Industry Observer with BeYoutiful HS KY License #68778

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Original content by Lenn Harley 303829;0225082372

After reading a post minutes ago by Missy Caulk about Google Alerts and indexing Comments to ActiveRain posts, I did a Google search for comments to ActiveRain blogs and my name.  I saw many, many links to ActiveRain and one was the post below which seemed very timely for today.  The post below dates back to January 2007, but is just as relevant today, perhaps more.   

IN A TOUGH REAL ESTATE MARKET, THE EVEN THE SMART AND HARD WORKING WILL WORK HARDER AND SMARTER.  After all, you'll want to keep your competitive edge.  However, it helps to know that, once you have developed the basic skills of managing a Contract of Sale, from the buyer or seller side, you need to practice, practice, practice these skills until you can perform real estate brokerage duties with emphasis on the creative and tough advocacy for your buyer or seller client and not be bogged down with mundane tasks.   

Focus on the big picture, not the routine day to day duties.  Practice them until you can manage a contract with ease.  That will imbue a sense of confidence in your buyer or seller clients that their agent is in control and they are well represented.  

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As a child, my summers were spend on my grandparent's farm in North Carolina where, in exchange for my grandmother making my next year's school clothes, I worked with my grandfather on the farm performing useful work such as gathering eggs at 5:00 a.m., picking big fat ugly worms off tobacco plants, picking vegetables when ready for harvest, and general farm duties.  This was summer "vacation" time and my grandparents were very strict about keeping up with my school work during the summer.  So, my grandfather, the kindest, sweetest, most loving, hardworking, gentleman to ever walk the earth, worked with me for an hour every evening (before TV) practicing spelling, arithmetic, geography and other subjects he thought important.  How did we study??  We drilled.  My grandfather was a simple man.  The technique my grandfather used, although he didn't have a term for it, was OPERANT CONDITIONING developed by B.F. Skinner, Psychologist, back in the mid-1930s.  

The theory of "OPERANT CONDITIONING" is useful in skill building no matter what the skill.  Consider the Skinner theory "A behavior followed by a reinforcing stimulus results in an increased probability of that behavior occurring in the future."   Sounds suspiciously like positive reinforcement.  Dr. Skinner takes his theory a step further and proposes that a behavior NOT followed by reinforcing stimulus results in a decreased probability of that behavior occurring in the future.  Behavior can be manipulated by giving or withdrawing reinforcing stimulus or rewards. 

My grandfather didn't know it, but by working with me for an hour every day, repeating the multiplication tables over and over, I was developing valuable little brain imprintsGolferSkill building or learning facts by repetition isn't popular these days, but it works.  Athletes know that, if they practice certain acts time and time again, they will develop the motor skills to hit the ball, shoot the clay pigeon, hit the target with the arrow, putt the ball in the cup, keep the ping-pong ball on the table.  Practice, practice, practice is the key to building motor skills.  My experience has taught me that training, practice and execution of building brain imprints can be helpful in our daily job of listing and selling real estate. 

I observed many years ago that new agents who took control of their real estate practice early on were more likely to succeed and sell a lot of real estate.  One of the advantages these new agents had over others was that they were motivated to learn the skills needed on a daily basis such as:

Making appointments with consumers
Making appointments to show
Finding the homes to show
Opening the front door of homes

Making appointments with consumers
means coordinating schedules, determining how many people will be touring, will it involve children or anyone with special needs?  Will the tour involve a snack stop?  Do the buyers have a specific time by which they must be back home or at work?  Will the agent be picking the buyers up at home or work or meeting them somewhere, which might mean leaving their vehicle in a safe place?  Does the weather forecast have rain or snow/ice warnings?   These are all things that must be considered when making appointments to look at homes for sale.  New agents can appear unsure of themselves until they can anticipate the unexpected on tour and prepare the tour schedule to allow time for any contingency.  Previewing homes gives agents experience in mapping homes and learning how much time to allow for each house. 

Making appointments to show often require repeated phone calls, scheduling, changing other appointments, repeated calls to sellers or listing agents, all done over and over until it becomes ROUTINE.  We all know that making appointments can try the patience of any agent.  But, the more times it's done, the easier it becomes because the new agent learns when to call a service, the office, the agent, the owner.  When the listing says "call, if no answer, just go", the agent will soon learn that one quick telephone call and a message left is all that's needed.  They also learn that if the listing says "agent to accompany", that showing appointment must be coordinated withthe listing agent and the buyer and seller.  Not so easy and time consuming.  However, with experience, the new agent soon learns that just leaving one message isn't sufficient and they must also contact the listing agent's office, home and it's also a good idea to fax a message to the agent's home and office fax or every contact number available.  HOWEVER, these skills can be gained long before an agent even has a buyer/client.  Previewing homes listed for sale provides new agents with very valuable skills and making appointments becomes ROUTINE.  YES! !   You have brain imprints for procedures for making appointments - experience. 

Finding the homes to show means a very thorough search of the MLSand new home directories, if applicable.  Experienced agents learn to read full listing carefully and, if there are questions, contact the listing agents for clarification.  If a family of 6 needs 4 bedrooms and 2-3 full baths, it isn't helpful to show 3 bedroom homes with the 4thbedroom in the basement without a bath unless the buyer expresses an interest.  It isn't helpful to get to the front home of a home and hear a growling dog inside and the agent missed the warning in the REMARKS to "owner must be present to contain dog".  Experienced agents have learned that a thorough reading of the listing will often give information that is not included in the short listings.  Time is valuable for agents AND buyers.  Experienced agent learn to anticipate and prepare very carefully for tours to make the experience a positive one for their buyer/clients. 

Opening the front door of homes can be a challenge with the variety of accesses that we face; electronic key box, combination key box, key in office, etc. are just a few.  Practice is critical with these tasks.  Agents who have not practiced accessing key boxes, working combination key boxes or reading listings that instruct special access procedures are NOT going to have a relaxed tour and that inexperience will be obvious to buyer/clients.  Practice, practice, practice is the only solution here.  OPERANT CONDITIONING is in play and, in order to get positive reinforcement (DOOR OPENS), a smart agent will practice opening key boxes and front doors about 50 times minimum just to learn the potential hazards and how to handle them.  One sure way to lose the confidence of a buyer/client is to get to a home to find that your keypad is not updated and your cell phone isn't charged or the listing says that there is a security system and you didn't get the combination.  Constant maintenance and attention to these tools is imperative.  The cost of an extra key box to test key pads is little compared to the loss of a $15,000 commission. 

Preparing  CMAs is a task performed by agents that rise to an agency level that will benefit from practice, practice, practice.  Researching comparable SOLDs takes a tremendous amount of practice to learn to compare the cost per square feet, structure similarities, location, tax assessments, etc.  Agents shouldn't engage in providing comparable information to buyer/clients until they have practiced and had reviewed many, many scenarios and had their broker review their methodology.  Listing agents learn these skills sooner than buyer's agents, but these are valuable skills and they take practice.

Writing contract stakes practice.  A buyer isn't going to have much confidence withan agent if the agent isn't comfortable withthe contract form, addenda and disclosures.  This is a critical skill and it can be learned by practice, practice, practice.  Brokers will usually provide training for new agents that include contracts.  However, the real estate Contract of Sale in most areas contains 6-12 pages or more, plus addenda, plus disclosures and requires hours and hours of review and study to understand the document sufficiently well to "fill in the blanks" with a buyer/client sitting across the desk or at Starbucks.  The agent MUST be able to not only fill in the blanks, they must also be able to synopsizethe contract for the buyer AND answer any question.  Only an agent who has a great deal of familiarity withthe documents will be able to write a contract withease and professionalism.  Familiarity with the contract forms doesn't have to wait until there is a buyer who want to buy a house.  Learn these skills and get these brain imprints early and it will give the buyer AND the agent confidence.

                               Agent with clients

Post inspired by Elaine Reese

Courtesy, Lenn Harley, Broker,, 800-711-7988, E-Mail.


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Thea Byrnes


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