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Real Estate is a Numbers Game

So it’s January and I am starting to see some movement again.  People are looking towards the future and planning moves for the spring (once it gets a little warmer).  Mixed in with clients who are serious about looking at buying a new home are the dreamers.  These are the people who wish to move, but because of any number of personal issues, now is just not the right time for them.

Being a real estate agent, it is important to know who is serious and who will just spin your wheels.  I have had some back to back situations recently where I began working with some people who were in no way able to seriously consider moving.

How do you know when a person is not a good client to take on?  Below is a quick list of signs that might give you pause in deciding to work with someone.

1.  The customer is unwilling or continuously puts off getting their pre-approval or credit report.

Serious buyers will make sure everything is in place before they begin to look.  They know that if they find their dream home, they will want to put in an offer right away.  The market is moving quickly.  Homes won’t last until you have been pre-approved.

2.  You only get an email or a phone number, but not both.  

I have found that these are people who really just want some quick information, but aren’t serious about looking for a home.

3.  The customer’s list of expectations in a home isn’t reasonable.

I have spoken with people who want a 5 bedroom, 4 bathroom home in an upscale neighborhood for less than half the price of what any home in that neighborhood would go for.  I have also dealt with the people who think they can pick up a foreclosure at a rock bottom price in perfect move in condition.

4.  There is no time line and they are incredibly vague,

They don’t know what they will do with their current residence, how much they are able/willing to spend and what area they are interested in looking at.

5.  They are working with a realtor, their family is full of realtors or their friend is a realtor.

I have been surprised when during the course of a conversation, I am able to find out they already have a realtor.  I will hear the excuses that the realtor is dragging their feet or they just want to look at this one property.  If you have a realtor, I will not be able to help you.

I also get the customers who let me know how many realtors they know.  They won’t say why they won’t work with them, but they tend to challenge what information you give them and after finding out about a specific question (how much their home is worth, or just wanting to check one property) they end up with the realtor they already know.

I was talking with one of the agents at work about the cycle of real estate.  It seems that I will have a dry spell, then get a bunch of potential clients that fall into the above range and then finally get a group of serious buyers. The agent I spoke with put it this way, real estate is a numbers game.  Expect to go through 12 customers before you hit on the serious buyer.

As someone who is used to traditional sales where each person lost is money lost, I have had to change my perspective.  I can’t look at each interaction that falls through as money lost, but instead I must look at it as each lost person brings me closer to the serious client.

For anyone out there who is just starting out in real estate, I hope this information is not only helpful, but will help to take some of the pressure off of you.  I would also like to mention that for every example above, there are clients that will pan out.  The important thing is to be able to ask valuable questions and really pay attention to not only the words, but also the actions of the potential client.  It doesn’t matter if they are serious or not, people will reveal themselves.  The tips above just might move the process along faster for you.

Here’s another great article you might like:

http://www.trulia.com/email/anews/pro.truliablog.com/sellers/7-psychological-red-flags-to-sellers-that-will-cost-you-money

 
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Posted by on February 5, 2013 in advice, business, career planning

 

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Real Estate Agents are not Salespeople. We are Consultants.

When I decided to get into real estate, I figured that my background would be a perfect fit.  I have a strong history in the sales field.  I was really good in my field, and truly enjoyed the social aspect of a sales job.

When I took the classes and worked with a mentor, sales was what was discussed.  There were strategies and outlines.  There were even scripts you could use.  It wasn’t until I really got off the ground that I realized that sales has nothing to do with being a good real estate agent.

I’m sure there are agents out there that will argue that this is a sales job, but let me tell you why I think it’s not. My feeling is that if you are a good agent, you are not a salesperson but a consultant.  This is one of the few jobs where it doesn’t matter how hard you might try to sell someone on a home.  Buying a home is incredibly emotional.  It is also one of the biggest expenses you will have in a lifetime.  I don’t know anyone who is casual enough to allow a salesperson to come in and twist their arm to buy a home that might not be right for them.  Let me state it another way.  I could never be that person who puts pressure on a client.

My personal feeling is that if you are a good real estate agent, you will treat your client like you would treat a good friend.  There is respect, understanding and help in figuring out what type of home might suit that particular client best.

As a real estate agent, you are there to guide your client.  You must be knowledgeable and able to teach them the steps in home ownership.  You are the person that a client will go to for consultation.  Maybe the time is right for a customer to buy, and maybe it’s not.  The goal is not to sell a home, but to help a customer decide what’s right for them.

If you go about your job in this manner, the rewards will come.  A customer might use you later down the road because of your honesty and integrity.  You will gain a good reputation, and yes, you will sell homes and make a good living.

It’s all perspective.  I know that I would be turned off by an agent who felt like a salesperson.  On the other hand, an agent that acted as a consultant would impress me and leave a lasting good impression.

For those of you just starting out in real estate, this way of looking at your job might be of enormous benefit to you.  If you are an agent, how do you approach your job?  Are you a salesperson or a consultant?

 
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Posted by on January 22, 2013 in advice, career, houses for sale, real estate

 

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Weekly Meeting

Last week I went to one of my weekly meetings.  Recently we have had some guest speakers.  The people who have come in to speak with us have been realtors who have been in the business for on average 20 years.  These are the realtors who are top producers and have really seen it all.

I have felt incredibly lucky to have been able to get in front of these people and hear what their experiences have been like.  The wealth of knowledge I have attained from these individuals has been priceless.

This last meeting really stuck out for me.  We had a woman who came in and discussed her views on how she runs her business.  The part of her discussion that really hit home for me was when she talked about her attitude towards her clients.

I had just come off of a week where I had put in some serious time with a renter.  They had finally found a home they loved.  After submitting their application to the owner, they were accepted as the renter for that property.  The client spent a few days dragging their feet while this owner had pulled her listing from the market.  In the end, I received an email stating that they had decided to go with a different home.

I have no idea if there was really a different home.  I don’t know if they had another realtor they were working with on the side or if they had worked with someone renting out their own home.  The hardest part of the experience was not knowing the true circumstances behind the change of heart.  I just had to accept what had happened, wish them luck and move on.

At the meeting, the realtor had spoken of some highlights she had with clients and some of the rough moments.  What had happened with my client was far from unique.  It has happened to every realtor at one point or another.

The realtor who addressed the group was a mild-mannered person.  She reminded me in many ways of the way I look at things and how I choose to handle them.  She is resigned to the fact that things will happen that won’t be of benefit to you.  It is the nature of the business.  It brings up the question of are you happy enough in the business that you are ok helping someone out even if it doesn’t result in a sale?

The realtor made an excellent point that really brought the whole discussion full circle.  Realtors (for the most part) really aren’t sales people.  Realtors are consultants.  People are making huge financial and emotional decisions.  It is not up to us to decide what works for them.  It is are job to show them options and support their decisions.

I look at it like this.  If you go to the department store for a new outfit, you might have a salesperson assisting you.  They are there to show you options.  They give you a selection of wardrobe pieces to try on.  The salesperson can go on and on raving about an outfit and how you must get that particular item.  If the price is too high, you don’t like the color, you can’t imagine where you would wear such an outfit or you feel the garment isn’t a good fit, you most likely will look elsewhere.  It doesn’t matter how hard the salesperson tries to convince you to buy it.  Their job is to consult and give options.  If a sale is made, great!  The salesperson, to be good at their job and be able to enjoy their job long-term needs to be happy as a consultant no matter what the outcome.  If not, they will burn out.  They will no longer enjoy their job.

I got into this business because I like assisting others.  I like getting to know different people and feeling as though I have helped them in a very personal decision in their life.  As far as I am concerned, money is the bonus you receive on occasion when everything falls into place.  It’s the only way to look at this business if you are in it for the long haul.  If money is something you feel desperate to get every time you meet a new client, the deals are just going to fall apart.

People are savvy.  There are a million realtors out there.  When a decision is this big, a customer needs to feel a sense of trust and loyalty.  Your intentions must be pure.  You want to help them find what’s best for them.  The moment your needs come before theirs, you are no longer servicing them as you should.

This in my opinion is the way this business must be looked at.  You are a consultant and are in this business to assist others in what is important to them, period.

 
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Posted by on November 18, 2012 in advice, career, opinion

 

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Now This is How to Network!

Yesterday was one of those days that I considered to be successful as far as networking goes.  I worked from home yesterday.  I didn’t have any appointments, so I used my day to tweak my social media sites, write a post on my blog and do some emailing with some October housing news.

I received an email from a client I had worked with for about a month.  This client was looking to rent a home and we saw each other almost daily.  In the end when a home was found and a lease was about to be signed, the client got cold feet and decided to look into renting an apartment instead.

Yes, it was a lot of work with no results.  From my point of view though, it was another person to get to know, helping me to get my name out there.  Well, my perspective turned out to be a good perspective.  The client and I had a good rapport and ended our working relationship on good terms.  The email I received thanked me and mentioned that she had had a great experience with me.  I was offered an opportunity to help a family with their relocation needs through a referral the client provided.  Not only was I flattered, but I was relieved to know that the client really did feel that we worked well together.  It wasn’t just my point of view.

I had another referral come in for an area of the state that I don’t work in.  I passed the referral onto another realtor who I know and who does a terrific job.  The realtor were thrilled and asked what area I worked in exclusively so that she could send some business my way.  Our areas don’t overlap, and she has been in the business for years.  This could be a great connection for my business.

Last night I went up to the local high school.  I am co-chair of a committee working on the senior all-night party. I met four new people who I would be working with exclusively.  Instead of writing my contact information on a piece of paper, I gave them my business card.

I think about what my career will look like in a year if I am able to connect that well on a daily basis.  Flyers, emails and phone calls are one thing.  Personally I feel the best way to expand your business is to get personal.  There’s nothing like connecting with people in person or reaching out to those you know on an acquaintance level and get to know them better.  Most importantly to me though, I want to build my relationships in an honest and authentic way.

When I contacted the realtor with the referral, it wasn’t to see what she could do for me.  I knew I couldn’t help this customer, but I still wanted them to have a good experience.  I also wanted to give someone else I knew and admired an opportunity to get more business.  If I couldn’t help, why not pass it to someone else who would be fantastic with this customer.

When I went to the meeting, I had no plan to hand out business cards.  If I had gone around just passing them out, I would have looked ridiculous and shallow anyway.  I had an opportunity to share contact information and handing out my card was just the most efficient and quickest way to pass on the information.  Being able to advertise my services was just a bonus.

So looking down the road, I am getting a better idea of how I want my business to flow.  For me and my style of handling my business, it means getting out into the community and participating.  It’s what feels best to me.  I feel lucky to have a job where promoting myself means to go out and have some fun while doing some good work for others.  It’s a feeling of satisfaction in a way I have never felt with the past jobs I have had over the years.

 

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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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Everyone Hits the Wall

One of the things that I find is invaluable about where I work is the support of other realtors.  I find that I have been freezing up since my first experience showing a home.  There is so much to learn and I feel ill prepared to answer many of the questions that a client might bring up.  I am also feeling insecure about filling out the paperwork with a client without a more experienced realtor standing by ready to help me out. Like many of the moments I have gone through since beginning my career, what I am experiencing is not only normal, but happens to every new realtor I’m finding out.

I was talking with one of the realtors in the office this morning and was reassured that I would get through this glitch.  When I was eighteen years old, I decided to waitress part-time while going to school.  I knew a few friends who loved waitressing because the hours were flexible and you left work each day with money in your pocket.  Waitressing seemed like a perfect choice for a kid in school.  There was just one problem, I was painfully shy.  It took everything I had to push myself to get over the shyness and try out a job as a waitress.

I remember my first waitressing job.  I worked at a local Coney Island Restaurant.  Another waitress trained me for a few days.  When she felt I had learned everything I needed to know she set me out onto the floor to take an order.  I panicked.  I remember stalling having to go over and asked the waitress what I should say when I approached the table full of customers. She very nicely said, “just say, can I take your order.”  I was completely embarrassed.  Of course that is what I should say, but in that moment, my nerves got the best of me.  It took pure determination not to bolt for the door and instead face my fears.

When I was talking with the realtor this morning, I told her this story and said that was how I felt now as a realtor.  She was so kind to me and said that she had gone through the same feelings when she worked with her first few clients.  She assured me that although she made her own mistakes, she had the support of others in the office and got through it.  The feelings I have been feeling are another common obstacle of life as a new realtor.  If you are just beginning your career as a real estate agent, I hope this story helps you out and eases your mind.  You will go through moments of trepidation, but you will get past it as long as you look fear in the face and plow through it.

 
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Posted by on August 20, 2012 in advice, career, job, life, personal, real estate

 

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