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2008-04-15 20:35:00

10 Tips to Create a Balanced Real Estate Practice


National Assn. of REALTORS President Dick Gaylord reached out to members last week with "10 Tips to Boost Your Business." Some REALTORS are skeptical about his advice. Here is a question posed by an e-PRO Certified REALTOR in Connecticut:

"I listened to Dick Gaylord's remarks carefully, then listened again. Some of what I heard him say goes back to the type of training we got 30 years ago, before the Internet came along, and long before we were allowed to use the Internet for commercial purposes. Things like placing call after call for hours on end and door knocking today are being displaced by our up to date coaches and trainers' teaching reverse Internet marketing utilizing direct response advertising to drive targeted prospects to our web sites, where robots handle and prioritize the inquiries.

"I'm going to venture to say the old burn-out techniques are not the ones most top producers are choosing today, in an era of National and State Do-Not-Call Registries and heightened home security awareness. What is your analysis of Dick Gaylord's remarks, and do you believe someone else might have written those remarks for him?

"What would be your top ten tips?"

Richard Hamlin, C.B.A.®, e-PRO®

I think Dick Gaylord's advice is very balanced and I am inclined to think he compiled the tips himself. Real estate practitioners struggle, balancing emerging technology with fundamental real estate practice. Consider some of the imbalances.

BALANCE SCALE ONE: A new breed of real estate agent relies on autoresponders and programmed responses that do not involve a human connection, a LIVE personal, one-on-one communication using vocal cords in real-time. 

Why Does This Work for Some Agents?  New web technology makes functionary tasks easier to perform and more efficient. Web-based tools and social networking platforms enable realty pros to reach more consumers and provide greater exposure for their listings than they ever enjoyed.

Why Does This Create A Problem for Agents?  Many new agents have been on the job for less than five years and declining market conditions create challenges they are facing for the first time. A hungrier buyers' market saw many of these agents concentrate on marketing with fewer complications than the present market presents. Many of these agents do not have a real estate skillset to handle a myriad of dilemmas that are the staple of a down market.

BALANCE SCALE TWO: Veteran real estate agents are slow to adopt new technology. They rely on old-fashioned, personal contact with past clients and they eschew online social networking as the province of the young.

Why Does This Work for Some Agents?  There are numerous top-producing, six-figure income earners who reap the benefits of their years as successful agents. They gather regularly, in person, at real estate industry events. Most of them do not have blogs. They know how to solve real estate problems, they keep up with state rules and regs, and they have a solid referral network.

Why Does This Create A Problem for Agents? There is a growing age disparity between real estate consumers and real estate agents. Buyers and sellers in their twenties and thirties have evolving and ever-changing tech-driven expectations, especially those centered around communication delivery methods and speedy dispatch.

10 Tips to Create A Balanced Real Estate Practice

Tip 1:  Create a Solid Business Plan.

Develop a business plan built on values and goals that are qualitative and quantitative, that balances left-brain and right-brain functions. The left brain will be happy with efficient record-keeping and task tracking. The right brain needs to dwell on dreams and vision and accepting some degree of risk.

Tip 2:  Become e-PRO Certified.

There is no better place to begin applying computer and Web knowledge to a real estate practice than the e-PRO Certification program offered by NAR. This program is designed by REALTORS for REALTORS to make the real estate business more efficient and increase the bottom line. e-PRO workshops are available for companies and associations with in-person presentations or remote presentations via Webinar. Details are available upon request.

Tip 3:  Hire a Coach.

If I had to select one thing above all others as something that I would do differently in real estate, this would be it. I would turn the clock back 15 years and hire a coach. Understand the difference between a coach and a trainer, and understand the importance of credentials. A trainer is a person who concentrates on results from tasks that are applied in similar fashion to rank-and-file real estate professionals. A coach works with a person from the inside out, helping to fashion a plan that honors an agent's personal and professional values and goals.

There are thousands of people who call themselves "coaches." Coaches are not licensed. The International Coach Federation and CoachU are both globally respected organizations that train coaches, test them, and credential them as professional personal and business coaches. I would not settle for less than an ICF-certified professional, a PCC (Professional Certified Coach) or the gold standard in credentialled coaching, MCC (Master Certified Coach). MCCs who serve the real estate industry include Joeann Fossland, Patti Kouri, Bernice Ross, Ph.D., and all of the real estate coaches on her team, and Sharon TeitelbaumMaya Bailey, Ph.D., is not an MCC, but her Ph.D. carries substantial weight in the coaching arena.

Tip 4:  Design an Equitable Education Plan.

Counterbalance training and seminars with a full range of learning experiences. Give classes about technology equal weight with instruction in negotiation, legal updates, generational marketing, and financing. For each tech class on your schedule, be sure that there is one that deals with real estate fundamentals. Follow training in Fair Housing with a session on Internet marketing. Reach past your comfort level in training.

Tip 5:  Co-Mentor Agents Most Unlike Yourself.

Boomers and Silent Generation real estate agents: Find a Generation Y REALTOR and develop your text messaging skills. Gen X and Gen Y agents: Adopt a Boomer agent and ask questions about tough transactions and solutions. Pretend you are a sponge and soak in some of the wisdom that comes with years of experience.

Tip 6:  Know Your Market.

Study the statistics generated by the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), know how your listings compare with online valuation estimates like those at, and learn how to analyze data and work with Absorption Analysis numbers as the basis for projecting market time.

Tip 7:  Be Courteous, Ethical, Lawful.

Behave in a manner that will ensure that real estate agents will go out of their way to work with you. Write testimonial letters for real estate agents who have performed their duties well in transactions that you share. Ask for mutual consideration, but do not condition delivery of your letters upon a reciprocal response.

Tip 8:  Combine Online Resources with In-Person Prospecting.

Innovative coaching/training programs couple high tech tools with personal contact. The Real Estate Game® is a seven-year-old group coaching program with separate games on FSBOs, Expired Listings, Referrals, and Personal Development. Real estate agents develop tech tools and actively prospect for business within the framework of a game, having fun and building business at the same time. Register for programs that you are most likely to enjoy and engage, and where you will most likely find success.

Tip 9:  Assess Your Marketing Program.

Where are you getting most of your leads? How much of your advertising and marketing budget is targeted at print advertising? Do you have a specific plan for online advertising and marketing? Do you need to shift your dollars to reflect a changing paradigm?

Tip 10:  Be Part of a Solution to Cure the Housing Crisis.

Estimates of the number of homeowners at risk of foreclosure range from 2.2 million to 2.8 million in the next 12 months. Don't be taken in by short-sale hucksters who are compounding the problem while nonprofits offer homeowners hope and relief. Offer resources to distressed homeowners who want to keep their homes on your web site and blog.

(Frances Flynn Thorsen, e-PRO, SRS, ACRE, former Managing Editor of She is a Certified e-PRO Trainer and publishes several blogs, including RealTown Report, The REALTYgram Blogger, Web Women Giving Circle, No Blogger Left Behind, and The FAT Lady Blog. She is a co-Creator of the No Blogger Left Behind blog coaching program.) 

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