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11th Hour Closings from Hell



Control Freaks Need Not Apply

As a licensed professional real estate agent, one of the first things you learn is that there are things outside of your realm of control. You can be the most hard-working, diligent, thorough, service-oriented agent on the planet, but there are still aspects to a real estate transaction that you have absolutely NO control over. These 11th Hour Closings from Hell serve to define our character, and our ability to respond to adversity. It is also during these seemingly “out-of-control” situations that help can come from the most unexpected places.

Case in point:

Just ‘Waitin’ on Loan Docs….yeah, right!

I recently represented a really nice family that had, unfortunately, amassed some sizable debt and were in danger of losing their home to foreclosure. We put their home on the market and priced it aggressively. Within a short period of time, we were under contract with some very qualified buyers who clearly loved the house. Everything went fairly smooth. There were a number of minor repairs that needed to be performed as a result of the inspection, but both parties agreed, and soon, we were onto “Pending” status. A week or so later, the appraisal came back at value (Whew!). All we’re waiting on now is loan docs. Or so we thought….

Trainwreck Ahead!

It’s Thursday. We’re supposed to close the following Monday. We HAVE to close on Monday. The foreclosure vultures are circling. I get a call from the Buyer’s Agent late Thursday afternoon. Evidently, there were some funding conditions that had been called out, but the good folks at the Underwriter neglected to share them with any of us. The hearth in front of the wood burning stove needs to be extended and framed, and the long stairway going up to the loft in the converted garage has to have some handrails.

Where’s Bob Villa when you need him?

Now fortunately, I have some familiarity with a hammer and circular saw, but the staircase to the loft has a number of challenging bends and twists, putting it a little out of my league and comfort zone. I make a few calls and all the contractors I trust are busy. Even the ones I don’t trust are busy! My life is passing before my eyes. I see my Sellers going to bankruptcy court, their kids sleeping in a cardboard box on the streets! You get the picture….

An Unexpected Ally

Just then, the phone rings. It is the Buyer’s Agent again. He asks if I am available to meet him and his broker at the home on Saturday. I am getting nervous. “What do you have in mind?” I ask. “Just show up around 9AM, and bring your cordless drill,” He replies.

I show up at the house on Saturday morning, and there is the Buyer’s Agent and his broker setting up saw horses and unloading lumber. I inquire, “So, what’s up?” The Broker looks me in the eye and says, “We’re removing conditions!”

For the next several hours, the three of us worked to extend the hearth, and install a very sturdy ‘code approved’ set of handrails. Bob Villa would be so proud!

Throw a Tantrum, or Swing a Hammer

Too many times, when transactions go sideways or blow up, we simply cast blame. On occasion, we even lose our calm and temper, yelling and screaming for justice. Fortunately, situations like this remind us about the true value of cooperation, and of all that can be accomplished when we work together.

On this day, we weren’t competitors.  On this day, we were like-minded professionals, working together, doing whatever was necessary in order to help both our clients achieve their goals.

We closed on Monday. Life is good!

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  1. Susie Blackmon

    September 16, 2008 at 8:30 am

    Oh Rich, you are just amazing. Handsome, smart and you can swing a hammer. Be still my heart. Great outcome too.. a closing! Whatever it takes, as they say.

  2. Bridget Magnus

    September 16, 2008 at 9:15 am

    The fact of the matter is sometimes we have to work a little harder for our commissions. At least once my broker has told me “you shouldn’t have to do that!” But the way I see it, a little bit of extra effort can not only save the deal, it can make you memorable as “the Realtor who fixes problems.” Those clients will remember who made things happen, who showed up on a Saturday with power tools. Who do you think they are going to call when their friends need to buy or sell?

    Of course, you still have to do your follow-up notes!

  3. Bob

    September 16, 2008 at 10:41 am

    doing whatever was necessary in order to help both our clients achieve their goals

    Rich, little did we know that we are kindred spirits at the core.

    9 years ago I represented an investor on the sale of 13 of his properties. On one of the properties, the buyer was a retired woman. The terms of the contract included that the property be painted prior to close. The investor called his painting crew (they were cheaper than the guys I use) and we were good to go to close on Tuesday morning.

    On Friday before she went to sign loan docs, we met at the property for the walk through. The paint crew had failed to show and the buyer was furious. I made a few calls, then convinced the buyer’s agent that she needed to get her client to escrow and sign docs and that my paint crew would take care of it. Guaranteed.

    As soon as escrow confirmed docs were signed, I called every painter I had ever sent business to, but no one was available. I headed off to Home Depot, then stopped at home for a few things before heading back to the property Friday afternoon. I got home at 4 am Monday morning, grabbed a quick nap, then met the client at 10 am. The property closed on Tuesday.

  4. Missy Caulk

    September 16, 2008 at 1:14 pm

    Whew……….you had be going. Rich, it makes all the difference in the world when you have great agents on the other side.

  5. Steve Simon

    September 16, 2008 at 1:24 pm

    I love reading about how the problem was solved instead of who created it! I have been involved with seller’s agents two times in the last month. One nightmare and the other a pleasure.
    Neither deal closed due to the lender (short sales on both offers), but what a difference a cooperative person on the other side of problem can be! Why be anything else?
    Enjoyed the post.

  6. Mack

    September 16, 2008 at 1:30 pm

    “We’re Removing Conditions” What a great line and cooperative effort between like minded professionals. Congratulations!

  7. The Harriman Team

    September 24, 2008 at 6:45 pm

    Now that’s what I call teamwork! Too many times we’ve seen transactions fall apart because one side was unwilling to “do whatever was necessary” to close the deal. The best example of teamwork I’ve seen from some of my colleagues is, “I told the seller I’d lower my commission by .5% to make this deal work, will you lower yours too?” That’s not teamwork, that’s highway robbery. It’s so refreshing to hear about two sides coming together, voluntarily, to remove obstacles to a successful deal. We’ve painted, mopped, swept, landscaped, mowed, washed, trimmed, trapped (don’t ask), and repaired things in order to get a deal through, most times w/o the help of the other side, and we would do it all again to see the smile on the client’s face because they knew they were closing on time. A gallon of paint, $20…new smoke detector, $10…a happy client (& their referrals!), priceless.

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Business Marketing

Use nostalgia as a marketing niche for your business today

(MARKETING) A market that is making waves is found in the form of entertainment nostalgia. Everyone has memories and attachments, why not speak to them?




Is it just me or does it seem like there is something for everything nowadays? Let me clarify, as that is a rather broad question…

With the way communicating through technology has advanced, it’s become much easier to connect with those who have shared interests. This has become especially evident with interests in the entertainment community.

Entertainment nostalgia

It now seems like there is an event for every bit of nostalgia you can imagine. Autograph shows, meet and greets, and memorabilia collections of all kinds are held in convention halls all around the world. (To give you an idea of how deep this thing goes, there was a “Grease 2” reunion convention sometime within the last five years. Being that I’m the only person I’ve ever met who likes that movie, it’s amazing that it found an audience.)

This idea of marketing by use of nostalgia is something that is becoming smartly tapped and there are a variety of directions it can go in.

For example, the new Domino’s ads feature dead-on tributes to “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.”

What’s your niche?

If you’re a fan of anything, it’s likely that you can find an event to suit your needs.

And, if you want to take it a step further, you can think outside the box and use nostalgia as a marketing tool.

I recently began dabbling in social media gigs that have brought me to a few different fan conventions. One was a throwback 80s and 90s convention that featured everyone from Alan Thicke to the members of N*SYNC. Another is a recurring convention that brings together fans of sci-fi, horror, and everything under that umbrella.

I was amazed by the number of people that came out to these events and the amount of money that was spent on the day’s activities (autographs, photo ops, etc.). I was energized by the fact that you can take something you have a great appreciation for and bring together others who share that feeling. Watching people meet some of their favorite celebrities is something that is priceless.

Hop onboard the nostalgia train

If you’re a fan of something, you don’t have to look too far to find what you’d enjoy – going back to the aforementioned “Ferris Bueller” example, there is a first-ever John Hughes fan event taking place in Chicago next month that will bring fans to their favorite Brat Pack members.

In the same thought, if you have an idea, now is the time to find others who share that interest and execute your vision.

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Business Marketing

5 tips to help you craft consistently high-converting email marketing

(MARKETING) Email may seem too old to be effective but surprisingly it’s not, so how can you get the most out of your email marketing? Try these tips.



Email marketing

Email marketing might seem archaic in comparison to modern mediums like social media, blogging, and podcasting; however, it actually remains one of the highest converting options marketers and small businesses have at their disposal.

But Why Email?

Hopefully, you believe in email as an effective marketing channel, but in case you have doubts, let’s hit the reset button. Here’s why email marketing is worth investing in:

  • Email is one of the few marketing channels that you have total control over. Unlike a social media audience, which can disappear if the platform decides you violate their terms, you own your email list.
  • Email is considered very personal. When someone gives you access to their inbox, they’re telling you that you can send them messages.
  • From a pure analytics perspective, email gives you the ability to track behaviors, study what works, and get familiar with the techniques that don’t.
  • The ROI of email marketing is incredibly high. It can deliver as much as $44 in value for every $1 spent.

5 Tips for High-Converting Emails

If you’ve been using email, but haven’t gotten the results you’d like to, it’s probably because you’re using it ineffectively.

Here are a few very practical tips for high-converting emails that generate results:

  1. Write Better Subject Lines: Think about email marketing from the side of the recipient. (Considering that you probably receive hundreds of emails per week, this isn’t hard to do.) What’s going to make you engage with an email? It’s the subject line, right?If you’re going to focus a large portion of your time and energy on one element of email marketing, subject lines should be it.The best subject lines are the ones that convey a sense of urgency or curiosity, present an offer, personalize to the recipient, are relevant and timely, feature name recognition, or reference cool stories.
  2. Nail the Intro”: Never take for granted the fact that someone will open your email, and read to the second paragraph. Some will – but most will scan the first couple of lines, and then make a decision on how to proceed.It’s critically important that you get the intro right. You have maybe five seconds to hook people in, and get them excited. This is not a time to slowly build up. Give your best stuff away first!
  3. Use Video: Email might be personal, but individual emails aren’t necessarily viewed as special. That’s because people get so many of them on a daily basis.According to Blue Water Marketing, “The average person receives more than 84 emails each day! So how do you separate your emails from everyone else? Embed videos in your emails can increase your conversion rates by over 21 percent!”This speaks to a larger trend of making emails visually stimulating. The more you use compelling visuals, the more engaging and memorable the content will be.
  4. Keep Eyes Moving: The goal is to keep people engaging with your email content throughout. While it’ll inevitably happen with a certain percentage of recipients, you want to prevent people from dropping off as they read.One of the best ways to keep sustained engagement is to keep eyes effortlessly moving down the page with short and succinct copy.One-liners, small paragraphs, and lots of spacing signal a degree of approachability and simplicity. Use this style as much as you can.
  5. Don’t Ask Too Much: It can be difficult to convey everything you want to say in a single email, but it’s important that you stay as focused as possible – particularly when it comes to CTAs and requests.Always stick to one CTA per email. Never ask multiple questions or present different offers. (It’ll just overwhelm and confuse.) You can present the same CTA in multiple places – like at the beginning, middle, and end of the email – but it needs to be the same call. That’s how you keep people focused and on-task.

Give Your Email Marketing Strategy a Makeover

Most businesses have some sort of email lists. Few businesses leverage these lists as well as they should. Hopefully, this article has provided you with some practical and actionable tips that can be used to boost engagement and produce more conversions. Give them a try and see what sticks.

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Business Marketing

Here’s how one employer was able beat an age discrimination lawsuit

(MARKETING) Age discrimination is a rare occurrence but still something to be battled. It’s good practice to keep your house in order to be on the right side.



Jewel age discrimination

In January, the EEOC released its annual accounting for reports of discrimination in the previous year. Allegations of retaliation were the most frequently filed charge, which disability coming in second. Age discrimination cases accounted for 21.4% of filed charges. As we’ve reported before, not all age discrimination complaints rise to the level of illegal discrimination. In Cesario v. Jewel Food Stores, Inc., the federal court dismissed the claims of age discrimination, even though seven (7) plaintiffs made similar claims against the grocery store.

What Cesario v. Jewel Food Stores was about

In Cesario, all but one of the seven plaintiffs had spent years with Jewel Food building their careers. When Jewel went through some financial troubles, the plaintiffs allege that they began to “experience significant pressure at work… (and) were eventually forced out or terminated because of their age or disability.” Jewel Food requested summary judgment to dismiss the claims.

The seven plaintiffs made the same type of complaints. Beginning in 2014, store directors were under pressure to improve metrics and customer satisfaction. Cesario alleges that the Jewel district manager asked about his age. Another director alleges that younger store directors were transferred to stores with less difficulties. One plaintiff alleged that Jewel Food managers asked him about his retirement. The EEOC complaints began in late 2015. The plaintiffs retired or were fired and subsequently filed a lawsuit against their company.

Age discrimination is prohibited by the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, (ADEA). The ADEA prevents disparate treatment based on age for workers over 40 years old. However, plaintiffs who allege disparate treatment must establish that the adverse reactions wouldn’t have occurred but for age. Because none of the plaintiffs could specifically point to age as the only determination of their case, the court dismissed the case.

A word to wise businesses

Jewel Food was able to demonstrate their own actions in the case through careful documentation. Although there was no evidence that age played a factor in any discharge decision, Jewel Food could document their personnel decisions across the board. The plaintiffs also didn’t exhaust all administrative remedies. This led to the case being dropped.

Lesson learned – Make perssonel decisions based on performance and evidence. Don’t use age as a factor. Keep documentation to support your decisions.

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