Holiday Listings

Each year, about this time, Realtors across the country hear those same three little words “…after the Holidays”. The real estate market tends to go into an economic hibernation for a couple of months as activity slows down. Our focus shifts from seeking listings and promoting sales activities to turkey and hanging out with the family.  We plan our cross-country trips, hang the lights, buy gifts for our loved ones, and make sure we are stocked up on eggnog. Mmmm, eggnog!

For our clients, it is just as stressful a time of the year as for us! Not to mention the kids. Oh yeah, they’re around! Many times, the last thing our sellers want is the added stress of selling a home. So, each year, about this time, we resign ourselves to having a slow month or two. These are all valid points, but certainly not the only points to ponder. This December could be a productive work month if you know how to position yourself.

Occasionally, I will send out a postcard to my farm area entitled “8 Reasons to List during the Holidays”.  The intent was not only to promote myself and the services I could provide, but also to create a shift in the mind of the seller who had already decided to put off listing until the New Year. I would also send the little card to my current listings who I knew might expire during this period. I will share a few of those ideas with you.

First, the listed home is already looking pretty! No need to “tidy up” before a showing or make the place look festive, or bake wonderful smelling cookies in the oven to make it all seem like home. It already does. The owners did your staging for you!  There’s also no need to cut the grass just before a showing appointment.

For sale in snowAnother good consideration is the Holiday schedule itself. Many times, manufacturing plants and other businesses will completely shut down for a couple of weeks.  This means those “by confirmed appointment” sellers are now much more flexible, and easier to reach by phone. The brokers appointment system can simply block out important family days and sub-Holidays like New Years Eve. Buyers are in the same boat with extended vacation and many want to take advantage of the free time.

Another key factor, and perhaps the most important, is a smaller market! Remember, a lot of sellers are thinking “…after the Holidays”, and the inventory actually shrinks. Real estate is already competitive, so why not take advantage while the competition is on hiatus. Not to mention, come January, all those new and “new again” listings will twinkle in our MLS system like lights on a tree.

Plenty of people, people just don’t want to get out in the cold. However, if someone is willing to bundle up, schedule an appointment, and take a meeting with a Realtor in the dead of Winter, they’re serious! It’s a good opportunity to eliminate the “Looky Loos” who are less than serious and think of house hunting as a hobby. Buyers are also stressed out and otherwise involved, yet if they take the time to see a home with your sign in the yard, they may just be willing to put ink on paper. You couldn’t give your sellers a better gift!

These are all great considerations when it comes to working for your clients, but there are distinct advantages for the professional as well. Not only is the overall market better for our clients, but it’s better for YOU! For years, I have made myself available to anyone and everyone who want to buy or sell. Without fail, I always pick up new clients at this time because everyone else had their phones turned off. Consistently, I heard stories of how people must have called a dozen agents, but no one picked up or returned their call. Well, I do, and I get new clients out of it, too. Some of them will be people relocating to the area in a few weeks or months, and had this time to look for properties. I don’t mind the delayed gratitude if I know the buyers are serious.

Yes, there are a lot of points to consider during the Holiday season, but your mental default should not be that of “Nobody wants to buy or sell during the Holidays”.  By working smart and being available, you just might be able to put a nice little bow on the end of your business year.

 

So, Just ASK Already!

Do not underestimate the power of asking for that which you desire. In business, it is generally expected that after the “pitch”, comes the “ask”. It must be in that order, too. Why would a buyer or potential client do business with someone else, without knowing all the facts first? As Realtors, we rehearse our presentation and practice eliminating objections, but we give little consideration to actually getting the ink on paper. Too often, business people sit back after we have shown all the graphs, answered all the questions, and simply STARE at the prospect. The prospect finds this really creepy, by the way. Without asking for the order, the default answer is always “No”. Perhaps worse than not actually asking for the contract, we may give the feckless “so, what do you think”?

Asking also plays a big role in charities, recreation, and civic organizations as well. Years ago, I was curious as to why there wasn’t more participation in the annual Chili cook-off in my real estate office. The Managing Broker of the company told me, “Some times, people just want to be asked”. That really struck me as odd. This was something we did every year in the Fall, and everyone always partook and had fun. So, it’s not like people didn’t know to enter the contest, especially since it was posted, mentioned in a meeting, and followed up in email. After all, if an opportunity was available, or a position open, such as “Snack Chairman” for the high school volleyball team, wouldn’t people just raise their own hand, and say; “yes, I would relish the opportunity to be the Snack Chair this year”. I followed her guidance, and sure enough, we were able to double the participants, and everyone enjoyed the party.

Some time later, that same real estate broker needed to fill an Office Manager position at the firm. She must have had over a dozen applicants. She selected three or four potential hires for an interview. After the process, she confided in me, her decision came down to the one interviewee who actually ASKED for the job. I was under the assumption being grilled for twenty minutes on what animal you would be if you lived in a forest, WAS asking for the job. Apparently, not. The lady stated how much she really needed the job, and actually vocalized the words; “Will you hire me?”. Turned out, she was a really good fit for the office, and she never for a second indicated she took the position for granted.

Seeking a favor puts us at a disadvantaged position. When negotiating, we want to come from a position of power and strength, but in asking, we admit the ball is in the other person’s court. Many times, the ball IS NOT in our own court, and coming to that realization puts a knot in our stomach. Nonetheless, formally requesting the business is where the rubber meets the road. Even being denied your request is certainly a better position to come from than; making your presentation, dodging objections and being grilled for half an hour, only to toss out “So, what do you think” in the end. My advice; swallow your pride, and just ask!

Are you a Fraud?

When I first became a Realtor fifteen years ago, I was excited about the prospect of helping so many consumers realize the “American Dream”. But, as I actually began to approach prospective clients, a terrible sinking feeling hit the pit of my stomach. I had begun to question everything that had brought me to that point. Was I really trying to help others achieve a lofty ideal, or was I just trying to make a quick buck? Was I good enough? What if a client knows more about the situation than I know?   Believe me, there’s nothing quick about making money in real estate, but these questions often enter a new agents mind… veterans too! These are normal anxieties that most people experience at one time or another in their lives. It just means you’re human.

A magician will take the stage, with the intent of dazzling his audience. He makes sure his first effect is a big hit to quickly win his audience over with his demonstration of skill. After a few minutes, even the most hardnosed skeptics stop trying to catch the performer commit an error, and simply sit back and enjoy the show. The magician is delighted to know he has the audience in the palm of his hand. However, delight eventually turns to guilt. “These people actually believe I can perform miracles” the illusionist will think to himself. “My entire show is built on lies, deception and optical illusions. I’m a fraud”! It’s what magicians call the Impostor Syndrome.

The Impostor Syndrome is something often attributed to over achievers, as well as novices. An actress makes a few movies that are well received, and the performer is in high demand. She now has the means to purchase a large home with all the furnishings, as well as that fancy sports car she always wanted. Then when she considers all those other people who are without the extravagant creature comforts, she feels guilty for her success. To alleviate the negativity, she offers to work FOR a worthy charity. This is a wonderful way to channel the energy into a positive. She then receives worldwide acclaim for her good works, and again, feels guilty for receiving the notoriety. She then rationalizes in order to find peace; she needs to lash out AGAINST something… anything. This explains why we have so much social commentary from the Hollywood elite these days.

What the magician’s audience doesn’t see is the countless hours researching, studying, and practicing in front of a mirror to get each and every effect just right. He will also experiment with different methods, and ask for guidance from other professionals. Similarly, a brand new real estate agent devotes themselves to their craft. Consider the hundred hours of formal training one must attend in order to achieve his or her license. Respect the fact most people would not endure sitting through the classes, studying for the test, taking the test (maybe more than once) and subscribe to an code of ethics in order to call themselves; Realtor. Yet, we feel ashamed if a member of the general public states information they found on Zillow or Trulia that they say is contrary to our research and professional opinion. One should never question their own abilities when confronted by those who are not willing to put in the hard work.

The magician is not paid to perform “miracles”, he’s paid to ENTERTAIN, which is what he does. Similarly, an agent is not compensated for “knowing everything”, but rather to research a specific situation to help the clients achieve their goals. Still, there are some things we can do to overcome a fraud complex. First, understand by being committed to your industry, you already know a lot more than you may think. Second, when someone pays you a compliment, accept it. “Thank you” is an appropriate response. Also, fresh knowledge by way of continual training and keeping up with current industry issues is a good way to kill off the “impostor” inside. When it all said and done, you are a professional with a conscience. After all, a true con artist never has an issue with integrity, or the lack thereof. So, remind yourself, you are there to help consumers realize the “American Dream”.

http://MomentumSeminars.com

Professionalism Begins Online

We have all had bad days, but is that a license to blab to the world about how much you hate your job because we’re just not “feeling it” that day? SPOILER ALERT; the crux of this article is that no one cares! Nonetheless, there will be teachers, CPAs, Realtors and even doctors who will spill their guts on the internet through social media. The individual may feel a little better after a purge, but his or her audience is aghast.

A couple of weeks ago, I was with about a dozen veteran real estate agents who were mortified by some of the recent posts of fellow Realtors. Things that apart from just being in bad taste, could actually get the licensee in a lot of hot water. Of course, I immediately pulled out my smartphone to see who was doing what. Oh yes, you will get reactions, but will you get business? I will confess just when I think no one is reading my feed, I may drop a quick comment about an elected official or some new government policy and inadvertently start a firestorm controversy. Right there on MY page… YIKES! Well, if you are alright with that, than that’s your business decision to make.

It really is a business decision. Most people with a professional license are independent contractors. That being said, they are small business owners. To which they are THEIR OWN boss and responsible for taking measures to avoid liability. If one agent tweets out their own resentment toward a fellow Realtor, the overall process or heaven forbid, their own client, repercussions are soon to follow because literally everyone on the planet can read it. As in the case of Realtors, the NAR Code of Ethics, Article 15 reads…

“REALTORS® shall not knowingly or recklessly make false or misleading statements about other real estate professionals, their businesses, or their business practices.” 

The supporting standards go on to state the professional could be made to remove the post and, essentially, apologize. In the case of clients, they could sue over a careless post as it is a breach of agency. So why would someone want to air their dirty laundry online in the first place?

Rachel Albertson, with InfoRule Social Media, a Murfreesboro based marketing firm states; “You do not have to be friends with clients on social media. In fact, I do not recommend it.”  Apparently, Disney thinks that’s a good idea as well. Their employees are NOT permitted to mention they work for Disney. To violate this policy could be grounds for termination. So, be mindful of how you intermingle your private life with business.

Legal issues aside, remember what your mom told you about “conversation in mixed or polite company”? Do not discuss sex, politics or religion. Mom was right! Yet, here is where a lot of people miss it. To spare you the details here, MASHABLE has compiled a list of people who were let go over social media posts. I am not suggesting we have no opinions or never share our ideas, that’s not my place. Though I will offer a friendly reminder if you post something political, you stand the chance of alienating half of your audience.

Professionalism begins online. In the 21st century, the majority of consumers start looking for an insurance agent, mortgage broker, Realtor or dentist through the internet. The search is actually a funnel. The buyer asks a question of a search engine, follows the answer to an industry publication, then a geographic company and then YOU! They already have a vague idea of what a professional is suppose to be before they ever click your name. When they ask a serious question, they anticipate a serious, coherent answer. If what they find instead is an agent posing with a sock monkey, they may not take that professional as one who is serious or would be responsible with their money. In short, the agent appears UNprofessional. Don’t get me wrong, I love sock monkeys as much as the next guy, but if there is no marketing tie-in or a picture of a give away at a children’s hospital, no one would take me serious. They certainly would not trust me with their biggest financial investment. Time to take down the cutesy avatar.

Blaine@realtracs.com

 

Talk a Good Game!

I have long said, “real estate is a people business”! Oh, I can hear the rumblings now… “But Blaine, didn’t you swear off cliché’s and erroneous business maxims in this blog”? Good catch! I knew I could count on you to keep me honest.

What I mean by realty being a PEOPLE business, is that it actually has little to do with real estate, or the property itself. Unless you are a builder, or investor, your commodity as a Realtor is in the service you provide, not brick and mortar. How many times have we been contacted by a potential buyer wanting THAT particular house, only to realize for one reason or another, it was not suitable for them? At that point, do we camp out on the front porch of THAT property, or begin to work with the buyer?  You see what I mean by it being a “people” business.

That being said, there is a whole new kettle of emotional problems in working with clients versus a house. Yes, emotions come into play when you work with people. It’s not so much a buyer wants THAT house, but rather what they think it represents. How will their family be affected by the move? Are their children safe here? Does this dwelling allow the family to accomplish it’s goals? And those newly single may not wish to be reminded of times at their prior residence, or the pain of losing a member of their family either through separation or death. We think of the experience being most emotional for our buyers, but we must remind ourselves, sellers are people too. Typically, we just don’t see them as often, and may not consider what is going through their minds.

But, unless we are also clinical psychologists, how do we deal with all these feelings, which aren’t even ours? The answer to this complex problem is simple; we talk. We ask questions of our clients, understanding their first response may not be the most accurate. We advise, tell stories, give feedback, and ASK for feedback. We must constantly “take the temperature” of those we are trying to help. Which means asking some of the SAME questions throughout the process to ensure our clients needs and wants haven’t shifted once they receive more information about the real estate process. I learned early in my career to not WAIT for my people to offer comments, or ask questions of me. Often times, they don’t know what to ask, don’t want to look ignorant of the process (which is why they hired us), or feel a bit overwhelmed and simply don’t know where to begin.

As the professional, it is up to us to anticipate problems and ask questions before they get too big. For some of us, this does not come easy. There are those in real estate who are very good with numbers, and willing to do whatever it takes to hammer out a good deal for the people they serve. But, is that enough? These are the left-brain people (much like myself), who don’t understand why someone would seem disappointed when “the numbers look really good”. We must continue to probe, and pull the details out of the minds of others.

For those of us not suited to reading the impressions of our listeners, it may be a good investment to enroll in a public speaking course at a community college. There, you will learn to judge your listeners’ reaction to the information you impart, to see if they are following what you are saying. Or for that matter, to better analyze whether what you are saying is even relevant to your clients. Dale Carnegie Training and Toastmasters International are also wonderful organizations to help you with speaking, listening, and critical thinking.

The fact that you asked the exact same question a week ago is completely irrelevant! All people change their goals to accommodate what obstacles life throws their way. It is OUR JOB as professionals in the business to keep up with our clients shifting desires. A house doesn’t change its wants and ambitions, people do that. Life would be so much easier if real estate were truly a housing business.

MomentumSeminars.com

BlaineSpeaks@gmail.com

Welcome to my Blog!

Hello, my name is Blaine Little, and I reside in Murfreesboro, which is in the heart of the great State of Tennessee! I have been a Realtor for almost 20 years, a business trainer for over a decade, and even a corporate entertainer as a professional magician! Just between us, that last one is probably the most fun!

So, why add yet one more set of incoherent ramblings to the internet? Well, I guess the short answer would be “why not”. But that’s too cliché. Through my business, corporate training, and dealings with other people, I have come across several interesting observations about businesses in America, and the people who operate them. Not earth-shattering, just interesting. Through that perspective, I have developed different philosophies about why people do the things they do, and how that effects their organizations.

Besides that, I like to talk a lot. I have written some articles, mostly for Realtor Associations. I have also trained and managed professionals, redesigned programs, and sat in on more committee meetings than I can remember. I spent much of 2017 on the road helping business people sharpen their tools. It’s interesting why people do the things they do, but it is even more interesting as to why WE react to those other people.  Some times, that’s just outright funny! Well, to me least. Normally, I’m pretty quiet, but once you get me chatting, away I go!

The purpose of this web log is not to repeat the same “motivational guru” clichés as has been touted so many times in recent past.  As the name implies, “Momentum Seminars” means so much more than rehashing what has already been said. Instead, I will look at business concepts and training issues from a completely different perspective. So, thanks for taking the time to occasionally sit back, and take note of my ideas, observations, and philosophy. I promise, I will try to not take myself too serious. You may access more of me, as well as contact me for IN-HOUSE TRAINING,  at my website, MomentumSeminars.com

Blaine Little

MomentumSeminars.com

BlaineSpeak@gmail.com 

I Remain Neutral!

In real estate, a big part of the professional’s job is to advise his or her clients. When it comes to working with sellers, many times it is necessary to advise them as to their choice of color schemes. This is a very delicate situation since, the last thing we want to do is insult our client’s sense of taste by recommending they repaint or do some light remodeling. It implies there was an issue with their choices in decorating. Yet, that is exactly what we must do with our clients many times… ADVISE, not insult.

Utilizing colors of a light or medium hue shows a room at its maximum size. OK, the dimensions don’t change at all, but white does better reflect the light, which makes it APPEAR to be decoratelarger than the same room painted, say… brown. It also minimizes the shock value of the sportsman who tours a house where the little girl really loved pink. No matter the size of the back yard, he’s just going to remember the pink bedroom.

Often, we speak in terms of using “neutral colors”. But keep in mind, those who are design challenged, don’t know what neutrals are. Otherwise, there probably would not be an issue in the first place. I provide a palette to my clients of off-white, parchment, gray (really light gray), eggshell, or even (I’m about to go nuts, here) taupe and beige. I simply create some “swatches” on my computer, print it off, and hand it to them.

Yes, in larger homes, potential buyers do expect a certain amount of professional decor. However, the blood red walls of a large dining room that might have worked a few years ago, will not work in the living room of a 1200 square foot home now. It’s simply too gloomy.

If you have been in the business long enough, you have come across the Tennessee football fan who painted the outdoor trim in U.T. Vols orange. By the way, he KNOWS he has to paint it, but just doesn’t want to go through the hassle. This is your opportunity to advise your client. He’s waiting for it! Besides, what if the eventual buyer is from Alabama? As I tell my sellers, “I’m not trying to guess what the one in ten will like, but rather avoid what I know the nine in ten will not like. Don’t let a bad paint job stand between you and your closing the sale, or worse your clients ultimate goal… selling the house.