Once upon a time I was a single mom, and didn’t own my own home. I could only rent, and it stunk. What stunk even more though, was that at the time, the culture was such that a single mom couldn’t really buy. They could be looked down on and judged, but to acquire a loan or mortgage was a hurdle too high for most.
But times have changed, and a single mother can now make a loan. I cannot tell you how excited I am to see a single woman buy a house on her own.
I recently had the honor of receiving three referrals, all of them single moms. I was so happy to help them find and buy a home. Having come through divorce and being a single mom, I know how hard it is. It means so much to me to help women get on their own feet, and to be part of the celebration of starting fresh. It’s especially rewarding to watch them take these steps if they’re coming from a difficult path – I understand the pain behind, and celebrate with them the newness ahead.
I’m so glad that the lending institutions and schools and workplaces are willing to acknowledge these mothers. They are single for different reasons, and ought not to be turned away just because of their singleness. Back in my single mom days, I was led to believe I would never accomplish anything – that I would never have a rewarding career, or maintain a mortgage. It was a terrible label to slap on a woman. Today though, these women are being validated – their money is as good as a man’s. Things are different than the generation I came from, and I LOVE to see that. Even better than seeing it, I get to have a part in their reward and success by helping them find a home of their own.
Talk about job satisfaction.
They say word of mouth is the best source of new clients. I’ve said it too. And it’s true… to a point. But here’s the thing. Everyone gets referrals. Even the most unreliable, unprofessional business person will occasionally satisfy a client. Those satisfied clients will gladly recommend them, because their experience was pleasant. Try this – put out a call on Facebook or Twitter for a professional they’d recommend. (It will be more interesting if you experiment with a trade or industry where you know some of the professionals and their reputations.) You’ll get all kinds of names. The funny thing is, you won’t know any more about those businesses than before you asked. You’ll still need to look them up, do your research, and make a decision. As a business person, how will referrals set you apart then?
Let me share a story. I recently hosted an open house in Niverville, when this young couple came in. We had never met, but as soon as they slapped eyes on me, they said, “You’re Tina!”
It’s a weird feeling when people do that by the way. For a half second I feel like I might be in trouble. I said something clever like, “Yeah…?” and tried not to look too confused.
She smiled and continued, “You sold the house adjacent to our back yard. We see your name and face everywhere – and you blog too!” They were complete and total strangers, and are not on my list of Facebook friends. I wondered how they’d seen my blog posts. She said a friend of hers had shared a post on her Facebook page. “Do you remember the subject?” I asked.
“Yup – For Those Who Smoke After” she smirked.
At this point her husband piped up, “What?”
“I’ll tell you after…” she leaned over to him, and winked at me before continuing, “In one of the last posts you talked about working with crazy people”
The husband joined in, “I’ve seen your ads in the Property Guide. It seems like your advertising is more… upper class.” I thought about a recent ad I’d put out that had this picture of a shrub mooning a neighbor. The caption read, “Time to Move?” I wondered if he had seen it.
“Ah, thanks. It looks professional because I hire professionals to help me with my marketing.”
This couple was considering hiring me before we ever met, and it was not because someone referred them. It was because of what they’d seen in my marketing, and on my site. And this happens all the time. People come over from China and choose me. When I ask other clients – complete strangers who hired me out of the blue, “How did you get my name?”, they often answer, “I did a Google search.”
Here’s the deal – whether or not people are given recommendations, 68% research real estate agents online. When your potential client arrives at your site – and they will come – what will they find? What they hope to find is who you are. They don’t care about salesy photos and impersonal how-to tips. Tips, tricks and hacks can be found anywhere. They want to know about YOU. Are you trustworthy. Are you successful. Are you professional. Are you real. Will you treat them with respect. And they want to find this out online.
The most overlooked source of referrals is a real estate agent’s website. Most don’t have one, and of those who do, few blog. Nearly three quarters of potential clients research agents online. You need to be as personable and friendly and professional there as you would be in person.
Whether they’re coming to your site because of word-of-mouth, or because of Google rankings, potential clients are looking for you. …Are you there?
I live on an acreage in a thirty year old two bedroom bi-level, and it’s perfect. Our old pine cabinetry, pine board walls and wood looking vinyl floors are just my kind of rustic. Adirondack chairs are the only seating in our livingroom for now, because we’re still looking for that perfect-for-us couch. Until then, wooden deck chairs it is. (Don’t worry, we have a couch in the basement.)
I sell modern homes, and love to show them off, but would probably never choose to live in one. I wear a suit to work, but when I get home, I trade it for comfy home clothes – mostly because we have pets. Lots of them. Two dogs, and eight cats. (Only two in the house) No partridge in a pear tree though, so I think we’re still okay. But, with all these furry pals roaming around, pet hair is part of our life …and wardrobe. I don’t mind, our fuzzy buddies are worth all the lint rolling they necessitate.
My house may not be perfect with its excessive cat hair and lack of sofas, but my yard – now THAT is perfect! I LOVE my yard. (Remember those awesome “ gardening before and after” photos?) The challenge is getting outside. After spending winter indoors, I get used to being inside, you know? Suddenly it’s this big feat to even make it outside. You know what I’m talking about. If we don’t intentionally get our butts outside, we can get stuck on our computers.
I am really looking forward to summer though – not because I’ll do more of something, or less, but because I feel more… me somehow. Personally and professionally, I feel like this is going to be the best year. I feel more comfortable in my own skin than ever before. Personally, I’ve worked through some frustrations and bad habits that have held me back. Professionally, I’ve reached some kind of balance between work and home – which is dang near impossible for a Real Estate agent! And the continuous work I’ve put in to build my business is yielding more and more reward. Between getting okay about who I am and seeing some big progress in my business, I’m excited for the opportunities this year will bring.
Well, that, and I’ll get to garden.
What are you excited about for this year?
People lie. Duh. Fine. But when did we start believing it’s the polite thing to do?
It’s bizzare to me – sometimes I’ll show a property, and it won’t be the perfect-for-them house. No problem. What’s weird is that they bring their most dramatic game faces to the event. They scowl at this room, and crinkle their nose in another room. Where there’s a cat litter box, they pretend to gag. I start to wonder if they’ve come just to make fun of someone else’s home. (Surely there are better things to do or think about?)
But all that is not the worst part. The worst part is when we all put our shoes back on and prepare to leave. Suddenly the looks of horror and disgust are masked behind a smile. “We’ll think about it.” They shake my hands, still smiling, “It’s nice – we’ll get back to you.”
Maybe they think my brain fell out of my head, or that their body language is a secret one only they can understand. Whatever assumption leads them to hand me this happy fake voice, I can hardly stand it.
On the other hand, maybe I’m no better, because I smile too. And then, after exchanging smiles and nothing more, I go home and write blog posts about liars… Funny how irritations and pet peeves can reveal our own imperfections. Sometimes I really don’t like that.
How do you handle fake people in your business, while still maintaining your own honesty?