Tracy McLaughlin from The Agency shares how she transitioned from a successful television journalist to become the top real estate agent in one of the most exclusive counties in the U.S. Tracy emphasizes the importance of branding and talks about how to consistently execute brand awareness to rise above the pack. She also discusses her newest book Real Estate Rescue: How America Leaves Billions Behind in Residential Real Estate and How to Maximize Your Home’s Value. Finally, Tracy discusses her best strategies on how to establish optimal pricing for properties.
Click here to purchase Real Estate Rescue: How America Leaves Billions Behind in Residential Real Estate and How to Maximize Your Home’s Value, which will help you in providing the best service to your clients!
If you’d prefer to watch this interview, click here to view on YouTube!
Tracy McLaughlin can be reached at 415.699.6680 and Tracy@TracyMcLaughlin.com
D.J. Paris 0:00
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Hello, and welcome to another episode of Keeping it real, the largest podcast made by real estate agents. And for real estate agents. My name is DJ Parris as always, and I am your guide, and host through the show. As always, at first, we always like to just say thank you to all of our listeners and viewers, for helping support our show, keeping us growing. And of course, the best way you can always do that is by telling a friend, think of one other real estate agent you know, that could benefit from hearing the secrets of top producers, like the guest I’m about to mention, and send them a link to our show, you can always find us at face of sorry, had our website, keeping it real pod.com but also follow us on Facebook. Why? Because not only do we post every episode we’ve ever done on our Facebook page, we also post articles that we find online specifically to help you grow your business. We do that every single day. So find us on Facebook facebook.com forward slash keeping it real pod. Now today I am really excited. We’re about to introduce our guests here in a moment. Her name is Tracy McLaughlin, and I’ll tell you why I’m so excited. Number one, she is the top number one realtor in one of the most exclusive counties in the entire country, Marin County. So we are so excited to hear for how does somebody get to the very top of the most exclusive area or one of the most exclusive areas of this entire country. So guys, without further ado, let’s bring on Tracy McLaughlin.
Today on the show, we have Tracy McLaughlin from the agency in Marin County. Tracy was named Marin County’s top producing agent in 2019 for a record breaking 14 straight year with over 176 million and close transactions in 2019. The combination of Tracy styling recommendations strategic pricing, unparalleled international marketing program, and superior photography are integral parts of her consistently successful sales. She is also the author of the new book real estate rescue how America leaves billions behind in residential real estate and how to maximize your home value. Now the Wall Street Journal has ranked Tracy as the 20th highest producing real estate agent in the country. And that’s out of over 1.4 million real estate agents truly incredible. Please follow her on Facebook. You can find her at Murrin fine homes. That’s Murrin FYI, any homes and also on Instagram at Tracy McLaughlin. And please visit her website at Tracy mclaughlin.com. That’s Tracy tra Cy mclaughlin.com. Tracy, we are so excited to have you.
Tracy McLaughlin 3:35
Hey, thank you so much for having me, DJ, I’m excited to be here.
D.J. Paris 3:39
We are excited to and this I know just how busy you are. And we probably should start out by saying right now. This is a difficult time for people in Marin County with the wildfires. And so for all of our listeners and viewers who are in the Northern California area who are experiencing some of these challenges where our heart goes out to you know, hope everything gets resolved quickly. How is this impacted? Some of your buyers and sellers and and friends and?
Tracy McLaughlin 4:05
Oh, absolutely. I mean, we have three listings we were going to release in the last, you know, week and a half, two weeks that we had. It started with a quote heat storm, you know, heat storm, I had never even heard that weather term before. So we had a heat storm for about four or five consecutive days. And then the wind shifts with all these disparate fires going on all over the state and it’s just clouding the San Francisco Bay area. In fact, it’s cut the sun completely so it’s actually ironically, it’s cold now with smoke. I mean, it’s just it’s almost apocalyptic. Everybody’s walking around saying what what is going on? The streets are empty and nobody’s really looking at sales. Although I have to tell you I did get an offer on a house today. So I thought wow, somebody stepped up in the middle of all this and boldly, you know, gave us an offer so
D.J. Paris 4:54
well I have friends who last week. Or right when this was happening we’re like oh my My gosh, over the weekend, it was in the 80s. In San Francisco, they were so excited. But it was also kind of hot for them. And then this happened. I mean, it’s just been a crazy time. And then, of course, with the pandemic and everything else, you were saying, we were talking before we started in you, you said you’ve never been busier, you’re putting in what, like 15 hour days? It’s how is how is COVID changed your day to day activity?
Tracy McLaughlin 5:25
Yeah, great question. You know, I’ve been I’m old enough now that I’ve been through two definitive, challenging cycles, the first one being in at 911, when that happened, and then again, in 2008. So when we got the notification of California wanting to shelter in place first in the country, I think it was on March 9. And I remember as soon as it’s, you know, that shelter in place was instituted, and we had to be in our homes as of noon. And, of course, that just seemed so ominous at the time, I went right into, like almost an auto pilot of here we go, again, I’m at the top of the roller coaster, we’ve had this incredibly frothy market, and we’re gonna fall straight down. I mean, I had all my synapses fired, to go right into that same mode that I went into in 2002. And again, in 2008, which is, I’m going to work as many hours as possible to get my clients through this, to talk, we blocked the ledge to not have them canceling listings, to being encouraging that, you know, it’s hopefully this is a temporary, you know, affliction. And let’s continue to transact, you know, because I think, you know, when things like this happen, people freeze, and they do nothing, and that’s as a real estate agent, as we all know, that we can’t do, we cannot make a living when people freeze, so I just kept getting on the phone with people, talking them through it, you know, here, we’re gonna be able to show properties on a limited basis, starting in three or four weeks, we can still get your photos, you know, whatever we had to do to get through that. And of course, it’s turned out to be the opposite of what I originally predicted, I just could not marry, how a country shuts down the service economy shut down. Airlines are shut down transportation, you know, retail shopping, and yet we have this incredibly frothy market going on, at least where we live right now. Like there’s so much disparity and that for me, I don’t I still it’s hard to reconcile the two but that’s what’s happened. So
D.J. Paris 7:21
yeah, we are seeing the same thing here in Chicago, where just obviously with lending rates being where they’re at, there’s a lot more purchasing power that buyers had that they didn’t have. And but there’s a lot less inventory as well. So we’re seeing multiple offer situations and it’s boy, it’s tricky to even get into see properties and but I would love to go all the way back to the beginning just to give our audience an understanding of how you got into real estate. We’d love to hear how you got from from where you are now or from where you are now from from where you started.
Tracy McLaughlin 7:52
Sure. Well, you know, it’s I really kind of fell into the business backwards. I was a television journalist. I had studied journalism, worked for different NBC affiliates on camera writing, reporting anchoring, and and then I was hosting a television show on travel and skiing for about five years. It took me all over the world. I was four months pregnant, we were about to go over to Russia and jump into Russian military helicopters to heli ski on the show. And my then husband said, Absolutely not You’re not going to like it. I was like, What am I getting knew this is all I’ve known. So he said, Listen, I literally did not know what I was gonna do. I love this television show is on. And so we ended up buying the house down the street from us. Same house, same floor plan, it needed work. And I flipped it and we did really well on it. And I was like, Well, that was kind of fun. And I just kind of had a sixth sense. I don’t even know how I grasped this. But I walked in and understood how to make finishes and spaces really be monetized for the market at that time. And then we started doing one after another and then I thought, Well, I’m just paying somebody a lot of money in commissions to flip these houses MOS will get a license. And then of course it kind of took off from there we and I just it escalated and escalated. I can tell you now sitting here and I was telling my children this what you think you’re going to end up doing just because you study it could be a complete 180 Which is what happened in my career. I never thought I’d be a salesperson.
D.J. Paris 9:19
Yeah, well, it’s funny too. Like I know in college I studied psychology and management and I am neither a psychologist nor do I really well I guess I manage a few people but but it’s completely different from what I thought I was going to be.
Tracy McLaughlin 9:32
But I should have studied psychology to do this job.
D.J. Paris 9:36
Well there is a lot of there is a lot of armchair psychology that goes on with making sure buyers and sellers keep you know it’s funny I am in the process of buying a home myself and not my first home by the way, and I have a license as well. I don’t even trust myself. I have my boss doing all of my transaction for me because I’m like I am way too emotional and I know better so I’m not even you know they say what they say like a doctor who has his own patient is is has a fool for a client, something like that. So I even push it off because it gets too emotional for me. But so talk about So you started doing flipping. But then you had to go out and find clients as well. And obviously, our listeners go, Oh my gosh, she did 100, almost $200 million last year in production. But everyone starts somewhere. How did you go out there when you first started in market yourself? And how did you find clients? Yeah,
Tracy McLaughlin 10:25
so you know what I did, and I speak about this a lot. And I think, you know, it is the singular best piece of advice that I could give to my colleagues and peers, is to come up with a brand for yourself and consistently execute that brand. So what I did was I because I was doing all this renovation and flipping and I had sub trades working for us. And I knew I understood drywall and painting. And I ended up creating this concept called the McLaughlin concierge service, I got a phone number that went to a lot, you know, if somebody actually answered the phone, it was a separate phone number from my own. And all of my ads, I created an image with an iconic Greek column. And I wrapped the word drywall painter, you know, landscape designer, I wrapped a sub traits names around, you know what they did for living around that column. And I said, even if you’re not selling a house with me, call me I will, I will help you with references, I will give you guidance in terms of, and I’m telling you a little bit of like a pro bono advice goes a long way in this business, I ended up having people say, Oh, my God, I can’t believe you’re helping me and you don’t even get anything out of this. And then two years later, of course, I would get the phone call. So the McLaughlin concierge service had an you know, it had an image, it told people what I did. And I did not let go of that ad campaign for about five years. And that’s how I started. So I think that coming up with a brand and having a visual component to the brand and consistently executing it is really the name of the game that you’ve got to separate yourself out from your competition. And and that’s what great branding is. So
D.J. Paris 11:59
yeah, it’s such a great idea. I you know, it’s funny, I was thinking about I just had a flat tire the other day, and I was thinking about, well, there was another issue with my car, and I was waiting to get that fixed and looked at and then I got a flat tire on top of it. And I thankfully the mechanic that I go to that fixes everything on my car is like two blocks from my office, I’m super lucky to have what I believe is the best mechanic in Chicago, just a few blocks away, and I trust him. And I tell every single person I know and everybody needs a good mechanic. And whenever something breaks down with our car or with our home, we’re always like, oh, gosh, I don’t know if I’m getting screwed here. I don’t I don’t know what these quotes were who did who to trust. And there is something so valuable about having that, you know, those vendors on sort of at the ready. And for you, that’s a really such an a lot of agents go Oh, yeah, well, I have I have a lender and I’ve got a contractor and I’ve got a title, company, etc. But But you were actually out there promoting this concierge service, outside of what. And I think that is so brilliant. Because everybody needs, we don’t have time to go out and find those professionals. It’s so stressful to figure to get five quotes and figure out who am I supposed to go with? When I can just go to you say Who should I go with? And you just tell me? So I think that’s really great advice for our listeners. Well, I’m
Tracy McLaughlin 13:15
glad and you know it. Here’s the thing, and I mentor a lot of my colleagues and people getting into the business. And what I see is trepidation for the consistent execution of what we’re talking about, like, oh, you know, Tracy, I tried marine magazine twice, and I didn’t get a call to labor the mother like No, no, you have got to be in ISTEP I don’t care if you’ve never sold one home. All you have to do and you can do this with farming. It’s such an old fashioned term, but you can do this with farming neighborhoods as well. You take a postcard, it doesn’t matter if you haven’t sold anything. you brand yourself on that postcard, whether it’s knowledge. And it’s not about how many homes you sold on that postcard. It’s about how many times you sent you send that postcard 100% Send it send it send it keep sending and finally people go oh, that’s that guy that’s an expert in you know, the Fairview area you know, the guy’s never sold a house but it’s just it’s after a while people they buy into it it’s like why did we buy into Apple right a great packaging it’s much more expensive than other devices because we expect something with the execution of the brand Same with the Four Seasons you just begin to believe that the brand is that much more elevated because you are being told that you’re being shown that so that’s it’s a super important and people will say me yeah but everything’s taken like if she was a lawyer her JD you know this one already is defined as this How am I going to find a niche to fall into right? The reality is you can find a niche to fall into you are differentiated just because your voice is different. Your looks are different. Your the way you interact with people is different the way you you know, however you see yourself as being really elevated in this field. Play on that You know, if you’re a guy that likes to host parties, keep inviting the neighborhood over for cocktails, whatever you do, but consistently do it. So
D.J. Paris 15:08
yeah, I mean, our this dopey little podcast started because I thought, you know, somebody should be collecting the stories of top producers and sharing them with the the general real estate professional population. And I thought, Oh, no one’s done that I went, Okay, I guess I could do it. And my boss said something very smart to me. Because really, this is just something I do on the side. And he said, I’ll let you do it, because it’s fun. But he said, You have to commit to doing it for a minimum of two to three times a week for a year. And nobody is going to probably listen to the show for the first six months. So just prepare yourself for that. And, and he was right. And, and I stuck it out. And now we’re here four or five years later, now we have a large audience. But the point is, it’s branding, you have to just keep producing consistent results, as Tracy just said, so whether you’re sending postcards, or you’re knocking on doors, or you’re making cold calls, or you’re hitting your sphere of influence, or you’re sending items of value, whatever you’re doing, it has to be done consistently. And that’s just branding, one on one. So whatever you’re going to commit to throw yourself into it. And you know, don’t just send one postcard send 52 Over the next over the next year, send one a week. Um, that’s maybe that’s overkill, but whatever you need to do, you know, the average consumer needs to see something like 20 or 30 times before it even sinks in.
Tracy McLaughlin 16:24
That’s right. And I always tell this story to there was just must darling, older man, he must have been 88 years old, I couldn’t believe he was still living in his home, Maloney had lost his wife, clothes, were still in the closet. For whatever reason, his grown children were there assisting him in his transition. And I walked in the house, he gave me a call. And he said, you see that and he pointed towards the postcard. He said, that’s been on that refrigerator for four years, Tracy, I was just waiting. Now that almost gives me chills to think that somebody would save a piece of written material for four years. But they’re visual. And I know they sound old fashioned, and it’s endless. And Facebook advertising is amazing, too. Don’t get me wrong. But there is something still, that’s incredible. I always say to my staff, I know we’re spending another five or 8000 postcards, you know, we do that pretty consistently. There’s always a transaction that comes out of every single postcard mailing, and that transaction is more 3050 $80,000 in fees for the one five to 8000. So you, I always tell people getting started to take it depending on where your region is. But take $100,000 out of the bank, do borrow it, do whatever you have to do. And it just look at that as buying a business because that’s what we’re doing. We’re buying our own business, right?
D.J. Paris 17:34
Absolutely. You’re running a business and you have to invest in your own business. And there’s a return on investment. And so if you’re doing postcards, and you go, Wow, I did it once and it didn’t work. Of course it didn’t work, you have to do it for one to two years consistently. And that means that yeah, you might be operating at a bit of a loss. But you know what soda most businesses for the first few years, that is normal, it’s not fun. It’s not fun, and it is uncomfortable, but it is what most businesses go through. So yeah, I couldn’t agree. I couldn’t agree more. I want to talk about your book as well, because I always get off topic and I never get to the to the book. And this is such a cool book I really want to talk about so the name of the book is called Real Estate rescue how America leaves billions behind in residential real estate, how to maximize your home value. Talk a little bit about it. This is a really important book.
Tracy McLaughlin 18:22
Thank you so much for bringing up the book. And I am I’m so passionate about the subject. So I’ll give you in a quick nutshell what happened. I am and I’m sure like everybody that seasoned in our business, I watched the same bad movie go on day after day in our business, right? So it starts with if you look at us as money managers, what 40% of America’s wealth is tied up in its primary asset, which is your single your first residence, your primary residence, 40% of the country’s wealth is in their primary residence. But guess what? The people governing that, that that industry, we’re people’s money managers. And yet all we have to do in most states in this country is be 18 years of age, about 60 hours worth of Anthony’s real estate school. And I’m walking in and giving you advice on your biggest asset. So I look at real estate as money management. I don’t see it as sales, I see it as managing people’s biggest assets. So what what has happened over the course of the years in our business, is America doesn’t really trust us. I will the opening chapters, you know, trust your doctor, trust your lawyer, trust your real estate agent? I don’t think so. And the reason we’re not trusted and the reason our jobs are so challenging with people not wanting to believe us when we’re giving them great guidance, is that lack of formal education in the arena within which we’re working? We should really have an undergraduate degree in real estate and maybe even a graduate degree and things like checks and balances. Just like if you did a series seven took a series seven test as a stockbroker. We don’t have anybody with listening to what we’re saying to people, managing us cross checking what we do All people. So that inherent distrust is what allows a lot of mistakes to be made in this country about how people sell their homes very quickly. But of course, it won’t be quick. But I’ll just tell you in a nutshell, I watched a divorce a in a very fluent community that I was living in working in and still do. I thought she was going to hire me, she hired a friend and been listening to her divorce woes for about seven months. And the woman had never done a high end, she’s kind of a socialite, hanging a shingle in real estate, just because you’re one, no experience. And this gal hires her, they she miss manages the staging, she overpriced the house, the first offer I made on that house was very reasonable, it was for $5 million, the house was probably you know, it’s listed at like five, four, I think offered five, that’s what it was worth, they did not respond to the offer. 10 months later, I went back and bought that same house for around $4.5 million. And when I saw her leave $500,000 on the table, because of the way that listing was managed, I thought, oh my god, there’s a book in this subject, I have to write a book about all these mistakes I’ve seen over the years and how people get caught in these traps. So in that that chapter is that I hope the friendship was worth a half million dollars, because because that’s what it cost her to be her friend. Right. But what happens is people don’t know enough it you know, people that are hiring us, they don’t know enough to understand how much money they left on the table. They just, they do inherent excuses. Like, I guess the market just wasn’t great. Or I guess, I guess, you know, it was soft at the time where I get, you know, they can’t look to exactly what happened. Instead, I heard the wrong person who actually mismanaged my biggest asset. So this book was written to change all that. And also to hopefully help my colleagues understand how they can run their businesses to be far more efficient, to not have risk in their deals, I take risk out of my deals, you know, we have pre listing inspections, I don’t I will not list a home unless it’s fully inspected on the front end, I don’t want cancelled escrows I don’t want homes falling in value because somebody walked after 30, escrow etc. So there’s all sorts of information there. But it’s also really geared towards my my colleagues, helping them to better their careers.
D.J. Paris 22:13
It’s really amazing. I mean, what you’re really talking about is you are a consultant and you you act as a consultant as a money manager versus somebody that can list a home on the MLS, which anybody can do, who has a license, who goes to Anthony real estate school, and you know, sits there for 30 hours and gets a license. And in some ways, it’s kind of to two sides of a sword in a sense, or two sides of the coin, because in some sense, the fact that most agents aren’t as skilled really separates you from the pack. But it’s also really frustrating, I’m sure for you to see all these mistakes out there that other agents make. Well, and you see
Tracy McLaughlin 22:51
how deals get so tripped up by people really having no idea what they’re doing and, and are not really following their fiduciary responsibility. It drives me nuts, when I see agents take the first offer that comes if they know a house is going to be hot. We have a lot of multiple offers in the county that I work in. Sometimes agents because they don’t want the pressure of negotiating multiple offers, will just like take an offer that comes in and have I mean, talk about leaving money on the table without setting an offer date, and really publicizing and marketing the home. So the seller had the very best opportunity. Like there’s just so many things like that, that go on. And it’s you know, I would love to see higher standards for our industry. Because really, there’s a very, there’s a lot of very capable, smart people doing this for a living. But you’d get sort of thrown out with the bathwater. And people you know, that’s why when we walk into a home and I say, Mr. Smith, this is a beautiful home. But you’ve got saturated wall color from the early 1990s, yellows, maroons, whatever. You’ve got, you know, chandeliers that are from the mid 90s. I know you love to Venice, but you brought that Venetian thing home. And now it’s just Emily weighing all the young demographic by your house, right? The reason why Mr. Smith doesn’t immediately say, Oh, I’ve got you, Tracy, your top person in the country, I will do whatever you say to make the most amount of money in this house. Guess what, most of the beginning of that relationship is me gingerly walking that line of getting him to trust me, getting him to believe me, getting him to want to believe in these changes so that he’s the beneficiary not me, he is and that is that is what’s so challenging about our business, the people that really are trying to do a great job of making sure people make the most money. They’re inherently distrusted. It takes a long time to walk that line of not fearing that you’re going to lose the listing. But getting that person to trust you and being honest. I mean, the governance in this business is honesty, and that is what sometimes slips out because people are fearful of losing the business, not getting the lifting because that person you can tell when you walk in a house if somebody’s can be resistant to your advice. Sometimes when you walk in those just say I just need you to know Tracy, I know you’re known for this. We’re not changing one thing in this house. I’m like, nice to meet you, Mrs. No, I’m like that Jerry Maguire helped me tell you let
D.J. Paris 25:13
me help you. Does this, this apply as well for pricing when you’re talking about listings, you know, if you have an owner who and look, all of us are guilty of this with our own residences, I sold a property years ago, and I know better and I still put too much value in it. I said, I’m just gonna try it at the higher number and see what happens, which was a dumb idea. And then of course, I brought it down to reasonable market value when it’s sold right away. But even I am, you know, somebody who falls prey to that, um, how do you handle that when a seller says My home is worth this? And you say, well, it’s not worth this. And they’re adamant to that, or do you walk? Or what do you do in those says,
Tracy McLaughlin 25:50
No, I’m so bad I to hang on to every last little bit of evidence. Like, why don’t you walk away from 76? I’m like, No, I’m gonna talk them into I’m gonna get them to trust me, I’m gonna do the deal. So you’re right. That is a huge problem. And what I there’s, it’s it. There’s a chapter in my book, The truth lies in the numbers. Here’s the thing. Our business is a mathematical equation. And that is it. No, everyone, I wrote the book, you know? Is it my home up a casa? What I’m calling it upside down frame just blowed out? No, your home is not a Picasso? No, it’s not going to break the ceiling evaluation by $50 million.
D.J. Paris 26:30
not that special.
Tracy McLaughlin 26:32
times have we heard people say, but it’s a Picasso in art auction and pay 100 million over what it was really worth because they have to have it. And that’s what’s going to happen to my house. Well, guess what, other than maybe Oprah Winfrey Brink breaking the ceiling of valuation down in Montecito when she paid like 38,000,015 years ago, it’s like what the hell, that is a very rare occurrence in our business. I mean, the business is governed by math and data. And when you really understand price per square foot, and I’ve got a whole section in my book that talks what that is, it’s a multiplier, you know, of the strengths, and then the weaknesses in the asset. And there’s probably 30 or 40 things that go into that culture, right? You know, how do you how do you evaluate privacy quiet, if there’s phone lines, or power lines in the view versus no power lines, I mean, coming up with an appropriate evaluation is really the basis of what we do. So when somebody says to me, you know, now I want data. At first, what I do is I just gently put the numbers in front of them, I describe every single house that I’m using as a basis point for their analysis. And then I always pass the baton of control back over to them. And I say, if you feel strongly this is your asset, you have all the control over it, I’ll prices in any way that you want. But I just want you to see the data from the community. And I kind of get out of it, you know, I hold on to the listing and listen. So a lot of people have to do this. I’m like, try it. But if that doesn’t work within about 10 days, and we’ve run through every potential buyer in that pricing tier, you know, now now we are chasing the knife down, we’re in a position of defense, instead of offense. Let’s be in a position of offense. And then of course, the guys who play football like Yeah, yeah, let’s get on. Anyway, a lot of it is just a language. And I’ll tell you, Lorna Hines has been my mentor. I don’t know if you’ve heard of Warren, Ohio. She’s an amazing, amazing coach in this business. I’ve never met anybody smarter in real estate. And Lorna has taught me a lot of these tricks of the trade. She has been immensely helpful to me.
D.J. Paris 28:38
Well shout out to Lorna Hines. Yeah, well, I also wanted to talk about what people are wanting in homes these days, you know, you’ve seen just, you know, societal norms change, people’s tastes have changed. You know, I’m in the process of of looking at buying a home, which I finally decided on one and I have a new construction, which means I’m overpaying. But at least I get to get all the stuff I want. Because we were looking at all of the finishes from even the mid 2000s. That just didn’t age well. I mean, nothing age as well, right? Everything always looks 15 years later, you’re like, what were they thinking? Even in the? No, we’re choosing all very, very neutral whites, and very simple. And I’m sure in 15 years, they’re gonna be like, what were they thinking going with neutral colors. But But right now, you know, what are people looking for? And what should agents be talking to sellers about with homes that maybe are a bit out of date?
Tracy McLaughlin 29:30
Yes. And that is really that’s the crux of the business, right is how do you monetize the asset without going too far over in an overcorrection? So I always start with first of all, the structure value has to be there, if there’s if the ceilings are, you know, eight feet and there’s a second storey over the home and that homes all cut up and the doors and windows are really old. Guess what, that’s probably a teardown now, because it’s just as expensive it’s more expensive to renovate them fix bad stuff than it is. So once I understand once I see somebody say, Okay, there’s structure value left here. Here’s here’s the it’s all about the optics of marketing, right? How does something photograph. So for me, at least on the West Coast, and a lot of my success, I’ve probably I think we’ve run a bit. I’ve done pre listing renovations for about 420 homes at this point in my career. I mean, it is I have eight homes under construction right now. And when I say construction, I’m talking about pre listing improvements, like paint, carpet counter changes, lighting changes. You know, even if the hardwood floors are dated, and they’re from the 70s, and they’re a narrow yellow oak, I stain them a dark gray brown blend. It’s amazing how transformative just changing walls out to white right now. And by the way, whoever started slapping dark gray paint Oliver every wall for you five years ago made a mistake, because now I’m changing them all back to white. They just dark gray is I love gray in linen sofas, and I love it as accent colors. I don’t like gray walls in covering, it doesn’t shoot well. So it’s all about how the house photographs and the photography really great marketing is a layered blend of contrast. So you’ve got now like big wide plank floors are in vogue, right five, five, and sure you’re shopping, it’s so much fun. So that kind of beautiful planky floor depending on what your palette is, but then layering something white. And then on top of that it’s a great linen sofa. And on top of that it’s art that brings in. And when you have that layered contrast, that’s what makes people stare at photographs. That’s what made these people go well, I don’t know why don’t want to leave that listing. I’m really drawn to it online. It’s because of contrast. So the white walls are a great, that’s just the right palette to market homes for right now. And listen, it’s been so interesting to watch in California, this white transitional farmhouse style has taken the state by storm. Every house that I listed that I take right now that’s got either horizontal siding or maybe dated shingles. If I turn it white on white and put those like resto lantern style lights, yes, like, damn, I have a contemporary farmhouse. I was like all. I mean, you just drive up and down the streets. It’s all about white homes. And guess why? Because the green landscaping around the White House really contrasts and the whole thing just comes alive on camera hops.
D.J. Paris 32:16
Yeah, yeah. And it is one of those things people like minimal clean, they like the juxtaposition between light and dark. So you’re absolutely so right. And things just need to pop. How what percentage of your listings Do you professionally staged? Is it 100%? Is it? You know, obviously not every room probably needs to be staged. But are you doing that with the majority of your listings?
Tracy McLaughlin 32:40
Yeah, 98% of our listings are professionally staged. Even when I go into a home that’s a multimillion dollar home. And a great designers done it. The problem is the designers don’t scale for how a house shoots. So again, it comes back to geography. I took a listing a few years ago, very well known designer, everything was just overly scaled. And that’s how the family want to live for little kids. They want to huge this huge that guess what, that all the rooms felt diminished. People weren’t buying the house, I finally had to pull all of her stuff out of there after about a month. And I professionally staged it and sold right away. So I rarely if somebody’s house, if the furniture is acceptable, it’s current enough. I also have a stylist that I’ll bring in that will supplement you know, like, okay, they’ve got two sofas are kind of dated, I’m going to rent one else sectional for a quarter whomever. I’m going to rent some art at MoMA. And there’s ways to get around if your clients say, hey, no way, I’m not signing up for 25 to $30,000 staging job, which is what it’s costing in California right now. We’ve got ways to supplement and cut corners that still really allow me to market the home. But bring it up a level, you know, simple things like lighting changes, right, those drum shades as gray linen drum shades, they’re $300. So who can’t afford $300 to change out a light fixture, you know, take your Venetian, you know, wobble, take it with you and put the drummer because as soon as you shoot a room with a drum fixture, it looks like the room was built three or four years ago, not 1520 years ago. So we’re always
D.J. Paris 34:12
great suggestions. I actually wanted to ask a totally off the wall question because you at one point, were a brand new agent and we have a lot of people who listen to our show who are new to the business, and they’re probably thinking, Okay, I have this contact list. You know, we know that rates are low. I have my sphere of influence. What should I be doing right now in between sales? Do you have any? Obviously we talked about some marketing initiatives. But do you have any just suggestions about what agents who because it’s funny I talk we have 700 agents at our own company. And most of them are really busy, but some of them really aren’t. And there’s a huge disparity between the people who are busy and the people who aren’t and they both don’t understand each other. The people that are busy go How is everyone not so busy and the people that aren’t busy go I don’t understand how people are so busy at the moment. So other suggestions you have about how to Get busy in between sales. Yeah, absolutely.
Tracy McLaughlin 35:02
I mean, listen, you as long lines of what we’re talking about. I mean, you can spend a lot of time creating ad content, and branding content and the placement of those things. You could do something like start writing a newsletter, which actually, you know, I do a monthly newsletter. It takes me a lot of time. I mean, I’m doing national data research, I’ve got local stuff, like what’s happening in brain County, I spent a long time on it. I wanted to do a newsletter that people would that was sexy, that people would open up. So always leave with something super cool. It’s not some generic, you know, but then I’ve got what’s happening around the town, you know, what’s going on in San Francisco this weekend? Those you start doing that, and the data look, the central force, and all of this is your database, right? Yeah. Mines now and I think 6000 people is that getting in touch with your database and keeping that up to date, if you have nothing going on, literally go to everybody. You can think of that know somebody that might buy or sell or people you hung out with in college, you’re just getting out of grad school or whatever. Get whoever’s in your sphere of influence, get their email address, get their phone number, get through everything, and start blasting them once a month, with a really nice, even a really nice newsletter, deviled listing on there, but you can brand yourself as an expert in whatever area you’re working in. So there’s a lot I mean, I can’t imagine you couldn’t fill eight hours a day just thinking of creative content, to get yourself out there posting things on Facebook, take your iPhone, right? Turn it on yourself. I’m at the most beautiful house today, check out why White Houses are selling right now in Chicago, the contrast between blog posts the video on all your social media, it’ll get reposted, like, it’s YouTube, there’s so much content that can be created. Look, when I started, we didn’t have all these devices, right? Stand there and video ourselves. I mean, there’s such an amazing opportunity, and it costs us nothing to do it. It’s remarkable. You’re back in the day, it was like, Okay, I’m gonna call, you know, London Tatler. And you know, because my clients will say, like, I want to be in, you know, whatever, European Tatler. And it was, I mean, these ads were like, $10,000, I knew I would never get one call on their listing. But some friend had been over there and center your house should be advertising, we were stuck, you know, drowning in debt on a print ad, which was such a waste of time. Nobody ever bought homes from print ads, like, we had to go along with it. Now we can just say, Listen, you know, doesn’t work your house because I haven’t, you know, in photographs online, it’s so much easier.
D.J. Paris 37:38
Yeah, you can turn your phone on yourself and say, I have to show you guys the super cool thing in this house and walk over and point to it and click a button and then it distributes to Instagram and Facebook instantly. And you’ll get you know, lots and lots of eyeballs on it where in the past you’d have to pay for those eyeballs. And who could even tell where you know, what percentage of people saw that versus, you know, just found it on on naturally. I you have a really funny story that I want. I would love for you to share with our audience about you had a client that had a an issue with the law. I’ll just if you don’t mind sharing this particular story if that’s okay with you.
Tracy McLaughlin 38:16
I mean, we had a crazy thing to do he literally there should be a camera in my office 24/7 I deal with very wealthy very oftentimes, in total people who want what they want when they wanted and they win the game. Is there always right? I’m just gonna tell you that are always right. So anyway, I got a call. In the beginning of the I went into his corporate office, I had no idea what was going on. I was just told, you know, I’m going through a divorce, I’m selling this massive house. Ironically, I’m going to be selling the same house in about three weeks is the second time I’m going to sell it but this was about seven or eight years ago, nine years ago, maybe anyway, went in very wealthy individual. That’s all I was told, right. And then the communication started it would come in from his email and I thought it’s there’s things that seemed to off. And then he said, I’ve got an assistant who’s going to start communicating with you in the house, he had overpriced house, he wouldn’t stage it or outstanding permits to the tune of about a half million dollars from the city fines, etc. So I kept saying, Look, these things are actually impeding our ability to sell this house. I mean, you got to clean up the permit history, blah, blah, blah. So all the studies I’m going to turn you over to my assistant, so I start getting emails from the assistant. And I after about a month I realized this was actually the client Yeah, behind the veil of another email and another name abusing me like pretty consistently right? Off to his day. Oh, he was such an eighth. Yeah, leave it out. So anyway, then, of course I find out there’s a revelation that he’s actually been charged with somebody this wasn’t publicized at the time when I started this whole thing. But he got charged he ended up having to go to jail for white collar crime. During then the US Marshals seize the house for back taxes right so this all this stuff started happening this listing went on for like six or seven months, which is a long time where we live. And at one point, like at one point the US Marshal is it and it was just like I thought it was like shoot him up but uh yet a holster the gun I’m like the movie I mean, the guys in the house and this is how this thing’s gonna run into you know, they take the house back and anyway, long story short, I was walking through with him showing him the contents of personal items are still left behind. I opened this top drawer and literally like 10 penthouse magazines. hustlers come raining literally at the guy it’s like all it’s up above a comes fully down to the guy and I go the guy oh my god, it’s raining, pouring this.
D.J. Paris 40:55
Bad. That’s amazing.
Tracy McLaughlin 40:57
I was what I got out of that thing. And I finally was able to sell it. I mean, honestly, there was no words for
D.J. Paris 41:04
oh, that’s incredible. Then you had then you had to be like that’s not mine. That is the owner of the
Tracy McLaughlin 41:11
story my stuff over by clients.
D.J. Paris 41:15
Oh, that’s incredible. What a hilarious story.
Tracy McLaughlin 41:18
And then these stories. And you
D.J. Paris 41:21
you even have a story of two couples who swapped homes as well.
Tracy McLaughlin 41:25
Yes, I did. I mean, that was a really like, people always say, Oh, we’re gonna swap homes. It happened once in my career, where literally one couple was divorcing, the other couple was very, you know, happily married their four kids. And bam, they were just able, they were able to do this swap so that you know, they’re still in the house, by the way, the couple of the four children. They’re both still in those homes, you know, 12 years later. So yeah, that’s an unusual thing to time the buyer needs on to resident credible
D.J. Paris 41:53
Actor at the same time, Are they friends, where the two the two groups
Tracy McLaughlin 41:58
know each other, they just happen to call like I their house listed. He called His house is going in the market? Well, they went over there and then like, a great swap. So
D.J. Paris 42:07
oh, that’s an amazing. Well, we should remind our listeners about your new book. So your new book is real estate rescue how America leaves billions behind in residential real estate and how to maximize your home’s value. This is on Amazon, Barnes and Noble. It’s everywhere, right. And so we’re gonna post links to it. So if you’re listening to this, as an audio episode, look, in the notes, there’ll be a link to the Amazon for the Amazon purchase, please, please consider buying this book. This is a book, this is from one of the top real estate agents in the country. This, the only people we interview on the show are top real estate agents in the country, very few of them ever write a book. And this is exactly the kind of content that our audience wants to be able to take their real estate business to the next level. And also just for regular home buyers and sellers themselves also understanding how they can make improvements and understand what their home is actually worth from one of the top agents in the entire country. Tracy, we are so excited to have had you on the show today. And I know just how busy you are. And this is we’re not this is the evening time for both of us. And I know this is a busy time for you with being a mom and a business owner and all and I know you’re getting back to work tomorrow. So I want to give you some time tonight to enjoy your last night of freedom before you’re back to it. But thank you so so much for being on the show. want to remind everybody listening to please, if you want to see a really great realtor website, by the way, which showcases we’re going to talk branding Tracy’s website is truly one of the best I’ve ever seen. So visit her at Tracy McLaughlin, that’s Tracy tra Cy mclaughlin.com. Please also follow her on Facebook. That’s Murrin Ma Ri N Fine Homes and on Instagram at Tracy McLaughlin. We’ll post links to all of your social stuff too. But on behalf of the listeners, Tracy, we want to say thank you. This is a big, big thrill for us to have you on the show. We’re super honored that you shared so many great tips and ideas and we couldn’t be more more great grateful for you. And then also on behalf of Tracy and myself, we want to thank all of our listeners for continuing to support our show we ask everyone listening or watching to just do one quick thing. Tell a friend think of one other real estate professional that would benefit from hearing from one of the top 20 realtors in the country and Tracy and send them a link to the show. Easiest way you can do that send go right to our websites keeping it real pod.com Or just pull up a podcast app if you haven’t already subscribed search for keeping it real. It’ll show up right there. But Tracy, thank you so much. And we’re so excited to be able to share your story with with our audience and I wish you the best of luck and hopefully, hopefully the fires go away soon.
Tracy McLaughlin 44:43
Thank you it was very enjoyable beyond with you, TJ thanks a lot. I appreciate it.
D.J. Paris 44:48
All right. Thanks, Tracy.
Tracy McLaughlin 44:49
Hi, great to meet you.
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