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Opinion Editorials

Are Realtors part of the problem… or part of the solution?

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A colleague invited me to his Broker’s Open House recently. You know the drill. A number of Realtors who have no real interest or prospect for a given property show up to partake in bad chain restaurant pasta and stale bread sticks. On rare occasions we rejoice over a cookie for dessert.

This particular colleague is a sharp agent. He’s been around for several decades and made a pretty good living over that time. He has a reputation for integrity and a high level of ethics and is widely respected by his peers. Yet 12 and ½ seconds after walking into his listing all I could wonder is why.

This home was riddled with pink Frieze carpet, pickled oak kitchen cabinets with white appliances and had a basement that in that over its 2196 square feet had not one inch of floor coverings. It had drywall, paint, a finished bath, great daylight windows, wiring for a theater, brand new polished pewter light fixtures but no floor covering. Just poured concrete. In other words this home had some warts and I’ve not included all of them here.

In addition to being supportive of my colleague, my interest in going had its selfish side. I had a listing the next street over from agent Ron and I was curious to see how it stacked up against mine. In the interest of fairness, my listing had warts too. An entire case of Compound W wasn’t curing what ailed what my sellers had done to their home from the personal décor to the lack of certain fundamental amenities for the price point. Yet there was a difference. Agent Ron had agreed to take his shiny new listing at 150% of what mine was on the market for.

Like a man who was completely unaware…

My listing had been up for over 16 months and had price reductions of nearly 38% of the original listing value and still was not sold. Both properties were within 200 square feet of each other and had similar lots. Both were in price points with limited activity and nearly 8 years worth of supply. Yet despite all of those issues, Agent Ron cheerfully greeted each of us at the door like a man who was completely unaware of what was in front of him.

He, like many of us, was about to walk into the land of wasted marketing dollars and lost Sunday afternoons staring at bad family pics of other people’s trips to Boca while countless neighbors trudged past us and our neatly printed color flyers. Yes agent Ron, this was about to become your life.

And here’s the point…

Here’s the point of all of this: In the current market environment there is so much more clarity than there used to be. We’re not in a world of rapidly increasing valuations that sometimes warrant Realtors taking listings they weren’t sure about. Most all of us live in a world where a major percentage of the available inventory have values that are pretty clearly defined.

In addition, we also have the coveted HVCC that’s also begun to dictate where we can even close properties at in terms of value. We as an industry have the ability to look into the crystal ball in a more precise way than ever. So why is it so many agents are still taking listings that have no reasonable chance anywhere near their current list price? It can’t be desperation….not selling a listing doesn’t help anyone’s finances. It can’t be lack of knowledge because the data is more clear than ever.

So why? While there may be a myriad of reasons, there are no acceptable excuses. The reality is that propping up homes that have no realistic chance of selling at a given price is a terrible impediment to a true recovery. By doing this we slow the process of ‘finding the bottom.’ As a very wise old Realtor once told me….’I can stay home and go broke.’ True that. In the world we live in, many of us need to be more forceful in telling sellers there is no glory in wasted time, dollars and days on the market. It’s also something we need to be reminding ourselves of every day.

Realtor, Speaker, former Indianapolis radio personality. Least prettiest person ever on HGTV. Crashed in a helicopter and a Cessna 182. Seven lives left. Blessed by an amazing family!

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21 Comments

21 Comments

  1. Robert C Stern

    August 3, 2010 at 10:50 pm

    WOW! I d o understand what you are talking about. I am in Northern Nj, and see this here too. I am sure it is all over the country this way. My opinion is that a lot of realtors do not educate the sellers in the correct manner needed. There are different ways of education in our industry. Some are taking these klistings in desperation and hoping they will get buyers out of it. Others may take it because they have no listings. I am a Realtor that keeps busy, but PRIDE is very important these days. Yes I said Pride. The reason I say it is because, we as an industry need to be genuine and take pride as professionals. Educate our clients in every facet that is needed. Show the clients how it is costing them on a monthly basis in these economic times. The clients are turning to us for guidance and we need to show the numbers,. (DOM, Absorbtion Rates, RECENT solds, etc.) It is important to do these things . Do I want a listing to sit there with hardly any interest and not sell with my sign sitting on it? NO WAY! that means to rest of that community that I did not do my job right!

    I really wish Realtors would learn this. I am not saying all Realtors are like this. But it only takes a handful to start having future clients blaming us for the problems.

  2. Renee Porsia

    August 3, 2010 at 10:51 pm

    I think that Realtors are definitely the cause of the problem. We are supposed to be the professionals and so we should know how to say no to a seller who is being unrealistic with the listing price. The problem is that Realtors are desperate to get business, any business even when they know that the listing won’t sell. I refuse to take an over priced listing.

  3. Sheila Rasak

    August 3, 2010 at 11:51 pm

    Greg, as your subject line begged, I’ll answer the question (IMHO). We are both part of the problem and can be part of the solution. Let’s face facts here, not all agents are qualified to be placing values on property. Period. That being said, those who do have the knack will take a listing that’s over market for one reason only…they get free advertising. Get that name all over town and suddenly you’ve become the area expert. Personally, I’m on the business to turn over properties. Not service and hold my breath while hell freezes over.
    A solution to those of us who care about reputation but still want to convince Mr. & Mrs. Seller they’ve made a poor decision in asking me to take their overpriced listing? I bring a price reduction contract to every listing presentation and show them from the start that while I’m committed, I still know my market and want to keep with their original goal of SELLING their property.

  4. Charles Mackenzie-Hill

    August 4, 2010 at 2:31 am

    The thing is, if the sellers has a mortgage considerably larger than your recommended price, they will of, course, subject to time restraints have a bottom line and bulk at your suggestion. The banks maybe, have even imposed a bottom line, if the seller has no way of paying back the shortfall. Is it not normally true, that the longer the seller has had the property the greater the margin for a realistic listing price or better still priced to sell? Listing an investment is the on the other hand , is another set of rules altogether . In this climate, sell okay, upgrade well, to balance your books

  5. Greg Cooper

    August 4, 2010 at 7:39 am

    Thanks all for your thoughts….clearly I was preaching to the choir here. The reality is we’re most all in some level of survival mode. We no longer have the luxury of taking business that won’t close because we have to spend our time productively to pay the bills. Realtors who take biz they cannot sell are hurting the market and I believe in some cases hastening their own professional demise.

  6. Paula Henry

    August 4, 2010 at 9:39 am

    Greg –

    It is often a fine line between what the seller can afford do to get the home ready for the market and what they can afford to sell for. It is our responsibility to assist them in realizing the true market value of their pink carpet, pickled oak cabinets and vinyl flooring. More often than not, they believe their home is special. When they place too high a value on their home, we have to consider their motivation and our time.

    My experience suggests most sellers do not understand the benefit of a quick sale vs. the cost of too many days on market.

  7. markbrian

    August 4, 2010 at 12:50 pm

    Yes we are both part of the problem and part of the solution. It is up to each one of us to be completely honest about what is realistic in this market. Maybe the continual push to improve the level of professionalism within our ranks will help with problems such as this. I hope it does anyway!

  8. Market Leader

    August 4, 2010 at 6:18 pm

    Are Realtors part of the problem… or part of the solution? https://bit.ly/aYVmnT @agentgenius ^danae

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Opinion Editorials

Online dating is evolving and maybe networking will too

(OPINION EDITORIALS) How has the online dating industry been disrupted during the pandemic? And can we apply a few pointers from this evolved model to networking?

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Woman networking through Zoom video call with two other women.

We are often reminded that hindsight is 20/20 – a proverb that means “it is easy to understand something after it has already happened”, and how ironic that is since we are in the year 2020 and not sure we can fully comprehend all we are learning and what hindsight this will bring.

Reflecting back to six months ago, there were many of us that didn’t have much of a clue about what the rest of 2020 would look like and how we would have to adjust to a more virtual world. We’ve updated our ways of working, connecting with colleagues, socializing with friends, networking with those in our industry, or looking for a new job.

Microsoft suggested that we have seen two years’ worth of digital transformation in about five months. For example: MS Teams, Zoom, and Google Meet have become the new way to host networking sessions, work meetings, and “chats” with colleagues; Tele-med appointments became the norm for routine or non-911 emergency doctor appointments; curbside pickup at grocery stores and food to-go orders via online ordering became the new normal (they existed before but saw tremendous growth in number of users).

We also had to learn how to create engaging and interactive ways to connect solely through a screen. We are already Zoom fatigued and wondering how online meetings have zapped our energy so differently than in person. It turns out, looking at ourselves and trying to talk to a group is a lot for our brains to process.

The Atlantic shares a great article about why the Zoom social life might feel so draining, saying that “Attempting to translate your old social habits to Zoom or FaceTime is like going vegetarian and proceeding to glumly eat a diet of just tofurkey”. No offense to vegetarians, of course.

You could argue though, that we’ve all been interacting via screens for years with the dominance of social media channels – whether it was posting our thoughts in 140 characters on Twitter, or sharing photos and videos of our artisanal sandwiches/cute kid/pet pictures on Facebook. But this seems different. Times are different and we will not be going back soon.

In this interim, many people are trying to make the best of the situation and are figuring out ways to connect. We will always need human connection (and without the germs, even better).

What about our single friends? If they don’t have anyone in the house to already drive them crazy, then where can they go to meet new people and/or possibly love interests?

While many experts are trying to predict the outcomes of this global shift, it may be hard to know what will change permanently. We know many industries are experiencing major disruptions – online dating apps being one of them.

According to Digital Trends, Tinder still ranks as one of the top dating apps. However, now that people are sheltering in place and/or social distancing, there’s a new app taking over as a way to “meet” someone a little faster, while also allowing you to stay behind the screen, sans mask.

Slide is a video dating app that changes your first-date frustrations into real connections and instant chemistry. Explore video profiles, go on first dates via Video Calls at your fingertips, and find that chemistry before dating IRL.”

So, while Tinder, Bumble, and Hinge play quarantine catch-up, Slide is stealing their market share.

How? With video.

Slide recognized the massive success of short-form video platforms like TikTok, and have translated it to dating. They focus on features like:

  • “Vibe Check”, which gives you the option to video chat immediately after matching with someone to see if there’s chemistry. This will save you from long or misinterpreted text conversations and money you may have spent on that first date.
  • A video-first approach that lets you see the real people behind the profiles so you can pass if they aren’t really who they say they are.
  • AI-assisted creation of “future bae” profiles that help suggest your best matches and spare you extra swipes. If Netflix can find similar suggestions…

As of August 2020, the Department of Labor and Statistics estimates about 13.6 million people are currently unemployed and searching for a new j-o-b. Is it possible that some of these newer ways of connecting online could be included in how we network for a new job/career opportunity?

For example, instead of sending a connection or networking request on LinkedIn, what if we could send a quick video about our story, or what we’d love to learn from that person, or how we’d like to connect?

Would that create a faster, better, possibly more genuine connection?

This would seem worth exploring as many job connections are created by in-person networking or reaching real people vs. solely online applications, behind a screen. Some other formats that have seen increased use are Marco Polo for video chats (you don’t have to both be available at the same time) and FaceTime group calls.

It might be worth exploring how short-form video platforms could assist job seekers in networking, outreach, and connecting with others. These are just some ideas as we continue to watch this digital transformation unfold.

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Opinion Editorials

Minimalism doesn’t have to happen overnight

(OPINION / EDITORIAL) Minimalism doesn’t have to mean throwing out everything this instant – you can get similar benefits from starting on smaller spaces.

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Minimal desk with laptop, cup, books, and plant.

Minimalism. This trend has reared its head in many forms, from Instagram-worthy shots of near empty homes to Marie Kondo making a splash on Netflix with Tidying Up with Marie Kondo in 2019. If you’re anything like me, the concept of minimalism is tempting, but the execution seems out of reach. Paring down a closet to fit into a single basket or getting rid of beloved objects can sometimes seem too difficult, and I get it! Luckily, minimalism doesn’t have to be quite so extreme.

#1. Digitally

Not ready to purge your home yet? That’s fine! Start on your digital devices. Chances are, there are plenty of easy ways to clean up the storage space on your computer or phone. When it comes to low stakes minimalism, try clearing out your email inbox or deleting apps you no longer use. It’ll increase your storage space and make upkeep much more manageable on a daily basis.

It’s also worth taking a look through your photos. With our phones so readily available, plenty of us have pictures that we don’t really need. Clearing out the excess and subpar pictures will also have the added bonus of making your good pictures easily accessible!

Now, if this task seems more daunting, consider starting by simply deleting duplicate photos. You know the ones, where someone snaps a dozen pics of the same group pose? Pick your favorite (whittle it down if you have to) and delete the rest! It’s an easy way to get started with minimizing your digital photo collection.

#2. Slowly

Minimalism doesn’t have to happen all at once. If you’re hesitant about taking the plunge, try dipping your toe in the water first. There’s no shame in taking your time with this process. For instance, rather than immediately emptying your wardrobe, start small by just removing articles of clothing that are not wearable anymore. Things that are damaged, for instance, or just don’t fit.

Another way to start slow is to set a number. Take a look at your bookshelf and resolve to get rid of just two books. This way, you can hold yourself accountable for minimizing while not pushing too far. Besides, chances are, you do have two books on your shelf that are just collecting dust.

Finally, it’s also possible to take things slow by doing them over time. Observe your closet over the course of six months, for instance, to see if there are articles of clothing that remain unworn. Keep an eye on your kitchen supplies to get a feel for what you’re using and what you’re not. Sure, that egg separator you got for your wedding looks useful, but if you haven’t picked it up, it probably has to go.

#3. Somewhat

Sometimes, minimalism is pitched as all or nothing (pun intended), but it doesn’t have to be that way. Just because I want to purge my closet doesn’t mean I’m beholden to purging my kitchen too. And that’s okay!

Instead of getting overwhelmed by everything that needs to be reduced, just pick one aspect of your life to declutter. Clear out your wardrobe and hang onto your books. Cut down on decorations but keep your clothes. Maybe even minimize a few aspects of your life while holding onto one or two.

Or, don’t go too extreme in any direction and work to cut down on the stuff in your life in general. Minimizing doesn’t have to mean getting rid of everything – it can mean simply stepping back. For instance, you can minimize just by avoiding buying more things. Or maybe you set a maximum number of clothes you want, which means purchasing a new shirt might mean getting rid of an old one.

The point is, there are plenty of ways to start on the minimalist lifestyle without pushing yourself too far outside your comfort zone. So, what are you waiting for? Try decluttering your life soon!

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Opinion Editorials

Your goals are more complicated than generalized platitudes, and that’s okay

(OPINION / EDITORIALS) When the tough times get going, “one size fits all” advice just won’t cut it. Your goals are more specific than the cookie cutter platitudes.

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Split paths in the forest like goals - general advice just doesn't fit.

‘Saw.’ – “Vulgar, uneducated wisdom based in superstition”, according to the good volunteer compilers at Wikipedia. See also: ‘aphorism’, ‘platitude’, and ‘entrepreneurial advice’. I’m not saying there’s no good advice for anyone anymore, that’s plain not true. SMART Goals are still relevant, there’s a plethora of cheaper, freeer, more easily accessible tutorials online, and consensus in April-ville is that Made to Stick is STILL a very helpful book.

But when I hear the same ‘pat on the head’ kind of counsel that I got as a kid presented by a serious institution and/or someone intending on being taken seriously by someone who isn’t their grade school-aged nephew, I roll my eyes. A lot.

“Each failure is an opportunity!” “Never give up!” “It’s not how many times you fall!”, yeah, okay, that’s all lovely. And it IS all very true. My issue is… These sunshiney saws? They’re not very specific. And just like a newspaper horoscope, they’re not meant to be (not that I’ll stop reading them).

Example: You’ve been jiggling the rabbit ears of your SEO for months, to no avail. No one’s visiting your site, there’ve been no calls, and the angel investor cash is starting to dip closer to falling from heaven with each passing day.

Does ‘don’t give up’ mean that you use your last bit of cash to take on an expert?

Or does ‘don’t give up’ mean that you go back to R&D and find out that no one actually WANTED your corncob scented perfume to begin with; algorithm tweaking and Demeter Fragrances be damned?

This is the thing about both your goals you make and the guidance you take—they have to be specific. I’m not saying your parents can put a sock in it or anything. I’m thrilled that I’m part of a family that’ll tell me to keep on keeping on. But as far as serious, practical input goes… One size fits all just leaves too much room for interpretation.

When you’re stuck, behind, or otherwise at odds with your growth, are you asking the right questions? Are you sure of what the problem actually is? Do you know whether it’s time to give up a failure of a business and ‘keep pushing’ in the sense of starting another one, or whether you’ve got a good thing on hand that needs you to ‘never say die’ in the sense of giving it more tweaking and time?

No one should have stagnant goals. A pool of gross sitting water is only attractive to mosquitoes and mold. ‘I wanna be rich’ as your business’s raison d’être is a setup for a story about the horrors of literal-minded genies, not an intention you can actually move upon. But that doesn’t mean you need to go hard the other way and get lost in a nebulous fog of easily-published aphorisms.

To be fair, it’s not as if saying ‘Ask the right questions’ is exponentially more helpful than your average feel-good refreshment article, since… This editorial column doesn’t know you or what pies you have your fingers in. But if I can at least steer you away from always running towards the overly general and into an attempt at narrowing down what your real problems are, I’ll consider this a job well done.

Save saws for building community tables.

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