Trust The Ted, Baby!

This has to be the most engaging site I have EVER been to...

Ted is the Virginia Association of Realtor's way of showing how NOT to be the smarmy Realtor featured in comedy films...

Note how he counts with his fingers...

If you don't use these tools, you're a TOOL!

Since Realtor Wives began, I've picked up some tools along the way that I would assume everyone knows and loves, but just in case you aren't using these tools, here are my picks:

1. JOTT- this is a great tool that transcribes your voice into an email (or text if you're smart). I use it mostly in place of memory skills by "Jotting" myself notes that end up in my Inbox- awesome!

2. Treo Phone- if you are still sportin' a flip phone, get over it! The Treo allows unprecedented internet capabilities- you can take decent photos (but don't break Rule #2...), get mortgage calculators, open MLS lockboxes, sync your Outlook calendar (although it already has GoodLink), and play "I'm Bringin' Sexy Back" via the mp3 player while you show buyers new homes...

3. Humor- which as any good wife would, I credit my husband for encouraging and cultivating this vital blogging tool. Okay, so i was really just trying to see if you were paying attention... but seriously, most of you could take a page from Kris Berg!

4. Commentful or co.mments.com- which you will soon see on Realtor Wives. Comments are a crucial part of the blogging process and it is hard to remember where you commented and what you said (especially when someone like, uhh... my husband... asks you to recall what you said in a post- my brain needs a boost- refer to #1).

5. Bloglines- this is the RSS feeder that Jay Thompson recommended. You can also allow others to see what is on YOUR feeder (you can see my slooowly growing list here and can yell at me later if you're not on it...).

The tools are endless, but my husband and I are always on the look out for the bigger and better tools and technologies; these are just the top 5 on my mind!


Realtor Wife Interview

We are still learning about Contributor Jen Kay of Bristol, CT, Athol Kay's Right Hand Man (or, uhh Lady). She is a really funny writer- you will be reading complete articles from her soon, so watch out!!!

1. What time is involved in Athol's blog and how does this effect you personally?
There is a lot of time involved in blogging, but it's very well-spent time. He probably spends more time reading other people's real estate blogs and commenting than he does on writing his own posts. Writing comes very easily and quickly to Athol most of the time. Blogging is usually the evening activity for at least an hour, usually several. Computer games used to be the evening activity so I'm not really complaining. All in all blogging is as much fun but more productive than game playing! :) He also does keep up with reading new posts through Google Reader during the day when he has a chance. Athol has recently introduced me to Google Reader, which has made keeping up with all of the blogs that I read much easier. (Okay, so he badgered me into trying it and I ended up liking it. Story of my life.) Blogging and reading does take up at least a few hours a day, but it is time well spent.& nbsp; I usually need some time to wind down with a book in the evening, so while he's writing I'm reading and everyone is happy!

2. What connections has your husband made through blogging? Has blogging created any business leads for Athol? How has it effected his business?
Athol has made a bunch of connections through blogging...most of them out-of-state connections. He has developed a lot of friendships through blogging and met a lot of intelligent people with a lot of interesting ideas. Blogging has thus far not created a lot of business for Athol but has been a forum for him to show his clients what he is all about and get them more involved in the whole buying/selling process. Blogging has also helped him to become more involved in "The World of Real Estate" in a way that is very immediate and intellectually stimulating...lots of back and forth with people who have lots of good ideas, and being able to contribute to other people's lives. Athol has also learned a lot through blogging and has become convinced that in order to give his clients the best effort he can, he has to use all of the online tools that are available to him (thus putting his listing presentation on the blog, among other things). He has pointed out to many people in his office that if they are not utilizing the internet to its fullest potential, clients are going to start passing them by.

3. Do your daughters know about blogging?
Do the girls know about blogging...heck yeah. Our nine year old is definitely the reader and writer of the two girls, so she picked up on it pretty quickly. She does have her own blog, which she writes on sporadically. It's pretty insane how quickly she picked up how to work Blogger and how to do things like post a picture or a video clip. Too smart for her own good.

Let Jen know your thoughts- do you relate? Any anecdotes of your own regarding your husband's blogging habits? As always, Realtor Wives will blog for comments!



Once upon a time, I thought Realtors had it easy- they could nap, golf or eat whenever and wherever they wanted. At one time, I believed they simply collected commissions for attending closings. But that was when I was really stupid (and I wasn't married to a Realtor). We hear it all the time- our spouses are among the "get rich quick schemers" in America... but anyone who says that is a moron, and here's why:

Full time Realtors are just that- full time as in ALL THE TIME. Realtors are more than simple transaction hosts- they market your home, host open houses, attend Realtor tours, continually educate themselves through classes and seminars, many of them blog (endlessly), network in person and online at any given chance, protect your interests prior to a contract by negotiating terms to most closely match your wants and needs, participate in inspections, home stage, open homes for vendors when a seller/buyer is at work, often do their own accounting, follow up on any tour of your home, commit to endless thank you notes, involve themselves in committees for local Boards or NAR, explain closing terms prior to closing in case any questions come up, are on call 24-7 for calls from other agents about your home, tour homes with buyers often with only minutes of notice, thus providing years of experience, knowledge and expertise on their given area of specialization, but most importantly- they advise their clients (sorry y'all for the tasks I omitted).

As if all of these tasks combined don't take up 100 hours a week, Realtors are often therapists. People move cross country, because of new children, divorce, house fire, empty nest, etc. and usually need a counselor because of what they are going through ADDED to the stress of home buying/selling.

Take for example, a client of my husband's, we'll call him Spike (I like that name). Spike is a rough NY/Italian guy we had known for a while who struggled through a messy custody battle and divorce. He was such a sweet guy and he was ready to provide a stable home for his teenaged daughter- he wanted to move out of his apartment. We knew he was excited when he called three times the morning my husband was preparing to show him homes. But hey- everyone likes enthusiastic buyers, right? YAY!

In typical Single Pointe Realty fashion, the Austin market had nothing on my husband- Spike contracted that very afternoon on the second house he looked at (the one my husband told him he would love the most, by the way). The terms that were negotiated were awesome, and it was a gorgeous, brand new house- one he never dreamed he would have been able to afford (and he SO could).

That same night, he called twice- once to vent about his psycho ex, and another to vent about his daughter's attitude problem- neither of which had to do with the house. But, as a good Realtor, my husband listened and consoled, knowing that he just needed a shoulder to lean on during this process.

The phone calls to my husband's cell and to our home became increasingly frequent, and my husband was very patient. Because of the stress of buying a house post-divorce, he needed someone to constantly coddle him by telling him how to express issues to underwriters, how to hire a mover, where to put his furniture, what to do about the cable in a new subdivision (tricky), and the list goes on. After closing, the time spent on the phone with Spike equated to a part time job.
But, my husband was so patient and understanding with this overly demanding (sometimes inappropriately so) client. Spike moved into the house, painted accent walls and has since referred a number of people to my husband (nice benefit of being the counselor). Many Realtors ignore these calls, and in any other profession the calls would most certainly be ignored.

BUT THAT IS WHAT REALTORS ARE FOR! Advising the buyer or seller in the transaction process, and to hold their hand- even if that means spending countless hours consoling them through their life changes. So, for those who don't think Realtors deserve their commissions for the business reasons above, they most certainly earn them in numerous other ways.

So if you haven't yet, HUG a REALTOR today!!!!


How to Becalm a Milun-err...

Oldie but goodie- you KNOW you have two minutes for Tommy Vu... don't accept "discudgement frum friends and stranger [sic] who ah loosah," say "git ayway, loossah!"


The CSI: Factor, Episode 1

Today marks the first of a series entitled "CSI: Factor." Every day every one of us experiences the "CSI Factor" and it is up to us to take lessons from our surroundings and improve on our very own "CSI Factor"! Now, CSI Factor (despite the heading) is not a new television show nor is it a digital YouTube short... the "CSI Factor" is the "Custom Service Index Factor"- Realtor Wives' newest feature, outlining case studies in daily interactions with those who are (whether they know it or not) in the Customer Service industry. Realtors recieve a "how to" every day through various interactions and should learn how to utilize each lesson they recieve. I have always been a stickler for customer service and have become quite demanding over time.

For example, I went to my favorite restaurant with a girlfriend today. I stood in line with the Senior Discounters, pointed out which southern food I wanted and carried my tray to my table to enjoy all of its splendor. The only problem was that my fried fish lady didn't offer tartar sauce and I couldn't get her attention after she had already moved on. No big deal, right? YOU try eating a LuAnn platter with no tartar sauce :( The solution was within reach- the cashier called down for a side of sauce; no harm no foul.

The CSI Factor here is a 3 on a scale of 10- muy mal! I got the fish I ordered, but I couldn't get my favorite part- the sauce! But in the Real Estate industry, it is important to attend to all of your clients' needs before moving on to the next. You may not realize that tartar sauce is one of my top three reasons for going or that as a seller I really wanted your advice in staging my home. As a Realtor, listening to verbal and nonverbal clues is crucial- when a client feels that you have checked them off some theoretical list and moved on prior to close- you'll never get referrals, and that's the name of the game!
So that I'm not a ranter, I will share another CSI story... At Starbuck's recently, I was in a rather pissy mood, but the barista took it upon herself to make my normal drink and ask cheerfully if I wanted sprinkles. I grunted and said "no thanks." "Sprinkles always make your day better, I'll add them for you and you'll have to let me know if your day goes better!"

Aww sprinkles... The CSI Factor here is a 9 on a scale of 10- awesome! She gave me the stupid sprinkles that I hadn't desired since my thumb-sucking days, but guess what? My day DID get better- she really chirped me up! She gave me that something extra that clients deserve out of their Realtors. So if your clients are frustrated (which is so common), find a way to give them sprinkles- it is silly, but guess what? She's my favorite barista and she always cheers me up! Try it!!!


Will Blog For Comments...

I promise I have a REAL blog coming soon, but for now, I had to share a funny thought... I was in the car with my husband today and the following ensued:
I said "I should make a sign that says 'will blog for food.' No, that would be stupid because my blog doesn't make any money." My husband humored me, "it's a funny idea though!"

I said, "I could stand on the side of the road with a handmade sign that says 'why lie? I want money for blogging!'" My husband said, "yeah," with the half laugh (omg that rhymes) and kept driving. Note that in typical fashion my humor merely entertains ME and ONLY ME, but I continue to put it out there.

"WAIT, I know what I'm going to do- I'm going to make a sign for Realtor Wives that says "will blog for comments," since that's what soooo many blogs seem to do!" Silence... then "YES, that would be awesome!" my husband said with a real laugh!

So here we are with a funny sign "will blog for comments." Seriously though, how much lip service is out in the blogosphere? If not campy, canned material, many bloggers have resorted to controversial/inflamatory material to solicit your comments- and it works! But to what end?

Take for example, Theoretical Joe John (college football must be on my mind... a nickle for anyone who doesn't have to Google "Joe John"...) writes a blog about customer service. He COULD write from an analytical point of view and apply his experience to his own industry. However, he goes out and says "Restaurant X sucks! I hate the pimple-faced morons there and it smells like rotten mozarella. I will never go back there and I warn anyone who goes there to watch out for food poisoning. My waitress was so stupid, she didn't even ask how I wanted my meat cooked, stupid poo head." End blog.

So, Restaurant X, its supporters (and everyone else that thinks this guy is an idiot) read his blog and leave angry comments. Good job, Joe John- you have validated yourself by racking up comments. Don't they say all press is good press? What a crock- this guy could have talked objectively about a bad customer service experience he had and how he would do it differently (and most crucially, how this applies to his industry).

So, although I don't blog for comments (hence, moderation and a proven track record of limited comments), it does FEEL nice when you know you have a readership (thanks you five regular readers!). That is not the point of a blog- it is not a popularity contest, we are not here to bash anyone for our own amusement or ego stroking. And if I have to outline what the point of a blog is, you're in the wrong place!

Feel free to comment, ha ha...


Top 20 Cures for Office Boredom

Since most bloggers use their time when not with clients or marketing to blog, you won’t relate, but SOME Realtors/Mortgage folk have down time in the office… however, these are awesome cures for potential boredom:

1. Remove the jug from the water cooler and drink from it periodically, bragging that you 'got the last one.'

2. Photocopy things around the office, such as lamps, potted plants, staplers, etc. If someone asks about it, just say 'You never can be too careful.'

3. Hide around corners, jump out to scare people as they pass and try not to get a black eye (I actually like doing this one around Single Pointe Realty in Austin)!

4. Pretend to be hypnotized by someone's screen saver.

5. Go into someone's office, grab a book from their shelves, and begin reading it aloud to them. If they interrupt, give them an evil look.

6. Give your assistant a copy of Hamlet and ask them to proofread it.

7. Use a hole punch to punch holes in all your outgoing mail. Explain that the holes 'make it more aerodynamic'.

8. Bring a lawnmower into the office and pretend to mow the carpet.

9. Bring a TV remote control to the office and try to 'change the channel' on people's computers. When it doesn't work, mumble something about 'cheap Japanese crap.'

10. Pull a chair up to your window and pretend to be working at a drive-through.

11. Stand at the washroom door carrying a baseball bat and ask everyone in a low voice if they washed their hands.

12. Gnaw on your mouse, make cat noises, and lick your hands from time to time.

13. Walk into people's offices, taking a careful look around. Talk into your shirt, saying 'No sign of him yet, Chief.'

14. When the phone rings, answer by saying 'KBBL, you're on the air.'

15. Proudly show everyone your calculator and hand out cigars. Tell them your computer just had a baby.

16. Paint your face blue and start searching around in people's desk drawers. Ask them if they've seen your pills.

17. Turn your radio up full blast and sing along loudly with the song. Invite others to join you.

18. Build a fire pit out of cinder blocks in the staff room. Place a stack of firewood in the corner, along with matches, lighter fluid, hot dogs, and marshmallows.

19. Place a row of liquor bottles on your desk, and a sign on your door which reads 'NO COVER!' Announce loudly that it's happy hour.

20. Get in the elevator and pretend to hold the door open for invisible people.

(partially adapted from humor.com and the odd imagination of Austin Realtor’s Wife)


Why Aprons are Important

What? A wife wearing an apron? Relax, I'm not setting the Women's Lib movement back any amount of time... I am not pregnant, barefoot in the kitchen, nor am I the only person that cleans around here. But sometimes when I am in cleaning mode, it is difficult for the rest of the family to tell because I am always picking something up or wiping something down (OCD). At my request, my husband bought a beautiful Williams and Sonoma apron that I wear only when I plan on cooking or cleaning for more than 30 minutes.

When I am set out to blog, I sit on my end of the couch with my new laptop (yipee) and by positioning myself here, I make it clear to my family that I am reading/writing/blogging and may be there for a while.

When I plan on going out and NOT cleaning (and NOT blogging), I put on extra makeup and poof my hair. There is usually an evening purse invovled so if there is any question what my intentions are, I can answer non-verbally.

The point is that we all wear many hats in life and it can be difficult for those around us to be able to tell what we are doing. I am not easy to interrupt (and I get irritated sometimes), so it is only fair to make it extremely clear what I am doing. For those of you who blog endlessly (umm, I'm not sure how some of you have time to practice real estate...), make sure that if you do this from home to have a specific signal set up for your family- sitting in a particular spot, wearing an apron, carrying a beaded purse (or wallet for the menfolk). No one likes to be interrupted mid-thought, so be fair to those around you and wear your figurative apron!


This Is Why I'm Hot

I'm not going to lie, I love rap (for you fogies out there, that's music)... especially the repetitive songs that drive my husband crazy (like Mims' "This Is Why I'm Hot")! This song is simply a dude shouting out why he is hot and why you're not- it lacks creativity and lustre, but he makes his point well (over and over (my husband suggested I add another "over") again). Well, that is Austin's adopted theme song right now as reports show that currently, Austin is the best place for Real Estate in the country! Leading economist Mark Dotzour noted to the Austin Business Journal that "national attention is being focused on Texas as markets decline elsewhere around the United States. Austin is further ahead of other Texas cities, with a very modest 3.2 months inventory of unsold homes, making it one of the tightest markets in the country."

Again, besides Hula Hut, Barton Springs, Leander's new X Park, HEB (sorry you guys up North who don't have HEB!!!), Hut's, music, SXSW, flip flops at work and UT FOOTBALL, Austin's Real Estate Market really is HOT.

SO, this is why I'm hot... (ok, not me, but at least my husband AND the Austin Real Estate market)!


Barking about a Blogosphere Code of Conduct

Recently, the BBC reported on a call for an official Code of Conduct on blogs. After literal death threats to Kathy Sierra on her blog and other accounts of cyberbullying, it begs the question- what ARE the standards in blogging? Should there really be a 1984 style censor? Should we create a tattle committee? What would be the consequences of violating the Blog Charter? Who would be in charge of the WORLD WIDE WEB? Would you be able to sue if someone in Peru said something that was inflammatory on your site?

If only there was a way we could “moderate” comments or contributions to blogs. I think I’m on to something- what if we could delete comments made that were offensive or inappropriate? If we could moderate, this blogosphere would be a much better place- full of rainbows and Care Bears.

I say this facetiously, but I am being serious. It is a hassle, but I do moderate my comments. Strangely enough, I have had this topic on my mind all week, and I had an offline conversation with Athol about this very thing. For now, my site is small enough that moderating makes sense- I usually check email frequently and it’s not hard to push “publish” or to simply ignore it. Athol noted (similarly to my husband) that perhaps females blogging are up against a bigger challenge simply because the validity of their very voice is sometimes questioned. Surprisingly, I have already had several attempts of non-Realtors (and possibly Realtors) anonymously posting articles bashing the industry or using offensive language.

This being said, I would love to NOT moderate. Besides the offensive material or inappropriate comments that do not parallel my goals for the Realtor Wives blog (promoting the industry, discussing tools of the trade, etc), there are other comments that I am avoiding, like the dork from high school who found the site and wants to say “hey, girl!” OR the BIG FAT JERK who parks in our paid-for-parking-spot every day and laughs from his office as I growl and wonder if his mortgage customer service is anything like this daily disturbance in my life.

Moderation aside, I don’t think this “Code of Conduct” will change anything those of us in the Real Estate world are doing, namely because there is the little thing called the “Code of Ethics” that all Realtors are subject to which is an incredibly high standard that is above most major corporations’ code of conduct. So, there’s no need to worry about this potential “Code of Conduct” that could upset the blogs about Phish, celebrities or personal lives because the NAR Code of Ethics supercedes all actions online by most people who read this blog. Seriously, even if the “code” was enforced and a “red light, yellow light, green light” censor button was put on every blog indicating its censorship level, no magical candy colored button is going to stop someone who feels compelled to comment on why I’m an idiot for blogging about… say… magical candy colored buttons. So let’s all just moderate and relax :)


Partner Profile #1, Jen Kay

Jen Kay is the FIRST in our Partner Profiles! She and I dialogued over email and I learned quite a bit! Look out for Jen in the future- you just might see her articles on Realtor Wives soon!

JEN KAY is married to Athol Kay who blogs and practices Real Estate in Bristol, CT. When asked how Athol got involved in Real Estate, Jen said, “Athol was a nurse for ten years and enjoyed the "helping people" aspect of it but was frustrated with the company he worked for. During the ‘I need to change careers...but what do I want to do?!’ phase, we were outgrowing our current house and decided to move. Not only did we find a wonderful real estate agent but Athol also did his homework so we could be an active part of the buying and selling process. We had a fabulous and very new real estate agent (give the new guy, or in this case woman, a chance!) who was also excited about the whole process.

The further we got into exploring what our needs and wants were, the more we saw how much a new home would affect our life and how we live it, and the more Athol saw that this was a career path that excited him. A way to help people, to better their lives, to make your own schedule, and make a living at it...hmmm... So he took the plunge and enrolled in the real estate course, and the ball started rolling! It was admittedly a bit nerve wracking to start a new career (okay a lot...see my gray hair?), but thanks to our own good real estate investment, we were able to put aside the "until the new agent starts bringing in the dough" nest egg and off we went!”

Jen noted that Athol is “a popular guy at the office because he's the one who will say ‘yes, I'll help you out with that open house! Floor time...sure!’ With clients, his perspective is not ‘How much money will this client make me?’ but ‘How can I help this person achieve his or her goals?’”

What makes Jen’s husband different is that “he doesn't just work as a real estate agent, he reads a gazillion real estate blogs, writes one himself, talks to other realtors, refines and redevelops his own materials...real estate oozes from his pores. He is also much more in tune with the industry as a whole than the "average" realtor might be.”

As any Realtor Wife knows, every good man needs a strong woman beside him! “The most important thing that I did [for Athol] at first was to give him permission...permission to take a chance on a new career...permission to explore something that he had a passion for. This was going to be something that would rock our family's world, but I trusted that he could make it happen! Just saying, ‘Yes! Go for it!’ meant a lot, and now ongoing support and positive reinforcement still means a lot. Also, being an avid, interested reader of his blog is important, and being someone to bounce ideas off of.”

We all know that a particular difficulty in the industry is balancing work, family, etc. “The evenings are an exercise in scheduling. For my job, I have to work about two evenings a week, so we are often comparing schedules to see who needs to escape to an appointment. We are both home for the girls' bedtime 99% of the time or there is much indignation. The first time Athol missed bedtime because he was writing up an offer with a client; our daughters were rather ticked at him. I carefully explained to them that daddy was out making money at his new job and they were appeased. Our younger daughter may only be eight, but she understands about money...she was especially sympathetic.”

Like most Realtor Wives, Jen is more than just a pretty face in a stylish suit- she’s a woman on the go like her husband! “I work for a non-profit foster care and adoption agency. I recruit people to be foster parents for special needs kids (medically fragile kids, kids with PTSD, abused and neglected, autistic, behavioral and emotional issues etc.; kids who are hard to place because of their special needs). I then guide the potential foster families through the licensing process of paperwork and training, and do home visits with each family to make sure their homes are safe and see how the family members interact with each other. I have been working for the same company since I graduated college in 1994 and loving what I do.”

From down here in Texas, Bristol, CT seems like a world away, but Jen and Athol’s story of landing in Bristol is relatable. “It’s a great town with one of everything you could possibly need, close to major highways, but small enough for the small town feel. Athol takes full credit for choosing Bristol as a place to put down roots in 1995 when we were looking for our first apartment together. He took out a map, perused it for a minute, and said, we're going to live in Bristol. Close to highways, half way between both of our offices, good population, and far enough away from family to not be living in each other's laps.’ I was newly married and willing to do anything my God of a husband said...but secretly somewhat skeptical. (He's reading over my shoulder at the moment and says, "Can I quote you on the God part?!") Turns out he was absolutely correct. We've been in Bristol ever since.”

Who lives in Bristol with the Kay Family? “Our two daughters, ages eight and nine-and-a-half (the half is very important at that age) and they are keeping us hopping now more than ever, but really couldn't ask for better kids. I'm a Connecticut native, and he's a New Zealander (a "Kiwi" to the initiated). Yes, the two most geographically distant points if you pull out your globe. Funny how those things work out. We have two cats...no dogs...ever. That was practically in our marriage vows- the no dogs part. The girls know about the no dogs thing, but that doesn't stop them from periodically mentioning how much fun it would be to have a dog. The little one would rather have a horse, truth be told, but she knows we're not zoned for that around here.”

When reading Realtor Wives, it is great to meet other women (or Realtor Husbands) and learn their stories! Jen is amazingly supportive to Athol as he quickly impresses the Real Estate world from allllll the way up in Bristol, CT. With their quick wit and combined intelligence, I anticipate that you will get a chance to know both of them better through Realtor Wives and RE Agent in CT. Look out for Jen- if I can convince her, she’ll be writing for Realtor Wives soon!


Celebrating Easter as a Business Model

Many people think that because of the commercialism of it all, Christmas is the holiest time of the year for Christians. That is not the truth- Easter is the most holy day of the year. I would suggest that by understanding Lent from a Catholic viewpoint lends to a great way to practice Real Estate. Whether or not you celebrate Easter, the list below illustrates Lent as it applies to Real Estate.

At the beginning of Lent, three practices begin: prayer (justice to God), fasting (justice toward Self), and tithing (justice toward Neighbor).

JUSTICE TO GOD (or your business): So, I set a goal to pray frequently… translate that into a Real Estate practice of being analytical of your practices, your business plans, and your goal. This aim of justice to a cause bigger than you is good for business.

JUSTICE TOWARD SELF: I also fast- this is not necessarily depriving myself of food, rather fasting from something that makes you conscious of your difficult choice (ex: I could give up Starbuck’s since I go there daily; this would create a yearning for it because I would miss it and it is a choice I make to not buy coffee) and allows you to focus on God and a relationship with Him rather than the trappings of this life. As a business practice, a Realtor should to not give in to guilty pleasures that take their focus off of their business. For example, fasting from internet gaming in downtime or from excessive vacationing will allow you to focus on the bottom line of your business.

JUSTICE TOWARD NEIGHBOR: Lastly, tithing is NOT exclusive to Catholics. As a Realtor, you should be involved in the community even if it’s not financially- Habitat for Humanity, Caritas, mentoring, Adopting a Highway stretch, or any other means to better your neighbor (and not just for the “free” publicity)- that is tithing. The focus for Catholics is in becoming better individually and as a community, and to become closer to God. The focus for Realtors is becoming better agents and to become closer to clientele.

It’s a pretty simple concept if you ask me. :) Happy Easter everyone!


I LOVE AUSTIN, Y'ALL! (caps on purpose)

This is why everyone should live in Austin (for readers in Cali or Phx, you really should come visit- I'll hook you up with #2)!

1. THE UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS!!!!!!! UT Football reigns here and UT has to be the coolest campus with the tastiest little hole-in-the-wall dives around its perimeter. Hook ‘Em! (how can you resist this picture?)

2. We not only have the best Tex-Mex food on the planet, we have a restaurant chain that originated here that literally says “no crybabies” on the door.

3. Austin is the Live Music Capital of the world. Bored? Go online and find a band on ANY night of the week!

4. Most of us have gills growing on our necks from how much time we spend in the extensive lake systems. Lake Travis’ Devil’s Cove is crazy in the summer where 100+ boats link together and people freely walk onto each other’s boats, swap beer, stories, food, and friendship (lame point, but true).

5. Austin has to be the most diverse city anywhere- hippies, conservatives, tree huggers, commercial developers, and any other extremes all live happily under the same clean-air-sky.

6. Austin is America’s #1 Top Dating City- have a cosmo at any of the swanky downtown bars, cruise to 5th street for the hoity toity bars or 6th street for the more Girls Gone Wild type bars.

7. The Capitol grounds are amazing- the pink limestone building was actually built by Texas inmates! Try bumping into Rick Perry, John Cornyn or any other famous Texan politician!

8. Leslie. If you haven’t met Leslie, it’s a must- he (she?) is a houseless (that’s the PC word for homeless) man dressed in a mini skirt with a scraggly beard and Bluetooth piece in his ear. He has run for mayor several times (and actually gotten votes) and is beloved in Austin. Despite his chosen housing situation, he is incredibly intelligent and exceptionally funny!

9. Austin is Hollywood Squared. Filming is common here and numerous celebrities have flocked to the shores of Lake Austin or the high rise condos downtown, and cops LOVE busting famous people here, making great gossip news.

10. I don’t care what any hippy says about the Toll Roads, they make North Austin connect to downtown in a way never seen before in Austin. Opening new corridors of development and cutting travel time by 150%, I would date the Toll Road if I could, even if it costs $2.50 to get to work!


No One Asked Me, But Here's Why I Hate Some Realtor Blogs:

1. Charts. Barring one or two local blogs, most of what I can find is NAR released charts that are already outdated, or graphs from local papers. This doesn’t do much to capture readers (especially me). If I want stats, I will go to NAR, ABOR, TREC or any other resources available to me.

2. News Recaps. Another guilty indulgence of bloggers with nothing to say. If someone has nothing of value to say, they will simply copy and paste a local news story. This is not to say that news is not interesting. In fact, it’s crucial. Do you know what cows do? They eat grass, urp on the ground, lick up and swallow said urp as gourmet. More than 50% of the blogs I have found simply blog like cows, regurgitating local news headlines. Listen, news IS critical, but translating that and giving it a real world application is the job of a blogger; leave the unbiased (hahahah, laughing at cnn) reporting to journalists, and make that news make sense to your reader.

3. Listings. If a blog is a list of homes available through the blog’s author, it should not be called a blog. I LOVE looking at listings (in fact, about 10% of my day is devoted to doing this), especially across the nation, but the same goes for listings blogs as does the news recap blogs- give content to the listing. For example, “3 beds, 2 baths on pretty street,” is SO played out… if you do listings on a BLOG, at least note “the front beds have been professionally landscaped and feature a rare rose hybrid not usually found in the South, a new Italiano’s restaurant is opening up the street- go say hello to Giovanni, the best chef this side of town. The neighborhood layout is in a grid pattern, so it’s easy for your visitors to find you, and the pool has recently been redone with a modern arbor- the perfect backdrop for your Easter photos!” Don’t be a boring list of listings, pretty please.

4. Shamelessness. All business blogs have a purpose, a reason, a mission. Capturing readers (like me) is much more successfully done when an author gives context to whatever they are talking about with stories, anectdotes, etc. When someone comes out every day and says “I’m Austin’s best Realtor because I know Real Estate,” then the next day “Austin’s Real Estate Market survives because I am awesome,” then “I am the best salesperson this side of the Mississippi,” then… well, you get it. If you’re applying for a job of being a reader’s Realtor, FINE- do it. But please don’t hide or beat around the bush with wild claims you can’t back up or with canned bull with nothing more than self ego stroking.

5. No Pictures. This one is easy- I like pictures and shiny things. Give me graphics or I probably won’t read your site. This one might just be my gripe…

There are “big dogs” in the Real Estate Blogging world (and you know who you are) that are excellent at blogging and serve as an example to others. Due to Texas Association of Realtor ethics, I cannot call out the TERRIBLE bloggers (and you know who you are, too), but please be sure to visit my favorites: Phoenix Real Estate Guy, Bloodhound Blog, That Realtor Guy, Bawld Guy Talking, RE Agent in CT, and San Diego Homes.

I Would Be Dumb Not To...

I started this blog to opine and learn about Real Estate, but as a wife, I would be a fool to not talk about my husband. I am about to launch “Partner Profiles,” a series of profiles about America ’s Realtor Wives (and husbands if I can find them). Most of the questions revolve around what makes each person’s husband/wife different and better than other Realtors around them. Some will have a clear answer and others may sound canned, but here’s MY response…

My husband remains unnamed because I am avoiding shameless plugs (although I’ll send you to his website any chance it is appropriate)! But why NOT showcase him? I think he’s so great that I married him, right? That’s the ultimate voucher right there! My husband is not only an incredible person, he behaved the same way even before he was licensed- kindness and selflessness is so natural for him. What attracted me to him was this very quality- always opening doors for strangers, helping old ladies cross the street, etc.

This conveyed perfectly into a career in residential Real Estate because he sincerely cares about people around him (what an amazingly fresh concept in the world of Real Estate). I have seen him list homes pro bono so a homeowner that was upside down could get out of the nightmare they were in, not just because when they are back on their feet in a year or two they have pre-selected their fantastic Realtor, but because he sincerely wants to help people. My husband has counseled more than one client through divorce when they call at midnight freaked out by the overwhelming process of selling or buying because of separation. On top of doing the occasional good deed of pro bono short sale to avoid foreclosure AND being just short of a therapist, my husband spends time trying to selflessly promote the entire INDUSTRY as a caring, helpful industry rather than an industry of blood sucking hyenas (yeah, hyenas suck blood). Even more, on his own blog he doesn't plug himself, rather promotes the industry! He doesn't even ask for referrals, rather he just gives good common sense advice. In a world centered around commmissions, his goal is to simply talk about how to find the value in a realtor or market- raising the standard.

My husband spends extra time in the community volunteering his time, is dead serious about not missing mass, and devotes endless time to our children teaching them about the good in this world. I could start getting mushy here, but I’ll refrain. Simply put, if I’m going to ask other spouses to talk about how amazing their husbands are, it would be laughable if I avoided doing the same. So, if my husband was running for President, I would say “vote for him” here, but instead, I’ll ask that you visit his website or blog and find out why he is Austin’s leading Realtor- he’s an honest, likeable guy that makes anyone around him comfortable because he’s watching out for them NO MATTER WHAT!


Why I Love Starbucks

The first reason I love Starbucks is because their Peppermint Mocha is to DIE FOR! The baristas know us at multiple locations and they amaze people in line by starting our drinks without our saying a word (people wonder if we’re famous- we’re not).

The second reason is that it seems to be a meeting spot for any person in any industry. Millions of dollars worth of transactions originate in Starbuck’s each year (I dare to blog about this as a commentary to why I personally love Starbucks, rather than a suggestion of where to fish for business- no one likes fishers). The vibe at Starbuck’s is very friendly and people let their guards down when drinking out of that trademark white cup. Here in Texas, it’s normal to butt into people’s conversations regarding ANYTHING, but at Starbucks, there is a comfortable vibe that even foreigners (that’s what we call people from out of state) enjoy.

Here are two case studies of Realtors in Starbucks about lessons learned when ears are perked:

SCENE ONE: Single Pointe Realty (SPR) agent is minding his own business drinking his Latte when he overhears a couple talking about how frustrated they were at home shopping. The SPR agent standing next to them asked who their Realtor was and they said they didn’t have one. A casual conversation began about why no Realtor was involved (thought they could do it on their own and save a buck) and where all they’d looked (of course nowhere economical for their investment). SPR agent gives him their card and briefly explained how he could save them money and to call if they need guidance. The soft sale led them to catch him on his way out and hire him on the spot. They also contracted that day after seeing the home of their dreams (he nailed it after 15 minutes of conversation).

SCENE TWO: (regurgitated from my comment on Bawldguy.com) Waiting for coffee, I see a greased-back hairdo with a full black suit on (not traditional for Austin’s residential market) holding a knock off Mont Blanc and brown shoes with a black belt (leave it to a Wife to notice). In the smarmiest voice ever, he leans over and says, “what if I told you that you could save $50 a month on your home when you use my services? Huh? Huh? Sounds good doesn’t it? Bet you can’t resist…” Seriously? This guy reeks of used-car-salesmanship… This is the phony (insert epithet for “crap” here) that comes out of agents' mouths that ruins it for the more genuine intellectual Realtors (like my husband of course). Despite this looking like a planned meeting (laptop open, couple not drinking coffee), the clients left that high pressure smarmy agent sitting at the table alone but kindly thanked him for his time. I wish I had a printout of PhoenixRealEstateGuy’s Karma report to hand that Realtor.

The two scenes offer very different tales of how keeping your ears perked at different locations can teach you (1) to hear what people are talking about and kindly offer your services without pressure (as if anyone needs more smarmy in this world) and (2) how NOT to practice Real Estate (greasy hair and high pressure tactics). The bottom line is, I love Starbucks for the coffee and accidental networking opportunities. ALL Realtors should have their ears open at ALL times- you never know when the next coffee drinker may be your next client!


The Nordstrom's Theory

There are some things that you can be trained to do and others that are ingrained into your DNA. Take for example last summer when I shopped online for over a month for the perfect pair of bronze/brown sandals (or flip flops here in Austin- yes, it’s common to wear these to the office here). I wanted them to be sparkly and elegant and didn’t want to pay over $50 for them. I went to Nordstroms.com and found the best pair of flip flops ever- they called out to my soul and I knew then that the only thing that would complete me was that specific pair of flip flops and I had to have them TODAY.

So I call Nordstroms in Austin and they inform me that they do not carry that line locally but could I hold one moment? Hold? What for? I’ll just order them online and be angry that I cannot have the instant gratification I sought by going and picking them up in person (I hate online shopping, the wait is excruciating). After 90 seconds, a perky male voice said that he was the manager of the shoe department (oh great, here comes the “you can order them online” speech) who was very quick on his feet (get it? get it?) and told me that there was a young lady from Austin training that day in Dallas where they carried that shoe and he would be glad to have her personally bring down a variety of sizes for me to try on when they open in the morning… What? Are you serious? Someone would literally carry boxes of shoes in their little BMW 323 just so I could try them on and maybe buy them? He kindly said “if they aren’t the right fit for you, I’m sure the perfect pair is in the store, I’d love to show you any shoe you’d like. I’ll have these shoes on hold for you and I’ll see you tomorrow!”

I was floored. I have told this story a million times and have explained to people that I now buy shoes from Nordstroms because of this incredible customer service experience. Even if I don’t need shoes, I feel obligated when I walk through to pick up at least a little somethin’ somethin’. Now this service was not something that was in the training manual- this man truly wanted to make me happy, even for a measly $35 pair of flip flops.

Imagine if the Real Estate industry behaved in such a way where part of your continuing education was a test of your service skills. I watch my husband bend over backwards for every client, even when there is no need (ex: going to all inspections, running paperwork across town so a courier can’t screw it up, etc). I also see that because our market in Austin is doing so well, a lot of green agents take clientele for granted- not returning calls, acting irritated at a referral because they’re busy, and so on and so forth. Can you imagine if Nordstrom’s had acted irritated with me for wanting a service that THEY SHOULD provide? I would be screaming about it to this day.

Remember, I could still be ranting about a bad experience at Nordstrom’s, but instead I continually project to the world a story of the most amazing service ever. So, take a tip from Nordstrom’s AND by emulating their model, maybe someday, someone will blog/brag about the amazing service YOU have provided.


So What? I'm a Grammar Nerd...

So this is just a rant about my “Grammar Feelings.” I have an English Degree from the University of Texas, and I often hear things that grate on my every last nerve (even when I go back and read my own mindless writing).

Mistakes that I hate and demand cease in the online community at once:

*Bad: “I did good on that tour.” Good: “I did well on that tour.”
This is the most flagrant offense in the book- I command thee to use adverbs appropriately (bonus points for anyone who can point out the adverb in this sentence).

*Bad: “The sign was put on it’s side.” Good: “The sign was put on its side.”
When the apostrophe is present, it is used as a substitute for a letter, therefore “it’s” exclusively means “it is.”

*Bad: “Its obvious that I can’t.” Good: “It’s obvious that I can’t.”

*Bad: “I always loose my keys.” Good: “I always lose my keys.”
I LOVE reading this one- loose is reserved for a street walker or a big blouse.

*Bad: “I moved over their.” Good: “I moved over there.”
“There” refers to a location, “their” refers to something belonging to another group of people.

*Bad: “It’s you’re fault we are late.” Good: “It’s your fault we are late.”
This is a repetitive lesson- apostrophes are used as substitutes for letters, so “you’re” ALWAYS means “you are.”

*Bad: “I could of finished.” Good: “I could have finished.” I blame this on the buck-toothed goons that have butchered the language. If you need an explanation on this, please go back to third grade, rinse and repeat.

I could go on forever! I was 15 when I corrected my then-stepmother when she said to my little brother “oh, you did so good on that!” I had never spoken back to my parents but I couldn’t take it any more- I said, “you mean ‘you did well on that.’” She was furious and I told her that I was embarrassed and didn’t want people to hear her and think I come from an ignorant family. When she begged my father (who has the same grammar sensitivities) to intervene, he simply supported me by saying, “she’s right.”

The problem is that we are living in a virtual E-World with its own rules and regulations, all of which have become acceptable (see my UT transcript featuring a course on “Internet Ethics and the Online Evolution”- oh yeah, it’s really a class). So, Internet Users, I’ll agree to conform by occasionally typing “sup? I miss you guys ‘cuz u rock!,” as long as you all take a five minute grammar lesson, stop saying “I did good,” and STOP hurting my Grammar Feelings.

Oh, and I’ll head you off at the pass and ask that comments be based on (1) all grammar mistakes made in this blog and (2) any new lessons you’ve learned. L8r, yo!