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Opinion Editorials

You Are Terrific!



Real Estate Smiles

Who doesn’t complain about the real estate industry and all the crap we have to deal with on a daily basis?  But today is not one of those days, today is a day to look around and realize that there are professionals out there that make our business a good one.  People that go out of their way to do their job right and to be pleasant.We are dealing with 3 Realtors right now with 3 different transactions that are a real pleasure to work with.  We have never worked with them before because our markets have never crossed, but you better believe we will refer business their way!

You know those transactions where the cooperating agent is unaccommodating and makes things so difficult you want to pull your hair out! From making it impossible to schedule inspections and appraisals, not providing documentation, not returning phone calls, never meeting deadlines…….the list is endless.    Not this time – 3 different agents on top of their business, ready like we are and always thankful that we have the same business ethic.

One particular guy tells me, “Ines, you are Terrific!”,  every time I speak to him – talk about making my day!

So my question is this – Do you think The Real Estate Industry is better now? Do you think that the down market has eliminated the lazy real estate agent that wanted easy money?  Has there really been a clean-out process in our industry where the weaker real estate agent has had to leave the industry?

Of course there are plenty of apathetic ones left, but  I’m encountering great people around me and it feels great!

(and on a side note: don’t forget to compliment people that do their job well)

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. Ines

    March 11, 2008 at 9:10 pm

    ooops! can I say CRAP?

  2. Mariana

    March 11, 2008 at 9:25 pm

    I am noticing that people are nicer. No longer are real estate agent EGOS getting in the middle of a transaction. I like the “thinning of hte herd” and I am also having great experiences.

  3. Kristal Kraft

    March 11, 2008 at 9:26 pm

    Ines, Actually “crap” is a word that has a copyright on it by Carnac of Connecticut. Seeing how you are using it, I think she might allow it.

    You are so right about complimenting folks when they are a pleasure to deal with. It certainly makes for a smoother transaction when you have cooperation.

    I’ve had both. I can tell you when an agent give me a parcel of aggravation, I go out of my way to not cross their path again. Considering what a small world we live in, that could be bad for business…their business that is.

    Should I care?

  4. Ines

    March 11, 2008 at 9:40 pm

    Mariana – maybe there will be a day in the future where all will smell like roses and we will all get along……with no regrets and great smiles and of course, a mojito in hand! 🙂

    Kristal – Of course that’s a Carnac word!! What was I thinking?
    I also go out of my way to avoid the aggravating agent, sad but true, and to think there are still many of them.

  5. Larry Yatkowsky

    March 11, 2008 at 10:49 pm

    Ines “Did I heard C word!”

    up here we still have many with a dangerous comprehension of English. I spend more time helping them correct their agreements only because I don’t want to be sued. It’s painful but yah gotta do what yah gotta do.
    Strange part is the Seller’s never figure out the extra effort that you put out to make the deal work for them. A ‘thanks’ or an ‘attaboy’ would be nice. The commish isn’t everything. Like any good dog I like to get a warm fuzzy too.

  6. Toby Boyce

    March 11, 2008 at 10:54 pm

    Now, I wasn’t in the business during the “good times” so I don’t know how things used to be. But in 18 months, here is what I’ve figured out. Giving some nice compliments early, getting a “nice repoire’ with all the people involved make for a much nicer deal.

    My problem is with agents that will still think of affiliates as second-class citizens. We are all people, stop being jerks.

  7. Sarah Cooper

    March 12, 2008 at 4:00 am

    Ines, have I told you lately that you make my day? 🙂

  8. Blue Ridge Georgia Land For Sale

    March 12, 2008 at 5:24 am

    I saw a blog one day that all the realtors in a town got together and decided to get these foreclosed homes sold they all came together as one and went to tour the homes together and made notes and they all got busy trying to get them off the market. They all said they came from this experience not feeling that they were the competition and enjoy the process to get it done. Sometime good things come from bad. They also got to know each other capabilities and style and will work together in future better.

  9. Mack in Atlanta

    March 12, 2008 at 5:55 am

    You are talking about the lost art form of negotiating. We have all had the experience of being in a transaction with an agent that thought they needed to be adversarial. Guess what, you really don’t need to be. Protect your client but don’t be a jerk in doing it.

    I heard a story recently about an agent that was negotiating an inspection and the buyer was asking for the gutters on the home to be cleaned. The seller was opposed to it. Once the selling agent explained that the buyers son had fallen off a roof while cleaning gutters the seller could see things from the buyers eyes and was OK with getting the gutters cleaned. This may be over simplified but having pleasant conversation with the coop agent can help in getting your view seen.

  10. toby & sadie

    March 12, 2008 at 6:40 am

    life is so much better when you smile and leave the ego at home. I love allowing the ego agent to giive me what I want – thinking they ‘won’.

  11. Greg Cremia

    March 12, 2008 at 7:46 am

    I wish the market was cleaning up the agent pool but it isn’t around here. We just did a deal with a part time egomaniac that had to arrange all the inspections so she could be there for her seller. She didn’t show up for anything and complicated everything to the point where the appraiser had to make 4 trips to the house to get in. It cost her sellers $20,000 in a low appraisal. It does pay to be nice.

  12. Toronto realtor

    March 12, 2008 at 8:17 am

    Ines you are very negative about real estate agents and the whole industry. I’ve been working in this business for more than 6 years and I can tell you that competition between agents is very tough nowadays. I can’t even take a week off because of the rush in our office. It could easily happen that one of my colleges will take my position as soon as such a possibility appears. Now I am working hard on adding different kinds of applications which could offer better comfort and clear information to all people who are somehow involved in the business.(calculators etc.) You can check what I’ve done if you visit my real estate Toronto webpage.

  13. Ines

    March 12, 2008 at 9:06 am

    Good feedback everyone – thanks!

    Larry – we have the language issue here as well with Spanish-speaking agents, but our board has now come up with contracts in Spanish, not bad huh? We translate for our customers that don’t speak English, I’m still waiting for that transaction where the contract is supplied in Spanish and the seller objects.

    OH……and everyone likes a good scratch behind the ears!

    Toby – I’m with you – there is no room for Jerks

    Hi Sarah! as a matter of fact you have and thank you!! 🙂

    Mack – it’s funny what a little communication can accomplish isn’t it?

    Toby – I have a huge ego when it comes to certain things (my kids for example) – but those of us that have the ego, need to learn where to check it in because we end up causing more damage than good.
    Now, learning to play with other’s ego… THAT’s a game! 😉

    Greg – OUCH!! – you may not think it’s cleaning, but it is….just wait a couple more months.

  14. Ines

    March 12, 2008 at 10:28 am

    Toronto Realtor – did you read the post?? Or are you just plain spamming Agent Genius?

  15. Toronto Realtor

    March 12, 2008 at 11:22 am

    Hello Ines,

    I’m sorry. You came down so hard on agents in the first part of your post that I didn’t realise you came not to bury Caeser but to praise him.

    I’m glad you’ve found some realtors you like. That’s what we try to be too!

  16. Suzy

    March 12, 2008 at 3:41 pm

    I have definitely noticed that people are leaving their egos at the door in favor of actually making money, which is really refreshing.

  17. Ines

    March 12, 2008 at 5:35 pm

    Toronto Realtor – I’m glad you came back to actually read – I’m on your side remember, I’m a Realtor myself.

    Suzy – and let’s hope it continues! We should have an official “ego check-in area” at every listing.

  18. Ponte Vedra Beach Real Estate

    March 15, 2008 at 10:18 am

    It is so funny that the agent on the other side can make the transaction seem easy or hard. They should teach how to negotiate while maintaining common professional courtesy in real estate school.

    I have had closings where everybody was laughing from the moment they walked in and other closings where the buyers & sellers wouldn’t even be in the same room. Most of this had to do with how the other agent treated and explained the sales process to their clients.

    If you create an us vs. them mentality then it will be a rocky purchase. But if you can explain to your cient that they can still get what they want but we just need to phrase it and explain it in terms the other party will understand then it will go a long way towards making the transaction a smoother, more relaxed process.

  19. Ines

    March 18, 2008 at 8:37 pm

    Ponte Vedra – sorry I missed your comment. I think you have something there – to think that it is as easy as setting the tone for the transaction from the beginning, we would make more of an effort to make those first negotiating tweaks a little smoother.

    the “us vs. them” mentality can ruin it from the get go.

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Opinion Editorials

Popular opinion: Unemployment in a pandemic sucks [EDITORIAL]

(OPINION / EDITORIAL) I got laid off during the pandemic, and I think I can speak for all of us to say that unemployment – especially now – really, really sucks.



Stressed man thinking over laptop about unemployment.

Despite not being in an office for what feels like an eternity, losing my job stung. Holding onto work during The Worst Timeline was rough, considering Rome was burning all around. My job was the boat of sanity I could sit in while the waves of bullshit crashed all around. Pre-pandemic, I had just separated from my wife, so my emotional health wasn’t in tip-top shape. But then millions of people go and get sick, the economy took a nosedive, and well, the world changed. When everything around you sucks, and people are on the news crying about unemployment and potential homelessness, you’re thankful as hell that you’re not with them – until you are.

I was writing for a startup, one that came with a litany of headaches thanks to fluctuating budgets and constant directional pivots, but it was steady work. When the Coronavirus hit, it was a scenario of “we’re going to get through this,” but as we switched gears again and again, I started to get an unsettling feeling: I’ve seen this story before. When you live in Austin and are in the creative field, you’ve worked with startups. And there are always trappings on when something lingers in the air – hierarchy shuffles, people aren’t as optimistic, and senior folks start quietly bailing out. Those are the obvious moves that make your unemployment-related Spidey sense tingle, but with COVID, everything is remote. There aren’t the office vibes, the shortened conversations that make you, “I know what’s happening here.” Instead, you’re checking Slack or email and surviving like everyone else.

We were happy to be working, to see the direct deposit hit every two weeks and sigh, knowing you were still in the fight, that you might see this thing through.

We saw our entire business change overnight. Leadership rose to meet the challenges of an old model rooted in hospitality, restaurants, and events, which died with a viral disease shotgun blast. Because the infrastructure was there, we managed to help out workers, and grocery stores work together to keep people fed across the nation. It was legitimately a point of pride. Like all things, though, the market settled. We bought time.

In July, I had a full-blown depressive episode. The weight of the divorce, the lack of human interaction, my work having less value, my career stalled felt like a Terminator robot foot on my skull. I couldn’t get out of bed, and everything I wrote were the smatterings of a broken man. And to my ex-bosses’ credit, my breakdown was NOT my best work, I could barely look at a computer, let alone forge thoughts on an entirely new industry with any authority, or even a fake it till you make it scenario.

When the CEO put time on my calendar, I knew it was a wrap. Startup CEOs don’t make house calls; they swing the ax. When you’re the lone creative in a company trying to survive a nearly company-killing event, you’re the head on the block. Creatives are expensive, and we’re expendable. Site copy, content, media placements, all that can kick rocks when developers need to keep the business moving, even if it’s at a glacial pace. When I was given my walking papers, it was an exhale, on one hand, I’d been professionally empty, but at the same time, I needed consistent money. My personal life was a minefield and I’ve got kids.

I got severance. Unemployment took forever to hit. The state of Texas authorized amount makes me cringe. Punishing Americans for losing their jobs during a crisis is appalling. Millions are without safety nets, and it’s totally ok with elected leaders.

There are deferments available. I had to get them on my credit cards, which I jacked up thanks to spending $8,500 on an amicable divorce, along with a new MacBook Pro that was the price of a used Nissan. I got a deferment on my car note, too.

I’ve applied to over 100 jobs, both remote and local. I’ve applied for jobs I’m overqualified for in hopes they’ll hire me as a freelancer. There are lots of rejection letters. I get to round two interviews. References or the round three interviews haven’t happened yet. I get told I’m too experienced or too expensive. Sometimes, recruiters won’t even show up. And then there are the Zoom meetings. Can we all agree we’re over Zoom? Sometimes, you don’t want to comb your hair.

I’ll get promised the much needed “next steps” and then a rejection email, “thanks but no thanks.” Could you at least tell me what the X-Factor for this decision was? Was there a typo? Did you check my Facebook? The ambiguity kills me. Being a broke senior creative person kills me. I interviewed President Obama and have written for Apple, but ask myself: Can I afford that falafel wrap for lunch? Do you think springing for the fries is worth that extra $3? You’ve got soup at home, you know.

I’m not unique. This is the American Experience. We’re stuck in this self-perpetuating hell. We keep looking for jobs. We want to work. There are only so many gigs to fill when there’s constant rollercoaster news on unemployment recovery. And as long as unemployment sucks, there’s going to be a lot of people bracing for impact come Christmas. Hopefully, the brass in Washington can pass a few bills and get us back to work. At least get Americans out of the breadline by pumping up what we’re surviving off of – across the board. Working people shouldn’t have to face getting sick to bring in an income, while casualties of the Corona War should be able to look at their bills and not feel like the assistant on the knife throwers wheel.

I’m about to be a line cook to make extra cash till an intrepid manager hires me. Who doesn’t want a writer working the grill who reads French existentialist essays for enjoyment? I’d rather sit on park benches and day dream, but that ain’t reality. I’ve got bills to pay in a broken America. Who wants a burger? Deep thoughts come free but an extra slice of cheese is extra.

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Opinion Editorials

7 ways to carve out me time while working from home

(OPINION / EDITORIAL) It can be easy to forget about self-care when you’re working from home, but it’s critical for your mental health, and your work quality.



Woman in hijab sitting on couch, working from home on a laptop

We are all familiar with the syndrome, getting caught up in work, chores, and taking care of others, and neglecting to take care of ourselves in the meantime. This has always been the case, but now, with more people working from home and a seemingly endless lineup of chores, thanks to the pandemic. There is simply so much to do.

The line is thinly drawn between personal and professional time already, with emails, cell phones, and devices relentlessly reaching out around the clock, pulling at us like zombie arms reaching up from the grave. Working from home makes this tendency to always be “on” worse, as living and working take place in such close proximity. We have to turn it off, though.

Our brains and bodies need down time, me-time, self-care. Carving out this time is one of the kindest and most important things you can do for yourself. If we can begin to honor ourselves like this, the outcome with not only our mental and physical health, but also our productivity at work, will be beneficial. When we make the time to do things we love, our body untenses, our mind’s gears slow down that constant grinding. Burnout behooves nobody.

Our work will also benefit. Healthier, happier, more well rested, and well treated minds and bodies can work wonders! Our immune systems also need this, and we need our immune systems to be at their peak performance this intense season.

I wanted to write this article, because I have such a struggle with this in my own life. I need to print it out and put it in my workspace. Last week, I posted something on my social media pages that so many people shared. It is clear we all need these reminders, so I am paying it forward here. The graphic was a quote from Devyn W.

“If you are reading this, release your shoulders away from your ears, unclench your jaw, and drop your tongue from the roof of your mouth.”

There now, isn’t that remarkable? It is a great first step. Let go of the tension in your body, and check out these ways to make yourself some healing me-time.

  1. Set aside strict no-work times. This could be any time of day, but set the times and adhere to them strictly. This may look like taking a full hour for lunch, not checking email after a certain hour, or committing to spending that time outdoors, reading, exercising, or enjoying the company of your loved ones. Make this a daily routine, because we need these boundaries. Every. Single. Day.
  2. Remember not to apologize to anyone for taking this me-time. Mentally and physically you need this, and everyone will be better off if you do. It is nothing to apologize for! Building these work-free hours into your daily schedule will feel more normal as time goes on. This giving of time and space to your joy, health, and even basic human needs is what should be the norm, not the other way around.
  3. Give yourself a device-free hour or two every day, especially before bedtime. The pinging, dinging, and blinging keeps us on edge. Restful sleep is one of the wonderful ways our bodies and brains heal, and putting devices away before bedtime is one of the quick tips for getting better sleep.
  4. Of course, make time for the things you absolutely love. If this is a hot bath, getting a massage, reading books, working out, cooking or eating an extravagant meal, or talking and laughing with a loved one, you have to find a way to get this serotonin boost!
  5. Use the sunshine shortcut. It isn’t a cure-all, but sunlight and Vitamin D are mood boosters. At least when it’s not 107 degrees, like in a Texas summer. But as a general rule, taking in at least a good 10-15 minutes of that sweet, sweet Vitamin D provided by the sun is good for us.
  6. Spend time with animals! Walk your dog, shake that feathery thing at your cat, or snuggle either one. Whatever animals make you smile, spend time with them. If you don’t have pets of your own, you could volunteer to walk them at a local shelter or even watch a cute animal video online. They are shown to reduce stress. Best case scenario is in person if you are able, but thankfully the internet is bursting with adorable animal videos, as a backup.
  7. Give in to a bit of planning or daydreaming about a big future trip. Spending time looking at all the places you will go in the future and even plotting out an itinerary are usually excellent mood-boosters. It’s a bit different in 2020, as most of us aren’t sure when we will be able to go, but even deciding where you want to go when we are free to travel again can put a positive spin on things.

I hope we can all improve our lives while working from home by making time for regenerating, healing, and having fun! Gotta run—the sun is out, and my dog is begging for a walk.

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Opinion Editorials

Improve UX design by tracking your users’ eye movements

(OPINION / EDITORIAL) Research shows that the fastest way to determine user behavior and predict their response is by watching their eyesight. Use this data to improve your UX design.



UX design being created by a designer on a laptop.

By design, an ice cream truck is meant to entice. It is colorful, stupidly loud with two whole songs from the 30s (usually off key because no one is left alive who can service those bells), and lots of colorful stickers that depict delicious frozen treats that look nothing like reality. If you need an off model Disney character that already looks a little melted even when frozen, look no further.

This is design in action – the use of clever techniques to drive engagement. Brightly colored decor and the Pavlovian association of hearing The Sting in chirpy little ding dings is all working together to encourage sales and interaction.

These principles work in all industries, and the tech sector has devoted entire teams, agencies, companies, groups, and departments to the study of User Experience (UX) explicitly to help create slick, usable applications and websites that are immediately understandable by users. Tools to improve utility exist by measuring user behavior, with style guides and accepted theories preached and sang and TED-talked all over.

The best way to check behavior is to observe it directly, and options to check where someone clicks has proven invaluable in determining how to improve layouts and designs. These applications are able to draw a heat map that shows intensified red color in areas where clicks congregate the most. An evolution of this concept is to watch eyesight itself, allowing developers a quicker avenue to determining where a user will most likely go. Arguably the shortest path between predicting response, this is one of the holy grails of behavioral measurement. If your eyes can be tracked, your cursor is likely to follow.

UX design can benefit greatly from this research as this article shows. Here’s some highlights:

Techwyse completed a case study that shows conversion on landing pages is improved with clear call-to-action elements. Users will focus on objects that stand out based on position, size, bright colors, or exaggerated fonts. If these design choices are placed on a static, non-interactive component, a business will lose a customer’s interest quickly, as their click is meant with no response. This quickly leads to confusion or abandonment. Finding where a person is immediately drawn to means you should capitalize on that particular piece with executable code. Want it boiled down? Grocery stores put Cheetos front and center, because everyone want them thangs.

Going along with this, Moz found that search results with attractive elements – pictures and video – are given much more attention than simple text. We are visually inclined creatures, and should never undervalue that part of our primal minds. Adding some visual flair will bring attention, which in turn can be leveraged usefully to guide users.

Here’s an interesting study – being that we are social animals, follow the gaze of others. If you’ve ever seen kittens watching a game of ping pong, they are in sync and drawn to the action. Similarly, if we notice someone look to the left, we instinctively want to look left as well. While this sounds very specific, the idea is simple – visual cues can be optimized to direct users where to focus.

The Nielsen Group says we look at things in an F pattern. I just think that’s funny, or at least a funny way to describe it. We follow from left-to-right (just like we read, and as websites are laid out using techniques first developed for newspapers, it naturally makes sense that we’d do the same). Of course, cultural or national differences arise here – right-to-left readers need the opposite. Always be sure to keep your target audience in mind.

Of course, there are several other findings and studies that can further promote idealistic layout and design, and it should always be the goal of designers to look to the future and evaluate trends. (Interestingly, eye tracking is the first option on this list!)

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