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Referral – Let the Interview Begin – Thursday WTF

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Every Agent Should Read This and Be Prepared

Just before new years, I received a referral from R.com – wow.  It came in the form of an email from a husband and wife who stated they had a builder selected, a location narrowed down, and a floorplan they loved- neat!  They requested that they be in contract no later than December 31, 2007 – fantastic.  They requested that I call them and schedule a meet to discuss negotiating and writing the contracts- groovy.

Based on the area (and more specifically the builder they had chosen), I opted to send the best man for the job- George.  George has a specialty in dealing with this builder and even further, he plays golf with the regional sales manager.  Even more, George plays poker with the lead sales agent of the community in which the buyers had selected.  Taking his credentials one step further, George has sold numerous build-to-suits, resale, and inventory homes in this same community, and had they asked, George has a degree in International Business as well as in Communications, is fluent in several languages, and has been in business 10 years.  It’s a slam dunk on qualifications- George obviously has an edge that these buyers will sincerely enjoy all the way to the bank.

George called and arranged a meeting to “set up the offer” and write the contracts with the buyers, made an initial contact with the builder, got a list of available inventory, prices, and did a CMA of the area to give the buyers some additional edge in options with the builder.  George arrived at said location, met the buyers, and sat down to empty the contents of the folder on the table to present the buyers with some outstanding options.

Before George could get a word out, the buyers said, “we’re not here to hire you today.”  Perplexed, George asked, “then how can I help you?”  The buyers basically told George that he was there to be interviewed along with five other agents.  George casually filed the folder back into his bag and listened- never once being asked about his qualifications.

As the buyers talked incessantly through the meeting, leaving very little room for George to talk, he learned very quickly that this meeting was about commission, and not about any of George’s qualifications, nor about what George could do for them on pricing, nor was it about his established relationships with the folks at the builder’s office that might lead them to a hotter buy.  The buyers flat out lied about their intentions in meeting George, and they honestly did not care that they had offended a rather well connected, well seasoned professional- honestly, being the professional he is, they probably never even caught on that they had offended him. 

All I can think is that it is a sad sad day when buyers have been led to believe that the only thing they’re paying an agent to do is “write a contract.”  I sincerely doubt that this is going to improve any time soon as long as the techies have anything to say about it. 

Needless to say, the buyers still have not contracted, nor have they hired George, and even if they decided they wanted to, George would not hire them.  The reality is, what George brings to the table is George’s to sell or not, and George has every reason in the world to move down the road away from buyers who are liars

So, here is a tip for anyone who wants to use this method of interviewing over commissions- don’t.  That should be the very last reason to interview an agent.  Qualifications run more deeply than the commission- the commission is what the qualifications are worth- a conversation George was most willing to have.   

I wish these two buyers much success in their endeavors and pray they find an agent worthy of their approach.  I hope from my heart that they save a couple thousand in commissions, and can negotiate blindly a sales price they can live with.  We support the idea of interviews of agents and their qualifications, but we do not support the idea of being lied to in order to do it. 

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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11 Comments

11 Comments

  1. Kelley Koehler

    January 10, 2008 at 3:16 pm

    I’ve had a similar experience, although I managed to sniff out his true intentions after a couple of email exchanges, and before we actually met in person.

    He found a site that will give a 1% rebate of the buying side commission, which would be about a third of the total commission from the builder he liked. But – he wanted someone with local knowledge to drive him around and teach him about the other builders, make sure he was making a good choice. And for the privilege of helping him, all he wanted from me was half of my commission.

    He didn’t want to go with the anonymous website rebater, no, he wanted to deal with a human agent, have all of my knowledge and experience, and expected me to give up more of my hard earned money than even a website referrer was willing to give after putting in absolutely no work.

  2. Benn Rosales

    January 10, 2008 at 3:46 pm

    So why not call the website company and have them show the house…

  3. Corey K

    January 10, 2008 at 4:48 pm

    While I can agree being lied to about the meetings intentions is not cool. One thing I have learned in my many years of sales experience is, “Buyers are Liars”. This will always be the case.

  4. Charleston real estate blog

    January 10, 2008 at 4:56 pm

    Benn, I’ll take a page from Jeff Brown and write a short essay with a slightly different twist on buyers in today’s market:

    I received this email from someone who had been registered on my website. As you’ll see, they didn’t choose to use me but went the do it yourself route instead.

    “My husband and I have signed an agreement on a new construction home in the Charleston area and agreed to go with their lender and closing attorney. Now we feel we may have jumped in too quick, as this is our first home buying experience. We are realizing that their lenders may not always act in our best interest and would like to have someone with experience on our side. Does this sound like something you could help us out with? We initially signed up with an internet company where we found the listing for the development but again not sure if they are really in it for us. Thanks.”

    The only help I could provide them at that point in time was to suggest they seek the advice of a good real estate attorney. But it illustrates the do it yourself, know nothing at all kind of mistake that many buyers have made and will continue to make trading by competency for a rebate.

    Until the consumer public understands the real value a real estate agent can bring to the transaction, many will choose to skip the service or attempt to reduce the cost of the service and in this case sadly, at a much higher price. Our real job is to communicate the value that we offer to the client; failing to do that will cause many agents to be cut out of the deal or be forced to reduce their fees.

  5. Benn Rosales

    January 10, 2008 at 4:59 pm

    great example…

  6. Benn Rosales

    January 10, 2008 at 5:23 pm

    Corey, sure, thats always been true, even myself as a buyer will lie about income if it means I get less on a sales price. I’ve never been honest about what I’ll pay on something, but this is just a new low and very unnecessary…

  7. Kelley Koehler

    January 10, 2008 at 5:27 pm

    See, I was hoping this wouldn’t go there. I hate that phrase. Most of the people I work with are not telling me lies. It’s rare for me to come across someone who is lying to me to try and maniuplate something. I know they exist, and I’ve run across my share. But the majority of my buyers have honest intentions.

  8. Charleston real estate blog

    January 10, 2008 at 5:31 pm

    Kelley, I agree with you, to call all buyers liars is unfair to the very nice people we have all been fortunate enough to work with.

  9. ines

    January 10, 2008 at 10:06 pm

    I just shook my head back and forth while I read this. It’s a sad day when buyers feel like they have to manipulate a situation to get what they want.

    They will ultimately end up working with someone that will manipulate them into overpaying, and overlooking important factors.

  10. Benn Rosales

    January 11, 2008 at 12:58 am

    Kelley, I cringed when I saw that comment, I’m just making the point that regardless of the phrase, it’s still a new low.

    To your point, when you are an actual client, there isn’t a REASON to lie- it would make representation moot. It is those who do not want to be sold or closed by someone selling them somthing that tend to lie, as I said, I am guilty of that phrase, that doesn’t make me a liar by nature- I’m actually being defensive.

  11. Kelley Koehler

    January 11, 2008 at 9:58 am

    Benn – yah, I understand that wasn’t your point, and I agree with you. Also about fibbing when defensive. It’s not Buyers are Liars, it’s Buyers are Liars because their agent has failed to ____________. I hear that phrased tossed around about current clients, and it infurates me to no end. 9 times of 10, it’s not them, it’s you, dummy.

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Opinion Editorials

The secret to self improvement isn’t always about improvements

(EDITORIAL) Self improvement and happiness go hand in hand, but are you getting lost in the mechanics of self improvement?

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Think back to your New Year’s resolutions. Now that it’s summer, how many of them are you still keeping? Think about which ones stuck and what went by the wayside.

If you’re like most of us, you had big plans to make yourself better but didn’t stay the course. I’ve only managed to keep one of my resolutions, but it isn’t always easy.

I want to take a look at why we can’t keep our goals. I think we’re always on a journey of self-improvement. It’s easy to get obsessed with reading self-help books or trying to learn new things. We want to be better. This spring, I went through a Lent study with a group of people. Lent is a time of growth and self-reflection, just six weeks. And yet many of us are struggling to keep up with the daily reading or maintaining a fast of something we willingly chose to give up.

Why do we fail?

I think we fail because of three things.

You might think I’m going to say something like we fail because we don’t have willpower, but I think that is the farthest thing from the truth. I’m no therapist, but I’ve read the literature on alcohol and drug rehab. It’s not willpower that keeps a person sober. It’s community. One reason I think we fail at our goals is that we don’t have a cheerleading team. I believe that we need people on our side when we’re trying to improve.

Secondly, I think we fail because we want immediate results. We have this mentality that things should happen quickly. I’ve written about this before. It’s like you workout once and want that swimsuit body. We get frustrated when we don’t see results right away. So, we move on to the next pursuit.

Do your goals lead to happiness?

Failure can also be because self-improvement goals don’t always lead to being better person. We do a lot of things because “we should.” Your doctor might think you need to lose weight. Maybe your boss wants you to be a better speaker. Meditation should make you a better person. Maybe you ran a marathon, and now you think you need to run an ultramarathon because that’s what your best friend did.

What makes you happy isn’t always what you should be doing.

Your doctor might be right, but if you’re choosing to lose weight because you want to make your doctor happy, you’re probably not going to stick with a program. If you’re trying to learn Spanish to make your boss happy, again, you’re probably not going to enjoy it enough to really learn. If you’re chasing after goals just to say you’ve done it, what value do your achievements bring to your life?

If you’re obsessed because you “should” do something, you’re going to get burned out and fail. Whether it’s New Year’s resolutions, a self-improvement project or giving up meat for Lent, you need solid reasons for change. And if you give something a try that isn’t for you, don’t soldier on. You don’t need to spend years taking yoga classes if you don’t enjoy it.

When something becomes a burden rather than bringing benefits, maybe it’s time to take a look at why you’re doing it.

When you don’t know why you’re knocking yourself out to be better, maybe you need to figure out a reason. And if you feel as if what you’re doing isn’t enough, stop and figure out what will satisfy you.

I’ve been doing a lot of meal prepping on the weekends. Sometimes, I want to quit. But it pays off because I have less to do throughout the week. It might seem like a burden, but the benefits outweigh the burdens. I’ve been able to eat much healthier and use more vegetables in my meals, which is the one goal I’ve been able to keep. I have some good friends that help me stay on track, too. I choose to eat more vegetables for my health. I think it’s a combination of all these things that is helping me meet my goal this year.

Don’t give up on making yourself a better person. Just don’t become obsessed over the program. Look at the outcome. Are you pursing happiness on a treadmill or are you really working to find happiness?

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Opinion Editorials

What I wish I knew about finances in my 20s

(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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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

How strong leaders use times of crises to improve their company’s future

(EDITORIAL) We’re months into the COVID-19 crisis, and some leaders are still fumbling through it, while others are quietly safeguarding their company’s future.

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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 a strong leader can see their teams, their companies, 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 like COVID-19 occurs. We need to remember that our job is to serve our 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 is disrupted and people are now 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 we game plan, we 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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