I Cannot Tell a Lie... it's tougher today...

Education & Training with Sell with Soul

About a year ago, my friend Loreena Yeo unintentionally challenged me. I had just written a series of blogs about a nice new real estate agent named Jake who went from the verge of failure to the heights of success, based on his effective sphere of influence campaign. On the second to last installment of the Jake story, Loreena asked the question: "Was Jake lucky? Did Jake begin his career during a boom time and therefore was able to experience success more easily than today's agent?"jake

Okay, so Loreena probably didn't mean it as a challenge, but I took it that way. Within a few months, I decided to return to the wonderful world of real estate sales to prove to ... well... myself if no one else... that the Selling Soulfully philosophies weren't just a bunch of fluff that will work fine in a strong market... but not-so-fine in a difficult one.

So, in February of this year, I re-activated my license and started selling real estate again. Honestly, I didn't know what to expect and yes, I was a little nervous. What if I failed? What if the methods and philosophies I've been preaching all this time were just a bunch of fluff & hooey in today's market? What if... egads... the only way to succeed selling real estate is to aggressively prospect to strangers and pester your friends to death with your thinly-disguised sales pitches?

Thankfully, I have discovered that the methods I used to build my business back in the booming mid-90's work just dandily today. No need to spend a gazillion dollars marketing myself to strangers or to hassle my friends on a regular basis to "PLEASE SEND ME REFERRALS ‘CAUSE I LOVE THEM." I have a steady stream of business that comes to me as a result of my SOI efforts, and my commitment to Being Out There in the World with My Antenna Up and a bundle of market expertise in my back-pocket.

However, I will admit and acknowledge that, indeed, it IS harder today. Many trainers will give you a pep talk and convince you that if you aren't seeing the success of yesteryear, then you just aren't trying hard enough. That may be so, and I certainly won't stop anyone from working longer hours to get thru these lean times, but what I want to say is this...

Whether you're a green bean newbie or an experienced old fogie... if you're feeling discouraged by your YTD production or what's (not) in your pipeline... you are not alone. Even the most pompous, confident, arrogant top producers are feeling those feelings, I promise you.  They may not admit it and they may even tell you that they're having their best year ever, but that's probably a bunch of hooey.

The good news is, as you've heard a hundred times, those who survive will likely thrive when this crisis passes. If you're new and have never experienced a strong or even stable market, you have something truly awesome to look forward to. For those of us who've been around awhile, we can look forward to again enjoying that career we fell in love with.

There will be lots of agents who make it through to the next market. Hundreds of thousands of them, even. Is there any reason it won't be you?





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Marlene Pellegrini
Norwich, CT

I have had agents rant at me, yell at me and hang up on me because deals were not going well.

  At first I was taking it personal.  My "coach" reminded my that agents are panicking!  Unfortunately this panic has been taken out on me although it is obvious the problems with the deals are not my fault, (such as buyers are backing out because they are scared of the falling market).  Those words have helped me put things into perspective even though there are no excuses for the the personal attacks I have experienced.

Sep 19, 2008 01:50 AM #1
Ken Tracy
Coldwell Banker Residential - Naperville, IL
Helping clients buy and sell since 2005

Hi Jennifer. 

However, I will admit and acknowledge that, indeed, it IS harder today. Many trainers will give you a pep talk and convince you that if you aren't seeing the success of yesteryear, then you just aren't trying hard enough.

Thanks for saying that.  My last boss would crucify me for not working hard enough, telling me this is a normal market.

How come everyone who is no longer producing acts like they would be mopping up if they were selling today.  It's silly. 

I feel deceit is a part of real estate sales and I feel that is sad.


Sep 19, 2008 01:56 AM #2
Patricia Beck
RE/MAX Properties, Inc., GRI, CDPE - Colorado Springs, CO
Colorado Springs Realty

I enterred the market when it was tough so I am looking forward to seeing what it is like when things pick up again.  I think it is a challenging market and demands hard work to survive if you are in it for the long haul.  Thank you for the encouraging words!

Sep 19, 2008 02:12 AM #3
Kim Peasley-Parker
AgentOwned Realty, Heritage Group, Inc. - Sumter, SC

It is harder today, but it also makes us tougher and wiser. 

Sep 19, 2008 02:14 AM #4
Robert Rauf
HomeBridge Financial Services (NJ) - Toms River, NJ

I have seen things starting to perk up in NJ, and I think we will see the people fall out of the business that were just order takers, or thought this job could be done part time. This is all good news for the professionals that are in 'it' for the long haul. The Pie will grow as the sales force drops. The real estate business has always had its ups and downs, isnt that half the fun???? :)

Sep 19, 2008 03:11 AM #5
Susan Haughton
Long and Foster REALTORS (703) 470-4545 - Alexandria, VA
Susan & Mindy Team...Honesty. Integrity. Results.

Good skills and market knowledge will take you through good times and bad.  The past few years have been an aberration for many markets;  while admittedly many markets may be "tougher" now than they have been, it's not necessarily because the markets are in dire straits, it's because the agents have never had to be at the top of the game in order to succeed.  It was low hanging fruit. 

Many agents today have never been in a normal market, so they are now crying the blues because things are so bad.  It's not that things are so bad, in many cases, it's that suddenly a whole lot of people who made good money in a profession that required nothing of them whatsoever in terms of skills or knowledge, are now being required to do something they have never been qualified to do.

For the good of the consumer, this shake out needed to happen and hopefully we will see better agents as a result of it. 

Sep 19, 2008 03:34 AM #6
Glenn S. Phillips
Lake Homes Realty - Birmingham, AL
CEO, Lake Homes Realty / LakeHomes.com

Jennifer... great stuff.  So many folks need to hear a good dose of reality and encouragement together! 

It is interesting to see how many people consider and call the boom times "normal" when "normal" is really the cycles of up and down markets.  

I think what you share about your past is a great reminder for the seasoned and a great lesson for the new folks.  Keep it up!!

Sep 19, 2008 07:00 AM #7
Loreena and Michael Yeo
3:16 team REALTY ~ Locally-owned Prosper TX Real Estate Co. - Prosper, TX
Real Estate Agents

I am glad to know that someone who had done this 10 years ago, and now "re-starting" again would say that it is indeed harder because all along, I had thought it was just "me" that isn't doing all that great. I think that the cost of doing business has increased has something to do with it too.

Thanks for the dose of honesty. I still support and love the SOI model.

Still good friends, are we?

Sep 19, 2008 09:41 AM #8
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Sell with Soul - Pensacola Beach, FL
Author of Sell with Soul

Loreena - I haven't really seen an increase in the cost of doing business; in fact, I would venture to say that if my production were where it was when I was doing this full time, my expenses would be far less. But anyway, I can't imagine changing my business model because the market is less vibrant; rather, I'll just accept that there isn't as much business to go around, keep doing my thing, knowing that I'll get my share of the pie. That share just might not be as big as it was in years past... or as it will be in the years to come!

Glenn - good point! My entire early career was during a boom; it wasn't until mid-2000 that I experienced any sort of let-down. However, 2001 was by far my biggest year. I wonder how much of that has to do with expectations - perhaps the reason we "boomers" did so well was that we had experienced success and didn't have any expectation of anything different...???

Susan - Very interesting perspective... though it surprises me coming from you... wanna know why?

Robert - Well... nah... I think it's a whole lot more fun when things are good! I cannot lie... when everyone has warm fuzzy feelings about the real estate market, it just feels better to be in it! Question - who were these "order takers"? Seriously, it's not as if this business has ever been easy, just perhaps easIER. I would probably consider myself an "order taker" in that I never worked all that hard to bring in business - it just came to me.

Kim - Oh, yeah! Here's to toughness and wiseness!

Patricia - You have some good stuff to look forward to! Seriously, when the topic of real estate is a positive topic, it's a blast to be selling it!

Sep 19, 2008 10:18 AM #9
Lynn Afton
Greenridge Realty Oakmont - Big Rapids, MI
REALTOR® Near Big Rapids, MI, Mecosta County

Jennifer, I'm glad that you have such a positive attitude about selling real estate, even in the current turmoil.  Doom & gloom is not going to sell any homes, and although we must be realistic, as you are - things are tougher - but not impossible!

Sep 19, 2008 10:57 AM #10
Susan Haughton
Long and Foster REALTORS (703) 470-4545 - Alexandria, VA
Susan & Mindy Team...Honesty. Integrity. Results.

Be gentle... ;-) 


Sep 19, 2008 01:50 PM #11
Michael Sahlman
www.HomesForVIPs.com - Keller Williams Realty - Miami Beach, FL
e-PRO - Miami Beach Florida Luxury Homes

The tougher get tougher as the going gets tougher. Keep the faith. We will survive! Sounds like a song!

Sep 19, 2008 04:59 PM #13
Ruthmarie Hicks
Keller Williams NY Realty - 120 Bloomingdale Road #101, White Plains NY 10605 - White Plains, NY

Hi Jennifer -

I just linked to one of your posts....in my latest blog - check it out if you like.

Another thing that people need to recognize.  ALL MARKETS ARE LOCAL - that includes OPPORTUNITIES too.  Although hypercompetative everywhere, some markets have less wiggle room for a newbie to squeeze in - market notwithstanding.  I'm hanging in, but truth be told we need 50% of the agents to disappear to make our area at all profitable. So far NO ONE has quit. I have a theory that most are doing this for "pin money" on the side, but because of their sheer volume they are eating away at the full-time agents prospects in a crushing way. I've extended my geography extensively to gain more market share. One of the problems was that the city I've lived my whole life in (population ~60,000 - ~30,000 residences) has been the target of almost every agent in the entire county!  You are talking about 4000 agents with their sites set on one city!  NUTS!  With turnover very, very slow and sales down 30% - it was bad before the slump - its a mess now.  I've had  a few deals - most people just in a few years have had nothing all year.  A few people have made it in this market, but many of them aren't very honest.  They buy listings and beat up sellers to reduce the price.  Its pretty nasty out there.

But people need to realize that this VARIES throughout the country.  Each area is NOT the same.  Trainers in particular shouldn't  treat it as such. Some areas have tons of listings and no buyers. We have almost no listings and a lot of not-so-serious buyers who are very fickle.  They are trying to strike deals with listing agents for a reduced commission and money at closing - so they'll "use" a buyer's agent and dump you as soon as they find what they are looking for - nasty things like that.   Which is why i insist on a contract after two sets of showings.

Sep 19, 2008 10:53 PM #14
Norma J. Elkins
Elite Realty Group - Morristown, TN
Realtor - Elkins Home Selling Team

Great post and I am trying to stay positive and work harder - there will be better things to come!

Sep 20, 2008 12:29 AM #15
Cindy Marchant
Keller Williams Indy NE 317-290-7775 www.marchantteam.com - Carmel, IN
"Cindy in Indy" , Realtor, Fishers Real Estate

Ruthmarie makes a good point, what is National news may not apply to you Locally...I hear people ask me all the time about our declining market.  I still contend we do not have the declining market that other areas of the country are experiencing.  The same rules apply today that did several years ago here in our area, price it right and have it looking pristine and staged.  Those houses still sell here. 

As far as my business...I will say that I am 10% behind where I finished last year and it was my best year ever in real estate.  I have three months to find that 10% and I will probably work hard to do that.  I will make more of an effort to seek out buyers and sellers and connect with my sphere.  I am an extremely competitive individual...mostly with myself though.

Sep 20, 2008 12:57 AM #16
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Sell with Soul - Pensacola Beach, FL
Author of Sell with Soul

Cindy - I can so relate! I'm very competitive with myself! Same thing here - well priced and well presented houses do sell, sometimes quickly.

Norma - Just keep looking forward to better times! This career will seem EASY!

Ruthmarie - great post you linked to... what a nightmare of a market you work in... you must have tremendous character!

Michael - Sing it baby!

David - blushing... I try

Lynn - you flatter me... my attitude is on a roller coaster most days! I just try not to write on the downswings...

Susan - Just read your post again and have a clearer picture of what you were saying (I'm much better in the mornings). I'll explain my thoughts off-line...

Sep 20, 2008 01:51 AM #17
The Somers Team
The Somers Team at KW Philadelphia - Philadelphia, PA
Delivering Real Estate Happiness

Thost agents that make it through (new and old) will be that much better off when things turn around.  I think this is an excellent opportunity for an agent to build their brand name and capture market share !

Sep 21, 2008 11:16 AM #18
The Somers Team
The Somers Team at KW Philadelphia - Philadelphia, PA
Delivering Real Estate Happiness

Thost agents that make it through (new and old) will be that much better off when things turn around.  I think this is an excellent opportunity for an agent to build their brand name and capture market share !

Sep 21, 2008 11:19 AM #19
Joshua & Kathy Schmidt
ERA Henley Real Estate - Cabot, AR


     You as well as I know that the type of market we are in now will make us that much better when a good market roles back around.  If we put this much work into a good market for a few years it will be much easier to retire early.  I can not hardly wait for those times!

Sep 23, 2008 04:32 AM #20
Donne Knudsen
Los Angeles & Ventura Counties in CA - Simi Valley, CA
CalState Realty Services

Jennifer - I agree too, that it is harder now.  Personally, this has been my hardest year in the eight years I've been in the mortgage biz.  That's ok though because I'm still working, I still have job, I still have clients, I still have escrows and life goes on.  Yes, my numbers are not what they were in previous years and my escrows are getting harder and harder to close but, hey, I still have numbers to work with and I'm still closing loans and helping people.

I also agree that those of us who stay in the biz will be better and stronger for it.  I don't know what it's like in other markets but around here, Ventura County (SoCA), a lot of Realtors and mortgage professionals are leaving the biz.  I like to think of it as a readjustment of the biz because, frankly, there were too many order takers that were clogging up the biz.  JMHO

Oct 04, 2008 04:36 AM #21
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