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Opinion Editorials

Holy “change in the weather” Batman!

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In real estate I find myself searching for sunny days.

We all want to go back to the glory days of real estate when transactions were as plentiful as bailouts seem to be these days. I wasn’t around for those days, but like anyone with a license, I’ve heard the stories. Agents, kicked back in their chairs, surrounded by their office plaques for “Rookie Of The Year” and “Top Producer”, telling me about the good ‘ole days. Sharing stories of how they juggled 20 closings in a week and still had time to take the family to Disneyland. How they listed a property at 9AM only to have multiple offers by sundown. How they couldn’t even use their transaction software to write up contracts, because there just wasn’t time to type that much info and still call their clients with the offer.

Although I have not seen that sort of activity lately (wish I had that news to deliver), I have seen a subtle change. For me it seems as if I’m juggling 50 clients (even though its considerably less) and I couldn’t be more happy about it. I’m busy. I’m answering phone calls, sending email, and showing properties. Its all coming together suddenly and I love it. I have far to go, but I am moving in the direction I always intended to go.

So what caused this change?

I attribute it to a bunch of factors. One, the news is finally sinking in that San Antonio isn’t going to fall off the face of the earth in real estate terms. We’re performing better than most. I’m not going to lie and say its all sunshine and roses (it snowed here last night and all plant life in my yard is dead from the drought), but we’re holding our own. Two, I’ve been diligently chipping away. Instead of crying that I had no clients, I’ve been out and about…finding them. I’ve spoken to anyone who looked at me. I’ve spoken to some who didn’t. I’ve done open houses, made phone calls (not cold calls…ewww), and followed up with everyone I knew. I sent out letters to some expired listings (and currently have one of them listed). I tried to continue blogging as much as I could to get better at it and read more than my fair share of educational materials. I’ve made my moves with my website (which is still incomplete but making my phone ring) and tried Twitter and ActiveRain as outlets for myself (I am of the “be yourself” variety and if a client comes from that, great…if not, I’m learning new things everyday). Its been a blur of activity and I’m not ready to stop anytime soon.

Doing all this brings new questions to my mind.

Of course, with my new found workload I find myself learning quickly about time management in order to stave off the problems of “there’s not enough hours in the day.” Having said that, I’m a day late with this post. Why? I took time off last night to spend time with my wife (well, time off after a long evening of work). As much as I love my work, I love her more. I had to stop work, walk away from my computer, and sit with her and talk. It was wonderful. A few stolen moments from work only served to recharge my batteries and bond me with my wife some more. Sorry readers, you come second. With the work load, I am trying to find balance and still work harder than the average agent. Being newer, it still takes me a little while longer to do the things some of you could do in your sleep.

New questions leads to new learning opportunities, so I’m excited by it all. When I stumble, I look to the blogs and read stories of agents facing the same things I do. Agents who have years more experience than I do, but face the same things I do. I guess this post is a bit “preaching to the choir” for many of you, but for those that are just getting started or facing a new challenge, I wanted to write this, so you know the things I have learned…there is change in the air and although the national news is depressing most nights, there are people coming off the fence. They are coming off the fence, you just need to find the right fence to be next to. The easiest way to do that is to go to every fence you can find and let it be known that you’re there, ready to catch buyers and sellers as they slip off the fence and help them down safely.

When the rainy season begins, where will you be?

I’ve seen several agents leave recently. Agents who I never suspected would walk away from the business. Those agents gave up hope and stopped trying. They have their reasons, I’m sure, and I’m not knocking their reasons, but I know that I made a decision to be an agent and I will do so with the same passion I went at playing guitar in a band for 14 years. I loved what I did and I now love what I do. I will do what it takes to succeed and build a business that sustains itself even when the weather shifts once again. The weather in real estate is about as reliable as the weather forecast in Philly (not very). I will go through droughts, floods, snow storms, and hail…but there will always be sunny days.

Matt is a former PA-based rockstar turned real estate agent with RE/MAX Access in San Antonio, TX. He was asked to join AgentGenius to provide a look at the successes and trials of being a newer agent. His consumer-based outlook on the real estate business has helped him see things from both sides. He is married to a wonderful woman from England who makes him use the word "rubbish."

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7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. Steve Mattison

    December 11, 2008 at 10:43 pm

    Well done Matt, honest and encouraging, keep on keeping on man, you have the right attitude and perspective. Thanks for being real and telling it like it is!

  2. Matt Stigliano

    December 12, 2008 at 7:02 pm

    Steve – The way I see it we all get discouraged at time, frustrated, mad, whatever. As long as I keep trying I can’t say I’m not doing what I can. Much like music, real estate is what you make it. A little luck (finding great clients) is a good thing in both, but no matter what, you’ve got to work it.

  3. Missy Caulk

    December 12, 2008 at 8:41 pm

    Matt, I am seeing it too, one guy last year who sold in a rural area, with 19 listings said, “I’m done”.

    In a way I wish I had started in a down market because I still long for the glory days being primarily a listing agent.

    But, we don’t control the market we just adjust to it and do what is necessary to keep rockin’.

  4. Gary McNinch

    December 12, 2008 at 10:40 pm

    Matt,
    Great job and it will get easier as you get smoother with your systems after you get the client. Experience will help.

    And you already have the BIGGEST part figured out. Your wife is way more important than work.

    Oh and give yourself credit, there is no LUCK in getting clients, you are putting yourself out there with your eyes and your mouth open.

    List and Sell (you are getting there quickly) Gary @ RentonHomeFinder.com

  5. Steve Sherron

    December 13, 2008 at 8:51 am

    I am one of those new agents that started in the worst economic periods of human kind. I’m keeping my license active, but I have walked away from actively working the business at this time. I simply had to face reality in able to try and earn an income.

    I was an extremely busy agent with limited payoff. Agents who can hang on right now, will benefit if this market ever recovers. My advice to any agent right now, new or veteran, would be to make darn sure you are not spending all your time on “wild goose chases”. The public is very knowledgeable as to what is going on in this market and they will use and abuse an agent nowadays. An eager agent will end up spending hours of research, emails and property reviews only to discover they are working with bottom-feeders who have no intention of buying.

    I refuse to work with buyers right now because there are too few out there. I will only list properties. The following is my opinion, if you can survive for the next year and you want to prosper, List, List, List. If a buyer contacts you, send him to another broker in your office under a referral. The other agent spins his/her wheels and if they buy, you still get paid. Spend your every waking moment on listings only. Disregard everything else.

    When this market breaks, you will have a sales force of hundreds of agents in your area selling your listings that you have worked while everyone else was working with so-called buyers that never materialized. Then you will be sitting back with your Agent of the Year awards.

  6. Matt Stigliano

    December 13, 2008 at 9:53 am

    Missy – I refuse to be a new agent that drops off the face of the earth. Let me do it after I’ve succeeded, then I won’t mind so much. I’m actually happy to have started when I did. It hasn’t been great for the wallet, but it has taught me a lot and allowed me to focus on things so I can learn more while I have the time. If I was swamped with business from day one, I might not be where I’m at learning-wise.

    Gary – I notice how each little experience I go through makes me a) better at what I do and b) more confident in doing it. My wife is always more important than anything. She’s been by my side through a lot of good and some bad even. She never flinches and always keeps me going. She supported me through the biggest decision of my life (walking away from music and into real estate) and it wasn’t an easy time. There was a lot of emotion and psychology tied up in that (it was like getting divorced), but she supported me the whole way. I am one hell of a lucky man. My reference to “luck” was more about if you and I both went out and met 100 new people, you might find three clients, I might find none. The luck of the draw was in whether those people you’re meeting and getting to know are actual willing and able buyers. There is skill in there too, but there is an element of randomness to meeting a client blindly.

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Opinion Editorials

Job listings are popping up left and right, so what exactly *is* UX writing?

(EDITORIAL) While UX writing is not technically new, it is seemingly becoming more and more prevalent. The job titles are everywhere, so what is it?

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UX writing

The work of a UX writer is something you come across every day. Whether you’re hailing an Uber or browsing Spotify for that one Drake song, your overall user experience is affected by the words you read at each touchpoint.

A UX writer facilitates a smooth interaction between user and product at each of these touchpoints through carefully chosen words.

Some of the most common touchpoints these writers work on are interface copy, emails, and notifications. It doesn’t sound like the most thrilling stuff, but imagine using your favorite apps without all the thoughtful confirmation messages we take for granted. Take Eat24’s food delivery app, instead of a boring loading visual, users get a witty message like “smoking salmon” or “slurping noodles.”

Eat24’s app has UX writing that works because it’s engaging.

Xfinity’s mobile app provides a pleasant user experience by being intuitive. Shows that are available on your phone are clearly labeled under “Available Out of Home.” I’m bummed that Law & Order: SVU isn’t available, but thanks to thoughtful UX writing at least I knew that sad fact ahead of time.

Regardless of where you find these writer’s work, there are three traits an effective UX writer must-have. Excellent communication skills are a must. The ability to empathize with the user is on almost every job post. But from my own experience working with UX teams, I’d argue for the ability to advocate as the most important skill.

UX writers may have a very specialized mission, but they typically work within a greater user experience design team. In larger companies, some UX writers even work with a smaller team of fellow writers. Decisions aren’t made in isolation. You can be the wittiest writer, with a design decision based on obsessive user research, but if you can’t advocate for those decisions then what’s the point?

I mentioned several soft skills, but that doesn’t mean aspiring UX writers can’t benefit from developing a few specific tech skills. While the field doesn’t require a background in web development, UX writers often collaborate with engineering teams. Learning some basic web development principles such as responsive design can help writers create a better user experience across all devices. In a world of rapid prototyping, I’d also suggest learning a few prototyping apps. Several are free to try and super intuitive.

Now that the UX in front of the writer no longer intimidates you, go check out ADJ, The American Genius’ Facebook Group for Austin digital job seekers and employers. User-centric design isn’t going anywhere and with everyone getting into the automation game, you can expect even more opportunities in UX writing.

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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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