The Supervillains of Real Estate – Dr. Ego

One of the most notorious and cunning sales people in real estate—this month, you’re introduced—watch your back…

Last month I introduced you to The Cheetah, one of the many Supervillains of real estate. If you  remember, this supervillain’s superpower was the power of pursuit. He is the one salesperson that can’t be outrun. He is too fast. He doesn’t read or understand social cues. And no, he will never get the hint, no matter how many times you give it to him.

This month I will introduce you to another of the real estate Supervillains. This series of articles is, of course, meant to be fun and entertaining—but there is too much truth contained in these descriptions to be considered fiction.

As a consumer it is important to understand, many commissioned-based salespeople lack integrity. This is not news to you, but I think a lot of people underestimate the threat. Especially when the seduction of their promises, weigh mightily on our desire for that outcome.

“Your home sold, faster, for more money!” said in various ways, for whatever reason, leads homeowners to make stupid decisions that no responsible homeowner would ever make, if in fact, rational thought was involved.

And specifically there is one Supervillain (of real estate) who’s notorious for his over-promising ways. He hails from billboards and the glossy covered pages of The Real Estate Book, Newspaper, and other real estate publications. Dr. Ego bluntly stated, is all about HIM.

Sigmund Freud once said, speaking of “Dr. Ego,” this is one race of people for whom psychoanalysis is of no use whaeinstein-egotsoever. In his own omnipotent mind, he is the greatest, best, smartest, most knowledgeable, skilled expert that ever walked the planet.

This Supervillain is blissfully unaware of his shortcomings and weaknesses. However, as brilliant as this Supervillain believes he is, he’s quite easy to stump. He doesn’t even know the definition of the word “expert.” And, if you’d like to prove it to yourself, just ask him “What makes you an expert? Why should I do business with you?” This is, after all, a plausible question that any homeowner might ask.

Internally, if you could see inside him, you’d notice he starts to sweat. Squirms, and gets nervous… but, with blinded arrogance, will tell you everything about HIM, what makes HIM great – how HE’S a million-dollar producer, sold more homes than any other agent, how HE’S been in real estate longer than any other agent, how HE’S the best  negotiator, the most skilled marketer, the most brilliant tactician, how HE knows the real estate market and market trends BETTER than  anyone else (he’ll probably even show you some beautifully designed graphs and charts about HIM.)

This Supervillain doesn’t understand it’s not about him. That it is about YOU.

In addition, this Supervillain is the epitome of “fake it until you make it” and is always over-compensating. His clothes? He is always over-dressed. Suit, tie, ironed-shirt, and shoes, always shined. His car, probably leased, but it’s top of the line. A Range Rover or something, whatever the “in” car of the week is, according to I Can’t Afford It   magazine.

This Supervillain prides himself on materialistic things – this is how he judges his value to himself – so he wears a nice watch,  expensive, and is always pulling up his sleeve to make sure you see it. When talking to you, you’ll notice he crosses his legs too, one over the other and leans back in his chair, taking on a sort of a slouched position. This is a villainous “move” that, for some reason, he believes makes him look confident, something he’s practiced – another form of over-compensating.

But what makes this Supervillain so criminally dangerous is the fact his “Ego” is more important to him, than you, or ANY real estate goal that you wish to achieve.

So when things go bad, and they often do – rather than risk damaging his ego or tarnishing it even the slightest bit (something Dr. Ego can’t live with or even admit is possible) this Supervillain will blame you. YOU overpriced your home. YOU didn’t accommodate showings. YOU didn’t follow his advice. YOU… YOU… YOU… It’s all your fault. And, if you examine this Supervillain’s hands, you’ll notice that his index finger is about 30% longer than all his others fingers, from a lifetime of out-stretched finger pointing.

This Supervillain is bi-polar too. One day, he’s your best friend. The next, he’s throwing you under the bus – so be careful with this one! With this Supervillain, trust me, you need to watch your own back, yourself – it’s imperative.

Dr. Ego is a team player, seemingly, and always has your back, right up until the point you need him most. Then, whatever is best for his ego, takes priority. One moment, he’s your confidant. The next, his knife, motivated by the pure size and importance of his ego, is 6-inches deep in your back.

Next month, based on the positive feedback of last month’s column, I’ll share with you the character traits of another Supervillain that lives amongst us, causing homeowners Horror Stories.

In the meantime, stay smart. Do your homework. Protect yourself.

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Fight…And Never Give Up!

The book bag was light blue with a huge embroidered rainbow on the front of it.  The rainbow, once bright with brilliant colors, had seen better days.  After months of being dragged on the ground, it was dirty and torn.

I was swinging it back and forth.  It was especially light today because Mr. McDonald, my second grade teacher, only gave us one page of homework last night.  The contents consisted of my math workbook, my pencil, and the latest Bobbsey Twins book, “The Bobbsey Twins and the Play House Secret.”

I swung my book bag and skipped down the sidewalk to the bus stop.  Today was Thursday.  Only one more day until my best friend Dawn’s sleep over birthday party.  I couldn’t wait!  It would be my first party with a piñata.  She said we were going to play pin the tail on the donkey, musical chairs and tell scary stories.  Just thinking of it made me skip faster and swing my bag higher.

The bus stop was at the end of our block, and when I got there I looked back and waved to  my Mom.  She was standing at the end of our driveway holding my baby sisschool buster on her hip.

She took my sister’s hand and made it wave back at me.

I turned my attention back to the other 9 kids waiting for the bus.  Two of my friends were talking to Dawn about the party.

I rushed over to them and joined the conversation.  Dawn had decided the menu –  pizza for dinner, cake and ice cream for dessert, popcorn for scary stories and pancakes for breakfast.  We were all talking at once when we heard the high pitched brakes of the bus.

We all turned around as the bus stopped and the door opened.

Bob, the new bus driver, had on blue pants and a blue shirt.  His gray hair always looked messy, as if he’d just woke up in the morning.

He pulled his black eye glasses down to the end of his nose, looked at us over the top and yelled, “Two lines!  When I stop this bus, I want two lines, one boys’ line and one girls’ line.  Now line up!”  The girls looked at each other and rolled their eyes.

“OK – Boys on first!”  The boys snickered and John, the boy in the back of the line, turned towards us and stuck out his tongue.

This had been going on for almost 2 weeks now.  Ever since Bob became our new bus driver.  The boys ALWAYS went on the bus first.  It just wasn’t fair.

By the time I climbed up the stairs and onto the bus, I was fuming.  I’m pretty sure there was actual smoke coming out of my ears.

I reached the top and stopped right next to Bob’s seat.  I planted my hands on my hips and tried to give him an evil eye.  “It’s not fair that you    always let the boys on first.  We should take turns.”

Bob looked at me over his glasses, then tilted his head back and pushed his glasses up.  He stared at me some more.  He leaned towards me and said, “I’ll think about it!  Now go find a seat!”

UGH!  Well that’s just it – the boys get all the good seats; the ones in the back that bounce up and down every time the bus goes over a bump.

The school day flew by, and the next thing I knew, we were lining up for the buses.  My bus, Bus #10, was called over the loud speaker, we waved goodbye to Mr. McDonald and headed outside.

It was easy to find our bus.  It was the one with 2 lines outside the door; one boys’ line and one girls’ line.

Bob opened the door and yelled out, “OK – Boys first!”

What?!  This is really not fair.  He must hate girls!  I stomped my feet all the way to Bob’s seat and did the whole hands on hips thing again.  “You told me you would think about it!”

The corners of his mouth turned up, and he said, “I did think about it, and I decided the boys go on first!  Now go to your seat!”

That night at dinner, I told my mom and dad what happened on the bus.  They told me it was good that I stood up for myself and the girls.

“But it didn’t work!  He hates us, and he is never going to let us on first.”

My dad said, “Well, you just need to keep trying.  Don’t give up.  You should never give up on  something that you believe is right.”

The next morning, I got to the bus stop and tried to convince the boys to let us on first even if Bob says boys first.  The boys nearly fell over laughing at such a stupid suggestion.  So it went Bob’s way again.  Boys are first.  I marched up the bus steps.  This time, I crossed my arms and squished my  eyebrows as close together as I could.  This was my mad face.  I made my demand, “If you don’t let the girls on first after school, I’m boycotting this bus!”  And I stomped back to my seat.

School dragged on, as it usually does on Fridays, but finally the end of the day came and we were lined up for the bus.

“Bus 10.”  We went outside and formed our two lines.  The moment of truth.  The bus door opened, Bob stared straight ahead and yelled, “OK, boys first!”

Steam was rushing out of my ears, and my face was fire engine red with fury!

The boys went on first, and when it was my turn to get on, I stopped at the bottom of the steps, blocked the door and said, “I am boycotting this bus.”

Bob said, “Get on the bus.  You’re holding up the line.”

“No.  I am not getting on the bus until you let the girls go on first.”

This went back and forth for several minutes.  Bob finally radioed for the principal to come outside.  I didn’t budge.  I would not get on the bus, and they could not make me – which is  exactly what I yelled as I turned away and started walking home.  The principal was concerned and upset.  “You can’t walk home!  You have to cross the busy highway!”

Bob shut the door and pulled away.

“Well,” I replied, “Then Bob should have let the girls go on first!”  And I marched on.

Ten minutes later, I was sitting in the back of my mom’s car.  She was yelling at me.  “How could you walk home?  You can’t cross the highway!  It’s too dangerous!  You’ll get hurt!  What were you thinking?!”

Instead of driving me home, she drove me back to school.  We went to the principal’s office and took our seats.  We went over the events of the last two days.

The principal spoke.  “You know it’s too dangerous to walk home, so you have to take the bus.”

At this point, I am close to tears and having trouble continuing to be brave.  “It’s not fair!  My dad told me that I should stand up for stuff I believe in!  And I believe Bob isn’t fair!”

Eventually, the principal and I came to an agreement.  Bob would do away with the two separate lines, and I would ride the bus home for the rest of the school year.

Girls’ rights were restored.  I stood up for what I believed in.  I believed the girls weren’t being treated fairly, and I fought for them.  As my dad said, “Fight for what you believe in, and never give up.”

Kind of like the time when I represented a couple in the purchase of a vacation home.  “Tom and Mary” found a home they liked in the perfect location.  They knew it was older and needed work, but they were okay with that.  In fact, they preferred that.  And you couldn’t beat the location.  It was exactly where they wanted to be.

They wrote the contract and put the deposit down.  It was a complete rehab, so they went to work and collected bids from contractors to complete the renovations.

Two weeks into the contract, their insurance company decided to inspect the house before  issuing a policy.  After the inspection, they were denied insurance.  The issue was the electric.  It was old, and the wiring was old and fraying, a fire hazard

This bad wiring was all over the house, garage and outside area.  The house was uninsurable – we checked with several insurance companies.

Tom and Mary were upset.  They decided it was too risky to buy a house without insurance.  They knew they were going to lose their deposit    money.  They figured it was better to lose a little money than to lose a lot, and they were okay with that.

I was not.

I believed they should get their deposit back.  They shouldn’t be forced to buy a house that was uninsurable.  The seller’s agent thought          differently.  He was not going to allow the buyer to get his deposit back.  We went back and forth on the issue and back and forth.

It is not fair that the seller keep the deposit money if the buyers can’t get insurance.  If they bought the house and something bad happened, they would lose everything.

I stood up for my buyers.  I stood up for what I believed in.  I never gave up.

Tom and Mary—they gave up.  They gave up on the notion of getting their deposit back.  I didn’t.  I kept at it, and never gave up.

Two weeks ago, I received a call from the title company that was holding the deposit check.  They still had the check.  They wanted my buyers’ address so they could mail it to them.  The title company had been holding the check for 18 months because of the dispute!

My buyers got their money back. ☺

As my dad said – “Fight for what you believe in, and never give up.”



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Are you serious? Ketchup, Mustard and Relish?

Mia started barking her high pitched little puppy bark.  Her tail was wagging so hard that her whole butt wobbled back and forth.  She pulled hard on the leash as she tried to jump.  Jump, bark, jump, bark.  It was her first visit to the vet, and she was in the waiting room greeting all the other dogs who came in.  She wanted to play.  She wanted to be friends.

The minutes ticked by – ten, fifteen, twenty.  Dogs were called into the exam rooms and new dogs entered the waiting room.  Bark, jump, bark, jump.  “Surely someone wants to play with me,” said Mia.

She was only 10 weeks old, and waiting quietly and nicely was not in the cards.

I tried to distract her from the other dogs with the toys the vet had in a basket for the dogs to play with.  It worked for a while, until another dog came in.

I took her for a walk outside.  I petted her.  I tried to calm her down.  I was getting anxious.  The heat started in my cheeks, spread across my face and traveled clear down to my toes.  You know how it is – you want your dog or child to be the most well behaved one in the room, and they just aren’t cooperating.  They aren’t being bad, but they are causing a scene.  Thirty minutes, forty minutes, forty five minutes…

I was anxious and a bit embarrassed.  The wait was way too long for a puppy, and for me, but the vet had an emergency come in right before us, so we sat and waited.


Cute little puppy Mia.

Finally Mia tired herself out and plopped onto the floor at my feet.  She started to doze off.  I took a deep breath and settled back into the stiff backed, uncomfortable leather waiting room chair.

I took my phone out of my purse to see what I had missed in the past forty five minutes.  “Oh. I guess I am not popular today – no phone calls, no texts,” I thought.  I decided to catch up on Facebook.  I hadn’t been on it in a couple of days.  I looked at some of the things my friends had posted – a couple of funny pictures and sayings and a cute video.  I saw some posts from a Real Estate group I belong to, so I started to read….

Ketchup, Mustard, Relish

Wait?!  What?!  Did I just read that right?  Surely this can’t be serious…

Suzie wrote, “I’m not sure if this is a good idea or not, so I thought I’d run it by the group to see what you think.

Sam’s Club sells a 3 pack of condiments – ketchup, mustard and relish.  I thought I would buy several packs and hand deliver them to my past clients with this note attached:

‘I stopped by to “Ketchup” because I “Relish” our relationship.  From your agent who really cuts the “Mustard.”’Ketchup, Mustard, Relish

I thought I would do this in the spring just before BBQ season.  What do you think?”

Wait! What?!?!  Is she serious?  I really couldn’t believe someone actually thought this was a good way to stay in touch with her past clients.

And then, here is the funniest part.  She had almost 20 comments on her post!  George commented, “Great idea!”  Eric said, “Very clever!”  Sarah thought it was, “So cute!”  Irene added, “Such a great gift to give someone, I love the note!”  The praise went on and on.

So, MORE people thought this is a good idea?

Can you imagine your lawyer or doctor or accountant or hair dresser coming to your house to deliver a pack of condiments?

I’d probably go looking for another lawyer, doctor, accountant or hair dresser.

It makes me sad to think of other agents reducing themselves to dropping off condiments.  Especially since in reality all they are really looking for is referrals.

Sean and I get referrals all the time from our past clients and customers, but not because we drop off condiments.  It’s because we authentically care about them. We stay in touch, we know them, their families.  We have conversations with them.  At this point, it’s not about Real Estate.  It’s about people, friends.

Just like Mia – jump, bark, jump, bark.  So excited to see all the other dogs.  She just wants to play – just wants to be friends.

Mia lounging lazily.

Now I’m not saying that our past customers and clients jump and bark when they see us, but they truly are friends.

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The Integrity of Discounting

The Integrity of Discounting

In the name of increasing sales and selling product, is it ethical or moral to have one client pay $3,000 more, for the same product or service, than another client?

This discussion is likely to ruffle some feathers, as the sanctity of sales and discounts are what drive many customers’ buying decisions. After all, if you can save $100 on a TV during a Black Friday sale, or get two packs of socks for the price of one, why not?  Right?mega

And in a retail setting where these sales are well advertised and the dates for the promotional period are established, meaning everyone knows the game, the argument of ethics becomes less of a concern. But what about the situation that routinely takes place in different service industries…for example, real estate?

I have witnessed it too many times to count.  A real estate agent, and maybe he’s a good guy, meets with Client A on Monday.  He sits down in their home, explains his services, then quotes to the homeowner a fee to sell their home. Maybe it’s 6%. Then, just hours later, he sits down with Client B, presents the same spiel, the same set of services, but this time he quotes a fee of 5%.

I ask you, what’s wrong with this picture? What changed in the few hours between when he met with Client A and when he met with Client B?

If both homes are in the $300K range, does it seem right that Client A is asked to pay $3,000 more for the same set of services than Client B?

If I were Client A, I would be pissed.  Why was Client B, just hours after me given a $3,000 discount that I did not receive, nor was I offered?  Did I miss the advertised sale somewhere?  Did I overlook the dates for the promotional period to save $3,000?

As a parent, it is universally known that if you favor one child over the other, you will be setting yourself up for disaster.  Yet in the business world, in industries like mine, real estate, I see it everyday.  Agents are giving preferential treatment or discounts on service-fees to one client and not another, because by discounting his services, he believes he’s more likely to win that client’s business.

Sorry, but I simply can’t get onboard with that.

I read an article the other day on the business Tuft & Needle—a mattress company out of Arizona. The title was, “The Hidden Costs of Discounting.” Long story short, this was the position of the company’s founders.

“Last week, our marketing team gathered for its weekly meeting. Among the topics of discussion were designs for new billboards, potential partnerships with radio hosts, and plans outlining new initiatives beginning in 2016. What the team didn’t discuss was what discounts or special prices we might offer on Cyber Monday.

At Tuft & Needle, we’ve decided against having a promotion on Cyber Monday. In fact, we don’t discount any day of the year. In the mattress industry, there are sales almost every day of the week, especially around the holidays. “Lowest Prices of the Season Sale” or “Black Friday Door-busters,” you’ve seen them all.  Most mattress retailers report an outsized amount of sales occurring during these promotional periods.

Before I explain why we’ve decided against it, let’s dive deep into what promotions and discounts really are.

The idea behind a discount, on the surface, is rather simple. Something that previously cost $500 is now on sale for $400. The consumer has saved $100 over what they would have paid. Promotions exist to create a perception that customers are saving money.

Why do companies charge different prices to different customers? It’s based on the idea that the customer that paid $400 wouldn’t have purchased if they had to pay $500. This is all based on the theory that a customer who thinks they are getting a deal is more likely to buy.”

They continued, “Fairness: Tuft & Needle was started when our co-founders shared a similar, but awful experience. They were pressured into overpaying for a mattress they weren’t excited about. A lot of that pressure was due to the “over-whelming discounts” that were available.

From this experienceno-discounts, a decision was made to offer fair and transparent pricing. We decided that the best pricing strategy was actually rather simple: Every customer should pay the same price for the same products.

When customers pay different prices for the same product, one group of people is subsidizing the discounts for another.

At T&N, if we were to offer discounts, it would be for the sole purpose of increasing sales. For the record, we’d love to increase sales, but adhering to the core values of our brand takes the highest priority.”

After reading those paragraphs, there were three convictions that resonated with me: Fairness, Transparency, and this statement, “Adhering to the core values of our brand take the highest priority.”  If one doesn’t share these beliefs, how could they possibly have integrity?

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Real Estate Agents Are Like DuraFlame Logs

Stop!!  Mindy, our camp counselor said it just loud enough for us to hear.  She signaled with her hand.  The 12 of us stopped and looked ahead.

The bear was standing in the middle of a tent.  My heart started to pound in my chest so hard I thought it was going to break through my skin.  I realized it was my tent that the bear was in!  I watched as he ruffled through my sleeping bag and back pack.  My hands trembled and my palms started to sweat.  I was scared. The big black bear was only 15 yards away.

It was 1979 and my third year at Girl Scout camp.  But this year was different.  I chose to do primitive camping with 11 other   campers and two counselors.  We hiked through the woods away from the main camp, carrying our tents, back packs, and supplies.  We found a spot in the middle of the woods and set up camp.

We would have to live in this spot for two weeks, being totally self-sufficient.

Before we set out for this adventure, the counselors had warned us not to bring any food with us and to make sure no food ever went into our tents.  It attracts all sorts of animals – including bears.  It was at this moment that it I realized Juicy Fruit Gum must also be considered food.

Mindy whispered, “Remember the Drill?”  We had prepared for a moment like this.  We quietly and slowly backed up – our eyes never leaving the bear.  We continued to walk backwards until we were about 50 yards away.

Mindy raised her weapon and pulled the trigger.  The air horn sent out an ear piercing sound.  She pulled the trigger a second time.  Ours ears were ringing from the   deafening sound.  The sound startled the bear – he looked up, right at us.  Mindy sent out another blast of air horn.  The bear turned and ran away from us, into the woods.

The 12 of us turned, screamed and ran in the opposite direction.  We ran away from the bear and towards the Mess Hall in the main camping area about a mile away.

I learned a lot at camp that year.  How to clear a spot in the woods for a camp, how to make a fire ring, how to pitch tents, how to cook over campfires, how to safely get away from a bear, and my favorite – how to build a campfire.

I remember thinking it would be easy to build a campfire.  Just light a match and the wood catches on fire.  But it didn’t work like that.  The counselors explained that we had to have the right tools to build a good campfire.  One that will get hot enough to cook our meals, give us enough light for our camp and give off enough heat to keep us warm at night.   They explained that we had to have all different sized wood – from very small and tiny sticks graduating up to big logs split into 4 pieces.  They taught us the difference between green wood (alive) and dead wood – what it looks like, flees like and how it burns.  We learned how to build a fire in the rain, and in high winds.  And we learned how to build my personal favorite – fire without any matches.  It was possible with the right tools and with a little patience and extra work.

By the end of the two weeks I had lit my first no match fire.  I was super pumped!  I loved the challenge and it was such a great sense of accomplishment.

I still love the challenge – even today.  I love assembling the right tools (pine needles, kindling, tinder and logs) and using each at the right time to build the best, brightest and hottest fire possible.

When we bring friends with us up to our new camp (Camp – Off The Grid) they always tease me. “Why don’t you just use a Duraflame log?  All you have to do is light the paper and the log catches fire and burns for a couple of hours.”

And I would agree with them.  Burning a Duraflame log is the easy way out.  Just light it and sit back and watch it burn.

But to me a DuraFlame will never be the best, brightest and hottest fire.  It will never be as pretty and as grand as the fires I build with love, patience and the right tools.  Yes it takes a lot of extra work to build a fire from scratch – but the pay off in the end is why I do it.

This is the same concept Sean and I use with our sellers when we sell their homes.  The concept in our book, The Value Driven Approach to Selling Real Estate.  It takes some extra work, time and patience to transform a home into its peak condition.  But the payoff in the end, the extra profit we put in our sellers pockets, is why we do it.

Real Estate agents who use the cost driven approach (CMA Approach) are like DuraFlame Logs. Duraflame Logs

They like to take the fast and easy way out.  Just light the log, sit back and watch it slowly burn.

Get the listing, slap it on the MLS, sit back and watch the seller’s potential profits slowly burn away.

The approach we take requires additional work, time, patience and the right tools. 

Assembling the right tools (pine needles, kindling, tinder and logs) and using each at the right time will make the biggest, brightest, hottest fire possible.

As a team with our sellers, we assemble the right tools (stager, cleaner, and professional photographer) and use each at the right time to have the prettiest and grandest of homes on the market.  Yes, it requires extra work to have the best possible home on the market, but the payoff in the end (the extra profit extracted from their home) is worth the effort.

The question you may want to ask yourself the next time you are ready to sell a home is –

What kind of Real Estate Agent would you rather hire?

A DuraFlame Log?  One that lights easily, requiring no effort, and burns away potential profits?

Or one that builds the best, brightest and “hottest” homes on the market with skill, patience and the right tools – putting extra profit into your pockets?

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Mastering Your Craft

Real estate agents, politicians, lawyers, insurance agents – are among the least respected professions on earth. Here’s an insider’s look at why that is true.

I have thought a lot about this. As a real estate agent myself, operating in an negative reputation industry, where so many of my peers are looked down upon and treated worse, why do I not garner their same treatment?

People think the term “real estate agent” and a bitter taste immediately forms in their mouth. But, for myself, I have not found that to be the case. I write articles. Have published a book. Because of these things, why does the public see and treat me so much different than the run of the mill agent?

I have observed the same about Warren Buffett. He is treated differently than the other folks in finance.

The financial industry is wrought with fraud and deceit. Wall Street of course is painted as the villain, and constantly being attacked. Yet Buffett, who operates in that same industry…is one of our nation’s most respected men – treated differently than his peers and colleagues.

The truth of the matter is, it doesn’t matter what industry it is: real estate, the political arena, whether you’re a financial advisor or a lawyer, insurance agent, or something else entirely. I think respect, especially true (though) when operating in a negative reputation industry, comes down to whether you have mastered your craft.

And second, you are correctly serving the proper customer base. The importance of this is evident, by looking at the political spectrum. Someone who is a hardcore Hillary supporter will likely never love nor support Trump, and visa-versa. By their core base, though, both are loved, but to a big majority outside their core base, they are hated and despised.

So yes, you need to master your craft but also, you need to be sure you are focusing that craft on those who can be best served by your beliefs, skills and ability.

How do you master your craft?

I read an interesting article the other day about Jay Leno. No doubt someone who has mastered his craft.  Taken from the article, “According to Jon Macks, a writer for Leno for 22 years, and author of Monologue: What Makes America Laugh – Before Bed, Leno read more than one thousand jokes a day brought to him by his 12 to 14 writers and sent in by freelancers…picked out a hundred or so he liked…then he and his chief writer, Jack Coen, would winnow it to 25. Jay would then rewrite or polish them, put them in order, privately rehearse them, and finally go down to rehearse, then ‘live tape’ the show. Every day. Also, Leno has said he often took new material that was not super time sensitive to a local comedy club and performed free, to test it.

Leno also re-worked and moved material from the monologues into his stand-up act material, and while hosting The Tonight Show five nights a week, frequently flew to Vegas after the taping Friday afternoon to perform there Friday and Saturday nights. He also did and does a lot of corporate events.”

In other words, Leno worked. A lot. Continuously. Constantly. At his craft.

Then you must ask, what is your craft? In Leno’s case, it is entertaining and making people laugh. By becoming masterful at that, he cultivated an audience that was willing to invest in the tickets that were offered to see his perform.

Notice I said, offered, not sold.

When you have mastered your craft, as Leno has, people don’t need to be sold. They already know you. They already like you. Love you. Trust you. So they just need to be offered the opportunity to see you perform or work with you.

But the reason why certain people in certain industries are not respected is because they have wrongly tried to master a craft that does not serve their audience. Take my industry, real estate, for example, since I see it daily and have an intimate understanding of what takes place. Real estate agents work their tail off to master the craft of self-promotion. They practice and practice and practice scripts and dialogues, to use when cold-calling homeowners. They spend thousands of dollars on websites to market themselves, etc., all self-interest orientated, but when it comes to their customers – where the majority of their time should be spent – why have they not worked equally as hard to master the craft of achieving a superior result?

I am not Jay Leno, and probably couldn’t bring my audience to tears (from a comedic performance) no matter how hard I tried. But while entertainment and laughter are the outcome of a Leno performance, the outcome of my performance is much different—homeowners desire to maximize their return on investment, from their home sale—so that is the craft that I have spent thousands of hours to master.

Here is what I have come to learn: Those who are respected, regardless of industry or person, whether it’s Leno or Buffett or me, or others, are those who have focused on mastering the craft that will yield their audience a superior result first, not on their own self-interest. Then utilize that mastered craft… to serve only those who can most benefit.

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In every fiber of my being, I knew they were going to get screwed.

One tiny log had a thin sliver of smoke coming out of the middle.  I sat next to the newly built fire ring and took a sip of my steaming hot coffee.  The bitter sweet taste woke up my taste buds.

I sat back in the Adirondack chair and looked up at the green trees and inhaled the fresh pine aroma.  The weather was cool for a November Florida morning – 64 degrees.  The kind of weather that makes Northerners jealous.  The slight breeze gently rocked the tops of the trees, and needles fell silently to the ground.

This is why we bought this lot in the middle of the state.  Peace.  And Quiet.

“PING – PING”.   You know the high pitched sound your phone makes when a text arrives.

I ignored it – preferring to continue my glorious morning.

“PING – PING”, “PING – PING”, “PING – PING”, “PING – PING”, “PING – PING, “ the texts came in at rapid fire.

“Son of a gun!” (That’s the G-rated version of what I really said.)  I pushed myself up out of the chair, walked to the camper and picked up the phone.  It was Brittany – daughter #4.

France has been attacked by terrorists

A Hundred people are dead, and more are missing.

They think Isis is responsible.

It’s all over the news.

I ran into the camper and turned on the TV. (Oh – the conveniences of modern day camping!)  Sure enough it was on the first channel I came to.

People were running, shots being fired, eye witnesses being interviewed.  They replayed the chaos over and over again.  Another terrorist attack.  How can this be?  How can people be so willing to harm innocent people? I was glued.

I stood in front of the TV.  I didn’t move.  I couldn’t stop watching.  The memories of September 11, 2001 flood back of me standing in front of the bedroom TV watching the horror and chaos in New York City.  I am sure any American can tell you where they were at that exact time.  They will be able to tell every last detail.  The French – they will remember too.

The first World Trade Center has smoke billowing out of it and then the unthinkable happens.  The second building gets hit.    How is this possible?  Time stands still as the disbelief settles in.

That horrific day was over 14 years ago.  I remember vividly running to the phone, calling my parents, my sister, and my friends; telling everyone to turn on their TV’s.  I never took my eyes off my own TV.

Then I panicked – the girls!!  They were at school.  I called the school but the lines were busy.  My heart was beating so fast, I was shaking.  Thankfully the schools were dismissed early.  All the parents showed up at the bus stop.  We were all anxious to see our children, just to make sure they were safe, to keep them protected.  Anyone who is a parent knows what I am talking about.  We would do anything to protect our children from harm.  Anything!  It’s parental Instinct.

We as parents know that this instinct kicks in all the time. Not just for huge, horrible events like terrorist attacks – but smaller events too.

Like the time Darby was 4 years old.  She was outside playing on a beautiful spring day with her friend Kathryn.  They were scribbling all over the driveway with sidewalk chalk.  They were chattering and having fun.  Darby picked up the last pink chalk stick.  Kathryn declared – “That’s MINE!”

I was watching from the front steps.  I decided to let the scene play out to see if they could resolve the problem on their own.


Next thing I see is Kathryn standing over Darby. She wants that pink chalk and she will do whatever it takes to get it.  She grabs Darby’s arm and bites it!  Hard!  Darby let out a scream that sent chills up and down my spine.

I jumped up, ran over to Darby, picked her up, held her close, and looked at her arm.  The bite mark was vivid – you could see each little tooth mark.  Luckily there was no blood, but a black and blue mark was imminent.  My parental instincts kicked in.   Protect her!

As I held Darby in my arms I turned.  I scowled at Kathryn – my eyebrows tight together, my lips pursed out, and flames shot out of my eyes.  I wanted to reach down, grab Kathryn’s arm and bite her as hard as I could.  Only two things stopped me.  First – I could never harm another human being.  And second – her Mom came outside to see what the commotion was about.

In the end everything was ok.  Darby and Kathryn eventually made up, and I eventually stopped thinking Kathryn was a devil child.  But – for a long time after that incident I was never far from where they were playing.  My instinct was to protect Darby from her own “friend”.  It’s hard for me to believe someone would purposely harm their friend, or anyone for that matter.  It just isn’t in my being.  My being is to protect – my children, Sean, my parents, my friends, my clients.

About 9 years ago I had met a young couple getting ready to buy their first home.  I explained the entire home buying process to them, suggested a few lenders and sent them off to get pre-approved for a loan.  They got a green light from the lender, so the next day we went home shopping.  We looked at several homes, but nothing that they fell in love with.  After carefully listening to them as they walked through the homes, I got a clearer picture of what they were looking for.

I went back to the office that afternoon and found several other homes for them to see.

We met the next day at 2:00 and saw the three houses.  They were impressed with the last one, but I could tell something was up.

We sat down and talked.  They told me that yesterday after seeing the houses with me, they stopped by a development of new construction townhomes.  They loved the newness of the place, loved the layout and loved the neighborhood.  I thought that was great!  They found something they loved and seemed very excited about it.  Then they told me the name of the development, and I winced.  I closed my eyes for a second and took a deep breath.  I let it out slowly and said, “Did you tell the sales agent you were working with me?”

“Yes, of course we did.”

“So let me guess what happened next.  The sales agent showed you around the model home, and when she saw that you were interested, she said that she could give you a great deal if you didn’t let me represent you.  She said she would discount the price by $5,000.  Then she told you that they have another special running.  If you use their mortgage company to do your loan and their title company to do the closing, they would take another $5,000 off the price.”

“Yes, that’s exactly what she said.  How did you know?”

Then I explained to them that this builder was famous for doing that.  They did not want other Realtors involved in the sale and representing the best interests of the buyer.  They wanted to have complete control so that they could take advantage of buyers and make more money for themselves by not having to pay the buyer’s agent commission.

Then I told them that the builder offers $5,000 discount to all the buyers, not just buyers who didn’t have representation by another agent.  I also explained how the builder makes more money when buyers use their lender and their title company.  The builder’s mortgage company has very high lender fees, and they charge a higher interest rate.  The title company also charges large fees for preparing the paperwork.  So while it seems the buyers are saving another $5,000, in reality the builder is making money off the higher fees the buyers are paying.  In addition to that, buyers are charged a higher interest rate, resulting in higher monthly payments.

It was a lose – lose – win – win situation.  Lose – Lose for the buyers – NO representation and no real savings.  And win – win for the builder – control over the buyer and more money in their pockets.

I wanted to put my arms around their shoulders and gently lead them away.  In every fiber of my being, I knew they were going to get screwed. They were a young couple and my parental instinct kicked in. I wanted to protect them from this builder.

They decided to go back to the development the next day and talk to the sales person to see if they could still get the $5,000 off if I represented them.  They called me the next day to tell me that the builder was only offering the discount if no other agent was involved in the sale. (I knew this to be a lie, I’ve represented a buyer there before, and my buyer still received the $5,000 off the price.)  “$10,000 is a lot of money.  We just have to take this deal.”

So I said, “Even though I’m not representing you, do me a favor.  After you sit down with the builder’s sales rep and write the contract, will you at least show it to me afterwards so I can explain it to you? And will you also show me the paperwork their lender gives you after you apply for the loan?  I’d really like to look at it and help you understand it.”

They agreed.

As the terms of their contract with the builder kept changing for the worse, they wanted out of the contract.  They came to me for advice.  In the end everything was ok.  They got out of the contract with the builder.  We found another almost new home that was $20,000 cheaper than the “deal” the builder was giving them.  They saved $2,800 in fees that the builder’s lender was going to charge them.  They saved another $1,200 in fees that the title company was going to charge them, and they saved $1,850 in taxes that the seller normally pays, but that the builder was going to make them pay.  They were also able to secure a lower interest rate.

My instinct is to protect my clients.  I can’t believe how other agents and sales people can purposely deceive and harm innocent people, their customers and clients.  It just isn’t in my being.


P.S.  When the market crashed, the development in this story, and 2 other developments by this builder were some of the hardest hit. These 3 neighborhoods had the highest percentage of foreclosures and short sales in the entire county.  Sadly this developer is still in business.

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Masterful Deception

truth and liesAre real estate agents masterful at selling properties, quicker, for more money? Or are they simply masters of deceiving people into thinking that?

Every day though, I see homeowners taken by this promise. Only to be disappointed when the “promise” doesn’t turn out to be credible. The FTC has a term of this. You might call it bait-and-switch. But really it’s not illegal, it’s just deception.

You expect fine print and the use of asterisks in situations where terms and conditions are obvious. The lottery. Publisher’s Clearinghouse. Or in Vegas, where you know and are pretty certain going in, that you’re going to lose.

But in something like real estate, where the person you hire is supposed to have your back, the use of fine print and asterisks seems oddly out of place. As a result, the homeowner who falls for this promise, ends up being disappointed. Feeling misled. Sometimes they feel stupid. “Why did I believe that?” they ask. In the process, they learn the truth about agents, the commission-driven business, and what many are willing to do to make the phone ring.

Then comes the next promise, “Mr. and Mrs. Homeowner, the reason we can guarantee that your home will sell fast, and for top dollar, is because of our Marketing Arsenal and proven 113-point marketing plan.” Again, I can’t know your gut reaction. Maybe you’re impressed by the “113-point marketing plan.”

Or maybe you’re not.

Maybe your B.S. detector again is firing off, so loud it sounds like a howler monkey, causing a ringing in your ears and can be heard by all around you.

Maybe you say to yourself, “Really, you have a marketing arsenal? That’s what you call it?” And maybe inside, or if you’re more vocal, you demand to see of this “113-point unicorn,” to be able to scrutinize its legitimacy for yourself. Again, I can’t know your response (or anyone else’s) to the promises that agents make. I can only share with folks, something powerful that I learned about sorting fact from fiction, truth from deception.

In his book, How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big, author Scott Adams outlines six filters for truth—in essence, to hone your B.S. detector. He points out that each of the six filters, individually, is a complete train wreck.

Personal Experience (Human perception is iffy)

Experience of people you know (Even more unreliable)

Experts (They work for money, not truth)

Scientific studies (Correlation is not causation)

Common sense (A good way to be mistaken w/complete confidence)

Pattern recognition (Patterns, coincidences, and personal bias look alike.)

But here is the magic of these six filters, when you use at least 2, preferably more. Adams writes, “In our messy flawed lives, the nearest we can get to truth is consistency. Consistency is the bedrock of the scientific method. Scientists creep up on the truth by performing controlled experiments and attempting to observe consistent results. In your everyday, nonscientist life you do the same thing, but it’s not as impressive, nor as reliable. For example, if every time you eat popcorn, one hour later you fart so hard that it inflates your socks, you can reasonably assume popcorn makes you gassy. It’s not science, but it’s still an entirely useful pattern.

Consistency is the best marker of truth, imperfect though it may be.

He then writes, “When seeking truth, your best bet is to look for confirmation on at least two of the dimensions listed. For example, if a study indicates that eating nothing but chocolate cake is an excellent way to lose weight, but your friend who tries the diet just keeps getting fatter and fatter, you have two dimensions out of agreement. (Three if you count common sense). That’s lack of consistency.”

In closing, if you have real estate needs. I urge you to utilize two or more of these filters to sort truth from deception. Identifying consistency can be your savior against the promises of deceptive agents.

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One Night Stand

♫ “Don’t worry! ♫ About a Thing ♫ Because every little thing, is gonna be alright!”

The singer had dreadlocks down to his shoulders and a Bob Marley knitted hat stretched over his head. The steel drums pinged in the background. The bar crowd was singing along.

We carried the drinks to our beach chairs, running across the hot sand as the bottoms of our feet burned. We plopped down into our chairs, laid back and took the first sip of our delicious frozen Miami Vices. A half glass of pina colada topped with a half glass of strawberry daiquiri. Pure, cold, yummy, tropical heaven.

It was only six weeks ago when Irene, Maryanne and I decided to take a girls’ trip to Jamaica. We booked an all-inclusive hotel for a long weekend, a celebration. It had been a long hard 6 months, but I did it. I left my alcoholic husband of 18 years and turned my life around. I went to work, I went to counseling, and I spent every extra minute of every day with my three girls. They had been through a lot, we had been through a lot together.

The sun was hot, not a cloud in the baby blue sky. The water was crystal clear blue. I tilted my head back and closed my eyes. I could hear the waves gently lapping on the shoreline. I heard the reggae music from the bar and people laughing.

I took a deep breath to relax. It smelled of coconut from the sunscreen we lathered on our very white, un-tanned bodies.

It was only a few minutes later that we decided we needed another drink. This time we opted for a Bombay Smash. Who knows what’s in it, but it was cold and wet and tropical.

We sat on the beach talking about everything and talking about nothing. The sun was starting to go down. It was partially blocked by the hotel and the shadow was stretching across the beach. The drinks turned into Rum Runners and the conversation turned into a discussion of my love life.

“You need a man!” Maryanne declared. “No, No, that’s the last thing I need! I am perfectly happy right now with just the girls and me.”

The conversation continued and we were starting to feel the rum. We were still talking and joking about me needing a man. In fact they were now suggesting a One Night Stand. They were joking (I hope!) that I should have a One Night Stand while on our vacation.

I Don’t Understand…

That got me thinking. I never really understood the idea of a one night stand. I mean, I know what it is – I just don’t understand WHY someone would want to have one. I guess it’s an instant gratification thing. It seems like such a cold hearted, shallow, selfish thing to do. You basically see someone, use them to fulfill a need, dispose of them the next day and never talk to them again.

HOW anyone could do that is beyond me. And of course my friends know this about me, which is why they were teasing me. Well – that and the rum!

I think back to that long weekend we spent in the sun and sand. And at times when I am talking with new clients I am reminded of our One Night Stand conversation…1 Night Stand

I met “Jason” at my office on a Wednesday afternoon. He called me because he saw my sign on a house that I had listed. He was looking for information about it and wanted to see it.

As we sat at the conference table, he told me his story. He was an intern at the hospital and would be graduating in three months. He would finally be a doctor. He had gobs of student debt, but still had dreams of owning a home by the time he graduated.

He then told me about the past weekend. Jason had called another agent about a house that he had listed. The agent met him at the house. He showed it to him and Jason realized the house was not what he wanted. He explained to the agent what he wanted. The agent took his name and number. Jason called him several times, but never heard from him again.

A classic One Night Stand. I hear stories like this all the time from clients. An agent meets with a potential client looking for instant gratification of possibly doubling his commission by showing only his listing. When the potential client doesn’t fulfill that need, by not liking the house and not buying it, the agent tosses the potential client aside and they never speak again.

A One Night Stand –

Meet Someone————————-Agent meets client at a house they have listed

Fulfill a Need————————–Agent has a “need” to get double the commission

Dispose them————————–Need was not fulfilled – Agent tosses client aside

Never talk again———————-Doesn’t care about the client, only himself (selfish)

Again, HOW someone could do this, or work that way, is beyond me. It’s all about the relationships. Bonding with your clients – Really getting to know them. Their hopes, dreams, wants and needs.

So that’s what I did with Jason. We sat and talked for quite a while. I discovered that he loved being a doctor – especially for lower income patients. He had a long term dream of helping lower income, less privileged families. He wanted to treat them and give them quality health care. He wanted to get to know them and to be their neighborhood Doctor. He wanted to establish trust. He had a dream of “protecting” them and helping them live happy and healthy lives. He wanted to be immersed in their culture, their lives and their way of living. He wanted to live amongst them. He was so passionate.

We had some work to do. First we had to find someone to give him a mortgage. He wasn’t making very much money as an intern and he had over $100,000 in student loan debt. I did some research, made several phone calls and found a bank with a special loan program for doctors. Jason applied, and after a week of paperwork, he was accepted into the program. He was pre-approved for a loan.

Now it was time to start shopping. We talked more about where he wanted to live. He had certain sections of the city in mind. He wanted something renovated, preferably an old row home. We went out to look, and look, and look. After several weeks of looking we found the home he wanted. The home inspector found some bad electrical issues and a leaky roof.

So we went back out shopping. A couple of weeks later we found the perfect home. The renovations were great and the home inspector gave it the thumbs up.

Jason was extremely happy. He graduated, became a doctor, and two weeks later we settled on his home.

Jason and I became friends. I had visited him several times at his new home before I moved to Florida. He told me he absolutely loves where he lives. He knew all the neighbors, really knew them. I went to visit one day and Jason was sitting on his stoop with 2 neighbors giving them advice. He had a smile on his face and that happy twinkling in his eyes. He accomplished his goals. He was living his dreams.

None of that could have happened with a One Night Stand. It’s all about the relationships. Bonding with my clients, really getting to know them. Their hopes, dreams, wants and needs.

At least that’s what it is about for me.

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You need to sell your home. Many people don’t trust real estate agents at all. But who do you hire, assuming you’re going to………..the Full-time agent or Part-time agent?

I saw this story in the news the other day. A real estate agent, because of his advertising, is getting blasted on social media. He seemingly has offended everyone in his marketplace, mainly hardworking moms.
Let me set the scene. Costello and Costello Real Estate Group created the ad. The ad shows Chase and Jeffrey Costello on one side dressed in suits, a mother with three children on the other. The mother with three children is tied up, while a daughter paints her face. [In other words, pure chaos is happening.] There is also a babysitter who is on the floor with a colander on her head, and a duck [yes, an actual duck] standing in the disheveled room.
The wording on the ad says “Part Time Agent” next to the woman and her children, and “Full Time Professionals” underneath the Costellos that are dressed in suits. On the flip side, it lists what the Costellos can provide balanced against what the woman can offer. For the woman with three children it says, “Available at THEIR convenience NOT yours”. Said different, mothers with children will always prioritize their children’s needs in front of those of the client.
Like I said, this ad is getting blasted all over social media and mothers in the area are fuming.
But putting aside the controversy of the ad. The central question is, “When selling your home, should you hire a part-time agent or a full time agent? Does it matter? Is one better than the other?”
As an entrepreneur and full-time agent myself, you may expect me to give a biased answer. You’d be wrong. Fact is, whether someone is part-time or full-time, says nothing about one’s ability to perform or, his or her skill set. Common sense tells us this is true. Just look at the profession of plastic surgery. Now, think Mexico. Tijuana. How many horror stories have you heard over the years about botched surgeries? There is even a TV show on Bravo called Botched that documents these people’s stories as their nightmares are reversed.
My point? There are full-time plastic surgeons in Mexico that are cheap, don’t have superior procedures or a sanitized-germ-free environment who botch surgeries and leave their victims destroyed. And, given this situation, would it have mattered if the surgeon were full-time or part-time? No. Because that’s not the central question anyone should be focused on.
Let’s look at another example. Let’s say you needed to hire a financial planner. You could hire John Smith who is a full-time money manager, or let’s say you could hire but only on a part-time basis, Warren Buffett – who would you choose?
I know who I’m going to choose. Who are you going to choose? Me too. Warren Buffett.
But this demonstrates whether someone is full-time or part-time is not important. And further, isn’t all that important to us—the consumer. What we really want, is the best, smartest, more capable individual. After all, even if a person is full-time, do you really think that person is spending “all of his time” on just your home or financial planning?
The sad fact is, most real estate agents work full-time but make a part-time income. So it can be deceiving and even foolish to think that a full-time agent is better equipped than a part-time agent or visa-versa.
What we must truly focus on when making such a decision are the aspects of, “Does the agent have a superior moral code? Does he or she have a superior method? Has he studied and documented his research, to explain how he’s able to get clients a superior result? And maybe most important, when things go wrong, and sometimes they do, does that agent have the integrity to call you? Etc.…”
I noticed in that ad put out by the Costellos, the two brothers make the claim, “A Team ALWAYS outperforms an individual,” making the case “there are two of them” vs. one part-time mother agent.
Again, this is just nonsense. Smoke ‘n mirrors. I don’t know them personally, so I’m not making a judgment. But two incompetent idiots will never outperform one part-time Warren Buffett.
Success and a superior result come down to research and superior thinking. This leads to, on the client’s behalf, superior positioning and execution, and decision-making. There are no substitutes for these three things. So, to hire an agent based on whether that person is part-time or full-time, frankly, is a ridiculous notion. 

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