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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

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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Opinion Editorials

New USPS duck-shaped truck design has mixed reactions

(OPINION / EDITORIAL) The USPS is getting a fleet of electronic delivery vehicles. We’re wondering if the actual design got lost in the mail.

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New USPS truck in a fictional neighborhood delivering mail.

So the USPS is getting new trucks and they look like ducks and maybe that sucks… or maybe it wucks. Like “works,” if a duck said it. Just give me this one please.

Anyway.

I don’t know how mean I can be here – there has to be something said for objective journalistic integrity – but I have a feeling most people are going to have a rather sarcastic reaction to the new design. I’m not so sure I can blame them – it has a kind of stubby little nose with a shortened hood and a boxy frame and super tall windshield, which gives the wheels a disproportionately large look compared to the rest of the silhouette. It’s sort of like a Nissan Cube but less millennial cool, which A) is discontinued (so maybe not so cool), and B) is not the car that had those giant hiphop hamsters running around, but I’m still going to link to it anyway.

Elon Musk must be breathing a sigh of relief right now.

The contract was awarded to Oshkosh Defense (which I was thrilled to find out is NOT the adorable kid’s clothing company, even though I personally think that would be hilarious if there was a factory making overalls for tiny humans alongside tactical defense trucks) and officially announced on February 23rd, 2021 to the tune of $482 million. Seriously though, someone is going to mix those up for the rest of all time and eternity; I’d never not think about my own baby pictures if some contractor from Oshkosh Defense showed up.

The release mentions that, “The historic investment is part of a soon-to-be-released plan the Postal Service has developed to transform its financial performance and customer service over the next 10 years through significant investments in people, technology and infrastructure as it seeks to become the preferred delivery service provider for the American public.” It’s called the NGDV – Next Generation Delivery Vehicle, which I happen to adore, and will pronounce as Nugduv, and you can’t stop me anyway. The old one was called the Grumman, by the way.

Some credit this as a radical change, and keeping in mind that radical doesn’t necessarily denote positive or negative, it seems like the perfect word to use here. Then there are those who correctly identify “a mixed bag of responses,” sort of like when you get a bag of candy at Halloween that has at least one thing no one likes. Some call it strange, while others defend it as something every new big vehicle should look like (this is where – as one of many – I found it called a “duck” which oh man do I love, quack quack).

We can also hit up the ever fair public opinion of Twitter, because why wouldn’t we?

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This is how I would draw a car. That is not a plus for this design

I really can’t get over that last one. But I mean, whoa. That’s quite the spectrum. There’s less disagreement on pizza toppings I think. But luckily I think we’re safe there – Domino’s makes people drive their personal cars.

Taking a step back and putting snide commentary away for a moment, there’s some areas that should be discussed. First – and what should probably be obvious – there was a laundry list of requirements and restrictions from the USPS, which made Nir Kahn – design director from custom carmaker Plasan – offer up his own tweets that give some insight on dimensions and design:

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I was involved in an early proposal for the USPS truck so I know the requirements well. They pretty much dictated the proportions – this package sketch shows that to meet the ergonomic and size requirements, there wasn’t much freedom 1/2 #USPS pic.twitter.com/Fk35g98Z83

Kahn mentions that “there wasn’t much freedom,” but also that “it could have looked much better,” and this sort of underlines the entire discussion I think – there were goals in place, and possibly some more aesthetically pleasing ways to meet them, but the constraints won out and drove (hehe) the design more than style did.

Certainly, there are other concerns – the ability for USPS drivers to reach a mailbox while seated is paramount. Others have pointed out that this design – with its large windshield and shortened front – should help with safety around small children (all the better if they are wearing Oshkosh B’gosh, because that implies they are tiny and may not be at all concerned with the dangers of streets). The open field-of-vision will aid in making sure drivers can navigate places that might be frequented by any number of pedestrians, so that’s a plus.

Further, if you get struck by one of these, you’ll basically “just” get kneecapped versus taking it square to the torso. The duck article is the one making this call, and I think there’s some merit there (though it makes me question how the USPS fleet is going to do against the SUVs and big trucks out in the wild). It then goes on to point out that this design has more cargo space, fitting into the idea of “rightsizing,” where the form and function of the vehicle meet in a way that is downsized, but still punches above its weight.

“From smaller fire engines to nimbler garbage trucks, making vehicles better scaled to urban tasks can make a huge difference, not only for keeping other cars moving on narrow streets, but also to ensure that humans on those same streets can access the bike lanes, sidewalks, and curb cuts they need to get around.”

I didn’t try too hard to find stats on crashes in mail trucks, but seems like something that should be addressed.

Maybe the biggest point here is that we sort of have to get new trucks – they are outliving their 24 year expectancy and catching on fire. On FIRE. I mean a mail truck might be the worst place for a fire. I’m not even sure I can’t think up a better answer… Ok maybe toilets would be worse.

The new vehicles can be either petrol or electric powered, have 360 cameras, airbags, and automatic braking. Oh, and air conditioning, which the old vehicles did not have. So yes, literally the worst place to have a fire. But due to the taller vehicles, someone can stand in them now! So escape is even easier! Hooray!

A series of delays pushed back the introduction of new vehicles from their 2018 projected date, with poor initial prototypes and the pandemic being major setbacks. Aggressive bidding led to extended deadlines, which had been narrowed down to a small list of candidates that included Workhorse (who unfortunately suffered a large stock plunge following the announcement). It’s been in the works for at least six years.

In the end, I don’t think we can discount all the advantages here – more efficient vehicles that are safer and provide drivers with modern amenities. That’s a LOT of good. I think once the initial goofy shock is over, the design will be accepted. Everyone thought Nintendo’s Wii was a hilarious name (still pretty much is regardless of being in the public book of acceptable nomenclature), and Cybertruck sales are brisk, so I think we can set a lot of this aside. The Edsel these are not.

So hey, new USPS vehicles in 2023, like an exceedingly late birthday present. All I want to see is a bunch of baby ducks following one of them around oh please let that happen. The USPS kind of has an identity crisis in the modern era, so maybe a funny little cute silly boxmobile is just the right way to get some attention.

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Opinion Editorials

Declutter your quarantine workspace (and brain)

(EDITORIAL) Can’t focus? Decluttering your workspace can help you increase productivity, save money, and reduce stress.

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decluttering

It’s safe to say that we’ve all been spending a lot more time in our homes these last few months. This leads us to fixate on the things we didn’t have time for before – like a loose doorknob, or an un-alphabetized bookshelf, or that we’ve put off ‘declutter’ on our to-do list for too long.

The same goes for our workspaces. Many of us have had to designate a spot at home to use for work purposes. For those of you who still need to remain on-site, you’ve likely been too busy to focus on your surroundings.

Cleaning and organizing your workspace every so often is important, regardless of the state of the world, and with so much out of our control right now, this is one of the few things we can control.

Whether you’re working from a home office or an on-site office, take some time for quarantine decluttering. According to The Washington Post, taking time to declutter can increase your productivity, lower stress, and save money (I don’t know about you, but just reading those 3 things makes me feel better already).

Clutter can cause us to feel overwhelmed and make us feel a bit frazzled. Having an office space filled with piles of paper containing irrelevant memos from five years ago or 50 different types of pens, has got to go – recycle that mess and reduce your stress. The same goes with clearing files from your computer; everything will run faster.

Speaking of running faster, decluttering and creating a cleaner workspace will also help you be more efficient and productive. Build this habit by starting small: try tidying up a bit at the end of every workday, setting yourself up for a ready-to-roll morning.

Cleaning also helps you take stock of stuff that you have so that you don’t end up buying more of it. Create a designated spot for your tools and supplies so that they’re more visible – this way, you’ll always know what you have and what needs to be replenished. This will help you stop buying more of the same product that you already have and save you money.

So, if you’ve been looking to improve your focus and clearing a little bit of that ‘quarantine brain’, start by getting your workspace in order. You’ll be amazed at how good it feels to declutter and be “out with the old”; you may even be inspired to do the same for your whole house. Regardless, doing this consistently will create a positive shift in your life, increasing productivity, reducing stress, and saving you money.

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