• Don’t Judge a Book By Its Cover

    I stood.  Waiting.  I could hear them coming but couldn’t see them yet.

    At first, they sounded like flies buzzing…buzzzz.  Only the pitch was higher-more like bezzzz.  The sound got louder…BEZZZZZ.  I look2ed left but couldn’t see a thing.  I knew they were coming.  I started to fidget, and my heart beat faster.  The sound, much louder now, caused me to lean forward.  I rested my hands on my thighs for balance and looked left again.  I saw specks in the distance.  My heart raced.  It pounded in my chest.  The blood was pumping through my body.  The sound was so loud it was impossible to hear anything else.  BEZZZZZZZZZZZZ.

    My eyes were fixated on the colored specks coming towards me.  They were coming closer, much faster than I had imagined.

    My ear drums were vibrating, the hairs on my body stood up at attention.  I breathed in – almost like a gasp.  Then held my breath.  My eyes glued.

    The sound was deafening.  They were almost here.  I could see them!

    BEZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ!

    It was hard to focus.  They were coming so fast.

    BEZZZZZZZZEWWWWWWWWWWW!

    ZEWWWWWW!

    ZEWWWWW!

    ZEWWWWWW!

    I could feel the sound.  It was in my chest.  The force was so strong, it threw me back.  My head jerked to the right.  My eyes glued.  Adrenaline rushed through my body.  I was tingling from head to toe.

    I had leaned forward again, and just like that, they were gone.  Just as quickly as they came.

    What a rush!  A natural high.  I was hooked.  It was only about 20 seconds later, and I could hear the Indy cars coming again.  I looked left and waited for my rush.

    We met Scott and Laura several years ago.  They have a vacation home that was across the street from ours.  We became instant friends.  They come to Florida every January, and in between we try to see each other at least one other time a year.

    Scott and Laur3a live just outside of Indianapolis, Indiana.  Through the years, they told us so many stories of the Indy 500 Race.  They told us how they had been going to the race since they were children and as teenagers they went with friends.  I love their stories and sometimes make them repeat some of the funny ones.  They had so much fun at the race over the years.  It was something they grew up with.  A tradition.

    It sounded like it could be fun, but it really wasn’t my thing.  I was from the eastern part of the US and grew up with different things, different traditions.  And it surely wasn’t sitting at a track, in bleachers, watching cars race around in circles for 3 hours.  I had a vivid picture of the track and race in my mind.  I really had no interest in it.

    Then about a year ago, Scott and Laura asked Sean and me if we wanted to go.  It would be the 100th running of the race, a once in a lifetime opportunity.  If ever there was a time to see the race, this was the year.  So we decided to go.

    On Memorial Day weekend, we flew to Indy.  We went a few days early so we would have time to do a few other things.

    Race day arrives, and at 6:00am on Sunday morning, we leave for the track.  The 13 mile drive from their home took a little over 4 hours.  About 3 ½ hours into the trip, I could see the stands at the track.  We got closer, and I actually started to get excited.  The track was huge – the stands so high in the air.  There were thousands and thousands of people flooding into the track.

    As we drove into the tunnel and under the track to get to our infield parking spot, I realized just how wrong I had been.

    We parked, got to our seats and watched the pre-race festivities.  Then, finally, the infamous words came over the loudspeakers.  “Ladies and gentleman, start your engines!”  The roar wasn’t like anything I had ever heard before.  It was incredible.  The cars warmed up – doing two laps around the track.  We could see the stretch of the track where they would start and finish.  As soon as the checkered flag dropped, the cars took off.  And I was mesmerized.

    I always try to keep an open mind and not make judgements on things based on perception.  But boy did I judge this book by its cover!  All I saw in my head were cars going in circles for hours and hours.  I was so quick to make the judgement that I wouldn’t like the race.  I could have missed out on such a great life experience.  I am forever grateful to Scott and Laura for convincing me to go, reassuring me that I would have a great time.  They were absolutely right.

    It reminds me of a time when I was selling Real Estate in Pennsylvania.  I was working with a couple, Leslie and John, who had made a quick judgement on a home that they thought they wouldn’t like.

    I had their house listed for sale.  They had two school aged children, and they wanted to move to a larger home in the same school district.  Their home sold, and it was time to go shopping for a new one.

    Leslie told me all her “must haves” and her “would likes” in a home.  But no matter what, the house had to be in the same school district.

    I entered all of her criteria into the computer and came up with a nice list of homes to see.  They were all newer, less than 10 years old, and close to their current home.

    The next afternoon, we went shopping.  We looked at 5 homes.  They had most of Leslie’s needs, but were much smaller than she had hoped for.

    I readjusted the criteria and found 6 more homes to see.  As we looked at them, we realized they were larger, more the size she was hoping for, but not in very good condition.

    I adjusted again and that weekend, we went to look at 8 more homes.  These homes were ok, but very bland looking.  There was nothing that exited Leslie – nothing that felt like home.

    This went on for 2 weeks.  Finally, we had run out of homes to see that met her criteria.  I adjusted the search again, only this time I just put in her price range and the school district.  All of the homes we had already seen came up in the search, plus three additional ones.  I made the appointments, and the next day we set out to see them.

    We looked at the first two, and they really needed a lot of work.  So much so that they would not be able to live in it while the work was being done.  We headed to the third home.  It was on the opposite side of the school district in a much older, mature neighborhood.  The homes had bigger yards and mature trees and lush landscaping.  We drove down the street and out of the corner of my eye, I saw the disapproval on Leslie’s face.  I pulled into the driveway, and before I had a chance to turn off the car, she said, “Don’t bother.  I’m not wasting time going in there.  I don’t like it.  Let’s just go back home.”

    The home was older, built in the late 60’s.  (She wanted newer.)  It was a sprawling rancher built of stone and siding.  (She wanted a traditional 2 story colonial.)  The landscaping looked overgrown and unkempt.  Leslie had no interest in going inside to see what it was like.  She was judging this book by its cover.

    We sat in the car and talked.  I reassured her that it would be ok to go inside.  We would not be wasting time.  I convinced her that since we were there, sitting in the driveway, we should at least peek inside.  If she hated it, we would spend no more than one minute looking.  Finally, she agreed.

    We stepped onto a cobblestone walkway that lead us to the old wooden double front door.  The pathway was dirty and full of weeds, but I could see the potential.  Pull the weeds, power wash the stones, and it would be beautiful.

    I unlocked the front doors and opened them both up.  I moved aside to let Leslie and John in.  And then I heard it, the gasp coming from Leslie.  She held her breath.  Her fingertips touched her cheeks, and she didn’t move.

    We were standing in the living room.  It was a large rectangular room with old but beautiful hard wood floors.  Directly in front of us was an oversized floor to ceiling fireplace with a hand carved wooden mantle.  It was spectacular.  She finally spoke.  “I love it!  I want it!”

    She looked left and then right.  “I don’t know which way to go next.”

    We spent almost an hour looking at everything.  It was so full of character.  We looked at every last detail.  On our way out the door, Leslie paused in the living room.  She looked around and said, “This is home.”

    Two months later, I went to visit Leslie and John in their new home.  As soon as Leslie opened the front door, she threw her arms around me and thanked me.  And thanked me.  And thanked me again.

    She took me on a tour and showed me all the things they had already done in the 3 short weeks they had lived there.  She told me all her plans for the home.  She was so happy.

    Since Leslie’s daughter and Darby were friends I had many opportunities to see their home.

    So many times, Leslie would tell me how grateful she was that I had talked her into looking at this home.  All she saw in her head was an overgrown old home.  She had made a judgement.  She had predetermined that she would hate the inside, just as I had predetermined that I would hate the Indy 500 Race.

    Had we not had friends or agents that urged us to look beyond our perceptions or to open up those big wooden front doors and look inside, we would have missed out on some of our lives’ greatest moments.

    Don’t judge a book by its cover, open it up and peer inside – you never know what you coul6d be missing.   4

  • 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?

  • 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.

  • 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.

    BAD DECISION!!

    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.

    Cheryl

    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.

  • 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.

  • 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.
    Cheryl

  • FULL TIME or PART TIME?

    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. 

  • I CAN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE! Agents brag about getting clients “multiple offers” – higher sales price. A superior result, though? That’s what we call “Normal.”

    Being that I’m in real estate, maybe I’m hypersensitive to what is taking place on Facebook. But if you’re a “friend” of any real estate agent on Facebook, every other day it seems one is bragging about how they have secured multiple offers for their client. You see this too, in the NFL, when a rookie scores his first touchdown. They behave, as if they are they’re Neil Armstrong — first man to walk on the moon. The helmet comes off, he pounds his chest, and points at the crowd, as if to say, “Look at me.” Meanwhile, the true professional, an Emmet Smith or Jerry Rice, who are no strangers to the end zone, having been there over 150 times, kindly hand the ball to the ref and go about their business — scoring more touchdowns, helping their team win.

    The rookie, what has he done? Drawn an unsportsmanlike penalty, putting his own ego and self-interest before the priorities of the team. I’m sorry, but I abhor self-promotion. And when I see my peers on Facebook, celebrating like rookies, I simply think…

    “Friend, a superior result, that’s what we call “normal.”

    Ryan Williams, host of The Influencer Economy on iTunes, puts it this way. “We’re in an era where people are taking credit for stuff they’re supposed to do. People are bragging about stuff that a normal person just does.” So please, to all my real estate peers, along with putting a kibosh to the end zone celebrations, please stop professing how honest you are too.  And how much integrity you have.  Real estate is a cesspool for The Unethicals.  I’ll give you that.  We all know it.  But no man or woman gets brownie points for being a person of integrity.  Honesty.  Morals.  Ethics.  Doing the right thing.  These are character traits normal people are supposed to have.

    I was reading a book the other day, I Want to Quit Winners, by Harold S. Smith.  In it he writes, “I will not ever to try persuade or attempt to persuade you that I am honest.  You must judge for yourself. This is one of my idiosyncrasies, of which at present writing, I have a bundle.  For example, while I have a good private secretary, I write my most important letters myself on a hunt and peck typewriter.  I never sign them “Sincerely,” that is redundant.  Why else would I take the time to write? By the same token, I never profess to honesty.  Either it shows or it doesn’t.”  Much more can be revealed about character through actions anyhow.  Talk alone has little meaning.  The people who say “trust me” the most, or “I’m an honest man or woman,” most often turn out to be the con-men.  Just look at politics – they all claim to be honest and have integrity.

    Besides.

    Just because multiple offers are secured on a property, it’s no guarantee that maximum profit was had for the client.  Do you know how many times I’ve witnessed agents botch the handling of a multiple offer situation?  Let me put it this way, Frankenstein has fewer scars.

  • Superior Customer Service is Not a Lost Art: Take Jim and the umbrella man for example….

    I was pushing the cart and Sean was beside me taking the local free magazine out of the rack. We walked outside of the grocery store and stopped. It was raining. NOT the regular kind of summer shower – it was really raining.

    If you have ever been to Florida in the summer, you know what I mean. This is the type of rain that is coming down in bucketfuls! The sound is almost deafening as the rain hits the ground. The rain smashes the ground with such force that it splashes back up – puddles form instantly. Wiper blades are on full blast.

    The lightening ripples across the sky. The thunder clap follows. It’s so loud you can feel it in your chest. The storm is right on top of us.

    Storms like this can produce over 5 inches of rain in a matter of an hour. It comes down that hard and fast.

    We are standing under the overhang of the store, looking at each other, wondering what to do. It was sunny when we went inside the grocery store, so we didn’t think to bring our umbrella in. The storm just came up on us that quickly.

    Sean, always the gentleman, offered to make a run for it.

    We both knew that even if he ran the fastest 50 yard dash in history, he would be soaking wet from head to toe by the time he reached our car. He hunched over and leaned forward, ready to run.

    All of a sudden he stood up straight. Someone was tapping him on the shoulder. It was an employee from the store. He was wearing a bright yellow rain poncho and holding a huge green umbrella with the store’s name, Publix, embroidered on it. “No need to run out into the rain and get wet”, he said. “I’ll walk with you to your car.” Sean looked surprised, but relieved he wouldn’t have to face the rain. Sean thanked him and they took off into the storm leaving me with the cart.

    As I watched them walk to the car, I was thinking how great the customer service is at Publix. Everyone who works here is always happy and so helpful. And now, walking Sean to his car under an umbrella, this was above and beyond. I’m thinking, “I love shopping here”.

    I stood there lost in thought when another employee walked up to me. He also had a bright yellow rain poncho on, but he did not have an umbrella. Instead he was holding a plate of cookies from the bakery. He smiled at me and said, “Ma’am – would you like a cookie while you wait for your car?” And he offered me the plate.

    I was pretty surprised to say the least. I was just thinking about the great customer service and how they go above and beyond and now this. I took a cookie, thanked Jim, his name on his name tag, and he walked on to the next customer that was waiting for their car to be brought to the overhang. Jim was the icing on the cake. I had already decided I love shopping at Publix because of their customer service and then Jim sweetened the deal, literally!

    This is superior customer service.

    Sean pulls up to the curb with the car and the man with the umbrella shows up again, holds it over Sean so he does not get wet while loading the groceries into the trunk. Then he walks Sean to his door, comes back around the car and holds the umbrella over my head so I can get into the passenger side.  

    This is superior customer service.

    We drive away. We are dry, except Sean’s feet, and feeling pretty good. I never really thought much about why I always shop at

    Publix. It’s just that I never considered going anywhere else. I know it has good customer service, but it became clear that day, that their customer service always go above and beyond our expectations. Like the time the cashier helped me unload my cart onto the conveyor belt. Like how they always bag your groceries. How they always offer you a sample at the deli counter. How if you ask where something is, they don’t tell you, they walk you right to the item. I could go on and on. They have great customer service in all the details of a shopping trip, but then when a “storm” comes, they go above and beyond even your wildest expectations.

    It’s the same kind of customer service that we try to give our customers every day. We always try to give great customer service in all the details of listing your home Like how we give our book “The Warren Buffett Approach to sell Real Estate” to all our home sellers for free. Like how we pay for our stager to go to our seller’s homes to make sure their home is in tip top showing condition. How we pay for a professional photographer for the best pictures to attract buyers from the internet. How we hire a company to professionally handle all the showings of your home. How we personally oversee the marketing and positioning of your home.

    We try to provide the same great customer service for all our buyers. Like how we sit down with them and explain the process so there are no surprises along the way. Like how we help them schedule appointments with lenders to get them pre-approved. How we take an inventory of their needs and wants to get the best idea of what home will best suit them. How we provide them with home inspectors, insurance inspectors and insurance agents, so they are prepared when they find one they love. How we preview homes and take videos of us walking through the home for our absentee buyers.

    And, if a “storm” happens to come along in the process, that’s when we really try to go above and beyond our customers wildest expectations.

    Take Mike and Nancy Novak, for example. A couple from the outskirts of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. They were buyers that were referred to us through another one of our clients. They were here for a week and we looked at several homes, but we could not find one that met all their criteria. We knew exactly what they were looking for: a condo, in a certain geographical area, with a garage, that would allow a large dog and in their price range. Now that is a pretty easy home to find, until you include the part about the large dog. But they love their dog, just like we love our dogs. So we knew how important it was to find them a large dog friendly place.

    Several weeks after they left, a home came on the market meeting all their criteria.

    We sent them pictures of the home and previewed it for them. We advised them they should make an offer because the list price was low and that particular development was very desirable. It was going to sell fast. Sure enough, there were multiple offers. They made the best offer and it was accepted. They hadn’t even seen the home.

    Now comes the “storm.” It was a foreclosure and it was in pretty bad shape. Mike and Nancy were nervous to say the least. They were about to take on a huge project from a thousand miles away.

    They flew down to Fort Myers a few days later. We took them to see the home. They loved the area and they saw great potential in their newly purchased condo. They were extremely nervous and concerned because they didn’t know any one down here, and the thought of trying to find reliable contractors to transform their new condo, while they were living a thousand miles away was stressful.

    We knew these were concerns, so we had a little surprise for them. We had arranged for contractors to meet them at the house the next day. We found the contractor, electrician, tile guy, kitchen lady and granite company. We had arranged meetings with all of them in the next couple of days. By the end of the week, Nancy and Mike had a game plan together and knew what their costs were going to be for the project. They flew home that weekend with one worry gone, but another bigger worry still lingering. How were they going to manage this project?

    Well the project is almost finished, and Mike and Nancy can tell you they had nothing to worry about. We have been there for them every step of the way. We found them the tile they wanted at our local Home Depot, oversaw the demolition of the interior, coordinated the painting with the tile work with the installment of the kitchen. And when a problem came up with the kitchen, we ran over to the condo to make sure the issue was taken care of. We checked on the contractor to see if they were meeting their deadlines. We checked on all the details of the rehab and will continue to do so until the very end. It is coming along beautifully and they couldn’t be happier! Making our customers happy is what it is all about.

    Superior Customer Service.

    In the words of Mike and Nancy,”You guys have gone above and beyond. We can’t thank you enough for all you’ve done.”

    We have always believed in superior customer service. Going above and beyond for our customers is an every day event. It’s the little daily things that can be done to provide great customer service, like loading the groceries onto the belt, or giving away our free book. And in stormy weather giving a cookie, or shopping for tile can deliver the superior customer service our clients deserve.

     

  • Four Stories To Higher Profit – from your home sale and, anything else you sell in life.

    There is a website on the Internet that I believe is the best website in the world. Would you like to know which it is? I’ll reveal that website in a moment but first, let me share with you several stories that recently impacted me.

    The first comes from a book, written by Carmine Gallo.

    “Meet Aimee Mullins, she has 12 pairs of legs. Like most people she was born with two, but unlike most people Mullins had to have both legs amputated below the knee due to a medical condition. Mullins has lived with no lower legs since her first birthday.

    Mullins grew up in a middle class family in the middle-class town of Allentown, Pennsylvania, yet her achievements are far from ordinary. Mullins doctors suggested that an early amputation would give her the best chance to have a reasonable amount of mobility. As a child Mullins had no input into that decision, but as she grew up she refused to see herself as or to accept the label most people gave her—“disabled.” Instead, she decided that prosthetic limbs would give her superpowers that others could only dream of.

    Mullins redefines what it means to be disabled. As she told comedian and talk show host Stephen Colbert, many actresses have more prosthetic material in their breasts than she does in her whole body, “and we don’t call half of Hollywood disabled.”

    Mullins tapped her superpower—her prosthetic limbs—to run track for an NCAA Division One program at Georgetown University. She broke three world records in track and field at the 1996 Paralympics, became a fashion model and an actress, and landed a spot on People magazine’s annual list of the 50 Most Beautiful people.

    When Mullins told her story to the world, “The opportunity of Adversity,” just as I have told you her story here, it was quickly viewed nearly 1.5 million times.

    To listen to Aimmee’s incredible story in it’s entirety go to:

     

     

    Let me tell you another story. This is story that I both witnessed and read about. In his book, Gallo introduced me to Cameron Russell.  In a presentation, Russell tells the audience, “Looks aren’t everything.” Cliché? Yes, if it had been delivered by anyone else. Russell, however, is a successful fashion model. Within thirty seconds of taking the stage Russell changed her outfit. She covered her revealing, tight-fitting black dress with a wraparound skirt, replaced her eight-inch heels with plain shoes, and pulled a turtleneck sweater over her head.

    “So why did I do that?” She asked the audience. “Image is powerful, but also image is superficial. I just totally transformed what you thought of me in six seconds.”

    When Russell told her story, the full version, not just the intro as I have shared with you here, it was quickly viewed more than 6.5 million times.

    Let me tell you another story. This one about Magic Johnson but more specifically, his business partner, Ken Lombard. Ken and Magic were scheduled to meet with Peter Gruber who, at the time, was the CEO of Sony pictures. Upon meeting Gruber in his office, the first thing Lombard said was, “Close your eyes. We’re going to tell you a story about a foreign country.” Gruber thought it a little “unorthodox,” but he shut his eyes and went along with it. Lombard continued, “This is a land with a strong customer base, great location, and qualified investors. You know how to build theaters in Europe, Asia, and South America. You know how to invest in foreign countries that have different languages, different cultures, different problems. What you do, Peter, is you find a partner in the country who speaks the language, knows the culture, and handles the local problems. Right?” Gruber nodded in agreement as his eyes remained shut. “Well, what if I told you a promised land exists that already speaks English, craves movies, has plenty of available real estate, and no competition? … This promised land is about six miles from here.”

    Lombard and Johnson were pitching Gruber on building movie theaters in underserved urban communities, but knew Gruber would not be interested if he knew from the start that this was their idea.

    Lombard knew, first, he’d have to create a desire for Gruber to own such a location. For this, he needed to tell the above story. He’d need to take Gruber on a journey, so he could see, and imagine, before he judged and ruled out.

    Through the power of storytelling, Lombard and Johnson cast themselves as the heroes of the narrative who would help Gruber navigate the waters to reach the promised land. It worked! In the first four weeks of opening, the first Magic Johnson Theater was one of the top five highest-grossing theaters in the Sony chain.

    Now, before I wrap this up and reveal to you what I believe is the world’s greatest website, let me tell you one last story.

    Meet Rob Walker and Joshua Glenn. They founded the site SignificantObjects.com, a website dedicated to the power of story. Significant Objects was a social and anthropological experience devised by Rob and Glenn. The two researchers started with a hypothesis: a writer can invent a story about an object, investing in the object with subjective significance that would raise its objective value. In other words, they could buy crap, tell a compelling story about that crap, and because of the romanticism of the story, create a desire for the object to sell it for far more than they purchased it for. They curated objects from thrift stores and garage sales. The objects would cost no more than a buck or two. The second phase of the experiment saw a writer create a short, fictional story about the object. In the third step, the object was auctioned off on eBay.

    The researchers purchased $128.74 worth of objects. The thrift-store “junk” sold for 2,700 percent. For example, a fake banana cost 25 cents and sold on eBay for $76 after the story was added. An old motel key cost $2 and sold for $45.01, after a story was told about the object to make it “significant”—hence the name of the site, Significant Objects.

    Through the experiment the researchers concluded, “Stories are such a powerful driver of emotional value that their effect on any given object’s subjective value can actually be measured objectively. Or simply put, “When someone likes a story about an object—or your home, if its on the market and you’re selling it—that emotional connection is expressed by the buyer in his willingness to pay a higher sales price. This of course, earns the seller of the object a greater profit for what object whatever that object is being sold.

    “So why tell you these stories?” Because each one of these stories reveals a secret that we use when working with real estate clients to realize higher bottom-line profits. If you want to turn adversity into opportunity, for example, you craft a story. Every home has its flaws; there is no perfect home. But through the power of story, as Aimee Mullins demonstrated, how those flaws are seen and viewed to the outside world can be changed. The thesaurus definition for the word disabled is: broken-down, confined, decrepit, handicapped, helpless, hurt, incapable, laid-up, lame, maimed, out-of-action, paralyzed, powerless, weakened, worn-out, wounded, wrecked. But as Aimee Mullins exemplifies, even with no lower legs, none of these “definitions” are true. She believes her prosthetic limbs are her superpowers and give her options.

    Longer prosthetic to make her taller for balls and black tie events, spring-loaded prosthetic legs for running at incredible speeds, shorter prosthetic for every day… she has options we do not. And while I can’t ever imagine wanting to trade my lower legs for no lower legs, through the power of hearing Aimee’s story, I wouldn’t now fear it. With every adversity there is opportunity. The Power of Story helps real estate clients to see that same truth, when looking at or selling a “flawed” home. We can turn it into a positive…

    If you want transform the look of your home, as Cameron Russell revealed, image is only surface deep. In the same way Russell completely transformed her image within 30 seconds of taking the stage, we, through a process called “Scientific Staging”, can transform the image of a client’s home. In her full presentation Russell talks about, in preparation for a photo shoot, of having a team of hair and make-up stylists, photographers, fashion coordinators, people to help her pose, etc., all working to tell a story through her newly created image. And, in real estate maximum profit works in exactly the same manner. Through the creation of a new imagine, we’re able to tell a home’s story. And, from Rob and Joshua’s research at Significant Objects, on the power of story, we know this is a path to higher profit.

    The reality is, we all love stories.  They have the power to entertain us, suck us into a message, and help us envision the impossible, even change our minds about deeply held beliefs—as Lombard proved to Gruber about building theaters in urban areas. This is why I spend so much time on TED.com, listening to and studying stories. Sure, I enjoy them, but also, for my clients, my job is to tell them effectively.

    Their profit, and the speed of their home sale, depends on it.

    If you love great stories, and stories that really make you think, I believe the site TED.com is the best website in the world. If you search Mullins and Russell, you will find their full presentations along with others.

    I guess my point is—never forget—the story you tell about your home, in more ways than you can imagine, has impact on your bottom-line profit. So don’t shortcut this step and be certain that no agent you may hire to help you, shortcuts this step either.

    For a more in-depth discussion on this topic, go to: www.YourFreeBookforCharitycom. There you can request a FREE copy of our book “The Warren Buffett Approach To Sell Real Estate: How to protect yourself from Real Estate Greed & bank an extra $30K in profit by taking a Value-Driven Approach.

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