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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

Mantras to help you cope with COVID-19 anxieties

(EDITORIAL) COVID-19 has cause a lot of wierd changes to everyday life, and with unexpected changes can come serious anxiety. Here’s a couple ways to deal with it.

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COVID-19 anxiety

COVID-19 is stressful. Yeah, okay, that’s stating (and probably understating) the obvious, but it’s worth talking about the anxiety that this new normal has brought with it. Whether you have anxiety disorder or you’re just generally anxious because of all the sudden changes that COVID-19 has brought with it, it’s worth talking about ways you can cope, beyond the usual advice of “exercise, eat healthy, get sleep.”

I mean, yes. Try to do that too. But we’ve got some mental techniques that might help. Mantras, if you will, that could be helpful when coping with the stress of this situation seems to be too tough.

“I made it through something before.”

It can be really easy to get swept up in the powerless feeling that comes along with something this big and out of our control. As an individual, you might not be able to turn the tides of the virus or the affects it’s having on daily life, but you do have control over yourself. And human beings are tough. Even if we don’t feel like it.

One way to remind yourself of this power is to remember a time you overcame another obstacle. Whether it’s something big, like unemployment or the death of a loved one, or a smaller challenge, like getting a bad grade or losing something you treasured, visualize not just the problem, but how you got through it. Remember the strength and patience you had in overcoming the challenge.

Then take another deep breath and let yourself feel comforted by the knowledge that you’ve done hard things before. You can do them again.

“I couldn’t have planned for this.”

If you’re like me, it can be easy to get stressed out about unplanned occurrences. I prefer to plan in advance for things – especially big changes – and as someone who moved to a brand new city right before this pandemic blew up, well, all my plans went out the window. Sure, you might not be trying to make it in an entirely new environment during this upheaval, but chances are, some of your plans have gotten waylaid as well.

Which is why it’s important to remind yourself that you couldn’t really have planned for this. Think about it, a year ago, would this ever have entered into your five year plan? Absolutely not! You planned for a pandemic-free future, which was perfectly reasonable. If your anxiety is stemming from the feeling that you “could have, should have” done something differently, take a deep breath and remind yourself it’s not your fault.

Then take another deep breath, and let yourself feel comforted by the knowledge that something of this scale changing your plans does not reflect your skill or value as an individual.

“This, too, will pass.”

It can be really hard to visualize this thing being over. I mean, have you heard the joke that March seemed to last a whole year? In all seriousness, though, with so much changing so quickly and no definite answer of when shut-downs will end, it can feel overwhelming, but as cliche as it might sound, this trouble will end too. So it’s worth taking a deep breath in the face of this uncertainty to remember that it will be over one day.

Then take another deep breath and let yourself feel comforted by the knowledge that while it’s challenging now, in the moment, it won’t always be this way.

Anxiety often leaves us trapped in our uncertainty and fear. If these phrases don’t work to ease your worry, it’s worth keeping an eye out for something that will. Because we can all benefit from taking a moment to take some deep breaths and remind ourselves that even though it’s a scary time right now, we’re going to make it through.

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Opinion Editorials

How Gen X is nailing the COVID-19 social distancing order

(EDITORIAL) Of course, someone found a way to bring up generational stereotyping during COVID-19 and claim who is best, but are they onto something?

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Demographics and categorizing people helps us to process groups. A huge part of demographics and how we market ourselves in a job search, for example, is sharing our level of experiences and skill sets related to our profession – thus alluding to our age. Millennials (b. 1981-1996) received a lot of generational shame for being elitist and growing up in a time where they all received participation trophies – therefore being judged for not always winning a fair competition.

Gen X (roughly b. 1961-1981) has often commented that they feel like the forgotten generation which so much attention being play to the Baby Boomers (b. 1946-1964) who seemed to be born in to a great time of prosperity for “The American Dream” and then the Millennials who overtook Gen X and some of their jobs while they weren’t enough Gen Xers to fill them.

In this article “It Took a Global Pandemic, But Generation X is Finally Getting Love”, it is discussed how great Gen X is at this social distancing thing and maybe this will be helpful to anyone who feels like they are losing their mind. This is by no means an intent to shame any generation nor claim no one else knows how to handle it but this article does a great job about why Gen X might be primed to be handling the global pandemic well with the times they were raised in.

Right now, it’s a waiting game for many people who’s professions and lives have changed in what seemed like overnight. The patience required. The uncertainty of it all. The global pandemic forced (without any forgiveness), a swift move to new ways of life. The busy-ness of our days came to a crashing halt when we were no longer allowed to be out and about in places with large groups and possibly sent home to work remotely.

Many non-essential businesses were forced to close which meant people could not only not work at the office, but also had to cease their extra-curricular activities like working out at the gym, shopping, eating brunch with friends or taking their kids to their sporting events, a playground and/or coordinating a play date or sleepover. The directive from our local and federal government was for “social distancing” before the shelter in place orders came.

Gen X may agree that there were some pretty great things about their childhood – the types of things you do with your time because you don’t have a smartphone or tablet addiction and the fact that there was no way for your work to get a hold of you 24/7. Gen X did have TV and video games and sure, Mom and Dad didn’t really want you spending all of your time behind a screen but it also seemed that there wasn’t as much of a guilt trip if you did spend some of your “summer vacation” from school playing Nintendo or Sega with your neighborhood friends.

It seems like the article alludes to the idea that COVID might be helping people to get back to some of those basics before smartphones became as important to us as one of our limbs.

Gen X has had no problem adapting to technology and in their careers, they have had to adapt to many new ways of doing things (remember when caller ID came out and it was no longer a surprise who was calling?! Whaaaat?! And you can’t prank call anyone any more with your teenage friends at a sleepover! Gasp! You also wouldn’t dare TP an ex-boyfriend’s house right now).

Regardless of the need to learn new hard skills and technologies, everyone has been forced to adjust their soft skills like how technology and still being a human can play well together (since it is really nice to be able to FaceTime with loved ones far away). It seems those slightly unquantifiable adaptable and flexible skills are even more required now. It also seems that as you grow in your career, Emotional Intelligence might be your best skill in these uncertain times.

And not that we are recommending eating like crap or too many unhealthy items, Gen X has been known to be content surviving on Pop Tarts, Spaghetti O’s, Ding-dongs and macaroni and cheese which are all pretty shelf stable items right now. Whatever way is possible for you, it might be a good time to find the balance again in work, technology, home, rest, relaxation and education if at all possible.

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Opinion Editorials

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

(EDITORIAL) We’re weeks into the COVID-19 crisis, and some leaders are 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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