A to Z Unprofessionalism

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared in the February 1974 edition of the Real Estate News Observer.

(The article the industry said would never be printed)

Dear Reader:

This article, while saying some “no no’s” about our profession, is written to those who most likely do not subscribe to any professional magazine or educational journals, such as the Real Estate News Ob¬server.

If a non-licensee were reading this article, he would probably be intelli¬gent enough to understand that you and I want to upgrade the industry. The first step is to realize what the problem is. One important point for the non-licensee reading this is recognizing the importance of seek¬ing competent real estate counsel to handle your affairs. If you don’t think it is important, read on!

To our licensed readers, put your tongue in your cheek and read this article and see if it brings back a few sweet memories of the past (and that’s where it should stay for all real estate professionals—in the past).

A. Get Your Name Around

Nothing will get your name around a community faster than having your sign on many listings even though most of them are open. Open list¬ings are great! A potential client will be your public relations man when he attempts to buy a property from your office only to find the property sold a month or so earlier. Why not put your sign with other Brokers’ signs on the same property? This will give notice to the world that no one has any control. Better yet, for¬get the listing and just get an authori¬zation to put your sign on property like some large firms do. You might luck out and get a buyer. It’s amaz¬ing how we can all be professionals in this manner. Keep it up and you might be appointed to the profes¬sional standards committee at the board. Your city beautification com¬mittee will love you too!

B. Flash Your Designation Around

You went to four seminars, took an exam, and might even have been interviewed and received a designa¬tion. The designation is not just something to show you took a few extra classes. The group that gave it will continue to help you with pro¬duction and continuing education. You are sure they are not just inter¬ested in selling you an insurance policy in a group plan, and you are sure they are not just interested in your annual dues. This is why you list your designation on your busi¬ness cards. The public knows what the designation means and that is why they will come to you. Your per¬sonality, track record and personal expertise have nothing to do with attracting clients; the designation does. Do not be confused. The pub¬lic is not confused that there are over twenty real estate designations in existence. Another good thing is that the designations and certifi¬cates make attractive wall decora¬tions in the office. (Or should you get in and work on the designation program and make it beneficial to the designees and their clients?)

C. Be a Notary!

The community-service-oriented individual knows that a notary ser¬vice brings clients into the office, so he should become a notary. The hour or more one spends “chewing the fat” with each person seeking a notary stamp isn’t too important considering they might list a proper¬ty with you later. In addition, the fees you earn will bring you closer to an early retirement!

D. Stop by for a Cup of Coffee!

A sure way to attract clients to your office is to turn it into a coffee shop. All clients like to stop by for a cup of coffee and the small amount of time they spend (like all morning) can be con-sidered a form of prospecting. Weigh the time spent in your coffee shop brokerage against the actual num¬ber of closed transactions and you will probably want to add the sale of rubber stamps to your business.

E. Don’t Get Too Technical!

This is a good idea. Don’t get bogged down with any new develop¬ments such as the H.P. 80 calcula¬tor (a new computer developed by Hewlett Packard that provides rapid data computation for the more sophisticated investment and exchange Broker). All the fast math gadgets can’t beat the old game of “buy low, sell high.” Who will ever want to know the principal amount of a loan in five years? Who wants to know the future value of invested dollars? Who wants to know the ef¬fective yield from a discounted note or the accumulated interest paid on a loan? Stick to the old methods, and you will retire with your social security as your primary asset.

F. Don’t Take Time to Read

It seems silly to take the time to read when there are so many im¬portant things to do such as getting to the office early to dust the furni¬ture and writing a few ads. Do not read the Real Estate News Observ¬er, Business Week, U.S. News and World Report or the Real Estate Quarterly Review. Even though the adage “education is a shortcut to experience” may be true, don’t waste your time reading. You are better off mastering the detail work, and we wish you luck. (And probably goodbye…)

G. Get Involved in the $1.65 Details

Spend part of each day changing lockboxes, putting up signs, taking down signs, getting forms from the real estate board, delivering ads to the newspaper and taking a picture of a few properties. You certainly are busy! Don’t think of hiring an “on the job” trainee from the local real estate department. Don’t in¬struct your secretary to do the legwork. Don’t ask your client to do any of the work (even though he would love to). Do all of these things yourself, as your time is worth the minimum wage. (Pssst! $1.65 per hour is sometimes overpayment to Brokers and Salesmen who do their own legwork).

H. Congratulations, Mr. President

You have just agreed to serve as the new President of the Royal Order of Mystic Anteaters. The “boys” in the club will love you and you will get preferred hotel rooms at the conventions. You will be allowed to preside at the monthly meetings (only two hours of preparation and one night away from your family) and attend three or four special committee meetings. This is a good idea and it will tie in with your church work, service club, alumni work, real estate board committee work and, fortunately, none of these will conflict with your Monday night activities with Howard Cosell!

I. Narrow Lapels and Ties are Fine

Go ahead and wear a narrow lapel suit with a five-year-old tie. It saves money, and who wants to be called a clotheshorse? Women should wear pointed-toed shoes and, if over forty, should wear miniskirts. Fellows are lucky not to get caught in the clothes rush as no one notices if he is wear-ing worn out and outdated clothes. We are sure clients, bankers and other associates will not connect your attire with your up-to-date real estate concepts, right?

J. Be a Professional!

Put plastic signs on your car doors. This is a good way to get your name around. You will probab¬ly see your attorney and C.P.A. driv¬ing around with signs on their cars too. Not only do you have the ad¬vantage of converting your car to a mobile billboard, but if it fails to get listings, you can sell the sign space to a competitor and pocket the extra cash.

K. Support the Ecological Movement

Nothing is more important than jumping on the bandwagon and sup¬porting programs to protect the en¬vironment. An easy way is to buy personalized license plates with your firm name on them (your salespeople can advertise this way, too). A great image builder is a six-year-old automobile touting the up-to-date real estate firm.

L. Demonstrate a Busy Office

Don’t insist everyone keep his or her desk free of clutter, because it shows that everyone is busy. Messy desks illustrate that everyone works hard, as there are lots of files and papers spread over them. Clients will not mind, as they will know their papers are not for public observation and should be treated privately. Remember, your office is your image and a messy one means you are busy and in de¬mand! (By the way, would the paint¬ings on your office walls be better off as a gift to a local motel?)

M. So You Are a Little Slow

You have heard the theory of us¬ing “other people’s money,” so never be in a liquid position. Pay your bills slowly. Word will not get around. Your associates and credi¬tors are not known to be blabbermouths. It’s not so embarrassing to duck from a few people when you are in the field with a client. Your credibility can wait awhile, as it is easier to work with other peo¬ple’s money. (Is your business held together by a few bank credit cards?)

N. Always Have a Good Deal

If you have too many friends, form¬er clients and potential clients, al¬ways shoot a hot verbal deal to them. The idea is to promote a list¬ing every time you come in contact with a non-licensed person. You will thereby slim the ranks of friends and clients and have more time to work on other things.

O. Work Eight Days a Week

Work eight days a week and ten hours minimum per day too. Explain to your family that your hard work is the only way to provide the things they want. It’s your personal sacrifice to devote all your time to your real estate practice and miss seeing your children grow up. (Don’t re¬evaluate your present operation to eliminate the long hours and make a shorter schedule to increase your profits.)

P. Don’t Change Your Environment

Surround yourself with a few nega¬tive people. They won’t pull you down to their level. Neither should you update your office furniture from time to time. Don’t buy a new car or improve your home. It will allow you to keep more money for longer slumps. Nothing makes an impression faster than a few nega¬tive people within a firm to make a negative atmosphere. Which direc¬tion will your firm take?

Q. Form “N” (Napkin)

Present large transactions to your clients on table napkins in the coffee shop. It will build your client’s confidence that you have thought carefully about it. You can defend your professional napkin approach in court later. Don’t plan carefully for each printed or typed concept, but you might order napkins on three-part NCR paper so everyone will at least have a copy.

R. Don’t Financially Support Your Real Estate Board

You are not required to financially support your board. Think of the money you can save. Someone else will provide the money the board uses to pay lobbyists protecting real estate interests in the state legisla¬ture—consider how much legislators have done already to affect the real estate industry! Just don’t complain when another “unthought-out con¬cept” becomes law.

S. Do It Yourself

You don’t have to cooperate with other Brokers, so keep all the plums to yourself. Why share a fee with another Broker when you may be able to do it yourself? Your clients will appreciate seeing a limited in¬ventory of your listings. Of course, in your client’s interest, you could cooperate with other Brokers to of¬fer your client a better transaction, but you wouldn’t be able to keep all of the fee. Chances are your client will never know, so you win (the larger fee). There may be a simpler way to handle the transaction, but why boggle your mind with details. Go for the big fee.

T. Speak with Forked Tongue

Earn extra points with clients and potential clients by putting down competitors, speaking harshly about allied fields such as attorneys and accountants (call them “deal kil¬lers”), and refer to associates as “nice” but out of the mainstream. It isn’t necessary to show how a qualified person in another field can help a transaction or the client might go around you and find his own so-lution. This concept ties in nicely with the next one:

U. Be a Jack of All Trades

Your business card should outline that you sell, exchange, lease and handle commercial, residential and industrial properties. It might be a little embarrassing if you are asked a technical question you can’t an¬swer, But why care when you have the client and someone more quali¬fied doesn’t? A little hokum never hurts as long as you end up with a potential transaction.

V. Take On a Challenge

Challenges are fun. It doesn’t mat¬ter that you can’t solve a problem, you might get lucky and solve it any¬way. List any property and tie up the client for a few months while you look for someone who might solve the problem. The client might have been better off to be referred to a specialist, but this way you may get part of the fee. Of course you risk the client losing something in the transaction due to timing, but at least you get part of the fee.

W. Put It Together Anyhow

The client is really interested in acquiring a property and is insisting on making an offer but you have not told him all of the facts. The freeway has been rerouted, the planned junior college won’t be funded be¬cause of bond problems, the lease on the property expires in four years and the lessee has already selected another site. Go ahead and put the transaction together without telling the client these facts, and you may get to meet your real estate com¬missioner!

X. “X” Rated

This is so bad the author doesn’t dare to write about it and the pub¬lisher wouldn’t print it!

Y. Business Opportunity

As long as you and your firm spend time driving clients around, why not open a realty cab company? Not only do you get paid for the trips, but the tips can be invested. Of course, your drivers will need a special chauffeur’s license that can be more difficult to get than a real estate license. And speaking of licenses, the real estate profession is the only one that allows a person to secure a license on Monday, list a sophisticated and complicated property on Tuesday, sell the prop¬erty Wednesday, close the transac¬tion on Thursday, and get a fee for it. Then the client can go down the tubes on Friday. (Mr. Commissioner, should there be different classifications of licenses?)

Z. Talk about the Problem

Many people can talk about the trials, tribulations, troubles and woes of the real estate profession. This paragraph is dedicated to those who talk about the illness and do nothing about the cure. Are you a talker or a doer?

Clifford P. Weaver, S.E.C., CCIM (San Jose, California) was a member of the Society of Exchange Counselors. Mr. Weaver personally administered the real estate interests of multiple partnerships, corporations, and joint ventures throughout his career. His articles appeared in the leading national real estate journals. He was named S.E.C. “Counselor of the Year” in 1968, and was the 1975 President of the Society. He authored articles and books on Broker Estate Building and was a founder of the original S.E.C Real Estate News Observer. He created a real estate education program on Broker Estate Building and taught throughout the nation in the 1970s. Known for his creativity, good nature and fun-loving spirit, today, the S.E.C. honors his name with the Cliff Weaver Award for Most Creative Transaction of the Year.

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