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Call me an idealist.  I’ll give you a second, make sure you say it loud enough I can hear you…

Okay, the economy sucks.  Intel just laid off about one thousand people who work about a mile away from me.  Here’s your first real estate hook: they probably won’t be buying a new house any time soon.  I feel for these people.  My dad went through the same thing several years ago.  Moving on…

I had lunch today at a local restaurant.  The food was better than expected, the price was right, the environment was clean.  The server, however, was slow and forgetful.  Was it a bad experience? Not in the I’m-one-of-a-thousand-Intel-employees-just-laid-off kind of ways and I very quickly got over it.  Will I write a negative review on Yelp?  Will I tell all of my friends not to go there?  No, I left a baseline tip and told the server and manager why the tip was below my typical percentage.

Loyalty, Our Economy, The Industry

I see REALTORs who have worked with an escrow officer, lender or even brokerages for-EVER suddenly go elsewhere due to fairly pathetic courting behavior.  I take you out to lunch, so you ditch your lender of 15 years.  I help you design a post card, so you leave your escrow officer of 20 years.  I help you figure out how to use Outlook, you switch brokerages.  Huh?

Beyond the customers I work with, I have plenty of friends who are REALTORs and have heard many times the “Can you believe so-and-so didn’t use me to sell their house?! They’ve known me for 10 years and know I’m a REALTOR!”  Many REALTORs I encounter make sure to include the wonderful “Oh, by the way, I’m never too busy for your referrals” in every correspondance I see.  So apparently loyalty is expected.  Shouldn’t it be both ways?


Again, maybe I’m just being an idealist.  I have a REALTOR in Portland who will handle all future transactions I can foresee.  Heck, I have a team of REALTORs across the country that I have met and trust and, should the need arise, will handle transactions for me as well.  If another REALTOR comes along with a cheaper rate or the promise of a ride in their Prius, will I ditch my current person? Heck no.

I have a lender who gets to handle my next transaction because she has been so great at not being pushy and just being helpful.  I have an escrow officer that I will use as long as she’s in the business.  I have a web site that I will want to make sure every home I sell is listed on.  I have formed personal relationships with these people. They have convinced me that they will honestly look out for my best interests and they have my business as long as I know that.  They want my referrals, I want to know they’re doing everything they can to do their best job for me too.  And that level of trust can only be built on loyalty.

Any other idealists in the crowd?

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  1. Paula Henry

    January 22, 2009 at 5:52 pm

    Nick – Lack of Loyalty is rampant in our business. You have narrowed down the key to loyalty with this statement –

    “They have convinced me that they will honestly look out for my best interests”

    That is the key to repeat business and loyaty regardless of the business you are in. You knowing people care about your interest. You know your lender won’t come up with new demands the day before closing –
    your title rep will not let you down at the last minute. Together, they each make the other look like a professional.

  2. Mark Eckenrode

    January 22, 2009 at 6:05 pm

    nick, i’m with you. having worked inside a title company before i know the agony you speak of.

    you’re probably preaching to the choir with this one at AG. i sincerely doubt the caliber of folks that frequent this site would fall to that.

    but, perhaps you’re looking for answers as to “why?”

    i think it has to do with people failing to hold themselves under the same microscope they so readily turn on others.

    now, how to cope with it? hell, as easy as it is to say “move on” it’s tough to have a thick skin when you’ve invested so much time building a relationship. so, i’m open for comments on this point, for sure.

  3. Jonathan Dalton

    January 22, 2009 at 7:05 pm

    I’ve gone through a few different lenders … mostly, it was a case of one strike and you are out. Harsh? In retrospect, possible. But I liken it to something Wayne Gretzky said last year after a game where his team and the other combined to break a dozen sticks: If a stick cost me a chance to score a goal, that’s the last time I’d use it.

    Title company? Set in granite. I’ve been countered to others but will not choose to do business anywhere else (unless my buyer happens to have a preference, of course.)

    As for the loyalty I see … loyalty for most consumers only seems to go as far as the next house they see. We’re viewed as interchangable, maybe not be everyone, but by a significant portion.

    Too many people are using three and four agents to look at homes in the same area. I’ve had to decide whether to spend the time in the off chance they happen to like the house we found together and then sweat out the home next door (which I could have shown just as easily) or just skip the entire exercise and let them take their chances with whomever else they found.

  4. Matthew Dollinger

    January 22, 2009 at 7:11 pm


    Where I totally agree that there is rampant (what I call) follow-the-shiny-object loyalty out there, I think that one has to ask themself the question at the same time:
    “What have I done in the past, and currently, to deserve the loyalty of my consumer/client?”

    I worked in Real estate recruiting for a very long time, and if ever wanted to see a bigger lack of loyalty, that was it. Pay me a bigger split? You’re going to feed me leads? I’m yours. But what is different now… is that the consumer, and the agent in that matter, has the right to question that relationship and in turn question their loyalty.

    As an agent (or other provider) have I :

    – Worked in the best interest of my clients throughout the transaction?
    – Followed up with them about changes or improvements they wanted to make to their house and provided referrals?
    – Assisted them with movers, tax exemption information, etc?
    – Sent them a RESPA for tax purposes at the end of the year?
    – Updated them on recent sales in the neighborhood that effect their eventual resale value?
    – Not only SENT them, but sat down with them on a yearly basis to go over a CMA of their property?
    -Called them with the recent headlines and helped them make sense of it all?
    – Sat down with them to differentiate National real estate headlines from Local real estate market conditions?
    – Made recommendations on how to enjoy their neighborhood, schools, parks, etc?
    – Overlooked my greed and advised clients that don’t need to sell right now to sit tight if it’s in their best interest?
    – And lastly, if my clients ARE in financial straits and facing Foreclosure, have I come to their aid and helped them?

    That… would cause me to be LOYAL. Heck, probably half of those things would probably cause me to be loyal. But in this market, and in this day and age, I think we all can admit that the bar has been raise. The question becomes, has the REALTOR we used to BUY the home, raised their game along with it.

    – Matt Dollinger

  5. Benn Rosales

    January 22, 2009 at 7:54 pm

    Nick, you’re not alone, we see it every single day here online within the real estate space.

    Idealism is great, but we apparently live in a world of expiring relationships designed to go with the instant gratification society we’ve cultivated- those you once thought of as a life long friend or partnership can turn on a dime, for a nickel.

    It’s sad, but I think it’s true.

  6. Danilo Bogdanovic

    January 22, 2009 at 8:33 pm

    Nick – You just said and expressed what I, and probably every agent in the world, hopes that their clients say and feel about them.

    I, too tend to be an idealist, but Benn summed it up best in his comment (unfortunately).

    Jonathan – The use-multiple-agents scenario is all too common in Northern VA. I tell folks that I can’t commit to them 100% unless they commit to me 100% – period. If that means “losing” a client, so be it.

  7. Bob

    January 22, 2009 at 10:26 pm

    This is a performance based business – period. Loyalty is only one aspect of it. Loyalty to title and escrow only goes as far as RESPA. You cant legally dictate either as a condition of a RESPA regulated transaction.

    The lender biz is fluid. What lenders that I have used for years can offer is now limited. My clients would prefer that I know which lender has the best rates at a given point of time. It isn’t as if they are offering numerous products – they arent. They are primarily differentiated by price.

    An escrow company I have used for years has decided to also handle short sale negotiations. They are now so tied up chasing lender tails that it takes them too long to get out a HUD that I need for my lenders.

    My job is not to steer business to my friends. They know that. Those that don’t get that – oh well.

    You say loyalty and I say fiduciary.

  8. Nick Bostic

    January 23, 2009 at 11:32 am

    @Paula – So very true. And I’ve definitely been burned at every stage of a transaction, but with my new “team”, I have complete trust.

    @Mark – I’m lucky, I’ve been told by management I have nothing to do with orders, so it’s easy for me to move on and not get upset about it 🙂

    @Jonathan – I don’t think a one strike policy is harsh, personally. There are so many REALTORs and lenders out there, that they should be good at what they due because of the amount of competition. That’s a good point that many consumers also aren’t loyal – when I bought my house, I worked with one agent at a time. It took me three, and I was searching online myself, but anything I found, I took to them because I know I need their expertise.

    @Matthew – I definitely agree (and those are some awesome points and it sounds like a great service you provide). Gone are the days of “here’s my monthly postcard, send me your business and family/friends”.

    @Benn – Very well put. I love instant gratification as much as the next person, but I can’t think of one person I instantly trusted the first time I laid eyes on them.

    @Danilo – I completely understand that agents want that kind of loyalty from their clients, but are they willing to give that same loyalty to their vendors (lender, title, escrow, inspector, etc)?

    @Bob – I understand that buyers can technically stipulate their T&E company, but most don’t have a clue about it, so it is directed by the agents. I personally go with a mortgage broker, who is able to shop around for rates and I am willing to pay her fees because I know she will work harder than anyone else I’ve ever seen to make the process as smooth and painless for me. I totally understand that if a company or vendor changes their whole business model or operating procedures in such a way that it makes your job difficult, go elsewhere. But if you’re happy with one vendor and a competitor comes along promising to pay your postage, is that worth breaking loyalty?

  9. Bob

    January 23, 2009 at 8:29 pm

    That would be a RESPA violation, but i get the point. My position is that it has to be about good business and what’s best for the client.

    My question is, do you steer clients away from vendors you dont use for reasons other than loyalty?

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Reality checking real estate market conditions – feelings, perceptions and facts



My perception of reality isn’t always factually accurate.

Mostly I’m a positive guy.  But every other day or so, I think and feel like opportunities are scarce and market conditions outside my control make success elusive.  Do you ever have thoughts like that?

When I think thoughts like that, my perceptions limit me.  When I feel like business is slow and scarce, my spirit saddens, I roll  uptight tense and I struggle.  As a result my attractiveness dims and my effectiveness dulls.  People and opportunity don’t seek out and choose the dim, dull and struggling.  Opportunity gravitates toward the positive, not the sad and negative.

To succeed, it’s important that I understand the difference between what I perceive and feel, and factual-reality.  So, I have this daily Reality-Check thing that I do.  It keeps my head on straight.

Here’s how I Reality-Check myself and my real estate market.

I consciously suspend my perceptions about my market.  I don’t consider how I’m feeling or what others are saying.  I flip my logical thinking switch to ON, suspend my beliefs and go directly to the MLS to see what’s really happening in my market.

Here’s what I do:

I search listing activity for the last 30 days.  How many new listing came on the market per day?

I search pending/contracts written activity for the last 30 days.  How many listings went under contract per day?

Running these simple searches give me the facts about actual activity in my market place.  With the facts in hand I’m not poisoned or paralyzed by the negative opinions, speculation, conjecture or feelings of other people.  What I discover is that no matter how well or poor I perceive my market to be, there are always available opportunities and possibilities.  Always.

Whether I’m feeling flush or frustrated, every day sellers decide to sell and new listing come on the market.   Every day buyers are buying.  This daily Reality-Check sets me straight.  People buy and sell everyday.  The only question is, who will they choose?

Understanding the facts gives me hope and inspiration.  Business is there, if I want it.  It doesn’t matter what other’s report, believe or perceive.  It only matters what’s really happening in my market, and what I’m willing to do to attract, discover and earn what I want.

I run my reports every morning.  When my feet hit the street, I know what’s real and what is possible.  I know the only thing holding me back is me.  If I take action, I can sieze opportunity and change my future.

That’s how I Reality-Check.  How do you Reality-Check yourself?


Cheers and thanks for reading.

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Is it time to bury the past and rise up? Is it time to advise “buy”?



It’s 2011.  Not 2010 or 2009.  Viva 2011

What’s your real estate market like this week?  Is it better than it was a year or two ago?

Back then we had the difficult task of sharing mostly bad news.  A rational Fear Of Loss kept buyers who wanted to move from making a move.  It was simple logic, buy too soon and home values might fall, resulting in a financial loss.

Last year the Federal Homebuyer Tax Credit artificially stimulated 1st Quarter home sales.  The free-money party ended in April of 2010 and real estate sales activity went from gangbusters to bust.  It pretty much stayed crappy until January 2011.

From what I can see across the inter-webs and personal experience, the unstimulated 1st Quarter of 2011 is equal to or better than the artificially stimulated 1st Quarter of 2010.  Which means that most likely, the balance of 2011 will be way better than 2010.  Not a month to soon, amen.

But I’m worried.  Real worried.

I’m Worried About Shell Shock

It’s been so crappy for so long, some us may be suffering from Shell Shock.  When someone asks if now would be a good time to buy, we start mumbling, our shoulders slump and the light in our eyes dim. We hem and haw.  Because we’ve been so beat up for so long, our answer limps from our mouth to their ears.  On occasion we allow past emotional scaring to over ride current intellect and logic. This is normal human behavior, but we’re not paid to be normal.  We’re paid to perform.

People are counting on us for unbiased and expert real estate opinion and analysis.   When they ask the question, “Is now a safe time to make a move?” they expect a thoughtful and intellectual answer.  Not an emotional reaction steeped in Shell Shock.

It’s Time To Bury The Past and Rise UP

Note from the editor: The video at the top of this article is of Maya Angelou’s “And Still I Rise,” particularly relevant to the theme of this article.

The Fear Of Loss is perpetually valid.  Yesterday, the likely hood of suffering a financial loss by buying in falling market was high.  Today’s and tomorrow’s market is 180 degrees different.  If our buyer clients want to make a move and they don’t, waiting may cause them financial loss.

It’s a new day and a new market. Let’s think, advise and act like it.

Let’s start by reviewing and sharing a few important factors with our homebuyer clients.

Price & Value and Cost & Expense Factors

Advising our buyer clients to Not-Buy-Now because home values may go down, and they will have lost money by overpaying, is an example making a decision based on the Value & Price factor. Last year in many micro-markets this was smart, simple and logical.

Today, if we’re sincere about helping our clients avoid financial loss, we’ll want to include Cost & Expense factors in our advisory analysis.

Unless our buyer clients are paying cash when they buy, they’re going to use mortgage financing.  Their mortgage interest rate determines the Cost & Expense of buying and has a bottom line effect on whether waiting to buy will result in a financial Win or Loss.

Here’s an example of what I’m talking about:

Here’s how we can use both Value & Price and Cost & Expense Factors in our advisory analysis.  To figure out if it’s better to wait or make the move, consider alternate future outcomes.

Three What If Scenarios

Keeping in mind that our local and national economies are improving,  inflation is real and mortgage interest rates, are rising, We can evaluate the financial risks by asking ourselves which of these three scenarios is most likely:

  1. Home Prices stabilize and mortgage rates rise. Using the example in the picture above, if mortgage rates rise to 6%, waiting may cost our buyer clients the extra expense of $175.86 more per month.  If the value of the properties they’re interested in don’t drop more than 13% in value before mortgage rates inflate from current rates to 6%, the decision to wait would create a financial compound fracture.  Waiting would mean they’ve lost on two fronts, Value & Price and Cost & Expense.
  2. Home Prices drop more than 13% and mortgage rates rise to 6%. 
  3. Home Prices drop and mortgage rates stay the same or fall too.

If you believe that home values in your market will fall faster and further than mortgage rates will rise (2. or 3. above), then advising your buyer clients to stay put is the way to go.  Keep your eye on the market and when you see a favorable entry point, advise them to make their move.

If you think prices won’t drop more than 13% before mortgage rates rise to 6%, then your logical left brain will tell you it’s wise to advise your buyer clients,

Because home values are less likely to fall more than interest rates will rise, now is a safe time to make move you’ve been waiting and wanting to make.

Do your homework on property-value-trends for your micro markets, consider the implications of rising mortgage rates, Rise Up and advise with confidence.

Here’s what I think about my micro-market. . .

I think home values are stable and some neighborhoods will enjoy a rise in prices/values.  Mortgage rates have risen about 1% in the last four months and will continue to creep up.

When my clients who would like to move, ask me if it’s a safe time to move, I would discuss Price & Value and Cost & Expense factors with them. Afterwards, we’d be out the door dream home shopping.  Pronto.

What do you think?

What’s happening in your market?  What are you advising?


Cheers and thanks for reading.


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Was Einstein Wrong About The Definition Of Insanity?



The Classic Definition Of Insanity Is Wrong

Ok, it’s not wrong-wrong, it’s half wrong.   Here’s the classic definition of insanity:

The definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over again, expecting a different result. ~ Albert Einstein

It’s true.  For example, you can’t lose a dollar on every deal and make it up in volume.  I think we’d all agree, if what we’re doing isn’t working, we need to make dramatic changes. Right? But, what if what we’re doing is working?  What if we’re not lazy?  What if we’re the opposite – we’re successful?  Should we keep doing the same things over and over again, expecting the same successful result? You’d think so.  But doing so would fall into the insanity category as well. Here’s why.

The Other Definition Of Insanity

Because the expectations of our prospects, suspects and clients are steadily rising and savvy competitors are constantly upping the ante, doing the same things that made us successful yesterday will leave us in the dust tomorrow.  Where would Apple be if it thought their first iPhone was such a big hit they didn’t need to change it or improve it?  You know, what if their mindset was, if it ain’t broke why fix it?  They’d be pipsqueaks instead of what they are now, right?  It’s the same for you and me. If Einstein was alive today, I believe he’d approve of this second definition:

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting the same result.”

You see, to succeed tomorrow,we have to reinvent and relaunch ourselves today and everyday.  If we don’t, we fall behind.  Then disappear.  I bet you can think of a two or three formerly famous companies that fell on hard times because they didn’t change with the times.  For example Blockbuster comes to mind.  Renting DVDs was all the rage once, you know? What will you reinvent and relaunch this week?


Cheers. Thanks for reading. Photo Credit

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