by Kelly Skar
I am not sure how many of you know that I am not only a son of a REALTOR®, but I am the son of TWO REALTORS®!
My Dad was an Agent for the better part of 20 years and my Mom was licensed and practicing for approximately 5 of the 20.
This charming couple to your left were also known in the Prince George real estate community as “Skar and Skar, the Home Team”!
Yes, I know, sounds like a stereotypical real estate tagline, but I STILL really like it!
I have wanted to do this post for a while now and finally got up the nerve to ask my parental units to submit to me, answers to a list of questions that I posed to them about their careers.
Being Agents for as long as they were and having experience with different companies, I wanted to get a sense of how they operated, some of the experiences they had as well as what they would have done differently.
So here you go, from my Parental Units…direct to you:
Me: So Mom and Dad…I have to ask this one…What was your initial reaction when I told you I was going into real estate full time?
Mom: Our initial reaction was that of utter fear and dread and do you want the name of a good psychiatrist?
Dad: Not a surprise oddly enough, but I had some concerns for your future as it is a commission type income. Also wondered if your medical plan in Alberta would cover all the treatments you would need(getting your Head read?!?)
Me: What is the one most valuable piece of advice you would give a new REALTOR® starting in the biz Today?
Mom: Learn how to write a solid contract, Listing and Purchase
Dad: Learn how to do Real Estate…period. The industry will NOT teach you, your competition and fellow sales people will NOT teach you AND your Friends just don’t know. So educate yourself on how to get listings, how to get buyers and how to run a real estate business.
Me: How many real estate offices did you work for? And…Having been owners yourselves, do you think the “Big” brand matters?
Mom: I worked for 4 in 4 years. In my opinion and experience, yes, the Big brand matters. At least it did back in the day. With the onset of the Internet, Social Media and Digital Marketing…maybe not so much anymore.
Dad: I have worked in 10 offices over the years. Not a good idea to jump around as you lose track of too many clients. Does the “Big” brand matter? In my opinion it does, the bigger the better. A lot of people will phone your office asking to speak to the “Best” salesperson (highest numbers) or they will phone the only office they can Remember.
Me: How much did your first listing sell for? How much did your last listing sell for?
Mom: My First listing sold for $168,000 and my last was $135,000.
Dad: My first sale was a cabin for $21,000 at Cluculz Lake (Northern BC) in the winter time. My last one was a hotel in Prince George, BC for $8.2 Million, a deal that I worked on for 2 years!
Me: What is the weirdest thing you ever saw inside a home you were showing?
Mom: Weirdest/Scariest thing I ever saw was a very LARGE, ANGRY German Shepard ascending the stairs in a supposedly vacant home with the Underwear only wearing owner in hot pursuit! My clients of course were right behind me which made it even better!
Dad: Went into a buyer’s living room while picking them up to show them property and my client had a Harley Davidson sitting in the middle of the living room dripping oil on the carpet. His response was that he had “Nowhere to store it for the winter!”
Me: Looking back on the careers that you had, what, if anything, would you have done differently?
Mom: I would have followed my instincts more and not taken just any client. Second thing is…We would have NEVER left Prince George for Penticon.
Dad: I would have picked the best office, with the best training and best support I could find, stayed there and built a very solid business.
Me: What do you feel set you apart from every other Real Estate Agent in Prince George?
Mom: Well organized print advertising campaign, in which WE were central theme, not the company we worked for. We were actually using the …BRAND… idea before it was named…i.e. “Skar & Skar..The Home Team”
Dad: We setup a clever program to attract attention to our ads. Also we only ran our ads on Monday, and on page three of the local paper. The program was to run our picture, phone number etc. and a one line statement meant to catch some interest and prompt the reader to look for the ad in the next issue to see what our one liner would be that day. An example would be, “Never try to outstubborn a cat”, “the secret to demestic felicity is budget the luxuries first” or “little girls, like butterflies, need no excuse” It worked!
Me: How did technology play a role in your business? For example, what new technology were you using that not many other people were?
Mom: Your dad was one of the first in PG to use a cell phone…mine came a bit later, but we recognized the advantages of using one. Other than that, there wasn’t much technology out there!
Dad: Technology did not play much of a role at all, when I started not all offices had a fax machine and no PCs to speak of. I had a cell phone (second Motorola flip phone in town…cost $1,100 )
Me: Last Question…Are you surprised at how technology has taken a huge role in running a successful real estate business? Do you wish you were still in the biz?
Mom: No, not at all surprised. I think the real estate business is and has always been on the leading edge of technology as it makes the job easier. As for me, I’m glad that I had options in my career – I was able to leave real estate and have a fairly successful career in health care. And no, I don’t wish to be back in Real Estate! I left primarily because I couldnt stand all of the things that Agents go through on a regular basis…I guess I was too soft!
Dad: Not surprised, however I felt at the time that the industry was making a mistake to have all their info on line, it left the door open for the public to start doing their own thing and bypass the REALTOR®. I don’t wish I was still in the game, however, if there was a way to be involved in the business without it costing a fortune in fees etc. I would probably reinstate my license and fool around in some commercial real estate.
So there you have it, from a couple of REALTORS® that started their careers in real estate over 20+ years ago. My how things have changed not only on the technology side of the business but on the overall marketing side as well. The fact that they had a well run advertising campaign that invited the consumer to engage with them instead of preaching to them how GREAT they were, was in my humble opinion a little ahead of their time! This shows the ingenuity as well as the foresight they had into what the consumer really wanted.
This is the direction that I see real estate taking in Canada, in my opinion the days of the “Bus Bench REALTOR®” are close to being over. This is a style of advertising that has worked for some however I feel that community engagement and involvement is going to be key moving forward. Why wouldn’t you engage with your community instead of pushing your “Free Market Evaluation” on everyone?
In my opinion…if it matters and if you care…is that these concepts are no longer ahead of their time, they are in the here and now. People do not want to be sold, they do not want to feel like they have been swindled! They do want to be cared for and they do want to be made to feel like you are their for THEM…not the dollar in your pocket.
It is time for a change….that is all.
About the Contributor
Kelley has consistently been in the top 5% in sales since he started full time in the real estate industry in 2008. He went through a major shift in his marketing plan at the end of 2009, recognizing the trend, and making the move towards digital marketing including websites, video, blogging and social media. Kelley is incredibly passionate about the use of technology and social media in his business and is often sought out for advice from other Agents from across North America. Kelley’s primary websites are: http://nwcalgaryliving.com and http://kelleyskar.com.