Utah Job Growth Shows No Sign of Slowing

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Utah has been atop the country’s lists of states with major job growth for the last couple years and the unemployment rate in Utah has been at record lows. Now local employers are saying that things are only going to get better (or, would that be worse?)

The Manpower Employment Outlook Survey, released on Tuesday, shows that 52% of Utah’s employers plan on adding to their staff during the next six months, while only 3% would be decreasing their numbers. Much of the news surrounding the area’s job growth has centered around certain companies and industries, but this survey is over the breadth of business categories, meaning it will affect most of the population.

In the Orem area, over 60% of employers will be hiring, in the Ogden area 50% will be adding to their ranks and in Salt Lake County 47% will be hiring more people, 53% say they will remain the same, and zero said they plan to reduce staffing levels.

From the Deseret News

The strong Utah figures are in contrast to the national survey results. U.S. fourth-quarter hiring pace is expected to remain unchanged from the July-to-September period but be a little off last year’s fourth-quarter pace. Among the 14,000 U.S. employers surveyed, 27 percent foresee an increase in hiring activity and 9 percent expect a decline in the fourth quarter. Fifty-eight percent expect no change, while 6 percent were undecided.

From the Salt Lake Tribune

“Utah continues to buck the national trend and is even outperforming most of the rest of the West,” said Katz, director of Utah operations for Manpower, a Milwaukee-based global staffing firm. “It’s been that way for about two years, but when you get up around 50 percent of the employers who plan to hire, that’s one of the top rates in the nation. “The state created 57,000 jobs last year and it appears it could create another 57,000 this year so long as there are enough bodies to fill them.”

Strong job growth has been one of the main reasons for the area’s strong real estate market. People moving into the area for jobs and raised income levels help the economy and the real estate market in the area by adding to the demand for homes. Currently the Salt Lake real estate market is stronger for buyers and with high inventory levels, a nation-leading local economy and low interest rates, this is a good time to buy.

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There’s No Room at the Top for Wimps

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We’re all prone to having our moments of weakness, where things aren’t going our way or everything seems to be falling on us at the same time. Especially in a sales industry like real estate, with the financial ups and downs and the pressures that come with it, it can be draining emotionally.

Sometimes I need to retreat and spend time with family just to keep my sanity. Sometimes the pressure turns to anxiety and it’s tough to stay focused on the road ahead. But I know that’s precisely what I need to do to make things right and take care of my responsibilities.

This is one of the traits that I believe seperates those at the top of their game from the rest- the ability to focus under pressure. We’re all busy and we all have pressure, but it’s what we do with that pressure that makes the difference.

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Do you fold under the pressure or do you focus?

Most people fold. They crumble and become less useful in every area of their lives. Most people have the inherent flaw of retreat during those times that they are most needing to perform. But in business this causes anxiety and stress and simply furthers the problem. Curling up into the fetal position and bawling like a baby will not help things get better, and while I can understand the natural tendency to do so, and can even relate to some degree- I keep a discernable barrier from the emotion of it all because I choose a different way of handling my pressure.

I see people throwing their hands in the air and giving up all the time in this business- sometimes for a day or a week and sometimes for good. People leave the business or go into hibernation because a deal went south on them or several deals fell apart at the same time. Or because they are going through a tough stretch with no business.

I have these same stretches where business seems to flow in rapidly and times when it seems like things are slowing down. When things aren’t coming in though, I go out and I get business. And I think others who are at the top of their game, and the best in their fields do the same. They get out there and they take the bull by the horns and get things done.

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-If you find a man at the top of a mountain, he didn’t fall there-

I don’t know who first said it, but I like it. Here are some things that I personally do to push through pressure…

Stay flexible in my approach but focused on my result.

I decide what the result is that I want and become determined to make that result happen no matter what. It’s imperative to stay focused on the result I am looking for so I have direction and a way to clearly see whether or not I am moving toward that result.

My approach might change several times. Think of water finding it’s way down a canyon side. It’ll change direction a bunch of times but eventually it will find it’s way to the lowest ground- and that’s how I look at my approach and the way I reach my result. If something isn’t working I’ll change what I’m doing and then change again and again as long as I’m moving toward that result.

Take time.

When things catch up to me and the pressure gets heavy I take time, maybe ten minutes, maybe two hours, to relax and clear my mind so I can return to the issues from a different perspective. Sometimes I’ll go to a movie in the middle of the day to forget about everything for a while and then when it’s over I’m calm and can look at things again more clearly. Sometimes I take ten minutes and sit at a park or at home in silence and just think about the stillness and how big the world is around me and remember how small these problems are to the rest of the world. Somehow putting things in perspective against time and history helps me look at them in a better frame of mind.

Utilize my energy.

The pressure and stress I feel is all energy and I can choose to take that energy and use it to make me move. Sometimes I take that energy and turn it into anger because anger is such a strong emotion. I wouldn’t suggest doing this unless you can compartmentalize well (as I do) so you don’t end up taking out stress on those around you, but I’ve been able to take my energy and use it to get me off my butt and out there working.

Swallow my pride.

Sometimes I don’t want to do the work because I don’t like it. I don’t like cold calling or knocking on doors anymore than the next guy, but when I need business I’ll go out in the rain and knock doors asking for business if I need to. I’ll call five hundred people in a day or hand out business cards to everyone I come across that day. There are usually more productive ways to spend my time, but I will exhaust every option and do whatever it takes to keep things going strong. This is the business I am in- sales. And in sales I am responsible for my own success- I have to go find it and that’s what i signed up for when I took the career I did.

Reach high.

I don’t suffer from low amibition. Sometimes I like to take a break and spend more time relaxing, but I keep my standards high and I maintain results that I can be proud of. Some people reach their goals well, but their goals are far too low for their ability and situation. Hey, if you need more- go out there and get it. Having high standards motivates me and keeps me from being feeling average.

Don’t whine.

I can’t stand when people stand around whining about how unfair things are and expect their lot in life to improve without putting in the work. Don’t stand there and shout about it- get up and do something about it. I’ll raise my voice if I think it’s going to help my cause, but I’m not going to complain just to complain- I’ll have a solution or some opinion I think will help the discussion. Whining is for suckers and the people ot the top of their game don’t have time for it.

Keep my frame of mind.

It’s important for me to stay in the right frame of mind and sometimes that means to just toughen up and stay numb to some of the distractions. I try to remember my talents and why I believe in myself. Not affirmation- dedication. And this can make all the difference in the world for me.

There will always be people out there that does more business than I do and make more money and have more time and blah blah blah- so what? I work hard because it makes me feel good taking care of my family and having success. And I like my work. Big reward often comes with big risk, and being in a commission-only sales position is risky, but rewarding for those who get off their butts and take charge of their career.

No matter what area of your life you find challenging right now- decide to change it and go do the work. If you expect to reach the top, any “top”- your “top”, whatever that is for you, you can’t be a wimp getting there.

Your first home should be a good investment

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Actually, all of the real estate you buy should be a good investment, but first time home buyers often overlook the investment for the emotional pull of upgrades, proximity to friends and decor. A home is a personal thing for sure, but the reality is- buying a home is not like finding that one true soulmate you will spend your forever with. Rather, there are many houses in any given area that one could buy and be very happy living in.

A house is a shell of wood, brick and windows- it’s the people that make it a home. It’s the memories and the drive home after a long day of work. It’s calling it “my place” and spending time and money and energy fixing the faucet and mowing the yard or putting your favorite colors on the wall. It’s waking up there and creating your own space.

When buying home for the first time it is especially important to get a good investment because chances are, you won’t be staying more than a few years and you’ll want the equity from the home to buy your next place. Buying a home that is a good investment can be a major part of a solid financial standing. The tax benefits and equity earned can have a huge impact for people.

I bought my first house when I was 20. It was not a nice place, but it was a good investment. I actually bought it to flip. I figured I would take the money I would make from flipping it and buy a home to live in but my wife wouldn’t have it- she wanted out of the apartment lifestyle as soon as possible. So we remodeled and moved in. I sold the house a couple years later and made around $40,000. Not a ton of money, but for someone in their young twenties who is starting a family it’s a fortune. I could not have saved that much by putting away a little from every paycheck and clipping coupons.

Real estate has been my best investment. The stock market hasn’t been bad for me, but the investment/return on my real estate blows away my stocks. I can buy a home for zero out of pocket and make tens of thousands of dollars just by living there. Everybody’s paying a mortgage, either their own or the landlords. I might as well be the one making the money, right?

If you are in the market to buy, or have been sitting on the fence, undecided about whether to buy a home thake my advice, find one of the best Realtors in your area and let them help you find a good, solid investment as your first home- you’ll be glad you did.

Real Estate Marketing- Good, Bad and Ugly

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Let’s face it- not all marketing is good. A lot of marketing is horrible, some is simply bland, some is very good and some should be burned immediately. Good marketing people are not always easy to find, and once you do find them they are often very busy because of the aforementioned difficulty in finding them to begin with.

Selling real estate effectively requires marketing. It takes people looking at your ads so they see the homes. Whether it’s on the internet, magazines, newspapers, postcards, or wherever- sellers want buyers seeing their property and buyers want to find good homes. The right marketing can have a significant impact on the amount of traffic a property gets.

Sometimes good companies have bad marketing, which makes them less-good, but this could simply be the result of bad taste from management, or designers who are either getting revenge on their bosses or are just wasted on crack. Either way, as important as marketing is in the real estate industry, I would think that more companies would care about the look of their brand, which also speaks of the brand of their clients.

I have no doubt people who work for companies with ugly marketing will say that it’s not important what your ads look like, but all things being equal most people would rather have their home appear in high-quality ads and represented by a professional looking brand. And more people look at those ads so it does affect traffic.

Here are some examples of what I consider to be bad real estate marketing.

The whole pilgrim thing is way over-done

Constipation is not sexy

Drugs- I’m 90% sure

In bright daylight causes blindness

Even the kid thinks it’s lame

Bad on so many levels

Not prestigious at all

Will never sell a high-end home

Judge books by their covers

Pray for a new design

Animal pornography is just wrong

All dressed-up for the big photo shoot

When accountants do design work

 

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$495,000 for a doghouse?

 

And now to recognize a couple of special companies and their design and marketing. Usually once a company becomes national, or large they get enough input to change bad marketing, or have enough money to hire good designers and consultants. But apparently, not all companies;

Ugliest National brokerage marketing goes to these two;

It’s almost as though they’re trying to be ugly

 

Sad thing about Exit’s marketing is, they actually think it looks good

And here is some real estate marketing that I think is very good and should be used as examples of good taste. There are many companies that have good marketing- here are just a few that come to mind. For more great internet design work in real estate go to Posh’d)

Obviously, if I didn’t think my own  logo and look was good I would change it

Sellsius guys  have a cool look

Re/Max -Always recognizable, often imitated, and the balloon gives them options

Prudential– Rounded top and the rock symbol differentiate, good font and color.  I think the blue is friendly and inviting.

There are obviously many companies that have great marketing, logos and looks that are not mentioned here, but you get the idea. Many Realtors create their own marketing with only the brokerage name attached (which is required by law), and that can be good or worse, depending on the agent.

Good marketing also includes the copy of the ads, and how a home is presented on the MLS, in the remarks and having accurate information. Homes that have no photos are shown many times less, and a virtual tour helps even more. The quality of the photos can make a big difference.

Agents that snap a few shots of hallways and cabinets with their phone-cams are doing a disservice to their clients, while agents who hire a professional photographer who knows camera angles and lighting techniques will be presenting a better product and ultimately have more people looking at their listings.

Here’s an example of two photo tours, which one showcases the home and compells you to see the home more?

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This is a home I just put on the market. I hired a professional photographer to take the photos and create the tour.

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This is the complete tour provided by an agent on a home that is about the same price as my listing, has a bit more square feet, same size lot, and an extra bathroom.

More buyers will look at my listing than the other simply because of the photos, which means the seller of the second home is missing out. It’s a good home that is not being represented well.

MLS and marketing copy makes a difference as well. Here’s an example;

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These are the remarks on the MLS for a home listed by another agent. I brought a buyer who bought the home last month for $170,000 with the seller paying $6000 for the buyers closing costs, so the net price to my client was $164,000. Here’s the thing- the home actually wasn’t in that bad of condition and certainly not as bad as those remarks make it seem. It had granite counters, a huge yard, a new roof, a jetted tub and all new vinyl windows. But none of that was mentioned in the remarks. This home appraised for $188,000 and probably would have appraised for $200,000 if that was the selling price. We made a low offer because the sellers were obviously expecting a low offer. Their agent did a horrible job representing them and the MLS remarks brought people looking for an investment, like my buyers. Different marketing and they could have attracted people wanting to live in the home who would have paid $200,000.

My clients paid $164,000 (after the $6000 credit), put less than $10,000 into the home for paint, carpet, and some other upgrades, and we will sell it for $220,000, which is actually a good price for this home with the upgrades.

The best agents coordinate all the little things and have the expertise to bring in top dollar while branding the property well and making the whole transaction go smoothly. Getting a quick sale for top dollar with as little inconvenience as possible to the client. Good marketing takes more than a clever tag-line or some “unique” idea- it takes an understanding of the target audience and what appeals to the largest group of them as possible.

In my opinion simple is always better than complicated. If you can say it in twenty words don’t use fifty, use images to elicit a favorable response, not because you just like the image, and colors matter. Look at the overall brand and what it says about you, because that’s what marketing is really all about- delivering the message of what your brand is, what it is you have to offer, and what you’re all about.

I don’t know that a bad yard sign will keep a buyer from calling or not, but I think a nice one may make it easier for them. Beyond signs- I think the overall image of an ad makes a huge difference in the traffic it generates and the overall image of a campaign can make a significant impact on the business and clientele of a company.

Look at Alain Pinel in the bay area of California. Everyone in the area knows of their name and brand. They attract high-end clients and agents and their branding is a major reason for it. Obviously facility, personnel, training and leadership all play roles as well, but the branding impacts the pride people take in their company and the image they themselves take on when meeting with consumers.

As an agent I prefer to be with a company that I associate with being a high-quality organization. Whether or not the yard signs bring me business is not the point- I do more business because I’m proud of my service and my brand. Everything else being equal- I will do more business, and enjoy a better brand of business by having a high-quality image and having marketing that conveys that image. It gives me confidence and I believe it gives my clients confidence and pride as well.

People are the biggest contributing factor to success, but don’t underestimate the power of branding and the effectiveness of good marketing.

Believe in What You Do or Don’t Do It

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Driving home today I saw a For Sale By Owner (FSBO) directional sign directing people down a particular street. On the sign was a phone number and the words “owner/agent”. I recognized the phone number as belonging to an agent who used to work for me. What does this tell me? It tells me a few things…

– I didn’t teach him well enough to believe in what he’s doing

– His clients are losing out working with someone who doesn’t believe in what’s he doing

– He may want to re-think his career choice because currently it has no integrity

I don’t trust salespeople who don’t believe in their product or services. I wouldn’t trust an atheist minister, a vegetarian butcher or an environmentalist who drives a suburban either. At the end of the day your integrity is worth more than a paycheck and if this agent doesn’t believe in his companies marketing and service then he may want to evaluate which company he is with, or whether this is the right career for him, either way- have some integrity in your selling.

Update- On 6-26-07 I spoke to this agent about it and told him I was blogging about it and he says he has a FSBO sign up for two reasons- the home is not ready to go on the market yet- he’s a couple weeks away, and he wants to get some buyer leads and interest while he’s finishing the remodel on it. He doesn’t have a company directional sign up because it’s not listed yet.

Five Things About Successful Salespeople

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I’ve heard it said that we’re all in sales, in one form or another. And there’s probably some truth to that. Having children means selling them on the benefits of brushing their teeth and going to sleep at a good hour and sometimes we try to sell our friends on why we should eat at this restaurant or to try out this new golf club or go see that movie that we thought was so good.

But for actual salespeople, or those of us who’s work it is to assist people in the actual sale of a product or service, there are some things that I believe are fundamentally important to being successful at what we do, and they aren’t necessarily the same things that are important in other professions.

There’s a difference between acheiving success and being a successful salesperson- this post is about the latter. Five things about successful salespeople;

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They like people. We’re all different and for every type of personality there is someone who wants to work with them. But I believe the truly successful salesperson enjoys other people and wants to do well by them. They have a social element to their personality. I don’t think they need to be especially outgoing, but if you genuinely like people you’ll want to be around them. It’s interesting to observe people at parties or gatherings. Next time you’re at a party watch how some people naturally float around talking to everyone and some people stay next to the people they came with.

They lead.  A good salesperson can assist their clients in making decisions. Often times we need someone to make it okay to make a decision. Good salespeople give us options, help us to decipher all the information, and then they encourage us to go ahead with the purchase. Sometimes people need validation on their decision or a push in the right direction. Nobody likes a pushy salesman, and that creates the problem. Nobody wants to be a pushy salesman because then they’d have to hate themselves. But there’s a big difference in that fine line between pushy salesman and successful salesperson.

They gain our trust. It takes time to earn trust or respect, but it takes a lot longer for some, because they don’t actively earn it. If I’m looking for a new HDTV I want the salesperson to have answers and offer them to me. I want them to show me the difference between differest technologies and tell me if some models or brands get a lot of complaints or returns. I don’t know the right questions to ask because TV’s aren’t my thing. I want them to tell me what I should know and give me reasons to buy one brand or technology over another. I may not know the person when I first enter the store, but by the time I leave I might trust them completely when it comes to buying a new HDTV. And if I do, that’s a successful salesperson.

They learn. Imagine sitting down with your accountant to prepare your taxes and they don’t know any of the new tax laws for that year. Successful sales people continue to learn and educate themselves in their field. They know the new products or technologies or statistics and can recite them at will. They know the current trends and the causes behind them.

They’re comfortable. People who are comfortable are comfortable to be around. A salesperson who is nervous or desperate makes me uncomfortable and when I’m shopping for a service or product I want to be comfortable. If I meet an attorney for the first time and they are dressed in shorts and a Tommy Bahamas shirt I may be surprised, but if they’re comfortable and these clothes match their personality that’s better than if they’re wearing a three-piece suit and look completely uncomfortable and stiff. They speak comfortably and they don’t force their smile. Successful salespeople help you feel comfortable with them and the sales process and that starts with them being comfortable with themselves.

They put me first.We’ve all heard stories about Nordstroms and their great service, but I’ll tell you my own. There used to be a guy named Seth who worked at the downtown store. I liked Seth because he knew my name, my size and my taste in clothes. I could call Seth and tell him I wanted to buy a few shirts and when I came in he’d have seven or eight shirts laid out for me to try on and they would be shirts I would like. But the best part about it was a couple of the shirts wouldn’t even be from Nordstroms. Seth would go to other stores in the mall and find shirts he thought I’d like and get permission to show them to me. He didn’t make any commission if I bought those shirts, but he wanted me to find what I was looking for. One day I bought some clothes as gift for my girlfriend and asked Seth if he could have it delivered for me and just charge me the delivery fee. Of course he agreed, but he didn’t have it delivered- he delivered it himself because it was “on his way”. Seth was transferred to be a manager at a store in another state but I’m sure he’s providing the same service for people wherever he is.

Okay, that’s six things, but I’m giving a little extra. The most successful salespeople are unusual and that is why there are so few who are truly successful. Sales can be extremely challenging, especially when you make your living completely on commission- but it can also be very rewarding.

I know a lot about my work and I think I’m among the best in my field. I know the service I provide and the success my clients have working with me. And at the end of the day I feel successful and that makes my work worth doing.

Does Your Website Make the Grade?

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Most of us who own websites like to get as much feedback as we possibly can, especially if it’s from someone we don’t know. Well, here’s an online website evaluator that will test your site in less than 30 seconds.

Testing BlueRoof it says that the Google pagerank is 0, when it’s actually 3, but other than that it’s probably pretty accurate about its assessment (which is obviously an on-paper assessment, not taking into account design, UI, or programming).

(H/T Newspapergrl)