Viewing by month: October 2009

More green real estate ideas

Ah the green issue. Although I do believe the term sustainable has superseded the word green as either the more trendy or more correct phrase. Regardless of what you want to refer to it as, an increasing number of people are embracing a more environmentally friendly way of life, and that has an impact on more than just the planet. For those of us who work in real estate, we know that it’s affecting what people are looking for in a home, and what renovations sellers are choosing in order to capture this market.


But rather than just talk about the real estate implications, which I know I have done before, I thought I’d be even greener than that and talk about how you can make minor changes in your home to minimize your environmental footprint. Funnily enough the majority of green moves people make actually end up saving them money, so who knows, you could end up being able to buy the home of your dreams sooner if you take some of these tips on board!


The first one is easy – recycle. And I’m not just talking about putting your glass and plastic in the right bottle. I mean before you get rid of something, consider if it has another use in your home. Ideas like using wine barrels (and who doesn’t get through a barrel of wine regularly?) as fish ponds or outdoor tables are a great idea and give a new lease of life to something that would otherwise be considered rubbish.


Start composting. Using a compost bin will significantly reduce your waste. Many areas have compost collections, or start a bin in your own garden if you can. Not recommended for people living in apartments however…


Reassess your insulation and crank it up if you need to. This can help cut your heating and cooling costs and requirements, all of which will be viewed favourably by buyers should you come to sell.


Use as much natural light as possible. Light filled homes sell, and are more popular, and are often kinder to you as far as appearances go! Who wants to sit in fluorescent lighting at a dinner party? You’ll discover what your friends really look like! But seriously, if you’re renovating, consider a skylight to brighten dark areas in your home. It will impress buyers and will also help reduce your lighting bill.

Regardless of your personal opinion of sustainable practices and the green movement, it’s fairly obvious that going green is here to stay and is gaining momentum. As I said, not only are green homes greener (obviously) but they’re less expensive to maintain, and are increasing in demand. And when you’re in real estate, that’s not something you can afford to overlook.  

1 comments | Posted by Charles Tarbey on 30/10/2009 at 2:23 PM | Categories:

Ego in business

Today I thought I would talk about ego. Thankfully I do not intend to rave to you about how fabulous I am (which of course would be incredibly easy to do), but instead I thought I’d look at ego in a business context. Having belief in yourself and your abilities is essential if you’re going to succeed, especially in an industry like real estate. Real estate agents, as I have mentioned before, have a bit of a reputation for being somewhat egotistical, and whilst admittedly some can push the meaning of a healthy ego to its limits, playing small usually doesn’t serve you well either.


I’ve witnessed some real estate agents who don’t like to use testimonials or promote the good things others have said about them for fear of tooting their own horn. These are obviously the polar opposite of those realtors who don’t need anyone else to do it for them seeing they’re so busy telling everyone how great they are. But testimonials are becoming a must. When you consider how highly most of us value word of mouth recommendations, a testimonial is basically a printed version of that. Why would you not want people to know how great one of your customers thinks you are?


True, some people are a tad cynical when it comes to testimonials. I for one don’t believe a word of hose commercials where a series of beautiful, smiling people with bodies to kill for tell me how it’s all due to a two day detox that comes in a box. But on the flip side, you can’t discount the popularity of review sites for anything from restaurants to hotels, which is essentially a series of testimonials. Granted these reviews are not always positive, but if your business was featured, why wouldn’t you pull the rave reviews and use them for your own promotion? Having someone else sing your praises is far more powerful than you doing it.


When it comes to promoting your real estate business, staying humble really isn’t helping your success. The message about how your business can help others is more important than your ego – whether big or small – and that means letting people know how you can help them.

If you’re passionate about real estate, and people you’ve dealt with in the past think you did a good job, there’s nothing wrong and everything right about letting others know that. If you promote what others are saying about you, it’s helping prospective customers make a decision about you, and if they want to use your services. I know if I read a series of online restaurant reviews and nine out of ten are good, chances are I’ll try the place. Sharing your testimonials is possibly the best, and least ego-driven way, to share the best of yourself with others.      

0 comments | Posted by Charles Tarbey on 29/10/2009 at 9:44 AM | Categories:

Enemies to your success

Everyone runs their business differently. Even with an international brand like Century 21, each of our real estate offices are independently owned and operated, which means there are many different management styles within the greater organization. But across the business landscape, regardless of industry, there are a few enemies of success. As usual for your reading pleasure and enlightenment, I thought I’d run through some of them.


Firstly, later never actually comes. What I mean by this is stop procrastinating and actually just do stuff. I’ve posted before about how detrimental procrastination is to success, and saying you’ll do something “later” might make you feel less guilty about not doing it now, but every task you put off in business is likely to be costing you money, or opportunity.


Similarly, waiting until you are totally ready may also be costing you opportunities. Of course you need to be in a position that you can adequately take on whatever it is you’re trying to achieve, but who is every really, truly “ready” for anything? Stop waiting and start doing, and the sink or swim regime is often the best ground for learning, growing and excelling.


Stop using the word maybe, even to yourself. Learn to commit and act with conviction. Saying maybe is  a cop-out and links directly back to waiting for later, and procrastinating. You either will or you won’t. Decide.


Passion will get you so far, but not far enough. Yes, you need to be passionate to succeed, but you need other things too. Spruiking about your passion for your business, your team, your commitment, your whatever may motivate people to begin with, but if it’s not followed up with action, chances are you’re just going to become annoying and your business isn’t going to move forward.

Being patient in some aspects of your life may be a good thing, and there is certainly a need for it in some facets of business, but waiting around isn’t going to push your business forward. Sometimes being a little impatient and not accepting delays, procrastination or opposition to your dreams can be the best thing you can do for your success.


2 comments | Posted by Charles Tarbey on 26/10/2009 at 12:07 PM | Categories:

Making excuses is holding back your business

Ah, Friday. For many people the anticipation of the weekend makes Friday a favourite day. We real estate agents of course usually work on the weekend too, but I think there is still a different feel to Friday. People are happier, and in the good old days of the 80s, often Fridays meant a half day when a significant proportion of business people would head out for a long liquid lunch. But I find that another thing Friday can often bring is complacency and excuses for not actually getting through everything you could, purely because “it’s Friday”.


That got me thinking, in everyday business, particularly for those who are running small businesses, such as a Century 21 franchise, how many times has your success been limited, or halted completely due to making excuses?


I’m talking about excuses like I’m tired, I don’t have time, I don’t feel great today…it’s amazing that how many people will avoid stepping out of their comfort zone, even if it means increased success, and will rely on excuses to do so. Many of us, myself included at times, get uncomfortable when faced with the unknown so we find a way to avoid it.


The problem with this is that we fail to become the best possible version of ourselves, and we end up not reaching the heights of success that are actually possible. Now, for some people that might be just fine, but as a business owner, is it? There’s an internationally renowned business coach and trainer by the name of George Zalucki who has the belief that excuses prevent us from fully participating in life. I suspect he may be onto something. He also suggests that the reason we shy away from participation in certain things is fear. Hmmmm.


When you feel yourself starting to make an excuse to avoid something that could actually benefit you, take a moment and take stock of the situation. Try to work out what negative feelings are arising and evaluate why. It takes some work to change old habits and patterns but if you can get to the source of why you’re making excuses to avoid something, you’ll probably find you’re able to discard the nonsense you’re feeding yourself and take on the task you’re trying to avoid. It’s like having the bad phone call to make and we’ve all done it – you avoid it and avoid it and the more you think about it, the worse making that call seems to become. Then nine times out of ten when push comes to shove and you actually have to make the call, the thought of it was usually worse than the reality.

Not to get all self-helpy on you on a Friday or anything, but imagine what you could actually achieve if you stopped restricting yourself and had no boundaries! Most of our fear is related to failing and other people’s reactions or perceptions of that. The only thing holding you, and your business back, is you. Okay, enough preaching. I might go and try to reinvigorate that long 80s liquid lunch movement.  

2 comments | Posted by Charles Tarbey on 23/10/2009 at 1:16 PM | Categories:

The biggest mistake business owners make

There’s one thing that many small businesses regularly do that could and should be considered the number one mistake they’re making. Guess what it is! Go on! Okay, you don’t have to. I’m clearly going to tell you anyway. It’s not following up contacts and leads. Did you know that some stats show that as many as 99% of small businesses don’t consistently follow up prospects? That’s ridiculous! And with that many possible customers being missed, you could actually be doubling your business by just following up. Is it really that hard?


When it comes to lost leads in the property game, I know why this happens, being the messiah of real estate that I am. (I’m joking of course) And it’s the same reason it happens in every other business. When you’re running your own business, you need to run a tight ship. Or at least this should be how you think. But in doing that, knowing how much each hour is costing your business, what the cost to the business is per sale, per salesperson etc, you know what you have to do to make not only ends meet, but to make a profit, and often there are regular tasks to this. When things are firing on all cylinders to make this happen, and you lull yourself into thinking your business is managing fine with the clients that you have, following up leads can easily drop to the bottom of the priority list.


The problem with this line of thinking is that spending all your time managing your costs isn’t going to help you secure business. And if the wheels fall off your current set up, and if you’ve ignored enough potential leads in the meantime, you may find yourself in the less than desirable position of not having the level of business you thought, or having the prospects you thought you’d have either.

Put processes into place so that those people who deal with customers, and if it’s your business that should most certainly include you, have the time to do so. Delegate anything that prevents these people from communicating with customers and prospective customers to another staff member. If you want to maximise your business success, you need to make sure you do everything possible to secure 100% of your potential business, especially when they’re the ones contacting you!

0 comments | Posted by Charles Tarbey on 22/10/2009 at 8:29 AM | Categories:

Basics of real estate investment

Whether you’re a long time investor, or new to property investment, there are basic rules. I’ve talked about some of these basics before, and when it comes to real estate, it can’t be stressed enough that in order to make your investments profitable, there are essential aspects that you need to know.


There is no standard or norm when it comes to investing in real estate.  Some investors have simple portfolios and only focus on one type of real estate. Others diversify and branch into various areas of the property market such as commercial, residential rentals or industrial locations. Some people hang on to their properties for long term growth and others prefer to flip their properties to capitalize on increasing wealth. The approaches to investing in real estate are almost as varied as the properties you can invest in.  But whatever you do, you will most certainly use the basic principles of investing in real estate.


If your ultimate aim is to make money from your real estate investment, the best method is to hold onto the property that you buy. If you can, try buying the type of real estate you want to invest in, in bulk and allow time for the properties to appreciate. Generally speaking, real estate is a long term investment so it’s a good idea to stop thinking of it as a get rich quick scenario if that has been sneaking into your head.


Look for properties that will provide a good cash flow for income. You’ll need renters to secure this, so look for the type of properties that people need or want. A big part of this is location. And while the old adage Location! Location! Location! may not always ring true for property purchases, it certainly plays a big part in investment success. If your rental property isn’t in a desirable location, you have an increased risk of high vacancy rates, and regardless of what you paid for it, the home is more likely to become a cost to you than an source of income. Your long term objective should be to have all of your properties providing you with a positive cash flow.


Also try to purchase your investments from a motivated seller. If someone is keen to offload their real estate, they’ll more than likely end up giving you a better deal. You don’t want a seller to waste your time, and if they don’t really need to sell or aren’t in a hurry, that may end up happening. And time is money, as we all know in the world of investing!

Finally, try to think like a bank. The less you outlay on your investment property, the more profit you stand to make. If you need to borrow money, take the time to find the lowest interest rate you can, or better yet, borrow from a wealthy friend who you convince to give you amazingly good terms!   

0 comments | Posted by Charles Tarbey on 21/10/2009 at 2:17 PM | Categories:

Being the bad guy at work

Are you one of those people who actually prefers the bad guy in movies or books? There’s a reason so many people actually find the villain more appealing and entertaining than the hero even if we do still want good to win out over evil after all. I was pondering this thought earlier today when one of my staff called me evil. Was that actually a good thing? (I’m just kidding by the way)


I think part of the reason most of us love a bad guy is because we can identify with aspects of our own personality that sometimes we’d love to be able to reveal, but in order to be part of an orderly and polite society, we most often don’t. (And again, just for the record I’m not suggesting the REALLY evil bad guys here like the puppet guy in Saw or anything) But in general terms, often being bad is actually fun, which is why so many kids do naughty things.


What’s interesting is how liking the bad guy doesn’t translate to real life. We recognize that he has a role to play when it comes to fiction, but being the bad guy at work is completely shied away from, except for office bullies of course. What I mean by being the bad guy in this sense is making the right or difficult decision when you know it will probably be unpopular.


It’s noted that at work, you often need to be assertive, strong willed and at times even provocative to make things happen and instigate change that you know is certainly necessary for the good of the company or your department, but these types of decisions are often unpopular and do result in people being brandished the bad guy.


In these types of circumstances, the key to pulling off your bad guy persona, and possibly even being liked for it, is to make sure your opinions and decisions are legitimately linked to the best interests of the company, or your team. Make sure you can substantiate what you’re saying or proposing with resulting scenarios that impact that involve more than just yourself.

And sometimes it can even just come down to a matter of how you say something as opposed to what it is that you’re saying. If you’re worried that something you want to bring up may result in you being seen in a negative light, it doesn’t hurt to actually practice the conversation you want to have prior to having it. And what a lovely link back to my opening about villains in the movies. If all your practice of your “bad guy” conversations doesn’t pay off at work, maybe you have the start of a film career on your hands!  

0 comments | Posted by Charles Tarbey on 20/10/2009 at 5:09 PM | Categories:

When a customer becomes too important

I think most people in business have heard about the 80/20 rule – that 80% of your business comes from 20% of your clients. And yet the majority of us still continue to focus on getting more money from those who have less affinity with our brand or product than those who are clearly already committed and spending. But there are two sides to every story, and as much as not focusing enough on your loyal customers can be a problem, so can focusing too much on them. If you find that one or two customers are responsible for a disproportionately large percentage of your sales, there is danger in it. If they stop doing business with you, your company could suffer.


From a real estate perspective, this scenario is less likely than it is for many other companies, but the risk of focusing too much or too little on a customer, group of customers, or area of the business is still very real. And for this reason, I thought I’d outline a few tried and true pointers for avoiding what can be a disastrous result.


In any business, it’s important to have a handle on the financial health of your customers. If you’re not going to get paid, you really don’t want the sale, do you?

Have a backup plan. This way even if bad things do happen and you lose an important customer, you’ll have a plan in place to deal with it. Don’t leave your business success to chance! 

1 comments | Posted by Charles Tarbey on 19/10/2009 at 10:38 AM | Categories:

Mistakes that buyers make

I’ve said before that if you’re in the real estate game, there are certain things you take for granted, and I think the most common is that people have a better understanding of the real estate market and industry than they actually do. When you deal with property information day in and day out, you tend to assume that everyone else has a similar understanding and of course that’s just not true. At Century 21, we pride ourselves on being local experts, which means that you don’t have to be. But if you are thinking about buying a property, there are a few common mistakes that people make, especially first home buyers. So I thought I’d outline a few of them here, and hopefully stop you from making any of them.


Not getting pre-approved finance is a common error. Most real estate professionals will agree that the falling in love with a property process should wait until after your financial homework is done. Make sure you know what you can afford to spend, and that you have access to that amount before you start shopping around. The last thing you want is to find the home of your dreams only to be told you’ll never qualify for the loan you need to make it yours.


As much as I may sound biased, another common mistake is not working with a real estate agent. But I say this with the best interests of both buyers and sellers as heart, and it’s something I’ve also said before. Purchasing or selling a home is a complicated process and you want someone who knows the ins and outs of it and who has the experience behind them to help you negotiate the best situation. Take the time to find the right agent for you who takes the time to find out what’s really important to you. A good realtor will also give you the advantage of removing emotions from situations when you may not be able to.


This is an issue in many aspects of life, but its particularly important when it comes to a decision of this scale – don’t let other people’s opinions influence you. It doesn’t matter if your mother, brother, father in law or your best friend despise the home you’re considering. You’re the one who has to live in it. It’s your decision. Young first home owners often want the approval of others when it comes to their first property purchase, but you need to work out if it’s more important to please others, or find a home you can see yourself being comfortable in.


If you do fall in love with a property, don’t forget to ask yourself the sensible questions about things like resulting commutes, access to facilities you use often etc. Ask questions like if you really are prepared to make the change from inner city living to a suburban life? Although the tiny paved courtyard you currently use as outdoor space has you hankering for a massive garden, are you prepared to tend to it when you get it? There are mundane aspects of home ownership and they’ll rapidly kick in once the buzz of buying what you think is your dream home has worn off.


Purchasing property is great, I wouldn’t be in this game if it wasn’t, but there are common oversights and mistakes that are easily avoidable if you just take the time you need to get everything right. And of course, step one starts with visiting your local Century 21 real estate expert!

0 comments | Posted by Charles Tarbey on 16/10/2009 at 9:30 AM | Categories:

Coping with losing a job

Although it would seem the economy has definitely bounced back, or at least is starting to bounce back as I type this, the market crash last year definitely had an impact both on the real estate industry and others. One of the major impacts for a lot of people was job loss, or the fear of job loss, and I know that within the real estate business, this was a very real prospect for many. I’ve seen it firsthand, many real estate agents accept that if another loses their job due to the economy, it’s an understood fact, but when it’s your job that’s on the line, suddenly being told you’re out of work can seem a lot more personal.


Losing your job can be a massive blow to your self esteem, and in these circumstances, it’s actually very easy to feel sorry for yourself. More than that, depending on your circumstances, it can create extreme worry, a loss of security and for some people becoming unemployed can also result in feeling a loss of status. It’s important that you allow yourself time to get over these feelings if you need to, but how you handle the loss of a job is incredibly important for your future and getting back on track. Here are some suggestions on how to make the best of a bad situation. (Unless of course you despised your work, in which case we could be talking a blessing in disguise!)


In some ways, and in real estate in particular, losing a client or customer draws a lot of parallels to losing a job, and if you work for yourself, the two are completely intertwined. As such, the following steps apply to both. Firstly, try to understand why you lost your job. If the job loss was someway attributable to yourself and not just the economy, address what it is you need to change or which skills you need to develop so it doesn’t happen again. In doing this, it is important not to try not to be negative. The experience can be disheartening but you need to look at it as a learning experience. If you have a gap between jobs, think of it positively and make good use of it.

Most importantly, move on. Learn your lessons from the process and then put it behind you and get on with the next challenge. Don’t let yourself become idle or bitter, and use the experience to be an improved employee in your next role, or for your next client. They say whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and a job loss is no exception.   

0 comments | Posted by Charles Tarbey on 15/10/2009 at 10:35 AM | Categories: