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I Wrote A Post Last Week.

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The Stigliano Chronicles - San Antonio Silver Spurs Dancers

Yeah? Big deal, Stigliano. We’re really proud of you.

Of course, last week was the hellstorm of blogging that was the realization that MIBOR and NAR had effectively called Google a scraper. I would write about that, but I think it’s been covered by just about everyone – including me. While all that was going down (and before I read Paula’s post), I was busy writing a post on my site about Realtor® and consumer relationships. I had asked Lani if she would take a minute to read it and tell me what she thought of it and she obliged.

Shortly after writing it, I read Paula’s post and wrote my “response” to it all for last week’s The Stigliano Chronicles. When Lani saw that come through, the two of us spent a few minutes going back and forth on Twitter. She was confused, because she thought that what I had asked her to read was a preview of my AgentGenius post. Once we got the confusion settled, I went back to my usual schedule of doing things.

My intent was one thing, but now has shifted.

In writing the post, I had hoped my readers would feel the need to respond and I could get a bit of insight into the consumer’s mind. It didn’t work out that way, as the only people to respond were Jason Sandquist and Jay Thompson. Although I was very excited to see their opinions, I was hoping for more.

Please AgentGenius, forgive my sin.

I know Benn and Lani want original content submitted by authors that is written for AgentGenius, but I hope they can let me slide this once. In light of many of the things being discussed at NAR’s Midyear Meeting in Washington, D.C., I think it’s a great time for discussion. So without further ado, I present to you “Are Realtors® Too Positive About The Market? Or Are They Not Doing Enough?” from my RErockstar.com site.

Thoughts on how we deal with the question, “Is now a good time to buy?”

In some ways, it might seem like career suicide to dare suggest that we as Realtors® might sometimes be too “sunshine and roses” when it comes to talking about the market, but the fact is, I often wonder how to present good news to consumers without coming off as just painting a rosy picture to suit my needs as an agent. I could go on and on how I’m not that guy, but in reality sometimes that just seems to make it seem worse.

In a recent email from the National Association of Realtors®, this exact topic was brought up and I wanted to see what the readers of my site thought of this. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I think we need a balance…if we run around shouting “everything’s fine, it’s a great time to buy!,” eventually no one will believe us and think we’re just saying that to generate business. We all remember Chicken Little, don’t we? Well it works both ways. I think the key to the “balance” I seek, is honesty with a dose of sensitivity. Realtors® do need to get the word out that there are some great reasons to buy right now, but we also need to be sensitive to people’s reactions to the economy, the housing market’s problems, the job losses, and everything else that has been doom and gloom on the news lately. The media loves a sad story, no doubt, but there are reasons that not everything should be looked at with such a negative view.

Here’s the quote from the email that sparked my attention:

It is critical for NAR to be both realistic and optimistic concerning the current state of the real estate market. As you can imagine, that can be a difficult balance to strike, especially with market conditions changing on a day-to-day basis. Sometimes, NAR is viewed as a “cheerleader” for the real estate industry. That’s not inappropriate, considering we are “The Voice for Real Estate”. The vast majority of our membership feels strongly that we must do more to counter the overwhelming attention that the news media give to negative national housing market trends and help bring consumers back into the market. That is, in fact, what our ongoing messages and Public Awareness Campaign are designed to do.

So what do you think?

Do Realtors® and the National Association of Realtors® need to tone it down? Do we need to be less “cheerleader” and more support system? Or do we need to spread the message and shout it from the mountain tops in order to improve the housing market in the coming year? If you ran the National Association Of Realtors®, what would you be telling the public in order to show them that there is opportunity out there for buyers, but without making it sound like you’re just shouting “Real Estate, Real Estate, RAH-RAH-RAH!”

photo courtesy of aznviolaguy

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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12 Comments

12 Comments

  1. Linsey

    May 13, 2009 at 11:06 pm

    I think it’s important be a source for information and market trends. I think it’s our job to guide our clients through the process of buying or selling. I think it’s dangerous to provide our blanket opinions about what we ‘think’ about the market. We may have an opinion – but that’s all it is – an opinion.

    We shouldn’t be cheerleaders for real estate. It may be a good time for some people to buy – it may be better for others to wait. By providing our clients the access to market information, we can be a source that they can confidently rely to so that they can come to a decision that is right for them.

    As NAR tries desperately to rectify the poor consumer opinion of our industry, I think as agents we need to remind ourselves of our roll. In becoming ‘cheerleaders’, I think we continue to be a detriment to the profession. This is a business and a major economic force. Forget the pom poms.

  2. Joe Loomer

    May 14, 2009 at 8:26 am

    Just yesterday our local paper published a front-page story titled “Augusta Bucks the Trend.” The focus was about a 33% drop in local foreclosure filings and completely ignored the fact that there’s a moratorium in several sectors. Couple this with the astoundingly stupid assertion that “April sales where much better than January’s” and you see my point.

    I wrote a letter to the editor citing the facts based on the reports provided by the GAARMLS, and provided a graph that simply went back to 2003 showing two lines – inventory and sales – for every month from 2003 through April of this year.

    Now I get up, read this post, and wonder what the heyull I was thinking! I cited facts, figures, percentages, you name it – showing how we’re down 44% on 2007 numbers, and basically providing a “Sky is STILL Falling” approach.

    I think next time I’ll come up with an alias and THEN write the letter ;).

    Seriously though, adamantly insist on being an open book with your clients. Start your listing presentation with figures, facts, charts, whatever will ensure you never take the blame for the market, and turn down listings that don’t seem to “get it.”

    I stay away – as Linsey smartly suggests – from making projections about the future. If the Seller is not motivated, not upsizing, or has more sensible options, I recommend them and know I’ll get that business down the road.

    You cannot claim to be a “Market Expert” for your area without in-depth research, and no amount of marketing expertise can replace nuts-and-bolts, nose-to-the-grindstone research so you not only appear to know what the hell you’re talking about, but can back it up factually.

    Navy Chief, Navy Pride

  3. Louise Scoggins

    May 14, 2009 at 2:53 pm

    Personally I think it’s a combination of “cheerleader” and support system. For example, “There are many advantages to buying a home now. Consult with your local Realtor to see if it’s the right time for you”.

    I absolutely think it’s of utmost importance to “get real” with your clients about the market. Not only is it important to discuss realistic numbers and expectations with sellers, but there should be some hard questions posed to your buyers as well. Understanding each of your client’s situations will help you guide them through their transaction.

    I also think the way you present the information — whether it be rah-rah real estate or doom and gloom — greatly affects the way a person perceives it (is it really a good time to buy or is this Realtor desparate for my business?).

  4. Louise Scoggins

    May 14, 2009 at 3:25 pm

    I definitely think it’s a balance between the two options. Perhaps for example, “There are many advantages to buying a home now. Consult with your local Realtor to see if it’s the right time for you”. As Linsey states, it’s a great time to buy for some, but not for others. It’s important to ask the right questions — of both buyers and sellers — to truly know their situation and best be able to guide them.

    I also think the way the information is presented greatly affects the way a person might perceive it…over enthusiasm may present as desparatation whereas knowledge combined with encouragement presents a lot better. However, the media does focus sooo much on the doom and gloom, that people do need some sort of hope to cling to…maybe not so “cheerleader” but more encouragement to see the opportunities.

  5. Louise Scoggins

    May 14, 2009 at 4:08 pm

    Gah, I’m an idiot 🙂 New to posting, sorry for the multiple posts. I thought I lost the first one and posted again b/c but couldn’t remember my exact words. Sorry about that!!!

  6. Missy Caulk

    May 14, 2009 at 9:36 pm

    Raising kids…it is all about choosing your battles. Everyday you could have a confrontation.

    Same here, it is both, be involved and pick your battles.

  7. Matt Stigliano

    May 15, 2009 at 9:39 am

    It looks like most agents around these parts agree. I kind of expected it that way. I just think of the consumer whenever I’m tempted to say how great things are. They may look good on our end, but if your credit’s shot, you have no downpayment, you’re worried about paying your bills, you just lost your job, etc. – well, it just looks like we’re full of it. Since there is already a certain amount of mistrust already in place, I always fear that the “RAH-RAH-RAH” stuff (both from us and from sources like NAR’s TV spots) make us look like a) we’re lying, b) we’re living the high life, so we can all afford new homes (ha!), or c) we’re just using advertising to our advantage – trying to sway people’s thoughts and emotions.

    I don’t see a great fix to the problem other than one-on-one consultation with our clients and prospects. We can make a difference, but the change is slow, because it has to take place one agent/consumer at a time.

    Louise – Don’t worry about the double posts. It happens. I’m just glad you thought enough of the post to add your thoughts. When I started commenting here I was barely able to form a sentence. I felt like I was surrounded by too many genius agents who would beat me to death if I said something wrong. Boy was I wrong. Several of them took me under their wing and have helped make me the agent I am today.

    Missy – Having kids and being in a band are pretty similar in some respects. We were constantly weighing which issues were important enough to battle and holding off on some, because we knew there was a bigger battle yet to come.

  8. Gwen Banta

    May 15, 2009 at 2:09 pm

    Hi Matt,

    I have to be so careful about what I say here in L.A. that I had to develop a new approach entirely. As you probably recall from your stint in LaLa-land, the L.A. Times has a knack for breeding so much negativity that when a professional bucks the system (even armed with charts and graphs), the consumer often thinks we are not informed agents. L.A. has obviously taken a huge market hit, but we also have areas that have remained strong. If I relate those statistics, prospective clients are dubious. Thus, I have listof well-known economists that I provide to each my clients who want market predictions. I tell them that they should read a number of projections and then draw their own conclusions about market swings.

    At the same time, I provide all clients with the monthly and quarterly sales info for the area in which they are house hunting or selling. In the end, I make it very clear that I am there to help implement their decision, not make it for them. They seem most appreciatiave, and my clients seem to keep coming back. Of course, a few of them may just be stalking me 🙂

  9. Paula Henry

    May 16, 2009 at 12:27 am

    Matt –

    Traveling through last week left me with little time to comment or read. The cheerleading mentality has always been a sore spot for me.

    It is not a good time for ALL people to buy or sell. Blanket statements as such make it more difficult for clients to believe we are being honest in our representation.

    Every circumstance is different –

  10. Lani Rosales

    May 17, 2009 at 12:06 pm

    pockets, pockets, pockets. Perception is that everything is bad, so consumers in any investment scenario (real estate, stocks, whatever) can understand that despite a downturn there are always pockets of opportunity. It’s a balancing act, no?

  11. Matt Stigliano

    May 17, 2009 at 8:42 pm

    Gwen – Isn’t that the way everything works in L.A.? If you’re not on the right list, you’re not trusted, liked, or let in the club. I loved being in Hollywood for the sole fact that I would get invited to fancy parties and then show up as my t-shirt and jeans self (and none of them were Armani) and drink Budweiser at the martini bar. I miss L.A. for it’s absurdity – luckily I met you and can live vicariously through your posts.

    Paula – You really need a day away from it all at this point I’m sure. Seeing your name on here, I figured I’d read exactly what you wrote. Someone who’s willing to put herself through this past week obviously wouldn’t think cheerleading was the way to go.

    Lani – I do think there’s a need for balance. In just about everything. If you lean to one side too much, you’ll wind up falling in the river. I do try and tell people the positives of what’s happening right now, but I also take in to consideration their situation. I don’t want to just tell everyone to rush right out and buy now and definitely think that if that’s all I did, I wouldn’t be building the trust that I know is key to building my business.

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Opinion Editorials

How strong leaders use times of crises to improve their company’s future

(EDITORIAL) We’re months into the COVID-19 crisis, and some leaders are still fumbling through it, while others are quietly safeguarding 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 a strong leader can see their teams, their companies, 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 like COVID-19 occurs. We need to remember that our job is to serve our 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 is disrupted and people are now 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 we game plan, we 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

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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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.

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, decluttering can increase your productivity, lower stress, and save money (I don’t know about you, but just reading those three 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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Opinion Editorials

How to ask your manager for better work equipment

(EDITORIAL) Old computer slowing you down? Does it make a simple job harder? Here’s how to make a case to your manager for new equipment to improve your productivity.

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What is an employee to do when the work equipment bites.

Let’s be frank, working on old, crappy computers with inefficient applications can make the easiest tasks a chore. Yet, what do you do? You know you need better equipment to do your job efficiently, but how to ask the boss without looking like a whiner who wants to blow the department budget.

In her “Ask A Manager” column, Alison Green says an employee should ask for better equipment if it is needed. For example, the employee in her column has to attend meetings, but has no laptop and has to take a ton of notes and then transcribe them. Green says, it’s important to make the case for the benefits of having newer or updated equipment.

The key is showing a ROI. If you know a specific computer would be a decent upgrade, give your supervisor the specific model and cost, along with the expected outcomes.

In addition, it may be worth talking to someone from the IT department to see what options might be available – if you’re in a larger company.

IT professionals who commented on Green’s column made a few suggestions. Often because organizations have contracts with specific computer companies or suppliers, talking with IT about what is needed to get the job done and what options are available might make it easier to ask a manager, by saying, “I need a new computer and IT says there are a few options. Here are my three preferences.” A boss is more likely to be receptive and discuss options.

If the budget doesn’t allow for brand new equipment, there might be the option to upgrade the RAM, for example. In a “Workplace” discussion on StackExchange.com an employee explained the boss thinks if you keep a computer clean – no added applications – and maintained it will perform for years. Respondents said, it’s important to make clear the cost-benefit of purchasing updated equipment. Completing a ROI analysis to show how much more efficiently with the work be done may also be useful. Also, explaining to a boss how much might be saved in repair costs could also help an employee get the point across.

Managers may want to take note because, according to results of a Gallup survey, when employees are asked to meet a goal but not given the necessary equipment, credibility is lost.

Gallup says that workgroups that have the most effectively managed materials and equipment tend to have better customer engagement, higher productivity, better safety records and employees that are less likely to jump ship than their peers.

And, no surprise, if a boss presents equipment and says: “Here’s what you get. Deal with it,” employees are less likely to be engaged and pleased than those employees who have a supervisor who provides some improvements and goes to bat to get better equipment when needed.

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