Promises, Promises. How About Guarantees?


One of my colleagues recently spoke of losing a listing opportunity to another agent, and when they asked the homeowner what persuaded them to go elsewhere, the answer that was given was the promise of a higher selling price . . . not a lower commission rate. Now, for those of us bound by the laws of gravity, and even more importantly, the laws of supply and demand, the promise of a higher selling price was the equivalent of telling the seller that they could defy the laws of the marketplace.

My colleague was not going to challenge the seller’s decision, and simply thanked them for disclosing the reason for going with the other agent. I, on the other hand, would have been seriously tempted (yes, only TEMPTED) to ask “Is this agent GUARANTEEING you that higher selling price?”, because, let’s face it, talk is cheap. Of course the agent couldn’t guarantee a selling price, but in this case, the disparity between the listed price and the comps was impossible to defend other than to attribute it to an impressive case of sheer guile on the part of the listing agent. The laws of gravity can be very inconvenient at times, however, that doesn’t mean that we can defy them, and the same applies to the housing market. An agent who has prepared a well-crafted Comparative Market Analysis will have one of the best tools for converging on a reasonable expectation of a home’s selling price – – not a guarantee, but a reasonable expectation. Keep in mind that a properly staged home has a much better chance of realizing a higher selling price than one which has not been critically analyzed for eye appeal and flow. Clutter can be costly; presentation wins the day!

Every seller would like their home to be the subject of a bidding war to maximize selling price, and every buyer would like to find a beachfront mansion for the cost of a rural tool shed, however, with the amount of information available today, neither scenario is terribly likely. Keep in mind that both overpricing and underpricing carry risks, so a market supportable price should always be the goal. An overpriced home may be overlooked because its price exceeds similar homes in the area, and an underpriced home invites suspicion that expensive repairs (or eccentric neighbors) may lurk out of sight, even if you’ve had a licensed inspector go over the subject home.

If you want more for your home than other similar offerings, you may be able to get it by stepping up the “WOW” factor. Your real estate sales agent is a professional, and they can provide you with ideas and proven techniques for maximizing the “WOW” factor of your home. More “WOW” factor can translate to higher offers. While a successful real estate transaction is generally viewed as a meeting of minds and wallets, value is still a judgement, not an absolute, and higher perceived value has a higher likelihood of translating into more dollars for the seller.

If I may be of service to you, I invite you to call, text message or e-mail me at your convenience. Have a great summer!

Naked In The Real Estate Jungle

moss-2I recently received a lead on a potential home buyer, and as is my customary practice, I promptly placed a phone call to not only introduce myself, but also to verify the accuracy of the narrative in the lead. If the information is correct and they are not already represented, I ask the prospect if I may be of service to them. Not surprisingly, this particular call went to voicemail, and I recited an oft-rehearsed introduction with an invitation to call me. An introductory e-mail went out immediately, briefly touching on how my background and commitment to outstanding service might help them realize their real estate goals.

This morning, I found a response to my inquiry in my Inbox, reproduced here: “The house I want is not listed and be sold directly to me without a bunch of costs. Thanks. Xxxxxx” (Xxxxxx being the prospect’s first name – – which I will not print here, but a name which also did NOT match the information initially provided to me).

If you or I walked into a professional’s office, let’s say a neurosurgeon, and said “Well, performing surgery on my back will take you about an hour and require about $1,000 in supplies and medication. How about doing the surgery for $1500? That way, you’ll make $500 for that hour, and I won’t have to pay for all those costs that everyone else pays.”, how quickly do you think that surgeon is going to set an appointment for your $1500 back surgery? (If your answer is “the 12th of never at 2:00AM sharp”, you can move on to the bonus round. Their response would likely be unprintable here.) To put their response into perspective, my back surgery in 2008 was billed at over $40,000, and I can assure you, I didn’t have any heart-to-heart conversation with my surgeon about doing the work at cost.

The old joke that real estate agents are often rated only a notch above toothy-grin cigar-chomping checkered sportcoat-wearing used car salesmen carries a sting of reality at times, and while I like to think that I have a thick skin, sometimes this dismissive treatment of those of us in the real estate business actually hurts. This arena in which we operate was not created by $49 correspondence school courses and hour long infomercials, and consider this: It is a highly regulated profession in which nearly every governing authority in existence, Federal, State, County, Local, DBPR, EPA, DEC, DOJ, etc., has a hand . . . . but all of it for the CONSUMERS’ BENEFIT, so where is the disconnect?!? Oversight is a good thing when it serves to reduce bad behavior in the industry, and it should boost people’s perception of the industry as being one of professional service by trained and qualified individuals overseen by guardians of the public’s best interests.

Whether buyer or a seller, there are going to be costs, and the lack of a real estate professional on your side of the transaction doesn’t eliminate those costs. In point of fact, what you may appear to save by working without a real estate professional may be outweighed by surprise costs for which a real estate professional could have prepared you. Worse than that, however, would be paying too much for a home because you didn’t have a real estate professional provide you with a well-crafted Comparative Market Analysis. A house is usually the largest single investment that anyone makes in a lifetime. Would you let your favorite meat market butcher perform a heart transplant just because they are good with a knife and would do the work for half the price of a trained heart surgeon? Of course not. And if you were falsely accused of murdering someone, would you want a fresh-faced 22-year old law student defending you in a murder trial? Ridiculous, right?

Real estate agents are trained professionals, having accumulated a body of knowledge, demonstrated familiarity and mastery of the skills necessary to navigate the thorny path of home buying and selling, and ready to use the experience gained in every transaction to benefit the next customer. Those who have come from different backgrounds often bring with them additional skills and talents, which also benefit their customer. And while you may see a multi-thousand dollar commission as a lot of money for a 1-hour long closing on a home, that skilled individual will have certainly invested several dozen hours in the weeks and months leading up to the closing, they will have paid for licenses required to do business, attended continuing education seminars and classes, and consulted with their broker on trends and new developments in the industry. In addition, they will have incurred many costly expenses to conduct real estate business such as broker fees, business insurance, costs of computer software and supplies, sales and marketing resources, and automobile expenses. Television’s portrayal of real estate sales as simply a part time job conducted from a room in their home with a phone and a computer is the equivalent of a grade school play held on a gymnasium stage with cardboard scenery. The real world of real estate is exponentially more complex than television’s simplified illusion.

Many years ago, a college accounting professor of mine was fond of saying “It’s a jungle out there!”, frequently reminding us that the working world is a dangerous place. He was a very wise man, and I’ve never forgotten his words. But in the jungle of real estate, a real estate professional is the equivalent of a consumer’s tour guide of the jungle, helping to keep them safe, and assisting in navigating the often-complicated terrain.

If It’s Tuesday, It Must Be The Day After Monday . . . Or Something Like That


It still puzzles me how some days I can hit the ground running, and the whole day unfolds like a well-oiled machine; and yet, other days, I feel as though I am stuck in Neutral, trying to accomplish things, but being constantly sidetracked or otherwise distracted.

As a real estate sales agent, it is necessary to “keep a lot of balls in the air at one time”, and while that may help to avoid the boredom that often results from doing the same single task day-in and day-out, there are those days where it is critical to stay focused on one single task or challenge to its completion before contemplating other items on one’s To-Do List. For those of us who need a highly structured environment (read that PREDICTABLE), it can make you crazy. But if you thrive on variety, embrace the challenge of shooting at a moving target, or are simply a thrill-seeker, baby, you’ll be right at home in real estate sales.

What has made it challenging for me, however, is that I can be doing any one (or more) of nearly a dozen different tasks to establish myself and build a pipeline of customers and prospects; yet on any given day, I may do so in an entirely different way. Facebook posts, e-mail blasts, newsletters, phone calls, postcards, professional networking at local events, and YouTube videos are just a short list of tools at our fingertips to generate and maintain business relationships and future sales. At times, I feel as though I am failing at this career because I am doing the wrong tasks to succeed, despite using the tools which I have been told time and time again are the ones that help you succeed. What I have concluded after much soul searching is essentially the same as the expression I heard regarding exercise sometime back: “The best exercise for you is the exercise that you do.” So, if I INTENDED to do an e-mail blast, but ended up spending the day making phone calls and sending e-mails, well, guess what? That may simply have turned out to be using a different set of tools that day in my quest for the same end goal: business success. This in and of itself does not constitute failure, but simply taking a different route to the same destination.

You’ve probably heard the expression “Failure is not an option.”, but if you subscribe to this way of thinking, you have probably taken fewer if any chances since failure is almost always a possibility. A lifelong friend of mine enjoyed a successful business for decades until the dot-com boom went sideways and took his company with it. It was a nasty ego bruising, and left some equally nasty scars, but in time, he dusted himself off, and resumed his quest for success and retirement savings. Make no mistake: It took several years to get his groove back, but he has made considerable and admirable progress, and is happy with his new careers (yes, careers, plural).

For me, I am gradually learning to deal with the self-doubt that creeps into my mind when I am unable to accept my best efforts as being sufficient to prevail in the long term. One of the ways that I am doing so is a matrix (spreadsheet) with as many of the tools of the trade listed along the top, and dates listed vertically in the first column. Each day, I fill in the number of times that a tool gets used (for example, 8 mailings to expired listings; or 4 phone calls to visitors of my webpage, or a YES or NO to whether I have posted a blog or Facebook update). It’s a tool that validates my efforts by reminding me that I didn’t just wait for the phone to ring, but rather used ACCEPTED and PRODUCTIVE tools of the trade to pursue success in this industry. Yes, the change from my previous way of working to how I work now has been, at times, rather dramatic, and even traumatic, but as times goes on, I am becoming more and more comfortable (as well as familiar) with the “lay of the land”, and how I must operate in it to succeed.

The world is constantly changing, and those who refuse to change are often lost to ignorance. (Another friend of mine used to elicit laughs with his vocal impression of a well-known politician with the following fictional quote: “The universe is expanding. And government must in turn expand to meet the growing need.” It still cracks me up after all these years, and this little tidbit dates back to 1976.)

So, what are you going to do? Go get ’em, Tiger. And don’t forget to give yourself a little credit along the way. When it is deserved, a pat on the back can feel very comforting.

Fresh Off The Press: Fort Myers, Florida Townhome for Sale!

MLS Listing 216074123 may be just what you or someone you know is looking for in a modest, 1260 square foot townhouse in Fort Myers, just 20 minutes from the beach, and about the same distance from downtown!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

1525 Park Meadows Drive, #1, Ft Myers, Florida 33907

Location, location, location! And priced right, right, right! What you have found is a charming 1260 square foot townhouse just down the road from Florida Southwestern College, in close proximity to shopping and dining of ALL kinds, 20 minutes from Fort Myers Beach in one direction or downtown Fort Myers in the other direction, and situated in the quiet beauty of Parkwoods Townhouse Community. Whether you call it home or invest for purposes of income potential and appreciation, this 2-bedroom 2-bath offering with fenced in patio can’t be beat for value! Sliders in the living area, kitchen and both bedrooms bring loads of sunshine and blue skies into your living space! A bathroom on each floor and a first floor laundry room maximize convenience and access to these oft-used facilities. All outdoor maintenance is performed by the association (lawn, landscape, exterior pest control and irrigation), two dedicated parking spaces are right alongside the unit, so all that’s left to do is furnish and ENJOY! Make your appointment to see this gem before it gets away!

– See more at:

Contact Information

Robert F. Greene, REALTOR®

20th Century’s Greatest Hits?

Once upon a time, while discussing our respective tastes in music, a colleague of mine characterized his musical preferences as “ecclectic”, having realized, as many of us do, that not only do we enjoy a very diverse variety of musical styles, but in addition, we go through periods where one particular genre of music, or one particular artist dominates our attention. I had a rather late introduction to daily enjoyment of music, being 13 years old when I received my first transistor radio for Christmas in 1970. What an epiphany.

Now, it should be noted that my parents would periodically put a 33-1/3 RPM LP (Long Play) album in their mahogany tabletop record player and listen to Christmas music around the holidays, or perhaps an album of Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass on a summer evening. But, by and large, music was not a staple of our household. Where some of the homes in the neighborhood always had music in the air, whether it was the signal of a local radio station being played on their HiFi/stereo console, or the sounds eminating from their television as part of a popular program, generally the only music heard in my parents’ household came from television advertising jingles, program intros and program outros. And unlike many of today’s lesser melodic program intros, (think of Seinfeld, Modern Family, and Two and a Half Men), television programs in the 1950s through much of the 1980s had catchy, if not grand musical scores for opening themes (Perry Mason, The FBI, The Dick Van Dyke Show, Bonanza, The Virginian, Star Trek The Next Generation and many other long running evening fare had large orchestral productions, with percussion sections that could fill to capacity your local VFW post). Apparently, a combination of cost-cutting measures in the production of programming, as well as the never ending quest to cram more commercials into syndicated programs effectively killed both the appeal and the justification of grand musical production values in program opening themes.

But alas, I digress. While I was introduced to then-contemporary music with local AM radio fare, which is now generally referred to as “bubblegum pop”, happily, over the years, I discovered the joys of jazz [Miles Davis, Julie London, Bill Evans, Julian Cannonball Adderly, etc], big band [Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, etc], bossa nova [Antonio Carlos Jobim, Joao Gilberto, etc], the Great American Songbook [Andy Williams, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Rosemary Clooney, Nat King Cole, Perry Como, etc] and new country [Brooks & Dunn, Alan Jackson, Terri Clark, Clint Black, et al].  A side note: Bubblegum Pop is a term at which I bristle, considering the fact that many of the groups whose music I listened to at the time on those mainstream AM radio stations are nowadays conveniently classified under “Classic Rock” – – think of Creedence Clearwater Revival, Led Zeppelin, Eagles, Chicago, The Beach Boys, Electric Light Orchestra, Moody Blues, etc. C’mon, people, Led Zeppelin as bubblegum pop?!? Really? But then, there was disco. I’ll wait here while you recover from disco spasms . . . Are you going to be okay? (I believe to this day that I survived the disco era without permanent brain damage – – at least, I think so. But even that era had a few nuggets of musical treasure, despite the tendency for the offerings to be of questionable value.)

My enjoyment of old time radio and big band music has prompted some to comment “You were born in the wrong era, weren’t you?”, which is one way of looking at my affection for music of a long bygone era. Ignoring for the moment those who enjoy classical music, consider this: Those of us who have access to all of the 20th Century’s Greatest Hits, music or otherwise, actually may have the best of all possible worlds. While I love the style and beauty of the 1932 Ford, it doesn’t take a genius to realize that automobiles without airbags, air conditioning, ABS, seat belts, side impact door protection and traction control may be great for weekend drives or taking to car shows, however, having one of these as one’s only form of transportation might be a bit problematic. Being able to watch Glenn Miller and His Orchestra live at Glen Island Casino in New Rochelle, New York in 1939 would have been awesome, but post-Depression years in America were a very difficult time, and posed innumerable challenges. Yet, in this day and age, I can (and often DO) listen to many of the original radio broadcasts on my iPod or Bluetooth-enabled radio, experiencing at least to SOME extent, the same enjoyment of the event that people of that era did: with their ears, their mind, their imagination – – picturing the band playing as they sat by their radios listening to the live broadcast. I have the added benefit of listening whenever I want, not simply when the National Broadcasting Company was airing the program. And for those who listen to classical music, I’m betting that few of this group would want to live in the era in which these pieces were originally crafted, even if Brahms or Beethoven played a mean game of poker.

Today’s technology puts more information at our fingertips than anything we could have imagined decades ago. eBay enables us to find items in places around the world which would have been near impossible to locate without such a tool. In 1999, the first of what would ultimately become three motorcycle acquisitions was spotted about 9 miles from where I lived at the time. Considering the relative rarity of the bike, finding one in the same town was a long shot. Over the next fifteen years, using eBay to locate others resulted in my current portfolio of three, one of which was found in Massachusettes and the other in Maine, two places I had never been, and two which I likely would never have looked prior to the invention of the internet by Al Gore. (I know. It’s an old joke.) Think about it: Who would have found that ultra-rare 1960s European sports car tucked away in a barn in Billings, Montana and been able to put it in front of the whole world (without spending a king’s ransom on advertising) maximizing the potential selling price had there NOT been a World Wide Web on which to raise people’s awareness and interest?

Being able to enjoy the Greatest Hits of the entire 20th Century is not only possible now, but it is easier than ever. We can enjoy streaming video camera images of places all over the world, watch full color high resolution military film footage from World War II, research rare artifacts and find examples of many of these for sale, learn a foreign language, make friends many continents away, share common interests with those of all age groups, stay in touch with friends and loved ones via video conference, and re-live historical moments (or for most people living today, it might be more correct to say “live historical moments for the first time”) all of these experiences enriching our lives, and broadening our world view.

Something to think about, eh?