Does Your "New" Filter Need An Adjustment? Mine Did.

Industry Observer with Swanepoel T3 Group

A few years ago the real estate market in St. Charles tanked. Badly. In May of 2008 I had about $25 million in listings and nothing under contract. I took it personally, because if you take your previous success personally, shouldn't you take your pending failure just as personally? I started looking for ways to change: I signed up for some coaching and transferred my super-demanding builder to a team. I started working with buyers. Sometime in 2009 I started poking around online to see if anyone else did things differently. That, my friends, was quite an eye-opener. 

I'm with a great brokerage with a long tradition of success. But once I looked outside our walls I saw that many brokerages and agents did many things differently, from prospecting to listing presentations to doing open houses. My ActiveRain blog chronicles that journey: activities that I assumed were standard practice, like pop-byes and open houses, were considered the sure marks of a dinosaur.

So I set out to change: clearly, what I had been doing wasn't working, so I needed to learn and do other things. But I confused doing different things with being a different person. Like a starry-eyed teenage girl who makes herself over for each new boyfriend, I shopped and bought and tried on new identities. I would become an uber-tech-savvy agent. 

Recently I realized that this change thing has consequences and not all of them are good. I've continued to sell a lot (even in that disasterous year in 2008), and I've definitely changed my business, but I haven't been very happy. The problem with looking outside yourself is that you can start to find fault with everything, including your teammates, your staff, your service providers, your clients. When you try to change everything, you act a lot like the teenage girl who needs a new wardrobe for each new boyfriend.

About six months ago I realized that too much change (and doubt) is as bad as no change. Part of this personal, because my babies are growing up and I want to be more present in their last few years at home. (The tragedies that some people I know have experienced, such as losing a child, have played a big role in this new found clarity. I grieve for each of you.) In terms of the business, I finally realized that complete satisfaction does not exist. There is a constant flood of new technology and new techniques and new ideas. My "new" filter needed dialing up, so that I can better evaluate whether the "new" fits into what is already working well for me and our business.

To me, it's an important change in attitude but it feels right. It's impossible to be perfect and no amount of trying will get you there. Everything can be improved upon, but nothing can ever be perfect. In my twenties I would have considered this giving up. Today, I see this growing up. 


Re-Blogged 1 time:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Inna Ivchenko 05/23/2012 02:40 AM
Real Estate Technology & Tools
Illinois Kane County Saint Charles
change in real estate

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Ann L. Ferguson
Century 21 North Homes Realty, Inc. - Lynnwood, WA

What a timely and well-presented post. I appreciate the reminder, especially as the market is poised once more for great change. It reminds me to consider my personal decisions very carefully.

May 23, 2012 12:22 AM #38
Justin Dibbs
Pearson Smith Realty - Ashburn, VA
REALTOR® - Ashburn Virginia Homes for Sale

Funny, I'm going through a re-evaluation process right now as well.  What a timely post for me to see on the roll.  Thanks for pointing out s few things for me to consider.

May 23, 2012 12:26 AM #39
Elisa Uribe Realtor #01427070
Golden Gate Sotheby's International - Oakland, CA
California Homes for Sale in the East Bay

Leslie, it's so true, reflecting and deciding where your priorities are will make you do things different in your personal and professional life. All the best!

May 23, 2012 01:21 AM #40
Amanda S. Davidson
Amanda Davidson Real Estate Group - Alexandria, VA
Alexandria Virginia Homes For Sale

Leslie- Your post really spoke to me. I'm in my 20's and reading that nothing is ever perfect hit home. Accepting there are some things we can't change can be hard but, being critical won't help it. Thank you for such a wonderful post.

May 23, 2012 01:30 AM #41
Michael Murphy
Bienvenidos Real Estate - Parksville, BC

Good topic Leslie, my reevaluation process moved my business to Puerto Vallarta Mexico and I am having a blast. I still spend summers in Canada and am able to run things from here. Thank you technology!

May 23, 2012 01:37 AM #42
Carolyn Hernandez
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices PenFed Realty - San Antonio, TX

Wow, Leslie, this struck a cord with me!!  This post was right on target.  Just because it is out there doesn't mean it is right for you.  I have been struggling (feeling overwhelmed) with all the new ideas and being told you must, you must or you will go bust.  Sometimes a little at a time is better and some not at all.  Thanks for your insight!!

May 23, 2012 02:24 AM #43
Jana Holmstrup
Jana Holmstrup - VP Ops - Kings Mortgage Services, Inc. - Visalia, CA

Congratulations!  It seems you are on the path of discovering what it important to you.   Susan Naylor's '7 minute life' helped me figure it out.  Change is inevitable - but don't compromise =)

May 23, 2012 02:26 AM #44
Jon Zolsky, Daytona Beach, FL
Daytona Condo Realty, 386-405-4408 - Daytona Beach, FL
Buy Daytona condos for heavenly good prices

Leslie - I saw it first on Inna's reblog.

Glad you are writing on AR. There are not really many blog posts that have the same depth. A wonderful read..

thank you

May 23, 2012 02:48 AM #45
Inna Ivchenko
Barcode Properties - Encino, CA
Realtor® • Green • GRI • HAFA • PSC Los Angeles CA

Congratulations on being featured!

Great post!

I re posted it:)


it is so important to accept who you are and remember that you can not being someone else( as we promised constantly: ''if I can ~ you can do it too!'')

I love that you mentioned how IMPORTANT to be there for your loved family. Money, success, clients come and go.......

we all know people  who are fully submerged in work,having 'no time' for quality time with friends and family.....~ .....the price is usually: broken family, neglected spouses and children, drama, frustration  and loneliness.....

May 23, 2012 02:50 AM #46
Inna Ivchenko
Barcode Properties - Encino, CA
Realtor® • Green • GRI • HAFA • PSC Los Angeles CA

Subscribed  too!

Love your style. Looking forward to read more:)

God bless!

be true to yourself

May 23, 2012 03:04 AM #47
David Miller
Seacoast Realty, Inc - Melbourne, FL

I appreciated this post. This job can pull you in so many different directions trying to do things the way other agents do them when often times we just need to have the confidence to do things the way we are comfortable with as long as they are still productive.

May 23, 2012 03:38 AM #48
Debbe Perry
Real Living Carolina Property - Morganton, NC
828.439.3084 Morganton/Lake James NC

I'm so glad I pulled up this post to read today. It's all about perspective, isn't it? I think it was Abraham Lincoln who said, "We're all as happy as we make up our minds to be," or something close, and I feel that it's real growth to have finally come to the conclusion that I can decide to be happy and be true to myself, which in the end are one and the same!

Fabulous post - thanks!

May 23, 2012 04:42 AM #49

What a thoughtful post.  When I entered into the real estate arena, the one thing that really surprised me was all the people and companies who wanted the agent's money!  Everyone saying that you wont be successful unless you buy this coaching system, or this transaction mgt system, or this website etc.   There is sooo much out there that I sometimes feel like I have severe ADD - so many bright shiny new things!  So many marketing strategies, so many prospecting activities.  I try to take time each week to contemplate my business but the key work is try - so I sometimes go a month or two.  Good motivation to  contemplate my business today!


May 23, 2012 05:20 AM #50
Gene Riemenschneider
Home Point Real Estate - Brentwood, CA
Turning Houses into Homes

There is always a balance.  You don't want to be in a rut, at the same time you have to go with what works for you.

May 23, 2012 09:17 AM #51
Coral Gundlach
Compass - Arlington, VA
Real Lives. Not Just Real Estate.

What an introspective, thoughtful post.  I think that dissatisfaction is kind of a disease in our industry, and sometimes we need to just be okay with where we are and what we are doing.   

May 23, 2012 09:48 AM #52
Elva Branson-Lee
Solid Source Realty GA - Atlanta, GA
CDPE - Atlanta Real Estate & Short Sale Agent

Thanks, for this, Leslie. It really resonated with me, too. You can't keep reinventing yourself and your business model without burning out. Just do you. That's my motto. And it has taken me some years to figure that out. Congrats on a well-deserved feature.

May 23, 2012 10:44 AM #53
Bob Miller
Keller Williams Cornerstone Realty - Ocala, FL
The Ocala Dream Team

Hi Leslie, great post and very nice example of "just be yourself"!

May 23, 2012 07:58 PM #54
Ruthmarie Hicks
Keller Williams NY Realty - 120 Bloomingdale Road #101, White Plains NY 10605 - White Plains, NY

This is so true.  I think that your angst is a reflection of the market in general.  Many people who thought they had things all sewn up had a rude awakening.  I used to see a lot of what I called "smug mugs" on AR saying "YOU make your success.  Failrure is only an option if you let it be".  BUT - as my Grandfather learned during the Great Depression - bad things happen to good people and even industrious top-notch business people.  He was OK, but attributed 75% of that to pure luck.  He saw too many good people going down and realized that the timing of his "startup" (1919 - so he had 10 years before the axe fell) and what he was selling (something small and relatively affordable)  were his saving graces.  People selling cars, jewelery, homes, didn't matter how good they were - they were dying on the vine.

The loss of control over one's life is in many ways is what weighs on people.  During the tax credit - if the buyer came through my website - chances are they would buy something.  I felt I had finally gained a real foothold and was going to climb that ladder right to the top of my market. After it was all over in May 2010 - buyers became so fickle in my market that it was like trying to nail jello to a wall.  The tax credit had been a giant tease for my model, making me FEEL successful when really I was just one downturn away from crashing.  And crash I did.  You don't close, you don't get paid, you don't get paid, you can't pay your bills....

Bottom line is that there are only 24 hours in a day and there is only so much money that you can spend trying to generate business. Filtering out what works from what doesn't and most of all - what will work for YOU - is paramount. Know how you do business and then by all means purchase what you NEED to get that model to work for you. 

As to being can't be happy if your life is upside down.  You have to create a path that you want to go down. 

May 25, 2012 03:50 AM #55
John DL Arendsen
Crest Backyard Homes "ADU" dealer & Contractor

True entrepreneurs must always be nimble and think on their feet.  As my Father always used to say, "THE ONLY CONSTANT IN LIFE IS CHANGE".

May 28, 2012 12:36 AM #56
Jacqueline Drake CRS
Jacqueline Drake Realty - Saint David, AZ
Southeast Arizona land, farms & horse properties

Real estate has changed a great deal since I got my license in 1971. I have seen good and bad markets over the years and this down market seems has lasted longer than the others I have seen. We can look around us to see if there are areas where we might improve and try different ideas. It's good if we can get good results by working smarter not harder. The main thing is to remember what's really important in life. God and family are the most important for me though I take my business very seriously I try to put them first.

Jacqueline Drake CRS

Cochise county Land

May 28, 2012 01:56 PM #57
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Leslie Ebersole

I help brokers build businesses they love.
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