By Christopher M. Leporini, REALTOR® Magazine
When starting a new career, it’s often difficult to even know where to begin, particularly in a business as complex as real estate. New real estate professionals must tackle a dizzying array of details, from selecting a brokerage to polishing their sales technique. The Original New Agent’s Guide to Starting & Succeeding in Real Estate (Trafford Publishing 2002; $19.95.), by Mark Nash, provides a starting point for newly minted salespeople and other readers considering a real estate career.
It gives practical advice with a personal touch. Nash, a Broker Associate with Koenig & Strey/GMAC Real Estate in Chicago, describes it as “the book that I needed when I started out in 1997, as I flopped around looking for the answers to jumpstart my sales career.” He alternates lessons on real estate basics with autobiographical asides, labeled “Mark’s Story” detailing his experiences breaking into the real estate field. The book provides a rapid-fire introduction to the real estate business, outlining business decisions, identifying common obstacles, and defining industry terms.
The Original New Agent’s Guide to Starting & Succeeding in Real Estate assists readers in weighing vital early decisions, such as choosing their first brokerage. Nash advises new salespeople to use lists to make their decision-making process more concrete. In “Chapter 1: Address for Success,” he recommends that readers draw on their previous jobs to pinpoint qualities to hunt for in potential brokers. This requires that the salesperson write down the professional traits that they liked (or disliked) in their previous managers. For instance, some of these qualities might include: team player, ethical, outgoing, sincere, methodical, and business plan driven. Similarly, he recommends writing a list of requirements for prospective real estate offices, using questions such as:
- How far do you want the office from your home, daily travel routes?
- What size office do you want to work for?
- How much pressure to produce sales volume do you want from your managing broker?
Learning industry jargon presents another challenge to real estate newcomers. “Chapter Nine: Understanding the Terms” defines the industry jargon, so that newbies won’t feel lost when coworkers toss off terms such as assumable mortgages and inspection riders. Other chapters provide explanations for the alphabet soup of designations available to real estate professionals, from ABRs to SRESs. These glossaries provide a great way for new real estate professionals to get up to speed on industry terminology.
The book also identifies common problems that new salespeople will face in the field, such as dealing with difficult personality types. “Chapter 3: The Welcome Wagon” summarizes “passive aggressive clients,” “control freaks,” and other problem personality types that real estate professionals might regularly encounter. The book offers techniques for dealing with each of these behavioral types—for instance, salespeople should disarm controlling customers by sticking to the facts over emotion. Although this section can familiarize new salespeople with the broad outlines of the problems they might face, it highlights a weakness in the book’s presentation.
The book covers a great deal of territory in a relatively brief space, preventing the author from lingering on any one topic for too long. Its to-the-point coverage of the real estate industry works better with some topics than others. Subjects such as definitions of designations or explanations of different commission splits lend themselves to brief coverage. However, issues such as buyer personality types cry out for a more detailed examination. (Entire books have been written on this subject alone.)
Overall, the book presents a solid introduction to real estate fundamentals. New salespeople will find that after they’ve passed their license examination, their real work has just begun; with The Original New Agent’s Guide to Starting & Succeeding in Real Estate they can get a head start on the challenges that lie ahead.
By Christopher M. Leporini, REALTOR® Magazine
Following the dot.com bust, some pundits derided the hype surrounding the new economy as another Tulipmania, where greed and folly made tulip bulbs more valuable than gold before the market’s collapse. But unlike the tulip fad, the Internet offers real, long-term value for businesses, argues author John Tuccillo in New Business Models for a New Economy: Remaking the Four Businesses of Real Estate. The book looks back at what went wrong with the initial dot.com boom, explores the changing real estate industry, and outlines business plans for real estate professionals to compete in the new economy.
Was the new economy just a figment of Madison Avenue marketing executive’s imaginations? The late ‘90s saw tremendous hype, but few concrete results. Fortunes were gained and frittered away over products that didn’t even tangibly exist. However, if the short-term promise of the market was overblown, the criticism following its collapse has been overstated as well, Tuccillo says in “Chapter 1: In the Land of the Blind, the One-Eyed Man is King.” He points out that a record numbers of start-ups were launched in the 1990s, the vast majority—80 percent—of which failed. Internet companies were simply more visible. Secondly, an initial boom and bust cycle doesn’t mean that the economy as a whole isn’t changing. The fledgling manufacturing sector faced economic collapse in 1873, but it still represented the economy’s future.
We are now far enough removed from the dot.com bust to objectively study the lessons provided by Internet companies’ failures. Tuccillo identifies three reasons that these start-ups failed
- They focused on technology without learning about the industry they entered. Tuccillo cites a company that he worked for that underestimated the importance of local representation in the real estate sale. Inexperience caused the company to emphasize transaction speed, without providing comparable service in counseling customers, a suicidal course in the high-touch real estate industry.
- They had poor timing. For example, he mentions a company that developed a combination transaction management platform/customer management system. The product was well-conceived, but a second round of necessary funding never came. Their business model had proven successful for other companies during the boom, but they had a bad luck to execute it during a bust.
- They had no business model. Tuccillo calls not having a business model “one of the greatest sins in the marketplace.” A company without clearly defined goals and identity is doomed. He says that Homes.com and Real Estate.com’s fuzzy missions confused consumers and led to the sites’ downfall.
Later chapters turn from examining the lessons of the past to exploring current real estate industry trends. These include increased consumer empowerment and higher customer service standards; changes in the methods by which information is collected, managed, and transmitted; more consolidation; and changing compensation systems. These factors call for changing business models that adjust to the realities of the new market and new technologies. However, Tuccillo calls for a measured approach toward technology. He points out that most of the new developments that will affect your business will enter your life subtly, advising readers to take the time to evaluate trends before grabbing onto every fad that comes along.
“Chapter 7: The Agent in the New Economy” focuses on how salespeople can adapt to the changing market. (The book includes separate chapters that examine new business models for brokerages, associations, and MLSs.) Salespeople will increasingly rely on a “buy, not build” approach that places an emphasis on partnership and delegation, creating a division of labor via sales team or outsourcing technology needs to outside providers. The greatest change, he predicts, will be an increased acceptance of fee-for-service sales models. The Internet has empowered consumers, allowing them to research homes before they even contact a real estate professional. In the future, consumers will force the industry to change its price structure as well, only paying for the services that they want. This new model will not replace the traditional commission system, but rather offer another choice to consumers, says Tuccillo.
New Business Models for a New Economy: Remaking the Four Businesses of Real Estate puts the downturn in perspective, offering lessons on the new economy’s history and future. The cooling period after the dot.com meltdown offers real estate professionals the chance to re-examine the Internet’s promise for their industry. Just because the bloom has worn off the new economy, doesn’t mean that it’s another tulip.