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The Highs and Lows of Being a Real Estate Agent

The last two days have been a whirlwind.  I have been juggling a few different clients and quite a lot has happened in such a small span of time.  To break it down, the last two days have been the greatest of moments and the worst of moments.

I have been working with a great couple.  They are wonderful to deal with and make my job really enjoyable.  They have trusted my opinions on what will help the house look its best and what price would be appropriate to list the home for.  We’ve had great communication with each other and the whole process has just been extremely pleasant.

I listed the home on Monday.  I had just finished the paperwork and put the information on the MLS to advertise it was for sale.  Within ten minutes of the home being placed online, a call came in from a realtor looking to schedule an appointment for later that day.  A few moments later, another call came in to view the property.  It felt good to hear that there was an immediate interest in the home.

Three hours after putting the listing online, an offer came in.  It was a cash offer and $5,000 over listing price.  It was the craziest experience I have had so far.  I called the owners and they were thrilled.  Needless to say, papers were signed, there is an inspection scheduled, and we should be closing in two weeks.  It was incredible.

During this same time frame, I had a client looking to rent a home.  They had submitted their information, and the owner agreed to lease to them.

To backtrack a moment, I have had an uneasy feeling about this client from the beginning.  They were 25 minutes late to their first appointment.  The second time I took them out, they were 15 minutes late to the first home.  We went to another home afterwards which was 5 minutes away, and it took them 20 minutes to get there.  Apparently they got lost.

When they found the home they wanted to lease, they dragged their feet getting all of the paperwork in.  I got 14 emails in an hour span dissecting the lease and making complaints such as that they had to pay a fee for a cashier’s check.  They were originally going to sign the lease within a day after they had someone look over the lease.  Then it was stalled with them stating they would sign at the end of the week (6 days later).

I explained that there wasn’t a contract in place yet and that the owner could go with another renter if they were slow to act.  I got an email back stating that the lease would be signed and handed in the next day.  Two hours later, I received an email stating they weren’t interested after all.

When you are in real estate, you will have the amazing moments and the annoying ones.  In the case of the lease, I felt horrible for the other realtor as though I had been the one jerking them around.  I felt even worse for the homeowner who had trusted the process and pulled the listing from the market.

This is what working as a real estate agent is really like.  Some moments will be really great, and some moments will make you want to pull your hair out.  You really do have to be a people person to enjoy this career.  You also have to have a thick skin.  This is the part I am still working on.  I’ll put my heart and soul into helping someone out, and if the deal goes bad, I take it personally.  I know it’s just business and that you never can tell what situations a person might be experiencing to react in the manner in which they do.

I truly believe that this is a great career for character building, patience and learning to roll with the punches.  I honestly am willing to endure a few bad moments, because the good moments tend to happen more often and it really is so worthwhile to invest in.

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Posted by on November 14, 2012 in business, career planning, personal

 

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The Psychology of the Client

Not too long ago I was working with a family who was looking for a home to rent.  I understand making sure you have the perfect home to buy.  Possibly going round and round comparing different homes to make triple sure that the home will make you happy for years to come.  I never realized that people might get this wrapped up in a rental that they could walk away from in as little as 6 months.

Look, for those of you who are looking to make real estate your career, rentals are time-consuming and will not make you any money.  The way a rental works for your commission is one months rent is divided between you and the other realtor.  On top of that, it is divided again between you and the company you work for.  When all is said and done, you might walk away with $200.  When you figure the amount of time it took to look at homes and the miles on your car and the gas, it really is a losing proposition.

The way I choose to look at rentals is that there are many people in bad situations who need to get back on their feet.  Helping them out makes me feel good.  Another thing to keep in mind is that some day they might want to buy a home.  If you clicked with your client, the possibility that they will call you again is good.  All in all, it’s about looking at yourself and deciding how you want to promote yourself.  Do you want to be seen as someone who puts people before the money?  Or, do you want to be seen as a person who is all about the money and the people don’t matter?

Back to my story.  So this family has looked at 12 properties at least in a three week time span.  The third home they saw they liked enough to put in their paperwork and see if they would get approved.  Not only did they get approved, but the owner of the property was willing to make some major adjustments for their comfort.  Example, they were willing to paint the rooms colors that the family would find to their liking (currently the walls in the entire home are white).

Well, for some reason after getting everything that they had asked for, it was almost like they couldn’t believe their luck and had to test it.  They became determined to see ever property possible before the day we had scheduled for the owner and renter to finalize the paperwork.  It got so out of hand that they wanted to see properties that didn’t even slightly meet the criteria of what they had been looking for.  The home would be much smaller than what they were willing to live in or there wasn’t as many bathrooms and bedrooms as they needed.

Towards the end, a desperateness overcame them.  I began receiving emails before 8:00am.  Within 15 minutes, I would get another email asking why I hadn’t replied to the original email.  The emails went on past 11:00pm in the evening.  I had maintained a good repore with the family.  Even so, I had trouble keeping their emotions in check.

The paperwork for the rental originally chosen hasn’t been finalized yet.  The last conversation I had with the family was in regards to driving the 30 minutes to the home they might rent just to look at it from the outside to make sure they still liked the way it looked from the street.  At this point, I was working with another client and had to mention to the family that the home was vacant and there would be no problem if they chose to look at the front of the property on their own.

I am hoping that the family realizes that this really was the best home they had seen.  That they are lucky to be dealing with a landlord who is so willing to accommodate them.  Only time will tell how the situation will unfold, but it is a new lesson for me in learning how to deal with the psychology of people in all sorts of situations.

 
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Posted by on October 17, 2012 in advice, career, opinion, people, personal

 

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What a Typical Day Looks Like

Enough time has passed since I began my career in real estate that I can say I’m cruising along.  My calendar has begun to fill up for the following week before I’m halfway there.  It’s good to see the progress.  Below is a basic example of a typical day.  For those of you who are thinking of a career in real estate, you might find this information rather interesting.

6:00am  At this point there is a definite routine emerging.  Each day begins with a check of my emails.  Next I am going over and planning my day.  Many mornings I will spend this time writing a post for my blog as well.

7:30 am  Drive the kids to school.  Once back home, I have some breakfast, take a shower and pack a lunch.

8:30am  Go to the office.  Check email and voicemail.

9:00am  Morning meeting.  Meetings are a time to learn about several subjects.  We have had meetings on how to make the most of your week, short-sales and how to fill out some of the more complicated paperwork.

10:30am  Check email and voicemail.  One on one meeting with my supervisor.  We will go over what transpired during the previous week.  This is my opportunity to ask questions and get guidance on how to handle particular situations.

11:30am  Check email and voicemail.   Printing any paperwork I need to gather for appointments or for passing out flyers for the day.

12:00pm  Lunch.

12:30pm   Check email and voicemail.  Appointments, passing out flyers, or prospecting by phone, email or in person.

3:00pm  Pick up kids from school.

3:30pm  Check email and voicemail.

4:00pm  Make dinner.

5:00pm  Have dinner with the family.

6:00pm  Check email and voicemail.  Appointments or prospecting by phone or email.

8:00pm  Last check of email and voicemail.  Schedule appointments for showings.  Plan out next day.

I have to admit my day is possibly more extended because I work around the kids schedule.  Each realtor will have a schedule fairly different from each other.  That is probably the best part of being a realtor though.

 
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Posted by on October 15, 2012 in career, job, life, lifestyle, personal, real estate

 

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Poor Credit, Not Much Money, What To Do?

I am navigating the wonderful world of poor credit and not much money saved.  Unfortunately this is a common theme these days.  Trust me, I can relate.  I have been working with a few potential buyers who have life experiences that have created situations where there is a bit of panic trying to find a home.

What do you do when you don’t think you have enough money for a down payment?  What do you do when your credit isn’t the best?  These are questions I needed answers to so that I could help some customers desperate for a home and scared they might not qualify.

Let’s start with not much money saved.  The best advice I’ve gotten was to consider a FHA loan as an option.  In this situation you only need 3% down.  All though this is a common belief, you do not need to be a first time home buyer.  With homes selling at such affordable prices, if you can swing 3%, now is a great time to buy.

So your other concern is credit.  Credit reports are needed when renting or buying a home.  When renting a home, this has been a big sticking point.  Most people who need to rent right now have lousy credit.  It is the primary reason they are not buying a home.  I have clients who have panicked over the credit report.  Here is what you can do in a situation like this.

1.  Offer more than the asking price for the monthly rent.

2.  Write a letter explaining why your credit is in bad shape.

3.  Show a record of timely payments from the place you currently live.

4.  Basically put together a resume’ of why you would be an ideal candidate to rent the home.

Remember that these are individuals renting their own home.  They tend to be more forgiving than the banks.  Many times they understand credit issues because they are having the same problems.  That being said, if one person isn’t interested in renting to you, there will be another person out there who is.

Having this additional information will hopefully make the process of finding a home to rent or buy in not the best of circumstances more bearable.

 
 

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A Key Ingredient For Success

When looking into a possible career in real estate, there is one thing that needs to be understood.  To be a real estate agent is to have a sales job.  I have met several people over the last few months who heard what I did and said that they were thinking of quitting their job and becoming an agent.  These were people who were social or liked to look at pretty homes or were just burnt out and looking for something different.

Real estate is all about sales.  How you present yourself to a potential client.  What tools you use to successfully sell a home.  Being able to negotiate any offers that come in.  It’s all presentation.  Sales is one of those areas where you have it or you don’t.  To be successful, you need drive and ambition.  You also need confidence in your own abilities and an understanding of what style works well for you.  Cultivate that style and you have an excellent chance of doing well in a sales career.

So what do you do when there are well-meaning people surrounding you who go beyond giving advice?  Have you experienced working with someone who insisted that you forget your own methods and concentrate on their way of doing things?  I have had many jobs unrelated to real estate where there was a supervisor, manager, team leader or co-worker who insisted that the only way to accomplish something was to do it their way.

I find this to be short-sighted and rather unnerving.  It’s one thing to have an open mind and try out a variety of ways to get from point A to point B.  Sure someone else may know best.  When someone else dictates your form though, especially in sales, problems will inevitably occur.

Everyone has their own style.  The way to achieve greatness is to take the tried and true ways to gain business and approach it from your own personal style.  Without mixing in a persons personal form, you will come across as robotic, unpolished and inadequate.

Look I have tried some methods that have been completely against what is comfortable for me.  What I truly understand is some methods of going after business I balk at because they aren’t within my ethical code.  I will not promise people things I can’t deliver.  I won’t call people and then, call them again and again when they have told me they aren’t interested.  I won’t abuse my friends and family by constantly harping on them to find me business or overload them with a bunch of real estate information they aren’t interested in.  Basically, anything that screams of being like a used car salesman is not something I am willing to do.

So the key to success in a career in sales is to find your own voice and be proud of it.  Listen to the advice of others, sure.  Take what works and discard the rest.  Most importantly, no matter how much someone is in your ear trying to make you handle yourself in a manner that isn’t what you are about, stay true to yourself.  Block out their voice and concentrate on your own.  In the long run it is you that you have to count on.  Others won’t be supporting you so trusting in yourself is imperative in reaching the success you are after.

 
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Posted by on October 4, 2012 in advice, career, life, lifestyle, opinion, personal

 

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A New Plan of Action

I have been going through a training program at work.  The idea behind the program is to get you acclimated with the various ways you can drum up some business.  A quick overview of the plan goes something like this:

In a given week, pick from this list and prospect off of it for the week.

1.  FSBO (for sale by owner)
2.  Short Sales
3.  Foreclosures
4.  Expired Listings

Here’s the problem for me, this is a list of people to cold-call.  When I signed up for the program, I thought I was well qualified to be an agent because of my sales background.  I had won many contests and had wonderful relationships with my clients.  The problem for me is that I am a face-to face type of person.  I’m not talking about the type of person who will show up at your door unannounced.  I offer my services in a laid back unthreatening way.  I am not a pushy sales person.  Honestly I don’t even like the title “salesperson.”  I prefer to see myself as a consultant who is available to help a customer navigate down the road to a new home or out of the home they own now.

I have spoken with several agents in the office.  The training program is helpful in that you are shown several ways to possibly find new clients.  The idea being that if you touch on each area each week, something is bound to come through for you.  Basically it’s a numbers game.  It’s a starting off point that none of the agents I spoke with use.

I have given an honest effort towards making cold-calls.  For me, it has felt like a huge waste of time.  It is the amount of research and general downtime needed before calls are made that really get to me more than anything.  Lets say you want to call expired listings.  You have to look up the listings, cross-reference for a phone number, cross-reference that with the do not call registry, and then make the call.  In 23 calls I made, I got two people who answered.  One person no longer owned their home, the other was just not interested.  It had taken me almost three hours of cross-referencing before I could make the calls.  All other numbers on that list were either fax machines, answering machines that were full or disconnected numbers.  This is what I call a huge waste of time.

I am in the process of overhauling the way I do business.  I prefer to go with my gut.  I know what works best for me.  I want to come across as the authentic, honest person I am.  I don’t want to appear robotic and seeming to talk from a script.  When I make cold-calls, I never know what to say.  I seem clumsy and inefficient.  The response is bad and then my self-esteem goes down the tubes.  I really love real estate and know I would be a great person to work with.  That being said, I am throwing out all the techniques aimed at spinning your wheels.

I am going for the human approach.  This means that I will be going in to places such as attorney’s offices, caterers and senior living centers to see if there is an opportunity to pass out some cards.  I am also doing some more volunteering.  I would prefer to spend my time doing something I love and hope to spark some interest along the way than be stuck in a chair for hours making calls to uninterested people who get overloaded with calls from agents every day.

I’ll get back with you and let you know how this new way of going about business works out for me.  In the meantime, as always, thanks for stopping by. 🙂

 
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Posted by on September 23, 2012 in career, lifestyle, opinion, people, personal

 

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Finding the Needle in the Haystack

Working in sales as a Real Estate Agent is different from the sales jobs I have encountered in my life.  To say I am in a place where I am fighting to get through all sorts of uncomfortable feelings is an understatement.  I used to sell wine and spirits to local restaurants, country clubs and bars around town.  I loved my job and was rewarded for my hard work and honest nature with a good list of clients and productive days of selling my wares.  Real Estate is the exact opposite of my old sales life.  When I was selling wine and spirits, I would go into a restaurant and have an easy time getting to the decision maker.  It was expected that I would be popping in to represent my company.  I had items to offer that were in demand and needed at each place I went.  Seriously it is the rare restaurant that won’t buy Absolute Vodka from you.  It’s too popular and a needed item that most places will carry.

Even if I went to a restaurant that bought exclusively from another vendor, it wasn’t to hard to get a special red and white wine of the week placed in the establishment.  I could make up some nice cards to insert in the menus recommending the wines and usually it was enough to establish the beginnings of a long-term relationship.

In Real Estate, I never realized that you would be chasing after a potential client.  The main form of contact is cold-calling.  I have never had to cold-call.  Well, I’ll take that back, I would call a newly opened restaurant to set up an appointment to come in, introduce myself, and help the new business stock its shelves with our products.  These places expected you to call, so I wouldn’t really label it a cold-call.

There are a few ways to get business through a cold-call.  This last week I was tasked with calling on people who had expired listings.  Basically, they had their home on the market, the contract with the Real Estate Agent ran out, and I was calling to see if they would like to relist their property with me.

Sure, it sounds simple enough, I mean if one Realtor couldn’t get the customers for the seller, maybe I could get some movement on their home.  It should be easy enough, I mean the seller had already decided to list their home so it should be a no brainer.  Well, it’s not quite that simple.

As I went down the list of potential clients, I found that the majority of phone numbers were disconnected, a fax machine (I’m not kidding), or an answering machine would come on saying that the messages were full and there was no way to leave a message.  The remaining people had either decided not to sell after all, had sold their home (and it had been marked down incorrectly on my expired listings list) didn’t live there, or had not lived in that home for some time.  There was not one positive call out of the bunch.  Either I couldn’t get through to the person, or I got the quick explanation followed by the phone being hung up.

This week I will have a one on one meeting with my manager.  I will have to tell her that I was unable to even get an appointment with a potential client.  I feel horrible thinking of going in front of her and admitting that nothing of any significance happened in the last week.  All I can do is get over it and keep pushing ahead.

 
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Posted by on September 17, 2012 in career, job, life, personal, thoughts

 

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