This is about habits …
Not the kind of habits that Catholic nuns would wear, either, but the habits that are hard to break. Although maybe you could get a post out of the Catholic nun habits, I just don’t know enough about them to really make it work. Another day, perhaps …
I’ve been thinking a lot about my business habits lately, specifically those that have prevented me from being as good an agent as I could possibly be. See, I started in real estate in 2004, late to the party but still one of those markets where things were pretty easy. Not that I didn’t work hard to try and be as successful as I could be, but 2004 was still a strong market, at least here the bustling metropolis of Southwest VA. Sellers were entertaining multiple offers, and buyers were putting their best foot forward, every time, or they risked losing out. It was a good time to start because it gave me the confidence that I needed to really take off – each year was a record year for me, and I had it made. I did everything by the book, I was confident that I was making the right decisions in guiding my clients, and everything was good. This real estate thing was easy!
Or so I thought.
Stinking It Up
It probably happens to all of us at some point, but we get ahead of ourselves and things fall apart. In my case, I got a little complacent, a little sloppy, and then I started making mistakes. Case in point … I once listed a home that had a completely different school system than what I represented. Completely different! There was an elementary school ½ mile down the road that I assumed was the school that served this neighborhood, but later discovered it was all wrong. Not so big a mistake, but it was still something that if I had used the resources available to me and taken just two minutes to call the school board and verify, I wouldn’t have made it. A quick change in MLS, and all was right with the world again. Sometimes the lessons weren’t so easy to flush away, however.
A couple of years ago I listed a home that I was sure would sell quickly, and it did – first day on the market, first buyer who saw it bought it. Cash. Quick closing. Awesome! Not quite. Two days before closing, the buyer discovered that the property was on a septic instead of a sewer, as I had entered into the listing. Uh oh. Big mistake. Didn’t check my resources, and it stunk the place up. The buyer and his agent held my feet to the fire, and in the end the buyer got a house with a new connection to the Town’s utility system, while I came up several thousand dollars short at the end of the year. (No, E&O wouldn’t cover it but that’s a story for another day.)
There have been many more mistakes along the way, of course. I’m not naïve enough to think that they’re not going to happen, but my point is that I can be a SLOW learner. It’s one thing to make a mistake because I get ahead of myself, or I’m just not paying attention; those things happen to everyone, it’s normal. It’s another to do it multiple times and not take anything away from the situation. That’s my one bad habit – sorry, typo, that’s ONE of my bad habits. For me, it’s easy to say “well, if only they’d have taken care of that crack two years ago when they saw it”, or “if they would’ve gotten a stronger preapproval then their offer would have been accepted”, but if I’m not changing my habits to make sure that the sellers have adequately prepared their home for sale, or that my buyers have an airtight preapproval from a reputable local lender before making an offer, then I’m not being the best agent I can be. If I’m not striving to be my best then my clients are getting shortchanged. I don’t want that – I want them to walk away from the transaction knowing that I and my Team do everything we can to make things go as smooth as possible.
Give It Your All
Lately it feels like bad habits have popped up far more often the good ones and I’ve beat myself up over them, but I know that there are good ones as well. There’ve been a couple of times recently where I’ve had to go back to a client and say “I screwed up, here’s how we’re going to get back on track.” Learning from my errors hasn’t been easy, but I’m trying. My assistant Aaron is great at learning from mistakes, and while she doesn’t make many she is always quick to take action to resolve it – in fact, I don’t know that I’ve not seen her make the same mistake twice. I really admire that, and I’m really trying to get better at it.
Maybe that’s one of the things that can make us good agents, as well, the desire to keep working and keep trying, to fight the urge to give in to the bad habits and keep striving to give clients everything we have. Because in the end, that’s what they want – our best.
Okay, I feel better.