Monday, October 25, 2010


Having clearly defined goals is like having the picture for a 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle, according to Lou Tice in “Smart Talk”. Goals help you to figure out where the pieces fit, they heighten your awareness to people and opportunities that can move you forward, and they create the “constructive dissonance” that drives you to make adjustments to move from where you are to where you want to be. Goal setting sets energy in motion toward a desired outcome.

The problem most people have is that they don’t clearly define their goals.

Well thought-out goals create dissonance between what we want and where we are. And it’s that discord between the “better reality” and the “present moment” that inspires action, creativity and new ideas.

For many years, I was not an avid goal setter. During that season of my life, I let things come to me. That was a mistake. You either make things happen, or you let them happen. Guess which approach yields better results?

Great performers FOCUS on the result the want. To use a quarterbacking analogy, they selectively filter out the things they don’t need so they can find the man standing alone in the back of the end zone. That kind of focus pays off, and it’s a learned skill.

In Tice’s words, deliberately taking yourself out of your comfort zone is called "adventure". And to live life to the fullest, to make it an adventure, we must get comfortable being uncomfortable, because that is where discovery is found.

Sunday, October 24, 2010


I recently posted to this site the fact that nearly one-quarter of the agents selling real estate in our market three years ago have quit the business.  NAR membership in Colorado, which peaked near a high of 27,000 in 2007, now stands at just over 21,000, with many more agents on the way out.

Certainly this is a difficult market, and there simply are not enough transactions to support the weight of that many agents.  But there's also a lesson in this... survival is a biproduct of taking active steps.  If something doesn't work, you need to change it.  If something does work, do more of it.  But to simply keep doing what you've been doing while the tides goes further and further out is the recipe for slow and certain professional death.

I recently began holding open houses again, after going over a full year without doing a single one.  Now there's nothing wrong with open houses... in fact, if you want to know the truth, open houses are one of the most dollar-cost productive activities in real estate.  You may read the studies and listen to the talking heads and think that home buyers do all of the shopping on the computer... but you would be wrong.  Lots of people still get out on Saturday or Sunday afternoon and drive neighborhoods, looking for open houses.

Now showing up an open house is a good start, but it isn't enough.  I will normally print flyers one or two days in advance and then knock on doors, inviting neighbors to the open house.  Early on the morning of the open house (not five minutes before the open house), I will post 12 to 15 directional signs in the area, directing people to the property. 

And then when people show up, I have snacks, fruit trays, bottled water, hot coffee and most importantly, LOTS OF MARKET INFORMATION.  I won't chase buyers around a house or hound people who don't want to talk.  But if someone has a question, I'm going to have a full, thorough, complete and documented answer.  Because at that moment, I have the opportunity to start a relationship.

There are lots of examples of things people don't like to do, but which yield proven results in real estate.  Most of them involve talking to strangers, which many agents don't like to do.  Get over it.

If you intend to make it across the river, to 2012 or 2013 or whatever year it is when this market heats up again, you're going to need to be proactive.  You're going to have to get outside of your comfort zone.

So recognize that no one feels sorry for you.  No one cares about your problems.  You have a choice, and it's a simple one.  Will you commit to growing, or will you choose to die?  Because the skills that got you to where you are today will not be enough to see you though tomorrow.  

Thursday, October 21, 2010


In a market where over 50% of the listings entered into the MLS today will ultimately either be withdrawn or expire without selling, it's never a bad idea to go back to the basics.

When I first meet with sellers, I review with them my comprehensive marketing plan... a marketing strategy that actually involves 71 different steps and commitments I pursue to actively market and sell your home.

One of these steps involves "Enhancing" my listings on  What does that mean?  And why is it relevant?

Let's start with  Although there are hundreds of sites where your home will receive exposure when you list with me, is the elephant in the room.  Owned and operated under an agreement with the National Association of Realtors, attracts a global audience of over six million unique visitors each month, and more clients start their home search with than any other real estate site. is also a "for profit" enterprise, which means the site makes money in two ways:  1) by selling advertising space, and 2) by selling "enhancement packages" to Realtors who want to better promote their listings.

The cost to enhance listings on can be steep.  Using a formula based on the median home price for a region coupled with the number of listings the agent has taken in the past 12 months, the cost for a one year enhancement contract can easily reach $1,000 or more.
So what does enhancing do?  In short, there are three main benefits.

First, the listing is displayed at the top of the search results whenever its parameters are met in a home buyers search.  If a dozen listings fit the search profile based on criteria a visitor has entered, those two or three listings that are enhanced will be displayed first, followed by the generic listings.

Second, the listing information is enhanced, with up to 25 photos (instead of four), the ability to upload virtual tours (which I always utilize) and much more detailed and descriptive property information.

The third relevant aspect of enhancing is simply that the listing agent gets proper exposure with the listing.  In other words, while the listing broker's office information will always be shown with a basic listing, unless that agent has paid for the upgrade package, he or she will not have their phone number, website and personal contact information attached to the listing.

From the seller's perspective, missing out on upgrades is a big deal.  And most seller's don't even know what they're missing.

According to, about 20% of agents subscribe to the upgrade package.  Which means 80% do not.  If you were sellilng a home, wouldn't asking about enhancements be a good question to ask?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


Bank of America announced last Friday that it was halting foreclosure proceedings in all 50 states so it could perform an internal review of its foreclosure processes.  This follows the announcement that several major lenders in 23 "judicial foreclosure" states (i.e. states that require a court hearing before a foreclosure in finalized) have suspended foreclosures after concerns arose about the legitimacy of those proceedings.

Much has been written about this in the past five days, and it is a complicated and tangled web.  The one thing I am convinced of is that this latest injection of uncertainty is not going to help the housing market, the economy or the public's perceptions of banks.  It will also make some attorneys rich.

There are basically two material concerns at issue here that are being investigated:

1) Right to foreclosedoes B of A (or whomever) actually OWN the loan they are foreclosing upon, and do they have the legal right to foreclose? Attorneys for foreclosed homeowners are asking that, prior to foreclosure, the original note and deed be produced by the lender. Because many of these loans have changed hands so many times (loans originally funded by WaMu, Indy Mac, Countrywide, etc.), in deals that were often brokered under severe duress by the federal government, the banks literally have no idea where thousands of these notes and deeds physically are located.

2) Costs and feesat every stage of the foreclosure process, there are fees and penalties that are piled on to the borrower’s debt list. Attorney fees, publication fees, filing fees etc… in the 23 so called “judicial foreclosure” states, the bank is supposed to submit an affidavit verifying that these fees have been reviewed and are legitimate prior to foreclosing. The truth is that employees at Bank of America have admitted signing up to 300 of these affidavits in a single day, which means that the costs, fees and legal mandates are not being verified prior to foreclosure.

When clients sign a note and the deed of trust, closers often joke that the 15 page deed can be summarized in ten words. “If you pay, you stay. If you don’t, you won’t.”  At the moment, that summation is in doubt.

These cases right now are not going to “save” any homeowners. They are simply going to cause delays and inject more fear and confusion into the housing market, which cannot help the recovery process or the nation's fragile economy.  The sensational headlines may also motivate thousands of underwater or unemployed homeowners to default on their loans, since the once-obvious connection between not paying your mortgage and losing your home seems to be increasingly fuzzy.

The real agenda here, in my opinion, is a shakedown against the banks by trial attorneys, who have spotted a weakness in the system and who know that no one has deeper pockets right now than the banking industry (thank you, taxpayers).

This is a very negative development because really, there are only two things driving the housing market today, and that’s buyers in search of quality and/or value. And foreclosures represent value. Take that out of the equation, and what do you have left?

Let's think one step down the line on this so you can see the kind of chaos we are talking about here... let's say that five years ago, you took out a Visa card with Washington Mutual.  WaMu goes under, the accounts get transferred to Chase, and today you owe $21,000 on that card.  You don't deny that you spent the money, or that you have a legal obligation to pay it back.

But using the same logic that's bottling up the foreclosure process, you demand that Chase supply the actual written agreement you signed when you took out the card so you know they are in fact the correct creditor.  Could they do that?  What if they can't??

That's why this is a mess.  We are all for ensuring that there is "process" and that fairness be a part of this discussion.  But really, in my opinion, this is just a massive shakedown that won't ultimately save any homeowners from wrongful evictions. 

It's about the fact banks have deep pockets (courtesy of taxpayer bailouts and government-arranged mergers) and that certain trial attorneys see an opportunity to make a killing.  A killing which could further delay any recovery in the housing market and in the larger economy.

Sunday, October 10, 2010


The goal here is to educate, not to scare.

Before you have a reaction to this post, keep in mind that there are two sides to every coin.  You want a 30 year fixed rate at 4.25%?  I'm sorry, they don't offer those rates when times are flush.

We are arguably living through the most challenging economic times since World War II.

Check out the job losses associated with the Great Recession as they relate to other periods (chart from Calculated Risk): 

Tracing back 33 months, we see that we have lost more than 5% of the nation's jobs.  The only recession that comes close, by comparison, was when we went through a national recalibration immediately after World War II.

Now the issue we all have to decide upon - anyone who plans to participate in this economy - is whether the graph of this recession is ultimately going to look like a V, some form of a U, or an L. 

If it's a V (and it won't be), we're going to come launching out of this recession any moment and it will all go down as a bad dream.  Too late for that - didn't happen.

If it's a U, and there's evidence to support that's the direction we're headed, we're in for a long, slow period of recovery that may never actually get us back to where we sat 33 months ago.  If you work, improve and focus, you'll come up with the curve.  If you don't, the bottom of the U may be where you stay.

And if it's an L, 10% unemployment is the norm (17% - 20% if you count those who have quit looking altogether), the stock market will continue to deflate and the housing market will stagnate for years.

Would it be worthwhile to spend some time getting educated on what's happening with the economy?  Would it be helpful to know if we're headed for a V, a U or an L? 

Having an informed opinion about where we're headed is the difference between finding amazing opportunities or throwing good money after bad.

I have said for some time that one consequence of the Great Recession is that we're all going to have to improve our skills, our work ethic and our level of commitment if we want to maintain our current standard of living. 

We're also going to have do a better job of educating ourselves about economics, because the recovery that's coming is going to reward those who understand it.