Thursday, September 26, 2013


The following blog is purely my own observation and opinion. I have not done any scientific research or read any scholarly works on the subject. Therefore it is open to discussion, disagreement, your own observation and any anecdotal evidence you may wish to reveal.

We are a nation of conflict avoiders. The vast majority of people will not face a potential conflict. If someone "wrongs" you in some way, you ruminate about it but don't do anything about it. We tend to see conflict as distasteful. If we get bad service at a restaurant, we say nothing or are passive-aggressive about it (this steak was cooked wrong, but that's ok I'm just not going to tip the server that didn't actually cook the food wrong to begin with). We glare at other people arguing in public. We are aghast when someone loudly pleads their case or expresses their disdain. Some even call police when people are just arguing. Parents will often not resolve disagreements in front of kids. We feel it is best to shield them from the fact that mommy and daddy sometimes disagree.

I'm not saying this is, in and of itself, a bad thing. I don't think that conflict is either good or bad. It is, however, inevitable. Conflict happens at every level in nature. Beings disagree with each other. Whether it is territorial, reproductive, religious, or just a disagreement about price, conflict is going to happen. Gosh, sometimes conflict happens within oneself! Why then do we shy away from it?

Obviously conflict is not overly "comfortable" and it is not always pleasant to find yourself in a disagreement. For some, the mere fact that they are not "right" is such a blow to their ego that they are indignant ("wait, you mean I am not the omniscient center of the universe?!?!?!?"). No one has ever taught that person the value of "no." For many, many others they have never been taught how to disagree. They never saw an example of healthy disagreement when they were forming their world view. Perhaps they had an abusive, tyrannical parent. Perhaps they had a single parent that had no one to disagree with. Perhaps their parents were "perfect" and never disagreed (in front of them). Either way, they never got to see two adults settle a disagreement and still maintain a relationship. They fear conflict because healthy resolution is an unknown. Unfortunately, as stated earlier, conflict is inevitable and thus when it arises they handle it poorly. At best they get their feelings hurt, at worst they lash out in a violent way. 

So what do we do? Do we purposely have conflict so we can teach our kids how to deal with it? No, of course not. I suggest we work on it ourselves first and then don't be afraid to talk to our kids about our own success and failure when conflict arises. Kids are more perceptive than we give them credit for. Ask them questions. "Junior, mommy and daddy disagree about what to fix for dinner tonight. Mommy thinks we should have meatloaf because the ground turkey is about to expire. Daddy thinks we should go out to eat because we don't have any veggies to fix with the meatloaf and he is tired. How should we settle this." Let them know it is not a situation of "daddy won the argument." It is more a situation of "the argument got settled and no one lost any blood." Most importantly, once the argument is settled, it is settled. Also, once the argument is settled, the relationship is back to normal. This is key. Kids cannot go through life thinking that a single argument will make me not love you any more. 

Finally, teach them that sometimes things aren't worth arguing over. Have principles, stick to those and otherwise go with the flow. If you love someone, let them "win" sometimes. Decide what is actually important to argue about and then be gentle with it. Don't be a tyrant. You can avoid conflict sometimes by just not being selfish. At the same time, don't be spineless. Be strong and be flexible. 

Again, that's just my 2 cents (well, it may be more like 12 cents, I got to rambling a bit). I would love to see what you think about conflict, our tendency to avoid it and how to teach kids about it. Have a great week.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

What Is Available in The Oaks Subdivision?

Happy Tuesday!

I wanted to switch things up a little bit today. I wanted to highlight a subdivision and see what properties are available right now.

Today I want to focus on what's available in The Oaks subdivision. The Oaks is an established neighborhood located off of Florence Rd in Smyrna. Almost every lot has a handful or more of HUGE mature trees providing tons of shade throughout every street. The roads are wide and great for taking a quiet stroll on a breezy evening. Each home has plenty of character and a nice sized lot. If you are looking for a quiet and shady space with a great home, this may be a good starting point!

Currently there are two homes listed on the MLS in this neighborhood- take a look!

113 Oak Hill Dr.
4 bed/4.5 bath
3,906 sq ft

See full listing here

205 Laural Hill Ct
4 bed/ 3 bath
4,356 sq ft

See full listing here

If you get a chance, take a drive though this neighborhood and see how it feels!

Have a terrific week!

Taylore Massa
Weichert Realtors, The Andrews Group

Thursday, September 19, 2013

How to Get Your Real Estate License in TN

This blog entry is pretty straight forward. I am going to tell you how to get started in real estate. Why am I doing this? Because I love my job and I know, for sure, that some of the people that read my blog would love it too. Plus I am opening an office in Rutherford County and I WANT some of my friends, neighbors, family and acquaintances to come join me. So, without further ado, here are the steps:

1) Decide you want to do it.  Ask some people in the business. Do some research. Read the rest of this blog. I know, this sounds dumb as a first step. But I'm telling you, this is the most important step. Like anything worthwhile, it is a lot of work. Just the process of getting your license is a lot of work. It's not necessarily hard work, just a lot of it. If you just think you might want to maybe do it, you won't. Decide you are going to do it and then do it. Making this decision 100% will determine the outcome.

2) Assess your finances. Now that you know you are going to do it, figure out when you are going to do it. The "when" can depend on the $$$, at least a little bit. It will take a relatively small, but significant, up front investment to get it done. I will summarize the fees below. PLEASE look over that before you start as you will need to have much of that money up front. It will start to feel like you are bleeding money. It won't hurt as bad if you are prepared for it though.

3) Decide how you want to do it. Are you OK taking classes online? Do you have the time to go to real estate school all day, 5 days a week for 2 weeks? Do you need night classes? All of those options are available. Here are some resources:
  •   This is the school I used. I did the day classes and really enjoyed it. I learn better that way. I am not disciplined enough to do that much content online. Some are, I am not. CLI's in person 60 hour pre-licensing class is $350 (paid for A and B together)
  •   Heard a lot of good things about this school. Trees' 60 hour pre-licensing class is $350 (paid upfront). They have a location in Murfreesboro and Nashville.
  •  Relatively new school in the Nashville area. I know the director. He's a good guy and a smart Realtor. Success Real Estate's pre-licensing in person class is $350, their online version is $259.
4) Enroll in the courses, attend every meeting, absorb as much as possible. Once you finish the first courses, (Pre-Licensing A and B) you will be given a certificate to fill out and you can schedule your test.

5) Start talking to managing brokers. You may have already done this. If you haven't, you should now. Interview them. Hopefully they will interview you. Be wary of brokers that make wild claims or ones that assume you belong at their office without even knowing your name. Some offices like to "warehouse" licenses and won't offer the support you need to get started. For some, this is fine. For most, you will have a hard time being successful. Ask a lot of questions. Here are just a few:
  • Ask what they pay for you (cards, signs, marketing, copies, lockboxes, office space). All of them are slightly different. See which one fits better. 
  • Find out their commission split and their policy on growing this. 
  • Ask what their training actually entails. All brokers are going to tell you they will train you. Few actually do a good job of it. 
  • Do they offer a mentorship program? 
  • Does that program cost you any money? Some charge just to participate, some charge only when the lead closes. I know which one I would prefer!
  • Do they offer leads? 
  • Does participation in their lead system cost you money?
  • Are the leads that are generated "scrubbed" or "raw"? This is a big deal. If you get 400 leads a month but they are all "Michael Jackson" or have phone numbers of (123) 456-7890, are they really leads?
  • What sets that brokerage apart from others?
  • What activities are going to be expected of you (open houses, floor time, cold calls, direct mail, etc.)?
  • What is the office's target market (where does the office spend its marketing dollar, can you capitalize on that)?
  • Does the office market itself?
  • What "fees" does the office charge? Some charge a "desk fee", some charge a "marketing fee", some charge a "technology fee". Some charge no "fees", per se but they charge a set amount on each transaction. This can vary widely and you may have to ask several different times and different ways to get the full answer. If it feels like they are covering something up, run.
You will be tempted to focus solely on the commission split. I encourage you to look deeper. An office can give a big split but then turn around and nickel and dime you for every little thing (copies, custom marketing, leads, signs, etc.). This structure may be fine for you if you are more independent and going to do a lot of that stuff yourself anyway. Other offices give a decent split and give good services. Some offer a low split but do EVERYTHING for you. It truly is about finding the right fit for you.

6) Take your state and national test. There is one test location in our area. PSI Exams--1100 Kermit Drive, Suite 103 (close to the airport). Cost is $55. Study for this test. Some of the schools offer a cram session (usually around $100). I highly recommend you take this test as soon as you can. The longer you wait, the more information will leak out of your brain.

7) You will be told immediately if you pass or not. Assuming you passed, you have to register for the 30 hour "Course for New Affiliates." Pretty much everyone offers that class as a correspondence class. Most charge $185 for it. Finish it quickly, turn it in, get your certificate.

8) With all the paperwork and certificates you have accumulated at this point, you are ready to ship it off. Finish interviewing managing brokers and decide who you want to affiliate with. They should be able to put your package to send to the State together for you. You will have to have Errors and Omissions Insurance (~$250 for 2 years, prorated) and will pay an application fee of $110.

Below is a summary of the required fees/charges you will run into:

Total Cost:
Pre-Licensing Course                                                   $350
PSI Exam                                                                       $55
Course for New Affiliates                                            $185
State Application                                                          $110
Local/State/National Realtor Association application   $200 (GNAR)
Local/State/National Realtor Association dues             $525 (GNAR, prorated based on when you join)
Errors and Ommissions Insurance (can vary)               $250/two years, prorated
Sentri-Lock access card                                               $120/year, prorated
Realtracs New User Fee                                                $25
Realtracs Membership                                                  $112/quarter

Some other costs you will likely incur:
  • Business cards--could be free from your brokerage, could cost anywhere from $20-$100 for your first few
  • Signage--again, could be free from your brokerage, could cost as much as $100 each (or more!)
  • Lockboxes--sentrilocks (electronic, very safe) cost about $100. Combination key boxes are $15-$30. Buy these as you need them--don't stock up on them in the beginning
  • Marketing--be cautious about this money. Outside companies will bombard you with all kinds of promises. The best initial marketing is free--call people, tell them what you are doing, knock on doors, hold open houses. Bottom line--MEET PEOPLE, TELL THEM WHAT YOU ARE DOING and ASK FOR BUSINESS.
I write this not to discourage you. I want some fresh ideas, new agents in my office. If you want to do this, I want you to do it. I also want you to be prepared for it. I want you to be able to focus on the important stuff because you are not freaking out over whether or not you can afford to pay for MLS access. At our office, we can get you started quickly. You can be on the lead network in just a few weeks. You will get scrubbed, real leads almost immediately. Best part is, you don't pay for those leads until you close them. I would love to tell you more. Let me know if you are interested.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

What $250k Will Buy in Murfreesboro

Happy Tuesday Everyone!

After the weekend, Mondays are so overloaded with new information and tasks to get started for the week-who has time for leisurely reading? So I have decided Tuesday's seem like a more enjoyable day to learn about what's out there in the real estate world. I officially name this Tuesday blog: "Tell Me More Tuesday". :-)

Today I wanted to show you what you can get for $250,000 in Murfreesboro! I found a good range of different properties that I'm pretty excited to share!


1914 Greenland

This is a 1980's renovated home near MTSU.
4 bed/ 3.5 bath
All Brick
2,545 sq ft

Click here for full listing


921 Northbrook Ct

This home was built in 2001 and sits on a Cul-de-sac
4 bed/2.5 bath
All Brick
2,848 sq ft

Click here for full listing


3335 Shady Forest Dr

Built in 2010 and has a community pool/ playground
4 bed/3 bath
All Brick
2,550 sq ft

Click here for full listing

Have a great day!

Taylore Massa
Weichert Realtors, The Andrews Group

Monday, September 9, 2013

What Can You Get for Around $200k in Smyrna?

Hello All,

Today I wanted to do a little research on what you could get for around $200,000 in Smyrna. There really is a wide range in the types of properties you can find in this price point- it all depends on what you are looking for! Check out what I found...

203 Cedar Forest 
5 bed, 2.5 bath
2,173 s.f.
Built 1995
Click here to see the full listing

416 Saint Francis Ave
3 bed, 2 full bath, 2 half bath
2,380 s.f.
Built 1994
Click here to see the full listing

103 Viola Ct
3 bed, 3 bath
2,088 s.f.
Built 2006
Click here to see the full listing

Have a wonderful  Monday!

Taylore Massa
Weichert Realtors, The Andrews Group

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Subtle, Unintentional Messages

News flash of the day--Cell phones are important to business. Everyone in real estate has a cell phone that is the nerve center of their business. Because of this, voicemail is a necessary evil and is, sometimes a tool of convenience. The crux of this blog is to get you thinking about what your outgoing (answering) message actually says to people. I know your goal is to get them to leave a message with relevant info but what message are you giving that potential client, that friend, your mom, whomever gets your voicemail and then decides what to say back?

I received an interesting voicemail last night. The caller (who never identified himself) was (probably) calling to get information on one of my listings but never got to the purpose of his call because he was so put off by my outgoing message.

That message states, "You've reached Jonathan Harmon, please leave a message with a clear phone number and I will return your call at my earliest convenience..." Apparently the part about "at my earliest convenience" set him off. The message he left me was, "I'd rather not have you call me back. When I hear a person saying, as me a customer, you're going to call me back at your convenience, I'd rather not deal with a person like that." I went through a range of emotions over this message. 

First, I was shocked. I listened to the message about 5 or 6 times. 

Then I was kind of mad. How could this guy pass judgement on my willingness and ability to serve clients from this small, seemingly insignificant message? I mean, if there is one thing I think I do really well in my job, it is returning communication and being accessible by clients and potential clients. I always return calls and usually within a very reasonable amount of time. In fact, I am so diligent about returning calls that it sometimes irks my wife because I return calls that could really wait until morning. I do this because I serve my clients. This guy will never take the opportunity to know the level of service I provide simply because of my word choice in that outgoing voicemail message. 

That lasted about 3-4 minutes. Then I moved into panic. Do other people feel put off by this message and just don't have the guts to leave a message like that (most people choose to avoid, rather than confront)?

Finally I started to think about this and ended up sort of feeling sorry for the guy. My guess is he has had an experience in the past that has sort of jaded him. He has a chip on his shoulder. He won't know good service from me because of his perception of my message. At the same time, I started to think about my message. Is "at my earliest convenience" really the best way to word my message? It may be acceptable but is it the best? I decided it is not.

For some, that voicemail message is the first impression and it is a 15 second opportunity to sell myself. The subtle message communicated in that 15 seconds can be incredibly valuable. In my experience last night, I did not get the lead because of the 15 second message. Perhaps I didn't want that person as a client but that's not the point. The point is, my message communicated something to him that I did not intend and it was negative, at least to him.

I am working now to evolve my message and am open to suggestions.

My phone etiquette "plan" or "rules" go like this:
1) sense of urgency--I WILL call you back as soon as I am able to do so
2)  The most important person is the one in front of me and I am generally not inclined to interrupt with them for anyone

3) I know Realtors are notorious for not calling back. That's just not my style. I am not typical.
4) I am trying to work on "being present" with my family. Honestly, it is a struggle for me. If I have decided I am off the clock, I may not call you till tomorrow--especially if you call after 6 or 7 at night.

5) If you ask a bunch of questions in the voicemail, I will try not to call you back until I have the answers. If I think it is going to be a while before I have those answers, I will call you back to tell you I got the message and then call you again when I have the answers.
6) I have a business partner, Taylore, that is very capable and willing to help also. She can answer most, if not all, questions about my listings. If it is just a price/square footage/can I see it? type question, you might get a faster response from her.

Obviously I can't put all that into the outgoing message. Here is what I currently have on my voicemail, any input or examples of great outgoing voicemail messages would be appreciated!

Hi, you've reached Jonathan Harmon. Please leave a voice message or text me, with a clear phone number, and I will return your call as soon as I am able. If you have a question about a listing and want an immediate response, please call Taylore at 615-557-2240, 615-557-2240.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

What can you get...Rural Development vs City Limits

Hope everyone had a fun and safe Labor day weekend! Today I wanted to take a look at the difference between a home located within the city limits vs a home located in what is considered "rural development" or "RD" for short. One of the biggest things to note about the two is that with RD you won't have to pay city taxes!- not to mention the fact that you will get more home for your money.

Today I searched for:
2000-2500 sq ft
4 bed/2 full bath
Built 2000-2010
2 car garage

Here is what I found!


3318 Diamond Ct, Murfreesboro 37127
2243 sq ft
Built 2007
Listed $180,000   Taxes $1,879

Click here to see full listing


238 Slow Waters Dr., Christiana 37027
2201 sq ft
Built 2005

Listed $159,900  Taxes $899
Click here to see full listing

Interesting stuff! Just more to consider when buying!

Happy Tuesday! Enjoy the weather!

Taylore Massa
Weichert Realtors, The Andrews Group