Blogs & Vlogs

Breaking Negative Ties – it’s hard, but good

I was mixing with the wrong crowd at school, and my mother wanted to break us up. What she didn’t realize was, that the other kids’ parents viewed me as the bad influence, and they were right. I was always looking for adventure, or as adults referred to it, “trouble”. My own kids don’t stand a chance. If there was a second storey window around, I had to jump from it. Sometimes onto a gym mat, sometimes into a nearby tree. If there was a silo around I had to climb it. And guess what? It started a trend. The other kids’ parents were spot on. I was TROUBLE. But somewhere along the line, I eventually grounded myself. I realized there was more to life than just risking it. At this turning point, I was much older, and much more responsible. I came across new friends and new influences. There were a whole new set of risks that didn’t involve the chance of a broken bone, but a chance of a broken life, or a broken mind. I chose to stay away from these influences and I’m glad I did. However it came at the cost of relationships and friendships. The question is, “how do you break away from these negative influences, when the people you are breaking away from are those you respect and sometimes even love?” About eight years ago I went to a massive conference and heard some of the greatest speakers in the Western world. One lady who spoke, mentioned the necessity of breaking from the negative people in one’s life. Sometimes she said, even family. ”absurd” I remember thinking. How can you do that? I was skeptical to say the least. But she went on to say that it is the single most difficult thing to do, and the most necessary. It has stuck with me all this time. To be happy in this life you have to surround yourself with positivity. The whingers and whiners will pull you down. Just as I lead a bunch of kids towards the chance of a broken bone (or worse), people can lead you to negative thoughts and practices. The hard thing is to say goodbye and move on. Another difficult thing, is to realize that, (as my mother didn’t about me all those years ago,) you may be the problem. You may have worn out your welcome. The people around you may have lost the value in having you around. Don’t sweat it. Move on. Believe me, you will feel 100% better once you have. There are new people out there with similar interests, similar values and better views of this world. They are the ones to hang onto. Your immediate family will always be the most important element in your life, followed by the people who catch you when you fall and who know you will catch them when they fall. You won’t even need a gym mat! Here are some clues to get out of the relationships that are causing negativity.
A) they moan more than they compliment
B) they hold a grudge
C) they put themselves and others down
These are the types of people who no matter how good a restaurant is they have to send the food back. They make comments under their breath about a waitress who spills a bit of coffee. In short, they can only see the bad out there, and not the good. Dont worry about how to have this “break up”. Nothing formal really happens, you simply drift apart. The trick is to acknowledge the drifting, and like it. Its called moving on. Just remember what the purpose of this life is. Yours may be different to mine, but I see it as an opportunity to help others, have fun and be happy. Simple, but nice. My belief in life: he who laughs the most before he dies, wins. Hard to do that if there’s negativity around.

Why First Home Buyers Should Buy Now!

When I first heard about the First Home Owner Grant increasing from $7,000 to $14,000 for existing homes and from $7,000 to $21,000 for new or off the plan properties in 2008 with a further $3,000 supplement for any purchase bringing the grand total of the grant to either $17,000 or $24,000, my initial reaction was not as you’d expect. I’m a real estate agent and I was NOT excited. I was worried. The reason I was worried? Massive incentives bring with them, massive interest that turns into massive panic (as the end date looms) and finally massive competition which doesn’t just stimulate the real estate activity, it also inflates it. “Inflate” is a good word too, as it means “blow up” – and what happens when things are blown up too much – things burst. So, yeah I was concerned. The difficult thing with Governments attempting to stimulate the market, is that different markets have different levels of activity. Wagga Wagga at the time was performing pretty consistently on its own without the need of help. However Metro markets were stagnant and needed some propping up…all the way up! So we went through the phase of First Home Buyers competing against one another, prices rising and sales being made. Then the grant ended at the end of 2009 and we have been in the slow lane ever since. However, small incentives are sweet and do not carry the same level of hysteria that goes on with the massive ones we just mentioned. One of the key elements of NSW first home ownership that often gets swept under the carpet, is the free stamp duty for any purchase up to $500,000. To put into perspective that is a saving of up to $18,000. On a Wagga Wagga property sitting in the median house price range of $330,000, it’s a saving of a little over $10,000. Now come January 1st 2012, this stamp duty saving will be gone. The $7,000 will remain (Federal Grant), but the State grant of free stamp duty will be no more. Without sounding like a Real Estate Agent (although I am and I will) buyers looking for their first home should buy now! It’s a great step into the property market for the following reasons:

a) No stamp duty if exchanged by 31st December 2011

b) The market has already come back in some cases up to 10% so you have better prices out there than 12-18 months ago

c) Interest rates are still at record lows

d) The number of properties to choose from right now in your price range is ridiculous – take your pick

In short, do research on prices, visit as many properties as possible, get finance approved verbally from a lender, and make an offer. Good Luck.

Breaking Real Estate Myths – Part 2

I was all set to write about some common myths associated with Real Estate Agents, when some monkey in Melbourne did the wrong thing by a group of buyers and his actions made the headlines. Basically what happened is, he had a property passed in at auction to the eventual buyer, but said he had other interested parties. The property was passed in at $2.1 million, but because of his misleading information to the eventual buyers they went up as high as $2.7 million. A judge awarded $200,000 to the buyers after deceitful dealings by the agent as the property was deemed to be worth $2.5 million. Not only was this action illegal and foolish but it also stood to bring our industry into the spotlight for yet another bad apple in a big apple tree. He was caught out though because of strict regulations surrounding our industry to do with misleading conduct and having all offers from any buyer in writing. A very small investigation would reveal this fool’s deception within minutes. However, what upset me was the comments made by some unrelated party in this article. He said that agents will now be nervous because it will make them think twice when fabricating stories about other buyers. Sorry. It will only make deceptive agents nervous. The ones who spend their time doing the right thing have nothing to be nervous about. One idiot in a sea of ethically minded others, does not hold the torch for our industry. But back to the “breaking myths” blog.

Do agents still dummy bid at auctions? If they do, again they are fools and elaborate pranksters. For starters they would have to have someone register with full identification as a bidder. Then they would have to prove this person was an actual buyer. They can not take bids from trees or telegraph poles any more as all bidders have to show their registration card and number when bidding. The fines for dummy bidding are enormous, and in 2002 under the new Act which took effect in 2003, a lot of poor operators closed their doors finding it too hard to make a living in these new conditions. If ever, as a buyer you feel you have bid against a dummy bidder, you should immediately ask the auctioneer who made the bid. The auctioneer then has to identify where the bid came from. Again it would be highly unlikely.

Is gazumping illegal? In NSW the act known as gazumping is not illegal. Technically, it’s not even unethical. It is when under private treaty sales conditions, one buyer negotiates a price and terms with the owner who agrees to those terms and price only to have another offer come onto the table for the owner to consider. “First in best dressed though, right?” Unfortunately the law thinks otherwise. Whoever exchanges a contract in NSW is the actual buyer. Until that point the owner can entertain as many offers that come in, as they like. The best way to deal with this is to negotiate your conditions with the seller first, then ask to sign a contract with those agreed conditions in it so that you have a way out without forfeiting the deposit should something arise that you were unaware of at time of negotiations. Such conditions may relate to pest, building inspections, valuations or formal finance approval.

Upsize at your own risk

My wife and I were recently having our first weekend away without the kids in four years. We travelled to Sydney and decided to head to the markets, something we did regularly when we lived there. As we were going through the lanes filled with tourists and spruiking shop keepers, I thought it appropriate to indulge my wife in a quick impromptu back and neck massage. I’d seen the chinese masseuses there every year, but had never decided to take them up on the massage offer. On this occasion, rather than politely waving my hand and shaking my head with a “no”, I said “why not?” ”Honey, $17 let’s both get our necks, back and shoulders done – my treat.” They gently ushered us both behind the white curtains and we rested ourselves on the two benches, our heads pushed through a tissue lined hole for our faces. ”Ah, that’s good” I thought, my tension becoming less and less with every squeeze. ”I bet Melinda’s loving this”. From the neck, the lady moved to my shoulders. They had told us that the $17 would equal about 15 minutes. Ever so slightly after about 5 minutes, I felt someone else take over. They moved to my lower back, then gently onto my buttocks, then onto my upper legs. For a brief second I thought Melinda was playing a joke on me by taking over the massage, and our time was up. But then some black hair dropped into my ear and a very close voice whispered, “Your hips and legs are in a very bad way, you need to fix this immediately or you will have trouble as you get older, for extra $20 I do your hips and legs as well as your back, yes?” Creeped out to the max, I politely passed. The breath came back into my ear 30 seconds later, “you really need this it’s very bad”. ”No thanks” again. ”For just $15 dollars I do your hips and legs, total $32, yes? I’ll start” – “No, thanks. The original $17 is fine, thank you”. Believe it or not this conversation happened a total of 5 times. Our massages were finished in less than 10 minutes and I knew I was going to be in trouble if Melinda had the same experience. I paid. ”Well, that was an experience” Melinda said before adding when we were out of ear shot “he just kept asking to upgrade me to hips and legs and I said no, like 10 times, but he kept asking”. Yes, it seemed she had the same experience as me. Neither of us could enjoy the massage as we were being upsold all the way through it. Clearly this is the ploy from the start. It’s no different to asking for fries with your burger or enticing a customer with some jeans to go with the shirt their holding, right? Wrong. A massage is supposed to be relaxing, tension releasing, pampering. Not an inquisition. It got me thinking about how our combined $34 had turned into such a focal point for the rest of our stay and how much we would be telling people not to have massages at markets. Then I thought, what sort of upsizing or upselling is not appropriate? It’s when your client clearly does not want it. Ask once and you’re being diligent, ask again and you’re becoming annoying. Ask a third time and not only will you most likely not get this person’s business again, you may not get their friends and family business either. Upselling and upsizing has been around for decades and in a lot of companies results are even rewarded for staff who are successful. Here are the two questions I would have the staff ask themselves before asking the customer for an upgrade;

1. Will this person benefit from the upgrade?

2. Does it suit the product or service they have just purchased or enquired about purchasing?

If the answer is no, do not ask. If the customer says “no” because you have asked, respect that response and move on.

Breaking Real Estate Myths – Part 1

This is breaking some common misconceptions about Real Estate Agents.

1. All real estate agents lie.

I will always remember a quote I heard when I was younger; “if you don’t tell lies, you never have to remember what you said”. Basically, if you are someone who tells fibs, you are constantly trying to remember what you told one person and what you told another. You are continuously trying to cover your tracks. Contrary to popular belief, hardly any agents lie. The reason people think they do, is they don’t have the benefit of being there in negotiations. Agents will always be considered the “middle person” with control over the conversation. However, agents don’t get too much out of lying. First of all, they face serious penalties and in some cases gaol if caught out. Next they have more rules and regulations to abide by than almost any other industry in Australia. They also risk losing a sale if the lie revolves around two parties attempting to buy the same house at the same time. Whilst this is the most common perception of buyers, usually there actually is a second buyer, and you only find out when it’s too late and the property is sold to the other party. Whilst I am sure there are bad operators out there, they are in the minority like most other professions. However just like those other professions it is always the story about controversy that makes the papers and news, not the charitable ones.

2. Agents only want price reductions to get their commissions quicker.

I would as a vendor separate these conflicts of interest, and instead concentrate on what you get out of a price reduction. To do so, you only have to ask the following questions.

a) Have we had several buyers through the property and not received an offer?

b) Is our property presented in its best possible light?

c) Have we marketed to the widest possible audience or are there other ways to increase our property exposure?

d) What has the buyer feedback been on price?

Now, if after answering the above questions you come to the same conclusion that maybe there is a better chance of selling if we reduce the price, then that may just be the best course of action. Remember the agent only gets paid if they get a result for you, so they are actually guiding you to the best way of getting a result. As for getting their commission quicker. Any agent who has been in the game for longer than 5 years can attest to the fact that the best results come within the first 6 weeks of marketing the property. After that it becomes quite difficult as more and more properties take up a higher position on marketing lists.

3. The cheapest fee is the best to go with.

Maybe. Most likely not though. Lower fees are usually suggested by agents who can’t compete on other levels with their competitors. Things like, more marketing options, better client contact and service, tangible results in the current market and just overall reputation. Having been in the game but also a vendor for a relative in another town, I can attest to looking at the fee only once the game plan has been laid before me. In other words, take fee out of the equation and look at what the agent will deliver on first, before asking “how much”? I’d rather have the agent who will net me the most as a result than a cheap one who can’t even get buyers through the door and negotiate a higher price.

4. Agents work for the vendor, therefore they are ripping off the buyer.

Ok. Let’s get something straight. A buyer will only pay what they are willing to pay, based on other properties they have seen in the market place. They also in most cases have the benefit of witnessing a valuation from the bank on application for a loan. The best negotiated price an agent can acquire for their vendor, is the dollar amount a buyer is prepared to walk away from the deal. So if I have a house listed for $329,000 and a buyer says I’m not going any higher than $315,000, the agent has to make a call with the vendor as to whether or not this one offer is realistic, or if there may be more out there in the market place. By asking simple questions to this initial buyer, the experienced agent can steer you in the right direction. Questions such as: “how did you arrive at that figure?” to determine if it is based on market knowledge or just financial limits. “If another buyer comes along and offers $5,000 more, would you still like us to inform you of it, or are you definitely out at $315,000?” is a way to qualify the buyer’s motivation. However, the eventual buyer will only pay what they feel is fair market value – or they will move on.

Part two will be published soon and cover;

5. Agents still dummy bid at auctions

6. All agents are the same

7. All agents over promise and under deliver.

Happy for you to add any other myths you would like to discuss.

Post Kickers and how to handle them

Imagine this. A bar is suspended high in the air, gently supported by two tall, upright posts. This bar represents your standards, your aspirations, your achievements. You are precariously balancing on this bar. Each time you take a step, the bar rises ever so slightly. You are going up and up, all because you committed to achieving something. Now picture this. Someone, way down below on the ground is gently kicking one of the posts, making you wobble from your perch. You cling on, but the kicking persists. What do you do? You have just met the first of many “post kickers”. These people will try anything to feel higher than you without actually ever getting higher. In fact the very fact they can’t reach your bar is the reason they kick. Sometimes they are just small kicks….jabs…knocks. You will feel like retaliating. You’ll be defensive, but you need to stop. I have to admit, there is something inside me that makes me see red when someone knocks me or those around me. But I’ve started looking at the situation differently. I’ve stopped to imagine this bar. The bar that I have set, that this person can’t reach. And instead of them feeling as though they can look down on me, I imagine myself up high, looking down on them. And something amazing happens. Nothing. Silence is often the best form of retaliation. Another thing you can do is imagine how someone in your life who you respect would handle the situation. How would they remain calm? Remember, you can’t stay on your bar, if you are meeting the post kicker at their level.