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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

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?

JavaScript is not available.

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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