Sunday, November 28, 2010

You could swear I'm planting trees, the way the Money's growing.

Whenever I mention my occupation to people my age, or people that are ill informed about the economy, I get the same facial impression or response, "You're the one with ALL the money!" I don’t know if it’s the numerous shows about real estate or the fancy clothes but the general perception of Realtors (from my experience) is that there is MAJOR money to be made in this business. 

Do not get me wrong, there is!

A strong indication that this business is lucrative is the fact that many people who sell were once successful in other fields, many boasting degrees in engineering, accounting, financing and etc. The economy is different now, once upon a time you could sell real estate part time and make tens of thousands of dollars. Now, dedication and time is needed in every deal. You are no longer able spend a few hours on the weekend showing a few homes, you now spend months nurturing and reassuring a couple that buying in this economy is the best investment that they can make.

So the big question is how much we get paid?

FIRST, let me tell you the process of getting paid, I'll put this into a FEW steps from a buyers point of view (in 2010).

1)      Market yourself in someway to attract a buyer.
2)      Find out their finance situation. There can be 2 directions this goes in.
a)      They have Grade A Credit and will have no problem calling in an approval letter from a lender of their choice.
b)      They have what most people have in 2010, shaky to okay credit and need some type of credit repair. This can be a process taking a few weeks to a few months (I’ve dealt with couples going on a year).
3)      Begin the house hunting process! Find their likes and dislikes and SHOW THEM SOME HOUSES!
4)      Write a contract, wait for an acceptance, and focus on financing!
5)      Have a closing!

Seems fairly easy? It MAY be, but one thing it is not is speedy. Working with a buyer can take anywhere from a month to years (depending on their credit status).

NOW, onto the BIG dollars, right? (I’m going to put this into simple math for you.)

Let’s say your buyers settle on a home for $100,000.
The going commission rate for Realtors is 6%.
That is to be split in two with you and the selling agent, so 3%.
$3,000, not bad right? Wrong!
Depending on your commission split with your company (Yes, you pay to work for someone!) You’re looking at a commission of 1.5%, so $1,500.00.
Okay…not too bad.
NOW you have to subtract a 6% franchise fee, for using the company name.
A $100+ dollar amount is subtracted for closing the deal. This is a “transaction fee”.
You also have your quarterly MLS (allows you to see ALL homes for sale by real estate agents) due of $130+.
You can also add your yearly due that comes from calling yourself a “Realtor” amounting to $500+.
Not to mention setting aside 30% of the gross commission for taxes!

Now for the fun part, adding up how many hours, gas mileage, text messages, phone calls, etc did you use working with this couple.

ALL these things cost, and all are a vital part of the home buying process. So you subtract those costs then divide the hours and tell me how much you make. I’m not a mathematician but I’m certain it’s not a lot.

It can be though, IF you have steady clientele and steady contracts!

I said all of that to say, that this business is HARD, so when people assume that I’m sitting back and racking up the dollars it’s an insult. Any money I do get is hard earned, and this business does not stop.

            The inventions of Blackberry’s were one of a selfish man. It doesn’t matter what you are doing, what time of the day it is, where you are, if you get an email it is supposed to be treated as a priority. The age of technology has desensitized us to the fact that the work day stops at 5, and doesn’t fall over into the weekend.

Basically, the business is hard, very hard! As is any other self paced business, but if you work hard you can obviously make more than enough money so comments accusing you of having a “money tree” are accurate. So during this lack luster economy I imagine myself planting these trees, daily. With every person I meet that may not close for a year or so or more. It’s a process, a tedious one, but I’ll take the job

-Premature Millionaire

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Heavy is the Crown

I think that's self explanatory, the crown is heavy. See the problem is people strive to get to whatever position it is that they want, and when they get there they have to keep the momentum to STAY! Who thinks about that while getting to that spot, and says: "When I finally make a million in sales, I'm going to have to do it all again in order to celebrate next time". It would seem that once that position is gained the ride should be care free, it’s not.

My crown is heavy. I worked to get this neighborhood, and not in the last month either. Everything in my life has been altered to accommodate this moment. This was not an accident, I prepared for this! Now that I'm here I can't sit and wait for these homes to become occupied on their own. (Although the daydreamers side of my braid fantasizes about 10 or so of them vanishing from the "Available" sheet in a week.) I’ve got to WORK to see progress, no one cares about this neighborhood more than I do right now. Not even the builders. It’s my baby now. So when I put on my crown, daily, it will still be heavy-but at least I can afford to put fancy rubies, and diamonds on it. Yes, this will increase the weight, but my head gets stronger as the crown grows heavier.

There are two things in life you can do: settle, for the "norm" OR you can travel the road not taken.

I was introduced to the book Rich Dad, Poor Dad by a prominent Realtor in my town. This book as he described, "will change your way of thinking". After reading it I agree that it could change someone's mind, but not so much mines. Mainly because my father had been instilling the same thought process my WHOLE life. Unbeknownst to him he had been loosely quoting Robert Frost every time he said "you’re taken the road not taken". With a clear brain this book can open your mind to the idea that the struggle is long, but the wealth will come.

There are a few people that I know personally, or through other people that I think are traveling a road not taken, only to end up with a heavy crown, but these folks can carry it, I think. Maybe it’s their big heads, or tenacious attitudes, but they inspire me.  So I've decided to dedicate a portion of the next few blogs to them. (Be warned that if I made a list of ALL the people that inspire me, it'd take a day to read.)

The first is my sister:

So Bianca has got to be the hardest working college student that I know. She graduated number one from the biggest technical school in town and her countless school associations, awards and status granted her NO scholarships as she headed to Business school.


(There are 23 to be exact)

THIS was more than a set back.

Up until Business school she had been debt free, and we (my family) knew that one of ALL of the big wigs that all but guaranteed her scholarship money would come through. She had proven herself to be more than bright enough, being the President of Phi Theta Kappa, on the Deans List, and invited to the Governors mansion, etc all seemed like a clear indication that she was on her way to a debt free college education. ALL of a sudden none of the people that were so impressed by her seemed to be able to help out. The crown of excellence she had garnered was now heavy, the student loan amounts were adding up. This story could easily end with Bianca just having a two year degree, but she decided to wear the crown, not pass it on to another owner. This year she's graduating with an Accountant Degree from one of the best Business schools in the country, debt free, headed to Law School. She also works part time at a courthouse, has her real estate license and a paralegal degree. Not bad.

The point is, the going got tough, as do most stories. She could have ended up in a NORMAL job, making NORMAL pay, living a NORMAL life. Since she didn't give up, I'm certain we will be seeing her as our President sometime in the future.

-Premature Millionaire

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Mid Week Candids

I don't know what other people do for lunch, but this is IT. In the office, by myself, devouring whatever sub that Publix has to offer. Oh wait, "This American Life" plays the soundtrack for me so I'm NOT sentenced to hearing what my sister describes as a "cow chewing".

This is a BIG porrtion of my DAILY routine at work. Every morning putting up directional signs to attract buyers. PLEASE don't think its easy! It usually ends in sweat and dirty heels (digging into the dirt can do that). On this moring I got smart though! Instead of me parking illegally, running out to stake signs, and becoming exhausted I hired my younger cousin for the job. It only cost me a ride to her school, and breakfast! My "wheeling and dealing" does not stop at the closing table!

These are my most important selling tools. EVERY female Realtor should have these. Do not let the various heels fool you, these puppies have been here since the beginning. If I ever need to find them they are under my desk, on the drivers side of my car or in my "carry it ALL" purse!

-Premature Millionaire

Sunday, November 14, 2010

So.. todays lesson is on Marketing.

"Where do you get you business from?"

This is a question I ask ANYONE who sells anything. I want to know how they got their customer, and if I can emulate their success.

The answer is one of two things, referrals and marketing. So for me both of these were a problem, a BIG problem.

When starting off in real estate you are repeatedly told from you instructor in your initial class, to your instructor in your companies course requirements, to your broker (who acts as your boss and mentor) to other agents that you should compile a list of every person you know. This list is called your "Sphere of Influence”, it’s either their number or email address and your affiliation with the person. Most list are 100-500 names, once it is compiled you contact each and every person, alerting them that you are now in the "business". You encourage those people to tell other people, and those people to tell other people. Thus a chain reaction of people now knowing that you can assist them in buying and selling property. This is a proven method for some agents, and in almost every real estate book I have ever read it tells the reader to do the same thing!

When real estate agents first came about their role was to JUST assist in the selling of the home, until "caveat emptor" (let the buyer beware) justified the idea that buyers of homes should solicit real estate professionals in order to protect their interest in a home sale. Real estate agents had most often been at home moms that needed something to do with their spare times. As time went on the housing market sky rocketed, opening up the door for more profit to the Agent (We'll talk another time about the supposed "big bucks"!). This brought in professionals of other careers who were either at, or just about at retirement age and wanted to continue with making money, to what appeared to be effortlessly.

I am a new breed of professional. My career started long before my legal age so instead of spending 30 years at a company and then retiring to sell homes I went straight into the home selling business. Most agents think this is the best idea ever, and wish they could have chosen this path.  Unbeknownst to them they have something I don’t have, past connections.

Remember that "Sphere of Influence"? If I were to sit down at the time I graduated high school and wrote down everyone I knew on a piece of paper I would have my school mates (who were getting ready to submit loans for college), teachers (who knew me as the very talkative student), and parents.  I had never had a job outside of my parents company and my family lives in Miami. I explained this dilemma to my broker and instructors and they suggested that I move forward with still contacting my sphere, I didn’t.

Maybe this was a mistake on my part, but I truly don’t think that me as an 18 year old could have persuaded anyone who knew me in my high school life to entrust me with the biggest purchase of their life.  That may be called self doubt, or just me being a realist.

My time then had to be dedicated to marketing! At my high school you had the ability to choose what extracurricular courses you wanted. I chose to spend most of my non core courses in business related classes. Such as Entrepreneurship, Marketing, etc. I also became a 3 year member of DECA (an organization of Marketing Students) and hosted as the Vice President in my senior year. During college I was limited in the marketing related courses I could take but enrolled in as many as I could. Don't get me mistaken, I'm NO expert at marketing, although the limited exposure I did have early on in conjunction with massive amounts of television I watched gave me an ample amount of ideas.

To me, there are two effective ways to market yourself or a product. Word of mouth, or visual aids with you or your product on it. I tend to lean more towards the visual because of an agent at the first company I worked for.  Before agreeing to "sign" with a brokerage I interviewed a lot of companies to see what they had to offer. My final decision weighed heavily on the fact that I though it was fate that the first real estate company I interned at was one I haphazardly interviewed with. This company also housed a REALTOR that I thought was "Big-Time"!

She had BILLBOARDS, everywhere! (Next to TV ads and radio spots, billboards are the way to attract business, I later learned.) I immediately assumed she sold tons and tons of homes. What I later learned is that she round aboutly [sic] got these billboards from a settlement decades before she began real estate, she was actually a new face to the business just like me! Other consumers obviously thought the same thing; her phone would not stop ringing, while I couldn’t get mines to vibrate! ALL because people THOUGHT she was something (not to say she isn’t a fabulous agent!).

I obviously couldn’t buy billboards, nor wait for one to jump in my lap, I had/have to think of new, innovative ways to get my name and brand to future buyers.

This business is about branding yourself, but whatever company you tie yourself to wants to convey the company’s name as well. You can't, legally make a flyer, make ads, or solicit yourself in anyway without also marketing your company’s logo.  It’s a futile battle, both entities are attempting to sell/buy the same property, one just wants more credit than the other. I believe that it was my tenacious attitude and hard work that made the deal while the company insinuates that its the branding of the company was the reason why I attracted the client. Its neither here nor there, at the end of the day there needs to be a joint effort to effectively market whatever it is that is being sold. The size of the company will dictate how much assistance (monetary, physical, and emotional) you get from them.

The community I work for solely brands their name, there is not a flyer, ad or directional sign that will ever say "Your Nxt Realtor". I’m comfortable with this. This community is based off its name and uniformity of its product. The uniqueness of this community is that you cannot just drop your ads and signs where ever you please. Also I’m not financially sound enough to pay thousands of dollars for a billboard every month, so I use the company’s resources to bring the customer to me. At that point it doesn’t matter how they came to my doorstep, it’s now my job to make sure my positive demeanor, knowledge of the property and overall attitude brings them, and the person they tell, back!

That, in addition to my internet marketing (including, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Flickr, under construction website and news letter ad) and various organizations I pay to be apart of, and NOW my "Sphere of Influence" should suffice with clientele until I buy those billboards!

-Premature Millionaire

Sunday, November 7, 2010

"Just cause you got a real job don't mean you can't go nowhere!"

That was the response of my closest friend, Courtney, this past week. After asking me to go to yet another college based function that I declined. She knew the answer before she asked, but she always asked. I think she does this as a courtesy, and also because she thinks that one day I will suddenly say "YES girl, be by my house at 9!" This won’t happen, not anytime soon. This is typical. I wish I could count how many times I get asked to go to outings by miscellaneous people, some friends, some guys, some associates. They all get the same vague answer from me, "Ok, that sounds fun." My tone alludes to me debating on the event, where in my head I violently stamp a “NO!”

It’s not because I don’t like these people, or don’t want to interact with people my age. My reasoning is simple to me but it’s not understood easily by my peers.

It’s a two step answer: I don’t know how to have fun and I don’t think I deserve it.

What is "fun"? I seriously have NO idea. If you ask my friends, or family I have a very outgoing, vivacious attitude. I LOVE to laugh and I'm always smiling. It appears that I am always having "fun". What my friends and family don’t know is that I'm addicted to writing "lol" (laugh out loud) and other acronyms for laughing. I used them in at least EVERY text, email, status or message that I send. I learned that not writing this can make me appear to be unfriendly and rude, and those are the two things that I dread in people the most. I’ve also adopted this method when speaking. I use my eyes and coy smiles to insinuate that I am amused by whomever I’m conversing with. When in reality I probably writing down in my head the days events.  What my family and friends also don’t know is that I smile so much because I remember in a middle school science class that it takes more muscles to frown than to smile. To me this meant premature frown lines and aging! As a preteen this shouldn’t have been concerned but I was, and I am also obsessed with how I will age (I constantly check to see if I have furrow lines in my forehead from raising my eyebrows too much-I don’t).

In conjunction with my superficial reasoning’s for appearing to be a happy person, always having "fun" there is a slightly deeper reason.  I don’t know how to have fun. People my age say fun is: going out, partying, getting drunk, smoking weed. NONE of these things appeal to me, at all. I’ve never drunk anything alcoholic and cigarettes and weed seem like gateway drugs to cocaine/heroine/pcp (or whatever else they are showcasing on "Intervention"). Going out is strictly a fashion show, to me, that I attend once a season. I strictly go out because I enjoy getting dressed clothes I wouldn’t wear on a normal basis, to seem my age.

Being that I had my "future" set out for me earlier than my peers my parents had  me focus on my career wayyyy before anyone my age could imagine what college they would be going to. So while they were figuring out what "fun" was I was attending night classes at a local community college with 40 something’s studying for a state regulated test for my real estate license. Needless to say I missed out on what a normal teenager would have had the ability to enjoy. My father always reminded me (when I would beg to go to a football game, or a house party) that I was "traveling the road not taken" so I had to do what my peers weren’t doing in order to get where I was going, the Land of Greatness. The only inhabitants were people that did as Robert Frost said and ended at a place only that "regular" people could imagine. (These people to me include Warren Buffet, Russell Simmons, Donald Trump, Mark Zuckerberg, etc.)

Don’t get me wrong, I'm not a hopeless female, destined to become the "Crazy Cat Lady". I do have what I imagine is fun, which is true laughter and smiles at the expense of my family and true friends. Which is typically an inside the home event. Excluding people I don’t know, who don’t understand that when I REALLY laugh I throw my head back with my mouth wide open and occasionally snort, oppose to snickering with my dainty fingers covering my slightly gapped mouth. There is a BIG difference!

The second reason for me not wanting to go out and have "fun" is because I don’t think I deserve it. Going "out" to me seems like a celebration for getting a promotion, having a birthday, and [for me] closing a sale!  So if I'm ALWAYS going out I'm mini-celebrating things that I have not accomplished. It makes no sense to me to partake in it. In this business you have to be self driven, and if I'm only driving myself to the club I can only look forward to being given a free entrance "before 11 o’clock". That’s about the only thing I can gain from that.

So I will tell you all like I told Courtney, "I'm not going out until I clear a Million in Sales." in my new neighborhood. Doesn’t that sound difficult?? Well in reality, it’s only about 4 or 5 homes. I’ve already pledged to sell 2 homes this month, which seems like an obtainable goal IF I get FULLY assimilated into my model. (I’m still without a few things, which will take a week or two to get in.)

All in all I’m enjoying the neighborhood. It keeps me busy enough that I'm not taking a nap, or going on celebrity blog spots but it also allows for time to sit back and breathe...

-Premature Millionaire