Debbie Hanlon_crop - webBy Debbie Hanlon

Real estate is a unique profession. Where else do you see people both competing and co-operating with each other? While we all compete to get a listing, once it’s listed we all work together to try and sell it. Unlike other businesses that sell product, our product isn’t singular to any one company.

Let’s say you were selling Ford cars. You wouldn’t tell a customer that the Dodge dealership up the street had what they’re looking for and then escort them there and negotiate a deal for them. In real estate, that happens every day.

Because of that lack of barriers between agencies and the back and forth work that has to happen to close a deal, there are a million little things we, as agents, have to do over and over. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could do some of those little things faster and easier? Here are some simple tricks and tips that make the job of being a real estate agent a little bit easier.

The first thing you want to do after you finish reading this article (and if reading online, liking it, sharing it and leaving a nice comment on it) is to go and get a smartphone.  They’re relatively cheap and will make your life a whole lot easier. It’s like carrying an entire office around in your hand. Next, get a signature app so that you can sign things digitally.  I use PDF Expert but there is a wide range available – choose one you like. No more having to print something, sign it, scan it, fax it or send it. Using a simple stylus, you, your clients and other agents can sign away, no problem. That’s just scratching the surface of what these devices can do to simplify your job and cut hours out of your working week.

I remember, not too long ago, in order to get a copy of the client’s ID we would have to scan them or take a photocopy. Forget that. Using your trusty device, simply take a photo of the license. In fact, you can take a photo of most any paperwork you would normally have to scan or photocopy.

See a for sale by owner property, take a picture of it. Then get the graphic artist in your office, or do it yourself, to put one of your signs in front of it with SOLD on it and a headline that says, A Sign of Things to Come. Now print it and drop it off in their mailbox with a short letter of introduction. Call them a couple of days later. Trust me, they’ll be impressed and you’ll have gone that extra step a lot of agents don’t.

Here’s something I do that serves a double purpose – it reinforces my contact info and helps the property sell faster. I never end my prices in zeros. For some reason that scientists aren’t sure about, houses listed with zeros at the end of the price will not sell as fast as one with non-zeros. Honestly. You can’t make this stuff up.

I started to end the price with the last four digits of my phone number. A little subliminal advertising never hurts.

One last little tip for today’s lesson in how to lessen your workload: If possible, put offers on properties in on the first Tuesday of the month. The owner just paid the mortgage (again) on a property they’re trying to sell and will be more open to offers.

So, go get a smartphone or iPad, watch a few tutorials on YouTube and you’ll be a space age agent, wowing clients and impressing coworkers in no time.

People will wonder how do you do it and how you do it so well. Give them a little smile, a quick nod and answer, “I do it the easiest way I can.”

Try some of these tips. You will be amazed at how the tiniest of changes can make your life more positive, more productive and more profitable.

Debbie Hanlon is a real estate broker who has helped train hundreds of sales reps and brokered and managed a national real estate franchise. She also founded an independent real estate firm. Currently she coaches sales reps all over the world. She is the CEO of All Knight Inc, a global educational mobile company, as well as a published children’s author and the creator of the national I’m No Bully Show. 

Debbie Hanlon is the owner broker and Realtor at Debbie Hanlon Real Estate, a new boutique brokerage in St. John’s, Nfld. She is also a motivational speaker, real estate coach, author, former city councillor and children’s entertainer. She lives in St. John’s with her husband, Oral Mews and her dog Fisher.


  1. Good for you girl, show them how it “Should/Could” be done. I am an advocate of “let the tool do the work” and I am not talking about the person but rather the device! Although I would offer a word of caution, If you do use your device to take a picture of the clients ID or other personal information, download it to your computer PDQ and remove it from your device, Big Brother Google is watching. I took a picture of my clients Passport as ID and shortly thereafter got a message from Google with picture attached saying it was ready to post online. I just had to push the button, If you want to know what panic is, just get that message! Turning off all outside access has not slowed that process I continue to get these messages with other not so damaging pictures attached, even though I have never pushed the button.

    • And what does the Privacy Commissioner have to say about Google’s being allowed to compromise security. This is VERY dangerous.

      And it also means using your smart phone to take pictures of any kind – the pictures are NOT YOURS. Can that be true? By taking pictures with your smart phone you put yourself and your subject in danger?

      I had pictures on my hard drive that I wanted to save on my phone. So I emailed them to myself and saved them in my albums so I could view them at a glance. So if what you say is correct then Google owns them now, too? OH MY!!! Say it isn’t so.

      I was told recently that if someone was not on Facebook it meant they had something to hide from the world and couldn’t be trusted.

      Carolyne L

      • Carolyne, I can’t comment on the ownership
        of the pictures or anything else you may have in your device, but to say that
        others have access to it appears to be all too true. I suppose it depends on what apps you have in the device. I use a Samsung Galaxy Note, it has more apps than I will ever use, and most I never wanted. The store told me how to turn many of them off, but also told me they can’t be permanently removed. All that means is they are still functioning
        in the background, they are just not showing on any screen. The next time you load an app or do an update,
        look at the permissions you give it! If you
        want to do a test on how big brother Google (assuming you use Google) is
        looking over your shoulder and if you use your computer online…. Every time you’re
        on line spend some time looking at lots of different sites on a particular subject. You will start to see most of the ads on sites you normally go to start to show you whatever your test subject was. As for your comment re Facebook, it was likely made by a nosey person who is out of date and who
        should look in the mirror about “Trust”. Facebook isn’t necessarily the go to place
        anymore. There are so many Social Media sites out there, it depends on what you want from it and what you want to do. And many Good People don’t want to do anything!.

        • Your laptop is also outside your control, Peter, according to computer experts. The minute you go online, once your laptop is activated, your webcam camera automatically is a live feed in reverse. Anyone can view what you are doing. How is this permissible?

          I found this difficult to believe but checking several sources the story appears to be true. Someone somewhere can activate in reverse and “take YOUR picture” as long as you remain in range of the lens.

          It is recommended that you tilt the webcam lens downward so only the keyboard is visible. Don’t know if that is even safe.
          Another expert recommends putting a tissue over the camera.
          Were you all aware of this?

          Carolyne L

  2. You are too smart by a mile…er…1.6 kilometers, to continue being a Realtor Debbie. Newfoundland needs a sharp new Premier with great human relations knowledge. Throw your hat in the ring at the appropriate time.

  3. Hi Debbie

    Re the FSBO approach. With the help of a local lawyer, I put together a forms package of everything the seller would need to complete his task.
    I would stop off with something useful every ten days, in addition.

    Often they had no clue how involved it all is. Like much of the public, they think we just put a For Sale sign on the lawn and turn it to Sold and walk off with their money. This way they learned a little.

    Also, at each listing presenting I took along one of my beautiful custom made SOLD riders. I would just do a bit of subliminal marketing, laying it on a nearby chair, not the table where were were communicating.
    It did draw out some interesting discussions. Some would say: that’s some remarkable positive thinking, then look at each other, then say: where do we sign?

    When providing a CMA and the seller would decide the market would not support their intentions, rather than thinking I had wasted my time (I saw a lot of explosive agent feedback in the office when I worked at a large corp when this would happen), I thanked them profusely and said I understand. The timing is just not right for you at the moment. I will keep you apprised if anything goes on in the market that might support your wishes.

    The market is what it is. I stayed in touch and often within no time, I would connect with a buyer who, having described what they wanted to buy, and there just weren’t any available in a specific location, I would go to my CMA “maybe files.”
    And most often I would find what the buyer was looking for. Made contact, got permission to show – and – done like dinner. Two more happy clients.
    Often the buyer had something to sell, so it allowed everyone ample time to figure out the details. That is just one example of how I would end up with five ends out of a possible six, time and time again.

    It’s good we can share all these things, Debbie. Nice article.

    Carolyne L

    • Have to disagree with ending the price with zeros. I always use zeros because if you price at $399,999 you are going to miss the searches from $400,000 and up by $1.00 . Always use zeros as they are much better for computer searches

      Ed Robinson

      • Hello Ed
        Carolyne L here. Just a note in reply: I am not the one who talked about zero’s at the end of a price.
        But I’m thinking that MLS search ranges likely accommodate for the example you mention, the beta testers surely having come across such in building those programs?

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