“If you look upon the title of this book not as two words but as one omnipotent idea, then live by that idea, you’ll be doing what this wonderful book wants you to do.”
“This book really hits home with me... If you treat your clients well, they will become raving fans. They’ll come back again and again, sing your praises to their friends, and your sales will multiply. Joseph and JoAnn Callaway get it—and their Clients First philosophy is the reason for their fabulous success. Read Clients First, learn from ‘Those Callaways,’ and watch your business grow.”
"They make our industry a better place. Read this book."
"This wonderful book gives you a proven, step-by-step process to build wonderful client relationships, keep them coming back, and give you an endless chain of good referrals."
"Along the way, you will be entranced by their love story for each other as well as their clients."
"I’d recommend this book to anybody who wants to build a great business, great relationships and live a great life."
Driven to explain their unprecedented success in real estate sales, Joseph and JoAnn Callaway take us on a journey of discovery.
|I Be a Super Agent||1|
|1. Who Wants to Be a Super Agent?||3|
|-You do. Double your income then double it again.|
|2. The Five Super Powers of a Super Agent||13|
|—Putting your clients ﬁrst, motivating yourself and others, communication,
professionalism, and accountability.
|3. Starting Out Fast||23|
|—Cash that ﬁrst commission check sooner than later.|
|4. Keep Your Golden Ticket||33|
|—Don’t lose your license. Five magic rules to stay ethical, legal and reputable.|
|5. Everything You Need to Know about Working with Buyers||41|
|—The empowered client, showing property and hot buttons.|
|6. Everything You Need to Know about Working with Sellers||51|
|—Getting the listing, the magic question, and getting it sold.|
|7. The ABCs of Making a Deal||61|
|—The Art of reasonableness, the Business of winning, and Countering every time.|
|8. Contract to Closing||71|
|—Keep your deal while others are losing theirs.|
|9. Keeping Your Client after the Sale||79|
|—Wow. This is better than social security.|
|II Super Lead Generation||89|
|10. A Steady Stream of Buyers and Sellers||91|
|—Guaranteeing your business success rain or shine.|
|—How to get a new client before noon.|
|12. Open Houses||109|
|—The ultimate form of prospecting.|
|—Making the phone ring.|
|—The ultimate form of marketing.|
|15. Being Digital||141|
|—Everything you should know about digital marketing, video, and social media.|
|—Make yourself famous at every kitchen table.|
|III Super Time Management||159|
|17. Time Is More Than Money||161|
|—Getting the most out of your most valuable asset.|
|18. Allies, Afﬁliates, and Vendors||169|
|—No one succeeds alone.|
|19. Getting Help||179|
|—Mission statements, systems, and when to delegate.|
|20. Partnering with Another Agent||187|
|—Singles may succeed but duos can be daring.|
|21. Teaming Up||197|
|—Join a team or build one yourself.|
|22. The Super Team||205|
|—Client ownership, cutting the cord, and selling the handoff.Callaway ftoc.tex V1 – 02/21/2014 9:29pm Page xix
|23. A Super Life||219|
|—It is yours for the asking.|
|Appendix A Doing the Most Good: The Salvation Army||227|
|Appendix B Real Estate Wednesdays||229|
|About the Authors||236|
When we met, it was love at ﬁrst sight. Only later did we learn that we shared a love for books. JoAnn said that she had read the entire Encyclopedia Britannica by the age of 10. I told her about getting special permission to check out books from the adult section of the public library when I was seven years old. Our conversations during our marriage have been richer for it.
Over the years, we’ve shared countless reads. We read James Michener’s Space and Herman Wouk’s The Winds of War and War and Remembrance aloud to each other. I introduced JoAnn to John D. MacDonald’s Travis McGee, and she gave me Shanna by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss. Today, she has her favorites and I have mine.
Every night, JoAnn reads three newspapers.
Years ago, we dreamed of writing books, and proceeded to put together a collection of reference books on the subject of writing. We’ve owned hundreds of dictionaries, style books, and how-to guides compiled and composed by literary agents, editors, publishers, writers, and writing instructors. This collection has grown and contracted several times during our marriage as we’ve swung from buying sprees to purging resolutions each New Year’s. Few volumes have survived except the books on writing by writers.
These are the treasures, the jewels that we will never part with. We have Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg, and Stephen King’s small volume titled on Writing. In his book, King imparts the story of his career and then gives his advice on how to write. It is from this one handbook we draw so much.
As we entered the real estate profession, we naturally gravitated to the business section of our local bookstore, where we purchased book after book. We have books on leadership and accounting, as well as biographies of tycoons and business leaders. We have all the Rich Dad, Poor Dad issues. When it comes to real estate, we would presume to claim that every book on the subject published over the past 16 years has transited our shelves, and we have even picked up earlier publications in used book stores.
When our editor at John Wiley & Sons suggested a real estate agent’s bible, we thought back to all those books on writing and how few were actually by writers. As we survey the scene, we see so many ﬁne books on selling real estate but few by active agents working every day with clients.
It is our sincere hope that this modest offering of Super Agent will become your Stephen King’s On Writing, and that it will bring you joy.
Who Wants to Be a Super Agent?
Who wouldn’t want to be a super agent? Super agents make more money, have the respect of their peers, the gratitude of their clients and they work less hours. How do we know? We know because we are super agents. JoAnn and I have been licensed for 17 years and have sold over one and a half billion dollars’ worth of homes. We say this only because it is important for you to know such things are possible. Had we only known in the beginning how incredible this profession can be, it would have saved us so much time, doubt, and angst. We are currently active in the business and continue to serve our clients every day.
How many super agents are there and how much money do they make? Let’s ﬁrst deﬁne super income. The national average income for real estate agents is currently around $45,000 per year, so let’s say a super agent is someone who makes twice the average. Yes, agent averages vary from Mayberry to Manhattan but the two-to-one relationship is the point. If you are making double the average for your area, you are doing well. We’ll get to the speciﬁcs but let me say there are thousands upon thousands of agents who make a six-ﬁgure income today, and the upper limits are in the mid-to-high seven ﬁgures. Yes, we are talking millions here. JoAnn and I earned over $6 million in our best year and our best month was just short of a million dollars’ gross commission income. Again, we only tell you this because as you come to know us in these pages you will realize how unlikely our success has been and how likely it is that you can do as well or better than us. The rewards that put the super in super agents, however, are often not measured in money. Vendors, fellow professionals, and clients all respect super agents because a super agent does more business, which creates opportunities to serve more clients— that is where the real reward comes. There is no greater satisfaction than closing a transaction and having the client thank you for a job well done. We help clients through one of the biggest moments in their lives and knowing we did it well ﬁlls our hearts.
In case you missed it, we said super agents work less hours. That’s correct and sometimes much less. There are many super agents who have achieved such a degree of ownership in their business that the time they labor is spent working on the business, not in the business. Because these agents work on their business, they are able to see the forest for the trees. They are able to innovate and improve. They come up with better ways to get and serve clients. They take weekends off. They take extended weekends. They take vacations. They do all this because they have time to think and that time is the best time you can spend.
So, who wouldn’t want to be a super agent? For that matter, who wouldn’t want to be a real estate agent? Ours is a wonderful profession for several reasons but let’s start with opportunity. Anyone who passes the state test can be a real estate agent. A member of our extended family holds the title. She took the Arizona Real Estate Exam 12 times! We don’t tell you this to embarrass her. We tell you this out of pride. Her eighth-grade teacher told us she didn’t think this girl would graduate high school. But she didn’t let that hold her back. She worked harder than everybody else and graduated. Then she went on to college and got her two-year degree. Then she got a real estate license. Now, at 30-plus, she is just ﬁnishing her last classes for a four-year degree. If that girl, whose teacher doubted her future, can be an agent, you can, too.
JoAnn and I know thousands of agents and they are all so different. Real estate is not the Rockettes, all weighing within a pound of each other. What they all have in common is that they have little in common. The best you can say about how they succeed is that there is no one way to succeed. Agents come in all shapes and sizes. They have various talents and some have no talents. They come from all sorts of backgrounds, and only a few could be described as attractive. They are from many cultures and some speak poor English. These are newly arrived to the United States from Southeast Asia or Eastern Europe or some other country of origin and most started with little or no money. They do not operate the same way or practice the same specialty. Our profession led the way in equal opportunity home ownership. Our profession is open to all who ask.
The purest form of opportunity is commission income. We are not held back by hierarchy or ceilings or time on the job. Commission is the closest thing we have to a free market. We are free to negotiate commission and we are free to not negotiate. We are free to earn it or not earn it. How much we make, how we make it, and when we make it is up to us. This is opportunity.
Just think about this. We do not need to purchase and maintain an inventory. We get to sell a tangible item without having to buy, build, or produce it. We don’t even have to list it for sale. We can simply bring a buyer and earn a commission. Don’t tell this to the manufacturers or the retailers. Let’s keep this as our little secret. Being a real estate agent is the greatest thing since sliced bread.
For many, one of the early attractions to our profession is the low level of entry requirements. Some jurisdictions have raised standards but most states require anywhere from 50 to 150 hours of classes followed by passing a test. The ﬁnancial requirements are usually less than $1,000, including school tuition and association fees. Some brokers will even offset a portion of these costs. The time required can be measured in weeks. If you are in a hurry, you can decide to enter the real estate profession one day and only a month later be handing out business cards.
A newly minted agent has many options to succeed. Most brokers offer excellent training and want new agents to do well. Many senior agents give back by mentoring new agents. Wonderful coaches are available. Seminars, conferences, and conventions are plentiful on the calendar. All considered, why do we even ask the question who wants to be a real estate agent, much less a super agent?
Statistics paint a much different picture. The numbers tell us that the average new real estate agent is in and out of the business in less than ﬁve years. They earn very little and if they are lucky they sell two or three homes to family or friends before the lack of income drives them to do something else.
Our ﬁrst exposure to real estate was billed as an opportunity night at the local real estate school. JoAnn and I attended and the elderly gentleman conducting the session gave a similar statistical description of the business and it was another 15 years before I could talk JoAnn into getting a license. He did mention that some agents were very successful but by then we were 45 minutes into his talk and JoAnn was rolling her eyes. We left with JoAnn telling me how stupid the whole real estate license idea was and that she believed that the old guy never met a successful real estate agent in his life. I offered some sort of lame response but I might as well have been defending violence in movies. We had one of our lively discussions all the way home. The fact is we had no idea as to how successful a real estate agent can be and we went on to other endeavors, delaying our success for a decade and a half.
Let’s talk about statistics for a minute. A comic once said, “63 percent of statistics are made up on the spot.” Then he said, “No, maybe it’s 58 percent.” The point is that statistics suffer a great deal of abuse and they should not inﬂuence you. Mark Twain said, “There are lies, there are damn lies, and there are statistics.” Don’t lose the next 15 years like we did. I am here to tell you that super agents exist and you can be one of them.
Don’t Be Held Back
What are the characteristics of super agents, what makes them tick, and how can you become one? We’ll come to that, but ﬁrst let’s talk about what else, beside statistics, can hold you back. Notice that no mention has been made of good looks, youth, sales talent since birth, a fancy wardrobe, a big car, or rich friends. These don’t matter but a person with negative beliefs will say they do. A negative person will say, “But I don’t have savings to last six months before I start earning commissions.” This is because some other negative believer didn’t make a sale for their ﬁrst six months in the business. Let me tell you this business is so incredible that on any given day, you can get up in the morning, hold an open house, meet a client, write a contract, and open escrow before the sun goes down. You might have to wait 30 days for your money but our ﬁrst sale in this business was a cash deal that closed in ﬁve days.
We could go on to list all the negative statements and beliefs that hold agents back but then this book would weigh ﬁve pounds. People fail. They fail and they give up. They fail and they seek company so they help others fail by passing on negative thoughts. But super agents succeed because they don’t listen to the statistics and the failures who want companionship. Super agents believe they can make it. Do they never fail? Far from it. Super agents fail every day, every hour, every minute. Do you think the open house described above was a cakewalk? No, it was ﬁlled with looky-loos and travelers trying to decide between your state and the one 300 miles away. But the super agent knew for every failure they were one step closer to success. Every failure is an opportunity to learn from our mistakes. It’s not the one who falls down who matters, it is the one who gets back up who wins.
If you have negative thoughts or beliefs that hold you back, you should probably work on purging them rather than search for a line of work where they don’t matter. Truth is there are plenty of jobs out there where you can be negative and still earn a living. You won’t rise to the top but you can get by. These are jobs where you sell your life for wages. If you stay in school long enough and earn a high enough degree you might even merit a decent salary. Still, in these scenarios, you will be one of the negative ones, the ﬁrst to be laid off and the last to be hired.
In a commission-opportunity environment, negative thoughts and beliefs have no place. Super agents are positive they can succeed. They believe they will succeed and while the road may be littered with obstacles they are not going to be one of them.
The Three Ds
What does go on in the mind of a super agent? What are the common traits or characteristics that set them apart? JoAnn and I know many super agents. We have spoken to audiences all over the country and in these travels we’ve had lunch or dinner with market-leading agents in many cities. We belong to two separate mastermind groups of 20 top agents each. We meet monthly over lunch to discuss issues in our market.
We know the master coaches and we have conducted our own version of research over the years in an effort to deﬁne the ﬁeld and ourselves. What makes super agents tick? What makes us tick? Although, we could wax on about a hundred forgettable traits, We’ve narrowed it down to the three Ds. Super agents are decided. Super agents are driven. And super agents are determined.
Deciding is where everything begins. You decide to buy a new car before you go shopping. Then the work begins. You have to ﬁgure out if you can afford a new car. You have to get your credit up to snuff. You have to clean up your trade-in. You have to go shopping and endure the negotiation process.
Every super agent we know decides. They decide to grow. They decide to hold. They decide to go in a new direction or they decide to stay the course. Everything they do, they do on purpose.
Two years into our careers, we decided to double our income and two years later we did. There was work involved in between but we would have worked during that two years anyway. The key was that we decided ﬁrst and the result followed. After that, we decided to double the business again and we did. We are now in a recovering market, so we decided recently to double our business once more and this year we are up 50 percent. How much of that is the improving market and how much is the decision, we do not know. We do know plenty of agents who are experiencing no improvement in business because they have simply not yet decided that the recovery is real.
The decision comes ﬁrst. If you want to be a super agent, do not drift along in the river of life. Decide and the result will follow. Can you decide? Of course you can. You decide everyday, all day long. Life is one long series of choices and you decide on each one. If you want to be a super agent, simply make the decision and then make sure all the decisions that follow are consistent with your ﬁrst one. That is the beauty and secret of success. You don’t have to make a big move. Success is the culmination of all the little moves, the small choices, the little decisions you make each day. You can do that.
What is drive anyway? Is it like art and you just know it when you see it or is it in some way deﬁnable? We’ve heard drive described as motivation but motivation comes and goes and drive is so much more constant. Is it ego? Perhaps. But to be healthy it must be a controlled ego. An uncontrolled ego is arrogance and we have yet to meet a true super agent who is arrogant. In fact, a common thread among the high achievers seems to be humility and gratitude. We often just can’t believe it was that easy. We decided, we worked for it, and we got what we asked for.
Is drive a capacity for work? Most super agents can easily work a 16-hour day and get up the next morning to do it again. But when we get the opportunity to work less, we take it.
We believe drive is wanting what you decide on. Drive is obsession with what you decide you want. Drive goes beyond belief in your goals. Drive is seeing those goals as a reality. Drive is sureness and yes, drive is something you recognize when you see it.
Can you be driven? Of course you can. Remember that puppy you wanted when you were a child? Remember your ﬁrst crush? Drive is within all of us. To be driven you must simply set yourself free to want again. Be a child without all the limitations put upon you as you grew up. You can do that
Finally comes determination. Super agents are determined to keep going no matter what obstacles or setbacks beset them. Super agents are stubborn. Calvin Coolidge, our 30th president put it this way. “Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan “Press On” has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.” This quote sits on JoAnn’s desk. She looks at it everyday. She has had occasion to read it to a number of people who needed to hear it. Another quote on her desk is stamped into a metalpaperweight. They are the last words Churchill said to the British people as German bombs fell on London: “Never, never, never give up.”
Heroes never give up. No matter what the odds or how many times they are told they cannot win, heroes keep going. Marathon runners, who ﬁnish, do not give up. Super agents do not give up.
We’ve all given up at one time or the other. Just look back on your regrets. We all have them and they were all a form of giving up. Oh, we excused them at the time. We rationalized how this was for the best. Since JoAnn and I entered the real estate profession, we have not given up. We have not given up on our dreams, our clients, or our decisions. We have no regrets.
Can you do this? Can you decide? Can you be driven? Can you not give up? Of course you can. Becoming a super agent is within your reach. It is yours for the asking. Who wants to be a super agent? You do