Hanging Out With Old People – The Austin Realtor Demographic

Photo of old people

I’ve been busy the past several weeks attending real estate education events. First was the NARPM Convention (National Association of Residential Property Managers) in Las Vegas last week. Immediately upon return, there was three days in Austin at the Texas Association of Realtors Winter Meetings at the Hyatt. Then last Monday at an all-day Realtor Technology Forum, stupidly named “xplode“. I’m all educated out. Now I need to figure out what to implement and what to ignore. The “ignore” list is huge. The “implement” list is small.

But there is one thing all these Real Estate related education conferences have in common other than real estate. They could all double as Baby Boomer Conventions. Very few young Realtors.

While in Las Vegas the first night, Sylvia and I ate in a steak restaurant in our Casino/Hotel the, Orleans. While eating, looking around at the 1960’s decor and all the old people there, I commented to Sylvia “we’re the youngest people in this place”. She responded with one of the gentle, rhetorical “wife” responses that every husband will recognize, “So, you think we look younger than everyone in here?” Translation: “Uh, we look that old too, honey”.

No way! Say it ain’t so! I’m 49 and 1/2 and these people all look so old. Like they’re at least …well, … 50. Or older.

I guess maybe my age-perception of myself and Sylvia hasn’t kept up with the actual aging we’ve experienced. We were both in our late 20’s when we started in real estate. As of Sept 2012, we’ll both be “in our 50’s”, like the average Realtor.

Question: Will us older Realtors be able to relate to and help the younger generation of buyers?

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Switching to Laptops Full Time and Working Mostly Online

dell-studio-1555Sylvia and I have now migrated from desktop computers to full-time laptops. I was a bit worried about doing this, giving up nice big monitors for smaller laptop screens, but so far it’s working out really well and neither of us are noticing any impairment or difference in our ability to accomplish computer related tasks.

I purchased each of us a Dell Studio 1555. This model was well reviewed and I picked mine up at Costco for almost $300 less than the Dell online price. I wanted to buy and use mine for a while before getting the second one, just in case. After giving it a thorough test drive, the Studio 1555 performed like a champ, so I ordered the identical model for Sylvia, getting hers for free by cashing in Thank You Points that had accumulated through use of our CitiBank Visa. (My accidental discovery of the existence of this trove of almost 20,000 accumulated Thank You points would be a good topic for another day – bottom line, if you download all your credit card expenses straight into Quicken, still take a look at the actual paper statement at least every year or so).

Benefits of Laptop vs. Desktop

1) More work space on desk, less wires.

With the desktops, I had various cords and plugs, speaker wires, speakers, power cords, etc. running to a battery backup power center. It all took up a lot of space, used a lot of plugs and collected a lot of dust. With the laptop, I have one power cable plugged into the side of the laptop, and a usb plugged in for syncing/charging the iPhone. That’s it. The cordless usb mouse tops it off. No speakers, no monitor, no full size keyboard. I don’t even plug in the network cord because the wireless internet speed is plenty fast. Don’t even need the battery backup because with the larger 9 cell batteries, the laptops will run 8 hours unplugged. I feel more organized and less cramped at my workspace with the smaller form factor of the laptop, which provides a psychological benefit.

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The Real Estate Agent of the Future

This news article came into my email today, about the “Real Estate Agent of the Future”. Like a lot of the drivel fed to Realtors, this story is a jargon-filled write-up of nothingness, but it did get me thinking about how much things actually do stay the same, with regard to relationships, no matter the technology.

via Realtor Newsletter

The Real Estate Agent of the Future
Asked what skills future realty agents will need to compete, Saul Klein–president and CEO of InternetCrusade and CEO of Point2Technologies–cites product knowledge, sales competency, access to customers, and service with integrity.

More specifically, he says an agent working in 2015 will need the ability to communicate effectively across generational spans as the different age groups move up and out.

Uh, that sounds like the Realtor of 1908, 2009 and all years in between. But I wonder what sort of class we need to take to learn how to “communicate effectively across generational spans”. Communication skills for an agent depend more on recognizing which of the four main personality types a person possesses than how old they are.

This generational stuff sounds good, but in practice, one’s generation tells us less about what makes them tick than does their personality type. We work with slow, plodding, careful detail oriented people in the same patient and detail oriented way whether they are 28 years old or 68 years old. Those buyers really are the same, trust me. And the excitable, exuberant buyers who love everything they see and can’t decide which home is the right one for them?… they come in all generations too, including married grandmas and young single dudes with earrings.

An agent who can listen to you, understand your motivations and “get” what makes you tick will be of far greater value in helping you than one who makes trendy assumptions based on nothing more than your age.

Another key skill of the future, he says, will be the ability to negotiate successfully. To increase access to clients, the Realtor of the future will need to be technology-oriented.

Prospecting and marketing will have become automated, says Klein, and client management and online transaction management software will become more important.

Negotiation skills have always been important, and always will. No news there. Being technology oriented? I won’t argue with that, but many non-techie agents do well by simply surrounding themselves with knowledgeable help. I know one that doesn’t even check his own email but instead delegates it to his assistant. He’s a top producer and I bet he can’t burn a CD or send a text message. For some agents, knowing how to leverage the talents of others is the only technology they need. That way, they can spend their time building and maintaining relationships with past, current and future clients instead of trying to figure out how to set up a new printer.

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