Archive for the ‘Leads Listings Leverage’ Category

Listings. Listings. Listings. Still.

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2008

Wit & Wisdom

From the Department of Homeland Stupidity comes the newly formed Department of Bailouts.  Is there now a sufficient level of converting the United States into a socialist economy for the New Regime President (aka, Treasury Secretary Paulson) to feel that his work is done?

But the above isn’t my special area of expertise.  Showing fellow agents how to have a truly successful business is what I am known for.  And I find it funny (odd?) when I read something that directly contradicts what I know to be true on that particular subject.  It certainly isn’t the first time I’ve seen, "getting listings is no longer the best way to go" – just the first time I’ve seen it from someone I respect as much as I respect Brian Brady.  He wrote:

Thirty years ago, the mantra “listers last” was all important advice to a new real estate agent.  Today, inventory has been democratized through the IDX search on a website.   Open houses then, are a good time to work on your SEO.  A REALTOR who controls the SERPS rather than the inventory should profit best from this buyer-centric market.

Okay, fine.  But can anyone name even four or five TOP AGENTS who have buyer based businesses?  I personally know a couple of them.  But I don’t know of any top agent who has had a buyer based (as opposed to a listings based) business who did it for 3 – 4 consecutive years.  Can an agent attract buyers via the internet?  Absolutely.  Can it be done at a level so great that the lead agent (rainmaker) hires many many many buyer agents to handle the load?  Again, the answer is a confirmed yes.  However, the web traffic – at that level – isn’t normally achieved through SEO but pay per click.  All of the huge buyer based operations I know of in the U.S. use PPC to attract the traffic.  Not saying SEO doesn’t enter into it but the bulk of it is PPC.

How many of them have done it or will be able to maintain their performance level for even three years?  I can’t say, as it (at least to my knowledge) hasn’t ever been done for that long.  Which is my main point.  Almost all top agents have a listings based business.  I am not saying this because I have a listings based business, I am saying it because that is what I found when I went looking at the profiles and the patterns of top agents.  What I observed is what caused me to decide to take the path I took – become a lister.  I have never seen any confirmed data (vs opinions)that contradicts that.

There is nothing I am writing here that suggests that selling homes to buyers (as we need at least one for every listing!) is bad or should not be done.  Oddly, by accident, I am one of the leading buyer side agents (based on number of sales) in the Phoenix market.  I discovered that odd fact a little over a year ago.  I had been working for years to find out what the "top buyer agents" were doing so I could start doing it too.  Once I realized that I wasn’t way behind everyone else but ahead of most everyone I stopped trying to "discover" what I must already know.  Our buyer sides came about as a result of marketing our listings.  Period.  Just doing the things that should be done to properly market a listing produced buyer deals.  Lots of them.

An interesting post I came across about a month ago was over at the always-worth-reading, Notorious R.O.B.  There was a discussion regarding possible violation of a listing agent’s fiduciary duty to have their listings on Zillow, Trulia, etc.  Seems several different lawyers were of the opinion that it could possibly violate a listing agent’s duty to his seller.  I disagree.  Completely.  From my comments to that post on Rob Hahn’s site:

There will always be plaintiffs and lawyers litigating for various reasons. I can not say any lawsuit over which websites a listing was posted on should not occur. I can say that any lawsuit brought for those reasons is without merit. It would have be based on the (erroneous) premise that inquiries from those various sites actually directly helped or caused a home to sell.

The top national site for traffic is Realtor.com. I currently pay about $4,000 a year to “enhance” my listings. There was a time that every 20 leads from Realtor.com equaled a closed escrow on *a* home. Seldom the one they inquired about. Now, the *only* reason I am on Realtor.com is to be able to say to our sellers that “we feature your home on Realtor.com”. That is the ONLY reason. In the past four years, I have never sold a listing because it was on Realtor.com, Trulia, Zillow or any of the other sites. I have sold homes to buyers because we received an email lead because we have a lot of listings on those sites. Big difference.

If you are wanting buyer leads those sites may or may not be good. If you want to “impress” your sellers, they can be very good. If you want to actually sell that house I don’t see that they make *any* difference.

All of my listings are on all of the important sites.  We do receive some inquiries from nearly all of them and some of those inquiries can become actual leads where we make a sale.  I’m not convinced that today’s "internet lead" is much different than the "ad call" of twenty-five years ago.  The best data I had at the time was it took about 400 calls (on the average) regarding a particular home to physically sell that home to that buyer.  If you only have a few listings and sometimes sell one it can seem like it does not take that many.  Get a few thousand and keep track of them and you see a different picture.  If this were not true I suspect that most of us would be out of a job – as most sellers could just run an ad (or today, get "internet leads") and sell their own home.

My main points in this post are:

1. Listings were, are and will continue to be the very best method of having a stable real estate practice.

2. There are huge amounts of fantastic nonsense available from lots of different places regarding what is necessary to sell homes.

3.  People who can’t see clearly will continue to disagree with point # 1 and therefore continue to attempt to sell the nonsense mentioned in point # 2 as essential.

Nonsense.

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

$100,000Agent

Ninja Genius & the Enemy Line

Tuesday, July 29th, 2008

Ninja Genius

Okay, this is really, Enemy Line, part 2.  Part 1 was here.  The reason for the delay: I was in Orlando for Starpower and this is the first chance I’ve had since I got back to town.  This post was prompted by the various questions I received in the comments section of that first post.  Please forgive me for this: most of those questions (I received some in person as well) were prompted by people reading the first post and then NOT actually doing what that post said to do.  This would be sort of like reading about an exercise program and then wondering why you had not experienced any improvement – even though you fully understood what you had just read.

First, I will start with these three:

I want to know what to do with the list?

I’d love to hear how you overcome this enemy line?

I too am curious about your suggested methods to get beyond the enemy line: taping a note to your morning mirror that says “I shall overcome”?

What to do with the list?  Keep it.  The whole point is to get the ideas that you are carting around with you – that all seem so perfectly “logical” – that ARE the very ideas that are holding you back.  You must write them out, one by one.  If you have not done so already, please read again – right now – the original post.  It is vital to get those ideas correctly labeled and to create some distance between you and the suppressive idea.  Suppressive = not in agreement with you achieving your goal.  Period.  Any idea in conflict with your goals is “bad”.  It makes no difference where it came from.  You keep it so if any of those ideas ever come back, you can instantly recognize them for what they are: poison.

Questions 2 & 3.  How do you overcome the enemy line?  The answer is simple but at first will not seem very real.  The answer won’t seem real to you because you are still the effect of the enemy lines that are functioning as your mooring lines.  In most cases, these thoughts sit below your current level of awareness.  I am not talking about your “subconscious mind” – these effective mooring lines are just now simply below the water line.  Un-inspected.  The ones holding you back are usually NOT the ones you became aware of when I first put your attention on this area (when you read the first post).  Those enemy line ideas (all bad) you are already aware of.  You didn’t have to dig – even a little bit – to find them.  There are others sitting below those.  Write the first ones out, then some more will follow.  Then some more.  These ideas now being unearthed and written on your list you had never been even thinking of as “enemy line”.  But there they are and you have now spotted them as such.  They were available to you all along, but only after getting the first ones out are they likely to be correctly evaluated for what they are.

I got this idea from a policy letter written by L. Ron Hubbard.  Talking to organization staff members, he said,

“The only way you can be successful on a post or win at it is to be at cause over it.

A way to sort of audit a post (clear up any confusion or barriers) is to write down any and all points where one feels he is NOT at cause over his post.

Then to look at points one after another where one can be at cause.

One’s vision of this gets bigger and bigger.

And one comes to cause over his post.

Try it.”

So the answer to:

Could the enemy line be overcome by writing the how to overcome as part of the list?

is sure.  But write out your enemy line list first.  Get it all out.  Any area where you feel at effect.  As you go through this you will naturally start to see how you can be at cause over this and over that. That is the whole idea.  But get that list written in full first.

To activate YOUR enemy line ideas just put your attention on some lofty goal (anything you have wanted to BE, DO or HAVE that you have not yet achieved.  Those “wonderful” ideas that start to pop up as to why you can not really achieve those goals are your enemy line.  Write them down.  Not kept in your head.  In writing, please.

Also from Hubbard:

STOPS ALL OCCUR BECAUSE OF FAILED PURPOSES.

BEHIND EVERY STOP THERE IS A FAILED PURPOSE.

Brick Wall Stop

__

Lets say you are currently at point A and your goal is arriving at B.  Achieving your goal would be going from A to B.  As you started to move in that direction “something” became a barrier.  Ever since, anytime something or someone in the environment put your attention onto B (the goal) your attention would automatically go to (and fixate upon) the barrier.  In other words, when you have tried to focus on the goal what you would see and create was the stop – the barrier.  This is exactly what occurred with questions 2 & 3, above.  The barrier seems so formidable that the question becomes, “how to overcome it”.

By taking your attention off of it.

Stop creating it.  Put your attention back on what it is you wanted – your goals.  Keep putting your attention back on your goals.  As you do, the various old counter intentions will continue to pop up.  Add them to the list and keep putting your attention on your goals.

From Mr. Hubbard and one of the most useful things I have ever learned:

THERE IS A LAW ABOUT THIS – ALL YOU HAVE TO DO TO RESTORE LIFE AND ACTION IS TO REKINDLE THE FAILED PURPOSE.  THE STOPS WILL AT ONCE BLOW.

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: www.alandomb.com 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.

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.

How To Get The Listing Every Time!

Wednesday, June 11th, 2008

iRuss

 

With this post, I am introducing the new iRuss.  Here is another email from Raymond:

Hi Russell,

I’m trying to get some realistic perspective on the fall out rate of listings as experienced by successful listing specialists.  It’s not my intention to invade your privacy so I will understand should you ignore my request.  Anyway here is what I’d like to know:

How many listing appointments/presentations did your team make in the past year?

How many listings did your team take in the past year?

Of those how many sold?

And, how many expired or were canceled or withdrawn?

Of those that did cancel or withdrawn, what was the most common reason?

Thanks for your help.  And thanks for answering my previous question to you on AG.

It was extremely helpful

Take care and be well.

There are several ways to be able to say, “I take a listing for almost every appointment I go on”.  They are pretty much all stupid.

In 2006 we took 612 listings.  In 2007 we took 524 listings.  This year, Jan – May we’ve taken 187.  I don’t have stats for the past twelve months handy but believe I can answer your questions.

In 2006 our percentage of appointments to listings taken was about 56%.  We went on just under 1,100 face to face appointments.  We closed 405 escrows in 2006, about 60 of them buyer deals.  In 2007 my number of escrows dropped to 369.  312 of them were seller deals.  The percentage of listings taken to appointments for 2007 was 49.90%.  Just under half.

So far this year (through the end of May) we have gone on 406 appointments, Jan – May we’ve closed 106 escrows.  Our percentage of listings taken to appointments this year is about 46%.  This number has always changed with the market.  At the highest (for the year – not a particular month) it was years back nearly 60%.  Over the years, it has usually been around 55% listings taken to appointments.  Right now we are intentionally going on more appointments (therefore a lower percentage) as our “problem” isn’t the Listers are too busy.  Even though some days lately we physically have (with 3 Listers) 9 face to face, in the home interviews – in a single day.  Why yes, my new TV ad has caused the phone to ring more. 

What is interesting (besides the utterly horrible long term downward trend of my major stats) is how “good and bad” we are doing compared to the market.  For the past twelve months my percentage of of listings taken to those listings sold is 60.9%  That is just awful, in the past 12 months we aren’t selling almost 40% of the listings taken.  It is just awful and at the same time, a hell of lot better than almost everybody else here.  Most agents in my market area are selling about 20% in that same time period.  Not selling 80% of what was listed.  Most of the better agents are running around 41 – 43% sold.

Why did they cancel?  Or why did we cancel?  Oh, there are lots and lots of “reasons” given.  But there is really just one.  We didn’t sell the house.  With the exception of their transfer fell through or they can’t move to the new city after all, all of other “reasons” are crap.  We didn’t sell the house.  My advertised average time to sell is 44 days.  That is going back one year and compares to a market average for the same time of 121 days.  That was true as of May 1st.  As of June 1st, my average dropped (going back 365 days) to 42 days and the market average increased to 126 days.  Because they are calling me for results, if I don’t perform in the time they expect, they fire me.

So…. anyone going on more than a few appointments (their friends, relatives, etc.) is not listing them all.  If they think they are, they are keeping really crappy records.  Some agents only count an appointment if they took the listing – which is a great way to bat 1000 all the time.  Or they only had 1 or 2 listings in a year and sold them both.  Well done.  But if going on lots of appointments and taking lots of listings plan on them not all selling.  That way, your plans will match the reality of the business.