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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

Strong leaders can use times of crises to improve their company’s future

(EDITORIAL) In the COVID-19 crisis, some leaders fumbled through it, while others quietly safeguarded their company’s future.

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strong leaders

Anthony J. Algmin is the Founder and CEO of Algmin Data Leadership, a company helping business and technology leaders transform their future with data, and author of a new book on data leadership. We asked for his insights on how strong leaders can see their teams, their companies, and their people through this global pandemic (and other crises in the future). The following are his own words:

Managers sometimes forget that the people we lead have lives outside of the office. This is true always but is amplified when a crisis occurs. We need to remember that our job is to serve their teams, to help them be as aligned and productive as possible in the short and long terms.

Crises are exactly when we need to think about what they might be going through, and realize that the partnership we have with our employees is more than a transaction. If we’ve ever asked our people to make sacrifices, like working over a weekend without extra pay, we should be thinking first about how we can support them through the tough times. When we do right by people when they really need it, they will run through walls again for our organizations when things return to normal.

Let them know it’s okay to breathe and talk about it. In a situation like COVID-19 where everything was disrupted and people are adjusting to things like working from home, it is naturally going to be difficult and frustrating.

The best advice is to encourage people to turn off the TV and stop frequently checking the news websites. As fast as news is happening, it will not make a difference in what we can control ourselves. Right now most of us know what our day will look like, and nothing that comes out in the news is going to materially change it. If we avoid the noisy inputs, we’ll be much better able to focus and get our brains to stop spinning on things we can’t control.

And this may be the only time I would advocate for more meetings. If you don’t have at least a daily standup with your team, you should. And encourage everyone to have a video-enabled setup if at all possible. We may not be able to be in the same room, but the sense of engagement with video is much greater than audio-only calls.

We also risk spiraling if we think too much about how our companies are struggling, or if our teams cannot achieve what our organizations need to be successful. It’s like the difference in sports between practice and the big game. Normal times are when leaders game plan, strategize, and work on our fundamentals. Crises are the time to focus and leave it all on the field.

That said, do not fail to observe and note what works well and where you struggle. If you had problems with data quality or inefficient processes before the crisis, you are not fixing them now. Pull out the duct tape and find a way through it. But later, when the crisis subsides, learn from the experience and get better for next time.

Find a hobby. Anything you can do to clear your head and separate work from the other considerations in your life. We may feel like the weight of the world is on our shoulders, and without a pressure release we will not be able to sustain this level of stress and remain as productive as our teams, businesses, and families need us.

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Opinion Editorials

7 sure-fire ways to carve out alone time when you’re working from home

(EDITORIAL) It can be easy to forget about self-care when you’re working from home, but it’s critical for your mental health, and your work quality.

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Woman in hijab sitting on couch, working from home on a laptop

We are all familiar with the syndrome, getting caught up in work, chores, taking care of others, and neglecting to take care of ourselves in the meantime. This has always been the case, but now, with more people working from home and a seemingly endless lineup of chores, thanks to the pandemic. There is simply so much to do.

The line is thinly drawn between personal and professional time already, with emails, cell phones, and devices relentlessly reaching out around the clock, pulling at us like zombie arms reaching up from the grave. Working from home makes this tendency to always be “on” worse, as living and working take place in such close proximity. We have to turn it off, though.

Our brains and bodies need downtime, me-time, and self-care. Carving out this time is one of the kindest and most important things you can do for yourself. If we can begin to honor ourselves like this, the outcome with not only our mental and physical health but also our productivity at work will be beneficial. When we make the time to do things we love, our mind’s gears slow down that constant grinding. Burnout behooves nobody.

Our work will also benefit. Healthier, happier, more well-rested, and well-treated minds and bodies can work wonders! Our immune systems also need this, and we need our immune systems to be at their peak performance this intense season.

I wanted to write this article because I have such a struggle with this in my own life. I need to print it out and put it in my workspace. Last week, I posted something on my social media pages that so many people shared. It is clear we all need these reminders, so I am paying it forward here. The graphic was a quote from Devyn W.

“If you are reading this, release your shoulders away from your ears, unclench your jaw, and drop your tongue from the roof of your mouth.”

There now, isn’t that remarkable? It is a great first step. Let go of the tension in your body, and check out these ways to make yourself some healing me-time while working from home.

  1. Set aside strict no-work times. This could be any time of day, but set the times and adhere to them strictly. This may look like taking a full hour for lunch, not checking email after a certain hour, or committing to spending that time outdoors, reading, exercising, or enjoying the company of your loved ones. Make this a daily routine, because we need these boundaries. Every. Single. Day.
  2. Remember not to apologize to anyone for taking this me-time. Mentally and physically you need this, and everyone will be better off if you do. It is nothing to apologize for! Building these work-free hours into your daily schedule will feel more normal as time goes on. This giving of time and space to your joy, health, and even basic human needs is what should be the norm, not the other way around.
  3. Give yourself a device-free hour or two every day, especially before bedtime. The pinging, dinging, and blinging keep us on edge. Restful sleep is one of the wonderful ways our bodies and brains heal and putting devices away before bedtime is one of the quick tips for getting better sleep.
  4. Of course, make time for the things you absolutely love. If this is a hot bath, getting a massage, reading books, working out, cooking or eating an extravagant meal, or talking and laughing with a loved one, you have to find a way to get this serotonin boost!
  5. Use the sunshine shortcut. It isn’t a cure-all, but sunlight and Vitamin D are mood boosters. At least when it’s not 107 degrees, like in a Texas summer. But as a general rule, taking in at least a good 10-15 minutes of that sweet, sweet Vitamin D provided by the sun is good for us.
  6. Spend time with animals! Walk your dog, shake that feathery thing at your cat, or snuggle either one. Whatever animals make you smile, spend time with them. If you don’t have pets of your own, you could volunteer to walk them at a local shelter or even watch a cute animal video online. They are shown to reduce stress. Best case scenario is in person if you are able, but thankfully the internet is bursting with adorable animal videos, as a backup.
  7. Give in to a bit of planning or daydreaming about a big future trip. Spending time looking at all the places you will go in the future and even plotting out an itinerary are usually excellent mood-boosters.

I hope we can all improve our lives while working from home by making time for regenerating, healing, and having fun! Gotta run—the sun is out, and my dog is begging for a walk.

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Opinion Editorials

The one easy job interview question that often trips up applicants

(EDITORIAL) The easiest interview questions can be the hardest to answer, don’t let this one trip you up – come prepared!

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Women sitting nervously representing waiting for a remote job interview.

A job interview is tough, and preparing for them can seem impossible. There are some questions you can expect: what is your experience in this position? How would you handle this situation? And so on.

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But what about this question: what makes you happy? Though it may seem straightforward, getting to the right answer is not such an easy path.

Work engagement

According to research, less and less employees feel like they are truly engaged at work. Some blame the work environment but truth be told, it is not a company’s responsibility to make you happy.

Without a passion for what you are doing, you will never enjoy the job.

It is the best case for everyone. More engaged workers are more productive in addition to feeling like they serve a purpose.

Do your due diligence

So before finding yourself in an interview where you have to take an awkward pause before answering this question, the best thing is to do some research. It all starts with the job search.

When looking for a job it is easy to get caught up in high profile company names and perks.

For instance, although “Social Media Coordinator” may not be your thing, the position is open at the cool advertising agency downtown. Or perhaps the company offers flexible hours and free lunch Fridays. The problem is that these perks aren’t worth it in the long run. Working for a cool company can be exciting at first, but it is not sustainable without passion for the position.

It’s important to pay attention to is the position you are applying for.

Is this work that you are passionate about? Take a look at the job responsibilities and functions. Besides figuring out if those are things that you can do, ask yourself if they are things that you want to do. Is this an opportunity that will match your strengths and give you purpose?

Let your passion protrude

With all things considered, when asked “what makes you happy” at the next interview, you will be able to answer honestly. Your passion will be apparent without having to put on an act.

Even if they don’t ask that question, there is no downside to knowing what makes you happy.

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