Realtors® who specialize in commercial real estate expressed optimism and confidence in the market during a forum at the Realtors® Midyear Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo.
At the Joint Meeting of the Multiple Listing Service Forum and Multiple Listing Issues and Policies Committee Thursday, all things MLS were on the table. In fact, even items that weren’t on the MLS were up for discussion–specifically, so-called “pocket listings.”
“Clearly they’re not ‘off the market,’ nor are they in your pocket. They’re not on the MLS,” clarified Robert Bailey, 2013 chair of MLSlistings Inc. in California. Bailey presented attendees with research on the growing number of homes for sale in his local area that never make it to the MLS at the REALTORS® Midyear Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo.
In a study comparing public records with MLS listings in the California communities of Monterey, San Benito, San Mateo, Santa Clara, and Santa Cruz, Bailey found that off-MLS listings increased from 12 percent in 2011 to 15 percent in 2012 to 26 percent of the market in the first quarter of 2013.
Supporters of pocket listing practices often cite situations where sellers are seeking privacy or are concerned about having strangers view their homes. Bailey said such desires are valid, but the numbers indicate a growing trend.
“Clearly they’re more concerned about privacy and security now that the market has gotten better,” Bailey said, drawing a collective chuckle from the crowd.
When asked what is driving agents to consent to the increase of this practice by sellers, Bailey said it’s largely comes down to market changes.
“I have agents who have had a very long, very hard six years,” Bailey said. He posited that some agents are using pocket listings to increase “the ability to capture leads” in a competitive, low-inventory market.
But Bailey cautioned that sellers and agents who resort to this tactic in order to avoid “doing business with the unwashed masses” could run into fair housing issues.
Because of local rules, Bailey noted that disagreement over pocket listings will vary from state to state. But he expressed concern that they could have catastrophic effects on the industry nationwide.
“Could it lead to the collapse of our MLS model as we know it today? Could it lead to the erosion of an agent’s value?” Bailey asked. “There’s not a market that’s exempt from this issue.”
NAR has not defined pocket listings, nor do they have an official policy on the practice. But Bailey urged those present at the joint meeting to avoid them.
“We’ve built our businesses on the basis of if we collaborate together… then we can operate in the best interests of the consumer,” Bailey said. “[We must] maintain our position at the center of the transaction.”
HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan made an appearance at the National Association of REALTORS® Midyear Legislative Meetings on Wednesday to laud the work of his agency in promoting housing policies and programs that acknowledge the equal rights of gay and lesbian Americans. The agency makes clear that sexual orientation is no barrier to accessing any HUD programs, he said.
“We have a broad requirement that housing opportunities should be available to all persons regardless of sexual orientation,” said Donovan, who spoke to members gathered for a reception of the National Association of Gay & Lesbian Real Estate Professionals (NAGLREP).
But Donovan noted that there is still a long way to go on the civil rights issue that has rapidly been gaining ground in recent months and years. Noting President Obama’s strong support of marriage equality and recent same-sex marriage cases brought to the U.S. Supreme Court, Donovan added, “There is still an urgent need for legal protections based on sexual orientation.” The 45-year Fair Housing Act does not include sexual orientation as a protected class.
NAGLREP Founder and CEO Jeff Berger said he was delighted by Donovan’s appearance at the meeting and his commitment to ending discrimination in housing faced by the LGBT community. The movement clearly has momentum, he said.
Berger cited the group’s drive, working with Wisconsin REALTORS®, to get sexual orientation included as protected classes in the NAR Code of Ethics. That change was approved by NAR’s board of directors at the Midyear Meetings in 2010. Now, an effort is underway to add Code of Ethics protection based on gender orientation. The proposal will be voted on by the NAR Delegate Body at its meeting in November. Berger also hopes to get NAR to include LGBT data in future versions of its Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers and Member Profile. “It will give REALTORS® a truer picture of who is in their markets if lesbians and gays and same-sex couples were acknowledged,” Berger said.
School’s coming to members of Congress over the next two days as thousands of REALTORS® meet with lawmakers to provide a refresher course on how critical the federal government’s historic support for home ownership is to the country’s future.
“We have an unprecedented situation today, because so many members of Congress are new and really don’t always know how important home ownership incentives are to the economy and to the country, NAR Chief Lobbyist Jerry Giovaniello told thousands of REALTORS® packed into a 7 a.m. session today as a kick-off to their visits to Capitol Hill.
Each year thousands of REALTORS® come to Washington for the NAR Midyear Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo, which includes two days of Hill visits to champion real estate issues to their members of Congress.
This year is different, Giovaniello said, because as Congress discusses ways to reduce the federal deficit and whether to change the Tax Code, some of the government’s longstanding incentives for home ownership, including the mortgage interest deduction and other tax provisions, will come under debate. The roles of FHA and the secondary mortgage market are also shaping up to be part of the discussion.
“Our main job is really just to educate members on why these incentives have been such priorities for the federal government for so long,” said Giovaniello.
Some 43 percent of the Senate had turned over in the last six years, and in the House, more than 80 members have been in Congress for fewer than three years, many of whom have never served in public office before. “There are many members of Congress who think FHA is a lending program rather than an insurance program, so a lot of what we have to do is just educate these members about these basic things, said Giovaniello.
REALTORS® have three simple talking points they’ll be taking with them to Capitol Hill this week:
1. Preserve MID and other housing tax incentives, including the capital gains exclusion on the sale of a principal residence and the property tax deduction.
2. Protect FHA’s ability to meet its mission of helping responsible households who needs its mortgage insurance to buy a home.
3. And pave the way for the return of private capital to the secondary mortgage market while preserving an explicit, not-for-profit, government-chartered federal presence in the market.
NAR’s tax counsel, Evan Liddiard, said the conditions are the best in almost two decades for Congress to tackle sweeping tax reform, so MID and other tax incentives will be part of the discussion. Liddiard said that even if the two houses of Congress can’t craft legislation that can pass both houses, if any paring back of home ownership incentives are included in bills that at least make it through one house or another, that sets a precedent that will make it easier in later years for harmful changes to pass. “We have to head this off now,” he said.
One argument members of Congress might make in favor of paring back MID is that they need that tax cut in exchange for lowering tax rates, which would help households across the board. But because there’s no guarantee that Congress won’t turn around in a few years and raise the tax rates again, that’s not an argument that makes sense, said Giovaniello. “Once we give up something on MID, we won’t get it back,” he said.
On FHA, which has seen its reserves take a hit in recent years, REALTORS® will be carrying the message that the agency has been the unsung hero of the country’s economic recovery. It stepped up to the plate during the housing downturn and made lending possible at a time when there were few other options. Had it not done that, the country would be in a tougher place right now. And in any case, the agency’s finances are quickly improving and could soon be in positive territory once again.
“FHA is a counter-cyclical program,” said NAR Policy Analyst Megan Booth. “It’s role is to step up when other sources of funding won’t, so it did its job.”
Legislation could be coming down the pike that might seek to require borrowers to come with a higher downpayment or to pay higher insurance premiums or to meet certain income qualifications, said Booth. each of these provisions would be devastating to the agency’s mission and needs to be resisted, she said.
The main message on reform of the secondary mortgage market is that a continued federal presence, explicit and on a nonprofit basis, is essential for the preservation of the widespread availability of 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages. Private lenders without that federal backstop simply won’t make safe, long-term financing available on a widespread basis.
“We’re going to hold members accountable for how they vote on these issues,” Giovaniello said. “That’s one of the messages we need to take to Capitol Hill. We’re watching what they do.”
To reinforce the message, REALTORS® will be wearing badges on lanyards that carry a simple message: “Home ownership is not a loophole.”
Over the next two days, that message will be out in force on Capitol Hill.
A standing-room-only crowd was on hand as members of the National Association of REALTORS®’ Strategic Planning Committee revealed a report Tuesday afternoon that summarized the results of a year’s worth of REThink sessions.
Released at the Midyear Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo in Washington, D.C., the report was compiled from 16 workshops across the country in an effort to answer the question over the future of NAR in uncertain times.
“I’m glad to see that we had a small enough room for this crowd,” joked NAR 2013 President Gary Thomas. He said he was thankful for the enthusiasm, adding that broad engagement is what makes the REThink report special. “It’s coming from the members rather than a small, insular group.”
The event was so widely attended that the committee added a second session Wednesday, May 15, at 1:30 p.m. Eastern at the Omni Shoreham hotel.
The report distilled responses from 4,500 individuals who used these workshops to come up with actions that individual real estate professionals, industry players, and NAR can undertake to stay relevant in the changing world of real estate. But this was not just an exercise of pulling the curtain back on data.
“We’re here to ask your feedback,” said Strategic Planning Committee Chair Shannon W. King. “We want you to agree that these are the right issues.”
Some of the many items discussed at Tuesday’s event were “big data” issues, industry collaboration, the opening up of association leadership positions, and more. Two suggestions that garnered widespread applause among attendees were increasing professional standards for members and “taking back realtor.com,” as one facilitator quoted from the report.
Both at the local workshops and at the event at Midyear, members expressed skepticism about the engagement of NAR leadership. One of the volunteer coordinators recalled the initial backlash she experienced when organizing a local REThink seminar.
“Many of the participants just thought we were from NAR,” said Summer Greene, a volunteer coordinator and Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based REALTOR®. “After we got past that, it was all about, ‘Is the leadership at NAR really going to listen?’”
The difference between those local information-gathering sessions and Tuesday’s presentation was that NAR leadership was present at the Washington D.C. event and made it clear that they were not only listening, but were also ready to act.
“I didn’t want to just have another plan that would sit on the shelf and gather dust,” said Thomas, “which is basically what happens with strategic plans … when it’s done, it’s done — meaning nothing happens with it typically.”
Another hot topic was the issue of who the national association should serve first and foremost: consumers or members? Many in Tuesday’s session said the association should strive to be a resource for both groups.
“We serve the consumers through the REALTORS®,” said Bob Hart, a real estate professional from Santa Barbara, Calif. “We have to empower REALTORS® to do a better job serving the consumers.”
NAR CEO Dale Stinton agreed with this sentiment, but only to a point.
“I want to serve the consumer, but only if it helps you,” he said. “Let’s deal with realtor.com, and then let’s deal with the three-way agreement. Let’s figure out what it means to serve the member.”
One theme common among facilitators, session attendees, and association leaders alike was the idea that upsetting the status quo can be a dangerous proposition.
“You can’t ever talk about a national MLS without getting into trouble. You can’t talk about the number of associations without getting in to trouble. You cant ever talk about professional standards without getting in to trouble,” Stinton warned. “What I’m here to say on behalf of leadership is we’re ready to get in trouble.”
With that, the organization’s next leader ended the lively session with a call to action.
“Your leadership team is here, and they’ve been listening,” said 2013 NAR President-elect Steve Brown. “Are you ready to stand behind your leadership team when they get in trouble?”
It may seem out of left field, but when NAR regional vice president Vince Malta isn’t selling homes in San Francisco, he’s collecting baseball bats hit by legendary players like Babe Ruth and Mickey Mantle. The unlikely combination is a result of deep-rooted family traditions; Malta is a third generation REALTOR® who has been in the business for 35 years, and joins his father and grandfather before him as a passionate fan of the game.
“I’ve always loved baseball since I was a child,” said Malta, CEO at Malta & Co., Inc. in San Francisco. “I got into bat collecting because I thought it was very interesting to collect a piece of history.”
And that’s where this hobby could have ended, with a few prized bats and the satisfaction of holding baseball history in his hands, if not for Malta’s real estate mind working overtime to analyze the way the bats were being sold.
“I started doing some research and it seemed like there were a couple of experts who knew about baseball bats but were also selling them,” he said. “So they wound up authenticating the very bats they were selling. In real estate, we call that a ‘conflict of interest.’”
Worse still, some of the bats for sale weren’t exactly priceless memorabilia worthy of glass display. But it would take years of conducting research and scouring decades-old factory records before Malta could decipher the legitimate from the lies.
“I bought a game-used Jackie Robinson-autographed bat and thought, ‘wow that’s really cool,’” Malta recalls. This cool factor quickly thawed when he returned to the bat years later, armed with extensive knowledge about its production and make. He analyzed the model, concluding the bat was rendered in 1973; a fine year for the Oakland Atheltics to defeat the New York Mets in a seven-game World Series thriller, but for Jackie Robinson—who stopped playing baseball in 1956 and passed away in 1972—using that bat would have been, well, impossible.
“People were telling you things and giving you stories about the bats that just weren’t accurate,” Malta said. “I think the bat needs to speak for itself.”
It’s a dictum that can resonate in real estate as well as baseball—an agent can stage a house with all the shiny bells and whistles, even provide anecdotes about how much fun the home owner’s children had playing in the spacious backyard, but in the end, the property must speak to the buyer.
However, it still helps to have those words interpreted by someone in the know.
“There will always be a person out there who will sell you something,” Malta said. “You need a facilitator with knowledge guiding you through the process.”
To Malta, this is why authenticating bats can’t be an act of whimsy; it must be a serious practice—as complex as a real estate transaction—determined by things like labeling, wood type, and the hitting characteristics of the player who purportedly used the bat at that time.
Even the National Baseball Hall of Fame staff keeps extra copies of Malta’s book, “A Complete Reference Guide Louisville Slugger Professional Player Bats,” on hand. The publication is widely acknowledged as the most comprehensive manual for collectors of Hall of Fame players’ bats. The Guide was a labor of love for Malta, who worked in conjunction with Jack Hillerich, grandson of John A. “Bud” Hillerich—maker of the first player-customized baseball bat—to gain access to Louisville Slugger factory records.
Since its release in 2007, the book has established Malta as one of the foremost authorities on bat collecting. More than just a baseball textbook, it weaves the history of the sport throughout its pages, in a narrative enriched by Malta’s own experiences meeting the greats of the game. “Many of the players are so warm and personable,” Malta said, listing Ernie Banks and Brooks Robinson among those he enjoyed speaking with.
But some of his most frame-worthy baseball encounters occurred on the job. At an NAR meeting in 2005, while sitting with his wife, 13-year-old son, and 1984 Hall of Fame inductee Harmon Killebrew, (an invited guest at the event), Malta’s wife casually mentioned to the right-hander that her son was having a tough time at the plate. Immediately, Killebrew stood the struggling young player up and began to give him a batting lesson. “It’s all in the hips,” he instructed, as REALTORS®—and the Maltas—watched in awe.
“We still have the picture of Harmon Killebrew giving my son tips,” Malta said. “I love that players are so open and such great ambassadors of the game.”
As an ambassador of homes, it’s easy for Malta to see the connection between his favorite sport and the real estate profession. “We provide a valuable service,” he said. “People can consider what we do like baseball bat authenticating: We make sure they get what they expect.”
After last week’s post underscored the longevity of Gary Keller’s The Millionaire Real Estate Agent as a favorite book for newer agents, I thought it was time to go back and take a look at the top ten business books on real estate again. We used to check in with Amazon more often, but the last time we brought you a best-seller list was back in 2011. For shame!
So, I guess I shouldn’t be shocked by item number one. But there are a few on this list of the ten most popular real estate business books on Amazon this week that I wasn’t expecting.
- The Millionaire Real Estate Agent: It’s Not About the Money…It’s About Being the Best You Can Be! by Gary Keller, Dave Jenks and Jay Papasan (Feb 11, 2004)
- Other People’s Money: Inside the Housing Crisis and the Demise of the Greatest Real Estate Deal Ever Made by Charles V. Bagli (Apr 4, 2013)
- Home Buying Kit For Dummies by Eric Tyson and Ray Brown (Mar 6, 2012)
- Buy It, Rent It, Profit!: Make Money as a Landlord in ANY Real Estate Market by Bryan M. Chavis (Apr 14, 2009)
- Real Estate License Exams For Dummies by Drei John A. Yoegel (Jan 28, 2005)
- What Every Real Estate Investor Needs to Know About Cash Flow… And 36 Other Key Financial Measures by Frank Gallinelli (Sep 8, 2008)
- Real Estate Investing For Dummies, 2nd Edition by Eric Tyson and Robert S. Griswold (Mar 3, 2009)
- Every Landlord’s Tax Deduction Guide by Stephen Fishman J.D. (Dec 28, 2012)
- Property Management Kit For Dummies by Robert S. Griswold (Feb 18, 2013)
- How to Buy Real Estate Overseas by Kathleen Peddicord (Apr 8, 2013)
In particular, I’m surprised at the fact that there are four books from the “For Dummies” empire here. Then again, we are looking at a list of popularity, not necessarily “brightest insight” or “best-in-class.”
What do you think about these and the other books that managed to get on this list? Or maybe you’ve recently picked up a book that you’d like to see on Amazon’s top ten. Let me know in the comment space below.
Calling all real estate and staging professionals: I’m looking for your best photos showing how you staged a front porch or deck of a home! Some of your photos may be used in an upcoming issue of REALTOR(R) Magazine or online (credited to you of course!). Please e-mail your outdoor staging photos to Melissa Tracey at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name, company, and what you did to spruce up the front porch or deck to turn it into a selling point to potential buyers.
Last month, I had the opportunity to help document the cover shoot for the May/June issue of REALTOR® Magazine. Because the issue contains the profiles of our 30 Under 30 honorees, we thought we’d invite a few of the new recruits in for a photo shoot.
Interviewing these young practitioners as a writer for the magazine, I learned a great deal about how to shift from recession to recovery, the influence of technology on the industry, and what their local markets are like all across the country. But as administrator of the Weekly Book Scan, I only had one question: What’s your favorite real estate or business book?
More than half of the seven honorees named Gary Keller’s The Million Dollar Real Estate Agent (Rellek Publishing Partners, 2003) as a favorite. So if you haven’t read that one yet, I’d suggest you start there (or if you have, you may want to check out Keller’s latest work, The One Thing).
- The Richest Man in Babylon (Penguin Books, 1926), by George Samuel Clason
- The Champion Real Estate Agent: Get to the Top of Your Game and Knock Sales Out of the Park (McGraw-Hill, 2006), by Dirk Zeller
- (7L) The Seven Levels of Communication: Go from Relationships to Referrals (AuthorHouse, 2010), by Michael J. Maher
- The Trump Card: Playing to Win in Work and Life (Simon & Schuster, 2009), by Ivanka Trump
- The Art of Closing the Sale (Thomas Nelson, 2007), by Brian Tracy
Of course, this is just a tiny sample of what our current crop of 30 Under 30 honorees are reading, which is an even smaller sample of the books that young real estate practitioners in general cherish. Let me know what your favorite business and industry books are in the comment section below.
The Senate this week is taking up legislation to even the tax-collection playing field between Internet retailers and bricks-and-mortar retailers. It’s an important issue for commercial real estate professionals, because their clients face a disadvantage against out-of-state Internet retailers on tax collection.
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It’s not that no tax is due when something is purchased in a different state over the Internet. A tax is in fact due, but states have no way of systematically collecting it. And a Supreme Court case from 1992 prohibits them from requiring out-of-state retailers to collect the tax on their behalf.
As a result, it’s largely been up to buyers to pay the tax, in the form of a “use tax,” but they rarely do. Correcting this disparity is the rationale behind the Marketplace Fairness Act, S. 366, which the Senate is set to pass any day now. Lawmakers and analysts generally agree that the bill will in fact pass, and then it needs to be taken up in the House, where the outcome is less clear.
NAR supports the bill, mainly for two reasons. First, it will help the commercial real estate sector, which finds the playing field tilted against it as buyers go online to buy things from vendors in another state that, if bought in a store, would require them to pay state tax. Second, it’s a good bill for states, because it will bring in tax revenue that’s owed to them, helping those with a budget gap improve their bottom line. By some estimates, states are losing out on more than $20 billion a year.
Critics say the bill equates to a new tax, but in fact the tax is already in place. The bill is intended to make it practical and simple for states to collect what they’re owed.
There are plenty of arguments on both sides of the issue, but for the real estate industry, it’s simply about creating an even playing field between them and Internet retailers. In the 4-minute video above, NAR Government Affairs analysts talk about the bill and why NAR supports it.
Access NAR’s letter in support of the bill.
Rod Santomassimo, CCIM, discusses 3 mistakes to avoid, strategic planning, and the technology needed for maximizing an independent broker's income.
Rod Santomassimo, CCIM, discusses three mistakes to avoid, strategic planning, and the technology needed for maximizing an independent broker's income.
By Wade Corbett
It never ceases to amaze me how REALTORS® can treat each other sometimes. I recently had an experience with a buyer’s agent who could not have been more rude or bullheaded. I never like to talk poorly about anyone as it’s not my nature and I don’t think it’s very professional, but in this case, it may be necessary for today’s lesson. There are loathsome people throughout all walks of life and it’s impossible to avoid all of them. Why though, do some real estate professionals think that being difficult to work with helps anyone? Our primary duty is to provide our client with quality service in a lawful manor. After all, we wouldn’t make it too far without our clients, would we?
Recently, I sold a property that had a cracked septic system. Knowing that replacing this system would be financially impossible for my clients, I opened my bag of saved favors to ensure they would be able to sell their vacant home. I was able to convince one of my best contractors to replace the septic tank for less than cost, (yes, she actually lost money replacing it), as a massive favor for me. With breakneck speed, we obtained the appropriate permits, and the job was done in just a few days. Even so, the buyer’s agent was not impressed, and without going into any detail, was very unprofessional during the entire ordeal. The other agent actually called my favorite contractor to fuss about the pace of the work being done. Meanwhile, this agent called me horrible names and insulted my real estate abilities to my contractor!
The property did end up closing after continued scrutiny from the buying party. My sellers, a married couple who live several hours away, knew nothing of the troubles mentioned or the ugliness of the buying side. All they knew was that I was going to do everything in my power to ensure that the property sold. I ended up calling in a lot of favors and I took a significant loss on my commission. However, my hard work paid off. Since the deal closed, the sellers have referred me additional business, given me marketing space on their website—at no cost—and called me many times to thank me for all my help!
All in all, the buyer’s agent was very difficult to work with and at some point impossible to communicate with. It was clear from early on that this agent was only interested in making a commission and not on her client’s well-being. So what’s the lesson here? We should all try to be friendly and courteous to one another. There’s no reason to ever be hurtful to a fellow REALTOR®!
Have you ever had a negative experience with the other party in a real estate transaction? If so, how did you handle it?
By Patti Stern, PJ & Co. Home Styling
Fifteen seconds. That’s how long a home for sale has to make a good first impression. And, that’s if you can get today’s sophisticated buyers off their mobile device and to the front door. More than 90 percent of home buyers search for a home online, making it more important than ever for a home’s listing photos alone to capture buyer interest.
Home owners who have finally made a decision to sell their home may not be thinking about updating and remodeling. But staging — coupled with remodeling — are important considerations in a home selling strategy and an investment in getting top dollar for a home.
Even modest updates preserve the equity a family has built in their home. Ultimately, the cost to update something in their home before it goes on the market will be less than the price reduction buyers will expect as compensation for out-of-date rooms.
Older homes, in particular, may require improvements in key rooms such as kitchens or baths to meet today’s buyer demand for a move-in ready home.
We transformed this bathroom …
We painted the walls and vanity and also added a new light fixture and mirror. Updated accessories complete the new, more modern design.
Here are some additional staging and remodeling tips home owners may want to consider to meet buyer’s high demand for move-in condition homes.
- Make necessary repairs and complete unfinished projects.
- Replace and refresh outdated accessories, fixtures, and furnishings.
- Freshen up your color palette with neutral colors.
- Declutter and open up the space.
- Expose or add hardwood floors.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Patti Stern is a principal and interior decorator and accredited home stager with PJ & Co. Home Styling LLC. PJ & Company Home Styling, LLC , offers decorating and home staging services for individuals, real estate professionals, builders, and others in the industry.
By Dave Robison
When I first got into this business, I was immediately struck by the enigma that is a real estate team. No matter how closely teams resemble one another on paper, real estate teams will always vary in terms of production. Take two teams of five agents each, and even though experience level or age or any of those factors may match up perfectly, one team will still produce an average of ten home sales per agent in a given year while the other may only produce five. Now I ask: If you could somehow figure out how this successful team achieved such high sales, would you do it?
What we’re talking about here is almost like body building. What does it take to win a body building contest? Well… I’m not completely sure but I do know that if you’re going to create a high performance body, you better be committed to it and willing to the pay the price. For body builders, that probably means countless hours in the gym and careful monitoring of their food intake. While real estate success may not require you to put down the sweets and hit the weight room, building a high performance team takes just as much drive, dedication and willingness to change. Most agents will never build such a high performance team because they don’t put in the effort that’s required. Growing is not the easiest endeavor; in fact, it’s oftentimes downright uncomfortable. As the saying goes: No pain, no gain.
So what are the obstacles standing in the way of high performance team success? Here are the most common complaints:
- Once I train an agent, he or she will just leave to start on his or her own. Why would I train my competition?
- I know of agents or had an agent who worked with me and left and took some of my clients. Why would I want to risk that again?
- My clients call me because they want to work with me. So wouldn’t it reflect poorly on me if I hand them off to someone else?
- I don’t have enough time to put in this extra work. Don’t you know I’m already busy as it is?
- I don’t have enough money to build a brand or advertise this team. How would we succeed without a big marketing budget?
Many agents use these “excuses” as reasons why they shouldn’t join a team. Well, that’s just good news for you because now you’ve got less competition to worry about. As long as agents don’t want to jump across those hurdles, you will enjoy increased market share. The secret is for you to acknowledge these complaints and push on anyway. (Remember that whole “no pain, no gain” thing I mentioned?) Think of these obstacles as your weight room reps; overcoming each one makes you stronger and more likely to become a high performance team.
This method has worked for my team for the past five years. Last year, we averaged 40 home sales per agent. In our market, that’s more than ten times the average agent sales. The results are real. So how do you increase your sales with the same amount of agents as other teams? You focus on becoming a high performance team, acknowledge the stumbling blocks in your way—like those five common complaints listed above—and keep moving forward regardless.
In The Wisdom of Teams: Creating the High-Performance Organization, authors Jon R. Katzenbach and Douglas K. Smith describe the difference between certain types of teams. For instance, a “Team of Name” is very different from a “High Performing Team.” The Team of Name might be 4 agents who share marketing costs to advertise their brand, but they all do their own separate business and lack the cohesiveness of a real team. Conversely, the High Performance Team will have clear goals, accountability, selfless attitudes, and core values that work to create the kind of high performance group all real estate teams should be.
If you decide you want to be part of such a high performance team, then be willing to make sacrifices and know that the road to success is lined with obstacles, complaints, and limitations that must be overcome. The first step is to learn how high performance teams operate, and acquiring this knowledge will take time. But successful team building is a constant process, and if you go in recognizing this, then you’ve already started on the path to ultimate team success.
Dave Robison, known as “Utah Dave,” is broker/owner of UtahDave.com Neighborhood Experts.
By Jay O’Brien
Do your clients view your commission as hard-earned income or a jackpot paycheck? I would be willing to bet the majority view a REALTOR®’s income as the latter. In fact, we constantly hear about the bribery and illegal kick backs awarded to those referring clients in the way of their friends or family. The idea of this should really raise the red flags. Are there actually consumers out there who feel comfortable earning a credit solely in exchange for doing business with a certain “professional”? Sounds more like a multi-level marketing philosophy than a legitimate sales technique. Why are so many real estate agents quick to offer their compensation to someone else? In simple terms, they need the cash.
Consider these staggering statistics:
- 90 percent of agents complete no more than 3 transactions a year (Orange County MLS 2012)
- 65 percent of agents sell zero homes a year (Orange County MLS 2012)
- Only 1.8 percent of agents sell a minimum of one home per month (Orange County MLS 2012)
- The median real estate income was approximately $39,140 last year (BLS.gov / May 2012)
Now consider this:
According to a 2013 MIT study, for a single adult, the least required annual income to survive in Orange County (before taxes) is $27,284. For a family of 4 to keep their heads above water—or above the poverty line—one must earn no less than $50,390 a year.
Assuming an average commission of 2.5 percent earned (excluding taxes and brokerage splits), this means only 11.6 percent of agents can afford to live off their income.
Enough with the jargon, here’s the real question:
If approximately 89 percent of real estate agents are competing for clients by offering discounts and rebates, how do you plan to demonstrate your value upfront in order to capture the missing business? In short, you’ll need to differentiate yourself from the competition. Use the following five points to illustrate your worth:
- Communicate the number of transactions you have successfully completed in the last 3 months.
- Provide testimonials from clients who have previously done business with you.
- Differentiate yourself from your competition; explain what it means to be an agent vs a REALTOR®.
- Give specifics about what you are going to do to help a client get into a house and/or sell one.
- Explain how your commission works; provide details about how you get paid and what you get paid for.
Does your client honestly believe the cheapest option is best when deciding who should handle one of the biggest transactions of his or her life?
Jay O’Brien is a REALTOR® with RE/MAX Prestige in Anaheim Hills, Calif. Aside from real estate, he regularly supports the Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC) and is the co-founder of Mico York, a nonprofit organization that helps kids worldwide through their own personal artwork. Visit Jay on the web www.jayobrienrealestate.com or contact him at: Jay.email@example.com.
NAR Treasurer Bill Armstrong updates members about issues including the Marketplace Fairness Act, Terrorism Risk Insurance, and the Midyear Legislative Meetings in Washington, D.C.
By Jason O’Neil
I do not believe that mobile is the future of online real estate search. Why you ask? Because mobile is online real estate search and consumers have already been conditioned to get the information they want from their smartphone. With the popularity of real estate apps and searches, it’s difficult to make an argument that the mobile real estate revolution hasn’t already arrived.
According to the Google/NAR Digital House Hunt Study, “36 percent of home buyers use a mobile device while watching TV.” We know that home buyers use different technology during every different phase of their home search, but as practitioners, are we reactive or proactive in how we respond, adapt, and offer technology to our clients?
In an effort to be proactive, I have spent this past year informally polling all of my buyer clients on their search habits. What I’ve discovered is that some like Trulia, some like Zillow, some like to perform a basic Google address search but a lot are using the realtor.com® app. While there are no major differences with any of these apps, my polling revealed that mobile real estate search preferences vary according to personal style and familiarity with the application or program.
Personally, I have been evaluating the realtor.com® mobile app for iPhone. So far, I think it has fairly good features not only for the agent but also for the consumer. And my clients are loving it! The real difference between this app and many others is that with the realtor.com® app, I can add my clients using my login information—much like a friend request on Facebook—and once my client accepts, we are connected. Because of this feature, there’s a collaborative aspect to this app; I can send my clients homes they may be interested in and more importantly, they can send me homes they want to see or get more information about.
For example: Last weekend, one of my clients was driving around looking at neighborhoods, saw a home, opened the realtor.com® app, and used it to get details about the home. Instantly, the details were sent to my phone, which alerted me of my client’s desire to see the property. This is a perfect example of the collaboration between home buyers and their agents that our industry has been talking about for years.
If you haven’t done so already, I encourage you to download the app and ask a few clients to do the same. They will be happy you are involving them in the home buying process and you’ll be able to check out some pretty neat technology. Mobile is not the future, mobile is now. So what are you waiting for?
Real estate Web site Doorsteps has released an infographic that shows demographic and financial data on first-time home buyers, which includes data from the National Association of REALTORS®’ 2012 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers. Among the key data points:
- First-time home buyers are more willing to compromise on the house, but not on the neighborhood.
- Most first-time home buyers cut out on luxury items (42 percent) and entertainment (35 percent) to save for a home.
- The average age of the first-time home buyer is 31.
Click on the image below for the full-sized infographic.