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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

BIPOC Gen Zers are using TikTok to create cultural awareness

(OPINION / EDITORIAL) TikTok has become a platform for younger generations to share their cultures, paving the way for a more inclusive society. And they’re doing it one 15 second video at a time.

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Black person's hands holding a phone loading TikTok above a wooden table.

When scrolling on TikTok, you might come across this question posed by a BIPOC creator (Black, Indigenous, or Person of Color): “How old were you when you realized you weren’t ugly, you just lived in a predominantly White space?”

Growing up in predominantly White spaces myself with immigrant parents from the Middle East, I had a warped perspective of beauty. Straight light hair, fair skin, Western features, a stick-thin figure – I internalized my physical otherness as lack.

It wasn’t until I moved to a diverse city for college that I realized this. I saw others speaking different languages, eating ethnic foods and dressing however they wanted without fear of losing their proximity to Whiteness. Exposure to others who didn’t fit “the mold” was transformative for me.

As someone in their mid-twenties, I came of age with social media like Tumblr, Facebook and, ultimately, Instagram. But I’d be lying to you if I said that I didn’t wish TikTok was around when I was a kid.

For reference, most TikTok users are between 16-24, meaning that many are still in high school. While content on TikTok is really all over the place and specifically catered to your preferences (you can feel the algorithums at work as your scroll), one facet that I find integral to the app’s essence is Gen Z proudly showcasing their cultures – aka #culturecheck.

Besides the countless ethnic food tutorials (some of my favorite content on the app!), fashion has become a main way for BIPOC or immigrant TikTokers to fully express their identities and share their culture with other users on the app, regardless of physical location.

Take the #FashionEdit challenge, where creators lip sync to a mash-up of Amine’s “Caroline” and “I Just Did a Bad Thing” by Bill Wurtz as they transform from their everyday Western clothes into that of their respective culture.

In her famous video, Milan Mathew – the creator attributed to popularizing this trend – sits down in a chair. She edits the clip in such a way that as she sits, her original outfit switches to a baby-pink lehenga and she becomes adorned with traditional Indian jewelry. Denise Osei does the same, switching into tradition Ghanaian dress. If you can think of a culture or ethnicity, chances are they are represented in this TikTok trend.

This past Indigenous People’s Day, James Jones’ videos went viral across various social media platforms, as he transformed into his traditional garments and performed tribal dances.

Though the cultures and respective attire they showcase are unique in each video, the energy is all the same: proud and beautiful. Showing off what your culture wears has become a way to gain clout on the app and inspire others to do the same.

The beautiful thing about cultural/ethnic TikTok is that it isn’t just Mexicans cheering for other Mexicans, or Arabs cheering for other Arabs – the app sustains a general solidarity across racial and ethnic lines while cultivating an appreciation of world cultures.

But just how deep does that appreciation go? Some users think (and I agree) that “liking” a video of an attractive creator in traditional dress is hardly a radical move in dismantling notions of Western beauty.

While TikTok trends might not solve these issues entirely, it’s important to note that they are moving things in the right directions – I certainly never saw anything like this when I was growing up.

For whatever reason, Millennials, Gen X and Boomers seem to have a lot of shade to throw at Gen Z. But one thing is for certain – this young generation is paving the way for a more inclusive, more respectful society, which is something we should all get behind. And they’re doing it one 15 second video at a time.

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Opinion Editorials

This website is like Pinterest for WFH desk setups

(OPINION / EDITORIAL) If you’ve been working from home at the same, unchanged desk setup, it may be time for an upgrade. My Desk Tour has the inspiration you need.

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Man browsing desk setups on My Desk Tour

Whether you’re sitting, standing, or reclining your way through the pandemic, you’re most likely doing it from home these days. You’re also probably contending with an uninspired desk configuration hastily cobbled together in March, which—while understandable—might be bringing you down. Fortunately, there’s an easy, personable solution to spark your creativity: My Desk Tour.

My Desk Tour is a small website started by Jonathan Cai. On this site, you will find pictures of unique and highly customized desk setups; these desk configurations range from being optimized for gamers to coders to audiophiles, so there’s arguably something for everyone—even if you’re just swinging by to drool for a bit.

Cai also implements a feature in which site users can tag products seen in desk photos with direct links to Amazon so you don’t have to poke around the Internet for an hour in search of an obscure mouse pad. This is something Cai initially encountered on Reddit and, after receiving guidance from various subreddits on the issue of which mouse to purchase, he found the inspiration to create My Desk Tour.

The service itself is pretty light—the landing page consists of a few desk setup photos and a rotating carousel of featured configurations—but it has great potential to grow into a desk-focused social experience of sorts.

It’s also a great place to drop in on if you’re missing the extra level of adoration for your desk space that a truly great setup invokes. Since most people who have been working from home since the spring didn’t receive a ton of advance notice, it’s reasonable to assume that the majority of folks have resigned themselves to a boring or inefficient desk configuration. With a bit of inspiration from My Desk Tour, that can change overnight.

Of course, some of the desk options featured on the site are a bit over the top. One configuration boasts dual ultra-wide monitors stacked atop each other, and another shows off a monitor flanked by additional vertical monitors—presumably for the sake of coding. If you’re scrambling to stay employed, such a setup might be egregious.

If you’re just looking for a new way to orient your workspace for the next few months, though, My Desk Tour is worth a visit.

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Opinion Editorials

Popular opinion: Unemployment in a pandemic sucks [EDITORIAL]

(OPINION / EDITORIAL) I got laid off during the pandemic, and I think I can speak for all of us to say that unemployment – especially now – really, really sucks.

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Stressed man thinking over laptop about unemployment.

Despite not being in an office for what feels like an eternity, losing my job stung. Holding onto work during The Worst Timeline was rough, considering Rome was burning all around. My job was the boat of sanity I could sit in while the waves of bullshit crashed all around. Pre-pandemic, I had just separated from my wife, so my emotional health wasn’t in tip-top shape. But then millions of people go and get sick, the economy took a nosedive, and well, the world changed. When everything around you sucks, and people are on the news crying about unemployment and potential homelessness, you’re thankful as hell that you’re not with them – until you are.

I was writing for a startup, one that came with a litany of headaches thanks to fluctuating budgets and constant directional pivots, but it was steady work. When the Coronavirus hit, it was a scenario of “we’re going to get through this,” but as we switched gears again and again, I started to get an unsettling feeling: I’ve seen this story before. When you live in Austin and are in the creative field, you’ve worked with startups. And there are always trappings on when something lingers in the air – hierarchy shuffles, people aren’t as optimistic, and senior folks start quietly bailing out. Those are the obvious moves that make your unemployment-related Spidey sense tingle, but with COVID, everything is remote. There aren’t the office vibes, the shortened conversations that make you, “I know what’s happening here.” Instead, you’re checking Slack or email and surviving like everyone else.

We were happy to be working, to see the direct deposit hit every two weeks and sigh, knowing you were still in the fight, that you might see this thing through.

We saw our entire business change overnight. Leadership rose to meet the challenges of an old model rooted in hospitality, restaurants, and events, which died with a viral disease shotgun blast. Because the infrastructure was there, we managed to help out workers, and grocery stores work together to keep people fed across the nation. It was legitimately a point of pride. Like all things, though, the market settled. We bought time.

In July, I had a full-blown depressive episode. The weight of the divorce, the lack of human interaction, my work having less value, my career stalled felt like a Terminator robot foot on my skull. I couldn’t get out of bed, and everything I wrote were the smatterings of a broken man. And to my ex-bosses’ credit, my breakdown was NOT my best work, I could barely look at a computer, let alone forge thoughts on an entirely new industry with any authority, or even a fake it till you make it scenario.

When the CEO put time on my calendar, I knew it was a wrap. Startup CEOs don’t make house calls; they swing the ax. When you’re the lone creative in a company trying to survive a nearly company-killing event, you’re the head on the block. Creatives are expensive, and we’re expendable. Site copy, content, media placements, all that can kick rocks when developers need to keep the business moving, even if it’s at a glacial pace. When I was given my walking papers, it was an exhale, on one hand, I’d been professionally empty, but at the same time, I needed consistent money. My personal life was a minefield and I’ve got kids.

I got severance. Unemployment took forever to hit. The state of Texas authorized amount makes me cringe. Punishing Americans for losing their jobs during a crisis is appalling. Millions are without safety nets, and it’s totally ok with elected leaders.

There are deferments available. I had to get them on my credit cards, which I jacked up thanks to spending $8,500 on an amicable divorce, along with a new MacBook Pro that was the price of a used Nissan. I got a deferment on my car note, too.

I’ve applied to over 100 jobs, both remote and local. I’ve applied for jobs I’m overqualified for in hopes they’ll hire me as a freelancer. There are lots of rejection letters. I get to round two interviews. References or the round three interviews haven’t happened yet. I get told I’m too experienced or too expensive. Sometimes, recruiters won’t even show up. And then there are the Zoom meetings. Can we all agree we’re over Zoom? Sometimes, you don’t want to comb your hair.

I’ll get promised the much needed “next steps” and then a rejection email, “thanks but no thanks.” Could you at least tell me what the X-Factor for this decision was? Was there a typo? Did you check my Facebook? The ambiguity kills me. Being a broke senior creative person kills me. I interviewed President Obama and have written for Apple, but ask myself: Can I afford that falafel wrap for lunch? Do you think springing for the fries is worth that extra $3? You’ve got soup at home, you know.

I’m not unique. This is the American Experience. We’re stuck in this self-perpetuating hell. We keep looking for jobs. We want to work. There are only so many gigs to fill when there’s constant rollercoaster news on unemployment recovery. And as long as unemployment sucks, there’s going to be a lot of people bracing for impact come Christmas. Hopefully, the brass in Washington can pass a few bills and get us back to work. At least get Americans out of the breadline by pumping up what we’re surviving off of – across the board. Working people shouldn’t have to face getting sick to bring in an income, while casualties of the Corona War should be able to look at their bills and not feel like the assistant on the knife throwers wheel.

I’m about to be a line cook to make extra cash till an intrepid manager hires me. Who doesn’t want a writer working the grill who reads French existentialist essays for enjoyment? I’d rather sit on park benches and day dream, but that ain’t reality. I’ve got bills to pay in a broken America. Who wants a burger? Deep thoughts come free but an extra slice of cheese is extra.

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