New logos, ad formats, a change of color and design – does that really brand us?

Here’s an idea – how about a consistent, concerted effort to get better at what we do? Higher level of skill – consistently delivered. Service our customer values – consistently delivered. Simulation training. Practice. Mastery. Not just from a few “good” agents but from everyone on our staff roster – whatever their level of production.

It seems to me that with all of the challenges we face from competition online and off – these are things that no-one  can take away from us – or are likely to duplicate. There will always be those who’ll run up their flag with new efforts, but until they solve the biggest issues we face, not a one of them will make a significant dent.

Solve the issues surrounding incompetence – in the entire industry – and we’ll have staying power. At least until AI joins the game!


It’s simple. The polls relied only on numbers and forgot about the people. Talking to people. Connecting with people in a way they value. Listening to them. Instead, categorized us into all kinds of groups and forgot that we are all people. Guess what? I shop at Whole Foods and am also known to eat at Cracker Barrel – love the green beans! What do pollsters make of that?

The lesson for us? Don’t turn your job over to technology. Do it. Connect in a meaningful way. We’ve taught working SOI for decades – these are people you know and who know you. Why is it so difficult to reach out? No selling. No asking for anything. Connecting. Talking to them. Learning more about what they value and want. Actually listen without concern over your response.

Ask people you are working with about concerns they may have about buying and selling in today’s market. Most have not forgotten the recession – but we seem to have. Give them a written marketing calendar with your listing presentation – and list everything – so that they can see what it is you are doing to market and sell their home.

If you are relying on technology to do your work for you – you can be replaced – and fast.

Online real estate agent rankings will be a big issue for the industry. When the industry finally gets around to fully addressing this issue in response to the consumer – not what the industry wants to address – there will be no place to hide for unskilled agents or for companies who are not preparing them.

So the question remains, how are you preparing?

The ability to price correctly is paramount in these rankings – Days on Market – % of Listings Sold – and the difference between the actual sales price and ORIGINAL list price – these stats are black and white – no fuzzy math here.

These rankings will level the playing field – large companies will no longer stand based on that fact alone – their results matter. Agent rankings will allow small companies to very effectively compete with large companies – all based on the ability to demonstrate that you can get the job done.

These rankings have the potential to be a paradigm shift for the real estate industry – raising the bar for demonstrated skills and professionalism in ways the industry still doesn’t seem to get.

If you are paying attention, start tracking your ‘numbers’ now – by company, by office and by individual agent. Next get you training and coaching in line and measure your progress.

All of this has a way of showing up on your bottom line and more importantly, as value in the eyes of the buyers and sellers we serve.

WIll NAR lead or get in the way of raising the level of professionalism and skill in the industry?

Hard to know right now – they are beginning the process of moving to online rankings – testing in a few markets. Questions remain.

Will participation be mandatory for all members? Will all reviews be included? How will the reviews be screened having originated from buyers and sellers and not well meaning family members, peers or friends? Will the survey ask the questions that really matter to buyers and sellers – or just those that the industry wants the consumer to care about?

The real issue is the agent’s ability to get results. An agent may communicate regularly, may be tech savvy and use all the right tools – if they are unable to get results – what does all that matter?

Why not get out of the way and be truly transparent?  NAR could set one standard for fair and accurate reporting of data that all MLS must follow – the information could then be accessed by interested parties and the agent’s ability to get results would speak for themselves.

Lead or get out of the way!



We are all thrilled at improving real estate market conditions. And, truth be told, we are happy to move inventory, no matter who’s buying. 

Consider this, if investors make up a major percentage of the home buyers, how strong are underlying market conditions?

I spoke with a real estate company owner this week who told me that 95% of their sales were to investors. 50 per cent of their deals were cash. What do numbers like these say about what’s really going on? Should we care?

Does it matter?

Lots is being written on the importance of focus – and yes it is very important in reaching our objectives. I also saw a commercial that touts dieters to focus on what they will gain as a result of their weight loss.

So I wondered what the outcome might be if amidst all the chatter and noise about the economy, our markets, the possible housing recovery, if we just focused on what our companies would look like it we made the gains that were laid out in our business plans.

Focus on the gains you’d make if you coached your agents/managers consistently.

Focus on the gains you’d make if you trained consistently.

Focus on the gains you’d make if you recruited the right people for the job.

And then turn your focus to your bottom line, and think about how your focus impacted your bottom line.

Talk about positive thinking! What do you stand to gain in 2015?

Most of you are in the middle of agent reviews/plans for 2015. What’s different this year? Still just going through the motions? Try a focus on pricing skills.

As you take the time to meet with your agents, what are you learning? Are you seeing more shifting toward professionalism and a necessary understanding that pricing is the dominant skill by which agents are measured?

I caught a piece of one of the cable shows that showcase a property from renovation through pricing/listing on the market as a newly renovated/improved property. Three agents gave pricing estimates – $50,000 apart. It didn’t seem to strike anybody as unusual – I thought it bizarre.

No matter that market conditions are improving in most of the 50 states – if you can’t price – you can’t sell – and it won’t appraise.

Think about the impact of an increase in your company’s Listings Sold moving from say 55% to 70% – now think about those reviews you’re holding and the conversations that are necessary to help agents achieve their goals next year. What could improved pricing skills do to that end – for both the agent and the company – and the client.