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Opinion Editorials

Stop the tricks and get real!



Con Artist Realtor

Before I start this, I want to tell you that I am not, in any which way or form, criticizing my broker. But I wanted to share an e-mail that I received today that left me in shock. Am I over reacting? <sigh>

“Despite weakness in the housing market, Realtors continue to close transactions. Real estate professionals have several strategies to weather the downturn, but most recognize a need to return to the basics of selling property. They look their best all the time, maintain a positive outlook about their local markets and place phone calls to secure new business. They talk about their jobs with anyone. An agent with so and so brokerage (I removed the name because that’s really not important), for instance,puts his name-tag on slightly crooked and discusses real estate with whatever person lets him know to straighten it. Additionally, he added his picture to his business card, takes training courses and ensures that his contact database is updated. Most importantly, practitioners understand that building a client relationship based on trust is crucial and requires them to tell the truth about a particular home or market.”

The bottom line is that If you have to resort to “tricks” to get people to engage you, get out of the business! RUN!! What kind of “client relationship” are you establishing if you have to con people into straightening your name-tag? I’m still absolutely appalled – oh! and do people still wear name-tags?

I’m hoping this article came from a long time ago, before the whole topic of “transparency”, of establishing honest dialogue, of opening ourselves to potential customers. I am truly embarrassed for this guy – go ahead and HIT ME if you don’t agree.

Ines is all Miami, all the time. A Miami Beach Realtor® with Majestic properties, Ines authors,, and and is always on communication's leading edge. She goes out of her way to engage and be engaged, often using Mojitos to keep the mood light and give everything she does a Miami flavor. You can find her goofing off or instigating trouble at Twitter, Flickr, Facebook or LinkedIn.

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  1. Mariana

    January 28, 2008 at 10:30 pm

    Ines – I know. Gimmicks are SO a thing of the past and maybe the market thinning will remove the gimmick-sters from the reatlypool. Maybe.

  2. Ines

    January 28, 2008 at 10:38 pm

    to think that my broker sent me that as an example is pretty disturbing though

  3. Jay Thompson

    January 28, 2008 at 10:47 pm

    Oh for the love of God.

  4. Jonathan Dalton

    January 28, 2008 at 11:28 pm

    At last year’s Century 21 convention, much was made of the return of the gold jacket. As proof of the jacket’s power, some VP or another went to a local Home Depot and soon found himself engaged in multiple conversations about real estate.

    I guess the camera crew following him had nothing whatsoever to do with the results of his experiment.

  5. Ines

    January 28, 2008 at 11:37 pm

    Jay – LOL!! I am so glad I’m not alone here! Geesh!

    Jonathan – the gold jacket? you have to be kidding me! Reminds me of

  6. Larry Yatkowsky

    January 29, 2008 at 12:15 am

    Dear Ines,

    You mean to say that standing em barr assed wearing a sandwich board when Rosales drove by wasn’t a good thing – a cheap trick you say? Crapski! For a moment I thought, the ROI was working because he almost dropped his cup. It was sadly, brief glory. With mocha stains on his shirt he recovered, and just kept driving. Found out later he needed to build a new blog. No client here!

    What an ameteur I am in thinking I was being open to potential clients. I don’t want you losing sleep over this Ines but, I assure you there was no question about me being transparent.

    Some will suggest that I am ‘slow’ but, I can take a hint – lesson learned. The board was probably not a good thing. Being naked at my stage in life was probably OTT (over-the-top). But Ines you got me thinking again. Rare event to be sure, but as a creature who just doesn’t know how to lie down I’m on to my next more subtle, cheap trick.
    The board is gone! I’m going to shine my shoes, trim my eyebrows, have a shave, straighten my tie, put on a big smile, say Hello, shake hands and ask somebody if they are thinking of buying or selling a home. What-dah-yah-think? This one’s a winner – right? Wait a minute! Am I over reacting again? .>)

  7. Jeff Brown

    January 29, 2008 at 12:20 am

    Allow me one thought if you will please.

    If an agent in San Diego had one person a week tell him to straighten his name tag, and he closed one deal a quarter because of those contacts, he’d have made, using median price, about $60,000 dollars because of that horribly tacky method of meeting people.

    I’m not advocating the method. I’m not making any real judgment here. I am wondering though, how many agents will even come close to making $60,000 this year?

    If it ain’t illegal, sinful, or fattening, agents might want to be reconsidering turning their noses up at anything these days. Of course, being the smart ass I am, I realize the $5,000 a month extra is really just tip money.

    One of my mentors made a deal a quarter back in the ’70’s by walking up to complete strangers and challenging them to guess what he did for a living. I saw him do it several times.

    A deal a quarter back then was a good thing. Not like today though, eh?

  8. Benjamin Bach

    January 29, 2008 at 4:42 am

    A) Name tags are a great thing to wear – they incourage approachability. Start reading Scott Ginsberg’s blog if you don’t already –

    B) Tricks aren’t good – but finding a reason people will stop you on the street is good. Now, I don’t do this – but I don’t think it’s slimey or anything

    C) Your broker mentions strategies, not tricks – in addition to the crooked name tag thing, there is ” takes training courses” – an important thing to do in ANY market. Winners are busy doing within, when they’re doing without (D Waitley)

    From what I’ve heard from South of the border, many real estate agents need strategies to help them build more relationships.

    If a crooked name tag lets you meet more people with whom you can provide great service, AND feed your family at the same time, thats a win-win to me

  9. Benjamin Bach

    January 29, 2008 at 4:44 am

    And your broker ends the email with a important reminder about the role of a fiduciary, and that relationships are KING. Sounds about right to me

  10. Teresa Boardman

    January 29, 2008 at 7:19 am

    Tricks . . so true, we need to “capture” leads, sneak up on people and get them to use our services, spam them cold call them and send junk mail. Yup this is an 80’s business trying to struggle through the 2000’s and not doing so well with our 80’s business models.

  11. Ines

    January 29, 2008 at 8:40 am

    I’m glad to see differing opinions, that’s the beauty of blogging.

    Larry – I don’t know what to say, you leave me in awe because I don’t know if you are using symbolism or not – what in the world is a sandwich board?

    – not only one, but many – I like your thoughts. I think the problem with a lot of real estate professionals is that they talk about their business as “deals”. I know in a business sense, to separate people from the transaction is a good thing but the fact is that we are in a “people business”, we deal with their emotions and sometimes with the most difficult decision and biggest investment of their lifetime. We owe them straight forward relationships with no tactics. But that of course is MHO.

    Benjamin – I will check out the blog you mention. In my market, the ones that wear the name tags are the same agents that learn scripts and make the process very mechanical and fake but I’m sure there are exceptions.

    My broker mentions strategies and as you point out even a great thing, “practitioners understand that building a client relationship based on trust is crucial and requires them to tell the truth about a particular home or market” – my question is that the “tag straightening” is a trick and contradicts the theory. I do think that those of us who don’t resort to tricks, even South of the border, are the ones that are standing out and making a better living.

    Teresa – that’s exactly what this is, an 80’s business model!

  12. Jeff Brown

    January 29, 2008 at 11:00 am

    Teresa — I only spell business model right about half the time, so if the approach is ’80’s, I’ll accept it as fact.

    Since an agent is out and among the public often, this name tag thing is plausible.

    If the San Diego agent promises to use a state of the art biz model at all other times, should they feel badly about the extra $60,000 in their bank account, or is that ill-gotten booty? 🙂

    These discussions almost always confuse dinosaurs like me. Someone skins the cat, but they don’t get it done the right way, so some say the cat ain’t skinned. Look on the wall people, it’s a cat skin. 🙂

  13. Benn Rosales

    January 29, 2008 at 12:00 pm

    It’s called an ice breaker, and although simple, it doesn’t make it a sneak attack- that’s as Jeff said, your opinion- which I respect all of yours. But I am sure that anything related to conversation starter could be criticized, but again, as Jeff put it, what are the results?

  14. Benjamin Bach

    January 29, 2008 at 12:19 pm

    Ines, I believe scripts are a part of EVERY realtors business, regardless of whether you think you use them or not. Using scripts doesn’t mean that you’re brushing aside client concers or using words to ‘overcome’ objections, it just means that you’re a professional who does things the best way every time, and is well prepared.

    I do not equate scripts = cheesy salesperson, but I used to, until I had it explained better to me. Everyone uses a script – you either have one you prepared and practiced before, to ensure you communicate the proper information everytime you speak to someone – or you have a script & presentation that no one (including you) knows in advance, and may or may not cover what you need to cover.

  15. Jeff Brown

    January 29, 2008 at 12:28 pm

    Solid point Ben. If I’d been as quick as you when I was your age…

    The biz model producing results is what the agent wants.

    Josh and I probably use a ’70’s model these days, I’m not sure. It seems to work ok though.

    If I had the tech know-how that Benn’s forgotten, Lord knows how much better we’d do. 🙂 He consistently amazes me how easily he sees opportunities for hi-tech application — then almost effortlessly executes them. It’s guys like him that show dinosaurs like me what we’re missing.


  16. Ines

    January 29, 2008 at 12:37 pm

    Jeff – I guess it has to do with how people interpret “intent” – and some may think it’s a tactic and others may refer to it as an “ice breaker” as Benn mentions above.

    We are all here to make money, but the perception of our industry is not a pretty one and I personally hate when someone approaches me with fear thinking I have a secret agenda and never their best interests at hand but the mighty dollar.

    Benn – ice breakers!! that’s what you call it! Maybe it’s just me, but I have to problem talking to people. I know plenty of agents that cannot be invited to a party because they have to “work the room”.

    Benjamin – premeditated scripts can be portrayed in a good and bad way. We know a local broker that has been trying to recruit us for years. We know him personally and he feels comfortable around us. He called us the other day and “scripted” me (I made that one up) – and I said to him, “Are you using a scrlpt to talk to me?” – he totally turned me off and felt like I was a ginny pig of sorts.
    If you use them, make sure you use them well and you have good intents that will not be misinterpreted by the client.

  17. Benjamin Bach

    January 29, 2008 at 12:41 pm

    Ines, I agree with you 100%

    I think the intention behind the script, or the ‘sales technique’ is what makes the difference. If you are coming from a position of contribution, instead of a ‘commission breath’ position of taking/getting, you will be acting in the best interests of your clients (a Fiduciary) vs in the salesperson’s own best interests(not good)

  18. Benn Rosales

    January 29, 2008 at 12:47 pm

    Ines, you’re right girl, I work every room I’m in, but not everyone can do it as well as I can, I tend to leave people asking “did I just buy a house? I think I did and I like it!” All while I’ve merely said hello. In saying that, I’d take a hard look at your own marketing and how much do you do to grab attention- to sell w/o selling- your images, copy, titles, widgets are all “ice breakers” attention getters, conversation starters and the like.

    You’re simply being reminded by your broker that it is the little things that can bring huge results- whether you like it or not, you’re a salesperson, and what we do is selling and if you aren’t closing, you’re closed.

  19. Benjamin Bach

    January 29, 2008 at 12:49 pm

    BINGO Benn

  20. Ines

    January 29, 2008 at 1:00 pm

    Benn – I admire people that can work the room like that and do feel a little jealous. Sometimes I just don’t wan to work! My approach, which I guess could be the “attention getter” is not having an approach. Rick and I are so laid back and so not the pressure type and I guess that’s what our clients like.

    Dont’ get me wrong, we do need a business strategy and a marketing plan and yes those things could be looked at as “attention getters” but again it is about intent and how comfortable the client feels about that.

  21. Jeff Brown

    January 29, 2008 at 1:03 pm

    My last comment should have been better at IDing the target, which was Benn not Ben.

    I try not to spend much time imagining what the possibilities might have been if I’d been as knowledgeable as he is when I was his age. Wow. I’m not complaining mind you, but it would have been cool to plow my fields with a tractor instead of Ol’ Bessie. 🙂

  22. Ines

    January 29, 2008 at 1:04 pm

    I tell you what – I’m goin nuts with Benn, Ben and Benjamin! 🙂

  23. Benjamin Bach

    January 29, 2008 at 1:08 pm

    Imagine how Lani feels !

  24. Benjamin Bach

    January 29, 2008 at 1:09 pm

    Geez… and all this time I thought you were talking about me Jeff

  25. Benn Rosales

    January 29, 2008 at 1:17 pm

    Ines, with all do respect, you have a strategy much like that of the black widow spider- I’ll let the consumer come to me, so what. I use various approaches with various types of folks, I can adjust my flavor in a millisecond depending whom I’m engaging. My entire business model is designed around your innocent approach, the fact is, we still have a motive- to sell homes. If your goal was to simply give free no pressure advice, you’d be out of business because the guy down the road would simply come in and close them. Even you, the shy type will eventually move for the close, you push to closing, you push in other ways, but none the less there is still motive- to sell.

    The difference between what we’re discussing and the nametag issue is simply this- it’s different. Let me make that clear, the goal of both a 1.0 and a 2.0 strategy is to sell a product.

    And you’re no black widow, I just have a flare for the dramatic.

  26. Ines

    January 29, 2008 at 1:33 pm

    Ok Benn – put ’em up! (did you know I kick box?) 🙂

    I don’t push your strategy or anyone else’s – heck, imagine how boring it would be if we were all the same? I also stated that we are in the business to make money. The problem, I find, is when people have to resort to tricking the consumer to make money. When the agent becomes more concerned about their business plan than the client’s best interest.

    I do know you and me play by the same rules, I would not be writing here if it were different Now about the shy part…..not a bone of shy in my body!

  27. Jonathan Dalton

    January 29, 2008 at 1:41 pm

    A brief aside … yesterday I set up a blog for a colleague of mine (who happened to help me get my hands on a Wii at Christmatime.) After I was done adding various widgets I told him, “Now you have the hard part. You’ve actually got to write.”

    Will it work for him? I hope so. But we’ll see. That approach isn’t for everyone.

    What bothers me isn’t the agent who puts their name tag on crooked and gets extra business that way. More power too them. Some agents get business from schvitzing on their potential clients’ doorstep as they knock on doors. I don’t answer my door unless I know someone’s coming over and I’d be damn irate if someone I didn’t know asked if I was thinking of selling. Move along, bud.

    But that’s just me.

    What bothers me is that the “back-to-basics” crowd tends to want to marginalize what the 2.0 crowd is doing. Both approaches are absolutely valid. And maybe it makes no sense to make fun of name tag guy because he’s so low tech. But maybe I’m tired of trying to defend a web-based model in the face of cold calling and other ancient methodology.

    No one’s ever gotten a $10,000 fine for having a website. Well, unless you’re in Miami.

  28. Benn Rosales

    January 29, 2008 at 1:42 pm

    lol I really want to quote Lani on this, but I won’t, but it had to do with a bone.

    Seriously though, I’ve decided moons ago that it is very easy to confuse the goal with the approach, our goals are the same- I doubt very highly that mr cooked nametag believes he isn’t the best agent for the job when he speaks with a client. How he achieves his end result isn’t your bag, but I am sure many could look at your bag or anyone elses and call it old fashion, malicious, weak, or black widow. There isn’t anything wrong with selling, but there is truth in that the salesman really makes the difference, how good are they at what and how they do it.

  29. ines

    January 29, 2008 at 2:23 pm

    Jonathan – $25 million…’s a bit of a stretch, no? (TG I removed the guy’s name from the quote)

    Benn – the goal and the approach are easy to distort – now you better call lani and have her tell me about the bone thing.

  30. Ines

    February 6, 2008 at 12:57 pm


    I talked about this issue of the “crooked nametag” with an older and very seasoned agent I know and she told me that not only does she put the nametag crooked, but upside down. When people approach her to tell her – she simply responds, “Oh, I do that so you come up and talk to me” – that’s what I call being upfront!

  31. Lani Anglin

    February 6, 2008 at 1:47 pm

    Ines I think that’s an awesome way to do it- it’s not a trick, it’s a treat! 🙂 It’s then up to the person noticing the tag to engage or shy away.

  32. Benn Rosales

    February 6, 2008 at 2:10 pm

    Its a trick and a treat- its an icebreaker… I think I’ll wear my shirt jacket inside-out today…

  33. Ines

    February 6, 2008 at 5:07 pm

    Lani – please make sure you take a picture of Benn with his jacket inside-out! You guys crack me up! :>

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