Archive for July, 2008

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.

How High and How Low Can Your Commission Go?

Monday, July 7th, 2008

how high - how low

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, July 6th, 2008

Churchill Quote 

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

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

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

How do they do it?

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

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

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