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What Have We Done?

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realtorlogoHas the poor reputation of the real estate industry created the consumers’ insatiable need for knowledge and information about buying and selling homes?

I know it’s the information age, but we’re standing around naked. We’ve given the public access to everything we’ve got. Realtors used to be the keepers of the information. Now we’ve given it all away. The data that I pay for, the memberships, the classes, the ongoing education, all of that information is available across the www. Consuming and understanding all of it is another thing; buyers and sellers – and of course, those thousands who got their licenses to become the next Trump – try to absorb that galaxy of data. But it’s all there for the taking. How many clients have you worked with that have confidently told you how to write an offer?

In my client interview I ask what experiences they’ve had, if any, with a real estate agent. Has a friend told them of any experience they’ve had? This past weekend is one of the few times I’ve heard a consumer say, “I really like the agent that sold my house. We became good friends and talk every week or so.” Most often, their eyes light up with delight to tell me their uncle’s cousin’s brother bought a lemon and is still in litigation.

My lawyer client and I had a discussion today about who’s lower on the food chain: Realtors or attorneys.

We decided it’s used car salesmen.

By allowing under-qualified, unprofessional agents into the community we’ve allowed them to make us appear to be bottom suckers. There are no real requirements to take the exam. When I took it, the exam hadn’t been updated in years. There was a formula: If the question is X, the answer is C. If the question has Mary Jones in it, the answer is B.

Once the exam is passed, there’s no on-the-job training or apprenticeship. When I was green, I went to my broker, scared to death. “What do I do? How do I do it?” He said, “Go find a client. We’ll tell you what to do.” “WHAT? You’ve got to be kidding me.” At least I had the brains to know that I didn’t know squat and I needed to find out before I took someone’s savings and advised them to buy 3-Mile Island.

The NAR is so proud to tout that there’s 1 billion sold. Quantity doesn’t equate to quality. How about half that number of educated, qualified, professional, knowledgeable, caring, trustworthy, honest individuals.

Every time I see a Realtor advertising as caring, trustworthy, and honest, I have to laugh. If your client can’t figure that out on their own, your telling them isn’t going to make them believe it. I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s the next marketing blow-out from NAR – especially after “Real estate is our life.” I can see it now: One billion Realtors. We care. We’re trustworthy and honest too!

As a lifelong resident and local Realtor, Vicki has established herself as a respected member of the San Mateo County real estate community. She’s known for her wit, sarcasm, and her personality that shows through in her posts. You can find her spouting off at Twitter, here at ag, and her personal blog, San Mateo Real Estate Blog.com.

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6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Daniel Rothamel

    October 16, 2007 at 8:14 pm

    Transparency is the answer to the problem. That is why blogs like this one, yours, mine, and the like are such good things. The more people know about the real estate industry and REALTORS, the better informed they will be to make decisions on the REALTOR that best meets their needs.

    The only reason slimy or incompetent agents have been allowed to prosper is because the public didn’t know any better, and those agents controlled the flow of information. The game is beginning to change, thankfully.

  2. Lani Anglin

    October 17, 2007 at 3:22 am

    Vicki, these are all great points- I especially like the McDonald’s allusion. You’re right, there are so many that jump on the scene that have no business to, but who do you feel is responsible for curing this problem- NAR or Brokers?

  3. Vicki Moore

    October 17, 2007 at 4:51 pm

    I would have to put the responsibility on a governing body; NAR being the most likely. They could make a sweeping change effective quite quickly.

    Some brokers have stepped up to the challenge. My office has extensive training available. But because we are independent contractors, we can’t be forced to attend. It seems the agents who need the most training are the ones who elect not to participate.

    I like Daniel’s point. I love blogging. It’s been the best thing to ever happen to my business. I’m really alarmed that there’s a chance that I’ll be shut down or “complianced” out of the scene.

    Should we say “class action suit?”

  4. Nicole Mills

    October 18, 2007 at 7:26 pm

    Great post, Vicki! I’m glad I stumbled across it. I’m still a newbie blogger, but am reading and learning more everyday. I just wanted to say “Amen” to your comments about the lack of training, and just as importantly, the current inability to prevent the influx of even more fish(e) Realtors in to this over crowded river. The standards for becoming licensed (at least in my state of MN) are a joke, never mind the fact that the instructors of the licensing classes feed you the answers to the exams, because God forbid they not be able to pass everyone that happily forks over their $$$! That might reflect poorly on registration for future classes. And they wouldn’t want word getting out that you might actually have to rely on your own ability to think to get you through. Honestly, I think the recruiters of the big companies are in cahoots with the licensing prep class folks, because the recruiters seem to reel them in as fast as they can be turned out.

  5. Vicki Moore

    October 18, 2007 at 7:30 pm

    My brokerage grew to 12 offices by holding a mirror under the noses of applicants. We’re back down to 7 since the fallout.

    Blogging is addictive. Only one warning – remember you still have to prospect!

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Business Marketing

Bite-sized retail: Macy’s plans to move out of malls

(BUSINESS MARKETING) While Macy’s shares have recently climbed, the department store chain is making a change in regards to big retail shopping malls.

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Macy's retail storefront, which may look different as they scale to smaller stores.

I was recently listening to a podcast on Barstool Sports, and was surprised to hear that their presenting sponsor was Macy’s. This struck me as odd considering the demographic for the show is women in their twenties to thirties, and Macy’s typically doesn’t cater to that crowd. Furthermore, department retail stores are becoming a bit antiquated as is.

The sponsorship made more sense once I learned that Macy’s is restructuring their operation, and now allowing their brand to go the way of the ghost. They feel that while malls will remain in operation, only the best (AKA the malls with the most foot traffic) will stand the test of changes in the shopping experience.

As we’ve seen a gigantic rise this year in online shopping, stores like Macy’s and JC Penney are working hard to keep themselves afloat. There is so much changing in brick and mortar retail that major shifts need to be made.

So, what is Macy’s proposing to do?

The upscale department store chain is going to be testing smaller stores in locations outside of major shopping malls. Bloomingdale’s stores will be doing the same. “We continue to believe that the best malls in the country will thrive,” CEO Jeff Gennette told CNBC analysts. “However, we also know that Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s have high potential [off]-mall and in smaller formats.”

While the pandemic assuredly plays a role in this, the need for change came even before the hit in March. Macy’s had announced in February their plans to close 125 stores in the next three years. This is in conjunction with Macy’s expansion of Macy’s Backstage, which offers more affordable options.

Gennette also stated that while those original plans are still in place, Macy’s has been closely monitoring the competition in the event that they need to adjust the store closure timeline. At the end of the second quarter, Macy’s had 771 stores, including Bloomingdale’s and Bluemercury.

Last week, Macy’s shares climbed 3 percent, after the retailer reported a more narrow loss than originally expected, along with stronger sales due to an uptick in their online business. So they’re already doing well in that regard. But will smaller stores be the change they need to survive?

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Business Marketing

Why you must nix MLM experience from your resume

(BUSINESS MARKETING) MLMs prey on people without much choice, but once you try to switch to something more stable, don’t use the MLM as experience.

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Discussing including MLM experience on a resume.

MLM experience… Is it worth keeping on your resume?

Are you or someone you know looking for a job after a stint in an MLM? Well, first off, congratulations for pursuing a real job that will provide a steady salary! But I also know that transition can be hard. The job market is already tight and if you don’t have much other work experience on your resume, is it worth trying to leverage your MLM experience?

The short answer? Heck no.

As Ask the Manager puts it, there’s a “strong stigma against [MLMs],” meaning your work experience might very well put a bad taste in the mouth of anyone looking through resumes. And looking past the sketchy products many offer, when nearly half of people in MLMs lose money and another quarter barely break even, it sure doesn’t paint you in a good light to be involved.

(Not to mention, many who do turn a profit only do so by recruiting more people, not actually by selling many products.)

“But I wouldn’t say I worked for an MLM,” you or your friend might say, “I was a small business owner!”

It’s a common selling point for MLMs, that often throw around pseudo-feminist feel good slang like “Boss Babe” or a “Momtrepreneur,” to tell women joining that they’re now business women! Except, as you might have guessed, that’s not actually the case, unless by “Boss Babe” you mean “Babe Who Goes Bankrupt or Tries to Bankrupt Her Friends.”

A more accurate title for the job you did at an MLM would be Sales Rep, because you have no stake in the creation of the product, or setting the prices, or any of the myriad of tasks that a real entrepreneur has to face.

Okay, that doesn’t sound nearly as impressive as “small business owner.” And I know it’s tempting to talk up your experience on a resume, but that can fall apart pretty quickly if you can’t actually speak to actual entrepreneur experience. It makes you look like you don’t know what you’re talking about…which is also not a good look for the job hunt.

That said… Depending on your situation, it might be difficult to leave any potential work experience off your resume. I get it. MLMs often target people who don’t have options for other work opportunities – and it’s possible you’re one of the unlucky ones who doesn’t have much else to put on paper.

In this case, you’ll want to do it carefully. Use the sales representative title (or something similar) and, if you’re like the roughly 50% of people who lose money from MLMs, highlight your soft skills. Did you do cold calls? Tailor events to the people who would be attending? Get creative, just make sure to do it within reason.

It’s not ideal to use your MLM experience on a resume, but sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures. Still, congratulations to you, or anyone you know, who has decided to pursue something that will actually help pay the bills.

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Business Marketing

This smart card manages employee spending with ease

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Clever credit cards make it easier for companies to set spending policies and help alleviate expense problems for both them and their employees.

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Spendesk showing off its company credit cards.

Company credit cards are a wonderful solution to managing business expenses. They work almost exactly like debit cards, which we all know how to use, am I right? It is the twenty-first century after all. Simply swipe, dip, or tap, and a transaction is complete.

However, keeping up with invoices and receipts is a nightmare. I know I’ve had my fair share of hunting down wrinkled pieces of paper after organizing work events. Filling out endless expense reports is tedious. Plus, the back and forth communication with the finance team to justify purchases can cause a headache on both ends.

Company credit cards make it easier for companies to keep track of who’s spending money and how much. However, they aren’t able to see final numbers until expense reports are submitted. This makes monitoring spending a challenge. Also, reviewing all the paperwork to reimburse employees is time-consuming.

But Spendesk is here to combat those downsides! This all-in-one corporate expense and spend management service provides a promising alternative to internal management. The French startup “combines spend approvals, company cards, and automated accounting into one refreshingly easy spend management solution.”

Their clever company cards are what companies and employees have all been waiting for! With increasing remote workforces, this new form of payment comes at just the right moment to help companies simplify their expenditures.

These smart cards remove limitations regular company cards have today. Spendesk’s employee debit cards offer companies options to monitor budgets, customize settings, and set specific authorizations. For instance, companies can set predefined budgets and spending category limitations on flights, hotels, restaurants, etc. Then they don’t have to worry about an employee taking advantage of their card by booking a first-class flight or eating at a high-end steakhouse.

All transactions are tracked in real time so finance and accounting can see purchases right as they happen. Increasing visibility is important, especially when your employee is working remotely.

And for employees, this new form of payment is more convenient and easier on the pocket. “These are smart employee company cards with built-in spending policies. Employees can pay for business expenses when they need to without ever having to spend their own money,” the company demonstrated in a company video.

Not having to dip into your checking account is a plus in my book! And for remote employees who just need to make a single purchase, Spendesk has single-use virtual debit cards, too.

Now, that’s a smart card!

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