Thursday, 5 April 2012

Changing the perception of Estate Agents in Central London

What is the general perception of Estate Agents in London?
In today's ever changing, fast paced world of Real Estate and technology, it is becoming increasingly more difficult to gain the trust of clients. Whether they are Landlords, sellers, tenants or potential buyers, it seems the general attitude towards Estate Agents has become negative. Why is this and what can be done to change this perception?

Google any "comments" on your typical Estate Agent in Central London and you can find an endless list of negative ones. We hear everything from - how the agent did not listen to what I wanted to how the Agent kept pushing properties that were above my price range on me. So, have Estate Agents brought this negative perception on themselves, or have clients become more demanding with the use of technology to assist them in doing the very things at which Agents used to be experts? Maybe it is a combination of both. At the end of the day, what really matters is the pace of change in the way business is being done today is ever increasing and this changes people's value judgments and expectations. It is not just the Real Estate business, which is going through major shifts. With booms and busts, coming more and more frequently and with the world growing smaller and more connected each year and consumers becoming more and more self reliant, the concept of expert has changed. Customers are no longer loyal to one Company and customers' expectations have increased dramatically, as information available to them makes it easier to understand a multitude of things once considered specialty trades. As a result, consumers have turned to doing things themselves. If they do use an Agency, they demand more and they demand it faster.

So what can an Estate Agent do to move the tide in the opposite direction? 
First, the Agent needs to become an expert in his changed field; a thorough understanding of real estate and the changing dynamics is essential in today's market. People now want a lifestyle, not just a house. To provide a lifestyle an agent needs to understand people not just houses. Functionality, aesthetics, ergonomics, cultural style, social networks and efficiency are just a few of the dynamics involved in fitting the right home with the right person. An Agent needs to be a keen listener in order to hear things said and the things not said. An agent needs to be able to gain the trust of his client in order to be able to probe intimate details and ask those questions that get to the heart of what the clients are truly looking for. Finally, an agent needs to offer sincerity. People want to know they are truly cared about. Today it seems everyone is in such a rush that service with sincerity has gone out the window. People are social beings and we require social interaction. Give a person ten real minutes of your time to just listen and you are likely to have a friend for life. An agent needs to be that friend for the period he is offering the service and more. People are more in tune with exactly what they want and have a better idea of how to get it. So where does this leave the Agent? Today the agent needs to be the friend who listens, the negotiator and the expert. In this new economy, agents are paid to remove the stress for both Landlord and tenant, by listening and matching tenant to Landlord in the most efficient manner. Today the agent needs to go that extra mile and then some, all with a huge dose of sincerity. 

Just as a farmer takes months to prepare each of his crops every season and does not reap the benefits until much further down the road, so an agent needs to look long term to make his business successful. The successful farmer starts with preparing his soil with all the right nutrients, then he plants the seeds, seeds which are healthy and strong, he then continues to nurture those seeds for many months before he sees any results. If the farmer does his job correctly, his seed will produce a crop one hundred fold of what he started with. 

The seeds the agent sows today will determine his crop of tomorrow. Give a client an unforgettable experience in finding his rental property today and he is sure to remember you ten years from now when he is ready to purchase his first home. Give him average service and he will forget who you are tomorrow. 

I hope these opinions are thought provoking enough to get a creative response of new and better ideas than I have presented. It is my sincere goal to find ways to bring estate Agent and customer closer together and to work in a spirit of harmony. I encourage your thoughts on this subject.

European football in Ukraine

As football is my favorite sport, I am looking forward to watching the European cup this year in Ukraine. As my fiance is from Ukraine and as I have spent some time there, I would like to offer assistance to anyone who is planning to travel there this summer.

For me Ukraine has become my second home. I have friends there and more importantly family. Initially though it was a shock to my system, as the way of life is very different in some respects. Luckily I had already been to Eastern Europe before my first trip to Ukraine but it still took some getting used to 

As I learned from my four months in Ukraine last summer, there are certain things to be aware of in order to have an enjoyable time. 

Travel - Since most of the football games are in the large cities, getting a flight is the most practical way to travel. Once you arrive in Kiev you will find a number of flights each day to all the major cities. 

Should you choose a different method, I would suggest travelling by train. The trains are a cost effective and safe way to travel and far easier than renting a car. The road systems in Ukraine are not the same quality we enjoy and the country is large so car travel is not advised. 
There are three basic options of travel by train. The first is economy which is a very uncomfortable seat or six beds in a small cabin (not advised), the next is four beds in a small cabin (not a bad way to go) and cost effective, the last is first class which is two beds in a cabin. 
This is my recommendation as the prices are very good, but if you want the cabin to yourself you will need to pay for both beds. 

Once you arrive at your city you will probably require the services of a taxi at some point. I would strongly suggest asking the price of your travel first as the taxi drivers do try to take advantage. This is something even the local people deal with. The average rates are 2:50-3:50 per kilometer. In Kiev you should pay about £12-15 from the airport to the city center. Rates are always negotiable and they expect you to bargain with them.

Hotels - Every major city has a variety of hotels from five star down to small guest houses. These are easy to find on the internet and prices are standard and comparable to any other country. I have found that the best way to stay in Ukraine is to book a flat. These can also be found on the internet and are far less money and a better value. You can find anything from a studio to large four bedroom homes all in the center of the city. Each city has its own websites so if you require help please send me a message and I will give you the best sites for those cities. Most places deal in cash so ask them to send you an email confirmation to ensure your stay. Most flats are in good condition and offer everything required for a fun and comfortable stay.

Crime - I personally have found Ukraine to be one of the safest places I have ever visited. Having said this, one should always be aware and keep belongings in a safe place. I have heard of various scams used where women will lure men in offering sex and fun only to have two or more men attack and rob them and where men dress up in police uniforms and again rob tourists. I have never experienced this myself but staying alert to scams is important especially since the police and justice system are somewhat corrupt. Other than these supposed scams I have not heard or experienced any crime and have felt very safe.

Health and safety - Unfortunately the health system in Ukraine is appalling. I have to say that I felt the most vulnerable with this as the hospitals and doctors I experienced made me feel as though I was in the eighteenth century. I fully recommend taking out a good vacation health insurance to the point that your insurance covers you for emergency flight or travel to another more suitable country if you are injured. If you do decide to drive, take extra care as Ukraine drivers are the worst I have experienced. If you have an accident you are playing Russian roulette with the health system so be extra careful. I recommend avoiding hospital at all costs.

Phone/internet - Surprisingly Ukraine is quite up-to-date with their technology and the internet service is good. Most cafes and hotels have internet and most flats do also. Be sure to ask when you book. The wireless service is great in the cities so talking on the phone should be no problem.

So there is a summary of how I experienced Ukraine. All in all a great country and a lot of fun. If you want more specific information on anything please send me a message and I will ask the expert (my fiance). We are also getting a small group of us together to go and watch the games so if anyone has an interest in joining us let me know. We are fun to hang out with and of course we know Ukraine quite well.

I hope you all have loads of fun and travel safe.


What happens if we are able to eradicate force?

Quote: If we could remove force in its true sense from the world, we would solve 95% of the world's problems. 
Quote made by Harry Binswanger, a philosopher of Objectivism (the philosophy of Ayn Rand) at a lecture to which I had the privilege of being invited to about ten years ago.
The quote had a very profound impact on me when I understood it in its full context. Imagine for a minute that we could somehow eradicate ALL forms of force. This would include all criminal force, all physical force and all forms of coercion from people, entities and most importantly from Government. 
Now this concept is obviously impossible as we as humans have free will; we are volitional. However, if it could be accomplished somehow, it would leave the people to deal with one another by only one method - voluntary association.
The impact of this would be immense. It would immediately stop all violence (except sport), all fraud, theft and criminal activity in general. That in itself would be a true miracle. What a better place the world would be. 
Now for the very sensitive and debatable topic… Government and its role in economic and social life. The Government systems vary around the world from Democratic to Socialist. Typically as evidence indicates, the more social or communist a Government, the more force they use to control the country and the more capitalist the more free that country is. I just listened to a very real and powerful story from my fiancĂ© about her life in Ukraine when she was a child. The Government had just broken away from Soviet Russia and was going through its initial transition to a new state. At that time, the country was still very much a socialist country and its future was very uncertain. Elena told me that as a child she would wake up at 5am every morning before school and stand in a very long line at the bakery with a special card from the Government to collect her family's weekly allotment of bread. In order to receive this bread her parents had to work all day every day FOR FREE. There was no pay. AT ALL. The Government had no money and therefore could not afford to pay the people. Instead, they FORCED the people to work their farms and factories to provide for everyone. Elena also told me that the people in the village would steal milk from the Government factory because they were not provided enough on a monthly basis for their family. Anyone caught stealing would be banned from working and would not receive the special cards to get the very necessary food they required for their family. Eventually the milk factory closed down and the country went into temporary bankruptcy until they began to function more like the western world.
A stark contrast from the very privileged life we live here. Because of a somewhat free economy, we enjoy the fruits of our labor and have the freedom to excel in virtually any area we choose. However, can we go further? The original comment came from the philosophical question of removing force. Can we do more to create a country whereby we only deal with one another voluntarily and does this mean smaller Government and a Laissez faire (hands off) Government, where the Government's role becomes the servant of the people as opposed to the dictator and we create a system based on individual rights?
A very thought provoking question and a very sensitive one. I am interested in knowing your thoughts on this in the context of business and even in our social affairs. Can we help to eradicate force by changing our Governments

Sex energy transmutation

Last week I wrote a blog called "does money follow attention" which received a bit of attention and brought up a discussion about energy. As I happen to have a keen interest in learning more about energy, how it affects us, what its true power is and whether or not it does actually flow from one form to another without losing its existence, I have decided to open the topic to all of you very smart Ecadamists.

I think sexual energy is a great place to start as it gets the juices flowing, stimulates our nerves and opens the door to great conversation, so I will start here.

It is said that the law of attraction is as real as we are and that through our thought processes and energy we emit, we attract into our lives exactly what we focus our minds on most. One who focuses with a positive mind and on positive outcomes is eventually rewarded and one who focuses with a negative mind on negative outcomes will certainly bring unto himself the very failures he focuses on. 

Taking this same thought process a step further, we all know that sexual energy is the most powerful form of natural energy known to us. Its power comes from our biological desire to procreate and leave our footprint on the world. This desire can make or break us; if left uncontrolled it will lead us to promiscuity and immoral acts, however if harnessed and directed toward thoughts of success, it can cause us to create within ourselves powers beyond our imagination. This sexual energy transforms from the desire to have sex, into intense determination and creative thought, giving us the persistence to succeed through all obstacles. Equally, it has the power to attract others toward us and our goals. 

How do you rate your sexual energy?

Is getting rich an exact science?

The law of the Increase of Life is as mathematically certain in its operation as the law of gravitation; getting rich is an exact science.

The quote above and the description below were written by Wallace D. Wattles. 

THERE is a thinking stuff from which all things are made, and which, in its original state, permeates, penetrates, and fills the interspaces of the universe.
A thought in this substance produces the thing that is imaged by the thought.
Man can form things in his thought, and by impressing his thought upon formless substance can cause the thing he thinks about to be created.

In order to do this, man must pass from the competitive to the creative mind; otherwise he cannot be in harmony with the Formless Intelligence, which is always creative and never competitive in spirit.

In order to receive his own when it shall come to him, man must be active; and this activity can only consist in more than filling his present place. He must keep in mind the Purpose to get rich through the realization of his mental image. And he must do, every day, all that can be done that day, taking care to do each act in a success ful manner. He must give to every man a use value in excess of the cash value he receives, so that each transaction makes for more life; and he must so hold the Advancing Thought that the impression of increase will be communicated to all with whom he comes in contact.
The men and women who practice the foregoing instructions will certainly get rich; and the riches they receive will be in exact proportion to the definiteness of their vision, the fixity of their purpose, the steadiness of their faith, and the depth of their gratitude.

What do you think? Is getting rich an exact science? Why is it that some seem to find wealth so easily while others who follow what appear to be the exact same procedure never get rich?

Is getting rich competitive or creative? The author claims it is a completely creative process and mindset, that being competitive forces one to believe we live in a world of limited resources and to therefore act in an irrational manner, not giving more than we expect to receive and therefore not adding value to life. Whilst I agree with this, it has also seemed evident that those who are successful are also the most competitive and in many ways ruthless.

What are your views?

City living at it's best

Many say that city living is great but does not offer the peace and quiet needed to rejuvenate from the stress of the fast paced life that comes with it. I beg to differ. Coming from another country, a place where large cities don't exist, I naturally have been thrilled by the idea of now having everything at my fingertips. I also know what it feels like to live in a place of peace and tranquility on a day to day basis. So I understand what it means to get away from it all and relax. Well today we spent the afternoon in the park. It was warm, sunny and just absolutely enjoyable. There were families having pick nicks, children running around playing, groups walking, football being played and speakers at the corner telling their life stories. all in all it was relaxing and fun. We came home refreshed and are ready to start the week with a bang.

What's the point of my story? I just want to say thank you to London. We live in a great city which does have everything we need to enjoy a happy life. 

If you ever feel stressed or run down mentally, I strongly suggest a walk in the park.

Best wishes everyone.

Does money follow attention?

How business marketing has significantly changed from five years ago? The fundamental point is that we need to create attention in order to have the money follow. Whilst I agree with this I am puzzled as to how we go about making that transition from general attention to attention that actually creates an income stream.
We all know of those successful people who have huge followings. The likes of Donald Trump and Richard Branson have defined success in their fields. The question is, did their success bring attention to their product and to them, or did they create the attention required to make themselves successful which in turn created their wealth?

If attention does truly attract money, and there certainly seems to be validity to this, then what kind of attention is required? We all know of famous people who continue to attract a huge amount of attention to themselves, the likes of Lindsay Lohan, but do no good to their reputation for long term success and continuously lower their income potential. 

So if attention does attract money, what kind of attention is needed and how do we transition that attention into an income stream?