Archive for the ‘The Millionaire Real Estate Agent’ Category

The Millionaire Real Estate Agent

Saturday, December 27th, 2008

If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.

– Isaac Newton

What follows in this post may seem to some like Earl Nightingale meets Buddha – and maybe it is – but I think you are going to like it.

Last week Matt wrote:

I might have missed something in the post, but to say that all listings for the discounter were $299 is probably not correct. “58 X 299 = $17,342.”I see a lot of “Discounters” using low selling price as a tool to get people in the door, or on phone. $299 is usually a no support price…and then they tack on a-la-carte items to raise that price up. True, it will never be full commission, but I doubt all 58 sold for only $299. How would he still be in business only making $17K per quarter?Russell, How hard was it to get to the level you are at today? Many realtors never get to this level, because it is very, very hard. I would bet that it is a lot easier to throw up a bunch of ads, that say you will sell a home for $299, and get a ton on people in your office. It can’t be that hard…

I don’t know how much selling up occurs at his site. But assume he only sells half of the listings he takes and gets paid on twice as many as he closes and manages to up sell every possible option he has – I still don’t like the numbers. I am still saying it is NOT that easy to make money by lowering one’s prices. Please understand I am not saying it can’t be done – just that making money doing it is not easy.

But the question of yours that really caught my eye was, “Russell, How hard was it to get to the level you are at today? Many realtors never get to this level, because it is very, very hard.”

I don’t believe that is even the correct framework for understanding what is involved. To think of it as “hard” or “difficult” is trying to grasp it in terms of how much effort is involved vs. charging less and “getting a lot of business” that way. One of the huge advantages I have over most highly successful Realtors (this year we will take over 600 listings, close over 400 escrows – for over 100 million in volume) is that I was an “ordinary” agent my first twelve years in real estate. My first 12 years I sold between 18 – 24 houses a year. I was heavily in debt, lived from deal to deal and was not exactly happy with my “real estate life”. Compare this to Craig Proctor – who at age 29, his third year in the business, was the number one agent in the world for Re/Max. My first TWELVE YEARS were a struggle. So my perspective about achieving an extremely high level of success isn’t all “book learning”. This understanding has enabled me to not only create a completely stable level of success in my own business but also to share my wisdom on this subject with others and help to make them successful, as well. To get to the level I am at (and there are hundreds of other agents making the kind of money I make or more) isn’t a matter of “difficulty” at all. Does it take a lot of effort and dedication? More than an ordinary person can even imagine. But the work isn’t “hard” – it is almost a non-stop joy, a reward in itself. I smoked for 29 years and quit smoking in 1989. For some years after I quit smoking I would get asked if it was “hard to quit”. My answer was always, “No, it wasn’t hard to quit”. I had a few days of unbelievable cravings (I took off work and spent two days non-stop TALKING about smoking – my wife got to listen to all this). I had about three weeks where I had to have Nicorette gum. But it wasn’t “hard”. I had DECIDED. Now deciding – oh my GOD was that difficult. I “thought about” quitting for TWENTY NINE YEARS. People who get to my level DECIDE to get to this level. There will be numerous times along the way where it will seem right to “coast” – I did for three years at 60 deals a year, again at 130 deals (2 years there), again at 200 deals a year (3 years at that level). You get the idea. The operative word here is: DRIVE. It isn’t “hard”, it requires drive. The person has to really want it.

What I know now is that every person has a “set point” for just about everything. On any subject there is a certain amount of “X”that is considered “good”. Any amount less than “that amount” is not enough. Any amount over that amount is too much. Although this concept applies to anything; motion, speed, food, sex, free time, affection, etc – I’ll use the example of money. There is a certain amount of savings, for example, that is “right” for a person. Less than that amount and they must get it back up to the correct level. More than that and they feel like they have “a surplus” and will find a way to get rid of it. Same with income – make less than the “right amount” and the person will find a way to get their income back up to that “correct amount”. For some years the amount of money I was “allowed” (by myself) to keep was a minus number. As you can imagine, this made for some very interesting checkbook balancing from time to time. So the first “rule” to know if one intends to change the amount of money they will earn or have would be for the person to change their ideas about “how much they need”. Many people may think of this as “positive thinking” – but it is the VITAL first step and can not be omitted.

Here is a link to a positively wonderful short video that a friend sent to me. It is called 212 degrees. Please turn your sound on and take a few minutes to enjoy it.

There is also a movie out on DVD called “The Secret“. You can watch it on line for about $5 or order the DVD for $30. If you have not experienced it you are missing out on something quite special.

A truly key point is covered in the following, and if you understand and grasp it – you will never see your business potential the same again.

Excerpt from policy letter 28 Aug 1973, Organization Executive Course, Volume 7:


“It is also true that the volume an organization handles is NOT dependent upon public demand. The volume it gets and handles is solely determined by its internal organization. This sounds so strange that many an Executive Director has had great trouble until he believed and and used it. You can always internally shoot the stats up and keep them up. It is THAT, across all divisions, which determines the volume an organization gets and handles. This is sometimes hard to teach people but once they see the results of it they become converts to that principal —- that it is internal, not external actions that determine stats.”

– L. Ron Hubbard

So long as I believed (my first 12 years in real estate) that “the market” had something to do with my income I was like a cork floating in the ocean – my destiny controlled by forces that were – for the most part – completely out of my control. What I know now is that agents who are “geared up” for 50 – 60 deals a year are not going to do much more than that. They may have little spikes up here and there but they will get it “back to normal” quite soon – whatever it takes to accomplish that.

In Gary Keller’s outstanding book, “The Millionaire Real Estate Agent” this (although not stated explicitly like above with the Hubbard quote) is covered in the correct sequence for hiring assistants. Any real estate agent who plans on ever moving past “having a job” into having a business needs to read this book. At least twice.

It is not just the most important book ever written on the subject – it is the only book ever written on the subject. Imagine if you could get author, Michael Gerber, “The E-Myth Revisited” to stop by and write up for you what to do in your business to build it up into a stable operation so you would not ever have a problem that money would solve. The proceeding sentence is my book review for The Millionaire
Real Estate Agent (known to affectionados as the “MREA”).

To get to the next level (life is improved on a gradient) your organization would need to be set up for actually handling the level of business you want to do. This, of course, would include promotion. Advertising and marketing would not be for the level you are doing now – but for the level you plan to do. If, for example, you did not have an assistant (then you factually ARE one) to do “all the little things” for you – the growth ceiling is to some degree set right there.

The MREA, which was on the Business Week best seller list for over a year, features numerous quotes from me and they featured me in the book, along with about a dozen other top agents in the United States. Vice President of Keller Williams International, Dave Jenks, along with a camera crew, flew from Austin to Phoenix and came to my office (currently a building attached to my home) and spent a day here filming me and my staff. It was the first video they ever did of a mega producer. It was and still is used to train KW agents at their KW Mega Camp. Their video production techniques are SO much better now but that crude video is still used today and I get told (by KW agents and brokers) it is still the one they like the most. Why am I telling you this? There are KW agents whose incomes dwarf mine. They have direct access to some of the most successful agents in the world. The year they interviewed me for the book we closed just a bit over 50,000,000 in volume. Respectable, sure. But not amazing “world class”. The year in question was 2001. I wasn’t here much that year. I was diagnosed in July of 2001 with bladder cancer. I had an aggressive stage 3 tumor in the bladder wall. The urologist wanted to (was insisting on) completely removing my bladder and my prostate. The Mayo Clinic would not accept me as a chemo patient – they would only accept me I would agree to have my bladder removed. I decided I would rather not have this body than have that kind of life. I wound up with a nut for my oncologist (her main nurse was an angel), I had a wonderful surgeon – had three surgeries and I spent nine months traveling to Los Angles once a week for Scientology counseling to get rid of the grief and “deathfulness”. I was physically in Phoenix about 3 days a week and with the chemo I could actually do “real work” in my office about 6 -7 hours a week. I was unable to go on listing appointments anymore (I tried it but would space out so much while talking to them it was kind of pointless).

That year we had the best year (at that time) we had ever had. My business went UP with me GONE. As the MREA was all about systems, they liked mine. And there is nothing I do that can not be replicated by anyone who wants to move up. Nothing.

I am totally cancer free – have been “officially” since March of 2002. At the time I even bought myself a Porsche to celebrate (yes, of course it was a 911 convertible. Yes, of course I had to have supercharger added to it later:-).

And I have exactly the same attitude towards helping agents “break through” any barriers they may have between themselves and the success they desire as I do about giving a cancer patient a “lift”. Attitude is EVERYTHING. Everything.

Please read this book:


Shift Happens. Read This Book.

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2008

Shift Front Cover

This is the book I am telling all of my friends in the real estate business to get and read.  It is so well researched that those of you who like statistics will be impressed just with some of the stats.  Those who may have hit a rough patch and found their business in a bit of a skid will find it to be just what the doctor ordered.  Those who are already doing just fine will find a very put together write up of what they are already doing.  I haven’t found anyone doing really well who didn’t find something in this book that they could use.  Now.

You can find it at just about any book store.  Here is a link where you can peek inside and buy it online.  You can see some nice excerpts from it here.  And, if you like, watch a ten minute video on YouTube from Gary’s tour.  The book covers the specific twelve tactics that are needed for survival and success.

The better off and more informed you are the more you will discover things you already "sort of knew".  For example, look over this simple illustration showing seasonal sales cycles in any normal year (a small seasonal shift).  It is part of a page in the book.

Seasonal Sales Cycles

The footnote reads, "Based on a study of over a million closed transactions over a five-year period."  To me, this kind of data is priceless.  I would have no way of ever compiling it on my own and no one else (at least no one I know who is sharing with agents) has it to hand to me.

Another one – this one is the Seasonal Income Cycle.  I wish I had known this sort of thing my first 10 years in the business (the ones where I wasn’t keeping track of my own stats to ever be able to see this sort of thing for myself).  The text above the chart is from a page in the book.

Seasonal Income Cycle

Notice how only about a third of all the months are in the "average" range.  What would you do differently if you knew that about 2/3 of the time the income you were physically receiving was not your average?  It was way above or way below.  Would it change anything for you?

One last one.  The book has simple wisdom like this in great abundance.  This is another one that (at least in my opinion) every agent should have a subjective reality on.

The Three Types of Markets

Do well.  Buy "Shift".  Read it.  Get others to read it.

Do What You Are Doing While You Are Doing It.

Monday, November 24th, 2008


Have you ever had the remarkable pleasure of talking to someone who keeps checking their phone for new text messages while they are talking to you?  Naturally, nothing you are saying could matter quite as much as the next fabulous text message they are pretty sure they are going to receive.

The stupid idea of multitasking has spread throughout our society like a contagious disease.  It isn’t simply a "bad" idea (as in unsafe, rude, counterproductive), it also happens to be physically impossible.

One does not "multitask".  Oh sure, you can think you are multitasking but you are not.  What a "multitasking person" is doing is one of the most inefficient things possible (as far as real work output goes): they are stopping doing one thing and starting another, literally jumping from task to task and back again.  They aren’t really "there" with regard to the other tasks they are "sort of doing".

Almost all truly successful people in just about every profession and activity (sports, business, entertainment, construction – you name it) have ONE thing in common:  THEY DO WHAT THEY ARE DOING WHILE THEY ARE DOING IT.

A common problem for Realtors is they never quite "arrive at work" so can never really take time off either.  When they are "on vacation" they are still working on deals, sending faxes, taking calls – in other words, they simply changed their location but not what they were doing.  I see agents out to dinner and there – sometimes actually on the table – sits their cell phone.  Oh no, can’t take a chance on missing an important call!

If you are an on call medical doctor (or some profession where it really is a matter of life and death) perhaps being interrupted during dinner makes sense.  If you list and sell houses for a living, I don’t get it.

When working, work.  Really work.  When not working, don’t.  Not even a little bit.  BE. HERE. NOW.

Try it sometime.  You just might like it.

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.

A World Champion

Tuesday, August 19th, 2008

A World Champion

He made history.  In the 112 years the Olympics have taken place, Michael Phelps was the first person to ever win 8 gold medals in a single Olympics.  The crowd went wild when he won the 8th but nothing was more remarkable than his 7th win.  He won that one by one one-hundredth of a second.  To me, it looked like the other guy (he has a name but isn’t it interesting from a marketing perspective how it doesn’t just roll off the tongue?), Milorad Cavic actually won.  1/100th of a second difference took 1st place.  That was the difference between Gold and Silver.  The difference between 1st place and last place wasn’t even that great.   Even the slowest guy is a world-class athlete.  So, just a little bit can make a huge difference.

What I found most fascinating was Michael Phelps’ decision prior to the event to win 8 Gold Medals.  He made no secret of the fact that he wanted to do exactly that.  And that is exactly what he did.  It would have been easy to mock him with, "That’s impossible!" prior to the event.  To most people it would have seemed impossible too – just like the goals and dreams they have for themselves.  Why that is just out of reach.  A pipe dream.  There is an aspect of what he did (his 7th Gold Medal) that to me beautifully illustrates the Power of a Decision. 

When a person really decides on something, really decides and strips off all of the "maybe" – with just that clean simple, exact postulate to do "that", it seems as though the physical universe shifts around as needed so as to be in alignment with that postulate.

In the mind, "maybe" is "yes" and "no" fused together.  It is common for a person to have conflicts with regard to what they hope to accomplish.  All of the counter-intention (thoughts that oppose your goals) that a person carries around causes dispersal: where the person will attempt to go in different directions at the same time.  They "do want" and "don’t want" the same goal at the same time.  Every single unresolved problem a person ever had or has – has a "maybe" (yes and no combined) sitting at the base of that problem.  Get rid of the maybe and you just "solved" the problem. 

What is it you secretly dream about doing?  If you knew you would succeed what great thing would you attempt?

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


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:



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:


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.