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Stop the Noise!

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Transparency

Transparency has been the goal of real estate professionals throughout the RE.net and blogging has provided the perfect platform for transparency in information. Real Estate bloggers have provided a great deal of knowledge for the general public. In the past few years, the public has been given access to almost every listing, details about neighborhoods and communities, as well as more pictures, graphs and charts than they can digest. There are online forums and resources where buyers and sellers can access an agent and ask questions, while remaining anonymous.

Collectively, we have covered just about every detail involved in buying and selling a home. It adds up to an enormous amount of information available online.

Public Perception

The public has demanded it and the real estate industry has responded.

So, why doesn’t the public trust us more?

There’s too much noise! Agents beating their own drums, trying to attract attention to themselves, are the nemesis of what we hope to accomplish by being transparent. The public can see right through the overt action of those whose only goal is personal gain. When the transparency factor is clouded by our own agenda, we lose!

transparency-

  • The full, accurate, and timely disclosure of information
  • Free of deceit
  • Easily understood or seen through
  • The quality of being clear and transparent
  • Free from obscurity and easy to understand; the comprehensibility of clear expression

Blogging for the Public

Blogging is not a quick fix; it is a time consuming, long term commitment to bring local real estate information to the consumer. Most of us continue because we love it. We see the value in deciphering the national news for our local area. We enjoy the education we receive when we analyze numbers. (I know that’s crazy) and maybe we don’t all enjoy it; still, we do it because we know the consumer needs to know the information. We take pride in writing about our communities and neighborhoods. We love sharing our knowledge with the public. We know an educated, informed consumer benefits the entire industry. Blogging is about being transparent!

Get real, get educated or get out – If you don’t enjoy blogging, it will be evident in the information you post. If you’re in it purely for personal gain, the public will know. If you want help, check out some of the posts here at AG about how to blog. Mariana and Jay do a great job teaching the basics.

Stop the noise and give the public the information they need and want; clearly, concisely, truthfully and honestly.

Isn’t that really what transparency is?

Paula is team leader for The "Home to Indy" Team in Indianapolis . She is passionate about education and client care and believes an empowered client is better prepared to make good decisions for themselves. You'll find her online at Agent Genius,Twitter and sharing her insights about her local real estate market at Home To Indy.

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14 Comments

14 Comments

  1. Jon Strum

    June 30, 2008 at 9:41 pm

    It’s not easy to “stop the noise” when much of it is being created by all of those agents who live well outside the boundaries of the RE.net. And those agents add up to a very big number. As we learned in a recent post here, the NAR survey indicates that 8% of its membership blog — and that number includes those agents who had the blog set up for them but never got past “hello world.” So there’s about a million agents out there who don’t acknowledge blogging…let alone get it right. And I’m afraid that their attitude toward the blogosphere is the same as yours…they’d like us to stop the noise!

    Why doesn’t the public trust us more, now that some single-digit percentage of us make a public attempt at transparency? Maybe it’s because the NAR insisted on running months of commercials announcing that ‘it’s a great time to buy’ as people were watching their neighborhoods implode. But then the NAR caught wind of the realities out there — and switched to a commercial that reassures everyone that the key to wealth still lies in home ownership. You had to look very closely at the fine print on the TV screen to realize that they were quoting the findings of a 13 year-old study. Has much has changed in our world since 1995? Maybe more than just a little. So it’s hard to claim we’re out there waving the flag of ‘transparency’ when the mother ship is monopolizing the TV airwaves talking out of the other side of its mouth.

    But it’s not just the NAR…you can even re-read Benn’s last post about the consumer’s desire for tangibility. Is that protecting turf? It sets up a simple black-and-white argument where the issues are a lot grayer. Of course, a real estate deal reaches a point where it should be a face-to-face interaction. But many times, it reaches that point way later in the life of the transaction. The home buyer is asking us to let them do more of the legwork, and so we’re giving them all of that access to tools and data…but our prices haven’t changed — even though the division of labor has.

    Are we being transparent? Not as long as we’re protecting turf. And protecting turf is the MOST transparent act that an individual, business or industry can possibly make..ask anyone not in our industry.

  2. Michelle B.

    June 30, 2008 at 10:56 pm

    The “noise” can be deafening sometimes!

    But I have found that by being totally honest and straightforward from the get-go allows my clients to trust me. They trust my advice, my research, my referrals, and even my opinions. I rarely have credibility issues with new clients that were referred to me, especially by a former client. But even floor call leads, sign call leads, and open house leads are won over pretty quickly by just being “transparent’ about myself and my goals. My goals are always to achieve their goals, even if it means waiting 6 months for their financial situation to improve (I’ll need a paycheck, then, too). Or if it means another agent might be better suited to their specific needs (i.e. – commerical, rural, types of properties I’m not knowledgeable about), and I always explain the referral fee. I’m a working mom, with a very busy and active family. I don’t have time to generate hundreds of leads every month. But by being knowledgeable, honest and straightforward from the initial contact, I convert just about every lead that does come my way.

    It’s when my clients are spending a significant amount of time doing their own research online that I know there may be a credibility issue. I address it openly, do my best to remedy it, and keep moving forward. Admittedly, some people just dig doing the research themselves, and then I just email them a list of links and turn them loose. I love the clients I can “geek out” with.

    I always try to get a feel for new clients’ tech skills in the first couple of conversations, so I know what to expect from them (I hated the early days of Zillow), what technology to match them up with, etc. With so much information out there, agents can’t really hold information hostage anymore. Sellers and buyers have all the information they need, right at their fingertips. I feel that I really start earning my paycheck when I start translating & refining data, sharing my knowledge & experience, negotiating, and coordinating the transaction. Agents are having to redesign themselves to be knowledgeable experts in their niche, whatever that may be, and to offer superior service. I will often drive a significant distance to get paperwork from point A to point B, just so my client doesn’t have to, or so they can close early, or so we have legible copies. And I’ll bring them coffee.

    But it’s the agents that can’t check their ego, aren’t knowledgeable, don’t have a specialty, or are incapable of providing exceptional service that are making all the noise. You know who they are….they have diamond-platinum-president’s-elite-nationwide-circle plastered all over their card. Save it for the trophy shelf at home, clients really don’t care about that. They care about what you are going to do for them right now, and how well you are going to do it.

  3. Frank Jewett

    July 1, 2008 at 2:57 am

    So, why doesn’t the public trust us more?

    It starts at the top with NAR leadership telling the public that prices were stabilizing while turning around and testifying in Washington that they expected prices to decline. That level of cynicism may appeal to short sighted brokers and agents who are only worried about their next commission check, but it is an absolute credibility killer for the real estate industry and the REALTOR brand.

  4. Jennifer in Louisville

    July 1, 2008 at 5:18 am

    Authenticity matters. If you hate blogging, don’t do it because it WILL show in your writings.

    Be yourself. Be authentic. And show some of your personality.

    And if you do that, you’ll actually end up attracting persons that you’ll probably like when you meet them as clients – making your “real job” as a real estate agent a lot more fun in the process.

  5. Mack in Atlanta

    July 1, 2008 at 7:31 am

    Paula – your thought on Public Perception is right on. When visitors come to our sites they don’t want to read about agents and me, me, me…They want to know what you can provide to help them in their situation. Provide information that answers their questions and you will be surprised what can come of it.

  6. Matthew Rathbun

    July 1, 2008 at 7:08 pm

    Until Agents stop beat up one another, and demanding that all the “other” agents get out of the business, or accusing “everyone” else of being deceitful and nefarious. Until such a time as agents begin respecting one another, we can never expect it from anyone else… If I can’t feel you pain, who will?

  7. Bill Lublin

    July 1, 2008 at 8:14 pm

    @ Frank I agree that there is and has been a problem with public perception of salespeople in general, and that real estate agents suffer from that more then many, but to say that it is soemhow tied to a position of NAR’s is just plain silly. The problem existed long before NAR started, and fighting that perception was one of the reason’s for NAR’s creation. If it weren’t for NAR and the State and local associations, there would be no groups to promote professionalism in our industry, create and enforce professional standards, or to develop arbitration, mediation or ombudsman programs for members and consumers to deal with issues of unreliability. Let’s not just dump all of our problems into that easy box because NAR is not here for the conversation. You are NAR, I am NAR, we are all , by our partiicpation or choice not to participate, the reason the organization is what it is. In my opinion, its a good trade organization, and when I compare its consumer interfacewith other industries, I believe it is more responsive then most.

    The problem that we have here is that faceless groups can be demonized, and only individuals can dispel those erroneous positions, one person at a time, by doing the right thing, and carrying the right story, I cannot blame someone who has had no experience or a bad experience with a real estate person to be wary or concerned about our motives. If they still feel the same way after we’ve met and done business, then I may need to blame myself rather then them

  8. Paula Henry

    July 1, 2008 at 8:39 pm

    Jon – You make a great argument for the client, who, when hearing “all the noise” from many different sources, may actually not listen at all. Many agents do live outside the RE.net; I guess I never thought they may want US to stop the noise.

    I don’t believe Benn’s post was at all about “protecting turf” – it was an observation that we can’t totally depend on the internet to sell real estate. It is still a very personal and tangible transaction. Yes, the internet client wants the freedom to search by themselves; they will drive by neighborhoods and can check out the quality of schools, but they still want a “real live person” to handle their transaction.

    I won’t debate whether or not the cost has come down – I know it has. Each of us detremines the value of our service and there is a cost to providing the consumer with the tools and data.

  9. Paula Henry

    July 1, 2008 at 8:49 pm

    Michelle – Pefectly stated – when we are genuine and real, the public knows! It sounds like you have mastered the art of client care.

    Frank – and the consumer can see right through the agent who is only after a paychek – if you think about NAR’s message, it is a great time to buy in many areas throughout the country.

    Jennifer – I couldn’t have said it better! 🙂

    Mack – We need to make it about them! With honesty, integrity and genuine answers to their questions.

  10. Paula Henry

    July 1, 2008 at 9:00 pm

    Matthew – I do hear what you are saying and sincerely agree. I was not suggesting people get out of the business, only that they don’t blog, if they don’t enjoy it, don’t like it, or don’t think they can continue. I have seen so many people who start, but never do anything else, which for the sake of their business, should be a consideration, before beginning.. A client comes across a blog which hasn’t had a post in six months and assumes the agent probably is out of business. Or there’s the agent whose site is only about themselves and a host of “I just listed this home” or “Open Houses”. This is the noise which deafens the credibility we are trying to create. Yes, we may look less than credible when we attack one another within the industry and that is probably another post.

  11. Paula Henry

    July 1, 2008 at 9:03 pm

    Bill – Whether we like it or not, each of us is the face and voice of REALTORS to the public. We must bring credibility to our profession one client at a time.

  12. Frank Jewett

    July 1, 2008 at 9:32 pm

    “All of the doom and gloom forecasts of a housing debacle are not only irresponsible, but also downright wrong.” – David Lereah, NAR, August 2005

    “We can expect a historically strong housing market moving forward, earmarked by generally balanced conditions across the country and fairly stable levels of home sales with some month-to-month fluctuations.” – NAR, April 2006

    “The worst is behind us, as far as a market correction – this is likely the trough for sales. When consumers recognize that home sales are stabilizing, we’ll see the buyers who’ve been on the sidelines get back into the market.” – NAR, October 2006

    “At least the bottom a ppears to have already occurred. It looks like figures will be improving.” – NAR, February 2007

    “The speculative excesses have been removed from the market and home sales are returning to fundamentally healthy levels…” – NAR, October 2007

    Outside the safety of Realtor-to-Realtor blogging, NAR is regarded somewhere between a bad joke and a malicious attempt to rip off an unsuspecting public.

    https://bigpicture.typepad.com/comments/2008/01/a-history-of-ho.html

    There’s more to life than duping someone so you can cash your next commission check. Do I believe most agents are better than that? Yes. But, having NAR present that image to the public makes it harder for you to get members of the public to trust you because they’ve been treated like rubes by your trade organization.

  13. Matthew Rathbun

    July 1, 2008 at 9:43 pm

    Frank,

    I don’t know what’s worse… NAR’s bad attempt at projections or that fact that your regular consumer doesn’t even really know who they are. I don’t know that the average consumer sees NAR as more than a buzzing sound in the background who runs bad, late night commercials. Of course financial people and those in the press are laughing….

    I think if members would concentrate on their local and state associations (at least in VA) they would do much better in their business. There are a number of tools out there to help, but NAR is becoming a barrier.

    I think it’s fixable.. but it’s going to take a lot of time and work. It’ll either improve or go away. It can’t stay the same.

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Social Media

BeReal: Youngsters are flocking in droves to this Instagram competitor app

(SOCIAL MEDIA) As Instagram loses steam due to its standards of “perfection posting,” users are drawn to a similar app with a different approach, BeReal.

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social media - bereal app

BeReal is one of several “Real” apps exploding in growth with young users who crave real connections with people they know in real life.

According to data.ai, BeReal ranks 4th by downloads in the US, the UK, and France for Q1 2022 to date, behind only Instagram, Snapchat, and Pinterest.

BeReal flies in the face of what social media has become. Instead of curated looks that focus on the beautiful parts of life, BeReal users showcase what they’re doing at the moment and share those real photos with their friends. Their real friends.

It’s real. And real is different for a generation of social media users who have been raised on influencers and filters.

As the app says when you go to its page:

Be Real.

Your Friends

for Real.

Every day at a different time, BeReal users are notified simultaneously to capture and share a Photo in 2 Minutes.

A new and unique way to discover who your friends really are in their daily life.

BeReal app

The app has seen monthly users increase by more than 315% according to Apptopia, which tracks and analyzes app performance.

“Push notifications are sent around the world simultaneously at different times each day,” the company said in a statement. “It’s a secret on how the time is chosen every day, it’s not random.”

The app allows no edits and no filters. They want users to show a “slice of their lives.”

Today’s social media users have seen their lives online inundated with ultra-curated social media. The pandemic led to more time spent online than ever. Social media became a way to escape. Reality was ugly. Social media was funny, pretty, and exciting.

And fake.

Enter BeReal where users are asked to share two moments of real life on a surprise schedule. New apps are fun often because they’re new. However, the huge growth in the use of BeReal by college-aged users points to something more than the new factor.

For the past several years, experts have warned that social media was dangerous to our mental health. The dopamine hits of likes and shares are based on photos and videos filled with second and third takes, lens changes, lighting improvements, and filters. Constant comparisons are the norm. And even though we know the world we present on our social pages isn’t exactly an honest portrayal of life, we can’t help but experience FOMO when we see our friends and followers and those we follow having the times of their lives, buying their new it thing, trying the new perfect product, playing in their Pinterest-worthy decorated spaces we wish we could have.

None of what we see is actually real on our apps. We delete our media that isn’t what we want to portray and try again from a different angle and shoot second and third and forth takes that make us look just a little better.

We spend hours flipping through videos on our For You walls and Instagram stories picked by algorithms that know us better than we know ourselves.

BeReal is the opposite of that. It’s simple, fast, and real. It’s community and fun, but it’s a moment instead of turning into the time-sink of our usual social media that, while fun, is also meant to ultimately sell stuff, including all our data.

It will be interesting to watch BeReal and see if it continues down its promised path and whether the growth continues. People are looking for something. Maybe reality is that answer.

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Team of deaf engineers at Snap create feature to help users learn ASL

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Snapchat engineers known as the “Deafengers” have created an ASL Alphabet Lens to help users learn the basics of ASL.

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Snap ASL feature

A team of Deaf and hard-of-hearing Snapchat engineers known as the “Deafengers” at the company have created an ASL Alphabet Lens to help users learn the basics of American Sign Language.

Using AR Technology, the Lens teaches users to fingerspell their names, practice the ASL Alphabet and play games to “put their new skills to the test.”

The Lens, launched last month, is the first of its kind and encourages users to learn American Sign Language.

In a press release Snapchat said, “For native signers, in a world where linguistic inequity is prevalent, we believe AR can help evolve the way we communicate. We look forward to learning more from our community as we strive to continuously improve experiences for everyone on Snapchat.”

Austin Vaday, one of the deaf engineers who helped develop the Lens said helping the world understand sign language is important. He shared his story with NBC correspondent Erin McLaughlin on TODAY after the Lens was released.

Vaday didn’t learn American Sign Language until he was 12. Before then he relied mostly on lip-reading to communicate. ASL changed his life. That life-changing moment helped inspire the ASL Alphabet Lens.

The ASL Alphabet Lens was designed and developed over six months in partnership with SignAll.

There are approximately 48 million deaf and hard of hearing people in the United States, according to the National Association of the Deaf.

Vaday said the ASL Alphabet Lens came from the desire to find a way to appropriately and properly educate people so they can communicate with those who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Vaday said the team focused on the core values of intelligence, creativity, and empathy while working on the project and it’s a step to opening communication for all Snap users with the deaf and hard of hearing community.

The ASL Alphabet Lens is available to all Snapchat users.

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Easily spot if your social media marketing service provider is a con artist

(BUSINESS) When hiring a professional marketing service, did you know there are actual questions you can ask to spot a con artist?

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con-artist

In this day and age the cult of positive thinking and “the law of attraction” are still very much alive and well in the business services industry. Here are a few simple questions that you can ask prospective business service providers to help you gauge if they are the real deal or just caught up in the fad of “say yes to everything,” or “outsource everything” being populated online by countless “thought leaders” and cult gurus. Classic con artist.

Lots of people will ask, “What’s the harm of people trying to make something of themselves?”

Well, I’m here to tell you there is huge harm in taking risks with a client’s money and manipulating people into trusting their “expertise” when they have none.

Business owners: Due diligence is more important than ever these days.

There are whole communities of people helping to prop each other up as experts in fields they know nothing about while outsourcing their tasks with little or no oversight into the actual work being done on your behalf.

It is nearly impossible for you to tell if this is even going on. Don’t worry. I am here to help you avoid a con artist.

How? By showing you how to weed out the bad actors by asking really simple questions.

This set of questions is perfect for people who need to distinguish if the expert they are talking to is really just an expert in bullshit with a likable personality.

Why do these questions work? Because people who are into this kind of stuff are rarely hesitant to talk about it when you ask them direct questions. They believe that what they are doing is a good thing and so they are more open to sharing this information with you because they think by you asking that you are also into similar things.

It is a fun little trick I picked up while learning to do consumer polling and political surveying.

The Questions:

    • Who influences you professionally?

 

    • Do you follow any “thought leaders” “gurus” or coaches? If so, who?

 

    • What “school” of thought do you ascribe to in your profession, and where do you learn what you know?

 

    • Are there any industry standards you do not agree with?

 

    • How do you apply the services you offer to your own company?

 

    • Can you please tell me the background of your support staff and can I see their CVs?

 

    • Do you outsource or white label any of the work your company does?

 

    • May we audit your process before buying your services?

 

    • May we discuss your proposed strategies with others in your industry to ensure quality?

 

    • Would you be open to speaking with an independent consultant that is knowledgeable about your industry about your proposals?

 

    • Can you show me examples of your past successful jobs?

 

    • Do you have any industry-accepted certifications and how many hours of study do you do in a year to keep your knowledge up-to-date and current?

 

    • How many clients have you had in the past?

 

    • How many clients do you have currently?

 

    • How many clients are you able to handle at one time?

 

    • How many other clients do you have that are in the same industry as my company?

 

    • How long is your onboarding process before we start getting down to actually making changes to help solve the issues my company is facing?

 

    • Can you explain to me the steps you will take to identify my company’s needs?

 

    • Have you ever taken a course in NLP or any other similar course of study?

 

    • Have you ever been a part of a Multi-Level Marketing company?

Fun. Right? Well, we aren’t done.

It is not just enough to ask these questions… you have to pay attention to the answers, as well as the WAY they are answering questions.

And you also have to RESEARCH the company after you get your answers to make sure they ring true.

You cannot keep accepting people at face value, not when the risk is to your business, employees, and clients. There is little to no risk for a person who is being dishonest about their capabilities and skillsets. They will walk away with your money, ready to go find another target for a chance meeting that seems amazingly perfect.

Do not leave your business decisions to chance encounters at networking events. Research before saying yes.

No matter how likable or appealing the person you are speaking with is.

How do you research? Easy. THE INTERNET. Look at the website of the company you are considering working with.

    • Does it look professional? (do not use your website as a standard for professionals unless you have had it done by a professional)

 

    • Can you see a list of their past clients?

 

    • Do they effectively tell their story as a company or are they just selling?

 

    • What do their social media profiles look like? Do they have many followers? Are they updated regularly?

 

    • Do they have any positive reviews on social sites? (Yelp, Facebook, Linkedin, etc)

 

You can also do some simple things like running SEO Website Checkers on their websites. There are tons of these online for free and they will give you a pretty good indicator of if they are using best practices on their websites – you can even do this research on their clients’ websites.

Also, if you know anything about SpyFu, you can run their website through that to see how they are doing their own online marketing (the same can be said for their clients if they are selling this service).

Facebook also has a cool section that shows you ads that a Page is running. You can find this info connected to their business Page as well as the Pages they manage for their clients as well. None of these things automatically disqualify a potential service provider, but their answers to the question of “why” things are the way there are might be very illuminating to you as a business owner.

This may seem like a lot of work, and it can be if you do not do these things regularly and have them down to a system, but the cost of not doing these things is way too high. A con artist is born every day, thanks to the internet.

You have a right as a business owner considering services from a vendor to ask these questions.

They also have the responsibility as a service provider to answer these questions in a professional manner. Sometimes the way in which they answer the questions is far more important than the actual answer.

If all of this seems too overwhelming for you to handle, that is okay.

    • You can ask one of your staff in your company to take on this role and responsibility.

 

    • You can hire someone to come in and help you with these decisions (and you can ask them all the same questions as above before taking their services).

 

    • You can reach out to other business owners in your network to see if they have recommendations for someone who could help you with things.

 

    • Heck, you can even call up companies that look like they are doing as well as you want to be doing online and ask them who they are using for their services. Try successful companies in other industries as your competitor won’t likely be interested in sharing their secrets with you…

 

What is important is that you are asking questions, researching, and ultimately making sure that you are doing as much as possible to ensure making the best decision for your company.

Final thoughts:

“But, Jay, what’s wrong with taking a risk on an up-and-comer?”

The answer to that is NOTHING. There is nothing wrong with taking a chance on someone. Someone being green doesn’t make them a con artist.

The issue I am raising is in the honest portrayal of businesses and their capabilities. It is about honesty.

I am a huge fan of working with people who are new and passionate about an industry. But I only work with people who are honest with me about who they are, what they can do, and how their processes work.

I have worked with tons of people who are still learning on the job. It can be quite educational for a business owner as well.

Just make sure they are being honest about everything upfront. You are not obligated to give anyone a chance when it comes to your business’s success, and it’s not right that someone might manipulate you into doing so.

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