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Opinion Editorials

Proposed New Real Estate Designations for 2009

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I hate real estate designations. They mean absolutely NOTHING.

Of course, this is only partially true. (But I like speaking in absolutes, as it is bound to piss someone off, and pissing people off WAS one of my New Years Resolutions for 2008.)

Real estate designations only MEAN something if the agent actually uses the education that it TOOK to get the designation to better the real estate world around them and then goes onto explains the WIIFM (What’s In It For Me) to their clients. Neither of which most designation-heavy real estate agents do… leaving their real estate designations relatively meaningless.

All that said, one of my New Year’s Resolutions was to get me some real estate designations. I was sure that somewhere behind the alphabet soup, there was some good education to be had… and I am sure there is. But in my quest for continued education, I realized that our industry is in need of NEW and BETTER designation opportunities for 2009.

5 Proposed New RE Designations:

  1. LOL – Licensed Official Laugh-er: This designation would give the bearer the right (and duty) to Laugh Out Loud while in the presence of idiots. Idiots would be defined as any party to a real estate transaction that acts in anyway OTHER than in a professional, head-screwed-on-right kind of way.
  2. ASS – Accredited Snobby Slimeball: This designation would not require any further education on the part of the bearer, and would be “awarded” to current members of the real estate community who display the personality traits of a stereotypical used car salesman while simultaneously treating other agents as worthless trash. Note: This designation is limited, so act now. Supplies are running out!
  3. POSR – Professional Obtainer of the Slightly Real: Again, this designation would not require any further education on the part of the bearer, and would be “awarded” to the “real estate agents” who list “short sales” without any working (or related whatsoever) knowledge about what a short sale is, nor how to negotiate one. This designation is also available for residential real estate agents who can “magically”work a large commercial deal without assistance nor experience.
  4. IRL – In Real Life: This designation is available for any real estate professional who can prove that they do more than just talk-the-talk, i.e. actually close deals. Continued education and on the job training is available in most areas.
  5. SM-Pro – Social Media Professional: This designation would show that the real estate agent is proficient with, and fluent in the languages of Twitter, Facebook, Skype, MySpace, ActiveRain, DailyMugshots, Blogging, Seesmic, EyeJot, YouTube, etc. Specialized upgrade to this designation includes: e-Twit. Note: Designation requires actual USE of social media sites, not just a long-abandoned profile.

If we add these designations to the list of available letters at the end of our names, I think that the world will be a better place.

Mariana is a real estate agent and co-owner of the Wagner iTeam with her husband, Derek. She maintains the Colorado Springs Real Estate Connection Blog and is also a real estate technology trainer and coach. Mariana really enjoys helping real estate agents boost their businesses and increase their productivity through effective use of technology. Outside of real estate, blogging and training, she loves spending time with her husband and 2 sons, reading, re-watching Sci-Fi movies and ... long walks on the beach?

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19 Comments

19 Comments

  1. Russell Shaw

    December 26, 2008 at 12:38 pm

    Beautiful!

  2. Dale Chumbley

    December 26, 2008 at 1:05 pm

    Mariana,

    What a fun post! I love this. I hope I am already qualified for #1, 4 & 5. I’ll leave #2 & 3 for the others out there. Unfortunately there are far too many #2’s & 3’s in our industry.

    You’ll notice I’ve already taken the liberty of adding eTwit to my business cards… https://www.flickr.com/photos/dalechumbley/2926574434/ ;?)

  3. Clint Miller

    December 26, 2008 at 1:08 pm

    Mariana — This was HILARIOUS!! Thank you for posting what we are all thinking…lol

  4. Matthew Hardy

    December 26, 2008 at 1:18 pm

    This is really cute – nice job Mariana.

    I fondly remember the doctor/professors I’ve worked with who, while having longs strings of very-hard-to-obtain designations appended to their name still wanted to be called “Bob”.

    Some designations in real estate can get a bit hyperbolic, don’t you think? Oh, and here’s another for ya (from a post I just read on *another* real estate blog: FOTB – Full Of Themselves Blogger.

  5. Elaine Reese

    December 26, 2008 at 2:14 pm

    Oh yes, these designations are MUCH more appropriate. Very funny. I really believe that #5 should be earned in tandem with #4.

  6. Chris Shouse

    December 26, 2008 at 4:26 pm

    I love them everyone:)
    Thanks Mariana

  7. Ann Cummings

    December 26, 2008 at 7:40 pm

    Hey Mariana!

    These are really funny, and I love the 6th one that Matthew added in his comment! There certainly are plenty of the 2’s and 3′ floating around, and loads of the FOTB’s from Matthew.

    Something about the ‘real’ NAR desigations – I hate it that you work really hard to earn some of them, and then you have to pay yearly to keep what you’ve rightfully earned. I finally gave up paying because it ticked me off that I was paying over and over for what should have been mine, since I did the work for it to begin with.

  8. Ines

    December 27, 2008 at 1:51 am

    Mariana, I totally missed your humor….where had you been??? I will work on my IRL designation immediately….starting with you? hello? o that’s right, February 😀

  9. Barry Bevis

    December 27, 2008 at 6:59 am

    Love it–
    No one outside the industry cares about all those letters.

  10. Sherry Baker

    December 27, 2008 at 3:25 pm

    Here’s one, at least while I’m reading this post: ROFLMAO

    schweet, Mariana!

  11. Mariana

    December 28, 2008 at 1:26 pm

    Thank you all for your comments on my New Designation post. Our industry definitely needs a little levity.

    😀

  12. Marvin Jensen

    December 28, 2008 at 3:45 pm

    I guess this means you don’t have any designations or worked you a*s off to get one?

    You don’t have to explain to your clients what these designations mean because ultimately they benefit from the additional education their agent has over the other guy.

    More education for our Realtor community should be praised, not made the butt of a mindless blog post!

  13. Mariana

    December 28, 2008 at 7:39 pm

    Marvin – Thank you for your comment and there should be MORE agents who actually take the continuing education that it takes to earn a designation and better the world around them.

    However, since I do not make any apologies nor defenses for the humor of my posts, I will just remind you what I wrote:

    “Real estate designations only MEAN something if the agent actually uses the education that it TOOK to get the designation to better the real estate world around them and then goes onto explains the WIIFM (What’s In It For Me) to their clients. Neither of which most designation-heavy real estate agents do… leaving their real estate designations relatively meaningless.”

  14. Marvin Jensen

    December 28, 2008 at 10:29 pm

    Mariana,

    I understood your article the first time around.

    The very act of an agent spending time and money furthering their real estate education, through a professional designation, benefits their client without the WIIFM. Yes, explaining this to the client would be recommended, but even if they don’t explain the benefit of a particular designation, doesn’t make it meaningless. Their client will ultimately benefit by a MORE educated agent!

  15. Mariana

    December 29, 2008 at 12:32 am

    Too many agents get their designations just to have them… or to fulfill mandatory continuing education requirements.

    Real estate is about the consumer, and I believe that if someone is going to take the time and effort to GET a designation, then they should “use that power for good” and explain what it means to the consumer – otherwise the “abrgricrsetc” just looks like agent-to-agent bragging rights.

  16. Mariana

    December 29, 2008 at 12:45 am

    Marvin – I see that you have taken the time to earn many real estate designations. If you are taking what you have learned and making our real estate world a better place, then great.

    Sadly, not everyone does. Some of the WORST agents I have ever worked with have the MOST designations.

    The point of my post is that a designation is no longer an indicator of a quality agent – even though it should be.

    Furthermore, I understand your point that you choose not to explain your designations to your clients. If you can run a successful real estate business w/o explaining the benefits of your designations to your clients, then awesome!

    I just know that most consumers have NO IDEA what all those designation initials mean and therefore cannot/will not be able to make educated pre-decisions about an agent, when deciding who to work with.

  17. Danilo Bogdanovic

    December 29, 2008 at 8:22 pm

    LMAO

    How about “OAW” – “Only After Work can I show you those properties because real estate is only a part time gig for me” (Client told me his previous agent actually said that to him)

    Thanks for the laughs!

  18. Paula Henry

    December 29, 2008 at 10:31 pm

    Thanks Mariana – I did not know there was POSR designation and realize it must have been a “free” class in Indy and that’s why so many people have it.

    I am now enlightened!

  19. Marvin Jensen

    December 29, 2008 at 11:14 pm

    Mariana,

    I do explain my designations to my clients and prospective clients. However, some agents don’t and I think that is alright.

    Some agents are bad agents no matter what designations they receive. You have to do business as well. However, I will say, I have never worked with a bad CRS designated agent!

    My point is that more education for agents is needed. I think it is too easy for people to practice real estate. Getting a designation is just one way to achieve better agents, it is not the only way! I don’t think it is necessarily important to explain to your clients what each designation means, as long as you practice what you learned for their benefit.

    Thanks for the discussion.

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Opinion Editorials

7 ways to carve out me time while working from home

(OPINION / EDITORIAL) It can be easy to forget about self-care when you’re working from home, but it’s critical for your mental health, and your work quality.

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Woman in hijab sitting on couch, working from home on a laptop

We are all familiar with the syndrome, getting caught up in work, chores, and taking care of others, and neglecting to take care of ourselves in the meantime. This has always been the case, but now, with more people working from home and a seemingly endless lineup of chores, thanks to the pandemic. There is simply so much to do.

The line is thinly drawn between personal and professional time already, with emails, cell phones, and devices relentlessly reaching out around the clock, pulling at us like zombie arms reaching up from the grave. Working from home makes this tendency to always be “on” worse, as living and working take place in such close proximity. We have to turn it off, though.

Our brains and bodies need down time, me-time, self-care. Carving out this time is one of the kindest and most important things you can do for yourself. If we can begin to honor ourselves like this, the outcome with not only our mental and physical health, but also our productivity at work, will be beneficial. When we make the time to do things we love, our body untenses, our mind’s gears slow down that constant grinding. Burnout behooves nobody.

Our work will also benefit. Healthier, happier, more well rested, and well treated minds and bodies can work wonders! Our immune systems also need this, and we need our immune systems to be at their peak performance this intense season.

I wanted to write this article, because I have such a struggle with this in my own life. I need to print it out and put it in my workspace. Last week, I posted something on my social media pages that so many people shared. It is clear we all need these reminders, so I am paying it forward here. The graphic was a quote from Devyn W.

“If you are reading this, release your shoulders away from your ears, unclench your jaw, and drop your tongue from the roof of your mouth.”

There now, isn’t that remarkable? It is a great first step. Let go of the tension in your body, and check out these ways to make yourself some healing me-time.

  1. Set aside strict no-work times. This could be any time of day, but set the times and adhere to them strictly. This may look like taking a full hour for lunch, not checking email after a certain hour, or committing to spending that time outdoors, reading, exercising, or enjoying the company of your loved ones. Make this a daily routine, because we need these boundaries. Every. Single. Day.
  2. Remember not to apologize to anyone for taking this me-time. Mentally and physically you need this, and everyone will be better off if you do. It is nothing to apologize for! Building these work-free hours into your daily schedule will feel more normal as time goes on. This giving of time and space to your joy, health, and even basic human needs is what should be the norm, not the other way around.
  3. Give yourself a device-free hour or two every day, especially before bedtime. The pinging, dinging, and blinging keeps us on edge. Restful sleep is one of the wonderful ways our bodies and brains heal, and putting devices away before bedtime is one of the quick tips for getting better sleep.
  4. Of course, make time for the things you absolutely love. If this is a hot bath, getting a massage, reading books, working out, cooking or eating an extravagant meal, or talking and laughing with a loved one, you have to find a way to get this serotonin boost!
  5. Use the sunshine shortcut. It isn’t a cure-all, but sunlight and Vitamin D are mood boosters. At least when it’s not 107 degrees, like in a Texas summer. But as a general rule, taking in at least a good 10-15 minutes of that sweet, sweet Vitamin D provided by the sun is good for us.
  6. Spend time with animals! Walk your dog, shake that feathery thing at your cat, or snuggle either one. Whatever animals make you smile, spend time with them. If you don’t have pets of your own, you could volunteer to walk them at a local shelter or even watch a cute animal video online. They are shown to reduce stress. Best case scenario is in person if you are able, but thankfully the internet is bursting with adorable animal videos, as a backup.
  7. Give in to a bit of planning or daydreaming about a big future trip. Spending time looking at all the places you will go in the future and even plotting out an itinerary are usually excellent mood-boosters. It’s a bit different in 2020, as most of us aren’t sure when we will be able to go, but even deciding where you want to go when we are free to travel again can put a positive spin on things.

I hope we can all improve our lives while working from home by making time for regenerating, healing, and having fun! Gotta run—the sun is out, and my dog is begging for a walk.

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Opinion Editorials

Why robots freak us out, and what it means for the future of AI

(OPINION / EDITORIAL) Robots and humans have a long way to go before the social divide disappears, but research is giving us insight on how to cross the uncanny valley.

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Close of R2D2 toy, an example of robots that we root for, but why?

We hate robots. Ok, wait, back up. We at least think they are more evil than good. Try it yourself – “are robots” in Google nets you evil before good. Megatron has higher SEO than Optimus Prime, and it’s not just because he’s so much cooler. It cuz he evil, cuz. It do be like that.

It’s not even a compliment to call someone robotic; society connotes this to emotionless preprogrammed shells of hideous nothing, empty clankbags that walk and talk and not much else. So, me at a party. Or if you’re a nerd, you’re a robot. (Me at a party once again.)

Let’s start by assuming robots as human-like bipedal machines that are designed with some amount of artificial intelligence, generally designed to fulfill a job to free up humanity from drudgery. All sounds good so far. So why do they creep us out?

There’s a litany of reasons why, best summed up with the concept of the uncanny valley, first coined by roboticist Masahiro Mori (Wow he’s still alive! The robots have not yet won) in 1970. Essentially, we know what a human is and how it looks and behaves against the greater backdrop of life and physics. When this is translated to a synthetic being, we are ok with making a robot look and act like us to a point, where we then notice all the irregularities and differences.

Most of these are minor – unnaturally smooth or rigid movements, light not scattering properly on a surface, eyes that don’t sync up quite right when they blink, and several other tiny details. Lots of theories take over at this point about why this creeps us out. But a blanket way to think about it is that our expectation doesn’t match what we are seeing; the reality we’re presented with is off just enough and this makes us uncomfortable .

Ever stream a show and the audio is a half second off? Makes you really annoyed. Magnify that feeling by a thousand and you’re smack in the middle of the uncanny valley. It’s that unnerving. One possible term for this is abjection, which is what happens the moment before we begin to fear something. Our minds – sensing incompatibility with robots – know this is something else, something other , and faced with no way to categorize this, we crash.

This is why they make good villains in movies – something we don’t understand and given free will and autonomy, potentially imbued with the bias of a creator or capable of forming terrifying conclusions all on its own (humans are a virus). But they also make good heroes, especially if they are cute or funny. Who doesn’t love C3PO? That surprise that they are good delights us. Build in enough appeal to a robot, and we root for them and feel empathy when they are faced with hardships. Do robots dream of electric sheep? Do robots have binary souls? Bits and zeros and ones?

Professor Jaime Banks (Texas Tech University’s College of Media & Communication) spends a lot of time thinking about how we perceive robots. It’s a complex and multifaceted topic that covers anthropomorphism, artificial intelligence, robot roles within society, trust, inherently measuring virtue versus evil, preconceived notions from entertainment, and numerous topics that cover human-robot interactions.

The world is approaching a future where robots may become commonplace; there are already robot bears in Japan working in the healthcare field. Dressing them up with cute faces and smiles may help, but one jerky movement later and we’ve dropped all suspension.

At some point, we have to make peace with the idea that they will be all over the place. Skynet, GLaDOS in Portal, the trope of your evil twin being a robot that your significant will have to shoot in the middle of your fight, that episode of Futurama where everything was a robot and they rose up against their human masters with wargod washing machines and killer greeting cards, the other Futurama episode where they go to a planet full of human hating murderous robots… We’ve all got some good reasons to fear robots and their coded minds.

But as technology advances, it makes sense to have robots take over menial tasks, perform duties for the needy and sick, and otherwise benefit humanity at large. And so the question we face is how to build that relationship now to help us in the future.

There’s a fine line between making them too humanlike versus too mechanical. Pixar solved the issue of unnerving humanoids in their movies by designing them stylistically – we know they are human and accept that the figure would look odd in real life. We can do the same with robots – enough familiarity to develop an appeal, but not enough to erase the divide between humanity and robot. It may just be a question of time and new generations growing up with robots becoming fixtures of everyday life. I’m down for cyborgs too.

Fearing them might not even be bad, as Banks points out: “…a certain amount of fear can be a useful thing. Fear can make us think critically and carefully and be thoughtful about our interactions, and that would likely help us productively engage a world where robots are key players.”

Also, check out Robot Carnival if you get the chance – specifically the Presence episode of the anthology.

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Opinion Editorials

4 simple tips to ease friction with your boss while working remotely

(OPINION / EDITORIAL) Find it challenging to get along with your boss while working from home? Here are a few things you can try to ease the tension.

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Woman stressed over laptop in remote work.

Most people probably feel like their relationship with their boss is fine. If you’re encountering friction with your boss for any reason, though, remote work will often exacerbate it—this is one instance where distance doesn’t necessarily make the heart grow fonder. Here are a few ways to remove some of that friction without adding to your boss’ overflowing plate.

According to CNN, determining the problem that exists between you and your boss should be your first step. There’s one caveat to consider, however: Your boss’ boundaries. Problem-solving on your own time is fine, but demanding more of your boss’ time—especially when you’re supposed to be working—may compound the issue.

An easy way around this is a low-impact communique—e.g., an email—sent at the beginning or end of the workday. Since that’s a more passive communication style that takes only a minute or two out of your day, it’s less likely to frustrate your boss further.

If ironing out the issue isn’t your prerogative for now, examining your boss’ parameters for success is another place to start. Does your boss prefer to receive multiple updates throughout the day, or do they want one summative report each morning? Do you respect your boss’ preferred communication styles? These are important questions to ask during remote work. If you find yourself reaching out more than necessary, for example, it may be time to cut back.

It can also be difficult to satiate your boss if you don’t know their expectations. If you’re able to speak to them about the expectations regarding a project or task, do it; clarifying the parameters around your work will always help both of you. It is worth noting that some supervisors may expect that you know your way around some types of responsibilities, though, so err on the side of complementing that knowledge rather than asking for comprehensive instructions.

Finally, keep in mind that some bosses simply don’t communicate the same way you do. I’ve personally been blessed with a bevy of nurturing, enthusiastic supervisors, but we’ve all had superiors who refuse to acknowledge our successes and instead focus on our failures. That can be a really tough mentality to work with during remote periods, but knowing that they have a specific communication style that hampers their sociability can help dampen the effects.

As always, communication is key—even if that means doing it a little bit less than you’d like.

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