Archive for June, 2008

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



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.

The 100 Days Trick

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2008

100 Days Trick 

I have seen the future and it is a lot like the past, only longer.  There is a "trick" that time plays on people.  For most working Realtors the trick that time plays is about 100 days.

In this business, it takes about 100 days from the time you do the things that matter until you get paid.  What you did or didn’t do (Dollar Productive Activities) in March will determine how much income you receive in June.  This lag in time contributes to many agents failure to realize that they personally control their income.  But there is a time lag.  This isn’t to suggest that if you were hit by some natural disaster that you won’t be effected – you will.  I have a Realtor friend in Biloxi, Mississippi whose entire office was physically under water after Katrina hit.  That can kind of wreck your day.  Another friend of mine, a top ERA agent, who woke up to find that every open escrow and every listing she had was just gone or under water.  No surprise, those escrows didn’t close.  I am not suggesting that these things don’t matter or can’t cause quite an effect, at least a temporary one.  But those agents – both winners – bounced back.

Over the years, sometimes you catch a buyer at just the right time or happen across a seller who wants to list immediately and as luck would have it, you wind up with an escrow in just a few weeks from the time you first made contact.  Because it is so easy to to remember when you connected with them it is common for an agent to wind up with a very false picture regarding how long it takes to get business and get paid.  It is very seldom just a few weeks.  Very rare, indeed.  It is usually about 80 to 110 days – about 100 days.  Don’t depend on luck.  If you were to actually do the things this month that really matter (not the pointless, silly and non-productive actions that are so "important") like working directly on Lead Generation, Lead Conversion and Listing Appointments – your income this next September could be your highest ever.

I swear this isn’t some trick I’m trying to play on you.