August 2022 eNewsletter
St. Joseph’s Statues
Over the years, I have told many agents to bury the St. Joseph’s statues to sell stale listings, but with this slower market, it might be time to bury them up front and not wait 3 weeks!
Three years ago, a client had a Piedmont listing over $3M sitting on the market even after a healthy price adjustment. I told her to buy and bury the statue asap (upside down and facing the house, and then say a prayer). She had not heard of this before. She did and received a really good offer the next day. Hmm…
In August of this year, an agent told me he buried St Joseph’s statues in 5 listings, and he sold 4 in 1 week! How odd… in one of the slowest months of the year and in a declining market. One sold several hundred thousand over asking.
Hilarious! Last year, a Danville agent told me she buried one in a listing her buyers were writing on. She knew there would be multiple offers and she wanted to increase their chances of acceptance. They got their offer accepted! She went back after it closed and retrieved her statue. 😊
The prayers I found online:
Saint Joseph, you who taught our Lord the carpenter’s trade, and saw to it that he was always properly housed, hear my earnest plea. I want you to help me now as you helped your foster-child Jesus, and as you have helped many others in the matter of housing. I wish to sell this [house/property] quickly, easily, and profitably and I implore you to grant my wish by bringing me a good buyer, one who is eager, compliant, and honest, and by letting nothing impede the rapid conclusion of the sale.
Dear Saint Joseph, I know you would do this for me out of the goodness of your heart and in your own good time, but my need is very great now and so I must make you hurry on my behalf.
If you have a stale listing or know you are listing a property with challenges in terms of price, location or desirable amenities, bury a statue before it goes on MLS! It works most of the time! They can be found on Amazon.com.
July 2022 eNewsletter
“What is Generativity?”
I found this word recently, generativity, in an article in Psychology Today. I had no idea what it meant. I looked it up. The next week I noticed I and many others are doing it. Here’s the definition and the story:
a concern for people besides self and family that usually develops during middle age. Especially : a need to nurture and guide younger people and contribute to the next generation —used in the psychology of Erik Erikson.
(Erik Erikson was a German-American developmental psychologist and psychoanalyst known for his theory on psychological development of human beings.)
I held a vision and business planning retreat last week for a newly expanding team with half of the participants experienced agents and half new. All of the 5 partners have come from well known real estate families on the Peninsula. Thus, they are conducting business having been educated by family members and are passing the torch to younger, newer agents.
That is generativity at its core. But it also includes passing on knowledge to the next generation without being related to them.
Here’s my coaching tip for the month:
What are you doing to help guide the agents who replace us?
- You could be mentoring a new agent formally with an agreement.
- You might train/coach new agents as they ask you for advice.
- You could offer to train agents on your areas of expertise without charge in your company. Your broker would be ecstatic. (This is how I got started as a coach.)
- You could teach a free class at your local board.
- You could become an informal coach – a “go to” person at your firm, available to answer questions.
- When you have an agent present a poorly written offer on your listing (and it’s the offer you want to work with), help them clean it up instead of berating them for a lack of knowledge. You may end of working with that agent again and they will appreciate it!
- I am sure there other ways to communicate our volume of knowledge. Please send me ideas!
I have always appreciated those who give back selflessly in the community. Think about it. You feel great, the new agents receive important tips and tools, and you improve our colleagues’ work habits and interaction. Shouldn’t this be part of passing the baton?
June 2022 eNewsletter
Many of you have asked me how to speak about the market we are experiencing. Most of the verbiage below is for sellers.
We are in a “transitioning” market, which is usually a short-term market, in this case moving from a seller’s market to a buyer’s market. Some agents call it a “balanced” market. This particular market is odd because the factors are not at all similar to other “transitioning markets”. Our interest rates jumped 3% in 5 months, we have crazy-high inflation and high prices for the most part. That wasn’t true in 2008.
- Pricing strategically is critical. There will be more “transparent” pricing of single family residences and condos, which have been challenging to sell since COVID began. (Perhaps condos should be priced at “teaser” pricing to get attention!) 😊
- Be attentive to setting an “offer date” unless there is lots of activity with numerous disclosure requests. You will probably take offers as they come. Track who is asking for the disclosures – local agents or out-of-area agents and how many showings there have been. One client told me that some agents ask for disclosures for every property before they show them, even when there is no interest in making an offer. It distorts the data.
- A Key Point! Work with pre-emptive offers as they may be your only offer. Your pre-emptive offer may be above market value, meaning it could be your best offer. A client told me he had 3 listings come on in a 3-week period and he received one pre-emptive offer on each with no other interest. He had “offer dates” set on all 3! They all went into escrow. He got lucky.
- Look at the competing inventory carefully when pricing a listing. There will be more to compare. Ensure your listings are the best priced with the best presentation (updating and staging). Look at Cancelled, Withdrawn and Expireds as well. Why didn’t they sell? Your listings need to be in the best possible condition and be memorable. And… make price adjustments for inherent flaws – power lines, no yard, a badly laid-out floor plan, no primary bedroom and bath, etc.
- Updating and staging really takes on more importance. Well-presented and well-priced homes always sell more quickly. Think this through. If your seller won’t update or stage, don’t take the listing unless the price reflects it. There has to be value to the buyer who will be more discerning than ever. They haven’t been in the driver’s seat for years.
- One more thing – set your boundaries! If you don’t like the seller or they are set on a price that was feasible in March or you don’t like the property, DON’T take it. (I call this the Rule of 3.) It will cost you a small fortune to market it and the “emotional vampire” client isn’t worth it!
- If you pay for staging, and it doesn’t sell, (and they decide to take it off the market), write into the listing agreement that you get reimbursed for the cost. You really should get compensated for all the hours you spent, but alas… that will never happen. 😊
- OR: Make it part of the listing agreement! The seller pays for staging up front and you will reimburse them at close. This is much smarter! Agents are already taking a big hit with listings not selling. Marketing budgets have to be bigger due to the high DOMs. Also start asking for 3% on your side of the commission. Many of my clients are getting the full 3%.
- Remember to ask for a longer listing agreement. I suggest 6 months. With luxury homes, I would ask for a year.
- It’s critical to mention there may be a possible price adjustment after 3 weeks if there are no ratified offers. If you have a high-end listing on the market, then you may need to wait 4 to 6 weeks before asking for the adjustment. Yes, this is an uncomfortable conversation. Practice it!
- Change the way you think about market cycles. Place listings on the market in the beginning of the season or the middle, not the end, when it slows. It slowed in May three years in a row. List early – in March or April and even February! Our spring market may now be mid Feb through the end of April. The summer market slowdown begins earlier every year. That also means the fall market may be earlier because school is back in session in mid-August. We used to place listings on MLS after Labor Day to kick off the fall market. Real estate has changed!
- The number of offers has decreased from 6 to 20 to 1 to 4. (And sometimes no offers.)
- Rates have gone up 3% points since February– that means buyers who could afford a million home can now buy $700K. The buyer pool is smaller.
Ex: Five months ago, a buyer who could afford a $1M house had a payment of $3,266 for a 30-year fixed loan at 2.75%. Now their loan amount is $560,000 and their payment is $3,268 for the same 30-year fixed loan. They can only afford a house around $700,000.
- Buying down of rates has become common. Speak to your favorite loan agent if you don’t know this creative financing tool. It is common in slower markets.
- (If the seller needs to sell and is worried about buying on the other end) – There will be a “wash” between what they “lose” on the listing side, they will gain on the buying side.
- Expect contingencies for inspections, loan and appraisals.
- Expect “contingent upon the sale of the buyer’s residence” offers.
- FYI: Delinquencies are the lowest of all time. Loan applications are the lowest in 22 years.
- The basic principle of real estate – well-presented and well-priced homes always sell first and for top dollar.
- The truth: We have never had this set of factors at the same time. Ex: inflation is the highest in 40 years – over 8%. Low inventory, a crazy jump in interest rates, low DOM, and extraordinarily high prices.
At this point, I think the market is in a correction, and we are not heading to a full-on recession unless other economic factors cause it to drop. There is no scientific method to predict the future. Don’t pretend to know what is going to happen. You don’t know. All you can speak to is what you know today.
May 2022 eNewsletter
Open House Mistakes
Several new agents told me recently their seasoned colleagues had given them advice how to hold Open Houses. None of them are picking up buyers at their Open Houses. Hmmm. I role played with two and discovered this:
- One was told to ask the buyers (who were looking at the Open House) if they had an agent early in the conversation.
- Others were told not to share information if the buyers stated they had an agent.
- Another was told to direct people to the flyers on the table in the back of the room.
- And most were not told how to prepare for an Open House to maximize the number of attendees.
- And last, most new agents have never heard of the creative ways to host open houses. See my book, Real Estate From A to Z for the list.
Frankly, I was appalled by the advice or lack thereof.
The answers to the 4 questions above:
NO, NO, NO and WHY NOT?!
Here’s my advice below. I know it works because new agents and veterans often tell me they picked up new buyers using this approach or even part of it.
Four agents who recently held open houses changed their methods and all picked up buyers and some were represented! They fired their agents and went with these agents who shared their knowledge!
Prepare in advance:
Purpose: To find out who is a real buyer and who is not. Build rapport. Your entire focus should be to offer information, do so generously and you will get the appointment. Key: Bring the Actives, Pendings and Solds in that price range in the entire city. Also bring the Open House list of all homes open and NOT open in that price range.
- Introduce yourself with a smile: “My name is Kitty. What’s yours?”
- Find out if they are a Buyer or Seller: “How did you find the open house today?”
- Acknowledge their answer: “Great. Redfin is a good way to find out about new properties. How long have you been looking?”
- Tell them about the property. (That IS the purpose of the Open House.)
“Take your time. I will be right here if you have any questions.”
Now you know who to focus on in the Open House. Memorize what the person was wearing so when they come back to the front door, you can continue the conversation.
- Offer information about other properties: “What did you think of the house?” (Pause for the answer.) “So you are looking for something larger?” (Discuss any properties that match that particular need.)
- A Key Step: “What else have you seen?”
- Go for the appointment: “I feel like we are a good match. If you are comfortable let’s schedule an initial consultation and find out about your criteria and timing.
- Great lines that clarify agent representation:
“Have your agent show you that house. It might be the best garden I have seen”. (Smile.)
“I don’t want to step on anyone’s toes. Who is your agent?”
“Have you chosen your agent yet?”
“Do you have an agent you are working with?”
- Other great lines:
Who is helping you with your search?
Have you interviewed agents yet? I would like the opportunity to apply for the job.
How to prepare:
- Research and bring everything a buyer would typically ask: The comps, stats in the area, schools, childcare, local transportation, clubs, airports, recreation and more.
- I also would bring info on Prop. 19, the $250,000 exemption and on the over 55 rule.
- Put out 10 signs and do so early.
- Have a sign in a Lucite holder: please sign up for my e-newsletter here. (Then write one monthly!)
There is so much more to be said, but I have committed to not writing lengthy content. This is my longest one in 10 years. Forgive me. It was important to tell you how to pick up buyers at Open Houses!
April 2022 eNewsletter
An Interview with a Top Agent RE: her Instagram Success!
For this e-newsletter, I interviewed Christine Cheng, an agent with Compass in Montclair (Oakland). She has been licensed since 2013 and averages more than 25 transactions per year. Last year she closed 30 transactions, with the majority from referrals or repeat clients. A client of mine for years, she is one of my favorite people.
Christine started her Instagram account in 2013 when she first started in real estate. Her 100 followers were all friends. She has since grown her followers to 2,286 people and continues to be intentional with her IG strategy to find creative ways to grow her audience.
Here are her answers to my questions:
How many posts do you do per week?
I average 5 per week.
How did you increase your following to 2,285 from 100?
I follow agents, friends, friends of friends and local businesses, and most will follow me back.
If I post something with a hashtag such as: #RealEstate #Compass, #CompassEastBay, #Oakland, #(any neighborhood), #BayArea #OaklandRealEstate, then oftentimes I have gain new followers if they find my IG account interesting.
If I am out and about, I will do “Guess this Local Business” Story post and tag the business when I announce the correct answer. Eighty percent of the time the business will repost and their followers can see me. I typically get a handful of new people following me every time I do this.
If I meet an agent from Compass or another brokerage in my local market or other markets, then I look them up and we follow each other. That adds a lot of people.
When a transaction closes, I take a photo of my clients in front of their new home, post it (with their permission) and they repost it, tagging my account. Or they create a new post announcing their home purchase and tag me. I have had more than a handful of clients’ friends start following me just from doing this.
I have gotten 3 new followers from just one recent buyer closing!
How many referrals have you received from agents through Instagram?
At least 25-30 referrals from out of area agents in the last 5 years.
How many have you received from people who are following you?
I received 10 to 15 leads from followers in the last year. It creates an extra opportunity for me.
Why is being on Instagram important?
Connection and engagement!
Being able to show your audience (followers) what you do on a daily basis with a mix of real estate and personal activities (without being “braggy”) is key. Engagement is with your audience is so important in social media. Give them a reason to comment or reach out to you. It connects me to people with shared interests. This is my way of not being a secret agent.
Another benefit is relocation business – Some friends were looking at Sacramento real estate and asked me for an agent. Others have asked in San Diego, Tennessee and Texas.
I have reconnected with friends and past clients with whom I have lost touch – one reached out and will be buying in a couple of months.
You have 10 “Highlights” in Instagram. They are Fun, Outdoor, FoodRec, Q & A, Cheese, Sold, Guess, Listings, Run and Dogs. I notice only 3 are real estate-related?
Yes, that balance works well for me. The “Q & A” and the “Guess this Local Business” get the most play. I’ve also found that my followers love my food and restaurant recommendations and give me their recommendations as well! Make it fun!
I do “Stories” more than “Reels” and grid posts because they are faster to create and are less polished, which shows viewers your real personality and that you can be FUN. “Stories” disappear 24 hours after you post them, but I can save the best ones in “Highlights” for anyone new visiting my account. People have told me they have found my Q&A Highlights very helpful and informative.
What is your advice about Instagram?
Post and post often – “something from a day in the life”, the things that interest you, with a little bit of real estate sprinkled in. That has been my recipe for Instagram success.
What should agents avoid?
Do not post anything negative or say negative things about your peers, listings, etc.
Be attentive to sharing too much of your personal life – no politics, no whining, no bragging and nothing that puts you at risk. Be thoughtful before posting. Do I want to see this myself? Is this interesting or add value to someone who is a follower?
Thank you to Christine for an enlightening talk!
March 2022 eNewsletter
Explain Your Negotiation Skills Up Front
I wrote this script for a client a few days ago. Most agents never have this conversation. Please start telling clients how good you are at this… subtly!
Script: Initial Conversation with a Seller
The most important skill your agent brings to the table is their ability to negotiate. I would like to explain the current market, the offer process, my knowledge and how I will negotiate for you.
- In a “normal” market, we have inventory to sell, the Average Days on Market might be 15 to 35 days, the interest rates are good (but not low) and the buyers and sellers both have a say in the negotiation.
- In this particular “crazy hot” market, the conditions are challenging: The inventory is extremely low, the Average Days on Market has fallen to 7 to 10 days in most communities, the interest rates are relatively low but rising quickly, cash buyers are plentiful and there is a frenzy to buy before rates go up further. All of these factors created a seller’s market we have never seen before. This will slow down soon as the Federal Reserve has stated it will raise the short-term interest rates (called the Federal Funds rate) several more times this year, which indirectly affects our long-term interest rates. This type of market requires astute negotiation skills.
- Let’s discuss taking a pre-emptive offer vs. setting an ‘offer date’. Please remember your goals here. Is getting it done quickly more important, or obtaining the highest price? We can gauge how the showings are doing, and if we have high demand, then set an offer date if your goal is highest price. This stimulates the greatest competition, driving the price up. If your goal is to quietly “get it done” and be assured of a close, then I will communicate to the brokerage community that we are entertaining pre-emptive offers. I can also offer the property “off market” just to my colleagues in the company if you would like to do little prep and no open houses. What do you want to do?
- And last, if we decide to place your listing on the open market, then I will be negotiating the offers. If we receive numerous offers, then we will look at the top offers for highest price, ideal close of escrow and no contingencies. You may decide one of these options: 1. Accept the best offer; 2. Counter just 1 offer; 3. Counter the top 3 offers and see which one is highest or has the best terms.
- One more thing: I will be assessing the agents, their history, their buyers and their qualifications before making recommendations. The final decision will be yours.
- As you can see, intelligent analysis and negotiation are taking place at many levels in the transaction. My 16 years of experience negotiating over 275 transactions will serve you well.
A similar conversation can be communicated to buyers in your initial meeting. Good luck!
February 2022 eNewsletter
I heard all 4 of these stories within 24 hours.
Mairin: The seller had me come over for months giving them advice on what to do. I made lists for contractors to take care of things. I brought my stager over and they took her advice on what furniture to move out. I gave them painter recommendations and color pallets. Then they decided not to use me because I was taking a vacation BEFORE they said they wanted to list. They had told me all along April 1st was their “on market” date. I came back from my trip March 20th. Just full of %$@#!
She really wanted the listing as it was an Eichler and in her neighborhood, and instead the universe delivered 4 new listings to her. Her message: When we show we are not needy, we get the business. She said, “The universe really delivers. It was guarding my happiness.”
JK, an agent asked for coaching in an email:
One of my “A” buyer clients is so demanding in getting information he wants but not providing any information regarding proof of funds, or his spouse’s name when writing an offer. (I talked to his loan agent, and he is pre-approved.) He said he wants to submit an offer, but ghosted me on 2 occasions just 1 day before submitting an offer.
I feel I would rather spend my time prospecting instead of providing valuable information regarding recent sales (pending homes), etc. I just received a text message from him (no apology whatsoever), and asked me about a recent comp in another home. How do I respond?
I told her to push back. Here is the email I wrote, and she sent.
This is not how I work. If you will provide your proof of funds and communicate when we are writing an offer, then we can continue. If not, we will need to part ways.
Her email back to me that day:
Thank you so much! I did exactly what you wrote, and he sent me the proof of funds along with an apology. It worked!
AI, an agent, sent me this email:
I signed a 5% listing in the fall of 2021 with the seller of a condo in Pleasanton. I proceeded to prep the property- 2 bathroom remodels, 1 kitchen remodel, interior painting, staging consult, shopped for the materials, and completely project managed the improvements with the contractor. During this time seller got upset with the contractor because of dust in the property when they were working. Seller was upset with me because he felt I was siding with the contractor. Fast forward to January, once property was ready for market, the seller said that I should list the property for 4%. I thought about different scenarios but at the end decided that the best thing for me was to cut my losses and spend my time helping clients who value my services. I sent him an email detailing all the work that I had done and called him out on his duplicity and terminated the contract.
Congrats to her! She saved herself a lot of potential headaches.
Victoria Tseng sent me this email:
I was sent buyers for Piedmont from the listing agent. The buyers said they weren’t working with an agent but had been looking for a while on their own already and they REALLY wanted an agent who could speak Chinese and had a good reputation in Piedmont. They had seen the house already at open house (they stayed over an hour) and I went through the disclosures with them and showed them the house privately. We wrote an offer at $3.78M though I told them exactly how high the house was going to go (over $4M; it closed at $4.25M). We were way too low, but I thought maybe they will become my clients after this experience. I took them through a buyer consultation, reviewed and summarized the disclosures, and sent them a buyer broker agreement. They asked me to limit the representation to just that one sole and only home in Piedmont. I asked them again – are you already working with an agent? No, no we aren’t, but we just met. Today I was told by another agent (in my office) that she’s working with these clients, they are so and so, with such and such budget, “I met them while hosting open house last year in a Piedmont home” and I realize they are one and the same people. I sent them a text to say, I understand you are working with ___ and for that reason I will not be able to continue to send you pre-market or off market listings or give you professional real estate advice. You told me your budget was $3.8M but the agent told me your budget is actually $4.5M. I hope you understand, I believe in honesty and professionalism so I won’t disturb you again. Good luck to you.
These people gave the agent a lucky red packet with $100 in cash in it for good luck. That agent isn’t Chinese!
My advice to her:
- You are going to have another upset this month, this quarter and for the rest of your career. The busier you get, the more it happens. Your new mantra: Get over it.
- Don’t take referrals like this in the future – you won’t need to!
- And last… screw them. They are “&%$#*@$%s”! Make yourself laugh; they are not worth it.
My coaching to you when you encounter a disloyal and/or abusive client:
- Be clear that if there are 2 incidents of bad behavior, it is time to have a chat with the client.
- If you continue with the client, look deep inside– are you desperate to work with any breathing person or have you set clear boundaries and are they working effectively with you?
- Most importantly, should you terminate the relationship and move on because they are draining your energy (emotional vampires)?
- Please take care of yourselves; this is the toughest market I have seen in 32 years!
I have been watching lots of TED Talks lately. A few favorites:
- Your body language may shape who you are by Amy Cuddy
- How great leaders inspire action by Simon Sinek
- The power of vulnerability by Brene Brown
- How to speak so that people want to listen by Julian Treasure
January 2022 eNewsletter
A Script for Sellers Who Won’t Update or Stage
Plan A, B or C
Several coaching clients dealt with this objection recently so I thought I would share the script I wrote for a client 12 years ago. The 85-year-old couple needed every penny out of their San Francisco home for retirement and they couldn’t understand why they should fix up their house. After several miss-steps, I came up with this and they chose to spend the $40,000, and top dollar for their home, $400,000 more than the value in its “As Is” condition. Whew….!
Let’s discuss the 3 options in preparing your home for sale.
Plan A is to complete all the updating, repairs and stage it. My estimate is $40,000 for the first 2. I think you will sell close to $2,200,000. This option takes some time, energy and obviously money. The benefit: It will produce the highest interest and more buyers will write offers. Turn-key homes sell more quickly.
Plan B is to complete half of the updating, and repairs, and fully stage it (approximately $20,000). The property should sell between $1,950,000 and $2,050,000. This option takes time, energy and money, but less of all three.
Plan C is to not complete any of the updating, and repairs, however we would stage it. Then I think the property will sell close to $1,800,000.
This is the least desirable choice as your property will take longer to sell and this approach will stimulate fewer offers. The benefit: it saves you time and money, but you may leave the possibility of several hundred thousand on the table for a relatively minor investment.
Summary: Plan A and B take some time to complete. Plan C takes no time.
What is more important to you – obtaining top dollar for your property or getting this done as quickly as possible? I promise to be your project coordinator and manage the entire process so the preparation of your home is seamless. What would you like to do?
The sellers chose Plan A and received $2.2M for their home with a $40K investment (10 times the money they spent) and wrote a wonderful review for the agent!
December 2021 eNewsletter
8 Serious Coaching Tips for 2022
- Plan: Plan your business out with specific milestones to achieve (the income, volume, average price, farming, social media, etc.). Did you know that if you write down your goals, you are more likely to achieve them? You unconsciously start to make steps to achieve them. This has been true for me for years.
- No More BS: Clean up your freaking database and then stay in touch! Your SOI and past clients usually love hearing from you. This is our weakness! If your database is 300, it should produce 15 transactions per year minimum. (I have been tracking this with clients for years.) Wake up. You are leaving business on the table.
- Get onto the Social Media train even you hate it: Post something at least once a week. One client posted 5 very brief videos a day on Instagram this last year and picked up 5 clients – 3 of whom have closed. The other 2 are working with her now. Also, post on Linkedin. It is triggering leads.
- Just say NO! Your boundaries are slipping a bit, right? You work with clients you don’t like, who treat you like a servant and/or you take listings that are impossible to sell. What the hell? Stop it. You don’t have time for that. Turn down a tough listing and see if a great one doesn’t fill its place.
- Listen like you never have before: The key to referrals is to develop deep, long-lasting relationships. Take a few minutes, call a past client today and just listen to how they are, what they did for the holidays and what they have planned for the new year. Don’t bring the conversation back to you. Keep listening in that way and see what happens to your relationships. People will see you differently. Whoops: One agent listened to his wife in this new way and she asked if he was having an affair!
- Talk to the universe about what you want or need. If you are a non-believer, then try something small – “I have a new escrow or a new signed listing by Jan. 30th, 2022.” I have used this with clients for years and bizarrely, the universe is answering the call and usually it is EXACTLY what we asked for. 😊
- Languishing??? Make a point of doing something that makes you happy, laugh or gets you out of your comfort zone every day. I call a friend and we share what made us happy every day. Aren’t you experiencing the COVID doldrums a bit?
- Humor: A year ago, one of my clients was in a bad emotional state after a challenging year and a surgery. I suggested she affirm this every day: “I am smart. I am beautiful. I am an amazing agent and if clients choose not to work with me, they are *%&king idiots.” It made her laugh! And then
It worked. She had a HUGE year – jumping to $25M. I give you permission to copy it!
November 2021 eNewsletter
Bad Actor or the Professional
I have been hearing numerous comments about agents behaving badly. Last week it was clear that agents are under stress as well as the sellers with listings priced too high and buyers who “want a deal”. A gentle reminder of “things NOT to do”.
- Agent was aggressive when their offer is not accepted. (Rude jerk is the correct term.)
- Listing agent requesting a release of earnest money deposit because the appraisal was taking so long. (a Tahoe purchase). Seller threatened to cancel if not released. The buyer refused and the deal stayed together.
- Prodding you (when you are the listing agent) for information about the seller on the edge of abusive), who then didn’t follow the showing instructions and sending your assistant instead.
- Agent leaving doors unlocked after a showing.
- Leaving the house a mess after a showing; shoe booties were scattered throughout the house. (It is simple! Take sanitizing wipes with you and toss booties in the trash.)
- Demanding the list agent comes right now when the lock box doesn’t open. (Please test the lockbox or put on a contractor’s lock box.)
- Writing a complicated offer when the norm is a clean offer right now with no contingencies. (checking box that shouldn’t be such as 7.B Govt requirements and Retrofit” – List agent has to counter everything. Waste of time for all.)
- An agent hanging up on another agent.
- Not responsive when calling a listing agent – “I need more information to write on the property.” This is arrogant, but also implies you have your own buyer.
- Some appraisers are rude – 90% are great. A recent comment: “I will get you the report when I get to the report. I don’t need your comps.”
- Male agents mistreating female agents: “Oh sweetie, that is not the way it works.” (He said this to a 17-year veteran who closes $25M a year.)
- An agent from Redfin disappeared during the escrow for 5 days. Did you go on vacation? What the hell? She never said that she didn’t manage the escrow part.
- Be kind, patient and respectful no matter what; you may find this agent (to whom you were just rude) showing your next listing.
- Be patient with newer agents; I notice many are entering the business with little training and oversight. (They are dangerous! Help them.)
- Dump the arrogance and attitude – everyone knows you have low self esteem if you have to brag, be mean or rude. (Whew… 😊)
- Be professional always.
- Remember that your real clients are each other – that your colleague is more important than the clients that come and go. YOU NEED EACH OTHER!
October 2021 eNewsletter
The Data-Driven Agent
I often ask agents about their own annual statistics (to prepare for their business planning session at the end of the year). Many have no idea of their Average Days on Market or Sales Price to List Price Percentage for their listings. More importantly, you must research the market statistics frequently in your communities to truly be informed and to accurately quote the trends. It is great to have a “feel” for the market, but check your gut instincts against the data. You could be wrong!
Here is the minimum I recommend:
For sellers: Run quarterly statistics both in close proximity to their property and also the entire city, entering a price range about $200,000 on either side of their Fair Market Value. Ex: If the Fair Market Value is close to $1M, then run the range $800K to $1.2M. Run the DOM, Sales Price to List Price %, Average Sales Price, Number of Units Sold and Average $’s Per Square Foot. I always did this. You will sign more listings!
For buyers: Run the same stats above when you are ready to write an offer. Enter a range approximately 1 mile around the property. Learn if you should be writing 10% or 30% over the asking.
For general knowledge about the 3 to 10 cities you cover:
Run all of the above quarterly and also track average number of offers, when agents list at “transparent” vs. “teaser” pricing and when you have 50 Disclosure packets out – what percentage actually write an offer? Another piece of data is the number of cash offers. That can be found under the “reports” in Paragon. Look for the report called “Sold Market”. One more to analyze when looking at comps: look at the number of properties that needed a price reduction to sell. You will be aware of the slowing trend before others. Condos anyone?
There are many other stats to track. Pay attention to the questions clients ask. I bought a property in Chico years ago for my niece and the “top agent” I hired couldn’t give me any data! I asked for Average DOM. I assumed she would research it and tell me the second time we looked at property but no. No excuse!
Is your client in the finance world? They will want data! Come to the table with the data in hand. You never want to say, “I will get back to you on that.” You should be intimately familiar with it. Be data-driven!
Thanks for listening!
September 2021 eNewsletter
Writing an Offer in Competition! (The preparation)
Many of you have mentioned your buyer’s frustration with writing many offers to no avail, and the resulting comment, “I need to wait until the market cools”. Here are some tips to help increase your success and save your buyer relationships.
1. Review the Actives, Pendings, Solds, AND Expired, Withdrawn and Canceled listings.
a. What didn’t sell and why?
b. What did sell, how quickly, and for what percentage of asking?
2. Ask the listing agent: “How many offers do you have in hand?”, and (if you are feeling bold), “Who are the agents bringing in the offers?” (Of course, if you don’t have a good relationship, the listing agent may not tell you.)
3. Ask: “How many Disclosure Packets are out?” Reminder: Some agents ask for disclosures and never show the property.
4. Read the Disclosure Packet thoroughly; notice any red flags that may keep people from writing – slides, foundation problems, neighborhood nuisances. Sometimes, there are 50 Disclosure Packets out and only 2 agents write offers. And conversely, I recently heard a story about 50 Disclosure Packets out and 25 agents wrote. (Note: the condition of the house is vital!)
5. Review the existing inspections. What inspections are needed? Should you recommend any for your buyers even in this “non-contingent” market to protect them?
6. Is the listing agent a local agent? Or an out-of-towner? An experienced listing agent or a relatively new agent? This information can make a big difference in their listing price strategy.
7. Was the property listed at Fair Market Value (transparent pricing) or was it priced under FMV (teaser pricing)? What is the agent’s history in pricing? This can be critical. Call the agent to ensure you know what they are expecting? Often an agent will tell you, “Make sure you write above $1.1M.” (Ex: When the list price is $995,000.) What other terms could strengthen the offer? Where are they going? Do they need a rent-back? Should your buyer adopt the seller’s dog? (True story)
8. Pay attention to building rapport with the listing agent, especially if you have not closed a transaction with them. I recommend at least 3 interactions, but don’t be annoying. This may be the most important tactic! I hear this frequently. The quality of your questions indicates your professionalism.
9. Were there any price reductions on this property? If so, what percentage off the asking? Two percent? Five percent? Ten percent? If they took a small price reduction, it indicates the seller doesn’t have much room (or the seller wasn’t listening). If the price reduction was a 10% or greater, it indicates a clear willingness to move the property quickly.
10. Run the statistics for the last 3 to 4 months in the area: Average Sales Price to List Price %, Average DOM, Average Sold Price and Average Dollar’s per Square Foot. Analyze the data. What will the average agent write? You need to write above that number.
11. If you are presenting in person and your buyer desperately wants the house, consider writing 3 Page Ones with varying prices. Ex: $1.1M, $1.150 and $1.2M. Start with the lowest one and go up from there. With each one, say: “Now will you accept my buyer’s offer?” (A client of mine used this strategy years ago and got his offer accepted after presenting 5 Page Ones.) If you have never presented face-to-face, try it. It sets you apart! An Oakland agent told me her seller accepted the agent’s offer who presented in person. 18 offers!
12. Were there a lot of cash offers on the Solds in the last 3 months in the area? Five to 15 percent cash is common. Twenty-five percent cash is high today. (This can be found under “Sold Market reports” in Paragon.)
My message: Do your research and you will greatly increase the number of offers you get accepted. You will also write many fewer offers per buyer! I know that is your primary goal. And also not to get fired. Good luck.
An addition to the newsletter! I will share some of my great resources:
I have used Friedman’s Appliances in Pleasant Hill for over 30 years. Just tell them you are an agent and you will get a better price.
Thanks for listening!
August 2021 eNewsletter
Get Comfortable Being Out of Your Comfort Zone
Every month I look for the prevailing topic. The subject that raised it’s head this last month? Oddly, it is the contrast between new and seasoned agents in their comfort zone. The newer agents say they are comfortable making calls, door knocking (not that!), going up to strangers at parties, and other things that make us old veterans squeamish! Many of the experienced agents won’t make call to a client with whom they have lost touch. Yes, it’s embarrassing but you turn red on the phone when you apologize for the lack of communication, so no one sees it! Frankly, they are ecstatic to hear from you!
This lack of willingness “to do what it takes” surprises me! Why so much fear or reluctance about it? Why can’t we make 3 calls a day or write 5 notes per week or speak to 2 strangers per week at Starbucks or call 10 Expired sellers per month? (I am using real life activities of fearless clients.) Is the reason one of these?
- Are you shy?
- Have a fear of rejection?
- Are you an introvert?
- Do you feel like you are asking for something and it feels needy or salesy?
- Are you concerned the client will want to get together and you don’t want to?
- Just no time to do these things? (An excuse)
- Other things?
I believe it to be partly due to COVID and the low-level depression keeps us from doing those things. I think it also just plain fear of doing what is uncomfortable.
The truth: I hate doing these activities too, but I did them early on in my real estate career. I literally called everyone in my database every 3 months (I tracked it.) I am quite shy (yes, I know you think I am an extrovert) and these tasks were hard for me. But I did them! Do it before noon by the way! That worked for me.
I want you to shake up your routine just a bit each week and do one (or all!) of these:
- Call 2 past clients or SOI per day to stay in touch.
- Initiate 3 emails or texts per day to stay in touch (cut and paste the same one! It takes minutes).
- Post 2 times per week on social media.
- Post 1 video per week of some icon, store, or restaurant in your city.
- Do 1 pop-by per week (visit a previous client). Then do 2 the next week and so on.
- Walk your dog or kid and talk to 3 people before you come home.
- Call someone you met through a networking event or at a social event.
I have said this to many of you for years, especially in the December retreats.
I suggest you get out of your comfort zone and stay there for the rest of your career. (And maybe your life.)
A tiny amount of the above activities results in business! The goal is “Stay top of mind”.
July 2021 eNewsletter
Solution-oriented Versus Problem-oriented
Conflict is in full force with this crazy-making market. Yesterday I coached three clients how to manage challenging clients. What does it say about us? We might be part of the problem!
First, a side note: I was on a non-profit board years ago, where the president of the board wanted to talk out every decision we made, no matter how simple the issue. Her “process-oriented” approach, which seemed like a big time-waster (yes, I am impatient) was to allow time for the members to share their opinions, but we became somewhat ineffective and moved slowly. The board, comprised of business people who regularly made quick decisions in their companies, began to lose enthusiasm for the non-profit. Whoops.
The “problem-oriented” phrase stayed in my mind over several career changes. I feel it is vital in your real estate practice to be “solution-oriented”.
My definition of “problem-oriented” behaviors:
- You are not good at educating the client up front. That oversight causes loads of problems when clients don’t know about the normal delays or hiccups. You spend more time later trying to repair the damaged relationship.
- You escalate the problem because you got angry and lashed out at the cooperating agent.
- You snap at your own client because you are exhausted, and tired of their complaints.
- You need to assign blame for mistakes.
- You don’t take responsibility immediately and move on.
- You avoid conflict regularly, wishing and hoping it will go away on its own. Stop that! In my opinion, you have to be good at managing the upsets.
- And last… you talk too much about the problem and not the solution. (We do this more when we are new or uncomfortable.)
What do we need to be doing differently?
- Yes, thoroughly educate the client up front about the process and mention the blips in the road. Example: “A perfectly smooth escrow is an anomaly.”
- Please pay attention to “how” you present the problem to the client and manage it differently. (How? See #3)
- Review the problem briefly and solve it before bringing up the subject if possible. Present the problem as “solved”.
- If not possible to solve it first (because you need their input), discuss the problem, provide the 2 to 3 solutions, and recommend which one you feel best suits their needs. Reminder: the client is the decision maker, not you. You are not a principal in the transaction.
- A side note: always apologize if you have failed to do something. And it helps to say, “You are right.” Clients need to be right. 😊 The brilliant Sue Thomas said it to me.
June 2021 eNewsletter
Thank you to my clients for stimulating a much-needed topic every month! This month, the challenge of keeping the client focused on the original reason for buying or selling has been frequent and urgent. This crazy market has pushed sellers into unrealistic expectations (“I, too, want a million dollars over my asking price!”) and buyers onto the fence (“Can you predict when the market will soften?” “No, I cannot.”) You never can. 😊
The following will speak primarily to sellers as they are jumping from one decision-making process to another more often than buyers do.
Overview: When a seller gets off track and starts to balk at accepting an offer that you know they should take seriously, (“Your first offer is often your best offer.”) then consider using the coaching below. This applies with multiple offer situations as well.
First: Think about the primary reason for the sale. Was it marriage, divorce, death, birth, move up, move down, job change, or retirement? This explains whether they “have to sell” or not.
Second: Think about how the seller will make decisions. Have to or Want to?
- For financial reasons?
- For a career move?
- Health reasons?
- Change in relationship?
- Change in the family?
All of these above are usually: “I have to move” decisions.
When a seller gets a good offer(s) on his property and he thinks it is too low or insulting, he has changed his decision-making process, basing it on a different reason for selling; he no longer stays focused on that he “has” to sell. He often gets stuck on emotionally-based reasons for rejecting the offer or he gets diverted by the thought, “On principle, my house is worth $200,000 more than this offer.”
Seasoned agents know that the market will take the sales price to its highest and best (as long as you prepared the home within the seller’s budget, priced it strategically and marketed it fully).
One caveat! If the seller is “testing the water” to see if he can get his price, then this thinking may not apply. That is an “emotional” reason for selling.
Key lines when having this conversation with a seller who is not responding rationally to a good offer:
Mike, I have been thinking about you and your property, and I’d like to share something important. Your primary reason for selling is financial, correct? You want to move to Idaho to be near your daughter. You can’t keep this house and buy there.
I would like you to notice that we need to keep your decision-making process based on financial reasons. I think what is happening is that your decision-making process got side tracked by emotional reasons or possibly by principle reasons.
The emotional reasoning: I think you are upset that you didn’t get more.
The reasoning based on principle: I think you are feeling the property is worth a higher the price, and if I may say, you are irritated that the buyers didn’t see the value. I understand that.
Isn’t the real reason to sell still financial?
If yes: Ok. Can we move back to making the decisions based on what’s best for you financially? I think that we have let emotions and principles get in the way of a business decision.
May 2021 eNewsletter
Projection of Our Feelings
The latest client stories:
Several of you have relayed recently that your clients are upset with what you say, what you do, and/or what you write in an email or text. It seems to be happening more frequently during this crazy hot market of the last 5 months. Perhaps you are being misunderstood, or are not clear, or you failed to educate the client up front about what will happen and what may go awry. Emotions are running high. This is the most challenging market I have seen in 32 years.
I noticed something new in the retelling of the “upset”. When you call me to work out the client problem, many of you are projecting how you would feel in that situation. That isn’t important, because you are not the client. You are not in their financial situation, not in their emotional situation, and not moving!
So, please pay attention to what the client needs and wants, and speak to those concerns, not your own. No more assumptions of how the client will feel.
- How to discover if you ARE making up a story? Keep your mind on the present: Listen to your internal voice about the client’s upset reaction. Did you engage immediately and retort inappropriately? Or did you stay present and actually hear what they are concerned about?
- Slow down: Pay attention to the client’s goals.
- What is their time frame?
- Budget for staging? Or budget for buying?
- Specific needs? (Ex: I have a baby grand piano.)
- Should you be a counselor or stick to the data, or both? What do they need from you?
- Revisit the situation: Put yourself in the shoes of the client. What are they going through that you might not know about?
- Are they suffering physically?
- Are they in bad financial straits?
- Are their emotions fraught with fear over an ill mother or father?
And think – how would they feel about it? (Not you.)
- Be self aware: Notice when you have made up an emotional story and stick to the facts.
- Revisit the client’s goals. Check in with them if you are unsure or haven’t talked in a while. I think asking pertinent questions about their goals ensures you are on the right track with your advice and lets the client know you are thinking about them.
I think we stop listening because we get into our heads and go into worry-mode. Please take that energy and use it for solving problems, not obsessing. You are wasting valuable energy (and time) worrying about things that may never happen.
Please, move your reactions out of the equation! No projecting. Again, this has nothing to do with you. There is enough stress in the real estate market right now without you adding to it!
Thanks for listening!
April 2021 eNewsletter
Have you ever wondered about your reputation in the real estate world? If you ask your colleagues, most agents will not tell you the truth. They don’t want to hurt your feelings. From a coaching point of view, you cannot afford to let your reputation get sullied by a terse email, an abrupt tone of voice or slow response time. Don’t let any of your behaviors (because you are exhausted or impatient), interfere with your reputation. Once it has been tarnished, it cannot be repaired. It takes years if you are lucky.
Why did I choose this topic? Because the problem is exacerbated by this challenging market – COVID and all its restrictions have placed unusual burdens upon you, the agents (and the clients).
- A coaching client asked me to check out her reputation years ago. I called the last 7 agents with whom she had completed a transaction. What was the feedback? Awful. Everyone used the same phrase, “She was a B _ _ _ _.” I heard this 6 times. The 7th one said, “She is very smart and she is a B _ _ _ _.” This is not the reputation you want!
Did she change after I gave her the feedback? No.
- This week, I heard from a client that he is in the middle of a deal with another former client of mine. Her snippy email about repairs was bizarre. They started out playing nice. Some repairs were represented as done and they weren’t. I don’t understand why she needs to be testy. NO NEED. I have not coached her for years.
- Then in my next appointment that same day, a lovely coaching client with great manners told me she was screamed at by another former coaching client of mine. She had missed a showing appointment due to an emergency. She had to stop and deal with it. He is known for being arrogant and defensive. He had a reason to be upset. But he didn’t need to blast the agent.
- Stop yelling.
- Be kind, patient and have compassion for others. Everyone is going through emotional upheavals at the moment – COVID-related and otherwise.
- Slow down. You may be reactive because of what happened 5 minutes ago. Don’t take it out on the next person you speak to.
- Take some time to breathe before you respond. Don’t lash out at a colleague no matter what happens. Anger is not valuable.
- Never solve conflict by email or text. Get on the phone.
- Set clear boundaries with clients and colleagues about your hours, commitments, etc.
- Last, learn how to disengage emotionally with the upsets. You don’t have energy to give away to anger. Retain it!
An addition to the newsletter! I will share some of my great resources:
- I opened a HELOC recently and this guy was fantastic.
David Maturino, US Bank. email@example.com
Cell: 925.809.2777 Office: 925.278.5535
- Best Painter – I have used him for 25 years:
Ernesto Zepeda firstname.lastname@example.org
March 2021 eNewsletter
Before I discuss the Imposter Syndrome, I want to acknowledge this very challenging market has triggered this reaction in many of you. I honestly believe this is the worst market for you, the agents, that I have seen in 31 years. This is what I am hearing: clients are acting out more, agents have resorted to rude behavior, loan agents are exhausted, and the vendors are stressed because they can’t deliver what we need in the timeframe we request. Appraisals are coming in low, buyers are frustrated and sellers are greedy. Whew, what else could go wrong?
Back to the Imposter Syndrome.
Imposter syndrome is defined as doubting your abilities, second-guessing yourself and feeling like a fraud. You may attribute your success to luck, not taking ownership of your talents, skills and knowledge. It disproportionately affects high-achievers, who find it difficult to accept their accomplishments. Many question whether they’re deserving of accolades.
Symptom and signs of it:
- A lack of self-confidence
- Comparison to others, not your own potential
- Anxiety, doubts about your thoughts, abilities, achievements and accomplishments
- Negative self-talk
- Feelings of inadequacy (not smart enough) and not belonging
- Dwelling on past mistakes; excessive analysis of your behavior
- Feeling like you are not good enough
- Not speaking up in a meeting due to fear of looking stupid
- Paralysis in the job unless you know everything
- Fear of asking for help
- Ridiculous perfectionism
- Discomfort with a compliment
- Unable to attribute success to internal factors
- Missing a goal by a small percentage and getting upset
- A desire to quit your job
Any of these sound familiar?
What Causes It?
- Family background
- Being new in a job
- A crazy real estate market
- Burnout… and more
“An estimated 70% of people experience these impostor feelings at some point in their lives, according to an article published in the International Journal of Behavioral Science.”
- Notice that you are having the destructive thoughts.
- Acknowledge there is no benefit to having them.
- Reframe your thoughts into positive ones.
Example: “I really don’t know how to determine an offer price for this property. My buyer is going to lose.”
Reframed: “I am going to research all the comps carefully, and look at the average Sales Price to List Price percentages, Days on Market, number of offers, and other data to give my buyer an assessment of the trends.”
- Forgive yourself for the negativity. It’s normal.
- Talk to friends, colleagues or a therapist to move to an optimistic state.
- The best advice – tell yourself the truth. You are fine just the way you are.
February 2021 eNewsletter
The most important skill we bring to the table is negotiation. (I found this in a NAR survey of buyers and sellers.) I have noticed for years both new and seasoned agents are often saying or doing things that cause their deals to go sideways. We focus on the commission, we get ridiculously tough on principle, we get aggressive because the coop agent acted up or we push our clients to do something they don’t want or need, trying to be creative. We neglect to pay attention to what our clients need. Keep their goals in mind throughout the negotiation. It’s that simple. STOP showing off!
You are damaging your reputation in the industry and more importantly, your client relationships suffer. My advice: Get out of the way. Your job is to be an advisor, educator and facilitator – not to manipulate, control or make decisions. Think of yourself as an influencer, to guide the process.
Please consider these basic tenets before you begin your next negotiation:
- Be clear about your client’s goals – highest or lowest price, a certain close of escrow, a contingency-free transaction or a smooth one where you take care of all the details?
- What are the interests of each side? If the seller cares most about a long rent-back and the buyer cares about lowest price, it is easier to negotiate than if both parties care about price. Ideally, you want them to have different interests.
- Google the clients (and the agent!) on the other end of the transaction. Don’t accept offers from buyers who appear to be litigious on the Internet. (A true story.)
- Did you think about the coop agent when your seller is about to accept an offer? Are they new, experienced or do they have a reputation for being difficult in the transaction? I had a buyer’s agent write in 10 additional terms on an addendum. That was a red flag. We chose someone else’s offer.
- Be neutral and exude patience always. Never raise your voice or say something challenging to the other agent. Your reputation will be affected. You can’t fix your reputation once damaged.
- Is the lender from out of the area or from out-of-state? Both can be red flags. Or at least pink flags. You want local and a known company.
- My favorite: Think about the fatigue factor of your clients when negotiating – how many rounds can they take before getting annoyed and walking away? If they negotiate in their professional lives, often the negotiation is looked upon as a game – it’s fun! If they are quiet, and unused to negotiation, 3 rounds might be their limit.
- Last, negotiation is usually based on one of two things – it’s about the money or about the principle (Seller thinks, “My house is worth $100,000 more than your offer.”) And often, when it looks like it’s about the principle, underlying, it is really about the money. 😊
Thanks for listening!
January 2021 eNewsletter
In the last few months, several coaching clients didn’t complete their coaching homework commitments. Many of us don’t do what we should be doing or need to be doing to grow our business. We won’t make the calls to past clients, we don’t do the marketing consistently, we don’t do the social media posts weekly. Why?
Here are a few answers: Some apologized, some said, “You should fire me,” and some said, “I just can’t get off my butt.” COVID was an occasional excuse. I wondered if the clients fit the definition of a rebel – one who challenges authority and who regularly breaks the rules. They didn’t all fit neatly into one box, but they all agreed they were rebellious.
The frequency of the pattern was fascinating and frankly, it was familiar. I don’t like being told what to do, especially by people who think they are smarter or better than others. If you talk at me, I will never do what you may be suggesting. My internal reaction is, “I already know about this (Thanks so much – said in a sarcastic way)” or “I am not going to do what you tell me.” A rebel. Where did mine originate? My father. He talked at us at the dinner table every night. I hated it and talked back to him often. I was soon labeled the black sheep of the family. (My father was one of the earliest “mansplainers” possibly?)
Is it really being rebellious or is it being stubborn? Or is it keeping true to your own values and priorities? It could be either or both. Or something else. We are unique in our reasons. But we don’t have to acquiesce to this way of living. It’s not fun nor productive!
- Look at a hard look why you are not doing what you should be.
- Challenging a parental voice in your head, telling you that you are not going to amount to anything so you self-sabotage?
- Not willing to do the hard parts of real estate like prospecting? Again, why? Rejection?
- Or is the task a low priority?
- Or you don’t like doing it?
- Or you don’t know how to do it? Feeling stupid? (Or is this a dominant thought – “I really should learn how to do X”.)
Discovering out why is extremely beneficial to stopping it.
How to get over it:
- Prioritize the list and decide which tasks you might do first, second and third.
- Assign deadlines to the tasks. Ex: A marketing appointment with myself on Mondays at 10 am.
- Find someone to hold you accountable. A client and I agreed to be on the phone with each other for an hour, not talking but cleaning up our respective databases. Really Kitty? Yes, it worked! He got started. Another female client did that with me last week. It helped her start the task.
- Start small. Do them before noon.
- You may need therapy first to deal with the annoying parental voice. It took me years to stop hearing my dad’s lecturing when my boyfriends were talking at me. It was easier to break up with them. 😊
- If none of the above work, have a strong drink, buckle up and start! Or leave the business. This paralysis doesn’t get you anywhere.
Thank you to all the clients who admitted (discovered) they were rebellious in nature. It triggered a much-needed discussion.
December 2020 eNewsletter
The Listening Exercise
A client and I role played recently about an initial seller consultation and then the formal appointment. I played the seller.
The agent did an acceptable job, but if she were in competition, she needed to improve her listening, and probing skills. Her statements and answers were canned responses, not tailored to that seller’s needs.
Then I role played with a few more agents. Quite an eye opener!
We are not LISTENING. We are in our heads with our own agenda and our nervousness gets us into hot water. Please wake up about this. You will get into many more relationships with clients! They will experience being ‘seen and heard’. (I love this phrase!)
Key Questions to Ask Yourself:
- Am I clear on the client’s goals for selling or buying? (There might be several: A certain time of year, need highest price, underwater financially, job change, birth, marriage, death, divorce, retirement, empty nester, etc.
- Did I ask enough questions before I answered?
- Did I tailor my response to the information I had?
- Was there anything that the client didn’t say but I should know? (Because the seller is a private person.)
Take the Quiz:
- Do you say the same thing to every seller or buyer or do you customize it? (Many agents do the exact presentation with every client.)
- Did you explain “how you work”?
- Did you ask about their preferred method of communication?
- Did you use what the seller said last in your next question or statement? This makes you look like you listened and you did!
Example of How I Work (#2 above):
“I would like to discuss how I work. I research the market weekly to keep myself informed about all aspects of the market. I consider myself to be the educator, the guide and the facilitator. You are the decision maker. My primary responsibility is to make sure that you are fully informed through regular updates and feel comfortable making the many decisions required in a purchase.
I commit to telling you the truth at all times, even when you may not like what I have to say.
I generally work from 9 to 6 pm every weekday and am available by appointment on Saturdays and Sundays If we are in the midst of a negotiation, then of course I am available that evening or weekends to complete the negotiation. Generally, I will return your calls within two hours. If I don’t respond within 2 hours, it means that I am with a client like you and I ask all to be patient and respectful. I will get back to you.
There may be occasions when there are bumps in the road. That is normal. A perfectly smooth escrow in this market is an anomaly. I will listen carefully to what you say, and will respond appropriately.
I would like to know about your preferred method of communication and ideal frequency. Would you like email, text or do you prefer to speak on the phone?
As you know, I work only on commission. I receive payment for my work with you when you open and close an escrow with me. This is a monogamous relationship.
Does this work for you?”
Example of How to Use What the Seller Just Said (#4 above):
With each question from the client, ask 2 to 3 additional questions to clarify before answering if you are not 100% clear. Example:
Seller said, “I am really busy and need you to take care of the details.”
(What does busy mean? Does he mean he wants to have nothing to do with it? That he will just sign the checks for the subs preparing the home?)
You ask, “That’s great. Does that mean you are comfortable giving me the key and I will prepare the house for sale without your involvement?” OR “Does it mean I will take care of everything and you want to be in the loop to make decisions?”
DON’T ASSUME ANYTHING. Often you don’t know exactly what the client is stating or asking. When you attempt to respond or fix the wrong problem, the client feels misunderstood. It happens frequently.
Real Life Story:
A coaching client (YH) was found on the Internet by a seller. The sellers interviewed a huge producer and her. They chose her, stating she was a great listener. The competing agent quoted a list price and estimated a sales price $100K below the numbers she quoted. Risky? Possibly. But YH was right. She got almost $100,000 more for the seller. She was paying attention to what they said, and what they wanted. She didn’t come to the table with her own agenda.
How to Discover Your Listening Skill Level:
This Listening Exercise has been used by my clients for years. You may find out that you are a terrible listener. (Sorry about that! 😊)
- Choose someone you know well – your partner, spouse, mother-in-law, friend or business colleague.
- Ask the person about their day, their weekend, their holiday or vacation.
- Keep the conversation on them and their experience. Do NOT bring the conversation to your day, your weekend or your holiday.
- If you make a statement or observation about something they say, then follow it with another question. Do this slowly. Don’t GRILL them.
- Do this for at least 5 to 10 minutes. You will learn something about the person and of course, about yourself.
- I had 18 engineers and architects (all males) in a class years ago. I gave them the exercise. A guy named Sil came back a week later and told us he chose to ask his mother-in-law (who lived with him and his wife) about her life in the Philippines. He admitted that he normally tuned her out because he thought she was boring and yammered on about nothing often. He said he discovered that she had lived a very interesting life, was intelligent, and wasn’t boring at all.
- An agent in Sonoma took a 16-week class with me. One week, I gave all 15 people in the class the exercise above.
“Jim”, the agent, came back the next week and told this story with tears in his eyes: “I followed the instructions, keeping the conversation on my wife, asking her about her day (she was a buyer for I. Magnin), and then asking questions about her responses, and then I kept asking questions and listened to her answers. I never brought the conversation to my day. You changed my marriage of 23 years. I have never listened to my wife like that before. Now I know what listening means.”
Please do the exercise with someone you love. It changes everything.
November 2020 eNewsletter
Open Houses – How Do I Replace Them?
Many of you have asked me, “How do I replace the people I previously met at Open Houses?” That source of potential clients dried up on March 17th.
Here are some suggestions that are working right now:
- Posting on social media has risen to the top for connecting with new people (for many of my clients). The key is to ask others to “share” your post. Ideas:
Post about good deeds, individuals needing help, non-profits needing help, the latest restaurant that opened, your favorite takeout food, and/or amazing finds at the farmer’s market. Be creative!
- Video ideas to post:
- Interview the owners of small local businesses to help those who are suffering. (This is making truly a difference.)
- Interview your pals if they share an interest (What are you cooking? Where are you hiking? What TV series did you watch recently? What great books have you read? How have you gotten rid of the COVID weight??? How?) and ask them to post it.
- Hold a contest for the most amazing volunteer and come up with a prize.
- Personal video ideas (these are less than a minute long and enthusiastically received):
- A thank you (for the referral)
- A welcome
- A reminder
- An introduction of you or others (referral)
- Just a hello
- I miss you
- Tell a story
- Outdoor activities:
- Walk your dog (or your kids) and talk to people (I talk to everyone with a dog).
- Hand out dog biscuits to people (with dogs) around holidays.
- I offered to take a neighbor’s dog for a walk (because I want the dog; she is a beautiful Golden Retriever).
- Hand out goodies (cookies, plants, salsa, jam, mulling spices, cocoa) in the neighborhood around the holidays to meet your neighbors! People are not afraid if you do this in front of your house and they have seen you in the neighborhood. Be care about social distancing.
- Join a meetup group that is meeting by Zoom or create your own.
- Start an exercise group that meets on the street (I see one going in my neighborhood).
- Start your own amateur cooking show and post it. Be silly. People are craving humor (and will be for a few more months).
- Talk to people while you are out: one agent met a buyer lead while filming a video in a park.
Happy holidays to you and yours! My wish for all of us (to help move away from the pandemic fatigue):
May we all find joy, pleasure and happiness in the simple things once again – appreciating the beautiful crisp fall days, the delightful sensory hit when tasting marble cake from Suzy Cakes, a 2-hour nap, and a loving glance from a family member. This was my Thanksgiving.
Thanks for listening.
October 2020 eNewsletter
I noticed that most of us have a dearth of referrals (both incoming and outgoing) in our real estate practice and our loan agent business. Why? I believe the reason is merely that we are not conscious about it, therefore not asking and not receiving or giving. Pretty simple. We could add 20 to 30 percent, and possibly more, to our income if we woke up.
Ilya Tsay (in the City with Vanguard) has closed more than 50% of his business this year from agents and past clients. Mairin Haley (in Sacramento with Compass) also has approximately 50% from agent referrals (she has closed over 33 deals). This is an active and conscious part of her business.
Steve Compagno (from Supreme Lending in Mill Valley) makes calls to his “referral partners” at least 3 times per month! They include CPAs, financial planners, divorce lawyers and insurance agents. He closed 22 loans this month. Nine came from referral partners, and ten came from past clients.
The key? Be mindful, purposeful.
Call everyone in your SOI and Past Client database four times per year to stay in touch and ask for business once a year. I think we are viewed as sleazy if we ask more often. I personally think it needs to be subtle and flow naturally.
- Scripts for clients:
- I know that you know I am in real estate, however I have to ask you once in a while. When someone mentions real estate, do you think of me? (Offer to give them some of your brochures.)
- OR: I would love to be of service to your family, friends and business colleagues. Please think of me. I am happy to help.
With your affiliate database (referral partners, subcontractors, handyman, lenders, insurance agents, etc.), set up a referral relationship. It’s acceptable to ask for business from each other monthly.
- I would like to ask you to be a referral partner for me and I would like to do the same for you. Let’s speak once a month to identify possible referrals. (Reciprocity is very appealing.)
Be bold and follow Steve’s lead. Ask frequently but with an agreement in
place that you are referral partners. No one will be offended if you provide a needed service to their clients. That’s the point.
- Scripts to use with Realtors:
- We did a transaction together 2 months ago and I really enjoyed working with you. I thought you were professional and a great negotiator. You told me that I made your life easy. Are you open to working with a new loan agent?
- I would like to work more with you because I want to work with people like you.
- Are you interested in having another service-oriented mortgage broker on your resource list? Or “How can we go about doing this together?”
Make this referral consciousness part of your plan for 2021. Block the time in your calendar now!
September 2020 eNewsletter
Random Thoughts on COVID-19
Here are random thoughts on what the last 6 months of SIP has done to our psyche and behavior:
- Our behavior will be forever different although we wish to return to “normal” (whatever that is).
- We think about the weight we gained from the COVID 5 to the COVID 10 to the COVID 19. Dang… It is hard to get rid of it. The refrigerator beckons.
- We sit more… at the computer… on the couch…at the dining table.
- We walk more hopefully. We intend to.
- We eat more chips (Kettle Chips!) or more ice cream or more cookies or Cheetos. Or just more.
- We watch more movies or more series. Did you love Yellowstone? I did.
- If you have ventured out for ‘to go’ food, maybe you tipped heavily. Good for you. Help out the wait staff who is suffering.
- Grocery shopping had to become an overly planned event – go with a list, shop early so there are less people, with a mask, maybe gloves and definitely don’t stroll the wrong way down a one-way aisle. I got barked at by a woman when I stood too close to her. It was my first grocery store experience (probably in May) because my assistant wouldn’t let me out. I didn’t get the protocol. I was ‘new’ at the pandemic.
- We wipe down everything with sanitizers, including fruits, vegetables, steering wheels, door handles, even shopping bags, but don’t use bleach on your nectarines. It doesn’t work.
- We repair everything that needs to be fixed around our houses. (At least 6 things have broken at my house – my sprinklers, a faucet, my pool heater, a hose bib. Weird!) Home Depot’s sales are soaring.
- We sleep more from the stress or we are new insomniacs.
- The sales of Zoloft, Prozac and Lexapro are up.
- Teeth grinding has increased.
- Some of us have turned into low grade agoraphobics.
- We live in sweat pants, T-shirts and yoga pants that needs to laundered a bit more.
- Shampoo sales have slowed. 😊
- The big difference? I think we ponder how ‘we and life’ will be different after COVID.
- How we will be in crowds?
- When will we be able to relax at a movie theater again?
- When will we be able to resume traveling overseas?
- When can I hug my family?
- What about dating? When can I kiss someone I met?
- When will we feel safe dining indoors and next to another table?
To keep my sanity, I am focused on my thoughts a year from now:
- I will look back on this and say to myself (both the silly and the serious):
- I ate a lot of Sea Salt Kettle Chips, which was 750 calories per bag. God, they tasted good.
- I loved how little I drove for the last year. Then I went stir crazy and started taking field trips by myself to Marin, Calistoga, Napa and the City.
- I gave a little more money to charity. I tipped 30% regularly.
- I kissed someone on a first date, and it felt good.
- I booked a 2-week trip to Europe and had a grand time.
- I read most of the 25 new books in my bookcase.
- And I looked back on COVID-19 and said: “Rest in peace to all the poor souls who succumbed to this disease.” I hope we never go through this again.
Please wear your mask, wash your hands often, social distance, and this will be over sooner. Reminder: We may have a second surge this fall. Let’s do our part.
August 2020 eNewsletter
Mentors and Teachers
Having a mentor or teacher in your business life is extremely valuable; your “go to” friend or colleague is for bouncing off ideas, discussing major moves, rehashing decisions or simply business planning. Recently, a couple of colleagues gave me feedback on a new deck design, and one of the suggestions was the perfect solution for a problem I couldn’t solve. (Put the lattice work screen for the hot tub on rollers so it can be moved back and forth like closet doors. It’s perfect!)
I have often changed my mind after talking to someone I respected about a significant life altering decision. The older I get, the more I notice I have very few mentors in my life. Of course, that is normal. I have many in my personal life (to chat about dating, travel, health, fitness, remodeling, etc.)
I had one mean teacher in elementary school – Mrs. Hollenbeck. I recall her being unjustly hard on me, swatting me with a ruler once. She seemed to be in a bad mood all the time. Weirdly, when I got my report card, I realized she liked me. I got great marks from her. My mother explained sometimes people are hard on you because they have high expectations of you. (That thinking made sense when I was older. I didn’t get it when I was 8 years old.)
On the opposite spectrum, with age (😊) I have become a mentor to many others, a truly enjoyable part of my coaching practice. I love the wins I hear about: An agent texted me last week that she just signed a $3.5M listing! How fun is that? Another client (a loan agent) just had his biggest month ever. (He closed over $8M in volume.) It makes my day and sometime it makes my month when a client tells me he or she will more than double his/her business since we met. I know I am your guide, your educator, your coach; all I am doing is pushing you in the right direction, but the sensation feels like I am your partner. I love that.
My favorite mentor in the nonprofit world is my friend, Angie Coffee, in Contra Costa County. Everyone knows her. She has done more to raise money for charities than anyone I know. I have been involved in charity work for over 37 years because of Angie and have been much more successful raising money due to her guidance.
My other mentor is Val Cook, the former manager of Coldwell Banker in Orinda. My boss at Mason McDuffie, Val pushed me when I need a boost and was a terrific ear when I needed to vent. Val also taught me to trust my instincts. I became a top 1% in production under her leadership.
Most of the veterans I know don’t have much time to help the newer generation of agents. My advice? Slow down a bit. Set aside a little time each week to be the big sister or big brother to an agent who is being challenged by the fast pace, the required discipline, lack of knowledge or the rude clients. Listen. Train. Coach.
It will change your week (or month) immeasurably for the better when the mentee is successful. Isn’t that what we are all put on this earth to do? I think so. Our purpose is to serve others.
Who are you mentoring? Who has been your primary mentor? Have you thanked him or her lately? Please consider it.
Thanks for listening.
July 2020 eNewsletter
Comparison Breeds Insecurity
Have you heard yourself say one of these sentences?
- I don’t know how she got that listing. I have been marketing to that area for years and personally know those sellers.
- I am sick of listening to the top producers in my office talk about their new listings every week. I am a better agent than all of them.
- Why aren’t I busy like [agent’s name]? I have integrity. I have heard she doesn’t have any.
- I can’t believe that [agent name] does all that business. Her marketing is poorly designed. Her flyers have typos and grammar mistakes constantly.
Comments like these indicate the person’s self esteem has taken a hit and they are comparing themselves to others – RE: their production, their marketing, their reputation, their farming materials. If any of the sentences above registered with you, then please take a moment to address why. What is it you are not doing? Why are you tearing someone else apart? What caused you to compare yourself to others? How long have you been doing this?
Generally, I think it is our own sense of not being ‘enough’, or not feeling good about that listing we just lost or mad at the buyer who fired us or not doing our business development like we should. Not being busy also triggers this thinking.
There is simply no benefit to comparing yourself to others. Stop saying those things and stop thinking those thoughts. Control it. It is not healthy.
Instead of being envious or jealous, say, “I want that.” It changes your approach from negative to positive. How do I have that experience too?
- Get busy with your daily, weekly and monthly prospecting.
- Speak in the affirmative about everyone and especially yourself (you really don’t have time for anything else.) Ex: Did you hear about [agent name]’s new listing in Orinda? Wow, it is gorgeous and $3.5M.
- Make calls, initiate texts and emails, and write notes to people who would never expect them – your affiliates and referral partners, your mother, your niece, your handyman.
- Send a thank you or gratitude video to someone every day.
- Drop off 5 small gifts a week, again to those who don’t expect it – give sidewalk chalk to 5 families or sanitizer and masks to 5 past clients.
- Do something kind every day for someone when they least expect it.
- Call your favorite charity and ask what you could do to help.
In other words, get out of your head and move into your heart. You will be thrilled with the connections you make and the ones you deepen.
Thanks for listening.
June 2020 eNewsletter
Living a Life of Freedom Versus Living a Life in Fear
4th of July! – FREEDOM
I will do my best to articulate the fine points of this important life-altering concept or way of living.
In the midst of the COVID-19 shelter-in-place order and all the stress that accompanies it, we are struggling with a lack of physical freedom (we can’t go outside safely) , emotional freedom (we are isolated if single, and if living with others – we may suffer with no time for ourselves), social freedom (we miss the energy we gain from socializing with family and friends, and maybe even intellectual freedom. Before COVID-19, I talked about this with clients occasionally. Now it is frequent.
On a formerly normal day (what’s that? 😊), many of us lived our lives worrying, fretting, feeling anxiety, and over-analyzing, including obsessive familial obligation, irrational responsibility for others (the caretaker mentality), worrying about what people think or “I am a fraud and somebody is going to find out.” I label this “fear-based thinking”.
My own lack of freedom (or fear-based thinking) slapped me in the face years ago when I realized I was exhausted by my own lack of financial freedom. I was in my head all the time, worried that I would never have “enough”. (Sound familiar?) I was making a good income but I worried if something happened, I couldn’t retire. I was living a compromised life because of the constant fear.
My parents were deceased; there was no one to go to in times of need. I was stuck inside a box.
In college, I read Elie Wiesel’s book Night, written after he survived years in concentrations camps beginning at age 15. The title, Night, refers to the metaphor of the darkness of life, mind, and soul experienced by those who suffered in Nazi camps during World War II. I think of his metaphor often when I think of freedom.
He survived because he was free in his mind. They could hurt him, torture him and starve him, but the Nazi’s couldn’t get in his mind. He said, “You can’t always choose your circumstances, but you can choose how to respond to them.”
His brilliants statement(s) stuck with me. It just took me a long time to adopt them (honestly years).
I decided to focus on the good in my life, to stop worrying about money – to trust that I would be fine financially.
- Look at your discomfort, your resistance, the things you avoid, and face them.
- Address who you are trying to control and why. (Is it a client who is abusing you verbally or your partner who is annoying you?) Relinquish it. It is not your responsibility.
- Set strict new boundaries with every new client.
- Don’t let your ego rise as your confidence will go down.
- Stay conscious and present in the face of adversity. You can do this.
- Look for the truth and tell yourself the truth.
- Let go of the emotional attachment to what others think.
- Don’t be afraid! Be willing to be out of your comfort zone.
- I live with great freedom and abandon.
- I live a life full of epiphanies.
- I forgive you and I forgive myself every day.
- I take risks (I have many times now).
- I step out of line (my fun way of saying don’t follow the herd).
- I do something every day that is new or “scary”.
- The ultimate “freedom” is giving up control.
More terrific reads: Michael A. Singer’s, The Surrender Experiment and The Untethered Soul
May 2020 eNewsletter
The following is from a training a client took about Zoom meetings plus my own observations:
1. Dress for work, at least from the waist up. Women, put on your faces and wear lipstick! Look at your appearance in advance, even for colleagues!
2. Start the meeting on time. (duh)
3. Spend 6-8 minutes doing a check-in: how’s everyone doing? (This is in lieu of pre-meeting/appointment chitchat, and is a great team-builder.)
4. Interactivity is critical. It makes for a much more engaging meeting. Invite quiet people to participate. In my meetings, I ask people to wave to ask a question or unmute themselves and blurt it out. 😊
5. Put the computer on top of a book or other object to get the camera “eye” at your own eye level, and sit about 20 inches from the screen, so your face is not squished or too close, but your bust/chest fills the screen (if you sit too far back you become small in your viewers’ eyes). Participants want to see your eyes and expression.
6. Tilt the screen so that it is vertical, not tilted up to the ceiling, not looking under your chin, which distorts YOU and makes you look fat! Aren’t we all a few pounds heavier?
7. Pay attention to lighting: lots of warm lighting as much as possible; put a white paper on your desk to up light your face (a portraitist’s trick).
8. Set your background. Clean the bookshelves, dust or add a beautifully framed photo or painting. Is it cluttered? No blank white walls please. Or…
9. Use a virtual background to protect your private space: your meeting mates or clients do not need to see your kitchen or the cavern of your desk area. A virtual background also is an economic/socializing equalizer.
10. Unless you are having a virtual happy hour, do not eat or drink on screen; keep your hands away from your face.
11. Turn off all other electronics and focus on your meeting. Listen!
12. Do not attempt to multi-task. Neurologically, your mind cannot do two things at once. You appear distracted and rude.
Summary: You need to need to demonstrate respect to your speaker, manager or trainer and your family members!
- Christine Mason cheered herself up by featuring Hometown Heroes in the Lamorinda FB chapter. She highlighted their efforts during Shelter-in-Place. Her goal was to inspire and provide uplifting news! She had suffered a personal tragedy in April and it picked up her own spirits. Christine got 1000 likes and 300 comments in 3 days from 1 posting. People cried when featured. One woman got 500 responses on Nextdoor.com and Instagram. She has featured 5 Heroes so far. They are the service-minded people in her community. Christine then delivered a May bouquet of roses from her garden with a thank you note to the Heroes.
- Marilyn G. dropped off 40 packages of 2 toilet paper rolls each with a note in a pretty bag and 75% responded! So funny!
Wake Up Calls!
- Debbie S. found out about an off-market fixer in Oakland from an agent in her office in Benicia. She immediately called an investor client. He called back within an hour. She told him about it, that is was urgent to see it before someone grabbed it. He said, “I will turn around and meet you there.” Next day he was in escrow. That property will be flipped and come back on in 4 months. She closed 4 deals with him last year!
- Cynthia S:
Forbearance delayed a Seller from closing. Do you understand Forbearance? The client still has to pay the balance deferred at the end!
April 2020 eNewsletter
Among all the suffering and hardship, I think we need some good cheer and sweet stories.
- Chad D. – offered his Matterport camera to other agents. He actually did the listing videos for 3 agent friends.
- Suzy P. is shopping for, baking cookies and taking meals to elderly clients in Danville.
- Debbie S. had hot meals delivered to a disabled client/friend and her 12- year-old son from a local restaurant in Benicia.
- Three coaching clients at Grubb Co. cancelled their house cleaners for the 4 weeks and then sent them the checks anyway. One also did it for her hair stylist.
- Cheryl B. has been ordering food out more often to support the local restaurants.
- Katie M. and her kids created a scavenger hunt around Pleasanton. She requested that participants create a sign saying “Thank You Teachers and Staff” to place at her kids’ school. She invited 12 families and 5 more joined.
- Carrie M. and her husband order groceries online for older clients and SOI from Costco and then delivers to them personally.
- Dennis S. got a destitute client into the Meals on Wheels program because her own son made her go to the grocery store with her walker. He also been promoting the non-profits he works with because they are suffering financially – STAND and Shepherd’s Gate.
- A client in Pleasanton got 25 pop-bys together for St. Paddy’s Day and didn’t get them delivered in time for the Shelter-in-Place. Then she ate them one by one.
- Christine sent 13 popbys of chocolates in Easter Egg-shaped box to families and received a buy and seller lead!
- Robin H. said this on Groundhog Day: “I should have learned several languages, how to ice sculpt and learned how to be a classical pianist by now”.
- Julia K. with 2 kids said, “I consciously decided not to panic.” Said with a smile.
- Make more calls to SOI and past clients. Linda T made 62 calls in 1 week. One agent told me more people answer the phone! 75%!
- Also write more notes. One agent is getting great notes back!
- Make a photo album of the Covid-19 “downtime”. Many of us are sharing stories, events and moments online. How about making a photo book of your memories?
- Order takeout as much as you can to help the restaurants you love.
- Support the small businesses you used to frequent if possible. Get the money flowing again.
- Please stop emailing clients and personal SOI the cheery e-newsletter written by others. Write your own!
- Reach out by email, text or a call to those in your database that you haven’t spoken to in years.
- I received a voicemail from a guy I met on Match.com months ago. He asked if I was interested in doing something illegal – meaning meet for a date. I didn’t call him back!
Zoom ideas: (Are you tiring of them?)
- gardening party
- board games
- book club
- writing group
- poetry reading
- dancing in the street
- cocktail party on the street in lawn chairs
- coffee meetings
- connect the volunteers and the elderly
- singalong at a certain time
Acknowledgements for Awards:
- Surinder Gill with Better Homes and Gardens of Fremont was the number 1 agent in production in the country for 2019!
- Mike Trejo, a lender and owner of Bridgepoint Funding received these awards for last year! Whew!
- # 43 Broker in the U.S. by volume (By Scotsman Guide)
- Top 1% Originator in the U.S. for 2019 (by Mortgage Executive Magazine)
- Top 1 % Originator in the U.S. (National Mortgage News)
- Top “speed to close” recognition by the largest Wholesale lender in the U.S (as recognized by United Wholesale Mortgage)
Something to make you think!
- Matt Tews, an experienced loan agent, explained something the banks are doing when a customer may be late on their mortgage. They offer to delay 6 months of payments (it is called Forbearance.)
- The truth is:
The 6 months of payments are due along with the 7th payment all at the same time. If you cannot make this payment, it is the beginning of foreclosure of the property.
Instead, don’t do it! If you cannot make the payment, you want to take a true deferral, when the payments are lumped onto the end of your loan.
March 2020 eNewsletter
The Corona Virus and Real Estate
News from my clients:
- STAY at home please! Please do not try to get around the law.
- An agent in Orinda got a ticket for advertising a Brokers’ Tour.
- Contractors at Home Depot are getting tickets for loading too much into their trucks. (If a contractor is working on your home and it is not habitable, then they can continue until habitable.)
- Rates will be locked in a lot longer without charges for some banks. Title companies, appraisers connected to banks, and others related to the industry are working. It is considered essential.
Please verify all of the above with your broker or local authorities as everything changes daily.
Questions/thoughts/stories from my clients:
- Should I put my property on MLS now or wait?
Your answer should be determined with the seller’s needs in mind. If the reason for selling is urgent, then put the listing on MLS now and it can be shown online until the “shelter in place” is lifted. You will have to take photos and videos yourself! Follow the law and your Board guidelines!
- Should I reduce the price on my listing that has been on the market for 4 weeks or wait until the ban is lifted?
I recommend that you wait until we know when the ban is lifted. Then adjust the price a few days before.
- Some buyers are pulling out of their escrow and losing their deposit. I heard this twice this week. I heard several buyers cancelled their escrows before their contingencies were released.
- Should I recommend to my buyers that it is okay to buy now, with the uncertainty?
If they intend to live in the home for 5 years or less, don’t buy now or until the market conditions are clear. If they intend to live in the home for the long term, then I would recommend to buy now, once the shelter-in-place is lifted. Real estate is always a good long-term investment.
- Buyers are asking, “Will prices come down?” “Can I get a good deal?”
Prices and values are likely to drop but how much? The entire country is desperate for the economy and market to bounce back.
Remember: The Fed has dropped the discount rates to stimulate the economy. Rates went up and are likely to come back down (per one of my loan agent clients).
Interest rates are very low. Inventory is low once again. Buyers are plentiful. Buyer confidence is shaky but determination will improve once the shelter-in-place order is removed. Multiple offers were common in most areas up until the ban arrived.
This will also depend on the motivation of the sellers. If a seller is desperate, then there may a good deal. This is always true.
This pandemic is absolutely new territory. We have never been in this situation so everything may change!
- Will this shrink the spring market?
We will lose a month minimum in the beginning of the Spring market. It may get extended or it may get shortened and start earlier. It may be a very hot short market. There is no way to know now with the information we have.
No one noticed this – last year and the year before, the spring seasons were shorter as well. One reason: schools closed earlier – they closed in late May versus mid-June. And they went back into session mid-August. I think the Fall market will be different – possibly longer so don’t make any projections to your clients. WE DON’T KNOW.
The side benefits of the corona virus:
- A client asked a friend whose has a son with special needs if she needed anything and the woman needed beef ramen noodles for her son, who only eats 5 things. The agent called around to find beef ramen and located some for her friend. A gift!
- “Mom’s Night in”: Christine M., who usually sponsors Mom’s Nights Out hosts them now by Zoom. This is saving her sanity.
- One agent started a Garden Zoom chat. Six people joined.
- Agents have started calling their personal sphere and previous clients just to stay in touch in the biggest way. Linda T. called over 60 people this last week to check in. Don’t discuss real estate!
- Jules H. is reaching out to people, strangers and friends alike, to deliver groceries and prescriptions. Ask her! She is doing it for me!
- I personally have received many calls, texts and emails asking how I am. I am single and it has screwed up my dating life! Other than that, I am feeling fine, very positive and ready for this to calm down. Our stock market and economy will rebound! They always do. It will take some time.
- One last note: I think our values will change. Social isolation is challenging. It changes us. We are returning to what’s really important – loving, nurturing and connecting to each other.
My advice: How to ride out this wave?
- Stop being the drama queens or kings.
- Stop demonstrating your own nervous feelings to your clients. We can slow the market down by our own negativity.
- Be the leader in the industry – be positive and optimistic that the market will rebound once the virus is contained and new cases are decreasing.
February 2020 eNewsletter
Superior Client Service
- SH climbed over a fence in a skirt at her listing to unlock a door.
- KC prepped her client’s house including painting a fireplace, cleaning a toilet and planting flowers.
- KS took wine with a note to the neighbors when she had a listing on a cul-de-sac to alert them to the Open House and Broker’s Tour’s times, so they could be gone. There was little parking.
- JH helped do all the staging for a client’s house including carrying half the furniture in. (She hurt her back!)
- JN took flowers and dropped off food to her client’s house when she heard the woman was ill.
- PS sent notes to all her affiliates at the end of the year, thanking them for their service and help all year.
- SH picked up her clients at the airport in San Francisco and took them back again. (And they didn’t appreciate it.)
- PU hired a limo to show property so she wouldn’t have to take time to find parking.
- TS takes baby gifts to all his clients who are pregnant.
- MM staged her clients’ properties for free because she had a warehouse full of furniture.
- A real estate client’s 14 year old son committed suicide in a listing before it closed. When the couple went to move, the agent, PC, helped the wife direct the movers where to place her furniture because the wife was unable to manage it. It was incredibly stressful, sad and took hours.
- DE, a loan agent, analyzes both short and long terms goals for clients before they choose their loan program. She did it for me. Wow, I learned a lot from it. Then I used her to do a refi.
What are you doing to exceed expectations?
January 2020 eNewsletter
Being Seen and Heard Accurately
I have noticed over 25 years of coaching and training that most of us feel misunderstood at times. I think it is common for others to make assumptions about us when they have little knowledge of our likes, dislikes, character, personality style, values, commitments and so on. I experienced this today (feeling quite misunderstood) thus I decided to write about it.
A new man in my life told me that he thinks I am quiet. I think not! I think he is chatty and I can’t get a word in period. We’re talking…
There is nothing so gratifying as a friend or colleague (or client) who truly “gets” you. He/she knows you at your core – how you react to situations, what you feel, and what you will say. This person seems to know you better than you know yourself at times. How amazing is that?!
I have a girlfriend who “gets” me. She is the most extraordinary listener. She and I get together for a walk and breakfast every weekend. The first thing she says is, “How are you?” And this means, “How are you really?” She often adds, “Don’t leave anything out,” or, “Tell me all the details.”
It feels glorious to have someone care and listen like that, but more importantly, it is amazing to feel understood at that level. I call it “being seen and heard accurately.” I value it enormously because it is so incredibly rare to experience. I hope that I am as precious a friend to her as she is to me.
I think everyone is looking to be “seen and heard.” Why is it such an unusual combination – the listening, hearing, probing, reflecting and recalling what someone said?
- I think it requires looking outward, not being so self-absorbed that you don’t think about others much. Being curious is key!
- It requires a generous nature and a giving heart.
- It demands that you slow down and stay present to hear what is being said.
- It entails asking opened-ended questions and meaningful ones.
- And it requires time; you must spend time with someone to “hear and see” another accurately.
Try it! I strongly recommend it. This can change your personal and professional relationships by building a deep, emotional connection that you didn’t deem possible. They are so gratifying.
The depth of my relationship with my friend, Karen nurtures my soul.
December 2019 eNewsletter
How I work
I have conversations almost every week with coaching clients about forgetting to have the How I Work conversation up front. This is simply a gentle reminder to those of you who assume or neglect to have this discussion up front with all clients. This script will set appropriate boundaries, manage expectations and create respect. It is truly a must!
Here is the script (to be tailored to your style):
I would like to discuss how I work.
I research the market weekly to keep myself informed about all aspects of the market. I consider myself to be the educator, the guide and the facilitator. You are the decision maker throughout the process. My primary responsibility is to make sure that you are fully informed through regular updates and feel comfortable making the many decisions required in a purchase.
I commit to telling you the truth at all times, even when you may not like what I have to say. The market can be challenging. It can take courage to buy in this market.
I generally work from 9 to 6 pm every weekday and am available by appointment on Saturdays and Sundays If we are in the midst of a negotiation, then of course I am available that evening or weekends to complete the negotiation. Generally, I will return your calls within two hours. If I don’t respond within 2 hours, it means that I am with a client like you and I ask all to be patient and respectful. I will get back to you.
If you contact me after 6 pm, I will return the call/text the next morning unless we have found a hot property. Because your timing is urgent, it is critical that you respond asap.
If for any reason you do not fully understand any part of the process as we go through it, please tell me immediately. It is critical that our communication is clear, open and frequent.
There may be occasions when there are bumps in the road. That is normal. A perfectly smooth escrow in this market is an anomaly. I will listen carefully to what you say, and will respond appropriately.
I would like to know about your preferred method of communication and ideal frequency. Would you like email or do you prefer to speak on the phone? If on the phone, what time would work for you and what number should I call? Also, how often? I can call you every day and may need to. (Smile.)
As you know, I work only on commission. I receive payment for my work with you when you open and close an escrow with me. This is a monogamous relationship.”
One more thing – “Negotiation is a critical part of my work with you. When we are ready to make an offer, I will assess the other party, the other agent and discuss with you how to proceed to get your goals achieved most effectively. Remember that it may be somewhat stressful and that negotiation is a process and that it also means a compromise may be in order to achieve what you want. We will be working closely together during this time.”
Does this work for you?
Happy new year!
November 2019 eNewsletter
Let’s Pay it Forward
In this time of gratitude and thanks giving, I wish to share a few stories of the heart.
- I know the person struggling in this story: Years ago, during the downturn, a man was sharing with a friend that he was struggling financially (as we all were). He said he was down to his last $600 in his bank account. He didn’t know how he was going to pay his mortgage let alone eat. The friend/colleague wrote him a check for $200 and said when you next see someone else in need, please pass this $200 on to someone else. His business bounced back dramatically and he did indeed pass the $200 onto to another person. He told me he was very grateful for that $200 as it gave him hope.
- I was standing in the city one day on a corner, waiting for a light to change when a sudden downpour emerged. A young guy walked up beside me without an umbrella or hat. I decided to hold my umbrella over the two of us, and offered to cover him while we walked across the street. He declined. (I think he thought I was up to something!)
- A woman in her sixties went up to a homeless man outside Whole Foods one night during the winter last year. She asked him if he would like something for dinner. He replied, “Yes, lots of meat please and hot please!” I watched her deliver the packaged hot meal to him a few minutes later. How thoughtful!
- Years ago, I was given 2 dozen long stemmed red roses on Valentine’s Day by a man I didn’t care for. I drove around the City with a girlfriend, handing out a rose to anyone we deemed alone or in need of a boost in spirit. The smiles we got were amazing.
- Some friends, a husband and wife who are retired regularly give money to friends, family and numerous charities. She is the queen of volunteering in her county – always giving money to homeless shelters, women’s shelters and even taking in women who needed a place to stay for a few nights. They have been my role models for years.
- And last, a girl friend of mine was in San Francisco years ago at night and came across a young woman in her early 20’s. Something drew her to this homeless person. “Grace” was clearly a drug user but was bright and engaging. My friend decided that she would try to help. She took her home, and helped her off the drugs. The young gal relapsed a few times, ended up pregnant, and had the baby. Grace died a few years ago, and the son went to live with Grace’s parents. My friend still takes Grace’s son on vacations twice a year. She acts as if he is her grandson. I think she is the most generous person I know and he has turned into a lovely young man.
What have you done for your fellow human being lately?
The next time you hear of someone in need, although you can’t “save” them from the hardship, go out of your way to do something small for them, to let the person know you are thinking about them and the situation. A note, a call or a visit can do wonders to lift the spirit.
October 2019 eNewsletter
Script: Seller Decision-Making Process
I have been discussing properties that are sitting on the market with coaching clients a lot lately! It’s time to share the scripts with all of you. (Price adjustments are here to stay for a while.)
- I wrote the script below for a Danville agent many years ago who needed a price reduction on a high-end listing:
“Mike, I have been thinking about you and how to get your property sold. I’d like to share something with you. I think this might help redirect our thinking to what is really important here.
Originally when we put the property on the market, the motivation was financial, right? You had lost your job. You needed to sell and soon.
Then when we reduced the property, the motivation was different because you had a job again, but still wanted to sell. I would call that reason emotional or personal. Does that seem right?
Then, when we discussed a second price reduction recently, I think that the motivation changed and I would call it (a decision-making process based upon) principle. By that I mean that you were feeling that the property was worth the price and if I may say, you were irritated that the buyers didn’t see the value in your home. On principle, your home should sell for the list price. And I agree with that… in a normal market, your home is worth the list price. (Then the market changed.)
Now this is what I wanted to share with you- Isn’t the real reason to sell at this moment still financial?
If the answer is yes: That’s what I thought. You still want to get out from under the big monthly payment. Ok. Can we redirect our focus to making the decisions based on what’s best for you financially? I think that we have let emotions and principles get in the way of what should be a financial decision. (It really is all about the price.) Thank you.”
Use this to illustrate the point if needed.
Decision-making Process/Reasons for Selling:
- Job promotion
- Lost job
- Job transfer
- Retirement (can’t afford the payment)
- Empty nester
- Need a 1-story home
- It’s worth the list price
- I paid $XXX 2 years ago
- I put $XXX into it
- The neighbor’s house sold for $100K higher 6 months ago
Remember to think about what the seller does for a living and about his/her personality type.
- Speak about numbers to an auditory person (who has a job dealing with numbers): “The newest comps indicate that the list price should be between $769K and $799K.
- Show graphs or photos to a visual type: “This graph demonstrates the correlation between Days on Market and the perceived value. The longer it is on the market, the lower the perceived value.”
- Talk about feelings to a kinesthetic personality: “I understand why this feels unfair to you. Six months ago, your home price was 5% higher. This market has unpredictable for months.”
- Use with all types: “This correction had been expected for months. Frankly, we were overdue. We have had close to 7 years of a strong market.”
2. Second script:
“I feel that I am doing a disservice to you. Your property has been on the market for 3 weeks and we have not received an acceptable offer. You hired me to perform a job and that is to sell your home. I can perform that task with the proper tools (or conditions) in place.
There are only two reasons a property doesn’t sell; they are price and/or condition. The condition of your home is excellent (or very saleable). You have maintained your home very well. The only reason it has not sold is the price. This is the tool that we need in place in order to sell your home.
I believe the price needs to be reduced by $________________ to $______________ to spur an offer. The latest comps indicate this range. What would you like to do?
I understand that you need to get a certain amount of money out of the sale. If the price is reduced, you may not get what you are expecting. You have told me that you need to sell. Would you like to sell it either way or take it off the market?
I need a price reduction in order to continue to market it or I need to give you back your listing.”
September 2019 eNewsletter
Business planning is a critical part of our success. I think we should spend time planning more than once a year as so many of us do. Should we plan quarterly? Monthly?
I think that monthly is the bare minimum.
Ideally, we should do some planning weekly. I read a study years ago that people who set aside ½ hour of time to plan every week were more successful. Make sense to me as I have to plan regularly to stay on top of my own business.
What kind of planning, Kitty?
Here is my advice:
1. Block a half hour a week on the same day every week at the same time.
Ex: Monday at 10 am. See #2 for what to do during this time.
2A. Do the marketing for the next week and month including farm postcards, ads, social media, and writing copy for property brochures.
3. Set goals for your planned escrows and listings at the beginning of each month. I have a Walnut Creek agent who was determined to take at least 2 listings this month. She did! She was visualizing it.
4. Check your production against those goals at the end of each month.
5. Additionally, revisit your vision statement once a month.
Are you in alignment with your vision? Is your behavior in alignment with your goals?
If not, adjust or let go of the goal if no longer relevant.
6. One last thing:
I would consider adding personal goals to the planning appointment.
Personal goals (they should be measurable too) and might include:
- Weight loss: lose 10 lbs. by December 1st
- Exercise: workout 4 days per week for 45 min.
- Diet: eat dessert only once a week (yeah right)
- Intellectual pursuit: read 2 books per month (and stop binge watching Netflix shows)
- Fun: Take guitar lessons, starting Nov. 1
- Spiritual: meditation once a day and take a weekly yoga class
Why did I write about this ¾ of the way through the year? Because so many of you are talking about what you want to accomplish next year – increasing average price, closing more transactions, buying income property, increasing your business from your farm, etc.
Let’s start now!
August 2019 eNewsletter
Have you ever noticed that people have different ways of venting anger or frustration? I think the key is to understand that most of the time the venting is not directed at you but at the situation (and sometimes the client hasn’t figured out their anger is at themselves). True? YES!
Examples: The sellers’ home didn’t sell because they overpriced it, the buyers lost out on their 5th offer (because they didn’t listen to you), the borrower underestimated the amount of money needed to close the escrow or the house had more damage than appeared on the reports. All of this is normal and it is upsetting too.
Why do people vent at others? It can be cathartic to vent. It can be comforting. Women often vent out loud and men shouldn’t try to calm them down too quickly. Sometimes they just need to talk and the problem doesn’t need to be fixed. When men vent, often they are looking for a solution. Both need to be heard and assuaged – slowly. Did they feel heard? Or did you try to fix the problem too quickly? My advice: never tell someone to calm down! I think it makes him/her madder.
What is your style of venting? Has it been effective or to your detriment? Did you hurt your relationship with the other party? Was it a friend or a client? Think about being on the receiving end of your style. Was it good or bad?
The Good Side Effects of Venting:
- It can clear the air with others
- It can make you feel better emotionally (validated)
- You get to feel “right” (even when you are not. 😊)
- It can uncover the solution by talking it out
- You learn to vent in a neutral, calm manner
The Bad Side Effects of Venting:
- It can hurt the relationship with whom you are venting
- It can destroy the relationship
- It can become a habit and you do it too much. I had a client who thought raising her voice was communicating power. (It made it hard for me to hear her. I focused on her tone, not the words. Frankly I didn’t like her!)
Some venting styles I have observed:
“Short Angry Burst” Style
- Yells but not at you, but at the issue at hand
- Might look frustrated more than angry
- Seems to organize and clear their thoughts by venting
- Usually moves forward quickly
- Apologizes afterward; may be embarrassed by their behavior
- Attacks verbally
- Blames you and everyone else
- Doesn’t take responsibility for own decisions (when he/she didn’t listen)
- Can’t hear rational feedback
- Might be a narcissist
Quiet Venting Style
- Never raises voice
- Seems to be quietly seething
- The anger is directed at you
- Holds grudges
- May be passive aggressive
- This is ideal because they talk about the problem without having to yell or establish blame
- Recognizes that “this is normal for real estate”
- Accepts the situation and moves on
- Forgives easily
- Mature and business-like responses
- Trusts you
So… Kitty, how should I handle the outbursts or the silent treatment?
- Detach emotionally from the situation; don’t take it personally!
- Recognize what is going on and learn from it
- Accept it
- Fix it when you can
- Expect that more of the same will come from that client
- No bad mouthing of the other party; he/she may be going through something challenging in their lives
- Fire the client if you experience 2 to 3 extreme episodes (life is too short to put up with jerks!)
Thanks for listening!
July 2019 eNewsletter
I began saving marketing collateral a few weeks ago not because it was so well written or designed but because of the many typos, poor grammar, punctuation and more.
A top producing agent in my area frequently has incomplete sentences on his flyers, which are on copy paper. Really?
Two top agents in Palo Alto ran an ad recently spelling the name of the street, Kipling, incorrectly. The property was listed for $2,650,000. I’ll bet that seller was upset.
A team of agents in my area dropped off a flyer titled, “Want to know your homes value?” The apostrophe was missing; there are extra spaces between words and periods are missing.
I can’t read the Sunday ads of a certain new company because they are too small – even with glasses. So… I don’t. I imagine all older clients pass on these ads too.
If you are not a great writer, here are some tips:
- Read the book by Edward Corbett and Sheryl Finkle, The Little English Handbook, to learn about grammar, punctuation, style and mechanics of good writing. I would reread once a year if you find you learn a lot from the first read.
- Another great book is the Elements of Style by Strunk and White.
- Proofread everything and read it out loud (or is it aloud?) 😊. Then you will notice when you used the same word 3 sentences in a row.
- If you make a list using bullets and one begins with a verb, all should begin with a verb. Be consistent with the format.
- Be attentive to split infinitives: A good example from Star Trek:
“to boldly go where no man has gone before”
(Boldly splits up “to” and “go”.)
- Use Spellcheck and then read your content again for errors such as “form” and “from”. That happens to me.
- Using the word loose for lose. Example: The team’s loosing streak was over. NO!
- Please learn the proper use of colons, semi-colons and commas. This is in the Handbook listed above.
- Insure, ensure and assure are used incorrectly often. Affect and effect are also.
- Farther is used for specific physical distances and further is used when something is defined that is additional or more, as well as referring to distance, but is not usually measured.
- Avoid overuse of the verbs “to do” and “to make”. There are rich words in the English language. Use them!
- If you used an ampersand (&) in a sentence, don’t use the word “and” in the next. Be consistent.
- Please pay attention to adverbs. They have an “ly” at the end. Example from this weekend’s Open House section: “Beautiful gated grounds” should be “Beautifully gated grounds”.
Why did I write about this? Because clients and agents judge us for poor writing, spelling, grammar, etc.
June 2019 eNewsletter
I have talked about resonating for years and never written about it. It is time due to the importance of being “in the zone” when the business shows up! If you are burned out, cranky or tired, the client doesn’t connect with you and he/she chooses someone else. I heard these stories all year.
Please read the Overview and the Story about the coaching client who is choosing to resonate every day!
How much of the last year were you resonating?
My definition: Resonating means you were getting business easily, you were enjoying it, you were “in the zone”.
Measure how many months were you “in the zone”. You received lots of referrals, you had business appear from all kinds of sources and it was great fun being busy. You were happy.
Most agents respond with 25 to 35% of the year. That can be increased by you choosing to resonate every day all day long. What Kitty? That sounds like BS. It isn’t!
It doesn’t mean you can’t have a bad day. It means you make a conscious effort to bring your best self forward and demonstrate your enthusiasm for the business. (If you have to fake it, do it. It turns into a positive mood. I do this sometimes)
Those who resonate make more money. They are more optimistic, more open to feedback and more willing to get out of their comfort zone. If something doesn’t work, don’t think of it as failure or as a roadblock. It is simply an opportunity for growth and creativity!
DS was “in a rut” as he said to me last month. He said he was not prospecting regularly and was not positive. He had opened one escrow and signed one listing in the previous 4 weeks but he needed 2 of each to stay on plan.
We talked about it, I sent him good energy (my ‘talk to the universe’ coaching) and I asked him to call or text me when he got the first lead. His phone rang a minute later while still in the coaching session and it was a listing lead! Weird! He texted me that night and said he had written an offer that day and received an offer on one of his listings from another one of my coaching clients. Suddenly, he is sizzling hot! ZZZZZZZ….
I touched base with him 18 days after this happened and he had opened 2 escrows and signed 2 listings. He has 12 days to go before our next appointment. Whoa… DS is on fire! This works!
DS is one of many stories!
- Consciously resonate every day. If you are cranky, go check your attitude at the door.
- Wake up every morning and say: “I am open and available for business.” OR: “I deserve all good things to happen to me”.
- Change all negative “self talk” to positive statements. You don’t have time for focusing on what didn’t work.
- Please be grateful for all the good in your life and repeat that to yourself daily.
- Go into every appointment with a smile on your face.
- Exude confidence. This is critical.
The result – everyone will want to be around you because your energy is appealing, vibrant, successful. You become irresistible.
I think this is the secret to success; it is definitely mine.
May 2019 eNewsletter
Nearly everyone I coach has grumbled about the number of clients who go radio silent frequently or disappear completely. This includes buyers, sellers, investors and especially Millennials! You engage, they express a willingness to be contacted, they provide contact information, you follow up once or twice, and then POOF! They’re gone!
Here are two stories how we solved that problem and the clients responded.
A client of mine asked me a month ago if I had any magic tips to get a “C” seller (his timing was 6 months or longer) to respond. She said she had met him, emailed him and no response. She was positive that he was “real.”
I supplied her with a script that she edited to fit the client:
I enjoyed meeting you and your wife several weeks ago and speaking to you about possibly listing your home and helping you with your house hunting. I have left a few messages for you and assume that you must be busy or something came up. Perhaps you even had an emergency or are out of town. Hope everything is well with you. I don’t want to fill up your voice mail, so I decided to write an email instead.
I would very much like to work with you however I feel that it is inappropriate to assume anything before receiving a verbal commitment from potential clients. I work with a handful of clients at any one time so that each receives the attention they require. Please let me know if you feel comfortable working with me and then we can proceed. If it’s not the timing yet, I totally understand and will 100% respect any decision you make.
I had an open house on 3906 Arbutus Ct last weekend in Hayward Hills. We had around 30-40 people coming through. Some of them have actually expressed their interests in buying a home in 1.2-1.3 range on Jensen Rd or the surrounding areas. I thought about your house but didn’t want to provide any information to those potential buyers since it’s important for me to keep our conversation confidential before you make any decision.
Please kindly let me know your thoughts. I look forward to the opportunity to assist you in selling and buying.
Thank you! “
Why did this work?
- It’s graciously worded
- There’s no assumption in the relationship
- It is focused on the client’s needs and timeframe
- She added a Call to Action with the Open House story
A coaching client expressed a need for a script to stimulate her 20 “B” and “C” buyers to respond. She had met all 20 at Open Houses and again, radio silence. I suggested the agent email her Buyer’s Handbook in PDF format to all 20. She told me that 10 had re-engaged within a week! WHOA!
Why did this work?
- Most agents don’t provide a Buyer’s Handbook to clients
- The Handbook is comprehensive, explaining the entire process
- This calms them down and makes them feel comfortable moving to the next step
Thanks for listening!
April 2019 eNewsletter
What defines you?
This topic came up with several coaching clients this month and I feel it is a compelling topic – worth writing about in this challenging market.
Think about what gives your life meaning.
- Is it your work?
- Is it raising a family and hopefully successful children? 😊
- Is it the volunteer work you do every month?
- Is it your qualities, your values, your character?
- Is it being kind, generous, patient, forgiving?
- Or is it just “being” that gives your life meaning?
If you are defined by your work and solely by your work, it might be time to take a hard look at why. My sense of self used to be very much entangled with my accomplishments at work and then I realized that was quite empty and never truly satisfying. I cared too much what others thought of me. I cared about getting the Top Producer Awards. I cared about the accolades.
Now I don’t need them. I still like them though! 😊
If you are focused on accomplishments (you are a human “doing”) versus being focused on who you are as a person (a human “being”), then I urge you to explore why you have chosen this definition of self. I also suggest you evaluate if this approach has nurtured your soul, and been beneficial to you.
At my wise “young” age, I have found letting go of the need for achievements and accolades has brought me serenity. Would you like to live out the rest of your life without the need for others’ approval? I would imagine so.
Thanks for listening.
March 2019 eNewsletter
Penalty or Accountability?
Years ago, I came up with a new “breaking through your excuses” method for an agent who wouldn’t prospect. I proposed 3 options to her if she didn’t do her prospecting:
- She had to write a big check to charity that month.
- She would have to pay me twice my hourly rate. Yippee!
- She would have to stand up at her office sales meeting and announce she didn’t do her Kitty Cole homework.
She chose option #2. Option 3 was an absolutely no due to shyness. She didn’t keep her commitment and wrote me a big check at the next appointment. Then, of course, started doing her weekly prospecting.
Two months later, that same agent held ME accountable for things I wanted to change. I had been complaining a bit (normally unlike me) and she got in my face while we were in a bar waiting for a table. Did I mention we were drinking?
I committed to 3 things written on a cocktail napkin:
- To seeing girlfriends twice a month
- Having a massage monthly
- And one other thing which escapes me at this moment
It worked. I did all the things on the napkin.
So… what will it take to get you to make the calls, text past clients, write the notes, have the lunches, go to the gym?
One more story:
Connie and Kenny of Compass Real Estate in the city agreed to this:
If they did not keep their weekly commitments (personal commitments such as going to the gym were included), they had to write a $250 check to charity each week.
Now what penalty will work for you? To get you accountable to yourself?
Explore what will feel painful – is it writing a big check, doing something embarrassing? Or something else?
One more tip:
What ever the commitment, do it before noon. That works for me and many coaching clients. Get it over and you will feel lighter, less weight and freedom. My last personal commitment. I finished my taxes long before the October deadline. That felt good! 😊
February 2019 eNewsletter
Murphy’s Law by definition:
A supposed law of nature, expressed in various humorous popular sayings, to the effect that anything that can go wrong will go wrong.
I have heard from many of you that the clients have gone crazy in their requests, their demands, their sense of entitlement, and more. Agents are acting out too. I thought you would enjoy what has been going on out there. No kidding… these are all true!
Here are Murphy’s Real Estate Laws:
- If you don’t set your boundaries regarding your working hours, the client will take advantage and call you at 6 am and 10 pm, expecting you to pick up. If you agreed to a time to talk, and you happen to be on the phone when he calls, he will scream bloody murder at you when you call back. He also threatens to sue you and your assistant every 3 days.
- If the client sees that you are going to make 3% commission on their transaction, they will ask and expect you to pay for a new washer and dryer! One client said, “You are making so much money!”
- If you take a listing that was referred to you by me (against your better judgment because the seller is a cranky old man who thinks he was a real estate guru in another life), then he will drain you of energy and time, and fight you on everything. You will have to scream at him occasionally because he can’t hear you otherwise. (I didn’t make this up!)
- If you do your very best to help a single woman buy a house who seems to want to be your new BFF, then you will get her into contract, negotiate a great deal, get her a $14,000 credit and she will attack you by email, accusing you of forcing her to use your lender and also forcing her to pay too much. You defend yourself by email because she will not answer the phone. She never contacts you again and the property closes. You have lost tons of sleep and started therapy.
- You happily take a great listing during the winter and the seller moves to Southern California. You are getting it painted, cleaned, etc. You have all the time needed to ready it for market. A freeze occurs suddenly and a pipe on the second floor bursts, flooding the entire first floor. The damage cost $28,000 and it takes 2 more months to repair. You make a dime an hour.
- You sign an expired listing in Lafayette, excited that the sellers will drop the price another 5%. You are optimistic that it will sell quickly. You prepare it, stage it a bit and place it on the market. The property gets no attention. You reduce it by another 6% and again no offers. You ask the sellers to reduce it one more time by 5% and say that you are sure this will get it sold. No offers. You beg the sellers to reduce another 5% and what the %#$&??? No offers. You now tell the sellers that you have no idea what it will take, but that you will need another price reduction. They stick with you (who knows why) and the price is reduced 2 more times and suddenly you get an offer. The buyer reads the only report you have and backs out. You receive another offer and the buyer asks for a credit of 12% to pay for the roof and the sagging family room addition after obtaining an inspection report showing a deep spring underneath it. The seller credits 6% of the price and the freaking escrows closes. You consider drinking. And you make a whopping 5 cents an hour. (True story!)
- Your husband refers you a client in a very desirable neighborhood. You take the listing and are thrilled as it needs no staging. The wife has impeccable taste. The rains start and the back half of their lot slides into a creek. It cost over $60,000 to repair and now you have a big ugly rock pile in their back yard and have to disclose it. A couple from Chicago buy it because they are used to slides and they got it for almost 8% off the asking.
Conclusion – This kind of stuff happens in all markets. It is not you and it is not ABOUT you.
My coaching? Just set your boundaries well. As soon as you see a lunatic approaching, run the other way. Or refer him/her to your former BFF.
January 2019 eNewsletter
Why do we get hired? Like, trust and respect.
Two of my agents were competing for listings recently and thought they didn’t have a shot at signing them. Here are their stories:
The First Story:
In December, the agent met a potential seller through a “I have a buyer letter” she sent to his home. She showed her buyer the house, but the buyer didn’t feel it was a fit. She styed in contact with the seller as he did intend to sell. She was competing with an agent who had sold 40 homes in that city/area and she had closed only one. He sent her an email stating, “Why should I go with you? I like your style, but why?” This was a challenging question! Why should he?
She asked me how to respond to this email. I wrote a list of 8 reasons he should hire her. Two days later, she signed the listing. And it just went into escrow for $200,000 over the asking. The seller is thrilled.
The Second Story:
A coaching client was competing this week with one of the top agents in Fremont who regularly takes a 4% commission. We took the same 8 items from the first story, edited them to fit her. She heard the next day the seller chose her!
What’s the message? Wow! The magic – it isn’t always about your experience. It truly is about “like, trust and respect”. See the 8 bullet points below:
I have the time to work with you right now as I only work with a handful of clients at any one time so that each receives the assistance they require.
When you hire me, you will work only with me. I will not pawn you off on an assistant.
I study the market every week so I know how to educate and advise my clients. My company also supplements this with an amazing sales meeting every week.
I have the power of one of the best companies in the city behind me. We sell properties from entry level prices to the top of the luxury market.
I speak several languages so that helps with both agents and potential buyers.
I listen and communicate frequently. I make sure you feel informed before making any of the many decisions required to sell a property.
To be direct – I have the style and sophistication needed to sell your home. I understand your home and what is needed.
And last, you and I get along well. I think you should hire an agent who you like, trust and respect. And one who will be tenacious in getting you the best possible price.
That would be me.
Feel free to use in your next presentation!
December 2018 eNewsletter
A Most Compelling Commitment for 2019?
After pondering my topic this month (and changing my mind many times) I decided to write about choosing a compelling commitment. I feel exhausted by the new year’s resolutions that we all talk about and rarely sustain during the year. In the past, I made a few about a better diet, more exercise, playing more with friends, having more fun. Did I keep them? Not so much. I intended to keep them. I typed them up and displayed them in several places around my house. I might have improved a bit for the first quarter, then I fell off the wagon. I am consistently inconsistent.
I realized if I made only 1, then I would be more likely to stick to it. I also knew that my commitment needed to be serious, measurable, time-bound and realistic. (Goal setting at its finest!) And if I openly committed to it in the Enewsletter, then you (my coaching clients) might hold me to it.
Okay – so here is my criteria:
What one commitment would make a life-long difference?
I explored the 7 components of our lives – emotional, physical, intellectual, spiritual, career, financial, and familial/relationships. Six of the 7 are in good shape. One stood out. Which one was it, Kitty? It was physical.
What does the physical component entail?
For most of us, that means exercise, diet, drinking, using sunscreen, etc. I am not focused on what I eat or drink because my diet is super healthy. My body literally revolts if I eat ice cream, or drink alcohol. So, no food commitments. I walk, lift weights, do yoga, play tennis occasionally, and swim in the warm weather. But one area is troublesome as I grow older (gracefully). I am sharing this because I want you to get ahead of this now. It is stretching and strengthening. It doesn’t matter if you are 30 or 60. Start now.
I have had a nagging low back problem for 3 years. It stems from disc and arthritis issues. Gawd… I love getting old.
- It keeps me awake at night
- It makes me not want to exercise
- It limits the exercise I do
- I am mad about it
So, here is my commitment:
I will stretch every day for a minimum of 20 minutes; at least 3 times per week, I will stretch and strengthen twice per day. I created a weekly calendar in Excel with 13 exercises I found when researching back care; some were provided by my chiropractor. I will do it in the morning and if I don’t have time, I will not go to bed until I have done the 13 exercises. I get to blow off one day per month.
What one or two things are compelling to you in 2019? Keep it simple.
- For some of you it is consistent prospecting to sustain your business.
- For others, it is to get organized; your systems need attention.
- Many have shared that the percentage of their business from sphere of influence is too small. Increase it to 80%.
- And other have shared health concerns. Is it physical? Too many carbs (I love pasta but rarely eat it), too few veggies or a bit too much wine?
I suggesting looking hard at this and choosing one! Then be open and notorious about it so you have accountability around you. Good luck. Off to stretch now…
Thanks for listening.
November 2018 eNewsletter
Holiday Stress Relief
Let’s talk about reducing your stress this holiday season. Here are my suggestions. Act quickly!
- Consider saying no to some of the party invites. I declined 5 last year, and I felt great! Sorry Soraya! 😊
- Skip gift-exchanging with friends and instead focus on sharing experiences, such as dinners.
- Schedule regular massages or other spa treatments. I have a two-hour massage this Friday!
- Send a holiday email to your database instead of writing hundreds of cards. Two clients told me they are not sending their normal 400 holiday cards this year. They regained five days’ worth of precious time.
- Don’t put up the holiday lights outside this year. My assistant hung white bee lights on my front maple tree 8 years ago, and they have never come down!
- Limit your client gifts to your top 5 referring clients.
- Order things in bulk from Costco, Office Depot or CVS. My assistant bought 80 training binders, boxes of copy paper, shampoo, toothpaste, paper towels, etc., saving me hours of errand time.
- Clear out your email inbox. I archived and deleted until there were only 23 left. Less stress!
- Complete your urgent to-do list. I reduced mine to 15 non-urgent business items. The list is the smallest in 10 years!
- And last, set your boundaries with disrespectful clients. Say no! Are they real anyway? Probably not.
Happy holidays. Talk to you in a month!
October 2018 eNewsletter
Pricing Options in Today’s Market Script
In today’s changing market there are 4 ways to price a property. Let’s discuss the 4 and see what option best fits your needs.
Before I explain the options, I want to explain that I spend time analyzing how to get the highest possible price for the property. I look at the emotional factors (the property’s best features, finish work, curb appeal, architecture, location, yard, budget for updates and staging, etc.) and the financial factors (dollars per square foot, lot size, active inventory, Days on Market, etc.). Once I determine the property’s approximate value, I can recommend a listing price range.
Option 1: List under the Fair Market Value by 10% or more.
This demonstrates high motivation, a motivated seller and it will result in the highest number of offers. It usually sells over the asking price. This method has been widely used in the city and the Berkeley/Oakland areas for 5 plus years. With the changing market, sometimes this doesn’t work and the seller adjusts the list price back up to fair Market Value!
Option 2: List close to Fair Market Value – that is within 1 to 2% of the comparable sales (above or below). This demonstrates medium motivation (“I would like to sell”): This price range will likely result in 1 to 2 offers (and sometimes no offers.) Today this is called Transparent Pricing.
Option 3: List somewhere between Option 1 and 2 – between Fair Market Value and a number that is 10% more or below FMV. This shows motivation as well but feels “safer” to sellers who need to set their property apart from the competition but are concerned about giving their property away. We call it “leaving money on the table”.
Option 4: List above Fair Market Value by more than 5% (a strategy that was used occasionally 20 plus years ago and was frankly not very successful). This usually resulted in a price reduction and sometimes 2 before it sold. The old adage “I need some negotiating room” is rarely employed today.
Additional factors to consider:
- Seller’s comfort zone with pricing low
- Seller’s motivation
- Willingness to update, repair and stage? This can be critical to successfully selling
- What is the norm in the area?
- Are we in a declining or increasing market?
- The current market trends
- The number of Actives, Pendings and Solds in the area
If you start too high, then:
- You communicate to the market that you are not motivated to sell
- You lose the important momentum of the first 2 to 3 weeks
- You may ultimately sell for less as a result, possibly taking 1 or even 2 price reductions, which is common when the price is too high in this market.
One more thing:
I urge you not to hire the agent that quoted you the highest price or the lowest commission. I would recommend that you hire the agent that you like, trust, who has excellent negotiating skills, comprehensive market knowledge, a good reputation and experience. And who understands how to strategically price property.
August 2018 eNewsletter
“R-E-S-P-E-C-T” – Thank you Aretha.
The Queen of Soul passed away last week and it triggered an e-newsletter topic. The title of her famous song exemplifies one of the most important values we have in our workplace – respect for our clients and one another.
Sadly, I have heard numerous stories about bad behavior. And it reflects on us as individuals and as an industry.
- A seller’s agent took her sweet time getting the keys to the buyer’s agent on the day of close. The buyer had to reschedule all appointments set with contractors on the close of escrow. That wasn’t nice and why do that? It hurts the industry.
- An agent walked into an Open House with his buyers and said to the listing agent (me), while the seller was present, “We are going to write on this today. Talk to you later.” No phone call. He just disappeared. Why do that? He looked like a jackass and he set up expectations for my seller that never materialized. (Whew, Kitty…) I think (I know) he damaged his reputation in the industry.
- A seller, whose listing is on the market, verbally abused an agent to such an extreme that the agent fired the seller. It is not worth trying to assuage or manage or appease a seller who thinks he knows more than you do.
- Buyers who worked with an agent for 6 months, suddenly buy a house from an agent they met at an Open House. Were the buyers disloyal or did the Open House agent say or do something inappropriate? Maybe both!
- A new agent who did her best to write a strong offer was ridiculed by the listing agent, who felt the offer was poorly constructed. Her offer was accepted. Why disparage an agent? She might never write again on your listings. Short sighted thinking.
My take? This behavior is coming from low self esteem and a lack of manners. It is inexcusable and unconscionable. There is absolutely no reason to be rude, impatient or belittling to anyone.
I hope this gentle reminder keeps RESPECT in the forefront of your mind.
May the Queen of Soul rest in peace.
Thanks for listening!
July 2018 eNewsletter
A Changing Market
Sellers (script for the fence sitters)
Should I list now or wait until this fall or next spring?
I have been thinking about you and your situation a lot this last week. The market has begun to change (slowly). A small segment of the market has slowed down in several counties around the Bay Area including San Francisco.
- Inventory and DOM Script: What happens in a slowing market? The indicators are:
- The number of Active listings rises
- The “Days on Market” increase
- Price reductions occur
- Contingent offers are more common
- Fewer offers have no contingencies (inspections, appraisal and loan)
- Some properties are even receiving the unusual “contingent upon the sale” of another property
- Some buyers are in “wait and see” mode
- Interest rate script: The buyer pool for your property has decreased in the last year because the interest rates have risen more than a full point. For every full percentage point they rise, the buyer’s purchasing power goes down by close to 10%.
- Ex: Interest rates rose from 3.5% a year ago to 4.5% recently.
Buyers who could afford a home worth $1M a year ago can now afford $905,000. That alone will significantly impact your buyer pool.
- Projections: CAR and NAR both feels that there will be slowdown in 2019. Their forecast is it will be in the 2nd half of the year. My forecast is that this will happen a bit sooner because a few segments of the market are showing signs of a correction.
- The economy: The economy is healthy (the GDP was 2.0% for the first 3 months and 4.2% for the 2nd quarter) and the unemployment rate is hovering around 4.2%. The Federal Reserve has stated that there are likely to be 2 interest rate hikes this year, and therefore some buyers will be priced out of your price range.
- There have been 9 + years of recovery in the economy. There have been 5 and half years of recovery in the real estate market. It is normal to expect a correction.
- Your equity: I ran the statistics for the last 13 years in _________. I found that your home’s value is at its highest right now. I would list soon if highest price is most important.
If your primary goal is to obtain the highest price, then I recommend that you get the property on MLS no later than September.
June 2018 eNewsletter
I asked the question Why? While in coaching sessions this month. Why do you think the client did that? Why did the other agent in your transaction say that? Why did you …?
It became clear that we need to look at the why behind these actions that you and others choose. There is really valuable information here.
It will change your business if you discover the “Why” behind these.
Questions about your real estate clients:
- Why did the client verbally abuse you over an insignificant issue?
- Why did the wife suddenly become passive and the husband aggressive?
- Why did that previous buyer work with another agent when she went to list her property?
- Why did that seller list at a ridiculously high price and then blame you when you had shared the comps and strongly suggested a lower list price?
To loan agents:
- Why did you pay for so many fees? Did you make a mistake and you think you have to? Or is it fear of losing the client?
- Why do you work with an agent who takes marketing dollars from you and refers you useless leads that don’t pan out?
Questions about you:
- Why do you cut commission so readily?
- Why do you over schedule yourself every day?
- Why do you kick in money to make a deal go together?
- Why do you allow buyers to abuse you verbally?
- Why do you keep writing offer after offer for a buyer who won’t write high enough?
- Why do you knowingly take an overpriced listing?
- Why are you so reluctant to ask for a price adjustment when you know the market has changed? (It has in some segments!)
Do you see the common thread?
Are you conscious or unconscious about these choices? It’s time for you to be conscious. Please take a hard look at your own feelings of self worth. Why are you feeling not good enough?
Do you deserve to charge a 6% commission? Yes!
Do you fire clients with no integrity? It is time to do so.
Do you acquiesce too soon when issues arise in a transaction? Sometimes it is necessary to cave and kick in some money. Other times, it is not! Look at your behavior carefully. Why are you doing it?
And don’t say, “I am sorry” constantly. What does it say about you?
We live in fear of disappointing people. Stop! We can’t be perfect.
Learn to say “No, thank you.” Giving time, money and energy to these clients is exhausting mentally and takes a toll on you physically.
We need to get better at looking at the why behind our clients’ behavior and our own. But Kitty, what will happen?
We will begin to set better boundaries and our business increases because the client has more respect for us (because you have more respect for yourself). I have seen it happen many times in 24 years of coaching.
Thank you to all the clients this last month who stimulated this topic! It was eye opening.
April 2018 eNewsletter
“Are you memorable?”
Every few days I hear a story about a thoughtful deed or conversation that one of my coaching clients had. These meaningful interactions change the course of our relationships. We often have a bigger and better result for the client. Isn’t that what we are here to do?
I delight in hearing about these situations. What happened to you recently? Send me a story.
A few of the special stories:
An agent representing a buyer made an offer on a property and the buyer agreed to adopt the seller’s dog, who could not be taken to the next home. The offer was $50,000 below the asking price and clearly their price was not the highest.
An agent who always sends notes to people who come to her Open Houses stayed in touch with a man for 16 years and then listed his house. She befriends people.
An agent (who was quite pregnant) walked her dog with her husband in a Walnut Creek park and handed out dog biscuits shaped like Valentines. She got a listing! She handed out biscuits again on another holiday and got another one.
I overheard a top Oakland listing agent talk about which agent had their offer accepted in a multiple offer situation. She had 18 offers. The only agent who asked to present was able to bond with the seller and answer all his questions.
March 2018 eNewsletter
“New Spheres of Influence”
I recently noticed that the conversation I have with many of you every month (Are you staying in touch with your sphere of influence?) moved in a different direction. We expanded the reach and deliberately so.
Every one of your individual spheres needs attention, not just your past clients! Several agents confessed they never mail or email their personal friends, family, and/or neighbors. Why not? Their referrals can be just as numerous as your past clients. We need to wake up and work this part of our database. Frankly, it seems like the most natural thing to do.
My coaching clients are working these spheres:
- The tennis players in their club
- The horseback riding friends
- The pals with whom she walked her dogs
- Pals at the Daily Method
- Cooking class buds
- The spinning class
- The gym in general
- The women’s group she organized
- Bunko pals
- Bridge group
- The friends from the Chamber of Commerce
- The Block Party neighbors
- The NextDoor.com crowd
- The Dad’s group
- The Mom’s group
- The kid’s swim club parents
- The pickle ball friends
- Surfing buddies
- Golfing partners
- Former business colleagues
- Church and temple
- Yoga class pals
- Husbands, wives, partners, kids and parents!
- And endless more…
It is time for us to get conscious and systematic about working these groups. I have found that they do want to help us build our business. They are happy to refer us.
By the way – I detest saying “working” these groups. That verb can communicate the sleazy side of our commissioned-based sales business.
I hate that.
Another way of stating it is: Stay in touch, and gently and subtly tell people what you do for a living and be very good at it. People will send clients your way!
Start by reaching out to say hello, have lunch, build a relationship and maybe refer them business. Then watch what happens! Who will you connect to?
February 2018 eNewsletter
Some of you have started the year with stress and lots of it! Your energy is low and your clients can read it, see it, feel it and hear it.
Reasons: A few agents have more business than they can manage (one agent took 10 listings in January and another had 16 listing appointments this month) and need help desperately. Others are experiencing a rather slow start. This is normal! It’s that time of year; the business will come. But you have to be open to it. I truly believe it is waiting for you.
Kitty, why do some agents have loads of business and others have yet to open an escrow this year? Part of the reason is due to their activities in the 4th quarter. All of that prospecting, marketing and networking shows up about 3 months later. And these agents power through the slow times, And what else Kitty? See the answer at the bottom of this email. First…
Four true stories:
- An agent came to me about 10 days ago, after she wrote a “recently closed” client a “termination of our relationship” email. He had been abusive, demanding and threatening everyone in the transaction. As soon as she said “good riddance”, 5 leads showed up within 7 days. Hmmm…. What changed?
- An agent on Monday of this week told me she didn’t have much business and was concerned about the low inventory, once again! We coached how to “change up” her energy – be positive, and exude confidence. And get out of her comfort zone and more… She left and within a day texted me she received 3 referrals.
- An agent met with me yesterday after an urgent email: “Help, I am off to a really slow start and will never hit my numbers.” (Her plan is BIG!) We reviewed what she had closed and her coming listings. She was actually ahead of her plan, but didn’t realize it. Her real concern was that her pipeline was devoid of “A” buyers and sellers. We turned around her attitude, energy, and confidence. We also revisited how much she has closed the year before – about $25 M. Then I asked her to text me when she got her first lead, escrow or listing. She texted me today that she is writing up an offer for someone who is getting off the fence. Good mojo!
- Five months ago, I had an agent in The Next Level who was not having success at converting buyers at Open Houses. We discussed what he said and how he said it. I realized that his energy seemed low during the role plays. We did the same script over and over until I felt his energy was attractive to potential buyer clients. The next weekend, he held an Open house and picked up a buyer! The following weekend, he picked up a seller. Hmmm…
You must exude confidence, and poise and also demonstrate a relaxed, friendly personality. We are unconscious that the listing we “lost” yesterday is hidden in our rather impatient words today or the fight we had with our spouse shows up in our tone of voice.
The key? We have to pay strict attention to how we communicate – verbally, nonverbally and the words we choose. Can you control this? Can you be so self aware that you
I wrote about this in a recent newsletter. Here it is again because it is vital to us building a healthy and sustainable business.
- Check your energy every day.
- Do the lead generation work.
- Market consistently to sphere and farm.
- Stay positive. Your roller coaster emotions kills your business.
January 2018 eNewsletter
“Service versus the Commission”
I have noticed that agents are either focused on the “service” they provide or on the commission they will earn. There seems to be no middle ground. Bizarrely, I can tell which camp you are in by the way you speak about clients, escrows and negotiations. If you count up your income by the client’s price in your pipeline, then you are focused on the money. And the clients pick that up too.
Think about how you speak to the clients – do you try to push them into making decisions (because you want to get paid for the many hours)?
Or have you ever said, “I have at least $10 million in business in my pipeline. Now I just need them all the pull the trigger – hmmm… who can I get into escrow this weekend?” (A client said this to me.)
Or have you ever told a white lie to a client to get them to act a certain way?
I hope none of the above is true.
Being focused on the service is so much more than doing a good job marketing a listing or being available for showings for the buyers.
What does “service-oriented” look like?
It is being sensitive when the client is emotional about leaving their home of 35 years.
It is listening when the client needs to vent about a frustrating part of their process.
It is agreeing with the client when he/she complains about a part of the process (You have a right to be upset. I would be too.) And then redirecting him/her gently back to the issue at hand.
It is doing what is best for the client while keeping your boundaries clear.
It is also being a resource for everything related to real estate.
I notice the best agents have mastered these communication arts:
Listening, probing, reflecting, deflecting, conflict and negotiation. Whew Kitty … is that all?
No, there is more.
The best agents write a kind note (not an email) to the client about the death of a parent or the illness of a child or the surgery of a loved one.
The best agents also realize that everyone is under stress and acknowledges it frequently and takes care of much of it.
The best agents also solve problems before the client ever hears about the issue (and sometimes the client never knows!)
I know it is unrealistic, but wouldn’t it be an amazing industry if everyone was service-oriented? I hope this triggers some more thoughtful gestures with your clients.
Thanks for listening!
December 2017 eNewsletter
The Eternal TO DO List
I am attempting something very challenging for me! That is to get everything done on my TO DO list by January 2, 2018 when I go back to work.
Why am I attempting this feat? Because I can’t stand the endless, nagging feeling of that TO DO List. It feels like a weight, an annoyance, a headache. It haunts me. Many of the items are not critical day to day but they all have to be done at some point. I would rather go to the movies any day.
I have been wondering how it would feel to do ALL of them and start the year off fresh with nothing on the list. (I love checking off the tasks! Do you?) I can only imagine the blank list, but I ASSUME that it will feel freeing and rewarding.
At the moment, that list includes:
- 47 little things (I counted!) for my coaching and training business such as typing up business plans, rewriting scripts for clients, getting to all the old emails, fine tuning the 10-week training called The Next Level, get the new outlines to the printers, make 36 binders for new trainings, write a new speech, and more.
- For the new marketing company called Off Your Plate – edit the last 5 e-newsletters, do invoicing, prepare the launch, etc.
- Personal list – pay bills, pay taxes, hunt down a lost check, take curtains to the cleaners, perform the annual closet cleanout (clothes closets), write Yelp reviews for a couple of people, put holiday décor away, take down the tree, write 8 thank you notes and more.
This looks pretty impossible to do as it nears midnight on New Year’s Eve.
But, hey! I have 14 hours tomorrow that I can spend doing this, minus a couple of hours for an event. So wish me luck! I hope to report that I finished the list or at least whittled it down to 10 things or less. That would be an AMAZING result. I like the idea of living that way every day. Less pressure, a better life!
Happy 2018 to you!
November 2017 eNewsletter
I received a small packet of cards with great questions about gratitude when I ordered a 2018 calendar recently. I had dinner with friends on Thanksgiving Day and we took turns answering the questions. I found it fascinating how different our answers were.
- How do you remind yourself about what matters most?
- Where do you find courage?
- What inspires you?
- What is the best advice you’ve been given this year?
- What was your favorite lesson you learned this year?
- What moment of kindness do you remember from this year?
- What risks did you take this year?
- What are you proud to have let go of this year?
We (and I in particular) have so much to be thankful for.
I am grateful for:
- Where we live – a democratic country with protection for our freedom.
- That my nonprofit work makes me a better person.
- And last… I’m grateful for you, my coaching and training clients. You make my life richer.
What are you grateful for?
Have a terrific holiday!
October 2017 eNewsletter
The Crazy 5 Percent
How many of you have taken on a client who seemed a little weird, dominating or full of fear?
You kept “wishing and hoping” that his/her odd behavior would disappear.
This has been the hottest topic in the last month! At least 20 coaching clients have talked to me this month about challenging buyers and sellers.
The buyers used you to learn the market then chose a different agent.
The seller added 10 percent to the price you suggested and therefore makes his listing unsalable. You received a ridiculous amount of emails and texts at all hours of the day and night from a seller.
Am I supposed to return all of them? What do I do Kitty?
Why do we continue to work with these clients?
- We are unconscious we are doing it.
- We are new so we take everyone who comes along, even though our gut tells us there is something wrong.
- We are desperate because we had a slow period.
- We operate from scarcity!
I think that we should acknowledge that about 5% of the clients are crazy, angry, abusive or unprincipled human beings. (I am absolutely serious!)
(Some of you have corrected me and said it was 10%.)
- Recognize that you are choosing to work with someone who is unhealthy for you. (You are not in alignment with your goals.)
- When you see one coming, let him/her go right away.
- Or if you are feeling strong, have a frank discussion about how you work. See if the person straightens up.
“You and I clearly have different ways of communicating and operating. It is fine that our styles are different. But I only work with clients who want to work exclusively with me. Are you willing to commit to that? If you are unable or unwilling to communicate in this way, then we will need to part ways. What would you like to do?”
Think about this as you plan next year’s business. It should be part of your vision statement. Isn’t it worth having this clear in your mind and also in writing so you avoid the crazy 5%? I think so!
Thanks for listening.
September 2017 eNewsletter
Back to Basics and Success!
I am determined to discover the magic potion to get you – my clients, to prospect regularly.
What I hear every week: (I just hate the calls, Kitty! OR I just won’t do them! OR I don’t want to call past clients because they will want to get together!).
Many of you dread the weekly prospecting – calling sphere of influence, calling past clients, having lunches and coffees, reaching out to those you never see by text and email, and even door knocking for those ambitious souls. The tactic? You have to text me Monday through Friday at 5 PM your activities for the day. Open to this idea?
Here are some amazing results:
- An agent in the Walnut Creek is a little off her plan so we agreed that she would text me 5 days a week. She began the accountability to me about 10 days ago. Her activities included calls, lunches, dinners, networking events, notes and more. Five days ago, she texted me that she opened 2 escrows in 1 day! And… 3 days later she opened another!
- A man in my 10-week class is calling SOI, past clients and door knocking fearlessly. He texted me daily at 5 pm 7 days in a row and completed 6.5 hours of prospecting that week. He got a listing lead from the door knocking. Good job!
- A newer agent in the city has been making calls, following up frequently with leads from Open Houses and Zillow. She has earned $60,000 from one Open House and earned $100,000 from Zillow this year! She consistently followed up. They were all buyer leads.
My coaching (If you are tired of not having enough new business flow your way):
- Please block an hour a day in your calendar to make calls, text, or schedule a lunch (if you don’t want to take up your evenings) – it is that simple!
- Text a colleague or a friend so you are accountable to someone. (Ask him/her to respond to each text. The cheerleader response is key. I text back: Great day, Excellent result or Breakthrough!
- This relates directly to the e-newsletter of a month ago – Change your energy! It is working for many real estate agents and loan agents.
- Is it your turn?
August 2017 eNewsletter
Change Up the Energy (Yours!)
Many of you in recent months experienced a slump or an annoying string of “bad” events that didn’t work for you. Business was “off” or downright absent. We discussed what to do differently and that included telling the universe what you want to have happen every day. I believe in this 100 percent because I describe what I want to happen daily and I expect it to happen. Years ago, while in Africa on safari, I asked the tracker if we could find a pack of painted dogs and then we found one 15 minutes later. Another day, I said I haven’t seen a leopard; can we find one today? We located one stalking a honey badger. The guide told me I was spooky and asked if I was a witch. Funny!
This approach has worked for me in business too and for many of my clients!
Here are some examples:
- Christine’s business was off. We talked about her telling the universe what she needed. She happened to be very specific – she affirmed her activities such as number of offers to be written, she affirmed the new clients that appeared and the number of showings with her buyers. Christine even made the affirmations to her boyfriend. She had 3 (opened escrows or listings signed) in 6 weeks!
- A team (T and B), whose business was “off plan” earlier in the year, affirmed that they wanted 4 listings signed in 4 weeks. They accomplished that and opened 5 escrows in addition! Total was 9 deals in 8 weeks between taking listings and opening escrows. The two of them talk to the universe often.
- Jean was very frustrated earlier this year. Nothing was working and she was doing everything we discussed in coaching – the calls to sphere every week, mailing, the handwritten notes, lunches, dinners, etc. “When will it change?” she asked me. I said, “Keep doing what you are doing and all of a sudden, you will have a lot show up in a short period of time.” She affirmed that she wanted 2 escrows. Poof! She had a listing and 2 new escrows within a week. Dang, Kitty, I want that.
My coaching: We don’t always recognize that we are putting out low energy vibes – “I am not feeling confident today” or “I just lost a buyer” or “I didn’t get the listing”. All of these make us feel blue but when several occur in a short period of time, it hits us hard and our communication, body language and tone are altered.
Get back on the horse and exude that confidence that is so appealing to the client. (Yes, you might have to fake it.) It makes a huge difference in how you are perceived. Who wants to work with an agent with low energy?
Remember that body language is 55% of our communication; it is picked up subconsciously and unconsciously. You don’t even know that the client read your self esteem and negativity.
Change it up! Process what didn’t work and move on!
Thanks for listening.
July 2017 eNewsletter
Many of us have attracted energy vampires over the years. They might be clients, friends (or even significant others!) who drain us dry of energy and motivation. Some are incessant talkers, some are very opinionated, some have no boundaries (because you didn’t set any up front) and some are just high maintenance in all aspects. They are generally not very healthy emotionally.
In the last 3 months, there has been an increase on this topic in my coaching practice. Who knows why they show up, but if you have more than one in your pipeline in any one quarter, let’s take a hard look at why.
Why do we work with those types of personalities?
- Because we feel they might be real?
- Because we need every lead we can get?
- Because someone else may bet the deal away from us?
- Because we regularly lie to ourselves about our clients potential to act.
And why do we attract them in the first place?
- They think you are going to ‘save” them. (Sometimes we think we can save them too!)
- You appear to be needy and they love “needy”.
- You are patient and take all the time needed to answer their questions until you realize what kind of client you have on your hands.
- The big reason? We have no boundaries with people! (And we never educated them up front about how we work.)
The damage an energy vampire does to our business, our personal life (and our soul!) is not worth the time and energy we expend to work with them.
Please take a hard look at your pipeline of business. Do you really want that big listing when the seller is a nightmare? He/she never listens about the prep, the staging, the pricing, or the price reduction?
Do you really need to keep that annoying buyer who texts you every day many times a day? No! Fire them!
Enough said? You will feel great and relieved after you fire him/her.
I can remember the first real estate client I fired. He owned an overpriced house in Orinda (it was an expired listing) and he was ridiculously picky about the staging, the marketing – everything. I put up with him for a month, fired him and took the lock box off. I felt terrific and had quite the epiphany. He continued to jump from agent to agent for at least 2 more years. He wasn’t REAL! I had been “wishing and hoping.”
Thanks for listening.
June 2017 eNewsletter
Grandiosity is an unpleasant behavior that occurs in every industry and of course, in our personal lives as well. It can be very detrimental to our business and we have no clue that we are exhibiting this ugly trait.
Grandiosity by definition:
Grandiosity refers to an unrealistic sense of superiority—a sustained view of oneself as better than others that causes the narcissist to view others with disdain or as inferior—as well as to a sense of uniqueness.
Years ago, I was coaching an extremely intelligent and witty woman who frequently said and did things that communicated a haughty disdain for others. It was quite apparent in her every day conversation, her tone, her emails to me and even the toss of her head. (She was always playing with her hair.)
She hired me as her coach and we worked for a solid year, meeting almost every week, which is more frequent than most.
We started with the usual coaching practices – setting goals, discussing her desired income, her prospecting, marketing, etc. I made a list of things we needed to address – her accountability, her poor follow up, long response time, etc. She wanted to jump her income, but there was no chance of that with the arrogance I experienced.
After a few weeks, I realized that I needed to bring up the grandiose behavior that was prevalent in every session. I had never discussed this with a coaching client before. So I thought about it long and hard before mentioning this very delicate subject.
Frankly I think she was shocked when I told her about her superior attitude and how it was hurting her business. She didn’t like it (I think she was mad at me) and didn’t “own” it for several sessions.
Suddenly she took responsibility for her behavior, worked on it with me in role plays and what happened? Her referral business jumped. We tracked what was happening. I recall her saying that she received 5 referrals in 1 week. It was a dramatic shift in her attitude, her business and her reputation.
Her colleagues, who had previously said she was “snooty”, and was always “talking like she was better than everyone else” noticed the change. Her manager noticed too and called me to say that he saw a major shift.
Why am I writing about this? Because I see it every so often. It shocks me that the Realtor or Loan Agent doesn’t realize how his/her “I am special” attitude instead communicates “I have really low self esteem”.
- Pay close attention to how you are perceived
- Watch your body language and tone of voice
- Were you authentic? (Or did you say or do anything that smacked of arrogance?)
- If so, please apologize immediately for it and you will be forgiven.
- And last, please say “please” and “thank you” often. And be grateful. That squashes the arrogance.
As always, thanks for listening!
April 2017 eNewsletter
Balance: Are you kidding?
The issue of the balancing act between our personal and business lives affects all of us. It will always be challenging.
At least 30% of my coaching clients are working ridiculously long hours; they feel that they have no alternative. Are you exhausted? Are you fighting with your partner? Yelling at your kids?
The agent that triggered this topic told me a week ago that she works about 96 hours a week. She is flipping houses besides working as an agent full time. Whew…. That is an extreme case.
So how do we obtain the balance that we need… to live happy and fulfilled lives? (I have touched on these topics in other newsletters but I feel they need to be revisited as I have the issue myself.)
How can we manage the balancing act? Are we doomed to doing both badly? Is it just impossible, Kitty? No! We can do it all but maybe not perfectly. How?
By setting boundaries!
By saying no!
By letting go of the type “A” perfectionism (and personality) that hurts us!
By time blocking!
Is the answer just simply setting up a weekly schedule with balance and then committing to it? Yes, I think it is the largest component.
- Block out your exercise times in your calendar and commit to that. (Anyone put on 5 pounds recently? I have! I am pretending that some of it is muscle.) I recommend 5 times a week for 45 minutes each. You burn 15 percent more calories than normal if you work out every day.
- Block the time off (one and a half days minimum) with your spouse, kids, partner or friends. If I don’t, I feel annoyed that I work so much. And who am I frustrated with? Myself! (Look in the mirror, Kitty. You caused this.)
- Block the prospecting time in your calendar in the morning so you don’t skip it. (Do 3 to 5 hours a week of staying in touch with your database. Keep nurturing those relationships and see what happens.)
- Block the dates with your significant other and the kids.
- Block time just for you. Massage? Pedi? Mani? All of the above?
- Move to being a listing agent versus a buyer’s agent. Your work hours decrease. You can learn to love sellers. I did.
- Stop taking the overpriced listings. Why spend so much money marketing something that isn’t saleable?
- Get price reductions or give the listings back to the sellers.
- Stop working with the “time and energy-draining buyers”
- Stop working with the looky-loo buyers.
- Stop lying to yourself about who is real. “Wishing and hoping” won’t make a client “real”.
- And the key? Move into a committed state.
I think that most human beings don’t stop what they are doing (that is hurting their lives and their relationships) until they are so sick of their own behavior that they make a change. Most people have to hit bottom.
Is this true for you? Is it Time for a COMMITMENT? Start now!
Thanks for listening.
March 2017 eNewsletter
To thine own self be true
Many of us put aside our feelings, our beliefs and values as we practice real estate. This can be a terrible mistake. The client can sense it when we are not authentic and I (Kitty, your coach) can sense it often from the way that you speak. You caved on your principles.
The client doesn’t always know why she doesn’t like us, but she doesn’t choose us. Something feels off when she interviews us for a listing or as a possible buyer’s agent. We think we came off as sincere and transparent. What you don’t know is that you are not that good of an actor! You were not your true self.
This came up several times in recent coaching. One agent was a little curt. One agent was a little salesy. Another was willing to cut commission (while not sticking by his principles). That is not authentic. You were not your true self.
(I will use the first person point of view below to make this simple.)
When am I not true to my self?
- I am not true to my self when I think I will lose the listing over holding firm on the commission.
- I am not true to my self when I pretend to be knowledgeable about a particular topic with a client.
- I am not true to my self when I don’t set my boundaries with late clients, abusive clients, and clients with different values than mine. (And continue to work with them.)
- I am not true to my self when I say yes to every appointment or request even when my schedule is packed. (This is true for me! J)
- I am not true to my self when I am afraid.
Why am I not true to my self?
Please take an hour to write:
- how you work
- your values
- your hours
- your policies
When was the last time you wrote a vision statement? You need one immediately so that you may articulate your vision accurately, set your boundaries and to thine own self be true.
Thank you for your brilliance, Shakespeare! (Hamlet)
February 2017 eNewsletter
Clients have been talking to me about working their Sphere of Influence in a different and more meaningful way. As most of you know, I believe it is the most important thing you do to build a sustainable, healthy and long term business.
Story #1: One agent (Chad) called 25 people in his Sphere per week up until August of 2016, when he increased the number to 50. He has lots of new business suddenly. He earned $150,000 in January alone. Ninety-five percent of his business last year was from his Sphere!
Story #2: Another agent called 60 people in one month. She got 3 leads from the 60.
Story #3: A third (a loan agent) called 2 Realtors that he met at my Business Planning Retreat 3 months ago and got 2 leads for loans. I made him make the calls in front of me. (What a mean Business Coach I am!) Two for two!
Why I am writing about this?
Because those who call and “dial for dollars” in a routine, rote manner get very little business from it. Those brief, uninterested conversations are a waste of time. People know what you are up to. I personally detest those calls.
If you call everyone you know 3 to 4 times per year to say hello and are genuinely interested in what they have to say, then you will get business. I am not a fan of asking for business more than once a year. And with most of our sphere, we never really acknowledge who they are as people and hear what is important in their lives.
One of the most important things we can do on this earth is to “see and hear another human being accurately”. There is nothing more gratifying than being truly understood and accepted for who we are. It seems to be a rare occurrence to me. Are you thrilled when you are talking to someone who “gets you”? I am.
Demonstrate that you are listening. Respond to what was said instead of bringing the conversation back to you. This is the most important thing I say in this newsletter.
Are you taking notes on the conversations you have if you have little ability to recall what was said?
Are you thinking about people in your SOI and calling for no reason? I am.
Are you asking about the trip to Thailand or the mother who was ill or the partner that had a new job offer?
Or are you treating everyone like a number? Baaaddd…
Find out about everyone’s “polar bear”. (Their interests!) See my explanation below!
All of this above will change the way you are perceived.
A previous client (who used to be my coach) heard me say years ago that I wanted to see the polar bears in the wild. She noticed an article in the newspaper about the polar bear adventure trips to Churchill, Canada, cut it out and mailed it to me. I will never forget that kindness. She is also truly one of the best listeners I have ever met. I have no idea how she remembers so much of what I say. (I can’t remember squat.) She reminds me of things I said to her 10 years ago. She is an exceptional human being.
By the way – I referred her business over the years!
So… I am suggesting that we all start listening to each other on a deeper more intimate level. You might find out that you have something unusual in common or you might just find a lovely new friend who is rather extraordinary, but you never noticed because you never knew about her “polar bear”.
January 2017 eNewsletter
The Five Minute Journal
How many of you committed to one or more New Year’s Resolutions? I committed to one and only one after a friend gave me a book as a gift.
My commitment is to journal every day for 5 minutes for a year. The results and subsequent change to my attitude has been monumental. The book is titled the Five Minute Journal. It can be purchased on Amazon.
My friend Susan gave me this book on a recent vacation and I started the process. The first few days were hard. I missed an entry one morning. I missed two entries at night.
My inner voice blabbed: “I am so undisciplined! What is wrong with me? Why can’t I get started on this? The journal is on my bedside table. Why is it invisible to me?”
Suddenly the commitment took hold. I have been journaling for 3 weeks now and the time commitment is miniscule. I look at the journal every morning and night; I feel compelled to write. Every day is different! Whatever is pressing rises to the top of my mind and that is what I ponder about. The journaling has turned into a life lesson every day. The best result? How I feel every day.
- Present much more of the day
- Extremely focused
- Calmer and more patient
- Like a new woman
- That it will affect my business and personal way in so many positive ways
- Epiphanies show up almost daily
- Grateful beyond measure
I urge you to buy this book and start journaling. The questions are simple yet challenging to answer daily. There is an affirmation section and a gratitude section. Combined, this little exercise is stimulating my mind – to identify what is important, what I feel grateful for and more. I have mentioned it to 6 or 7 clients in the last 2 weeks. Half had heard of it and are making the daily entries. Their experiences were similar to mine.
Please consider it! I believe it will be life changing.
November/December 2016 eNewsletter
What topic is better than the emotions we are feeling at the end of “crazy December”? Many of you mentioned how relieved you were that it was almost over. Most of us are emotionally spent and not all are taking some time off. Whew… We need to change that.
I heard this in the last few weeks:
- I can’t shake this cough; I have had it for 4 weeks!
- I am so mad at my client; they are abusive.
- My seller wants me to kick in $5,000 and I felt I had to!
- I am so exhausted. I have horrible insomnia.
- My memory is shot.
- Do you have any Advil? I have such a headache.
And a few questions:
Did you buy the tree and get all the decorations up by Dec. 1st or the 21st?
Did you have 25 people for dinner on Christmas Eve?
How many holiday parties did you get invited to this year? I was invited to 6. I went to 1. Why? Partly feeling under the weather for 2 weeks but also more importantly, I needed to detox from the intense year we all had. I didn’t want to have another drink or eat any more sugar!
How many holiday lunches did you attend? (All of them, Kitty.)
How many holiday cards did you mail? (Not enough, Kitty.)
Did you hear all the silent “shoulds” in here? Let’s move away from doing what other people think we should be doing.
Here are ways to mitigate your stress next year:
- Plan in advance – way in advance for the things you can early. Ex: buy the holiday cards in October and write the personal notes inside in November – 15 per week.
- Schedule a few activities each week in your calendar instead of slamming them altogether in 1 week. Was anyone shopping on the 24th? I might have seen you!
- Book some “treats” for yourself (manicure, pedicure, Warriors game, playing with your pet or sitting and doing nothing.)
- Surround yourself with positive people. Consider firing the challenging personalities.
- Take some time to breathe! A daily meditation practice is working for me. A recent article stated that silence actually helps your brain grow and regenerate new cells. (Good news for those of us over 60!)
- Exercise at least 4 to 5 times per week. Studies show that exercise can relieve depression.
- Plan your vacation and go somewhere! Your clients can wait. They have more respect for us when we have respect for ourselves. Ever notice that? (How do you re-energize if you don’t rest?)
- And last… No longer feel you need to say yes to everything. I am focused more on asking myself, “Does this work for me?” Learn to say “No thank you” graciously!
October 2016 eNewsletter
Every few days, I hear another story about clients who are misbehaving. The stories include: 1. the buyer acts like a child and expects you to make the decisions (a real danger signal); 2. A seller who won’t do the repair work when the contract requires it to be completed before the close; 3. a client who won’t listen to anything you say and then blames you for the decision he or she made; and the best one lately? …. 4. A client who tells you to prepare the home for sale and then says she never approved the expenditures. (Thankfully you still have the texts on your phone proving she told you to proceed.)
I have noticed that when the market shifts out of a buyer’s or seller’s favor, they often turn on their agents and blame us for their decisions versus blaming the market. If the seller chose too high of a price, it will become your fault shortly. The lack of accountability is appalling to me. (You can’t say, “You chose the price, you idiot.” OR “You wouldn’t listen.”) How good that would feel.
- I would interview potential clients carefully and screen them for these odd behaviors. How do I do that, Kitty?
- Ask questions such as: “Do you want me to manage the updates and repairs or do you prefer to do that yourself?” OR state: “The most effective way I have found to work is for you to give me the key and a budget, and I will manage the process for you.”
- The first time you experience bad behavior, make a ‘note to self’ – “Do I want to work with this person if he continues to do this?” Then if there is a second bad experience, have the chat below:
Sometimes I find that I am not the best representative for my client. I notice that our communication styles (or values) (or personality styles) are different. I think that you would be better served by working with someone who is a better match to your style. Therefore I would like to refer you to ________, an agent in our office who has excellent references and I think that you would like working with.”
- If there a hint of the seller starting too high with the price, be willing to walk away and say, “I am happy to list at any price with supporting comparables.” (Overpriced listings hurt your reputation.)
- If the client isn’t taking responsibility for his/her behavior, say this immediately, “My job is to educate and advise you about the market, the trends, and what is normal in this community so that you may make fully informed and sound financial decisions. You are the decision maker.”
- And if none of this works, fire the client. It is soooo freeing. I remember my first one and it was such a relief! He was an entitled single man with an attitude of ‘my house is better than anyone else’s’, therefore it should be $100,000 higher than the last comp. He was absurd. No wonder his listing had expired 3 times! Never be so hungry for a listing that you forget you ever had standards.
September 2016 eNewsletter
“A Tale of Two Markets”
I have noticed that there are two distinct markets in the Bay Area and many of them are side by side.
Some of the market (still a seller’s market) is hot, with low DOM’s, high Sales Price to List Price ratios, low inventory, no contingencies, multiple offers, and buyers aplenty. This market is going on in Oakland, Berkeley, and surrounding cities. It looks similar to the last 4 and a half years. The only thing that is quite different is the number of offers that was 10 to 25 a few months ago and now it is 2 to 6 and occasionally higher. This market requires savvy pricing and negotiating to get your seller the highest price.
The other part of the market (a buyer’s market) has slowed with these factors in place: price reductions (up to 10% and sometimes 2 before it brings an offer), contingent offers (contingent upon the sale of another property), high DOM’s, few offers, expired listings, cranky sellers, and demanding buyers (because they can be!). In the city, I have one client whose specialty of high rise condos literally slowed overnight and now the DOM’s for her listings is 30 plus for most listings. Another San Francisco agent has had 3 listings expire in the last 3 months. One in the East Bay is stymied by her listings that sold within 7 days are now sitting for weeks. Many newer agents are not prepared to have the “I need a price adjustment to sell your property.”
Remember that you almost never underprice a listing, but you can easily overprice it. In this slower market you can offer less, ask for repairs, and truly negotiate, etc.
Notice that investors are appearing again and looking for bargains.
Pricing your listings has become a guessing game for some agents as you decide which strategy is the best.
Isn’t this challenging business of ours both a huge headache at times and also why we’re in it!? It forces us to grow.
August 2016 eNewsletter
Perfectionism! This is the latest habit to show up in my coaching practice. Actually it is a life-long trait for most of us. Perfectionism is both a blessing and a curse.
You are on time for your appointments.
You get back to clients and agents with prompt calls, email and texts.
You write and design beautiful marketing pieces.
You are thoughtful, and careful about what you say and how it will affect others.
You prepare for negotiation.
You get mired in the minutiae. You rewrite emails 3 times “to get it right.”
Your marketing doesn’t get out on a consistent basis because it isn’t “good enough”.
You beat yourself up after a “less than perfect” meeting or phone call with a client or colleague.
You over analyze what you did yesterday and this morning, always assessing what you could have done better.
You don’t finish projects that you begin. Or you don’t start because you don’t know “how”.
You don’t trust anyone to help you do things because you know “best”.
You can get “frozen”.
Before I give you advice how to stop this behavior (or at least lessen its effect on your business) I have to admit that I have it too. My perfectionism used to annoy me. I now call myself a recovering perfectionist as I have worked on reducing its hold on me for decades.
The Truth? My “B” quality work is most people’s “A” quality work. So I let go of the paralysis and tell myself – “Get it done! It is fine!”
Kitty, what can we do to break the cycle? Here is what I suggest:
- Start small, as with all things. Choose one thing to finish or let go of.
- Set deadlines with yourself and make a rule that you cannot go to the next task without finishing (and sending out) the first one.
- Set monthly deadlines too. This E-newsletter has to go out by the end of each month so I start it by the 20th of the month.
- Address what went well in a phone call or meeting and what you could do differently next time. Spend only 10 minutes analyzing it! Just learn from it and then let go.
- Make a list of the “unfinished” projects yu have and set deadlines for each one:
Edit Buyer’s Handbook by Sept. 15
Update Listing Presentation by Sept. 30
Find new CRM by October 15.
- Delegate when you can! Train someone else to do that task and let go of the “I have to do this myself” attitude.
- Let go of the fear of making a mistake – in writing, in speaking and in public. No one cares that much about you! Learn to laugh about it. I have been doing that for years – In trainings, where I am telling a story, sometimes I cannot remember why I am telling the story! I make fun of it and move on!
- And last… Realize that perfectionism has been holding you back from being your most capable self and relax. It is wonderfully calming to lessen this character trait!
July 2016 eNewsletter
The simple concept of consistency has been coming up in coaching and training lately. Why would that be? Because when we get busy, we get off track! We don’t call clients, don’t do the weekly Social Media post, don’t mail the farm piece and don’t call sphere of influence to schedule the social events that may bring us business. The worst one is that we let our follow up slip and we don’t get the listing or the referred buyer finds another agent who cares enough to call back. Sound familiar?
It goes deeper than that – we lose consistency in ALL areas of our lives – our dates with our significant other (when was the last time you went away for a long weekend?), playing with our kids, seeing our parents, and even taking good care of ourselves. Have you had a massage or a pedicure or a quiet meditative half hour in the last month?
An unknown result is that we don’t get the next referral because the referring agent (or sphere) gets the message that we are “too busy” or don’t care or have bad habits. We never hear about the ones that got away. No one says anything to us. Our sphere and Realtor database just stops sending referrals our way. How will you know if you are guilty of this? I may hear about it and will tell you!
An example: In the last month I have heard 3 things about a former coaching client, who happens to be very busy. She is in the middle of a transaction with a client of mine who said she never responds. Another said she avoids tough conversations. A third said she is flaky.
None of this is good.
How do we remedy this when we are working 60 to 70 hours a week?
It is frankly one of the “critical to success” habits that we must get in place. I find it challenging too. Two weeks were quiet in July for me and now it is mayhem.
I suggest the following:
- Block 4 to 5 10-minute periods in your calendar to respond to calls, texts and emails throughout the day. That way you can stay on top of them.
- When you are about to drive to an appointment, dial a phone number of a past client or Sphere of Influence and drive while you chat. Multi-tasking!
- Consider hiring an assistant if you really need more help. Ten hours a week X $20 per hour is only $10,000 per year. You can afford it! Think abundance!
- If you are horribly behind, do what I did last Friday night – I sat at my computer until I had only 25 emails to deal with and very little on my To Do List. It took hours, but I cleared my emails, my desk and the clutter in my mind. It was haunting me.
Enjoy the summer!
June 2016 eNewsletter
Shiny Object – I love this phrase; it makes me smile every time I hear it. Why? Because I can get engrossed, engaged and distracted by a new toy or a new anything very easily. I call my list of shiny objects My Really Good Ideas.com List. It is endless. Alas… if only I had the time to implement every good idea or play with every new toy or read every book or try every new kitchen gadget that people recommend. I can get so distracted and lose focus on the foundation of my business.
Somewhere in the last few years I woke up and stopped pretending that everything on my list was going to get done. I can’t write a new script every week, I don’t have the time to start another branch of my business called Marketing Help for Agents and I cannot be “everything to everyone”. I bought two more books this week. Enough! Does this sound familiar?
Many of you have used this phrase (shiny object) with me this last 6 months. It is time to bring it to your attention and urge you to act with reason, caution and balance in mind.
That new Social Media platform is not going to give you 5 deals per year – only if you spend 20 hours a week pursuing leads. That lead generation company that has a “remarkable” new model will not produce much either. That new phone or computer or Fit Bit or CRM software will not make an enormous difference in your production. YOUR ACTIONS WILL DO THAT.
Please think about the following:
If we used all that energy that we expend on trying new ideas and toys, and instead directed it towards very productive activities such as marketing, farming, prospecting and staying in touch with sphere, wouldn’t we get more business?
Yes we would! Please pay more attention to the simple building of relationships and you will thrive. That is and always will be the key element that will sustain your business.
April/May 2016 eNewsletter
In several conversations with Realtors and loan agents recently, I have been talking about “culture” or the environment in which they work and how they want to change it. I view your businesses as having 2 cultures. The first is the one that your company created where you may have little influence as to the development of the culture. The second is the one that you create for yourself and your team (which might include an assistant, a buyer’s agent, a listing coordinator, your affiliates and sub-contractors). I think both are worth discussing here.
The environment in your office may be one of professionalism, collaboration and learning. Or you may notice that the environment in your office has a low level of accountability or the marketing standards seems low or inconsistent or that the receptionist is not doing his or her job welcoming clients who call or come into the office. I have noticed that some office have an atmosphere of non-collaboration – meaning I am afraid of sharing good ideas as the colleague sitting next to me may copy my best ideas.
It may not be appropriate for you to give the manager or broker feedback, even though it is for the betterment of the office. This is challenging!
Here is how to affect the company culture without providing feedback:
1. Behave in a way that exudes the desired change – always in the affirmative.
2. Speak about improving the office as a whole, not the individual issues. I call this speaking from the office or company vision – not your own point of view or vision.
Example: “I think that we should be supporting and seeing each other’s listings. I think it helps all of us if we go on tour and see all of the office listings. It communicates to the sellers that we are a team and that we support one another.”
3. Offer to help other agents when they need coverage at an Open House due to illness.
4. Speak about volunteering at your non-profit to encourage others to do the same.
5. Be responsive (within 2 hours) to your colleagues in the office and see how it affects others.
6. Compliment agents when they do something well.
7. Be accountable and turn in ad copy on time, etc.
8. Solve conflict masterfully and within 24 hours (that is my own rule!) if possible.
Creating your own culture is much easier but takes some planning and consistent behavior. If you have several people on your team, have a meeting to discuss your vision of yourself and the team, and how you work together. Think about the service you provide and your reputation. What will you be known for? Who are you?
Revisit this with the team at least once a year to see how you are performing against the desired goals and culture. Remember that you are the keeper of the vision and the leader in creation of the culture. You set the standard, you raise it and you need to address it when the culture is shifting in the wrong direction.
Some character traits to address when creating your culture:
Will Power, Fortitude, Integrity, Humility, Compassion, Generosity, Kindness, Empathy, Sympathy, Collaborative, Patient, Good Listener, Open, Curious about Life and Others, Flexibility, Optimism, Loyalty, Determination, Service-oriented, Supportive, Accountability, and more.
Have fun with it. Make it a priority. It takes time to build a culture!
Thanks for listening!
March 2016 eNewsletter
All of us at some time in our lives have “played small”. I am referring to Marianne Williamson’s quote: “Your playing small does not serve the world.”
A block, a barrier, a negative thought or an intimidating person throw us back a few steps. We set a low goal instead of reaching for the stars because we are “not enough”. We never go after something we say we want because we have a fear of failure or a fear of success. Or we lower our standards, or never set any standards because that would mean we had to “try” to achieve them.
One agent said to me, “I don’t want to go after that farm; too many big producers work that area.”
Another revealed, “I have never sold anything over a million dollars. I can’t really work in that market. I didn’t come from money.”
A third: “I would rather plan my goal really low so I make it.”
All of this “stuff” above comes into our thoughts because we are operating from fear. It doesn’t serve you, your family, your clients or the world. Why not play fully?
What would it look like? To go through the negative belief systems. To operate in abundance? Can you imagine not dealing with this negative thinking?
Can you imagine only seeing what is possible?
Can you imagine reaching something that you thought you didn’t deserve? That you thought was out of your reach?
I have been talking to many coaching and training clients in the last few months about “playing fully”. Isn’t time we shut off that tape in our head that is full of lies?
I intend to play fully by:
* Surrounding myself with positive people who love and support one another.
* Living my life with happiness, joy, serenity and success.
* Being kind, loving, generous, sympathetic and empathetic.
* Demonstrating courage, tenacity and independence.
* Living my life with great abandon and freedom (my most important value).
I expect success. Isn’t time we all did?
Thanks for listening!
February 2016 eNewsletter
This term was coined by Daniel Goleman. “Emotional intelligence (EI) or emotional quotient (EQ) is the capacity of individuals to recognize their own, and other people’s emotions, to discriminate between different feelings and label them appropriately, and to use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior.”
It has been a nifty term to describe when we have the ability to recognize what is going on with us and others, and then knowing what to do with those emotions. I love observing Emotional Intelligence (and the lack thereof). Some people come by it naturally. Others have no idea what this concept is all about.
I recently spent some time with 3 people in 3 different situations that had vastly different levels of “EI.” It was fascinating to watch. I felt like I was in the middle of a huge case study. I was the researcher. They were the “rats”.
The first was a man I met at an Open House for a Masters’ Program on Saturday. (I am considering a master’s’ degree). We were all gathered in the lobby waiting for the presentation to begin. This man introduced himself to me, “Hi, my name is John.” His confidence was noticeable. He had great eye contact, then strong handshake, then kind words and a hello to the new Program Chair that I was standing next to. Instead of the typical questions, he asked her what she was experiencing being part of the program. I was shocked. I think she was too. Everyone else was asking questions that were focused on themselves, their needs and what they were going to get out of the program, including me. He was thoughtful, gently provocative and a truly superb listener.
Two hours later, he and I were seated in a room, waiting to listen to a presentation on Skype. I shared with him what I thought of his wonderful and generous questions. He smiled shyly and said thank you for noticing. I felt connected to him immediately and deeply. (Too bad he wasn’t single.)
The second person was a woman I talked to briefly at a training. She wanted my opinion on a rather complicated situation. She talked incessantly for 5 minutes, without taking a breath it seemed, and was clueless that I had only a 10 minute break and just might need to use the restroom. Or that I might need a break from standing for several hours in the training. I studied her intently as she talked. What caused her to be this very self-focused person who had no awareness of me, my emotions or anyone around her? Was this narcissism, unconscious, or just a challenging problem? Who knows? The key – her behavior was annoying. I caught myself not listening. (I hate admitting that.)
The third person was a guest at a birthday party on Saturday night. There were over 30 people talking, drinking and celebrating the 60th birthday of a friend. I observed a friend of mine for about 45 minutes. She asked questions of others that she had just met. She was patient, kind, listened with a terrific ear and responded with more questions, then she finally moved the conversation to herself. I felt honored to know her.
Obviously, this highly developed ability to read others and oneself comes partly from our familial environment, the many different work cultures we have experienced and exposure to friends, family, etc. Society also has to play a role in how we develop this skill. Therapy would affect it too.
It is simply much more interesting to spend time with people of high Emotional Intelligence. Please take a look at your own abilities. Is it innate or do you have to work at it?
Please choose consciously.
Thanks for listening!
January 2016 eNewsletter
I have noticed something recently about the way we are doing business that is inconsistent with our values. We are not being true to ourselves. Many of you have heard me say this before – is your behavior in alignment with your goals? Go one step further – is your behavior in alignment with your principles? That is the heart of the issue.
Let me explain.
1. A coaching client asked me how to approach someone whose mother had died because the house would be sold. He explained to me what he intended to write in the letter to the son and I realized the agent I knew was not coming across accurately in the letter. His kindness and big heart was not obvious. I suggested edits to the letter demonstrating his compassion (his own father died 2 years ago and we mentioned that and how he could take care of all the details). He got the appointment and then signed the listing. He was true to his character and values. (Of course there is more to this, but not room to tell the entire story.)
2. Another agent asked me how to get an elderly woman to clean out her house. He had the listing signed, but she had accumulated “stuff” for decades and was moving very slowly in the de-cluttering process. He was afraid that he had said some things to her that caused her to go even more slowly. He asked me for help. How could he repair the relationship?
I coached him to call her (or better yet – meet with her in person), apologize for not listening, and let her know that he was there to support her. He told her that she could take all the time she needed and he understood that it was a big task and very emotional. She then cleaned out the property very quickly! Obviously he did a terrific job of saying sorry.
3. A client of mine asked how to deal with a potential client in his 80’s, whose male friend had listed the property originally and the listing had expired. The agent/friend was selling real estate in the same old fashioned manner as he did 20 years ago. He did not have the seller update the property, nor stage it. My coaching client could see exactly why it didn’t sell. No updating, no staging and overpriced! My advice was to approach the seller, be compassionate, talk about what needed to be done to sell the property in this market, and offer to pay the original listing agent a referral fee. I will hear shortly about the result.
(The stories have been changed slightly to protect the innocent.)
Please take a hard look – Are you operating your business based on the principles you live by? Are you demonstrating that you understand each client’s particular needs? Have you put yourself in the client’s shoes and felt what he/she is experiencing? Are you looking at the reason for the move? Birth, divorce, death, down sizing, job transfer, promotion or loss of a job? Are you listening and responding appropriately or are you treating all the clients the same?
I believe that we forget sometimes that we are dealing with a very emotional transition. It doesn’t matter whether it is a happy or sad occasion. Moves can be devastating and we neglect to express our sympathy about the reason for the move. Every one of your clients is under stress. Remember that and you will do more business.
It is time we returned to operating our business from our core principles. What are yours?
Some of mine: Integrity, listening, compassion, patience, gratitude, accountability, and fun!
Thanks for listening!
December 2015 eNewsletter
Random Acts of Kindness
We have all heard and appreciated this phrase since the book, Random Acts of Kindness, was written. These random acts are small gestures that warm the heart, sweeten the soul, and help us remember the best in each other. They also build intimate connections with strangers without expectation, or reward.
On December 21st, I met two pals in the city for lunch. That day it was pouring buckets, coming in and out of the city. I walked to my car solo and noticed a guy without a coat or umbrella approaching the crosswalk. He was soaking wet. I stood next to him, holding my umbrella over the two of us. He glanced my way, pulled away slightly, assessing me for signs of lunacy and decided that I was acceptable, and laughed a bit. I said I was happy to share for a minute. We walked across the street together and parted ways. He smiled and said thank you.
The day before Christmas, I was back in the city for client appointments. I noticed a man that I presumed to be homeless on the steps of a Sacramento Street church. He was rummaging through a back pack as I stopped to talk to him.
“Hi, how are you?” I said. (I felt a bit awkward.) I asked gently, “Are you homeless?” He said, “Yes I am.”
I asked, “Where do you sleep?” He said, “Around the corner.”
He was no more than 50 and looked like he just had been down on his luck.
“Are you hungry?” I asked. “Could you use a meal?” He said, “Yes I am.”
I responded, “Here, this can help towards some food.” I handed him $5. (Now it seems so small.)
His eyes filled up a bit and he said very enthusiastically, “Merry Christmas!” to me with a lovely smile on his face. My eyes filled up too. I thought I am going to do this again.
A few days ago, I was on my way to meet a client in Nordstrom Pleasanton for lunch. A Pepsi can blew off the overflowing garbage can outside the store entrance in front of me. I picked it up and pushed it down on top of the trash. I hadn’t noticed a man walking behind me, who said, “I can’t believe you did that.” I was quite dressed up in a dress with a long coat, scarf and boots. I smiled and told him I had been doing small things like that for a couple of days and that it just made me feel good and grateful. He held the door for me and we parted ways with grins on our faces.
These three gestures were so small and so wonderful – to observe people’s reactions, to feel the warmth of strangers and to give to others. My message this month is to reach out and touch someone’s life and see what happens. These random acts changed me and I will continue to do one every day if I can.
Happy 2016 to all of you!
November 2015 eNewsletter
I read this phrase several years ago in an article and thought it was time to share it as I experienced it recently four times.
From the internet – A Micro-inequity is a theory that refers to hypothesized ways in which individuals are either singled out, overlooked, ignored, or otherwise discounted based on an unchangeable characteristic such as race or gender.
In 1973 Mary Rowe(link is external), while working for the President and Chancellor at MIT, coined the notion of micro-inequities, which she defined as “apparently small events which are often ephemeral and hard-to-prove, events which are covert, often unintentional, frequently unrecognized by the perpetrator, which occur wherever people are perceived to be ‘different.’ ” Examples of micro-inequities include:
checking emails or texting during a face-to-face conversationconsistently mispronouncing a person’s nameinterrupting a person mid-sentencemaking eye-contact only with males while talking to a group containing both males and femalestaking more questions from men than womenconfusing a person of a certain ethnicity with another person of the same ethnicityraising your voice, even though the other person has no difficulties hearing youmentioning the achievements of some people at a meeting but not others whose achievements are equally relevantconsistently ignoring a person’s emails for no good reason
These are my recent encounters with it.
1. I recently attended a party at a girlfriend’s house where I knew almost no one. A few people arrived and literally the first 5 people that walked by me didn’t say hello, hi, or even look at me. I was standing so close to them it was odd and awkward. It would have been the most natural and normal thing in the world to acknowledge me in some way.
2. I walked into a real estate office in early October and stood at the front desk while the receptionist kept talking to a colleague. This went on for a few minutes; she did not look up. I knew she saw me. I waited patiently (honestly I wanted to report her to her manager whom I know well) and was ticked by the time she said, “How can I help you?”
3. A few months ago, a cashier in a store scanned my items and then placed the receipt in front of me to sign and dropped the pen on the counter instead of handing it to me. The pen bounced on the counter.
4. I emailed the president of a company about asking her for advice in coaching an employee of hers. I have been hired by this company many times to coach and train. No response whatsoever. What is that?!
All of these are slights and they may be unconscious but it doesn’t matter. They are all rude in my mind. I was appalled to experience it. Please pay attention to this and don’t be part of it. It hurts your business and hurts all of mankind.
October 2015 eNewsletter
Build the Relationship
A new coaching client asked me recently to explain how I knew I got a listing in the initial appointment of 20 minutes. I always did 2-stop listings. I explained how I spoke to the woman, and bonded with her. I asked her about the blueberry and raspberry vinegar on her kitchen counter. I was truly interested as I had never seen them before. (OK… I am up there in age! This was 23 years ago.) He said he then understood why I was a successful listing agent. I showed interest in her and her life.
That conversation taught me something – that perhaps I am not explaining enough about how to build a deep, solid and exceptional relationship with a client (and everyone) that provides repeat business and referrals for years.
So here is that explanation – I will use the pronoun “she” to make it less cumbersome than “he/she”.
1. Are you listening at a deep level? Did you hear what she said and what she didn’t say?
2. Did you read her body language while she talked and when she didn’t?
3. Did you make a note about her tone? Was it happy, nervous, sad, emotional?
4. Did your heart tell you something about her as well as your mind?
5. Did your intuition speak and tell you about her?
6. Did you keep the conversation on her or did you bring it back to you because you think that builds rapport. (If you do that too often, it communicates that “it’s all about you!” THIS IS CRITICAL!
7. Are you asking open ended questions? (Tell me more… How does that make you feel… Why is that important…)
8. Are you conscious of the delivery? Speedy, too slow or just right? Are you racing through the questions or statements to get it done?
9. Is your tone warm, friendly and medium in volume?
10. Are you having eye contact? Or do you look away because you are uncomfortable?
Learning how to communicate in this way is a gift. It makes the client feel valued and validated. I know I appreciate it when I am treated this way.
Practice with your friends, spouse, partner or kids until the approach becomes second nature. It can change your business and all relationships forever!
A caveat – you have to “custom build the relationship”. Your communication and listening skills with one client will be vastly different than the next.
September 2015 eNewsletter
Tell the Truth
Coaching clients often tell me stories about over priced listings (or a potential seller who wants to list well above Fair Market Value).
We have this conversation with sellers without redirecting the seller to the critical issue – That what the seller wants has nothing to do with its value. They are unrelated.
None of these has anything to do with the value:
What the seller paid for itWhat the seller needsWhat the seller wantsWhat the property down the street sold for 6 months ago.
Why are we afraid to have this conversation? Because we are afraid to lose the listing by being direct? Because we are afraid to damage the relationship?
Do you have a problem making such direct statements?
I would urge you to practice your script a few times to get comfortable telling the seller the truth. If you fail to do so, it will come back to haunt you and cause more problems in the relationship than if you told the truth up front. You just get fired later or receive no referrals because the seller can see that you were afraid to address the issue up front. Respect is lost.
By the way: I am not saying that a seller can’t wait until spring to “get their price”. That is fine. I am saying we need to educate, advise, and be very clear about how a buyer and his/her agent (and the appraiser) determines their offer price. By the comparable sales.
Tell the truth. Tell the clients what they need to hear – not what they want to hear. I have found that speaking the truth in every situation works to develop meaningful, long lasting relationships. Clients recognize that we have to say some challenging things and they respect us more, not less.
August 2015 eNewsletter
I think we have an enormous responsibility in this lifetime to do the right thing with the power and influence we have as leaders in our community. The older I get, the more I think this.
I think we should be committed to learning, to growing, and using our assets (intellect, energy, and our physical being), and our skills to help our brothers and sisters come along for the ride. What does this mean?
What we do with that responsibility and influence can be wonderfully positive or negative. We can impact others in a destructive way so easily – A slight when we run into them, a lack of response, or a comment about their pricing on a listing.
We need to demonstrate by example through our interactions. I call it “training others” by how we treat them. Our colleagues don’t know that we trained them. They just experience an accepting, collegial and warm way of interacting. How hard can it be to always be kind, patient and forgiving?
The result: Others (clients and colleagues) want to be around you because you were without judgment. It is a rare interaction or relationship in business today that feels truly accepting.
Questions to ponder:
Have you gossiped about a colleague because you thought he/she was not bright? Perhaps he/she was just having a bad day due to an upsetting event in his/her personal life.
Did you judge someone in your mind because they have less experience in the business and he/she didn’t know how to manage the huge pile of paperwork for a condo transaction?
Do you show patience and acceptance of new Realtors or loan agents in the community? Or did you act like a know-it-all?
Were you rude for no reason?
Have you ever said something snippy to another person? These were said to me: “What… don’t you have any client control?” and “Just how long have you been in the business?” (You can guess the tone of voice – belittling!)
Results of being conscious of your influence as a leader in the community:
You are asked for advice.People notice your compassion.Your patience makes for a more balanced life.Your kind, forgiving nature forges long term healthy relationships.Your reputation is enhanced.You are respected by the brokerage community.
Think about this. I recommend it.
July 2015 eNewsletter
Passive vs. Assertive vs. Aggressive
Every client is in at least three high stress situations while buying or selling real estate; the reason for the move (birth, marriage, death, divorce, job promotion, etc.), the process of obtaining a mortgage, the moving, and the transaction itself.
Many times during the last month I have had a conversation with a coaching client about how and when to be assertive, without being pushy and tarnishing one’s reputation. Conversely, how can we be patient, gentle, and a good listener, yet not appear soft or indecisive?
This is truly a balancing act. Some situations demand that you be stronger in tone, words and style. Others need the softer, kinder style. It is critical to be attentive to customizing your communication style depending on the client’s communication style and their style.
What does aggressive look like? (I believe this one should be rarely used.)
- You begin a sentence with, “YOU should, YOU need to, YOU ought to or Look, you need to…”
- You try to “push” clients into a decision that you think is the best one.
- You don’t listen to your clients’ needs and wants; you’re focused on your own – which is to get paid.
- You get impatient.
- You demonstrate judgment through your words, body language and tone.
- You feel incensed that they aren’t listening to you. (Did you put yourself in their shoes?)
- The clientspush back because they have gleaned from your communication style that they are merely a number to you.(You have calculated the commission and it is obvious).
What does passive look like?
- You are afraid to be direct and say what you think.
- You won’t speak up when they choose the worst of the 3 options you gave them.
- You avoid conflict regularly.
- You take too long to have the challenging conversation about commission, a price reduction or the low offer they want to write.
- You simply are afraid of losing the client or not being liked.
What does assertive look like?
- You are clear, direct and you exude confidence.
- You say what you think in a neutral manner.
- You have expressed your concerns for their unwise decisions.
- You never use the words: “Look, you need to” OR the others from the Aggressive section above.
- You have set clear boundaries with the client about how you work, the hours you are available, and what is expected of them to buy or sell a property.
- You always educate clients up front about the process.
- You are comfortable telling clients what can go wrong in this particular market.
Summary: It is very challenging for some of us to be assertive with everyone all day long, especially with strong personalities and dominant types. It is so important that you learn this trait because you cannot build trust and respect, two essential components of your relationship building.
Please take the time to think through the above. What are you doing that is hurting the development of strong, long term relationships with clients and colleagues?
June 2015 eNewsletter
If it’s not a hell yes it’s a no.
I was talking to a girlfriend the other day about a date that I’d had, and after a long conversation, she said, “If he’s not a hell yes, he’s a no.”
I love that statement because it’s so simple. It’s honest, it’s true and it’s powerful. And the best part of the statement – it gives you a high standard to follow and it keeps your boundaries clear. That same principle applies to your real estate or loan agent business. How many of you have worked with a client who tested your patience, was chronically late, did not return a phone call, or never took your advice (and then complained afterwards)?
Wouldn’t it be novel to only work with clients who workthe same way you do?If the client is a “hell yes,” she listens to your advice, she closes the transaction, and she refers you business for years. If the client is a “no,”thenrefer her, terminate the relationship, or have what I call “the blunt discussion.” (This is how I work… do you want to work in this way or shall we part ways?)
How do we set the boundaries in the initial appointment? We ask the client how he/she would like to work:
– What is your ideal method of communication and ideal frequency?
– Do you prefer succinct emails or would you prefer all the details?
– Do you make decisions quickly or do you need time to process over night?
– Are you willing to take my advice???
– For sellers: If you are willing to spend the time, money and energy to prepare the home for sale and stage it?That is what it will take to get top dollar.
– It takes planning and strategy to achieve the highest possible sales price in this market.
– For buyers: If you are willing to write a significant amount over the asking price and non-contingent upon a loan, appraisal, and inspection, then you will be successful in this market.
– It takes courage to buy in this market.
So, back to dating ☺, if the date is cheap, is chronically late, lies, or is evasive, it’s a hell no. If the date is kind, generous, has integrity, is fun, and curious about others, it’s a hell yes.
So, back to the internet. I’m still looking.
May 2015 eNewsletter
I took a week off to do a “stay-cation” in early May and get caught up on life, work, the garage, the garden, the many old documents in 3 file cabinets, etc. The list was overwhelming.
Did I finish? No, but it was quite satisfying to check off the ridiculously long list. I had help from my assistant. We easily spent 15 hours together. I spend another 15 hours on my own.
I had a handyman come in and build some shelves. I took many things to charities. I fixed sprinklers (I didn’t – the handyman did). I replaced the dead plants in the garden.
What did I learn??? That the clutter in my life was cluttering up my head, my work life and my personal life. I used to write down every good idea and think irrationally that I would be able to get to it within a few days. One of you would ask me for a script and I said,“Yes I have time to write it.”That is a lie. I don’t. Not in this state of mind.
I have not been in planning mode. I have been in reactive mode. I only get done what is critical each week. What am I thinking? I am the business coach.
For those of you who know me, I look very organized on the surface. Truthfully, I feel scattered and way out of control. The list is still long, but I had an epiphany. It was emotional. It was physical. It was even spiritual to figure this out.
I identified what keeps me from being truly productive and living life to the fullest and that is that TO DO LIST.
It haunts me. It keeps me up at night. It keeps me from being in the present. I am always thinking about how to get in 3 more errands before I go home. Every day is focused on that list. I feel like it strangles me. So… what was my lesson?
I am making time to get all the important things on the list completed within 2 weeks and then my agreement with myself is that:
The list stays current.
I say no to any more than I can complete that week.
I play more. I try to date. Hah!
I live my life without the nagging feeling that I don’t do enough for others. I do.
I am enough.
April 2015 eNewsletter
“I’m really busy!”
In the last month, I have heard two familiar comments that are very telling.
1. “I am really busy” (and grateful that I am).” “I am slammed.”
2. “I am thinking about changing brokerages.” Or “I am thinking about leaving real estate.” Or “I am so upset with that agent who stole that client from me.” Or “I hate the business.”
What’s really going on with all of the statements in number 2?
You are not busy! And why? Because you are not willing to do what it takes. Secondly, you are so focused what isn’t working that you don’t take ownership of your own behavior. It is time you did. I say this with great compassion.
The market is hot. And it is very challenging. It is the toughest Seller’s Market I have ever seen. There is good movement everywhere. Twenty percent of the agents are on fire. Sixty percent are doing well. And the last twenty percent are crying the blues.
Which pool are you in?
I urge you to take advantage of this hot market and get going. Some great ideas (all have been tested):
- Have you called your past clients from your first few years in business? One agent got 3 listings this way.
- Have you sent out multiple sales postcards to sphere and your farm? One agent took 5 listings in the last year.
- If your SOI is not producing 70 to 80 percent of your business, then finds ways to add 10 new people per month. (Your sphere might be literally or figuratively dead.) Such events are:
Have you been to a networking event to meet new people?
- Have you sent CMAs to past clients from your first few years?
- Did you send birthday cards out? Valentine’s Day cards? One agent took a listing from Valentine’s Day cards.
- Send a mailing about the possibility of interest rates going up. The buyer pool will decrease. It is a great time to sell to maximize your proceeds!
Back to the comment “I am so busy.” Be very careful about saying that out loud. Your clients will be concerned that you don’t have time for them or you don’t have time for their referrals.
So here is a better way to answer the question, “How are you doing in real estate?”
“I am so fortunate to have had a very good year last year and a great first part of this year, however I will always have time for you, your family and your friends.”
March 2015 eNewsletter
I. What’s Happening in the Bay Area:
- Buyers are less loyal and less trusting than 4 years ago.
- Some are taking a break (some permanently). And when they do, sometimes they can no longer afford the price range they were looking in.
- Some sellers have gotten greedy (one got 4 offers over asking and didn’t accept any!).
- There is no inventory. In the city – it is 33% down over last year and every year has been lower!
- Why? Sellers are afraid to go on the market because they have no place to go.
- Some sellers cannot qualify for a new loan so they can’t sell.
- A good sign: Inventory doubled in last week’s tour in Berkeley from the week before.
- Interest rates will very likely go up sometime in the next few months. (The Fed Reserve will raise the discount rate.)
- Days on Market is below 14 for most properties.
- Many properties are selling “off market”. One client recently double ended two of her own listings.
- The Sales Price to List Price percentage is climbing. Everywhere! Estimate: 106% of list and many cities have a higher average.
- The farther away you are from San Francisco, the slower the market. (Translation: fewer offers, longer DOM and lower SP to LP percentage).
- Previous clients don’t always use us again. Dang!
- Most properties are updated and staged because they sell more quickly.
- The Buyers’ biggest concern – they can’t compete if they have a loan. They have to write higher to offset that fact. Then they have a possible appraisal problem.
- Cash is 25 to 35% of all the offers.
- The Paredo Rule is still in effect: 20% of the agents are doing 80% of the business. That 20% is who is getting the listings.
- The first 2 months of 2015 were off to a slow start for 80% of the agents.
- Open houses are a great way to pick up buyers if you don’t pounce on them. And meet sellers!
- Being a listing agent is always “king”. (Nothing new there)
- I have about a dozen clients who are super busy:
One has 11 transactions (active, pending or sold.)
One had 15 transactions (active, pending or sold.)
One has 22 transactions (active, pending or sold.)
One has 5 at an average of $1.7 M.
One opened 14 escrows in the last 2 months and signed 10 listings.
II. My Advice
- Be a listing agent
- Maintain a positive attitude – clients are reading your negativity and frustration.
- Market consistently – it will haunt you later if you don’t.
- Stay in touch with past clients and SOI. Or they will shop you when it comes time to buy or sell. Your database is critical.
- Add to that database until it gets above 300. You need it to be refreshed monthly because it gets stale. Referrals can dry up.
- Be a listing agent.
- Try new marketing – humor, quirky, creative and very direct is working!
- Provide extra services to be memorable.
- Attend networking events 4 times per month. It works!
- Do an Open House on the Saturday before the Sunday Open House for the neighbors alone. You meet SELLERS!
- Be a listing agent.
- Fix your personality. It’s still a relationshipbusiness!
- Do all of the above. ☺
February 2015 eNewsletter
I would like to share with you somestories about personal breakthroughs that changed the clients’ outlook and mind set about their business and themselves. And their incomes jumped.
The main reason for the “breakthroughs”?A change in the way that the client “framed” his or her story.In other words, telling yourself the truth.
Let me explain:
Story #1: A client recently described her very first listing (it was over $1M). The seller, who was a friend, was quite obstinate about spending money on an inspection to find out the condition of a raised area in her floor. She chose not to obtain the report. The house went into escrow very close to the asking price. The “raised floor” problem was noted on the buyer’s inspection report and the transaction fell apart. The buyer was frightened off by the inspector’s comments. Another buyer appears and the seller doesn’t take the offer, although again it was very close to the asking price. The seller lost the property 2 years later through foreclosure.
The agent knew intellectually that she did not do anything wrong. Emotionally she hung onto this “mistake”for 4 years. She considered it her fault. We uncovered it in coaching and she let go once she realized that it had nothing to do with her. She did nothing wrong.
The truth? The seller chose not to take her advice. She increased her income by nearly $200,000 in one year.
Story #2: Several years ago, I was coaching an agent for whom English was a second language. She didn’t speak it perfectly. (But who among us, who were born here, speak it correctly?)
She often asked me to correct her emails, notes and her speech. I refused to, stating that it was okay to make a mistake. That became a major breakthrough for her and her business doubled in the 1st year of working together. Now she earns 5 times that amount.
Story #3: This story is shocking. I noticed that a client was exhausted. She kept taking on more and more. Every minute of her schedule was filled. She was a Realtor, had taken a part time job, was in school getting her masters degree, had just had her second baby, and had a husband! I asked her why she filled up every minute of her schedule as full as she could, and what was she trying to prove? And to whom?
She had an epiphany about an ugly (and very inappropriate) comment from a teacher when she was 16 years old. The teacher said something to the effect that that she would never amount to anything because she was stupid.
The lesson from these stories? Tell yourself the truth. The facts, not the emotional story. Most of the time, you didn’t make a mistake. And move on. You don’t have time to dwell on the upsets. Just learn the lesson and don’t repeat it!
July 2014 eNewsletter
Good manners are to be treasured and savored. They seem to be getting scarcer these days as etiquette and courtesy have disappeared.
I have noticed that many people do not write thank you notes at all anymore. This is a gentle reminder that you should write a note for all dinners, lunches, and other events to which you were invited and attended. Also a note should be written for gifts or thoughtful actions towards you. These actions are rare today and always appreciated.
Example: I held an event last year for clients and I tracked the “thank you” notes and calls. Approximately 25% of the attendees sent an email, a note or called me afterward. I find that appalling.
Want more referrals? Clean up your manners in all areas.
How? Say hello to everyone in your office every day.
Learn the staff’s names and be polite always.
Always begin and end appointments with a thank you.
Give undivided attention with clients, colleagues (everyone!)
Use “Please”, “Thank you”, “You are welcome” and “Nice to meet you” often.
Do not repeat gossip; it should end with you.
Never complain in public; it is boring.
Demonstrate the same courtesy to subordinates as superiors
Be respectful with very experienced coworkers and clients (they worked in a different era)
Do not ever use sexist or racial terms
Be aware of people’s special needs – hearing problem, a bad back, absenteeism for a religious holiday
When receiving recognition, mention the contributions of others
Take the role of host when the host of an event is busy
Learn people’s names and titles, especially the receptionist at any company
Introduce yourself if joining a meeting late; do not interrupt the conversation
Introduce yourself to new colleagues
Listen, have eye contact and be attentive when others are speaking
Remember – you are building a reputation for good manners by everything that you do!
May 2014 eNewsletter
I think one of the most important factors that make us successful in any sales business is “resonating”.
My definition: Resonating is when you are “in the zone”, on top of your game, getting referrals on a regular basis, and when you just notice that you feel relaxed, confident and in general are very successful.
What percentage of the last 12 months were you resonating?
Most people tell me 25%. A few say 50%. I would like you to recognize that you are in charge of this and it can be 90% every week, month or year.
It is a conscious choice to resonate.
So… how do we resonate when we are in a bad mood or some business we expected just vanished?
Here are ways that make you resonate:
- Greet everyone you meet at the office and elsewhere. People will find you warm and friendly, and want to do business with you.
- If you are in a bad mood, go to the door and check your attitude like a coat. Leave it there. You don’t have time. Everyone can read you; you are not that good of an actor.
- Pretend to be in a good mood if you have to. I have noticed repeatedly that suddenly my bad mood lifted if I “faked” it.
- Frame everything in a positive light if possible. You are perceived as a pessimist if you use these phrases often: “I can’t do that… I am not willing to do … That won’t work….” Most people have no idea how negative they sound.
- Smile a lot more. Exude confidence, relax, and move and speak a little slower if you are a fast thinker and mover.
- And last: Stay in the present. Most people can read through your body language that your mind left the conversation. Clients feel invalidated easily by our behavior as they are in high stress mode. Slow down, pay attention, listen and respond to what was said.
Choose to resonate every day. It will dramatically change your business.
March 2014 eNewsletter
Instead of a single topic this month, I decided to share some of the key things I learned this quarter that were breakthroughs for clients or me!
- You all know how I harp on this: Three clients I met with recently got business from calls to Sphere of Influence: 1. One woman made one call in a 2-week period, picked up a buyer, put it in escrow in a few days and it is closing soon! Just think what would happen if she made the 10 calls per week that she had agreed to!Another called 3 people and the middle call was turned into an “A” buyer, meaning ready to buy in the next 3 months.
A third admitted that he had been lying about making the calls, felt guilty, made the 10 calls and got a buyer and a seller out of one phone call to a past client! The lesson: 80% of your business this year is inside your database – you just don’t know which ones are buying or selling or referring!Call 5 today!And every day.
- I have been very focused on how to help those who will NOT stay in touch with sphere and past clients. Two revelations – 1. Don’t ask for business. (That seems to be the key – issues of rejection.) Just be positive when speaking about how well you are doing. 2. Those who have to text me Monday through Friday with the number of calls they made are having breakthroughs! They have been too embarrassed to say they didn’t make the calls.
- Send your past clients a CMA at least twice a year. It keeps them in touch with you and keeps them in touch with their property’s value.
- Please be creative with your marketing. Doing the same old things doesn’t grab attention. One postcard idea: “Your equity is back above 2007 levels” is working!
- One client is doing well with sending letters versus postcards. It gets the recipients to open them. She gets about 2 to 3 listing leads per month.
- Another is using the Open House script (that I wrote years ago) with great success. The key question: “How did you find the Open House today?” It tells you who is a buyer, a seller or a neighbor.
- Consider a new farm and mail 7 times in 7 weeks. It works to break in quickly versus in 18 months, which is the average!
- As always – Check your behavior daily. Is your behavior in alignment with your goals? I know the answer is no!
December 2013 eNewsletter
Ten reminders for the new year:
- Send your clients their HUD 1’s from your closed transactions with a cover letter. They will appreciate your thoughtfulness.
- Start the year off with a Business Plan with all of your activities planned out. You will make more by writing it down!
- Track your income and activities. You will make more by tracking it because you correct the mistakes and omissions.
- PROSPECT weekly and preferable daily. Is it part of your weekly activities? It should be.
- Get rid of the negative thoughts; you don’t have time for them. Only the positive.
- Be generous; it will come back to you.
- Focus on the service you provide, not the amount of the check you will receive. PLEASE.
- Take time to smell the roses weekly – I am and it makes such a difference in the way I feel every day.
- Take some time off this year – I suggest 3 weeks of vacation. Please don’t laugh when you read this. You need it to rejuvenate. You know the old adage – plan a vacation and you will get busy.
- Check your behavior daily – Is your behavior in alignment with your goals?
Happy new year to all!
October 2013 eNewsletter
Abundance versus Scarcity
Once again, this is a commonly recurring theme in our business. I have noticed that I can glean from the way people frame their sentences whether or not they are focused on the clients’ needs or their own.
Here are a few questions to determine which way you operate:
- Are you thinking about the client as a number? (“That buyer is at least a $15,000 commission.”)
- Are you actually figuring out the exact amount of commission with each client? (Ex: $8,754)
- Are you counting the number of hours you spent with a client? (“That client was a complete waste of my time. I never got paid on all those hours.”)
Scarcity looks like:
I don’t have anything in escrow.
I would be happy if I met last year’s numbers.
I have 6 buyers at the moment. Who can I push into writing an offer?
Abundance looks like: FIX
I just closed 3 transactions. What do I have in my pipeline? Who should I contact today?
I want to earn $50,000 more this year.
I will manage the process for the client.
August 2013 eNewsletter
In the last month, I have been speaking about networking more than normal with Realtors and Loan Agents. I found the conversations fascinating – most of us don’t plan this as part of our business. I think it should be a regularly monthly item on our TO DO list. Networking should also be an awareness that we have at all times. Opportunities arise and we frequently miss them due to lack of preparation and forethought.
1. Fifteen years ago, I spoke at a Rotary Club meeting and met the president of an Architectural/Engineering firm in Danville. He asked for my credentials. I handed him a 6-page piece including how I work and client testimonials. The firm became a regular client of mine for 10 years. I was prepared.
2. I attended a networking event for a non-profit a year ago and met a web site designer who has designed sites for 6 of my clients. Shewas prepared. She also had her “sales manager” scouting the room for her.
3. A client recently attended a birthday party where she met numerous new “Sphere of Influence” and followed up with a possible lead and has a listing appointment.
My point: The leads are everywhere. If we take the time to: 1. Prepare a credentials piece (what I call a Business Portfolio); 2. Put them in the car when attending an event along with our business cards; 3. Gently and professionally ask for business without ever using the word “refer” or “recommend” then we will get leads. The Portfolio can be PDFed to people as well.
I suggest the “ask” be executed in a simple straightforward manner:
- “How can I be of service?”
- “How can I help you?”
- “I would love to help you with that.”
- “I would be honored to assist with that.”
- I would be happy to be your real estate (or lending) resource. Just let me know when you are ready.”
One more point: I am having a very good year. Someone asked me recently about how I got the business. I had to think about it – I realized that it all came from networking or calls I made months ago. None came from anything I did last month. This is long term Business Development and we need to do it regularly.
By the way, I have to admit (sheepishly) that I did a speech for a company recently and did not have enough business cards to hand out to the 70 people in the room. I am my own best source for e-newsletter content!
July 2013 eNewsletter
Having an optimist attitude is one of the most powerful components of our success.
- live longer
- earn more money
- are healthier
- are happier
- have healthier children
- have less depression
- exceed the predictions of aptitude tests
- more likely to win when elected to office
Martin Seligman, who wrote Learned Optimism, discovered that “both animals and humans can learn helplessness. When faced with situations where they were powerless to change an annoying element, two out of three (both animals and humans) would cease trying to affect the situation.”
“And one in three would shrug off situations and continue acting to improve their lot regardless.”
This has been a powerful tool to me in my coaching and training practice. Every day, I can sense whether someone is an optimist or a pessimist. It comes through in his/her words, tone and body language. What does it look like? The words include “struggle, obstacle, hurdle, and I am afraid” when describing a situation with a client. The tonecommunicates worry, anxiety and fear. The body language may include poor posture, a down turned mouth, a lack of eye contact and/or lack of a smile.
You can change this dramatically just by choosing positive words, avoiding the word “not”, and checking your tone every day – does it sound cheerful and confident? And last, think about sitting up straight, shaking hands in a business-like manner and smiling slightly. All of this communicates confidence.
Let’s be part of the 33% of the population that moves “improves their lot”.
May 2013 eNewsletter
This topic came up 4 times this week so I felt that it was extremely important to share with you. We need to pay attention to our Sphere of Influence!
Many of you have focused on marketing your listings around the listing but not to your Sphere of Influence. You market to your geographical farm but again not to your Sphere with important market information and your successes.
Why not? Several of you have said you feel like you are exhibiting that “sleazy” or “salesy” behavior that is so distasteful. The client or friend will let you know if they don’t want your marketing pieces. Just design them tastefully and watch the frequency!
Here is what some of my coaching clients have been doing that has resulted in fantastic new business and more referrals.
I suggest that you take the approach to market up to 5 times for each new listing.
1. Coming Soon Postcards
2. Just Listed Postcards
3. Pending Postcards (I did this and it worked to increase the listings I took!)
4. Sold Postcards
5. And last, send a “Multiple” postcard with 4 to 6 of your Recent Sales.
Combine an Active, Pending and 2 Solds on 1 postcard. Add a 1-line seller or testimonial. Add the DOM if they were short and the sales price to List Price percentage.
One new agent mailed the Multiple Sales postcard with several of her recent sales and now her personal Sphere sees her quite differently! She is getting referrals. She has 10 deals closed or in escrow in the first 5 months of 2013.
Two agents mailed a Multiple Sales Postcard with a list all of last year’s sales on it and said “Thank you for your referrals!” It got a lot of good press.
Other great results:
One agent took the time to call over 40 past clients/Sphere in one month and got 10 “A” clients from it. This is the HIGHEST result I have ever seen. She took 3 listings last month.
Another just called previous clients from her first 4 years (she has been in the business 9 years). She 3 closed transactions from those calls.
Our clients who loved working with us will do so again and will send referrals our way. We need to recognize that our personal Sphere of Influence wants to help us equally as much, but we have to communicate that we are doing well. Your personal Sphere is not comfortable recommending you unless they know you are successful. So… TELL THEM.
This is also true for the loan agents I coach and everyone in commission based businesses. Keep the Sphere of Influence informed about your successes!
April 2013 eNewsletter
Why do some Realtors and Loan Agents do so much business and so seamlessly?
The key question: How do we go through the drama of this challenging market and not get mired in it?
Coaching clients who are “on fire”.
• AD picked up over $200K in income in 2012 vs. 2011.
• NS sold 50% more in 2012 than 2011. (Closed 40 last year)
• MM planned 17 closings this year; she has 14 in escrow or closed so far. We will increase her plan to 25.
• DC does 25 to 30 loans per month.
1. How do you hang onto a buyer if he/she has lost out on 5 homes in multiple offer situations?
2. How do you handle a seller whose property is not selling when everything around it has sold in 14 days?
3. How do you get the loyalty of the borrower when your rate is 1/8% to ¼% higher? The buyers are shopping the loans!
How to Emotionally Detach from the Drama:
1. Never ever compare yourself to others – only to your own potential. Comparison breeds insecurity.
2. Change all negative “self talk” to positive statements. One agent tripled his income when he stopped saying “I can’t …, I won’t …, etc.
3. Stay in the present. If you do, you aren’t thinking about what you should have done (living in the past) or worrying about what you will do (living in the future).
4. Set your boundaries with everyone. Learn how to say “no” gracefully. Fire those who drain you.
• Say no to sellers who are not realistic!
• Say no to buyers who won’t write high enough!
5. Address your fears: love them, thank them and let them go. They were never real. You made them up.
6. Insulate yourself against negative people. Or fire them.
7. Get comfortable telling the client what they need to hear, not want they want to hear. Educate up front and thoroughly!
NEW Script: Let’s talk about what to expect in this hot market.
• Inventory is low; buyers are plentiful
• Rates are excellent
• Multiple offers are common on almost every property if well priced and well presented
• The real estate market is in recovery mode.
You may encounter some or all of this: You may write 5 to 10 offers before getting your offer accepted. You may have to do “pre-inspections” so that you can buy a property “As Is”. The seller may not credit anything that you ask for because he/she can put it right back on the market and sell it again. The escrow can be delayed from 30 days to 45 because of the challenging loan conditions. If you have to get a loan, the buyers with all cash may kick you out of the game. You will need to write a higher offer to get accepted. You may decide to write your offer without a loan and appraisal contingency. I will explain it and you will make that decision.
It simply takes some additional courage to buy in this market. It can be frustrating, annoying and possibly overwhelming. Now that I have given you the good news, are you ready to move forward? (Smile when you say this.) Great! Let’s go find you a house.
8. Detach emotionally from the daily upsets. Remind yourself that there are more coming and expect a few per year!
The top 20% (who do 80% of the business) are able to see failure as an opportunity for growth. Their attitude: I can do this!
Have the attitude, “This is business.” (It is not personal.)
Don’t take feedback as personal criticism. Move from “overly sensitive” to sympathetic and empathetic. This was me!
Thank you very much!
March 2013 eNewsletter
October 2012 eNewsletter
The Trust Bank
Think about creating and building your relationships in a Trust Bank. This will crystallize what we need to do in our working relationships with clients, colleagues and others. When you manage this well, your relationships stay intact even in the wake of conflict. Everyone assumes that you are on top of “it” (business) and you are.
The Trust Bank is where each of your relationships develops (and / or deteriorates).
Example #1: You promise that you will email a client a document and you do it on Tuesday versus the day you said you would get it done (Thursday). You made a Deposit into the Trust Bank by exceeding expectations.
Example #2: You call back a client with more information than she requested. That is a Deposit into the Trust Bank.
Example #3: You take 3 days to return an email from a colleague. A Withdrawal takes place. You hurt your relationship. She will not trust you to get it done next time. She may tell others you are a flake!
Example #4: You send an incomplete document to someone. A Withdrawal takes place. Your action damaged your relationship.
Key: If you stay attentive to making deposits (being accountable), then when a conflict arises, the person involved looks at the situation instead of blaming you.
July 2012 eNewsletter
The Gift of Listening
If someone were to ask you to rate your listening skills, I believe that most of us would say “good” or “high.” I think we aren’t telling ourselves the truth.
An agent recently asked me, “How are you?” Then she started talking over me in the middle of my response. What did it convey? Several things – She doesn’t really care, she is stressed or is a narcissistic person? I have been talking about listening skills with coaching clients so much that it cried out to be the next newsletter topic. Here are the “results” of my observations.
We don’t really listen!
A client shared this with me last week: Most of us think, “The opposite of not talking is listening.” For many, the opposite of not talking is “waiting to talk”!
If you want to be in the top 20% in the industry, you have to learn to listen carefully to buyers and sellers. That means we have to ask more questions and listen to the answers, then respond to what was said. Moving the conversation to us looks “like we are sharing”. Taking notes on a questionnaire form can stop us from listening because we just write down what was said. We have to listen between the lines and hear what is not said!
Listening styles that block our listening:
1. Mind reader – when we assume that we know what the person is going to say
2. Rehearser – when we plan what we will say (the most common)
3. Filterer – when we sift through their comments
4. Dreamer – when we think about something else
5. Identifier – when we have something in common with the
7. Comparer – when we judge what the person is saying
8. Derailer – when we disagree with the person in our minds
9. Placater – when we are ready to soothe the person versus hearing them out
How many of the above are you guilty of?
Exercise: Practice listening to someone in your personal life for 15 minutes. Every question should be about the person and his/her experience. Use open ended questions and respond when you need to clarify. Watch the relationship change. The person feels “heard”. Your spouse or partner may think something is up! A client in Marin told me it changed his marriage of 26 years. Listening is a gift.
June 2012 eNewsletter
April 2012 eNewsletter
The Fatigue Factor
The excitement and energy of this current market is refreshing yet brings new stress to the clients and to us. For 4 years the sellers felt the enormous stress of the economic downturn. Now the buyers feel the impact of the returning hot market.
Our job is to alleviate that stress to the best of our ability.
One factor that is very important as we navigate the “multiple offer” waters is the fatigue factor of your client and that of the cooperating agent and client. To help understand the concept – think of it this way:
Example #1: If you represent a buyer, think about how many rounds of negotiation can your client take without losing interest in the property? On the opposite side, how many rounds can the seller (and agent) endure? Some negotiations are taking 5 to 10 rounds to iron out the terms, especially contingencies, and the price.
Think about the personality of the listing agent. Is he/she a patient person? Does he/she tend to get angry when things don’t go perfectly? Does he/she speak in a way that communicates he/she needs the paycheck? Why is the seller selling? Is it a financial burden or a “happy” reason the sell (birth, buying down, etc.) All of these will indicate if you have a fatigue factor that could be short – as in 2 to 3 rounds of negotiation. Keep this is your mind and your clients won’t walk away. The key – write clean offers!
Example #2: You may have buyers who are already exhausted from the “multiple offer” situation. The fatigue factor applies here too! They state that it is time to take a break from looking, that they can wait out this crazy market. The bad news is that they may pay more if prices increase and their loan may be more expensive.
Your job is to educate the clients about all of this. I would even consider asking a client about their patience, courage and willingness to compromise. That is exactly what it takes to compete successfully in this market!
January 2012 eNewsletter
The concern that I am hearing most often from both new and seasoned agents is, “I am not consistent in anything that I do.” I think it is a significant issue and worth talking about as we begin a new year, a year that I feel has great economic potential. The entire Bay Area is experiencing productive Open Houses, numerous calls for listing appointments and good momentum in general. Are you taking advantage of the shift in energy?
All of us get tired, are bored, or feel downtrodden at times. I do too. But… what I have noticed is when I am in the “zone”, meaning doing what I should be doing and doing it weekly (marketing and prospecting), I get excellent results and feel happier. We are in charge of our success. Think about where you have been inconsistent: Prospecting? Creating a marketing piece monthly? Farming? Holding Open Houses? If you do these occasionally, you will get a check… occasionally!
I have 3 suggestions for you – to keep the schedule fairly consistent and fun!
One: I have a few pals that I speak to regularly and we cheer each other on with our successes; this support keeps us going. Do you have a fan club? I would create one with your like-minded colleagues who need a boost and respond well to holding each other accountable weekly. I am speaking to my coach once a month about my commitments. She has them too! Another client has to email me 5 days a week that she made her SOI calls. She is making 3 to 7 per day. I will report on her success in a future newsletter.
Two: Schedule the appointment with yourself in the morning (calling Sphere of Influence, marketing, prospecting calls, exercise!). I am suggesting that you enter the appointment in your calendar as if you had a client. The client is YOU.
Three: Start small! Remember that from the retreat? Make 3 calls this week, 6 next week and get it going. I think if we start with small doses of the “disliked” activity we can come to love it as long as there are results!
It takes 21 days to break a habit. If you start this immediately, you will have a very productive year and won’t be wishing you had changed this behavior 6 months from now.
RESULTS: As a follow up to last month’s topic, one client began making 2 to 3 sphere calls per day. “Allison” had one terrific result within days; a previous client took 5 of her business cards to an event. The client called “Allison” back and had a referral for a listing ($1.0M) and a sale ($1.5M) with the same client. This all took place with 3 weeks of the SOI call!
Happy new year!
December 2011 eNewsletter
Calling Sphere of Influence
I just read a long article from a consultancy group giving advice how to get more Internet leads. It bored me. Trying to convert cold Internet leads (over many months) takes a lot more time and effort than just working with people who love and adore you. I may be alone on this philosophy, but I feel that most agents can find great success through staying in touch with, and properly working a database of 250 to 300 people. What I am about to suggest will save you time, money and frustration.
Several weeks ago, I committed to calling 25 managers in my Sphere of Influence – the equivalent of you calling your past clients and personal database. I got 2/3s of the way through it (I made 17 calls in 4 days and booked some new business) and then I realized I wasn’t going to keep my commitment. What was I thinking?! Twenty-five calls is a lot! I feel more compassion for all of you; your mean ol’ coach (me) is a hard driver.
So, I just finished off the last 8 and emailed over 25 more. Here’s my question and push for 2012 – Would you like to actually make your income plan for this year? I imagine that you would! Here’s an excellent strategy for the new year. It is working beautifully with about 20 of my clients.
Start the new year with a new schedule.
Plan an hour a day of calling (or 2 2- hour sessions) every week. Make it in the morning! You know you will never get to it if it is an afternoon task. I have three women emailing every day that they made the calls and I have one is clearly having a major breakthrough! She has made 4 to 7 calls every day except on the holidays. It does get easier.
What would happen if you kept in touch with everyone you know 3 to 4 times per year? They would never consider anyone else as a real estate agent. You would be the one and only one they think of. One agent told me 3 months ago that she saw her previous client’s house go on the market for $2.1 M. She never called the client in 10 years. Another told me that their previous buyer re-listed after 2 years. The client received mailings but not one call from the agent.
A huge result: An agent from Empire Real estate called many clients during the 10 week class I offer. In 1 week and the end of the class, she had 6 listing appointments and got all 6! Not one seller mentioned they were considering selling when she called!
Another huge result: Emily B. closed 19 deals in 8 months after calling everyone in her several sphere’s over and over.
PLEASE start calling your SOI. Make it an agreement with yourself – “I can’t go home until I make the 4 calls.” It works.
Happy new year to that new beginning!