Duran Duran is my favorite band because they’ll rock anyone’s socks off, but also because if you listen closely, you’ll hear a lot of wisdom in their songs that can be applied to real estate. Elizabeth Mendenhall knows what I’m talking about. She’ll be the president of the National Association of REALTORS® in 2018—I think it’s rad and bodacious to see a young woman rising to the top of our ranks—and she shares my love for Duran Duran. So in Mendenhall’s honor, I present to you a look at the real estate life through the lens of one amazing Duran Duran playlist (available here).
The only way you’re going to survive in this business is if you are “Hungry Like the Wolf.” It might sound like a great idea to start as a part-time agent to get your feet wet, and real estate coaches and technology companies always promise the silver bullet to your success. But the ones who shine in their careers are those who have a fire in their belly to work. They are crazy responsive to any request, whether it comes from consumers or their colleagues. Their hunger comes across in their sheer desire to learn, implement, and do real estate better.
We are all entrepreneurs, and every practitioner wants to do this “My Own Way.” There are more than 1 million REALTORS® in the country, and every single one is a renegade. Some don’t know it yet, but they’re learning! One of the beauties of this business is that it’s one of the last bastions of true entrepreneurism left in the world. You build the business you want to build around the clients you want to serve in your community, and your purpose is different than any other real estate professional’s.
When a transaction starts to fall apart, you feel like you’re going to “Come Undone.” But you know how to hold it together. Just “Save a Prayer” for the closing that everyone will show up and play nice. Too many practitioners forget that they are the messengers — they absorb all of the emotion that’s going on and lose their ability to be the objective voice when things get tense. Take a step back, call a friend, remember the last time you bought or sold a house, and keep it together for the benefit of your client.
Like “Girls on Film,” it’s all about the photography. And when it’s picture day for your new listing, you know you’re thinking, “Hold Back the Rain!“ I think it should be a standard practice for all listings to have professional photography. We are paid too much money to keep using our smartphone cameras and other amateur efforts when we all know photos are the most critical marketing tool (aside from a reasonable listing price, that is). And in my humble opinion, professional photos should not be restricted to higher-priced properties. That inexpensive listing of yours is still important to the owner.
Make your marketing and branding “Notorious.” (But abide by the Code of Ethics so you get the good kind of notoriety, OK?) We are in a crowded field. So how do you stand out from the competition? What’s your “why”? What do you tell a consumer who asks what makes you different than every other agent? Put together a statement that clearly defines who you are, and let the public know about it.
Don’t make buyers wonder, “Is There Something I Should Know?” Disclosures aren’t just meant to protect sellers; they should give buyers all the information they need to make a purchase decision in their best interest. Thoroughly research your listings — find out more instead of less — and fill out every field in the MLS. It’s not your job to decide what buyers should and shouldn’t know or what is or is not important. Put everything out there and let the consumers decide.
It’s easy to feel like “The Chauffeur,” but you’ve got to tell clients you’re more than that. When I was getting started as a buyer’s agent, I stopped at the gas station to fill up on the first outing with a client so I could explain that I was responsible for the cost of fuel. Some consumers think you have an expense account. They won’t know the value of your time and expenses unless you show them. Also, remember that a qualified buyer is a better option for sellers, so get into the habit of conducting buyer consultations to make sure they are educated. Don’t forget that you’re the professional.
Get involved with your REALTOR® association so you don’t feel “Lonely in Your Nightmare.” Look, this business is lonely, and for the first nine or 10 years of my career, I was uninvolved. I just focused on the next transaction. I was bossier and meaner then. Once I was invited to participate in RPAC and in committee life, I got it. The industry feels less cutthroat when you are active in making it better. Maybe some of your fellow agents aren’t in love with you because you outsell them, so go find the like-minded people who are out there. I can’t tell you how many hours I have invested as a volunteer in this industry, and my only regret is that it took me so long to do it.
No matter what, there is always a “New Moon on Monday”—so keep going. One of the primary reasons so many people choose to work in real estate is because it’s not static. It changes every day. Remember that when you are in the middle of a transaction that feels like something out of “Dante’s Inferno,” the sweet and easy one is just around the corner. Thank God.
When you find yourself on autopilot, remember that “The Reflex” response doesn’t always work for every client. Ask lots of questions of each consumer you touch, and listen to their answers. Every transaction is different. It’s interesting that newer agents tend to be better at this than the grizzled veterans. Fight off the boredom and ennui, and stay engaged. Your input is important, but it might (in fact, it should) change based on what the consumer needs.
Success in real estate is not just about making more money; it’s also about creating a great consumer experience. The way you conduct your business affects your whole area, your whole state, my state, other states, the country, the world. As long as REALTORS® are painted with a broad brush, we have to focus on the ripple effect. Then we can all work together to change everything. The effects will last for years, just like the timeless and eternal glory of Duran Duran.