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Opinion Editorials

No Such Thing As A Real Estate Agent Anymore

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Real Estate Agents RIP


Your Buyer Calls

Imagine this… Your buyer calls you to ask you about a property for sale. The home just came back on the market today after going under contract several weeks ago. As you’re talking to your clients, you look up the property on the MLS. There it is, “Pending Release”.

Then your buyer says to you,

“The buyers backed out due to severe water damage and mold issues. Do you know anything about that?”

You pause…and then say “no”.

Uh Oh.

Right about now, you may have a knot in your stomach because you feel like you should have known about this. You may even wonder if you’re doing your job correctly. Even worse, you wonder if your buyer no longer views you as an “expert”.

But then your buyers says to you,

“That’s cool. I don’t expect you to spend 4 hours per property searching the web for information on it. I found out about what happened because the previous buyers had posted about it on a DIY home repair forum that I ran across using Google. I found it after a few hours of searching and looking around online for anything having to do with the property.

But what about…

But do you know what the laws about disclosure are once the sellers have been told about a problem like this? And if they get it repaired, does the warranty convey even though it’s being sold ‘as is’?”

You sigh and feel like your shoulders just got 100 lbs lighter. At the same time, you’re in awe of the fact that the client found that out.

The buyer did not expect you to know about the water damage or mold. Rather, they expected you to advise and guide them through the legalities of the situation.

Paradigm Shift

Consumers no longer view us as the gate-keepers of information. Consumers can (and will) find the information themselves whether it be by word-of-mouth in person through friends, neighbors, groups or online via social networking, forums, blogs, etc.

The traditional Real Estate Agent is no longer… Today’s consumer wants and needs a Real Esate Consultant.

Once consumers have the information, they need to know how to interpret and act upon that information. They want to know how to best use it to their advantage and how to avoid pitfalls and potential land mines. They need a guide and a consultant that will protect them and look out for their best interests at all times.

This Part’s About You

This is where you come in as their Real Estate Consultant. Be there to guide them through the sea of information they’re swimming through. Advise them accurately and be the expert they can turn to with questions at any time. Be available to them when they need you. And most importantly, keep their best interests at heart at all times.

If you do these things and realize that you’re their Consultant and not their agent, you will have more than just a happy client. You will have an advocate for life.

P.S. The example above is a true story and happened to me yesterday.

Danilo Bogdanovic is a Real Estate Consultant/REALTOR(R) in Northern Virginia and author/owner of LoudounScene.com and LoudounForeclosures.com. Danilo serves on various committees with the Dulles Area Association of REALTORS(R) and the Virginia Association of REALTORS(R).

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22 Comments

22 Comments

  1. Barry Cunningham

    June 5, 2008 at 12:19 pm

    Uh Oh..first post and may need to duck already…here they come!

  2. Genuine Chris Johnson

    June 5, 2008 at 12:32 pm

    THIS is a good, actionable article. WELL DONE, BRAVO.

  3. Paula Henry

    June 5, 2008 at 2:29 pm

    Danilo –

    Great first post!

    I remember when I was a new agent, the broker discouraged agents from using the term, consultant. he said it appeared we were advisors – eeeks! Even then, I thought, surely the consumer wants advice. Nope, was the answer! Just give them data, translate the data, but no advice.

    Last year, a client asked me, pointedly, “If I were your daughter, which home would you recommend?” , when she could not decide between two homes. She didn’t want me to dance around the question, she wanted an answer. Being from out-of-state, she knew nothing about the area. I knew the builders and their community track record. I knew which I believed would have the best resale value.

    After a year here, she is happy I told her. She wanted a consultant!

  4. A. Longo

    June 5, 2008 at 2:33 pm

    Can You Say Home Run Post! This is today’s reality…and we are loving it! Great work Danilo….well put.

  5. Brian Block

    June 5, 2008 at 2:53 pm

    Danilo,

    You are right on the money! Clients many times know much more about a particular property before their agent. It’s everything else that agents offer in terms of negotiating, knowing the laws, having the proper disclosures, etc., that makes the agent a valuable piece in the real estate puzzle.

  6. Barry Cunningham

    June 5, 2008 at 3:15 pm

    Better watch out for the pitchforks…I agree completely.

  7. Dylan Darling

    June 5, 2008 at 3:56 pm

    I agree for the most part, although I think we’re more than just consultants. But the internet has re-invented our business and we are now more consultants than ever. It makes it nice for paperwork as well. Our “buyers advisory” is online and covers multiple issues that we used to have dislosures for. Great post!

  8. Ricardo Bueno

    June 5, 2008 at 4:09 pm

    A great Agent or Lender is more than just a paper-pusher…a GREAT Agent or Lender can respond appropriately to the phrase:

    “Just tell me what to do…”

    while keeping a clients best interest at heart. That’s what they’re really thinking when an issue comes up and they’re hoping you’re the right person to guide them.

  9. Vicki Moore

    June 5, 2008 at 5:17 pm

    I agree as well. There’s an overabundance of information available. We’re bombarded daily with advertising through every medium we view and listen to. Gathering and understanding all the options available for a particular event in a purchase/sale is impossible. Transactions themselves are going to continue to be more difficult to transverse as the disclosures and laws for consumer protection are expanded. The consumer will continue to need a professional to guide them through the possible pitfalls during the process.

    Your example shows what a valued professional you were to that client. Congratulations.

  10. Melina Tomson

    June 5, 2008 at 5:24 pm

    I was just having this debate on another forum two days ago and I stated that what I consider the older model of real estate salesman is dying vs. the new model of real estate professionals/consultants. Buyers and sellers need us in varying degrees of partnership and for a few folks serious handholding, but I completely agree that what people want is to know WHAT TO DO with the information they have.

  11. Mariana Wagner

    June 5, 2008 at 7:38 pm

    If we do not embrace change… we will be mowed over by it. Why? Because change don’t wait for no one.
    The definition of what it means to be a real estate agent is ALWAYS changing. It used to be important how quickly we could run down to the office and look at the MLS book… Oh, those were the days. Oh wait. I wasn’t an agent back then.
    Consultant is definitely part of my job description, but I still am acting FOR the best interests of my clients, which does go a little beyond consulting.

  12. Thomas Johnson

    June 5, 2008 at 8:20 pm

    Danilo’s in the house!
    What a concept and what a great article. Thank you.

  13. Matthew Rathbun

    June 5, 2008 at 8:40 pm

    Great post, I’ve copied it to share with my Broker Manager class tomorrow. I still cringe at the semantics of “consultant” versus “agent”, as consultant tends to not obligate one to the fiduciary duties that are imparted to the licensee. But your point is well made. We just need to educate the consumer of the paradigm change.

  14. Mack in Atlanta

    June 6, 2008 at 5:52 am

    Should we change our title to “Licensed Real Estate Consultant”? I don’t think that would be necessary. What this article promotes is relationship building based on what the client needs. Identify their problem, solve it and guess what, you have become their consultant.

  15. Bill Lublin

    June 6, 2008 at 7:05 am

    Dead on Danilo – or Danilo Dead On (either way – awesome post)

    Completely relate to that sinking feeling that you aren’t “the man” replaced by the “OMG I still am” feelings. We need to be more then gate-keepers – we need to be the path (though hopefully without being walked on)

    I agree with you completely that the world is changing and embracing that change is imperative (and we all need to either lead, follow or get out of the way) But I’ll tell you that the consulting portion of the business has been the key to having a great career for a while now – I think it just got lost in the cascades of business at the start of this decade. Glad to see it coming back, and props for pointing out that a well informed consumer means that we, professionals need to step up our game.

    Really enjoyed reading and you can count on being repreated!
    🙂

  16. Jennifer in Louisville

    June 6, 2008 at 10:03 am

    Excellent points. For a great many agents, the days of “throw a sign in the yard, put it on the MLS – and write up the deals” is a thing of the past. You have to bring greater value to the picture now in order to be competitive in today’s market place.

  17. Jeremy Hart

    June 9, 2008 at 5:37 am

    Same scenario here … I’ve got buyer clients who live next to – literally 30 yards away – from their targeted neighborhood. They won’t look outside of that neighborhood, and so all of our efforts to turn up a home with their requirements has been focused there. Yet, they repeatedly find the homes before I do. They’ve plugged themselves into the HOA (even though they don’t live there – yet), they’ve made friends in the neighborhood, and when I send them listings they bring back critiques of why it won’t work. I know why it won’t work, we’ve been working together for some time, but it’s nice to know that we’re on the same page with our thoughts.

    At first, I was nervous … they know more about the neighborhood than I do. But over time I’ve realized it’s because they’re committed to being there, and they include me on every showing. I’m not just letting them in the door, they’re using me for the value we can bring to the table. I didn’t always see it that way – I had that OMG feeling every time she’d tell me that such and such house was for sale, then she’d follow that up with why it wouldn’t work.

    I know that feeling. We all do, I’m sure. Nice to hear that it’s not unique to just me!

  18. Danilo Bogdanovic

    June 9, 2008 at 8:28 am

    Glad to hear that I’m not the only one out there that has seen and experienced this either. Wasn’t sure if it was just a Northern VA and/or tech-savvy-area trend or not.

    Thanks everyone for the comments and feedback!

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Opinion Editorials

Finances in my 20s: What I wish I knew then that I know now

(EDITORIAL) They say money makes the world go round. So, let’s discuss how to be smart with finances before it’s too late.

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finances

Being in my early twenties, something I’m still getting used to is the fact that I’m making my own money. This is not to be confused with the babysitting money I was making 10 years ago. Twice a month is the same routine: I get my paycheck and think, “Wooo! We goin’ out tonight!” but then I snap back to reality and think about what that money needs to be put towards. The smallest part of it going towards fun. It’s been tricky to really start learning the ins and outs of finances. So, I do what I usually do in any type of learning process? I ask for advice. I used to be fixated on asking those more advanced in age than I what they wish they knew when they were my age. Now that I’m determined to learn about finances, that question has been altered.

I reached out to a few professionals I know and trust and they gave me solid feedback to keep in mind about building my finances, about what they wish they had known in their 20s. However, I don’t think this only applies to those just starting out, and may be helpful for all of us.

“It’s important to simply know the value of money,” says human resource expert, Nicole Clark. “I think once you start earning your own money and are responsible for your housing, food, etc. you realize how valuable money is and how important it is to budget appropriately and make sure you’re watching your spending.”

Law firm executive director, Michael John, agrees with Clark’s sentiments. “I wish I had kept the value of saving in mind when I was younger,” explains John. “But, still remembering to balance savings while rewarding yourself and enjoying what your efforts produce.”

There are so many aspects of finance to keep in mind – saving, investing, budgeting, retirement plans, and so on and so forth.

In addition to suggesting to spend less than you make and to pay off your credit card in full each month, Kentucky-based attorney, Christopher Groeschen, explained the importance of a 401k.

“Every employee in America should be contributing everything they can into a 401k every year, up to the current $18,000 maximum per person,” suggests Groeschen.

“401ks present an opportunity for young investors to 1) learn about investing and 2) enter the market through a relatively low-risk vehicle (depending on your allocations),” he observes.

“An additional benefit is that 401ks also allow employees to earn FREE MONEY through employer matches,” he continues. “At the very least, every employee should contribute the amount necessary to earn the employer match (usually up to 4%) otherwise, you are giving up the opportunity to earn FREE MONEY. Earning FREE MONEY from your employer that is TAX FREE is much more important than having an extra Starbucks latte every day.”

Whether we like it or not, money is a core aspect of our daily lives. It should never be the most important thing, but we cannot deny that it is, in fact, an important thing. It’s tricky to learn, but investing in my future has become a priority.

This editorial was first published in May 2018.

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Opinion Editorials

Dopamine detox to rewire your brain from internet addiction (it’s common!)

(EDITORIAL) So, you’re addicted to the internet. Whether your drug of choice is scrolling, posting, or interacting – it’s time for a dopamine detox.

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Upside down photo of man holding iphone case saying "social media seriously harms your mental health" representing dopamine.

Ah, smartphones. The best friend we can carry around in our pockets. This small device that’s nearly glued to our hands gives us instant access to many worlds.

It’s exciting to see what’s up on Instagram, take up to six stabs at Wordle, and scroll recipes you’ll never make on Pinterest. It’s also a place where we can share the highlights of our life and, in return, get validation through likes.

With that validation comes a small rush of dopamine, something we’ve all become accustomed – and some of us addicted – to.

While I’m not addicted to posting, I would say I have an addiction to scrolling. I can’t make it through a 50-minute episode of “Dexter” without picking up my phone to check an app or two.

And there is that dopamine rush with it, where you feel like you’re the most up-to-date you’ve ever been. But what about when this becomes too much and we’re overloaded with information and feel bogged down by the constant updates?

First, we need to understand what dopamine is.

It’s a neurotransmitter that works in two spots in the brain: first, its production helps us begin movement and speech. Second, we feel it when we receive or expect a reward. It even creates a kind of “high” similar to what’s found in nicotine and cocaine.

So, if we expect these dopamine hits from social media and we don’t get those results, the dopamine crashes to the ground creating burnout.

Well, this can cause burnout. And, while tempting, the solution isn’t as easy as just deleting all of your social media and walking away clean. Additionally, “take a break” features are too easy to swipe away.

So what can you do?

Mana Ionescu at Lightspan Digital recommends a Dopamine Detox.

While breaking an addiction takes longer than a day, Ionescu recommends starting there and tailoring it to your needs.

Here is what she describes is necessary for a detox:

  1. Turn off all notifications on your phone. ALL of them. You will be looking at your phone every 10 minutes as it is. You won’t miss anything. We lose endless hours of productivity because of those pings.
  2. Tell people to call you if it’s urgent. And teach them the difference between urgent and important. So do keep call notifications on.
  3. Stop over-messaging. The more you message, the more you’ll get responses.
  4. Shed the pressure to respond right away to messages that don’t need a response right away.
  5. Take detox days. Nothing but calls, confirming meetings, and using the GPS is allowed on those days.
  6. Put your phone on sleep mode at night. You can, at least on iPhone, set permissions so that certain phone numbers can get through, in case you’re worried about mom.
  7. If you’re dating, remember that texting is for laughing, flirting, and confirming plans. Please pick up the phone and talk to that person to get to know them. I will not take you seriously if you just keep texting.
  8. And yes, we all know the game, whoever looks at their phone first over dinner picks up the bill.

This won’t be easy, but your brain will likely thank you in the long run. And, when you’re back online, hit up the comments and let us know how the detox went!

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Opinion Editorials

Strong leaders can use times of crises to improve their company’s future

(EDITORIAL) In the COVID-19 crisis, some leaders fumbled through it, while others quietly safeguarded their company’s future.

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strong leaders

Anthony J. Algmin is the Founder and CEO of Algmin Data Leadership, a company helping business and technology leaders transform their future with data, and author of a new book on data leadership. We asked for his insights on how strong leaders can see their teams, their companies, and their people through this global pandemic (and other crises in the future). The following are his own words:

Managers sometimes forget that the people we lead have lives outside of the office. This is true always but is amplified when a crisis occurs. We need to remember that our job is to serve their teams, to help them be as aligned and productive as possible in the short and long terms.

Crises are exactly when we need to think about what they might be going through, and realize that the partnership we have with our employees is more than a transaction. If we’ve ever asked our people to make sacrifices, like working over a weekend without extra pay, we should be thinking first about how we can support them through the tough times. When we do right by people when they really need it, they will run through walls again for our organizations when things return to normal.

Let them know it’s okay to breathe and talk about it. In a situation like COVID-19 where everything was disrupted and people are adjusting to things like working from home, it is naturally going to be difficult and frustrating.

The best advice is to encourage people to turn off the TV and stop frequently checking the news websites. As fast as news is happening, it will not make a difference in what we can control ourselves. Right now most of us know what our day will look like, and nothing that comes out in the news is going to materially change it. If we avoid the noisy inputs, we’ll be much better able to focus and get our brains to stop spinning on things we can’t control.

And this may be the only time I would advocate for more meetings. If you don’t have at least a daily standup with your team, you should. And encourage everyone to have a video-enabled setup if at all possible. We may not be able to be in the same room, but the sense of engagement with video is much greater than audio-only calls.

We also risk spiraling if we think too much about how our companies are struggling, or if our teams cannot achieve what our organizations need to be successful. It’s like the difference in sports between practice and the big game. Normal times are when leaders game plan, strategize, and work on our fundamentals. Crises are the time to focus and leave it all on the field.

That said, do not fail to observe and note what works well and where you struggle. If you had problems with data quality or inefficient processes before the crisis, you are not fixing them now. Pull out the duct tape and find a way through it. But later, when the crisis subsides, learn from the experience and get better for next time.

Find a hobby. Anything you can do to clear your head and separate work from the other considerations in your life. We may feel like the weight of the world is on our shoulders, and without a pressure release we will not be able to sustain this level of stress and remain as productive as our teams, businesses, and families need us.

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