Should You Join A Real Estate Team? Dueling Perspectives...

Read the full  story at "Should You Join A Real Estate Team? Dueling Perspectives..." . For Charlie's contribution, read on...

Teams, groups, collectives — whatever you call them, they make “traditional agents” reach for that second glass of wine, and before it’s drained, we’re wondering why we’re surprised another transaction went south: “If teams are so damn good, why aren’t they any good?”

As agents, we should be extremely supportive of one another. In fact, two of my favorite agents in my local market lead teams, and they are some of the savviest agents and client-centric businesses around. That said, it is evident that they are not the norm.

We need to constantly take a hard look at how we do things, why we do them and where we can improve. I have dealt with a plethora of teams and collected immense feedback from agents/brokerages, and it is undeniable that we experience consistent issues specifically related to the team model.

Doesn’t every model have its own issues? Yes. But these new issues don’t absolve the problems of traditional agency, they append new problems on top of what is already there.

What’s in a team?

First, let’s define what I mean by “team.”

“A real estate team is a group of agents working under a common brand with segmented skill sets and responsibilities.”

Specifically, let’s visualize a team leader, with multiple buyer’s agents underneath him or her, along with a support staff of listing coordinators, contract coordinators, etc.

Here’s my concern with the team model: I don’t believe it was birthed by asking how we can best serve our clients, nor has it flourished and produced better agents under its popularity.

Rather, it is a product of how we as agents can do more business, earn more commissions and control our own people without becoming principal brokers.

Debunking myths

Let’s explore three myths associated with teams:

  • Teams are specialized in their roles.
  • Agents advance under the mentorship of their team leader.
  • Because the team works together, they implement better systems.

Specialization

Teams are a specialized group of agents, so they say.

For example, a buyer’s agent works with only buyers. Because I work with buyers and sellers, I know both sides to this real estate coin.

As a result, my skills as a listing agent are sharpened against the blade of my skills working with buyers. Are my offer-writing skills better because I also understand the mind of sellers? Yes.

Knowing this, would I ever hire someone to help me buy a house who had never actually sold a house? No.

When teams say specialization, what we experience is limitation. The one thing teams are specialized in is finding themselves in conflicts-of-interest with clients exponentially more often than traditional agents, but that is an article for another day.

Finally, administrative help is obviously very important, but when contract coordinators try to negotiate inspection repairs on a property they have never even been to, I have a problem.

Until there are scratch-and-sniff inspection reports, how will they understand the mildewy funk in the basement? Or understand the gravity of repairing the fence when Cujo lives next door?

More than just the house, real estate is context and lifestyle. As such, there is no substitute for a quality agent shepherding his or her client through every step, coffee-to-close.

More than just the house, real estate is context and lifestyle.

Advancement

One thing’s true about real estate: It’s easy to get a license and difficult to make a career.

I fear the team model attracts new agents because it helps them get busy fast — growing someone else’s business.

They often start as buyer’s agents — the bottom of the pyramid — with opportunity to advance over time to learn other skills and maybe, someday, start a team of their own. Except this rarely happens.

Are all the buyer’s agents from three years ago the team leaders crushing it today? No. Why? Where are they?

Most of them fizzled out, mainly because it is difficult to split your commission more than once, all while not learning how to be anything other than a buyer’s agent.

By nature, the system’s design restricts the advancement of new agents, though maybe not intentionally.

Much like network marketing companies, new recruits are introduced to a high-energy team, work their asses off, realize only the person at the top makes a lot of money and eventually fade away.

Why don’t we just leave the pyramid scheme to makeup and vitamin companies?

If people don’t automatically trust you, and subsequently you’re forced to rely on a team leader people actually do trust, you are in the wrong business.

Trust trumps everything. Your skills will improve in time. So in the meantime, get a mentor from your office. No one willing to mentor you? You’re at the wrong office.

If you are the trustworthy, hardworking agent who started a team, when someone calls you to help them buy a house, and you say, “Let me introduce you to my buyer’s agent over here,” how does that make the customer feel?

After all, they wanted to work with you. They trust you. They didn’t call your buyer’s agent, but you.

But since you only work with sellers — because who has ever heard of a team leader specializing in buyers — this is what your model does.

It’s the same reason we don’t switch mechanics, dentists, etc. Don’t make consumers switch agents. Take business you’re qualified for, and refer out what you are not.

Systems

If there is one constant thread of grumbling in the real estate community regarding teams, it’s bad systems.

Who is the representative? Who am I negotiating with? Who’s in charge? Who am I supposed to be talking to? Why does this agent I’ve never heard of want to make sure he or she is listed on the paperwork?

These are the sort of questions and comments I see in threads all the time.

Don’t get me wrong! I and other “traditional agents” are all for well-run teams, but as my favorite agent “on the street” in Tacoma, Washington, has said, the mythical well-run team is a unicorn in our industry.

Bad agents will be bad agents whether they are on teams or not, but at least we knew who we were dealing with before. Now we have too many cooks in the kitchen.

Final thoughts

Are teams the evolutionary result of a stagnant industry desperately needing change? I hope not.

Rather, I hope we’re in the middle of an evolutionary shift where we learn new things, try new things and push ourselves to something new. But this can’t be it.

Team leaders sometimes resemble the guy at the gym who loudly asks how much you can bench, while also skipping leg day each week.

To be the fittest agent, you can’t neglect half of the market. Working your triceps will help your biceps grow stronger, so working with sellers will strengthen your skills with buyers — and vice versa.

To the buyer’s agents who are closing 50 transactions a year and splitting their commission twice: Why not do half of those transactions for a year, splitting your commission once, and implement a strategy to grow your listings the coming year?

Lose the pyramid and false impression of mentorship, advancement and a fruitful career under this model. We’ve seen what teams can do; I’m not impressed, and my glass is more than half empty.

Read Charlie Peterson's full article on Inman.com. 

3 Tips for Tuning Out The Noise on Social

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Alternate Title: "Social Media, Billboards & Medicating My Tourette's..."

If you are a chronic social media checker like I am, you probably started your day on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and so on. Do you remember any of the real estate-related posts?

Or, if you are reading this at the office, odds are you drove past a slew of billboards on the way. Can you remember any of them? Me neither.

The problem is the impersonal nature of a billboard. So why should we expect social posts — void of any personalized voice or engagement — to be any different? It’s simply a world of digital billboards that are easily ignored amidst the deafening social noise.

Social media

Social media is two words — yet the real estate industry majorly neglects the first, and by far the most important aspect of the platforms: that we can be social. I mean, it’s even in the name. It’s a way to talk to people: your people.

Real estate trainers have stressed for years agents should be on social media. Although I agree, I agree only with the stipulation of how an agent is on social media. Namely, whether they are truly being social or just spamming my stream.

If you’re an agent I follow on social, it’s because I value your voice. And it doesn’t even have to be about real estate. In fact, it’s probably best that it isn’t — at least, not the majority. If consumers want to work with agents they can relate to, and they do, be yourself and post what interests you. Add your authentic voice, language, tone, emojis — yes, I went there — punctuation and personality.

In thinking through this, I’ve developed three guidelines for my personal, social engagement:

1.  Be social in the moment you’re living

Most content is relevant and dependent upon the moment. Do you know what it looks like if you share 20 pictures, video, updates all at 6 p.m.? I’ll tell you: spam. Even if I truly like following you, I don’t want you hijacking my social stream — even if your content is outstanding. Post steadily throughout your day. This tempering also helps you respond, share and engage with your people.

You’re thinking, OK, Charlie, but what about scheduling my content through a service such as Hootsuite?

Scheduling isn’t very authentic engagement, so I don’t do it. I wouldn’t send someone to a lunch in my stead to say, at exactly 1:05 p.m., “I love my amazing clients, and they love me. #humblebrag.” I hope everyone appreciates how ridiculous this whole thing sounds.

My general rule is: If I wouldn’t do it in “real” life, I shouldn’t do it on social. Also, agents who schedule content are notorious for rarely engaging with their people. It’s billboards: a ton of tiny little billboards popping up randomly as you drive down the social highway with no engagement. That’s not social media; it’s spam.

Don’t just blurt random things at random times. It’s like agents have a type of social Tourette’s Syndrome (I have Tourette’s, by the way), and they refuse to take their medication. Take the medicine, and stop scheduling random $%*!.

2. Know the platforms

Let’s talk about the big three first.

Facebook is the world’s largest convention center; a giant room where people have megaphones, HD video cameras and a giant Rolodex to filter through who they know and want to know. People are everywhere. Information is shared, opinions expressed, friends made, wars started, etc. It’s super noisy in here, so you need something interesting to say, or you need to have some majorly awesome pictures or videos to get noticed. Having trouble finding your people in the crowd? Facebook dark posts. Everybody, repeat these words: Facebook dark posts. Find your people; they’re out there if you know where to look — and how to look.

Twitter is a town-hall meeting. There is a giant hallway down the middle, and people are filing off here and there to talk about different topics. There are a few folks with cameras, but it’s mostly people with notepads — little sticky notes, really, and each note holds 140 characters. Tear one off and stick it to the wall or on top of another sticky note and go about your business. Share ideas, links and news to a highly targeted audience. Careful though: Things can escalate pretty quickly with all these stickies floating around.

Instagram is a coffee shop where everyone has a camera as a way of life. Most of these folks need a rest from the noise in the convention hall but want a little more freedom than the sticky notes in the town-hall meeting. It is much quieter in here, and the artwork is stunning. These are friendly people who want to talk to you and want you to talk to them.

So, what platforms should you be on? I don’t know. Where are your people? Wherever they are, go there. No one I want to work with is currently on Snapchat, so I don’t have a Snapchat account. LinkedIn? Yeah, my people are there, but I’ve found they don’t want me disrupting them there. Pinterest: Yes, my people are there, but they hate the ads now allowed on the platform.

I’m developing (read as: my incredible wife is developing) a Pinterest page for our clients to get staging ideas. There is value for my clients in that. Right now, that’s as far as I’m going: If you are using Pinterest as part of your social strategy, please leave a comment letting us know how it’s going.

3. Respect the platforms

If you use Hootsuite or similar service, to blast out your content into a busy convention hall and town-hall meeting and quiet coffee shop all at once, folks will have a hard time understanding you. Likewise, Instagram media does not open well on Twitter (just one example). It’s not where it was designed to go. Make sense?

Publish content to its native environment, where it is happiest. YouTube does a pretty job of integrating with Facebook. You know what kind of videos work even better on Facebook? Facebook videos. I mean, it makes total sense and seems really obvious, but sometimes we just need to hear these things.

We don’t need more voiceless content-raising decibels to the social noise — it’s loud enough in here. We need people talking with people. A billboard can’t do that; a scheduler can’t do that, but you can do that, and your clients will love you for it. #stopthehumblebrag and #hustle

"For Sale By Millennial"

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The ludicrous interest rates of the 1980s...then the real estate crash of the late 2000s...and now, the newest conundrum for Realtors--Millennials.

Bloggers can’t sneeze without publishing a new article on the subject. Each 5-Step Guide or Winning With Millennials Tutorial champions a few consistent staples that are sure crowd-pleasers (or stressors) that Realtors are talking about. This usually includes paragraphs on technology, entitlement, and communication. There is often some bit in there about Millennials loving to text as well...even late at night--GASP*! But this is not an article on How To Work With Millennials.

I cannot teach you how to do that.

In fact, for some, working with this generation just is not going to be a good idea--and that’s fine. Find your niche and own it. If you despise the idea of texting at 9PM then don’t work with Millennials. Do something else and totally crush it. If you engage the world of Millennials and Real Estate, step up and own it. I am trying to do just that. But before we jump ahead, let’s set the stage by looking at where we currently are with Millennials...

Today, Millennials are the dominant first-time home-buyers, and they will continue to be the dominant buyers for years to come. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reports that the age of first-time home-buyers in 2013 was 31 (NAR Quickfield Guide). And remember, that’s just the tip of the Millennial-iceberg. We are just getting started.

The dominant home sellers, however, are not Millennials. In 2013 the average age of a Seller was 53, and on average they owned their home for 10 years (NAR Quick Field Guide). But in the next 10-15 years these statistics will evolve as Millennials age and move into their 2nd or 3rd homes. Then, we’ll see a new generation of DIY-ers selling their homes. So, while most Realtors are trying to figure out how to help Millennials buy property, I’m concerned with how they will sell property in the years that follow. And here’s where it gets interesting...let’s look at where we are going...

Millennials know how to monetize everything. If they own a car, they charge folks for rides: in comes Uber and Lyft. If they own a home, they charge vacationers to stay the night: in comes AirBnB. If they need to clean out their closet, they sell their clothes in Facebook groups. If they are crafty, they start an Etsy store. So what does this result to in 10-15 years when Millennials are the dominant home sellers?

Most noticeably, we will see a surge in new For Sale By Owner properties (“FSBOs”) like we have never seen before. But here’s the kicker, they’ll be good at it. New technologies will emerge to accommodate FSBO sales to meet market demand, and, if we thought our job as Realtors was marginalized as Buyer’s Agents when real estate websites took over just wait until your job as a Listing Agent is completely replaced by new technology--and executed by a generation that is better at our job than we are. The sting will be much worse. They aren’t stupid. Millennials understand paying one Realtor’s commission is a heck of a lot cheaper than paying for two. The sales statistics we Realtors so readily quote comparing the inferior final sales prices of FSBOs to listings marketed by a Realtor will not apply either. Millennials bet on themselves, not data relevant to a past generation. Ask any Millennial if they would personally try selling their home first before hiring a Realtor, knowing the costs involved, and 9 out of 10 respond Yes. Yes, but they need me to market their home to get them the best possible price and sell it fast!” No. No, they won’t. You’re not getting it. This generation will not need you to market their home with technologies you think sets you apart...because this generation built the new technologies.

So what can Realtors do to compete in this industry, with agile and adaptable Millennials? Is there a strategy for battling For-Sale-By-Millennial (FSBM) “listings”, and pushing the RESET button for the value Realtors bring to the table? Three things come to mind:

  1. Develop your niche, and stick to it. Seriously. In fact, you may want to think about building a niche within your niche--what I call “niching your niche”. Realtors will no longer be able to justify the value of their services as a One-Size-Fits-All real estate professional. Millennials don’t want mainstream chains or generic services. They do not want Starbucks, they want the little craft-coffee shop on the corner that roasts their own beans, promotes local artists, and has a clear, transparent message. These shops are not promoting every artist or coffee bean in the world, or even in the city….just the ones in their community. They aren’t selling the city, just the neighborhood. You should do the same. Don’t risk becoming a One-Size-Fits-NONE real estate “professional”. If you want listings by Millennials, niche the neighborhood, not the city. Go deep, not broad.

  2. Be completely transparent, all the time. I draw no lines between my personal-self, and my Realtor-self. I never turn ON being a Realtor by turning something else OFF. My values, work-ethic and interests never change with my crowd. No one likes a flip-flopper. Be the same person whether showing homes, pumping gas, getting a hair-cut, or sitting in a training class with other Realtors. This generation has a knack for boiling fakeness to the rim of the pot and sifting the impurities for the trash. Honest, transparent people make refined and successful Realtors.

  3. Hustle, and then hustle some more.  As more properties become For-Sale-By-Millennial you will need to sharpen your skills as a Buyer’s Agent, and I mean for the long-haul. This means putting in the smart-work for custom, automated property searches, as well as some creative sleuthing to find COMING SOON listings before they hit the market...or even before they become “Coming Soon” (think neighborhood facebook pages, etc). Don’t put all your eggs into the MLS basket. The automated searches we Realtors often use work on a “pull” system where it runs a search on a schedule, but syndicate’s websites often have “push” systems where an alert runs in real-time. “Wait, you’re saying I could be alerted about a new listing by a syndicate’s website faster than from the MLS?” Yes. And don’t forget the tried-and-true-old-fashioned-way...asking other Realtors what they have coming on the horizon. There are an exponentially higher number of listings not on the market yet, that Realtors have jotted in their calendar, than what is currently available. Can’t find the listing you need? GO FIND IT.

In reality, I can’t teach you how to do any of these things. You’ll either do it, with your own style, or you’ll decide to do something else. So if you’re still reading this, here are some final thoughts...

Be yourself, and do what you know. If you don’t know how to work with Millennials: DON’T DO IT. If it doesn’t come natural, or if you’re not keen on the idea of texting a 9PM...don’t do it. I don’t know how to sell Horse Farms or Commercial property: so I don’t do it. I don’t know how to properly serve buyers looking for 55+ communities, lake-front property, or refugee communities, so I don’t do it. But I do know people who specialize in these areas who I trust to serve these buyers. Refer the business to someone who CAN provide an outstanding level of care to your customers when you cannot. My clients know that if they text me at 9PM I’ll be keeping them awake until 10PM crunching data, running reports, talking through a contract, negotiating inspection repairs, etc. That’s how I operate, which is why I thrive working with Millennials...maybe because I am a Millennial, or maybe because I love the hustle--I don’t know. Whatever you do, totally crush it. Stop complaining about late-night texting, and start evolving and innovating your business. Niche your niche, be yourself, and hustle your tail off.








 

Faramir & Christian Stewardship, Part 1

The mythology of JRR Tolkien's Middle-Earth never gets old for me. In fact, I just completed my 10th reading of the Lord Of The Rings trilogy: this 10th journey particularly having read the entire trilogy out-loud with my wife and son. 

Every journey through the story I am drawn to different lines of narrative that I have missed, or thought unimportant before. This year was no different. Frodo and Faramir captured my attention this year. Their dialogue in the wilderness of Ithilien is one small example of how bold and self-aware these two men are, especially to one another. I could go on for hours with my frustration on how scared and child-like modern characterizations of Frodo Baggins have hijacked the true persona of the ring-bearer....but that is for another day...Let's talk Faramir.

....the younger of two sons and a prince-of-sorts to Gondor. Less in stature and might than his older brother, but more wise, learned, subtle and loved by his city. The blood of Numenor ran truer in the veins of Faramir than his brother. Boromir had the hearts of the army, but Faramir had the hearts of the city and its people. 

CONTEXT FOR THIS POST: *The Battle of The Pelennor Fields is won. Denethor, The Steward of Gondor is dead, King Theoden of Rohan is dead, Prince Imrahil (acting Steward) has ridden to the Black Gate and at his side goes the new hope of Men, Aragorn--of whom rumor has now spread far and wide that the un-looked for Heir of Isildur and true King of Gondor has sprung out of legend. Aragorn is yet to enter the capital city under any title or claim the kingship. Instead, he rides from battle to battle. 

During the battle before the Black Gate the ring-bearer completes his Quest and the dominion of Sauron is dissolved. An eagle flies with great speed to bring tidings to the city of Minas Tirith, declaring: 

'Sing and rejoice, ye people of the Tower of Guard 
for your watch hath not been in vain, 
and the Black Gate is broken, 
and your King hath passed through, 
and he is victorious. 

Sing and be glad, all ye children of the West 
for your King shall come again, 
and he shall dwell among you, 
all the days of your life. 

Sing all ye people!'

As the host returns to the city, all are coming out beyond the city gates at the bidding of the errand-riders to welcome the army. But Faramir, taking up his Stewardship for the first time, stays behind; and for the last time the banner of the house of the Stewards is raised above the city. Everyone is asked to come welcome the host....but Faramir essentially says, "No, you guys go ahead...I've got some work to do."

Faramir's sole purpose as the Steward of Gondor was to prepare the city for the return of the King. Everything is in ruins, but Faramir is resolved to do things properly. He prepares the citadel, the court of the Kings, and retrieves the crown of Gondor from the ancient tomb of Earnur. Faramir understood he had one critical task to perform in his brief Stewardship: to make ready the city for the single most amazing event that has ever happened...the victorious King's return. It then reads... 

"Faramir met Aragorn in the midst of those there assembled and he knelt, and said: ' The last Steward of Gondor begs leave to surrender his office.' And he held out a white rod; but Aragorn took the rod and gave it back, saying 'That office is not ended, and it shall be thine and they heirs' as long as my line shall last. Do now thy office!'"

The army approaches the city and Faramir surrenders his post as Steward....and Aragorn DENIES the gesture. Wait...what!? After all Faramir does to properly hand over the Kingdom to the King the new King denies his resignation? Yes. The King has a new job for the Steward. Aragorn gives to Faramir the land of Ithilien to be his Princedom, to work the land and be fruitful.

How wonderfully beautiful and scripturally valid this is for Christians. Our purpose is to prepare the City for the Return of The King. When the King returns we should not guess that we surrender our office as citizens of His royal court. Let us not forget that the New Heavens and New Earth is not completely unlike our current reality. It is not Heaven, which will pass away. It is the New Heavens and New Earth...and we shouldn't mingle the two. We know that in Adam's fellowship with God his charge was to grow and cultivate the garden: to work and be fruitful, to husband all that is in his care. Our work does not end with the coming of the King, it is purified.

When we, with Sam, ask, "Is everything sad going to come untrue?" Jesus says, "Behold, I am making all things new," and I, The King, will "wipe every tear from their eyes." The hands of the King are the hands of a healer. So let us be about our King's work, preparing the city...

Part 2 coming soon.

The Most Powerful Thing In The World

It was when Harry Potter said "I am ready to die,"...When Katniss Everdeen said "I volunteer as tribute." It was when Princess Anna chooses death for herself to save her sister, Elsa.......It was then...

...and it is that thing which stirs the hearts of all who experience it: a certain kind of love, devotion and sacrifice.  It breaks down everything. It is sacrificial love. 

"The shepherd lays down his life for his sheep." (John 10:11)

"Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends." (John 15:13)

First-Time Home-Buyers Series: Before the Search Begins...

People have been buying homes for a long time. It's not rocket science, but there is a timeline of things that need to happen to go from "Okay, let's start searching for our first home," to "Wow, we just Closed on our first home!" As such, you don't need a scientist-Realtor, you need a teacher-Realtor to guide you through HOW to buy a home--with confidence. There is nothing worse than hearing that first-time home-buyers had a bad experience because they "just didn't know what was happening next." So, let's start talking about what happens next...

Assume we have met, agreed that we're going to work together, buckled our seat-belts and launched....what happens next? 

1. Location, Need-To-Haves, Nice-To-Haves:

This is where I get the whole picture of what you are looking for in a home. We'll talk about a lot of different things like, "Where do you guys spend the bulk of your time? Kitchen, Den, Bedroom, etc...how do you feel about a Subdivision vs. a private lot? Do you need a big yard for your kids, dogs, church-league volleyball practice, etc? Front porch? Basement? UPGRADED KITCHEN?Do you like to be able to walk to coffee shops, parks, restaurants?" You get the idea. The main thing I'm looking for here is LOCATION. Remember: A great house in an awful location is 9-Times-Out-Of -10 times an unhappy home-owner. The value of a specific location is decided upon by you. A location that one buyer would hate, may actually be just right for you--and vice versa. These probing questions before our home search really helps hammer out what the best location is for you...and is what helps me as I'm pulling up properties for you. 

Also, it helps us set expectations. If you tell me you would like 4 bedrooms in Franklin,  fairly new construction, and close to the Historic district, that is turn-key-ready....under $200,000....I'll have to share some bad news with you. It doesn't exist. We either need to change our location, or keep the location but expect some major compromises. We don't want to waste our time trying to chase down a property that doesn't exist. Instead, this helps us drill down into what is most important in a home that is within the bounds of your budget. Speaking of budgets....

2. Let's Talk Money:

Now that I'll be starting to send you potential properties for us to see, it is really important before we start scheduling showings that you've started the mortgage pre-approval process. In Nashville, right now, if your finances are not in order when we find your dream-home we will miss out on it because another Buyer who had their pre-approval already in place had a faster, stronger offer. If I'm truly in the business of helping you find the best property, this should be a really, really important factor. I have a small group of Loan Officers I refer my clients to, or perhaps you have one already, to help knock this out so we know, for sure, what price-range of homes we should be looking at. Offers that are coupled with proof of financial readiness are stronger than offers without. 

On-The-Spot with Dave Ramsey's Top 10 Questions For Realtors (Part 2)

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Here we go. Part 2. If you're a Dave Ramsey fan you know already he is passionate about Real Estate. He has built a fortune (twice) by buying and selling property; and he has 10 hard-hitting questions that every Realtor should be able to answer. These are my answers. Some are long, some are short, but they are all 100% the way I do things. So, let's jump right in with Question #6.... (Missed the answers to the first 5 questions? View them here.)

6. On average, when your listings sell, how close is the selling price to the asking price?

For this year (2014), my average Sales Price is 99.29% of Listing Price. My biggest discrepancy on a listing was receiving 96% of Listing Price, and some of my listings receive ABOVE asking price. This is the sweet spot we want to be in.

Homes that are over-priced stay on the market longer, and have to come down in price to find a Buyer. As such, our most serious Buyers have already seen the house and passed on it by the time we start entertaining lower offers (or drop the price), and having exhausted those previous Buyers already we will assuredly receive a lower offer at this point than if he had it priced properly to start with. Price is everything. That's precisely why a Realtor must--MUST!--know the market he/she is working in. Remember this, my Sales Price to Listing Price ratio is incredible because I price homes right the first time. I don't want my yard sign out in front of a property for months and months with an un-realistic asking price, and you don't want to miss our most serious buyers. We price it right, we get it sold. And that leads into Dave's next question...

7. On average, how long does it take for your listings to sell?

First, let's define what it means for a home to be taken "off the market". My goal will all of my clients is to have their home UNDER CONTRACT IN 30 DAYS. That, is "off the market" in this scenario. It means we have reached a contractual agreement to pursue things further: to begin, we start walking through the home inspection and home appraisal process. This year (2014), my average amount of time for a home to be ON the market was 10 days. TEN DAYS! This year was crazy. Reality is, this Spring I expect we will see the exact same thing as last year: homes flying off the market. But don't forget, we have to price it right, market it right, and walk through the home-inspection negotiations process together. That, is where a Realtor comes in.

8. How many buyers are you currently working with? 

Don't worry: If I don't have time to take on more clients, I'll be letting you know. If I can't help, I'll direct you to somebody who can.

9. Do you have a reference list of clients I could contact?

Yes, all of my clients of the previous year. 

10. What happens if I'm not happy with the job you are doing to get my home sold?

The first thing I would want to do is learn where the communication breakdown is happening. It ALWAYS comes down to communication. You want/need something, and I'm not getting the message; OR, I'm failing to keep you in the loop about where things are at...etc. I've never lost a client, and I don't intend to. I've never had an unsatisfied client, and I don't intend to. When we first start working together I like to have a little coaching session with my client to learn how you like to be communicated with--this goes a long way. 

But, hypothetically, if you don't think I'm the best fit for you once we've gotten things rolling--just let me know. A contract is just a piece of paper. If you're not happy, I'm not happy. Let's tear the dang thing apart and I'll help you find someone you think you'd work really well with. 

 

On-The-Spot with Dave Ramsey's TOP 10 Questions for Realtors (Part 1)

I'm a big Dave Ramsey fan. I have met him several times and he is a friendly, high-octane guy. He's one of the guys I like to chase. He always delivers a healthy, one/two punch  of common-sense-driven advice on personal finance and real estate. A while back Dave published an article titled: "10 Things To Ask A Real Estate Agent." It's a great article, and, today, I'm answering those 10 questions for you. Buckle up folks, we're On-The-Spot with Dave Ramsey's Top 10 for Realtors. (Part 1)

1. What makes you different? Why should I list my home with you? 

Wow. This is what I like about Dave--he comes out swinging. This is the $64,000 question, and here's my answer...

It's all about WHY I do what I do; not necessarily HOW. The answer to the HOW question is critical, but that is answered in other questions below. To start, we have to look at WHY I'm here, WHY am I a Realtor, and how does my story and conviction trickle down into being great at what I do. 

Martin Luther said you know the cobbler (shoe-maker) in the town is a Christian NOT because he puts little crosses on the heels of his shoes, but because he's making the best shoes. He's totally crushing it. Everyone in town trusts him with their shoes, not because he's a christian, but because he has an underlying conviction to steward his time, and work, in such a way that goes beyond "personal" conviction and into a spiritual responsibility. The Christian's life is one of really, really hard work. The best work. The most ethical work. And, the work of a Realtor is to serve his/her clients. That's why I do what I do: because I want to serve my God, by serving you. History shows, I'm really good at what I do--not a brag, just a reality. I have methods (details answered in other questions) that work to help market, and sell your home. My beliefs demand a level of expertise and work ethic--and it sells homes. 

I apologize for the long answer--though, not really--but there is one more thing to say that I think is really important. A friend of mine asked me, after watching my About Me video, if I thought only Christians will want to work with me. Answer: I really hope not. The question I have to ask myself every day is whether or not I am the type of Realtor I would recommend ANY of my friends to for an introductory conversation. My desire is to provide the background for you, not a standard. If Jesus was a Realtor, who would he be sitting down with....people of different race, culture, beliefs, etc....and what would he be doing? Serving them, with love. Boom. That's WHY I'm here.

2. What is your company's track record and reputation in the market place?

RealtyTrust Residential, in my opinion, is the premier brokerage in Middle Tennessee when it comes to serving our clients with a particular level of market expertise, and executing real estate transactions with finesse and trustworthiness. The primary reason I chose to affiliate with RealtyTrust is the quality of professionalism. The people I wanted to work with, and learn from, and CHASE, are there. I am there, because it is THE brokerage I would use--and have used. 

3. What are your marketing plans for my home?

First, I will make recommendations for making the home more marketable (paint colors, landscaping, staging, painting, etc). This goes a LONG way. If you aren't willing to make your home presentable, I really don't want to be your Realtor. We don't have to spend a lot of money, but we do need to make practical steps to increase the marketability of your home. We are looking for the absolute best sales price for your home; and a few small changes on the front-end can have a big pay-off on the back-end.

Second, I bring in my photographer. I use only the best media in marketing your home. We have ONE SHOT at a first impression to potential Buyers, and that one shot is the Thumbnail Image amidst thousands of others online. The pictures have to be stunning. Then, I set up the Virtual Tour AND marketing video for your home. This is the primary media I use in the social media campaign to tell a story around your home. 

When we officially list your home on the market I syndicate (push) the listing out to over 80 other websites, including: Zillow, Trulia, Movoto, Homes.com, Realtor.com, etc. Everywhere people are looking for homes your home will be listed. I annotate each photo to paint a picture for potential buyers. When we sit down to discuss listing your home I will show you examples of past listings. 

Then, it's time to schedule an Open House. The primary avenue I market for Open Houses is via the social-media campaign using our professionally-crafted marketing video. I get this out to my network, other brokerages, local HOAs, etc. Open Houses should be fun, relaxing events for people to come and enjoy the show. If you have a boring Realtor, be prepared for a boring Open House. Music,  hors d'oeuvres, laughing, touring...the best thing a Realtor can do for you at an Open House is to make it fun for the guests. A home filled with laughter and friendship is a home people will want to come back to.

4. What has your company sold in my area? 

RealtyTrust Residential, though based in Brentwood, serves all of Middle Tennessee. To be honest, if your home is in a place I've never been to I'll be referring you to one of our agents who totally kills it in that market. Let's sit and talk about your area, then go from there.

5. Does your broker control your advertising or do you?

I do all of my own marketing/advertising. It is important each Realtor build their unique methods of advertising, as some will appeal to particular Sellers, where others will not. This allows each Realtor to build their own success the way THEY want to. With that said, there is a reason why I'm asked to coach other professionals in how to successfully deploy e-mail marketing, social-media and neighborhood campaigns :)

Thanks for reading this first installment of "On-The-Spot with Dave Ramsey's TOP 10 for Realtors. Part 2 coming next week!

 

 

 

Williamson County Sales Statistics: OCTOBER 2014

Not a big shocker here, Williamson County is still crushing it.

The average sales price of a home in October came in at $443,576 (!), with an average listing time of just over 2 months on the market (Listing Date to Closing Date). Assuming most closings are just about a month out from a property going under contract, most of these homes are off the market a month after being listed. I am grateful to have contributed closings to these stats :) You're looking good Williamson.

See the full report here.

 

Episode #1: "First Impressions"

Episode #1. Boom. I am super excited to launch this new series and I hope you'll check out my new video each week. 

To start the series, I wanted to break down the nuts and bolts of what moves a Buyer through a chain of events toward purchasing a home--YOUR home. If you are the Seller, when will a Buyer first experience the property, and what happens next? What/When is the first impression? Why are Showings our main focus to start, and not Offers? And if "runs" are what win baseball games-- not necessarily "Homeruns"-- then how do we get people on first-base...and what the heck does that have to do with real estate!? Everything, actually.

Welcome to the CharlieKnowsVLOG, a project of www.CharlieKnowsHomes.com.  

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Charles Spurgeon on "HOME"

Transient

"THAT word "home" always sounds like poetry to me. It rings like a peal of bells at a wedding only more soft and sweet, and it chimes deeper into the ears of my heart. It does not matter whether it means thatched cottage or manor house: home is home, be it ever so homely, and there's no place on earth like it. May green grow the houseleek on the roof forever, and let the moss flourish on the thatch. Sweetly the sparrows chirrup and the swallows twitter around the chosen spot which is my joy and rest. Every bird loves its own nest; the owl thinks the old ruins are the fairest spot under the moon, and the fox is of opinion that his hole in the hill is remarkably cozy. When my master's nag knows that his head is towards home, he needs no whip but thinks it best to put on all steam; and I am always of the same mind, for the way home to me is the best bit of road in the country. I like to see the smoke out of my own chimney better than the fire on another many hearth; there's something so beautiful in the way it curls up among the trees. Cold potatoes on my own table taste better than roast meat at my neighbors, and the honeysuckle at my own door is the sweetest I ever smell. When you are out, friends do their best, but still it is not home. "Make yourself at home," they say, because everybody knows that to feel at home is to feel at ease,

'East and west
Home is best.' "