Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

The American GeniusThe American Genius

Opinion Editorials

Semantics, Spin and Selling Real Estate


Return on Investment

Recently I’ve sat with a few new Realtors who wanted feedback in what investments they should make into technology. While meeting with them, my wheels starting to turn in regards to my (and their) investment in Social Media. Part of my job is to actually get involved in new emerging technologies – and that part of my job I love, so I spend a bit more time on it, than I would encourage my agents to. Of late, I’ve been taking into account more and more the value or even unintended consequences of what I say online and what efforts I am going to put into it in the future. I want to know if it’s worth my time and effort; I feel it is – but only if I change a few habits.

Real Estate Illustration

In the ever expanding world of the I’ve gotten to know a few folks, some of them I’ve taken the time to engage off of the blogs by various venues, in order to find out who the really are. One such person is Barry Cunningham. I’ve only exchanged a few e-mails and listened to several of his radio shows. I agree with about 50% of what he has to say and about 10% of how he says it, but when I peel back the bravado, I realize that he has a passion for change and perhaps wants to see agents adapt to the current market. HOWEVER, if I have to work so hard to get past (what I feel is occasionally offensive) presentation, than I am concerned that he’s lost a greater opportunity to “transform” the real estate industry. I am not picking on the guy, but he’s visited her enough that I think I can use him as an illustration to my point, and he’ll understand.

The interviews on the radio show are great, they really are. I learn a lot and typically have pencil and pad around to take notes, but I simply wouldn’t encourage my students or agents to listen. (I wouldn’t persuade them not to listen, either…) I feel this way, because I feel that the radio show doesn’t build a rapport, I don’t get a connection to the show that makes me trust the opinions. I learned long ago that my students and agents needed to trust me and really feel that I had their best interests at heart, well before I could invoke change or challenge their way of thinking. Not only as an instructor, but also as a manager, was it imperative to be trusted. I could not obtain that trust by attacking everything. My premise is that currently Barry’s show (and he is probably fine with this) caters to about 20% of the which only about 10% of the industry practitioners. <note: I have no idea what his numbers are and I am sure he’ll correct me 🙂 > What could his influence be, if more than just those who agree with him started listening? I don’t need people to come to my lectures who agree with me, they are already doing it and therefore I am not invoking change.

Gauge Your Financial Investment

My second illustration is in regards to vendors. While helping my wife try and decide what marketing ventures to budget for next year, we were researching a particular product. I heard that there was to be a broadcast interview with the CEO of this product and decided to listen. In the 30 minute segment I counted several blatant disparaging remarks against real estate agents and a reference to how real estate agents were going to help sell his product before they were antiquated and the consumer began obtaining the information on their own. Hmmmm, no I don’t think I’ll invest my $1500 into his product and yes, I will ensure that I relay his opinion to each and every participant in my classes, in the future. So, let’s say I convince 2 folks a month to not buy this product, over 12 months, and I decide not to buy it – he just lost $37,500 in potential sales, but his consumer (the agent) was offended at his insertions and didn’t feel like being used. Could I have misunderstood the point? Yes, possibly but it doesn’t matter. My perception has already been established and he just lost money by doing this interview and sharing too much “transparency.”

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

Unintended Consequences

My last illustration about sharing rage or nefarious opinions on blogs, is related to the recent mess at ActiveRain. An individual (I stress individual and not the 80,000 members) made a stupid statement that was IMO offensive to African Americans. Fine, he said it and was rightfully dismissed from being a participant on the system. His friends then decided to write about their outrage of this individual’s dismissal and wrote in support of his actions. I would think that had they left it alone and e-mailed their support off topic to AR and to the offender, no one would have heard much about it. However, by writing more hateful articles it became a larger issue. The friends have probably called the attention of HUD and a Fair Housing tester will probably come visiting the original author when he least expects it. When the tester finds fault with the agent, they will probably pull posts from AR as exhibits in the hearing. Therefore the “friends” felt better for raging about something THAT HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH REAL ESTATE and have inadvertently risk their friends license. My question: To what end? What real benefit did the time and effort to compose and argue the point gain for these “professionals?” Isn’t the real job to go and sell real estate?

Gauge your investment of time

How many of you actually know how much your time is worth? When I was managing and selling I was worth about $75 per hour. Not great, but not bad…. When you read a post and it takes you 15 minutes to read; did you get $20 worth of value? (no, you won’t from this one either…) Go read Russell Shaw’s and many other’s, you will get more than that if you follow the advise. However, go spend four hours arguing about the relevance of NAR versus DOJ and please tell me the value. I know it’s not a popular opinion, but NAR and DOJ’s dance has little to no cause and effect of my wife’s business – so why should she care until it actually does? (well ok, paying dues and paying taxes means that the business was negatively effected either way you look at it) Knowing the information is great, but arguing about it detracts for money making efforts.

If you don’t “get” NAR- fine. If you can’t find $100 in value on and in the field guides alone than you aren’t looking hard enough. I personally laugh at people who spend $400 on a print ad that every independent marketing survey in the world tells us is the worst ROI for real estate agents, and then spend additional time telling everyone why they shouldn’t spend $100 to be a NAR member. Stop wasting your money on arguments that you will not win – is my point.

I’ve been entertained at the phrase “poster boy” here. I honestly have no idea what the phrase means in this regards, but to attack a person for their desire to support something, all the while continuing to support your cause with equal veracity sounds silly. It’s as if you’re saying, “Since I don’t find value (you who don’t practice) you shouldn’t find value and if you do – you’re a knuckle-head.” My point is; why come back and argue a point that is immovable? Neither side will win the other over without some level of mutual respect and understanding that you may not be completely right? NAR has issues, yes we know. They also have value, but you have to acknowledge it. So why spend so much time debating it with people who will not listen?

Dismounting the Soap Box

As I climb off the soap box, I want to remind everyone that last week I wrote a post asking why people read blogs. The overwhelming response was that they read because they learned something. The real value in this technology is the ability to teach and learn. However, if your message is so mired in crap that no one is getting your knowledge you’re wasting my time and yours.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

I have been all about the “transparency” that offers, but as we open the door to “transparency” I am left to wonder if that door is actually to Pandora’s Box. I am very concerned about the pending “new world order of real estate.” It seems to me that the individuals on the point of the sword have vanquished civility, healthy debate and respect in return for an opportunity to just “be heard”.

My summary is that everyone, needs to spend a little more time judging their return-on-investment and the nature of unintended consequences. I am targeting a certain market from here on out with my writing and commenting, my aim is to educate. I am challenging you to do the same. I am not at all saying that you shouldn’t invest some time and effort into a the community. Actually, I am saying the opposite – you should be writing and commenting. But, make your point the best you can and move on to the next learning / contributing opportunity.

Written By

Matthew Rathbun is a Virginia Licensed Broker and Director of Professional Development for Coldwell Banker Elite, in Fredericksburg Virginia. He has opened and managed real estate firms, as well as coached and mentored agents and Brokers. As a Residential REALTOR®, Matthew was a high volume agent and past REALTOR® Rookie of the Year & Virginia Association Instructor of the Year. You can follow him on Twitter as "MattRathbun" and on Facebook. Matthew's blog is



  1. Matthew Rathbun

    May 29, 2008 at 6:29 am

    Wow. After I looked at how long this post was, I was left to wonder if I really wrote it or if Bill Lublin did??? 🙂

  2. Bill Lublin

    May 29, 2008 at 7:37 am

    I read the post and while it was long enough for me to write – it was too articulate to come from me
    Do I have to tell you that I enjoyed the post, but the comment made me LOL (loudly)

  3. Brian Brady

    May 29, 2008 at 7:56 am

    The Active Rain fiasco stemmed from the inability of the membership to stay on topic. The dumb comment stemmed from a post that promoted the concept of “acceptable racial preference”; a cute term supporting a politically motivated post.

    While I agree that the racially biased comment demanded Active Rain’s attention, the post that inspired the dumb comment was equally inappropriate on a real estate marketing website. That author should have been banned as well.

    The “outrage” is coming from Active Rain members who want the network to focus on its stated objective; online promotion of real estate and lending businesses. Active Rain promotes the concept of “first amendment rights” to the detriment of members like me. Today, the network is populated with content that is filled with Fair Housing/Fair Lending violations. It will change; the executives there will be forced to police the content to comply with the stated mission or evolve it into a non-real estate related network

  4. Barry Cunningham

    May 29, 2008 at 8:04 am

    Matt well thought out post…factually a bit incorrect, but entertaining.

    Here’s the deal. Our demo is comprised of those who want more than what they are presently getting. It’s not for everyone and most assuredly as agentgenius is primarily comprised of those who “get it”, our show and blog may not be the right venue for change as those here are already on the curve for change.

    We are sounding a wake up call to those in the business who are tired of being broke, tired of being treated like second class citizens and tired of rhetoric.

    We have one agent who regularly listens and has been struggling and realized finally that he needed to ask his broker and associates around him what they were doing to actually increase their business. Many agents don’t need flowery stories, they need step by step direction.

    I read so many articles on a daily basis about nothing. How to be the master of mastery, without delivering step by step actual direction.

    We ask the question of those we speak to, what do you do and how do you do it? The Chris Gardner approach. I am not sure what guest you were speaking of but if you can’t seek out the information that spurs change and development then of course you ahve to pay for it.

    We are launching a real estate sales blog to go with our radio blog and I believe we are going to take our new blog from a PR0 to a PR5 or PR6 in two months.

    Our guests and instructors like Mary mcKnight who does charge around $1,500 are more than worth their weight in gold. I for one have received way more than that from her. And it shows in our numbers and our rankings.

    I am an old football player. My style comes directly from being trained and coached by some of the best coaches in the world of sports. I did not attain the success I had in sports by having a coach treat me with kit gloves. He was in my face, he taught me my work ethic and to this day he is respected by thousands he has coached.

    He built a record of success by being more than the coach. He had a vested interest in the young man. Was it easy? Did he piss me off? Were there times when I wished his golf cart would run into a wall? Absolutely. Would I or a thousand others who were fortunate to be under his command do it all over again…you bet your a$$.

    I’m not in this to make friends. I am glad I have but it is not my purpose. I want to succeed and I want to help others succeed.

    Realtors saying they are attacked because they don’t like what was said is foolish. The word attack is losing its meaning and effect because it is bandied about so much. I can’t tell you how many people I have heard say they were attacked. Get over it people.

    There is a greater good to be had and instead of this kind of useless banter, why not come on the show and actually tell a young agent step by step what you are doing, how you are doing it and what kind of success you are obtaining.

    I’m not going to go back and forth with you on this..I don’t need to. I know who my demographic is, I know what our numbers are and I and you can see our rankings. In just 5 months of exiswtence and in just 127 episodes, I think we have most assuredly developed quite the audience…even if it rattles the cage of agents who have been around the block for a while.

    The reason I come to Agent Genius is because it allows me to gain insight. I love coming here. i love engaging and occasionally I learn something.

    I thank you guys for having this forum. While I have engaged many like Bill, and russell, and Jonathan, I have never said that Agentgenius did not have value.

    It’s funny, many times I have heard things like that which you write and I see the responses and as you notice, much like at Active Rain, those responses are from the same 10-15 folks.

    So your article basically is written for the demographic that chooses to visit this blog. They are interested, as I am, in what you have to say.

    Your marketing and your content reaches your intended audience…so does mine.

  5. Barry Cunningham

    May 29, 2008 at 8:44 am

    Matt..I forgot…in our 127 episodes we have interviewed some of the most successful people in buisness and in real estate. Many have been featured on Fox news, CNN, MSNBC, CBS, HBO and have published books and studies that have been heralded by the business world.

    Not sure what guest you were referring to but your statement that you “wouldn’t encourage my students or agents to listen” is laughable and somewhat sad.

    Maybe you should actually see a roster of our guests, who they are and what they have accomplished before making such a statement. Once in a while we have one that does not pan out but I am quite sure that most will agree that the quality of information and the guests that provide that information are at a minimum that which the NAR provides and in actuality quite superior to that which most brokers and NAR organizations can offer.

    To that point, next week we have David Meerman Scott on the program…yes..the same guy that the NAR is having as a keynote speaker at their National Convention in November.

    Like I said earlier, you have your audience and I have mine. Ours gets to listen to guys like Mr. Scott and hear that which he advises agents to do to be successful in business.

    Last week we had Craig proctor on, one of the most successful realtors in the world. You won’t believe some of our upcoming guests.

    Telling students not to listen is your choice, but not the kind of real world advice I would think someone who wants people to be successful would give.

    We’ll keep delivering top notch guests…you keep telling your demo not to listen…I wonder who’s audience will end up being more successful?

  6. Jonathan Dalton

    May 29, 2008 at 10:01 am

    > Many agents don’t need flowery stories, they need step by step direction.

    Actually, nearly all agents could use more step-by-step direction than flowery stories. My wonderful father-in-law (cough) has been in the business 30 years. When I was just starting and struggling I asked him what I can do to get things moving. “You’ve gotta work hard,” he said.

    Gee, thanks. That helped a lot. Never occurred to me.

    Back on topic – almost everything comes down to a question of time vs. return. Do I invest 15 minutes doing “A” with no financial return or “B” where there’s a high likelihood of return. Spend too much time in the non-income producing arena and, well, you won’t produce any income.

    I’d missed the flap on Active Rain. Add that to the reasons I gave up over there.

  7. Barry Cunningham

    May 29, 2008 at 10:25 am

    Spend too much time in the non-income producing arena and, well, you won’t produce any income.

    well said

  8. Bill Lublin

    May 29, 2008 at 11:28 am

    Geez Barry – Cut back on the caffeine! Your comments were almost as long as one of mine 🙂

    Matt said he was one of your listeners – doesn’t that mean by definition that He’s part of your demo?

  9. Matthew Rathbun

    May 29, 2008 at 12:22 pm


    Actually I knew that you were more than capable of defending yourself. I think the real strength of these posts is that the opposing view gets heard. I do listen, and as I said I find some value, but I cannot from the lectern promote a radio show that is so antagonistic against agents and Realtors. I still live in a world with politics.

    The interviews are fantastic and well worth the time, but the extra opinions that are sometimes added aren’t worth the flak I’ll get from brokers and managers.

    I don’t discourage the students from listening, but it simply isn’t a recommended tool at this time. My real world advice to students is to gather information and tools, while doing what they can to avoid being insulted, antagonized and suffering more drama that the already existing birth pains of an involving industry.

    I concede that your show has value, but I don’t trust that all agents will decipher drama from knowledge.

    Lastly, Mary McKnight is fantastic at what she does and was not at all who I was referring to in my post. A matter of fact, the interview was not on your show, at all.

    Thanks for brining balance to the post.

  10. Barry Cunningham

    May 29, 2008 at 1:20 pm

    Hey Matt.I understand your politics. I misunderstood..I thought you were referring to one of our interviews.

    As for young agents being “being insulted, antagonized and suffering more drama that the already existing birth pains of an involving industry…..I think you are selling your students short. People are …in my opinion, smart enough to understand tough love and the truth vs. insulting and antagonistic “drama”. It’s a real tough world out there and being broke is more pain that enduring “scared straight coaching”.

  11. Mike Farmer

    May 29, 2008 at 6:47 pm

    “I read so many articles on a daily basis about nothing. How to be the master of mastery, without delivering step by step actual direction.”

    I haven’t read these, but perhaps you can point me to them — sounds a lot like something i could get into, sort of Peter Sengeish.

  12. Barry Cunningham

    May 29, 2008 at 6:51 pm


    Not going to do your work for you. they are all over. Pretty easy to find. You won’t have to look too far I’m sure.

    Not going down this path. Time much better spent on worthwhile conversation.

  13. Mike Farmer

    May 29, 2008 at 7:20 pm

    I just asked for a link, but, nevermind. I love topics about mastery — it’s a vital topic in my book. Mastery is what it’s all about. Mastery takes years and it starts with the general — a general decision to master that which one pursues — the motivation to seek excellence.

    Man, I wish I could find those sites. I’ll keep looking. Thanks for the lead anyway.

  14. Mike Farmer

    May 29, 2008 at 7:22 pm

    Addition: One thing I didn’t know about mastery, or “knew” wrongly, was I thought it meant dominance over something, a perfection of sorts, but “mastery” really means something very different.

  15. Frank Jewett

    May 29, 2008 at 8:39 pm

    Anyone who needs insight into the guru trade should check the coaching group on AR. You’ll find both good, step-by-step advice and plenty of useless platitudes, too.

  16. Mike Farmer

    May 29, 2008 at 9:53 pm

    Thanks, Frank, perhaps that will help Barry.

  17. BawldGuy Talking

    May 29, 2008 at 10:14 pm

    This post and the subsequent comments have brightened my day. Thanks to all of you.

  18. Barry Cunningham

    May 29, 2008 at 10:22 pm

    Mike, this is someone else’s blog otherwise I would tell you truly to……but somehow I think you do a well enough of a job your self of showing your mettle.

  19. Mike Farmer

    May 29, 2008 at 10:46 pm

    Barry, you’ve misconstrued the variables, not to mention how difficult it is to untangle noodles with a plier, but if you consider alternatives then surely you must concede that a proliferation of such is subject to a horrendous outcome. Therefore, in conclusion, I must make the assumption you’ve veered from all associations with the nonce and are now kibbitzing on the cusp. I must say this turn of events is troubling, to say the least, which is welcomed in a world of stentorian rabble.

  20. Matthew Rathbun

    June 2, 2008 at 10:00 am

    I have a pretty good vernacular; but Mike Farmer sends me to on a regular basis 🙂

    Frank: in re: coaching group, Benn and Lani have great visions and I was happy to see you give them props for these training posts. I know I love stumbling on a post with good take aways. As much as I like to read everyone (yes everyone’s) opinion on AG, sometimes even I get tired of constant opinions.

    Somewhere between Barry and Mike’s points on this matter, I think we have a good grasp on what resonates for each of us as truth. Obviously there is value for most at some juncture or they wouldn’t keep on reading!

  21. Faina Sechzer

    June 28, 2008 at 5:18 pm

    There is always a question of investment vs. the outcome. Everything business -oriented we do on the Internet is an evaluation of what would we get for the time or money invested. It applies to writing profound content vs. Google fodder, commenting on other blogs, and, like you suggested, even listening to radio.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


American Genius
news neatly in your inbox

Subscribe to our mailing list for news sent straight to your email inbox.



Business News

(NEWS) Amazon is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to free 2-day shipping, but how do they do it and why...

Tech News

(TECH NEWS) Tracking your time worked as a freelancer can easily be lost in the shuffle. A new tool has been designed to make...

Business News

(FINANCE) An anti-trust lawsuit against major players in the residential real estate industry sheds light on misinformation and misunderstandings about commissions - when you're...

Business Finance

(FINANCE) A new app is designed to help you plan for your financial future (without losing your mind trying to become a finance expert).

The American Genius is a strong news voice in the entrepreneur and tech world, offering meaningful, concise insight into emerging technologies, the digital economy, best practices, and a shifting business culture. We refuse to publish fluff, and our readers rely on us for inspiring action. Copyright © 2005-2022, The American Genius, LLC.