Sunday, January 28, 2007

Oops...I Did It Again!

But thanks to Kelly Kelley, it came out OK. She asked me to talk about how I work solo for an iSucceed Business Training and development call. We fit it in our schedules kind of last minute, and (as usual) I didn't have anything prepared. Thank goodness, Kelly is a great interviewer, and I'm sure she did some magic in the tape editing to take out my bloopers. With her help, we talked about:
  • Having a Type E personality
  • Not having an "assistant" but having "assistance"
  • Working virtually using technology
  • Choosing what to do myself and what to outsource
  • The tech tools that make it all possible

There are still a few days left on iSucceed's free access, so it's worth a visit to their site. You could even take a few minutes and listen to the "How to Make It as a Solo Agent" conversation.

Let me know what you think?

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Pop-Up Houses

This is what a typical house looks like in a Baltimore neighborhood.

Here is a similar home with an addition.

These 2 houses are now where a "typical" house used to be.

This colonial was a brick rancher just a few years ago.

This is what is happening in a desirable neighborhood called Cheswolde in Baltimore City.

You find an area that you want to live and you make the house fit the needs of your family. Any property that can be subdivided is being sold for the extra lot. Additions and new houses are "popping" up.

On my morning walk today, I took all of these photos. Here is piece of land that used to have a house. Will there be one or two homes in the future? Will it be big or small? Guess it depends on what the people need. I will have to wait and see what POPS UP!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

A Four-Letter Word in a Press Release!

They put it right there in the press release for the whole world to see. iSucceed, a respected provider of online mentoring and training for real estate professionals, announcing the Top 10 iSucceed Success Modules for 2006, slipped that four-letter word into the very last paragraph. What made them do that?

They say it's all about celebrating the 10 most viewed modules during the year. Seeing my module, "The Million Dollar Solo Agent," make the Top 10 list was a thrill, and I have Sharon Simms to thank for recommending me to the RISMedia folks. Sharon is also an iSucceed mentor, and has a new module available on Targeting the International Niche – something she has done with great success. Sharon, of course, is typical of ActiveRain members in wanting to share her experience and wealth of knowledge. Several other real estate professional also are mentors with iSucceed: Ken Deshaies, Teri Isner, and Wynne Achatz to name a few.

But about that four-letter word - just read it for yourself:

"With this Top 10 announcement, iSucceed has decided to provide free unlimited access for the month of January. Agents can enroll by going to, clicking on the Join Now button, and using the special promo code Career2007."

Top real estate professionals like those who belong to ActiveRain are always looking for ways to learn and improve. So take advantage of this chance to learn from the best – FREE!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007


Again the phone rings!

"How much is the house on Taney Rd?"
"$259,944" I answer.
"How many bedrooms?"
"Is the basement finished?"
"There is no lower level."
"Why is it priced like that?"
"It is being sold 'As Is'"
"How much work does it need?"
"Windows, new kitchen, bathrooms, it needs total renovation."

Yes, I continue to answer questions about my listings. I answer without asking the caller's name, qualifications, or motives. I give information whenever asked.

You may ask, "Why do you do that?" Agents are trained to get information, like how much you make, and where do you work, and how many times have you been bankrupt? Maybe not on the first call, but they need this information so they can follow up. That means calling at dinner time to find out if you are still looking for a house.

I remember about a 100 years ago when I was looking for a home. I would see a "For Sale” sign and call to ask price, number of bedrooms, does it have a fireplace, etc. I did NOT get answers - I got questions: "Where do you live? How much do you want to spend for a house?...." And the follow up phone calls were intolerable. Back in the days before caller ID, I learned to change my name and phone number when I was asked.

Later, when I got into real estate, I vowed that I would not treat the public this way. I give out addresses, I give out price, I answer all their questions. In fact, I tell the caller up front that I will not ask for their name, and they can ask me anything. I tell them it is OK if they are working with another agent, I will still give them all the answers about my listings.

I tell them about my website where they can go to see my listings – all of them have interior photos. I don't ask for anything but email address, and then only if they want daily notifications. I make it simple with these directions:

"You can find every active listing in the Multiple Listing System (MLS) by going to and clicking on ALL LISTINGS. Be sure to put in your email, search criteria such as type of home and price range. Let's start with the county, e.g., Baltimore County, Baltimore City or Howard etc. You can narrow the search down to number of bedrooms, price range etc. You will be sent daily updates of properties that meet your needs, including photos, address, price etc. This is a free service to help make finding your special home easier."

Buyers use this site, sellers use this site, and friends, family and even other agents use this site. Anyone can keep up with all the active listings without having to talk with an agent.

Why would I do this? Because I have had wonderful success and love this real estate business. I don't "go after" the business; it comes to me by doing things this way. Many times the callers are so impressed with my willingness to share that they want me to take their information. They want to work with me. It seems the harder I try to not to get invasive with questions, the more they choose to share with me.

It happened again today when a woman found one of my new listings on the Internet. The caller from Texas only asked a couple of questions and didn't give her name. As I answered, we both realized this was not the home she needed for her family. Yes, it was in the right location and it was in the right price range, but it was certainly not large enough for her family of four children.

Before our conversation was finished, she wanted to know if I would consider helping her find a home when her family moves to Baltimore. She said she never has had an agent be so forthright with information, and she wants to work with me. This is the kind of buyer I want to work with – someone who is purchasing one of my listings!

When I started in real estate, I made that promise to give information freely because I didn't like how I was treated. Now I tell any caller anything they want to know about a property, and send them to my website for details and photos. After many years and hundreds of transactions, I'm convinced it's still the best way to build trust and confidence - and the business keeps coming!

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Guns 'n Houses

Now here's a novel marketing idea: give a Glock with every house you sell. That's what one innovative real estate agent is doing in Houston where, incidentally, you don't need a license to own a hand gun. And it's not as crazy as you might think, because she is restricting the offer to law enforcement officers who buy a house for more than $150,000. But it got your attention, didn't it? And it got nationwide coverage from Fox News and others.

So I started thinking, if a free gun is an incentive in Texas, what could work in other states? Here in Maryland, a crab feast or bull roast might be attractive – wouldn't it be nice to walk out of settlement knowing that your housewarming party is already catered?

Water-loving clients might be tempted by a sunset cruise and overnight stay - a "Boat & Breakfast" - on a schooner out of historic Annapolis. Right now, the favorite incentive might be tickets for the Ravens' playoff game…if you could get them.

Whether it's a Glock or hard-to-get tickets, your state probably has something unique that would make a great, attention-grabbing incentive.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Say Goodbye to the Housing Slump!

That's the message in a Wall Street Journal article a couple of days ago. They took a look at the economy as a whole and came to the conclusion that the worst may be over.

Here's what they found:

  • Mortgage applications for purchases and refinancings have been growing steadily since last summer. This is an overall trend reported by the Mortgage Bankers Association which does a mortgage-application survey every week. As with any economic trend, you can't just look at what happened last week – you have to take the long view to understand trends.
  • New home sales are picking up, and the trend has been continuing since July. This indicates that demand is stabilizing. There is still about a six-month inventory of new homes, but in July it was more than seven months.

Of course, this is good news for those of us who help people buy or sell a home, but it's also good for the overall economy. According to the WSJ article, the slumping housing market has been one of the biggest drags on the country's economic growth. A rebound in 2007 will benefit all economic sectors.

That sounds like a lot of optimism, but if you think about it, increasing home sales generate a lot of economic activity.

  • How many people who buy a home also buy new appliances? Trucks carry those stoves and refrigerators from the factory to the distributor.
  • What about all that new carpeting, paint, and the draperies for the windows?
  • And then there's the landscaping, perhaps a new pool or deck, and the design professionals who stage the house for sale.
  • And that's not even including the people directly involved in a transaction – the inspectors, appraisers, and title professionals.
It's easy to see how an increase in this one segment sets things in motion that help both local and national businesses of every size. Good for homebuyers and sellers, good for Realtors®, and good for the country as a whole.

Now that's a Happy New Year!