Bitter Bob

G$ Consultation – Enter Agent Bob

G$:       Hello Bob.  How are you?

Bob:     OK Greg, thanks.

G$:       I was just reading your bio.  It looks great.  You’ve been an agent for 5 years?

Bob:     Yup.  Feels like a lifetime.

G$:       How do you like the business?

Bob:     I hate it.  The clients are all jerks.  I never catch a break.  I’m not making any money and frankly it sucks.

G$:       I understand…a lot of experienced agents are having difficulties the last 6 months.

Bob:     It’s a nightmare and I really am thinking about doing something else.

G$:       I’m looking at your production history here and I see you made over $100K 3 years in a row in 05, 06 & 07.

Bob:     Yes, I did but 08 & 09 were terrible.  I had 5 buyers that I was sure were going to buy this year but they didn’t pan out.

G$:       You and about 5,000 other agents had the same problem last year Bob.

Bob:     Whatever…it just sucks.

G$:       Do you want my help Bob?

Bob:     Isn’t that why we are here?

G$:       Not necessarily.  Why are you here?

Bob:     My manager said I should come because you were my last hope.

G$:       Do you know why?

Bob:     I’m not sure but it’s probably because I’ve only closed 4 rentals this year.

G$:       How do you feel about your production this year?

Bob:     I told you it sucks.  Those guys should fire me.

G$:       Do you want to be fired?

Bob:     Not really, I guess.

G$:       Do you want my help?

Bob:     What do I have to lose at this point?

G$:       But do you want it?

Bob:     Yes, I guess…yes, I do.

G$:       Good.  That’s the first step.  Now we have a chance.

Bob:     What do you mean, “we”?

G$:       We’re partners in this Bob.  My job is to help you and I can’t help you unless you want to be helped.

Bob:     If you want to help me then tell me how to sell apartments in this market because I really hate rentals now.

G$:       I will do that but I need to know if you believe I can help you.  Do you?

Bob:     I know the business.

G$:       (nods his head in silence)

Bob:     (long pause)…All right.

G$:       All right?

Bob:     (laughs) Yes, I believe you can help me.

G$:       (smiles) Good.  Now we really have a good chance.

Bob:     You crack me up.

G$:       Just doing my thing…I was talking to your manager and she said you used to rent 6 or 8 apartments a month.

Bob:     Yeah I did…back in the old days but the market was different then.  Now I’m more into sales.  Can we talk about that?    

G$:       I’ve been in sales for 25 years.  I want you to sell apartments, believe me.  We’ll get there before we are done.

Bob:     I’m listening.

G$:       Good.  Let’s start with this…How much money do you need to pay your bills this year?

Bob:     Minimum?  Well, about $80K to break even.

G$:       How much did you make last year?

Bob:     $43K.

G$:       So your business ran at a deficit last year and I guess 4 rentals in the first quarter of this year and no sales isn’t helping?

Bob:     No, it’s not.  It’s a disaster…just terrible.

G$:       Bob does it makes sense that the same actions on your part will probably equal the same results?

Bob:     Yes, yes, I know but it’s not me…it’s the market!!!

G$:       You mean the market changed?

Bob:     Duh…of course it changed.

G$:       Let me see if I have this right…the market changed…you did the same things that used to work…and your income was cut in half, correct?

Bob:     Well, if you put it that way…

G$:       Am I wrong?

Bob:     I guess not.

G$:       New sales volume has gone down 30 plus percent over the last 2 years in number of transactions depending on who you believe.  Do you agree?

Bob:     Sure.

G$:       In addition, prices have come down substantially which means smaller commissions on the deals as well, correct?

Bob:     What the hell are you trying to do?  Talk me out of doing sales for God’s sake?

G$:       No, of course not.  What I’m trying to do is develop a business plan with you that will help you survive until the market improves.

Bob:     Survive?

G$:       Yes Bob, survive.  One of the common denominators of success is the ability to adapt and survive a market downturn like this.

Bob:     Makes sense.

G$:       How many apartments have you sold now in your career?

Bob:     I think about 30 or close to it.

G$:       In 2007 you closed over 10 sales, right?

Bob:     Actually 14.

G$:       And you will again someday and maybe even more than that.

Bob:     From your mouth straight to God’s ear, Baby.

G$:       All we need to do is make sure you last in the business until things turn around a little.

Bob:     I hear you.

G$:       Good.  In 2005 you made $110K.  Did you close any sales that year?

Bob:     No but I put 3 in contract that closed later on.

G$:       So then in 2005 you made over $100K just in rentals?

Bob:     Sure did…I was a machine back then.

G$:       Could you do that again?

Bob:     I hate rentals, Man…all that running around…$1,400 walk-ups…$2,400 2-beds…I don’t want to do that again.

G$:       How much are your bills this month?

Bob:     You’re killing me.

G$:       Are you closing a sale soon?

Bob:     You know I’m not.

G$:       The people you write the checks to don’t care if the money comes from sales or rentals.

Bob:     I know.

G$:       If you rented 4 apartments a month…just 1 per week…could you pay your bills?

Bob:     Yes.

G$:       We both know you are going to sell some apartments this year, right?

Bob:     Yeah, eventually.

G$:       But not as many as 2007, right?

Bob:     That’s highly unlikely.

G$:       So we have a choice…make a lot less…or adapt our business plan.

Bob:     I hate rentals.

G$:       For you Bob…think of it as a means to an end.

Bob:     Rent enough to pay the bills?

G$:       Exactly…you shouldn’t hate rentals…you should love them…they will keep you alive!

Bob:     But I want to sell.

G$:       How many sales appointments do you have a week these days?

Bob:     Not sure, it varies…maybe 3 or 4 on average.

G$:       OK.  Then how many rental appointments a week would you need to close a deal a week?

Bob:     5 to 7 maybe.

G$:       It sounds like 10 appointments a week then…sales and rentals combined.  Can you do that?

Bob:     If I get in the right head.

G$:       Well then, if you get in the right head, you will rent 1 apartment a week and still sell too and the sales will be gravy.

Bob:     Can we talk sales?

G$:       We are!  Do you keep track of your clients?

Bob:     Of course.  I got on that band wagon a long time ago.

G$:       Then all these rental clients you work with this year will turn into your buyers of the future.

Bob:     Good point.  That’s how I got started doing sales.

G$:       And it will happen again.  When we come out of this downturn you will be one of the top earning agents in town!

Bob:     I guess you could say that for a lot of agents, couldn’t you?

G$:       I say it every day Bob.  Did I help you?

Bob:     Yes…yes, you did Greg.  Thank you.

G$:       Do you believe you will succeed?

Bob:     You know what…yes, I do!

G$:       So do I!

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Lily

Lily has been in the business 5 years.  She does both rentals and sales in Manhattan.  She is very successful and makes several hundred thousand per year. Fred is her coworker and sits in the desk next to Lily.  They have been good friends ever since Fred started with the company 2 years ago.

Scene 1 – FSBO’s Stink

Fred:     You’re calling FSBO’s?  You have like what…7 sales exclusives now…are you nuts?         

Lily:      I have 4 exclusives Freddie…stop exaggerating…and they are all in contract now!!  Yahoo!!

Fred:     Good for you Lil…but FSBO’s stink man!  Why are you doing that to yourself?

Lily:      Freddie, you’re such a loser sometimes.  FSBO’s are easy when you know how to deal with them.

Fred:     Yeah right!  FSBO’s are easy and I’m Donald Trump.

Lily:      Watch and learn young Jedi and you too can turn FSBO’s into gold.

Scene 2 – The Phone Call

Lily:      Hello, my name is Lily Barnes.  I am a broker with XYZ Realty.  I respect the fact that you are trying to sell your apartment yourself and I would like to make an appointment with you to come see it.

Owner:  I’m not using brokers and I don’t want to give an exclusive.

Lily:      I understand perfectly.  I just want to see the property if that’s OK with you.

Owner:  Why do you want to come see it?

Lily:      My office is only a few blocks away and I try to see as many new listings as possible in our area.

Owner:  Hmmm…I guess that would be all right.  Do you want to come by today?

Scene 3 – Attachment to the Outcome

Fred:     Why are you wasting your time Lily?  I mean…I went to 100 FSBO’s and I got zilch!

Lily:      Oh baloney Freddie.  You went to 100 FSBO’s my butt!!

Fred:     OK…so maybe it was only a few but I never got anything out of it.

Lily:      Did you see property?  Did you meet people?  Did you meet people that were trying to sell?

Fred:     Quit quoting GMoney.  You’re making me nauseous.

Lily:      But he’s right, Fred.  Everything he says works.  You just don’t do it.

Fred:     I went to some FSBO’s…I tried.

Lily:      You went and I bet you pitched them right away, didn’t you?

Fred:     Sure I did.  Otherwise…what’s the point?

Lily:      The point is that cold pitching without a prior relationship doesn’t work.

Fred:     You can say that again!

Lily:      Then why did you do it?  Just see the property and meet the people.  It’s easy.

Fred:     But I want to get the exclusive!

Lily:      Freddie, you just don’t get it.  If you are attached to the outcome, you push it away.

Fred:     Don’t tell me…GMoney taught you that. 

Scene 4 – The Appointment

Lily:      I love your decorating Mrs. Samuels.  Is that a Georgia O’Keeffe?

Sally:    Call me Sally.  Yes, it is and thank you so much.

Lily:      Oh, you’re welcome.  I wish you the best of luck.  Hope you find a great buyer.

Sally:    It only takes one, right?

Lily:      You got it.  I prepared some information for you.  I hope you find it helpful.

Sally:    (accepting the folder from Lily) Thank you.  What is this?

Lily:      It’s a printout showing the properties currently on the market that you are competing with.

Sally:    That’s great.  I really appreciate that, thanks.

Scene 5 – Thank You Note

Fred:     You back already?  Did you get the exclusive?

Lily:      Don’t be such a tool.  I didn’t pitch her.  I just looked at the apartment.

Fred:     Waste of time…mark my words.  What are you doing now?

Lily:      I’m writing her a thank you note.

Fred:     More waste of time…you should try to be more like me.

Lily:      Sure, Fred.  I want to be just like you someday…HA HA!

Fred:     I still don’t get it.

Lily:      Let me lay it out for you.  I saw a property.  I meet an owner that likes me now.  I gave her all my stuff.  Now she’s a warm lead for me.  If she and her husband can’t sell, I have a good chance.

Fred:     What stuff did you give her?

Lily:      A folder with current comparable listings, my bio, track record and references.

Fred:     I don’t have any reference letters.

Lily:      That’s because you never ask anybody.  People like you Freddie.  Just ask.

Scene 6 – Phone Follow Up

Lily:      Hi Mrs. Samuels.  This is Lily from…

Sally:    (interrupting) Lily, of course.  It was very nice of you to send a thank you note.  Nobody does that anymore.

Lily:      You are most welcome.  I was thinking about you and I wanted to call and see how you were doing.  How are you?

Sally:    I’m good, thanks.  And Bob and I are very excited.  We think we’ve got a buyer!

Lily:      Congratulations!  That’s wonderful.  I am very happy for you.

Sally:    We’re keeping our fingers crossed.

Lily:      Don’t be afraid to reach out if you want my advice, OK?

Scene 7 – Disgruntled Owners

Bob:     I can’t believe they backed out.

Sally:    We wasted a whole month and now we have to start all over again.

Bob:     Do you think we should talk to some brokers?  I just don’t have time to go through this again.

Sally:    I know, I know.  There was one I really liked.  Her name is Lily.  Remember the folder she gave us?

Scene 8 – The Presentation Package

Lily:      Hi Freddie.  How are you?

Fred:     I’m ok…what’s that?

Lily:      Just throwing together an exclusive presentation.

Fred:     I hate doing that.  It takes forever.

Lily:      Not me.  I can put it all together in 20 minutes tops.

Fred:     What do you put in it?

Lily:      Here’s my checklist:

                        #1         Cover letter with bullet points

                        #2         Pricing information, comparable sales and current listings

                        #3         Marketing plan

                        #4         Exclusive agreement

                        #5         Personal bio

                        #6         Track record

                        #7         Reference letters

                        #8         Past sellers’ names and contact information

                        #9         Company promotional material   

Fred:     Not too shabby Lil.  Pretty cool the way you have it all set up and ready like that.

Lily:      Yup.  As you can see…I’m done and ready to roll.

Fred:     What are you pitching?

Lily:      Remember that FSBO you said I was wasting my time on about a month ago?

Fred:     No way!

Lily:      Way!

Scene 9 – The Exclusive Presentation

Bob:     I just have a problem with 6%.  I really don’t want to pay that much.

Lily:      I understand Bob.  You want to get as much for yourself as possible, right?

Sally:    That’s why we were selling without a broker.

Lily:      Please take into account the power of maximum exposure.  I’m going to get you more money.

Bob:     How are you going to do that?

Lily:      The best buyers work with brokers.  Selling by yourself limits your exposure.

Sally:    We haven’t exactly been drawing the cream of the crop.

Lily:      That doesn’t surprise me.  “For Sale by Owners” really seem to attract the bargain hunters.

Bob:     Wow.  That makes a lot of sense now that I think about it.

Sally:    Are you really going to get us more money Lily?

Lily:      There are no guarantees, but I do promise to give you maximum exposure and that’s the only way to get the best possible price.

Scene 10 – Luck

Lily:      Hi Freddie.  I got it!

Fred:     You got the exclusive?

Lily:      Sure did.  They signed last night.  First open house is this weekend.

Fred:     Why are you so lucky?

Lily:      Lucky?  How can you say that?  You know the whole story of what I did.

Fred:     Why don’t I ever get lucky?

Lily:      You would if you put yourself in position, Freddie.

Fred:     Blah, blah, blah…you sound like GMoney again.

Lily:      You need to go to Broker Heaven, Freddie.          

Fred:     I’m already in Broker Hell.  Do you think GMoney could help me?

Lily:      I’m not sure but I know he loves a challenge!

Jack Oatmon

G$ Consultation – Enter Agent Jack Oatmon

G$:       Hi Jack, thank you for coming.

Jack:    My pleasure Greg, thanks for having me.

G$:       What would you like to talk about today?

Jack:    Well…this business really isn’t what I hoped it would be.

G$:       How long have you been in the biz?

Jack:    9 months.

G$:       Do you like it?

Jack:    Actually…yes I do…but it’s a lot more work than I thought it would be.

G$:       Are you making money?

Jack:    Well…yes, but not enough.

G$:      Give me an idea how many deals you have done?

Jack:    Let’s see…I think my total…is maybe 14 rentals.

G$:       So basically…you’re doing one or two rentals a month.

Jack:    Sad to say…but yes.

G$:       Would you like to do better?

Jack:    Of course, that’s why I’m here with you.

G$:       Jack…the same actions will probably equal the same results.  Are you willing to make some changes?

Jack:    Absolutely.

G$:       OK, then let me see what I can do to help.  Do you believe I can help you?

Jack:    To be honest…

G$:       Please do be honest Jack or this will all be wasted time.

Jack:    Well…I hope you can help me…but I’m not sure.

G$:       Fair enough Mr. Oatmon.  Let’s give it a shot and see what happens…tell me, how do you get your clients?

Jack:    I have stuff on our web site and I use Craig’s List.

G$:       Are you good at making the phone ring?

Jack:    Mostly I get emails…a few phone calls though.

G$:       (laughing) I’m sorry Jack…what I meant was, “Are you getting enough leads?”  In the old days all we had was the telephone.

Jack:    (smiling) I’m surprised they even had telephones way back when you started Mr. Young.

G$:       Well, they sure didn’t have cell phones Jack!!!  So you know how to attract people?

Jack:    Yeah, I think I do pretty well.  It took me a couple months to figure it out but now I can pretty much get as many people as I want.

G$:       How do you decide what to advertise?

Jack:    Cheap stuff mainly…pretty much anything that I think will get a response.

G$:       What are you good at Jack?

Jack:    Good at?  I don’t know…I’m good at talking to people…and…

G$:       Sorry to interrupt…but that’s not what I mean.  What part of our inventory are you an expert on? What do you specialize in?

Jack:    Expert?  Well…I do all kinds of things…studios…1 beds…2 bed shares…whatever I’ve got at the time…you know how it is.

G$:       How many clients do you have right now?

Jack:    4…err…5…yeah 5 right now.

G$:       Tell me what they are looking for.

Jack:    OK…studio near Wall Street…2 Bed near Columbia…1 Bed in Brooklyn…studio in Midtown…

G$:       All right…I got the idea.  So correct me if I’m wrong…but you are sort of a “Jack of All Trades”…aren’t you?

Jack:    (laughing) Nice pun GMoney…they told me you were kind of funny.  I guess I am…a little of this…a little of that.

G$:       But what are you a MASTER of Mr. Oatmon?

Jack:    When it comes down to it Greg…since I’m not doing many deals…I guess I’m “master” of very little at this point.

G$:       Would you like to know how to change that Jack?

Jack:    I sure would.  If I can’t start making more money I’m going to need to do something else to pay the bills.

G$:       OK, let’s see what we can do to remedy the situation.  You ready?

Jack:    Show me your stuff GMoney!

G$:       Then here we go…when a potential client responds to one of your ads…how do you handle it?

Jack:    Well…I usually try to get them to see the apartment I’m advertising.  Then I get all their requirements, etc…then I go do a search in our system.

G$:       When you run your search, how do you determine the best apartments to show them of all the ones that fit their parameters?

Jack:    Ummmmmmmm…to tell the truth…

G$:       (smiling) Please do tell the truth Jack.

Jack:    (laughing) I’ve got to quit saying that.  Mostly I just pick apartments that are easy to get into or look good for some reason.

G$:       So you really don’t know if you are showing the very best deals or not?

Jack:    Wow…I never thought of it that way.

G$:       Essentially, you are just taking them out and hoping they will like something and you get lucky, right?

Jack:    Yeah well, isn’t that what we are supposed to do?

G$:       Not in my opinion Jack.  You see I don’t believe you are acting like real estate agent.

Jack:    No?  Then what am I doing?

G$:       You are a “Tour Guide”…and tour guides don’t make very much money Jack!

 Jack:    Tour guide, huh?

G$:       Yup…you’re missing a big piece to the puzzle Jack.

Jack:    I don’t understand.

G$:       Jack, do you know anybody who is a real estate agent anywhere else besides New York?

Jack:    Yes…actually my aunt sells houses in Jersey.

G$:       Do you know what is expected of agents all over the country?

Jack:    No, what’s that?

G$:       Everywhere else real estate agents are expected to be experts on their market place.  They are expected never to show a property they haven’t seen.

Jack:    But that’s impossible here.

G$:       Yes it is…but that doesn’t mean you can’t become an expert on a portion of our inventory.

Jack:    Hmmmmmm…

G$:       All over the country agents hop in their SUV’s with their Starbucks and Krispy Kremes and they go see the new houses that were listed in their town that week.  They do this every week.  They never show a house they haven’t seen.  They are expected by the public to be experts.

Jack:    I preview whenever I can.

G$:       I’m sure you do…but what can you really say you are an “expert” on?

Jack:    I guess I already answered that…ZIP!

G$:       Why do you think someone will be willing to pay a 15% fee to you Jack?

Jack:    Because I give good service.

G$:       And…?

Jack:    I save them time.

G$:       Do you?  How can you say you save them time when you don’t know if you are even bringing them to the best apartments available?

Jack:    Point taken GY.

G$:       I think people are willing to pay our 15% for two primary reasons…#1 we bring them to things they couldn’t find or it would be very hard for them to find on their own and we make the whole process easier for them.

Jack:    True.

G$:       The other half of the equation is what you are missing Jack…the other reason they are willing to pay us is because we are GOOD.  We are experts and we know what apartments to bring them to and what apartments not to waste their time on.

Jack:    What am I supposed to do?  I could preview all day, every day of the week and still not know everything out there!

G$:       That’s true…that’s why you need to specialize.  There needs to be something that you know better than any other agent in the city.

Jack:    So how do I do that?

G$:       We’ll get to that in a minute.  Have you ever taken out a client who was looking for the same type of apartment as the client you had just finished working with?

Jack:    Oh yeah…I love that…makes things easy.

G$:       Why is that?

Jack:    Well…because I had just been showing those apartments and I knew some good ones to show and I knew which ones to avoid.

G$:       How did that make you feel?

Jack:    Pretty good GY…I felt pretty confident.

G$:       Do you feel confident when you are showing apartments you haven’t seen?

Jack:    Well…I do my best to prepare.  I research…I speak to other agents…

G$:       Jack…which scenario is better?

Jack:    Of course it’s better when I know what I’m showing.

G$:       Exactly!  It’s a lot better than being a “Tour Guide” who is trying to get lucky, isn’t it?

Jack:    Sure it is…but you never know what type of apartments your clients will want.

G$:       But wouldn’t it be nice if most of your clients were looking for the same sort of thing?  Right now you told me you have 5 clients looking for 5 different things in different price ranges and in different parts of the city.  How would it feel if they all wanted the same sort of apartment?

Jack:    It would feel great GY!

G$:       Good, then let’s get to work!!

G$:       What part of the city do you know best Jack?

Jack:    Probably the Upper East Side.

G$:       Where have you done most of your deals?

Jack:    All over the place…my clients seem to be all spread out.

G$:       Your clients are all spread out because your ads are all spread out.

Jack:    I know but I have to do that to try and attract people.

G$:       No you don’t.  You can attract people for anything…you just have to know how to do it.

Jack:    So how do I do it?

G$:       We’ll get to that.  You need to choose a specialty first.  You seem to know the UES best right?

Jack:    Sure, that’s where I live.

G$:       And of course that’s where your office is located, correct?

Jack:    Yes…so I guess you are saying I should be an expert on the UES?

G$:       How many apartments are available for rent right now on the UES?

Jack:    I don’t know…thousands.

G$:       Then you can’t be an “expert” on the UES…not really…can you?

Jack:    No, I guess it’s too big.

G$:       So let’s narrow it down some.  Where do you live?

Jack:    95th & York.

G$:       And your office is on 84th & First Ave right?

Jack:    Yes.

G$:       Doesn’t it make sense for you to specialize in the 80’s and 90’s on the East Side?

Jack:    Well, it certainly would make things easy for me.

G$:       Do you have a problem with easy Jack?

Jack:    No but could I make a living doing that?

G$:       Jack…you’re not making a living now…remember?

Jack:    Point taken.

G$:       And you absolutely could make a very nice living specializing in the East 80’s and 90’s.

Jack:    OK, sounds like a plan.  Now what?

G$:       Well, you’ve decided on the East 80’s & 90’s but we need to decide on a size of apartment.

Jack:    What do you mean?  You mean I need to narrow it down to just one size apartment?

G$:       Yes, what size apartments do you feel most confident working on?

Jack:    Studios I guess.

G$:       Why?

Jack:    I’m not sure.  I just seem to be more comfortable working with studio clients.  I guess I can relate to them.

G$:       That’s good Jack.  It’s very important that you feel comfortable and confident.  We are almost there.  What does the average studio go for?

Jack:    Doorman or non-doorman?

G$:       You tell me Jack…what are you going to be the expert on?

Jack:    Well…I’m not sure what the average is but it seems like most people want to spend around $1,800 or less.

G$:       OK, I’d like you to do something for me.

Jack:    I’m listening.

G$:       Please go to the computer and run a search.  Search for all studios currently available in the East 80’s and East 90’s under $1,800 a month, OK?

Jack:    Consider it done GMoney!

G$:       How did you make out?

Jack:    96 studios in the East 80’s & 90’s at $1,800 or less and I figured you would say that’s too much so I ran another search.

G$:       What did you do?

Jack:    I ran studios at $1,600/month or less in the East 80’s & East 90’s.

G$:       How many of those came up?

Jack:    (smiling) 31.

G$:       Why are you smiling Jack?

Jack:    Because I’m getting pumped up man!!!  I’m starting to think this might work!!

G$:       Good for you!  So…what are you going to do now?

Jack:    I’m going to go see as many of these as I can in the next few days and figure out which ones are the best!  

G$:       Then what?

Jack:    Well…I’m taking down all the other stuff I’ve got on the web site and I’m going to put up the best of these studios.

G$:       Good plan…isn’t it going to be nice working with a bunch of people looking for the same sort of apartment?

Jack:    I can’t wait!  But what do I do if I get a referral or some kind of lead for a two bed or something?

G$:       You do the same thing you are doing now Jack…you do your best…you do your “Tour Guide” thing.

Jack:    So, you mean…just because my bread and butter is studios in the East 80’s and 90’s…I can still do other stuff if it comes in?

G$:       Exactly…just put your efforts on your web site and Craig’s List into attracting clients for your area of expertise.

Jack:    Cool…I’m excited G$!!!

G$:       Good for you…put your plan to work!  We’ll meet again in about a week, OK?

G$ Consultation Follow Up – Enter Agent Jack Oatmon

G$:       How’s it going Jack?

Jack:    (big smile) It’s going man!!!  It is going!!! 

G$:       So…it’s working?

Jack:    You better believe it…a signed lease yesterday and I’ve already got three other people looking for the same thing that I happen to be an “EXPERT” on!

G$:       Feels good, doesn’t it?

Jack:    It sure does!  And you know what GMoney?  For the first time in this business…I feel like I know what I’m doing for a change!

G$:       Confidence makes a world of difference Jack.  I’m happy for you!

Jack:    Another thing, now that I really know this segment of the market I don’t think I’m going to need to take out 8 or 10 people to do a deal.

G$:       I agree Jack.  “Tour Guides” don’t know their product, so they don’t add value.  As an “expert” you will close a higher percentage of the people you work with.

Jack:    I am truly grateful Greg, how can I thank you?

G$:       (smiling) You really want to know? 

Jack:    I sure do!

G$:       It’s simple…keep a record of all these people you are meeting and doing business with.  Stay in touch with them…build relationships.

Jack:    That’s all?  How does that “thank” you GY?

G$:       Because all these people you are going to meet are going to buy someday Jack…and they certainly are going to know people who are going to buy and sell!!!

Jack:    Aaaaaaaahhh…now I get it!

G$:       It’s a very simple business Jack…contacts will make you a living, but relationships will make you rich!  Meet people…do a good job…stay in touch…make them feel special…and they will be “clients for life”.

Jack:    I’m pumped up!  I better get back to work…

G$:       Hold on Jack…first we have to change your name.

Jack:    What do you mean?  I can’t change my name!

G$:       Yes you can Jack.  In fact…Oatmon no longer applies…it’s already changed!

Jack:    You’re crazy…what are you talking about?

G$:       You are a fictional character Jack Oatmon…I made you up from all my one-on-one meetings with real agents.

Jack:    You mean…I don’t exist?

G$:       Nope.  Just look at your name…Jack O(f) A(ll) T(rades) M(aster) O(f)  N(one).

Jack:    That’s just cold man.

Sara

 Sara is an experienced successful agent that does both sales and rentals. She is out with Tom, a prospective rental tenant that responded to one of her web ads. They are in the 3rd and final apartment that she is showing him today. This is their first time out together.

Sara:    Well Tom, I can tell this isn’t exactly your cup of tea.

Tom:     No, it’s not that bad but I definitely liked the last one better.

Sara:    I’ve got a pretty good idea now what your tastes are. Can you go out again with me tomorrow?

Tom:     Sure. I can probably get out of work a little early and meet you at 5:00. Does that work?

Sara:    (checks her Black Berry)…Yes it does. We will probably meet on Perry Street. There’s one there you will love if it’s still available. I will email you in the morning after I line some things up.

Tom:     You’ve been very helpful, thank you.

Sara:    My pleasure, this is what I do, no problemo. Tom, do you see yourself owning a home someday?

Tom:     (sighs) Well, that’s the American dream. Sure I do. I would buy now if I had the down payment.

Sara:    So then you plan to stay in New York?

Tom:     Oh yeah, you’ve got to love the Big Apple.

Sara:    Has anyone ever shown you how much money you would save in taxes by buying?

Tom:     Not really. I know you save money because of the interest or something.

Sara:    That’s correct. Your mortgage interest is 100% tax deductable on your income tax. I’ve got a simple little outline here (reaching in her bag). Do you have a couple minutes?

Tom:     (glancing at his watch) OK, this is something I really should know more about, thank you.

Sara:    As an example, we’ll assume you were going to buy a studio similar to what you’ve looked at.

Tom:     All right, but I really have no clue what things cost.

Sara:    Roughly $500K. That would get you a pretty nice condo studio these days.

Tom:     Wow, that much? How much would I have to put down?

Sara:    20% is really the minimum here in New York, so about $100K.

Tom:     So….then how much would my mortgage payment be?

Sara:    It’s about $6 a month for each thousand dollars that you borrow on a 30 year term.

Tom:     That’s all?

Sara:    Absolutely and that’s when rates are at 6%. Right now they are actually lower.

Tom:     Hmmmm…..interesting. So you are saying I could borrow $400K and pay $2,400 a month or less.

Sara:    Yes, $6 a month per thousand. Borrow $100K pay $600 per month, $200K for $1,200 per month, $500K for $3,000 per month, $800K for $4,800 per month, $1Million for $6,000 per month, etc.

Tom:     How much of the mortgage payment is interest? I’m guessing most of it is.

Sara:    I usually tell people to estimate 85% of their mortgage payment is interest.

Tom:     I thought it would be higher.

Sara:    Well, it varies with the interest rate. At 6% it’s actually closer to 83% interest.

Tom:     I’ll take your word for it. You said the interest is tax deductible though right?

Sara:    Yes it is. (takes out her calculator)…..Which means that you get over $2000 per month in tax write off just from the mortgage interest.

Tom:     That’s $24,000 per year. What else can I deduct?

Sara:    The property taxes you pay on the condo are also 100% deductable.

Tom:     How much are they?

Sara:    Off the top of my head, I would say about $500 a month for apartments in this range.

Tom:     Now we are up to around $30 thousand in deductions!

Sara:    That’s true and in your tax bracket that means real savings in your pocket.

Tom:     How does that work?

Sara:    I will show you more exactly on the form but with federal, state and city income taxes you will save around 40% of what you pay out in taxes.

Tom:     You’re kidding me right?

Sara:    Nope it’s all true. This is why people need to own their own homes.

Tom:     I just hate throwing away money on rent. If I owned something I might market a lot of money.

Sara:    The market goes up and down. No one should buy for the appreciation alone but historically the best investment most people ever make is the purchase of their own home.

Tom:     I have a pretty good nest egg saved right now but it’s invested in the stock market.

Sara:    Good for you. What kind of return are you expecting?

Tom:     Well I’ve got a hunch that the economy is turning around so I’m hoping for 15% a year over the short term.

Sara:    I hope your right. I’ve got some money in the market myself.

Tom:     What kind of appreciation could I expect in real estate?

Sara:    As you know there are cycles, but we are emerging from a big correction and I hope we will have slow steady growth the next few years but there are no guarantees. 

Tom:     Over time real estate usually goes up though?

Sara:    Sure does. 5% annual appreciation over the long haul is a number many people use.

Tom:     That doesn’t look to good compared to my 15% return on the stock market.

Sara:    Oh yes it does. You are forgetting about the power of leverage.

Tom:     Leverage?

Sara:    Let me explain. If you put down $100K and your $500K apartment appreciates 5% that’s $25,000.

Tom:     OOOOhhhhhhhhh, I see then my actual return is 25% on my $100K investment.

Sara:    Yup and your monthly payments are less than you would be paying in rent after taxes.

Tom:     I need to buy an apartment.

Sara:    Everyone does provided they are going to be here for more than 2 or 3 years.

Tom:     I need to talk to my father. With my new promotion he might be willing to loan me half the down payment.

Sara:    Should I still schedule the rental appointments for you tomorrow?

Tom:     Actually, give me a day or two. We might be going out soon to look at apartments for me to buy.

Sara:    Awesome! I’m going to do some research so I’m prepared with options so I’m ready for you.

Tom:     I’ll email you before the end of the week. If I decide to purchase, what else do I need to do?

Sara:    You will need to talk to a mortgage broker. I have someone I work with and they are great.

Tom:     Can you have them call me today? I’ve got to run.

Sara:    You bet. I will send them an email and I will copy you.

Tom:     You’ve been a big help, thank you!

Sara:    My pleasure Tom. Talk to you soon.

Beth

G$:       Hello Beth.  How are you?

Beth:    I’m good Greg.  Thanks for seeing me.

G$:       My pleasure.  What would you like to talk about?

Beth:    Well…the business is starting to wear me down.  I know I need to get more referrals.

G$:       That’s good.  At least you know the solution.  How many referrals do you get now?

Beth:    I’ve gotten 26 rental referrals, 3 sales customer referrals and 1 sales listing referral this year.

G$:       I’m impressed.  You’re really tracking your business now!

Beth:    (laughing) Hey…don’t sound so surprised.  I listen to you!

G$:       (smiling) A lot of people listen Beth but you are taking action!  How many contacts do you have now?

Beth:    384 people are in my database and I have a relationship with about 200 of them.

G$:       You are anticipating my questions…I love it!  What do you do to foster more referrals?

Beth:    I send out my newsletter, which is awesome, every quarter.  I also call some of them.

G$:       You know I recommend calling all of them twice a year so I won’t harp on that.

Beth:    I know…it’s just finding the time.  I’m so caught up in the day to day BS.  It’s killing me!

G$:       We’ve talked several times so I’m not going to rehash the same stuff.  Want something new?

Beth:    (laughs) If it’s easy and it takes no time and it works…SURE!!

G$:       Actually it is…and it will…do you “tweet”?

Beth:    Twitter?  Are you kidding me?  I hate that stuff.  It’s ridiculous.

G$:       I know, I know…but do you have an account?

Beth:    Yes…my manager made all of us get set up on Facebook and Twitter…but it’s silly.

G$:       Why is it silly?

Beth:    I’m just not into reading what people had for breakfast…it’s a waste of time.

G$:       Beth, personally I agree with you…but social media is growing every day.  It’s the future.

Beth:    I know…nobody with half a brain denies that.  But how does that help me?

G$:       Beth…content is key.  Look at my business…I have begun posting my “stories” once a week

Beth:    Now that’s cool!  You know I love your stories.  When are you going to write one about me?

G$:       Sooner than you know Beth.  Why do you think posting my stories is a good thing?

Beth:    That’s easy…because people like them!  Plus you will be helping any agent that takes the time to read them.

G$:       Thank you Beth.  Is it safe to say that they have value for people?

Beth:    Of course…and that they will help grow your business.  I got it.  But what can I do?

G$:       Ask yourself this, “What information of value can I provide to people?”

Beth:    No clue GMoney.  I don’t have your skills to start writing stories or tips.  I’m doomed!

G$:       Not true Beth.  Think about this…do you ever see a home that’s a really good deal?

Beth:    All the time.  Why?

G$:       Don’t your contacts deserve to know about it?

Beth:    Oh…that again.  You want me to email them.  You know I hate that…I consider it spam.

G$:       No Beth.  You are resistant to that…I’m well aware.  What about Twitter?

Beth:    Twitter?  You mean I should “tweet” when I see a great deal?

G$:       Why not?  Do it right from your handheld.  No exact address…just let people know you…

Beth:    WOW!  Sorry to interrupt you.  I freaking love this.  I finally have something good to tweet!

G$:       I’m glad you are excited.  Do you think it will work for you?

Beth:    I know it will.  OMG…my mind is racing.  I could tweet every day for less than a minute!

G$:       Yes, you could.  Do you think you would build up a following on Twitter?

Beth:    Hmmm…yes…but only if I tweeted really good deals.  I have to be careful.

G$:       Exactly.  The quality of the content you post on any social media site is the key.

Beth:    I’ve got to run Greg.  Thank you so much.  I am really excited.

G$:       My pleasure Beth.  Good luck!

Beth:    Please promise me you won’t tell anyone else about doing this!

G$:       I promise only to tell the people that read this story!

Beth:    (laughs) You’re pulling my leg!

G$:       (smiling) Check my blog…you’ll see!

Lazy Freddie

Fred has been in the business about 2 years.  He really doesn’t like working.  In fact, he prefers to sit in his Lazy Boy recliner in his pj’s playing video games over showing 5th floor walk-ups.  Some of his friends call him “Lazy” Freddie.  Fred doesn’t really care.  He makes a living and he doesn’t owe anybody a thing. 

Fred:    Thanks for seeing me GMoney.  I appreciate it.

G$:       My pleasure Fred.  What’s up?

Fred:    Nobody knows more about this business than you do.  I’d like to ask your advice.

G$:       Thank you.  How can I help?

Fred:    Can I be straight with you?

G$:       Please do or it will be a waste of time.

Fred:    OK, it’s like this…I hate working.  Does that make me a bad person?

G$:       (laughing) Not at all Fred.  Do you want to get out of real estate?

Fred:    No, no it’s not that at all.  Real estate is perfect for me.  I just don’t want to work too hard.

G$:       Are you making enough to pay your bills?

Fred:    Absolutely and my manager actually said my production is well above average.

G$:       OK, then do you like money Fred?

Fred:    Of course.  I just want to make as much as I can with the least amount of time and effort.

G$:       (smiling) Gotcha.  Then we need to find a way to do it “Better”.

Fred:    Oh, is this that “More, Better, Bigger” thing you always do?

G$:       Yes it is!  I’m impressed you remember that.

Fred:    I listen to every word you say.  I want to be good at this.

G$:       Hmmm…this is essentially a “time management” issue.  I love this Fred, thank you!

Fred:    You’re crazy GMoney.  You love this?

G$:       100 percent Fred.  You are a challenge and I love a good challenge.  I have your answer.

Fred:    Already?

G$:       Referrals are your answer.

Fred:    I love referrals!

G$:       Of course you do, but ask yourself why you love them.

Fred:    That’s easy.  I love them because they are so much better than all the other clients.

G$:       Why are they better?  Do you close a high percentage of them?

Fred:    Sure, something like 80 percent of them.

G$:       You track your closing ratio?

Fred:    Yup, I may be lazy but I’m not stupid.  I think about how to make this easier all the time.

G$:       Good for you.  We have that in common.  So, how much time do you spend getting more referrals?

Fred:    Not much.  I just sort of get them.

G$:       How much time do you spend working on getting clients from Craigslist?

Fred:    Way too much.  Hours and hours every week and I hate most of those clients.

G$:       Do you see the disconnect here?  What’s wrong with this picture?

Fred:    I get it.  I should be doing stuff to get more referrals because they are better.

G$:       Yes, if you are truly “lazy” then you should “serve” your laziness.

Fred:    Wow, I never thought of it that way.  If I got more referrals, I could work less & make more cash!

G$:       You got it Fred.  Manage your time & actions correctly and you could make more & work less.

Fred:    I’ve got to give you credit.  I didn’t really think you would find an answer for me.

G$:       Fred, I’ve been teaching this for years.  Referrals and repeat business make this a great job.

Fred:    I’m psyched man.  I’m going to split, thanks for your help.

G$:       Leaving already?  Do you have a plan?

Fred:    Sure do.  I’m just going to do what you said in the seminar last month.

G$:       So what’s that?

Fred:    I’m going to block out 3 hours a week to work on referral related stuff.

Greg:   Really?  I’m impressed.  Why are you going to do that?

Fred:    It’s a no brainer.  I’m too lazy not to!  Thank you!  They don’t call you GMoney for nothing!

Greg:   (laughs) Now I know why they call you “Lazy Freddie”!