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Op/Ed

34 reasons why I love real estate

(EDITORIAL) Practicing real estate can be brutal, but it is also tremendously rewarding – here are my 34 reasons for loving what I do!

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real estate

This current real estate market is _________________. But, regardless of how you finished that sentence I still love being a Realtor. Here are 34 reasons WHY.

  1. I love waking up each morning knowing that no matter HOW much planning I do, my schedule will change at a moments notice. Apparently I like living on the edge.
  2. Being ill does not mean I will not make money. Enough of what I do can be finagled from the comfort of my own home … at least for a couple days.
  3. Real Estate makes me cry. I cry when homeowners, who have been religiously on time with their payments cannot re-negotiate their loans when they have been simultaneously laid off and their rate adjusts … even when their unemployment more than covers the original payment. I like being in a business that brings out passion in me.
  4. I love real estate agents. Yes, some of them are complete imbeciles – but they just make me look good. The good agents make the business fun.
  5. I love marketing. Real estate marketing is constantly changing and I love learning all the cutting edge tips and tricks.
  6. Real estate will never die. I don’t care WHAT the market is doing, there is business to be had. Land cannot go away and people will want to buy and sell it.
  7. I hold a HUGE chunk of people’s financial life in my hands. Scary as all heck, but it keeps me honest! … and I like being honest.
  8. Real estate is what brought me into the world of blogging and social media. Now I have even MORE friends who think I am odd. I love you all.
  9. Those months when I made nada zip zilch sure made me thankful for the months that I made more than some people do in a year. Learning to be thankful and learning how to stretch a dollar are one of the BEST lessons.
  10. Real estate has created monsters out of my kids. My youngest one, at the age of 4, came back from a friends house and said, “Billy has a 4 bed 3 bath home with a finished basement!” and my oldest son wants to grow up to be a real estate agent so he can “play” on the computer and go to lunch with people every day. My kids amuse me in the name of real estate.
  11. I create my own schedule and can be there for my kids, friends and family when they need me.
  12. The dynamic nature of this business keeps me on my toes. Shifting markets fling me from my comfort zone and into a place where I HAVE to be more effective for both my team and my clients.
  13. Even though I do not want to LIVE in one, I like old homes. The Colorado Springs real estate market does not have a lot of old homes – but the ones that they DO are way cool. I never cared about houses until I became an agent.
  14. I like roof lines. Again, I never cared about architecture until I became an agent.
  15. I like solving problems and real estate is an all-you-can-eat-buffet of problems to be solved.
  16. I LOVE teaching. I used to be in the Special Education field and although I LOVED it, it was not where I was meant to be. Now I am a real estate trainer, and I LOVE IT. Teaching other real estate agents how to be better at what they do is probably my FAVORITE part of my business.
  17. Real estate gives me the opportunity to excel in my business without the fear of being outsourced, downsized or fired.
  18. All your base R belong to us.
  19. I love the business building, goal setting, high-5 accomplishment camaraderie that real estate brings out in agents.
  20. I love that real estate CAN BE a low-cost, high revenue business… If you are smart with your business budget.
  21. Derek really, really likes team-building and mentoring other agents. I like that about Derek, and therefore like that about real estate.
  22. Real estate gives me the opportunity to make a HUGE impact on someones life. We have been to baby dedications, surprise weddings … and all because we were the people who helped them buy/sell their home.
  23. I know more about humanity than I EVER thought I could know. Thanks to real estate, NOTHING surprises me anymore.
  24. Real estate is the ONE thing that I can relate ANYTHING to. It is kind of amusing, actually.
  25. I love Seller’s-Markets as it challenges me to figure out ways to stand out among the masses of other mirror-foggers that have a license.
  26. I love Buyer’s-Markets because it challenges me to me one of the ONLY people in my market who can actually SELL my listings.
  27. Real estate has given me the insight and respect for other professions that are commission-based. I always make a point of purchasing a service or product through the person who helped me make my decision, if that person is paid on commission. This applies to restaurant staff too (although my time waiting tables helped with that as well…)
  28. It has brought out a love of photography in me. I look at the world in a whole new way.
  29. I am not an organized person, by nature. Real estate has taught me the importance of being organized … at least sometimes.
  30. Law. I have never been more in tune with legal tidbits than I have been since becoming an agent. I have a whole new respect for the reams of paper that stipulate what can and cannot happen in real estate.
  31. Law … again. I was taught that as a real estate agent, it was not IF you would be sued … it was WHEN. Dotting my “i”‘s and crossing my “t”‘s and keeping great notes has been the shield and sword against many a whacko. I SO appreciate the foreknowledge of keeping great notes in a situation that could be potentially sticky … real estate or not.
  32. Real estate gives great income and business growth opportunities to people who are not traditionally, scholastically refined. You do not need to go thousands of dollars in educational debt to be an agent. Some of the BEST agents I have ever met only have a HS diploma.
  33. Choose your own adventure. Real estate is an endless series of entertaining choices. Should I show the home that has 4 stoned teenagers in the basement and a random passed out adult in the living room? Or, should I bypass THAT house for the one that has 4 shrines to Elvis? Should I take the condo listing that smells like a parakeet factory? Or should I take the listing where each room painted a different hue of florescent pink?
  34. I could write a book about my life prior to real estate. Now that I have been an agent for 8 years, I can now write the sequel.

This editorial was featured here nearly a decade ago by Realtor Mariana Wagner.

The American Genius' real estate section is honest, up to the minute real estate industry news crafted for industry practitioners - we cut through the pay-to-play news fluff to bring you what's happening behind closed doors, what's meaningful to your practice, and what to expect in the future. Consider us your competitive advantage.

Op/Ed

10 small things you can do for your business while Netflixing

We know the holidays are a time to relax, but before normal working hours have returned, you can still do things for your business in between episodes on Netflix. Here’s 10 simple things that won’t cut into your holiday.

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For many real estate agents, the holidays can slow business down. It’s time for some #ProductivityAndChill.

Instead of spending all day binge-watching Hulu or Netflix, in between every episode take 10 to 15 minutes to do something for your business. Here are some great ideas for things that don’t take long, but provide some long-lasting benefits.

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Productivity and chill

1. Get inspired by your favorite websites. Where do you like to shop or get your news information? Browse through their site with one purpose in mind, to see why it draws you in and how you can implement their methods into your own business.

2. Catch up on the news. Read some articles here or at The American Genius that you might have overlooked or passed by because you thought they didn’t pertain to you. Keeping up with various industries can benefit you.

3. Use your social media tools to set up posts on Twitter or Facebook.

4. Improve your webpages by writing new product descriptions or to optimize images for SEO.

5. Go through the App Store to find new apps which can help make your life easier.

6. Learn to use a new social media platform to reach out to new customers.

7. Go through your social media feed. See what people are talking about and what’s trending. Make notes when you get inspiration.

8. Clean up the documents in your laptop. Organize them more effectively so you can always find what you need.

9. Clean up your email. Unsubscribe from newsletters that you don’t ever look at. Delete messages that are old. Set up folders to save information that you may need at a later date.

10. Customize your email. Set it up to pre-sort emails into different folders to allow you to work more productively when you get back to work after the New Year.

These little tasks can eat away at your time when you’re busy trying to get things done, but when you’re relaxed and just want to feel more productive, take a few minutes to do something that won’t overtask your brain, but needs to be done to keep you more organized throughout your week.

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Op/Ed

Dropping everything to unlock a door for a buyer damages the profession

The real estate profession is unique in that everyone is on call, but until better practices are put into place, the profession will suffer.

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Consider the following scenario:

“Welcome to Burger House may I take your order?”
“I’d like a Big House Burger, a large sweet tea and I’d like to buy 1915 Main St.”
“Great would you like a home warranty with that?”
“No. Just the house.”
“Will you be paying cash or getting a mortgage?”
“Cash.”
“Your total is $196,521 please pull forward to window 1 to pay. Your food and keys are at window 2.”

Well now that’s a silly scenario. Who buys a house at a fast food drive through? That’s ridiculous, isn’t it?

Not really, if you consider how buyers call in on properties and expect real estate agents to “serve them up” a house sometimes with no notice, no appointment, and very little exchange of basic information. Here’s what a typical phone call is like to a real estate agent:

“Hello this is Jane. How may I help you?”
“I’d like to see 123 Main Street.”
“Okay great. The list price for that is $125,000. What is your name?”
“John. When can I see it?”
“Okay John and in case we are disconnected what is the best phone number for you?”
“I am in front of the house now I’d like to see it as soon as possible.”
“Well that house is occupied and we are supposed to give the owner 24 hours notice. Can you tell me a little about what you’re looking for?”
“It doesn’t look occupied. I walked around the outside and I don’t think anyone lives here now.”
“Actually it is occupied. The owner still lives there. I need to call and request an appointment. Even if it’s vacant we still do need an appointment. Have you been looking a long time or did you just start looking?”
“I have been looking a few months. When can you get here?”
“Okay I need to call to set it up. Are you working with another agent?”
“No I just call the listing agent when I see something. I’d really like to get in now. I only have an hour so can you get here quickly?”
“Let me call the seller John and get approval. I need to clear it with him first. What’s your last name?”
“Are you coming now to show it to me or not? I don’t have time to answer all these questions.”

I hear the buyer’s frustration – he wants an appointment right now

He’s not willing to give up personal information in exchange for an appointment. But the agent has a stranger on the phone who wants to meet right now, we don’t know if the person is qualified to buy – or even his last name.

The agent taking the call is trained to screen buyers to make sure (1) they are qualified to buy and (2) they are not working with another agent. This is standard practice in the real estate business. But the caller is having none of the vetting process – he just wants to see the house and see it immediately. See the disconnect here?

The next step the caller typically takes is to ask the agent, “Do you want to sell the house or not? Because I want to buy this house.” He hasn’t seen it yet, we don’t know if he can financially afford it, yet he wants the agent to jump in the car and rush over to open the door.

It’s a scare tactic. The buyer thinks agents are so desperate to make a sale they will risk their own personal safety – and waste of time – versus not sell a house.

Pulling the “safety” card

Whoa – yes I just pulled the “safety” card. To those who are not in this industry who may be reading this, answer this question: “If it was your wife or mother or little brother who was being asked to hop in the car, to meet a stranger at an empty house, perhaps at 10 am or 8 pm, would you be so quick to judge?”

Because that is exactly what real estate agents are asked to do every single day.

Get a call, meet a stranger, maybe sell the house. Maybe we lose more than a few hours of our time. Maybe we lose our lives. I know it’s a sobering thought – but in what other industry does the phone ring, and the person on the other end run to meet a stranger outside the office without screening them for the ability and motivation to buy? It happens every day in real estate.

Just meet them at the office, right?

You may be thinking, so meet them at the office and then take them out. Spend a week in this business and you will realize just how hard that is to implement. The house may be on the east side of town and your office is on the west side. The buyer doesn’t want to drive to the office when he’s already in front of the house.

You’re already in the car when he calls and it’s just a few minutes to run over to the property anyway. Who wants to inconvenience the buyer and the agent who are both on the other side of town from the office?

Those are not even the best arguments for not going back to the office to meet the buyer. The best arguments come from the buyers themselves, who are trained or conditioned NOT to treat real estate agents as true professionals. We’re just door openers, people who get buyers access to the house.

Try quizzing a buyer about his wants or needs or motivations and you’ll find that many buyers don’t think they have to answer questions at all. They are so used to agents just making the appointment that when an agent tries to ask questions so he or she can advise and counsel that person, they resist.

“Just get me in. I just want to see the house,” is the mantra.

How practitioners can change this game

Things won’t change until agents stop playing the game and won’t make the appointment until meeting in person at the office, or at least answering a few basic questions. I would love to see every agent stop dropping everything to show a house to a buyer “just in town a few hours” on the chance the buyer is “the one” who buys the property.

Yes it’s a gamble, but in 15 years of doing this, I find it’s rarely the buyer who throws a tantrum and insists in instant access who is “the one.”

Buyers who are serious will answer our screening questions. They understand that we are professionals who need appointments to show them houses. And they respect our time and brains in the counseling/advising process. Those are the buyers we want to work with. Those are the buyers who deserve our time and attention. Not the buyers who pitch a fit when they call an agent’s cell phone late Friday night and get no answer. Not the buyers who are sitting in front of a home and demand an agent show up within five minutes.

I wish every agent working with buyers would read this and agree to stop caving in to buyer demands to instant access to houses and agents.

But if agents deny access, unfortunately the consumer will just pick up the phone and call the next agent on the list. And chances are that one agent on the list will be hungry enough, desperate enough, or just naive enough, to hop in the car and show the house.

Until we train our agents and enforce an office policy that discourages “Pop Tart” agents, consumer behavior won’t change.

This editorial was originally published in March of 2015.

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Op/Ed

Is the cloud on the verge of death?

(EDITORIAL) There is a theory floating around that the cloud is on the verge of death. Turns out, there’s merit for this line of thought…

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The sky is falling.

At least according to technologist, Viktor Charypar, who proclaimed “the cloud,” as a large-scale approach to computing, is about to nosedive.

To say the least, that’s a surprise.

At this point, it’s safe to call cloud-based computing the dominant paradigm. Those who make their living through that paradigm can be forgiven for dropping their collective monocle, spitting out their collective tea, and having a good old scoff at such scandalous tomfoolery as “the end of the cloud is coming.” I know I did.

But I kept reading, because it is literally my job to do the reading. And you know something?

Charypar is right.

The reason “end of the cloud” has so many metaphorical monocles floating in cups of tea is that tech in general is running full tilt at cloud-based solutions. More and more companies are moving more and more functionality out of consumer hardware and into corporate owned resources, which those corporations then make available as a service.

It’s easy to see why. The previous generation of tech had what they figured was an insoluble problem: you can only stuff so much processing power in a plastic rectangle before it keels over or bursts into flames.

The fix was literally out of the box. Take it out, went the wisdom. Move your computing into remote services, big networks of big iron optimized to meet your needs. That moves processing power and economic power in the same direction: away from the user and toward the service provider. In a sense, it was a return to the very, very old days of personal computing, when “computer” meant the vast and heaving beast in the basement and users just got terminals, access points where they could play with data owned and operated by someone else. Trust me. I’m writing this on a Chromebook.

As Charypar points out, like any tech solution, the cloud paradigm comes with advantages and disadvantages. The advantages are obvious: thanks to the Chromebook, this article has gone through three formats on two machines, and I never even had to plug anything in.

Disadvantages? The cloud isn’t infinitely scalable. As tech standards rise – SD to HD, 1080 to 4K – we’re forcing bigger data through tighter tubes. That means everything gets slower, dumber, and uglier. Especially with net neutrality under threat, that’s a serious possibility in the immediate future.

It’s also insecure.

Old one-liner: freedom of the press is limited to those who own one. The Internet fixed that – then promptly no-backsied us with the streaming paradigm. Now, access to data is limited to those who can store and stream it. How much of your entertainment comes from, say, Netflix, or Spotify, or Steam? Because if those services stop working tomorrow, and they could, whatever you’ve invested in them goes too. If their security fails – not unprecedented – you’re the one exposed. They’ve got the data. You’re just paying to play with it.

So, you quite rightly ask, what’s the fix?

BitTorrent.

The soft, splashy clink you just heard was the few remaining metaphorical monocles splashing into caffeinated beverages all over this great country. Someone fetch smelling salts; the entirety of Silicon Valley just got the vapors.

We aren’t advocating that we all grab the digital equivalent of a cutlass and a parrot and return to the scandalous days of piracy. But, as Charypar points out, whatever else you might say about peer-to-peer data transfer, and there’s plenty to say, it worked. It’s proven tech. Back in the day, you could grab a whole season of Deadwood in an hour. I mean, so I heard. In Bible study.

More recently, blockchain has repeatedly demonstrated that peer-to-peer tech solutions are widely applicable and solve many of the problems associated with a cloud-based middleman.

Peer-to-peer solutions like BitTorrent and blockchain are as close to infinitely scalable as technology allows. The processing power grows organically with the network, because the computers on the network are doing the work. Peer-to-peer is secure, too. I’d tell you to ask a cryptocurrency miner, but that’s the point: there’s no way to find one.

Charypar’s argument is that cloud-based computing is approaching its end because it never was an end in itself. It was the first half of the real goal: distributed computing.

Apps built peer-to-peer, sharing data and processing power between users directly, backed with blockchain or other encryption solutions, could represent what the cloud keeps demonstrating it can’t: a safe, stable digital world.

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