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Lesley Stahl 60 Minutes QuoteLesley Stahl just might have provided the spark to help rescue an industry from the self-delusional, suicidal clutches of itself.

Here’s why all of that was invaluable to you.

Lesley Stahl came closer to describing what too many people believe and fear and hate about the real estate business than most REALTORS® are willing to admit.

It’s not important that those beliefs are not true.

What’s important is that many people believe they are true. Those beliefs are their current reality. They are true for so many people because too few REALTORS® have communicated effectively and changed those perceptions. They are true because enough people have had bad experiences with REALTORS® that have led them to those conclusions, those beliefs. And people love to generalize, to take one bad experience and attribute it to all REALTORS®, all the time.

But in those perceived truths lies your opportunity.
You can step away from defensiveness and evasiveness and define, in a new and fresh and positive way, what is your service, your value and the kind of results and return on investment your clients can expect when they deal with you. You have the chance to change your presentation, your image – to define yourself in a more appealing and compelling way.

Many of you are already doing this. If you’re doing it effectively I would guess that your business is doing well. You are not feeling threatened by the Redfins of the world. You are well positioned to successfully co-exist with any business model that charges less for doing less.

If you’re not doing it and are feeling vulnerable, here’s the opportunity and the need that I see. First, stop whining about the unfairness of it all. Next, frame the issues so you can address them. Here’s my take:

  • Too many people believe that they are paying Neiman Marcus prices for Wal Mart service. That’s what gives Lesley’s Stahl’s story so much juice. Your job is to dispel that notion. You can do that by crafting your message about what you provide and the results – tangible and intangible – that you achieve for your clients. Your efforts and hard work don’t mean squat. It’s all about results. And if you’re not a good writer, hire someone who is.
  • Define, in writing, the differences between your service (and the results) and the services of the Redfins of the world. Don’t let the Redfins do it for you. Take charge of delivering the comparison.
  • Understand the new reality - you live in two worlds: The over age 45 world, populated by people who live in largely traditional ways; and the 45 and under world who live in today’s world of technology. Unless you only want to do business with people over 45 you’d better step into the technology world in a compelling way. Use the Internet in your marketing and communication effectively, dramatically, engagingly. Start now. Learn what to do – and do it. If you are going to be a full-service Realtor you must be full service to both worlds.

For the rest of you, I believe you’re running out of time.

New business models that drastically lower the price and provide less service won’t destroy the traditional real estate business or put professionals who offer full service at full prices out of business. They will, however, replace most REALTORS® who charge full prices and provide marginal value.

Debi Braulik
www.roundrealestate.com - Maple Valley, WA
Selling Maple Valley to Fife WA Homes For Sale

Bill- You are so right. Perception IS reality. Bottom line. It is what it is. The only way Realtors(R) can combat the negative image is to step up. To define our value, respect ourselves, respect our profession, respect others, and be smart.

May 16, 2007 11:12 AM
Jeff Turner
RealSatisfied - Santa Clarita, CA

Billl... give TLW [SVW] something for the effort. She works so hard. :) 

I'm reading all of these comments and I keep thinking to myself... AR is not the group that needs to hear this message. The professionals who are on here daily - reading, commenting, learning, growing - they already get this. The question for me is, how does this get delivered to the million plus who are NOT here on AR?

May 16, 2007 11:58 AM
Cynthia Sloop
Community Association Manager - Indianapolis, IN
Bill - You hit the nail on the head.  It really doesn't matter whether it is true or not.  The public believes this to be true.  I've had good Realtors working with me in the past and I've had some, well not so good ones.  I considered the bad ones to be LAZY more than anything else.  So I agree, it's important to distinguish myself from  being different and better than that!
May 16, 2007 11:58 AM
"The Lovely Wife" The One And Only TLW.
President-Tutas Towne Realty, Inc. - Kissimmee, FL
I want the hot dog :) 
May 16, 2007 12:13 PM
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Nice to have you back posting, Bill - log time no see. And a great post it was.I suspect we will see more of this going forward, and it is certainly not a new isuse...just becoming more public. Those who cannot change with the market and consumer expectations and needs will be in trouble.


May 16, 2007 02:14 PM
Gail Robinson
William Raveis Real Estate - Southport, CT
CRS, GRI, e-PRO Fairfield County, CT
How about increasing the real estate license fees to $2,000 a year.  How many of the "lazy" real estate agents would still be in the business?  There would be fewer real estate agents, but I'll be the ones that would be left standing would raise the public perception of our profession.
May 16, 2007 02:54 PM
Don, Missy, William, Debi, Cynthia, Jeff D.,
Thank you so much for your responses. As Jeff Turner said in his comment, AR people are probably the last group of people who need to hear this. You all are the most responsive and open people in the field. But hey, maybe you know a few folks who could benefit from the message. Thanks again for your responses and your support.
May 16, 2007 04:21 PM
bill leider

Don, Missy, William, Debi, Cynthia, Jeff D.

I just put your names in the wrong place. I've been away too long. Sorry. Thanks again.

May 16, 2007 04:23 PM
bill leider

Bryant...I had not read your piece prior to writing mine. I purposely didn't read anyone's piece or comments because I wanted to sit and think and articulate my reaction in the most objective way possible (for me). I knew I would by subconsciously influenced if I read the opinions of others because a) you're all smart and experienced; b) you have intelligent, informed opinions and approaches; and c) I respect what you have to say.

So I needed to remain ignorant and see what came out. Thanks for reading it.

May 16, 2007 04:28 PM
bill leider
Gail...Thanks for responding. Interesting case study on exceptions to the rule. I'm confident that if enough "exceptions" occur, you and your Broker will find creative, ethical ways to deal with them. Thanks again for your response
May 16, 2007 04:32 PM
bill leider
Beth...Thanks for your response and your observation about the "rebuttal" REALTOR. Actually, in thinking about the story, if they had used a REALTOR who could have given a compelling rebuttal 60 Minutes would have no story. They had to get an unconvincing person.
May 16, 2007 04:36 PM
bill leider
Gail...Interesting premise. In my experience raising the ante to play does tend to chase the amateurs away. Thanks for taking the time to respond.
May 16, 2007 04:38 PM
Bill Leider
Real Estate Shows - Manhattan Beach, CA
TLW...What do you want on your hot dog?
May 17, 2007 01:37 AM
"The Lovely Wife" The One And Only TLW.
President-Tutas Towne Realty, Inc. - Kissimmee, FL
LOL. Mustard and relish would be good :)
May 17, 2007 03:00 AM
Doreen McPherson
Homesmart ~ Scottsdale ~ Tempe - Tempe, AZ
Phoenix Arizona Real Estate ~

One of the best posts on this issue. 

I agree with you. 

Thank you.   

May 20, 2007 07:07 PM
Bill is a straight shooter who has a great ability to getting to the core of an issue.  He has been effective at translating his years of business and personal experiences to valuable advice.  Like EF Hutton, whe Bill talks -- people listen.
May 22, 2007 05:44 PM
Ana Connell
G & C Properties - Burbank, CA
Burbank Real Estate Agent
Wow, just read your post, very powerful and spot on!
May 22, 2007 06:23 PM
bill leider
Doreen, Ana and Bennet...Thanks for taking your time to read the piece and for your reactions. 
May 23, 2007 02:17 AM
Rochell Heininger
Yellowbook - Pittsburgh, PA
Great post Bill~
Jun 27, 2007 05:47 AM
Bill Roberts
Brooks and Dunphy Real Estate - Oceanside, CA
"Baby Boomer" Retirement Planner

Hi Bill,

I found a link to your post on another member's blog. I don't watch 60 Minutes so I was unaware of the issue. However, with that said I thinl that we are all better off having many business models available to the consumer. The Help U Sells of this world give full service brokers a way to gauge their own value. And it must be about delivering value at whatever level of service we offer.

You're right. this is a wake up call for us as an industry and especially for thoseagents and companies that over charge and under deliver.

Thanks for your post.

Bill Roberts

Jul 05, 2007 08:39 AM