Archive for April, 2014

Are You Considering a Career as a Real Estate Agent?

Monday, April 28th, 2014

The number one question people ask me, and it happens all the time, is why am I a real estate agent. It comes up as soon as they find out I am an attorney…they look at me with this confused expression and say “why are you doing this?” as if what I do is shocking. Obviously I enjoy what I do, and while there are many other reasons why I continue to work as an agent (I love my clients, I think I make a difference with my legal background, I feel the industry needs more people with advanced skills, etc.), I think this is not a career choice to be taken lightly.images-1

Back in the housing boom days (circa early 2000s) everyone was applying for real estate licenses. It was the place to be, the thing to do…wow, so much money to be made (so everyone thought). There were many new agents who were selling real estate as a secondary career, who actually went to work all day at another job and then thought they could keep the real estate job evenings and weekends. As soon as the market started slowing, and eventually crashing, there was a mass exodus and the agent pool diminished exponentially (which obviously distinguishes the keepers from those who only focused on the money…but I digress).

Last year there was a jobs report released that claimed real estate agents were the number one happiest group of workers in America. In 2013 and 2014 there have been increases in agent pools yet again, according to reports. But it seems many new agents are younger tech-savvy types career types who want to succeed and revolutionize the business, as opposed to the slightly older crowds from the early 2000s who chased the money.

Following are some important points you should consider if you are contemplating a career as a real estate agent or broker:

1. Focus on the career. Unlike a job where you go into an office every day and have specific tasks to accomplish, real estate agents are only as successful as the work they put into their careers, especially during the slow times. There are many days with no appointments scheduled, and these are the days you have to plan – if you do not have a business plan you will not make any money. To be a career agent you need to work at least full-time. You need to have a marketing budget and plan, you need to keep in touch with all your clients (and you need to learn how to accumulate a client database if you are new, which takes many years and a willingness to go without making money while you are establishing your connections), you need to attend training seminars and meet as many industry people as you can (mortgage professionals, title people, and other service providers who can possibly refer business your way).

There is so much you can do to build your career, but you have to put in the sweat and the time; it won’t happen overnight. The idea is to be in a position to know where your next sale might come from, and to have many possibilities. You have to fill your pipeline with possibilities, and only you can do this. The old adage “you get out of it what you put into it” is true in real estate.

2. Full time job. Many people have the idea that real estate is a part time job, and that they can make their own hours and work on their own schedule. This couldn’t be further from the truth. While it may be easier to attend your child’s recital during a work day if you are an agent vs. an office employee, you are not going to be successful in this industry unless you put in the time. When you are not showing or marketing houses, you need to be marketing, studying the new inventory, meeting with clients, and planning your next steps. Your career will flourish depending on the work you put into it.

3. Ongoing education. Like with any field, a real estate agent needs to keep learning. At the start it is important to receive a strong education on how to proceed with real estate sales and listings. An agent should read through ALL the paperwork s/he will be using, and should understand all legal ramifications. Continuing education and keeping up with new rules and procedures will make better agents and lead to fewer legal problems.

4. Keep up with technology. Real estate has changed immensely because of technology. Buyers and sellers have access to much of the information that used to be held exclusively by real estate brokers and agents. In order to succeed in the real estate industry you have to be willing to continually learn new technologies and be on top of things. You don’t have to use them all, but need to be aware of those that can make your clients’ experience better and help you find new clients who appreciate your skills.

5.  Reliable Inconsistency. (I love oxymorons) A career in real estate can guarantee inconsistency. Like any job where one is paid on commissions only, a real estate agent can have a month or months of consistent paychecks, and then a month/months (even longer for some) with no paycheck at all. It is never something you will get used to, if you are a planner or like consistency, and it is the number one reason why people leave the business. After 11 years in  real estate I have learned to be smart with my money and to put it away for rainy days, and how to budget marketing to make the most of it. If you are good with sticking to a plan and follow all of the above, you should be able to fill up your pipeline so that you keep busy. Make inconsistency your motivator.

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The real estate industry is exciting and has changed drastically over the years, and it will continue to do so as we head toward the future. Real estate agents can bring great value to home and commercial sales, but only if they are stay focused on their careers, stay educated, keep up with technology, and learn how to use inconsistency to their advantage. Being a well-rounded agent will not only benefit you, but also your clients.

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Homes Sold Over Asking Price: the Stats

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

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The Art of Client Care 101

Friday, April 18th, 2014

Most people think all real estate professionals do is sell homes. Those of us in the industry, or should I say those of us who view real estate as a profession and not just a part time job, understand that as agents and brokers we really wear many hats – we educate, help plan, offer designing and staging advice, research, market, and counsel…which has many subcategories, from advisor (of course being careful never to offer legal or financial advice, unless you are an attorney or financial advisor) to therapist.hats

Taking great care of clients requires a variety of skills, including patience, dedication and the ability to teach and communicate. Most importantly, it involves compassion – those who excel at client care see every real estate sale as not just a paycheck, but as a big decision for their clients, and the clients’ needs and concerns are and should be the top priority. This is not as easy as it may seem, and sadly there are agents who are not able to properly care for their clients.

Here are some great ways to make sure you are giving your clients what they need from day one:

1.  Communication is key: phone calls, email/text reminders. Communication is obviously key to a successful relationship. Find out how your clients like to receive information and call or send (or both) reminders a few days before, such as when paperwork is due, inspection dates, or when contingencies need to be removed.

2.  Provide a playlist. No matter who your client may be – a first time homebuyer, second home buyer, investor, seller or distressed seller – everyone benefits from having a list of what to expect. From the start it is helpful to provide a playlist of what your client can expect from you and how the process works. When you list a home or open escrow with a buyer, you should present your client with a list of dates and timelines, highlighting what will happen and what is needed from the client at what times. I also include what I will be doing in these lists. Of course, a list for a first time homebuyer will likely contain more information compared to one for an investor, but nonetheless this is a great tool.

3.  Calendar. I like to include a calendar with my list, with each item from the list entered on the calendar, since people have different preferences as to how to decipher information. It may see redundant but it is a visual aide and many people like this.

4.  Let clients know how to reach you, and be available. Believe it or not this is very important. Clients want to feel that they can get a hold of you if they have questions or concerns. I have had several people tell me they didn’t like their last agent because s/he was hard to get a hold of.

Helping others is really the crux of the real estate business. Buying or selling a home is one of the biggest decisions of many peoples’ lives, and agents need to keep this in mind. Help your clients to understand the process. If there are concerns, figure out how to address them so that the clients can decide whether to proceed or not. If you do the right thing you will be rewarded far beyond expectations down the road, and you will enjoy your work.

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Buyers and Sellers Aren’t the Only Ones With Choices

Monday, April 14th, 2014

In my 11 years in the real estate industry I have learned many important lessons, but by far one of the most important is that agents have a right to choose, and they should not be afraid to do so.stress

In real estate there are more agents than there are buyers and sellers. Oftentimes agents compete for business – and there are many who will do whatever it takes to secure that listing or “win” that buyer. Of course in the end the buyer or seller is the one who will make the choice and decide with whom they feel the most comfortable, but as agents we too have can choose whether we want to work with that potential client.

I learned the hard way years ago when I took a listing that literally ended up making me sick. I had a seller who did not treat me with respect and constantly blamed me for the home not selling (in reality, this seller did not want to listen to my advice nor to what the comparable home sale values indicated). That was a red flag for me, but I figured the seller would come around and so I proceeded to market the home on the seller’s terms.

Needless to say, the home ended up selling many months down the road for the price I originally suggested, and after many marketing dollars and much effort on my part. I also had to relist it (which I was not going to do but since the seller practically begged me to do so I laid some ground rules about how I was to be treated – which were short-lived in practice). The entire process was beyond stressful and took over the bulk of my work hours, and when the seller called or I drove by the home I felt anxious.

These days I trust my instincts right off the bat. I met a potential seller not long ago and made the decision I could not work with that person. A commission is just not worth the stress of working with someone who does not respect and appreciate hard work.

The bottom line is that agents can be choosy too, and keeping sane and preventing burn-out is more important than a paycheck…at least in my book. Those who do not agree will likely find themselves unhappy very quickly, which will have a negative effect on how others perceive their work. I’d rather continue to enjoy what I do, and have others notice that!

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Explore San Diego: Torrey Pines Gliderport

Monday, April 7th, 2014

If you haven’t been to the Torrey Pines Gliderport you are in for a treat. You don’t have to hang glide or paraglide to visit, and you will get to enjoy some of the best views in San Diego. I have lived here for over 20 years and this past weekend was my first time visiting – and I found myself asking why!images

Hang and paraglider enthusiasts know this famous spot because it offers some of the best winds and views, gliding 320 feet above sea level and the cliffs of La Jolla. It is really wonderful to sit and watch them…and you may end up wanting to do so yourself. There are also some great trails just next door too, if you want to take it all in that way. Many people also visit this spot to fly sail planes.

images-1The Cliffhanger is a little restaurant that serves up sandwiches, salads, coffee and soft drinks, and a daily soup, and you can enjoy your lunch on the large view deck. The wait on weekends can be long but the view is a great distraction. On weekends you may even get to enjoy a live band. It is definitely a wonderful place to just sit and relax. It is windy, so bring a light jacket.

For those who are inspired by the flyers, there is a shop and you can sign up to fly tandem with an experienced pilot. They also offer a flight school – check the website for more information.

The glider port is located at 2800 Torrey Pines Scenic Drive in La Jolla. The number is 858-452-9858, or you can visit the website by clicking here.

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Carlsbad Market Report for April 2014

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

Spring is definitely in the air in Carlsbad, and frankly there is no better place to be right now that North San Diego! The Carlsbad Flower Fields are in bloom and they are breathtaking, the sun is shining and the ocean is starting to warm up. Everywhere you look there are colorful flowers and green hills. We are definitely lucky to live here.

So what is going on in the real estate market in North San Diego? Here is a snapshot for Carlsbad:

Detached Homes

There are currently 181 active listings in Carlsbad (manufactured homes are not included). Here is the break down by zip code:

92008 (Northwestern Carlsbad):  36 current active listings, with prices ranging from $545,000 to $7,750,000, with a average list price of $1.4 million.

92010 (Northeastern Carlsbad): 17 homes for sale, with an average list price just under $690,000.

92011 (Southwestern Carlsbad): 38 detached homes for sale, ranging from $489,000 to $2.69 million. The average list price is $1.18 million.

92009 (Southeastern Carlsbad): 74 active listings ranging from $595,000 to over $3 million, giving us an average list price of $1.5 million.

Attached Homes

Attached homes include townhomes, twinhomes and other attached homes such as condominiums.

92008 (Northwestern Carlsbad): 13 active listings, from $299,000 to $1.495 million, with an average list price of $550,000.

92010 (Northeastern Carlsbad): 8 active homes, listed at $370,000-$499,000. Average list price is $438,000.

92011 (Southwestern Carlsbad): 18 active properties, with prices ranging from $399,000 t0 $699,000, with an average list price of $507,000.

92009 (Southeastern Carlsbad): 42 active listings, ranging from $265,000-$825,000. Average list price is $479,000.

For a detailed list of any of these categories, or any other North San Diego cities, please contact me and I will be happy to email it to you. If you have any questions about the market in North San Diego I am happy to assist you. Have a wonderful Spring!

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