Recently I started running. I lost weight and heard that one of the best ways to keep it off was to start jogging – it helps raise your metabolism. I approached this new form of exercise by reading everything I could get my hands on to get educated on what to expect as a woman over 50 ‘pounding the pavement’ with force equal to 2 to 4 times my body weight. I got good running shoes and even invested in running attire that not only was practical but I wanted to look good at the same time! I was on my way – enjoying this experience so much that I got a running buddy, signed up for half marathons with her and longed for temperate (not too warm!) days to run. What I didn’t realize, it that my body had another plan. Oh the pain! My hips, my back, blisters, knees and on and on! I learned that my desire to be active had its limitations, and I had better learn how to remedy them or learn to live with what I could.

I realized that the last several years of selling real estate is strangely similar to my running experiences! Education has been a great way to approach several ‘aches and pains’ in the current real estate climate but I also had to accept the fact that I would have to learn to live with the things I could not change. While I can learn the difference between a short sale and a foreclosed property, election of remedies with arbitration or lawsuit, etc, I could not change the mind set and preconceived attitudes of buyers and sellers. I had the tools at hand to assist them, i.e. graphs, interpretation of current data, smart phone, QR codes, professional photographers, stagers and on and on. These tools were going to help me to assist buyers and sellers understand the current conditions of their local real estate market and I was going to look good at the same time! Too often I learned there was another ‘plan’. If my clients were going to be happy, unhappy, angry, sad or just plain unreasonable, I could not change that despite all the ‘stuff’ I came armed with. I had to learn to live with their attitudes and misconceptions. What I could do, however, was make my best effort to help them learn how to remedy a situation or help them learn to live with it. Sometimes this brought on a change in their thinking, sometimes not.

So….I am learning that stretching is a vital part of running. My new custom orthotics has remedied my knee problem. Showing up on time for an appointment can defuse an already frustrated buyer or seller. Smiling while talking on the phone and using my ‘please pass the butter’ tone can take the edge off a volatile situation followed by a hand written note.

I have learned not everything works all the time. We can only do with we can do. Success can also measured by our attitudes and willingness to try – even if it hurts sometimes.

Now, if I can only l get a handle on the blister thing…

Sometimes putting together a real estate transaction is close to landing a plane in the Hudson River. While we feel like ‘heroes‘ when they do go together, we are, after all, only doing our job. Yes, it can be dangerous, precarious and almost life threatening at times. The market is tough, buyers and sellers are traumatized and the media is not helping calm people in this real estate climate. We, as professionals, have to do our job to the best of our ability, and often have to fly at a dangerous altitude. Doing the right thing should be a natural part of our business model.

Recently I went to the local grocery store and rang my purchases up through the ‘U-Scan’. I told the machine I wanted $20.00 back – and got $35.00 for some reason. Did I accidently punch in the wrong numbers? I looked at my receipt. No, I asked for $20.00. As I held the three extra $5.00 bills I began to think about what I might do with an extra, unexpected $15.00. “STOP!!!” my brain yelled out…”this is not your money!” How could I possibly think I would spend money that was not mine? I walked up to the manager, explained that there seemed to be a problem with one of their U-Scan machines. I handed back the three $5.00 bills. She said “thank you” and proceeded to put an ‘out of order’ sign on the U-Scan machine. So, I did the right thing! When I got to my car, I began to wonder why the manager didn’t give me some kind of reward or words of accomodation for being so honest. After all, I could have taken the money. “STOP!!!” my brain yelled out again. “Why should you be rewarded because you did the right thing?” Ouch, that hurt! It hurt because it was true. Why in the world did I think I deserved anything for being honest? I hung my head and drove away repenting for such thoughts!

The next day a real estate offer I had been working on flawlessly went together. The reason why? Both buyer and seller said they wanted to ‘do the right thing’. No more negotiating over the inspection list or anything else. No kidding, that was their final say on this offer. Signed around, and on the way to closing! What? How could this be? Is it possible that doing the right thing is really that important?

Probably as important as landing that plane safely…..

I decided to start the New Year off by improving my technical skills by taking tech classes, joining Facebook, YouTubing my listings and on and on. I then began to wonder…when will I have enough knowledge and skills to be called technically savvy? I have a website, hired the experts to keep it updated, I got the the ‘cool’ and newest cell phone, took more classes on how to effectively email my clients and market my listings to the current generation. I try to keep everyone updated on Facebook….and why do they call it ‘Facebook’ anyway? It is not like you are FACE TO FACE with anyone! And what will I have to talk about when I actually do get in front of my friends? Will I have anything to say when I am actually with them? The answer to this question is: probably not. Anyone I have a relationship with knows that I have plenty to say at any given time on any given subject. So, I have come to the conclusion that I will survive this technical whirlwind. Those technical skills contribute to me doing my job more effectively. However, they are only part of the word ‘relationship’. I started to think about this word relationship and how it applied to us in our business practices today.

Selling real estate is not always an easy job. Over the years that I have been doing this (over 15 to be precise!) the job I do comes back to relationship. Of course knowledge and education are vital and the skill and care I take with my clients is also an important part along with being technically savvy. It isn’t just one thing that makes a good working relationship. It is all of those skills (and wisdom) that play a part. Talking with my clients face to face (no, not the online kind!) is a large part of my relationship with them. Being technical is important, but nothing can replace the personal part of the relationship between client and professional…in just about any profession. For example, I would rather my accountant take the time to tell me in person how much I owe the IRS…..an email or text message wouldn’t be the best way to communicate with me in that regard. My accountant knows that. We have relationship. He is wise. I appreciate this and that is why I continue to work with him. We have a good business relationship. Now, no one likes to personally deliver news that would be easier to email or text over, but when you have relationship with someone, you take the risk because your client is worth it. When I need to communicate with my client regarding something as important as the most valuable asset they have (yes, that is still true today – could give you that stat’s, but won’t right now) there are times times when it is important to actually talk to them in person. That is part of the business relationship I have with them. It is important for my clients to know that I think they are important enough for me to get in front of them. How many other industries in American can say that? Don’t we spend a lot of time pushing buttons on the telephone just to get another recorded message? Then we wait for a ‘live and informed’ person to talk to us. Being technically savvy is only part of a working business relationship. It is part of the big picture and not a means to an end. We should remember that.