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Are We Still Operating as Though it was 1979?


Are we still operating as though it was 1979?

I’m writing an article about how real estate has changed for a prominent real estate magazine. Here is the first part of that article, which will be continued in the next two blogs. As I write the article, I am actually stunned as I think about the number of habits we have carried over from 1979 (even though they didn’t work real well then and they sure don’t work now.)

Agents Were Hired to Sell and ‘Service’ Listings

a�?Sell, sell, sell!a�? Ia��ll never forget the cry of the vice-president of our company yelling that at the end of an all-company meeting. When I started in real estate, about four decades ago (wow!), a company wanteda��and expecteda��agents to sell houses. Thata��s it. The company would take care of the advertising to gain leads, business plan, financesa��and charge 50% of the commissions for doing it. Does that sound onerous to you? Well, to us, entering the business, it sounded great! After all, what did we know about how to marketing to find business, how to spend our marketing dollars, how to think longer-term about our careers? No. What we thought about was that we would probably see some nice listings that day, and wea��d go home and try to find a buyer for that listing.

How Agents a�?Lead Generateda��

Well, they didna��t really lead generate themselves. They waited for the company to spend money to get prospective buyers and sellers to call them. Herea��s how it was done:

  1. The company placed ads in newspapers. Agents were assigned a�?floor timea�� to answer these inquiries. The listing agent didna��t get the calls. Unfortunately, many times agents were new, and/or hadna��t seen the homes. But, the company a�?solda�� the opportunitya��and agents complained that there were few a�?qualifieda�� calls. Fortunately (?), sellers didn’t realize how these calls were handled–and they weren’t told anything about call handling during the listing presentation. They were just ecstatic that their home would be advertised!

Managers: Are you training your agents to tell the truth about what advertising/open houses do? Are you training your agents NOT to rely on these methods to get houses sold?

Contrarian view: As I write this, I’ll tell you how I bucked the practices of the day, because I found these practices to set up win-lose situations. Most agents sat and waited for a lead to come to them. But, since I knew 2 people when we moved to Seattle, I was afraid to a�?sit and waita��. Fortunately, I had a manager who told me to a�?go talk to peoplea��. So, I dida��for sale by owners, expired listings, farminga��you name it, I did it (without any training–I just read articles and bugged agents!) I did proactive lead generating way before it was a�?ina�� to doa��and was named in the top 10 agents in my 400 agent company my 2nd year in the business (boy, was I surprised!).

2. Open houses: The office assigned agents to hold homes open (especially new homes). Most of the time, these werena��t the listing agents. Instead, the listing agents promised the builders that someone would hold the home open every Saturday and Sunday. So, agents (especially newer agents) were assigned these a�?opportunitiesa��a��even though the home may be on a lane in the woodsa��.

Contrarian view: When I becameA� manager, I taught our agents never to promise open houses if the house wasna��t situated in a high traffic area. Why? Ita��s unfair to sellers AND agents. Also, we kept statistics on A�how often a buyer walked in a bought the home (very, very seldoma��in a normal market).

Managers: Do you keep statistics on how buyers find the home they bought? And what happens in open houses? Train your agents to educate sellers and buyers on why open houses are held and the results of them.

Big question

Managers: Are you still encouraging a ‘sit and wait’ attitude by the systems you use in your office (assigning floor time and/or open houses)? I don’t mean that these are not means to find buyers. But, buyers’ habits have changed and I’m afraid these systems and agents haven’t changed with them. Are you still operating in 1979?

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PS: I’ve got dozens of ideas on how you can refine your systems for tomorrow’s real estate practices–not yesterday’s….

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