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Thursday, March 28, 2013

What's In A Shoe?

As a little girl I loved shoes.
As a big girl I still love shoes.

My mother made me wear black and white saddle shoes.  I remember as clear as if it were this morning a pair of shoes that set the course of my lust and desire for eye catching, show stopping, somebody slap me - gotta have them shoes!

I was in the first grade.  There was a girl (whose name I don't remember) in the lunch line wearing THE shoes.  Robins egg blue, patent leather, Mary Jane's.  I couldn't believe it!  I had never seen shoes like that.  And I coveted.

Even THESAURUS gets it
My mother was a practical dyed in the wool Yankee.  My shoes always tied, never buckled.  Once I was even forced to wear some grey suede oxfords (can you imagine the scarring to my psyche?)  I can't imagine how I might have behaved  had owned a pair of robin egg blue shoes!  I know I would have felt over the top special, whether anyone else thought I was or not.  Those shoes might have changed the entire course of my life!  I had worn leg braces when I was first walking but they were LONG GONE by the time I hit first grade.  That shy, runty child needed some confidence boosting style.

Ask anyone who knows me - those days are long gone and this woman has got the shoes!  I actually have a pair of bright blue patent leather flats (LUCKY BRAND) - look great with jeans.

Image, reputation, personal branding, and that ever important first impression are crucial to a REALTOR.  Being a REALTOR is a celebrity of sorts.  After awhile your name gets out there - people know who you are from magazine ads, the Internet, or whatever.  My daughter gets a big kick out of it when people ask 'are you Ms. So and So Realtor?'  (of course you kinda have to watch what you say and do sometimes).

So, in light of all that, a proper real estate agent must invest in appropriate footwear.  Remember the old fashioned thing about looking at the soles of a mans shoes?  It's become more persnickety now.  And I for one get it.  IMAGE MATTERS!  Do you portray success?  Do you look like you are in tune with what's going on?  Do you look like you even care what's going on?

Handbags must be included with the shoes.  These times necessitate a signature handbag the way the 1950's
Thank goodness for TJ Maxx
women were identified by their signature cologne!  I have enticed more than one reticent buyer to warm up and become BESTIES over my black COACH tote or my Michael Kors hobo (gifts from my daughters - Christmas and Mothers Day respectively ).  I was at a home inspection with the mother of one of my buyers and she broke the ice asking where I got my bag.  We ended up spending two hours bonding on the sellers couch for two hours.

With the men of course, it's my car.  I am not a car fiend.  I have learned that I DO prefer a fast car.  Doesn't have to be new.  My Mercedes is a 1999 - hand-me-down from my ex.  My son had the hood repainted when the miserable heat  fried the paint off poor Isabell. She wasn't used to this South Carolina sun.  But it's a conversation starter none the less.

We all portray a persona to the public.  Over time it helps identify you.  Anyone who says that is not so is lying or lazy and believes this business just lands where it lands.

On a particularly hot day last summer I met a buyer at a home inspection in a home with no air on.  It was HOT, averaging 110 degrees that week during the heat of the day.  I figured I would change thing up a bit and dress in a style untypical for me.  I wore shorts and flip flops.  Now the shorts were 'dressy', with silver shimmery threads through them.  Even had pleats and cuffs.  I wore a silk blouse.  The first thing my client said was, 'You off today?  Dressing down?' he said with a smile.  I spent as much on the shorts and silk blouse as I would have on a dress.  I didn't ever wear them when I was 'off' (those shorts are cut-off denim).  But in his mind that was NOT how his agent looked when she was 'working'.  And the flip flops?  They were really nice flip flops...they had glitter too.  You couldn't wear them to the beach or working in the yard.  Needless to say, that outfit is worn shopping or to the movies with friends now, the flip flops are gone.

It's a two edged sword.  It truly is.  The image you either select for yourself or allow others to choose for you, MUST be maintained!  I pledge to do my best for my clients, I have my eye on a killer pair of strappy sandals.  I shall not be deterred!  I do this for my clients.

Oh yeah, get this.  I tried on a pair of black & white saddle shoes at TJ Maxx to wear with my boyfriend jeans.  Who knew they could look cute?


Mr. So and So REALTOR in my office brands himself another way...with his VAN!  Everyone recognizes him.   Of course, makes it kinda hard to speed or commit other various offenses and go unnoticed.  That two old edged sword thingee...

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Whose Day Is It?

Time travel is not an option
It occurred to me on Wednesday when I logged onto FACEBOOK and saw a friend had posted "Today is MY FRIDAY", that people are skipping back and forth through the work week transposing one day for another with careless abandon.

It's a common post ... 'Today is my....whatever'.  (there is probably a generational word for this but I don't know what it is).  I kind of resent those posts, designed to generate envy.  'Lucky you, lucky you...ENJOY', the postings read all down the page.  (we don't mean it, it is expected - we are totally ticked that you are off and we have to slug on into the office).

More than once after having worked both Saturday and Sunday, Monday becomes a moot point.   If I am working Saturday & Sunday - does my FRIDAY become WEDNESDAY?  Will Sunday become my Saturday or will I be short shifted and end up with TWO MONDAYS?  How would you feel if you had to live through TWO MONDAYS?

This changing of the days to suit ourselves creates obvious conflict given that what I find to be my busy WEDNESDAY may not mesh well with a clients FRIDAY.  They may be gearing up for their play time while I am trying to get them to stay on task so I can can accomplish everything I need to during my busiest day of the week.  Their lender may be stuck in a TWO MONDAY week!  They want that W-2 NOW,  not on the buyers WEDNESDAY (which will in reality be the lenders following MONDAY)!  An entire week lost (not sure if that is real time or figurative)...I am losing track.   Can you see how the flow would become muddied?

How can we know when someone is having a FRIDAY on a WEDNESDAY if they are not our friends on FACEBOOK?  I don't want to be friends with some of these people.  They don't want to be friends with me.  I just want to get them into a house.  In a timely manner.

Remember when your birthday was a one day event? Not even ALL day - just the brief time that family and/or friends had identified as a free spot to gather together and blow out candles on a homemade cake. Now we have birthday week.  Some people actually rate a birthday MONTH!   Merry Christmas has evolved into Happy Holidays - baby Jesus barely gets one day, but John/Jane Q. Public rate a week or a month?  Am I the only one that feels something out of balance here?

When the average person rates an entire MONTH of celebration for their illustrious birth - how are real estate agents to nicely convey to their buyers that lenders, sellers, and closing attorneys don't recognize their notoriety?  Their birthday doesn't rate a national holiday.  They wont' be awarded special recognition on their mortgage rates or forgiven a poor credit score.  They just aren't that special to people on the other side of the house buying process.  NOTE:  Especially the sellers.

Our sales contract states "Time is of the essence".  The contract is riddled with dates and deadlines. A step by step process with defined dates that lead to a specifically timed goal.  A closing. How can we convey the importance that Monday is MONDAY and Friday is FRIDAY.

Even real estate agents have become cavalier with identifying time.  Offers are not presented to sellers before they expire, home inspection deadlines are ignored, closings are delayed and the contract is not extended. If someone complains about their lack of diligence, out comes the threatening...'Don't you want it sold? My client is gonna WAAALK'!  ugggghhhh  How about you just skip on down the yellow brick road!   We will just wait on the Tin Man, he knows enough to come in out of the rain. Sometimes.

Picture this- clients wanna confirm a close date and the lender says, not WEDNESDAY - that's MY FRIDAY, and the closing attorney says not THURSDAY - that's MY FRIDAY, and Tina says not FRIDAY - that's MY SATURDAY...whose calendar will we use?

If 'time is of the essence', who defines the time, date, and holidays? A close date could all fall on someones BIRTHDAY WEEK and then what would we do?  

Today is Tuesday.  Mandatory Sales Meeting Tuesday.  THAT day never changes...regardless of who is having WHAT DAY!  Odd that I find that comforting. 

Monday, March 18, 2013

My PRECIOUS....

Tomorrow is the mandatory Tuesday $ales Meeting.

Can I stay home Mommy?
Promptly at 9 a.m. we gather to blah de dah over real estate news, warranty info, agent presentations, new listings, have-wants-needs,  all of the things that go along with where we are in the world.  AFTER the meeting the agents head out to preview NEW Listings.  This is the topic of my BLOG today.

Previewing new listings is mandatory.  Agents in our office are required to block out 9-11 a.m. or thereabouts every Tuesday morning for the mandatory Tuesday $ales Meeting and following Tour of NEW Listings. I have no problem with the whole Tour of NEW Listings policy.  I rarely put mine on tour, the herding of the cattle through in 3 min or less isn't my idea of pro-active marketing.  There are a handful of others who abstain.  I prefer agents asking me to go solo and preview a listing-because it interests them.  My newest listing on Lakeside was one such listing.  The agent that puts up my signs was asking before it hit the market if he could go take a look.

Then there are the other agents. The ones who are old school.  The ones who let the office staff handle their marketing efforts.  The ones who tell their sellers and I quote 'I had an OPEN HOUSE Tuesday.'  (yes, I overheard the conversation with her client).  Now, I knew there was no OPEN HOUSE, so my ears perked up.  I couldn't hear the other side of the conversation but from her responses, her seller was no dummy.  He asked questions.  

'No', she said, 'only agents from my office came'.  uh huh...he must have asked about food etc because she finally admitted  it was an OFFICE tour.   Makes me think of a phrase my mother used to say all the time 'Lets not, and say we did'.  Where I come from, that's called a lie.

So, we now have agents using the Tour of NEW Listings as an OPEN HOUSE.  Then we have others  (and I am seeing a trend here) who use the tour to generate 'activity'.  A couple of weeks ago - we previewed a New Listing for the second time.  The difference was, the seller had moved out. We all looked at one another, 'haven't we seen this?'  A few eyebrows raised. Gas isn't cheap and time is even more costly.  Then last week, here we go, three of the six homes we previewed had been seen before on Tuesday's Tour of NEW Listings.  

Here's what I see.  Old school agents have to offer their sellers something. They have resorted to using the 'captive audience' technique.  You must view my precious listing because it is company policy.  It is MANDATORY that you preview NEW Listings, so we now make old things NEW.  Who thought this up?  A think outside the box kinda agent I'm guessing.  (I really hate that phrase) It's about as creative and innovative as their marketing plan.  Someone figured out a way to stir up 'activity' and believe it or not - the others are following their lead.  We looked at one last week that had been taken off the market and put back on a couple months later.  Another that had had a water heater leak throughout the entire house and needed to have the floors redone. (apparently no one had 'previewed' the home in some time for there to be that much damage)  So we went back through...no change in price thank you very much.  I guess they can call their sellers and say some 15 agents went through and SAW it.   Unfortunately, none of US are buyers.  AND they are not endearing the NON-BUYERS to themselves either.  Already agents are looking for any excuse they can find to ditch the Tuesday Sales Meeting and NEW Listing Tour.

Wouldn't it make more sense to offer something people are excited about?  Something they will go away from wanting to use, share and promote.  Rather than gripe and complain about (or BLOG).

I am excited about new listings, mine especially.  My sellers are special, and PRECIOUS.  Because they are mine I educated them and they don't give me any flack (not much usually).

I don't begrudge the other agents their special PRECIOUS listings.  But give me a break,ONCE IS ENOUGH.  

Smirk much?
Unless I am skipping through with my own happy buyer.

See Mr. So and So REALTOR on the right?  He is ditching the mandatory Tuesday $ales Meeting and NEW Listing tour tomorrow to take his daughter to audition for the X-FACTOR!!!  Go Sophia!

These re-tours are just forcing us to 'think outside the box' on absentee excuses.


Thursday, March 7, 2013

My Kitty Thinks You Stink

SERIOUSLY?  Time for Spring!
I couldn't think of anything to share today.  Just sitting in my office warming my piggies and writing an Ad for our Real Estate magazine coming out in a couple weeks.  Then I realized, don't think about it - just let it come.  There is ALWAYS something going on.  So, I  pulled up MLS to take a look at the new listings and there it was...EL STINKO!

Last year the property manager from our rental department emailed me the name of one of her clients who had three properties he was thinking about selling.   He built when the market was at it's peak.  Having dealt in real estate in one form or another for most of his life he knew the odds were not good at realizing any profit on them. They didn't sell when the market was slamming so he put renters in them.  Doing what I do, I agreed to put together a CMA and marketing plans/options for him.

Now, all three were RENTED - this means 'occupied', must make appointments - pick up keys yadda yadda.  My pleasure.   HAPPY to help!  Of course, it is never convenient for all three on the same day - gotta work with the renters rights and all that.

After taking a look at the properties - evaluating the conditional issues, (we are talking chipped counter tops in some - carpeting replacement and painting), I came up with a suggested list price.  The seller was not surprised.  Said he would think about his options - whether to sell them or let them go into foreclosure.  Perhaps keep renting for a time.  I said I understood, and I DID.  We are all facing challenges nowadays.  Seemed like a very nice man.  He said he worked with a group out of town when he handled prior short-sales and would call if he decided to go that way and they would help me get them sold in this market.  Sounded like a plan.  No $$$ today but work can be forthcoming down the road.

The seller emailed me a few months later - still trying to decide but was contacting the City to see about the assessment amount.  He wanted something from me to present to them as to the 'current' value (the work I had done on those CMA's).  Sure, my pleasure, HAPPY to help.


BUSTER - doing a stinky!
You know what's coming don't you?  

Right there on the HOT $HEET were the three properties listed as short sales - at precisely the suggested list price I had given him last fall.  With another company.  Never mind using another agent - he listed with our COMPETITION! Our rental department is handling the rentals for him but when it is time to realize a commi$$ion he goes across town?

Truthfully, no one loves working on a short sale - I won't die without it.  But if my work was good enough when he was in distress - and is good enough for my COMPETITION to use - why is TINA not good enough for the seller to allow to market his property?

Not quite sure what to make about this relationship.

I asked my cat BUSTER what he thought about the whole thing...he said 'Stinky is as Stinky does....'