Wednesday, July 30, 2014


I recently wrote an article about the Pareto Principle, the universal theory that 80% of outcomes are governed by 20% of causes.  As it applies to business, I believe in this theory.  In fact, I spend much of my time focused on the 20% - of relationships, of actions, of initiatives - that generate 80% of my results.

In real estate, the migration to online data has commoditized agents.  The title “real estate broker” no longer means much to most people. Agents used to control information.  They used to control access.  They used to be the gatekeepers.  No more.

To continue on in this new environment, you must be able to show how you are the best choice among any and all options available to consumers.  You must fight to consciously demonstrate your uniqueness in an increasingly commoditized world.  You must get better at what you are doing.  Improvement is not optional.  You must become more efficient, more productive and more valuable, every day.

I have been in this business for 20 years.  That’s a long time. 

Along the way, I have worked every rung on the ladder.  I started in mortgage, moved into management, sold homes, became Chief Technology Officer for a 1,500 agent company, started blogging, moved to Denver, re-started my sales career, and have sold over 200 homes in Denver over the past eight years, including a mind-blowing 40 in 2013.

I have seen this business from all sides.  I have seen brilliant negotiators.  I have seen brutal incompetence.  I have seen skilled management.  I have seen reckless behavior.  I have closed incredibly complex deals.  And I have learned life lessons that affect every step I take and every move I make in the real estate world. 

So why hire me?  Why not just hire your cousin, who just got her real estate license?  Or call Trelora, or one of the other discount brokers in town who promise to “save you money” by letting $10 per hour employees handle your six-figure transaction?  Or do it yourself?  How hard can it be?

In an age of commoditization, being a real estate broker no longer means anything.  It means nothing, that is, unless you can convey how you are somehow different, how you can somehow bring value to a transaction that other people cannot.

Here’s my list:

EXPERIENCE:  Nothing replaces it.  Playing a video game is very different from flying a 747 with 200 passengers on board.  There are lessons in every single transaction.  Things that could be done differently.  Moves that could be made earlier.  Or later.  Or shouldn’t have been made at all.  Issues which arise that could have been headed off by checking the title work, reading the HOA docs, asking one more questions, knocking on a neighbor’s door… all learned through firsthand experience.  You don’t want to guess your way through a real estate transaction, you want seamless execution.  That comes from experience, nothing else.

NEGOTIATION:  When do you push hard?  When do you back off?  When do you horse-trade?  One strategy that I have learned through the years is that it’s better to do the thinking for both sides in a transaction, rather than fight unilaterally on every single point.  Negotiation is an art, not a science.  But it’s an art that is learned by backing away from the trees so you can see the whole forest.  And it’s done well when you can get what you want while making it as easy as possible for the other side to say ‘yes’.

REPUTATION:  It’s priceless.  And it matters with other agents.  One thing I do in every single transaction is that I pull sales history for the other agent.  I figure out how long they have been in the business, how many homes they have sold, how engaged they are with the profession.  I get deals done because people know I close deals and that I do so with integrity and ethics.  People know I solve problems.  The numbers don’t lie.

KNOWLEDGE:  For me, real estate isn’t a job.  It’s a lifestyle, a seven-day-a-week commitment, it’s who I am.  Read my blog if you don’t believe me.  I’ve published nearly 500 articles online since 2007, many written late at night, early in the morning or on the weekends.  I write because my clients deserve to be educated, and because writing helps me make sense of the rapid changes which are dominating this business.  Teaching leads to clarity in your own thoughts.  Few are more knowledgeable on both a macro- and micro-level than I am.

VISION:  I see where this business is going.  I don’t react.  I lead.  That’s why I built an online profile with over 70 “five star” client reviews on Zillow.  It’s why I launched a blog in 2007 that today features over 500 published articles specific to the Denver market.  It’s why I built a powerful vendor network with over 60 different services providers at  It’s why I associated with RE/MAX in 2007 when the rest of the industry was plunging into recession.  I make calculated moves that keep me – and my clients – one step ahead.

TEAM:  I have amazing support.  A great lender, excellent administrative support, a world-class stager, an amazing title company that will bend over backwards to get things done for me when others would wait in line.  You hire a broker to market, negotiate and solve problems, preferably before they arise.  It takes a great team to make that happen.

TRAINING:  Would you rather have a surgeon who is continually taking classes on the latest technology, practices and procedures?  Or one who loves to play golf and parties hard every weekend?  I carry the CRS (Certified Residential Specialist) credential, the PhD of Real Estate, which takes seven years to earn and requires re-certification every two years.  Less than 4% of agents nationally carry this credential, yet each year, like clockwork, CRS agents close more than 25% of all deals in the United States.  CRS = serious agent.

AVAILABILITY:  I answer my own phone.  Always have, always will.  At night, on the weekends, while traveling.  It doesn’t matter.  Because real estate is my life’s work, there is no "OFF" button.  I am paid well for what I do, but success is earned, not given.  Part of the job is answering my own phone.

Most people have it all wrong when it comes to hiring a real estate broker.  You should not judge the transaction based on what you pay the broker.  You should judge the transaction by what you walk away with when your transaction successfully closes.  You should judge the transaction based on whether or not you assembled the right team to walk you through one of the largest and most complex transactions of your life, and by whether or not you unnecessarily left money on the table by making sloppy or poor choices because your broker couldn't think at a higher level.

For my sellers, I have two jobs.  Minimize your liability, and maximize your "walkaway" net proceeds.  In a litigious world, I have never had a seller involved in post-closing litigation.  If the transaction never closes, either because you (unnecessarily) contracted with a crazy buyer, or because your property didn't appraise, or because your deal went up in flames at inspections... it doesn't matter what the commission was going to be.

Is it possible that one listing agent could, with clarity, strategy and execution, net $10,000 more for a home than another agent bumping off the guardrails and fumbling his way through the deal?

If experience, negotiation, reputation, knowledge, vision, team, training and availability matter, the answer is yes, I can.