Viewing by month: July 2009

Real estate remorse

Considering there’s entire marketing lectures dedicated to the concept, it’s highly likely that I’m not alone in having suffered from buyer’s remorse. Buyer’s remorse is most common in big ticket purchases. You’re less likely to lament the purchase of a pair of socks than you are a $300,000 sports car for example. When you’re spending a lot, you tend to be more hesitant in agreeing to part with your cash, and property is in that category. It also means people are prepared to make what may otherwise be considered crazy financial decisions to avoid buyer’s remorse all together.


For example, I was reading just this week about an overseas real estate agent who had a customer walk away from a $250,000 deposit for a two-bedroom, two-bath apartment in a development after having signed the contract over a year ago. The reason being, she signed up for the apartment in a very different market to the one she’s facing now, and although she is yet to own the finished product, she anticipated that she has already lost around $700k on the initial expected value. For her, carrying on down the purchase path and overpaying by that much outweighed the quarter of a million she’s now lost by walking. This customer has gone on to buy another, better home but I guess the trade-off is she still essentially paid $250,000 more than the price tag.


In most markets, most buyers will believe they are overpaying, and that’s a key trigger for buyer’s remorse. When it comes to property, regretting your purchase is more likely to happen if you spend all your time looking at the numbers that are being flung about in relation to the property market than if you really understand the current market and how to apply that information to the property you are considering, or have already decided on.

Buying a home should be a fun, joyous experience so the last thing you want is to be questioning your decision and throwing yourself into a sea of doubt after the fact. Avoiding buyer’s remorse can be achieved through much the same process as smart buying – there are fundamental points to consider, and if you do, you’re much less likely to end up sobbing on the doorstep of your new home.  

Firstly, be sensible and honest when assessing your financial situation. Look at how secure your job and your income are, and look at the money you already have. Think about interest rates in this regard too – if you’re stretching yourself already, what happens if interest rates rise?


Unless you can purchase your property outright, speak to a bank or a mortgage broker. The rules have changed quite a lot in recent times, and people who were considered eligible to borrow a great deal may no longer find themselves considered as such.

And importantly, decide if you really want to move! Think about if it really is the best decision for you right now, or should you be waiting a little longer?  

6 comments | Posted by Charles Tarbey on 31/07/2009 at 9:28 AM | Categories:

What you shouldn't leave home without

There are a few things you should never leave home without – the staple three for many people I know are keys, wallet, phone. These three items seem to be able to get you through most of the situations you’ll find yourself in on any given day which is great, but what’s missing from this list, and what these items don’t enable you to do, is maximise your marketing and business potential.


When the word marketing is uttered most people envisage bank-breaking budgets and far flung efforts to capture attention and gain business,  but three of the best marketing tools a real estate agent shouldn’t leave the house without are low cost, and easy to have with you every day. What are they I can hear you begging in anticipation? Well I shall tell you.


First – business cards. They’ll even fit in your wallet, so you can technically work it into the first three essentials I’ve already mentioned. It’s always the way that when you don’t have a business card on you, you run into someone that you want to give one to. So to avoid this, just never leave home without them!


Second is your name badge, although this should apply only to when you’re in suitable attire. Wearing your real estate name badge if you’re running down to the local shop in your tracksuit and ugg boots probably isn’t the professional image you really want to portray.


When it comes everyday business, you never know who you’re going to meet, but when it comes to real estate, you also never know who in that group will be selling a house, or will know someone who is. Wearing a name badge that clearly identifies you as a real estate agent often results in people actively wanting to talk to you about property, and when you’ve been invited to do so, having a pitch at the ready is a good and welcome thing. CENTURY 21’s gold jacket is a shining example of this – the number of times I and others in the network have been approached in public when able to be clearly identified as a real estate agent via the gold jacket, is phenomenal. Get this happening for you on a regular basis too!


Finally, if you have a car, brand it. Real estate agents spend a lot of time on the road, and the cost to have your car promote your business is likely to pay for itself tenfold in no time. Any time you’re driving, you are advertising your business – for a one off cost. Car signage these days can even be through use of magnets, so if you’re sharing a car you can choose when to promote your business.

Every day presents a marketing opportunity for you to continue to build your name and brand in real estate – don’t waste even one of them!  

0 comments | Posted by Charles Tarbey on 30/07/2009 at 8:53 AM | Categories:

Sporting words and wisdom for real estate

There are some days when we all need a little encouragement or to hear some words of wisdom. Great advice can be applicable to both your personal and professional life, and although some people may think I am crazy, I think there are many instances of words of wisdom and philosophy that most certainly apply to real estate.


I was reading some of the musings of Yogi Berra, who is considered by many to be a great philosopher in his unique way, and some of his thoughts definitely translate to the real estate industry. I think the major reason for this is because Yogi was such a team player, and as I’ve blogged about before, real estate is always about more than one person.


One of Yogi Berra’s most famous quotes (along with “It ain’t over until it’s over” – also very apt for real estate!) is “nobody did nothin’ to nobody”. This line was the great sportsman’s response to a bit of a kafuffle that took place at the Copacabana in 1957 where he stood up for this team mates who had confronter an inebriated heckler. His commitment and loyalty to his team is exactly the philosophy that real estate agents also need to employ to ensure ongoing success.


When becoming a real estate agent and joining a network of professionals like CENTURY 21, or any other agency, a certain level of commitment is required. You need to commit to yourself, and to the team you are joining. Although there may be vastly different individuals in a workplace, they all need to work together for the good of the team. In regards to joining an international team like that at CENTURY 21, that commitment also means learning the system, supporting the brand, participating in national and international events and meetings, and adopting the team’s systems, its philosophy and its work ethic.


These are important aspects of the real estate business, and being a team player and a valued part of team can take your professional "game" to the next level. 

And in closing I think one of Yogi’s other quotes is particularly relevant for those of us in the real estate industry - "The game is supposed to be fun. If you have a bad day, don't worry about it. You can't expect to get a hit every game."

0 comments | Posted by Charles Tarbey on 29/07/2009 at 12:51 PM | Categories:

Don't lose your real estate mojo

When times are tough, those of us who have jobs are generally grateful for them. That said, we’re often forced to work harder and smarter than when things are booming. This in turn can make some people dissatisfied and worn out, and real estate is no exception. Working in the real estate game is hard work, and it takes a certain type of person, which I’ve blogged about before. These people tend to be driven, passionate, and they don’t tend to give up easily, and that mentality needs to apply to the business that you’ve won AFTER you’ve won it.


In competitive times like those many of us are facing, the heat is on to outdo your competition, and no doubt many of you are sick of being pestered by everyone from charities to home repair companies, all trying to continue thriving in the face of increased competition. But once you’ve outdone your competition and secured the business, the worst thing you can do is forget about it and move on to the next. You need to work as hard to keep the business as you did to get it in the first place.


I stress this regularly because it’s true – buying and selling a home deals with what is likely to be most people’s largest asset. Not only that, it’s a highly personal one, which means it deserves the respect of a comprehensive sales process by the real estate professional, not just a great pitch to get them to list with you. Many salespeople make lots of promises while trying to seal a deal, and that’s not unique to real estate. Similarly, most people like to buy, but resist being sold to – again not unique to real estate, but we have the added disadvantage of having some less than complimentary stereotypes working against us. For this reason, it’s imperative to keep in mind while selling is that the close of the sale is not the end of the sales process, but the beginning of a relationship.


One of the fundamentals of services marketing is to promise a lot but deliver more. No one wants the alternative – over promising and under delivering is a nail in the coffin of your business. It is much better than to impress your customers when you provide them with more than you originally offered. Exceeding customer expectations is a sure fire way to make the right impression. Once you’ve got your customer over the line, chances are they’re going to be waiting for you to come good on all those promises you made to get them there. They’re going to be observing and monitoring your follow through and communication – it’s their subtle test to see if you can really deliver.

The super stars of real estate know that to ensure firstly a happy customer, but also repeat business, customer loyalty, positive references and referrals, the service offered after you’ve signed someone up has got to be one of their major strengths.

2 comments | Posted by Charles Tarbey on 28/07/2009 at 9:02 AM | Categories:

Choosing a real estate agent

There are several topics that come up time and time again when you discuss real estate. How to choose a real estate agent, and why to use one at all, are two such topics, and I have touched on both before. However since they are so eternally topical, I thought I’d look at the first one again today. Although I could be considered bias seeing I work at CENTURY 21, many people do believe that working with a professional real estate agent is the best approach to selling your home. There are a lot of options available to sellers other than using a realtor, but because selling your house is a complex legal process, it’s best to go with an expert.


That said, if you don’t have an established relationship with a real estate agent, it can be difficult to work out how to find the best one for you. One of the most important things to remember is that although your home is an incredibly personal asset, you can’t let the business side get personal. Selling your home is a business transaction, and like any other business scenario, you can’t let personal relationships interfere with sound business judgment. Choose your agent through a process of determining personal qualities as well as professional experience and expertise.

Selling your home is going to be a joint effort, so look for an agent who you think you’ll get along with, whose personal characteristics seem to match well with your own, but not to the exclusion of professionalism. This person is going to be marketing your house, taking responsibility for the whole process through to the legal side of things, so they need to be able to do more than just get along with you!  

0 comments | Posted by Charles Tarbey on 27/07/2009 at 2:27 PM | Categories:

Real estate is still a good investment

Although at CENTURY 21 we are certainly seeing the real estate market make its way back, the market crash has resulted in a great number of people asking questions about real estate as a long-term investment strategy. You only need look at most newspapers to see a whole host of real estate agents, academics, journalists, and financial gurus discussing this very topic.


Real estate has long been considered a great investment, but with the problems some people have faced due to the global economy in recent times, it’s easy to understand why they are questioning if that is still so. When you look at real estate as an investment opportunity, one of the major conclusions as to the real financial return of home ownership is as simple as not having to rent any more. In that vein, some say that you should purchase as much property as you need, and no more. Many people may yearn for a really spacious home, but the argument is that a home larger than you actually need isn’t an investment, it’s an extravagance. The comparison has been made that it’s similar to renting an apartment that is bigger than you need - it’s probably going to cost you more, and it may be what you ultimately want and are prepared to pay for, but it’s probably not the smartest move financially.


That makes one of the major points to consider whether or not you classify your primary place of residence as a good investment. This is something that the likes of Robert Kiyosaki has been making a point of for years -  you probably shouldn’t. Investment real estate is often still a good idea though, and I say often because like any investment it needs careful consideration and whether or not it’s a good idea for you depends entirely on your circumstances which are no doubt very different to the next person.

Rental properties or shares in publicly-traded real estate investment trusts still makes a lot of sense for a lot of people, especially now when we’re experiencing such low interest rates. People may be questioning real estate’s long term potential at the moment, and that’s to be expected, but it’s important to remember that it’s an asset that’s been making people rich for a long time, and it will continue to do so. 
3 comments | Posted by Charles Tarbey on 22/07/2009 at 10:19 AM | Categories:

Feeling smug about property

As it’s so topical, I have regularly been discussing the economy, decisions in regards to rate cuts, and how the future is beginning to look for those of us in the real estate industry. Although the market appears to be on the up, when things aren’t fantastic, we tend to look to the future as a way to get through the current situation. That’s what has been taking place for a while, but realistically you really do still have to look at the here and now of your property situation. I read a very honest, and pretty funny article on exactly that topic over the weekend.


Human nature often results in us taking delight in the failings of others, and it would seem this rings true for real estate too. I’m not condoning this behaviour, but it’s difficult to deny that most of us have felt a little of that tall poppy syndrome at some stage, and the article I was reading outlined how as a homeowner, the author was secretly clapping her hands with glee when she discovered the real estate misfortunes of her neighbour.  In particular, the rather significant price reductions on a house on her street had many of the neighbours gloating – mostly because the home was considered out of place in the ‘hood due to its size and glamour factor. It would seem that the unimpressed neighbours are delighting in the fact that what was supposed to be a cash cow for the owner now stands empty and unable to sell.


So many people engage in celebrating the miseries of others that there’s actually a word for it, albeit a German one – schadenfreude. The author of the tale of neighbourly woe I was reading changed this around somewhat to introduce debtenfreude, which I can imagine is fairly rife at present and not just in regards to real estate. I like to think that rather than just out and out enjoying seeing someone else suffer at the hands of their debt, it’s actually more about our personal lack of suffering in comparison. It’s very easy to be self righteous and shake your head at your neighbour’s now obvious over-extension when you’re in a much safer debt boat. I think at a base level, the more we announce our disbelief over someone else’s highly avoidable predicament, the more we fear ending up in the same situation.

Maybe the age old caution of if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all needs a bit of a dusting off. It would certainly be put to good use and a new lease of life for those times when it seems far too tempting to comment on the lack of attendees at your ludicrously over-mortgaged neighbours’ home opens.  


0 comments | Posted by Charles Tarbey on 21/07/2009 at 8:55 AM | Categories:

Fence sitting

I recently read a little quote that said “indecision is the graveyard of good intentions” which I thought was fairly profound. In real estate we often find ourselves getting fairly irate about clients who fence-sit and can’t make up their minds, but when so many of us are guilty of it ourselves, do we really  have any right?


Having worked in real estate for as long as I have, I’ve encountered many people who entered the industry to try it out, or take it for a test drive, but no matter what you call it, these people are fence sitting.


If you think about everyday purchase decisions even, we test drive a car, or try out products we think will better us somehow and even if they prove to be exactly what we’re after, we then spend time “thinking” about actually purchasing it, or wondering if the price will lower so we can better justify it to ourselves. So when it comes to real estate, why do all these fence sitters get so upset when their clients try to do the same?


If you think about it, many real estate offers come in at less than the asking price, even if the property is priced right, and within the buyer’s budget. This is the exact same concept as described above, and yet when it happens in this situation, we don’t understand it. As frustrating as it is, when a buyer is trying to get a seller to move on price, it’s exactly what we do ourselves when we go from store to store trying to find a better deal on a high involvement purchase decision such as a new laptop. We need to consider or own fence-sitting before we tell our clients to consider theirs!

 Ideally when we find a perfect item, whether it be a computer, a car, or a home, at a price that is within the range we were willing to pay, we’d just jump on it. But until we’re all prepared to practice what we preach, when it comes to fence sitting, it’s a difficult scenario to tell our buyers to do what I say, not what I do.    

0 comments | Posted by Charles Tarbey on 20/07/2009 at 9:17 AM | Categories:

Courtesy pays in business

Manners are not a new concept. Or at least they shouldn’t be. But these days when you deal with a lot of businesses, or people in general for that matter, you’d be forgiven for thinking that they are. Use of simple words and phrases like please, thank you, and can I help you appear to be on the decline, and if this is the case in your business, it is probably costing you on a pretty big scale.


It would appear that loss of common courtesy is an international problem. (Funny how no-one’s up in arms about this pandemic!) So much of a problem it appears to be, the Singapore Government has run a campaign called the Courtesy Campaign, designed to remind people to practice basic polite behavior. I wouldn’t have thought such a campaign was necessary, but then as I was confronted with a complete lack of courtesy at the hands of my local supermarket sales assistant, I started to think differently. Maybe the Singapore government does have the right idea, and maybe a few businesses could learn a lot from their phrases like "Courtesy begins with me. Pass it on."


One of the times I am most often made aware of a lack of manners in many organisations is when I’m on the phone. Any staff members who use the phone regularly as part of their role can probably benefit from scripts. No matter how great you think your staff are, having a clear template of how you want your business represented on the phone can’t hurt, and can avoid rude or surly responses if someone’s having a bad day.


The scripts mantra can translate to most areas of your business. By that I mean make sure your team is aware of what you expect from them, and how you expect them to go about doing it. You may think it’s obvious what you want, but amazingly, people can’t mind read. Create written goals, objectives and guidelines and make sure your staff are aware of them.

As much as many managers assume common courtesy is a given in their staff, some of your team may not have been brought up with the level of manners you would like. I’ve blogged before about customer expectations, and most of them aren’t unrealistic or extraordinary. Most customers just want to be treated with respect and courtesy, and if they don’t find that in your staff and your business, it’s highly likely that they’ll take their business somewhere else.   

1 comments | Posted by Charles Tarbey on 17/07/2009 at 8:44 AM | Categories:

For the first time property investor

As I have been speaking a lot lately about the current climate resulting in real estate investment becoming an increasingly attractive option for many, I thought it may be timely to pass on some tips for the first time property investor. After years at CENTURY 21, and working in real estate, there are a few important steps that spring to mind when someone mentions they are considering investing in property.


As always, speak to your local expert at CENTURY 21 about your property needs and wants, and seek financial advice if required, but here are a few tips to begin with.


Educate yourself! There is nothing like information sought first hand to know what you’re dealing with. Read books, read relevant magazines, and speak to people whose advice you trust. Find out as much as possible about any investment you are considering and make sure you really understand the pros and cons of the choosing a particular investment asset or strategy. Take the time to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of the investment you’re considering against your financial goals.


Establish a clear strategy for yourself. Your investment strategy is going to dictate what type of property you end up purchasing, and where you look for it. Also make sure you understand and are comfortable with the risks associated with any investment you are considering. Like any investment, investing in property carries risks, and generally the higher the risk the higher the returns but you need to ensure you are happy with the risks you are taking. Be wary of pressure selling techniques and high pressure seminars spruiking investment properties - some sales people can be extremely persuasive and persistent, so it’s best to avoid these situations to begin with.


One you have decided on a strategy and an area, or areas, get back to the research! Make sure you thoroughly understand the areas you’re interested in.


Once you’ve found a property, try to remove emotion from the decision. It’s difficult at times, but it needs to be done and to help maintain perspective, ensure you obtain a building inspection report and a property valuation before signing anything.


And when the deal is sealed, learn to love your paperwork. Easy to say and difficult to do, but to look after your investment assets, it is wise to read and keep all the documents you receive about your investment property.

Happy investing!

3 comments | Posted by Charles Tarbey on 16/07/2009 at 9:23 AM | Categories: