Get the Listing Mindset

Screen Shot 2015-03-28 at 7.00.23 AM

A mindset is a mental attitude or disposition that predetermines a person’s responses to and interpretations of situations. Some people believe that mindsets are fixed. I believe mindsets are capable of growth and change. The Listing Mindset, therefore, can be developed, It is not present at birth. So how do we get there?

First (and foremost) you must THINK listings. It is said that what you think about expands, so think about listings. When you see a house, think about LISTING it. When someone asks you about the market, discuss it from the Seller’s perspective. If you host an open house, do so with the intent to find more sellers. Just thinking alone is not enough. TALK about listings.

Finally, in your marketing, market with an emphasis to potential sellers. Discuss issues sellers want to understand (a great resource to discover what sellers want is the National Association of Realtors Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers – in the section about sellers and real estate professionals). Topics could include: How you find buyers for a listing, Ways to fix up a house, Effective positioning of a home in the marketplace, Tips on the consequences of overpricing. You get the idea. YOUR focus will soon become the way you are perceived.


Fast and Easy But is it Accurate?

avm tag 2.png

There are sites all over the web that offer to tell you what your home is worth. Simply plug in your address and email and you’ll get a value. It’s fast; it’s easy but is it accurate?

The value is determined by what is called an Automated Valuation Model (AVM) that analyzes public record data with computer decision logic. Square footage, age, number of bedrooms and location are easily definable objective data. The challenge is identifying, measuring and comparing the subjective data.

An AVM cannot identify how unique features might add or detract from the value, if the market is declining or why the comparable sales apply or don’t apply to the subject property. Is a home worth more because it is near shopping or less because it is across the street from a high-traffic commercially zoned property?

Experienced professionals are more likely to make proper adjustments for condition, market appeal and positive and negative influences.

Imagine that you’re going out for dinner and you consult to tell you how much a hamburger is worth. It might be accurate based on condiments, vegetables and weight but can it address things like taste, quality, cleanliness, service, convenience or atmosphere. You certainly couldn’t present the printout to the waiter to negotiate a lower price.

An AVM can be a tool that a homeowner, prospective buyer, mortgage officer, appraiser or real estate agent can use to get a quick idea of price but there are inherent limitations that can only be considered by personal examination balanced with experience in the market place.

Experience and understanding of the subject property and the marketplace are critical to having confidence that a value is accurate. Any person could go through the same steps to arrive at a value but an experienced, well-trained professional is far more likely to assess all of the variables more accurately.

Contrast: A Not So Hidden Secret

Screen Shot 2015-02-16 at 5.47.36 PM

Contrast. You know, contrast, like up/down, in/out, day/night/ black/white. Contrast gets our attention. In fact, contrast is what separates one salesperson from another.

I’ve read two books recently that focus on the importance of contrast in sales (although neither were necessarily focusing on sales),  Neuromarketing by Patrick Renvoise and Resonate by Nancy Duarte.

In Neuromarketing, Renvoise discusses the brain and how people make decisions. He says that only six stimuli speak to this part of the brain and one of them is contrast. Duarte’s book is about presentations, but in the bigger picture it is about contrast. She says that the goal of the presentation is getting people to see the difference between what is and what will be.

This has unending ramifications in the sales business. It is useful, obviously, in presentations. But it is equally effective in developing a negotiating strategy or explaining the virtues of a contract.

Anytime a person has a sales experience, it is an opportunity for the sales person to have them experience the difference, the CONTRAST, between what life is like right at this moment and what it will be like after the experience.

Examples? Okay: 1) The difference (contrast) between renting and buying for a first time homebuyer. 2) The contrast that comes from effective staging, you know, before and after. 3) Then of course having people understand how the world is today and how it will be tomorrow if they choose you to be their agent.

The importance of contrast can be seen most vividly in another realm: weight-loss commercials. You never see a weight loss commercial without what? Yep, the before and after shot. Why do you think that is? The answer: because it works. Advertisers get that contrast is a huge cog in the decision-making process for human beings.

Herman Melville said, “There is no quality in this world that is not what it is merely by contrast. Nothing exists in itself.”

So, how do you use contrast in your business? Are you able to clearly differentiate your value from that other person? Can you have me see how tomorrow will be better than today if I choose you?

Is Attention Worth Dishonesty?

Screen Shot 2015-01-27 at 2.42.21 PM

The headlines this morning were: Travel Bans Lifting, Big Storm Not As Big As Forecasted.

Really? The biggest storm in the history of the universe did not come to fruition? Snowageddon didn’t actually occur? I am, in the words of Kramer’s ever poignant lawyer Jackie Chiles, “Shocked and Chagrined. Stupefied and Mortified!” Actually I am not.

In a world where the media will do anything to capture the public’s attention, over exaggeration, fabrication, and downright dishonesty have become the norm. This is easiest to observe in business of television programming, news and sports. So called “reality” shows have become anything but reality. The news has become a slanted interpretation of things we’re assumed to be too stupid to interpret ourselves and sports (SPORTS, for crying out loud) has become just like the news. And then there is the weather.

The weather used to be a “we call it as we see it” sort of report as to the climatic conditions of the day. Daring and astute weather folk would occasionally take a risk and predict tomorrow. That has changed. With new predictors and the latest satellite models, we are led to believe that mortal man (and woman) is able to accurately foresee the movements of nature. We are not.

To get attention, however (because attention is ratings), we humans and our media must act as if WE are in control of the universe and its changes. Every storm is the biggest ever, every cold front is the coldest ever, and every hurricane is going to place us into the depths of historical and biblical torment unseen in human times.

“The sky is falling, the sky is falling.” Well Chicken Little, I don’t believe you. You’ve lost credibility. You (and the news channels, and the sports channels, and even the Property Brothers for crying out loud) have become self serving, attention grabbing, agenda driven scripted liars.

What does all this have to do with us: you and me? Simple. The best marketing, the best presentations, the best reporting, is honest, authentic and real. Interestingly, the two most cited characteristics sellers look for in a real estate agent are reputation and honesty. Not lead generation technology, not a fancy car, not drama: reputation and honesty.

Don’t believe what you see on the tube, that’s “entertainment.” (and I put quotes around that word because frankly I find little of this television foolishness entertaining). Good agents, good salespeople, don’t act like what you see on HGTV or on CNN, or Fox News, or ESPN. Good agents, good salespeople, are honest, authentic, and trustworthy. You can see it in their marketing. You can see it in the way they run their business. You can see it every day.

Marsha Friedman at Business Superstar in her article entitled The Best Marketing Tool Is Honesty, gives three easy steps to achieving honesty in your marketing (and thus your business): full article here

1). Be honest about what you can and cannot do, 2). Keep Your Word, 3). Remember, there’s a fine line between attention getting and trickery.

Doesn’t seem that difficult.

SO, Back to the “bigger” world. The solution for honest, authentic people to alleviate our twisted television (as well as those more twisted inhabitants of Washington DC) is by demanding better, not taking BS as the norm. Not wanting to appear to be someone from the 60′s, I believe we actually can change things; make them better.



Garage Sales Are Cool

Screen Shot 2015-01-19 at 8.34.34 AM

A well-planned garage or yard sale can make room in your home, get rid of unused items and make some money but it needs some planning to be successful.

  • Start early to research and plan
  • Promotion is key
  • Display items attractively
  • Price items right
  • Organize checkout

Saturdays are generally the best day but there may be some exceptions.  Experienced garage-salers believe that a well-planned one-day event will do as well as a multi-day event.  Serious purchasers will look for the “new” sale and most people don’t come back multiple days.

Advertise in local newspapers and free online classified sites like craigslist.  If several families are going together for the sale, mention that in the ad; it will be a big draw.  Mention your bigger-ticket items like furniture, equipment and baby items.

Garage sale signs can be purchased or made at Staples, Fedex Office or Kwik Signs.  Signs need large lettering so they’re easy to read while people are driving. Most important info: Garage or Yard Sale, address, date and time.  Directional signs are also important.  Balloons and streamers to attract attention to the signs are very helpful.

Consider using the service Square so that you can take credit cards.  The cost is 2.75% per swipe and can be done on your smartphone or iPad.  You’ll need to sign up at least two weeks in advance to receive your reader.

Unless you’re having an estate sale, keep your home locked.  You don’t want people wandering through your home while you’re outside.  If you start to accumulate a lot of money, take some of it inside.  Don’t discuss how much money you’ve made during the sale or how successful it has been.

People will want to bargain; it’s the nature of the game.  Consider this strategy: less negotiations early in the sale and possibly, more toward the end of the sale.

Five Leadership (and Life) Lessons From Stuart Scott.

Screen Shot 2015-01-06 at 6.02.04 PM

Picture from

A great journalist and entertainer, Stuart Scott, died after a seven year fight with cancer Sunday morning. He was 49 years old. My sons grew up with Stuart. He was their introduction to sports from a perspective to which they could relate. He was different, he was fun, he was COOL.

Stuart Scott was more than cool, however, he was a leader. He was a Black leader in a business of salt and pepper haired white men who thought sports should be reported a particular way. He really was THE ONE who made ESPN cool (there’s that word again).

After witnessing countless tributes, farewells and memories in the days since Sunday morning, those of us who didn’t have the opportunity to meet him or know him as a person, have a better understanding of who this wonderful man was and the impact he had on those he touched. For me, and maybe for you, there are some lessons Stuart Scott leaves us for our businesses and for our lives.

  1. Be yourself. Stuart Scott had a different vision in 1993 when he began his career at ESPN. That vision was to provide sports entertainment to the young, the hip, the cool. It was not always well received. In fact, Stuart faced a ton of adversity (even hate) to his style and delivery early on. Luckily for us and for the network, he stayed true to being HIMself, to being the authentic, real life Stuart Scott. Oscar Wilde said, “Be yourself. Every one else is taken.” Stuart was Stuart. True leaders, real inspirations are who they are, without apology, without regret. They embrace being “the cool side of the pillow.”
  2. Know Who You Are Leading. Many will follow. The knack to being an effective leader is focusing on the right tribe to lead. In a way, Stuart Scott saw the future of sports broadcasting and spoke to it, long before the establishment knew it existed. Without vision, leadership has no effect on those it could lead.
  3. Be Relentless. From everything said about Stuart Scott, he was a professional. His quest to be the best he could be was, well, relentless. A leader rarely knows satisfaction, or worse yet, complacency. They are on a constant mission to take it to the next level every day, every moment. Obstacles, like cancer in Stuart’s case, are simply things to be fought, and ultimately overcome.
  4. Preparation is Everything. This whole leadership thing cannot work without the tireless efforts of the leader. From the countless stories told by his colleagues, Stuart Scott thrived on being prepared. Even in the throes of sickness, his unwavering pursuit to excel never slowed. He looked at every aspect of his profession in an effort to deliver the best end result product possible. If Malcom Gladwell was right that we need 10,000 hours of “practice time” to become awesome at something, Stuart understood. And worked triple time.
  5. Love Others. Stuart Scott was loved. By his fans, by his colleagues, by his friends, by his family, Stuart Scott was loved. The biggest reason for such love was simple: Stuart Scott loved. Love is a powerful mover of people and it was that love for what he did and for the life he led that separated him from the masses. Great leaders, powerful inspirations know that the best results happen when the focus is not self, but others. Stuart Scott existed in an entertainment world that is all about “love me, love me, love me.” Yet he led by loving others.

We can learn a lot from the life, as sadly cut short as it was, of Stuart Scott. And maybe that is some of what he always wanted. Rest in Peace, Stuart Scott. And BOOYAH!

Reducing Interest Expense

Screen Shot 2015-01-05 at 1.17.21 PM

0% financing has induced car buyers into taking the plunge because it doesn’t cost anything to use someone else’s money.  While mortgage rates are not at zero, they’re close enough that many buyers are applying similar logic.

Qualified mortgage interest is deductible on taxpayers’ returns subject to the maximum acquisition debt of one million dollars.  For the fortunate homeowners who have paid off their mortgage, their acquisition debt was reduced to zero and only the interest on a maximum home equity debt of $100,000 is deductible.

If you have to pay interest, deductible interest is preferable because it reduces your actual cost.

Consider the following example of a taxpayer with a $500,000 debt-free home.  If they did an 80% cash-out refinance of $400,000, $100,000 would be considered home equity debt and the interest on that would be deductible on their income tax.  The other $300,000 of debt is considered personal debt and the interest is not deductible.

However, because the rates are currently so low, the loss of deductibility of the interest doesn’t have as much impact as if the rates were higher.  The key is to have a good purpose for the money that would offset the actual cost of the interest.

Paying off a higher rate debt such as credit cards, student loans, possibly, business debt could all have significantly higher interest rates.  Refinancing a home and eliminating debts like these could be a big savings.

All lenders are not the same.  Call for a recommendation of a trusted mortgage professional.

Happy 2015!

Screen Shot 2015-01-01 at 8.04.16 AM

Here’s hoping that 2015 is your finest year ever! Predictions point to pretty good markets across this nation of ours and…. BONUS…… no election year to distract us from achieving our goals.

For me, 2014 was both exciting and frustrating. It was awesome to get out and visit agents all around the country and do my best in helping them advance their businesses. I taught sixteen Two Day CRS courses and nearly a dozen one day versions the past year. Hopefully, many agents were exposed to the Certified Residential Specialist designation and see the value for their careers. I also taught many REBAC courses, including ABR, SRES and MRP most often. All in all, I can’t complain.

Unfortunately, too many were cancelled for a multitude of reasons. It is my hope in 2015, to design systems to help course sponsors consistently get butts in the seats and spread the CRS message.

With the new year peeking around the corner, my hope is to serve you in whatever way possible enhancing your business and mine. I’ll be adding some fantastic courses in the coming year, like the CRS One Day Win/Win Negotiating class (already accomplished and booked three so far) and the Lead Conversion (want to have that one on board by the first quarter’s end). I’ll be adding more convention oriented breakout type classes in 2015 like The Carabiner: The Climber’s Secrets to Real Estate Success; SmarterPhone, Visual Chiand others. I’m also excited about doing someInstructor Development in the coming year!

I was excited about the success of, and feedback from, my Audio Learning Series. The mini-courses on Pricing, Sphere Marketing and Presentations were well received. My available CD collection will be expanded in the coming year to include audio courses in Toning Your Techno Core, Efficiently Working With Buyers, and Negotiating. I am also excited to unleash theAgent Transformation System, a ten week business expansion project suitable for agents of all abilities. Both of these additions should be available by mid-January.

Last, but not least, I will continue The Two Minute Tip. My original vision of a weekly tip didn’t quite come to fruition. But, twenty-seven tips isn’t bad, and the process was a lot of fun.

On the personal/running front, I will have logged just under 2300 miles in 2014. Not bad either, especially considering my HUGE motivation problem (not having much).

I’m excited for 2015 and ready for us to jump into it together. Have a FANTASTIC year, God Bless You, and Happy New Year!

Rich Sands

The Carabiner: Tip 26

Otto Herzog in 1911 was the first climber to have used the carabiner device, a metal loop with a spring-loaded gate used to quickly and reversibly connect components. It is an essential component in climbing success.

The Real Estate Carabiner equally understands the importance of being able to connect components, whether people, systems, tasks or networks to create a better business. There are three critical parts of the Carabiner: the anchor (you), the coupling (others) and the gateway (how we reach them) and mastering all can catapult your business to the next level.

The concept here is simple: The Anchor (you) has expertise, a personality, a plan. The Coupling (others) are buyers, sellers, vendors, affiliates and also family and friends. The Gateway is the many different ways in which we attach to and/or reach them.
In spite of the enormous advancements in technology, we are still connectors (well at least successful people are connectors). Or maybe Carabiners…..

The use of the Carabiner in mountain climbing was based solely on the idea of connection. In sales, a lack of connection may not be as life threatening as it is in the mountain, but it might be close in a business sense. In this tip are five keys to connection.

Real Estate Carabiner: Part 2

Screen Shot 2014-09-23 at 7.30.58 AM

Otto Herzog’s use of the Carabiner in mountain climbing was based solely on the idea of connection. In sales, a lack of connection may not be as life threatening as it is in the mountain, but it might be close in a business sense. Here are five keys to connection:

1. Be genuine. People want to know the real you, the honest you, the authentic you.

2. Provide massive help. a huge part of connecting with people in the world of sales is helping them. Don’t just help a little, help a lot!

3. Pay unbelievable attention. Sales people talk the talk when it comes to making it all about the customer. The best connection is just that: all about the customer.

4. Persistence pays. The longer you pay attention to someone, the more you lavish attention, the more it pays in the end.

5. Remain unforgettable. In this world of disposable everything, remain connected through repetition of contact. Top of mind awareness is a real thing, use it by staying in touch.