It’s not me, it’s you

I talk a lot about the difference between a skilled practitioner in real estate and a hack.  If you’ve followed me for any length of time you know I have no time for bozos.  Yet, consumers keeps hiring clowns.  Yesterday I wondered, at what point does the consumer have to take responsibility for their own experience?

I have often gone to a home to talk to someone about selling their home.  They tell me how terrible their last experience was, and the one before that and the one before that.  That sounds awful I think to myself.  As the conversation progresses the client wants me to list their house for a deeply discounted commission, doesn’t want to make any of my suggested repairs, doesn’t want to stage and wants all the bells and whistles than come with full service pricing.  They don’t end up going with me.  They end up with an agent who will discount their commission because they are green or real estate is something they just “dabble” in when they’re not at their “real” job or they don’t know what they’re doing and have questionable ethics.  Next thing you know, the home sells for way less than the seller thought it was worth and they’ve gone on to talk about what a bad experience they had.  At what point does the consumer have take responsibility for their experience?

I don’t want to pay $5 for a cup of Peet’s coffee so I go to the truck stop across the street and get something that’s been sitting on the burner for three hours.  I only pay $1.25.  Can I complain about the coffee?  I had an opportunity to get a quality product, I was just too damned cheap.  At that point aren’t I responsible for my own experience?

I don’t understand why someone would want to sell the largest asset they own, on the cheap.  I want the best marketing, best pricing, most aggressive, most experienced hand I can find to guide me through that process.

For instances, God forbid that you should need surgery to save your life.  Do you get the guy who is fresh out of the med school on a Latin American island because he’s cheap?  Or do you choose someone who has done that surgery numerous times and knows what to do if something goes wrong?  Don’t you want someone with experience who has been there before?  Or the guy is filling in this afternoon because he needs to pick up some hours?

Granted real estate is not brain surgery, or rocket science, but it is an art.  Choose your practitioner wisely.  Here’s some questions you can ask:

  1. How long have you been selling real estate?
  2. How many transactions have you closed in the last two years?
  3. Are you a full time agent?
  4. Are you part of a team?
  5. If you go out of town who will take care of me?
  6. How often will I hear from you?
  7. Are you planning any long vacations?
  8. How many other clients are you working with?
  9. How many homes have you sold in my area?
  10. What is your marketng plan for my home.
  11. Will you hire a professional photographer to market my home?

A lot of other sites recommend you ask for references.  I am amused that no one ever does, perhaps in this day and age of online reviews that’s not a necessary question any more.  I always bring copies of a few reviews from clients who I know don’t mind being a reference to my listing appointments.

There is a difference between agents.  Sometimes that difference is huge.  If you are in the Bay Area I would be pleased to show you how different I really am.  If you’re reading this in another part of the country, that’s okay, I know professionals throughout the country who can and will take great care of you.  Give me a shout and find out for yourself what the difference really is.

Don’t hire a hack

It is becoming my life’s work to eliminate hacks from the real estate industry.

Every day thousands of internet geeks wake up and try to figure out how to make Realtors the Travel Agents of that year.  Expedia killed Travel Agents.  Why?  Because they provided minimal value and couldn’t articulate their value beyond “I have access to Sabre and can shop reservations for you”.  You can shop tickets now on Expedia, Kayak, Travelocity, Orbitz and about a hundred other sites now.  The information is all there.  Hotels can be shopped on anything from hotels.com to the Westin’s own website.  The real estate industry is in danger of going the same way.

Realtors are currently up in arms about Zillow’s new instant offer roll out.  I’m not worried about that.  All that needs to happen is one seller lets one buyer into their house and gets robbed or worse and that’s the end of that.  There will be other onslaughts.  We must be eternally vigilant.

The elephant in the room is the fact that my industry needs to clean house.  We need to rid ourselves of the hacks.

Hacks come in all forms.

There are those who don’t bother to educate themselves.  Our test is easy to pass.  I passed my Broker’s test after a night of drinking.  I hadn’t had time to study and figured I’d get a report of what I needed to study and go back and take it for real at a later date.  I was 45 minutes late and had to sign a waiver.  And I passed it.  The thing is, I knew that there was a lot of stuff I didn’t know.  It is my practice to take a minimum of one class per month to further my real estate knowledge.  I travel four times a year to conventions and seminars to further my ability to serve my clients and I have two business coaches.  I care about doing the best job possible for my clients.  My team has a rule: If you see an opportunity to one plus our client’s experience, it is incumbent upon you to take that opportunity and make that client’s experience even better.  Sadly a very small percentage of my colleagues take the same approach to this business.  90% of real estate sales are handled by 10% of the agents.  The other 90% fight over the last 10%.  They don’t have the experience and won’t do the work to get better at their jobs.  Yet consumers still hire them.  I am sad that those clients won’t ever know what it’s like to work with a great Realtor.

There are those that just do a crappy job.  MLS photos.  How freaking hard is it?  iPhones are very cool.  Don’t market someone’s $500,000 house with your freaking phone.  Hire a professional real estate photographer.  Listing agents have one major job, market the client’s home to get the best exposure resulting in the most amount of money in the shortest amount of time.  Seriously.  Would you buy this?

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Doesn’t that client deserve better from our industry?  It’s embarrassing.

There are those who do not have any ethics.  They need to go.  They say things to clients they have no business saying.  One just fell apart because the buyer stopped by an open house on the way to the house they in contract to buy.  The open house agent, talking out of his butt blew the transaction.  What he represented as fact about the subdivision was in fact folk lore and the buyer cancelled the transaction.  Total hack.  Agents cannot talk to clients under contract with another agent beyond casual conversation.  Unscrupulous listing agents routinely tell them they will get the house if they do business with them so they can “double end” it.  Don’t hire these hacks.  They lie to their clients, they don’t do what they need to in the time they need to do it because they don’t understand the contract.  They write unreasonable offers.  They don’t educate their clients.  Don’t hire these hacks.

Before you hire an agent, ask them how many homes they’ve sold in the last year.  The average agent sells six.  A house every two months is not enough to build what I call Deal IQ.  Deal IQ is acquired when an agent has done a lot of deals.  Something comes up and they know what to do because they’ve been there before.  Only a good, well practiced agent can do that.  In this market, with your largest financial asset at stake, I don’t know why you would want anything else.

For more information on how I properly market homes call me at 925-381-2998

 

It’s a dog’s life

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Do you love dogs?  I love dogs.  In particular, I love my breed, the Doberman Pinscher.  I love their loyalty, their protective nature, their silliness and I feel safe when one is sleeping next to my bed.  If it were up to me, I would have one of my dogs with me at all times.  But it’s not up to me.

My job entails going in and out of other people’s homes several times a day, meetings and appointments that may last for a couple of hours, lunches in corner cafes and five star restaurants.  My dog isn’t welcome in many of those places, so I leave my dog home when I’m working.  I never take my dog anywhere he’s not welcome.  I was very ill last month.  I heard a dog collar in the hospital hallway on several occasions.  Finally I was able to get to the hallway and see a schnauzer walking by.  I asked my nurse “Are dogs allowed here?”  She said, “Yes, I see the all of the time”.  Can I have my brother bring my dog to see me?  “yes, of course, we’ll just shut the door to your room while he’s here”.  And I got to see my dog which helped me heal.

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That gets me to the point.  Dogs don’t belong in real estate.

I had a listing on the market when I went into the hospital.  I received a call that an agent who witnessed another agent in my listing with their dog.  The agent’s dog peed on my clients carpet.  I am laying in a hospital bed and I had to deal with this.  How unprofessional to you have to be to bring your dog to a sellers house and then allow it to pee on the carpet?  This agent should be run out of the business.

Dogs don’t belong in real estate.

I had an open house this weekend and not one, not two, but three different parties showed up to view the open house with their dog in tow.  I’m sorry, are you kidding me?  If you are previewing homes, leave your dog at home.  I can assure you that your dog will love any home you buy as long as you are there.  Dogs are like that.

Here are some of the issues to consider before bringing your dog to someone else’s home.

  1. The homeowner has cats who may become freaked out because your pooch’s scent is now in their space.
  2. The homeowner has dogs who may become freaked out because your pooch’s scent is now in their space.
  3. The homeowner’s pet mentioned in 1 and 2 above acts out due to the new scent and starts marking territory thereby destroying what was previously a nice and odor free home.
  4. The homeowner is severely allergic to pet dander and you’ve now polluted their home.
  5. The homeowner is a severe asthmatic and you’ve now sent them to the hospital.

An open house is a private home that has been placed for sale and is open for viewing by potential buyers.  The general public does not have a right to pass and an agent can refuse entry on behalf of the seller if the agent feels the seller’s private property at risk.  Agents can even restrict visitors to those who have provided the ability to purchase the property.

With one notable exception, dogs don’t belong in real estate.  There are a few agents in our area with situations where they have service dogs.  Service dogs can be used for a number of situations including alerting to seizures in their owners.  I am not talking about these dogs.  These dogs are highly trained, highly disciplined and highly necessary to their owner’s well being.  These dogs are an exception.

Every other dog, does not belong in real estate.