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Craigslist user seeking a real estate professional’s services

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What does this say about real estate?

Since before blogs and Twitter and Facebook, many Realtors used Craigslist as a means of promoting listings and services. The site has never undergone any major design changes, but user culture has shifted a bit to be more mainstream. Broker listings are now separated from homeowner listings and the site is no longer just popular in tech centers across America but has become common even in the Midwest.

All that said, there remains a culture of haggling, a culture that doesn’t trust a seller (just try posting a listing in any category, in any genre to see what kind of crazy insane spam emails you get), a culture that is looking for the best deal, and most importantly, a culture that is focused on doing their own research and verifying all information via Google.

Recently, AGBeat video columnist Herman Chan shared with us a listing on Craigslist in which a home buyer was seeking a real estate professional and although it has since been pulled, we’ll show it to you in full before we add our thoughts (click to enlarge):

Herman interpreted the ad in the most hilarious fashion:

Need some extra gas money? Sell a home!

Being a realtor is as easy as 1-2-3! Just troll craigslist for cheapo clients, put your name & license on the line, slave away, do ALL the work, and get paid pennies. There’s nothing to it! So this is what its come to, eh?

Our services, our knowledge, our expertise boils down to a measly 500 clams.

He has a good point though when he asks, “On the other hand, times are indeed tough. Agents are starving out there…at what point would you respond to this ad?”

What does this say about Craigslist and our industry? Not as much as you would think. There are many people who feel empowered by the internet and sincerely believe they only need a Realtor to sign a paper or to open a door. That isn’t anything new, so there is no rising trend to point out here, but it is worth remembering that if you’re not the type to be second guessed with every move, Craigslist may not be the website for you to use. On the other hand, many people have found incredible success in listing homes on Craigslist.

Tell us in the comments what the strangest encounter in Craigslist’s real estate section you have witnessed or been subjected to!

The American Genius is news, insights, tools, and inspiration for business owners and professionals. AG condenses information on technology, business, social media, startups, economics and more, so you don’t have to.

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25 Comments

25 Comments

  1. Matt Stigliano

    June 21, 2011 at 8:27 am

    There will always be DIYers, but this is an interesting ad. I'm not sure how CA licensing works, but I can't imagine this being a smart move in Texas. Fannie Mae is going to look at that "rebate" for one and TREC is going to look at it as well. In addition, this person may have filled out the paperwork, but I wouldn't put my license (and my broker's) on the line and hope they didn't mess something up enough to open up future legal action.

    I know people will always argue about our commissions, but I see two major components to why we're able to charge what we do (removing the obvious that we actually do more than just open doors and play Mad Libs with contracts): liability and risk. First, there's liability. My commission doesn't even cover my ass if something goes wrong. That's not to say that I expect things to go wrong or that I don't work to make sure they never do, but let's face it, people love to sue and we're at the top of the blame list. I take that liability in my hands every time I open my mouth. Of course, with proper training and attention to the "rules" I can limit that liability, but it is always there. I've seen some amazingly silly lawsuits since becoming an agent (not my own).

    Then there's risk. I really feel the current models of commission-based pricing are based in risk. I can't guarantee that every interaction (or even transaction) is going to end in a successful closing. I work hard to make sure they do, but there is no accounting for some things. Unfortunately, we have to account for our "lost time" in working to move a person from looking to buying to closing. There are ways for us to tighten up that process (simple pre-approval both from the lender and agent sides is a great example) and I think we move closer to that goal as we give more data to the consumer through IDX, blogging, and education. The better informed the consumer, the more likely they are to know when they are ready, willing, and able to buy.

    I think if the liability levels came down and consumers got (I hate to say it this way, but it was the best way I could think of) more "serious" about the buying and selling process, prices could come down. Would they? That I'm not sure of, because we do have a tendency in our industry to cling to the "way things have always been."

    One other thought – when listing homes, the emphasis used to be on marketing, which meant printing, mailing, advertising…which had a cost associated with it in hard dollars. Now, much of that is free, but takes more time (which is also a valuable commodity). I know I invest a lot of time in any listing, but the consumer may not see that – and might not see its cost in quite the same light as me sending out 1000 flyers (tangible goods). I think the trick here is to define time as a cost and show how the two, although very different, are both valuable goods.

  2. Mark

    June 21, 2011 at 8:43 am

    Craigslist creates hundreds of ads, in your area, about real estate, some good, some bad, some just plain silly. Maybe a newbie will want to use this as a project for experience AND fill up his tank AND get lunch money for the rest of the month. Good for him/her. I'll just ignore it.

  3. Benn Rosales

    June 21, 2011 at 11:15 am

    There is value in every transaction. Whether you're just wanting the side to meet personal/business goals, or being savvy enough to realize your true hourly rate and gutsy enough to earn and demand it. My response to an ad like that is go get your license, or better yet, complain to the state of California about even needing an license to transact real estate. If it's so easy, let's deregulate it.

  4. herman chan

    June 21, 2011 at 6:18 pm

    hey y'all! i think agents have a right to procure biz how they want, but to me, the real story about this ad is that there are people out there who think all we do amounts to $500 ;-/

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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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