(Note, Originally Posted on GeekEstate Blog 3/20/2021)
In the good old days (2006), I had a viral blog called Mike's Corner. One of the most popular categories I called "Book Reports". In some cases, I had the pleasure of interviewing the authors.
I am reviving the series, starting with "Broker Vision", a tome from Austin, Texas Broker, Jason Crouch
I've known Jason since 2008 when he attended the second ReBarcamp "unconference" in Houston. If Jason is in a room, you'll know it; he's a very tall guy! He's also super nice with a genuine, disarming smile. He was born and raised in Texas. In 2014 he was the recipient of the "Texas Realtor® Hero" award from the Texas Association of Realtors® and a community service award from the Austin Board of Realtors®. He received the honors for work he did with a ministry he founded to help homeless and needy families. I've personally witnessed some amazing things he has done to give a big hand up to many individuals' and families' lives.
Jason's book stands apart from many of the books I've read on the how and why of becoming a Realtor®, primarily because it includes many extremely transparent, cautionary tales of missteps and failures. Most books of this type are not nearly as authentic.
Those that manage people in the real estate industry would do well to provide a copy of his book to their agents and staff, especially people new to the industry. Lenders, title companies, inspectors, appraisers, and more can glean something valuable from the lessons he imparts. If you're a new agent, or someone considering it as a new career, it's the best investment of a sawbuck you'll ever make.
Below is an email Q & A I conducted with Jason about Broker Vision:
Q - Mike: We'll start Captain Obvious style. There are gazillions of books on this topic. Why did you write Broker Vision, and what makes it different?
A - Jason: Excellent question. I had a ton of existing content that I had written back when I was a prolific blogger, and I had intended to create this book years ago. As you know, 2020 was a weird year for all of us. My wife encouraged me to finally craft this book during the lockdown, and she helped with editing, along with my daughter. I wrote because I thought it would serve as a good training manual for my agents, and I wanted to help other agents, too. I also figured that having a published book could help with recruiting agents.
Q-Mike: You lay bare your failures in a very transparent manner as cautionary tales. It's great learning material. Did you have any reservations about taking this approach?
A - Jason Yes, I have had my share of failures and memorable stories from my career in this industry. My friends all know that I am an open book (pun not intended, but I will leave it). I don't mind sharing what I've learned, including the painful mistakes, if it can benefit someone else. I am happy to help. No reservations on this part at all. I think it makes the book more interesting, too.
Q-Mike: In the first chapter of the book, you ask the question, "Is real estate right for you?" You outline traits that someone needs to succeed, such as likeability, honesty, sense-of-humor. Of all of them, which is the most important? Why?
A - Jason Do I really have to pick just one? I sure feel like honesty goes a long way in this business, and we've all met agents who are shady. Resiliency is critical as well (I think I referred to this in the book as "having a thick skin") because every agent faces rejection at some point, often painfully so. Having said that, I think that listening and having good communication skills would be at the top of my list. I can't count the number of sales I've landed and saved because I paid attention and because I was able to effectively communicate, especially in writing.
Q-Mike: You say in the book that you remembered a real estate marketing guru said, "Success is determined by those who know you, like you, trust you and remember you with emphasis on "remember" What would you elevate to the top as the single best way to be memorable?
A - Jason Well, outside of constantly reminding your friends and clients about what you do, which is preached by every guru ever, I think I've managed to be memorable by being direct and honest and providing the best service that I can. I think if you're patient and kind with buyers and sellers, that goes a long way toward distinguishing you from the pack, and they'll be excited to refer more business to you.
Q-Mike: In chapter 3, you give some great advice on "Active Listening." You base it on a story about an experience with your family. Much of what you write has storytelling as its foundation. I put a great deal of emphasis on using storytelling as a foundation of content marketing. What advice do you have for real estate pros that have difficulty blogging or writing copy in general?
A - Jason Everybody has a story, and most stories have an audience that would be fascinated to hear them. Don't be afraid to tell yours. We're already in an industry that is inherently interesting to most adults. My best advice is to write like you talk. I think some people get hung up on trying to make their writing seem more serious or intelligent or fancier than it needs to be. Just start writing. The more you write, the better you will become as a writer.
Q-Mike: You do a great job of all of a transaction's machinations, step by step. I haven't yet published a book; one of the reasons is probably the same with many authors; what if I forget to include something tangential to the reader. Is there anything about the process you think you may have left out?
A - Jason I'm certain that I probably left something out, because there are so many different scenarios and variables in real estate and it's impossible to cover them all in the context of a book that people would actually want to read. Overall, though, I think I was pretty thorough. I do have some ideas for a second edition that I'm already considering, along with books for buyers and sellers as well.
Q-Mike: The best story, in my opinion, is: "The secret ingredient is Empathy". You say that it's something that can be taught. You also go on to say that empathy is the hallmark of a successful professional agent. As a consultant and trainer, this intrigued me a great deal. I've never embarked on a mission to teach empathy. As a trait, I've always considered myself an empath. What are some ways you would approach training on this topic? (I will own 100% global rights to the intellectual property you provide, LOL! Just kidding)
A - Jason Empathy is pretty difficult to teach. I've seen this as a broker, and also as a parent. I think it's best to approach this as a thought exercise, encouraging the "student" to use his/her imagination in an attempt to place themselves in the shoes of others. "Imagine what it would feel like if you just lost your job, and you were worried about feeding your family", etc. Over the past few years, in my personal life, I realized that I capable of feeling exceptional empathy in most cases, as long as I didn't cause the problem myself. In other words, I'm generally nice and helpful if someone has been hurt or if they're stressed, but if I was the cause of the issue, I have to fight against a "get over it" attitude. This is an area I'm working on and praying about.
Q-Mike: Chapter 8, "Things that go broke in the night – real estate horror stories," is as entertaining as is it enlightening. I love how you summarize each one with the lesson learned. I'm guessing most of your book was written before the current market conditions, and the most significant issue today is the lack of inventory. Are there any new horror stories based on the contemporary problems facing most agents in most markets today?
A - Jason: Most modern horror stories (2020 to the present) do revolve around decreased inventory and low appraisals, though I know that many/most sellers are reluctant to even consider offers which hinge on an appraisal when prices are rapidly increasing. I understand why mortgage companies want appraisals, but we all recognize that appraisers are forced to focus on the past rather than present market conditions, especially when big shifts happen.
Recently, one of our agents helped an investor to purchase a property, and one of the selling points was the fact that the roof was recently replaced. Later, when the insurance company came out to look at the property, they said that the roof had about 60% of its usable life remaining. Apparently, the roof was never replaced at all. This particular client chose to accept a recent inspection report (which noted the roof issues) rather than paying for a new one. Our lessons on this one? Always get a new inspection and always require invoices for big-ticket home repairs that the seller is claiming (including roof, foundation, A/C replacement, etc).
Q-Mike: The conclusion of your book kind of sums up the kind of professional and personal guy I know you to be. You give out your cell phone number to anyone who wants to call you. Have you had many calls, and can you give us an idea of what people are generally looking for when they connect with you?
A - Jason: I've had a few calls, but mainly from people I already knew in real life, or from online friends. I do have one local agent that bought my book and read it very quickly and we've stayed connected. She calls with questions sometimes despite the fact that she works for another broker. I was very pleasantly surprised when an out-of-state broker friend of mine bought 80 copies of my book to give out to her franchisees and all of her agents. What an incredible compliment.
Q-Mike: Would you please wrap up the post and interview with your conclusion? Thanks!
A - Jason: Thanks very much for taking the time to mention my book and for your kind words. I genuinely appreciate this. I hope that anyone who buys BrokerVision finds it to be helpful and edifying. I put a lot of my heart and thoughts into creating it. I would love to hear what you think. I priced it at only $9 because I'm not really trying to make a lot of money on the book. Rather, I would love to make new friends and connections because of my writing. As you mentioned above, I don't mind anyone calling me directly with feedback or questions. God bless you.
Conclusion: I hope you enjoyed this book report. I would like to thank Jason for taking the time out of a busy life as a successful broker to answer my questions.
I hope you enjoyed the first in the new series of Mike's Book Reports.
On deck: The Art of the CMA by Greg Robertson