Archive for the ‘Getting Listings’ Category

Are You An Opinion Leader?

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008


photo credit:

Management is telling people what to do.  Leadership is teaching them how to think.  Opinion leaders tell people what to think.

Despite various surveys indicating how low the general public ranks real estate agents, some agents are highly respected by their clients and peers.  How does that happen? 

To understand how that is accomplished, first let’s look at the concept of influencing the opinions of others.  Various studies have shown that media communication intended to change someone’s buying or voting behavior seldom works directly.  The communication may be directly received by the person it is intended for but is mediated through their social relationships.  There are individuals (depending on the subject) that others consider experts and who are looked to for advice on that particular subject.  There are some people who act as Opinion Leaders – they see themselves and are seen by others as having an influence on others.

In politics and fashion, for example, there are TV shows hosted by people who have very large audiences who watch the show in order to find out what to think.  Yet, Opinion Leadership is not a trait some people have and others don’t.  Every person who has an elevated interest (and thereby knowledge) in an area, can serve as an opinion leader on that subject to those around them.  It is a natural part of everyday personal relationships.

Research suggests that, in the US, opinion leaders constitute roughly one in ten Americans, and that as a group they tend to serve as a leading indicator of popular trends, from public issues to new product adoption to social attitudes.  Many consumers today place more weight on the word-of-mouth insights of their more influential neighbors than on what they hear on TV or read in the newspaper.

Opinion leaders are people whose opinion on a subject/product is influential on the social group they belong to, although they may or may not have an acknowledged authority over them.  Opinion leaders are not necessarily traditional leaders in society, such as politicians and clergy (although they can be). Rather, they are perceived experts in particular domains – which is exactly the position occupied by a successful residential Realtor.  When it comes to correct pricing and effective marketing of homes there isn’t any substitute for a competent Realtor.  Notice I didn’t say real estate company, as it is the individual agent who is looked to (or not) as the expert.  A company may enjoy a wonderful reputation and there are many instances of an individual and his or her company seeming so inseparable that you can’t think of one without the other – but it would always be the individual that is the opinion leader.  One could join the largest, most successful real estate company in the world and this would not automatically cause them to be perceived as an expert.  Conversely, an individual broker could have a one person shop and be regarded as THE go to person in that area if you had a question concerning real estate.  Opinion Leader Realtors are trusted by their clients because the client can see that the agent has their best interests at heart. 

There are many real estate instructors who teach “scripts” on how to handle commission objections.  The seller doesn’t want to pay “X” commission and they are advocating using a “technique”.  Think of someone you trust and go to for services – like a dentist or physician.  Isn’t that trust based largely on the belief that they don’t recommend a service you “need” based only on their desire for money?  (as opposed to they use "really good scripts"  to handle you).

There is a Scale of Motivation, it goes highest to lowest:

Personal Conviction
Personal Gain

For example, when one is communicating to their clients about a needed price reduction from the viewpoint of personal conviction or duty, rather than “I want the money” – that “Care Factor” on the part of the agent is visible to all but the worst off in the society.  Please don’t think I am advocating earning less or not reaching all of your financial goals, I’m not.  I believe that great agents operate and handle their clients from the level of Personal Conviction or Duty.  They tell their potential sellers the whole truth every time and don’t hold something back because they might not get a commission.  This isn’t so they can be in compliance with the Code of Ethics, but is just the way they think and operate.

In the next year or so a great many agents will be leaving the real estate industry – but they were really on their way out before this latest crash arrived.  And they were primarily motivated by money or personal gain.  Not the highest level of motivation.  Ever.

Will This Post Win The Inman Innovation Award?

Sunday, August 31st, 2008

Google Map Football Field
Actual link to Google Maps

What you are looking at is an actual image from Google maps.  If you want to see what others are saying about it, you can find it on various sites.  Is it innovative?  A little bit, maybe.  But in the end, probably not.  Does a Realtor really need to "be innovative" to succeed?  I don’t think so.  There are more and more "out of the box" ideas that are presented to the real estate industry almost every day.  Loads and loads of "new" stuff that is really just more old stuff.  Most of the agents I talk to about various seminars seem to be looking for something new.  Something different.

Out of the box I don’t believe that we need to get out of the box.  I believe most of us need to get all the way in the box.  One reason?  You can not depart from a location you have never arrived at.  You must get all the way in before you could need to work on "getting out".

Our business is really pretty simple.  Get and keep customers is the main issue.  Lead generation (if it is going to matter) is really lead conversion.  If we are looking at the subject of getting and getting rid of listings, here is a concept to look at:

All "problems" in getting listings are either in getting to the table or at the table.  About 70% of all sellers talk to only one agent prior to making their decision to list with them.  About 15% talk to only two agents prior to deciding.  This data alone clearly suggests that the main problem is not at the table but getting to the table.  Get to the table and you are likely to win.  The various ideas for getting to the table (that actually work) all seem to me to be very "low tech".  Very low tech.  Finding out what is really wanted and needed and then providing just that – that sort of thing.

Unless you have a rather amazing list of names in your Rolodex, it will usually be the number of people you can ask to do business with you that will determine the outcome – and your income.

Will someone please let Inman know I am standing by for my prize?

A Talk I Gave to New Agents

Wednesday, August 13th, 2008

This was for new John Hall agents and the room was very hot, so I had two big fans going at the same time.  Unfortunately, you can hear the fan noise.  The talk is a bit over 90 minutes total and it has been split into nine parts.  It is in mp3 format and clicking on each of the links will open the file in your computer.

People who have heard me speak many times before said it it was very very good.  Other than the fan noise, I agree with them.

Talk from Russell on July 16th, 2008 part 1

Talk from Russell on July 16th, 2008 part 2

Talk from Russell on July 16th, 2008 part 3

Talk from Russell on July 16th, 2008 part 4

Talk from Russell on July 16th, 2008 part 5

Talk from Russell on July 16th, 2008 part 6

Talk from Russell on July 16th, 2008 part 7

Talk from Russell on July 16th, 2008 part 8

Talk from Russell on July 16th, 2008 part 9


The Enemy Line

Sunday, July 20th, 2008

Enemy Line

Achieving success is primarily a mental thing.  One can observe the physical actions and results but sitting behind those actions and results are thoughts.  "Correct" thoughts.  The right kind of thinking leads to the right kind of actions.  In any meaningful and desirable activity there is an infinity of incorrect ways to attempt to accomplish the intended result.  There are but a few "correct" methods.  Correct is being defined in this context to mean it works.  That kind of thinking will produce the intended result.  Usually, even in what could be classified as a purely "physical activity" the difference between achieving the result (winning) and not achieving it (losing) is mental.  An example of this would be after Roger Bannister broke the 4 minute barrier for running a mile.  Prior to him doing it everyone knew it could not be done.  The fastest runners on earth knew they could not do it.  Once Roger did it, it was then known it could be done.  In the next three years 16 other runners also did it.  It is doubtful the cause was Super Wheaties.

So, what are your "Four Minute Miles".

I will share with you something I discovered some years back that has made all the difference for me.  Being able to spot "enemy line".  To really grasp this concept imagine that an enemy has put you in a hypnotic trance and that all they need to do to ensure your failure is to get you to buy into certain ideas – the enemy line.  If they can get you to embrace these ideas your failure is assured.  Please understand that I am not suggesting that the failure ideas one carts around in their head came from an enemy hypnotizing them or even from an enemy at all.  I found them most of mine were stupid ideas I dreamt up myself while tired, hungry or just not doing all that well due to some loss.  So to get the full benefit of from this it is not necessary to find where the idea even came from – totally alright if you do, but not a vital step.  All you are looking for is WHAT the idea is. 

Take any goal you want to achieve.  One that you want but isn’t very real to you.  It seems too big.  Distant.  Do it later.  Too hard to achieve.  But you really would like it if it was possible, but it really doesn’t seem like it is truly possible.  Any goal.  As soon as you put your attention on that goal the various Enemy Line concepts you currently have get mentally activated to some degree.  So to find them all you have to do is put your attention on the goals you want that you have not achieved.  They will start to pop up, one by one.

Write them down.  The beneficial result can not be accomplished if you don’t.  Either write them on paper with a pen or pencil or write them in a Word document, but write them all down.  Each and every one of them that you can think of, in writing.  For me, it was a list I kept in my computer called, "Enemy Line List."

Having this negativity in writing is vital for a couple of reasons: writing these ideas out – in full – and labeling them as "enemy line" separates the ideas from you.  And gives them the correct label – mental poison.  Writing them out puts some distance between you and the ideas.  The ones you have that you are already aware of as you read this are not likely the real "mooring lines" that are actually holding you back.  Which is why the writing step can not be skipped.  As you start to write them out you will think of others.  I would sit and write them until I could not think of any others and then stop.  Sometimes a few minutes after stopping, sometimes the next day as I was driving somewhere, I would think of more.  I would make a note as to what those where and as soon as I could I would add them to the list in my computer.  You will stumble upon some that will get you to sometimes wonder if you should laugh or cry.  Maybe both.  But getting these pieces of poison out of your head and correctly labeled makes it possible to recognize those ideas for what they really are the next time one of them comes drifting into your head.

Do not stop to worry about "what is realistic".  If the idea is in conflict with your goals it belongs on the list.  Period.  Any idea, no matter how "practical" or "realistic" it may be – if that idea or concept is in conflict with your goals, put it on the list.  This doesn’t have to ever be something you share with anybody.  It can be, if you want it to be but don’t worry about embarrassment.  Just write down any thought that is not in full alignment with your objectives.

I’ve shared this idea with many people over the years, and to my knowledge every one of them experienced relief.  What follows is a real sample that a fellow Realtor sent to me (who wanted to be a lister).  As I will never say his name, I will publish the list he sent me in full.  These were his:


1. Listing agents don’t really add much value…they just put a sign in the yard and another agent comes along and sells the house.

2. Realtors are overpaid relative to the value they add.

3. Realtors aren’t really that smart; a lot of them are housewives just looking for something to do.

4. It is embarrassing to be affiliated with a profession that is so poorly regarded by the public.

5. Real estate is beneath a person with my level of education (according to wife).

6. Realtors are smarmy weasels and sleazy sales men.

7. I’m bothering people when I call them to prospect.

8. I’m no different than any other listing agent…we all basically do the same thing.

9. I don’t want any more listings because sellers are unrealistic about what price it will take to get the home sold and therefore the sellers are just annoying.

10. If price is all that really ultimately matters in getting the home sold why do you need an agent to go through all the (unnecessary, wasteful, expensive) motions of marketing the home – and why do you need an agent anyway, just price it to sell.

11. I don’t want any more listings because they are not selling in this market; working with buyers in a buyers’ market is a better strategy.

12. Sellers expect me to bring the buyer as the listing agent and that is simply not statistically likely.

13. Seller’s are unappreciative of what you do for them.

14. We can’t handle the workload of more listings than we have now.

15. Many agents are prospecting expireds and fsbo’s and we’re all using the same scripts and all sound the same to the sellers.

16. Seller’s can’t tell a dime’s worth of difference between realtors.

17. Full service brokerage is going the way of the dinosaur…commissions are too high and with the internet, all a seller needs is a discount broker and to get the listing online.

Listers Last

Wednesday, July 16th, 2008

Listers Last

This post started as a comment in response to some of the comments to this post on Agent Genius. 

Russell, in a matter of a few minutes, can give you the names of dozens of listing teams across the nation doing equal or far more business than he does. He can’t, however, do the same for buyer agent teams.

Correct.  I am in the top 200 agents in the U.S. again this year.  But I am not "the" top.  Last year (2006 stats) I was number 25 in the team "sides" category.  There were a number of people who beat me (in both volume and units) who only had one assistant and were not even competing in the team category.     I don’t know of any high volume agent or team who has lasted, long term, that mainly works buyers.  This isn’t to say that some mega teams that mainly work buyers don’t do very very well.

Am I all wet, Russell?

No, BawldGuy, completely dry.  As usual, I pretty much agree with everything that you and Bill Lublin have to say.

Listing agents don’t need buyer’s agents whatsoever? That’s the biggest load of crap I have heard for quite awhile. I am willing to bet that there aren’t any listing agents (with the possible exception of bawld guy’s dad) doing hundreds of transactions who wouldn’t crash and burn if buyer’s agents didn’t sell most of their listings.

Allan Domb from Philadelphia: for years did not bother to even put his listings in the MLS.  He sold them without the MLS.  Long term, he is still one of the most successful Realtors to have ever lived – he was doing over 1,000 deals a year 20 years ago.  He does more than that today but doesn’t still enter "contests" (like me:-)

How many of your listings do you sell yourself Russell? I am sure you can give us an exact number.

Less than 15%  To me, using MLS is much easier.  That isn’t to say if the DOJ/FTC had managed to "change everything" I wasn’t fully prepared to withdraw from the MLS.  But thanks for asking so nicely.

The thing that is tiresome is that a lot of the people doing mega listing business have this arrogant superiority complex that their way is the only way.

I am not one of those people.  I have never claimed my way was the "only way".  It isn’t.  There are lots of ways.  None of them require my blessing.   However, I am flatly stating that if an agent’s primary emphasis is on correctly working listings vs. working buyers, it is better, easier, more profitable, more conducive to being run like any other successful business (owner can be gone and still make just as much money), and there might actually be something to sell to someone else when retirement time comes around.

There are plenty of people who make a great living working with buyers without investing 60 hours a week in the process. The trick is very similar to what it takes to be a good listing agent. Not working with just anyone, but learning how to generate enough buyer leads that you can afford pick and choose and only work with motivated buyers who are ready willing and able to make a decision.

No disagreement whatsoever with the above statement.  But if you need to be gone for 6 – 9 months (like I did in 2001 when I had cancer) it is much much easier if the business is listings based to continue making money while not there.

A lot of people think the only way you can find buyers is by having listings. That is just simply not true.

Correct.  Pay Per Click, SEO optimization, blogging – just to name a few.  But the "thing" being offered as bait to the buyer is still a house.  It makes no difference if that house is listed by you, your company or some other company.  Buyers respond best to houses.  Therefore – for optimum profit – it makes sense to have houses for them.

I don’t want to spell out exactly how it can be done, but trust me there are ways to advertise that will have your phone or email ringing off the hook. Then you can sift through the leads and find folks who have to move by a certain date, and have the money in hand.

I always do both. I generally have had between 10 and 20 good listings at all times for the last twenty years, and I am always working with at least 5 buyers.

I really don’t believe you and I have any real disagreement.  You take and market listings and have lots of buyers that you sell homes to.  Your business is listings based.  Even if you are currently selling more houses to buyers than you are listing.  My point wasn’t "don’t sell houses to buyers" but take salable listings.  Anyone who believes there is some downside to taking salable listings has a false idea.  That was – and still is – the main point of my original post.

Which is Better: a Home Buyer or a Home Seller?

Monday, July 14th, 2008

Buyers vs

It probably depends on your point of view.  Are you looking for a quick nickel or a slow dollar?  Do you want a job or a business?  How about in "this market"?  Isn’t it better to have a buyer than a listing now?

I’ve written before that my expertise is in getting and getting rid of listings.  In some of those posts I’ve seen comments to the effect that I forgot to mention working buyers.  I didn’t forget.  To sell a house you need a buyer.  Each time and without exception.  It just goes with the territory.  But if your goal is to have a long-term stable business then you are going to want to learn to list.  Period.  If you disagree – even a little bit with anything you’ve read so far, please do yourself a favor and set aside those disagreements and read on.

The biggest single barrier to increased production is FIXED IDEAS.  We all have them in one area or another.  You have certain ideas about "how much business is possible".  Those "logical thoughts" are the very thing holding you back.

Is is easier to get a buyer and sell them a house than it is to take a salable listing?  The correct answer is yes.  If this were not a true statement new agents wouldn’t have a prayer of ever getting any business.  Reason?  Buyers are seldom ever looking for an agent.  They are looking for a house; they are willing to tolerate talking to an agent in order to see the house.  Most buyers are almost never "shopping for an agent".  If you wanted to buy a car can you imagine saying to your partner, "I sure hope we meet a charming and fun car salesman today.  Someone who is a lot of laughs we can really bond with." 

Sellers are different.  Most of them are looking for an agent to hire.  Totally different mindset.

Why does it take more skill to list than to work buyers?  Simple: because you don’t have to ask the buyer to pay you.  It is a "free" service you are offering to them.  The seller is going to give the listing agent a high enough commission that there is a paycheck for both agents.  It is the listing agent who goes in and gets that agreement signed.  Please understand that I am not saying it is "harder work" – because it isn’t.  In fact, it is a lot easier work, with no heavy lifting of any kind.  But that isn’t the good part.  Lets pretend that your goal was to do as good and as efficient a job as possible and to make as much money in the same amount of time.  Just pretend that with me.  How many buyers can you work at once?  Without help and if you are amazing?  How many at the very same time?  Two?  Three?  Could you juggle 4 or 5 at the same time?  And keep doing all of the necessary actions to have 4 or 5 more for next week because you will sell all of the ones you are working with right now?  Could you keep doing that week after week?  Month after month?  Year after year?

I don’t think so.  I’ve seen one agent here in Phoenix do around a hundred buyer sides a year for 2 – 3 years (without meaningful help) before hitting the wall.  Finally a heart doctor told him he was going to have to slow down.  The best buyer agent I’ve ever seen or heard about (he had a remarkable system for working buyers) did (with help) about 500 buyer deals the year before last.  This year he isn’t even in his companies top 10 agents.  (Hint: none of his companies top 10 agents are doing 500 deals this year).  Am I saying one can’t make money working buyers?  Nope.  What I am saying is that I personally know (or at least know of and what they are doing) most of the top agents in North America.  The pattern for almost all of them who enjoy long-term stable success is they have a listing based business.  Even though most of them do about as many buyer sides as they do seller sides, their businesses are listings based. 

Do you have to have a listings based business?  No, you don’t.  One of the wonderful things about this business is you can set it up any way you want to set it up.  Further, you can change it anytime you feel like it.  My first 12 years in the business I primarily worked buyers.  I "took listings" but wasn’t very successful at actually selling most of them.  The only meaningful thing that separated me from the pack was I continued to know that I was an incompetent dolt on the subject of taking listings.  I didn’t figure out explanations of how it was "better" to keep doing it my way.  I knew there was something to know that I didn’t know yet.  Was it hard for me to figure out?  Well, yes and no.  The biggest obstacles were the stupid (anything I believed that was unworkable) ideas I had about how it should be done.  If an idea is really "right" that "rightness" is easily tested: it works.  Again and again and again, without variation.  My own fixed ideas were what got in my way.  If you think you already know all about something there would be no good reason to then work on finding out about it.  You already know.  Once you know you don’t know you then can actually know – or at least start to know.  So one has to first come up to not knowing.

Nothing about the subject or learning it is complex or difficult.  Like most subjects, this one too, just reeks with false data and moron ideas.  Our industry is chock full of people who don’t do it or never did it who (for only X dollars) will tell you how to do it.  But it can be done and (if you want) can be done by you.  I’ve written all about it here.

How High and How Low Can Your Commission Go?

Monday, July 7th, 2008

how high - how low

What is your time worth per hour?  Your fee structure would reflect that amount.  Just how does a working Realtor get their income up?  Charge more?  Get more people to pay them?  Both?  Some other answer?

A few years ago (late 2004 and through 2005) there was more downward pressure on real estate commissions than I’ve seen seen in the past thirty years.  There were a lot of lower commission companies that started and there was a tremendous amount of media coverage about real estate commissions needing to go down.  The "news articles" and that viewpoint are still being worked on today by the DOJ and the FTC, along with various professors, among others.  It is vary easy for a working Realtor to find articles and opinions expressing the viewpoint that "you charge too much".

Do you?  Do you charge too much commission?  Are your fees too high?

How would you find out if your fees were too high or too low?  If you lost a listing "because you charge too much" would that be an indicator?  How many listings would you have to lose before it was "true"?  How about if you can’t pay your bills?  Would that mean you aren’t charging "enough"?  Or enough people?  It is an interesting dilemma for a working agent.  Back in the "old days" agents didn’t have this problem; the broker announced to their agents how much they would charge.  That was it.  No arguments, it was the broker’s decision.

Re/Max wasn’t the first "100% company", not even the first successful 100% company – that’s Realty Executives.  But they were most assuredly the first successful national 100% company and they are the company that set the standards nationally for all other brokerage companies – 100% company or not – working Realtors can pretty much charge whatever they please.  Complete and total freedom for working agents.  To fail.  An individual agent at the listing table hears the seller say, "I will only pay ‘X’ amount of commission".  The agent is broke and needs a deal.  This one thing alone has had a bigger impact on commissions than the internet, the Justice Department, the Federal Trade Commission and all the various limited service and discount companies combined.  It is up to the individual agent.  It is up to you.

So what’s fair?  What is a "fair" commission for you to charge? 

Please notice that I am not asking random people so we can get a consensus of opinion here on what they think is a "fair commission" for Realtors to charge.  Nor am I suggesting you learn some scripts so you can justify to your customers or someone here how much you charge.  I don’t believe you need scripts to "justify" your commission – at least not in the way most Realtors and the public seem to think of it.  There is just ONE PERSON you do need to "justify" your commission to: you.  End of list. 

Does it seem right to you?  Not, would you like more.  Not, do you want more money.  Just is it right to you.  Different cities have different amounts and percentages that are considered fair or right.  A neighboring community might – for no good reason – have a lower or higher typical commission.  Price points enter into this, as well.  What might be right for you – as a percentage – if you live in the Los Angles area could be very different than if you are a working Realtor in Ames, Iowa.

But it is what you consider "right".  Will you lower your fee if someone asks you to?  If they ask nicely?  If they demand it as a condition of doing business with you at all?  How low will you go?  What if the amount you charge is more than they are willing (or even able) to pay?  Will you then do it for less?  Under what conditions?  Is the amount you say you charge sort of a gag – you kind of want that much but you don’t really expect anyone in their right mind to actually pay it?

When do you really decide how much to charge?  Do you work it out in full and complete detail during a planning session – where you’ve set aside the time to work ON your business, not in it (with all the various "what if’s" considered)?  Or do you have a vague idea that there are "times" you will take less and then you can just make the decision there at their kitchen table if they happen to bring it up.  What if they simply won’t pay what you say you charge?  Is it then alright to lower your fee?  How low?  How low will you go if they say they won’t pay "that much"?  How low?  That is your real commission number.  The amount where you are totally willing to walk away if they won’t pay it.  At that number (percentage or flat amount), they either pay it or they don’t hire you.  Period.  Is your walk-away number the same as the amount you say you charge?  If not, why not?  What successful business principle is being applied to advertise or promote a higher fee and then secretly accept a lower fee?  When someone asks me how much I charge, I answer the question.  I don’t need to see the house, find out their loan balance, get "further information" or first explain how wonderful we are.  Do we have people who tell us they won’t pay that much?  Of course we do.  Every day.  I mean that literally, every day.  In fact, (this is probably true for any business) if you don’t have some people telling you they won’t pay "that much" either you aren’t charging enough or you aren’t talking to enough people.

Unless you are planning on building your business with a marketing strategy of: "no matter what we tell you we charge, we will take less, a lot less – have us over and see for yourself", I don’t know of any advantage in saying you charge a certain price for your services to then routinely accept a lower amount.  Just like you would tell a seller who says he will take less for his house, get it in writing so you can tell the world.  I am not telling you to lower your fees.  I am not telling you to raise your fees.  I am telling you (most of you, anyway – there are a few who don’t need to hear this) to spend some time looking this over for yourself so you can sort it all out.  Once you know what you are worth you won’t have any trouble explaining to your customers.  But the funny part is once you really know you will seldom bother explaining it to anyone.

Is it Possible That Only 7% of All Realtors Do Over 90% of the Business?

Sunday, July 6th, 2008

Churchill Quote 

Jonathan correctly pointed out that a third of of the members of NAR sold nothing last year.  Amazingly, that isn’t new – that has been true for as long as such stats have been kept on how much is being sold.

In a solicitation email I received from Dirk Zeller he talked about the Pareto Principle – better known as the 80-20 rule.  This would suggest that 20% of the agents do 80% of the business and that 80% of the agents do the remaining 20%.  Dirk did some research for his area (Bend, Oregon) and concluded that Bend matched the NAR numbers which are even more astounding than the 80-20 rule.  Dirk’s conclusion: 7% of Realtors control about 93% of the total business.  Pretty amazing.  I have not verified this number but I know it is close, if not exact.  For the Phoenix area here is what I found: there are about 40,000 members of the MLS (ARMLS).  Only 4.50%  of the total members of ARMLS had six sales or more (buyer or seller sides) in the past twelve months.  This is not an "average", this is flatly stating that less than 5% of all Realtors (selling homes through the MLS) made at least 6 sales in the past year.  I don’t have an easy way of deleting those Realtors who work for builders, etc., but I can say the number with six or more sales is about 1,800 agents.

Dirk goes on to say that the 7% of agents who are doing all the business do things differently:

How do they do it?

Well, quite simply, I’d have to say differently. That’s right… they do more business than everyone else because they do business differently.

That they do things differently than the 93% who don’t do much business is pretty obvious.  That would have to be a true statement.  However, I don’t believe the successful agents do things much differently than any successful small business does them.  Main job is still: get and keep customers.  This never changes.  In the residential brokerage business there is one thing that is "different" than most other businesses.  Listings.  If you will take the time to really learn to list you can make more money than most people you will ever know.  And it isn’t hard either.  In fact, so simple, even a Realtor can do it.

Recommendations:  Read to the point of understanding, The Millionaire Real Estate Agent.  Go to this page and spend some time.  It’s free and it is all about getting and getting rid of listings.

Quantity – Quality – Viability

Thursday, June 26th, 2008

“Miracles are great, but. they are so damned unpredictable.”

– Peter Drucker

Quantity, then quality, then viability.  That is the correct sequence with regard to leads, listings and leverage.

Leads always comes first.  In this business if one can not generate sufficient leads nothing else will matter.  It will make no difference how smart you are or how much you know – if you don’t have any customers to talk to.  Lead conversion is obviously the action sitting between having sufficient leads to wind up with a sufficient amount of listings.  But just having enough leads is the very first thing.

Ever “get careful” with a client or customer?  You know, where you don’t dare screw up?  It is a great feeling, isn’t it?  Not.  Nothing succeeds like insouciance.  Show me someone “being careful” and I’ll show you someone who is really “serious” and who is also about to make mistakes.  When one is playing, having fun, there is no need for carefulness.  To achieve this with customers it is necessary to know that you can get more.  If you know there are lots of them and that they are easy to acquire then no need to be “careful with this one”.  You’re happier and the customer gets a much better experience too (as they are being taken care of by someone who is relaxed about about the outcome and knows what they are doing).

Quite often, if one has the viewpoint that customers are scarce, they get into carefulness.  This is common with agents barely making it – as the very reason they are barely making it is they don’t have enough customers.  The reason they don’t have enough customers is either they don’t have an effective lead generation system or don’t consistently use the effective one they do have.  Either way, not enough leads is a “bad” thing as it leads to carefulness.

The future success and viability of a real estate office can be accurately predicted by how many producing agents they have.  Not how many high producing agents, just how many producing agents.  Offices (particularly those paying rent for space in a commercial office building) with just a few producing agents are often candidates for going out of business.  For agents it is how many listings they have; the average number of listings an agent carries will be the best indicator of their future viability.  Notice it is quantity first, not quality.  Having one or two “good ones” is not a substitute for having many listings.  In the first place if an agent has two “good ones” he won’t have them for long and he is at once down to zero listings for sale.

Obviously we strive for the very highest quality – in every area of our business.  But when just getting an area going (for the very first time or when getting it going again) do not fixate on quality.  It is quantity.

The iRuss – a Look From the Other Side

Thursday, June 12th, 2008

iRuss - the other side

This post is in response to my last one.  I had no idea it would be so well received.   Having surveyed only myself, to me it was a post I tossed off.  This post consists of the responses to the questions and points raised.

I want an iRuss also! A mini iPod crammed full of Russell Shaw podcasts and videos… You know, there could be some $$ that idea…

Go to this page and load yours up.  Scroll down to the lower half for the audio and video content.

sometimes as we are at the appointment, we learn about things that cause us to NOT take the listing. Honestly, it is more us not TAKING it than us not GETTING it. My business plan does not allow me to take a listing that is overpriced or in a condition (physically/financially/emotionally … ) where I do not think that I can do the BEST by my seller clients.

I believe the information here is the most important, most vital, high impact information there is for stable success.  Here is one of the sample emails I send out every month to invite agents in the Phoenix area to one of the talks that I give every month.  There are four different talks that I give and at the end of the 4th month I start over with talk number one.  Since April of last year I have given one of these talks to over 1,200 agents, at about 15 agents at a time (that is a lot of talks:-)

1. Did you discover new reasons to turn down a new listing?

2. Was there an area harboring more than their share of unsold listings?

3. Was there a pattern showing numbers of bedrooms/bathrooms (or other physical attributes or lack thereof) being shunned by buyers?

4. Was there a particular (and discernible) seller mindset hindering the sales process?

5. Was there an area/neighborhood which was, for some reason, consistently listed over market value?

We don’t have new reasons to turn down a listing.  We have the same reasons we have always had: bad seller or a bad price.  If the seller exhibits a majority of  the 12 characteristics covered here I don’t want their business at any price.  Even if a “nice” person, it is necessary for them to price the house at or below the water line.  Once we can see we are fishing with our bait out of water we must get the price lower.  Sellers who can’t or won’t reduce have a listing that isn’t going to sell.  Therefore, they cancel or we do.  There is always some price point at which it would sell, in any market.  If they are really serious, we can and will find that point.

I often hear remarks from agents like, “the bank sold that house really cheap – 30% below market value”.  I don’t agree with that kind of statement.  If various banks are the only sellers selling in an area and they are selling all of their houses at a perceived “below market” sales price – perhaps that IS the market for that product in that area.  A good price fixes any of the various bad conditions.  There is no good reason to take (or keep) a listing that isn’t going to sell.

Speaking of keeping records, what does a Millionaire Real Estate Agent use to do just that?

We use Agent Office for our transactions, ACT for all of our names and addresses, etc., and Excel to keep the production numbers. 

Pricing is a crap shoot and we don’t get the list price until it hits the market and that’s well into the process. Sometimes they’re priced well right off the bat, sometimes they’re not. If they don’t sell, the bank keeps lowering the prices until they do, so that’s not such a big deal.

Correct, pricing IS a crap shoot.  This is true in both a rising and in a declining market.  In a stable or slowly rising market (like we used to have before 2005 when we could use “comps”) we all pretty much knew how to price a property.  Now we really are guessing.  Sometimes pretty good guessing and it seems currently to be as much an art as a science.  That will only be true until the market stabilizes and then it will only be the super high end and unique homes that it will still be an art to correctly price.  Now it is most homes in our area.

And from this jewel, this:

Whatever it is, people are on edge. Have you noticed?

Yes, I have.  Many people in our industry have been very very stressed.  Everyone has stress points. Everyone.   No matter how easily any given person confronts and handles situations that make others marvel at their ability, that person has something they don’t easily confront.  That thing or situation is then capable of causing them stress. They are transmitting those feelings to pretty much everyone they come into contact with and those people in turn are passing that energy along to others, etc.  People are calm and relaxed when they feel they can confidently predict what is going to occur – what is about to happen.  When their prediction goes out there goes their certainty.  Once certainty is gone it doesn’t take much to then feel stressed. 

What is “stress” but too much environment pushing against the person than there is of the person to push back?  When there is enough of “I” (you) there to push back at whatever is pushing – no problem.  A big cut in income alone is usually enough to cause most to be on edge nonstop.  When a person feels out of control of a situation the very best thing they can do is to deal exclusively in certainties.  What do you know is true?  What is for sure?  Concentrate on those things.  Look around and find other things and ideas that you are certain are true.  When you see something you are not certain of – recognize that fact.  Don’t pretend to know things you don’t know – if you aren’t certain (based on direct observation) know that you don’t know it.  That not knowing is – in itself – a form of certainty.

When you are not feeling “up” recognize that fact.  There are things you experience in your life that bring you up.  Take a walk, call a friend, eat something you like, buy some new shoes, whatever gives you a “lift”. What are those activities for you?  Make a list (lists?) of them.  Really.  Write down fun stuff you like doing.  Things that are simply fun and make you happy.  If possible, make it a point to do some of those things every day.  You want something that will help you have a better business?  Get in a good mood and then make your business decisions.