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Opinion Editorials

Are remote transactions really the wave of the future?

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I just got back from a conference that had a few sessions on the management of remote transactions.  You know. The kind where you really never see your client in person.

You first met this client as an Internet lead coming from your website or maybe someone contacted you because you are the social media maven for you little piece of the earth.  It turns out this client is far away or just a busy little beaver and really doesn’t have the time to meet and look at houses so he logs into your IDX and picks out a few, you go and take digital photos, you send the offer for electronic signature….

You get the idea.

Is This Really The Profile for the Next Generation Real Estate Transaction?

I’ve been hearing all around the new Gen Y or Z or whatever are really very busy people and don’t want to be your friend anyway.  They have a need (buy or sell a  house) and they want to get it done in the most efficient way possible. Yet, I always here “it’s about the relationship”.  Which is it?

More and more “cloud based” transaction providers are starting to stick their hand in the air to say, “Pick me!  Pick me.”  Promises of multiple, redundant servers and super secure digital signatures and secure password-only access by transaction partners are de rigeur.

I can;t help but feel that all of this stuff is the new shiny object that enterprising entrepreneurs are foisting upon the real estate profession in order to separate Realtors from their money.  As in ” a fool and his money are…”.

I could be wrong.  I have worked with a few clients that were across the country and some that were overseas. All this cool stuff would be helpful there.

I’m not sure, though.  Maybe it’s me.  But a lot of the clients I work with like to talk face-to-face about this type of decision.

Are you a “remote, cloud based Realtor”?

“Loves sunrise walks on the beach, quaint B & Bs, former Barbie® boyfriend..." Ken is a sole practitioner and Realtor Extraordinaire in the beautiful MD Suburbs of DC. When he's not spouting off on Agent Genius he holds court from his home office in Glenn Dale, MD or the office for RE/MAX Advantage Realty in Fulton, MD...and always on the MD Suburbs of DC Blog

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9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. Benn Rosales

    May 2, 2010 at 8:01 pm

    Based on what we’ve seen at ActiveRain this week, I’m going to say that people maybe should be versed at doing both. A really good example is we needed a phone number and had always counted on a certain page on AR, for three days we could not access that phone number – in a transaction, that won’t be an acceptable excuse when you have time sensitive needs or documents you cannot access – oh the chaos that could be…

    So let’s say relationships… a hardcopy and a laptop in that order…

  2. Vicki

    May 2, 2010 at 8:05 pm

    I have worked with out-of-state sellers to take care of listing and selling their home, and have never met them in person. Obviously, these were not their primary residences at the time of sale, and the emotional issues weren’t part of the process.

    I’m currently working with a long-distance buyer, but we have met in person, and he will spend the time to come view and investigate the house before he removes his contingencies. I did spend quite a bit of time measuring the house and marking up a copy of the floorplan, along with making a flip video, and taking a lot of digital still photos to send him. I’m also using electronic signing as it saves lots of time and paper, as well as keeping a time-and-date record of every part of the contract. (I use Docusign, which is very affordable at less than $200/year)

    I’m not sure that there is any kind of “cloud computing” that could make this easier for me!

  3. BawldGuy

    May 3, 2010 at 11:34 am

    Ken — I’ve not met 95% of my clients in person since the start of ’04.

    I avoid ‘the cloud’ like the plague, which is how I personally characterize it. The top IT guys I know do the same. Those who set themselves up to be dependent upon the cloud, will live to regret it, IMHO.

  4. Joe Loomer

    May 3, 2010 at 2:35 pm

    Ken, I’ve represented sellers and buyers I never meet for years – mainly by targetting absentee owners through public tax records (sellers), and through extensive networking and social media efforts with my existing sphere – a good percentage of whom are military (buyers) with limited time off to come and see homes in person. Since the “Shift” – the sight-unseen buyers have been fewer, and those that do are either past clients or investors we’ve worked before who trust our judgement in property recommendations.

    Guess I’m saying it’s already happening – quite commonly – but I believe belly-to-belly is still more common and will be for some time.

    Navy Chief, Navy Pride

  5. Teresa Boardman

    May 3, 2010 at 4:09 pm

    Each year I work with 3 or 4 sellers that I never meet in person. Typically they have relocated but still own properties in st. Paul, MN
    There is not any business reason for us to ever meet.

  6. Candice A Donofrio

    May 4, 2010 at 1:12 am

    I think the future is more about ‘high touch’ than ‘high tech’ so it’s important to be ready to service clients on their comfort level. In the clouds or on terra firma.
    I’ve had clients I’ve never ‘seen’ but ‘know’ well and v/v. Used Docusign since its inception (2002-3?) and will go into a house with investor on cell, describe and MMS photos so they can decide–then e- the docs. Some clients want to meet face/face and that is always doable. But if they are far away (I service a resort area) they need not travel to transact.
    Otherwise, we’ll drive to their home or the property or wherever, fax, email or Skype.
    We’re snailing docs right now to a client who has NO electronics but the granddaughter found us via her IPhone.
    Many tiers to our business and it’s important to stay able to pick the one that works best.

  7. Ruthmarie Hicks

    May 4, 2010 at 9:47 am

    I’m working with a client that way right now. They moved before they decided to sell their home in NY. Being way out in AZ – coming east to meet with me made no sense. I’ve been working with them via email/phone/text. As we become more and more paperless – that’s the way its going to go.

  8. Joe Dallorso

    May 4, 2010 at 4:42 pm

    I regularly work with out of state sellers who need to sell a home here in Florida left to them by a relative. I’ve done so many seller sides where I never met my client that I’ve lost count.

    I also did 2 buyer sides last year where the client picked out a house online & made an offer sight unseen. Both came down for the home inspection though. Interesting that this wasn’t a hip gen x too busy at his computer job but 2 older couples looking to retire to Florida. So much for stereo types.

  9. Fred Franks

    February 25, 2016 at 6:35 pm

    I am a Realtor also, and I do a lot of business over the internet. The best tool out for remote signing is appfiles!!!

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Opinion Editorials

10 tips for anyone looking to up their professional game

(OPINION / EDITORIAL) It’s easy to get bogged down by the details, procrastinate, and feel unproductive. Here are a few tips to help you stay on track and crush your professional goals.

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work productivity

Self-reflection is critical to a growth mindset, which you must have if you want to grow and improve. If you are ready to take your professional game to the next level, here are some stories and tips to help you remain focused on killing your goals.

1. Don’t compare yourself to others. Comparison is the thief of joy, as the quote goes. And, in the workplace it’s bound to make you second guess yourself and your abilities. This story explains when comparison can be useful, when to avoid it, and how to change your focus if it’s sucking the life out of you.

2. Burnout is real and the harder you work, the less productive you are. It’s an inverse relationship. But, there are ways to work smarter and have better life balance. Here are some tips to prioritize your workload and find more ease.

3. Stop procrastinating and start getting sh@t done. The reason we procrastinate may be less about not wanting to do something and more about the emotions underlying the task. Ready to get going and stop hemming and hawing, you got this and here’s the way to push through.

4. Perfection is impossible and if you seek this in your work and life, it’s likely you are very frustrated. Let that desire go and learn to be happy with excellence over perfection.

5. If you think you’re really awesome and seriously deserve more money, more responsibility, more of anything and are ready to drop the knowledge on your supervisor or boss, you may want to check this story out to see if your spinning in the right direction.

6. Technology makes it so easy to get answers so quickly, it’s hard to wait around for things to happen. We like instant gratification. Yet, that is another reason procrastination is a problem for some of us, but every person has a different way/reason for procrastinating. Learn what’s up with that.

7. Making choices can be a challenge for some of us (me included) who worry we are making the wrong choice. If you’ve ever struggled with decision making, you know it can be paralyzing and then you either make no decision or choose the safest option. What we have here is the Ambiguity Effect and it can be a real time suck. Kick ambiguity to the curb.

8. If you are having trouble interacting with colleagues or wondering why you don’t hear back from contacts it could be you are creeping folks out unintentionally (we hope). Here’s how to #belesscreepy.

9. In the social media era building your brand and marketing are critical, yet, if you’re posting to the usual suspects and seeing very little engagement, you’ve got a problem. Wharton Business School even did a study on how to fix the situation and be more shareable.

10. Every time you do a presentation that one co-worker butts in and calls you out. Dang. If you aren’t earning respect on the job, you will be limited in your ability to get to the next level. Respect is critical to any leadership position, as well as to making a difference in any role you may have within an organization, but actions can be misconstrued. There are ways to take what may be negative situations and use them to your advantage, building mutual respect.

You have the tools you need, now get out there, work hard, play hard and make sh*t happen. Oh, and remember, growth requires continual reflection and action, but you got this.

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Opinion Editorials

Why soft skills are even more essential in online era

(OPINION / EDITORIAL) Since many of us aren’t seeing our co-workers in person these days, our soft skills are even more important in the online working space.

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Skype video chat with person writing in notebook. Soft skills are critical online.

When did we start thinking of “soft” as bad? I mean, we’ve got soft serve (excellent), softball (good exercise), fabric soft-ener (another industry I’m enjoying killing as a millennial). And we’ve got soft skills.

Or at least… I hope we do.

The shift to non-optional remote working has been difficult for a lot of us, especially for everyone who forgets to press mute before making sure the kids behave. But it’ll take more than being hot-mic savvy to make it through the foreseeable future. Brush up on these soft skills while we’re waiting on a vaccine, and it’ll make the coming months (years?) much easier.

1. Tone mastery

Do you know the difference between “Hey, Brenda, can we have a 1:1 at 12:30pm to go over the laser-equipped yoga pants presentation details?” and “Brenda, we need to talk…”?

If not, you might not have a great grasp on how to say with your typey-words what you can no longer say with your facial expressions. You don’t need to throw an emoji or exclamation point into every sentence to get your points across, but you do have the power to keep your coworkers’ heart rates in a safe range by explaining what exactly you need from them in your initial messages.

Use that power wisely.

2. Checking in

There’s no water cooler talk if there’s no water cooler, right?

Making and maintaining connections is more important now than ever, natural introversion be damned. You wanna be a star, don’tcha? Keep up relationships with public shoutouts, inquiries, and reaction images, and you’ll keep up morale while maintaining and boosting your potential for growth in the company.

Even if you’re not a small-talk kind of person, just a drop in for updates, meeting minutes, or sharing a relevant article via appropriate chatrooms and DMs can help hone your soft skills.

“Karen, this MLM article reminded me of your anti-Scentsy tangent you forgot we could all hear, maybe send this to your pushy ex-friend.”

“Hey, Ravindra, how’s the new laptop working out? All good? No ‘Kill all Humans’ protocols like the last one?”

Simple blips like this can add up like couch change. If you’re an admin, make a general chats section, and work in enough time in meetings to allow everyone to have a bit of a chat before getting down to business.

3. Make yourself available

This was important before the pandemic, honestly, but it bears repeating now, especially for everyone in a leadership position. If you’re not making time for check-ins, constantly cancelling meetings, or just generally enjoying being gone when people need you…figure out a way to not. Delegate what you can, bring on a VA, shorten that vacation, whatever you have to do. Everyone’s struggling, and being captain means your crew is looking to you. Don’t let the general air of desperation lull you into thinking a metaphorical keelhauling is out of the question—that extra power still comes with extra responsibility.

Keep yourself from double-bookings, cancellations, and absences as much as possible, and things will continue to improve internally… Even if they don’t in the outside world.

Aesop had a fable about an oak tree and a little river reed. When a storm came, the hardened oak tree fell and died, while the flexible reed bent with the wind and lived. We’re in the storm now, and everyone’s doing their best not to break. Keep yourself rooted friends, but the moral here is to soften up.

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Opinion Editorials

Before you quit your job, ask yourself these 5 questions

(OPINION / EDITORIAL) Frustrated at work? Here are 5 ideas utilizing design thinking and exploration tactics to assess if you really are ready to quit your job.

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Man reclining on beanbag with laptop, thoughtful. Considering tactics before you quit your job.

We have all been there. We are in a job that just doesn’t feel right for us. Maybe we strongly dislike our manager or even our day to day work responsibilities. We find it easy to blame everyone else for everything we dislike. We question life and ask “Is this what life is all about? Shouldn’t I be spending my time doing something I am more passionate about?” But, we probably like the regular paycheck… Thus, we stay there and possibly become more miserable by the day. Some of us may even start to feel physical symptoms of headaches, stomach aches, and possibly depression. We also may go to the internet like this person seeking answers and hoping someone else can tell us what to do:

“I feel conflicted but I want to quit my job. What should I do?

I was thinking of quitting my job because I dislike what I do, and I feel I am underpaid.

However last week my colleague tendered her resignation too. Needless to say, if I leave too, my whole department will fall into a larger mess and that causes some feelings of conflict within me.

Should my colleague quitting affect when I want to leave too? How do I go about quitting now?”

We can definitely empathize with this – it’s really uncomfortable, sometimes sad, and hard to be in a position where we feel we are underpaid and we aren’t happy.

So, how can you navigate a situation like this? How do you figure out if you should just quit your job? How can you be an adult about this?

Here are some exploratory questions, ideas, and some design thinking activities to help you answer this question for yourself.

  • Before you up and quit, assuming you don’t yet have your next opportunity lined up, have you considered asking for a raise – or better yet, figure out how you add value to the organization? Would your supervisor be willing to move you in to a new role or offer additional compensation?
  • If you don’t have a job lined up, do you have the recommended AT LEAST six months of living expenses in your savings account? Some would recommend that you have even more during a global pandemic where unemployment is at an all-time high – it may take longer to find a new position.
  • Do you have a safety net of family or friends that are willing and able to help you with your bills if you don’t have your regular paycheck? Would you be willing to put that burden on them so you can quit your job?
  • Why aren’t you job searching if you are unhappy? Is it because the task seems daunting and the idea of interviewing right now makes you want to puke?
  • What would your ideal job be and what would it take for you to go for it?

Many people claim they don’t like their job but they don’t know what to do next or even worse, don’t know what they WANT to do. To offer a little bit of tough love here: Well, then, that’s your job to figure it out. You can go on Reddit all you want, but no one else can tell you what is right for you.

Here are some ways to explore what may be an exciting career move for you or help you identify some areas that you need to learn more about in order to figure out where work will align with your skills, interests, and passions.

  1. Consider ordering the Design Your Life Workbook that provides writing prompts to help you figure out what it is that you are looking for in a job/career. You may also like the book Designing Your Work Life which is about “How to Thrive and Change and Find Happiness at Work”.
  2. Utilize design thinking to answer some of your questions. Make a diamond shape and in each of the four corners, write out the “Who” you want to be working with, “What” you’d like to be doing, “Where” you’d like to be, and “Why” you want to be there or doing that kind of work.
  3. Conduct informational interviews with people doing work that you think you might be interested in. Usually these conversations give you lots of interesting insights and either a green light to pursue something or validation that maybe that role isn’t right for you either.
  4. Get your resume updated. Sometimes just dusting off your resume, updating it, and making it ready gives you a feeling of relief that if you did really want to pursue a new job, you are almost ready. Consider updating your LinkedIn profile as well.
  5. Explore what you can do differently. A lot of what we can be frustrated about can be related to things out of our control. Consider exploring ways to work better with your team or how to grow to become invaluable. Tune in to Lindsey Pollak’s podcast, The Work Remix, where she gives great ideas on how to navigate working in current times where there are five generations in the workplace. There may be ways you need to adjust your communication style or tune in to emotional intelligence on how to better work with your supervisor or employees. Again, focus on what is within your control.

You may decide that you need to quit your job to be able to focus your energy on finding a better fit for you. But at the same time, be realistic. Most of us have to work to live. Everyone has bills, so you may continue working while you sort out some of the other factors to help you find a more exciting prospect. Either way, wishing you all the best on this journey, and the time and patience to allow you to figure it out.

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