Agents: Do You Have a Real Estate Plan for Yourself?

Photo of Diana Ross
Diana Ross was a diva from a different era. Did she have a musical career plan?

Bet you didn’t think I’d be writing about Diana Ross songs on this real estate blog, huh?

Not sure why I thought of this, but since last month I wrote about a U2 song and back in April I quoted The Beastie Boys, I thought I’d continue the theme. There are no 6 degrees of separation between these two.

Here’s the relevant quote:

Do you know where you’re going to?
Do you like the things that life is showing you?

How does this pertain to real estate? Good question my friend.

As it turns out, there are a million and one ways to conduct yourself in the world of real estate. From the way you prospect for clients—cold-calls, flyers, bus signs, radio advertising (to name just a few)—to the way you handle the clients you’ve obtained.

I know agents who work so many clients at the same time they couldn’t possibly have anything more than a surface relationship with them. I doubt they even know their client’s children’s names. They’re too busy working this client to closing then jumping to the next.

The reverse can also be a problem. Spending too much time with any single client can be hazardous to one’s business health because there’s a real chance they don’t buy/sell. It’s my assertion that the average Realtor doesn’t get paid for 66% of their time/work. Surprised? I was too!

So, back to the song. Do you know where you’re doing do? Do you have a plan? It doesn’t have to be an Ivy League business plan with all the data plotted but it needs to be spelled out and written down.

If you don’t have a real estate plan for your career, I predict you won’t like “the things that life is showing you.”

How ‘Full’ Is the Full Service Real Estate Agent?

There are a myriad of ways to approach a career selling real estate. Many have the perception that it’s a sales job. It is not. It’s a service job. Some don’t understand the different or are bound by different motivations but in either case, the best Louisville Realtors serve their clients.

Alfred is Batman's butler

I’ve told this to clients, “Think of me as your real estate butler.”

The reason I bring this up because I was wondering the other day if it’s possible to be too service oriented? Is every request (or command) made by my clients one that I should automatically merely jump and perform?

Real estate can be a demanding tyrant. There are no posted hours, only what you deem to be appropriate. I work about 55-60 hours most weeks, some even more. My phone rings after 7 pm regularly and after 9 pm from time to time. Weekends are the primary playing field for scheduling showings and Open Houses. I don’t even have a day off! That’s certainly full service, in my book.

So with all those demands, along with faith, family, and friends, how do you keep your life in balance?

It’s not an easy question nor one with a clear answer but I do believe there must be lines designed at the outset to maintain a clear demarcation between “work” and your personal life. If you don’t and the client pool runs you ragged, you’ll soon start to see them as the enemy… and that doesn’t help them, or you.

So Far This Year and Why Louisville Real Estate Needs to Get on Its Horse!

Horse Race
It’s still too close to Derby time not to use a horse racing analogy.

With the Derby and Preakness behind us, I thought I’d utilize an appropriate thematic in the title. Over on Louisville Homes Blog, I’ve been writing consistently on reasons why people should be investing in real estate right now. Whether that’s improving their own home or taking advantage of the current market conditions to improve their portfolio, there’s just too much to like about Louisville real estate right now.

Most experts agree that sales will rise in 2011 but not by much. So what’s happening? Let’s see where we are at this point compared to last year. This data is for Jefferson County in Louisville, KY only.

Year # of Sales Total Sales Avg Sales Median Sales
2011 2,483 $386,417,704 $155,625 $125,750
2010 2,959 $463,916,035 $156,781 $130,700
Period: 1/1 through 5/15

So let’s see if I’ve got this right: fewer sales, smaller totals, lower averages, and medians. Check, check and check. Well, that’s disappointing.

Obviously, consumers either haven’t heard the experts recommendations on real estate (which I find hard to believe) or else they don’t believe them (the more likely situation). Heck, I’m thinking about buying a new house myself, and I don’t even need one.

I just don’t want to look back 5 to 10 years from now and think that I really missed out. (Especially since I’m supposed to be some kind of expert, huh?)

Accurately predicting the future is next-to-impossible but all the signs point towards improvement. Will it happen? Now that’s another story for another time.

Whatcha Whatcha Want, Louisville Real Estate Edition

So Whatcha Want

Posted the other day over on LHB that many (most?) home buyers these days are looking for real estate deals. And, new construction doesn’t fall into that category.

Today, I’ll talk about the other side of that coin.

Sometimes it makes sense for you to buy what you want. I can hear you know, “Really Mr. Bigshot real estate guy?!?”

Hear me out. What if you do pass on picking out that perfect floor plan, walking the lots and selecting the choice piece of land, browsing loads of flooring and other new home options and building your dream home? What do you get instead? Well, you get “almost right” or not quite perfect.

Will you be as satisfied? Most assuredly not.

Will you be financially better off? Probably, but what if you move sooner than you had planned because your Louisville real estate deal got old, quick?

Make sure you take the time to weigh the pros and cons of Louisville new construction with current homes on the market. Sure, only 49 new homes were built in Louisville last year but I bet if you asked those homeowners about their new home, they’d all agree that it was the right choice for them.

If you like someone to talk it over with, I’m happy to help. All you need to do is pay for my coffee.

Once Again HGTV Hangs Me Out to Dry

Bang for Your Buck logo
Curse you BFYB! What do I have to do for you to love me back?!?

Not sure what I have to do here people. I mean, c’ mon… I’ve applied on multiple times, never heard back. Nothing. Nada. Zip.

Is it just that they have so many emails coming their way that they can’t respond? I’m a fan over here. I promote your shows for cryin’ out loud. Can’t a guy get even a little respect?

So then comes the brutal cut.

I see the following headline: Local Realtor on HGTV ‘Bang for Your Buck’ show.


Look, I’m happy for LaTonia (actually happy might not be the right word) but when are the good folks at HGTV going to reward my almost non-stop attention that I’m directing their way?

I’d rant some more but I need to send them some more emails…

We All Need New Customers

Photo of two girls talking

Do you need new customers? Of course, you do! So do I… and so does everyone else!

Where do new customers come from? There are only so many avenues. Off the top of my head, here is how new customers come to most professionals.

  • Television
  • Radio
  • Print
  • Billboards/Signage
  • Web Advertising
  • Word of Mouth

Let’s play a game that Sesame Street made famous.

One of these things is not like the other
One of these things is not quite the same
Can you guess which one is not like the other
Can you tell me before I finish the game?

Obviously, the Word of Mouth referral path is different. It’s also the most valuable. Most everyone can agree that referrals are the most desirable way to get new clients. That’s why almost all of my fellow real estate agents put something like this in their email signatures: “A referral is your greatest compliment!”

So how do you gain more Word of Mouth referrals (besides doing your job quite well)? Networking!

I’m new to the world of networking but I’m learning that the power of networking is also the power to grow my business.

If you have any tips for me, please share and I’ll do my best to return the favor.

Have a great day!

Golden Post of Real Estate Links

Photo of Golden Coins
A virtual bounty of golden links can be found in the following post about Louisville real estate. Photo credit: Jeremy Schultz

When things get busy, I don’t always remember to post on this site like some of the others. My bad. But to make up for it, here are some real estate posts from Louisville Homes Blog recently:

Lots of great stuff in the works for 2011. Check back when you get the chance. Cheers!

Short Sales Can Make You Lose Your Mind

Surely, you don’t want to lose your mind. I know I don’t. But unfortunately, short sales are a big part of today’s real estate landscape. All you can do is be prepared and then hope for the best!

Just picture yourself in a small boat, out in the ocean, miles from land and no real means of communication. Then add an agitated partner in the boat with you. Also, that partner is looking to you to save them.

That’s what it’s like to be a Louisville Realtor® with a first-time home buyer in a short sale purchase situation. Our contract was accepted back in August. We’re scheduled to close Thursday.

Yes, that’s right… we’re talking 150+ days of waiting, changing, hoping, fixing, waiting some more, one closing rescheduled and here we are.

Will my client get a great deal? Yes.
Did I do everything humanly possible to help him? Yes.
Was it still an ordeal? Oh yeah.

Just so you know, it’s a wild ride. If you’re not an easy-going, go-with-the-flow kind of person, I’d say “steer clear of short sales.” There are better ways to lose your mind, trust me.

How Will 2011 Be Different?

It looks like there won’t be a major upswing in home buyers/sellers in the upcoming year. At least that’s what the experts are saying. So how can I improve upon this past year? And trust me, there definitely needs to be improvement. I’m still in the Top 20 but more is needed.

  1. version 3.0: You can never stop improving. In addition to all the new SEO best practices I’ve learned, I want to organize reorganize the overall site structure better for people using the main section, the Best Louisville Neighborhoods and all the related real estate content, like maps, photo databases, etc.

    The biggest thing will be the new and improved IDX. I’m actually interviewing Louisville Web programmers this week to help.
  2. Network Like a Monkey: I don’t know if monkeys network but if they don’t, they should… and me too! I don’t especially enjoy it because it feels forced but a weak market, I need to everything in my power to up my exposure and help those around me to do the same. I do like what’s going on at Insider Louisville.
  3. Increase Marketing: My marketing budget has been minimal because, well… I’ve been taking things cautiously. But I do believe that I need to increase marketing this year in targeted spots. WayFM sponsorship is continuing, along with SoI quarterly’s and monthly emails but am looking at a lead buy that might be positive.
  4. Additional Web Properties: I have a couple of concepts floating around in my head that will be fun to create and use for cross-linking. More importantly, they should be engaging to my target market. We’ll see…

What are your plans for improving yourself in 2011?

Giving Away My Commission for the Holidays

Hands holding money
Can you ever have enough money? Don’t be fooled. You’ll always want more.

The Christmas Holiday is, after all, the season of giving. Jesus came to Earth to give Himself up for us.

This year, we’re working hard to teach our kids about looking for people in need, then acting on it by giving them what you can.

So imagine my chagrin when after a recent closing I was told by my Broker that another agent says they deserve my commission. At first, I thought “No way, I did the work, I deserve it!”

Then I started to think about how the negative feelings and stress will put a damper on our Holidays. When a comprise was offered, it was pretty easy to go ahead and give back a portion of my pay even though I still believe it rightfully belonged to me.

That was when I remembered, Luke 6:30.

“Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.”

There will always be more money. How many opportunities do you have to so easily obey your heavenly Father?