Don't Read This

Sucka- I knew you'd read this...

Did you know that you can convert all of your Blogger articles over to Word Press with a simple mouse click? It's ture! If you're looking for any article from this page in the past, head over to the new site where you'll find ALL articles.
I've been surprised at the continued traffic over here- Chris, why are you coming here? :) I see you guys...


Realtor Wives Has Moved

I've had a couple of emails asking what happened to Realtor Wives... we've just changed to Word Press and are under a new domain...


Chick Clues- Car Detailing

Today debuts what *should* be a pretty sweet addition to Realtor Wives. I have OCD. Ask anyone- I constantly push agents' chairs in, frequently clean my home's baseboards, I have a need for 90 degree angles with all papers on desks, and brake dust on rims bugs me.

Therfore, today begins "Chick Clues"- my way of sharing my OCD with you, the loyal readers! Recently, I was detailing my car. That means that I was going back over the car after it had been professionally detailed- getting the tracks clean under the seats, dusting out the glove compartment, etc. and I couldn't quite get to the little dust in the door locks or window buttons. When I marched back inside for the swiffer, I realized that the can of compressed air would do fabulously! Ah the power of compressed air- I blew out dust in little crevices that I didn't know could even collect dust!

So today's Chick Clue- use a can of compressed air to detail crevices of your car that detailers don't quite reach. Realtors, you know you live in your car and have clients in it every day... don't neglect it!
What are your car cleaning clues?


Going On A Comment Sabbaticle

So I have this neighbor who just has to keep up with the Joneses. At some point, my husband and I became the target:

1. They have had their landscape redone to be a tad better than ours, but they keep mowing int he rain leaving trenches. We like to do our own because no one is as obsessive compulsive as we are.

2. They bought a new gianto SUV this summer. We bought a Jeep this spring.

We painted our door and trim a glossy black this spring. They painted their door and trim a glossy black this summer.

We threw a 2006 Celebrity Princess Party for our then 9 year old. They threw a 2007 Celebrity Emmy Party for their now 10 year old.

And the list goes on. I don't mind them playing the game, but why play? I'm not even attempting to be on the game field! So then, why would they go beyond keeping up with the Joneses and decide to actually hate the Joneses!?!? In what seems to be frustration that we don't want to play in their sandbox but we still somehow "beat" them in their minds, they have decided to hate us. Last night at fireworks, instead of coming over where we were shooting (sweet, huh?), they stood on their front porch with their arms crossed and wouldn't let their daughters (my daughter's best friends) come over because it was a "family affair." Whatever, sourpuss.

So what does this have to do with a comment sabbaticle?
Well, the same thing has begun happening to me in the blogosphere. Look, I'm not a Realtor so I can't possibly compete with you. Nor am I in the mortgage industry. After a few bloggers have either pirated my comments, held on to my comments because their buddy was in the process of making a similar comment (and posting it after the fact, making me look like a repetitive idiot), actually editing my comments (wth?), or simply not publishing them. Therefore, I am tired and I will be on sabbaticle.

In the past, when I've needed backup, I've emailed a few friends (Realtor Genius, Bawld Guy and Kris Berg) asking them to jump in either here or on Bloodhound. If you need me to do the same, or you simply miss my voice, please email me directly. Otherwise, I will be drinking a Mojito as I enjoy my comment-free sabbaticle!


What's A Bawldy?

So, this week, Realtor Wives achieved a highly sought after milestone- earning a Bawldy! What's a Bawldy? Well, Jeff Brown at BawldGuy.com links daily to his choice of the best Real Estate articles of the day, and "How Not To Screw Up" was named in his list of the bestest blogs. We all know that he had to name others in his daily awards show, but he'll tell you that we take the cake.

In honor of this award, we decided to give Jeff an equally impressive award- the Realtor Wives Hairy Award! Jeff, I know you've dreamt of having the Ashton Kutcher 'do, so we had a fabulous local graphic artist (also known as my dad) create a wonderful image of Bawldy with Hair. Please enjoy!

We are accepting nominations for other bald or balding Realtors that deserve hair- we can (and will) award Hair but only on a need-basis; submit your nominations today!


How Not To Screw Up...

I came across an article recently about 10 dating disasters and immediately thought of what so many Realtors do incorrectly (or "do wrong" if you're here in the South). I thought I would modify the typical dating lists to read "What Not To Do Before or On The First Meeting With a Client" or in short "How Not To Screw Up..."

1. Do not have someone Photoshop your picture to smooth your skin, remove your double chin or give you hair. When your client meets you, they will be very uncomfortable because their insides will shake with laughter. If you're ugly, so what? It's a misconception that people hire Realtors based on their most recent mission to Plasticsurgeryville.

2. Do not wear a Hawaiian shirt on a first meeting, no matter how Rico Suave you are. Remember, Hawaiian shirt wearing is for the exclusive few that are (a) Hawaiian, (b) on vacation, (c) are fat and middle aged, or (d) my father.

3. When a local broadcaster or someone of local fame calls you, don't rent an ultra-luxurious car and claim yours is in the shop! If you're sportin' an Escort, just give it a bath and let your client know you intend to roll the Escort until the wheels fall off (oh and make sure it smells nice, no one likes day old catfish leftover smell).

4. Don't let your cell phone get in the way of your Realtor mojo. If you can't have a first meeting without gabbing on your phone (and everyone is SO guilty of this), turn the dang thing to silent. Have a general VM that says "I am currently meeting with a valued client, but I have a great habit of checking my voicemail the moment I get into my car, so don't worry- you'll hear from me soon!" If you appear to love your Star Trek bluetooth more than the precious time with your client, you may never hear from them again.

5. Don't be late. Period. You are not the only one who values time and if you are late to a first meeting (or well, to any) it is a great sign of disrespect. Plan on being 15 minutes early, finish phone calls in the car and approach the door of your meeting destination right on time. When you are late, you explicitly tell your client that you are the center of the universe, they should bow because you have entered a room, and you believe that their time and business is of no consequence to you (unless that's how you see it).

6. Don't over promise. This is the cardinal sin in Real Estate, especially during listing presentations. If you don't have a guarantee (see Russell Shaw's website), don't promise a home will sell in 6.34 days. Don't promise to be "available at all times" when you know you don't answer the phone when it's dark, the game is on, you're napping or you're at your "day job" (which should be #7, but I'll be nice).

7. You are not Oprah. Keep your bragging to a minimum. Bragging and presenting yourself in a factual manner are different matters. For example, "I'm Austin's best Realtor" is lame, try "In this subdivision, I sold one out of every two listings last year." At a first meeting, you are likely applying for a job with that client, so don't bog down the "interview" with inflating or stroking your own ego. Don't be bragadocious.

8. Don't badmouth the competition. Dogging on other Realtors (typically local competitors) online can get you in deep dookie here in Texas, but doing it in person is just low. When someone talks about their past Realtor (operative word being "past" aka non-threatening, so shut up), refocus the conversation casually to you or their current home situation rather than noting "yeah, he's an a-hole, he spilled a drink on me at this massive party just after admitting that he doesn't work weekends and he dresses in drag when he's alone." Muy mal.

9. Don't be inappropriate. This includes the joke about the dumb Aggie (they probably went to A&M, poor guy), the racist joke (their absent spouse is likely of that race), the Pope joke (I'm probably Catholic), or the handicap joke (their mom is probably paralyzed). It's not the time or place. Making dirty jokes, using crude language, any physically inappropriate gestures or otherwise can actually put your career at risk and there's nothing funny I can say about that. Don't be an idiot- you're probably not as funny as you think anyhow.

10. My favorite- don't be cute. This applies mostly to you guys out there aged 40-55 who are clinging to that last hope that you are as cute as you were when you were president of your frat way back when. If your kids are in their 20s, I'm begging you- don't flirt with your 25 year old female client- she's not interested. Trying to bring sexy back during a first meeting can ultimately screw things up.

Now it's your turn- start adding to the list beginning with #11...


Why Redfin Will Succeed

Kevin Boer at 3 Oceans Realty poses the question, "If You Were Designing The Real Estate Industry From Scratch, Would It Look More Like Coldwell Banker Or Redfin?"

The consensus so far is that if we started from scratch, the industry would still resemble the 1.3 million contractors that make up the NAR. I made a comment that could be interpreted as harsh against the demographic that Redfin is seeking to court, but I meant what I said- we all know (or are) someone who is glued to a computer and would love to never ever leave. I have a family member (no, not my husband) who is literally addicted to the internet and would never leave his chair if he didn't have to go to the bathroom. Seriously.

Redfin would be great for him because he's scared to death of getting out of the house. He wouldn't care how Web 2.0 the Redfin site is, he would love the idea that he doesn't have to interact with a human. The problem is that before he says "I do" and marries his home, he'll want to personally (ideally without a sales person present) hold its hand and commence to a little heavy petting before committing. This is why video open houses are so important for this tiny demographic. BUT, buyers will never purchase a home sight unseen, because humans inherently rely on tangibility and emotions regarding major purchases regardless of whatever "business model" a Realtor uses. Look, I personally don't like big crowds and sales people make me nervous, but I have to see the house/car/skirt in person before I let a salesperson into my personal business. I understand.

Therefore, I maintain that Redfin is courting the hipster/WoW nerds and I believe (as my husband notes below) that they will survive (and succeed) in their niche because they've quietly found a tiny demo that was not publicly being courted, and the only reason they need a website is for PR, not necessarily sales. RealtorGenius says it better than I can in a comment at 3Oceans:


To Capthca or NOT To Captcha

Many of us (myself included) opt to include the captcha so that the spambots can't infiltrate our beautiful blogs. I'm on Google's Blogger, and I've learned that Blogger sometimes cops an attitude and insults its users... seriously.

Check it out here and consider if you still want to feature captchas on your site...


The Realtor Wives Feed Reader Hits 100!

Well, it had to come sometime- the obstacle is now here... how do I keep this feed reader under 100? As I asked this week, who should be the 100th blog to read every day?

Realtor Wives added Rebekah Herzog out of Kansas who is a budding new blogger. I encourage you all to visit her site, email her encouragement (we all need it when getting started) or suggestions and add her to your feed reader. Congrats on being #100!

Sidenote: I'm using Bloglines and I hate it- any suggestions or reviews of your own readers?

Carnival of Real Estate

Altos Reasearch hosts this week's Carnival of Real Estate.

My thoughts:
(1) sweet- Greg Swann has his own blog category (although Mike had to sidenote that he was half kidding about that),
(2) Altos subcategorized RE blogging in a very concise way (that I liked) and
(3) thank God CoRE takes a dang 4th of July break next week- I really need one!

Definition of a Blog Carnival
List of future CoRE judges
*July 4th week- no CoRE
*July 9th- ValleyMarket.com


Only Room For One More Blog!

Today, I added the 99th blog to my Bloglines feed reader. When I started this whole blog thang (yeah, that's spelled with an "a"), I set several goals. My number three goal was to keep my feed reader under 100 blogs to stay on top of every day.

At the time, that number seemed so huge, but since then Bloglines has sucked up RE blogs like a Hoover. Whew! I now read 99 blogs every day, and I have room for ONE MORE!!!

Who should it be?


Top 10 DIY Mistakes

Yahoo blipped this article across my screen and it embodied many things we frequently tell those clients that are preparing to begin flipping/renovating/fixing their new purchases. Maybe you'll find it helpful also! We will be printing this out for all our agents who aren't RE.net compatible!
Click the links for about each DIY mistake:

1. Not taking out the required permits.
2. Starting a job without the necessary tools and supplies.
3. Inadequate preparation of the job site.
4. Skimping on materials.
5. Using the wrong paint.
6. Improper preparation of walls for painting.
7. Unsafe job conditions.
8. Inaccuracy.
9. Working beyond your limits.
10. Failure to get a clue.


Confessions of a Lifehacker Addict

Thanks a lot, Larry... as if my time wasn't monopolized with Real Estate, blogging, family and a stubborn dog, you got me hooked on the crack that is Lifehacker! If any of you aren't reading, it is a great supplement for bloggers to learn about software apps, office organizing and how to get water out of the cell phone you dropped in the pool.

My favorite articles today:
Google adds Group Chat (great for co-drafting documents)
Top 10 DIY Office Projects
Making a Room Look Bigger (great for staging or in your own home or office)
Cord Management (addressing Realtor Genius' cord crisis)

It's no Feed Bag, but now I'm like Larry, pimpin' and slingin' the addiction that is Lifehacker (see Erin, I like to say pimpin'!)!


A Loud 10 Year Old

Realtor Genius and I have a beautiful, intelligent, newly 10 year old daughter who recently took an interest in blogging. We set her up with an invitation-only Blogger site and she has blogged like a madwoman!

Tonight, she asked if she could blog on our Austin Real Estate Blog, but I told her she'd have to create a draft and have it approved with the brokerage boss (aka Daddy). He didn't sign off on it, rather sent it over to the head of Asset Management (aka me) and I saw a great RealtorWives article. So on an orange piece of paper with a purple marker, she had written the following:

"You should pick my dad he's the Best. Better than everyone."

Best blog of the year if you ask me. I think she's getting the whole Web2.0 RE.net down already! Watch out, y'all- she's just getting started!

Sidenote: photo courtesy of jynmeyer (our daughter is actually cuter...)


Realtor Genius has sniffed out a great new site by TheGreg over at Bloodhound:

Weblogging101 opened today, and to be honest there is just so much information it would take several days to plow through it all, so I’ll let you know my thoughts next week- but here are my general thoughts in advance.

First of all,
bloodhoundblog.com isn’t profiting on this at all. No one is over there giving criticism of your blog to gain your business, it’s the simply how-to we all needed when we started (and I for one, still need) and for this I believe it has heart, merit, and to be honest, you can trust it. Why? Because the only thing your being sold is a better understanding of what in the heck you’re doing!

Although I'd be lying if I didn't know REWeblogging101 was coming, Realtor Genius has published a great evaluation of the new site- THANKS RG!
Learn more about RE Weblogging and how to put the REW101 logo on your site!


World's Best Photographer

I don't often use this blog to promote non-Real Estate material, but I've been meaning to tell you all about Emma Smallbone of BarebonePhoto, the World's Best Photographer. Okay, so I don't think there's a particular award for that, but she is actually well established (and way underpriced if you ask me) and will travel. She has won a number of awards for her ubercreative journalistic style and constantly receives praise. She's based in Canada (but we'll forgive her for that!) but travels to weddings all over the place.

If you, your children, a client or a friend is preparing to walk the plank (aka get married), you have to look at Emma's work. Not only is she incredible, she has a blog!!! I've learned about her doggie (happy 1st Sophie!)...her family and her clients... never before have I been so impressed with any single photographer (uh... sorry to our wedding photographer). Her silly nature is reflected in her work and she never takes herself too seriously! What a dream!!! When our children get married (or we finally have our Catholic wedding), Emma will be well worth the extra few dollars to get her down here to Texas.

Let me know when she becomes your family's wedding photographer- I'll watch her blog for the best pictures of you you'll ever see!

Attention Newbies

I have had several emails lately from new bloggers asking what direction to take (and I'm no specialist, but I'm always happy to share links to any of the 92 blogs on my feed reader)... there are so many great resources out there!

For those of you new to blogging, finding inspiration can be one of the most difficult tasks. No problem, RSS Pieces has the perfect solution- use one of their 225 proposed article ideas written by the supersupersassy Fairy Blogmother. If you haven't stumbled onto this site yet, it is great for new bloggers (or uh, bad ones)...


What In The World Is "Deck"?

Don't know what "deck" is? You're just not hip... I'll clue you in! Liz Barkdale writes my absolute favorite article written thus far in 2007; click here to read on!

Anywhere in Austin south of the Capitol, the "Keep Austin Weird" subculture reigns. I've been debating how to use this article in the blogosphere, but it's too dang funny to not publish. For those of you who have lived in or visited Austin, you'll giggle as you read this article; for those who have not, you surely have some "deck" element in your own city.

Tell us how deck YOUR city is!

photo (from thatotherpaper.com )/
Fred Benenson


Carnival of Real Estate- Sock Puppet's Turn

This week, The Sock Puppet hosts the Carnival of Real Estate aka "CoRE."

If you haven't started participating in the Carnival of Real Estate, it's a great way to find great bloggers to add to your feed reader. And if you don't have a feed reader, you need one!

Athol (aka "Sock Puppet" or "Wooly Opinionator" or "Cotton Goblin") welcomes readers to his home of Bristol, CT, "Connecticut is notable for having next to zero professional sports teams and was thus the Switzerland of Sports for ESPN to set up shop in." Nice.


Notorious B.I.G. Said "Mo Money, Mo Problems"

Notorious B.I.G. said "Mo Money, Mo Problems" and I agree. In the blogosphere, the bigger you get, the more bold you become and it leads to enemies whether you like it or not. Instead of talking dollars, let's talk blogosphere "fame." Greg Swann's got a lot of that "fame" and because of his "mo fame," he's got "mo problems." Greg and I don't always agree, so I am not defending any particular viewpoint today. Rather, I wanted to share with you why Greg and I are friends.

(1) Before I was a BHB contributor, I decided to ask Greg any and all questions regarding blogging even if the questions made me look stupid. He never judged my ignorance, instead he quickly emailed me back an answer.

(2) There has been no restriction on what Greg has been willing to share with me. He's given me access to the PHP code for parts of his site that I wanted to steal, he's given me his Carnival judging algorithm, and he's endlessly given me definitions to dorky blog words that I've had to learn over the past months.

(3) Greg is not inflammatory. His articles and comments are provocative, but he never cusses at anyone, he backs his theories up with his researched facts and is willing to take the heat when his arguments anger people. Currently, Greg has brought up the licensing bar and postulates that we should abolish it. I disagree with this- abolishment is not a solution; I'm waiting on a solution. Regardless, what I like about Greg is that if I email him saying, "hey, I disagree," or "what's the solution to the licensing issue?" he will write an article about such a topic instead of hiding behind an offline conversation.

(4) BHB publishing rules don't exist. As an author, I've never been censored. I've also never used curse words or made ignorant personal attacks. Some people have been censored (and Greg emailed me the censored comments and his reasons for censoring) and I'm okay with that. Ponch (Kris and Steve's troll) and Prime Minister (my troll) pick fights online and if they get out of hand (which they haven't yet), they WILL be censored- that's my right. I disagree that Greg arbitrarily blacklists- like I said, I've seen the conversations. Whether I would make the same choice to censor is not the point.

Greg didn't ask me to (and would probably prefer that I didn't) write my Top Four Reasons I'm Friends With Greg Swann, but sometimes someone with "mo money [and] mo problems" are busy and that's when a friend should step in.

And if Athol asks me why I'm friends with him, I can make that my next article... :)




Today, a temporarily (by request) unnamed site coins a new term- "Redfinned." MTV may have Punk'D, but the Real Estate industry has Redfinned. This word is an adjective used to describe the despair a buyer or seller feels when dealing with a non-responsive-call-center-operator (also known as a Redfin or McDiscount agent) who cannot return or make calls. This word is applicable to the feeling of tearing out hair when the salaried Redfin (or McDiscounter) agent does not feel that they make enough money to acknowledge buyers or sellers, rather they would prefer to read blogs, troll the malls or plaster bandit signs around the city.

The disdain for a lack of customer service was bound to be let out of the bag someday- well, here we are, June 13th, 2007- it's finally "someday."

I encourage you to use this new term (or the logo) on your own site in regard to agents (whether at Redfin or otherwise) that lack service. YOU'VE BEEN REDFINNED!!!

A Buyer Who Never Turned His Car Off

Last week, my husband closed a beautiful new home in a new subdivision. The buyer (we'll call him JR) reads this blog (being a tech-savvy guy and a new friend of ours), so he'll get a kick out of it (hi JR)!

After months that ran into more than a year of searching for a home, JR fell in lust with a giganto home that the seller was only willing to "seller finance." JR didn't have representation so he settled. Although he loved his giant house, he wanted to save some money and with an electric bill equating to multiple car payments, he knew he had to get out of this castle.

Now, JR is working on his MBA with a prestigious program and has a spreadsheet for everything- I mean EVERYTHING! He knew the backend of financing down to the penny. He had a financial plan and needed a new direction to meet his goals. JR the Super Bachelor has two big dogs that he takes everywhere with him. Put the know-it-all and seen-it-all together and you have one tough buyer.

JR and my husband hit it off before physically meeting to shop, so it was no surprise that JR brought his dogs to see the home my husband noted was the best choice for him. We thought the selection process would be lengthy, but JR left his car running (with the dogs inside) as he stepped into the first house and soon said "I'll take it" and contracted within the hour.

Later, when asked why he didn't continue his tedious search, he said that he trusted my husband because of the lengthy phone conversations they'd had- he spoke his Web 2.0 type dorko language, he listened to his shopping desires, and he was intimately familiar with the financing JR wanted. JR said that he knew before seeing it that the house my husband picked would match everything he'd asked for- he never even had to turn his engine off.
The RE industry needs more of this- see if you can sell a home this week for a know-it-all-seen-it-all for a two week closing. Consider it your challenge!


State of the Blog Report- Unhealthy Competition

Several bloggers are observing the problems with RE blogging of late, namely the abuse of the forum. People have been accused of censoring, being inappropriate and vulgar, inflammatory and the like for reasons of ratings (or prospecting or entertaining).

On a recent Realtor Wives article, some bold statements were made. Please read the article and statements here in full if you have not today. I will address my response here:

We are business bloggers. If we weren't, no one would be professing their career choice, and we would be writing about movies, jeans, kitties or concerts. There should be no "taking it personally," "personal attacks" or censoring for a self-indulgent cause (which I can't personally say has occurred or not, nor do I really care). Come on! We are here to promote our individual businesses, the concept of buying and selling real estate, to discuss the market and hopefully teach readers about what we do in hopes that the healthy Web2.0 style conversation draws people in- if not to us, at least to someone knowledgeable.

Lockwood also humorously tried to correct Realtor Wives regarding "Project Bladder" which makes light of the whole competitive issue. I still stand by my satirical look at the issue- people are engaging in personal competitiveness. Kris mentioned that she feels in the middle (and I share that sentiment due to my BHB affiliation)- no one should have to feel that way because of personal problems bloggers have with each other, nor should they be publicly aired in such nasty ways (simply aired anywhere so aggressively, not specifically on Realtor Wives).

The point: get over yourselves! Quit making it personal- this is business blogging, not Project Bladder. A slow news cycle is no excuse for arm wrestling about blogging.


Project Bladder

John Lockwood has been actively commenting on Realtor Wives as of late, namely on the "Know Your Identity" article. If you haven't read it, back up and take a look before continuing... I'll wait... As you read in the comments, Lockwood created this satirical logo (and it's pretty dang good if you ask me) as the "thread's official logo."

To add to this concept, I believe that this "Project Bladder" seal should be used on any article that a blogger writes that is part of the distance competition (see "Know Your Identity" if you haven't yet). When you're calling another blogger out whether indirectly (as I normally do) or directly (as BHB and the Sock Goblin are currently doing), you should feature this logo so everyone knows that you're in it to win it!

Who's in???


Austin Realtor's Wife Around Town

Two reasons to link to blogs I've commented on today:

(1) to hear more of my unsolicited opinion regarding real estate and
(2) to fend off the comment pirate(s)
(3) but mainly to be more creative in showing who's on my feed reader.

I hope others will pick up this idea of linking to sites where they've added to (or screwed up in some cases) the ongoing conversations:

Dalton's Zillow Roast
Chris' New Buds
Rory's Buffett Connection
Berg Barks at Vultures
RG Exposes Dad at the Sorority Party

These are in no particular order, rather listed arbitrarily on this here ol' blog. We're headed out for the weekend, so forgive my lack of comments/articles over the weekend. For those of you who know me (and how verbose I can be), you'll know to call the authorities if I'm not actively commenting by Tuesday...


State of The Blog Report- Know Your Identity

Today, I respond to the following articles:

*Realtor Genius' Web 2. Oh No
*BawldGuy's Adios Blog
*Greg's Line in the Sand
*RSS Pieces' Style Thesis
*Athol's Neener Neener
*Lockwood's Hate/Love Affair

Because I am friends with 4 of the 5 blogs mentioned above, I will speak in generalities...

1.) I am noticing a heating up of pee contests online (so what if I've used this phrase before?!?!). Some of you know that you are agitating the pit bull that is chained up, but listen well- when the chain breaks, you won't be able to run fast enough and I predict you'll lose parts of your pants. Sure, your friends think it's funny because they don't like the pit bull and your making funny faces at it is entertaining, or they do like the pit bull and they are just bored. However, the pissing contest is one that has an eventual winner (and loser) and I for one squat, so I won't get into the urine launching arena. Just remember though, someone has to lose. I just hope that everyone calms down- we're blogging for business, not for fun. If you want a fun blog about pants and music, get off of the RE airwaves.

2.) I have also noticed a great deal of Web 2.0 observations going on and I am loving it! Lockwood does a great job of bringing this topic up, and Realtor Genius tears it a new hole (yeah, that hole). While they talk about the merit (or lack thereof) of the Web 2.0 movement, I have to pause to affirm that it is a means to connect with your clients by being more natural and by being yourself which is a great benefit to those with relatable personalities. The problem that Realtor Genius notes is that many bloggers put on a sideways hat and say "whattup dawg" to attempt to relate rather than being themselves (which he asserts is the point of Web 2.0).

3.) Jeff Brown and I had an off-line conversation about RSS Pieces' article regarding style and he made the distinct note that style and voice are not the same thing. He and I have voices that are recognizable even if we don't put our names on our articles or comments- it's inescapable. My style, however, changes with each article. My style can be the Troublemaker (see Point 1), and I can be authoritative, but my voice is usually silly and I don't take myself too seriously. I AM a 20-something non-Realtor, and I write as such. I never pretend to have a voice/style that is one of a Realtor with 20 years worth of experience (like Jeff). To complete my stream of consciousness point on the RSSPieces article, your style is not your voice (as the piece asserts) and the two should not be confused. I may have a silly style in one article and a condemning style in another, but my voice is constant because of who I am- you are always able to point me out in the blogosphere (even if I play the anonymous card).

I am the first to stand up for myself and others, but I think we should all get back to what we were doing- blogging about real estate (usually for the consumer). Some of you can pee further than me (and others can't), but who cares? I don't blog to clients- my niche is more for Realtors (and the occasional spouse), so I remind those who ARE blogging to clients to relax and get your eyes back on the ball. Please. I mean, now. :)


CSI Factor: Episode 2

Once upon a time, I vowed to write about my various customer service experiences under the guise of the "CSI Factor" and relate them to the Real Estate industry. We frequently migrate to my husband's homeland (Oklahoma; boomer!) to see family. This weekend, we are in Oklahoma and I've had two experiences with Marriott:

Experience One:
I called some time back to make a reservation at Marriott because the website wasn't working properly. I am typically anti-phone (much to my husband's irritation) and prefer to do things in person unless it's a hotel or car which I'll do online. During this call, the very friendly older male operator was answering all of my questions thoroughly and found a great deal on a suite for us. He reiterated all of the preferences I had described to him and gave me my confirmation number three times. I was already in a hurry (just my personality) and was fine with this thoroughness because I was multi-tasking and missed half of what he said (but I caught the witty remark about the spelling of my name).

I did become annoyed when he moved from natural booking conversation to scripted offers- "will you be flying or driving?" and then "would you like me to suggest an airline or connect you with our preferred airline?" NO. "Would you like to know about entertainment in the area you will be staying?" NO THANKS. "Lastly, would you like to be a Marriott member." NO THANKS. "You can earn great savings and if you use the card X amount of times you can earn free nights." NO THANKS. "You can start with this weekend's stay and go from there, how does that sound?" NO THANKS. "Okay then, your confirmation number again is..." I finally had to step out of my friendly zone and say "you've been very helpful, thank you and goodbye" CLICK.

This call was great until he became unnatural in his tone. The Marriott chain obviously has him offer me a series of pop up ads which frankly pisses me off. I can disable them on my computer without being rude- please pick up on my tone of voice and figure out that I'm tired of being on the phone- let me go!

Experience Two:
I anticipated a call to the hotel to be one of an extremely professional tone as my first call, but when I called the day before check-in to see what time check-in was and to request an earlier check-in, the younger man said "we're all booked." Uh... no crap? I have a reservation- again, here's my confirmation number, can I get an early check-in please? "We're all booked."

Sometimes I want to reach through the phone and thump someone in the head!!! He was extremely rude and irritated that I would dream of asking for an early check-in when they are booked. After his third "we're all booked" and my "I understand that but can you at least tell me what time check-in is so I can see if it will work for me?" I finally lost it. "I hear you telling me you are booked and you are not telling me what time I can check in. Your booking situation is not my problem, nor is your attitude. Transfer me to a manager or simply tell me what time I can check in." "Oh, check-in is at 3:00, call tomorrow morning for availability on new rooms."

How hard was that? My second experience was drastically different, yet the two people I spoke with work for the same company at the same location!


So, how does this all relate to the Real Estate industry? If I had based the entire hotel chain on either one of these phone experiences, I would be blogging about how much Marriott sucks, but I am realistic and know that I just had bad luck on the phone. Maybe the first person was new and knew he was being recorded and maybe the second person had a lobby full of people waiting angrily to check in while his manager yelled at him from the back office. I'm forgiving despite my irritability and sensitivities.

The truth is, Realtors must mind that not ALL clients are as forgiving as I tend to be- EVERY call, EVERY email, EVERY meeting should be as if you are representing an entire industry, because the sad truth is that Realtors do have to represent an industry under fire with every point of contact they make. Be mindful and follow the golden rule- don't oversell and don't EVER, under ANY circumstance act annoyed that someone is asking you to do your job.


Carnival of Real Estate

The Carnival of Real Estate (CoRE) is over at the North Fulton County Real Estate Blog this week!!! If you want to read the best and brightest RE bloggers' work, head on over! You'll see bloggers such as Kris Berg on this week's list of what I like to call the "Most Awesome Blogs!"

In five short months, Realtorwives.com will be host of our first CoRE... yippee!


The Zilence was Zapped!

Thanks, David G (Zillow) for stepping up to bat! Whether or not we (or other Realtor Genius readers) agree, we thank you for answering the call!

David, I know you don't read Realtor Wives, so you can untag me now if you'd like :) HA HA!



Making Memories

Today, the kiddos had their last day of school and Memorial Day Weekend begins- hooray! Realtor Wives will be "closed" this weekend (as if there is such a thing in the blogosphere). Don't be fooled if you see me on your Blog Log, I can't help myself.

However, tomorrow we will be going (1) swimming, (2) to the library and (3) beginning a family scrapbook. That's just tomorrow, so thank you for understanding the need to MAKE MEMORIES this weekend.

Be safe and remember those who have given their lives for us. Celebrate this weekend and make your OWN memories!


Smell Staging

Any professional stager or an experienced Realtor can guide sellers how to set up their home to maximize the visual worth. Endless blogs discuss how to anchor furniture, what colors promote which feelings, how to perform minor repairs, who to hire to fix major issues and even how to make your bed to invite buyer's to make an offer. These particular blogs are interesting to me and I eat them up! They are so useful to sellers, but staging must occur to please ALL senses, and often SMELL is forgotten.

Sure, I read the "bake cookies on open house day" and "scrub and paint walls if smoking occurred in the home," but I think there MUST be a list that covers other faux pax that are sure to offend the nose.

If a homeowner has already signed a listing agreement, the following must be minded:

1. From the moment anyone even THINKS they might sell their home, they must stop cooking any of the following foods: curry, fried foods (chicken, steak, fries, anything in oil which permeates the air and lingers), any seafood products, any microwaveable tofu products, and menudo. You get the idea- anything that you can smell after the table has been cleared and the dishes done must be avoided until you are in your new home. This is a great time to eat out, diet or stick to the less fragrant meals.

2. Smoking smell can be repaired before opening a home to touring, but continuing smoking (cigarettes, drugs or pipe tobacco) is ludacris! Smoking MUST be done outside, no matter how hot, cold or rainy- do not smoke in any part of the home. This should be common sense, but people sneak into the garage or a guest bathroom- there is no hiding smoke, it infiltrates the entire home.

3. Pets. This could be an entire article, but I will summarize. If you have a cat (or cats), regardless of previous habits, you must clean the litter box in the morning and the evening. If your animal has soiled the carpets or floors, there are remedies, but the goal of this article is to discuss how to avoid stinky problems from the moment a listing agreement is signed. If Fido or Fluffy Cat has somewhere else it can go until you sell your home, that is great (Grandma or a kennel might do). Talk to your Realtor about options. IF no option presents itself, keep pee pee animals outside or corralled in a single room until the movers get to your house. I can tell you that cat urine has caused deals to fall through here, it can happen to you!

4. Everyone loves their personal products, but if you shower in Old Spice instead of water, or you use White Diamonds instead of hairspray, you should take it down a notch for the duration of your home's sale. Proper etiquette is one small spritz on the wrist and one on the neck (despite what my 16 year old says). People are often allergic to perfumes/colognes, so don't give people allergy attacks just for peeking inside your home!

5. Not running the fans or the air conditioning/heater will cause the home to be still. If you don't use your AC, at least keep the air moving with fans or the "fan on" feature of your centralized system. Still homes don't exactly stink, they're just stuffy and smells are magnified in this environment. Use Glade plug-ins (Lennar, DR Horton and I use the hawaiian smell) in 2-3 locations on each floor.

6. If you have septic tank issues or any backup of sewage, you really should get this repaired. If something backs up while a tour is in progress, the deal will die faster than a mosquito in a bug light. If you know of this issue, don't hide it from your Realtor- talk to them about it so that everything is disclosed.

7. Garbage should be removed from the kitchen daily if any food is deposited in the waste. Softer foods should be disposed of in the sink's disposal and it should be run after every use. Limes/lemons chopped up and ice thrown into the disposal together can help with the more putrid smells. Dishwashers can be a source of stink also- run an empty cycle with a 1/4 cup of bleach after cleaning the dispose-all. No one likes that "eww, 2 day old ground beef" smell.

These should be common sense, but some of these items are missed. Glade, cookies and carpet powder are great remedies and others are readily found online. Remember- if a home doesn't smell great, dollars are literally flushed down the drain; offers will suffer. Don't forget to stage your furniture AND perform smell staging!
What's the worst smell YOU'VE experienced in a home for sale?


What's Up With The Zilence?

David G. at Zillow gave a great speech defending his product (which was not named in Realtor Genius' article) via a comment, but has become silent at the simple question "is your model in the end a national consumer driven listing service?"

We at Realtor Wives think he should answer so others don't do it for him...

Check out the conversation here and encourage David to follow up!

Going Green

In honor of Mother Earth and the "Keep Austin Weird" slogan, I have decided to make our home a little more environmentally friendly. As resident OCD wife/mother, it is my mission to keep our home model-clean at all times, but in honor of hugging trees, I will do the following and hope you will do the same:

1. Save electricity by using the powerful Ubervac less frequently- it really sucks up the watts!

2. Save water by doing less dishes. For example, I should drain pasta through my fingers instead of dirtying a dish- who needs finger skin? It'll be good for the planet!

3. I will dust less frequently because Dust Bunnies are creatures of the Earth and it is cruel to murder them and not allow their repopulation.

4. The lawn will no longer be mowed, weeded and edged twice a week because of the use of gasoline and power. Honey, I'm sure you're sad about this one...

5. No laundry will be tossed in the dryer- it will be hung to dry and I will use one of those 1890's flat iron insted of my Super Steamer Iron. Plus, the wrinkled look is in, so now we'll be super chic.

This all may sound lazy but it really is for Mother Earth. In all seriousness, Yahoo has launched a "Be A Better Planet Campaign," Check it out here, don't forget to point your clients toward energy saving methods, and DO NOT take Austin Realtor's Wife's advice listed above!


Blogs Overlooked

The following blogs have not had nearly the amount of comments I believe they deserve; check them out and get the ball rolling:

These are my top three for this week- my comments don't count, so HEAD OVER and make sure the conversation doesn't die, these are great articles!!!


The Bloodhound Blog Runs With a French Bulldog!

Not that I like French stuff, but I relate to French Bulldogs. I'm little and silly, but I'm great at learning new tricks! Odysseus seemed to need some company over at the ol' BHB, so I've been invited to be a contributor.

I have to admit on this site that I was terrified when Greg approached me. I feel like I'm about to go into the review on my senior thesis again. Now, I'll have to learn Latin, remember Spanish, and most importantly, remember how to speak (uh, write) English properly. How can I possibly run with the big dogs? I'm a two month old French bulldog- in the blogosphere, I weigh only 3.21 lbs.

After my initial shock, I became elated- what an awesome opportunity! I am not selling anything, so my voice is different than most people in our blogworld... I opine because I want to, not because I need to. Being buddies with Odysseus will be a blast! I CAN run with the big dogs- I'm fit, I have great stamina, and I can bite an Achille's heel better than anyone at this vantage point! So watch out world, this little pup is up for the work out!!!


There's a New Genius in Town

Since Crayolas are not a sufficient blogging tool, Realtor Genius was born!

The kickoff article is a blast, check it out and jump in on the conversation!!
RealtorGenius.com is a MUST for your feedreader! Your reviews are welcome either there or here... feedback is good for growing the brain!

Blogging with Crayolas

Imagine this article in the voice of Stewie Griffin (and imagine Rusty Lindquist is Peter "turning a blind eye" to the issues)- I think he is the most suitable narrator for this article.

Last week, Jay wrote about a la mode's Rusty Lindquist's comments about a la mode's vision of blogging, noting the sole function is to capture leads. Ol' Rusty opines that if you blog for any reason other than lead generation, you must suck. Well my mature response is "no, Rusty- you and a la mode suck," and here's why:

I have first hand experience with a la mode; my husband's firm uses a la mode for their website. They are normally quite innovative and their back end is incomparable, but they released this blog tool (like a year or two late) and their philosophy of lead generation is disgustingly obvious. Although you can subscribe to the blog, the tools are so lacking it makes you question if it is even an actual blog tool. On a la mode's blog platform, the following is missing:

There are:
*no trackbacks,
*no RSS feed,
*no ability to have live content (maps, live rate charts, buttons such as Blogflux),
*no ability to add a blogroll,
*you can't add contributors or have multiple authors (it all goes under one single name),
*thus no contributor archiving ability,
*no tagging (SERIOUSLY),
*no word verification option which forces moderation,
*and no blog linking ability (well, unless you are linking to another a la mode site).
My husband noted on Jay's site that the a la mode tool is the equivalent of being "in timeout blogging with Crayolas so [he] can “capture leads” per Lindquist’s envisioned blogosphere." The transparent Real Estate practices that we all work so hard to promote are squashed by a la mode's premature release of their blog platform.

Admittedly, a la mode is normally responsive and offers great customer service- that is unless your call has anything to do with their blog tool where suggestions seem to evaporate. Let's say you're like my husband and you want to take action... each time you note a missing tool (or if you notice you don't even have tools inside your shiny red toolbox), you call a la mode and make a request. First of all, it's ridiculous that ANYONE should have to call a tech company to make a freakin' tech suggestion. The response is always that they will pass your suggestion along to the tech department. "Can I speak directly with the tech department?" No, they'll pass your suggestion along. To date, no suggestion has been taken seriously- he's still blogging with Crayolas. When asked how long it will take, they provide a canned response quoting policy about promising dates- so you don't know if/when you can load a simple RSS feed, but you'll pass it along? I imagine a 19 year old call center operator reading from a script, writing down a message for the boss and handing it to him with a pile, noting "this one isn't important."

So if you've wondered why you don't have my husband on your feed reader, it's because a la mode believes a blog is exclusively for lead generating- you're just out of luck if you don't want to subscribe to an email drip. If a la mode can't produce results in a timely manner, Wordpress is becoming a sexy alternative. For the amount of money a la mode asks users to blow, they shouldn't force Realtors to have an off-site blog simply because their beliefs are antiquated (and ignorant, stupid and selfish). All Ol' Rusty has to do is (1) give the tools to his clients and let them decide which THEY need so that any philosophy regarding lead generation can be used (for or against), or (2) simply affirm clients that the tools are being developed OR that they are not and will not be developed- "I'll pass it along" never comforts a client.

Everyone will know when the site is not a-la-mode-suckey or when it's been put on Wordpress- I promise, there will be a parade, a press release and we're working on talking Goldblum into putting it into soundbite form for us. For now, a la mode blows- they are ignorant, they play dumb and they aren't listening to their clients... they are in danger of losing some of their biggest clients. For how excellent SOME of their functions are, it would be sad to watch them crumble.


From SHARK to Perch in 60 Minutes

What a dud. After all the spin and after all the hype, the phones still rang this week in the office. There was hustle and bustle, people in and out, and it was business as usual. I watched the traffic in and out, listened intently for signs of blow back, and still, nothing. There were happy conversations with buyers and sellers eager about their business of buying and selling and agents facilitating. What a great week it has been. Even online there were 10 or 15 blogs on the subject of the huge dump CBS took on your living room floor and a whole lot of commenting, but honestly, it was not the doom and gloom I think some had hoped for.

It got me to thinking about some of the things I had written about earlier in the week- my main point was that NAR is not a business model as some would like to portray. It is still 1.3 million agents all around the country that all do business in thousands of ways. Some would like to think that the idea of a discount is a new thing, but alas, the reality is still true- Realtors invented the discount brokerage over 20 years ago. Some practice it, others do not, but the truth to those who want to hear it is still loud and clear- real estate as we know it will adapt day in and day out (you thought I was going to say something else) as it always has, and so will the 1.3 million agents who practice it.

When the phone was invented, did the world as we knew it stop? Did the candle business cease at the advent of electricity? Did Bell keel over when cell phones were born? Did the desktop or laptop computer get pushed out the window to the awesome technology of the PDA? No. Most even suspected the end of American Airlines when Southwest Airlines popped onto the scene, but it just did not happen. Those businesses adapted and pushed forward, and so will we.

I personally am not worried about the fin I see in the water, I have come to the conclusion that Most in the Know have come to, and that is when you throw everything in the air- the hype, spin, blame, accusations, ill comments and everything else possible you see this cloud of smoke and haze, and beneath it all, you see a client and their Realtor. It will be on the ground, face to face with our clients that the air will be cleared. All the spin in the world cannot stop the one-on-one relationship a client has with his agent. Think about it… from their desk with their dual monitors and snappy headsets, it is hard to relate to the buyer or seller the way we do. On the phone, a client can hang up if he or she gets annoyed, but the service agent has the advantage of being there. That is where Real Estate is practiced- on the ground, face to face. That is precisely our advantage- the ability to do whatever it takes to make a buyer or seller happy. You just can’t do that from a call center. In time, even at a discount, the discounters will be held up to light about their commissions due to this inadequacy. What’s next? In order to become more profitable, the online discounter ships the jobs overseas to India? “Press one for English”

By no means do I advocate ignoring the issue- you should debate it in your office, in your mirror, or even with your clients as I have this week. Sharpen yourself and your business, and keep your eye on the ball. Negativity breeds negativity and that is their game.

Turns out it’s just a perch after all.



Be Careful What You Ask For- the Flip Side of the Redfin Argument

GUEST ARTICLE by That Real Estate Guy

It should be noted and stated loudly that the same folks who would bring down the NAR or redefine the industry as they put it are the same people who hate and want to bring down Wal-Mart. Not sure what I mean? I’ll explain…


Before Wal-Mart, the streets were lined with mom and pop shops- from the corner drugstore to the large department stores that had been family owned and operated for years in their communities. When Wal-Mart came along, the nation rejoiced and flocked to the big discount store to buy many of the same products they were getting at the stores I just described, but they were obviously lower quality, lower quantity; you name it, it was lower than just the price. Little by little, the old mom and pops fell off one by one. This phenomenon has been noted on popular shows and your local news. You’ve seen it for yourself when you visit your old hometown only to see the old fashioned drug store sitting vacant on the corner. The reality was explained away on major news networks as capitalism at its best, and the way of the world much the way CBS has done.

NAR is much the same as the mom and pops as the National Association of Realtors is made up of 1.3 million independent contractors (every day average people, mostly sole-proprietors) who already work to the advantage of their individual clients. Realtors assess the situations of all clients and are generally reasonable with them in their listing or buyer commissions. Realtors negotiate their price and sometimes settle with a reduced commission to build a stronger trust with the client because the clients’ needs were put first.

Mom and pops of yesteryear were much the same way. They knew their clients personally and by name most of the time, and knew when the O’Brians needed a helping hand and let them pick up a few essentials on credit until next month. The O’Brians would be grateful and would remain customers for life.

Somehow today, the same folks that would redefine our industry are the same folks who hate what Wal-Mart has done to the landscape of downtown main street- they’ve basically rendered them useless as the independent owner could not compete at volume discount pricing. The Anti-Wal-Mart lobby jeers at the idea of “one more Wal-Mart” while the Capitalists applaud. Slowly over time, the competition has faded away and we really aren’t sure if we’re getting every day low prices at the Wal-Mart because we really have nothing to compare it to. We simply have to pay for quality.

But again, the Anti-Wal-Mart Klan would have you believe that tearing down the network of 1.3 million independent contractors of the Real Estate Industry would fix what may or may not be wrong with it. I would argue that the industry is fine. There is room for argument about real estate practices (such as the argument of dual agency), but fundamentally, the industry could not be more diverse in its current state. Another example of this phenomenon is the oil industry. I remember when independent gas stations were competitive and abundant, creating the kind of competition that kept prices in line. Today, we have roughly five major suppliers around our cities basically deciding what we pay. Let’s face it, tearing down the independents of our country is fast becoming the way of the land; and to be honest, it is scary. Last I checked, there are no discount gas stations opening up, nor an outrage over the fact that real gouging is taking place on a daily basis. Are we going to continue this vicious cycle? I pray not.


I would say to online vendors such as Redfin, pay your dues- your Realtor dues. Be a member of the Board and agree to the CODE OF ETHICS and we’ll work with and trust you; join the list of the already competitive 1.3 MILLION independents in the industry. Work within the guidelines that have already proven to work countless times a day when Buyers and Sellers shop their list of local professionals and make their choice based on their needs. The bottom line of what this is all about is that companies like Redfin want to practice real estate without paying to be a Realtor and following the Code of Ethics. I noticed this was omitted.

The title of the 60 Minutes Story says it all about the spin that the media has already begun to spew- (“Chipping Away at The Realtors’ 6%”). The last time I checked, I only charge 3% of the transaction, and the buyer’s side (the other Realtor) charges 3%. So you aren’t chipping away at 6%, you’re simply chipping away at my little old 3% that I earned by being married to my client for 30, 45, 60, or 120 days or more. You’re chipping away at my ability to earn the trust of my individual clients (the O’Brians) by giving them back what I see is needed to make a sale work. When bringing a buyer to the table, many listing agents already discount the buyer’s side anyway, so the Redfin argument is moot on the so-called 6%.

CBS was also bias in the fact that it brought one couple from the discount side, versus clients from the 1.3 Million agents around the country to say exactly the same, only at least 1.3 millions times over. Another telling moment of the interview was: "Redfin very proudly says that they returned in rebates $3 million last year to its buyers," Stahl remarks. "You can't boast of anything like that." "Absolutely not," Arends acknowledges. "I don't know how to answer that one." I have the answer to this question- ONE POINT THREE MILLION INDEPENDENT AGENTS can boast a hell of a lot more than 3 Million dollars saved- we save it in equity at purchase, we save it in profit at sale, and you know what? We save it in rebates too. I’ll need a bigger calculator for that one….

Redfin is a tic tac in scale to 1.3 million Realtors in the United States, who are all independent voices and advocates for their clients- and Redfin aims to “redefine” 1.3 Million small businesses, 1.3 Million opinions, 1.3 Million consumer advocates that proudly stand up for their clients daily! Are you kidding me? We don’t need to defend ourselves. The DOJ needs to buck up and get the fact that 1.3 Million voters/agents/human beings make up NAR and those 1.3 Million voices know a little more about “the O’Brians” than a faceless machine that is designed to spend even less focus on consumer advocacy- the small fraction of those complaining or having problems with Realtors are guarded by the local Boards and Real Estate Commissions, we are already held to a higher standard than those that are not members of the Board and believe me, we are held to account!

Commission levels of 3% (standard in Texas) per agent were set to protect consumers from gouging. In the past, that number has remained the standard regardless of the market or home prices. With the home prices spiking, protecting the seller’s equity has become even trickier and even more needed. Realtors have never been MORE needed, yet all we hear is how they need to reduce agent income. If your profit margin on your home is $80 grand, then why are we debating over $2,400- how is that a price gouge? If I had $80k to net on my home, the last thing I would be doing is attempting to go it Wal-Mart style.

REFORM: Redfins needs reform to be able to compete with 1.3 Million agents that make up NAR

Redfin does not scare me nearly as much as this so-called reform many say this industry needs. Why does it need to be reformed? The reality is, the MLS is a product of NAR- not an open source code for any and all to access, much like Zillow’s product offered. Let them build and develop their product the way NAR has done.

Imagine a world with five different NARs and you have the world as envisioned by Redfin. Are you telling me that Redfin is going to allow the other four Redfin-type companies to list on their version of the MLS? Consumers are not best served by this business model that forces home buyers to search four, five, maybe six online listing systems. It’s like the BCS- the MLS may not be the best system in the entire world, but it does work!


NAR represents 1.3 million diverse independent contractors that practice real estate under one code of ethics and one common application of fair Real Estate practices that safe guards consumers. The alternative is to “redefine” ourselves into a corner where we go back to having numerous Listing Services, a lack of industry standards and an overall discord in Real Estate. The alternative is not even viable.

I would suggest that all Realtors throw away the talking points and simply say that all 1.3 Million of us already guard your interest, less than 100 say otherwise.

NAR is not something you just change without affecting the 1.3 Million Mom and Pop voices (who only average $47,700 per year) within it; you don’t just do that because a tic tac says so.

Be careful what you ask for!
That Austin Real Estate Guy


The Skyhook Theory

Larry wrote about the Skyhook Theory this week and for those of you who don't regularly read his articles, you really should add him to your feeder! The Skyhook Theory is simply the belief in something bigger (than you, your career, or your commission)... something bigger (the sky) that grounds you (the hook). Larry writes that he learned about it from a professor and asserts that it could have been a religious belief, but he maintains that the Skyhook transcends any religion.

Although I had previously been calling it believing in God (I'm not licensed so I can talk about religion if I want), the Skyhook Theory is precisely why I believe my husband has done well for himself. Many times over the years, someone needed a rebate or they needed that extra time spent discussing their loan at 10pm instead of us spending time watching CSI. All too often, clients are seen as "leads," "pieces of traffic," or "closings," and the industry tends to forget that underneath those jargon terms are people who are asking you to guide them through the biggest purchase they will make.

As a Catholic, I believe that it's not my money anyhow (thus I believe in something bigger than me or money... thus I believe in the Skyhook Theory) and since that's my "hook," it makes it easier to give up. "And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love" -1Corinthians 13. That is MY hook that makes each person more human, easier to serve, easier to sacrifice for and be generous with. I love the "skyhook" term because as a Christian, I am called to be a fisher of men- how perfect!

I believe that our industry needs more faith in each of our personal Skyhooks. What is YOUR hook?


555- fake phone number or a new tattoo sign?

Just kidding- 555 is neither. 5 just seems to be pertinent of late. The Bible mentions 3 and 7, but here at Realtor Wives, 5 rules the day!

After three separate emails suggesting I do so, I have entered yesterday's blog into ProBlogger's Group Writing Project. 5 is pertinent because after I wrote this article, I took the time to catch up on my feed reader and read Greg's article on the "Top 5 List" Project- how convenient, I had just completed a "Top 5" of my own!

OH, and I got 5 green lights on the way into the office (out of 7- that ain't bad), stood in line behind 5 people at Starbuck's today (normally it's 2, but so what), missed 5 calls while inside Starbuck's and I now have 5 fingers crossed that I win the lottery (or at least the Group Writing Contest)!

555 ooooh!


The Rule of The FIVE

My husband bases his entire Real Estate philosophy on the advice given to him from a busy, sophisticated mother of six- “I never give my kids more than two options for dinner.” No buyer should be equated to a toddler, but the advice still rings true- never overwhelm your client. If your kids opt for chicken, God forbid you serve trout- confusion will abound, dishes will break, and tears will fall.

When someone calls looking to buy, a good Realtor should be able to listen and understand the complicated nuances of subjective wants vs. needs. While discussing a buyer’s future home, the Realtor should already have 5 MLS numbers in mind and be checking availability from his laptop (with a Sprint wireless card if he’s not in the office). By the end of the conversation, the Realtor should know the area the buyer desires (probing questions may reveal that they said they wanted North but they didn’t know the Tollway opened, so now they are open to the more affordable options in the West), have 5 homes in mind to tour, know 5 things the buyer wants in those homes by asking questions regarding subjects even THEY haven’t thought of (you have a baby coming? Perhaps you could use a study instead of an additional bedroom- that will open up some options. You want red brick? You’ll love this red brick with limestone accents featured by a prominent local builder. You say you want to landscape? Oh, you mean you want a 2’x4’ space for your hydrangeas!). After all, knowing 5 things they want is good because, as my husband says, “you can’t argue with your own data.”

If you (as a buyer OR Realtor) find yourself in home number six and are getting closer to a selection, the Realtor should discuss with the buyers their original 5 wants/needs and address how these have changed. Regrouping is pertinent at this point because buyers CAN change their minds midstream. If the Realtor isn't even close to the mark, the connection might not have been made and the relationship should be optional beyond that point.

Too many Realtors simply have fun playing around in vacant houses and forget that the buyer’s time is precious too! Everyone loves dreaming about replacing floors and what color the valances will be, but shopping should be the easiest, smoothest, and often the shortest part of the home buying transaction. After the home is selected, most Realtors consider their job done and suddenly stop answering calls. This is pathetic- the best Realtors know to hold a buyer’s hand through the lending process, to follow up with title, to go to all inspections, help coordinate insurance and warranty, be at the closing table and be there to open the front door with the buyers. This is an incubation period which is often neglected in the Real Estate industry, but is CRUCIAL to the buying process. No wonder builders are experiencing so many cancellations!

Look, my husband has a 99% closing ratio because his background in PR and marketing has given him the unique advantage of being able to listen effectively and narrow down people’s comments into 5 desires or needs (and being able to distinguish the difference between the two), and in most cases being able to show buyers the home they will buy in the first shot (but will show 2, 3, or 4 more to ease the “what if” questions buyers may have). He tells buyers up front that they will look at up to 5 homes, they will not be stalked (and can walk away if it is not a good fit), and they will have someone on their side watching over the entire process. Most times, they will take their chosen home off the market the same day he shows them. He loathes the long term buyer’s agreement and doesn’t feel the need to subject a client to 120 days of his “service”- if a Realtor hasn’t gotten close within the first 5 homes, maybe they just don’t get it and all parties should part. After all, he wants to be at the house warming party and he will be the Realtor to sell that same house in the future!

To summarize- when your buyer calls and is prequalified, you need to
(1) ask questions, listen, and assess their wants versus their needs into 5 specific targets
(2) don't beat around the bush, show them the house they described first (often this can rule out your other four homes, but show them the next best thing anyhow).
(3) If you've realized that you missed the mark, don't waste their time- reschedule and research with new current data in hand.
(4) For home number three, with your new data, show them the home most closely matching their new description- since this is post-reassessment, you should be spot-on. And here you are at home number 3 or 4 as opposed to 33 or 34.
(5) Now that you've saved time shopping, you can spend more time with the closing process and should be able to give more (aka better) service to the buyer!

I see this work every day- it should be the norm in the industry, not the exception to the rule!