SO . . . What’s it take to get a real Estate closed these days?

The Greater Nashville Association of REALTORS released the sales statistics for the month of October 2010 as compared to October of 2009. The numbers would alarm almost anyone with a brain – a 30.1% DECREASE in number of home sales for the month. With no other basis of comparison, the logical conclusion might be that it is virtually impossible and/or stupid to buy a house in this market.

After all, why should YOU buy a house at a time when relatively few other people are buying houses. What do all the other people know?

I know that “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation” Henry David Thoreau

It’s those folks who think differently who make the greatest gains during tough times. 

WE all know that things weren’t going swimmingly in October of 2009. The National Economy was a train wreck in progress, but let’s not forget that there was this little thing called a “First Time Home Buyer’s tax credit” that was expanded to include all home buyers who had lived in their houses for 3 years or more. 

I got my $8,000 by buying a house in March . . . Not sure we would have moved then had it not been for that tax credit.

So . . . I’m thinking that it really doesn’t really make a lot of sense to put much credence in a comparison against what happened 12 months ago . . . but that’s “the way we have ALWAYS done it” and it is a point of reference for perspective.

A ray of sunshine is that the aggregate number of home sales for the year is only 1% off of last year’s mark . . . That stat might make us feel better, but I don’t think it adds any real meaning.

So . . . Let’s keep it in perspective and talk about how to make some lemonade out of these lemons.

Let’s quit looking in the rear view mirror and focus ALL of our energy on TODAY!

ONWARD!

One might come to the conclusion that it’s DIFFICULT to buy a house in today’s market and that’s why the sales are down.

DIFFERENT yes – Impossible no

Patience is essential . . . and attention to detail.

Buyers MUST work through the financing meticulously before submitting any offer to purchase . . . In fact if you really want a smooth process, get FULL BLOWN UNDERWRITING APPROVAL before investing time and energy looking at houses.

You credit does NOT have to be PERFECT, but it does need to be strong. Banks are raising the “floor” of minimum acceptable credit scores (now @ 640) . . . and many underwriters are no longer using the average of the 3 reporting agencies but are counting the lowest.

You’re going to have to have some skin in the game . . . some money for down payment. While there are some 100% options out there, they have additional requirements that may not fit your scenario. FHA financing allows you to bring only 3.5% downpayment. Of course with FHA, you can have “Gift Money” from relatives for this 3.5%.

If your qualification is not stellar, seek assistance from parents or other relatives who may be willing to co-sign on your loan.

This is an environment in which, you cannot have more than one “whammie” (No cash for downpayment, low credit score, High debt/income ratio).

When you do get positioned financially to buy, set yourself up such that you have TIME and can have PATIENCE for the process . . . Keep reminding yourself that this is a PROCESS and not an event. A large percentage of the homes on the market now are Short Sales or foreclosures which require several layers of “approval” and can be lengthy processes.

Position yourself well enough that you can take full advantage of ANY opportunity out there in the market . . . such that you can seize one of those “DEALS” and stay in the game throughout the potentially extended process (could take a few months) . . .

Staying power/ability will always win in this environment.

Be sure not to back yourself in a corner. Make arrangements with your current home or lease that are flexible. This might mean accepting a slightly higher rent payment to go to month-to-month lease so you can move when the time is right . . .

If you own a home consider all of your options – Can you keep it and lease it to someone else? If your choice is to sell it, get it on the market IMMEDIATELY after you know you have full qualification to buy your next house.

Worst case, have a contingency plan for an “Interim Move” in case your current home sells before your purchase deal comes together. Timing can make or break every deal, and flexibility with timing is your friend.

Once you’re under contract, things can still happen. Underwriters are reviewing your credit and employment and bank balances etc all the way up until the day before closing.

DO NOT DO ANYTHING FINANCIALLY BETWEEN THE DAY YOU BIND A CONTRACT AND THE DAY OF CLOSING – PERIOD!

The closing date is the closing date, right? Not always . . . Last minute delays are happening frequently even with the most meticulous preparation . . . so . . . design your move with some leeway . . . just in case.

How to do all of this and keep everyone in the game til the end?

COMMUNICATE!

Especially when the process gets long and drawn out, all parties must keep each other in the loop and call each other “just to connect” . . . That keeps things fresh and moving forward.

I sat down to write a short post . . . and wrote a book.

Here’s the deal . . . There has NEVER been a better time to buy a house. My personal sales are at an all time HIGH these days. We do NOT have to accept the statistics as a “Self-fulfilling Prophecy”.

If you have ANY inkling whatsoever about buying a house ANY time in the next several years, I believe NOW is the right time to do it.

If you’re a REALTOR and you’re not as busy as a bee right now? Consider whose rules you are following – Yours? or the rules of the “Mass of Men”?

Another great Thoreau Quote:

Any fool can make a rule
And any fool will mind it.

I’m just sayin’

Best,

b

BTW – Pareto Realty is quintessentially positioned with our fresh, new approach to real estate sales and service to take this bull by the horns and support others to find SUCCESS in this market environment . . . REALTORS and Home Buyers and Sellers . . . Just contact us for details

Who the heck is “Pareto”, and why is your company named after him?

We named Pareto Realty by design.

I wanted our firm’s name to embody in as few words as possible the essence of our purpose as a real estate firm.

I knew that what I wanted to birth is a firm which would attract the “right people” who would come together as professionals and find just the right mix of camaraderie along with the appropriate level of support and training to give them the leverage they need to perform in life . . . not just in their business lives but also in their PERSONAL lives.

I wanted these folks to be “Performance Oriented” people . . . the Elite, the best, buttoned up, ship/shape, motivated, community oriented, loving, sharing, real, AUTHENTIC people . . . LEADERS!

and I did not want to create a business model that relies on recruiting (coercing) associates to join us . . . we wanted natural, organic growth.

As I thought this through, it became apparent to me that what I was creating was a “20%” firm . . . a firm with only “the vital few” amongst its membership.

Meanwhile . . . I read Seth Godin’s blog every day. Seth wrote a very provocative post about naming a company saying that the name should be more than just the family name. It should mean something even if it’s cryptic – easy to remember – short . . .

PARETO fits the bill.

Here’s where “Pareto” comes from – I quote from WIKIPEDIA

The Pareto principle (also known as the 80-20 rule, the law of the vital few) states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes – Business management thinker Joseph M. Juran suggested the principle and named it after Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, who observed in 1906 that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population; he developed the principle by observing that 20% of the pea pods in his garden contained 80% of the peas. It is a common rule of thumb in business; e.g., “80% of your sales come from 20% of your clients.”

So . . . We are Pareto Realty – The home for some of The Vital Few Real Estate Professionals in our market.

Notice, I say “The home for SOME of The Vital Few” – This is intentional. We have no aspirations of “cornering the market” with respect to having the full membership of all 20%ers in our market. We know that a healthy market desires a variety of business models and that our model is not the “one size fits all” model.

Our mission includes being Leaders amongst REALTORS . . . Vendors . . . and our community . . . in an inviting way . . . and to create a firm that fosters an environment in which our members can “stay in their 20%” and live their lives to their fullest potential.

That’s all I know this morning 🙂

Just hadda let it out of my head . . . the cool thing is that everyone who hears “Pareto Realty” stops, thinks, and asks why?

I’m just sayin’

Best,

b

PS . . . How are you branding YOUR business in a memorable way?

Monday Morning Coffee –

Good Morning!

Seth Godin wrote a great blog post entitled Alienating the 2%

“If you have fans or followers or customers, no matter what you do, you’ll annoy or disappoint two percent of them. And you’ll probably hear a lot more from the unhappy 2% than from the delighted 98.”

For those of us (most of us) who care about our service to other people, that 2% is excruciating. We want to please EVERYONE – ALL the time, and take such pride in this that we hang our head in shame when we are not able to please 100% . . . and then we live in fear of the damage those 2% might do to our reputations if they run around telling other people about their dissatisfaction.

I’ll never forget hearing Don Klein Executive Director of our local board of REALTORS say that at the end of every membership luncheon, there are ALWAYS a few people who go out of their way to complain about the food . . .

Guess what?

Most of these 2%ers are “repeat offenders” . . . It tends to be the same folks every time. So, why do they continue to attend an event that does not please them?

We cannot worry about the 2%. Most folks know who they are and don’t hear their complaints because that’s just what they do . . . Their complaints are not much more than “white noise” to the mass of people.

Don’t let these folks hurt your feelings.

Yesterday, Deb & I attended an Open House at one of favorite places on the planet to “Retreat from the grind” www.evinsmill.com where I know they do their very best to please every person who comes for a stay (though I know that the 2% still exists). This is a wonderful “Mountain Retreat” only 75 miles from Nashville just on the edge of Smithville where you’ll enjoy a 4 course, Chef prepared meal in the evening and a “hearty breakfast” in the morning. It’s a great place to run away for a night . . . ANY night.

One of the things they have started doing is what they call “Our Table” . . . All of the food they serve is from Local Tennessee farms . . . even the popcorn.

I like that . . . Deb and I talked about it on the way home . . . and are embracing the use of “Home Grown Local” businesses as we grow Pareto Realty. We know that as we support our local folks, everyone achieves more.

Stay tuned for more news as we support local restaurants and farms and shops and and and . . . We would love any recommendations of local businesses we can embrace.

I hope you have a fabulous week,

I’m just sayin’

Best,

b

Categorizing your Database – Lead Generation that just plain WORKS

First! A couple of posts ago, I wrote about Ninja Selling and got a piece of the story wrong. I gave Zan Monroe credit for the program when the real truth is that The Group, INC Larry Kendall Created that program and Zan is one of their top trainers/speakers.
 
I think a LOT about things . . . mostly, I want to squeeze the best value out of every minute of every day. What this means to me is that I am always looking for a way to get MORE accomplished in LESS time by strategically doing one LESS thing every iteration . . . I’m on a personal mission to prove that less IS more.
 
The best time leveraging tool any person on the planet has is a database . . . regardless of that person’s occupation. If you’ve got a “Rolodex” be it on paper or digital, that’s the place you go when you need something . . . Who do I need to call for this?
 
Without a database, every time you need something (ANYTHING) you’ve gotta start from scratch – do some research – before you can make the right call to the right person. You’re always recreating your wheel.
 
Additionally, the database offers the ability to categorize your “peeps” such that you can communicate to GROUPS easily such that your Christmas cards go to the right people and your marketing can be targeted to the right people etc.
 
Stay with me . . . I’m working my way to the real point.
 
There’s a component of many “Sales Training Programs” that I believe is missing . . . The importance of leveraging networking potential though efficient use of a database . . . I believe that THIS leverage is actually as important as being CRITICAL for community economic recovery.
 
What we all need to be learning these days is how to connect with each other through a collage of periodic community gatherings. Each “Gathering” offering benefit for all participants in terms of having a real theme identifying a real issue or opportunity in the community and providing a safe space for the participants to have a say.
 
In my world, I and my firm Pareto Realty, Inc  are offering weekly “Vendor Spotlight Lunch & Learn” events for professionals in the real estate community (REALTORS, Lenders, Title Companies, etc) . . . EVERYONE is invited regardless of community affiliation.
 
Another community we support is a smaller population – Broker/Owners for a monthly gathering to share ideas and discuss emergent issues in the market.
 
ALL of this benefits the larger community . . . our CLIENTS as we all become more knowledgeable and effective through our participation in the above-mentioned events. All boats rise with the tide.
 
None of this happens (efficiently) without good use of a database.
 
I like the Ninja selling program because it is not based on a HUGE volume of marketing . . . It is based on very targeted relationships and proper use of a well crafted database.
 
For those who might be struggling with knowing what a “Well crafted Database” looks like, I’ll close with a snapshot of mine.
 
I have 5 main categories within which there may be subcategories (examples In parentheses)
 
1. Inner Circle – 200-250 deep relationships for real estate sales – (Friends, Family, Clients – Active & Inactive)
 
2. Vendors – @ 200 for support/leverage (Lenders, Title Companies, Home Inspectors, Appraisers, etc)
 
3. Mega-Agents – 250+ (I have @ 500) Top REALTOR contacts in the local market – People to whom you might send personal listing announcements or invite to events (Sub-categorize by Firm Name)
 
4. Out of Area REALTORS – As many as possible around the country for in/out going referrals (Subcategorize by MSA served for easy reference)
 
5. Network group . . . Everyone else I’ve ever met (I have @500 here) . . . They stay in the database and get quarterly touches in hopes they will “Graduate” into one of the other categories.
 
Do all this “Ninja Style” and everyone (including the community) WINS
I’m just sayin’
 
Best,
 
b

Negotiating a Real Estate Deal in Today’s market.

I’m sensing some trepidation with respect to negotiating in today’s business environment. There are so many “What ifs” and changing lender requirements and uncertainties.

What’s the secret to over-coming these fears and negotiating with confidence and conviction?

How can we keep our clients at ease if we are not calm, cool, and collected?

First and foremost and throughout the experience, whether you are the Buyer, the Seller, agent, lender (whoever) don’t EVER lose sight of the fact that Buying or selling a home is a PROCESS and NOT an EVENT!

With that in mind, understand that this process does not flow in a vacuum. There are myriad “outside” forces swirling around in this complex business environment all of which individually and combined have potential for complicating or altering the process at any time.

Everyone involved in the transaction has his/her own “story” humming along in the background whether it be personal issues and needs, or level of experience, or the fact that she missed breakfast this morning.

Here’s a dose of reality! The Buying or Selling of a house has ALWAYS been a process (not an event), so blaming emergent issues on the National Economy isn’t productive use of your energy. It is what it is and has always been – an “outside force” that is in perpetual transformation (like the weather) . . . an uncontrollable.

We must work THROUGH these emergent issues just as we don rain gear when it rains.

There’s no negotiation until someone makes an offer . . . I don’t remember ever seeing a rule book, and I am certain that if there were a rule book there would be no requirement for the Buyer to always be the one to make the initial offer . . . Sellers can make offers to Buyers who appear to have an interest.

What the initial offer is . . . is not relevant. Doesn’t matter to me if the price is 5% or 30% off the mark or if the timing is good or any other pesky details . . . I’m just thankful to have an offer . . . The negotiating part of the process is when those details can iron out.

I LOVE negotiating because I know that if I am negotiating all parties are significantly closer to success simply be the nature of the fact that there is a conversation happening.

What keeps a negotiation alive is not 100% the responsibility of the professional negotiators. The motivation of the “Parties” to the negotiation is the fuel that keeps it going. We cannot create motivation . . . we CAN stoke it with continual encouragement and reminders as to why we entered the negotiation in the first place thereby keeping eyes on the ball (the goal). 

Drama works against the parties in a negotiation. Emotional balance will prevail. Those who allow their passion to overcome reason have a high probability of impulsively blowing the deal or agreeing to unrealistic terms and often harbor resentment . . . Resentment is unhealthy.

Statistics (Comparables) are not much more than the kindling that provides the base of the negotiation. They give us a base camp from which we can operate (originate) . . . a point of reference . . . don’t forget that motivation – when What the buyer is willing to pay is in alignment with what the seller is willing to accept is the end game.

I’m of the opinion that there’s no value in ugliness in a negotiation. We either Agree to agree or we don’t. Persistence is a good thing because sometimes it takes some folks to “see the (your) light” . . .

I see each negotiation as being a living and breathing organism . . . Breathe in and breathe out . . . Hyperventilate occasionally . . . a little breath holding . . . some biting of the tongue . . . As long as the patient is breathing, there’s a reasonable chance of success.

I could proselytize for another 12 pages (or so) . . . Suffice it to say that I LOVE negotiating in ANY market environment.

How ’bout you?

I’m just sayin’

Best,

b

PS – I could always use more practice so if you know anyone thinking about Buying or Selling a house in Middle TN, contact me so we can get the process started 🙂