Just 10 Good Agents?
There’s a Biblical story of Abraham and God fighting over God’s wrath against a city. In the story God has had enough with a particular city’s disregard for morality. He tells Abraham to get his hommies and get out, so that they won’t incur the wrath. Abraham attempts to barter with God and asks that He spare the city, if Abraham can find just 50 good men. When God recants and says that He will not destroy the city, Abraham realizes that he cannot think of 50 good guys. Abraham then starts to push his luck (impressive when you’re arguing with God) and says how’z about just 45, 30, 20, and finally he whittles God down to 10 good men. To no one’s surprise Abraham cannot find even 10 good men. ….I am starting to think Real Estate is much like this story and I am having a hard time finding 10 good agents.
Now, understand – I am not talking about 10 agents who use technology (being “tech savvy” works against many agents and not for them), I’m not talking about 10 who write a lot of blogs or even know the rules. I am talking about 10 people who will study to know their craft and put the CLIENT FIRST. Ok, ok….maybe I’d just be happy if they would put one photo in MLS and answer the phone/email at least every other call.
An Industry Lost
I sit and listen to experienced agents, about how the industry used to be; where everyone knew each other. When agents would sit with you and your clients to present an offer, where people took the profession more seriously and they were working collaboratively to bring a better name to the industry. Now, we have stopped looking toward improving the industry and just to alienating those who don’t do it as we do. I’m starting to feel like we’re on the LOST island and it’s a few stranded folks; and those folks are surrounded by the “Others.”
I want to run around to all the listings in my neighborhood and say “Here, go buy a lock box at Home Depot and put your listing on Postlets and Trulia; because no one will protect your best interest better than yourself!” (I don’t usually feel that way, but this week I am starting to wonder…)
Lowering My Expectations
Perhaps it’s because my role is varied that I have become so jaded this past week. I am a licensed Broker, I have a wife that still deals with clients one on one, I teach almost weekly and I am the center point of contact for people with complaints in our Realtor Association. This week alone, I’ve just about given up any hope for our industry. I’m now just looking for a few good Brokers and Agents who can convince me that my expectations aren’t too high. To me, raising the bar, is not just a matter of holding new agents to a higher standard. It applies even more so to the current culture of practitioners.
I hear so much from people who want to “raise the bar” in real estate – but do you really? I mean if all the people who say this really wanted to, couldn’t it be done? Would you succumb to raising the bar? I address the Brokers, because they are the actual authorities in their offices, they create the culture and frankly most of Association leadership is far more concerned with Brokers, than agents.
Brokers, how about if I told you that raising the bar means that we would have to change some things:
- Would you agree to disallow online education? It’s been proven time and again, that online education is less that 20% the effectiveness of a classroom.
- Would you take 50 hours of CE a year, as opposed to 10 or none?
- Would you train, develop and pay good mentors who were assigned to new agents for a ONE YEAR internship, before releasing them to the unsuspecting consumer?
- Would you limit yourself to no more than 20 agents to oversee, as some business consultants will tell us that a manager / executive can not oversee more than 20 people at a time, in this type of setting? (I’ve read as little as 8 in most traditional office settings)
- Would you really staple the little license to the agents forehead and shove them out the first open window upon finding they have neglected to properly protect the client?
- Would you agree to stop pampering “top producers” and turning a blind eye to their non-sense just because they bring in more money than the rest?
- Would you agree to stop “nurturing” an agent who can’t seem to get it, or make money for years at a time?
- Would you agree to stop allowing dual-career agents to work in your office, unless their second career allowed them the flexibility to serve the client as any full-time agent would?
- Would you boot an agent who professes to be a full time agent, but simply doesn’t behave as one?
- Would you agree that agents who witnessed a violation of a rule or regulation be held responsible for reporting it? How about if I said that if they declined to report it, they would fined $5,000 per instance of neglect?
The Wild West
I’ve seen some of the dumbest decisions this past month and frankly the insane market is just making it worse. I was in a conversation recently (not at my office) with a Broker who manages an office, has agents and SERIOUSLY didn’t know what a Shortsale was or what REO meant. I’ve been told a story of an agent who withheld a offer that was 30,000 higher than the first; because he didn’t like the second agent and hated presenting multiple offers. We’ve got listings in our MLS that have been on the market for 120 days with no photos and listed in the wrong cities. Homes with $20 combo boxes’ listed by agents 2 hours away from the market area are prevalent. There are agents who are working two jobs and can only work on their various listings after 5pm and “need to take Sunday off.” The list goes on and on… We get frustrated while discussing these things, we love to blog about it (although I’ve caught a few “bloggers” being the agent they rant against), talk about it in the office (when actually working would be far more productive) and calling the broker to complain.
Are you Culpable?
Here’s a higher standard issue. For all the people who spew rhetoric about how ethical they are and how disgusted they are with the behavior of some agents, how many have reduced their grievance to writing and submitted it to someone who can actually do something about it? Every state has a regulatory board (to the best of my knowledge). Are you not culpable for being negligent to take action when wrong is committed? Some of you have seen things so egregious that it qualifies as a mugging of the client, behind the guise of representation. How many of you who actually saw a mugging in the alley would intervene or at least call 911?
I’ve heard all the arguments before. “I don’t want to write a complaint, because they’ll only get a slap on the wrist….it’ll take too much time….nothing will happen” Yes, they may (in your eyes) get a slap on the wrist, but most people deserve a second chance. Many people only need a fine or to have to encounter discipline in order to set them on the right path. And yes, first offenses are typically treated lightly; but the subsequent time they are typically not treated as benevolently. Yes it takes time, but I will submit that it takes equal or less than to sit around, gossip and complain about it. Lastly, if “nothing happens” it may mean that you weren’t right in the first place… so, be right!
I honestly feel that Real Estate Boards should hold liable those agents who knew of wrong doing, yet took no appropriate action. Appropriate action is not rumors, gossip and ranting online. Appropriate action is utilizing the self-policing options available. If I can’t compel the ill-behaved agents to represents their clients well; perhaps we can compel the self appointed “ethical” agents to step up to the plate.
The truth about unemployment from someone who’s been through it
(EDITORIAL) Unemployment benefits aren’t what you thought they were. Here’s a first-hand experience and what you need to know.
Have I ever told you how I owed the government over two grand because of unemployment in 2019, and only just finished paying it back this year?
This isn’t exactly the forum for memoirs, but this is relevant to everyone. So I’ll tell y’all anyway.
It all started back in 2018 when I came into work early, microwaved my breakfast, poured coffee, and got pulled into a collaboration room to hear, “We love you and your work, April, but we’ve been bought out and you’re being laid off.”
It was kind of awkward carrying my stuff out to the car with that Jimmy Dean sandwich in my mouth.
More awkward still was the nine months of unemployment I went through afterwards. Between the fully clothed shower crying, the stream of job denial, catering to people who carried rocks in their nostrils at my part-time job (yes, ew, yes, really), and almost dying of no-health-insurance-itis, I learned a lot!
The bigger lesson though, came in the spring of the following year when I filed my taxes. I should back up for a moment and take the time to let those of you unfamiliar with unemployment in Texas in on a few things that aren’t common knowledge.
1: You’re only eligible if you were laid off. Not if you had quit. Not fired. Your former company can also choose to challenge your eligibility for benefits if they didn’t like your face on the way out. So the only way you’re 100% guaranteed to get paid in (what the state calls) “a timely manner”, is a completely amicable split.
2: Overpayments have to go back. Immediately. If there’s an error, like several thousand of Texans found out this week, the government needs that cash back before you can access any more. If you’re not watching your bank account to make sure you’re getting the exact same check each time and you have an overpayment, rest assured that mistake isn’t going to take long to correct. Unfortunately, if you spent that money unknowingly–thought you got an ‘in these uncertain times’ kinder and gentler adjustment and have 0 income, you have a problem. Tying into Coronavirus nonsense is point three!
3: There are no sick days. If ever you’re unable to work for any reason, be it a car accident, childbirth, horrible internal infection (see also no-health-insurance-itis), you are legally required to report it, and you will not be paid for any days you were incapacitated. Personally, my no-health-insurance-itis came with a bad fever and bedrest order that axed me out of my part time job AND killed my unemployment benefits for the week I spent getting my internal organs to like me again. But as it turned out, the payment denial came at the right time because–
4: Unemployment benefits are finite. Even if you choose to lie on your request forms about how hard you’re searching for work, coasting is ill-advised because once the number the state allots you runs out…it’s out. Don’t lie on your request forms, by the way. In my case, since I got cut from my part-time gig, I got a call from the Texas Workforce Commission about why my hours were short. I was able to point out where I’d reported my sickness to them and to my employer, so my unpaid week rolled over to a later request date. I continued to get paid right up until my hiring date which was also EXACTLY when my benefits ran out.
Unemployment isn’t a career, which is odd considering the fact that unemployment payments are qualified by the government as income.
Ergo, fact number five…
5: Your benefits? They’re taxed.
That’s right, you will be TAXED for not having a job.
The stereotype of the ‘lazy unemployment collector burdening society’ should be fading pretty quickly for the hitherto uninformed about now.
To bring it back to my story, I’d completely forgotten that when I filed for unemployment in the first place, I’d asked for my taxes NOT to be withheld from it–assuming that I wasn’t going to be searching for full time work for very long. I figured “Well, I’ll have a tax refund coming since I’ll get work again no problem, it’ll cancel out.”
Except, it was a problem. Because of the nine month situation.
I’d completely forgotten about it by the time I threw myself into my new job, but after doing my taxes, triple checking the laws and what I’d signed, it was clear. Somehow…despite being at my lowest point in life, I owed the highest amount in taxes, somewhere around the 2k mark.
Despite being based on a system that’s tied to how much income you were getting before, and all the frustrating “safeguards” put in place to keep payments as low and infrequent as possible, Uncle Sam still wants a bite out of the gas-station Hostess pie that is your unemployment check. And as I’m writing this, more and more people are finding that out.
I’d like to end this on a more positive note…so let’s say we’ve all been positively educated! That’s a net gain, surely.
Keep your heads up, and masked.
COVID-19 acts are unfortunately too short sighted
(BUSINESS NEWS) The biggest flaw in the CARES act is simply that it won’t last. Numerous issues have extended the life of COVID-19 but the act hasn’t matched it.
The CARES act gives an additional $600 weekly to those on unemployment assistance. The idea being that, combined with the $380 already granted by unemployment, the payments would roughly equal the wage of the average worker prior to the pandemic- about $1,000 weekly.
But on July 31st, the expansion that CARES provides will expire, and benefits will return to pre-pandemic amounts. Those currently receiving the maximum payment will see a 61% decrease in their income. In states that offer lower benefit payments, that percentage goes even higher. All of this comes during a national rental crisis, and moratoriums on evictions across the country are also nearing their ends or being extended last minute.
This isn’t the first or only “yuge” hole in the federal government’s COVID-19 safety net. Many Americans (this writer included) have seen neither hide nor hair of their promised stimulus checks. The HEROES act, which is being billed as a second round of stimulus money, remains under debate- as it has been for several weeks.
And the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which requires certain businesses to provide two weeks of paid leave to workers who may be sick (or caring for someone who is) has plenty of problems too, namely the laundry list of exceptions to it.
This is just the most recent push to return to the pre-virus economy before effective protective measures have been put in place for workers and consumers alike. After all, with cases of COVID-19 spiking again in the US, it’s apparent that the act is still absolutely necessary. Our lawmakers either lack patience, or compassion – take your pick. Frankly, I say it’s both.
Not only have countless health experts warned that reopening too early will be disastrous, but if a second lockdown is in our future, all of the time, money, and human lives that went into reopening will be wasted.
There is a silver lining among the storm clouds on the horizon. Because ballooning unemployment has created long wait times for benefit applicants, unemployment assistance programs are shelling out retroactive back payments to those deemed eligible.
Good news, at least, for laid off workers who have been waiting months to hear their fate.
Women-owned businesses make up 42% of all businesses – heck yeah!
(EDITORIAL) Women-owned businesses make a huge impact on the U.S economy. They make up 42% of all businesses, outpace the national growth rate by 50%, and hire billions of workers.
Women entrepreneurs make history in the U.S as female-owned businesses represent 42% of all businesses, while continuing to increase at DOUBLE the national growth rate!
Women are running the world, and we are here for it! The 2019 American Express State of Women-Owned Businesses Report, states 13 million women are now self-employed entrepreneurs. From 2014 to 2019, women-owned businesses grew 21%. Think that’s impressive? Well, businesses owned by women of color grew 43% within the same timeframe, with a growth rate of 50%, and currently account for 50% of all women-owned businesses! Way to go! What this also means is that women employ over 2.4 million workers who together generate $422.5 billion in revenue.
What can we learn from these women that’ll help you achieve success in your businesses?
- Get informed: In a male-dominated business industry, women are often at a disadvantage and face multiple biases. So, know your stuff; study, research, and when you think you know it all…dig deeper!
- Stay hungry: Remember why you started this journey. Write down notes and reminders, goals, and inspirations, hang them up and keep them close.
- Ask for advice: Life is not meant to go through alone, so ask questions. Find a mentor and talk to people who have walked a similar path. Learning from them will only benefit your business.
Many of these women found ways to use their passion to drive their business. It may not be exactly what they thought it would be when they started out, but is it ever? Everyone has to start off small and rejection is part of the process. In fact, stories of rejection often serve as inspiration and encouragement to soon-to-be self starters.
Did you know J.K Rowling’s “Harry Potter” book was turned down TWELVE times? Seven books later with over 400 million copies sold, the Harry Potter brand is currently valued at over 15 billion. While you might not become a wizard-writing fantasy legend like J.K Rowling, you sure as heck can be successful. So go for it, and chase your dreams.
If you want to support women-owned businesses, start by scrolling through Facebook or doing some research to find women-owned businesses in your community. Then, support by buying or helping to promote their products. Small businesses, especially women-owned, black women-owned, and women of color-owned, are disproportionally affected by the current economic crisis ignited by a health pandemic. So if you can, shop small and support local. And remember, there’s a girl (or more) doing a happy dance when you checkout!
Will cash still be king after COVID-19?
Google Maps will soon display traffic lights
Plastic bags are making a comeback, thanks to COVID-19
Scammers are taking advantage of the unemployed
PopCom designs smart vending machines to automate regulated products
HEROES Act could increase unemployment stimulus benefits, add return to work bonus
A closer look at the HEROES act, and who stands to benefit the most
The White House pushes for $450 per week return to work bonus
Managing bipolar disorder and what I wish my employers understood
The Apple Watch isn’t just a way to ignore calls, it could save your life
Anti-surveillance mask – creepy, ingenious, or potentially illegal?
Amy’s Ice Cream founder on Austin’s business risks and rewards #WhyAustin
Turns out a lot of people are in between introverted and extroverted
P. Terry’s founder on the booming economy in Austin #WhyAustin
Ladies and gentlemen, the U.S. National Anthem
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