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Opinion Editorials

Anna Altic- Agent Genius’ Best of Writer series

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The AG Best of Writer series is a culmination of the editorial team’s picks of a variety of authors’ most significant articles that have impacted the real estate industry. We hope you enjoy this look back and be sure to read the comments to the articles, as in many cases, they’re just as interesting as the articles themselves. Anna specializes in green real estate and provides a wealth of information on green trends and ecobrokerage:

Life after the tax credit- getting creative for your clients

03.29.10: “In addition, there is nothing I have seen so far that would preclude a homeowner from stacking this program with incentives being offered by their state or from their local utilities such as our TVA’s Energy Right Program. What about energy efficient mortgages or 203k loans? I say you stack that on too! Get creative, the skies the limit on how a program like this can benefit your clientele, the environment, and the contractors who need the work.”
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“Over Greening” is there such a thing?

04.08.2010: ““Over Greening” is a phrase I am publicly coining today. Not even Urban Dictionary has a pithy or perverse definition for this phrase and alas it’s up to me to bring it to the masses. It’s meant to be a play on the more well known Real Estate phrase “Over Improving.” As in, this home is over improved considering it’s location or size.”
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Energy Star- the government making a mockery of itself

04.16.10: “Apparently, there is such thing as the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and according to this NY Times Article the GAO recently audited Energy Star’s certification process with some pretty, ahem… embarrassing results. Among the bogus products that received the supposedly prestigious distinction were a “gasoline-powered alarm clock” and an air purifier which was nothing more than an electric heater with a feather duster glued to the front of it.”
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Greening your MLS- yes you can!

04.30.10: “I just got back from REBar Camp Nashville (woot!!) this week where I ended up leading a discussion on “anything green.” Ok, so my group was small I mean quaint but we spent 30 productive minutes talking about how the sustainability movement is impacting our industry. One poor fellow kept lamenting. “My city is just a couple of years behind everyone else.” I have to admit, I was a lamenter a couple of years ago and at some point had an epiphany that lamenting it wasn’t going to change it. I thought it would be fun to rehash my crowning acheivement in hopes it might help a few of you see it’s really not that hard to green pimp your MLS.”
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WalkScore- every house has one

05.25.10: “I was perusing the latest copy of NAR’S On Common Ground, a biannual journal discussing smart growth and Realtors. Ever heard of it? I hadn’t until a couple of months ago. Unfortunately, I can’t find that it’s published on line anywhere. However, here is the page where you can request hard copies should you or your firm like to have some on hand. This edition covers everything from understanding Generation Y buyers to bike friendly cities. It’s a great magazine with useful information about emerging sustainable trends affecting our industry.”
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Eco-friendly Kool Aid and why you should be drinkin’ it

08.01.10: “AG’s own Tara Steele shared a graph from The Times based on Case Shiller data showing the last hundred years’ rise and fall of home prices. Included is a future projection based on how leading economists expect home values to perform as government propping, foreclosure abatement, and tax credits wind down. I actually threw up in my mouth a little bit as I felt the now omnipresent pit in the top of my stomach grow.”
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What motivates a green buyer? Knowing may change your strategy

08.23.10: “I am a student of people and when I take buyers out I frequently take mental notes of their comments, habits, and overall energy when they view homes. Frankly, those insights come in more handy for me in prepping my sellers on getting their homes market ready or preparing for an open house than any of that advice you see on real estate websites or DIY shows. Why? I personally believe one size doesn’t fit all in homes and neighborhoods and understanding what consumers are looking at can completely change how you would advise a seller”
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EcoBroker versus NAR’s green designation

09.09.10: “I wrote an article here a couple of weeks ago about what motives a green buyer and one of the survey questions from the the Shelton Group report I referenced was about the Green Realtor Designations. More specifically how likely would the respondent be to use a Realtor who had invested in additional training and education to assist them with a home purchase. 13% of the respondents specifically said they would indeed want a Realtor with specific green credentials.”
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Analyzing whether or not green homes are really worth more

11.21.10: “I’ve written several articles about green homes as well as the steady growth of the green building industry and by far the most common question I get is; are green certified homes actually worth more than non certified comparable homes? There is a statistic out there I’ve seen on sites such as Energy Star and RESNET that states for every $1 a home saves in energy cost, it’s value increases by $10-$20. With average annual energy costs at about$1800 per household and green homes performing about 20-50% more efficient than standard, it stands to reason a green home would be worth anywhere from 2k to 20k or more in value.”
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Lani is the Chief Operating Officer at The American Genius - she has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH and Austin Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

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Opinion Editorials

Have an in-person job interview? 7 tips to crush the competition

EDITORIAL) While we all know the usual interview schtick, take some time to really study for your next face-to-face job interview.

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Job interview between two women.

So, you’re all scheduled for an in-person interview for a job you’d kill for. It’s exciting that you’ve made it to this step, but the question is, are you ready? Especially with remote interviews being the new norm, your nerves may feel shaken up a bit to interview in person – but you’ve got this! And many of these tips can be applied no matter the interview setting.

We all know the basics of a job interview: dress nice, get there early, come prepared, firm handshake, yada, yada, yada… However, it’s good to really sit and think about all of the requirements of a successful interview.

There are seven steps for crushing a face-to-face interview. Do your homework upside down and inside out in order to walk into that room.

Which brings us to the first step: know everything you need to know backwards and forwards.

This can be done in two steps: getting to know the company and getting to know yourself. By doing website, social media, and LinkedIn research, you can get a feel of the company culture as well as the position you’re interviewing for.

By getting to know yourself, have a friend ask you some interview questions so you can practice. Also, take a look at your resume through the eyes of someone who doesn’t know you. Make sure everything is clear and can compete with other candidates.

The next step is to anticipate solving future problems. Have some insight on the department that you are interviewing for and come prepared with ideas of how to better this department. (i.e. if it’s marketing, give examples of campaigns you’ve done in the past that have proven to have been successful.)

Step number three requires you to go back to the research board and get some information on the employer. Find out who you’re meeting with (head of HR, head of the department, etc.) and make your self-presentation appropriate for the given person.

Next, work on making the interview conversation a meaningful one. This can be done by asking questions as people like to see you take an interest in them. Also, be sure to never answer the questions as if it’s your regular spiel. Treat each job interview as if this is the first time you’re presenting your employability information.

With this, your next step is to have stories prepared for the job interview. Anecdotes and examples of previous jobs or volunteer/organization experiences can help bring life to an otherwise run-of-the-mill resume.

After this, you’ll want to make sure that you’re showing enthusiasm for the position you’re interviewing for. Don’t jump on the couch in the lobby like you’re Tom Cruise on Oprah, but definitely portray that you’re excited and up for the challenge.

Lastly, make a good impression by being impressive. Be professional and in control of your body language. Put yourself in the mindset of whatever position you’re interviewing for and show them that you have what it takes.

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Opinion Editorials

The benefits of remote work are just too good to overlook

(EDITORIAL) Employees scream it from the rooftops and businesses don’t want to admit it: Remote work is just too beneficial to pass up- and here’s why.

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Work from home written with scrabble letters.

Remote work has been rising in popularity in the past several years. Especially following the COVID-19 global pandemic, more companies saw significant benefits for both their business and their staff that went beyond the realm of finances by allowing remote labor.

Less happily, many people lost their job during the pandemic, but they ended up having more time to put toward their passions or were compelled to get creative with their remote business ideas to ensure a consistent stream of income.

If you remain on the fence about allowing your employees to work remotely, or are considering a career shift yourself, take a look at the top four benefits of working remotely, which may sway your decision.

Better Overall Quality of Life

Allowing your employees to work remotely doesn’t necessarily mean they work from home full time. There are benefits to having your employees work in an office part of the time – say, two or three days – and working from home, in more familiar surroundings, the rest of the week.

In this way, your workers enjoy some freedom and independence while retaining the ability to interact face-to-face with their peers. That provides human interaction, which can play a substantial role in terms of improved mental health for your staff.

Happy employees means healthier employees, which can save your outfit money in the form of healthcare costs and lost productivity. But we will get further into the cost-saving benefits a little further on.

If you’re a remote worker, you should see yourself becoming significantly more productive. But why would this be the case if you don’t have a manager over your shoulder watching your every move?

It’s true that when employees have a greater sense of independence, they also experience a significant sense of trust on the part of their employers and managers. This is one of the huge benefits of working remotely because it has a trickle-down effect on the quality and overall production of people’s work.

Can Work Anywhere with Internet

Whether you are a small business owner or have crafted your work to tailor toward a life of remote labor, this is an opportunity for someone who has dreamed of being a digital nomad. You have the ability to work anywhere in the world as long as you have access to the Internet. If you love to travel, this is a chance to spend time in various places around the globe while continuing to meet your deadlines.

Multi-member Zoom call on a Apple Mac laptop with a blue mug of black coffee next to it.

Set Your Own Hours

In some cases with remote businesses, you have the freedom to set your own hours. Content writers, for instance, tend to enjoy more flexibility with regard to when they work because a lot of what they produce is project-based rather than tied to a nine-to-five schedule.

When you’re a business owner, this can be incredibly useful when you outsource tasks to save money. You can find a higher quality of performance by searching for contractors anywhere in the world and it doesn’t limit you to workers who live near to your office.

Saves Everyone Time and Money

 In the end, remote work typically saves money for every person and entity involved. Businesses save costs in terms of not having to pay for a physical space, utilities, Internet, and other expenses. This allows you, as the owner, to spend more of your income on providing quality software and benefits for your employees so your operation runs more smoothly and efficiently.

According to FlexJobs, employees or remote business owners may save around $4,000 on average every year for expenses such as car maintenance, transportation, professional clothing in the office, or even money spent dining out for lunch with coworkers. Eventually, the costs add up, which means extra money in your pocket to take that much-needed vacation or save up for a down payment on your first home.

These benefits of working remotely only skim the surface. There are also sustainability factors such as removing cars from the roads and streets, because people don’t have to travel to and from an office; or employees missing fewer workdays since they have the ability and freedom to clock in from home.

Weigh the pros and cons as to whether remote work is right for you as a business owner or online professional. You might be surprised to find that working from home for more than the duration of the pandemic is worthwhile and could have long-lasting benefits.

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Opinion Editorials

Do these 3 things if you TRULY want to be an ally to women in tech

(EDITORIAL) We understand diversity helps and strengthens our companies, and individual teams. But how can you be an ally to the talented women already on your workforce?

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Two women at meeting table discussing working in tech.

More and more women are leaving their positions with tech companies, citing lack of opportunity for advancement, wage gaps, and even hostile working conditions as some of the reasons why.

What’s better for the tech industry and its employees than cultivating inclusive and diverse departments? Diversity is known to strengthen the overall performance of a company and its teams, and there are a number of ways you can be an ally to the talented women already on your workforce. To name a few:

1. Be open to listening to different perspectives.

It can be awkward to hear so many reports of workplace politics stacking against women, especially if you’re not a woman!

Instead of getting uncomfortable or defensive – ask open ended questions and be interested in a perspective that isn’t yours and may be unfamiliar.

Don’t seek to rationalize or explain the experiences you’re hearing about, as that can come off as condescending. It’s common for women to be interrupted or spoken over in team gatherings. If you notice this happening, bring the conversation back to where the interruption began. Offering your ear and counting yourself as responsible for making space will improve the overall quality of communication in your company.

Listening to and validating what women have to say about the quality of their employment with a company is an important step in the right direction.

Expressing something as simple as “I was interested in what you had to say – could you elaborate on your thought?” can help.

2. Develop an Employee Resource Group (ERG) program.

An ERG is a volunteer-based, employee-led group that acts as a resource for a particular group of employees. An ERG can help to foster inclusiveness through discussion, team-building activities and events. It’s common for a department to have only one or two women on the roster.

This can mean that the day to day feels disconnected from concerns commonly shared by women. disjointed it might feel to be on a high performing team, without access to relatable conversations.

3. Be responsible for your company’s culture.

Chances are, your company already has some amazing cultural values in place. That said, how often are you checking your own performance and your co-workers performances against those high standards? Strong company culture and values sound great, but whether or not they’re adhered to can make or break the mood of a work environment.

Many women say they’ve experienced extremely damaging and toxic cultural environments, which lead to hostility, frustration, and even harassment. Take action when you see the new woman uncomfortable with being hit on at team drinks.

Call out those who make unfriendly and uncouth comments about how women perform, look, or behave.

Setting a personal threshold for these kinds of microaggressions can help you lead by example, and will help build a trustworthy allyship.

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