Choosing a Real Estate Agent
Sometimes loyalty is a bad idea.
Even to family.
And especially to the neighbor’s uncle’s cousin’s friend.
Like the woman whose loyalty is causing her crippling pain to continue.
She had been seeing a physical therapist to help her with the constant pain she was in. For all the therapy she’d been receiving, her condition was getting worse, not better. There were other therapists who were skilled at treating this very problem.
“Maybe it’s time to try another therapist,” I said.
“Oh! But I can’t do that! I know somebody who works there.”
I let her statement just hang in the air, hoping she’d hear the lunacy of it.
After a moment, I chided with my signature brand of sarcasm.
“Oh. Well, in that case, you’d better just stay in pain.”
She smirked. “Good point.”
I guess she felt like her leaving would mean the therapist would be out of a job.
Which, of course, is totally false.
Loyalty can be a bad idea in real estate too.
Too often people have hired a realtor because their face is on a sign (here’s why that’s a dumb idea) or worse, because their neighbor’s friend’s son is an agent.
Which apparently means you are obligated to hire them.
Let’s just let that hang in the air for a moment so we can hear the lunacy of it.
Imagine this loyalty applied to doctors. Using only doctors who someone knows, regardless of their skill level or expertise, would be stupid.
“Oh, you’re an OBGYN? Perfect. Because I have this heart condition…”
“Oh, this life-saving pill was made by Valeant? Sorry, I only buy from Pfizer because my dad worked there for twenty years.”
Do you hear the lunacy of it?
“Oh, you’re a realtor specializing in rural properties and digital marketing strategy? Sorry, my brother Bob always uses another agent, so I have to too.”
Your loyalty should not be treated so cheaply.
Don’t give it away.
Especially not just because someone thinks you should.
Loyalty is precious and should be earned.
When it’s not earned, it’s treated poorly. Then you get poor results.
What else could you expect from a doctor not skilled in your area of need? From a therapist that can’t help you? Please, at least find out about the services a real estate agent offers before you make a decision on who you will hire to represent you.
Make them earn your loyalty.
And if they can’t, they didn’t deserve it in the first place.
It happened again.
They’re coming for me, and they’re coming for you too.
They go out of their way to drive to your place, and lie to your face.
Money. Envy. A burr in their britches. Self-loathing. Ego.
Who is this insidious creature? Allow me to set the scene.
I recently listed the home of a sweet elderly couple I’ve known for most of my life. The kindly gentleman had been my brother’s childhood hockey coach way back when. In my hairdressing days, this man became a loyal customer. When I moved into reflexology, he was my client there too. Now, I get to be this couple’s real estate agent. I’m so honored to serve them, and grateful for their lifetime loyalty. You can’t buy that, you know?
Days after I met with the seller and discussed when to put the For Sale sign in their yard, a vehicle drove onto their driveway.
The visitor was another agent who had heard they were moving, and he had come with an agenda.
“So, you are going to list with Tina Plett?,” the agent had asked.
“I was just wondering why you wouldn’t choose a local agent…?”
My client, who was confused by this sudden confrontation about his personal choice, replied, “Tina is as local as it gets!”
The agent left, the mission apparently fulfilled. The goal had simply been to undermine me without provocation, even if it meant being confrontational with a sweet elderly couple.
The weird thing about it though, is not that it’s ridiculous, given that I was born in Steinbach, have lived and worked in Steinbach for most of my life and still do. The weird thing is also not that I have listed in and around Steinbach for years, nor is it that I have life-long relationships with several of my clients.
The weirdest part is not even that this undermining tactic keeps happening, or that the very agents who confront elderly couples in order to win some imaginary pissing match also list in multiple towns.
No. The weirdest part is that they think it’s necessary.
Is it that my success is intimidating to people? (Strong women everywhere will know this feeling well) And apparently this intimidation causes them to dive desperately into aggressive behaviour, and they’re okay with whomever that hurts, even if it is gentle elderly couples.
As usual, all I can really do about it is let you, the reader, know this is happening.
Then you will not be shaken by cowardly egomaniacs in suits who come a- knocking to intimidate you. Or perhaps they will try to steal a paycheck from me and use you to do it.
You will also know that they offer only lies.(Well, that and a willingness to intimidate innocent citizens like single moms and elderly couples if that’s what they feel like doing.)
And, most encouraging, you will also know that what I’m doing – my transparency, integrity, forward-thinking tech savvy, and kick-ass marketing – is working, and they want a piece of it.
So take heart, we’re on the right track…
This week at the bank, I stood in line just like people in bank lines apparently should – facing forward, avoiding eye contact, and trying not to feel like herded cattle. As we all stood there, slowly shuffling forward, the woman next to me turned and we realized we knew each other. We started chatting and it didn’t take long before the conversation turned to something I’d said online. (Online presence comes up a lot!)
She had read about how Eniko had recently partnered up with me. Apparently she’d been reading my blog for a while because she smiled and said, “So you made another change.” Then, with a smirk and head shake, she added, “Man, you’re just not scared of anything.”
Oddly, I felt a sudden need to defend myself. What? Of course I’m scared of stuff. I WAS scared to include Eniko – oh wait. No. Actually I wasn’t. If anything, I was afraid not to.
That evening at home I came across a Facebook personality quiz. I love personality profiles, so I took the quiz. The result made me laugh. It revealed what I already knew- that the reasons I’m perceived as fearless are my strengths – innovation, team work, and staying ahead of the curve for example. It also pointed out my weaknesses accurately.
The cool part was seeing how Eniko’s and my strengths and weaknesses compliment each other perfectly. It was a shot of affirmation that made my week. What a perfect pairing!
I do enjoy change. It’s part of who I am. Lucky for me, it’s vital to success in business. A business can’t grow without change. How would that work? I mean, growth IS change.
So here’s to growth (and, consequently, change) – personal growth, spiritual growth, and business growth.
What changes are you expecting this year? Are you excited, or nervous about them?
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?
The older I get, the less I care what other people think, and the more I’m comfortable in my own skin. (Where was this confidence twenty years ago!) Once upon a time I cared a great deal what others thought, and was very careful not to offend. Now I care more about being real. Loving, tender, and thoughtful of course, but not pleasing others if it means pretending to be someone else – even if that someone else is would-be clients.
I showed a house recently that had a floor plan with the master bedroom on one side, and children’s bedroom on the other side. I commented to the couple that it was a highly practical floorplan.
“That way you can make some noise” Their mouths parted in surprise, and then turned to grins. They probably didn’t expect someone with grey hair to talk like that. Of all the houses they’d have looked at, they’ll surely remember the floor plan of that house. It’s the house where you can make some noise.
My sense of humor may be a bit off, and I’m okay with it. I enjoy potty jokes, think rednecks are adorable, and like our family’s Christmas tradition of shooting off rifles from the deck. Some people wouldn’t hire me because of my weird humor, and I think that’s fantastic. If someone is offended by my sense of humor, they’ll probably be offended by me the whole time we work together. What fun would that be for anyone?
The other day I was in an open house, and two women came in to see the home. As they headed up the stairs, I mentioned, “There’s a private deck off the master bedroom, by the way.” They stopped and look at me, confused. “Yeah, you know, for those who smoke after?”
They darted away up the stairs. I soon followed, finding them in the master bedroom, hovered by the deck door, snickering and giggling. Of all the open houses they attended that day, they’ll remember me, and this house – the one with a deck, for those who like to smoke after…
I suppose if my mother would read this, she might be slightly embarrassed. Or maybe she would take credit for my sense of humor. I don’t know. Either way, I’m me –an integrity-havin’, quality service givin’, zebra print ipad carryin’, heels wearin’, redneck joke lovin‘ country bumpkin. Everyone’s got quirks, and I like mine.
What are your quirks that you’re comfortable with … or wish you were?
Every seller wants top dollar, and every buyer wants to avoid paying top dollar.
Your agent – whether buyer’s agent or seller’s agent – wants the best dollar for you and them.
Is it win-win-win, or does someone have to end up being the sucker?
If you’re the sucker, would you know it?
You Might be a Sucker if… (4 Ways To Tell)
If you think “Market value” is a fanciful figure plucked from thin air that is greatly affected by nostalgia, sentiment or greed-inflated estimates… you might be a sucker.
Market value is a calculation based on factual research – this is about real numbers and trends in a specific locale. Think fact, not fiction.
If you think your house is worth more than everyone else’s just because you’re you, and if you don’t mind your family, friends and neighbors seeing your sky-high price… you might be a sucker.
You have been made a fool by pride, and everyone can see it on your price tag.
I have done this next one and not only did I not get a sale, neither did my sellers so it didn’t do anyone good.
If you are an agent who, desperate for a listing, agrees to list a house way above market value just to appease a client who will not heed the voice of reason … you might be a sucker.
People don’t just see your client’s sky-high price, they see your reputation on that sign too. Keep it real, folks.
If you hire an agent because they promise you a higher sell price than any other agent… you might be a sucker. Market value is market value. Not even agents can change that. Price is only one small factor when hiring an agent.
…Have you been a sucker lately?
As business owners, we expect a lot of our marketing, don’t we? We imagine this perfect, seamless, one-time event that requires no money, no time, and yields astounding results. Perhaps we have watched too many documentaries about how some people managed to somehow bumble into success. Maybe we’ve seen too many blogs and Pinterest posts that showcase all the best moments, and have begun to believe these to represent reality. Or maybe we’re just impatient or cheap.
Whatever it is, business owners seem to treat marketing like a fling instead of a long term relationship. That’s an interesting thought actually. If it were a relationship, what kinds of love letters do you suppose business owners would write to their beloved marketing campaigns? I imagine Miss Marketing Campaign would have many suitors…
Dear, Sweet Marketing Campaign,
After we met at the conference last weekend, I can’t stop thinking about you. In our brief time together, you won my love.
Your mystery intrigues me, and my heart flutters at the thought of your broad reach. I melt in the warmth of your powerful
sales content. I hesitate to confess it, but I am a simple pauper. I offer only my love and the few farthings in my marketing
budget to gain your hand in marriage. Can you see, dear, sweet marketing campaign, how merry our match would be though?
With your infinite supply of free advertising, and my undying affection, I just know we would have all the sales, brand
awareness and consumer loyalty one could ever want! Say yes, my love – and I will forever adore you and your immeasurable,
boundless abilities to get massive results with a single effort, even from these few farthings. There is no other campaign for me.
I need you and you alone.
-Your devoted pauper
Marketing is not some fling, it’s a commitment – a long term, continual investment.
If marketing were a relationship, there would be a whole lot of business owners out on the curb…
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For some, as I’ve mentioned, Real Estate is a thrilling game – an exciting struggle for power, money and control. For others, the game is an infuriating blemish on an otherwise respectable industry. If you value people and justice, you are probably frustrated on a daily basis by the cheating you see. You probably also wonder if it is even possible to play fair among cheaters.
I want to encourage you – it is possible! I have survived right from my harrowing first year through to now, and my integrity is still intact. I have also had the privilege to discover others in the industry who care about fairness, and value people above transactions. They are out there!
How does one play fair among cheaters? There one simple (not to be confused with easy) strategy that will guard and strengthen you in this industry: Know your values and stick to them.
I know it sounds overly simple, (timeless truths often do) but this is the crux of it all. One compromise leads to more. It’s a slow burn. It might feel warm and cozy at first, but in the end it will burn.
If you decide resolutely that taking advantage of others is not an option, believe me – your integrity will be tested. You will wonder if it’s worth it. You might even try to convince yourself to make a bad deal because, after all, others do it and get away with it, and no one seems to even notice! But you will notice. You will know. If you stand by your values though, you will be able to look yourself in the mirror and like what you see.
A peaceful, clear conscience is worth gold, and it is achievable – even among cheaters.
…And, if you are that person of integrity, I want to know you! You are the kind of person I love doing business with!