Real Estate Agents: A Day in the Life

Every couple of months while we’re driving from one property showing to the next a client says begrudgingly “you have such an easy job driving around looking at houses all day”. Yeah,right. The recent flurry of articles proclaiming that today’s real estate commissions are too high in relation to the amount of work agents do to receive them, haven’t provided the new Internet brokerage models large market shares. And haven’t convinced buyers and sellers to say “I wish I knew how to quit you” to realty agents.

It’s easy to stand on the outside looking in on the residential real estate industry and say, you’re overpaid. After working as a real estate broker full-time for nine years, I have to admit I’ve never worked harder. My typical day starts at 7 a.m. picking up email and voice mail, formatting electronic property brochures, editing virtual tours and booking print advertising for the coming weekends public open houses. During business hours the outwardly visible part of my day includes meetings, showing appointments, staging a new listing, returning phone calls, faxing documents, writing copy for a new listing, organizing a multi-day property tour with incoming relocation buyers, and all the other duties a sole proprietor is responsible for. It ends around 9 p.m. confirming an appointment to show a listing, receiving a counter-offer on a purchase contract and consoling a buyer who needs to back out of a contract because her boyfriend (who’s income is required for the mortgage) broke up with her. This goes on 24/7, 365 days a year.

In the purpose of full disclosure here is a list of what listing and buyer agents do. This list is excerpted from my second book “Starting and Succeeding in Real Estate” Thomson 2003.

Duties performed in the sale of a property.

Agent time and marketing expense to receive listing appointment.

Marketing material expense and time to prepare CMA (Comparative marketing analysis).

Actual time spent on listing appointment to review CMA.

Market knowledge to prepare CMA.

Actual time to meet with seller’s to sign listing agreement and related documents.

Prepare listing for market. Time and cost to prepare property brochures, order yard sign, take property photos, virtual tour, inputting into Multiple Listing Service, and marketing to other agents and public.

Time to prepare and hold brokers open house(s).

Time to prepare and hold public open house(s).

Telephone calls to set appointments.

Time spent traveling to and from property, showing property for each appointment.

Call property sellers with showing feedback.

Receive; return phone calls concerning property from public and agents.

Write ads, place ads in local/regional newspapers.

Receive contract and related documents on property, review and present to sellers.

Present acceptance/counteroffer to sellers

Counsel property sellers through negotiation.

Courier contract for changes, final signatures.

Courier earnest money deposit.

If condo procure and deliver condo declarations, by-laws, rules and application information.

Prepare brokerage worksheet for transaction.

Change property status in Multiple listing services.

Attend property inspection(s).

Negotiate inspection issues.

Contact and forward contract to attorneys, escrow agent and mortgage lender.

Communicate contract status to property seller and buyers agent.

Place under contract sign rider on for sale yard sign.

Set up and attend showing appointments for buyers to measure or have contractors, friends, and family to view property.

Set up and attend mortgage lenders appraiser’s visit to property.

Ongoing assorted phone calls/e-mail to transaction participants.

Prepare brokerage documents (closing statement, etc.) for closing.

Set up and attend final walk through before closing.

Time spent during and to, from closing location.

Attend closing.

Preparing and submitting final closed paperwork to brokerage on property.

Expense and time for client gift and thank-you.

For some seller’s: arrange for movers, inspection repairs, snow/yard maintenance, move out cleaning, utility shut off, winterizing of pipes, etc.

Duties performed in the purchase of a property.

Agent time and marketing expense to receive buyers call or email to meet with them.

Floor duty in office, weekly, monthly.

Attend office sales meetings, weekly, monthly.

Attend company sales/ award meetings.

Attend continuing education and professional development courses.

Time to prepare buyers packet for meeting.

Actual time spent meeting in office for first time with prospective buyers.

Meeting with prospective buyers to meet with mortgage lender.

Making appointments to preview properties.

Previewing potential properties for buyers.

Making appointments to view potential properties with buyers.

Accompanying buyers looking at potential properties.

Attending brokers open houses to view new inventories of homes for sale.

Write contract, disclosures etc. on buyer’s prospective property to purchase.

Deliver and present contract to seller’s agent and sellers.

Negotiate terms of contract to agreement.

Counsel buyers through negotiation.

Courier contract to buyers for sign off on changes as agreed upon in negotiation.

If condo procure and deliver condo declarations, by-laws, rules and application information.

Prepare brokerage worksheet for transaction.

Contact and forward contract to attorneys, escrow agent and mortgage lender.

Attend property inspections.

Negotiate issues.

Communicate contract status to buyers, attorneys and escrow agents.

Accompany buyers on property showings to measure, meet contractors or show property to friends and family.

Ongoing assorted phone calls/e-mail to transaction participants.

Prepare required brokerage documents for closing.

Set up and attend final walk through before closing.

Attend closing.

Purchase client thank-you gift and deliver.

Assist buyers with movers, repairs etc.

Post closing follow up with buyers.

The Photo Handbag, A Gift That will Truly Be Appreciated

Many relationships have experienced tumultuous times because a husband forgot an occasion. Sure you may be very busy, but forgetting an anniversary or a birthday is something that may be unforgivable, well maybe for just a couple of days. There is really no excuse for this.

Besides, if you truly love your wife or your partner, you wouldn’t want to hurt her feelings now do you? Forgetting an important occasion would make her feel unimportant, unappreciated and unloved. This may sound too trivial for some men, but hey, who said that life is fair?

One great way to make amends is to give her a gift. Sure this may sound materialistic but if you get her a gift that shows how truly sorry you are, then all may be forgiven. Plus, when you start being creative, it will show that you took the time to find a good gift and this means that you love her, appreciate her and she is important to you.

So what kind of gift should you get that shows all of what has been said in the previous paragraph? What gift says you took the time and the effort to make it really personal? Definitely a PlayStation 3 is out of the question. You need something feminine yet has some touches that show that it’s not just something you picked out from a rack. It would also be great if it’s practical, something she can use on a daily basis and something she can show off to her friends.

Chocolates and flowers are too cliché, you need something that lasts. Something like a handbag. But not just a handbag, it should be a handbag that shows you put some effort into it; this calls for the photo handbag. A photo handbag just shrieks of personalization, it means that you personalized it, there is something in the handbag that she will appreciate.

With a personalized photo handbag, you will be able to choose a picture that she likes and have it imprinted in the side of the handbag. It could be your wedding photo, your family photo, a picture of her kids, or any photo that she is especially fond of.

Taking the time to choose the photo and having it imprinted in a handbag will show that you care about her feelings and you want her to be happy. With the technology available today, you will be able to order a photo handbag and have it finished in no time at all.

If there is no shop in your area that provides this kind of service, then all you have to do is go to the internet. There you will be able to see various sites that feature this kind of service. Plus, you don’t even have to go out of your house or office. You can order through the site, send the photo you want printed and have it gift wrapped and sent to your home. You will also be able to choose from a wide range of photo handbags where the photo will be printed.

With ordering a photo handbag from the internet, you can always tell your wife that you haven’t forgotten about your anniversary or her birthday and just blame the courier for delivering it late.

5 Summer Jobs That Keep You Living an Eco Lifestyle Outside

Summer means school and campus life is on break, but that doesn’t mean your eco lifestyle efforts need to go on break as well. Staying active outside and using green living initiatives can help keep your environmental efforts alive and can show friends and family at home your passion for green living.

Living an eco lifestyle does not simply mean recycling, but covers being outside and helping the environment as much as possible. During the summer months, finding a job that allows you to do that can be difficult. That’s why we put together a list of 5 summer jobs that keep you living an eco lifestyle while staying outside!

1. Camp Counselor

* Not only does this job get you outside, but you also get the chance to travel and interact with children. There are hundreds of camps all over the country looking for counselors with a passion for the activities these camps provide. A camps focus can range from bible study to BMX camps; whatever you have a passion for, there is a camp that will allow you to show and teach your passion to others while enjoying the outdoors.

* Pay: This all depends on the camp you coach at. Pay is typically $175-400 a week, in addition (most of the time) to free room and board.

2. Photographer

* Turn a hobby of yours into a money making summer job participating in something you love! There are countless websites that pay for photos as well as art galleries, tourist groups and individuals who will pay for quality photos. You can come up with your own site and sell your photos online, or use an organized website like www.istockphotos.com.

* Pay: You can charge whatever you want for your personal photos, but most website databases will pay you 20% of each sale.

3. Landscape Architect/Gardener

* This can be as businesslike or casual as you want to make it. By putting up signs in your community you can offer services as simple as mowing the lawn and weeding flower beds, to creating and making walkways and fountains. Make sure you’ve had experience with architecture before doing the harder jobs.

* Pay: Depending on the type of service rendered, you can make anywhere between $10-100 an hour from this organic living job.

4. Lifeguard

* This position needs prior training, but once you are Red Cross certified, you can turn a love of swimming into a summer job anywhere! The costs of a class ranges from $100-400 but the pay is usually much more than minimal wage so you make up that money in no time!

* Pay: Usually ranges around $9-15.

5. Bike Courier

* Turn the biking skills you acquired on campus into an outdoor summer job. This kind of job is particularly popular in cities, specifically NYC and LA, but can be found in other areas too. Lots of pizza and sub places that deliver might like the idea of a more eco friendly way of delivering their product. You can also offer your services to apartment buildings for delivering groceries.

* Pay: Depends on the store. Many couriers work on tips.

Photographing Your First Wedding – Tips For Successful Wedding Photography

The doorbell rings, with anticipation you rush over and swing the door open, standing in front of you is a courier, hands outstretched clasping that sexy new DSLR you’ve been waiting rather impatiently for. You scribble a poor excuse for your signature and with a big grin run inside and rip open the package as your best friend watches on, “OOOH” you hear her say, “You know how my weddings coming up, well I don’t have a photographer yet” your heart sinks as you hear such words, in one moment your excitement has diminished, now replaced by the shear terror of the thought of photographing a wedding. Unable to say no a sheepish “yes” leaves your mouth, straight away you know you are in over your head. Your friend thanks you with a big hug and promises there will be no pressure, no pressure you think as you pull a small clump of hair from your head! No sooner has your friend walked out the door and you head to your internet machine in search of tips, It is here we meet.

Lets face it, even the most well planned weddings can be hectic at times, schedules just never seem to run on time, the bride invariably spends too much time getting her makeup done, no one can find the rings or there is a traffic jam on the way to the ceremony. Unfortunately, regardless of why things don’t go to plan or run on time one of the first sacrifices to be made is time allocated to the photographer. It is for this reason that being able to work quickly and efficiently is of utmost importance.

When the heat is on (cue music) the last thing you should be worrying about is the basic technicalities of photography and using your camera. Shutter speed, aperture and ISO are fundamentals you must understand and know how to implement long before you arrive on the wedding day wondering what the hell you’re going to do! To Pfaff about changing settings is to waste time, and will lead to missed opportunities to capture once in a lifetime moments. If the fundamentals of aperture, shutter speed and ISO sound Yiddish to you then hit up Mr. Google and get your learn on!

You now understand the basic principles of photography, or at least I hope you do, what now becomes important is to learn how to implement such principles using your personal equipment. We all hate manuals but make friends with them if you have to. With manual and camera in hand hit the street and start taking photographs in a multitude of lighting conditions. Start heading out and about shooting in a variety of lighting conditions so you can really get a feel for how your camera behaves in such conditions and how you may need to use aperture, shutter speed and ISO to obtain appropriate exposures. In doing so you will quickly start to gain a feel for how your camera behaves under such conditions whilst also becoming quick and efficient at obtaining your desired results. Make sure you shoot in a range of conditions such as strong back lighting, indoors at night, practice focusing on moving subjects and force yourself to work in less than optimal conditions. Keep doing so until you become familiar enough with your camera to be able to pick it up and know how to use the settings to quickly and accurately capture a well exposed photograph.

Hopefully your finger will be hurting from all that button pushing and you will feel comfortable and confident in your ability to grab your camera and obtain some reasonable exposures without the need to look at dials and mess about? Good. But I apologize, because it’s now time to throw a spanner in the works, yep, posing. Lets hope you aren’t a poser doing laps of the block in your red Mercedes, music so loud that it hurts the ears of people three cars away… if so good luck to you, best you go do another lap and impress some more chicks, because what we are talking about is posing your subjects, which can be a very daunting ask when put on the spot. Now we all have personal taste and style, just as the way one photographer sees and composes an image differs from the next so does posing style. What is key is to know that there isn’t a series of a,b,c rules that will work for all photographers nor all clients, thus it becomes important to develop your own style and working methods. Browse through photographs you enjoy and start paying attention to how people are posed, if you pay attention to what appeals to you, you will start to notice a trend, a style that connects with you personally.

Ok, it may have taken some time however you have begun to notice a style that jumps out to you, a style that you feel you would like to employ and impart your personal vision upon. Now we can jump into dissecting these images and poses. Pay close and deliberate attention to the work, what do you enjoy about it? how are the subjects positioned relative to the light? relative to each other? relative to their environment? how is the subjects weight distributed, are they supporting themselves mainly upon their back leg? Where are their hands sitting? Are their hands clenched, perhaps in their pockets? Think about what instructions or techniques the photographer may have used to elicit such poses, given the same circumstances how would you go about obtaining such a pose? Carefully consider what steps you may take and what instructions you could provide to achieve such a pose. By taking the time to really dissect individual elements of an image you will ultimately be in a much better position (pun intended) to develop your own posing techniques and unique style.

We have now reached the point whereby you can pick up a camera and feel comfortable operating it in a variety of conditions, you have spent a lot of time looking at photographs and made effort to really understand what appeals to you within photographs. As such you feel like you may even be able to pose people in a manner you find pleasing. In fact you have practiced this with your friends and begun to develop and understanding for what kind of language you can use to instruct people efficiently. That’s all fantastic, you are really starting to feel ready for photographing your first wedding, but we are not there yet. I’m assuming we are all humans here, one unfortunate part of being so is that when faced with pressure our minds like to present as black voids, “I’m outta here” Mr Brain yells as he jumps upon his brain mobile and drives off into the sunset. It is at this point you will be happy you prepared a shot list. What is a shot list I hear you ask. Essentially it is a list of images that you feel are important to capture, we can however take this beyond a simple list of essential photographs and develop it into a list of creative ideas that you wish to try. If you are the sort who embraces technology then you can make a list of images on your phone which you can scroll through during some quite moments, then when faced with an opportunity to grab some shots you will have ideas fresh in your mind.

Be a scout! Call your best mate, using threats and/or bribes encourage them to take a drive with you to the location of the wedding, this of course should be done before the big day! Remember to take your camera along and head there at the time of day the wedding will take place so you can get an idea what light may be doing. Use your friend as a stand in bride and groom and take the opportunity to find some shots you may wish to capture on the day, this will not only provide you with valuable practice but also ease any nerves you may have on the big day, knowing that when all else fails you already have some ideas.

Last but certainly not least familiarize yourself with the timing of the wedding day. Ask your bride and groom for an order of events and make a point of reading over it. Being in the right place at the right time is key to capturing the action of a wedding. Armed with knowledge of the days events you will be in a much better position to anticipate where you will need to be, thus maximizing valuable shooting time.

Photographing a wedding can be really stressful, chaotic even. Yet with the right preparation you can help the day run as smoothly as possible. It is up to you to put the time and effort into obtaining the knowledge you need.