Monday, August 22, 2011


Meet Tony Eitzel.

Tony is a professional photographer based in Denver.  He has worked with John Fielder (the "dean" of Colorado nature photographers) and actually rents space in a Fielder gallery in the Santa Fe Arts District. 

We first met Tony a few weeks ago on a Friday afternoon art walk through the Arts District downtown.  We have been looking for a particular piece of artwork to go over our living room sofa for some time, and we have said "no" this summer to more pieces than I care to remember.

Then we met Tony.  While art will always be subjective and "in the eye of the beholder", we were drawn to the depth and character of Tony's pieces, whether cityscapes downtown or soaring mountain peaks.

We engaged Tony in a conversation about one particular piece - a grove of aspens near Independence Pass - and Tony stopped what he was doing, told us the complete backstory of how and when he found this particular grove, and asked us what we thought of it.

We liked it, we liked it a lot.  But the frame was wrong and the matting behind the picture wasn't quite perfect.  We were looking for blacks and greens, and the matting was sand and the frame was white.

"No problem," said Tony.  "I'll make it however you want it to be."

With that, we agreed to the sale and Tony asked for a few days to reframe the photograph.

A few days later, Tony called us again.  

"Do you mind if I bring the picture out to your house, so I can center and mount it myself?" he asked.

It was clear that Tony took as much pride in how the picture would hang in our living room as he did in taking the picture itself.

This morning, Tony came by with his ladder, his tape and his level.  Thirty minutes later, his gorgeous photograph was ours.  Perfectly framed, perfectly spaced, perfectly level.  

Why do I bring this up in a real estate blog?  Because Tony Eitzel gets it.  

Here is someone who loves his craft and wants total satisfaction for his clients.  Tony is not going to have to ask for referrals, he's going to attract them by the way he runs his business.

When you deliver value in excess of cost, you create fans.  Tony Eitzel knows what it takes to succeed in "The Thank You Economy".

Saturday, August 20, 2011


Social media isn't a platform, it's a culture.

So says Gary Vaynerchuk in "The Thank You Economy", which dives headfirst into the realm of social media and its game-changing effects on how businesses engage consumers in today's market.

In Vaynerchuk's view, everything old is becoming new again.

In the old days, word of mouth meant everything.  If you had a bad experience at the corner store, you told your friends and neighbors, and the impact of lost goodwill on the store was immediate.

Then, from about 1970 to 2000, corporations took over the world.  Businesses were gobbled up by larger competitors, communication became "one way" and the customer lost all power.  But since 2000, social media has changed the game again.

Today, the consumer is once again empowered through sites like Facebook, Twitter, Yelp and Trip Advisor.  Businesses have to care what people think, because the Internet is for consumers what the printing press was for writers - a platform for leveraging their thoughts and ideas into something far more powerful than had been the case when communication was merely a one-to-one proposition.

Social media is a brand-equity building machine, according to Vaynerchuk, while SEO is a fad.  Search Engine Optimization provides exposure, but it does not build relationships, and relationship selling is the power tool of the 21st Century.  Social media can be used to build an emotional bond between retailer and customer, between service provider and end-user. 

I have seen the power of social media firsthand over the past three years, and it has allowed me to leverage my thoughts and build my personal brand with over 300 "friends" on Facebook while connecting with hundreds of others on Twitter and YouTube. 

But the key is to remember that, as Vaynerchuk says, social media is not a platform - it's a culture.  It's not me with a bullhorn; rather, it's me looking to connect, create value, be an authority and most of all, remain available to the hundreds of clients I have worked with through the years.

I'll close this post with my favorite quote from the book:  "If you think everything in your business is fine, it means you have stopped caring."

My goal is to continue to grow not just my sales, but my value to others.  I am continually working on ways to do a better job, be more efficient, incorporate more technology, leverage my personal brand and help my clients get what they want. 

When you master those skills, you will master the market, no matter what that market looks like.  Because value is a quality that transcends markets, and if you can create it, the market will come to you.

Thursday, August 4, 2011


I taught a class this morning to a group of real estate agent entitled “Getting It to Appraise”. The subject, obviously, was strategies for getting your listings to appraise in a market where buyers, lenders and appraisers are often fear-based and/or predatory in their assessments of what a home is worth.

On this subject, there is one caveat that must be declared up-front: when making representations to an appraiser (or a buyer, or anyone else), all data must be factual. There is to be no cheating, no distorting of information and no known misrepresentations of fact.

As listing agents, it is our job to provide as much concrete, accurate and factually-supported data as possible which protects and defends the interests of our clients.

Having said that, here is a list of strategies one can use in supporting a home’s value in today’s market:

• Current comparable sales from the MLS
• Old comps from the MLS (can’t necessarily be used, but does support argument for historical value baselines)
• Comps from public records not appearing the MLS (FSBO’s and new builds)
• County assessor records
• List of upgrades and updates
• Previous appraisals (again, won’t necessarily be used, but does provide historical value baseline data)
• Neighboring appraisals (a “hidden gem” if you are willing to ask neighbors if they have refinanced or had their homes appraised in the past six months)
• Rental surveys (establishes rental value, which can influence market value)

I often refer to appraisal data as “above the line” or “below the line”. What that means is that some data supports value at or above the contract price you are looking to support. That is called “above the line” data.

Conversely, there is also data that can undermine your price – that is called “below the line” data.

The name of the game is to provide as much factual, honest, above the line data you can to support your price. That, in my opinion, is your job as a listing agent and a fiduciary to your seller.

The old “4P” approach to selling a home – Put a sign in the front yard, Put a lockbox on it, Put it in the the MLS, and Pray for a buyer – simply isn’t enough.

It’s hard work to list a home, hard work to negotiate a contract, hard work to support an appraisal and hard work to close the deal. That’s why one-quarter of all contracts fail to close, and why nearly one-third of the agents in Colorado have quit the business in the past three years.

There is, however, no point or purpose in complaining. Shut up and do your job. And do it well. That’s real estate in 2011.