The following is a guest blog post by Becki Saltzman, author of the forthcoming book Arousing the Buy Curious: Real Estate Pillow Talk for Patrons and Professionals, being released in September 2013. Becki’s ideas and material are her own, and not necessarily the opinions of RMLS™ as an organization or of individual staff members.
Realty shows, economic forecasting mavens, new technology opportunists, oh my…everyone has an opinion about our delightful real estate industry. Myths are bound to develop, get repeated, and become truth-ish. Questioning and busting these truthy-isms can catapult your career. Here are some common myths that top pros love to bust—results may vary.
Myth 1: Knowing your own market is everything.
To survive as a real estate pro, it is imperative that you know the market. But now that your clients can access so much market information about you, it is no longer enough to simply know the market. You have to know and understand your business and industry. Knowing and understanding are two different things. You can know statistics inside and out and still not understand your business. For example, you can know that the market is up 6.5%, but what’s the understanding behind that? Does that mean that prices are up 6.5% this month over last month, this year over last year, or this month this year over the same month last year? Or does that mean that 6.5% more properties are sold than…when, what?
83% of top media futurists surveyed felt that a market would go up 9.3% in the future.
Courtesy of Sortafacts
Here’s some math straight out of the Arousing the Buy Curious annals.
Knowing + Telling = Turnoff
Showing + Telling = Reality show
Understanding + Telling = Getting blindsided by data
Knowing + Understanding + Showing + Telling = Real Turn-on + Data = Sold
Myth 2: All real estate is local.
This oft-repeated and catchy phrase does indeed help create a positive spin, often accurately, on bad national news. What it comes down to though, is the fact that shifts in larger markets often become shifts in local markets. If we have our heads buried too far up the ‘hood-hole that we miss national and international shifts, market changes can catch us unaware and unprepared. This sucks for our clients.
Take a gander right now at what’s happening in China. Really. Google “China” and “real estate” and “investors” and “luxury properties” and see what comes up.
Now solve this fun and snappy story problem exercise:
(So much math on this post but we got this!)
A wealthy international real estate investor walks into a showroom in New York. (Sounds like a joke, but it’s not.) He plucks down $100 million for the newly listed luxury penthouse that sits atop the CitySpire building, overlooking Central Park. Yeah, that’s the asking price inspired by international buyers producing a slew of record-breaking trophy apartment sales.
• What does that do to the average price of New York City real estate?
• How does that affect what gets spewed in the media sphere about the luxury market?
• How might that influence high-end developers, buyers, and sellers in your market?
Tip: The good developers, buyers, and sellers, are reading and thinking about local and global happenings.
Be careful not to be too much of a local yokel. Yes, it is important to understand your local market but if you keep your head buried in your own special spot, you could be surprised by what’s really happening if you pull your head out.
Myth 3: Real estate pros are not salespeople.
Speaking in front of an audience of over 400 real estate trusted advisors, facilitators, customer service specialists, and client advocates, about 22 people raised their hands when asked how many of them sold property for a living. Strangely, however, the only way that any of these excellent real estate agents and brokers got paid was when they actually…wait for it…sold property. At 5.5% (22 out of 400) this was clearly not the 80/20 rule in full force.
I get it. Sales has such a sad stink on it that it’s no wonder it’s a four letter word starting with an S. Most MBA programs no longer even have classes on sales. But here is the truth-ish:
93% of what comes out of our lips or what is pecked and clicked involves some effort at enticing, cajoling, persuading, convincing, or influencing eardrums or eyeballs. One could call it Arousing the Buy Curious. I do.
Courtesy of Sortafacts
The art of persuasion comes easy to some. The ones who do it best know that to do it well and to reap the benefits over a long period of time requires a deep understanding of and appreciation for the best interest of the persuaded. It’s ethical, helpful, and good for both professionals and clients.
For those whom the art is less natural, there is a science to the art of ethical persuasive communication. It is backed by cool lab experiments, regression analyses, and all kinds of other sexy mind science. The first step is coming to terms with being what you are hired to do: sell.
If you don’t agree (many won’t and I still love you), leave a comment.
Myth 4: It is best to analyze our business by our successes.
Analyzing successes feels so good that it just feels right. It’s a form of…well, never mind. Even our clients like to hear about our successes because that makes them feel smart choosing successful us. Thinking about our failures in a private, non-judgmental and analytical way over a period of market dips and swings can help us maintain the protagonist role in the story of our lives and truly be smarter about our business…and better at it.
Time is often the thumb on the scale of our real estate successes. Remember how proud we were to win the bidding wars of 2006? Remember how sheepish we were about the result of those very same battles in 2010? Remember how great we felt about winning a similar war…yesterday?
Here’s where a bit of sexy mind science creeps in. We have biases. This, unfortunately and embarrassingly (at least for me), is scientifically proven. Here are two biggies:
The Self-Serving Bias: We grab credit for our successes and give away credit for our failures. We attribute our successes to our personal characteristics like our strong work ethic and our superior intellect. We attribute our failures to things beyond our control like poor market conditions, unreasonable clients, and uncooperative cooperating agents.
The Above Average Effect: We categorize ourselves as above average. (But we really are, right?) Frankly, I don’t like to think about earning the job of holding down the sad end of the bell curve.
The scary thing about being wrong is that it so often feels eerily similar to being right. Challenging ourselves to pretend that everything we have done right might have actually be done wrong is just as valuable as the addiction to challenging ourselves that everything we might have done wrong was actually done right. The difference is that it’s hard to know when wrong is the answer…until it’s too obvious to ignore and it doesn’t feel…right.
Set aside all of the contracts that you wrote last year and that did not close. Some will be easy evidence of great successes (e.g., your client wisely backed out of what was not a good deal for them). Some will be easy evidence of real failures (e.g., you should have known how to help your client address aggressive repair requests). Make a spreadsheet that requires you to write three ways you could have avoided a sale fail, even if it wasn’t your fault.
Myth 5: The market is predictable.
Predicting markets is a huge industry. The outcomes of neuroscientific studies, the future of space exploration, and even the analysis of derivatives is not something that many people believe they thoroughly understand. At least I don’t. Real estate is another story. We all get it at least a little bit. That’s why real estate ranks number two or three as the most favorite cocktail party topics. The proliferation of real estate porn only perpetuates the popularity of the topic.
We can debate the pros and cons of sharing or hoarding real estate information at a later date (and we will, stay tuned) because the future of our industry will hinge on our ability to figure this out but, for now, let’s assume that the access to this real estate porn is a net positive. Now, if you know that markets are mostly only predictable in the fact that they always fluctuate, you can keep this to yourself. Let your clients play with this porn and predict what they think that it means. Don’t worry about correcting your clients, as their predictions will be right or wrong as any group of expert analysts. If you extract their predictions along with their short and longer-germ goals and help them steer clear of acting on their predictions when it doesn’t mesh with their goals, you know that you are their best salesperson ever. If you do so without them feeling like you dismissed their predictions, they will know it.
The speed with which market predictors will delete their YouTube predicting videos when they are wrong will be faster than network news will cut away from a wardrobe malfunction. There is no need to say “I told you so” because no one will believe you anyway.
It’s 87% better to be a surfer in a tsunami than a weatherman on the beach. 91% of the world’s smartest people can figure out how this quote applies to shifting markets.
Courtesy of Sortafacts
Beside every real estate market result lays the useless carcass of yesterday’s market prediction. The only thing that is predictable is that markets fluctuate and you need to be as ready for the market flaccidity as you are for when the market Viagra kicks in…and wears off.
Busting myths in our industry can be snappy fun. It can also give us a huge advantage and head start over those that embrace the myths long after the truth is revealed.
RMLS™ subscribers: here’s a special exclusive offer to get the official (pre-released) audio recording of Becki’s upcoming book, Arousing the Buy Curious: Real Estate Pillow Talk for Patrons and Professionals! Click the link and use the secret saving code: RMLS.
Click to enlarge
The RMLS™ Inventory Today chart on the desktop of RMLSweb showed that total sales volume for a twelve month period topped $12 billion on July 16th this year. The last time the sales volume was at that level was almost five years ago on September 8, 2008, with volume still on its way down to its low point reached in 2011.
While prices are currently increasing rapidly, they still have a way to go to reach their previous levels. The $12 billion volume in 2008 required only 39,456 sales at an average price of $304,443. The number of sales represented by the $12 billion this year was 46,901 with an average price of $255,942.
The housing market recovery has encompassed all of the RMLS™ market areas in Oregon and southern Washington to varying degrees, which the monthly Market Action reports demonstrate. Momentum is accelerating!
This is a guest blog post by Joanne McCall, a publicist and strategist who frequently works with REALTORS®.
It is no big trick for anyone in real estate to stand up anymore. Never in the history of humankind has it been so easy to build a platform and put yourself out there.
The trick is, how are you going to stand out?!
It is a busy, noisy, crowded world with far too many people just copying one another because they don’t know what to do. They know they need to do something, so they copy others. It’s pretty hard to be unique under those conditions, and being different is exactly what’s needed. But how?
What if you had a plan? What if you had a direction? What if you knew how you want to come across and what your important key messages are? What if you tapped into current trends, your knowledge, and in addition to that you had the confidence that you can use these new technologies to market yourself and your business in a way that gets results? Wow! You would be hot!
There is one trend happening now that is not going to go away. Are you ready for this?
Video is king (and queen) now.
And because this is the wave of the present and future, I am going to give you some media polishing secrets that will help you get noticed through your videos.
1. Get to the Point. Don’t take time to lay the groundwork. Don’t try to warm things up and eventually get to what it is you want to say. And whatever you do, don’t start your videos with “Hi, my name is…” Start with the hook. Start with the climax of your message, and then fill in the gaps.
2. Get to the Point Quickly.
You may think I made the point above, but the truth is, this is so fundamental that it is worth saying again. Get to the point and make it quick. No one is going to take the time to figure out your message.
3. Create and Use Soundbites.
Soundbites are quick little phrases that easily explain a concept. I heard an interview not long ago—the guest was a relationship expert and she was making a point about finding the “perfect” person to marry or get involved with. She said, “perfection=pure fiction.” That is a soundbite, and a memorable one at that. Here I am sharing it months after actually hearing it. So when it comes to your real estate business, come up with some quips and then practice them so they roll off your tongue. You can pepper these into your videos for much added interest!
4. Know Your Market And Who You’re Talking To.
I find far too often that many people have a problem zeroing in on a target market because they’re afraid of leaving someone out. The best advise is to pick a market and speak directly to them. You can expand out later, but initially, start with your key clients or customers. Otherwise, you may find yourself waiting, and waiting, and waiting to get those videos done.
Want to know more about using video in your marketing and looking great doing it? Join me and host Becki Saltzman, author of the upcoming book Arousing the Buy Curious: Real Estate Pillow Talk for Patrons and Professionals, for “Media Polishing for Real Estate Agents,” a free webinar on Tuesday, June 25th at 4:00pm Pacific. Learn how to develop content and make it compelling and fascinating to your potential clients and customers. Learn to create fantastic videos for more sales, more media, and more mojo! Click the link above for a complimentary ticket to this webinar.
The archive of RMLS™ Market Action statistical summaries on RMLSweb has a fresh new look, thanks to RMLS™ Business Analyst/Policy Manager Christina Smestad.
If you have never seen them, statistical summaries compile many years of data from our Market Action newsletter for most areas in the RMLS™ region so readers can compare long-term market movements in key areas.
In order to improve the statistical summaries we standardized the data, added a few numbers not previously compiled, and reworked the layout to be more readable and printer-friendly. Our revised versions combine average and median sales price into one report and add inventory counts to the summary report. We think you’ll like what you see!
Available reports include average sales price, average and median sales price by area, closed sales, market percent and time by price, median sales price, new listings, pending listings, and a summary report. Affordability summaries are available for the Portland metro area, Clark County, and Lane County. Statistical summaries are currently available for those areas as well as Baker County, Columbia Basin, Coos County, Curry County, Douglas County, Mid-Columbia, Union County, and Wallowa County.
The treasury of statistical summaries may be accessed online two ways. Currently, subscribers logged in to RMLSweb may navigate to Toolkit->All Documents, then expand the folder titled “Market Action Statistical Summaries” on the left sidebar to find subgroups of specific geographic regions (see image at left).
As of March 28, a shortcut will be available allowing users to access quick links to statistical summaries directly from the RMLSweb menu. Subscribers logged in to RMLSweb may navigate to Statistics->Statistical Summaries for a more navigable list of geographic areas.
Moving forward, RMLS™ will update the statistical summaries more frequently than the annual updates of the past. We’re also working to expand the reports into other areas: Polk and Marion Counties, Grant County, North Coastal Communities, and Cowlitz County are planned additions for the future!
Since before the beginning of the lingering recession, people with less than honorable intentions have found their way into homes and set up camp. In this edition of our REALTOR® safety series, we have compiled a few stories from our subscribers, some harrowing and some amusing, as cautionary tales of which any real estate professional should be aware. Granted, these are rare and strange cases, but they have been known happen and can easily happen to the most thorough real estate professional.
Squatters, Joy Riders, and Other Things That Go Bump in the Vacant
Usually when a vacant property is put up for sale, the process is not much different than any other listing. Sometimes the home has been winterized, maybe even staged with furniture to entice buyers as well as deter looters. But since 2008, we have received an increasing number of reports where agents visit their listings only to find them in some substandard condition.
An agent once went to show a townhouse when they were greeted with squatters who tried to pass themselves off as prospective buyers looking around. The sliding glass door in the back was damaged and off the rail. They had also left a mess of garbage and personal effects. They left promptly, but the client was not far behind them.
I got a call from an agent who said she once went to a high end listing in the West Hills with a client, only to open the door and find two squealing teenage girls barreling past them. As they fled, they called out that their boyfriends were still in the house. Well, no one was in the house, especially the stunned agent and the client, who stayed outside until police had a chance to come and search the place. Nothing was taken from the house, so the girls were likely joy riding, but the experience rattled the client, naturally, who didn’t even want to look at the house after that.
In a really bizarre case, I received a call in which neighbors contacted the listing agent, saying they didn’t realize the house sold so quickly. The agent was confused; the house hadn’t sold. Apparently, someone who had toured the house managed to move into the vacant property, even going so far as to introduce himself to the surrounding neighbors as the new owner. When the agent arrived (unadvisedly alone) to investigate, she fled after the individual lunged at her and tried to pull her into the house. The agent escaped unharmed, and had a SWAT team in there soon after, but the perp had already disappeared.
We always try to reiterate personal safety. If you think someone is in the house, never go in without the authorities.
Occupy Portland Twist
Last summer The Oregonian and other news outlets ran several pieces on squatters in foreclosed or vacant homes, some claiming to be associated with Occupy Portland in protest:
• Portland Tackles Backlog of Complaints About Vacant Houses, Many in Foreclosure
• Occupy Portland Squatters Take Over Home Woman Still Owns on North Mississippi
• Squatters with Plan Arrested in Portland Homes
Sadly, these squatters did more damage to the properties than the bank ever could. Some reports suggest that the squatters were orchestrating foreclosure letters in an attempt to get owners out of their homes.
I’ve seen reports of disgruntled homeowners facing eviction who then take it upon themselves to gut their house and remove all the appliances and finishes. Now in recent news, there are reports of homeowners moving out of homes facing foreclosure, only to have the banks stall on the foreclosure process, leaving the house in a limbo state, unbeknownst to the homeowner (aka “zombie” titles). Consequently, the house is then vacant and the homeowner is still liable for the taxes and maintenance on the home. Years later, they are presented with code violations, tax liens, and clean-up costs resulting from looters and squatters.
What Can Be Done?
What can you as a real estate professional do about this? If you find yourself with a vacant listing with little viewing activity, here are some things to consider:
- Make a point to visit the property weekly, making times of your visits sporadic, to not set a pattern, in case someone is casing activity on the house.
- Check all locks and entrances to the house.
- Consider setting the lights on a timer.
- Don’t mention the location of the lockbox in the listing’s public remarks. To gain entry to the house, squatters can just as soon pick a lock, but the lockbox has been known to be a target. There have been reports over the years of listings with missing lockboxes, but no damage or theft to the house. Many times vandals take bolt cutters to the shackle and take the box to work on it elsewhere to limit visibility. If that’s the case, call the police, change the locks, and consider calling your business insurance.
- Don’t hesitate to enlist the help of neighbors to keep an eye on the place. It’s also in their best interest the house remains safe.
Photo courtesy of Patrick Feller on Flickr.