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How Far Will You Go?

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How Far?


Should We Limit Ourselves?

How far will you go for your client? With all the talk about hyper-local blogging and expertise, should we limit ourselves to only representing clients within our hyper-local area? Generally, we do not! Most of our local boards serve a fairly wide area, and we can show homes within in 50 mile radius; some local MLS’s serve a farther reaching area.

Although I am not convinced I should stay within my hyper-local area, I do have enough common sense to not wander into an area I know nothing about. I do have my limits! Why would I go to the farthest edge of our county to an area which is foreign to me? Not knowing the peculiarities of a particular city is enough to keep me inside the city limits where I do know or can get the information my client needs to make a good decision.

So Far Out of Bounds…

Apparently, not every agent feels compelled to stay within the boundaries served by their MLS. Twice this week, I have had calls from agents who are representing clients outside of their local board’s MLS area. I’m talking a three hour round trip to show homes you can not get MLS data on, which means you can’t possibly offer comparable data for your client.

Agent #1 – I am not the listing agent on the property you are asking about. Your client apparently has been searching my IDX for homes and my name is there. Sorry, I can’t give you any information about the home.

Agent #2 – I appreciate these are dear friends, but do you know the road behind this home will soon be widen to four lanes. What do you mean you don’t know what a short sale is? The best thing you could do for your dear friends is refer them to an agent in the area.

In the past few months I have had agents call me and ask for comparable stats so they can write an offer on a home they have not seen. No kidding!

C’mon people, do you know the meaning of agency or your fiduciary responsibility to your client?

Paula is team leader for The "Home to Indy" Team in Indianapolis . She is passionate about education and client care and believes an empowered client is better prepared to make good decisions for themselves. You'll find her online at Agent Genius,Twitter and sharing her insights about her local real estate market at Home To Indy.

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15 Comments

15 Comments

  1. Vance Shutes

    September 3, 2008 at 9:48 am

    Paula,

    Spot on! Nothing can replace local knowledge. Buyers typically don’t like the “deer in the headlights” look from an agent when posed with local-knowledge questions, such as “Where’s the nearest grocery store?” or “Where’s the best sledding hill for the kids?” (for those of us in the north country!). Our best fiduciary to our clients is to refer them to an outstanding local agent for their searches outside of our “home base” area, and we can develop fabulous friendships with those outstanding local agents via our work in hyper-local blogging.

  2. Todd

    September 3, 2008 at 10:14 am

    If someone asks about a home outside the self imposed 50 mile radius limit, couldn’t you just send them the Zillow URL for the house? Even if you don’t end up being part of the transaction, at least one Consumer thinks you are helpful ( Re: Mr. Shaws post from eariler https://agentgenius.com/?p=4141 )

  3. Matt Wilkins

    September 3, 2008 at 10:39 am

    I couldn’t agree more. Clients notice and appreciate when you know things like HOA amenities, the different floorplans that were built, and other area specific information. When I first started inthe business i had a few deals that were outside my market area and all were very stressfull experiences. I now give all potential clients who want to look outside my market area the oppurtunity to be referred to a local expert.

  4. Ginger Wilcox

    September 3, 2008 at 11:52 am

    I turned down a referral for a potential client today for the purchase of a home within my MLS and really only about 10 miles away, but in a neighborhood I don’t know at all and don’t work. I too have worked outside my area of expertise in the past and it is just not worth it. I can’t represent my clients fairly and I don’t want to harm my reputation or future referrals by not doing my absolute best. I believe it is better to refer them on to someone else than do a less than stellar job.

  5. Elaine Reese

    September 3, 2008 at 1:49 pm

    Here’s a couple “clues” that an agent is too far afield:

    * If your keypad doesn’t work in the lockbox and you need the listing agent to let you in, it might be time to refer it out.

    * If you don’t read the local newspapers to keep up on new developments, highways, Walmarts, etc, it might be time to refer it out.

    * If you need to program your car’s GPS system to GET you to the property, it might be time to refer it out.

    My apologies to Jeff Foxworthy.

  6. Teresa Boardman

    September 3, 2008 at 3:15 pm

    I pay attention to boundaries but it is about time and gasoline. I hurt my business and limit my opportunities if I spend too much time in my car. I live in a densely populated urban area and unless it is for friends, family or past clients I pretty much stay within 5 miles of my homes, mostly within 2 miles. When I need to go outside the boundaries to help someone, I do so with no hesitation

  7. Jay Thompson

    September 3, 2008 at 5:31 pm

    In my MLS area, it’s roughly 100 miles from the SE corner to the NW corner. With about 5 million people and 50,000 listings in between those points. There is NO WAY I can give buyers the support they need across that area.

    We’ll go further for listings than we will for buyers. With proper research and discussions with the seller, we fell we can effectively market a listing that’s a little far. We do keep in mind though that we need to be available for potential showings from “stumble upons” or the proverbial “I love this house but my agent is too busy to show it to me” call. So we can’t go too far out for listings.

    We don’t have any hard boundaries — they are sort of “fuzzy”. We’ll go where we know and understand the nuances of the neighborhoods. Where it gets tricky is when we get calls like this:

    “Hi, we’re from Canada and we want to buy a home in Phoenix. Will you help us?”
    “Where in Phoenix?”
    “Oh, we have no idea.”

    There are ways to whittle down the area pretty quickly. It’s unrealistic to try to get 6 or 7 agents from different parts of town to collaborate on one client. Sometimes you have to do whatever it takes.

  8. Jill Wente

    September 3, 2008 at 5:51 pm

    I am definately boundary driven. I had a potential client call me the other day and ask for recommendation of areas in Houston to look for multi-family homes. I said 1) Houston is the 4th largest city in the US and I would be doing a disservice to attempt to recommend various areas because all I know about some of these areas is how to spell them. I specialize in Northwest Houston and Spring Texas specifically that is enough territory for me to cover. and 2) I only deal in single-family residential homes. I am not familiar nor want to become familiar with the multi-family homes market.

    Its all about not chasing the dollar and focusing on what you know.

  9. Paula Henry

    September 3, 2008 at 5:54 pm

    Todd – I sure could and don’t mind assisting agents who bring buyers for my listings or buyers who want to buy my listings.

    I’ve tackled more than my share of newbie agents who needed help and answered questions for both buyers and sellers who were not my clients.

    I will always do what is in the best interest of my client. I just don’t happen to believe representing a client outside of my MLS is in the best interest of my client, since I have no way of determining value, comps, tax data, etc., unless I want to go to the county courthouse for records. (Most of Indiana sales are not online.)

    Just for fun – here’s the Zillow page for one of my listings –

    https://www.zillow.com/homes/map/12583-Saltford-circle_lb/46037_rb/

    Not much help at all! Zillow’s zestimate for this area is $222K-232K. That info doesn’t tell you this home is a short sale, currently priced almost $100,000 less than it was purchased for a few years ago. From the info here, you would guess my listing is overpriced.

    Somehow – I don’t think that is helpful to the buyer or the agent.

  10. Paula Henry

    September 3, 2008 at 6:03 pm

    Vance – I will go outside of my local area if I believe I can access enough data to provide my clients. I’m talking local suburbs here! I won’t go outside of my local MLS area, where I don’t have a clue. I have turned down both buyers and sellers who wanted me to list/sell a home in a recreational area where I have never been.

    Matt – I would love to say I know all the details of every neighborhood where I have listed homes. I don’t! We have many neighborhoods with custom homes, where the builder has long since retired and production builders who have gone out of business. With enough data though, I can competently advise my clients. If not, I don’t go there.

  11. Paula Henry

    September 3, 2008 at 6:14 pm

    Ginger – Good for you! If I don’t feel comfortable, I won’t do it either. There are some neighborhoods where you just can’t find decent comps or information. I say, let someone who knows the nuances of those neighborhoods do it. I love our downtown and would love to work there, but the Historic Neighborhoods are completely out of my realm of expertise. Being competent is as much as about knowing what you don’t know as much as it is about what you do know.

    Elaine – LOL!! Jeff would be proud!

    It’s the keypad not working which was the basis of this post. For instance, one of the agents was licensed in Ohio and Indiana, because she lives close to the border. She could just as easily call you in Columbus to let her in one of your listings. But, should she?

    I do love my TomTom, though and use it regularly. It tells me when to turn when I am talking with clients or not paying attention. It really does help on those County Roads, too.

  12. Paula Henry

    September 3, 2008 at 6:25 pm

    Teresa – I find many agents don’t put as high a price on their time as they should. I do go outside of my chosen area also, but NOT outside of my MLS.

    Jay – Maricopa must be the largest county in square miles than any place I have worked. There’s a big difference between listing a home in a Glendale subdivison versus a horse ranch in Cave Creek. Honestly you could list a home in Payson, but would it be wise? Believe me, it’s not 🙂

    I’m with you – I don’t have hard boundaries, except if I don’t have sufficient data to properly represent my clients, that’s the boundary! Like Teresa said, we also have to consider our time and cost of gas.

  13. Elaine Reese

    September 3, 2008 at 7:52 pm

    Paula, funny you mention the IN/OH agent. I did have an agent from Dayton do just that. She and clients (family) were sitting in front of my listing and would I please come let them in. I happened to be 25 min away and told her ‘no can do’.

  14. James Bridges

    September 4, 2008 at 6:47 pm

    Paula, yeah it’s reallly too bad how far agents will go. I just don’t think it’s doing the client any service. If you can’t know good streets vs. the bad streets you just shouldn’t do it. I mean, you don’t see the Podiatrist doing Brain Surgery just so he could work in another surgery do you? 🙂

  15. Mana Tulberg

    September 4, 2008 at 8:33 pm

    Hi Paula, I am not comfortable working in areas that I am not familiar with either. My county is not a large one, but there are a few area 30-40 miles from home that I know pretty well and have served.

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Business Marketing

How Instagram’s latest redesign is more sinister than it seems

(MARKETING) Instagram’s latest updates have all but repurposed the app into an online mall – one that tracks everything you see, say, and buy on it.

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Woman in hijab taking photo on her smartphone for Instagram, affected by the redesign.

Instagram started the new year off with a makeover in their latest redesign. The notifications button teleported to the top of the screen in the app’s new design, and now the “Shopping” button is in its place.

It’s a subtle yet insidious switch. You’re much more likely to select the marketplace out of habit, by accident, when searching your next dose of online validation.

The app has always been a vital tool for artists, craftspeople, and small businesses to promote their work — including myself. And the new redesign is intended to boost the visibility of those groups. At least, that’s Instagram’s argument.

In an article for The Conversation, Nazanin Andalibi of the University of Michigan School of Information provides a glimpse of what’s going on behind the scenes.

“By choosing to make the Shop tab central to its platform,” she writes, “Instagram is sending its users a message: This platform is a business, and interactions on this platform are going to be commodified.”

As an advertiser, Instagram’s popularity has exploded in the last decade. Even big pharma is in on the surge, with seventy pharmaceutical companies purchasing ads on the app in 2020. (That made it the fastest growing pharma advertiser of the year.)

As we know, Instagram not only runs ads, but also uses user information to filter who sees what advertisements. Now, shopping is explicitly a central function of the app. It sometimes feels like a digital mall… And that’s not really what people signed up for.

I’ve had my account for since I was a teenager, and the experience I have using the app today is totally different from what it once was. For one, it’s increasingly difficult to differentiate paid ads from regular user content on Instagram.

And second, I use Instagram to promote my work, but I don’t feel comfortable sharing personal details about myself anymore.

Because, to use Anadalibi’s words: “Sharing or seeking information about a difficult, personal experience on a social media platform and then having the platform capitalize on an algorithmic understanding of the experience–which might or might not be accurate–is problematic.”

That goes doubly so for youth, who may not be fully aware of that engineering.

For instance, a teenager searching for body positive posts might receive personalized ad results for weight loss programs. A human would probably realize that’s an inappropriate, even triggering suggestion. But algorithms don’t think that way.

Alongside the redesign update, Instagram has also faces recent criticism for their Community Guidelines, which prevent suggestive and explicit images and speech.

And whether you agree with the guidelines or not, don’t be fooled. Instagram isn’t concerned with uplifting its creators, or protecting its young users. Their only goal is protecting their new bottom line, and staying as ad-friendly as possible.

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Business Marketing

Ghost Reply has us asking: Should you shame a recruiter who ghosted you?

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Ghost Reply will send an anonymous “kind reminder” to recruiters who ghost job candidates, but is the sweet taste of temporary catharsis worth it?

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Stressed woman at a laptop with hands on head, considering if she should send a Ghost Reply.

People hate to get “ghosted” in any situation, personal or professional. But for job seekers who may already be struggling with self-esteem, it can be particularly devastating. Ghost Reply is a new online service that will help you compose and send an email nudge to the ghoster, sending a “kind reminder” telling them how unprofessional it is to leave someone hanging like that.

Ghost Reply wants to help you reach catharsis in all of this stressful mess of finding a job. Almost all of the problems and feelings are compounded by this confounded pandemic that has decimated areas of the workforce and taken jobs and threatened people’s financial security. It is understandable to want to lash out at those in power, and sending a Ghost Reply email to the recruiter or HR person may make you feel better in the short term.

In the long run, though, will it solve anything? Ghost Reply suggests it may make the HR person or recruiter reevaluate their hiring processes, indicating this type of email may help them see the error of their ways and start replying to all potential candidates. If it helps them reassess and be more considerate in the future and helps you find closure in the application/interview process, that would be the ideal outcome on all fronts. It is not likely this will happen, though.

The Ghost Reply sample email has the subject line “You have a message from a candidate!” Then it begins, “Hi, (name), You’re receiving this email because a past candidate feels like you ghosted them unfairly.” It then has a space for said candidate to add on any personal notes regarding the recruiter or process while remaining anonymous.

I get it. It’s upsetting to have someone disappear after you’ve spent time and energy applying, possibly even interviewing, only to hear nothing but crickets back from the recruiter or HR person you interacted with. It’s happened to me more than once, and it’s no bueno. We all want to be seen. We all want to be valued. Ghosting is hurtful. The frustration and disappointment, even anger, that you feel is certainly relatable. According to several sources, being ghosted after applying for a job is one of the top complaints from job seekers on the market today.

Will an anonymous, passive-aggressive email achieve your end? Will the chastened company representative suddenly have a lightbulb go off over their heads, creating a wave of change in company policy? I don’t see it. The first sentence of the sample email, in fact, is not going to be well received by HR.

When you start talking about what’s “unfair,” most HR people will tune out immediately. That kind of language in itself is unprofessional and is a red flag to many people. Once you work at a company and know its culture and have built relationships, then, maybe, just maybe, can you start talking about your work-related feelings. I believe in talking about our feelings, but rarely is a work scenario the best place to do so (I speak from experience). Calling it unprofessional is better, less about you and more about the other person’s behavior.

However, it’s unclear how productive Ghost Reply actually is. Or how anonymous, frankly. By process of deduction, the recipient of the email may be able to figure out who sent it, if it even makes it through the company’s spam filters. Even if they cannot pinpoint the exact person, it may cast doubts on several applicants or leave a bad taste in the recruiter’s mouth. It sounds like sour grapes, which is never a good thing.

There may be any number of reasons you didn’t get the job offer or interview, and they may or may not have something to do with you. Recruiters answer your burning questions, including why you may have been ghosted in this recent article in The American Genius.

Ultimately, you will never know why they ghosted you. If it makes you feel better or at least see the issue from both sides, the amount of job candidates ghosting recruiters after applying and even interviewing is equally high. Some people simply either have awful time management skills or awful manners, and at the end of the day, there’s not much you can do about that.

Focus on your own survival while job hunting, instead of these disappointing moments or the person who ghosts you. It will serve you better in the long run than some anonymous revenge email. There are other ways to deal with your frustration and anger when you do get ghosted, though. Try the classic punching your pillow. Try taking a walk around the block. If it helps to put your frustration into words, and it very well may, then do so. Write it on a piece of paper, then burn it. Or type it all in an email and delete it. For your own sake, do NOT put their email address in the “To” line, lest you accidentally hit “Send.”

The sooner you can let it go, the sooner you can move on to finding a better job fit for you.

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Business Marketing

Free shipping is everywhere… how can small businesses keep up?

[BUSINESS MARKETING] Would you rather pay less but still pay for shipping, or pay more with free shipping? They may cost the same, but one appeals more than the other.

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Person standing over pacakge, sealing with masking tape.

When it comes to competing with huge corporations like Amazon, there are plenty of hurdles that smaller businesses have to cross. Corporations can (and do) undercut the competition, not to mention garner a much larger marketing reach than most small businesses could ever dream of achieving. But this time, we want to focus on something that most people have probably chosen recently: Free shipping.

How important is free shipping to consumers? Well, in a 2018 survey, Internet Retailer discovered that over 50% of respondents said that free shipping was the most important part of online shopping. In fact, when given a choice between fast or costless shipping, a whopping 88% of those surveyed chose the latter option.

Part of this has to do with the fact that shipping costs are often perceived as additional fees, not unlike taxes or a processing fee. In fact, according to Ravi Dhar, director of Yale’s Center for Customer Insights, if it’s between a discounted item with a shipping fee or a marked up item with free shipping, individuals are more likely to choose the latter – even if both options cost exactly the same amount.

If you’re interested in learning more, Dhar refers to the economic principle of “pain of paying,” but the short answer is simply that humans are weird.

So, how do you recapture the business of an audience that’s obsessed with free shipping?

The knee jerk reaction is to simply provide better products that the competition. And sure, that works… to some extent. Unfortunately, in a world where algorithms can have a large effect on business, making quality products might not always cut it. For instance, Etsy recently implemented a change in algorithm to prioritize sellers that offer free shipping.

Another solution is to eat the costs and offer free shipping, but unless that creates a massive increase in products sold, you’re going to end up with lower profits. This might work if it’s between lower profits and none, but it’s certainly not ideal. That’s why many sellers have started to include shipping prices in the product’s overall price – instead of a $20 necklace with $5 shipping, a seller would offer a $25 necklace with free shipping.

This is a tactic that the big businesses use and it works. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em, right?

That said, not everyone can join in. Maybe, for instance, a product is too big to reasonably merge shipping and product prices. If, for whatever reason, you can’t join in, it’s also worth finding a niche audience and pushing a marketing campaign. What do you offer that might be more attractive than the alluring free shipping? Are you eco-friendly? Do you provide handmade goods? Whatever it is that makes your business special, capitalize on it.

Finally, if you’re feeling down about the free shipping predicament, remember that corporations have access to other tricks. Amazon’s “free” prime shipping comes at an annual cost. Wal-Mart can take a hit when item pricing doesn’t work out. Even if your business isn’t doing as well as you hoped, take heart: You’re facing giants.

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