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20% Drop in Number of Realtors?



20% of more than a million is a big number…

Today, I read that the number of Realtors in this country is expected to drop by 20% or more in 2009 according to a poll conducted by Inman News.   I realize that this is a natural consequence of our poor housing market.  But I have been surprised to see wonderful agents that I respected a great deal, leave the business and I wonder what makes the difference between those that survive (or even thrive) and those that don’t.

For several years now, I have had a quote taped above my desk.  In my hours spent coaching agents, and even in moments of my own frustration and doubt, I have referred to it.  I believe the author is Goethe but that is debated.  Either way, its message is one that never ceases to strengthen me.

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back — Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too.  All sorts of things occur to help one that would never have otherwise occurred.  A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would come his way.  Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it.  Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.  Begin it now.”

Difference between success and well, not success:

That quote may contain the biggest difference between those that remain successful in real estate and those that leave the business.  “Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back…” – therein lies the answer.  If you lack a real commitment, the chance to draw back remains and a Plan B is always consuming a portion of your attentions and energies.

There is a gentleman in my Mastermind group that is really a great example of deep committment making a big difference.  He is the sole provider for his family of five and for some agents, this kind of pressure – in a market rife with challenges – might be enough to drive them to a safer, more predictable type of income stream.  Mike has never wavered in his committment to his clients, his business, and his family and he has had his best year since he began in the business 4 years ago.

The irony in that small shift in thinking – the commitment – is that often “A whole stream of events issues from the decision…” in an effort to support you.  Does it come from the work you put in with your renewed commitment?  Or is it Law of Attraction?  Does it matter?

As you begin your new year and start to execute on that excellent business plan, ask yourself the level of commitment that you bring to your business.  Don’t let hesitancy or doubt put your business at risk.  We want you to be included in the 80% that will be showing up as a Realtor in 2010.

Happy New Year!

Linsey Planeta is the Broker Owner of Belterra Fine Homes in Orange County, California. Linsey rants regularly on her blog, OC Real Estate Voice. She also provides sellers with tips on how to get their home sold on Why Didn't My Home Sell? She has been an active Real Estate Coach and Instructor and loves working with agents so that they may look at their business with fresh eyes, renewed purpose, and defined systems. Linsey can be found in her office or you can also find her on Twitter@Linsey.

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  1. Ken Brand

    January 6, 2009 at 8:52 pm

    Amen sister.

    All IN or nothing. Go BIG or go home.

    Commitment is an X factor.


  2. Ryan Hukill

    January 6, 2009 at 9:31 pm

    You’re right on the mark with this one!

    ‘If you lack a real commitment, the chance to draw back remains and a Plan B is always consuming a portion of your attentions and energies’ sums it up beautifully. I’m always amazed at other agents who are always pitching the ‘next big thing’ to me, and it’s always those agents who seem to struggle in the RE biz. They’re not fully committed to it, therefore will never get to that next level.

  3. Tony Sena

    January 6, 2009 at 10:57 pm

    I couldn’t imagine it any other way!!! When I tackle anything, it’s usually 100% or I don’t waste my time!

  4. Linsey Planeta

    January 6, 2009 at 10:59 pm

    Ken – Wow! I wish I had thought of that while writing this. ‘Go Big or Go Home!’ is the family mantra while we ski and it certainly fits the bill for this!

    Ryan – I think there is so much truth in what you said about agents always looking for the next big thing. There is no immediate fix for a business in flux. Sometimes our attentions become spread too thin rather than staying focused on the plan we committed to at the outset.

  5. Chuck G

    January 7, 2009 at 12:18 am

    20% is indeed a sad and sobering number. It’s tough to see someone walk away from a career that they’ve spent so much time and effort creating. It’s something I think about every day.

    But here’s an even more sobering thought: That number may turn out to be greater than 20% when this year is over.

    Why? In many regions, the number of transactions dropped in ’08 by well more than 20%. Add to that the dip in average selling price, and it becomes evident that the PIE is shrinking at a much faster rate than those who live off it. (The huge tilt toward REO sales didn’t help matters either.)

    Finally, one could make the argument in many areas that there was an excess of Realtors for the business to support to begin with.

    All of this points to one conclusion: 2009 will be the year of reckoning for many, and we all will have to work harder, smarter, and longer than we ever had before to take a bigger piece out of a smaller pie.

    Here’s to seeing you all there!

  6. Mack

    January 7, 2009 at 5:22 am

    In 2007 my local board dropped 18% and it looks like 2008 will be in the 20% range. Who knows what will happen in 2009. For years in the past selling real estate was easy.

    For builders it was “If you build it they will come”. I was in a subdivision yesterday where the builders properties are now short sales and not too far away in another development every home was a foreclosure.

    For agents not enough effort was put into managing leads and contacts. There were just so many of them agents didn’t have to worry about it. This would possibly be good training for today’s less than flattering market.

    The “Good Old Days” are gone. It’s time for agents to run their business like a business. I’m probably preaching to the choir here but the agents falling by the wayside more than likely will never read this.

  7. Jim Duncan

    January 7, 2009 at 7:14 am

    I’m all for the professionals staying in, but the fact is that the vast majority of “Realtors” don’t do any business at all. Those are the ones who need to find a new hobby to occupy their free time.

    I think we need to lose at least 40% of the current Realtor population.

    • Nashville Grant

      March 10, 2010 at 12:55 am

      I am wondering if this stat is a little misleading. Has the number of licensed real estate agents dropped by 20% of the number of agents who chose to pay dues and join the NAR? I am guess that less than 20% have dropped out of the biz, some have simply dropped their NAR membership.

      I agree with Jim though, the less Realtors there are, the better it is for the rest of us, not just monetarily.

  8. Matthew Rathbun

    January 7, 2009 at 7:57 am

    No surprise, but I’m with Jim. 20% may be surrendering their license, but probably another 35% are getting “real” jobs and even more staggering is that 15% more are probably doing 1 or 2 transactions a year. Even in a productive market 20% were really making a career out of it and carried 80% of the business.

    Our Association only lost 100 of it’s 1500 members at years end. We have about 20 transferring from other agencies, 12 who are new and just applied for membership and a truck load that are registering for new classes. We’ll not feel a heavy loss in “numbers”, but we’ve seen more than a few folks having to “make room” on their credit cards to pay dues.

    I really think agents should NOT concentrate on number of competitors, because you just can’t quantify if they are really a threat to your business…

    Thanks for the insight in this post!

  9. Chuck G

    January 7, 2009 at 8:02 am

    Jim & Matthew,

    That’s a great point that I forgot to consider…there are indeed a bunch of dormant licensees in my area, and that will skew the numbers significantly. However, as I look around our weekly staff meeting with all of our “active” agents, I still wonder how there’s enough business to support everyone…

    I truly hope there is!

  10. Steve Simon

    January 7, 2009 at 8:35 am

    There is an awful lot of intolerance for the part time agent here. I taught RE lic. law for over two decades, I met a great number of wonderful people and agents that operate in a less than exclusive work environment (multiple careers). Conversely I met plenty of full time “Jack Ass’ types. Live and let live is my opinion.

  11. Matthew Rathbun

    January 7, 2009 at 8:44 am


    My comments weren’t related to dual-career agents. I also teach pre-licensing and my experience has shown that only about 20% either full time or dual-career can actually handle the job. Mostly because of lack of dedication to education and a desire to make this a career.

    Having said that, there are very few who can do this proficiently without doing it frequently. This is a career that is more “on the job training” than anything I’ve ever seen before.

    Dual career is great so long as they can still give their client 100% and the if not, the client is aware of the barriers and ok with them.

  12. Jim Duncan

    January 7, 2009 at 8:55 am

    Steve –

    I do have intolerance for part-time agents. You don’t have part-time doctors, mechanics, (ok, some lawyers), plumbers, etc.

    Why? Because to be good at this business, one has to do it full-time. If you’re not doing more than 2 (really, 10) transactions a year, you’re not making enough mistakes to represent your clients effectively. You’re likely not reading the blogs, you’re not going to CE, you’re not going to local association meetings, you’re not showing property nearly every day … I could go on and on. (not networking with other agents, building a book of plumbers, contractors, etc) …

    Part-time agents, in my opinion, do a disservice to themselves, their professions, and most importantly their clients.

  13. Steve Simon

    January 7, 2009 at 9:00 am

    @Matthew I can’t speak for Virginia, but in FL the market has crashed so dramatically that there is no other option for many but to switch and or add a second job. The local Board here was well over 1600 in the ’05 time frame. The last count the Realtor Pres. (an old friend) told me was 800 and many hadn’t sent in dues. To declare that these results are because of lack of committment or poor training is well, almost silly… “A rising tide lifts all ships…” and the reverse…

  14. Matthew Hardy

    January 7, 2009 at 10:38 am

    Agents who stay in the business are forgoing the “automatic button” gimmicks that are passed off as cutting-edge technology.

    They are investing their time and money is serious foundational systems that support the long-term interests of their business.

  15. Katie Minkus

    January 7, 2009 at 2:10 pm

    Aloha, Linsey – great post and oh so true! Although I have to say part of me is glad to be rid of those agents I call the “carpetbaggers” – the ones who came into the industry as it was trending up because they saw it as a way to “get rich quick” – and who are now onto whatever the next great thing is to make them money quickly.

    What we’re having a big problem with right now on the Big Island is dealing with the “part-time” agents who have another full time job such that when you call for a showing appointment they can’t call you back for 8 hours because they are at their “other job” or the ones who can only show your listing at noon to their clients because it’s their lunch hour. While I understand and deeply empathize that times are tough and getting another job is a necessity for some agents, it’s my belief at that point they should step back and play the “referral” game until such time as their finances or the economy and industry improves so they can work full-time as an agent again.

    Both groups of agents, in my opinion, keep contributing to the “negative opinion” many consumers have of Realtors – in other words, they make ALL of us look bad. I hope they are the ones making up the biggest portion of the 20% leaving the business.

  16. Paula Henry

    January 8, 2009 at 12:48 pm

    Linsey – I believe 2009 will be a make or break year for many agents. Yes, in a sense, I am glad to see some agents leave – OTOH – I’ve seen many good agents leave. They simply did not keep up with the changing times and technology.

    It is a bittersweet reckoning.

  17. fred

    January 8, 2009 at 9:11 pm

    I also feel little sympathy for part-time agents. They mostly got into the biz to make a “quick buck” on the side. They can all go! I have been a full timer from the get go, and I’m now a broker. I have fired agents in the past when they decided to go “part-time”. We need full time career agents that actually work for their money… So goodbye PT’s.

  18. Missy Caulk

    January 8, 2009 at 9:52 pm

    Lindsey, we have a saying in Michigan, that started in the U of M lockeroom.

    It was by Bo Schembechler

    “Those who stay will be Champions”

  19. Ruthmarie Hicks

    February 25, 2009 at 12:45 am

    In our area volume is so low that only the top 2-3% actually have viable incomes. Last month the entire lower part of the county had 121 closings. It’s usually well over two times that number. The population of the area in question is close to 500,000. So most of us simply don’t have a choice but to “add on” other work _ IF we can find it!

    Oddly enough this isn’t impacting the PT group who were always in it for the quick buck. They can wait to their hearts content because they have a FT job. So the shakeout is getting rid of the dead wood. It’s getting rid of some of the more committed types.

    Sad but true.

  20. Benn Rosales

    February 25, 2009 at 9:29 am

    Ruthmarie, you hit the nail on the head, the issue really boils down to volume- it simply doesn’t exist.

  21. Amanda Wernick

    March 10, 2010 at 1:17 am

    As a REALTOR, trainer and recruiter for my company, I always asked the question “So, tell me, if you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing?” The minute they’d answer “Well, I’d be…” I knew they weren’t going to make it, and I would tell them so…”then you should go do that.” Never rude or disrespectful, just honest.
    Being an entrepreneur isn’t for everyone, and just because you passed your Real Estate exam doesn’t mean that you’re going to make it in Real Estate.

    It was heartbreaking to me as a recruiter, staying in touch with new agents who just passed their exam, only to find out they had left the business and were now “NBA” (No Broker Affiliation) because they couldn’t afford to stay in Real Estate….

    Well, we’ll see what the future holds…

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Business Marketing

7 low-budget marketing ideas for small businesses to grow their reach

(MARKETING) Marketing ideas are often expensive or ultra time consuming, but let’s talk about some proven tactics that won’t break the bank.



Man leaning against wall on phone representing marketing.

The following marketing ideas are provided to you buy Threadsy:

No matter the size of your business, marketing matters! It’s important for small and big businesses alike to attract new customers, establish brand awareness, and to create buzz around products and services. But we know that not every business owner has tons of funds to devote to their marketing strategy. The good news? There are some highly effective marketing tactics that are also budget-friendly!

Here are seven low-budget marketing strategies for small business owners and side hustlers to grow their reach:

1. Sponsor Local Events

One of the best ways to get to know potential customers? Actually meet and talk to them! When you sponsor local events, you can be on-site to help people put a face with your business’s name. Sponsoring events is also a fantastic way to offer branded merchandise that can help you get your name and your logo out there.

Besides branded materials like signs, banners, or fliers, think about offering some fun items like wine bags to give away to attendees. Goody bags also make fantastic take-home options for local events. A branded canvas tote can be repurposed as an environmentally-friendly grocery bag, lunch bag for work, or a carry-all accessory for conventions and tradeshows. Print your logo on the outside and fill your goody bags with customized items like water bottles, notebooks, pens, and towels.

2. Let Your Colors Fly

Make some cool t-shirts featuring your logo! Wear them to the sponsored events mentioned above, out in the community, or anywhere you may encounter potential customers and can strike up a conversation. You can also offer t-shirts at a discount in-store or online, and turn your loyal customers into advertisers.

Quick tip: Purchase wholesale shirts to reduce manufacturing costs.

3. Social Media

If you’re not already leveraging social media to promote your business, it’s time to start! Think your customers aren’t using social networks? While certain demographics use various platforms more than others, according to fundera, 74% of consumers rely on social media to guide purchasing decisions. Plus, 96% of small businesses say they use social media in their marketing strategy.

So use your social media channels to level the playing field. To maximize your time and effort, determine where your audience members spend their time. Which platforms are they using? If you have a dedicated social media strategist on staff, they can perform audience research to tailor your approach to your existing and potential customers. If you’re running your own social strategy, spend some time digging into the demographics to determine which platforms make the most sense for your brand. From there, you’ll need to decide on the types of content you want to post, how to interact with your customers online, and create a social media calendar to plan your strategy.

4. Host a Giveaway

Once you’ve got your social media strategy up and running, why not host an online giveaway/sweepstakes to build some buzz, boost engagement, and attract followers? Pick a social media platform where you already engage with your customers. You’ll want to offer an item as the prize. This can be anything from a free product, a discount on an expensive product or service, or inexpensive swag like hats to help you promote your brand.

Once you’ve chosen the prize(s), decide on the terms for your giveaway. For example, an Instagram sweepstakes might look like this:

  • Create posts about the giveaway and explain the rules (multiple stories and 1 or 2 posts depending on the length of the contest)
  • These posts should specify the terms, for example:
    – In order to enter, potential winners must follow you
    – Encourage your followers to tag other people who may be interested. Each “tag” gets them another entry into the contest
    – You can also specify that contest applicants must share your post on their own profile
  • Once the contest has ended, pick a winner. Tag them in a post and story announcing what they’ve won and ask them to also share these posts to their own profile

Quick tip: You can also offer smaller or less-expensive items as consolation prizes. People love free swag and it’s an easy way to get your name out there!

5. Referral Discounts

Offering friends and family discounts on your products or services can help you establish loyalty and promote exclusivity. Offer discount codes or create a refer-a-friend program. You can also offer small incentives for customers who share about your brand on social media. Referral discounts are a great marketing strategy whether you use them in-store, online, or both.

6. Create or Update Your Blog

If you already have a website, you can put it to use to help build brand awareness and attract high-funnel customers. Blogging is a low-cost way to generate organic traffic (website visitors via Google or other search engines). If you don’t already have a blog, there are a number of free and inexpensive blog platforms you can use including Wix and WordPress.

You’ll want to write about topics that are related to your product or service and are of interest to your customers. For example, if you offer graphic design, you might want to create content about how to find an effective graphic designer online, or which projects you can do with an online platform like Canva vs. more complex projects where you should hire a professional designer.

Your website and blog are also great places to post “about us” content to offer website visitors an opportunity to learn more about you, your business, and your mission and values.

7. Update Your Google My Business Profile

Google My Business (GMB) is a free tool that allows you to share important information about your business like your address, hours of operation, and contact information. When your listing is optimized with this information, it’s displayed in Google Search and will also appear in Google Maps, which can help you attract local customers.

To get started, you need to create a GMB profile and verify your business information. This is a relatively simple but important step to ensure customers are able to find your business or service online. Make sure to keep your listing updated if you change any information like your website URL, address, or hours.

The takeaway:

When creating your marketing strategy, remember to stay true to your brand. Not every tactic will be the most effective for every business. Choose the tactics that make sense for your brand or product offering. Another way to prioritize is to consider the perceived impact and effort of each marketing strategy. Use the strategies that require the lowest effort but will potentially drive the highest return.

Once you have those in place, decide which of the other strategies make sense for your customers and your business goals. Also, make sure to keep track of all of your marketing expenditures and the sales from these tactics so you can assess which ones were successful and which ones you may need to re-evaluate or alter.

Remember, when it comes to marketing, it’s an ever-evolving system. Trust the process and try to have some fun with your marketing strategy!

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Business Marketing

No-reply emails don’t help customers, they’ve run their course

(MARKETING) No-reply emails may serve a company well, but the customers can become frustrated with the loss of a quick and easy way to get help.



no-reply mail boxes

Let me tell you a modern-day horror story.

You finally decide to purchase the item that’s been sitting in your cart all week, but when you receive your confirmation email you realize there’s a mistake on the order. Maybe you ordered the wrong size item, maybe your old address is listed as the shipping location, or maybe you just have buyer’s remorse. Either way, you’ve got to contact customer service.

Your next mission is to find contact information or a support line where you can get the issue resolved. You scroll to the bottom of the email and look around for a place to contact the company, but all you find is some copyright junk and an unsubscribe option. Tempting, but it won’t solve your problem. Your last hope is to reply to the confirmation email, so you hit that trusty reply arrow and…nothing. It’s a no-reply email. Cue the high-pitched screams.

Customers should not have to sort through your website and emails with a microscope to find contact information or a customer service line. With high customer expectations and fierce ecommerce competition, business owners can’t afford to use no-reply emails anymore.

Intended or not, no-reply emails send your customer the message that you really don’t want to hear from them. In an age when you can DM major airlines on Twitter and expect a response, this is just not going to fly anymore.

Fixing this issue doesn’t need to be a huge burden on your company. A simple solution is to create a persona for your email marketing or customer service emails, it could be member of your team or even a company mascot. Rather than using you can use and make that email a place where your email list can respond to questions and communicate concerns. Remember, the whole point of email marketing is to create a conversation with your customers.

Another great strategy for avoiding a million customer service emails where you don’t want them? Include customer service contact info in your emails. Place a thoughtful message near the bottom of your template letting people know where they can go if they’re having an issue with the product or service. This simple change will save you, your customers, and your team so much time in the long-run.

Your goal as a business owner is to build a trusting relationship between you and your customers, so leave the no reply emails behind. They’re annoying and they might even get you marked as spam.

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Business Marketing

Influencer marketing isn’t new, it’s actually centuries old

(MARKETING) You may roll your eyes at sexy strangers hawking snake oil on social media, but influencer marketing is nothing new…



Influencer marketing people taking video on a smart phone to record dances.

Influencer marketing is now one of those buzzword phrases that you can’t go a few days without hearing. In fact, it’s become such a popular term that it was officially added to the English Dictionary in 2019.

While this is a recent change, the concept of an influencer is nothing new. For years, people have looked to friends and family (as well as high-profile people like celebrities) to be influenced (intentionally or unintentionally) about what to buy, what to do, and where to go.

Social Media Today notes that influencers date back centuries.

One of the first “influencer” collaborations dates back to 1760, when a potter by the name Wedgwood made a tea set for the Queen of England,” writes Brooks. “Since the monarchy were the influencers of their time, his forward-thinking decision to market his brand as Royal-approved afforded it the luxury status the brand still enjoys today”

Now, influencers are known as people blowing up your Instagram feed with recommendations of what to wear and stomach flattening teas to buy. Influencers are basically anyone who has the ability to cultivate a following and, from there, give advice on how followers should spend their money.

After the 1760 tea set influencer, influencers were found in the forms of fashion icons (like Coco Chanel in the 1920s, and Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s), celebrity endorsements (for example, all of the money Nike made in the ‘80s after signing Michael Jordan to be their spokesperson – I wonder if Hanes is raking in the same bucks as Nike…), TV stars endorsing products (like Jennifer Aniston when she was at the height of “The Rachel” cut and became the face of L’Oreal Elvive; now she’s the face of Aveeno).

Then in the mid-2000s, blogs became a space where “everyday” people could use their voice with influence. This trend has continued and has shifted into social media, usually with a blog counterpart.

Now, blogging and influencing is an industry in and of itself with influencer marketing being a key form of comms. According to the HypeAuditor report, the influencer industry will be worth $22 billion by 2025. Where can I sign up?

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