Archive for December, 2008

What Is a Good Free Gift To Give Them?

Saturday, December 27th, 2008

A follow up email with a question:

You have mentioned to me a couple of months ago on the phone to give 150 people that I know something that would make me go “thanks, that is a cool gift”, and right before I leave turn around and say “oh by the way I am in real estate if you know of any one who wants to buy or sell property, give me a call” (Something around that format). This I idea that I came up with would be giving the a TEN dollar gift card from TIM HORTONS. ( Big Coffee Province loves this coffee) because almost every person in Ontario goes to Tim Horton’s Coffee shop at one time or another.

Do you think that this gift would work for what you are talking about? How do you feel about the amount being spent on the gift or is there a certain amount you should spend?

Do I think it is a good thing to drop off to a hundred people you hardly know? No, not really. Here’s why, first you would – at $10 each – be paying about $1,500Free Gift Inside and a prepaid coffee card would have a very short shelf life.
The list I am talking about is anyone who would recognize you on sight. Not a list of people who have sent you business in the past. For a short list like that, do I think a prepaid coffee card could be a nice thing to give them? Yes, absolutely.

What you are looking for is something that might wind up on their refrigerator or bulletin board. Something that a person might want to keep – someplace they can see it, so they could easily find and and refer to it. Some kind of list. Restaurants, movie theaters, sports events, anything that you would be happy to get. Surveys are the key to stats (what do they really really want?) so normally I would want to find out the answer to that question first. But the person I am “doing the survey” on, in this case, is you. The reason? I want you to feel like it is a good thing when you pop by to drop one off. The entire purpose of this is to get you in front of people. Face to face. They can see you and see that you are a nice, honest person. The list you have compiled and had printed also has your name, number, etc., along with your photo (current only, please). You are reminding these people that you are in the real estate business and a nice person. Your “value proposition” isn’t that you have something free to give them, it is that you are a nice person. If they already have someone they feel “obligated” to they may not be a very good prospect just now. At all. One question that can be asked is, “If you knew someone who wanted to buy or sell real estate do you currently have someone you would refer them to?” You aren’t trying to get anyone to change their mind. You are looking for people who are not “attached” who sort of know you. What you factually would be doing is instead of making cold calls, you would be making warm calls. The dollar value of the handout is very close to zero. The point isn’t to give them a gift, it is to get you face to face with them.

Maybe one of these people you go to see will have a real estate need. Maybe not. But go see a hundred people and you will get enough business to keep you very very busy for quite some time. Variations on this are the primary way most agents get all of their business. The only two ways to get business are marketing or prospecting. If an agent isn’t marketing (translate: spending significant money up front to get business) they are prospecting.

The main thing that “tricks” agents is time. There is a lag of 30 – 90 days from the time you do the effective work and when you get paid. What you do in the next few weeks will determine your income for July. Your April income was most likely determined in January or February. Top agents either have a geographic or a demographic “farm”.

Do not expect or feel disappointed if no instant result. Just go right on popping by and happily seeing people. Don’t stay long. Ever. Leave them wanting more. The cycle is QUANITY, QUALITY, VIABILITY. At this point you are only working on the QUANITY part.

24 Qualities That Geniuses Have In Common

Saturday, December 27th, 2008

I first saw this in 1980. It was first printed in The National Enquirer. Ron Hubbard asked for – and received – permission to reprint it and distribute it. It was always one of my favorite pieces.


The worlds greatest geniuses have all had 24 personality characteristics in common and you can develop the same traits yourself, says an expert.

“Most people have the mistaken idea that geniuses are born, not made”, declared clinical psychologist Dr. Alfred Barrious, founder and director of the Self-Programmed Control Center of Los Angeles and author of the book, Towards Greater Freedom and Happiness.

“But if you look at the lives of the worlds greatest geniuses like Edison, Socrates, DaVinci, Shakespeare, Einstein, you will discover they all had 24 personality characteristics in common.

“These are traits that anyone can develop. It makes no difference how old you are, how much education you have, or what you have accomplished to date. Adopting these personality characteristics enables you to operate on a genius level.”

Here are the Characteristics Dr. Barrios lists, which enable geniuses to come up with and develop new and fruitful ideas:

  1. DRIVE. Geniuses have a strong desire to work hard and long. They’re willing to give all they’ve got to a project. Develop your drive by focusing on your future success, and keep going.
  2. COURAGE. It takes courage to do things others consider impossible. Stop worrying about what people will think if you’re different.
  3. DEVOTION TO GOALS. Geniuses know what they want and go after it. Get control of your life and schedule. Have something specific to accomplish each day.
  4. KNOWLEDGE. Geniuses continually accumulate information. Never go to sleep at night without having learned at least one new thing each day. Read. And question people who know.
  5. HONESTY. Geniuses are frank, forthright and honest. Take the responsibility for thins that go wrong. Be willing to admit, ‘I goofed’ and learned from my mistakes.
  6. OPTIMISM. Geniuses never doubt they will succeed. Deliberately focus your mind on something good coming up.
  7. ABILITY TO JUDGE. Try to understand the facts of a situation before you judge. Evaluate things on an opened minded, unprejudiced basis and be willing to change your mind.
  8. ENTHUSIASM. Geniuses are so excited about what they are doing, it encourages others to cooperate with them. Really believe that things will out well. Don’t hold back.
  9. WILLINGNESS TO TAKE CHANcES. Overcome your fear of failure. You won’t be afraid to take chances once you realize you can learn from your mistakes.
  10. DYNAMIC ENERGY. Don’t sit on your butt waiting for something good to happen. Be determined to make it happen.
  11. ENTERPRISE. Geniuses are opportunity seekers. Be willing to take on jobs others won’t touch. Never be afraid to try the unknown.
  12. PERSUASION. Geniuses know how to motivate people to help them get ahead. You’ll find it easy to be persuasive if you believe in what you’re doing.
  13. OUTGOINGNESS. I’ve found geniuses able to make friends easily and be easy on their friends. Be a ‘booster’ not somebody who puts others down. That attitude will win you many valuable friends.
  14. ABILITY TO COMMUNICATE. Geniuses are generally able to get their ideas across to others. Take every opportunity to explain your ideas to others.
  15. PATIENCE. Be patient with others most of the time, but always be impatient with your self. Expect far more of yourself than others.
  16. PERCEPTION. Geniuses have their mental radar working full time. Think more of others’ needs and wants than you do your own.
  17. PERFECTIONISM. Geniuses cannot tolerate mediocrity, particularly in themselves. Never be easily satisfied with your self. Always strive to do better.
  18. SENSE OF HUMOR. Be willing to laugh at your own expense. Don’t take offense when the joke is on you.
  19. VERSATILITY. The more things you learn to accomplish, the more confidence you will develop. Don’t shy away from new endeavors.
  20. ADAPTABILITY. Being flexible enables you to adapt to changing circumstances readily. Resist doing things the same old way. Be willing to consider new options.
  21. CURIOSITY. An inquisitive, curious mind will help you seek out new information. Don’t be afraid to admit you don’t know it all. Always ask questions about things you don’t understand.
  22. INDIVIDUALISM. Do things the way you think they should be done, without fearing somebody’s disapproval.
  23. IDEALISM. Keep your feet on the ground — but have your head in the clouds. Strive to achieve great things, not just for yourself but for the better of mankind.
  24. IMAGINATION. Geniuses know how to think in new combinations, see things from a different perspective, than anyone else. Unclutter your mental environment to develop this type of imagination. Give yourself time each day to daydream, to fantasize, to drift into a dreamy inner life the way you did as a child.

©1980 National Enquirer/Transworld Features

More on taking listings

Saturday, December 27th, 2008

The issues in your post that really caught my attention were trying to become a lister as a new agent and finding much more early success working with buyers.

As many real estate instructors are failed agents, even the very best of intentions – trying to give new agents the best advice possible, winds up with some “almost useful” info.

Yes, listers last. But if a new agent starts off as a lister (non friends or family appointment) they have just stepped into the ring against a possible heavy weight champion. They then can get the idea that the only way to compete is with a lower commission. (I promise to cover the subject of defending commissions in much more detail in a later post).

But far more important is the prelisting package (EVERY lister MUST have one) and the listing presentation itself.

There is a big difference between working with buyers than in working with sellers: buyers are usually not looking for an agent, they are looking for a house. For example, most people who are going out to buy a car probably wouldn’t be thinking, “gosh, I hope I meet a really nice car salesman today” – they want information and are possibly willing to talk to the salesperson to get it. Initially, buyers for houses aren’t much different. It is the relationship building skills of the agent that makes them successful when working with buyers.

The ability to get and keep customers is the senior skill with both buyers and sellers but the specific skill set is a bit different with each group. Working with buyers is basically relationship-based selling. It is for this reason that a relatively new agent can be perceived by a buyer as being just as desirable to work with as a highly successful veteran agent. What the buyer wants most of all is someone who will be totally honest with them – so getting them to like you and trust you is THE primary thing.

Unlike most buyers, the typical seller IS looking for an agent. However some of them don’t want to have to pay that agent very much, especially if they believe it will sell for the same price and same time frame no matter who sells it. With most sellers your success track record and experience is very relevant.

The three primary things home sellers want (based on actual survey) is the most money in the least time with the least amount of aggravation. A good way to answer their questions would be letting them know that YOU do provide the most money in the least time with the fewest hassles. Getting listings then is PRESENTATION BASED. The skills of relating to people, etc. help – but those skills, by themselves, really aren’t enough to get a LOT of listings, but will work well if you are only going to list close friends, family and strong referrals.

The heart of getting listings is your listing presentation. The three component parts of getting listings are marketing or prospecting; the listing presentation; closing techniques.

The most important one – by far – is the listing presentation. If you have a listing presentation you are proud of, you are willing to get in front of any seller to give that presentation, and would therefore be quite willing to truly market your services or effectively prospect. This would include knowing at least one – three good responses for every possible objection any seller could ever bring up. Making a list of every objection you have ever heard any seller say and then working out responses (or simply learning them) so that you are looking forward to having that objection.

If one isn’t totally willing to prospect or market themselves to sellers they either have no presentation at all or a weak presentation. If they are even needing to use a lot of “closing techniques” they have a poor presentation (and probably no pre-listing package, as well). The time spent learning your scripts and dialogues and developing your listing presentation is time well spent and it is a vital step that must not be omitted if you are to achieve real success as a Lister. This would include deciding well in advance what commission rate you charge and not waiting until a seller surprises you with the question.

The alternative is to not do any of these things and just always be willing to match whatever random low commission rate some other agent is willing to accept – always hoping for the best. Or you can do something about it. Agents who really learn to list can command an income that most people only dream about. The funny thing is it is easy work compared to almost any other part of the real estate business and it also pays the best – but only if one knows their scripts and dialogues and has a good presentation. It may take a few hundred hours of your time to get something totally workable and maybe 1000 hours to become quite proficient but you can start to earn an income from listing immediately.

Are You Hungry?

Saturday, December 27th, 2008

Lisa Nolan writes:

I have acquired a RE license, and am contemplating entering the industry as an agent, and wondering if there is published data anywhere on what production levels/market shares each Real Estate company holds…. I know there are many, many other factors more important than this to take into consideration, but am curious.Thanks for any help,Lisa

There are many local companies around the country (you don’t indicate what part of the country you live in) that enjoy a huge market share – but just in that area their office is located. There are also some regional companies that are quite dominant in their part of the United States. For example, Weichert and Crye-Leike are not well known across the country, but are very well known in the areas they do business.

HungryA relatively small company in Ft. Collins, Colorado, The Group, has the highest average sales per agent, year after year, of any company in the industry. Last I knew, their average number of sales PER AGENT was about 55 deals per year. They have a waiting list to get in and charge a $10,000 (non-refundable) deposit just to join. Their 55 sales per year, per agent, is very high. Coldwell Banker, for example has about 11.5 average sales per year, per agent.

Some companies, Help-U-Sell, for example, don’t promote their individual agent’s stats, working to create a uniform experience for the consumer, regardless of which agent or which office they select.

The number one national company for sales per agent is Re/Max. I remember when they were proud of that number being 23 transactions per year. It got as high as 32 sales per year per agent. I don’t know what it is just now – but would guess it is in the high 20’s. Re/Max has the very best agent to agent referral network in the industry. At one time agents were joining Re/Max by the tens of thousands thinking that being with that company would guarantee them success. When Keller-Williams really started to take off in the agent growth department – they managed to recruit thousands and thousands of agents away from Re/Max – just by offering a better dream. KW got several thousand agents that way just in Atlanta.

So …. which company should you join? I’ve been with the same company for almost 29 years. When I joined them, my “selection process” was to ask the two people I knew best – who were in real estate – which company to join. They were both with John Hall & Associates – so I joined too. Never left, so I am still here. If you are looking for a company to “make you successful”, don’t. You can find failures in almost every real estate company in America. You can find remarkable successes in companies you have probably never heard of. One of the most consistently successful Realtors in the world, Alan Domb, only does business in a few high-rise condos in Philadelphia.

If you truly want success and have that “fire in the belly” that is required to keep going when it is not even a little bit pleasant – it probably won’t matter which company you choose. If you don’t have that “hungry quality”, which company you choose still won’t matter, because no manager in the world can give that to you.

I want a LOT of money – would you tell me how to get it?

Saturday, December 27th, 2008

Late last night I received THIS from a form filled out on my website:

I read about Russell starting Realtor Training, I would like to know if he can set up an automated program for me to follow and use here in Victoria Bc. I sold 11 million dollars worth of real Estate in 2006, I would like to double that over the next 12 months or more. Cheers, hope to hear from you soon!

And this one, where the question is:

I would like to know if anyone has a great listing generation system that works, day in and day out. My goal is to gross $600,000 over the next 12 months. I know this is a big topic. I am keen to to see what you respond with.

Both questions are basically the same – how can I easily NET about 500k a year. Please send me the answer. Thanks!

Free MoneyThere are a number of things you can do to generate leads. The effective things require either your time or your money. For example, I use radio and TV advertising to generate lots of “come list me” calls. It is very expensive. Last year I paid over 600k just for my media ads. You can start with less – when I started, the first year on radio I paid about 20k. The next year about 40k. Geographic farms are a common way to generate leads. Some agents buy them from companies. Working one’s sphere of influence is another common lead generation method – contacting a “known database”. One way or the other you will spend time, money or both to generate leads.

To go big one must do one of these two things: prospect effectively or market yourself effectively. Pick one.

Do I plan to ever attempt to put together some sort of package of “steps” – kind of a one-size-fits-all to provide to other agents? No. You can get one here if you are interested in such useless crap. Is there a way to become really successful in real estate with a small amount of effort? It can look that way sometimes but I don’t believe it ever actually happens.

The component parts of getting listings are:

1. Prospecting OR marketing (or both).

2. The listing presentation

3. Closing techniques

The most important one – by far – is # 2, the presentation. If you have a fantastic presentation you will always be quite willing to prospect and / or market yourself. Any serious unwillingness to prospect or market yourself stems directly from having a weak or non-existent listing presentation. Any agent who needs to rely on “closing techniques” to obtain listings also has a pretty weak presentation.

Is it going to take a long time to get a really good presentation put together? It will take at least 30 presentations just to get your “sea legs”. Agents who only list their friends, family and buyers who already trusted them do not know how to list They think they do and many of the ideas they have formed about “how it is done” will only work well if the seller happens to be a friend, family or a happy buyer. Now if you can generate enough repeat and referral business that you’re satisfied – you’ve got a great job; dealing only with people you like and (relatively) low expenses too. Refining and improving your listing presentation is something that should only stop when you stop. I am still fine tuning ours – and we went on over 1,100 face to face interviews last year (took 612 listings).

Do you need a listing presentation booklet that you leave with them? Yes. Do you need a pre-listing package that they receive prior to your arrival? Yes. Do you need to know multiple answers to every possible objection they might have to listing their property with you? Yes. Do you need to know how to establish the correct selling price of a home and be willing to not take the listing if the seller won’t list it at that price? Yes.

Are there four main and vital points in the paragraph above? Yes. Am I going to address each of those points now? No. But those things are what you need to become skilled at if you want to net a half million a year or more from listing. Life is improved on a gradient – usually a little better then a little better. You can make a wonderful income while you are learning. You can make a lot more once you’ve learned it. What anyone who wants to become a good lister would need to address first is their listing presentation. I believe it is foolish to waste much money on advertising for seller leads before one has learned what to say when the phone rings. If you would be taking that call on your cell phone while you are out showing properties then the calls stand an excellent chance of being butchered even if you knew what to say.

The place to start is to look over what would be your “Ideal Scene”. If you could make your business ANY way you wanted – really – what would it look like? Flesh that out. What would the individual stats be? Not just the gross income but how many closings would you have (your current average price sale), how many listings would it take to get that many closings? What would be your percentage of buyers? What percent would be listings sold? If this seems like too much “work” look over what reasons you have for NOT wanting to achieve it. Get rid of those.

If it seems like I’ve ignored the main questions – I really haven’t. I promise to take up the four main and vital points in our future video and audio that will all be available. But sitting behind any of that making a damn bit of difference would be your complete willingness to create a great listing presentation and to work out the specific details mentioned in the paragraph above.

I Didn’t Like The Question

Saturday, December 27th, 2008

A few weeks ago I was part of a “Surviving In This Market” panel. I have been a part of this sort of thing many times, locally and nationally. A few minutes into questionthe program I found myself irritated at the question being asked. I usually don’t even read the questions provided beforehand as I prefer my responses to be completely unscripted. I think I may have surprised everybody (even myself a little) with my answer to the question asked. There were four other panelists and I was seated at the end of the table, closest to the moderator. The other four panelists had answered the question and I said, “I’m not going to answer the question because I think the question is stupid.” The moderator was a bit shocked. Perhaps you can guess that I seldom concern myself with such concepts as, “If I say this will I be invited back?”. I’m a bit proud of the fact that no one will ever be able to accuse me of being hard to read.

I believe that asking the right question can lead to a correct and useful answer. I also believe that asking the wrong question can be destructive. Just asking a question can cause damage? Absolutely. For example, the question, “What is wrong with me” or any of it’s thousands of variations is never a good question. Never. That doesn’t stop millions of people from walking around and asking this of themselves on a daily basis. They may have varied the question but it is nevertheless that question in one of it’s many guises. How can I improve this situation? How can I make this area better? are not the same sort of question and I hope you can discern the difference. The problem of “What’s wrong with me?” (or any variation) is that one tends to start a list of possible items. Then they can indicate these various items to themselves. They may even “get help” from others who can also indicate their various wrongness to them. Just based on how much this “improvement technique” is practiced in the world today, one could determine how workable a technique it was by how much improvement occurred. Almost none is the correct answer. Almost none.

If a person has disagreements with what they are doing or where they are, they will tend to withdraw and not quite “be there”. Disagreements can stem from something actually being wrong in the environment or the person simply not understanding something they are in contact with. Either way, if a person has disagreements with where they are or what is happening they can be counted on to a greater or lesser degree to not quite be there. They aren’t all in. Being “all in” is pretty much a requisite for success in any area.

The question the moderator asked was, “What market was your favorite market?”

Each panelist answered with some market that existed in the past. The 2005 market, the 2003 market, were both answers to his question. I sat there thinking that until such time that each of the people on the panel (let along all Realtors) could control the market they would be better off not sitting in low volume sorrow wishing for those fabulous good times to return. For those who believe they can control the market, may I suggest that the workability of something like a rain dance may have more to do with the timing of when the dance is being held, rather then the quality of the dancing. How you respond to the market, now that is totally under your control. The statistics you or your organization wind up achieving, again – all directly under your control.

The question basically got each person to look over and find a time they liked better than now. The one and only place the person is (in time) and the moderator was encouraging them all to go into disagreement with it. I didn’t like the question. Imagine driving down a road with potholes and bumps and sharp turns while daydreaming of a nice smooth straight road. Fun, perhaps. Safe? Productive? Not so much.

“Happiness is power and power is being able to do what one is doing when one is doing it.” – L. Ron Hubbard

I Want To Be a Lister – The Listing Presentation

Saturday, December 27th, 2008

A couple of important questions:

Chris writes;

Here is a question, I have never been on a listing presentation, I have not yet taken a listing, and I’m a brand new agent. But I want to be an excellent lister, and I don’t care what amount of effort that takes.Where is a good place to start with a listing presentation? I have Tom Hopkins book, but is there a good up to date one online somewhere? IE “this is an ideal listing presentation from start to finish, these are all the points you need to hit”. I think if I get the bones, I can probably expand on it, change it a bit for me and make it work.The top agent in my city sold 150 houses last year. Figure an average house is $400k around here. She is the top dog, so that’s who I am aiming for lol!

and Scott Cowan writes;

Thank you for the reply. I am looking forward to seeing the videos if you are able to post them online.

I do have a request for a bit more detail about a topic. Currently on BloodhoundBlog you have posted that it is vital to have a really good listing presentation. Currently my listing presentation is nothing more than the research I have completed on the house and the area. I have some local and national statistics that I share. Much to my disappointment (although now that I have been doing much more reading not to my surprise) my success rate is perfect. A perfect 0 for……… Would you be willing to point me in the direction of resources for putting together the really good listing presentation that you have been talking about? I have been reading online and everyone says that theirs is the best etc. I am overwhelmed with the amount of fluff and hype that I am seeing.

Your advice that I have listened to and read has been the most practical of the information available online. I am curious what your thoughts are on a rock solid listing presentation.

Thanks again for being such a valuable resource to the real estate community. I am very grateful to have your articles and interviews to learn from.

First to Chris, I believe that Tom Hopkins was an incredible and entertaining public speaker. I also believe that he sincerely intended to help agents sell. He did help too, but not because of any of the useless gibberish that was in his books. I first heard Tom Hopkins speak around 1979 and he was an inspiration to me. He spoke of keeping a positive mental attitude and getting out there and making sales calls and keeping going despite endless rejection. Almost all of his “sales techniques” however were invented data, crap he just made up, after he left actually selling real estate. For example, he taught that one should always respond to a question with a question: “Does the refrigerator stay?” “Would you want the refrigerator to stay?” “Yes, we would like that.” “Great, I’ll make a note of that here on the paperwork..” and the agent was supposed to start filling out a purchase contract. On every house they showed the buyer. Pretty silly stuff.

As all real estate instructors know, the big money and longevity in the residential real estate business comes from being a lister. And based on this “knowledge” most instructors attempt to get new agents to go list. Which is usually a mistake. Life is improved on a gradient. Taking listings – once you know how – is much easier than working a buyer. But when you haven’t learned either one yet, selling a home to a buyer is a much much better way to get started. The reason is selling homes to buyers is relationship based selling and getting listings is presentation based selling. The difference in the skill level required is due to who is paying you. Regardless of various arguments about how “buyers really pay the commission”, buyers don’t think they do. Sellers do think they are paying the commission. Buyers are looking for a house – NOT an agent. Of course, there are exceptions to this statement but if you are new, pretend there are not any exceptions. As most buyers were not looking for an agent but only looking for a house, a new agent offering to show them houses, get them pre-qualified, send them lists of homes new on the market, etc. is just as good an offer from their point of view as if an award winning veteran agent with loads of experience made the same statement. If this were not true, new agents would never make it out of the starting gate. But it is true. If you are new, that doesn’t make you less valuable to the average buyer. Have a lock box key, a car, access to the MLS and some time – you’re their guy.

Most sellers don’t see it that way. Now if you know the person or just sold them a house or some other relationship (referral, etc), so that your relationship skills can come into play, you can sometimes get around this view of the seller. Most agents who do get around it often also tend to get “ruined” as listers as they now think they know how to list.

If you were charging 6% on a $300,000 home sale (split 3% to each broker) that is a total fee to the seller of $18,000. If you were in competition for the listing (and if you think about it, you are almost always in competition – even if they never interviewed any other agent) you better have something better to say than, “I’ll put it in MLS and also have a really nice looking yard sign installed”. There are hundreds of thousands of Realtors whose “listing presentation” is not much more than saying that. Oh yes, they also do a “CMA”. But most sellers won’t agree to pay you 6% if you come empty handed like that.

So, two things, Chris: one is you don’t need to aim FOR the top agent – use that type of aim. Aim for the top. There is enough business in your community for you and her to both sell 150 – 200 houses every year. Two, the best place to start is the easy place – with a buyer. Go sell 10 – 12 homes to buyers. Get the feel of how a deal goes together. Learn the streets in your town. Find out (by physically seeing them) what different houses cost. Learn to spot the difference between a really well-priced property and an over-priced one. Learn what buyers will respond to and develop a sense of rhythm in talking to people about real estate. It will take you about a dozen sales to accomplish these things, so you get your “sea legs”. You will most likely just fall into a couple of listings doing this and that is fine. But what you really need to do now is NOT learn to list, you need to learn to sell homes to buyers first. Then spend every waking moment you aren’t with a buyer working on your listing presentation. But get the above stuff under your belt first.

Scott, if you are looking for a resource center, Starpower has a great one. You have to register but it is free. Loads of stuff there. There is a great pre-listing package also at Starpower, I think it is about $300. You will likely only use it once or twice so you might consider sharing it with a friend. You are welcome to use any of the ideas (actually anything but the name, No Hassle Listing) from my pre-listing package, and you can download it here. No, I didn’t misunderstand your question, you were asking about a LISTING PRESENTATION not a pre-listing package. There are NO good presentation packages out there. None. Never have been, never will be. I will give you mine if you want it but it won’t help you. Anybody selling a “listing presentation package” is pretty much selling crap. Why? Well your listing presentation is your listing presentation. You can get a LOT of really good ideas and download some stuff that you can put in your listing presentation – but it will be you deciding what goes in and what stays out. It is YOURS.

I believe that the most important thing you can buy to help you become a competent lister is a binding machine. I strongly prefer the plastic comb type. I recommend not using the spiral binder and emphatically say do not use the thermal binders. You want something that you can add a plastic cover to (for the front) and some colored card stock (probably a light grey) for the back cover. The front page needs to have the seller’s name, as in Prepared Especially for Scott & Sally Cowan. It must be able to LIE FLAT on their table. This rules out the thermal binders and if they have a high gloss wood table I think it should rule out the spiral metal binder, as well. You may need to be able to slide the booklet back and forth between two sellers (like a husband and wife) and don’t want to scratch their table.

When you are getting started your pre-listing package can be the same as your listing presentation package. As you develop, you will make them into two different things. The specific reasons I strongly suggest a comb binder are you need to get something in writing to take in to give to them. We live in a society that has an unwritten rule that “if it is not written it is not true“. People are much more likely to believe statements that are printed rather than just something you say. So it is a must that all of your important points be in writing. Then there is the issue of WHAT you put in writing. If you can afford a good color printer get one. The best (in terms of cost per page and speed) is the Xerox 8560 series. The specific model we use is the 8560DN. It prints on both sides, full duplex printing. I suggest you also upgrade to the 3 year on site warrenty. That is about $500. You will get that back many times over. If you can not afford a color printer design (or have designed) a page that has a photo of you holding a sold sign or a photo of your sign with a sold rider, like this: smaller SOLD SIGN

But get something with color professionally printed that you can then use for most every page of your presentation. You can use some simple program like Microsoft Publisher to layout the various pages. All of that can be in black and white. But every page has color! I’ve even seen it all done (quite well, too) in Word. All of the printing is done on a regular laser printer but looks like it was all custom made for them. If you know how to write a macro in Word you can have their name appear at the top of each page and in a larger font on the front page.

The main reason that you want a plastic comb binder for both your pre-listing package and your listing presentation is that if you (when you are starting) were to have a pre-listing package designed, printed and bound (like mine is now – done with a saddle stitch) you will be sorry. Real sorry. If you only have a few printed, you pay way too much per copy. If you get enough printed that you get your cost per copy down then you will wish the hell you had not ordered so many. In fact, within ten days of getting them back from the printer you will already be thinking of things you wished you would have changed. If you have a comb binder, those changes are easy. As you progress you will be finding new and better statements to put in your listing presentation. For some years, you will find ways to improve it, so it is wise to get a “doughnut” type design with your name, company name printed in color and then you can put whatever you like on the individual pages using Word and your regular black and white laser printer.

Now, what actually should go into your presentation package? What are you going to do? What will you promise to NOT do? What are you going to cover during the presentation? I will cover the actual presentation steps (in the home) in far more detail in a later post. But will cover now these vital parts: you have a pre-listing package you have sent them or delivered to them. You have used a seller interview questionnaire prior to booking the appointment. You arrive on time. If you are man, under the age of 50, you wear a shirt and tie. (I won’t presume to tell women how to dress – other than to say it would be the equivalent of a shirt and tie). You are there to apply for a job. It is a job interview. It is showtime.

Once you enter the house you find the kitchen or dining room table. You do NOT permit yourself to be seated in the living room. The only exceptions to this are if the seller is physically blind or very elderly. Otherwise you are AT the table. Period. You pick where you will sit. You must sit so you can see both of them at the same time without turning your head back and forth. You would not then allow yourself to be seated in the middle of a long table with one of them at each end. If you need to sit where one of them usually sits or get them to move stuff or clean off the table, you do that. Once you’ve picked where you will sit you put your briefcase in that chair and then ask if you may see the house.

Go through the house. Every room. Listen to whatever they want to tell you about how fantastic the house is – acknowledge what they have to say so they can tell you got it. If you have not seen the house and sit at the table it won’t matter what you say when you tell them what it is worth, they will say, “But you haven’t even seen our home”. So see it. First. Seeing the house is step one.

Step two is back at the table. You cover all of the reasons they should hire you. You do not discuss price or anything about the price of the home. You cover your commission, what you will do, not do, etc. to market their home. Here is where the presentation package comes in. It has, in writing, every major point you are going to cover. You turn the pages as you go. So for the quick decision types (DISC system, high D) you can skip all the stuff they won’t care about. For the DISC system, high S, you can linger on the photos of your title person or loan officer or your own photo. For the high C, you can go over every word on every page. What is on those pages is what you want there. Are you going to do open houses? If so, put it there. We promise in our presentation to never do open houses. It is in writing. You put what you will charge, the specific terms, basically the answers to all of the questions someone might ask if they were going to decide yes or no to hire you, based on what they saw in in writing. This should be 3 – 6 pages, if in a large font.

Step three is where price is discussed. You now show them all of the relevant listings in their area. Active, pending, expired, canceled and sold. I want to see a one-line print out on top (one for me and one for them, which is the last page in their presentation package). My copy has the one-line version on top and then has stapled to it the full (broker version) print outs of each listing. I can then go to the full print out of the ones that are important enough to talk about. But first I want to see – at a glance – the supply and demand (the current absorption rate) for their neighborhood. There is lots of very complicated math you can do (and some complicated people will tell you you need to do the complicated math) to get the current absorption rate. Here is a simple way, anyone can learn to do in a few minutes: count the number of active listings. Count the number of closed sales for the past six months. Always use 6 months. Not less, not more. That is how far back an appraiser will go too. To make this easy, lets say that 6 sales occurred in the past 6 months. If you had 3 homes for sale you have a 90 day supply. One home for sale would be a 30 day supply. Eight homes for sale would be a 8 month supply. 30 day supply = extreme upward pressure on prices. 90 – 100 day supply = gentle and slight upward pressure on prices. 6 – 8 month supply = flat to declining prices. You can also have a list of all of the active listings from a broader area (like an agent looking for a home for buyer would use – a search area large like that) as that is their real competition.

Step zero. This is before you even go – you have the viewpoint that if they won’t list it at a price you can sell it at you are not going to take the listing.

Again, step 1 – see the house, step 2, why should they list with you, step 3, the relevant listings. You’ve usually made the sale or not during step 2. Lots of agents skip most of step 2 and make the sale on step 3. Those are called overpriced listings. :-)

I Want To Be A Lister – The Listing Presentation – The Objections

Saturday, December 27th, 2008

An expert is a person who has made all the mistakes that can be made in a very narrow field.

– Niels Bohr, Danish physicist and Nobel Prize winner

Here is part 1 of The Listing Presentation. Anyone wanting to increase their listing skills will likely find time spent on this post Money Down The Drainand that first post time well spent. I have mentioned the short list of different things a seller might say (or objections they might have to listing) to you. All good listers know these objections and are not startled or thrown off by the seller bringing them up. In fact, great listers know the objections so well that they want the seller to bring them up and if the seller does not bring them up the agent will bring them up. That’s correct. If you already know what they are thinking, why not just address it before they even mention it? It is usually fun to hit a softball when it is a slow underhand pitch.

As the nature of the objections has never really changed it is really sort of silly for any agent wanting to take a lot of listings to not know – in advance – that these are the concerns of the seller. I know that the internet and these new-brand-new-all-new-discount-really-really-low-maybe-even-no-commission companies have changed the very nature of life on earth, as we know it – but I am pretty sure the main objections that you could hear from a home seller back in 1968 were still the same in 1978.  They are still the same in 2008. I am thinking they may be still quite similar in 2048. Just a guess, but if you are planning on sticking around in this business for a while, perhaps it might be a good idea to know how you are going to respond when they bring these up.

As a really humorous aside, there were also discount companies in 1978 that would list and sell homes for practically nothing. Those companies too were going to change the very nature of how real estate was done. Life just wouldn’t be the same anymore after consumers found out about the existence of those lower cost companies. No one was ever going to pay 6 or 7 % again. Not now, not with them here. Those companies expanded and prospered during the hot seller’s markets and then went broke and shut down completely during the later, much longer buyer’s market. Just like now. If you’re young enough you will get to see this again a few more times before you retire.

I believe that almost all long-term successful residential Realtors in the English speaking world have a listings based business. The three component parts of getting listings are: 1. effectively market oneself or effectively prospect for customers (note: these are the only two methods of getting customers – so get good at one or both). 2., The listing presentation. 3., Closing techniques. I believe that any agent who relies on closing techniques has a crappy or non-existent listing presentation.  I also believe that any agent who will not effectively market themselves or effectively prospect for sellers has a crappy or non-existent listing presentation. This stuff is simple to learn. No heavy lifting. None.

As I was preparing to write this post I received an email from Starpower that had some wonderful material on developing a highly successful listing based business. It is from Larry Kendall. I am including the part from Larry Kendall here in here in its entirety, as point 15, A through E covers the five most common objections a seller will have to listing. To become a great lister pay extra special attention to points 12 – 15.


Star Larry Kendall of The Group, Inc. in Ft. Collins,CO offers a time-tested list of 21 questions to ask yourself to determine whether your business truly operates as a business. He suggests that you read all of them and select one to focus on each week.

  1. Your Database. Do you have an operational database of names, addresses, phone numbers and information about your clients readily available at your desk? Do you have a mobile and perhaps condensed version of it for when you are away?
  2. Hour of Power. Do you have scheduled time that you block out from all other activities in which you communicate with your clients/friends without interruption? Do you do this consistently? Do you meet with your clients once a year for a review of their real estate?
  3. Lead-Generation Systems. Do you have systems in place for generating a continuous flow of buyers and sellers? Are you at the cause of what is happening or the effect of what is happening?
  4. Routines and Rituals. Do you have routines that keep you in balance and rituals that help you perform at your best?
  5. Standardized Letters and Forms. Are your most common letters and forms standardized or do you take the time to create an original every time you communicate with someone?
  6. Using MLS. Do you know how to use the Multiple Listing Service and CountyRecords to do an accurate Comparative Market Analysis?
  7. CMA Presentation. Do you have a professional-looking CMA presentation? Have you trained a team member how to put this together (order of pages etc…) in a bound book perhaps, for easy and fast generation?
  8. Working with a Builder. Do you have a system for coaching your builder? Do you have a sound marketing plan?
  9. Finances. Is your financial house in order so you are not distracted? Do you have a set of books that you review regularly so you know if your business is profitable? Are your taxes paid? Do you have a “feel-good” account? Do you have wealth creation on automatic pilot?
  10. Goals and a Business Plan. Do you have clearly written goals and a formal business plan? Do you specifically know where your business comes from? Do you have a plan to build a business based on customer satisfaction and referrals? Do you have a long-term career plan?
  11. Buyer Call-In Sheet. Do you have a buyer call-in sheet and a buyer packet readily available?
  12. Pre-Listing Interview Form. Do you have a pre-listing interview for near each phone?
  13. Pre-Listing Book. Do you have an updated, professional-looking pre-listing book? Do you use it?
  14. Listing Presentation. Do you have a powerful listing presentation that:
    • a. Clearly shows your customers the odds of selling their home?
    • b. Explains how to price their home to sell – and sell quickly?
    • c. Differentiates you from the competition?
    • d. Demonstrates how you add value to the seller?
    • e. Offers at least five benefits that you and your company provide sellers that your competitors do not?
  15. Objection-Handling. Are you prepared to answer the five most common objections to listing? Are you prepared with facts, dialogues, visual aids, stories and research?
    • a. Need more money.
    • b. Commission is too high.
    • c. Do not want to be tied down – maximum of 30-day list period.
    • d. Another agent said he/she could get more.
    • e. We are in no hurry to sell.
  16. Pricing and Staging Videos. Do you have effective pricing and staging videos?
  17. Marketing Plan. Do you have a well thought-out marketing plan and a checklist for your listings?
  18. Impact Opening. Do you have a great opening (your starting script for opening your listing presentation) that:
    • 1. Engages the seller?
    • 2. Makes them like you?
    • 3. Has a bonding statement and/or question?
    • 4. Includes a value statement?
  19. Mind-set. Do you have dialogues and visual aids to help shift a seller from a “price-shopping” mind-set to a “results-shopping” mind-set?
  20. Buyer Packages. Do you have several Relocation Packages and Buyer Packages at your desk so that they are easily accessible when you need them?
  21. Product, Market and Competition. How well do you know your product, your market and your competition? Do you know these three better than your customers and competitors?


I know you were wanting me to tell you the “correct answers” to 15, a – e. I don’t mind giving you some scripts but I really believe that any answers you find elsewhere will have far more value if you have personally thought the questions all the way through for yourself. What seems to make the most sense to say? Why? If you were the seller would it impress you? Why? (hint: the correct answer is seldom going to be, “I really want the commission”)

What Do I Do Now?

Saturday, December 27th, 2008

Below are two emails I’ve received in the past week. One is from a successful veteran agent in Texas and the other is from a young man from Canada in the business just over a year. Their stories are a bit different but my response is going to be the same to both.


From the veteran agent:

I just wanted to say Hi and wondered how things are going in your market?

Our market has seemed to turn into a foreclosure market and a significant chunk has come from that direction! 90% of listings are over-priced…but one story homes and REALLY nice homes are selling.

Interest rates are causing the market to fluctuate…and the stock market seems to be doing the same thing.

At best my business is breaking even after paying me and my wife’s salary of $200k a year….which I guess is good. If things continue then my profitability will have dropped over 50% this year. We generally NET $420,000 -$470,000 per year on sales of 1 Million.


Much longer when from the new agent:

Hi Russell,

Thank you for returning my call and giving me the correct email address. I have a lot on my mind with this career called real estate and I need a real person who understands the psychology of the business and who can point me in the right direction. With your proven track record I know I can use what you have already applied and take it to the next level, because the company I work and the broker’s are not seeing the big picture that I am seeing and it is a little frustrating. There are great trainers say that “if you want something go out and find people that is doing what you want to be doing, and start to do what they do on a regular basis”.

Just to give you a little bit about me and to get you up to speed on where I am at in my career, and what I am looking to accomplish. I have been in Real estate for a little over a year and my first year Gross sales were $75,000. My Business came from 3 Open Houses, 1 Cold Call, 1 Referral, 1 Agent Duty walk-in ( BUY & SELL ),1 Call Sign, 2 Family Referrals. I started Late February 2007. I was told through my office in June 2007 I was recommended to take a course called the Leader’s Choice Program ( Which is a cold calling course) and I did enjoy the program and I start to do what they program said to do was pick up the phone and call. Since then I have been studying this program for the last seven months and I know the dialogue in and out. I am actively on the phone prospecting, calling FSBO’s but I am not seeing that I am getting anywhere. I know that you don’t get excited about Tommy Hopkins or the man with the last name Ferry and they sound like a sleazy salesman, and these scripted sales people almost always talk to much and not focused on what the customer wants. I figured that if I talk to enough people someone’s is going to say ”yes! Come list my house tonight.” Now after month of prospecting on the phone and going on listing appointments, and getting belly to belly and talking with potential clients it seem likes no one is selling anything at all! Or I am just a really bad real estate agent. It seems to be turning into a buyer’s market in Canada because “Cautious Canadians” are worried about the American Housing market, but at the end of the day someone is going to sell something, and I just can not get them. So I come to you to see how I can turn this around.

I am always constantly looking for ways that successful agents have used to get the results that they have, and use it to get results that I want. I while ago my partner that I work with he told me about BloodhoundBlog and told me there was some valuable information that we could use. So I started watching your pod cast and you started to talk about numerous things that I started to try right away. I even wrote the notes that you put on the board so I could see exactly what you were speaking about at the time.

There was one presentation that you did for conference call talking about how you use the internet to generate leads, and also #1expert and how it all work to get buyers to you see your listings and then buy your listings. After seeing the presentation at my office with my partner I look in to how I could control the buyer on the website. So I fixed my website to capture leads and I started a home buying program called I now needed the internet traffic to get there so I went a head to GOOGLE and set up ad campaigns. I had no idea how to do this but I set them up and started to get pay-per-click on my website.( Which was expensive!) I know you said on one of you pod cast that to generate more business you need more leads. You need 6x the amount of leads coming in.  I set it up with the budget for online advertisings and start to put my listings on free websites to trying to get more leads. After I you mentioned to get more business to pick up the phone. So I started to pick up the phone and prospect for people who wanted to sell their house today. If I got the right price and the right terms I would take the listings, because I am better off playing cards or doing something I love then having an over priced listing. After months of Cold calling and changing my listing presentation to the supply and demand and showing how we get the property sold by using the internet I am still at the same spot 2 current listings as of right now. I am doing a deal every 5 weeks on average. I am so focused on getting business there seem to be none coming in.

I want to become the next Russell Shaw in Canada , and I am committed to becoming the best, and the only way to become the best or the most recognized in the province of Ontario Canada is to work with the best. I will be attending this year STAR POWER in Orlando and will be talking to some of the leading experts, however July is too far away and I need to do something right now.

You have mentioned to me a couple of month ago on the phone to give 150 people that I know something that would make me go “thanks, that is a cool gift”, and right before I leave turn around and say “oh by the way I am in real estate if you know of any one looking to buy or sell, give me a call” (Something around that format).This I idea that I came up with would be giving the a TEN dollar gift card from TIM HORTONS. ( Big Coffee Province loves this coffee) because almost every person in Ontario go to Tim Horton’s Coffee shop at one time or another. Do you think that this gift would work for what you are talking about? How do you feel about the amount being spent on the gift or is there a certain amount you should spend?

The Next question that I have is do you use a canned listing presentation, do you have a process from start to finish during the listings presentation that you use, and what is in your listings presentation? (Could you forward me your listing presentation so I could see it)

What is the best ways to really isolate the buyers on the internet?

Is there internet tool such as Programs, companies, Website Designers, Ad Words campaigns, that I should use or anything else that would work for this effect to capture more leads?

What should I be doing different to get better results? My brokers say I am too hard on the phone only because she thinks that I “always trying to close people” however she doesn’t hear how the conversation is going. She told me she doesn’t like to be cold called so that is why I think she is saying these things.

I am working so hard to work my way up to become the best and the vision I have for the future is bigger then what 98% of what my office thinks they can accomplish. It’s like I work with people that are not that inspiring or motivated to be come there best and that there is always a excuse for something, and I think differently. I know that I can become the Next (YOU) Russell Shaw and that I can one day share my story with STAR POWER and be the one of the leading experts in real estate in Canada.

All I need is a mentor to help me along this journey, and I ask for your help. Will you guide me through this journey?

I am committed to becoming a leader in the industry and I will fly from Toronto to Arizona to meet you in person and discuss what my inspirations are for my future and then there you could make a decision if you could assist me. I promise you one thing that if you take time to meet me I am 100% committed to becoming a Leader.

Look forward to hearing from You!


As you are both with KW, I will start by pointing out something I learned from Gary Keller: your goal would not be to have a good year but to have a great career. There is no one in real estate who didn’t get a big whack by the market this last year. No one. Many companies have gone completely out of business and shut their doors. National discount companies that have not gone completely out of business have had hundreds of their offices shut down completely. Nationally, several hundred thousand agents have dropped their membership in in their local, state associations and the NAR. They are no longer in the business at all. And this does not take into consideration the 1/3 of the members of any given MLS across the country that sell nothing in a year. Read that again. One third of all of the members of the NAR have NO sales in any year. It isn’t always the same 1/3 but the 1/3 is pretty much a constant. This includes “good years”. No sales. The fact that you have survived says something about you. You are still in the game.

So you made less. So did I, about 400k less. My gross and net income was down just a bit over $400,000. I am not saying this to get sympathy nor am I going to feel sorry for you. The company I am with has lost almost 150 agents. They had almost 900 and now are down to about 750 agents. There has simply been less business to go around in 2007 than there was in 2006. My fixed (hard costs) overhead is well over 110k a month. Any month I get less than 110k in net commissions (my share) we are paying for the privilege of being in business. In the 4th quarter (and therefore my first quarter earnings are down, as well) we were grossing around 30 – 35k a month in commission income. We were paying 75 – 80k a month to get to sell real estate.

Oh it’s fun, but not so much fun that anyone would want to keep doing it for long if that part wasn’t going to change.

So what to do? Lets start with attitude. Ignore anyone who says or (even worse, without saying) gets you thinking you aren’t going to come out of this just fine. Do whatever is necessary to get that kind of crap out of your head and straighten out, blunt or cut any communication line that has you “wondering”. It isn’t that all of those people have it in for you but as they themselves are failing, it just wouldn’t be “right” for you to do real well. Anyone spewing failure, succumb or any of that stuff in all of its various guises can be safely ignored. Whatever the activity, if you don’t feel “more up” as a result of doing it or being there, stop it. Real estate offices can be a giant cesspool of contaminating failure. Stop watching the news and stop reading it in the papers. If there is something vital you won’t be able to stop hearing about it anyway.  People, places, things and activities that make you happy – do them. A lot. Every day do something just for you.

Production is the basis of morale. You want to have a high morale? Produce. Find a statistic that you can control. That is vital. Find something that can be measured (number of new contacts, for example) that you can control. Every day work on getting that stat up. Do not focus on the deals or listings you don’t have, focus on that stat. From the Bible, it is Leads, Listings, Leverage. Right now you are only working on leads. Cut out all “lead generating activities” that cost money that are not productive. If it works, keep it in. If not, change the “button” and make it work or get rid of it. You are in the lead generation business. You have no other job.

See yourself achieving your goals. Work out specific affirmations. Lots of them. Send them to me. I will do a quality control on them for you. Make them specific and always “positive” and always “now”. Go to Tips for Success and read the articles. Read a new one every day.

Anything that works for you is “good”. Anything that does not is “bad”. This includes Mike Ferry or Tom Hopkins. I learned many things from both of them. Take whatever you need from wherever it is workable for you. It makes no difference what I don’t “like” or what anyone else does not “like”. What is works for you? This includes your broker and anyone else in your office or anywhere else.

ALL of your “problems” stem directly and only from “maybe”. There are three possible answers: Yes, No & Maybe. The problem is always the maybe. Get rid of maybe. Yes or no. In or out. Are you a Realtor? Are you going to survive quite well, regardless of “market conditions”? Well, are you?

It makes no difference what has happened. That is the past. Live in the future. Create it.


The Seller HAS a Problem and Then BECOMES One

Thursday, December 18th, 2008


The seller has a problem.  They have a house they want to sell and need to sell it at a certain price.  They hire an agent who takes on the task of selling the home.

"Maybe if you had more open houses?"

"Have you thought about running an ad in the Wall Street Journal?"

"There are a lot of people from California with money because the prices are so high there.  Run an ad in the L.A. Times."

"If you go to (large local employer) you can put a notice on their bulletin board about the house."

This is just a partial list.  The limits of the list are only the limits of the seller’s imagination.  There are hundreds and hundreds of these great ideas for getting the house sold.  Sometimes agents try them all (one at a time, of course).    Usually, the agent notices that it didn’t work.  But for some strange reason this does not prevent the agent from attempting the very same science fair project again at a later time, and surprise: they get the exact same results they did the first time.

Walking through the office about 15 years ago a very nice agent asked me if I would go in with her on running an ad in one of the picture magazines.  She didn’t want to buy the whole page herself and was looking for a couple of other agents to put one of their houses in the ad, in order to defray the cost of the ad.  I asked her why she was running the ad and her answer was, "To make the seller happy".  I asked her if she believed that running an ad in the picture magazine was very likely to sell the house.  Her answer was no, she did not think it would even help sell the house.  I told her I did not ever run ads on homes because they did not make any difference in getting the home sold.  She agreed with me.  But she still ran the ad.

It was easier for her to run that ad than it was to tell her seller the truth.  My answer to sellers on that issue is, "If an ad in the paper or some magazine was going to sell their home they don’t need an agent.  They could just run the ad themselves and save the commission."  That’s the truth.

From Anne:

ok, so if I may start my question asking. My goal is to get seller’s to stop getting so addicted to my marketing efforts and more focused on price. I feel my current listing presentation does a pretty good job (although now after star power I’m going to make it even better) as some are well trained while others act like cocaine addicts and can’t get enough of my open houses and are always calling me with new ideas to get "exposure" to their potential buyer and crap like that. Some of them I flat out tell them no and others I feel so sorry for because they are seriously in trouble if they can’t sell financially. How do I handle this? any thoughts?

Yes.  Get a subjective reality on what does and does not cause houses to sell.  Get rid of all of the little points of "reasonableness" on this subject.  The "unsolvable problem" does not exist in the mind of the seller.  I do understand that it seems like it does.  It exists in your mind.  You do not have certainty that what you are doing is enough.  There is some nagging doubt that there is "something" you aren’t doing that you "ought to do".  This point alone opens the door to all sorts of nonsense (the not very fun kind of nonsense).

If you believed that running those ads or holding those open houses (or whatever "exposure" you or they could dream up) was going to cause the house to sell, you would be doing them.  You wouldn’t need any sales pitch or prodding.  You would just do them.  There are two factors here: what works for you and what you "like" to do.  Open houses can work.  I don’t like them.  Therefore I don’t do them.  This is not a statement that others should not do them or that someone who does not know how to correctly hold a house open should not learn how to do it. 

I believe that if you re-read the first paragraph after your question and wanted a simple answer to what caused a home to sell (assuming the usual is already being done) you will come to realize what you already know: price.