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Opinion Editorials

REALTOR most despised – an open letter to the industry

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img-credit-fairportweb.jpgOriginally published October 20, 2007: First of all, not all Realtors fall into a category of “disliked,” in fact, I would imagine that the reason Realtors rank so highly with consumers in polls is because the one-on-one relationships overlook shortcomings. Maybe you are self-important, always on your cell phone in public, pacing up and down the outdoor patio of the Starbucks, speaking loudly about how you’re not going to put up with a builder who lags behind lending in a quick closing process (I observed this yesterday).

I would imagine that your client can look beyond your need to wear make-up as if you were about to appear on broadway. I am sure your clients really don’t mind the pounds of hairspray it takes to prop up your 1980s hairdo in the wind and high humidity.

Never mind that you roll up in a brand new Lexus next to your first time buyer’s 1987 honda civic hatchback, and are dressed to the hilt- I’m sure they’ll let that go easily when they look to you for advice on how to manage 10% down when they only have 5%. I’m sure the ease in which they can sit around the bare living room of a vacant home and confess their credit ills is like butter for them- you’re so approachable.

I am sure the buyer & seller looking to you for moral support believes you when you say “I’m here for you,” even though you answer every cell call in a five minute period while they’re trying to open up to you about their buying & selling anxieties (not to mention your inability to answer or return their calls for days following their contract signing).

I’m sure the tenant whose lease home is being sold by the owner appreciates your calls during dinner to inform them the house they’ve rented for 3 years is for sale (duh) and asks you “why in the world would you be a renter?” I know consumers understand you’re a busy agent and you’re simply calling with this newsflash at your convenience- at least you thought enough of them, right?

Sometimes, I’m just embarrassed at the behavior of those agents I would normally make excuses for. Sitting in that Starbucks watching Miss Dallas 1972 pace back and forth beside me yelling at people on her cell phone in complete disregard for the consumers that were looking on (go ahead, take another drag of that capri menthol 120 light cigarette as you make yet one more call) at you in utter disgust. Thank you for reminding each caller that you’re a Realtor who works only on referrals (it’s obvious that’s the only business you could attract- maybe).

Thank you for humiliating me and my chosen profession. As you were so important to no one but yourself, I watched people laugh at you behind your back. I sank in my chair for you- should I jump up and stop you? Should I embarrass you the way you embarrassed all of us for the better part of an hour- the consumer looking in? How about you check your look just one more time in the reflection of the Starbucks window- you’re so important.

Maybe I am being mean…

Benn Rosales is the Founder and CEO of The American Genius (AG), national news network for tech and entrepreneurs, proudly celebrating 10 years in publishing, recently ranked as the #5 startup in Austin. Before founding AG, he founded one of the first digital media strategy firms in the nation and also acquired several other firms. His resume prior includes roles at Apple and Kroger Foods, specializing in marketing, communications, and technology integration. He is a recipient of the Statesman Texas Social Media Award and is an Inman Innovator Award winner. He has consulted for numerous startups (both early- and late-stage), has built partnerships and bridges between tech recruiters and the best tech talent in the industry, and is well known for organizing the digital community through popular monthly networking events. Benn does not venture into the spotlight often, rather believes his biggest accomplishments are the talent he recruits, develops, and gives all credit to those he's empowered.

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47 Comments

47 Comments

  1. Mariana - Springs Realty Scoop

    October 20, 2007 at 4:38 pm

    Absolutely brilliant – Definitely on the same page as I am. Thank you.

  2. Reuben Moore

    October 20, 2007 at 6:40 pm

    IMO, if we had real standards in this business we would see less of this. Either at the licensing level or at the er, REALTOR® level. The big-haired irony is that, as it stands today, it’s far easier to get a real estate license than it is to get a license to cut hair. I mean really, what else could these guys do for a living???

    So for now, this has to be addressed at the firm level. Just don’t hire them….

  3. Chris Lengquist

    October 20, 2007 at 9:48 pm

    Benn, how do you know when a woman in Texas has “big hair”? Sorry – that was a cheap shot.

    But so was your posting. And I liked it. I once heard a guy say the reason he got into real estate was to piss off the town’s top agent who he described as a chain-smoking-cadillac-driving-nonstop-talking-100 year old lady. It was hilarious.

    And your point about the car is hilarious as well. I’ve seen agents get so uptight about their car thinking they have to have that status car to make people think they are successful. And I’m thinking “BUT YOUR CLIENTS ARE IN THE $150$200 CATEGORY…THEY AIN’T DRIVING THOSE EITHER!!!”

    Anyway, I have to go. My double mocha with a squirt of carmel, goat-milk with paprika, extra tall latte is almost finished? I hope I have $10 for this beverage.

  4. Chris Lengquist

    October 20, 2007 at 9:50 pm

    And by the way. I love the G-Love tab. But don’t you also need & Special Sauce?

  5. Cindy

    October 20, 2007 at 10:18 pm

    A few months ago while standing in a check out line I heard a rather loud man discussing in unpleasant &^%* words a client of his. I turned around and there for everyone to see was the name of the real estate brokerage he worked for. Oh please. I wonder how much business he lost for his company that day?

  6. Benn Rosales

    October 20, 2007 at 11:29 pm

    Cindy, I know exactly who this agent is, she yelled her name several times, and also her company. That was the only good thing to come of it- folks knew what brokerage recruited from the trailor park. Unfortunately, for the profession, the damage is done.

  7. Benn Rosales

    October 21, 2007 at 1:17 am

    Benn, how do you know when a woman in Texas has “big hair”? Dallas, Houston = land of the big hair, any big hair you see here is a transplant or in real estate or both.

    This isn’t just about the ladies either. There is actually a top producer here who male, and has had enough plastic surgery to – well, I don’t know, just keep the ac on low. His mail order brider, mixed with his southern preacher style of selling is a powerful turnoff combination.

  8. Norm Fisher

    October 21, 2007 at 1:55 am

    You’re not being mean. You’d be doing her a huge favour if you found a way to get this post to her.

    While every profession has its share of idiots, agents are the worst for loudmouthing on a mobile phone.

    Don’t get me starting on taking calls during client meetings. They may say they don’t mind, but 95% of the time they think you’re a real jackass. The rest of the world can get by without you for a flippin’ hour folks!

  9. Jeff Brown

    October 21, 2007 at 3:02 am

    What’s big hair?

  10. Benn Rosales

    October 21, 2007 at 3:13 am

    Jeff, the exact opposite of what’s on your head, baldone!

  11. Benn Rosales

    October 21, 2007 at 3:13 am

    Norm- no, in fact, I aim to get you started!

  12. ines

    October 21, 2007 at 4:27 am

    flipping hilarious!! Thanks for the good laugh and for reminding us what to look forward to every day in this business. I love Real Estate!

  13. Laurie Manny

    October 21, 2007 at 11:27 pm

    Hilarious! Every town has it’s share of these. I want to know how to get them to stop admiring themselves in the mirror or window glass while they are screaming into their cell phones.

  14. Norm Fisher

    October 22, 2007 at 1:17 am

    Thank you Benn. I will be in touch.

  15. monika

    October 22, 2007 at 2:57 am

    I recognize some of them here in NH too. Thanks for laugh!

  16. Thomas Johnson

    October 22, 2007 at 3:15 am

    Benn: Now I know why my cell phone has that little video camera in it. Snap, Click-off to youtube, (and my listing presentation?)!

  17. Benn Rosales

    October 22, 2007 at 3:17 am

    Thomas, you know what, I was tempted, but there’s that whole legal thing.

  18. Sue

    July 10, 2008 at 8:09 pm

    From Mariana’s penguin post to here, so funny. I guess every town has Realtors like this. Actually I’ve seen them surface over night after one sale!

  19. Downtown Vancouver Realtor

    November 13, 2008 at 9:47 pm

    In every game there are players that suck and players that are good.

    The question you have to ask is why are people hiring realtors like this?

  20. Bill Lublin

    July 26, 2009 at 4:23 pm

    Nothing to say but 😉

  21. Jim Gilbert

    July 26, 2009 at 10:33 pm

    There are those who have an inflated sense of self-importance. I delight in finding those who actually do their jobs and put their clients first.

  22. Ian Greenleigh

    July 27, 2009 at 1:18 pm

    Thank God they have WiFi in my tanning booth, because this was hilarious. I have my face on every urinal cake in every Bennigan’s from here to El Paso, and I won’t stop now.

  23. Bill Cobb

    July 27, 2009 at 6:43 pm

    Here’s the Kicker Here! Do you actually think that Agent that shows up dressed to kill, with their 6% entitlement mentality, is going to smear that makeup with perspiration by actually measure the home they want to “professionally” represent to a buyer? A buyer that’s going to pay $140/sf, where a 200sf error means the buyer could be overpaying by $28,000?

    Let me ask this question: When is the proper time period in a home sale transaction to get the physical information about the home’s size correct, during the listing appointment or after the purchase agreement has been written and the appraiser shows up to tell all parties that the home wasn’t measured and the subject is actually 200sf smaller than represented by the listing agent? The Listing Agent is Duty Bound to get it right during their initial appointment – that’s part of what they get paid 6% to do, accurately represent the home. 6% of An Average $225,000 sale is a whopping $13,500. The seller has their bags packed, is moving, has a purchase agreement on a another home that hinges on their current home closing at the selling price. Then the P.A. has to be renegotiated all because the home wasn’t measured by the agent. Or, the agent simply chose to copy the previous MLS listings and not even updating the new listing. How did the current Real Estate Industry ever become so sloppy? What I see happening is these new rookie agents are being trained to skip several important steps along with way and think you’re nuts when you remind them of how it’s supposed to be done. Actually measure a home?…..that’s beneath some. Of course, I’m not describing the entire NAR here. In my market, about 25% of them are truly professionals, care about their clients and accurately represent a home. Thank God for these few!

  24. Free Real Estate Agent Training Videos

    July 27, 2009 at 9:25 pm

    Wow, what an interesting blog post. It should give some real estate agents some pause. Luckily, there are a lot of quality realtors out there. Kudos!

  25. hermanchan.com

    November 7, 2010 at 2:43 am

    exCUSE you benn! those were not capri menthol lites. i was puffing on benson & hedges lites! Get it right, will ya! 😉

  26. Paul Francis

    November 7, 2010 at 3:10 am

    Living in Vegas… it’s not just the occasional Realtor that acts like this..

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Opinion Editorials

Freelance is the Future? I call bull malarky

(EDITORIAL) Some have predicted that due to company needs and employees’ desire for flexibility, and even COVID, freelance is the future of work. But I have reservations.

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Freelance desk

Long gone are the days of punching a clock in Corporate America to be in your seat at your desk for an exact period of 8 hours on a day x 5 = 40 hours per week. If you work in an office setting now, usually you are expected to manage your time and finish your projects but companies have adjusted their strict butt in seat polices so that you can come in late after a doctor appointment or even leave a little early for Susie’s soccer tournament.

The truth is, with the advancement of technology and connected devices, many of us can work from anywhere (as long as there’s Wi-Fi or we have our hotspot). So, as long as your work gets done, there’s a little bit of room for “flexibility”.

When a company pitches this as flexibility, it’s really just a way of re-wording that you will work a lot so they will cut you some slack here and there considering most of us work well over our 40 hours a week. We can check email first thing in the morning, forward documents from the plane and even be on conference calls while in a line or in an Uber. You may work late on a Tuesday due to Wednesday deliverables which allows you to take off on Friday at 3pm when usually your projects are in a good place. There are also times where you will work on the weekend.

The opportunity to work anywhere has led to some considering that freelance is the future? I just don’t buy it. And this might be an unpopular opinion. I think that’s like turning the Titanic around. People rely on companies to offer a feeling of stability (or so we think) so that you know there’s a paycheck coming in every other week and you definitely have your fair share of projects (oh yeah, plus healthcare benefits).

If we all moved in to freelancing, we’d have a wide variety of clients, customers, teammates and paychecks that could be difficult to keep up with. We’d be forced to be the CEOs, CTOs, CIOs, CMOs, CFOs, oh, forget it, the entire C-suite of our own careers. It’s really difficult to generate new clients in the future while you’re working on a current project.

However, it’s equally difficult to have a lull so you have to be constantly engaged and pitching business (at the same time you have your current work). You have to be on your A-game at all times and out pitching yourself and your brand. You have to be creating content on all the social channels and be invited to participate in fancy conferences and meetings. This unfortunately is the life of freelance.

Does it seem like more people will do freelance? Yes. There’s lots of opportunity now thanks to the world wide web. But I predict they will do this in addition to their regular jobs. Is it possible that we may move to a gig economy? We are already there. You’ve heard of Uber, Lyft, Instacart, Fiverr and Upwork…It seems like that most people that have 2-3 gigs to make them whole are typically looking for full-time opportunities or would love to find something that can replace the others with more consistent work and not all the hustle. Are Small Businesses on the rise? Absolutely.

It seems that it depends on your desire for either slightly more predictable work and paychecks or if you’re a throw caution to the wind person and live that freelancer life. Also, if your skill sets are the ones employers are looking for on an ad hoc basis. No doubt many people live a freelancer life and love it. But I just don’t see it being the masses – I think it takes a special kind of dedication to rely on freelance and/or starting your own business. Plus, you’re off your parents’ healthcare at age 26. That’s when real the “real job” starts to sound really appealing.

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Opinion Editorials

Ways to socialize safely during quarantine

(EDITORIAL) Months of isolation due to quarantine is causing loneliness for many, but joining virtual social groups from home may help fill the need for interaction.

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quarantine

Quarantining, sheltering in place, staying home. We’re tired of hearing it; we’re tired of doing it. Yet, it’s what we still need to be doing to stay safe for a while longer. All of this can be lonesome. As the days turn into weeks and weeks into months, the alone time is getting to even the most introverted among us.

Solitary confinement is considered one of the most psychologically damaging punishments a human can endure. The New Yorker reported on this in a 1992 study of prisoners in detention camps in the former Yugoslavia, as well as Vietnam veterans who experienced isolation. These studies showed that prisoners who had experienced solitary confinement demonstrated similar brain activity to those who’d suffered a severe head injury, noting that “Without sustained social interaction, the human brain may become as impaired as one that has incurred a traumatic injury.”

We aren’t meant to be solitary creatures. Your “pandemic brain” is real. That fogginess, the lack of productivity, can be attributed to many things, including anxiety, but being kept apart from other humans is a big part of it too. Be kind to yourself, give yourself grace, and join others virtually. Be it an app, a class, a Facebook group, a chat room, or a livestream, someone somewhere is out there waiting to connect with you too.

The good news? We are lucky enough to live in an era of near limitless ways to interact socially online. Sure, it is different, but it is something. It’s important. The best thing about this type of social interaction is being able to hone in on your specific interests, though I’d caution you against getting caught in an online echo chamber. Diversity of interests, personality, and opinion make for a richer experience, with opportunities for connecting and expanding your worldview.

Here are a few suggestions on ways to socialize while staying home and staying safe. Communicating with other humans is good for you, physically and mentally.

Interactive Livestreams on Twitch:

Twitch is best known as a streaming service for video game fans, but it offers multiple streams appealing to different interests. This is more than passive watching (although that is an option, too) as Twitch livestream channels also have chat rooms. Twitch is fun for people who like multi-tasking because the chat rooms for popular livestream channels can get busy with chatter.

While people watch the Twitch hosts play a video game, film a live podcast, make music or art, mix cocktails, or dance, they can comment on what they’re watching, make suggestions, ask questions, crack jokes, and get to know each other (by Twitch handle, so it is still as anonymous as you want it to be) in the chat room. The best hosts take time every so often to interact directly with the chat room questions and comments.

Many Twitch channels develop loyal followers who get to know each other, thus forming communities. I have participated in the Alamo Drafthouse Master Pancake movie mocks a few times because they are fun and local to Austin, where I live. Plus, in my non-quarantine life, I would go to Master Pancake shows live sometimes. The chat room feels familiar in a nice way. While watching online is free, you can (and totally should) tip them.

Online trivia in real time:

There are some good options for real-time online trivia, but I’m impressed with the NYC Trivia League’s model. They have trivia games online on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays. The NYC Trivia League seems to have figured out a good way to run the game live while keeping answers private from the other teams. They run games on Instagram Live with a live video of the host, and participants answer via the question feature. Clever!

Online book club:

First I have to shout out my Austin local independent bookstore, BookPeople, because they are fantastic. They run book clubs throughout the year, along with readings, book signings, and all things book-related. BookPeople hosts several online book clubs during these lockdown days, and most people will find something that appeals to them.

I’m also impressed with this list from Hugo House, a writer’s resource based out of Seattle. This list includes Instagram and Goodread book clubs, book clubs for Black women, rebels, and poetry lovers. The Financial Diet recommends the Reddit book club, if you are comfortable with the Reddit format. Please note that it’s a busy place, but if you like Reddit, you already know this.

Cooking class or virtual tasting:

This is doubly satisfying because you can follow these chefs in real time, and you end up with a meal. There are a couple on Instagram Live, such as The Culinistas or Chef Massimo Bottura.

You can also participate in virtual tastings for wine, whiskey, or chocolate, though you will have to buy the product to participate in the classes (usually held over Zoom or Facebook Live). If you are in Austin, Dallas, or Houston, I recommend BeenThere Locals. The cost of the course includes the wine, spirits, or cooking kit in most cases, and all of the money goes to the business and expert hosting the class.

Look for your favorite wine, spirits, cheese, chocolate makers, and chefs that are local to you to find a similar experience. Most either prepare the class kit for pickup or delivery within a local area.

Quarantine chat:

To interact with another quarantined person seeking social interaction, there’s Quarantine Chat. Quarantine chat is one of the ways to connect through the Dialup app, available on iOS and Android devices. Sign up to make and receive calls when you want to speak with someone. The Dialup app pairs you randomly with another person for a phone conversation, at a scheduled time, either with anyone or with someone with shared interests.

Quarantine chat takes it a step further with calls at random times. When your quarantine chat caller calls, you will not see their number (or they yours), only the “Quarantine Chat” caller ID. If you are unable to pick up when they call, they will be connected with someone else, so there is no pressure to answer. It’s nice to hear someone else’s voice, merely to talk about what you’ve been cooking or what hilarious thing your pet is doing.

Play Uno:

Uno Freak lets people set up games and play Uno online with friends or strangers. Players do not need to register or download anything to play. Uno Freak is web-based.

Talk to mental health professionals:

If your state of loneliness starts sliding toward depression, call someone you can speak to right away to talk over your concerns. When in doubt, call a trained professional! Here are a few resources:

  • National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI): The NAMI HelpLine can be reached Monday through Friday, 10 am–6 pm, ET, 800-950-NAMI (6264) or info@nami.org.
  • Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to this text line 24/7 for someone to text with who will also be able to refer you to other resources: U.S. and Canada: 74174, U.K. 85258, Ireland: 50808.
  • Psych Central has put together this comprehensive list of crisis intervention specialists and ways to contact them immediately.

There are many ways to connect even though we are physically apart. These are just a few real time ways to interact with others online. If you want something a little more flesh and blood, take a walk around the block or even sit in a chair in front of where you live.

Wave at people from afar, and remember that we have lots of brilliant doctors and scientists working on a way out of this. Hang in there, buddy. I’m rooting for you. I’m rooting for all of us.

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Opinion Editorials

Working remotely: Will we ever go back? (Probably not)

(OPINION / EDITORIAL) Now that the pandemic has opened the door on working remotely, there’s no way we’ll put the genie back in the bottle. But, here’s some ways you can adapt.

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Woman working remotely on her couch with a laptop on her lap.

When it comes to working remotely, will the toothpaste ever go back in the tube?

Mark Zuckerberg recently said, “We are going to be the most forward-leaning company on remote work at our scale…” By 2030, Zuckerberg anticipates that over half of Facebook’s workforce will be remote. Many other companies are jumping on the work from home bandwagon. Working remotely has helped many businesses manage the pandemic crisis, but it’s unsure what form remote working will take over the next 10 years.

We know that employees are responding positively to WFH, as reported in this article – Employers: Lacking remote work options may cause you to lose employees. As offices transition to a post-COVID normal, here are some things to consider about your office and remote work.

What does your business gain from allowing workers to WFH?
The future of remote work depends on a conscious application of WFH. It’s not just as easy as moving employees out of the office to home. You have to set up a system to manage workers, wherever they are working. The companies with good WFH cultures have set up rules and metrics to know whether it’s working for their business. You’ll need to have technology and resources that let your teams work remotely.

Can your business achieve its goals through remote work?
The pandemic may have proved the WFH model, but is this model sustainable? There are dozens of benefits to remote work. You can hire a more diverse workforce. You may save money on office space. Employees respond well to remote work. You reduce your carbon emissions.

But that can’t be your only measure of whether remote work fits into your vision for your organization. You should be looking at how employees will work remotely, but you need to consider why employees work remotely.

The work paradigm is shifting – how will you adapt?
The work environment has shifted over the past century. Remote work is here to stay, but how it fits into your company should be based on more than what employees want. You will have to work closely with managers and HR to build the WFH infrastructure that grows with your organization to support your teams.

We don’t know exactly how remote work will change over the next decade, but we do know that the workplace is being reinvented. Don’t just jump in because everyone is doing it. Make an investment in developing your WFH plan.

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