Tabula Rasa – The Power of the Blank Slate

Every real estate agent wakes up on January 1rst and thinks that they’re starting over in their business. In their sleep, several dream that they never sell a house again! Why do we have New Year anxiety?
On the business side, the necessary measure of our productivity is the annual yardstick, whether it’s sales production or a financial statement. At the beginning of every year we turn the reset button back to zero and start counting forward – year after year.
Hitting the reset button can trigger self-defeating thoughts if you’re not careful. For instance, if you think too much about the goals you didn’t accomplish, after a few years, you’ll unconsciously set up the expectation that you don’t always achieve what you set out to do – so, of course, you don’t.
Spend just a few minutes analyzing why you didn’t accomplish a certain goal. Is it important to your well- being? Did you want it? Did you have the discipline to finish the job? Chances are good that the goal was out of your comfort zone, something that you didn’t do well, enjoy or want to do. If the goal was essential to your well- being, find the support or help you need to make it happen. If not, you may decide to eliminate it. Stop dwelling on what you didn’t achieve. Take out your tablet and record the goals you did accomplish. Congratulate yourself and move on to a business plan that will get you results.
Start with the power of tabula rasa –beautiful words for a blank slate.
Tabula Rasa means blank slate in Latin, but is influenced by the Roman usage, in which a wax tablet used for notes could be blanked by heating the wax and smoothing it, then it would be ready to accept new ideas. Sounds like a second century B.C.E. iPad, doesn’t it? The term has been the subject of thorough philosophical exposition through the ages, but has always allowed for the profound influence of knowledge and experience on the human mind. A good business plan takes into account your past accomplishments and is ready to accept your new thoughts and aspirations as they occur.
How do you make a business plan that works? Forget about a set of numbers and resolutions that get dusty and make you feel guilty if they’re not met. This is a blueprint for your business life! It has to be a plan that excites you to your very core, compelling you to tackle it step by step because each project gives you joy. A business plan works when it is rooted in your personal strengths.
As you build your real estate practice around your strengths, it is easier to commit to your plan. You’re more likely to follow through because you’re acting from your strongest and most authentic self. When I conducted a strengths inventory workshop at our company as a prelude to 2013 business planning, it was so exciting to watch agents and staff recognize how their God-given gifts can be incorporated into their business on a day to day basis – and to see their internal motivation so fired up!
Give your strengths a chance to help you start and finish strong! If you need direction, I’d love to help. The New Year is indeed a blank slate just waiting for you to make it your masterpiece.

Improving Home Prices Signal Housing Recovery

Are we heading out of the real estate doldrums? Recent national and local pending sales point the way to an improved market in 2012. Take a minute to hear RE/MAX International CEO Margaret Kelly, as she updates the nation on the national market with some surprising news – improving home prices….

How is the Oklahoma City market performing? It hasn’t been all blue skies. We’ve had our share of distressed property sales and short sales and foreclosures will still be significant part of our market for a period of time. It seems like we’ve been on our own island for the last several years, insulated from the national housing crisis, because of our low unemployment rates, a robust energy business, and housing price increases that made sense. But if it’s true that “as the nation goes, so does Oklahoma City”, the latest sales statistics show that our local market recovery is picking up at a faster speed in 2012.

Our Oklahoma City Multi-List Service reports that year to date home sales are up 26% over last year. There’s even better news heading into the Spring market. The largest indicator of future market strength, the Pending Sales Report, is up in February by 52%, with year to date pending sales up 39% over 2011. As Realtors in central Oklahoma, we’re seeing low inventories with about 7400 homes on the market in our MLS. In many neighborhoods, we have plenty of buyers and need fresh listings to show them. Overall, the absorption rate, the time that it will take for the current homes to be sold, dipped under 6 months for the first time in years – it’s at 5.74 months right now. For Realtors, that means a balanced market for both buyers and sellers. Homebuilding is on the rise again, particularly at entry level to mid price ranges. The median sales price for February was up 4.19% over February 2011. With historically low interest rates and a stable local market, it’s no wonder wonder that people are excited about homeownership – and, thankfully, the winds of our enthusiasm seem to be blowing through the rest of the country.

*Based on information from the MLSOK.com for the period 1/1/12 through 2/29/12, while information is deemed reliable it is not guaranteed.

Reclaiming Our Professional Sighificance

The Mask is Off: How to Reclaim Professional Significance in the Internet Age
By GiGi Faulkner, CRB
It’s no secret that while we were riding the wave of a wild real estate ride that straddled two decades, cataclysmic changes happened in the way consumers search for and buy real estate. Unprecedented and increasing access to property listings and more has changed the buying behavior of the consumer in an irrevocable way.
Bear with me for a little history. As an industry we reacted– by buying up web sites as a way to market our properties and ourselves. Our initial sites, mostly templates, looked much like print property ads along with glossy online brochures about ourselves. But they were online, so we thought they were pretty cool. We spent lots of time and money turning our sites into online magazines, with a plethora of school and community information. Next, our sites became more sophisticated, with better platforms to generate inquiries and capture leads – our appearance looked strikingly professional. Now, like the social creatures that we are, we have embraced social media as our newest toy, to connect with and expand our referral network. Some credit is certainly due: the web evolves and in some respects, our industry follows fairly close behind.
I give you this short summary not to bore you, but to ask you to look back and ask yourself – was there ever a point where we changed ourselves? The whirlwind market of the last decade masked the changing behavior of our customers and blinded us to what they needed from us. We showed property and negotiated contracts with customers in much the same way as we did twenty years ago. Business thrived, driven by a boom market where everyone thought they were winning. While the real estate market wore this happy mask of overabundant business, we didn’t really notice what was happening. Let’s face it, we were just too busy.
But now the mask is off. The real estate and mortgage finance industries are changing in fundamental ways. More importantly, the economic downturn has brought us face to naked face with a consumer who has access to the same information that we do. With some dedicated study, they can gather as much raw data as a real estate licensee. For years we have been warned that we will no longer be needed. We‘re a little complacent, because of course, we are “doing the Internet” – and some are doing it quite well. Now we realize the undeniable power of social media to foster what we really love – relationships. Relationships and referrals have sustained our business as far back as we can remember. But are friendships enough? When our customer has increasing information and access to properties, what do they need when they actually meet us face to face? Are we ready to discover the answer and act on it?
As the third generation in my family to hold a real estate license and a broker of a real estate company, I am challenged by this question. I resolutely believe in the value of our profession, so I ask myself every day –What is our new value? How do we discover it? How do we provide it?
Our value doesn’t lie solely in being the trendiest technological user, even though we must relentlessly pursue improvements. Expert performance on the web is a given.
I believe the answer for our relevance stands firmly within the human equation – where our technical expertise and personal knowledge and skills merge to give customers what they want.
We start by having the courage to ask customers what they want from us – because they only need us when we can provide what they cannot attain for themselves. For years, we have validated our profession by likening ourselves to attorneys, accountants and physicians. But have we checked our skill levels against the specialized knowledge that these professions provide? We must demand stronger entry and educational requirements with a higher degree of real estate knowledge – things like data interpretation and specialization. Professional designations are no longer optional. They are essential to build and substantiate our knowledge base. Finally and most importantly, we must raise our competence in communication, representation, and negotiation through continual training. They are the human skills that form the core of our value proposition.
Change is causing us to redefine our value. It’s unwanted news for agents who want to do business as usual. It offers an unprecedented opportunity for committed agents who will adapt to the new economy, because they will differentiate themselves and thrive.
Many voices are calling for our industry to collectively raise the bar. Here’s where it has to start. Each one of us must recommit ourselves on a deeply personal level. Our new charge is to reclaim our significance as a profession.

OUR AGENTS SAY

“Our office provides a relaxed and intellectual environment. Our approach is all business. We want buyers and sellers to enter into one of their most important decisions in their lives based on full knowledge of their transaction. It is important to each customer represented to know we care about their real estate experience. Improving ourselves with ongoing classes is top priority. We are comprised of fun and energetic people. We take pride in discovering the latest technology and resources to make work more efficient. The current associates in our office are focused on their businesses. It is not a part time group of quasi interested associates. Although we may sometimes come resisting change we usually embrace it and are ever so proud to know we are “above”the crowd. I find little wasted time being in the office. It’s energizing to be around people who want to earn a living in real estate.”
-Alice Dahlgren ABR,CRP,CRS,GRI,CLHMS

“I have been a member of RE/MAX First since 1998. The office has been a staple in the community for a number of years, long before my affiliation, and has been regarded as a first rate class act company. I always said if I ever sold real estate it was the office I would work from. When I think of RE/MAX First, I think of the word professional. I think people in the industry know we are high producers and are typically well educated. I also think of the word prestigious. I think the quality of service and the quality of properties we represent are impressive. Our market share in the city, whether it is historical or new construction throughout the metro, speaks for itself. Our new office has been a very positive move and our location could not be better! Having a broker who is responsive to our needs and who is constantly trying to be forward thinking while maintaining a number of “personalities” creates a nurturing environment. I feel that is the key to having a positive and productive setting and helps me to focus on the task at hand which is to sell real estate and to provide the best service to my clients as possible.”
-Wendy Chong

“There are plenty of real estate offices out there, but few that provide the technical as well as emotional support that RE/MAX First does. Marketing real estate has changed dramatically in the last several years, maintaining ones sanity while still constantly learning new technical skills is a challenge. Our broker, Gigi Faulkner, is on top of the game. She is a brilliant business woman, who is determined to keep us informed and updated on all things real estate. We have ready access to webinars, seminars and in-house discussion groups, which provide us with the most current information on changes in forms, policies, rules and regulations of the industry. But separate from that, she is available with her wisdom and many years experience, 24/7. She is a constant reminder of what integrity is in this business. It is a pleasure and priviledge to work with her at RE/MAX First.     -Kim Joseph

“RE/MAX First has been a fantastic experience. The professionalism and knowledge in the office has helped develop and sustain my career. I’ve been approached by at least 3 other brokers over the past 5 years, but I continue to believe that RE/MAX First gives me the best opportunity for success.”
-Doug Burleson, CDPE

LEAD GENERATION

MORE SALES WITH THE POWER OF RE/MAX
No one has our level of technology and web activity with no referral fees!
The exclusive internet lead generation program from RE/MAX. You will receive leads on your listings and other properties in areas that you choose immediately and directly to your e-mail and smart phone! You are provided with your own web site, automated marketing campaigns and contact management system! This powerful program delivers leads to you and can save you money by replacing multiple programs you may be using. Currently, First Realtors are averaging over 27 unique visits a week on their individual web sites.

More visitors go to www.remax.com than any other real estate franchise site. This is the powerful internet presence that sellers want working for them! RE/MAX was the first national brokerage to aggregate all of the listings in the U.S. on an award-winning site. The leads are passed directly to you, the sales associate, without the payment of referral or finder’s fees, through LeadStreet. No one else has this!

RE/MAX MOBILE SEARCH APPLICATION

– Your clients can search all the listings in OKC from their iPhone or Blackberry – directly on your web site! You get the lead and can respond immediately from your own smart phone! We’re the first to have this technology!

Reclaiming Our Professional Significance

The Mask is Off: How to Reclaim Professional Significance in the Internet Age
By GiGi Faulkner, CRB
It’s no secret that while we were riding the wave of a wild real estate ride that straddled two decades, cataclysmic changes happened in the way consumers search for and buy real estate. Unprecedented and increasing access to property listings and more has changed the buying behavior of the consumer in an irrevocable way.
Bear with me for a little history. As an industry we reacted– by buying up web sites as a way to market our properties and ourselves. Our initial sites, mostly templates, looked much like print property ads along with glossy online brochures about ourselves. But they were online, so we thought they were pretty cool. We spent lots of time and money turning our sites into online magazines, with a plethora of school and community information. Next, our sites became more sophisticated, with better platforms to generate inquiries and capture leads – our appearance looked strikingly professional. Now, like the social creatures that we are, we have embraced social media as our newest toy, to connect with and expand our referral network. Some credit is certainly due: the web evolves and in some respects, our industry follows fairly close behind.
I give you this short summary not to bore you, but to ask you to look back and ask yourself – was there ever a point where we changed ourselves? The whirlwind market of the last decade masked the changing behavior of our customers and blinded us to what they needed from us. We showed property and negotiated contracts with customers in much the same way as we did twenty years ago. Business thrived, driven by a boom market where everyone thought they were winning. While the real estate market wore this happy mask of overabundant business, we didn’t really notice what was happening. Let’s face it, we were just too busy.
But now the mask is off. The real estate and mortgage finance industries are changing in fundamental ways. More importantly, the economic downturn has brought us face to naked face with a consumer who has access to the same information that we do. With some dedicated study, they can gather as much raw data as a real estate licensee. For years we have been warned that we will no longer be needed. We‘re a little complacent, because of course, we are “doing the Internet” – and some are doing it quite well. Now we realize the undeniable power of social media to foster what we really love – relationships. Relationships and referrals have sustained our business as far back as we can remember. But are friendships enough? When our customer has increasing information and access to properties, what do they need when they actually meet us face to face? Are we ready to discover the answer and act on it?
As the third generation in my family to hold a real estate license and a broker of a real estate company, I am challenged by this question. I resolutely believe in the value of our profession, so I ask myself every day –What is our new value? How do we discover it? How do we provide it?
Our value doesn’t lie solely in being the trendiest technological user, even though we must relentlessly pursue improvements. Expert performance on the web is a given.
I believe the answer for our relevance stands firmly within the human equation – where our technical expertise and personal knowledge and skills merge to give customers what they want.
We start by having the courage to ask customers what they want from us – because they only need us when we can provide what they cannot attain for themselves. For years, we have validated our profession by likening ourselves to attorneys, accountants and physicians. But have we checked our skill levels against the specialized knowledge that these professions provide? We must demand stronger entry and educational requirements with a higher degree of real estate knowledge – things like data interpretation and specialization. Professional designations are no longer optional. They are essential to build and substantiate our knowledge base. Finally and most importantly, we must raise our competence in communication, representation, and negotiation through continual training. They are the human skills that form the core of our value proposition.
Change is causing us to redefine our value. It’s unwanted news for agents who want to do business as usual. It offers an unprecedented opportunity for committed agents who will adapt to the new economy, because they will differentiate themselves and thrive.
Many voices are calling for our industry to collectively raise the bar. Here’s where it has to start. Each one of us must recommit ourselves on a deeply personal level. Our new charge is to reclaim our significance as a profession. Let’s make it a mission.