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I had a come to Jesus moment

I had a come to Jesus moment a couple of weeks ago. I had a bout of pneumonia earlier this summer and seemed to have gotten rid of it with some powerful antibiotics. It seemed to creep back a little while we were on a camping trip over Labor Day weekend. I felt winded and tired after doing the simplest tasks. It rained the whole time and was a real pain in the ass to pack out.

I was kind of exhausted when we got back and unpacked and didn’t do much the first day. That night my wife woke me up telling me my breathing was weird. The next day I had some real estate stuff and was trying to dry out the gear. I was ready to hit the sack early. Discovered it was hard to breath normally while lying flat. This had happened during the pneumonia, so I figured it was back and I would go back to the doctor in the morning. Did not really sleep much because I had to be almost sitting up to breath normally.

When I got to the doctor she told me I was in heart failure. …congestive heart failure. They wheeled me straight into the ER where I spent 6 days. My otherwise healthy heart had been infected by a virus. I had a cat scan in March and was told that I had 0% calcium in my heart and would very likely never have a heart attack. Even in the hospital they told me no clogged arteries, no damaged valves, none of the typical leading indicators. I don’t drink (for 13 years) I have never smoked, no drug abuse, no fast food, healthy diet, no diabetic tendencies, not a lot of stress….just a fucking virus. My heart is pumping about 25% of what a normal heart of someone my age pumps.  Now I am wearing an external defibrillator which is a harness and a battery pack designed to give me a shock if I have an abnormal racing heart that knocks me out.  I have to wear it for 90 days at which time the generous insurance company will allow me to have another echocardiogram to see how I am doing.  In the meantime I have to just cross my fingers and hope that it gets better. I have been told not to drive for now. Can’t eat anything with salt/sodium, I get about 1000mgs per day which eliminates pretty much everything at the supermarket or in restaurants. I can only drink 64oz of fluid a day in any form.

People keep asking how I feel or if I am feeling better. I don’t really feel sick. Except for one day when I had to get up early to see a doctor, I haven’t felt really that bad at all. I don’t actually feel tired. I just don’t give a crap about anything. I let my voice mail fill up for almost two weeks and have not really cared about that. I suppose it is my mind taking control of my senses so I won’t work or stress, but it is a really strange feeling. There are things I really should do and my first thought is “whatever…I will get to it when I get to it”. I suppose I could say I am improving every day, but from my point of view it is almost impossible to measure any progress. I tell my well-wishers that I am feeling better so they won’t worry. I think it will take quite a bit of time to heal.

So what’s the point? My major point is that it could be a lot worse. I could have actually had a heart attack. It could have required surgery.  I could have clogged arteries and other factors that would make recovery much more difficult. I could have died. So when you look at things in your life or your business that piss you off, or bring you down, or make you crazy remember this …even from my damaged perspective I know that it really could have been or it could be a lot worse.

If you have your health you have everything, or at least you have a chance of having everything. Do yourself a favor. Take some steps to get healthy. Don’t think that you have unlimited time on that task. They tell me if I were a smoker or a drinker my prognosis would be considerably more dire.  If my arteries were clogged from bad eating, I might never regain full strength in my heart.  Thank God for that.

Now I have to see how to go forward with the biz. I am really not ready to retire.



I was talking to a friend of mine who is a broker with a small “boutique” brokerage about the business recently and he told me that since it was pointless to list property in this market, he has focused his efforts on rental properties. He is “hanging in there”, waiting for the market to turn around. I was surprised by his position. He defended it vigorously. I get this all the time from friends who ask me how am I doing, fully expecting me to tell a sad tale.

Let me tell you a secret. People get used to everything. Even a recession, you ask? Yes, people  even get used to a recession. The secret is that there are still people who are securely employed, who have decided that with the interest at all-time lows and the prices down, now is a perfect time to buy. They barely even know that there is a recession. There are grandparents who want to get closer to their grandchildren ready to pay cash for a house. There are rich kids who just got married who are ready to spend Granddad’s money. There are people getting divorced, people inheriting homes they don’t want to live in, people letting their underwater homes go to foreclosure and then cashing out of their 401K and buying homes for cash at ½ the price of the one they let go. There are people buying homes in areas where the prevailing idea is that the market is dead. There are investors getting out of the stock market and into real estate. There are landlords increasing their holdings.

The other side of the secret is there are way less agents in the market competing for the buyers or the sellers.  The worst thing an agent can do is to buy the sad story. The fastest route to the poorhouse is to think it’s pointless to try. Yeah, there may be a lot of reasons to be depressed, but nothing will turn a buyer or a seller off more than an agent who seems depressed.

Well how do you find these buyers and sellers? Well the first step is to know that they are out there.  You can approach either side of the market (Buyer or Seller) or both.  Buyers are online. Get to the first page of Google for a competitive search term and you will know what I mean.

Buyers aren’t searching for an agent to represent them, they don’t think they need us. It may come as a shock but most people don’t think we bring anything to the transaction. Give them a way to search for property and they will let you know when they find something they want to look at.

Sellers are doing what they always did. They are looking for the neighborhood expert who is breaking into their consciousness. It could be the one mailing them every month. It could be the one with a neighborhood blog, or the one who comes to the community association meetings every month and who gets involved. A lot of folks have quit doing these things, so the ones still in that game are getting the prospects.  Those who can’t afford to mail, have to come up with another approach. Door knocking, cold calling, networking, calling SOI…. all of the tried and true methods still work and homes priced correctly still sell.

If you don’t believe me, go to your MLS and look at the solds for the last 12 months. I am willing to bet that there are more than you thought.


IDX and BLOGS A match made in heaven.

I was trying to respond to Jeff Brown’s last post about successful blogging and my comments just kept getting too long. So I thought I would send it to Greg as a blog post and see what he thought about posting it. Now, here we are! Thanks Greg!

While some people are out there looking for the most experienced, thoughtful, succinct and eloquent agent they can find, I actually think those folks are in the minority. I have always felt like the average Joe doesn’t think that we are rocket scientist type consultants, they think we are salesmen.

Most sellers are looking for the listing agent who has the most signs and success in their neighborhood, or someone who has been referred to them. A few will call based on good blogging, but the vast majority finds the agents that help them by looking at homes that are listed in their area. They have two ways of contacting them, either by calling on the sign or by finding them online in someone’s IDX.

Most buyers don’t think they need an agent to help them; they just want to see houses.

A successful blog in my opinion doesn’t have to necessarily convince the potential seller or buyer that you are the one; it has to convince Google that your site has enough authority to place it near the top of the results when someone searches for real estate in your area. Blogs do this in two ways. The first is that Google just loves the blog format. I have written a blog post hit “publish”, realized I had a typo in the title, fixed it immediately and found it indexed in Google with the typo. The post was indexed within 3 minutes of posting.  My website is a blog, even though it has 128 static pages and I have only posted 28 posts. The posts add content; the comments add content (my 28 posts have about a thousand comments).  I would like to post more but I am too busy dealing with the leads.

I would suggest that when you are measuring bankable results from a Realtor web presence, a blog is just one part of the process.  The other important part of the web presence is having the device that actually converts readers/wishful thinkers into bank depositors, and that is the IDX. The blog brings authority to the site, helps push the site in the SERPs and also brings the visitors. The IDX turns the tire kickers into clients. One doesn’t work very well without the other.

IMHO it is very difficult to get Seller listing leads (where someone simply calls and wants to interview you for the listing) straight from the knowledge you impart on a blog unless you already dominate an area. I think it is almost impossible if you are new in the business.

Yet with an IDX, a newer agent (or any agent who has finally decided that it’s actually time to go to work) can attract buyers and help the agent sell some homes. It will also indirectly lead to some listing opportunities with the Buyers who have to sell something first!

I think that today when a seller starts thinking about selling, he will frequently start by looking at the other homes in his own neighborhood for sale to see what they are selling for, either by calling on signs, or looking them up online in a local IDX.  For years, potential sellers are meeting agents that way. Many sellers will simply call whoever has a lot of signs in the neighborhood, call one of the ten agents they know, call whoever sold them the house, or call the agent their friend used.

The sellers that are left today… well I don’t think too many of them are reading someone’s brilliant and fresh analysis of the market and calling because they think the blogger invented sliced bread. Maybe a few are, but not “most”.  I think most just want to see how much the house across the street is selling for, so they call and ask… and boom they are talking to the listing agent or the IDX agent.  Those agents, if they are smart, are the early birds that get the worms.

A blog can be very valuable even if the agent isn’t a great writer and the dominant agent in an area, simply by explaining the process, showcasing the area, and creating the relevant content and keywords that are required to have a presence in the web that someone can actually find while they are searching for info online. In order for your site to be considered an authority it has to have all of the related keywords that apply to your industry. What better way is there to get that authority than by writing posts that explain the process: The appraisal, the inspection, the financing, the staging, the showing, the contracts etc.etc.etc. Obviously there are other factors that influence your position in the search results, but having the semantically related words (keywords) that apply to your industry is an essential ingredient.

If the website ranks on Google and has traffic, the IDX will give you a steady stream of buyers, and a lighter stream of sellers.  The blog gets you to the party and the IDX is what gets the cute girl to ask you to dance, what happens after that is up to you.