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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Engineer Stew

Assigner of Referrals
also known as 'Pretty Marsha'
I don't mind work.  Truly, I don't.  I just like for it to be rewarding.  It doesn't have to be monetary.  Just give me SOMETHING I can use.  So many avenues to generate clients.  You have read of a few in previous posts.

Today, lets talk about referrals.  See that smiling Ms. So and So Relocation Director to the left?  She is our BELOVED!  Tracks the real money in this office.  Referrals and relocation business.  Assigns, places, monitors, updates, and writes the checks.  We do so love to see her coming, usually.

You can imagine my delight yesterday when she brought me a buyer referral!!
Referrals (in particular of the Relocation kind) are the life's blood of any REALTOR worth her weight in chocolate and french fries.  And this girl has surely consumed her share of chocolate and fries!  (me not Ms. So and So Relocation Director).

The transferee (known as Buyer), called me this morning.  Time to gather the details of his wants and needs, time frame, community tour.  I was pretty psyched - now I am just pretty pissed.  He is looking for a RENTAL.  Now, that's fine.  We get that people don't always buy.  But he came in with a 37.5% price tag attached to his name, a must contact immediately, and 6 pages of disclosures.  Ms. So and So Relocation Director spent three days working this placement.  Screening agents, calling the client coordinator in Chicago to confirm dates, paperwork.  For a 'referral' that should not have been placed.  We actually have a rental department.  What we have here is a greedy Relocation Company that didn't bother to screen their client one iota but placed it just in case, one day, somewhere down the road there was a penny to be made.  

I struggled not to transform Ms. So and So Relocation Director from 'Pretty Marsha' into 'Bad Marsha'.  We have a relationship to maintain too.  Everything is not just about THEM!  I know, I sound mean.  But this is my business we are talking about. Mr. So and So RENTER now thinks I WORK for him.  For nothing.  'Bring me a phone book and map, now', he says.  I suggested gently he come by the office on his lunch break and pick it up.  'No, come now, I am not busy and we can meet.'

Whatever.  I went.  Nope.  Not buying. Not now, not EVER.   Would I get a list of rentals together - set them up and when his wife can get 4-5 days off she will come to town and we will take that time to look at them.  uh huh.   

I understand and accept that every contact doesn't lead to results - sometimes it leads to absolutely ZIP, NADDA, NOT A PRAYER OR A SCRAP.  But my intent is to work towards a paycheck.  Or to build a relationship that will lead to a paycheck.  To be fair, this man has NO CLUE what is going on here.  But I have been put in a very awkward position.  I have to inform him that his RELOCATION COMPANY sucks.  That they shoved him off using the guise of a buyer referral to find him housing.  He thinks they told me he was looking for a rental.  I informed him NOT, but he still didn't understand the issue.  :-/

I have gone from Happy Dance to Chin Drag in mere minutes.  There will be no raising of the wine glass this week.  No run to Bi-Lo for special treats.  Certainly no paying of the bills for awhile.

Fortunately, the 'free' table in the office kitchen has been replenished.  I ran out in a mad dash this morning to follow up on my 'referral' and forgot my meager lunch at home.  I shall feast on the benevolence of my wealthier counterparts today!  Add it on top of the chocolates and french fries.

Thankfully, a former buyer called the other day.  The are being RELOCATED!  It's a listing referral.  Still have to wait on a buyer to get paid on it - but work is work.  Opportunity knocks.  Again.  And if he is moving out - someone must be moving in!  My precious ALBEMARLE will be shifting their engineers around again.

I do so LOVE engineers...

Engineers are meticulous clients.  Mini-home inspectors in their own right.  Well qualified to purchase, we spend some fun hours talking all sorts of cool stuff as we drive from listing to listing.  I like to eat their brains, gain all their knowledge.   I also know I will get paid...
So, here I sit....broken hearted...waiting on Ms. So and So Relocation Director to appear in the guise of 'Pretty Marsha' and bring me a qualified buyer referral so I may once a gain go from famine to FEAST!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Stinky Fish

LEADS are like FISH.

Real estate LEADS anyway.  You have to fish for them, cast your line or net and pull up who knows what?  The catch of the day - or a sorry, soggy old branch that you have tugged and pulled on for half a day. Wriggly, elusive, sly creatures, these LEADS are.

How long it been on market?  Will they RENT?
Real estate companies have a fabulous tool (dubious) at their disposal called LEAD Router.  The program captures the contact information of consumers from the internet as they click on listings.  Presumably looking for additional info - or to request a showing.  That sort of thing.  Within seconds their request is forwarded by an automated message to my cell phone, an email copy is also received.

'You have a new company generated lead from LEAD Router...if this is not voice mail click 1' (and so on)

You accept the LEAD by phone, then log in to the website and follow up on their request.  Time sensitive of course. We like to tell our sellers how ON TOP OF OUR LEADS we are for THEIR properties.  And we are.  It's just that the LEADS are very often the equivalent to a 10 year old surfing the net, searching for the newest game on the market.  CAN he actually buy the game?  WILL he buy the game?  And the ever loving...'My parents are going to buy me the game'.  The only thing we might know conclusively is that he LIKES the game.  Maybe.

In the beginning LEAD Router was a unique, valuable program.    The sites were reputable, reliable and consistent.  As the years have progressed EVERYONE with a website is in the game.  As you would expect - the capability to screen these LEADS has weakened and the quality has begun to stink.  

I was all for the idea in the beginning!  OH THE LEADS we would see, you and I, you and I - oh the LEADS we would see, YOOOOOU AND IIIIII!  bah   

Like fish, they are all out there swimming in one vast septic sea.  Barracuda, starfish, eel, coral, license plates, medical waste; you get the picture.  (Nosey neighbors, people looking for desperate sellers who will RENT, REAL buyers that do research on line first, Relocation clients, people looking for vacant homes to vandalise, agents from other markets wanting to set up showings).  You don't know whats out there by standing on shore looking at the ocean.  GOTTA fish, no way around it.

Agents have become quite savvy at sorting through the LEADS.   Most click 9 (to reject this LEAD) so it will route along to the next agent on the list, sit back and laugh and shout out...'got a live one coming your way...', to the agent standing next to them by the coffee pot.   I will accept or reject on a variety of personal criteria (which I shall NOT share).  I am pretty good at qualifying the Cod from the chum.

My phone rang last week.  The lead was regarding a home listed by another agent in our office (out of compliance-you have to UPDATE your LEADS).  I accepted the lead - it was a real name with a 'question about property' request.  I didn't have anything pressing so I figured I'd take it and see what I could make of it.  The LEAD called me personally, within about 5 minutes of receiving my email!!

Well, helloooooo...

We talked; he later came to look at the home (from North Carolina) on the outside - alone;  made an appointment to preview the INSIDE (another trip from N.C.).  I began to get interested.  We set a time to meet at the house.  Dare I hope?  Would the LEAD show?  And if so, would it be because they were in town visiting relatives and killing time or were they semi-serious?

I arrived at the property at 12:45.   Fifteen min early, as is my routine.  They were already there!  Had been there since 11:00!!!  (yes, almost 2 hours EARLY?)  Just walking around the 13 acres (dreaming, planning).


The LEAD it turns out, is 77 years young. Can you say INTERNET SAVVY?  He arrived with his wife and daughter (she sent me a friend request on FACEBOOK while we were going through the house).  DAD loves FACEBOOK too.  Has done more research online about this property than the listing agent!

My LEAD has turned into a potential BUYER.  They have gone back up to NC to talk with a REALTOR about selling their house, check financing options - maybe, maybe not. What motivates a 77 years young buyer?  I may only end up with a new FACEBOOK friend (good enough) - but Lord willing...I will be eating a healthy serving of CROW. 

Not to be confused with that other pie...
UPDATE:  Ms. Agent So and So did NOT do her presentation this morning in the Tuesday Morning Mandatory Sales Meeting... 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Avoiding The CANNIBALS

Tuesday morning = mandatory sales meeting and tour to preview our new listings.

As I have blogged before agents have been assigned to do a 'presentation' at that time as well.  For the past two weeks an agent in our office has neglected to show up and present hers.  (remember what happened when I did mine?  The 'Catty Cow" commentator?)  

Ms. So and So Agent proclaimed when she was selected she didn't want to do it. WOULDN'T do it.  And to date, she has not.  Now, she has not been excused by the managing broker, and at each session the broker announces that Ms. So and So Agent called in or sent a text she would be absent.  The Broker in Charge has also stated each time that Ms. So and So Agent will be required to present next week. 

Ms. So and So Agent strolls in after the tour - just before lunch, happy as you please.  Nothing said.  By anyone.

Eventually this is what will happen.  She will have a new listing that she wants all of the agents to preview.  She will HAVE to come in.  Now, one of two things will happen.  She will do her presentation or it will be 'forgotten' and the cycle will begin again.  At some point the whole process will fade away and those who have not had to do it yet will not be required to.  It's how the game of office manipulation is played.

WHY would Ms. So and So Agent feel so adverse to something so relatively simple?  She gets to pick her topic, ANY topic with no minimum time to speak.  As short and simple as she please.  

CANNIBALISM: Rarely hunger related
Size-structured cannibalism, is cannibalism in which older, larger, more mature individuals consume smaller.  That is it in a nutshell.  She knows exactly what her peers are capable of.  Because they can, they might, might not, might,  just chew her to little pieces.  They might begin to gnaw on her right then and there. In tiny little snippets.  Or, it may come later - pop up in a conversation around the coffee pot, whispered and sniggered about in the car on tour.  You just never know.  But the fear is there.  It is the nature of the BEASTS!

Ideally, if the culture of our company were different, agents would feel comfortable presenting whatever moved their hearts and minds.  Regardless of the politics and quirks, they would be respected, encouraged and lifted up. 

Animals, on the other hand, have a completely different perspective towards cannibalism. We often think of food shortage as the main reason behind it, but we couldn't be more wrong. Several species indulging in cannibalism do it with a specific purpose in mind. For instance, felines do it to garner female attention, whereas golden eagles do it for reasons of personal survival. All reasons apart, there are about 1500 species indulging in some type of cannibalism.  (REALTORS excluded)

Ms. So and So Agent should have faced the BEASTS today.  She probably would have escaped unscathed.  KWEST Mortgage visited today and brought BREAKFAST!  They also brought 3 door prizes!  Sweet little Valentine treats.  Our motley little crew was well fed, puffed up and pampered.  Mellowed out if you please.

YUP!  I won 
I suppose I could have sent Ms. So and So Agent a text, advised her to make her best shot while the BEASTS were sunning themselves.  What can I say?  I am perverse like that.  I want to see how this will play out in the animal kingdom of Real Estate.  I'll keep you posted. 

Monday, February 11, 2013

Make $ Off Male Menopause

Sounds bizzare I know.  But in these challenging economic times a REALTOR has to do what a REALTOR has to do.  And that is take advantage of every opportunity to work your business.

There are actually BOOKS about this
Now, how does Male Menopause fit into this?  Other than sounding catchy and trendy and perhaps luring you into clicking on a link?

According to my seller he IS going through a change.  He has gone so far as to approved my disclosure of that personal information too.   Disclose it to FUTURE BUYERS!  Now this is a progressive man.  He embraces challenge and is confidant he can forge ahead in spite of this unavoidable change.

He was a relocation buyer a mere 18 mos ago.  Incoming in a mad fervor to have his new wife and three step-children happily installed in their new home prior to the beginning of the new school year!
EVERYTHING a family wants! 
It was stressful to say the least - find something in the right school district where the children could all be happy as well as a home that fit their lifestyle.  WE FOUND IT!  There was really only ONE that would fit.  A lovely brick home, landscaped front, back and sides.  In-ground pool, party house, workshop, hardwood floors - and all on FOUR ACRES!  Throw in a home office, four bedrooms, large laundry room, eat-in kitchen, formal living room.  What more could you want?  The man even bought a four wheeler as a little house warming surprise for the kids.

Alas, three months later - the wife and her three children packed it up and headed back up North.  What can you do?  Life goes on.  My client is in a new relationship with a lovely lady and they are very happy.  The house however, no longer meets THEIR needs.   No need for those extra bedrooms, they would rather live on the beach (just the 2 of them) than mow four acres.  See how that works?  The change?

My seller wanted to assure buyers there was nothing wrong with his home.  He loved it when it worked for his family.  He is selling because of a change.

So long as people are born, die, get married, divorce, there will still be real estate deals to be made.  So, if  YOU are looking for that ONE home in Edisto School District Four that offers it ALL...check this one out - the pool is awesome!

If you need to, you can always hide that middle age spread behind the privacy fence! 

Sunday, February 10, 2013

STEAL a home, it's a BUYERS market...yeah right.

PREDATORS are scouring our community, stripping homes of plumbing, wiring, HVAC units, you name it! The deputy that responded to my recent call discussed the reality of what is going on.  Apparently, this disgusting, crude, opportunistic bunch of parasites are the new 'professional'.  He told me that just like he and I get up every day and go into our workplaces and perfect our skills, these creatures are hitting the gym to work out (need to keep their sorry a** strength up), forming teams (to scout out the vacant homes), developing their tech skills (snooping county records on line), and networking (gotta sell that STOLEN gain & garner LEADS)!  

Foreclosed properties in rural areas have been the target for years.  Having had a free reign in that arena, they have expanded to virtually every neighborhood. If it is vacant, it is up for grabs.   I had one just 3 doors from an elementary school!  A week before closing they gutted the HVAC unit.  My elderly seller lived 2 hours away with her son.  Within the City limits, neighbors very close, nice neighborhood by a SCHOOL!  BUT, it was vacant.  

Twice my listings were victimized while under contract.  Just after the home inspection, before repairs could be completed.  Repairmen, appraisers, inspectors, insurance people, take your pick. There is a revolving door through these homes as we prepare for a closing.  I am sure it is a coincidence that the same buyer agent and home inspector were involved on both properties. Within 6 weeks of each other.  But somewhere, someone is a common denominator here.  This is just too small a community.  The deputy tells me the best thing is a deer camera.  Get them on tape and they are DONE!  I am thinking to get one for my own home.  They are cheap, easy to install and who knows how long before these creeps move on to the occupied homes? Since when did VACANT translate into belonging to no one so I can take what I want?

My buyers found a property they wanted to see, (vacant) - I asked the listing agent what issues the home had (it was priced pretty low).  'It only needs a condenser for the HVAC and some cosmetic work', she said, 'depending upon the offer it may or may not end up a short sale'.  Not bad.  The photos were a little rough but it was priced accordingly so off we went to have a look at a decent 'opportunity'.  A good location, motivated seller, and priced at market, I anticipated a happy showing.

One day, these DIRTBAGS will be caught - and shot
We hugged and made happy when I arrived, it has been awhile since we last saw one another.  "Someone has stolen the plumbing,' my client said as soon as we started toward the front door.  I knew it looked shabby but assured him it was not a foreclosure but a resale and just needed HVAC repairs.  'That's gone too', he said.   I stopped in my tracks then, 'How do you know?  Did you walk around?" (they had been sitting in the car when I arrived. 'Yes', he laughed.  I frowned.

I typically arrive before my buyers, and if the home is vacant will walk around outside just in case.  I sighed and opened the front door - I could see straight through to the back of the home where the kitchen door window had been boarded up.  Not a good sign.  We went through the home, it needs everything, paint, flooring, fixtures, and  My client proved it - he opened the cabinet under the kitchen sink, reached in and pulled UP on the pipe.  It came up out of the floor - nothing attached.  Completely stripped from under the house.

Not washing any dishes in this sink. 
'I could tell it was gone the minute I drove into the yard and saw the water spout on the front of the house tilted to the side,' he said.  (he is a plumber by trade) The crawlspace was wide open.  They had gone under the home and sawed off all the copper pipes and just carted it all away.  Not a clue from inside the home until you try to use something, turn on a faucet or shower.

My clients had been excited to find a home that they could work on at a realistic price.  They are energetic, looking for a project, we are going to build a home together, kind of people.  As I said, he is a plumber, so they were amused and not so daunted by the little surprise we discovered.  It will mean something entirely different to a seller who is trying to make sense of the downturn in the market and changes in employment.  Their equity is gone, and now the home is rendered unlivable and unable to obtain financing.   Maybe they have paid their homeowners insurance, maybe not.  When it comes to making the mortgage payment and the money doesn't quite wrap around everything, some have let theirs lapse hoping not to get caught.

Easy to gut a home by the crawlspace
Is it a buyers market?  No.  There are too few homes available that buyers would be willing to purchase, too few sellers that can afford to sell at market value AND make repairs/upgrades, and precious little new construction.  Buyers and sellers are having to work together to get the homes  BOUGHT and realize a SALE.  It is a team effort, both sides must understand what it will take to achieve the desired goal.

We need PROTECTION, JUSTICE, VINDICATION from aliens sucking the very guts from houses left unguarded.

Dramatic?  Maybe.  But I am getting ticked off, sick of cleaning up after these animals.  THEY are stealing our homes, piece by piece.

I think it's time to call ARNOLD! Bring someone in who can take these monsters DOWN!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Using the WEB as a NET

Automatic feed to these sites!
Personal websites are a good thing.  I have one myself.  I bought it/started the site when a developer dumped me for another agent BECAUSE of a personal website.  Or rather, my lack of one. The reasoning was that Mr. So and So REALTOR had a 'far reaching website'.

Now, in all fairness, I didn't actually have his development listed yet.  He was responding to some agressive materials I sent him trying to solicit his future business. He LIKED that.  The call came within days after he had extended his listing.  He was soooo sorry he hadn't called me sooner.  Assured me the development and listing would be mine when the current list ran out again.  I was ecstatic!  We talked about it 3 times over the following months.

I sent Mr. So and So Developer the note while enrolled in a program called TOP GUN Academy. We were given tools and assignments to help us aggressively grow our business and improve our skills.  We met weekly - divided into teams with 'team leaders'.  I was so PROUD of my accomplishment, we all rejoiced in my pro-active activities and the positive results (I had been a REALTOR about 6 mos)!  Can you imagine!

Some time later Mr. So and So team leader mentioned he ran into Mr. So and So Developer in the post office.  How lovely, I felt a chill wind begin to blow.  Trust your instincts.

The week the listing expired - Mr. So and So team leader informed me the developer would be listing with him. Mr. So and So Developer felt he needed that special 'web' exposure that his PERSONAL website offered.  I won't go into the details, matters not a whit.  I decided in exactly 5 minutes that pile of  poo would NEVER be used again.  I called the very same website developer and started one of my own.

It was easily countered if I had been given the chance.  Truth is, a personal website has one goal.  And it is summed up in the word PERSONAL.  It is not about the seller - it is for the REALTOR.  Promoting the REALTOR and attracting buyers to the REALTOR.   Capture the buyers and sell them a property,  ANY property.

Additional download feed-newspapers
You see that Listing Network visual at the top left side of the BLOG?  Those are the sites automatically fed by our office, on ALL of our listings - one of the sites alone feeds further to 130 newspapers!  See how that works?  I know and understand the tools my company offers, I USE them and track the results myself. Mr. So and So Developer had no clue about that.  I was not offered the opportunity to share that info.

No worries
, they made an excellent team. It only took 2 years to sell at 1/2 the original list price - with somewhere around 22 inspection item repairs on a new construction.  What did I really lose?  Nothing.  I gained a whole lotta wisdom. In this business as in most other areas of the world verbal means nothing.  The measure of a man is not in 'his word' in business, learn it.  KNOW IT!

I have gotten over all that - it was almost 5 years ago (well, maybe not quite over it) that would be foolish.   Mr. So and So Developer, Mr. So and So REALTOR with the inclusion of Mr. So and So Builder are teaming up to add some additional properties to the development!

I know, like I know, like I know, that I WILL sell one of those properties.

Fortunately for my future buyers - I know and understand the 'team' that will be sitting on the other side of those negotiations.

God doesn't like ugly.