Realtor Life

A Little Kindness Goes A Long Way

A Little Kindness Goes A Long Way
In many areas the market is tight – low inventory, multiple offers, and rising interest rates
put the pressure on buyers, sellers, and agents. When the pressure is on it’s important to remember to remain calm and kind. No matter what the market conditions are bad behavior has no place in a real estate transaction.

As I reflect on the first quarter of 2018 and analyze its challenges a lack of kindness and respect stands out most. Everyone deserves both kindness and respect. Egos, attitudes, and demands do nothing but, raise tensions. They do not accomplish anything positive. Buying or selling a home is a marathon, not a sprint and it takes patience from all parties involved. I understand buyers and sellers getting stressed and acting emotionally but, I do not understand real estate agents that take that path. An agents emotions should never enter a real estate contract – NEVER.

There’s been a consistent flow of agents threatening, cursing, and making demands that aren’t reasonable. An example being submitting an offer on a listing and demanding my sellers respond within hours and accept the offer because they don’t want their buyer in a bidding war. On the opposite side when assisting buyers the listing agent who doesn’t return calls, texts, or emails can be a challenge as well. The current seller’s market won’t last forever but, the impression agents leave will. It’s a very small world and if there’s one thing we all remember it’s how people treat us. I often wonder if buyers and sellers know how their agent acts. Our clients deserve our absolute best at all times and that includes interaction with other agents.


Agent relationships are an important part of this business. That applies no matter what the market conditions are but, I think it makes an even bigger impact when the market is tight. A healthy and productive relationship with other agents only helps our clients. No one wants to work with a bully agent. While we represent different parties in the transaction we share the goal of getting both sides to closing with terms and conditions that are a win-win for the buyer and the seller.


As agents we can’t let stress get to us. No matter how much stress we’re feeling we should always treat others how we would like to be treated. A little kindness goes a long way.


Part Time Real Estate Agents, Do Not Give Part Time Service

Part Time Real Estate Agents – Do Not Give Part Time Service

Being a real estate agent comes with many challenges and if you’re part time if comes with even more challenges. I have no problem with an agent being part time but, what I do have a problem with is giving part-time service. Clients deserve full-time service – no exceptions. If you’re going to be in real estate part time you need to have the flexibility to be able to deliver full-time service and with that comes full-time availability.

I recently worked with a part-time agent on a transaction and it was disturbing to me how many times I heard something couldn’t be done for a couple days because of this agent’s full-time job or how often I was asked to do something because of her obligations at her day job. Everything revolved around what her schedule was for her full-time job. It made me wonder if her clients knew that her day job clearly came first. I got my answer the day they called and asked me how to order condo documents because she wasn’t available to guide them through it.

If I were buying or selling a home I’d want full-time representation, full-time commitment, and full-time expertise. Your clients deserve that and so does the agent you work with on a transaction. No client should have to contact the agent representing the other party in a transaction for guidance nor should the other agent you're working with have to complete tasks that are your responsibility because your day job prohibits you from doing them.



You Passed Your Real Estate Exam - Now What? Part I

You Passed Your Real Estate Exam … Now What? Part I

This might be a question you asked yourself when you first got into real estate and it’s definitely one new or soon to be new agents as me a lot. Real estate is unique in that studying for your real estate exam and then passing it teaches you nothing about actually running your real estate business. It teaches you enough to stay out of trouble and obey the laws but, beyond that you’re going to walk out feeling great that you passed your exam and feeling uncertain about what’s next.

If you haven’t already you’ll want to start interviewing brokers. Many of us, myself included just signed on with the first broker that we talked too and that’s a mistake. Meet with different brokers – by different I mean big, medium, and small officers along with companies that have different business models. A broker is an agent who has years of experience and has taken additional courses and tests to verify that experience. There’s a laundry list of different commission models available but, as a new agent don’t focus on the commission. It won’t matter if you never learn how to get a client. Focus on a broker and an office that can mentor you and teach you how to not only obtain clients but, how to properly service them and build your business. Ask questions about the office culture, mentoring, education, fees, and availability for support.

Brand name real estate brokerages may or may not be the route to go. There’s no right or wrong answer to this as each office varies. That’s why it’s important to meet with the broker and see if you connect with them. I’ve been with multiple big-name brokerages and never found it meant anything to my clients, they followed me wherever I went. What matters is how you treat your clients, treat them right and your name will spread. New agents need to focus on joining an office where there's access to the broker or a mentor when questions arise. As a new agent, you’re going to have a ton of questions, you’re swimming in the sea of unknowns and having someone you can always rely on to train and mentor you is priceless.

Another first step is to create a budget. You’re running your own business now and that requires a budget and a business plan. Your commission split is just one piece of the financial puzzle. You’ll have expenses to join your local association, MLS, E+O insurance, and lockbox access. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. I recommend a new agent have at least 6 months of reserves. Real estate isn’t a job you get paid to show up for. In most cases, you won’t earn a paycheck until you close your first deal and in the meantime, you’ll be spending money on building your business in addition to your personal expenses. Having financial software such as Quickbooks is beneficial to create a budget and track expenses but, you can also create a spreadsheet to save on costs.

Stay tuned for part II of You Just Passed Your Real Estate Exam…Now What? We’ll be diving into what you need to do to start attracting clients.



You Passed Your Real Estate Exam – Now What? Part II

You Passed Your Real Estate Exam – Now What? Part II

Last week we went over what first steps you should pursue after passing your real estate exam. For Part II of the series let’s assume you’ve selected a broker that has the values and culture you’re looking for, have a mentor, and that you’ve fine-tuned your budget. What’s next?

Real estate is not as easy as it looks. Making it through the exam to get your license is the easiest part. The next questions to ask yourself are how are you going to get clients and what type of client do you want to attract? It’s important to note that this is a two-part question. Take time to sit down and really think about who you are and what you want your brand to be. Do not be a jack of all trades and master of none. You can’t be everything to everyone and that means deciding on what type of client you want to market too. Maybe it’s military clients, relocation, or first-time buyers. Maybe you have a specific neighborhood you want to focus on. There are a lot of directions this can go in and that’s why it’s important to first look at yourself to then determine your branding.

Once you’ve determined your brand and who it targets you’ll need to create marketing material. Business cards being the first piece. Yes, they’re basic in terms of marketing avenues but, as a new agent, you’re going to want to hand one out to everyone you meet and be reaching out to your sphere to share that you’re now in real estate. Whatever you do, do not be a secret agent. Review your budget to determine how much you can spend on marketing material and then let that amount guide you on what pieces to create. Maybe you don’t have a lot of money to start out, you can easily create a market snapshot of a neighborhood you want to focus on and take that with you to go door knock. Maybe door knocking isn’t your thing. You could plan a mixer for your sphere, have it in your home to keep costs down and serve appetizers and refreshments. Again, the marketing goes back to knowing who you are, what your strengths are, and what clients you want to attract.

While you’re working on developing your marketing you’ll also need to be studying the market. Know what the latest trends are, what inventory levels look like, and learn the different neighborhoods in the area you want to serve. Studying the market is something you need to do for your entire real estate career. Become a walking talking local real estate encyclopedia. This prepares you to be able to share the market trends with anyone you come in contact with. You’re going to get the “how’s the market” question a lot. Be prepared to standout by knowing the figures and trends off the top of your head.

Last but, certainly not least remember that you are running your own business. Flexibility is touted over and over again but, the reality is it’s not as flexible as you might have been told. You will not be successful if you don’t commit to running your business. No one is going to tell you what to do every day or even tell you to show up. You get out what you put in and if you aren’t giving it your all day in and day out you’re going to struggle. Real estate is non-stop and it requires giving everything you have to become successful. You might not have the experience yet but, you can always be the hardest working person in the room!



It's A Seller's Market and Then Some

It’s A Seller’s Market and Then Some

I had a call from an agent who showed one of my listings the first day it came on the market. She was calling to inquire about its availability and I let her know we already had an offer, were expecting one more and had a full day of showings scheduled. We had a good conversation and she planned to call her buyers and then get back to me.

Fast forward to the next day, she called back and said her buyers think I’m not being honest about having an offer. Citing that there’s just no way an offer came in on the first day the home was on the market. We had another long talk and I really felt for her because she knew I wasn’t lying and what the market is currently doing but, from what she shared these buyers thought every agent was lying about having offers and even when a home would then go under contract within a couple days of her passing the information along to them they still didn’t believe it.

If you’re buying a home in the current market know this – it’s a seller’s market and then some. Homes that are priced correctly, have a reasonable amount of updates, and show well are not only moving quickly they’re moving in a matter of days and that’s no lie. Her clients decided not to write and told her that they thought the home would still be on a market in a week and they’d make an offer then so that they could negotiate. Needless to say, the house was on the market for 5 days and half of that was time spent negotiating due to the 6 offers that came in. The sellers selected an offer that carried very little risk for them and the rest is history.



The agent’s buyers took it upon themselves to go knock on the door of my listing. They questioned the sellers about receiving multiple offers and then proceeded to try to “cut a deal” with them. My sellers set the record straight and confirmed everything that was shared with them was the truth and under no certain circumstances would they be cutting any deals – they had an offer they were extremely pleased with. My clients weren’t thrilled that these buyers had come right to their home to ask questions but, thankfully understood that their agent and I had no idea they would do that.


If her buyers aren’t able to come to terms with the current market conditions they simply aren’t going to be successful in purchasing a home and that’s the case for any buyers who think it’s not a seller’s market. With the right pre-marketing and presentation, sellers are in the driver’s seat when they list their home. As a buyer be prepared to make an offer quickly and put your very best foot forward right from the start.



Realtor Safety | It's Not Just a Concern When Going to Meet Prospective Clients

Realtor Safety – It’s Not Just a Concern When Going to Meet Prospective Clients

I’ve been thinking about writing this post for months but, for some time just couldn’t bring myself to relive something that happened to me last November. Realtor safety discussions often revolve around the risks involved when we go to meet someone to show a house. I think that’s the most common risk and likely the biggest one we face but, last year I experienced a different kind of safety concern. I wasn’t prepared when another agent’s client showed up at my office and proceeded to threaten me.

It started off like many mornings do, just me and my assistant at the office. I was in the back in my office and heard the door chime, she works at the front and greets everyone that visits our office. I heard a disgruntled male voice and walked up to see who was there. I was greeted with you real estate agents are crooks and you will change the language in the lease now. I knew immediately who he was, his agent had told me she was having trouble with him wanting to change the language of the lease to accommodate him if he wanted to break it early. I introduced myself and explained that I wasn’t able to talk with him because he is represented by another agent and I don’t believe in violating the Code Of Ethics. That only fueled his anger so I offered to call his agent and put her on speaker so that she could be a part of the conversation. The situation was growing increasingly volatile with him pacing, refusing to sit down, getting in my face and tossing insults left and right.


He was former military and used to leases that allowed him to move at any time due to his military orders. Due to no longer being military that wasn’t an option anymore. I was ultimately able to think of a way to add wording to protect my client in the event he wanted to break the lease while still giving him the option to end the 1-year term early. Not before he threatened me and tried to force me to make changes without my client’s approval. The line that really sticks with me was – my parents must be proud I steal money from people for a living, he was about 2 inches away from my face when he said it. He was out of line in every way but, I knew with his anger spewing I couldn’t go the confrontational route. I was genuinely scared for my safety which is a very rare occurrence for me. I am a very observant person and carry a gun when I feel circumstances are unknown. I don’t take chances in anyway when it comes to my safety but, I was not prepared for this situation at all. No gun, no pepper spray, nothing. The only thing I could do was try to diffuse the situation.



I didn’t realize it at the time but, my assistant had slipped into a spare office and grabbed something I could use to defend myself if needed. She was poised by the phone to call the police. As it was happening I knew it was dangerous but, it wasn’t until it was over and he left that I started shaking and crying realizing how badly it could have ended. She was completely shaken too, it was hard to even process what had happened. It was also a huge wakeup call that we’re vulnerable even if we’re just in our office.



I am completely fine and only wanted to share my experience to raise awareness that as Realtors we aren’t just at risk when we go show homes. Taking the time to think about our daily routines and identifying times and places we could be at risk is important. I hope that everyone will take the time to do that, we all have different routines but, each one of them carries risk. We owe it to ourselves to do everything we can to minimize those risks.




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    An Open House With No Agent

    An Open House With No Agent
    One of the reasons I love real estate is that no day is ever the same. There’s always something to learn or something new to experience. Last Sunday was a first for me. I was set to meet a new buyer and noticed there was going to be an open house. She preferred a private showing and the house was vacant so I set an appointment for an hour before the open was set to begin.


    I arrived a few minutes before my client and noticed that the open house signs were out and the door was open so I walked in just thinking that maybe the agent was setting up. No one was inside but, the lights were on so then I thought maybe the agent was putting more signs up or maybe ran back to the car for something. My clients arrived and we toured the property, while we were there an open house visitor showed up and started asking questions. They were so confused when I explained that I’m not the agent who is holding the open. We stayed at the property for close to 30 minutes and when we were finishing up I tried calling the agent but, didn’t get an answer.

    I decided to wait around after my clients left because I was starting to worry that maybe something had happened to the agent. Someone had been there to set up as signs were out, listing info was out, the listing agent’s business cards were present, and the lockbox was closed but, I checked and it did have a key in it. About 20 minutes passed and I started debating on what to do, should I lock up? Should I call the agents office? Decisions, Decisions.

    I decided to try calling the agent one more time and this time he answered. Never in a million years could I have guessed that he’d tell me to stop calling him because he’s out showing to clients and that yes he knows the door is open. Leave it as I found it because the house is vacant and there’s nothing of value there. He’s very busy and doesn’t have time to waste sitting around at an open house. At that moment my mind just went blank, all I could get out of my mouth was ok and I hung up right after that.

    I sat in the parking lot for a few minutes after that to compose my thoughts. This property is an estate sale and I’m guessing the agent thinks the sellers will never find out he can’t be bothered to properly host an open house. How would he feel if someone propped the door open to his home and left? I have since contacted his broker who thankfully seemed appalled and genuine in wanting to address it. I really hope she follows through on that. I’ll never understand how agents like this stay in business, it’s situations like this that give honest and ethical agents a bad reputation. As with most professions, not all agents are created equal. Sellers and buyers should really invest time into researching and getting referrals for reputable agents and then make their decision on who to work with. Having the right agent working on your behalf who always puts your best interests first is priceless.



    I'm Not A One Night Stand Type Of Gal

    I’m Not A One Night Stand Type Of Gal

    This post is inspired by someone who stops by my office every 6 months and hands me her card and says don’t forget to send me business. It’s nothing against her, there are so many that are just like her but, she reminds me of a one night stand. I couldn’t tell you the first thing about her, I know her first name and that’s about it. She’s never asked if she could tell me about what makes her different, why she loves her job, or even how she serves her clients.

    I love the relationship part of real estate. Yes, it takes a lot of time to form that bond and even more time to maintain it but, that’s the fun of it! We’re in the people business – if you don’t like forming relationships and nurturing them I can’t say I think real estate is for you. I also don’t think a lot of the businesses that are required to have a real estate transaction come together are either, i.e. loan officer, home inspector, radon company, termite company, title company, and the list goes on and on.

    The wham, bam, give me business approach just leaves me feeling used. If the only thing you want from me is business I’m just not your gal. The vendors we refer are like family and they’ve earned that title. They earned it by showing over and over again that they would go to the moon and back for our clients and that they’re there if we need them to go the extra mile. It’s a mutual relationship of trust and respect and not only does it give us peace of mind we are recommending clients to the most competent professional’s it’s just plain fun to have a bond with a team that has the same values as we do.

    While I know there will always be vendors that take the one night stand approach I have to wonder if it really works? Is it just a numbers game and then you hope you get lucky? If so I wish I could sit down and talk with them and show them a better way. Putting the time in to build an honest and genuine relationship will, of course, take more work and commitment but, it will go the distance. They won’t have to come by my office and ever drop a card and ask for business, because I’ll be sharing their information willingly with anyone who needs their services!



    Helping Others Inspires Me

    It is literally true that you can succeed best and quickest by helping others succeed. 
    ~Napoleon Hill


    Helping others inspires me and leaves me feeling fulfilled. I’ve noticed over the years that I feel successful when I’m able to help someone else. Reading books from Napoleon Hill is something I enjoy and he has a lot of wonderful quotes but, this has always been a favorite of mine. It's written on the cover of the notebook I use to write what I'm thankful for daily. It reminds me to give back and lend a helping hand whenever possible. 


    Success is often defined by material items – especially money but, to me success is a feeling. Something as small as checking an item off a to-do list can give me the feeling of being successful, it really isn't about money at all. There’s something very rewarding that comes from helping someone achieve their own success, it brings me happiness. When you help someone else achieve success you form a connection with them and a natural mutual admiration forms. It leaves me feeling humble and grateful.


    Helping each other succeed spreads kindness and that’s something our world can always use more of. 



    Keep Calm and Remember You Work For Your Client

    Keep Calm and Remember You Work For Your Client

    The market in Alexandria and most areas of Northern Virginia is tight right now; inventory is beyond low and homes that show well and are priced right are receiving multiple offers within hours of coming on the market. When these are the conditions we are working in some agents stress and egos run high.

    The barrier to entry in our profession is far too low and when the market is good you could shake a tree and 20 Realtor’s® will fall out. There are incredible agents, terrible agents and everything in between. I’ve always felt agents who aren’t in this business to serve their clients need to get out but, I digress.

    I have clients who have been looking for a home and we were set to see a listing that had just come on the market overnight. We all noticed the home was listed as 6 levels and realized every level had been duplicated causing what should have been 3 to show up as 6. I gave her a call and let her know I thought there was an error and we both chuckled about a townhouse being 6 levels. She was so appreciative that I called. It took maybe 2 minutes of my time and is something I hope someone would do for me. Let’s face it, typos can happen, there’s a lot of info that gets input for a listing.



    Fast forward to the showing going very well and my clients wanting to make an offer. I gave her a call back because I feel it’s important to connect with the agent on the other end in the form of a phone call when my clients want to make an offer. She was equally as kind as the first call and thanked me for contacting her to see what would be appealing to the sellers to include in the offer. We all already knew there would be multiple offers and being able to tell my clients what the sellers were looking for helps give them more to work when deciding what to include in the offer.



    I’m in place to serve them and provide them with as much information as I possibly can. In this case my clients offer was chosen and the other agent disclosed they had an offer that was slightly higher but, the agent never called to ask any details. He had emailed the offer and listed in the offer that it expired in 24 hours. Because there was no conversation the details aside from price weren’t what the sellers were looking for.


    The fallout rate with contracts is high right now and building a rapport with the other agent goes a long way. I have no doubt we’re going to have a smooth transaction because there’s a mutual respect that’s been created. We each represent our client’s best interests but, all parties are working towards the common goal of settlement.


    It’s a two way street when it comes to agents working together – real estate is a team sport. In the past few months alone I’ve been called old school, asked why am I not emailing or sending a text, and even been told by one agent that she doesn’t take calls about offers, just email it and wait to find out if it’s accepted. In that case my clients decided not to offer all together because they felt that agent would make the process difficult.

    shaking hands


    We’re in place to serve. It’s our responsibility to a client to advocate for their best interests at all times. Keeping calm and showing respect in order to achieve the best possible outcome every time is a must. Anything less than that is a disservice to the client. Agent to agent relationships are important and can make or break a transaction.