sitting in the lounge on the first floor of Rawlings Hall, an un-air conditioned dormitory at the University of Florida. It was mid-afternoon on a Sunday and the weekend was coming to a close. I know I had to get over to my fraternity house for our Chapter meeting that evening but I didn't want to leave. Something magical was happening.

I remember it well.

We had been back in Columbus for about a year and our lease was going to be done or needing a renewal if we wanted to stay in our small two-bedroom apartment in North Columbus. I met with my parents and told them that we wanted to buy a house but we weren't sure what to do. Without hesitation, they suggested we call "their Realtor," who sold them the house I grew up in and my mother still owns to this day. That was 25 years prior to that day.

Experience + Excitement

Jack Nicklaus started that final round of The Masters in 1986 with not much chance of winning. He was 46 years old and the leader board was a virtual "who's who" of the game's biggest stars - Greg Norman, Seve Ballesteros, Tom Kite, Nice Price and Tom Watson, just to name a few. The "Golden Bear" was being called the "Olden Bear" and was really looked at as nothing more than a nice side story early in the round. But what if...?

There was maybe three or four of my fellow dorm residents watching the action when Nicklaus birdied #9, #10 and #11 to really get everyone watching thinking "what if?" A few more people started filing in to see what all the screams and cheering was about. They didn't leave. Nicklaus made a momentum stalling bogey on Augusta National's signature #12 and more than a few people in the room thought, "Well, that was fun when it lasted," assuming Nicklaus was done with any hope of a comeback win for the ages and a record 6th green jacket.

Captain Bob and Bonnie

My parent's Realtor was "Captain Bob" Kidwell, so we gave him a call to say we wanted to buy a house. Kidwell was then the manager at King Thompson (now Coldwell Banker King Thompson) so he referred us to Bonnie Nyikes. Bonnie was a joy to work with and we began searching for our first house.

Like most first timers, we didn't really know what we wanted except for a place we could call home. Bonnie was helpful and encouraging and kept her poise throughout our search. She relied on her experience and expertise to handle the ups and downs of a home search as well as helped handle the emotions that you often see when the pressure of negotiation sets in.

Our first contract fell through due to a home inspection and frustration and fear set in. I remember thinking, "Well, that was fun when it lasted" and beginning to think we'd have to rent for another year.

The Bear Roars Again

Nicklaus relied on his previous trips through "Amen Corner" and knew that there were plenty of opportunities for success ahead of him and just as many challenges in his wake for his competitors to overcome. With Jack Nicklaus, Jr. on his bag as caddy, he added a birdie on #13, an unbelievable eagle on #15, a near hole-in-one turned tap-in birdie on #16 and a lead claiming birdie on #17. CBS Sports Verne Ludquist's famous call of that birdie has to be in most sports fan's Top Ten of most dramatic moments in sports. (Click here if you don't see the video below)

As Jack and Jack, Jr. approached the green on #18, they each had tears in their eyes and the rest of the world was beginning to believe that this storybook ending may actually occur. The lounge in Rawlings Hall, similar to every other dorm, sports bars, airports lounge and country club stag room across the globe was standing room only. People who had never played golf in their lives were passionately pulling for 46-year-old Jack Nicklaus to win the Masters.

From Bitter...to Bitterroot

Just like Nicklaus's bogey on #12, we had lost some momentum after that first deal fell apart due to a bad home inspection report. We started to question whether we were ready for home ownership. That is until we looked in the neighborhood of Sunbury Woods in Northeast Columbus and found a home for sale on Bitterroot Drive.

We liked it, we wrote on it and our offer was accepted as written. The home inspection went smoothly, our financing was clean and we were ready to close the deal and become homeowners.

Green Jackets and Green Buyers

Seve Ballesteros hit it in the water on #15 and fell off the lead. Tom Kite missed a short putt on #18 to finish a stroke back of Nicklaus. As Greg Norman's approach shot sailed into the crowd on the right side of the green and he failed to get up and down for a par, Jack Nicklaus was the Masters champion...again. I think they could have heard the cheers from Rawlings Hall and living rooms across America in Augusta when Jack won that day.

How Big of a Part will You Play in Your Client's Memory?

I got an email from my good buddy Tom earlier this week asking if I remember what we were doing 25 years ago. I replied back immediately saying "I sure do, and I'll never forget it."

I also remember the adventure and thrill of buying my first home. While it wasn't 25 years ago (actually 15 ago now), I certainly remember it well.

As Realtors, we get a front row seat to the action of our Buyers and Sellers. We sometimes get more than that. We get to be part of the action; an integral part of the transaction. What are you doing with each client to ensure that you and your services are memorable one year later? Ten years later? Twenty five years later? Will your clients be able to remember the transaction as if it was yesterday as they recount stories to their friends, children or grandchildren?

If they do, you'll know you have "mastered" your role.

Until next time, keep building relationships, solving problems and having fun

April 5, 2011

Don't Let That Stop You

The Bad News

The enemy is trying to keep you from succeeding.

The enemy wants you to sit still and not try to advance. The enemy isn't threatened if you just stay where you are. The enemy isn't going to move out of your way.

You're going to have to defeat the enemy by facing it head on.

Taking chances now and then could be your most effective weapon.

Being creative is sometimes like firing a machine gun. Sure, more bullets (or ideas) will miss their target than will hit it but I can assure you that bullets left in the gun have no chance of defeating the enemy.

The Good News

The enemy can't defeat you. It can only serve as an obstacle or challenge. It is just trying to make it more difficult for you to advance.

The enemy is only there to force you to think. To plan. To decide. To take action.

I think you're ready.

The good thing about the "machine gun approach" is you don't really have to be that good at the aiming part.

Just start firing those bullets (a.k.a. ideas, dialogues, social media messages, etc.) and see how far you might be able to advance.

April 3, 2011

What Do You Take Pride In?

Monday Morning Match is a short post - maybe a quote, inspirational story or idea - intended to spark some motivation inside each of you so your week gets off to a fantastic start on Monday morning.

I wrote a blog post last year that was focused on passion and what it means to be passionate. I feel it was one of my better posts so I chose to pull a piece of it out for today's Monday Morning Match.

I also chose this quote because the man who said it, Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated on this date, April 4th, in 1968. As you read it, pay attention to the thoughts in your head as they relate to your job, your family and your life.

"...When you discover what you will be in your life, set out to do it as if God Almighty called you at this particular moment in history to do it. don't just set out to do a good job. Set out to do such a good job that the living, the dead or the unborn couldn't do it any better. If it falls your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures, sweep streets like Beethoven composed music, sweep streets like Leontyne Price sings before the Metropolitan Opera. Sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry. Sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will have to pause and say: Here lived a great street sweeper who swept his job well. If you can't be a pine at the top of the hill, be a shrub in the valley. Be the best little shrub on the side of the hill.

"Be a bush if you can't be a tree. If you can't be a highway, just be a trail. If you can't be a sun, be a star. For it isn't by size that you win or fail. Be the best of whatever you are."

As you work hard to build relationships, solve problems and have fun this week, do it with just a little bit more passion this week.

Below is the video (or click here) from the great U2 tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr. called Pride (In the Name of Love)

April 2, 2011

Are You Prepared to Win It Before You're In It?

It’s been said before that you usually won’t win a listing before meeting with a Seller but you certainly could lose them!

I recently was a featured speaker at the Coldwell Banker Gen Blue Experience in Las Vegas, Nevada. It is always an honor to be selected to present to your peers and getting to deliver two sessions in front of a "standing room only" audience is quite a thrill.

In this session we discussed the ten critical steps Realtors should take to maximize their time, increase their professionalism and secure more saleable listings. The presentation I delievered is below via SlideShare.net, but before you scroll down to view it, ask yourself a few questions.

  • Do you have a consistent process for handling all of your potential listing opportunities?

  • Are you doing everything you can to stand out from the competition?

  • Are you creating a point of differentiation with a Pre-Listing packet?

  • Do you feel like you’re “in control” from start to finish on your listing presentations?

I'm curious to know which of these 10 steps you're already doing? Do you have any other steps that you add in or any that you would take away? Are you using a one-step or two-step listing presentation? Do you use a pre-listing packet on every listing appointment you attend?

Drop a comment down below and let me know what's working for you out there.

Until next time...keep building relationships, solving problems and having fun.