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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

DNA tests are cool, but are they worth it?

(OPINION EDITORIAL) DNA tests are all the rage currently but are they worth potentially having your genetic makeup sold and distributed?

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Over the last few years, DNA testing went mainstream. Companies like Ancestry.com and 23andMe have offered easy access to the insights of your genetics, including potential health risks and family heritage, through simple tests.

However, as a famously ageless actor once suggested in a dinosaur movie, don’t focus too much on if you can do this, without asking if you should do this.

When you look closely, you can find several reasons to wonder if sending your DNA to these companies is a wise choice.

These reasons mostly come down to privacy protection, and while most companies do have privacy policies in place, you will find some surprising loopholes in the fine print. For one, most of the big players don’t give you the option to not have your data sold.

These companies, like 23andMe and Ancestry.com, can always sell your data so long as your data is “anonymized,” thanks to the HIPPA Act of 1996. Anonymization involves separating key identifying features about a person from their medical or biological data.

These companies know that loophole well; Ancestry.com, for example, won’t even give customers an opt-out of having their DNA data sold.

Aside from how disconcerting it is that these companies will exploit this loophole for their gain at your expense, it’s also worth noting that standards for anonymizing data don’t work all that well.

In one incident, reportedly, “one MIT scientists was able to ID the people behind five supposedly anonymous genetic samples randomly selected from a public research database. It took him less than a day.”

There’s also the issue of the places where that data goes when it goes out. That report the MIT story comes from noted that 23andMe has sold data to at least 14 outside pharmaceutical firms.

Additionally, Ancestry.com has a formal data-sharing agreement with a biotech firm. That’s not good for you as the consumer, because you may not know how that firm will handle the data.

Some companies give data away to the public databases for free, but as we saw from the earlier example, those can be easy targets if you wanted to reverse engineer the data back to the person.

It would appear the only safe course of action is to have this data destroyed once your results are in. However, according to US federal regulation for laboratory compliance stipulates that US labs hold raw information for a minimum of 10 years before destruction.

Now, consider all that privacy concern in the context of what happens when your DNA data is compromised. For one, this kind of privacy breach is irreversible.

It’s not as simple as resetting all your passwords or freezing your credit.

If hackers don’t get it, the government certainly can; there’s even an instance of authorities successfully obtaining a warrant for DNA evidence from Ancestry.com in a murder trial.

Even if you’re not the criminal type who would worry about such a thing, the precedent is concerning.

Finally, if these companies are already selling data to entities in the biomedical field, how long until medical and life insurance providers get their hands on it?

I’ll be the first to admit that the slippery slope fallacy is strong here, but there are a few troubling patterns of behavior and incorrect assumptions already in play regarding the handling of your DNA evidence.

The best course of action is to take extra precaution.

Read the fine print carefully, especially what’s in between the lines. As less scrupulous companies look to cash in on the trend, be aware of entities who skimp on privacy details; DNA Explained chronicles a lot of questionable experiences with other testing companies.

Above all, really think about what you’re comfortable with before you send in those cheek swabs or tubes of spit. While the commercials make this look fun, it is a serious choice and should be treated like one.

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Opinion Editorials

How to deal with an abusive boss and keep your job, too

(OPINION EDITORIAL) Sometimes bosses can be the absolute worst, but also, you depend on them. Here’s how to deal with an abusive boss and, hopefully, not get fired.

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Nothing can ruin your work life like an abusive boss or supervisor. But when you’re dependent on your boss for assignments, promotions – heck, your paycheck – how can you respond to supervisor abuse in a way that doesn’t jeopardize your job or invite retaliation?

A new study to be published in the next Academy of Management Journal suggests an intriguing approach to responding to an abusive boss. As you might expect, their study shows that avoiding the abuser does little to change the dynamic.

But the study also found that confronting the abuser was equally ineffective.

Instead, the study suggests that workers in an abusive situation “flip the script” on their bosses, “shifting the balance of power.” But how?

The researchers tracked the relationship between “leader-follower dyads” at a real estate agency and a commercial bank. They found that, without any intervention, abuse tended to persist over time.

However, they also discovered two worker-initiated strategies that “can strategically influence supervisors to stop abuse and even motivate them to mend strained relationships.”

The first strategy is to make your boss more dependent on you. For example, one worker in the study found out that his boss wanted to develop a new analytic procedure.

The worker became an expert on the subject and also educated his fellow co-workers. When the boss realized how important the worker was to the new project, the abuse subsided.

In other words, find out what your boss’s goals are, and then make yourself indispensable.

In the second strategy, workers who were being abused formed coalitions with one another, or with other workers that had better relationships with the boss. The study found that “abusive behavior against isolated targets tends to stop once the supervisor realizes it can trigger opposition from an entire coalition.”

Workplace abuse is not cool, and it shouldn’t really be up to the worker to correct it. At times, the company will need to intervene to curb bad supervisor behavior. However, this study does suggest a few strategies that abused workers can use to try to the tip the balance in their favor.

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Opinion Editorials

Avoid the stack, conquer busy work as it comes

(PRODUCTIVITY) It’s easy overwhelmed with emails and a stack of real mail. But tackling as it comes may help to enhance organization and productivity.

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A few weeks ago, I was walking through my office (also known as my bedroom after 5 p.m.) and I noticed a stack of mail that I had tossed aside over the course of the last few months. While they were non-urgent, this collection of paperwork had been opened, read, and left unattended.

Now, this was a classic move of mine – leave a mess for Future Taylor to clean up. So, imagine my surprise when Present Taylor woke up and decided to put an end to “the stack.”

I sat down, went through everything, and took care of what needed to be done. Even though my wallet took a few hits, it felt great to have this cleared up and off my desk.

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This led me to finally attacking something that’s been on my to-do list since I created my Gmail account in 2009 – create an organizational system.

I set aside some time to create folders (for individual projects, people I communicate with frequently, etc.)

While this is all stuff that you may have already implemented, my point is that this increase my productivity and lifted a weight off of my shoulders I didn’t acknowledge was there.

So, I encourage you to find one of those menial tasks that has been on your to-do list forever and tackle it.

This can include, organizing all of your electronic files into folders, updating your phone and email contacts, or going through all of your desk drawers to get rid of unneeded items. Organizing and freshening up your workspace can help increase your focus.

Once you’re organized and in gear, try the “let it cross your desk once” method. When an email comes in, respond to it or file it. When a bill comes in, pay it. You may be surprised at your rise in productivity.

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