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Opinion Editorials

Open letter: chastising the laziness of the real estate industry

When you take a hard look at the individuals practicing real estate, it becomes quickly evident who the “A” students are, versus those whose work simply doesn’t deserve to be on mom’s fridge.

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mother

mother

The art of growing up

My mom used to love everything I made. As a kid, this included finger-paintings, poems, and music. She loved all of it, and never hesitated to tell me how awesome it was.

There was a point as a teenager when everything I made wasn’t quite worthy for a place on my mom’s fridge. There was an unspoken expectation that I would produce only my best work. I couldn’t sneak bad grades, lousy projects, or plagiarized essays past my mom.

This used to bother me deeply. Why couldn’t I just cruise through my teenage years? My friends didn’t work as hard on their school work. I was passing all of my classes.

I wonder what my teachers thought of our work? It was clear to them who really explored the lessons, spent time interpreting them, and who created meaningful responses to the concepts presented.

Open letter to my industry:

In my profession of real estate, lazy students mail out 33 pre-fab marketing pieces a year. “C” students take cell phone pictures for their listings. Lethargic students allow others to build powerful content platforms, and simply put their name on the product like they made it themselves. This is not your best stuff. And it doesn’t deserve a spot on your mom’s fridge.

Sure, you passed the class though, right? What’s the big deal?

Well, you are slowly killing our industry. We are losing clients to the market itself, and each bad experience a consumer has as a result of your laziness further perpetuates the lousy stereotypes of our industry and forces the agent population closer to irrelevancy.

Accountability in real estate

No one is keeping us accountable the way in which my mom held me accountable.

“A” students hold themselves accountable. They create original work. They don’t copy. They research, audit, and adjust.

I want to make stuff that is worthy of my mom’s fridge. And I think you can make stuff that makes it onto her fridge, too. Just don’t expect to send her a million mailers, trap her with a “squeeze page,” or ask her for a referral when she hasn’t even met you. This is not your best stuff. And it won’t make it on her fridge.

Greg is the principal owner of Fischer Real Estate Services, a Fort Worth firm specializing in customer value and community enrichment. He's also an MBA at TCU, and a proud member of the Naval Reserves. In his spare time - he sleeps.

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16 Comments

16 Comments

  1. Michael Gibbons

    November 14, 2012 at 9:45 am

    more like head in the sand:

  2. Michael Gibbons

    November 14, 2012 at 9:49 am

    1) NAR needs to reconstitute the professional stature of Realtors* 2) do something with online – just fix it 3) buyers pay “fee” for buy side expertise, sellers pay “fee” for sell side – this buyer pay all is like something arcane maritime law from the 18th century…put me in charge those would be my objectives and fixing those three fixes everything – *make Realtors the number one respected profession – yes above nurses …take it ON I dare you

  3. Andrew Mckay

    November 14, 2012 at 10:29 am

    This will never happen but simply after 2 years probation if a realtor isn’t grossing X amount of commissions or selling/buying X amount of homes they loose their license. How can someone represent the client well if they aren’t continually getting experience and becoming better by actually working and closing offers.

  4. Steve Nicewarner

    November 14, 2012 at 10:55 am

    This is one of the things NAR should be doing — driving all Realtors towards excellence as the standard

    • JimLee

      November 16, 2012 at 8:39 am

      @Steve Nicewarner Just for the record NAR has always encouraged and promulgated excellence in our profession. The true issue is the Realtors that won’t take the time and make the investments to take advantage of the tools and training available.
      My partner and I just got back from the NAR Convention in Orlando; 4 days crammed packed with classes, networking, and the trade show full of new and existing products to make you better and more successful.

      • Greg Fischer

        November 16, 2012 at 1:32 pm

        @JimLee  @Steve Nicewarner interesting points Jim, and kind of at the heart of this article. We are encouraged to do well. So are our kids. We all are. Its up to us as individuals to take the tools, education, and training that we receive and make excellent stuff with it

  5. beachtowne

    November 14, 2012 at 11:23 am

    What’s up with your website? I honestly was expecting to be blown away since you are up on your soapbox and all. It is unique, no doubt, but how exactly is it providing “customer value and community enrichment”? Teach me, Greg.

    • Greg Fischer

      November 16, 2012 at 1:27 pm

      @beachtowne dude, thanks for checking it out. I’m not coordinated enough to stand on a soapbox, I just fall off every time. But I do like to write about stuff thats on my mind – so if you want to have a conversation, great. If you want to snark away in a corner – than do that.

  6. stellaremarketing

    November 14, 2012 at 11:36 am

    Thanks for article Greg.  After years of working in and around real estate Ive always been shocked at the poor performance ‘students’ but then I am reminded of how this is the case in nearly EVERY profession – from teaching thru management.  It does make the stronger and more engaged shine however 🙂

  7. gregcook01

    November 14, 2012 at 5:57 pm

    Seems to me this is not NARs problem but a broker problem. Unfortunately, the economics of our business have caused many brokers to become landlords collecting rent checks each month. Succeeding a market requires hard work AND local knowledge and NAR can’t provide that.
    Of course I could be wrong

    • Greg Fischer

      November 16, 2012 at 1:35 pm

      @gregcook01 Greg – interesting comment about brokers acting like landlords collecting rent checks. That sounds about right. Also, as far as tools helping us do our jobs….. I look at it this way. You can give everyone a hammer. Some people will use it to build a birdhouse, and some people will use it to build a castle. Its our own prerogative.

  8. annarborrealtor

    November 14, 2012 at 7:49 pm

    Greg, I’ve often wondered if Realtors (some) had 9-5 jobs how they would make it. Seriously, I have more leads than I know what to do with and it is hard to find buyer agents that want to work. (((sigh)))

    • Greg Fischer

      November 16, 2012 at 2:15 pm

      @annarborrealtor amazing how much business is just out there for the taking

  9. gregcook01

    November 16, 2012 at 1:38 pm

    Greg, you’re right but I think the more immediate question, is who will pick up the hammer at all?

  10. yoweathers

    December 3, 2012 at 7:57 pm

    You brought out valid points.  It helps to reminds me to make sure I am doing “A” work. Thanks

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Opinion Editorials

AT&T hit with age discrimination lawsuit over using the word “tenured”

(EDITORIAL) 78% of workers are victims of age discrimination. As awareness arises, lawsuits show what may constitute discrimination, including verbiage.

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Older man at cafe representing age discrimination

According to the AARP, 78% of older workers have seen or experienced age discrimination in the workplace. As awareness of ageism increases, lawsuits that allege age bias can help employers understand what constitutes discrimination. A recent case from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, Smith v. AT&T Mobility Services, L.L.C., No. 21-20366 (5th Cir. May 17, 2022), should give employers pause about using other words that could potentially be a euphemism for “older worker.”

What the lawsuit was about

Smith, a customer service representative at AT&T, alleged that he was denied a promotion because of his age. His manager told him that she was not going to hire any tenured employees. The manager wanted innovative employees in the management positions. Smith took this to mean that he was being denied the promotion because of his age. He sued under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act and Texas law.

The district court found that Smith failed to exhaust his administrative remedies as to one claim and failed to establish a prima facie case of discrimination as to the other two claims. Smith appealed. The Appellate court affirmed the district court’s decision, but they did say it was “close.” AT&T did not discriminate against Smith by using the word tenured, because there were other employees of the same age as Smith who were promoted to customer service management positions.

Be aware of the verbiage used to speak to employees

This case is another example of how careful employers need to be about age discrimination, not only in job postings. It’s imperative to train managers about the vagaries of ageism in the workplace to avoid a costly lawsuit. Even though AT&T prevailed, the company still had a pretty hefty legal tab. Don’t try to get around the ADEA by using terminology that could screen out older workers, such as “digital native,” or “recent college grad.” Remind employees and managers about ageism. Document everything. Pay attention to other cases about age discrimination, such as the iTutor case or this case about retirement-driven talk. You may not be able to prevent an employee from feeling discriminated against, but you can certainly protect your business by doing what you can to avoid ageism.

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Opinion Editorials

Writing with pen and paper may mean your smarter than your digital peers

(EDITORIAL) Can writing old fashioned make you smarter? Once considered and art form, handwriting is becoming a thing of the past, but should it be?

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Writing on paper job titles.

When I was in college, in 2002, laptops weren’t really commonplace yet. Most students took notes by writing with pen and paper. Today, most students take notes with laptops, tablets, cell phones, or other electronic devices. The days of pen and paper seem to be fading. Some students even wait until the end of class and use their cell phones to take a picture of the whiteboard, so in effect, they are not absorbing any of the information because they “can just take a picture of it and look at it later.”

Is it easier to take notes on an electronic device? I think that largely depends on preference. I type faster than I write, but I still prefer to take notes on paper.

According to researchers at Princeton University and the University of California, Los Angeles, students who take handwritten notes generally outperform students who typed them.

Writing notes help students learn better, retain information longer, and more readily grasp new ideas, according to experiments by other researchers who also compared note-taking techniques.

While most students can type faster than they write, this advantage is short-term. As the WSJ points out, “after just 24 hours, the computer note takers typically forgot material they’ve transcribed, several studies said. Nor were their copious notes much help in refreshing their memory because they were so superficial.” So while it may take a bit longer to capture the notes by hand, more likely than not, you will retain the information longer if you put pen to paper.

As I teach English Composition at the University of Oklahoma, I would also like to say that while I find this to be true for myself, every student has a different learning style. Typed notes are much better than no notes at all. Some students detest writing by hand and I understand that. Everything in our world has gone digital from phones to cable television so it makes sense, even if I don’t like it, that students gravitate more towards electronic note taking than pen and paper.

While I would like to see more students take notes by hand, I certainly won’t require it. Some students are navigating learning disabilities, anxieties, and other impediments that make taking notes digitally more advantageous.

I imagine the same is true for other areas as well: instead of typing meeting notes, what would happen if you wrote them by hand? Would you retain the information longer? Perhaps, and perhaps not; again, I think this depends on your individual learning style.

I would like to suggest that if you are one of the more “electronically-minded” writers, use a flashcard app, or other studying tool to help you review your classroom notes or meeting notes to make them “stick” a bit better. While I find this type of research intriguing, if you enjoy taking your notes electronically, I wouldn’t change my method based on this.

If it’s working for you, keep doing it. Don’t mind me, I’ll be over here, writing everything down with pen and paper.

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Opinion Editorials

5 reasons using a VPN is more important now than ever

(EDITORIAL) Virtual private networks (VPN), have always been valuable, but now, more than ever, entrepreneurs and businesses really should have them.

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VPN

Virtual private networks (VPN), have always been valuable, but some recent developments in technology, laws, and politics are making them even more important for entrepreneurs and businesses.

A VPN serves as an intermediary layer of anonymity and security between your computer and your internet connection. Your Wi-Fi signal is a radio wave that can ordinarily be intercepted, so any data you transmit back and forth could be taken and abused by interested parties. VPNs act as a kind of middleman, encrypting the data you transmit and protecting you from those prying eyes.

Top10BestVPN.com offers a selection of some of the best-reviewed VPN services on the market; there you can see the different approaches to security and anonymity that different brands take, and get a feel for the price points that are available. But why is it that VPNs are becoming even more important for business owners and entrepreneurs?

These are just five of the emerging influencers in the increasing importance of VPNs:

1. The rise of IoT. The Internet of Things (IoT) is already taking off, with a predicted 8.4 billion devices will be connected to the internet by the end of the year. All those extra connections mean extra points of vulnerability; hackers are skilled at finding tiny entry points, so every new channel you open up on your Wi-Fi connection is another opportunity they could potentially exploit. Using a VPN won’t make your network completely hack-proof—user errors, like giving your password away in a phishing scam, are still a potential threat—but VPNs will make your network more secure than it was before.

2. The popularity of ransomware. Ransomware is growing in popularity, seizing control of devices, sometimes for weeks or months before activating, then holding the device “hostage,” and demanding payment in exchange for releasing the files that are stored on it. These attacks are fast and efficient, making them ideal for hackers to use against small businesses. Again, using a VPN won’t make you immune from these types of attacks, but they will make you harder to target—and hackers tend to opt for the path of least resistance.

3. The escalation of attacks on small businesses. Speaking of small businesses, they happen to be some of the most frequent targets of cybercriminals. About 43 percent of all cyberattacks target small businesses, in part because they have fewer technological defenses but still have valuable assets. Protecting yourself from cyberattacks is a must if you want your business to survive.

4. Political attacks on net neutrality. Politicians have recently attempted to attack and eliminate net neutrality, which is the long-standing guarantee that internet providers can’t violate user privacy by collecting and/or reporting on certain types of data, and can’t create “slow lanes” that throttle certain types of traffic. If net neutrality is abolished, you could face slower internet traffic and decreased privacy on the web. A VPN could, in theory, protect you from these effects. First, your web traffic would be anonymized, so internet providers couldn’t gather as much data on you as other customers. Second, you’ll be routed through a private VPN server, which could help you get around some of the speed throttling you might otherwise see. It’s uncertain whether net neutrality will ultimately fall, but if it does, you’ll want a VPN in place to protect you.

5. The affordability and diversity of VPNs available. Finally, it’s worth considering that VPNs are more affordable and more available than ever before. There are specific VPNs for all manner of businesses and individuals, and they’re all reasonably affordable. Inexpensive options can be yours for as little as a few dollars per month, and more robust, secure options are still affordable, even for frugal businesses. If you try a VPN provider you don’t like, you can always cancel and switch to another provider. This availability makes it easier to find exactly what you need.

If you’ve never used a VPN before and you’re confused, try not to be intimidated. VPNs sound complex, but connecting to one is a simple login process you can use on practically any device. The hardest part is choosing a reliable provider that suits your business’s need. With the influx of coming changes, it’s a good idea to get your VPN in place sooner rather than later.

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