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5 Things Real Estate Agents Hate Hearing From Prospects and Clients

A study was done a few years back where surveyors asked people if they’d ever considered working in the real estate field, and 98% of the people surveyed said “yes”. I guess everyone thinks our job is easy or something.

I can assure you, being an agent is not easy. Any job where you deal with the mass public is not easy. People are hard to please, especially when it comes to buying a huge asset like a home.

It’s not that people are mean (in most cases); rather, it’s that much like any other job, the general public has no idea what’s really going on behind the scenes. To the public, we agents stick a sign in the yard, enter some data into the MLS and then collect a $10,000+ check.

That couldn’t be further from the truth for those of us who treat this like a career. All CE, BS and MSA aside, we have a lot going on with each transaction. We deal with vendors, negotiations, repairs, marketing and vendors. Did I mention vendors? Because they aren’t always easy to deal with.

We agents live on commission. That means we must answer our phone, show homes and make offers in order to eventually collect a check. That said, we look at every phone call, every sign call and every website entry as someone we can use our skills to help get into the home of their dreams.

That’s not always the case for the person on the other end of the deal. Most consumers will hit 6 websites and enter their information. That means there is, on average, six of us chasing each lead. The consumer thinks we exist in abundance. So they take advantage of us (unknowingly, in most cases).

#1 “I didn’t want to bother my agent.”

It’s Saturday morning and the phone rings. You pick it up and there’s someone on the line that wants to look at one of your listings. You go through the normal song and dance to get their information. When you ask, “Do you have an agent you’re currently working with?”, they say “Yes but they’re busy, I don’t want to bother them.”

As crazy as it sounds, this happens a lot. It’s like consumers want you to work for free, so they can pay their sister-in-law (who just got her license 2 weeks ago, mind you) a commission to stop bothering them.

PSA to the public: It’s your right to ‘bother’ your agent. That’s exactly what you hired him/her for. And if he/she actually considers you a bother, you’ve hired the wrong one.

#2 “Yes I’m already working with someone, but…”

What’s even worse is when they try and convince you that you should still show them the house after they tell you they have an agent. They say clever phrases like, “If you show it to me, I might buy it!” Really? Tell me more….

Agents with the REALTOR® designation abide by a strict code of ethics, and there’s a fine line between stepping on another REALTOR’S® toes and violating the code. Many consumers have no idea how all of this works, but you can count on them to always dangle the proverbial, “I might buy it” carrot in front of you.

PSA to the public: Your enthusiasm is appreciated, but if you’re working with an agent, allow him/her to initiate contact for your showings.

#3 “Zillow says our home is worth waaaay more than that…”

Ahh, that moment you reveal the results of your CMA and they compare it to a Zestimate®. “But Zillow® said…” can be one of the most frustrating phrases to hear as an agent. You then have to validate yourself as a licensed expert who works in the area, against a website designed to capture leads. Go figure.

It’s not that we hate Zillow® (well, some do and some don’t — I personally think it’s a good tool for exposure), but man it causes a lot of confusion we have to clear up with our clients on a daily basis.

PSA to the public: Relying on Zillow® to determine your home’s value is, at best, a crapshoot. Zillow® itself even encourages buyers, sellers and homeowners to conduct other research such as “getting a comparative market analysis (CMA) from a real estate agent” and “getting an appraisal from a professional appraiser.”

#4 “I saw a website that said they sell properties for a flat fee.”

On paper, namely a HUD, it looks like we make a killing on each property we sell. The public has no idea how much MLS dues, lock boxes, Supra keys, CCS, Realtor Dues, CE and marketing dollars we spend on a monthly basis. Being a real estate agent is not cheap.

I didn’t even mention commission splits and desk fees. The list goes on forever and every day someone new is trying to sell us something. For a lot of us, the second we get our checks, it goes right back into our business. Selling millions of dollars in assets a year ain’t cheap.

PSA to the public: It’s not wise to shop for a real estate agent based on cost alone. And when evaluating candidates, make sure to compare apples to apples. Take into consideration such things as experience, track record of success, and client testimonials. Also, “newer agent” shouldn’t be an automatic red flag — they can sometimes be the most hungry and technologically savvy you’ll find.

#5 “It’s a ridiculously low offer but see if they will take it”

Don’t you hate insulting other agents by giving them a ridiculously low offer? It’s really a waste of time for all parties involved, but there’s always that one buyer who thinks they can roll the dice on getting a deal. They say, “You never know until you ask”. Trust me, we know.

I’m not talking a lowball offer a few thousand under list price; I’m talking a $100k offer on a $200k home because “it’s been on the market forever.” By sending a ridiculous offer to another agent, who by law, is supposed to protect the interest of their clients, is just insulting. We don’t like it when it’s done to us…

PSA to the public: As humans, we’re wired to love getting deals, and there’s nothing wrong with that. In some markets, deals can still be scooped up. However, be mindful that sellers can be insulted if the offer is too low, resulting in an unwillingness to take you seriously (read: colossal backfire). There’s no exact science to negotiating — just listen to the advice of your agent and you should be ok.

These five things may be the most dreaded phrases uttered by prospects but there are 100s of phrases we love to hear. Things like, “I love this house,” “Thank you for getting me my dream home,” “You sold our home for more than we expected,” and most importantly “Here’s a referral.”

Next time you get one of these phrases thrown at you, send them to this article for future reference. The more you know… 🙂

Ryan Stewman is a no-nonsense sales and marketing expert who helps high net-worth performers make adjustments in their businesses that lead to greater profit.

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What All Buyers Need To Know About The Home Appraisal Process

Do you know what a home appraisal is, or why it’s so important for you to have? Many people misunderstand this crucial component of the home buying experience.

In a nutshell, an appraisal is a valuation of your home; it’s a way for lenders to ensure that they aren’t providing a mortgage that isn’t worth what the home is worth. Your appraisal must match or exceed the value of your loan, otherwise you’ll run into hiccups.

An appraiser is someone who uses comparable sales in your neighborhood as well as the condition of your home in order to make a sound valuation of your home. They’ll include factors both inside and outside the house.

If an appraisal is lower than the amount you thought the house was worth, there are several options, including renegotiating the deal and paying the difference. If it’s higher, it benefits the buyer. But knowing more about appraisals, whether you’re a homebuyer or seller, can help the whole process go more smoothly. Use this graphic from our friends at Title Source to get started.

Click the graphic to see a larger version.

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The Prank Pulled On This Loan Officer Will Leave You Chuckling… Or Cringing. Or Both.

If pranking were an Olympic Sport, Ed Bassmaster would be a perennial gold medalist. The YouTube sketch comedian and prankster is just that good.

In this bit, which he appropriately calls ‘Ugly Face’, he pranks an unsuspecting loan officer who thinks he’s taking a mortgage loan application from a legitimate customer. Little did he know, his boss set him up.

Whether you’re in the mortgage industry or not, I think you’ll relate to how awkward this must’ve been for the poor loan officer. It’s all smiles in the end, though.

Youtube via edbassmaster
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10 Things Everyone Assumes About Real Estate Agents That Aren’t True

Real estate is a prolific profession. Everyone either knows a real estate agent, or is connected to one through six (probably less) degrees of separation. Between friends and relatives, and the stereotypical representation of real estate agents on television and in pop culture, the general public has a adopted some assumptions about agents that are very far from the truth.

Here are ten things that people assume about real estate agents that just aren’t true:

1. They make “easy money”

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH. The only people who could ever possibly make the case that being an agent is an easy way to make money are those who have never done it. It’s hard, uncertain work, with many instances of months wasted on a deal that doesn’t ever close. The only thing easy about it is reading the Lighter Side of Real Estate.

2. They are required to show you houses even if you’re not pre-approved

There are definitely agents who will show you houses without a pre-approval (or at minimum a pre-qualification), but an agent is not required to, and most experienced agents probably won’t. The ability to qualify for financing dictates whether or not a deal is even possible, so an agent is simply saving you from disappointment (or worse) by asking you to get pre-approved.

3. Zillow is more accurate than they are

It would be wonderful if Zillow (and similar websites) were accurate in their home valuations, but if you compared their results to actual appraised values, in most cases you’d burst out laughing. Real estate agents want you to get as much money as possible for your house, but oftentimes reality gets in the way. Trust your realtor to give you a fair market assessment for your house…at least more than you trust Zillow.

4. They make huge commissions

The popular real estate flipping shows on cable, and Million Dollar Listing have given everyone the impression that real estate agents are rolling in the dough. Most real estate agents wish that this was true, but reality is much different. The median US existing home sale price in December 2016 was $234,900, which means after splitting the commission and paying their broker, an agent took home about $3500 on the transaction, not including all marketing and related expenses. As a monthly income, this adds up to about $40,000 per year. Not exactly huge.

5. They’re an unnecessary evil

Many people have made the argument that real estate agents are unnecessary and are merely an impediment to a more efficient “For sale by owner” model of real estate. The best way to eliminate this misconception is to try selling your house yourself. There is nothing more sobering than desperately Googling state and federal real estate laws as some unkempt stranger is knocking on your door asking you questions about your FSBO house.

6. They’re sleazy

Unfortunately, real estate agents have joined the ranks of lawyers, politicians, and salespeople in some of the public’s assumptions about their trustworthiness. The financial collapse of 2008 exacerbated this perception. Thankfully, the market correction also weeded out most of the unsavory elements in the business. The truth is, real estate agents are honest, hardworking people, making a living like any other profession. And just like any other profession, there are a few bad apples that unfairly give the others a bad name.

7. They’re uneducated

This misconception really gets under most agents’ skin, because not only do many agents have degrees (and advanced degrees in quite a few cases), but the knowledge required to pass a real estate exam is substantial. There are many people who are unable to get their licensing because of an inability to pass the licensing tests, which makes the concept of an “uneducated” agent laughable.

8. They want you to pay more for a house so they can make more money

If you truly looked at the math involved in calculating real estate commissions, you’d never utter this falsehood again. An agent getting you to pay $10,000 more for a property will net that agent approximately $150, which barely covers the cost of gas required to drive to and from your appointments. The truth is that an agent absolutely wants you to buy a house. What’s not true is that they want you to pay more for one.

9. They’re mostly part-timers or bored housewives

If you ask the average person to describe the archetypal real estate agent, they’ll probably say it’s an older married woman who is looking for something to do in her free time. Ugh. This is stereotyping at its finest, and ignores the hundreds of thousands of male agents, the hundreds of thousands of full-time agents, and the hard-working primary bread winners that make up the real estate workforce. Sure, the stereotypical agents do exist, but they’re the exception to the rule.

10. All they want from you is the deal

Yes, agents want your business. But true professional real estate agents want to be your lifelong real estate advisor. They want you to think of them whenever you or your family and friends have any real estate questions. They want to see you and talk to you more than once a decade, and they want to make sure that you remember your interactions with them as being absolutely delightful.

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6 Tips For Writing Non-Sucky Emails To Your Database


Most agents who do have a list and send emails out tend to “push”.

They push themselves, and their listings on people.

This makes sense because agents want business. And they want quick, immediate results.This is natural and human.

But it’s wrong.

The problem is, people don’t want to open an email just to read about:

  • How great of an agent you are
  • How you want their business
  • That you want their referrals
  • That they should buy or sell now
  • Every single listing you ever take

All of those things are relevant, of course. But that isn’t anything your audience is going to get all excited about reading.

You want to create stuff that your list will want to read…will actually look forward to reading.

SOLUTION: Plain and simple — stop pushing. Or, at least stop pushing the same old, same old every other sends them.


Go do a quick Google search for real estate email templates and give them a read.


They all sound so stuffy and rigid.

Sure, this is business. And serious business at that. You handle what amounts to some of the largest transactions in people’s lives.

So, you can’t be too sloppy. You need to show that you are intelligent and business-like.

But when you write like a template, you sound like a template. You don’t sound like a person. And that doesn’t endear people to you. Which is the whole point.

Plus, if people enjoy what they’re reading, they keep reading. Nobody wants to read a formal letter written for the masses. They want to read something that sounds like a quick note to them, and about them.

Heck, you might hesitate to write your own emails because you feel like you can’t write.

SOLUTION: Write the way you would talk to someone. Word for word. Forget rigid grammar rules. But yet, stay enough within the lines that people know you know proper writing rules. Capitalize. Use periods. Spell (most) words correctly. (But you gotta add some words that aren’t really words, too.)


You have an inbox full of stuff. You probably ignore a ton of it. You open and read what you have to read.

Who has time to read every single email that comes in?

So, when you do open an email, you certainly aren’t expecting to have to sit there and read the equivalent of “War And Peace”.

Neither is your audience…

So, keep it as short and to the point as possible.


Don’t keep it short just for the sake of short. You need to make your point. Otherwise, what is the point?

SOLUTION: Try to keep your emails to somewhere between 350-500 words. It’s hard to make much of a point in less words. And anything more, you probably want to switch it into being an article.

A few more or less words isn’t going to hurt you. So don’t get too hung up on word count. The point is, say what needs to be said. No more. No less.


Good writing does one of these three things:

  1. Informs the reader
  2. Entertains the reader
  3. Gets the reader to take action

Great writing does all three of those things. Shoot to do all three in every email you write.

One thing we know from experience at The Lighter Side Of Real Estate is that humor is the greatest common denominator. Everyone likes wit and humor. Sure, real estate is serious business, but getting your reader to smile or laugh is probably the single best thing you can do to get them to look forward to opening every single thing you send. Entertain your audience.

With that said, you aren’t supposed to be a comedian. You need to have a point to what you’re sending them. You need to inform or educate them about something.

And, since you’re taking the time to do so, you might as well ask them to take some sort of action.

SOLUTION: Open the email with something fun, funny, humorous, or witty. Then get into what you want them to learn or know. Close your email asking them to take some action. Or you can click here and join our ‘Inner Circle’ membership and let us write them FOR you. 🙂


One-size-fits-all never truly fits anyone all that well. Nor do most emails.

Just because you have someone’s email doesn’t mean you should send them every single thing that you write.

What many agents do is either send everything to everybody on their list, which gets annoying, and leads to less opens eventually…

…or, they water down every email to make it so general that it speaks to everyone at the same time. And that isn’t good, because if you’re speaking to everyone, you likely aren’t truly speaking to anyone.

SOLUTION: There are some things that are pretty universal, like a holiday related email for instance. You can send that to everyone on your list. But even those, you might want to tailor one that you write specifically to buyers on your list, and another for sellers on your list. And maybe even one specifically to your sphere of influence.


You probably aren’t spending a whole lot of time writing an email to someone on a day to day basis. How long does it typically take? A few minutes? 10-15 minutes tops if it was long and took some thought?

But when you are writing emails to your list, you should plan on spending quite a bit of time on each email. Remember though, every email you craft is like writing hundreds or thousands of emails. You write it once, you send it tons of times. So, it is worth taking the time.

People who write for a living may be able to crank out emails and articles faster than you can, and even they would probably spend the better part of an hour or so writing an email template.

So, you should plan on spending at least an hour per email.

If you want to save yourself some time, effort, and learning curve, you could always hire a copywriter to write a series of emails for you. That way you aren’t sending the same, boring email templates every other agent sends out. But, that does get pricey.

SOLUTION: Check out this hidden gem very few agents are even aware of. It’s the Lighter Side of Real Estate’s ‘Inner Circle’ membership, and providing you with PROVEN email templates is just one of the many benefits of joining.

When you join you’ll start saving all the time, effort and learning curve at a fraction of the cost of hiring a copywriter.

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She Thought Her Home Wasn’t Unique Enough, So She Spent The Next 35 Years Doing Something Drastic

What do you get when you combine a nature-loving artist from the 60’s, a large house, and an endless supply of creative tenacity? You get Lauri Svedberg’s home. She spent thirty five years of her life turning it into a place where she can feel outdoors, regardless of the room. Not only has she painted up her home, but she has covered much of it in various stones and crystals! It is possibly the most extreme home makeover we’ve seen.

Her home displays depictions of a birch forest, a stream that flows down the stairs, and many other amazing creations. Best part is, you can have the home for $149,000. Michael Gacek of Edina Realty stated, “I’ve sold some interesting homes in my day, and this is high on the list, as far as interesting goes.” he said. “It’s definitely a head-turner — well-known in the neighborhood and in the artist community. It’s over the top, and I’m going to sell over the top.”

He definitely wasn’t kidding. Take a look.

Lauri Svedberg has poured heart and soul into this house, and it shows.

Via Star Tribune

The home is designed to give a creative, natural feeling from the inside out.

Via Star Tribune

Here is a fine example of her glue gun madness, tempered by precision.

Via Star Tribune

And here is that same glue gun action, over the course of about 35 years!

Via Star Tribune

Her painting is so in depth, you may have to really look for the camouflaged toilet.


And what can’t be done with paint, can be done in jungle drapings.

Via Star Tribune

Every intricately detailed doorway in this home lets you move into the next room with a sense of awe.

Via Star Tribune

The view of the surrounding area is gorgeous. The large windows add to the feeling of letting nature into the home.


Here is a large studio space for exercising your creativity.

Via Star Tribune

That is, in fact, a real stone pathway set into the floor of the room.


The stone path leads through the “trees,” and down stairs.


Following the stairs (if you can see them) is a beautifully painted waterfall scene.


I’m sure Lauri’s loving companion, Wonder, loves all the natural elements as well.

Via Star Tribune

The yard is graced by low-maintenance perennials, and cobblestones from old Minneapolis streets.

Via Star Tribune

There’s even a dedication to Wonder painted on the garage door.


For a much more thorough tour, enjoy this video!

Via NEmplshomes
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35 Real Estate Agents Reveal The Best Closing Gifts They’ve Ever Given

Expressing gratitude to clients with a gift is a traditional way many real estate pros like to sew up their transactions. Closing gifts not only serve as a nice gesture on a happy occasion, but they can also leave a lasting impression upon the buyers and sellers who receive them.

Giving any gift at all is most certainly appreciated, but creativity is key if you’re going for maximum impact. Creativity isn’t everyone’s strong suit, though. No worries! We reached out to our email list, and they were happy to oblige by sharing the best closing gifts they’ve ever given.

Some are practical.
Some are creative.
And a few have backstories that are downright touching.


I’m a newbie and just getting started on fun closing gifts, but so far I have found that my clients absolutely love these real estate seasoning gifts. They keep my face in front of them all the time.

Megan Ramos
Keller Williams Legacy One
Advantage Home Team


Monogrammed Yetis with my contact info on the bottom, so every time they take a sip someone else will see my info. and ask.

Jenny Heymann, REALTOR®
CORIE Properties


I would say the best/most unique gift I have ever given for a closing was when I gave my clients (who moved from Hawaii to Denver, CO) a snowblower after they moved in.

They had never lived around snow before so I thought it would be a great and fitting gift being that I knew a huge storm was on its way. The snowblower made it just in time, and I think they loved it. Lol!

Steve Tower, Realtor Associate (RS-76204)
Coldwell Banker
Pacific Properties


What to get high-end clients that have EVERYTHING? Chances are, they’re buying a home with a pool…

Oversized monogrammed pool towels for everyone in the family! Anyone that has owned a pool knows that there are NEVER enough towels and no one will run off with monogrammed ones! If you really do it right, their friends will ask where they got them. Your clients will answer, “Oh, our fabulous Realtor!”

Lindsey Holley Newburn, REALTOR®
Griffin Real Estate Group


It’s hard to beat custom embroidery from Stitch Folks. SO personalized yet reasonably priced! Clients will remember you forever because of this. These are so impressive it makes me wanna buy one for myself!

Olivia Nicodemus, Agent/REALTOR®
The Gene Group REALTORS®


My favorite and most memorable closing gifts were hand made signs from recycled pallets. I have an old agent friend who went into referral status and is so creative. She made me these super cute signs, burned each sign with the year and last name of the client and attached a little piece of twine to hang it. I love them and when I give them to my clients at closing their eyes light up when they see “our first home” and then the year and last name. Super personal & super unique.

Lindsey L. Vinzant, Realtor®
The Amanda Hoke Real Estate Team
Carder Realty Group


I like to give reproductions of old maps of the town that they’re moving into. They’re very well received. I can mount and frame them myself (saves $$), and I can put my card on the back. Every time they look at the map they (hopefully) will think of me and recommend me to others!

Stephanie Stone, REALTOR®
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage


I have a couple favorites:

I was helping a Middle Eastern man with his home purchase, and he was surprised by how much paperwork and time was needed to get it closed. He said that “back in his country”, people could buy a home, exchange wads of cash, throw in a few goats, shake hands and the deal was done. The day of closing arrived, and I made him a gift basket that included $50 in singles, rolled up around toilet paper tubes to look like wads and a goat figurine. We shook hands, and I handed him the keys. He loved it!

I was helping a couple shop for homes and they were very religious people. They only wanted to see homes with Blessed Mary statues on the lawns. They wrote an offer on a home and asked for the statue to be included, but the sellers wouldn’t leave it. I found out where they bought it and got the exact same one for my clients, and before closing I went over to the house to set her up. 🙂

Sarah D’Hondt, REALTOR®
Brookview Realty


As a closing gift, I hosted a housewarming party for my buyer after closing. I received 3 leads from the party.

Lori Webster, REALTOR®, CNE
RE/MAX Sun Properties


There is a guy in my hometown who makes handmade decorations out of stainless steel. He has many designs to pick from. I usually go with the flower for most of my buyers. This is such a great gift for their yard. Plus, they will always remember where they got it from and there friends will ask where/how they got it!

Ben Becker
First Weber


A park bench.

I get my husband to assemble it, and I attached a brass plate to it, saying:
“Compliments of your Realtor, DARLENE ANSTEY, Broker”

Darlene Anstey, Broker
Royal Lepage Trinity Realty, Brokerage


One of my clients had a 4 year old daughter that was fighting leukemia and going thru a series of chemo. She (the daughter) always wanted me to hold her and she would play with my long hair (she had none). So, when we closed on their house, I went and had 13 inches of my hair cut and donated it to Locks of Love in her honor. Not really a closing gift, per se, but it meant a lot to my clients.

Tricia Kenney, REALTOR®
Treeline Realty Corp.


We get referrals from this housewarming gift. The buyer never forgets us when we give this mouse in house framed print.

On the back we print: “May this be the only mouse that visits your house.” Under that is our company logo, contact info and the signatures of everyone on team that made the sale happen.

Julie D’Aquila


Best closing gift I ever, ever gave was early on in my career. Worked with a wonderful family and the children wanted a dog. At closing, I handed over a certificate for the local animal shelter. I am a huge fan of rescuing. It was a win-win for everyone, both the dog and the family!

Cheryl A. Brun, AHWD, ASP, GRI, MRP, SRS
Sibcy Cline Realtors


One of the best closing gifts that I like to give is a picture of the client’s last name that they can hang. I use Alpha Beta Photography, and the cost is usually about $115 CAD (about $75-80 US). It’s a unique gift and one that my clients will usually hang in a prominent place in their living room, foyer or family room. Love their work — and they ship it directly to my home or office and I can order it online.

Jim Datlen, Real Estate Broker/Trainer
Century 21 Millennium Inc., Brokerage


An orange tree. My clients had been trying to buy a home for years after falling on hard times (and a crooked lender). They have 5 beautiful children and the kids always wanted an orange tree . So, an orange tree, soil, and fertilizer it was! Got an email 2 weeks after close telling me how much fun the family had planting the tree together and how they think of me every time they see the tree.

Rebecca Johnson


A Pizza Delivery Worksheet.

It never fails. At the closing, when I know my clients are moving with friends & family, I show up with a pizza order worksheet. Simple & easy: topping options, number of attendees, preferred beverages & the date/time of their move. It’s great to stop in with food & drinks the day of the move. Revisiting the experience with the clients, meeting their closest friends/family members. Remember the paper plates & napkins… you never know if the kitchen is unpacked or not!

Lindsey Kehr, Realtor®, ABR/SFR/BPOR
Director of Business Development
Realty Executives


I provide a cake that looks like the buyers house that I bring to their house warming party with a very nice bottle of Dom. The cake is a hit and I get lots of the guest at the party asking for my card and many great referrals.

Michelle Spataro-Russell
CalBRE No. 01944339


Agents: Loving these closing gift ideas? Want to see the rest of Lighter Side’s marketing ideas for agents? Click here to check out our “Inner Circle”.


Tom Brady’s signed helmet.

My client told me he wanted to get more signed memorabilia. I’ve never seen someone so grateful for the gift I got him. He said it was one of the nicest things anyone has ever done for him!

I get gifts just to put a smile on my clients face.

Ashley Carpenter
Diamond Realty & Associates


Original home portrait sketch notecards by Joseph Galantino.

Mary Jones, REALTOR®
Keller Williams Realty


Last week I bought my buyers a pool table. While looking at homes, the husband kept saying he wanted one for their new home! Okay… okay… so it was a table top toy pool table, but hey it’s a pool table! Haha it was pretty funny and they absolutely loved it! Of course I got them balloons, wine, cake and a gift card too! Love love love working with buyers!

Lanett Graziolli
Howard Hanna Real Estate Services


It was a custom build home. I would go out and check on the progress. One day when I was out at the house, I grabbed a pallet. I then took it home and had someone paint it with my client’s initial of their last name. I gave it to them on our final walk thru. It’s still on their back patio. This was the final product. I thought it was need that they had a piece of the build process as a decoration piece. They loved it!

Sarah Dilks, Realtor® Associate
Coldwell Banker Select


My buyers closed on a home and during the loan process they lost their father to Cancer. They didn’t even tell me, but I had a hard time getting a hold of them until closing. I was fortunate enough to meet their father during the showing. As a closing gift I gave them an angel statue to go next to the bench that sat by the creek where they told met they always talked and prayed to their dad.

Mays Khalaf, REALTOR®
Comey & Shepherd REALTORS®


I had clients arriving from out of state with a Uhaul late the night before Thanksgiving so I got the catered Thanksgiving meal from Publix (grocery store) ready to pop in the oven plus everything they’d need to enjoy it so they’d be able to spend their first Thanksgiving in paradise in their new home with all the family that came to help them move. It was waiting in the fridge when they arrived with the supplies on the counter.

They are still good friends years later!

Nicole Askew
Right Choice Realty


The best closing gift I gifted was a personalized housewarming pillow that says “Home” with my buyers initials and their closing date. It also had a personalized message just for them on the tag on the side of the pillow along with my contact and brokerage information (for referrals and future).

And because there’s advertising on it there’s a partial tax write off!

Sheree Klausner
Century 21 Premiere Properties


The best closing gift I still use today: a personalized cutting board from Personalization Mall. It allows me to personalize it with their names and at the bottom write: Thank you, Dee Langley Realty Associates.

This way they will always have my name and it’s the first thing for their home that is useful and pretty.

If they buy and sell with me then I use New Nest Pillows to again personalize a pillow with their names and a tag on the side with my name and phone number!

I have given personalized wine glasses, and the cutco knives too but I love the cutting board the best.

Dee Langley, REALTOR®, CDPE, SPS
Dee Langley Realtor Associates LLC


I always give a gift that coincides with whatever holiday is approaching or even perhaps just passed, as long as it’s appropriate for the clients’ religious beliefs, nationality, etc. This way each year when they take it out to decorate for that holiday they will think of me! Here’s an example of a large pumpkin clay planter that I got at Home Depot last year. I bought a ton of the large ones (they never go out of style).

I had lots of closings in Sept. and Oct. last year so all of my clients received one and I have extras for this year. They can either use it as a planter or put a candle in it and it can be used inside or outside. It’s durable so will last for years!

Inside of the card that I give with my closing gift I always give a gift certificate to a local restaurant that delivers too so they can use it on moving day when they are busy and don’t have time to cook!

Christine Manzo, REALTOR®
The EZ Sales Team
Keller Williams Realty Greater Cleveland West


I just closed with one of the sweetest ladies you will ever meet. We were able to close in 14 days time with the fast work of everyone and it was the smoothest transactions I have ever experienced. She is a huge prayer warrior and always shared scripture for relying on God for everything and this was His plan.

A lady at my church does watercolor and has some amazing artwork that sells in a local shop as well as on Etsy ( I went to the shop one day looking for the perfect gift for this client and found one with beautiful colors stating one of the verses that the client had shared with me on numerous occasions.

After she opened it, her eyes filled with tears as she told me she had been in the shop before and really wanted this piece & frame, but she did not want to spend the extra money on it as she was buying a house. She was in awe that God used me to give her a gift that had so much meaning to her and that she would think of me every time she saw it in her home. Was truly very special.

Jen Wetzel, NC/SC Realtor & Team Leader
Re/Max Executive Realty
The “With Jen, You Win” Team


My favorites are a customized cutting board (round or rectangular, depending on clients) from Chef Bella. I have their names on the front and a message engraved from me on the back ($90 + shipping).

Another big hit is having their last name made into a large framed piece of art by Letter Perspectives. Depending on frame & type of glass, it can cost $200 or thereabout.
A very special gift I’ve given to several clients is a hand painted water color of their home—each client has a story that made this gift extra special. I send the artist the photo & she does the pencil sketch & then watercolor. I think they’re $125 or thereabout.

Most recently, during the holidays, besides giving Godiva gift bags that I put together, for many special clients I gave them a hand painted/stained birdfeeder made from a large gourd. The woman used real leaves to trace and then used pretty colors to decorate- they came out really awesome & each one is unique. She or I used a sharpie to put my name on the bottom of it with a tiny heart. They were a big hit! Usually $30-$35/ each but because I bought 20 or so, she charged me $25/piece.

Melissa Dabney, Realtor®
Long & Foster Real Estate Inc.


The best closing gift I ever gave was for a couple that I closed on last month. As with many of my clients, we are also Facebook friends, so I had access to many of their personal pictures.

My clients were a young couple and this was their first house that they were putting on the market. I had a photographer come out and take photos for me. The wife asked if she could have a copy because she wanted to be able to show her baby her first home when she got older.

After we got them under contract, of course they were very busy packing and the idea of the pictures had most likely left her mind! It was a quick sale, so we were very busy getting all the details taken care of and getting them moved out.

Little did they know, I had combined the listing photographs and some of their personal photos from Facebook. Using Shutterfly, I created a hardback book of pictures of their home and family that they can keep forever. It definitely brought some tears to their eyes. Hopefully, they will also remember and think of me as their agent for life when they see it!

The cost is minimal. The total including shipping was $46, but could be less if you have discounts offered by Shutterfly.

Susan Farrow
Associate Broker/Community Association Manager
Liberty Management – Real Estate Division


One of the most thoughtful/helpful/meaningful closing gifts I’ve ever given was to a young expecting couple buying their first home. They were so ecstatic to finally have scraped up enough to be home owners, however they had nothing leftover. I bought them baby a car full of baby gear, and it brought happy tears to their eyes. It was only an $80,000 house to me, but it meant the world to them. It was a happy win/win for us both.

Dorie G. Nelson
All Property Brokers LLC


The best part of a closing gift I’ve given so far was a pair of matching keychains for their new house keys.

The keychains show the date of my clients’ closing, marking their date of homeownership. All printed on a map of their new neighborhood! Quite awesome!! Here’s the Facebook page where I got them made.

Korinne Morrison, Realtor®
Comey & Shepherd

And finally, three feel-good closing stories to brighten your day. 🙂


The best closing gift I ever bought was for a young couple that had suffered many trials & tribulations leading up to the purchase of their first home together. The wife had to do a short sale on the condo she bought when she was single as her business suffered the effects of our failing economy. They became pregnant with their first child, life was getting good again until the baby was delivered stillborn.

While we were looking for their new home the wife commented many times that her favorite tree was a Japanese Maple and noted that she wanted one in the yard of the home they would buy. We put in a few offers that didn’t work out, including one on the home that fit their criteria perfectly (which was next to impossible to accomplish). The offer was rejected in favor of another one, but I received a call from the listing agent a few weeks later saying he was going to put the house back on the market. My buyers had not found a home so they were now able to buy the home of their dreams (A Craftsman Bungalow within walking distance of downtown Rochester, MI for no more than $150,000 with a decent sized lot).

The only thing that was missing was the Japanese Maple, but we were in the dead of winter so I ordered the tree for them & presented them with a small “Money Tree” as a symbol of what would be delivered in the spring. That tree sits proudly in front of the house that was thought to be nonexistent & was planted in memory of their first child that was stillborn. They now have three lovely daughters & will live in that home for the remainder of their lives, watching the tree grow to its full glory.

Sharon Chase, Associate Broker
Michigan Real Estate Resource—Keller Williams Realty


In June of 2015 I had clients, a young couple, purchasing their first home. I had been working with them since Dec of 2014 (credit repair). Throughout the process, as I do with most of my clients, we became close. In fact, the whole family and I became close.

After searching a couple of months, we found the perfect property in Fontana, CA, an REO HomePath property (that should say it all!). We submitted the offer and unfortunately were out-bid! They were devastated.

I told them not to worry, fate has a funny way of working out! And don’t you know, I was right! The original offer fell through and we won the bid!!

The day we got the great news, we ALL (and when I say all, I mean both sets of parents, and all 7 siblings!), went back to the property to show everyone what we had just opened escrow on! Open-mouthed smile Papa Charlie, which was my client’s father, was so overwhelmed with joy, that with a slight tear in his eye, he looked at me and said, “This is perfect, thank you for taking care of my son”. I’m not a miracle worker, just an agent, lol!

Two days later, while preparing to do the inspection, I received a call.

Papa Charlie had passed away from a sudden heart attack the night before. I was in complete shock and could only imagine how the rest of the family was feeling. I explained to my clients, that I completely understand if they wanted to cancel escrow. They refused and said he would of wanted us to continue.

So, after a longer than usual escrow, and a few sleepless nights later, we closed!! And for their closing gift, I got a picture of Papa Charlie, framed it, and placed it in the living room of their new home. Later that day, we meet up so that I could give them the keys, and as they walked in, saw the picture, they said…

“Now it feels like home, Papa Charlie in the living room.”

No, this wasn’t a big expensive gift, but I’d like to think it was a gift they will remember for a long long time.

Dawn Imes
Century 21 Beachside


The best closing gift I ever gave was on my first closed transaction and it was a key chain. Here’s why:

I started my career in Real Estate as a full time agent in 2013 after leaving a high level job with a national wireless retailer thinking I could come in and still be the top producer and leader that I always was. NOT TRUE. This was much harder than I ever thought it would be. I had no book of business, no friends or family that were in the market to buy or sell, and shockingly they all had or knew Real Estate agents already!

After about 3 months I remember getting a lead from an online lead source on a Saturday morning. By the time I called the lead, after less than a minute had gone by, the person picked up the phone and told me someone had already called them and they had an appointment with another agent. Frustrated and disappointed, I went to my wife and told her what happened. She was also frustrated and wondering if I’d made the right decision to sell real estate full time. She asked me, “How are you ever going to sell a house?” I replied, “I really don’t know yet.”

The next couple weeks or so later I got a call while on floor time at my office. The person calling wanted to look at a house that was at a low price point. He was frustrated that every agent he called seemed like they didn’t want to help him. He was trying to find a home for his family. I told him I was committed to helping him and he gave me a chance to work with him. We met at the home he called about and it was in pretty bad shape so it didn’t qualify for the Zero down financing he had been approved for. I didn’t realize at the time that what I was trying to do was going to be so hard. Find a home that qualified for zero down financing, on a very low budget, that was big enough for a family of 5 plus pets.

During this process I got to know my client’s wife a little during showings. She was very humble and sweet and as I got to know them I really wanted help them find the perfect home. After a month of looking we finally were able to get something under contract that was perfect for them. Then after a few bumps in the road with financing we closed on Mother’s Day in 2014. I had no money to give a closing gift but I wanted to make this moment special for them. I thought on it for a bit and finally came up with something.

That afternoon on Mother’s Day in 2014 I met my clients at their new home to give them the keys. When they arrived I presented the keys to my clients wife with a keychain that had a heart and inside it said “#1 Mom.” Her eyes got watery she was so happy. I had been a full time agent for 6 months at that point without a closing and that moment made me realize I had made the right decision to become a Real Estate Agent and I haven’t second guessed it since.

Jason Munoz
All South Sound Homes

Agents: Loving these closing gift ideas? Want to see the rest of Lighter Side’s marketing ideas for agents? Click here to check out our “Inner Circle”.

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An Open Letter To Anyone Considering Becoming A Real Estate Agent


Interested in making real estate your new career? Newsflash, people: it’s not easy. It’s not rocket science either, but like any profession – you either have what it takes or you don’t.

I wouldn’t have the slightest clue on how to be an electrician, gynecologist, or a fast-food worker… but I know real estate. And I also know that every job requires training or experience, a certain work ethic, and the right expectations going in. You see, there’s a misconception that being a Realtor is an easy, glamorous job… that all you have to do is stick a “for sale” sign in the ground and watch the money roll in.

Sure, it can be fun (and you can make awesome money at times), but every deal is different and many will suck your time away and make you no money. Every Realtor out there will attest to this – so you have to take the good with the bad, like all things in life. This is why I’ve defined below what it takes to be successful if you’re seriously considering a career in real estate.

I hope this will accomplish two things: 1) Offer clarity to anyone considering starting a career in real estate, and 2) Give more credit to Realtors out there who are rocking it!

For starters, ask yourself these questions:
  1. Am I able and willing to work 7 days a week and be available all hours of the day?
  2. Am I self-motivated & organized enough to be self-employed?
  3. Can I afford to work my ass off… and not get a paycheck for a month? Two months?
  4. Am I able to multi-task and juggle numerous clients at once and at the same time, not allow my career to consume my life and drive me bat-sh!t crazy?
  5. Do I like people? At the very least, can I ACT like I like people?It’s essential to answer yes to all of the above if you want a fighting chance at success. This is a very demanding and stressful industry. That’s why the best Realtors are people who are outgoing self-starters who thrive in a fast-paced environment where the scenery and schedule always change. And they do it with a smile on their face while making it look easy. You need to be able to roll with change gracefully and accept working like a madman for a month or two non-stop, as well as know that you could be without work for a month or two non-stop.

    Here’s the next question you need to ask yourself:

    Why are you considering a career in real estate?

    If money is the answer, then you are better off getting a minimum wage hourly job because that provides a guaranteed paycheck and you’ll work a lot less hours. Sorry to burst your bubble, but the misconception that Realtors make tons of money and work very little is WRONG. Depending on many different factors, you could make 50 cents an hour or $500 an hour by the time you get to the closing table. Every deal is different and there are no easy deals. Your broker will also get a big cut of your commission, Uncle Sam also gets a big cut, and you need to set aside a small percentage to re-invest into your business if you want to keep the momentum going.

    For example:

    • You sell a home for $200,000.
    • Let’s say your commission is 3%. That’s $6,000.
    • Your broker takes half. Now you’re left with $3,000.
    • You pay 30% of that in taxes (or $900), and now you’re left with $2100.

    Let’s say you worked your ass off for a month for this deal. You spent countless hours on the phone & sending emails to the client, co-op agent, mortgage company, title company, county tax assessor, etc. Ten hours a week would be a safe estimate, so that would be a total of 40 hours of your time.

    OK, not too bad — $52 an hour! Oh, sorry – I forgot the 80 hours you spent in the beginning, when you were initially talking to the client, running online searches for homes, replying to 84 emails to answer questions, setting up showings and driving around town to show them 25 homes. By the way, this was spread over 3 weekends and you spent your entire Saturday and Sunday working. Then, the 6 more hours you spent at the home inspection, again for the appraisal, and lastly, for the final walk-through before closing.

    So let’s factor in all time spent from start to finish – which in this example is 126 hours, and you made $2100. Do the math – you got paid $16 an hour. Not bad, but not glamorous either. Oh, and I forgot the $150 you spent on gas driving all over town, the 10% ($210) that’s suggested to set aside to re-invest into your business, so that’s another $360 you spent – now you’re down to about $14 an hour. Still not horrible. Yes, hard work pays off, but keep in mind you started helping this client two months ago and it took that long to get the paycheck too.

    If you still think you can handle all of this, keep reading.

    The responsibilities of an agent are more than what the average bear realizes. You don’t need a Master’s Degree, but you do need to attend real estate school, pass the State exam and stay on top of the ever-changing laws, rules and regulations.

    You then need to find a broker, buy some business cards and get a website. Half of people fail at this point because they realize that they actually have to put in effort now to look for clients. Business will NOT come to you – you must be looking for it, asking for it from everyone you know. Every day.

    Some agents sit and make cold calls all day, some may buy leads or walk door-to-door and some send out 10,000 mailers every month. I run my business with a different approach and I spend very little money on marketing, but I spend a lot of time on building my brand. I attend networking events, get to know others in the industry to build business partnerships with, and I am a walking advertisement for myself everywhere I go.

    If you’re too shy or uncomfortable giving your business card to a stranger in line behind you at the grocery store, then you may want to consider a different path. You need confidence and an outgoing personality for any sales job. Consider this: buying a house is THE MOST expensive & important purchase a person will ever make, so you better be able to handle that confidently and competently.

    You are your own boss. You are your own accountant. You are your own secretary, bookkeeper, appointment scheduler, customer service department, IT department, PR department… all while assisting potential clients buying or selling their homes. Try taking a vacation when you have a couple clients needing you! If time-management and organization aren’t your strong suits, then you may want to hire an assistant or you will run yourself ragged. This will cost you more money too, and now you have to train someone, learn to delegate and trust in this person but still maintain control of your business at all times. Good Luck!

    Now, I know all this sounds a bit negative and I’m not trying to discourage you – I’m just keeping it real because they don’t teach this stuff in real estate school.

    I LOVE what I do, and I truly feel I’ve found my niche because I know I’m very good at what I do and I’m the type of person meant for this kind of work. There aren’t many people that are, and I see more fail at it (or have it ruin their life) because it can be very time-consuming, life-draining and stressful. That can only happen if you aren’t organized and don’t have a go-getter positive attitude, as well as that special something to balance it all out.

    Personally, I love self-employment. I can work from home in my pajamas, and I can show homes all day and night and attend business meetings and meet new people all over the county. I love all of it. I find it very rewarding to help a client sell or buy a home because I am a small part of that person’s important life event!

    So if you are still planning to dive into Real Estate, I applaud and wish you the best of luck.

    Just remember to always make time to live, love, laugh, and of course, sell. 🙂

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10 Hard-Learned Lessons They Don’t Teach In Real Estate School

Ok, so maybe they try to teach some of this stuff…

… but no matter how well you absorb what they teach in real estate school, there will always be lessons that can only be learned ‘in the trenches’.

Knowing this, we recently reached out to our audience of real estate pros with one simple question: What’s the toughest, most valuable lesson you’ve had to learn the hard way?

As usual, our audience did not disappoint.

So sit back and read these hard-learned (and valuable!) lessons that simply can’t be fully absorbed in real estate school.

1. Don’t be afraid to fire clients. – Janet Jarvis


She also adds, “…and don’t be disappointed if clients fire you. Make sure you do the right thing. If you do, the right thing will show up. You cannot redeem the time. If you’re working with shoppers rather than buyers, or if you find that your clients are operating with a certain less than ethical standard, you are wasting your time. Be constantly vigilant about where you invest your time, resources, and efforts.”

2. Definitely do not spend the money (even in your head) until the settlement happens! – Kelly Epps Normand

Nothing’s final until you hear those three glorious words, “funded and recorded”.

3. Learn when to say no to a listing. – Amy Groves


This is definitely an acquired skill.

4. Get EVERYTHING in writing. – Carol Shaw


Yes, even the seemingly inconsequential things. And yes, even if doing so seems like a big pain in the butt.

5. Get an accountant right after you get your license. – Jessica Thomas


You’ll thank yourself come tax time.

6. Don’t tell sellers an offer is coming in unless you have received it! – Danielle Myre Jolicoeur


Gotta contain that excitement!

7. Don’t give into sellers who want you to CUT your COMMISSION! – Terri Zinke Brady


She also adds, “They will keep coming back asking for more & more and are never satisfied! Plus it undercuts our industry and hurts all agents as a whole!”

8. Do not answer or return calls of clients that continue to call late evenings and nights! – Korey Brewer


Or else you’ll start loathing your phone real quick.

9. Make time for family and yourself. Even if it means putting it down as an “appointment “. – Alicia Martinez Gibson

Yes, even if you’re super busy.

10. Make it about people not about the MONEY!!! – Valerie Ratcliffe Young

We couldn’t agree more. Nothing comes close to the high you feel after making someone’s dream come true.

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The Ten Realtor Commandments: Rules To Live By

There are some things that you don’t want to learn by mistake. Not that I haven’t made some of these mistakes myself. But if I did have big lungs, I would certainly not have violated the First Commandment:

First Commandment: No lungs!

Many years ago, MyBrotherTheRealtor came home from his first day of kindergarten and, in answer to Mom’s question, “How did you like school?” he answered, “My teacher is really nice, and when she bends over you can see her lungs!” Lungs can definitely distract clients from a lack in other areas of competence, for a while.

I always accompany my clients to their signings at the title company. In walked the escrow officer (fifteen minutes late) with nails to here and a blouse to there. Whenever the couple, sitting across from her, asked a question, she stood up, bent over, and pointed to the line item which she could easily have touched, sitting down, with one of those fingernails. Mr. Seller probably wouldn’t have caught it if she had charged for the view, but his wife and I noticed the $ 30,000 error she made on their net proceeds.

Second Commandment: Be honest

Honesty is always appropriate. Except where a white lie is prudent. Like when Animal Control wants you to rat on your client’s dog that had all its shots but nipped puppy daddy’s leg in his exuberance at seeing you— why would I want to sentence that puppy to jail?

Or someone who has her home listed with another agent calls to borrow your garage sale signs and asks, “Oh, by the way, can you drop them at my house?” It’s OK to lie.

Third Commandment: Enthuse

To be a successful Realtor, it’s helpful to be type A, anal retentive, a wolf (they’re not all bad) in sheep’s clothes who protects her own fiercely, the iron fist in a velvet glove— Attila the Honey— with a warm and fuzzy smile.

You must display enthusiasm. I always try to have a smile in my voice, so first thing in the morning I reach for my bottle of caffeine pills, grind one up with a mortar and pestle, and down it in juice. I call it “artificial enthusiasm.”

And at the end of the day, after dodging bullets, preventing train wrecks, and saving marriages, it’s OK to have a “wine emergency.” I have those frequently, but I know I’m not an alcoholic because many nights I must do without for fear of getting arrested on the way to an appointment.

Fourth Commandment: Observe the Golden Rule

Because God (or the other agent) will get you. Like the time my lifelong friend, the loan officer, called me.

Charlie: “Would you be upset if I listed my house with Alice the Agent?”

Me: …

Charlie: “Well, she told me that if I didn’t list my house with her, her client wouldn’t be inclined to accept my offer.”

Me (regaining my composure): “You didn’t.”

Charlie: “I told her I had promised to list it with you. She said you wouldn’t mind.”

Me: “Why would I mind, Charlie? We go back decades. I hired you when you changed careers. I’ve referred business to you for years. You get my bourbon fudge at Christmas. Why would I be upset that you sold out our friendship?”

Charlie: “Is it too late?”

Me: “Unlike buying a used car, which she’s trying to sell you, there’s no cooling off period with real estate contracts. However, there is a little something you can do to make me feel better. You can call Alice up, tell her that she interfered in an agency relationship, and that I would like a 50 percent referral fee.”

And he did! And Alice knew that had she not agreed, I could have taken her to the Board of Realtors and probably taken her whole commission.

Which, sadly, I had to do to Barry the Broker. Apropos of saving some time for clients who help me pay my bills, I thoroughly screen callers whose employers move them to my area. More times than not, they have a relocation package that requires the employer to choose the real estate agent to represent the employee. For which the employer gets half the commission and doubles the agent’s paperwork.

“Steve” cleared all my hurdles. He had a narrow window of time for his purchase, so we spent hours and hours together, popping in and out of houses, Starbucks, and gas stations until we found the perfect house. We discussed offer strategy, I quizzed the listing agent, I wrote a purchase contract. And then, Steve disappeared! He didn’t return my friendly phone calls. He didn’t answer my e-mails.

He didn’t sign the contract I had written. The perfect house, though, went pending two days later, with Barry the Broker representing the buyer.

So I called the listing agent, who was very confused at this point because she thought I was Steve’s agent. So did I. Then I called Barry, who had probably sicced Steve on me to do his legwork, and told him that I would accept “only” a 25 percent referral fee, to be nice, because according to our Multiple Listing Service Code, I was the “procuring cause,” and therefore, entitled to the whole commission.

I guess Steve and Barry thought I would go away if they ignored me, but no. My righteous indignation had been aroused, so I took Barry to the Board and won his whole commission. It’s always important to be nice.

Fifth Commandment: Do not engage

I learned this from MyHusbandTheEngineer. He can stand amazingly still, with a faraway look on his face, while someone (not me) delivers the most challenging assault to his patience problem-solving ability. Something happens when he does this:

  • The other person solves the problem himself while rattling on, or
  • The other person hears himself talking and realizes how unreasonable he’s being, or
  • The other person runs out of breath, and the silence is deafening.

I have adapted this strategy to real estate. My challenges usually come to me over the phone, so I must convert the gaze into words. I say, “Uh huh. Ummmmm. I see.” Mostly I let the other person talk. If I don’t get one of the results above, I tell the caller that I need to process the information and will get back to him that evening. And then I do. By that time, he’s usually figured it out himself. I could have told him the solution earlier in the day, but he wouldn’t have been ready to hear it. Sometimes you have to let the balloon deflate.

Sixth Commandment: Look like you care

It gets you halfway there. I must have missed the memo about shorts. Once, a homeowner greeted my client (clad in her spandex biking pants) and me at the door with “Which one of you is the Realtor?” Okay…

Seventh Commandment: Be yourself

When I had my last business photo taken, the photographer said, “There, that ought to do you for another ten years.” He was not complimenting me on my youthful preservation; rather, he was alluding to Realtors’ propensity to use the same photo for the rest of their professional lives. I beat his estimate— mine lasted fifteen years, and the only thing that changed was my hairstyle… that I could detect.

I was passing out newsletters in my geographic farm a while back, and an elderly gentleman took one, looked at it, looked at me, squinted, and asked in a dubious voice, “Is this you?”

“Yes,” I answered. “On a good day.”

And in these times male agents, especially, need to resemble their photos if they want to get through the homeowner’s door.

Eighth Commandment: Don’t look dumb

It’s natural to want to present your best face. But if you would rather be an attorney than a real estate appraiser, do not call yourself an “appraiser at real estate,” as one of my associates in Idaho did. Just go be a lawyer. And for heaven’s sake, don’t name your hydroplane speedboat “Your 6 percent.” I think that agent was the same one whose outgoing phone message was “Hi, this is Susie. I’m out making a killing in real estate. Leave your name and number and I’ll get back to ya.” (I couldn’t make this stuff up.)

I don’t understand why Realtors have to advertise how much they earn when other professionals don’t. I can see listing the number of homes we’ve sold, although doctors don’t list the number of body parts they’ve replaced; the public does need to have some means of measuring our success, but really…

Ninth Commandment: Something to do with cars

Cars bore me to distraction. Before I became a Realtor, mine had fruit flies in it. But since real estate agents have to put other people in their cars, keep them tidy, and look successful, I was forced to clean up my act. My first real estate car was a Honda Accord. I learned that no matter how modest an image you project, you can’t click with everyone. Like the fellow who said, “It must be nice to be able to afford a new Accord.”

An Accord will pass as successful if it’s brand new. Every year its ability to assure potential clients of your worthiness depreciates. Next, I was forced to trade my five-year-old Accord in on an Acura when I got tired of hearing (only from men) words to this effect:

Mr. Buyer: “We’re riding in this?”

Me: Smile. Nod.

Mr. Buyer: (silence)

Some of them even noticed the scratches on my bumpers.

Other agents “get it” faster. Like Susie, who always wanted to quit her county job and go into real estate. She stopped by a while back, so excited, to say that she had “started (her) real estate career!”

I said, “Oh, wow, you passed the exam?”

Other agents “get it” faster. Like Susie, who always wanted to quit her county job and go into real estate. She stopped by a while back, so excited, to say that she had “started (her) real estate career!”

I said, “Oh, wow, you passed the exam?”

“No.” She grinned. “I got me my Mercedes!”

Tenth Commandment: Stop talking

There are two times when you should not talk: when you’re talking to a client on the phone, and when you’re talking to a client face-to-face. Because, let’s admit it, they don’t want to hear about us. They want us to listen to them. Which is only fair— they’re paying.

So just say enough to prime the pump, to get them going. And then, if you’re on the phone, you can pick up your knitting and make a scarf. Because that’s about how much time you should devote to listening. I’ve considered giving the longest scarves to the corresponding clients but thought better of it.

Chatting in person calls for another skill set: body language. Serious listening can induce drowsiness. As can my didactic preaching, so I’m not going to dwell on this. But you know what I’m saying here.

I once took another broker in my office with me to a listing presentation in a town where I had few listings, because he had been a longtime resident there and knew everything about it. (It’s true— he said so, repeatedly.) He also knew everything about skiing, his kids’ palatial home in Silicon Valley, and politics. It was really hard to tear him ourselves away. The next day the homeowners called me to say, “If we decide to go with you, whatever you do, don’t bring him back.”

You have just read an excerpt from the book, Laugh Your Way to Real Estate Sales Success, by Cathy Turney.Cathy has been making fun of real estate for 25-plus years as Broker/Managing Partner at Better Homes Realty (San Francisco Bay Area). In a good year she produces in the top 10 percent of all agents nationally. An award-winning humorist, her columns have been published in national magazines, the San Francisco Chronicle, and she writes for Inman News and the Clayton Gazette.