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Become a better leader by breaking up with mediocrity (here’s how)

(BROKERAGE NEWS) There tends to be two camps of leaders, those who lead from strength and those from weakness. But who says you can’t do both?

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Leader in a meeting

A lot of leadership literature has become “strength’s focused” – using inventories like StrengthsFinder (developed by Gallup). The logic in many ways, is sound. Capitalizing on your strengths as a leader and those of your team is significantly more effective than attempts to cover perceived flaws or weaknesses.

The business world has been cited for being too focused on weaknesses (and now parents are too). This a natural inclination for people. For leaders however, we should be bringing our strengths (and the strengths of our teams) to work and making “it” happen.

However, an over focus on strengths isn’t without its own challenges. Tony Schwartz writes for Harvard Business Review, a “well-rounded leader” has a greater opportunity to be more effective. As we seek to leverage our “strengths” let us not forget the complexity of our skill set and how those negatives we see about ourselves can become assets – resources – that we use to manage ourselves and our teams.

Metaphors are common in leadership articles, so I won’t break tradition.

Much like in physical exercise, poor form often causes the overuse of a muscle versus a group of muscles. Poor leadership form, while doing the lifting, leads to an overuse or over-reliance on what is good and comfortable for us.

A pragmatic leader may find themselves unable to make dynamic change move forward. Today’s leaders have to deal with a more complex environment in terms of technology, skills, and demographics. One style of leading will simply not be enough.

The big lesson here is to workout things you don’t think are your best strengths. What are ways you can take those weaknesses and utilize them? How do your rebranded weaknesses make you a good leader for a project or a team? Create opportunities to use your “positive opposites” – those weaknesses that you have rebranded.

PRO TIP: Find a mentor, find a coach, or keep reading about leadership.

You may never be able to develop those skills as strong as your primary, but you will have more leadership muscle to work with. You’ll be delivering a better leader to serve, build, and develop yourself or the organization.

Schwartz discusses the role of choices. We make a lot of choices as leaders – resources, people, what risks, what resources, what costs. When we make those choices working with clients or employees we are always using our mental tool kits.

It doesn’t hurt us to have more tools, most of the time, to allow us to handle situations.

SIDEBAR: It is important to recognize that we only have a limited amount of time. You’re still going to benefit more from developing your strengths – but don’t forget to work out those rebranded weaknesses (the triceps of leadership!). I love an 80/20 perspective – spend 80% of your learning time focused on building up those strengths, spend the other 20% on flexing those rebranded weakness.

A well-balanced leader is not a one-trick pony – they are leaders who can take an organization through many life cycles. If you seek to be some kind of leader, take some time to appreciate your own mix of strengths and weaknesses, and the unique qualities that you bring to a complex world of complex organizations.

Leadership is a whole person endeavor, and don’t skip those weaknesses (just like leg day!).

This story was first published in July 2017.

Kam has a Master's degree in Industrial/Organizational Psychology, and is an HR professional. Obsessed with food, but writing about virtually anything, he has a passion for LGBT issues, business, technology, and cats.

Real Estate Brokerage

Don’t let your clients fall into these homebuying regrets

(BROKERAGE) When helping clients buy a home, steer your buyers away from these potential dangers in order to avoid regrets.

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Man seated in trunk of car, head in hands as he feels homebuying regret. Avoid these with your clients.

Homebuyer’s remorse

A satisfied customer isn’t simply a buyer who has found the perfect home — it’s a customer who bought the perfect home, and still feels great about it a year later.

Buyer’s remorse is a real risk, especially on a large, expensive purchase like a home.

Not just a number

As a real estate agent, you can certainly pressure your customers to make a quick decision just to close the deal, but that’s not how you create lasting relationships or satisfied clients.

Instead, help buyers make the best decision they can so that they don’t have regrets later.

Tim Lemke at Wisebread has offered a list of the “Biggest Regrets of New Homeowners.” By examining what homeowners are most likely to regret after purchase, you can help your clients avoid find a home that they can be happy with for years to come.

Money regrets

According to Lemke, most post-purchase regrets arise when the buyer fails to budget or properly finance the purchase. This includes buying a home that is too expensive, making a down payment that is too small, setting up the wrong kind of mortgage, or making the purchase with a low credit score or while still in debt.

Help your client create a budget for the home that does not exceed 30 percent of the household’s gross income – and stick to it!

The budget should also factor in at least 20 percent of the cost as a down payment. If the down payment is too small, the available loans will be less than ideal, and the buyer will lose money on private mortgage insurance.

False hope regrets

You should also advise clients to avoid other common pitfalls that can leave homeowners dissatisfied. A fixer-upper is great if the client is handy, but if he or she doesn’t know how to do home repairs and renovations, they could easily end up with an unlivable property that will cause stress and require a lot of time and money to repair.

In order to avoid other unforeseen repairs, make sure your clients also get the house inspected so that they don’t end up with surprise problems.

Diligence regrets

Finally, encourage your clients to not only check out the house itself, but to research the surrounding area. Too often, buyers fall in love with a house, but end up regretting their choice of neighborhood.

Help your clients make the best decision they can – no regrets!

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Real Estate Brokerage

Safety concerns are top of mind for realtors, but what about our clients?

Seller safety is an overlooked topic that the industry should focus on to create an overall secure transaction for all, from meeting to closing.

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affordability home sales

There has been lots of advice recently about Realtor safety, but what about the home seller’s safety?

This area seems a little scant on advice, as a profession we probably owe more consideration to the sellers who pays for the food on our table. The appropriate moment to discuss safety with your new client is probably right after the listing is signed.

There are the points you should be covering with your seller:

Explain that you can’t protect valuables

If you’re planning on hosting an open house, remind them that you likely won’t be following every prospective buyer around the house. Unless you are insisting on visitors signing in or checking IDs, you also won’t know exactly who’s walking through the house either.

Unless you as the agent plan to be there for every showing, you’ll need to explain that you can’t protect their valuables.

Remove pharmaceuticals for every tour

Jewelry, laptops, iPads, personal mail, and especially pharmaceuticals are prime targets for thieves if not put away properly. Encourage your seller to remove prescription drugs from the home prior to every showing, or properly dispose of expired prescription drugs.

Mail may contain personal information and bank statements and are a risk from identity fraud. Explain that agents don’t want to be confronting someone taking these types of items from a home.

Put away knife blocks

Ask the seller to put away any knife blocks before showing. These may be a safety issue for any showing agent in the home.

With all those high-definition images of the home’s interior out there on every listing site, it’s like a robber’s take-out menu.  Suggest to your seller that they consider putting high-end stereos, flat-panel TVs, etc., in storage until they sell.

Surprising tip: remove pics of kids

If your client has photos of their wife, teenage daughter or children displayed, tactfully suggest that this might not be appropriate, if say a pedophile or stalker walked through their home.

seller safety tip

Tell sellers to not offer tours on their own

Even without a sign outside a property, the fact that the address is on every website in town is an open invitation (or an excuse) for someone to knock on the door and ask the sellers to “take a peek” inside. Explain that it’s not a good idea to let them in and that they should simply state “Please call my agent with any questions or to make an appointment”.

Explain Craigslist scams

With the growing rental fraud scams (listings are scraped by scammers who post bogus rental listings on Craigslist and other sites) potential renters could possibly be showing up at their doorsteps too, ready to move in

Check locks after tours

Discuss with them how to make their home burglarproof when it’s on the market and the need to check that a prospect has not deliberately left a door or window unlocked, so they can gain easy access later.

Recommend that if they don’t plan on returning directly home after a showing, they should ask a trusted neighbor to pop in, to make sure your doors were locked and the windows are secured.

Consider that there would actually be a whole lot less to worry about if we knew exactly who was looking at a home.

How are we protecting sellers?

So why are we letting any old Tom, Dick, or Harry look at homes in the first place? Why are we allowing unverified buyers into our seller’s homes?

Agents should consider counseling the seller to only allow verified prospects into their home.

The Des Moines Area Association of Realtors has already come up with an innovative seller contract, that states that no real estate agent is allowed to show the home to anyone the agent has not previously met and identified.

As a positive side effect, with this contract in place it allows agents to tell prospective buyers they have no choice but to first meet the agents in public because it is required by contract with the seller.

The other upside to this is respecting the seller’s time and effort in preparing for each showing.

After all, sellers are expected to keep up with tidiness and be ready for the next showing. I’m sure many sellers spend quite some time preparing for the next showing, then having to leave the house, sometimes with kids and animals in tow.

The cheat sheet for your sellers:

Here’s a shortened version of the suggested list of points you should discuss with a home seller:

  • Explain you can’t be there for every showing or be responsible for their valuables.
  • At open houses, you won’t be showing every visitor around the home.
  • Jewelry, money, laptops, cellphones,  gaming systems, and pharmaceuticals should all be stored away from plain view and out of the front of drawers.
  • Put high-end stereos, flat-panel TVs, etc., in storage until you sell.
  • Remove any knife blocks and mail on their kitchen countertops
  • Remove personal photos of your wives, teenage daughters, or children.
  • Never agree to let in a stranger knocking on the door.
  • Check doors and windows after each showing.

September is Realtor Safety Month

Consider making these recommendations your own personal standard. Ask your broker to incorporate these into their Broker Safety Policy (they have one, right?)

Talk to your local Realtor Association about the Des Moines Area Associations initiatives and how you can implement it.

(Disclosure – Peter Toner is founder of the safety app Verify Photo ID which verifies strange prospects photo IDs and checks against a National sex offenders list).

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Real Estate Brokerage

How to scout, secure, and supervise a team of true all-stars

(BROKERAGE) Building a team can be hard, especially building a team of all stars. Here are a few tips to make the process seamless.

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assertive broker meeting negotiation team

A good way to win? Play as a team. The best way to keep winning? Build an awesome team. There’s strength in numbers, even for the best broker — but that doesn’t mean you can just throw together a few qualified realtors and expect sales to double.

According to a recent survey by Bain & Company, the majority of senior executives form teams based on whoever is available rather than scouting the best talent for the job. Sure, the first method is easier, but it’s also 25% less productive.

As a broker, you can’t rely on your best guy to carry the firm’s success.

Realtors can come and go as they please.

If your best guy/gal decides to jump ship, they could leave your whole brokerage, for lack of a better word, screwed. You need all your guys to be your best guy. Keep these important tips in mind when building your real estate team.

Potential is great, but performance is what moves the needle. When interviewing candidates, seek out those who are not only experts, but who are also energetic, driven, and enjoy working in teams.

In most organizations, one in seven employees is a star.

When seven in seven are stars, productivity increases exponentially.

Everyone from your admin assistant to your coordinators to your agents should be passionate about their work and focused on success. All too often, firms hire “good enough” people in the interest of time, assuming things will come out in the wash thanks to one or two awesome agents.

But here’s the thing: a balanced team isn’t an all-star team.

It might stay afloat, but it won’t pick up speed.

Chances are the agents on your team know how good they are, and that means they also know their talents would be valued elsewhere — possibly with a competing broker. It’s your job to give them incentive to stay onboard.

Acknowledge achievements by awarding leadership roles to standout individuals so they know they’re a crucial part of the firm. Meet regularly with each team member to go over any issues or highlights they’ve experienced and identify any themes that may be emerging within the team as a whole.

Make encouraging and motivating one another an integral part of your team’s interactions.

They should be competing against themselves, not each other.

Make team performance a major determinant for compensation and promotion rather than strictly rewarding individual performance. This way the whole team will strive to help each other be at the top of their game every day. This also helps keep egos in check, which is necessary in all-star teams: when everyone’s the best at what they do, they’re bound to get a little cocky sometimes.

There’s no perfect formula for managing a real estate team. As you hire and train employees, keep your standards high and your mission focused.

Do this, and you won’t have to search for the best; the best will come to you.

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