Monday, September 17, 2007

Gimmicks - continued...

Last week I blogged about gimmicks in real estate. I specifically spoke about the whole "guaranteed" home selling tactic. I received some good comments from folks. One person in particular encouraged me to take off the sugar coating and to just call it what it is - lying, deception! This person had some strong and accurate remarks about all the nuances of the "guarantee" program.

Well, a very interesting thing happened later that day. Please keep in mind that I wrote that blog because this topic was on my mind for no other reason than I do not see a value in the gimmick approach to getting listings. I see that it is effective, but not of value.

Anyway, I stopped by our main office in order to show a fellow worker around who had never seen the 22,000 sf building that was just finished. It's gorgeous. She and I passed the Assistant Team Leaders office during our tour. I was very surprised to see 2 agents sitting in the ATL's office who work for an agent here in San Antonio that adores gimmicks, among other unorthodox and questionable methods of marketing. The 2 agents also saw me. We exchanged pleasantries for a moment and then parted ways. These 2 agents were on a tour of our company and its new building. Hmm!

Of course my curiosity was sparked. Wouldn't yours be? At this point I called a friend who I knew would know exactly what is going on. I was informed that this "mega" agent had offered the 90 day guarantee, exchanged some e-mail correspondence about doing so, lapsed on the 90 days, and renegged on the, um, "guarantee(?)." The client got an attorney and is now suing. To make a long story short, this agent is in a great deal of trouble. The other agents within his group see this and are jumping ship. I don't blame them.

I found it ironic that less than 6 hours after I wrote the blog about this particular methodology I was given a real life example of what can happen. Now, am I saying that this is the norm? No! I can't prove that. I am merely pointing out irony.

Again, what would happen to the real estate industry were we to get back to the basics of sales, marketing, and client service? It's a question worth consideration, in my opinion.


Friday, September 14, 2007

Freedom Walk

No one will ever forget the date - 9/11. The date is spoken of, not as a date anymore, but as an event - a tragedy - that will forever live on the minds of Americans, indeed, the world, from now on. And our country pulled together as they never have before. Since that time the country has continued to pull together. It hasn't stopped. Our support of each other, and our countries troops, has been consistent.

There is an organization that gives absolutely unbelievable amounts of support to the troops and their families. They put together events, keep everyone updated on what is happening across the country (and world), solicit financial (and otherwise) support for the families of our soldiers who have passed from this earth or are overseas, and do many, many other things that go unnoticed by a great many people. The organization is called Operation Home Front. Please go to their website to see what you may be able to do.

Jeanine Claus, of The Claus Team, has been a consistent supporter of this organization. One of the events that Operation Home Front does, the Freedom Walk, just took place. Jeanine was there on the front line doing a 2.5 mile walk in support, and as a reminder.

What an awesome event! It was held at Brackenridge Park, in San Antonio, Texas. It was like half of the city showed up to show their loyalty, love, and honor. Incredible!

Let's not forget about our troops, whether local or abroad. Support them. Remember them. And remember their families. There's always something that we can do to help. It may seem trivial to you, but it may be lifechanging for them.


Thursday, September 13, 2007

Real Estate Gimmicks

Caveat - This is a hot and debated topic amongst real estate agents. It is not my desire to stir up strife. I desire nothing more than an honest look at things. Thus, we have this blog.

Have you ever seen an Internet ad, a billboard, or heard a commercial on the TV or radio that resembles this:

We Will Sell Your Home in 90 Days - GUARANTEED
Or We Will Buy It
Or, maybe it looked/sounded something like this:

This method of getting listings is extremely popular. It was made popular by a very well known motivational speaker and business coach. I personally know quite a few real estate agents who employ this method of advertising/marketing. Some agents swear by it, while others feel it is dishonest and gimmicky.
Feelings, ultimately, do not matter. What matters is the fine print involved...AND the statistics of success.
Ok, so what is the fine print involved? I mean, isn't the phrase "acceptable price" extremely ambiguous. Acceptable to whom? The truth is that the "acceptable price" will be determined by the real estate agent, it will be based upon an appraisal done by an appraiser chosen by the agent, and it will be a price that is below market value. If you do not agree to the "acceptable price" then you do not qualify for the guaranteed program. Now, if you are a seller, would you be comfortable with this? I would not.

But this isn't all, in most cases. There are more stipulations to the guaranteed program, in most cases, that must be met in order to qualify. For instance, in most cases, you must agree to purchase your next home with this particular agent, you must purchase a home listed by the agent guaranteeing your home sale, and the home that you are selling must be listed below the average top sale in the area in order to guarantee a qualified buyer. Wow!

If you are a potential seller then you may be saying, "Um, yeah right!" If you are an agent who employs these methods then you may be saying, "Who cares about all of that. It works!" Does it? Let's look at some stats:
  • Agent 1 who uses the guaranteed program had 181 solds in one year, 183 listings expired (this means that the home did not sale), and 159 listings cancelled (the agent was fired). This is a success rate of 34.6%
  • Agent 2 who uses the guaranteed program had 132 listings sold in one year, 112 listings expired, and 225 listings cancelled. This is a success rate of 28.1%
  • Agent 3 who does not use the guaranteed program had less than 20 solds in one year, less than 5 listings expired, and less than 5 listings cancelled. This is a success rate of over 72%

So, does this methodology work? It depends on how you define work. If you define work as such: Work. adj; a methodology of marketing for listings that gets a real estate agent more listings than the average agent who does not employ this methodology, then yes, this system works. But if you define work as such: Work. adj; a methodology of marketing for listings that gets a real estate agent more listings than the average agent who does not employ this methodology AND has been proven to be more effective in getting listings SOLD for near or at market value, then no, this does not work.

I'll use Jeanine Claus as a real life example. Jeanine Claus is the owner and lead agent of The Claus Team of Keller Williams Realty. In 2006 Jeanine took approximately 101 listings. She had 15 sellers expire. There were 5 withdrawn listings. There were 81 solds. This is a sucess rate of 80.19%. She does not use the methodology described above. Her method of getting listings is niche marketing with a brand that is so well recognized that she gets stopped at the grocery store and is asked, "Are you the santa hat lady?" Her brand is everywhere - and I mean, everywhere!

There are a few other groups within the real estate world that I could name (but won't) who do not use the method spoken of within this blog and they do extreeeemely well. In fact, one of the top groups at Keller Williams who sold over 35 Million last year do not use any such methods of getting listings other than niche marketing and referrals based upon good, strong, proven business. Does this mean that another agent within the same company who uses the "guaranteed" method will not be as successful as far as volume is concerned? Of course not! But again, it depends upon how you define "success," and for whom?

Many agents who approve of the "guaranteed" method feel that the agents who disapprove of the "guaranteed" method are - 1. Not keeping up with the times, 2. Scared to put their money where there mouth is, or 3. Aren't technically savvy enough. All 3 of these presuppositions are subjective and extremely general. Novelty does not equal correctness. Disapproval of a trend does not equal fear. A refusal to follow a trend does not equal a lack of knowledge. It could just be that many agents feel that the "guaranteed" method does a disservice to the client, ultimately.

At the end of the day there are going to be agents who do whatever they want to do. You can't teach integrity, regardless of methodology. You can't teach authenticity. Someone is either going to watch out for the clients best interest, or they are not. I know this though - real estate agents do not need to nurture a "car salesman" persona. We already have a bad enough name because there are so many dishonest and ignorant agents out there. We all know that any John Doe can run out and get a license. It behooves us to do what we can to cultivate a persona of sincere professionalism.


Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Relocating to Schertz

It seems as though the city of Schertz is gaining a lot of attention. I wrote last week about how Congressman Henry Cuellar is about to recognize Schertz, Texas as one of the greatest places to live in the US. And for those of you who haven't seen the CNNMoney article on Schertz, it was voted #40 on the top 100 places to live.
It is true, Schertz is gorgeous. It is a community. It is a small home town kind of a place, and yet it is 5 minutes from San Antonio, 10 minutes from New Braunfels, and about 50 minutes from Austin. You are close to everything but you get to have that sense of seclusion from hussle and bussle. It's really unique.
So, what do you if you are possibly relocating to Schertz and you want info? Call us. 210-566-6355. Or you can visit us at our website, The Claus Team. We can send you a relocation package out the same day that we talk to you.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Schertz Recognized in Congress

Here is the full story:

Congressman Henry Cuellar To Recognize Schertz in Congress

During a visit to the City of Schertz, United States Congressman Henry Cuellar presented City Manager Don Taylor, Mayor Pro Tem David Scagliola, and Schertz Chamber of Commerce President Frances Rushing with a copy of a speech he intends to read into the Congressional Record on September 5, 2007 that recognizes the city as one of the top places to live in the U.S.A.

Cuellar, who represents the 28th District of Texas which extends from Guadalupe County in Central Texas to Hidalgo County in the Rio Grande Valley, presented the speech at a reception organized by the Schertz Chamber of Commerce and commended city, community, and business leaders for being actively involved in planning for the future. “I'm honored to represent Schertz,” said Cuellar “When you think about what Schertz has accomplished by being named #1 in Texas by Money Magazine, it's truly special.”

In July, the City of Schertz was selected by as one of the best places to live in the nation. Schertz ranked #40 out of 100 cities nationwide and #1 in the State of Texas. According to Money, Schertz and the other cities on the list offer the best combination of economic opportunities, good schools, safe streets, things to do, and a real sense of community.

State Representative Edmund Kuempel also chimed in and congratulated the city for being #1 in Texas. “Money has missed the boat over the past thirty years. I always new that Schertz and all the communities in Guadalupe County were the best place to live.” Kuempel has represented Schertz in the Texas House of Representatives since 1983. “It's the pride and determination of the people of Schertz that made this happen.”

Also in attendance were Schertz Assistant City Manager John Bierschwale, SCUCISD Superintendent Dr. Belinda Putska, and Randolph Metrocom Chamber of Commerce President John Williams.

(Source -

More pictures can be found here - Google Picasa

Here is a copy of the speech - Speech

Teaser - continued!

Yesterday I mentioned that our MLS feed, sometimes referred to as an IDX (Internet Data Exchange) pull, will give you listings that are currently on the market. I mentioned that the currently part was a teaser. I said that because when I used the word "teaser" I assumed that many of you would have said to yourself, "Self, so is he insinuating that on other websites where we search for homes we are seeing homes that are not currently on the market?" The answer to this question would be, Yes, that is what I am insinuating!

Let me lay a small foundation before I continue. Not every search engine has what is called a "lag time" (a delay in updating properties from Active on the market, to under contract or sold). The majority of the websites run by real estate agents, well, the smart ones at least, will have a live MLS feed, or IDX pull. They have to! If an agent does not have an MLS feed on their website then they are really serving no purpose on the web. A potential buyer does not do a Google search for "homes for sale in Schertz," get the results, click on an agents website, and then hope to see a picture of the real estate agent with their poodle, husband, and 3 kids. A buyer could care less about these things.

Potential buyers also do not care that an agent has won every award under the sun within the real estate community. Yes, integrity, effectiveness, consistency, and a proven track record is important, but it's penultimate to what a buyer really wants when they are looking for a home on the Internet - a live feed to the MLS!

Ok, so a good agent will have an MLS feed on their website. That live feed will have no lag time. But here is a truth - most buyers go to Realtor.Com, Homes.Com, Trulia.Com, or one of the Yahoo/Aol real estate search engines to find a home. Why? Because when you do a search for real estate these are the guys that pop up first because of their SEO (search engine optimization). They have people on staff who do nothing but make sure that they are first on the list in a search. And agents pay a lot of money to these vendors to be a part of their websites, so that when you go to Realtor.Com the paying agent will have their home inventory on the website with all sorts of bells and whistles. See example here --

But here is the issue with most of these vendors, if not all of them - the homes that you are seeing as "on the market" may not actually be on the market anymore! That's a big deal. It's a very big deal, in fact.

Imagine this go to Google, you type in a search for "Schertz real estate," and a list of results pops up. One of the first results will be The Claus Team's personal website. However, the second result will be Homes.Com. And let's say that you have the common misperception that going to the agents website will be a waste of your time, and so you opt for the second choice site; you click on their site, put in the criteria of home that you are looking for, scroll through a myriad of homes, and then decide on a handful. After some careful consideration you narrow the homes down to 2 or 3 that you really have your heart set on. You then make a phone call to the agent about the home. The agent says, "Well, Mr./Mrs. Buyer, that home is actually already under contract and about to close." Your immediate reaction is, "Well then why in the heck was it even on the website if it wasn't available!?" Lag time!

It's a very sad, but all too often true and unfortunate reality that happens. You see, these second party vendors do not pull their information directly and immediately from the MLS. There is a lag time between what is on their website as content vs. what is truly an available property. The lag time is typically 3-5 days. Scary, huh? And the whole situation could have been avoided by going to The Claus Team's website, doing a search for homes that are currently on the market, and having a world class agent take you for a private viewing of the home at your convenience.

Does it make more sense now, the whole "currently" teaser? I guess I could have made this whole blog much shorter by saying, "Make your home search super, super easy by visiting our website at and search the entire MLS for free!" But this was more fun.


Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Greetings and Salutations...

Welcome to our blog! We are The Claus Team of Keller Williams Realty. Yes, we have now entered the cyber world of blogging. I, Dustin Curlee, will typically be the one authoring these blogs, although Jeanine Claus may be writing something from time to time. We hope to give you pertinent information regarding the real estate market in the Schertz, Cibolo, and surrounding areas (San Antonio, Boerne, Bulverde, etc), as well as any general information that rolls from my fingertips.

I did want to let everyone know about the links to the left of this post. One of the really awesome links that we have that might be of particular interest to many people, is the MLS Search link. If you don't know what MLS stands for, it is the Multiple Listing Service. This link will give you the ability to search the entire South Texas area for homes that are currently (Teaser - I'll explain the "currently" remark tomorrow) on the market.

Please feel free to comment on any of our blog entries, or the site in general. I'm sure that our blog site will be a work in progress. The Internet does seem to move at a lightning pace! Also, you can e-mail us ( with a topic that you'd like discussed. I'm really good at research, which means that I go to Google.Com and type in basic information, then hit return. :)

Until tomorrow...