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21 MAR

Emails, Texts, Calls, Complaints and Profound Thoughts from the Readers

Emails, Texts, Calls, Complaints and Profound Thoughts from the Readers


Ann: The condo rules say 1 dog and a 25 pound limit. But I have 3 little dogs that total less than 20 pounds.  Will that work???

Jeff:  No. but an A+ for creativity.


Bill: Do you recommend a tankless hot water heater?

Jeff:   Yes. 100%. The best thing that can ever happen to you is to have your hot water heater break down. Going tankless is Sam proof.  Meaning my son, Sam, takes these 45 minute showers.  Then you have to yell at him to get out of the trance and leave the shower.  Then wait 20 minutes for the shower to heat up.  With a tankless hot water heater, Sam can take a 24 hour shower for all I care. There is hot water galore 24/7.


Jenny:  Can you repurpose the way you sell popcorn ceilings. They have wonderful texture and I personally enjoy them.

Jeff:  The best salesperson was Mr. Artex.  Artex invented the textured popcorn ceiling according to various sites on the world wide web. In the 1930’s it was called “Asbestos Reinforced Textured  Coating”.  Imagine having to make your living selling asbestos popcorn ceilings?!? Well, this Mr. Artex was better than any reptile oil salesperson. Popcorn ceilings hit their peak in the 1970’s and early 1980’s. (I think by that time it was plaster and water and not asbestos). The drug culture was big in the 1970’s and Mr. Artex must have hosted all sorts of hippie and psychedelic parties with Pink Floyd mood music in the background. I’m not that good of a salesman to repurpose this nor do I have a working bong. If this Mr. Artex is still around, try him.


Mary:  Do you have any rentals for Apr 13th – April 14th?

Jeff:  This is a real estate office, not a hotel.


Eddy:  My HOA wants to approve every buyer’s credit once there is a solid contract and can disapprove. Do you think this makes sense?

Jeff: No. I can understand when you rent it out. However, if they are getting a mortgage and the bank approved it, then they have good enough credit. If they pay cash, they don’t even need credit. I think your HOA folks need something else to do.


Fred:  I wouldn’t pay you a dollar to open a door! That’s all you guys do!

Jeff:  And a nice day to you. Most jobs have health care, 401k and benefits? Real estate has none of that. How many jobs front all of your time without any guarantee of a paycheck? How many jobs take calls at all hours of the day and night?  Let me give you an example of one of our agents who works a lot on the purchaser side.

Our agent, Jamie Garber is a Jersey Girl.  You’ll know it from the minute you talk to her. She has that Jersey “there are no good bagels in Florida” accent! Jamie worked real estate in New Jersey and then in South Florida when she and her family moved here. The transition to Florida was not easy. Echo was the second brokerage she came to.  Even for a veteran it takes 6 -12 months at minimum to break in. The failure rate overall for a real estate agent is 87%.

Jamie’s day starts in the office at 7:30 am.  She goes through her CRM, a to do list to make sure all communication is underway and make sure things don’t fall through the cracks.  Incoming new clients take time. You need to learn what lifestyles are important to them and how they plan on using the house as well as the area. Do they want to be near the beach? Waterfront condos onlyCountry Club Community? What are the costs of a club communityAirplane communities? Equestrian communities? Can I rent out my home for a Airbnb? Pickleball? Gated but no club?  Club but lower fees? There are over  10,000 subdivisions in our database alone. Knowing what and where Aquarius is or the difference between Martinique in Abacoa or the Martinque in Singer Island or which of the 8 different Coventry’s you’re talking about takes time. Knowing the rules and regulations in all these places and their costs, benefits, and pitfalls is another thing altogether. Learning the school systems and knowing where to place someone isn’t so easy. On top of that, it takes a lot of skill to learn how to search and set up various searches without missing things for your clientele.

Reading people is a skill one either has or they don’t. There is a social IQ to understanding and listening and reading in between the lines of what someone is saying. In many cases you are also dealing with two people or a family. Taking into account how they live and projecting what the future lies so you put them in the correct neighborhoods takes a lot of knowledge. Clients texting you at 5:30am on a Saturday. Setting up appointments with calls, texts, emails, and coordinating what to show takes hours. Sometimes cancelling and rearranging schedules on the fly. Phone, fuel, lockbox, subscription fees, and your time per hour are on your dime as well.

Sending potential listings, explaining homestead, taxes, insurance, mortgage contacts, inspectors.  All take time.

Then you have to understand legal contracts and if to go to a lawyer. There are countless addendums to use to benefit your client or protect them.  What is the right amount to put down?  How about inspection time?  Closing date? Are there liens? Special Assessments? Disclosures? Litigation? Pet restrictions? Other Restrictions? Interpreting and explaining the legal contracts. Other strategies like 2-1 rate buydowns  or escalation clauses.

Comparable market analysis (CMA). Now you are a financial analyst where you have to figure out what the real price of the house or condo is. There are past sales to go by but there are details within each of those. Were there concessions? Who paid the closing costs? What about the upgrades, directional exposure? Have values gone up in the neighborhood compared to other neighborhoods? What is happening on the ground with the market at street level that the past comparables are not telling you?

Negotiation skills then come into play. Jamie is like a Jersey Pit Bull. She grabs by the ankle and doesn’t let go. Constantly calling. Gathering information and getting the deal done. Sometimes that is at 11:30pm.  You have to understand and work the computer well to draw up the contracts and get signatures without mistakes so the contract is valid and you secure a contract before another offer comes in.

Once under contract, it’s coordinating insurance, mortgage if applicable, surveys, title insurance, contingency needs by deadline, inspections, interpreting inspections, movers, renegotiation on inspections, new addendums on inspections. Sometimes you are handling furniture too.

Then there is scheduling the walk through, going to the walk through, resolving a Middle East peace like treaty if the rug in the den was removed, talking your client off the ledge when the rug was removed and becoming Batman to solve the caper for them, finding and supplying vendors, picking up packages or sweeping the floor if the new house is not clean, handling the closing, coordinating the HUD, getting escrow wire instructions so nothing is delayed and problem solving throughout.

All this while you are handling the clients, agents, and everyone else who become Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde throughout the process. Jamie basically becomes a shrink with the patience of a saint. I remember a mild-mannered accountant named Milt I once had as a client. During the process, mild-mannered Milt turned into a terror. After closing though, Milt once again became mild-mannered and was as nice as can be. Buying and selling a house is #3 on the stress list behind death and divorce. Everyone is demanding. Everything needs to be done yesterday. A good buyer’s agent has empathy and understands all of this.

Jamie lives in a 2-bedroom apartment. She is a single Mom. Both her kids are now in medical school and they shared a room. Jamie loves her clients. Loves accolades. Read them on her testimonials. But she works for her kids. A few years back, she started having problems with her eyes. She has seen multiple eye doctors and is a constant at Bascom Palmer. Sometimes we drive her, or she takes an Uber if it’s later at night or a far trip. Unlike a teacher, corporate executives or most union workers, Jamie doesn’t have health insurance to pay for any of this. Sometimes the market is hot. Sometimes very cold and income comes to a screeching halt. Often, it’s in the middle. Commission sales are not so easy. There are quick high sales where it looks simple. When that occurs it’s usually because the knowledge base, Jamie’s real estate computer brain, and direction that the agent gives is so valuable that it makes it look that easy. Other times, it takes 5 years of looking and educating and showing before someone buys. And sometimes they don’t buy at all and you get nothing for your time, knowledge and showing 30 homes. All of that is ok as that is the business we have chosen, and Jamie is not complaining about it. My Grandpa said of his textile business, “Two years out of ten you make good money. The other eight years you survive.” Our business is no different.

Lawyers read and interpret a lot of documents. Bankers hand out money. Television anchors read the teleprompter. Teachers follow a curriculum. Actors play out a script. Doctors put you on a scale, take your temperature, and pump the blood pressure thingy around your arm. Bricklayers lay bricks. The waitress takes your order and delivers food. Politicians make speeches. They are all tougher jobs than they appear from the outside (maybe not the politician). Our profession looks sexy from the reality television shows but in reality, it isn’t. It’s mentally draining, not easy on personal family relationships, and never turns off.

Fred,  you are free to open up your own door. Just don’t let the door hit you on your way out.


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Jeff Lichtenstein, originally from Chicago, got his start in the home furnishings textile business where he traveled over 35 weeks a year selling fabrics. After the family business was sold, Jeff moved to Florida and became a real estate agent. Today he is the owner and broker of Echo Fine Properties, a luxury residential brokerage voted best brokerage of the year. Jeff manages a non-traditional model of real estate that mimics a traditional business model. Echo has 80 agents, an average of one million dollars per transaction and over 500 million in annual sales. Between traveling for work and annual family trips to national parks with his wife and 2 now adult children, Jeff has visited 49 states. He is also one of the few Chicago White Sox fans you’ll ever meet.  Some publications he has been quoted in.

Author of business & leadership book How Making a Sandwich Can Change Your World –  The Amazing Success of the PB&J Strategy – Available to Buy Now!

Feel free to ask him a question directly at including a complementary  valuation of your home.

Posted in Open House Blog, Real Estate Tips on March 21, 2024 at 1:56 pm.


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