November 2nd, 2016

Recently, I completed a strenuous five-day workout course known as Hell Week. As you might imagine based on the name, it took quite a monumental effort…and I got a t-shirt for my trouble! Beyond that, though, I got the greatest gift you can give yourself: the gift of health. Being in shape and physically strong is greater than any t-shirt (having said that, it is a pretty great t-shirt).

Health and the Hell Week shirt.

                           The spoils of Hell Week.

All of this got me thinking about how important health is to those of us in the real estate business. The fact is, it is a very demanding industry. For the unprepared, every week could turn into Hell Week! It is a business without limits, a business devoid of closing times and off days. Sure, you set your own schedule, and you’re free to take time off and set limits to your working hours to your heart’s content. But some clients won’t wait, and some situations don’t halt just because you’ve made yourself unavailable. Real estate is a 24-7 business, and if you’re in it for the long haul, you’d best be prepared for quite a marathon.

That’s why real estate agents would be well advised to keep themselves in shape. It’s not necessary to spend all day in the gym (nor should you; those leads won’t follow up on themselves!), but it’s amazing the difference it makes when you’re healthy. Running between appointments for sixteen hours a day gets a lot easier when you spend a little time running on the treadmill. Otherwise, the physical toll of the job can get to you. There are staircases to climb, lunches to skip and neighborhoods to door knock. It’s hard enough doing these things with the occasional cold, let alone with general everyday physical sluggishness. Health may not be the sole determining factor of real estate success, but it certainly doesn’t hurt!

This extends beyond physical health, too. Keeping yourself mentally strong is incredibly important as well. A large number of agents are big on positive affirmations, motivational seminars and intensive coaching. There’s a reason for this: the business requires intense mental toughness! Competition is beyond fierce, as the Bay Area is essentially a shark tank filled with knowledgeable, intelligent and experienced realtors. In order to compete, one must be prepared, one must be motivated, and one must be strong. And each deal is its own struggle, as countless factors must be taken into account, and unexpected problems can arise at any moment. The best way to deal with these issues is to remain cool, calm and collected, and personal affirmations and gatherings of like-minded individuals can give just the support you need to make this possible.

In short, real estate isn’t easy, but there are many things an agent can do to make it easier for him or herself. It can be hard to find the time to work out or to get oneself calm and centered mentally, due to the fact that there is just so much going on at any given moment. But a little extra effort to take care of oneself pays dividends, as it leads to so much more energy and focus to make more efficient use of one’s time. And, best of all, it will help you live longer to enjoy your success!

I hope you enjoyed this little rumination on the importance of health in the real estate industry. Please leave any feedback in the comments section, and have a wonderful, healthy day!

Seasonal, Effective

October 26th, 2016

Seasonal Autumn Leaves

There’s a change in the air, these past few weeks. The endless heat of summer has slowly softened into more mild days. The nights are longer, and bring with them a definite chill unlike any we’ve felt in months. Fall is most definitely upon us…and the air isn’t the only thing changing.

In real estate, business has a tendency to follow a seasonal pattern. Spring historically brings an uptick in business, peaking in the summer, then steadily declining through the fall to reach a low during the winter, bottoming out right around the holidays. This pattern makes a lot of sense, when you think about it. Numerous factors make the warmer months more attractive to buyers and sellers: less rain means more motivation to go outside and visit potential listings or move large loads of furniture; summer vacation allows for a grace period in terms of school, a boon for anyone wanting minimal disruption in their children’s education; less distractions from holidays and work functions mean more time to plan a move and less need to accomodate visiting relatives. All these and more contribute to what can be referred to as a year-end lull for the real estate industry. As such, many real estate agents begin to slow down as the year comes to a close…after all, why continue putting in the same amount of work when the seasonal trends promise diminishing returns?

The trouble with that line of thinking, though, is that the real estate business is far too complex to be defined by such simple patterns. General economic conditions play far more of a part in determining a hot real estate market, for example, and any number of other factors influence the ebb and flow of the real estate economy. Seasons are a market influencer, but not a sole determinant.

In addition, I’m located in the Silicon Valley/Bay Area region of California, which is one of the most active real estate markets in the country, so “hot” is certainly relative. That is to say, even the slowest times of year for home sales are very active, with high prices and, on average, short times on the market. It’s like comparing molten lava to a bonfire: sure, one may be hotter than the other, but they’re both still hot by any definition. The winter may have a tendency to slow home sales down, but buyers and sellers aren’t exactly going into hibernation.

In fact, the so-called conventional wisdom of slower seasons can backfire on agents who put too much stock in it. For one thing, with the proliferation of real estate information on the internet, consumers are more well-informed now than ever. The seasonal cycle and its effects are no secret, and buyers are often keen to utilize that inormation in the hopes of snagging a deal when competition is at a low point. Sellers, meanwhile, can see a chance to fetch top dollar for their home, taking advantage of demand at a time when inventory is more limited.  Add in the fact that, in the cultural melting pot known as the Bay Area, many people just don’t consider the holiday season to be much different than any other time of year, and it becomes clear that opportunities are out there.

The trouble is, if an agent has already decided to slow down for the latter months of the year, these opportunities can pass them by, snagged by colleagues who have decided to brave the sleet and snow (well, this is California, so it’s more like braving the occasional rain and somewhat chilly temperatures) to keep working hard at expanding their business despite the quieter office and early onset of night. Looking around at all those empty desks and dark offices at a real estate office in December is proof enough that there are roles out there that need to be filled. You can be the one to fill them.

This isn’t to say that one cannot take time for a vacation, or spend time with their family during the holidays. These sorts of activities are important in order to avoid burning out. But one must be cautious of taking it too far, and giving oneself too much time off, losing focus and missing opportunities that are right in front of them. One of the great things about real estate is the ability to set one’s own schedule. Take advantage of this by working when so many others are not, and you might end up having the hottest winter on record. And there’s no better time to start thinking about this than now, as the leaves take on vibrant shades of yellow and red, and sweaters start making their way out of the dresser drawer. While you’re carving your jack-o’-lantern in the days ahead, think about carving some time out during the holidays as well to make the seasonal shift work for you. You (and your clients) will be happy you did.

Thanks for reading! Please let me know what you think of this article in the comments, and follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. I hope everyone has a safe and Happy Halloween!

The Website Wrap-up

October 19th, 2016

Real Estate Website

If you’ve been following this blog, you’ll recall that recently I’ve been doing a run-down of various websites and their importance to real estate agents operating in this digital age (links to the previous articles are at the end of this one). There are a more sites out there that Realtors should be aware of, though, so today I’m going to give a quick wrap-up of some other major sites I have neglected to mention, as well as my thoughts on them.


Trulia is a dedicated real estate website in the vain of Zillow, and pretty much everything I said about Zillow applies to it. In fact, Zillow purchased Trulia a while back, and they’re closely linked on the back end, so really they’re more like sister entities than separate sites completely. Much of what you do on Zillow automatically carries over to Trulia, which is very efficient, though you’ll definitely want a dedicated Trulia page for the things that don’t. Once you set it up, Zillow and Trulia are so closely linked that there isn’t much difference between them.

Oh, and here’s my Trulia page if you’d like to check it out!


Redfin is pretty popular among consumers, operating in much the same way Zillow or Trulia does in that it gives them easy access to property info and analytics on a scale that was unimaginable a decade or so ago. The important distinction with Redfin is that it also operates as a real estate brokerage with its own team of agents. Though this is in line with the logical progression of such sites, it makes it less useful to non-Redfin agents, since the site only steers clients to agents within its own network. It is therefore something to be aware of, but really not particularly important to Realtors, unless they belong to Redfin’s network or are considering joining up. The most significant aspect of it is probably the commission structure; potential sellers bring this up from time to time in listing appointments, so learning what Redfin offers and how they structure their deals is useful when responding to this.


Not too much to say about this one, other than the fact that posting new listings there is important. It’s free, has an incredibly wide reach, and in particular is great for getting the word out about open houses. It’s a great resource to make sure as many people as possible are aware that you’re holding a home open; you might be surprised by how many people look to Craigslist first (or even only!) for such information. Also a great resource if you’re planning on getting into rentals/property management, as Craigslist’s nature as an online classified section is a natural fit for those.


If you’re a realtor, you’re aware of the MLS. Keep in mind that there’s a scaled-down version available for public use as well, so make sure your profile and info are updated on there. It’s not as flashy as Zillow and its ilk, but it is still a useful, well-known search tool (that, it’s worth noting, the other more graphically-intense search tools draw from), and should not be overlooked. Fortunately, the fact that Realtors spend so much time on their own MLS means that it’s fairly likely their contact info and whatnot will be up-to-date, since it’s a hard site to overlook.


An up-and-comer in the real estate website game, HomeFinder differs from Zillow et. al. due to its status as a sort of modern-day upgrade of the traditional, old-school method of searching for a home for sale (newspaper classified sections) with the global reach of a website. This does mean, however, that the most comprehensive info can be somewhat limited by the reach of the newspapers involved in the network. As such, the effectiveness of the site can, at least theoretically, vary by region. I admittedly don’t have a ton of experience with it yet, so I’m hardly an authority on the subject, but it’s definitely an interesting idea and something to keep an eye on.

There are vastly more real estate websites out there, each with their own quirks, user base and reach. The point, at the end of the day, is not to get bogged down in dealing with the minutiae of every single one of them, but to determine which are the most relevant for you and help serve your business the best. While it is important for real estate agents to have a strong profile at each of the major sites, and solicit positive reviews from their clients whenever possible (especially, as I’ve noted, on Yelp and Zillow), websites and online reviews are only one part of the business, albeit a very important one. By presenting the information I have across these past few articles, hopefully I can help agents optimize their time and efforts in this facet of their business; after all, phone calls and in-person meetings are still an integral part of home sales, so we can’t spend all of our time in front of the computer! If you feel there are any sites I missed that you would like me to talk about, please mention them in the comments and I would be happy to address them as well. Thanks for reading, and enjoy the rest of your day!


PART 1: Zillow

PART 2: Yelp


PART 4: Facebook

PART 5: LinkedIn

Thinkin’ About LinkedIn

October 5th, 2016


As we continue our tour of real estate websites and online resources, we come upon the virtual melting pot of professionals: LinkedIn. LinkedIn is something of a hybrid of Facebook, Yelp and Craigslist. It lets people set up their own profiles to market their skills and experience, network with others and seek out new employment opportunities (or, conversely, new employee prospects). Much like Facebook, it is practically an expectation that anyone will have a LinkedIn profile.

So let’s look at the site in terms of real estate specifically. How can it best serve agents? Well, first of all, the fact that LinkedIn defines itself as a professional network informs us regarding the proper way to use it. You’re most likely not going to be sharing vacation photos or exquisitely-staged portraits of your meals on LinkedIn; you’re there to interact with others in a business capacity, whether it involves giving tips, sharing relevant articles or seeking recommendations for vendors or service providers. And the “network” part of the site is the key: because of its ubiquity, you can connect with virtually anyone on LinkedIn and talk business. This is especially valuable in a business like real estate, where so many parties are involved in each transaction. Mortgage brokers, escrow officers, home warranty companies…all available at the click of a mouse. In a business where having a strong network of professionals is key to success, LinkedIn makes it easier than ever to set one up.

Of course, LinkedIn isn’t a real estate website specifically, so it has its limits. Though it does a good job of showing your years of experience, awards earned and your skills and specialties, it’s not going to sync with your MLS and display your current listings like Zillow or Realtor and their ilk. Sure, you could absolutely post images and walkthroughs of your listings on your updates, but the specifics of your listings and sales are better displayed elsewhere. As such, prospective clients have less of a reference for the exact nature and amount of your listings than they would have elsewhere, which is understandable given the focus of the site. The site also focuses more on descriptions of your job and experience than it does reviews. Oh, make no mistake, reviews are a vital part of the site, and the endorsements system is robust, but it’s all a bit deemphasized compared to every other aspect of your profile. What this means is that LinkedIn is, on a superficial level, somewhat less useful as a resource in terms of getting new clients. In effect, do potential buyers/sellers look for Realtors on LinkedIn? I suppose,yes. Probably? The site is certainly part of the patchwork de facto background check quilt that is the internet, and is indispensible on a professional level, but purely in terms of gaining clients it seems to lag far behind Zillow or Yelp, for example. It’s just not optimized for that in comparison.

This is not necessarily a bad thing, it just means it’s largely not what the site is for. Instead, use the site to link up with others working in the same field. Make sure to keep your profile updated so that everyone knows where you are and how to contact you. Share your listings; LinkedIn provides a great forum for other Realtors to see your inventory and evaluate if it’s a good fit for their buyers. Share relevant articles like, well, this one (I hope!) to give insight and inspiration to others and position yourself as knowledgable and helpful. And endorse others skills, both to help out your colleagues and motivate them to endorse you as well. Keep all this in mind, and you will see why LinkedIn has become such a crucial part of a real estate agent’s online portfolio. And hey, worst case scenario, if you decide you maybe want to transition away from real estate, LinkedIn is the perfect resource for looking for other opportunities. That’s not ideal, of course, but it’s worth keeping in mind, just in case.

This is where I note that I always appreciate the support of my friends, clients and associates for their reviews and endorsements. If you could help me out and leave me some positive feedback on my LinkedIn page, I would be immensely grateful. The link is:

Thanks for reading! Hopefully this article has at least inspired you to think about how best to use LinkedIn to bolster your business. Let me know what you think; any feedback is always appreciated. Tune in next time to get a rundown of a few other websites of note…


Facebook ‘Em

September 28th, 2016


As we continue our tour through websites relevant to building a real estate business, we reach quite a doozy: the world’s largest social network. Facebook is practically synonymous with social media, having inhereted the crown from Myspace years ago and continued to dominate to the point that it is extremely rare to meet someone who doesn’t at least have a page on there. With such a wide reach, Facebook clearly has incredible potential to anyone looking to market themselves and their business. But how is that potential realized?

Let’s start with the obvious: you’re on Facebook. Well, OK, maybe you aren’t, but statistically, it’s extremely likely. The same could be said for nearly anyone of consumer age. Facebook, therefore, comes as close to connecting you with literally everyone as any avenue. Even Yelp, which is so widely utilized, still is somewhat pigeonholed by being limited to businesses and services. Facebbok is all about connecting people, and sharing as much as one’s life as they want with others, granting the ability to share (and observe) any thoughts, images or experiences you can conceive of. It is the pinnacle of freedom and exposure, offering nearly unlimited opportunity for creativity and getting your message across.

This freedom does come at a certain cost, of course. Since Facebook content consists of literally anything and everything (within the terms of service, I suppose), getting across a specific, consistent message can be difficult amidst the constant flood of content. Fortunately, the option for a Facebook business page exists, which alleviates some of these concerns. The business page is marked with certain identifiers that allow others to find it in searches, and is structurally somewhat different from a personal page. It allows you to separate a business or orginization from the more personal elements that a normal profile may contain and stand apart as a professional operation, with a rundown of services provided, contact info and, most importantly, reviews. In this way, Facebook can serve as a sort of “Yelp Plus,” allowing locals to leave reviews while also leaving room for blogging, photos, videos and other general marketing content creation by the business in question. Basically, Facebook is sort of a package deal: it allows you to showcase your business and collect meaningful reviews, while simultaneously marketing yourself as an agent and your real estate listings. And it’s all for free!

Or rather, it can be for free, and that’s one of the sticky points of Facebook. You see, Facebook’s sheer scope and tricky algorithms mean that sometimes, it can be hard for people to see your content without going directly to your page. It might pop up in their timeline, it might not. The more Likes and Shares it has, the more likely it seems to show up for other people, but it is getting those acknowledgements in the first place that can be deceptively difficult, no matter how compelling the content you’re providing. There are ways around this, including paying money to Facebook to run ads that increase your visibility. This is not unique to Facebook, of course: Zilow, Yelp and many other sites offer similar advertising programs. But it certainly adds an additional wrinkle to planning your online marketing budget. Does Facebook’s wide reach make up for the fact that it is not a site focused on real estate (like Zillow) or commerce in general (like Yelp)? That is really up to the user to decide.

One thing I will say for certain though: a Facebook page is absolutely indispensable. Regardless of the reach of your posts, or your Facebook ads or lack thereof, the fact is that Facebook is one of the premier ways to establish yourself and set yourself apart from other agents. Once someone hears of your services, there is a very good chance that they will turn to Facebook as a sort of “background check” for you, allowing the potential client to determine what sort of person you are, what your online image is, what volume/type of business you are doing, etc. This is where the Facebook reviews come in: having positive reviews on the king of social media sites bolsters your image considerably! Not to mention the fact that Facebook is a tremendous boon for advertising listings, whether to would-be buyers or to other agents you are connected to. You never know when the photos you post might catch the eye of the perfect person and set off a domino effect that ends in a sale.

It can be easy to get lost on Facebook, to get distracted by others’ photos or get caught up in “why don’t more people like this?” syndrome. The best advice is to simple maintain your presence with consistent posts, engaging content, and encouraging reviews from satisfied clients. You’ll be happy you did, whether or not you choose to go the paid advertising route. The upside is simply too high to ignore, and Facebook has become less of an optional tool and more of a basic prerequisite for doing business.

Speaking of which, if any of you kind people would be so gracious as to leave me a review on my Facebok business page, I would greatly appreciate it. The link is below:

And if you would like to connect to my personal Facebook, the link is:

As always, thanks so much for reading! I hope you have enjoyed this look at Facebook and its importance to the real estate business. Next week, we’ll be taking that “business” category to the next level…


Realtor Talk

September 21st, 2016


Continuing my thoughts on real estate websites and online reviews, we come to a site that has recently been marketing itself extensively. You may have seen the television commercials with Elizabeth Banks, which have bolstered the site’s visibility among consumers substantially. It doesn’t hurt that the site’s domain name is as clear and simple as can be: has a lot going for it. It has a clean, modern layout, and naturally is exclusively about real estate matters, unlike, say, Yelp. It contains a plethora of user-friendly, simple tools and resources for buyers and sellers alike, and its abundant articles ensure a constant influx of new content. The scope of the site is as wide as you want it to be, dealing with everything from local matters to national news. It even offers help in finding rentals and mortgage brokers! In short, operates in large part as the model of what a real estate website should be.

Now let’s discuss the most relevant part for agents: our profiles. makes finding an agent very easy for potential clients, and the profiles they provide are both visually appealing and convey some great info. Make sure to keep your profile updated and, if you have one, link your blog or Facebook page to your profile so that potential clients can get a good sense of your online presence. automatically pulls info for your recent listing and sales activity, showing everything at a glance to make a strong initial impression upon visitors. The profile also makes it easy to directly contact agents or share their info with others. It basically has its bases covered in providing everything you would want in a profile.

I know everything I have said so far has been pretty glowing, but I would be remiss if I didn’t note the downside of The trouble is, at least for the time being, it isn’t quite at the level of usage that Yelp or Zillow enjoy. It arguably isn’t as well-known as Redfin or Trulia, either. Steps are obviously being taken to address this (hence the aforementioned marketing blitz), but right now, at this moment, doesn’t seem to be as widely used as the websites we have previously discussed. As such, exposure is more limited. Now, there is a very real element with clients that often gets overlooked: review fatigue. It’s oftentimes hard enough to get a client to write a single review for an agent; asking them to do multiple reviews across multiple sites is a herculean task, even if they’re only copying and pasting the same review. People are busy, life is fast-paced, and someone taking the time to write a review is a precious thing. As such, when directing a client to give a review, the most widely-viewed sites must be prioritized. The unfortunate fact that comes with this is that Yelp and Zillow are simple higher-priority targets. Look in the screen shot at the top of this article, and you can see that it reflects no reviews for me on despite my hundreds of transactions through the years. Ideally, this would not be the case, and this wonderful site would be overflowing with the same sort of positive reviews I have received on Zillow, Yelp and Facebook. I’m working towards that, but it doesn’t seem that we’re quite there yet. Though I do very much respect what has accomplished and hope for it to continue to flourish (it certainly has the tools to do so), it currently falls short of the absolute top tier of websites in terms of exposure. I hope it continues to grow to the point where this is not the case.

If you would like to get the ball rolling on some reviews for me (and I very much would appreciate it if you did), here is the link to my review page there. Please help me out with a short review if you can!

So those are my thoughts on, a great site with some growing to do. Next time, we’re going to discuss another site for which growth has not been a problem, to say the least…



Yelp Me

September 14th, 2016


Last week I talked about Zillow and its effect on real estate marketing. Today, I’d like to discuss a similar site that is deceptively important to today’s Realtors: Yelp. Yelp is an incredibly ubiquitous website that allows anyone to review and locate local businesses. It is so commonly used as a barometer for the quality of a business that “Yelping” is a perfectly accepted verb in the American lexicon. It’s user-friendly and easily provides searchable recommendations based on reviews that range from short and to-the-point to lengthy and detailed about everything from restaurants to auto mechanics to thrift stores.

Yet in some ways it seems a strange website to associate with a real estate agent. The process of buying or selling a home is often one of the most involved, important, stressful experiences of one’s life…so why should anyone look for a good agent to help them with that in the same way they would look for dinner?
This is perhaps the wrong way of looking at things, though. Yelp’s influence should not be diminished by looking at it as anything other than a very powerful tool for consumers. As I mentioned, Yelp is ubiquitous, and any service that gets used as often as Yelp does instills users with a certain level of comfort that motivates them to use it to find recommendations for any regional services they may be looking for, much like they might use Google to search for information about anything they want, regardless of topic. So, in that sense, why wouldn’t people use Yelp to locate a good realtor? If they’ve grown accustomed to using Yelp as an indicator of quality local businesses, why wouldn’t they turn to it to find a highly regarded Realtor in their area? After all, in a sense, a real estate agent is the quintessential local business, an individual or small team with knowledge of the neighborhoods they work in, facilitating those who wish to enter, exit, and move about within the community. Sounds pretty local to me!

And this is why Yelp is so important as a real estate marketing tool: it is what many people turn to in order to find quality examples of local services of all kinds, up to and including home buying and selling. To regard it as anything less than a localized trendsetter and tastemaker is to underrate it. As such, Yelp reviews are absolutely critical to agents like myself in our efforts to grow our business. And if any of you that I have worked with in the past could take a moment to write me a review, I would appreciate it greatly. I have always been proud of the level of service I provide, and I would like nothing more than for those whom I have aided in the past to recommend my services to their neighbors, through perhaps the ultimate neighborhood guide website. The link to my Yelp page is below:

Yelp does have its flaws. Unlike Zillow and its contemporaries, it is not optimized for real estate, so it lacks some of the specific details that enhance an agent’s appeal. It also can be wide open to strange, crude or even outright fraudulent reviews at times. But these are fairly minor concerns when considering the scope and influence of the site, and Yelp certainly deserves the time, attention and respect of any agent, old and new. You never know when a lucrative new lead might come from a simple Yelping.

While Yelp and Zillow may be two of the big dogs in online agent reviews, though, there are many other significant examples of sites to keep your eye on and encourage clients to visit. Up next, I have a perfect example of one such site that is growing in recognition, and which has a very fitting and simple name…


Zillow? Is It Me You’re Looking For?

September 9th, 2016

zillow-elena-headerToday I’d like to briefly discuss a website that has truly been a game-changer in real estate in the past decade or so: Zillow. Zillow has, in many ways, usurped a certain role that real estate agents have traditionally represented to potential Sellers. It provides a wealth of knowledge at anyone’s fingertips, from neighborhood statistics to school district info to potential property values. Unfortunately, this information is often taken as the gospel when it is in fact more of a general starting point. For example, the suggested home valuations (or “Zestimates,” as it were) are based on an algorithm which, while it has merit, pales in comparison in terms of accuracy to a customized CMA prepared by a real estate professional familiar with the area and its recent activity.

Therefore, an over-reliance on Zillow can create moments where a potential Seller’s conception of what a property is worth is out of line with reality, which can in turn cause some turmoil in listing presentations. In addition, other automated elements of the site can cause issues; for example, I’ve seen instances where, due to an error in the system Zillow uses to pull school information, the listing for a property showed it as being within the wrong school districts, with no way of changing it manually. Things like this represent a significant downside to the service.

Having said all that, the upside of Zillow BY FAR mitigates these pitfalls. It represents an incredible opportunity for agents to gain new business. It is a clean, visually-appealing site that is simple to understand and provides a tremendous platform for agents to build their business. It provides an easy to understand resource for people in search of an agent which informs them which agents have sold what properties, and what the feedback from their clients has been.

Which brings me to my next point. Zillow reviews are massively important to any agent trying to grow their business. As you can imagine, that would include me! Therefore, before I end here today, I’d like to please ask you all for a favor. If I have worked with you and helped you in the past, please consider taking a moment to leave me a brief review on Zillow to let people know about my services. This would be an incredible boost to my business, and I would appreciate it more than you can imagine. The link you can follow is below:

Thank you so much in advance for your help with this!

Anyway, those are my thoughts on Zillow: a flawed but powerful tool, brimming with opportunity. But Zillow isn’t the only website that is crucial to the modern day real estate agent. Please join the conversation and let us know: what do you think about Zillow? Next time, I’ll get into one of the other heavy hitters that I’m sure you’re quite familiar with!


Staging and the Soul of a Home

September 2nd, 2016

Today, I’d like to take a moment to discuss something that I feel is very important in the real estate business: staging a home. It is, in many ways, an underrated part of the sales process. The journey a home takes from its pre-listing state to the idealized, fully-staged end result that buyers end up seeing takes some skill to navigate, but the effort is certainly worth it.

Not everyone believes in the importance of staging. Some agents mostly leave a home as-is when it hits the market, cleaned up but otherwise much the same as it has been for years. Other agents prefer to leave the property empty, a blank canvas upon which buyers are encouraged to picture their dream home. And there is some merit to these beliefs. However, in general I find that personalized staging yields the best results. Think of it this way: if you go to a job interview, are you more likely to get hired wearing the jeans and t-shirt you’ve had on all day, or wearing a nicely tailored, flattering suit? Appearances can make all the difference when you’re trying to sell someone on the merits of a home (or a person)!

Take a look at this image, for example, for 5698 Tonopah Drive in San Jose, CA:

Tonopah Before and After

These are two photos of the same room in one of my current listings. The top photo was taken when the home was still vacant. It represents the “blank canvas” I mentioned previously. It’s OK, and looks nice enough, but compare it to the bottom photo, which was taken after the home was staged. Which room looks more inviting to you? Which room would you rather relax in after a day at the office?

Now take a look at these:

Tonopah Before and After 2

The composition of the photos is nearly identical, but the After photo has a subtle vitality that the Before one lacks. Both photos portray a very nice kitchen, but the kitchen in the lower photo seems more vibrant, more alive, by some very simple and tasteful additions. Finally, here’s a bit more of a drastic change in the form of the master bedroom:

Tonopah Before and After 3

The disparity here is extreme. Before the staging, the master bedroom was just, well, a room. Limited in furnishing only by your imagination, to be sure, but to the naked eye, it is merely an empty set of walls. In the After image, however, the room comes alive, showcasing itself as a warm, comfortable space to rest in, night after night. The top photo is a room with potential; the bottom photo sees that potential realized.

All in all, these examples show concrete examples of what I refer to as “bringing out the soul of the home.” In essence, each home has its own character, its own personality…it just needs some help bringing that out. And that is precisely what the right staging will do: it will enhance the home by being in sync with that particular property’s character, and show any buyer who lays eyes upon it the appeal of living there. Sure, you could always depend on the buyers’ ability to visualize what the home would be like after they move in their own furniture, but in my experience, having a ready-made scene available for anyone viewing the home is more effective. Instead of trying to picture furniture and decor in the various rooms, allow the buyers to picture themselves in those rooms, living their lives in happiness and comfort. Create a place that they want to drop everything and just live life in!

How much do I believe in the effectiveness of good staging? Frankly, I put my money where my mouth is. Not only do I own my own staging company, allowing me full control over the staging timeline and the specific furniture used, but I also offer FREE staging with all my listings! This is not a common practice, but I believe it is absolutely crucial to ensuring these homes display their absolute greatest potential in order to attract buyers and get their highest and best offers rolling in. Once you have decided you simply must live somewhere, your budgetary restrictions become more relaxed and your motivation skyrockets. Never underestimate the value of evoking a genuine emotional reaction.

Thanks for reading my thoughts on staging, and please share your opinions in the comments section! Also, you can check out some examples of my fully staged homes at my YouTube channel, and email me with any questions you may have at Have a great Labor Day weekend!

I’m A Little Bit Worried…

August 24th, 2016

As of the time I am writing this, I have six active listings. Six homes for sale on the market…I’m living the real estate dream, right? So why, then, am I sort of nervous at the moment?

The general narrative about real estate is very true: it is a field with nearly unlimited earning potential, a line of work that can be immensely rewarding (both financially and personally) to those who choose to engage themselves in it. And of course, getting a substantial number of listings opens the door to quite a windfall of commission when those listings sell. But it is that “when” and the process behind it that people sometimes gloss over.

Believe me, I am extraordinarily thankful to have a half dozen listings. However, there are certain logistics that have to be kept in mind. For one thing, prepping and advertising six listings ties up a lot of resources! There are marketing costs to consider, as well as spreading out staging furniture and accessories between so many properties, and that’s just considering the physical resources. A large number of simultaneous listings consumes a lot of mental resources as well: phone calls and emails from a horde of agents with specific questions and requests about a variety of different properties; maintaining a strong line of communication with clients and keeping them happy; adjustments that may need to be made if a home sits on the market for a few weeks.

The bottom line is this: the more listings you have, the more work you have, and the more your abilities as a Realtor are tested. Those commission paychecks don’t exist until the deal closes. Until then, a listing is purely potential that takes a tremendous amount of skill and effort to bring to fruition.

One popular misconception is that, in the Bay Area, if you slap a For Sale sign in front of a house, it will sell. It’s such a hot housing market, how could it not? And yes, we absolutely have the good fortune to be living and working in an area where homes are incredibly desirable. But so much goes on behind the scenes of these sales, and so much must be done to ensure proper marketing, pricing and presentation of these homes, that it takes a skilled, dedicated and resourceful agent to guide the sales process from the listing presentation until the close of escrow and transfer of keys.

This is, believe it or not, the most beautiful aspect of a stressful situation. In times of multiple listings, an agent’s true skills are put to the test, and the additional value that particular agent brings to the table above and beyond your average Realtor really shines. For example, one element that makes me unique among real estate agents is that I own my own staging company. This allows me to have complete control over the entire staging process, from the home’s specific look to the timeline of the listing. As such, not only can I ensure that each home is staged to present itself at its full potential, but I can ensure that the cost of the furniture and the duration of time for which it will remain at the property are fully handled from the beginning. In addition, my extensive experience in real estate sales allows me to calculate optimal listing prices for these properties, and my personality and investment in my clients will ensure that no matter how hectic things may get, and no matter how many setbacks may pop up, I will always provide my clients first-rate service and keep them at ease with the process. And let’s not forget that the size of an agent’s network (and I have an extensive one) often correlates to how much exposure each listing gets and how many offers eventually roll in. In the cases of multiple listings, the pressure really helps to separate the elite real estate agents from those who think the job is just easy money.

Still, one hallmark of a great realtor is utilizing all resources at his/her disposal. As such, I would like to ask you, my readers, for your opinion on something. You can see all of my listings right here on my Zillow page:

What, in your opinion, should each of these sell for? Where would you put their market value? To sweeten the pot, I will give the first person who provides me with the price that one of these listings eventually sells for a $50 Starbucks gift card! I appreciate your opinion, so let’s have fun with this one and see who can get the first right answer!

In the end, these six listings will sell. There will be more homes to list, which will become more listings to sell, and my business will go on. But the lessons here are eternal, and keeping them in mind will allow me to consistently improve and evolve my business going forward, and help me maintain the highest level of customer service at all times. Hopefully they can help you as well.

Incidentally, if you’d like to check out video virtual tours for any of the six listings I mentioned above, there are links to all of them on my YouTube page:

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to email me at Thanks for reading!