Category Archives for "Time Management"

Want to Be Insanely Productive Without Busting the Bank? Here Are 4 Tips

We all want to do more in less time. This is one of the reasons that we build teams. We start to delegate work. When a finite amount of labor is delegated to a staff more things get done.

But that’s an awfully expensive way to do it.

Wanting to be more productive is also another reason why we fall for the latest technology fashion. This tablet can save you more time while this email autoresponder can communicate with leads while you sleep.

These new technologies also come with a cost.

What you and I want is to be able to do more stuff without having to write a check or swipe a credit card. Is that even possible? It is. Let me show you.

Use Rewards

Making money is not enough. I mean, it is enough when it comes to paying bills and clothing your children. But when it comes to motivating you to perform at your highest performance level, money alone is not going to do the trick. You also need praise and recognition for your work.

Perhaps you prefer it to be quiet and in private. Or you might prefer it to be verbal and in public. Find out what your sweet spot is and work to get more of that particular self-esteem reward. Make sure it has impact.

For example, this could be kind words from satisfied clients. Make sure you are asking them along the process on how you are doing. Seeking validation is okay. You will work hard when you do a good job, but when you are recognized and praised for doing a good job you will work even harder.

When you are happy you will work harder.

Eliminate Busy Work

We all have them: things that we do that were once important but are no longer important. So why do we keep doing them? Good question.

Sometimes we keep doing something because other people expect us to keep doing them. This could be a report or a memo. Why not contact those people and ask them how you could improve that particular task? Ask them what sort of impact it would have if you stopped doing that particular activity.

Measure the cost and benefit of everything you do and eliminate those tasks with little benefit but high cost.  Next in line eliminate those tasks with little benefit but low cost. Then look at all activities that are high benefit and high cost. Finally, any activities with high benefit but low cost should be kept.

Remove Hurdles

Ask yourself “What one thing could you remove that would make your work easier?” It could be keeping track of paperwork or making follow up calls on your 800 hotline. Is there a way you can delegate these activities to an intern or low-paid high schooler?

The goal is to get you to focus on the the four most profitable tasks of real estate–and forget about everything else.

Streamline Goals

When it comes to being insanely productive it is helpful if you are insanely focused. This means you have to be harsh about what you accept. And you have to be a Nazi about what you don’t accept.

One thing that I’ve noticed as I’ve gotten more successful is that more and more people approach me about opportunities. I used to listen to all these opportunities until I realized it was a waste of time. There will always be opportunities–and rarely will they ever be as successful as the person suggests. This is why I will only accept opportunity ideas via email. I’ll review the idea and then let the person know if I want more.

In the end, your main focus should be on negotiating, prospecting, listing and selling. Those are the only activities that will make you money.

Leave a comment if this post was helpful or if you have anything you’d like to add. And if you like what you read, subscribe to the Real Estate Marketing Blog.

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5 Time Management Tips to Make You More Profitable

Productivity is key to making more money. The more productive you are the more profitable you are.

On the other hand, the longer it takes you to finish a task, the less money you make.

This is why it’s key to learn ways to manage your time. Here are five that will help you do just that.

1. Difficult Things First

Leaving the hardest or most difficult task for the end of the day when you are tired and stressed out is not the best use of time. Instead, jump on your most challenging project first. And promise yourself a reward when you get done. That reward could be working on the fun part of your business. And that reward will motivate you to stay on target and get the most difficult things done first.

2. Be Stingy

Don’t let other people encroach on your to-do list. And don’t let them elevate their to-do list above yours. If it is a client, again, tell them that as soon as you finish X,Y and Z (which should always be high-dollar productivity tasks), then you can help. Client emergencies will rob you of time and money. Be stingy.

3. Do Things in a Quick and Dirty Fashion

We are most productive when in 90 minute busts of work. This means you should set a timer on your phone–and then work your tail off until your time is up. The secret to this productivity trick is not getting interrupted. No phones, texts, email or Facebook. And if someone walks into your office then look at your timer and say, “I’d love to help you but give me until X.”

4. Touch It Once

One of the biggest time wasters in the world is covering tracks you’ve already covered. You can usually spot these people because their desks are piled with paperwork and their inboxes are clogged with open emails. Instead, make a decision on the spot on what you need to do with any kind of report, request, letter, email and so on. Can you throw it away? File it? Respond? Knock it out? Delegate it? Put it in a to-do pile for the following day? This will keep items from piling up on you and overwhelming you.

5. Set a Deadline with Every Expectation

First things first: make sure you and your client are on the same page by setting up expectations. Spell out exactly what you will do–and then put a time limit on it. For example, say to a client, “I will do X and Y by Z.” And expect the same from them. Say to a client, “I need you to do A and B by C. Can you do it?” If they agree, confirm it in your calendar and send a reminder email that summarizes what you agreed on.


Productivity and time management are all about getting work done so you can make more money. The less time you spend on a task, the higher your per hour rate will go up.  That’s why it truly pays to be more effecient and effective.

What other ways have you found that help you to manage your time better?

Leave a comment if this post was helpful or if you have anything you’d like to add. And if you like what you read, subscribe to the Real Estate Marketing Blog.

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6 No-Fail Ways to Increase Your Annual Income

Would you like to make more money this year than you did last year…and continue that trend for the next ten years? Want to be the top sales professional in your field or find your way on to the Wall Street Journals list of top 400 agents in the nation someday?

You can—but it’s not easy. And it takes a lot more than sitting open houses on Saturday in spring with visions of sales awards dancing in  your head.

How do I know? Some of our clients are truly accomplished real estate agents. I’ve seen what they’ve done to set themselves apart. In a few cases I’ve helped, but mostly I’ve marveled at their approach, energy, and most importantly persistence.

If you want to increase your annual income this year, then here are six principles you must embrace.

Understand Your Value Per Hour

Most of us will take any work that comes our way. That’s problematic. Working with just about anybody will drain you of time and energy and, most importantly, of money. So your first step towards earning more income this year is to figure out how much you are worth.

This is easy to figure out: just take your last commission and divide that by the amount of hours you worked. That figure is what you are worth per hour. More than likely it’s on the low side. Now, determine how much you want to make.

If you’re not tracking your time, you need to start doing that today. What separates the superstars from the average agent is a metric mindset.  They measure everything. They keep track of the number of hours they work a day. Number of inbound leads they respond to. People they convert.

Tracking your time is just one part of understanding your value and will help you reach that preferred value per hour.

Understand Your Average Commission Check

Your next step toward increasing your annual income is to understand what your average commission check is. This is a simple task, too: Just add up all the commissions you’ve earned over the last fiscal year and then divide that by the number of commissions.

That average commission check will give you an idea of what each transaction is worth to you. But the value of this simple exercise is to see how working with just about anyone is hurting you. You’re not going to make more money each year if you don’t start controlling what you make by selecting who you want to work with and when.

Disqualify Rapidly

This will hurt because you’ll be turning down leads. But hopefully by now you realize that unloanable, unmotivated and high-maintenance people don’t make you money. (Here are four questions you can use to disqualify potentially problematic seller leads.)

In fact, the whole point behind this exercise is so that you can cherry pick your clients, choosing to work with those who agree with your business philosophy and can actually pay you for your time. Do not be afraid to stand by your VPH.

Prospect Daily

Disqualifying rapidly will not be so troublesome when you are prospecting daily. In fact, you can not really expect to gain real momentum unless you are. This means you need to be picking up the phone, responding to buyer ads and hanging out places where you have an opportunity to network.

Here’s a bit of a warning: Do not quit prospecting when you are busy. That is the last thing you want to do.

If you do, you’ll quickly find yourself out of leads and out of work and back to square one. That’s an emotional roller coaster ride you don’t want to get on.

Instead, spend time prospecting by phone, in person, on social media, at apartments or with investors. You can not create a steady stream of income that grows each year without a consistent stream of leads you can cherry pick.

Understand Your Most Profitable Activities–Eliminate the Rest

Delegation is the key to making more money. See, if you’re spending your time copying flyers or hanging signs, then you are not making your VPH. You are making much, much less. You are making minimum wage…and there are easier ways to do that.

What are your most profitable activities? More than likely it’s prospecting, marketing, negotiations, listing presentations and selling. It’s those activities that you actually make money, so you should focus on those and delegate everything else.

Create a Schedule

Finally, you need to prioritize your activities. Perhaps you are a morning person. Then reserve all your high profit activities during that time when you are sharpest. That means don’t schedule a negotiation call for 8 in the evening.

This also means you need to avoid overworking. Be fierce about controlling your time and protecting your life outside of your business. And if your life IS your business, then you need to step back and re-evaluate what you are tyring to accomplish, especially if you have a family.

Sacrificing time with family and friends to make a ten or twenty thousand more dollars a year is a worthless pursuit.

Leave a comment if this post was helpful or if you have anything you’d like to add. And if you like what you read, subscribe to the Real Estate Marketing Blog.

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10 Steps to Ruthlessly Accomplish All Your Goals in One Day

It’s no secret: real estate is a hectic job. Paper work. Showings. Buyer drives. Presentations. Your tasks in one day can pull you in many different directions–and make your to-do list seem endless.

Furthermore, like Tony said the other day,  “it’s really tough to focus sometimes.”

Is productivity one of your biggest challenges?

If so, let me introduce you to ten ideas that might help you tackle your to-do list in record time–and even leave time to spare so you can do the things you truly love.

1. Create a List

This is a no-brainer. But you’d be surprised at the number of people who don’t do it. They either keep it in their head or simply don’t think they have time to sit down.

If that’s you, you need to know this: starting your day without a list is the main reason you are so busy. Stop now and empty your brain of everything you need to do. Then go to the next idea.

2. Make it short.

Write down no more than 20 items on your daily to-do list. If you really want to challenge yourself, make it less than 10.

Why? When you focus on less you are pouring your energy into the tasks that are most important to your life goals. This is what it means to be ruthless. You’re going to have to make some tough calls. So just do it.

3. Time block.

Roping off certain hours in the day to do a certain task is a popular and successful trick to ruthlessly getting things done.

Imagine from 9 to 11 A.M. you prospect. 12 to 1 visit possible clients. And 2 to 4 P.M. you fill out paperwork. The key is to hang a “Do Not Disturb” sign while you are getting these things done.

4. Eliminate happy talk.

Shun the water cooler. Visit the bathroom at odd hours. Keep your door closed (if you have one). Shut off your email. The point is to avoid falling into idle, unproductive conversation.

5. Lump like tasks.

This is brilliant–and my favorite idea. If you have 3 large tasks and 7 small ones, after you finish your first large task, spend the next hour knocking out two or three of the smaller tasks.

For instance, small tasks could be checking email, walking to the mail box and asking your manager a question. Check out Leo’s fav procrastination hack for help.

Ruthlessly knocking out these small tasks has a secondary reward: they serve as small victories that may encourage you to keep pouring it on.

6.  Get up early.

Not an early bird? I know how you feel. I felt the same way for a long time. What I’ve found is that I can regulate my sleeping patterns with a little work. Here’s how.

Let’s say you get out of bed at 8 A. M. But your goal is to be out of bed by 6 A.M. What you need to do is start slowly.

Each week set your alarm clock back 15 minutes. This allows your body to slowly adapt. And in just two months you’ll be an early riser.

And why even get up early you ask? Remember that old Army commercial: “We do more work before 8:30 A.M. than most people do all day.” Now that’s ruthless.

7. Rely less on technology.

Some of you claim that you can do more now than you could ever before because of technology. Agreed.

But let me ask you this? Are those things you are doing important? Do they add to the bottom line? Who maintains it? Upgrades it? Tinkers with it?

All I’m saying is this: simplify. If you can do something with paper and pen, go that route. Avoid feature creep.

8. Plan.

This bears repeating: Map out your days, weeks, months and years. Start from where you want to be in the next ten years. Then work backwards, describing the steps you need to get there.

9. Get your affairs in order.

No, don’t line up your mistresses. Simply schedule certain days or half days where you do nothing but maintenance.

Clean hard and soft files. Add gadgets to your software. Dust your office. Get your car’s oil changed. Anything that you’ve been putting off but needs to get done because it could break down the road.

10. Demand a stop time.

If you really want to be ruthless, you need to clearly define when you will stop.

Why? Imagine a football game that started at 8 A.M. and didn’t finish until midnight when the last player collapsed in exhaustion.

Football players on the gridiron are ruthless because they know this: the game is over in sixty minutes. That time restraint keeps them fiercely focused on their goals.

The same holds true for you. If you know you’ve got a fly fishing or shopping trip planned at 4 P.M., don’t you think you’d be ruthless? I do.


Here’s the deal: being ruthless is all about attitude. It’s a mindset. A determination to get things done.

But if you like flailing about your day, losing your hair, grinding your teeth, fighting ulcers, losing money and breaking up your family–then fine, ignore my advice.

My gut feeling is you’d rather not lose hair, money or family. So make the decision today to be ruthless. And then teach someone else to be ruthless. You’ll reap great rewards.

Leave a comment if this post was helpful or if you have anything you’d like to add. And if you like what you read, subscribe to the Real Estate Marketing Blog.

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Michael Masterson’s Personal Productivity Secrets

Raise your hand if you know who Michael Masterson is.

Okay, for those of you with non-raised arms, Micheal Masterson is founder of health, wealth and success e-newsletter Early to Rise. In less than 7 years, Masterson built a loyal following of over 250,000 people–whom he mentors to help them acheive their financial goals–through his success at productivity, selling and marketing.

Masterson is also the author of several Wall Street Journal, New York Times and best sellers, including Ready, Fire, Aim, and Automatic Wealth: The Six Steps to Financial Independence.

So here’s the deal. In a short book called Personal Productivity Secrets, Masterson shared his personal blueprint for productivity success.

It’s called the Master Plan.

Jack Welch used a Master Plan to turn GE into a lean, market-dominating company. NFL Coach John Fox used a Master Plan to go from a 2-14 season to a run at the Super Bowl the following.

The same process can help you achieve your goals. Here’s how it works.

Simplify Your Goals

A master plan works by simplifying your interests and acting upon them in a simple way. Start by figuring out your life goals.

1. List all the things you want to accomplish on a sheet of paper.
2. Choose the top interest.
3. Decide if that is what you want to spend your life doing.
4. Create a five year plan to reach your number one goal.
5. Create a one year plan to reach your number one goal.
6. Repeat steps 4 and 5 for every major goal you want to accomplish.

How Does Rising Early Make You Rich?

The morning time is the best time to collect your thoughts. Better yet, if you get up at 4:30 A. M., and work 2 hours, you’re that much ahead of your competition.

During these hours of solitude, make your to do list, then prioritize it and finally start on one of the most important tasks immediately.

This Little Tool Will Be Enormously Valuable to You

Masterson carries 3-by-5 index cards everywhere he goes and writes down every idea that comes to him. This way, nothing escapes him.

Each morning, he reviews his cards and consults them whenever you have a spare moment. I sometimes use the voice memo feature on my phone. This is especially helpful when you are driving.

Whether electronic or paper, once you start doing this, you’ll be surprised at how much more “on top of things” you’ll be in a few days.

Don’t Let Your Email Ruin Your Schedule

If you are on email more than twice a day–stop it. Checking email is not the most important thing you should be doing.

Also, Masterson recommends you train people who email you to keep it short. And when they pose a problem, teach them to map out multiple choices.

Group Like Tasks Together

Tackle similar tasks at the same time: That means, create time blocks when you check voice mail, send emails and write memos.

Or, group similar tasks by time duration. Lump all tasks under fifteen minutes for the end of the day. And group your more time intensive tasks in the morning when you are fresh.

Choose a Daily Planner That Works for You

Electronic planners tend to be the least effective. Daily paper planners the most. I use a makeshift notebook. Whatever you choose, stick with it.

Pencil in Appointments First–Ink Later

When you make an appointment, pencil it in first. When it is confirmed, then ink it in. This lets you know at a glance appointments that are concrete and those that are not.

Measure and Improve Your Personal Productivity

It’s always a good idea to review every two weeks your planner to see how many tasks you aren’t getting done. If you find yourself with more incomplete tasks than you like, do one of three things:

1. Work more hours and be happy with it.
2. Learn how to be more efficient.
3. Schedule fewer tasks.

Two is probably your best option. But, highly-motivated people often try to bite off more than they can choose, so the third option might work for you instead. You decide.


In How to Become CEO, Jeffrey J. Fox recommends spending an hour a day “planning, dreaming, scheming, thinking, calculating. Review your goals. Consider options. Ponder problems. Write down ideas.
Mentally practice your sales call or big presentation. Figure out how to get things done.”

Good advice.

Follow Masterson’s simple steps to get a jumpstart on your day, your career and your income. And to change your life you’ve got to stick to this basic program.

The bottom line is: stop focusing on anything that is keeping you from your most important goals.

Leave a comment if this post was helpful or if you have anything you’d like to add. And if you like what you read, subscribe to the Real Estate Marketing Blog.

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Kick the Procrastination Habit Once and For All

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Kick the Procrastination Habit Once and For All

Why We Procrastinate

Whether it has to do with prospecting, spending money or simply introducing your self to someone at a party, the reasons why you procrastinate boil down to the few:

  1. Fear of failing
  2. Feeling overwhelmed with a situation.
  3. Given up hope that a situation can be changed or affected.
  4. Too “Busy” to get the really important things done.
  5. Can’t make a decision.
  6. Overworked, tired.
  7. Want to avoid work you don’t like.

Each of these can be reduced down to the pleasure + pain principle: we do things to gain pleasure and to avoid pain.

Method to Overcome Procrastination

1. Get clear about what you want in life. Take a half-day to write down all your goals in some or all of these categories: career, education, relationships, financial, physical, mindset, creative, spiritual, public service, travel, leisure, and other. Once you have your list, then whittle it down to your top 10, then down to your top 5, and then your top 3. Do this by asking yourself, “Can I live without this?” Let your less important goals lie dormant on a “maybe” list that you can check on again in a few month.

2. Delete or delegate from your To-Do List those things that don’t relate to your top 3-5 goals.

3. Tie tasks you don’t like to your goals. It helps to mentally (and in writing) tie these tasks to one of your main goals or values. For example, “Picking up the phone and calling prospects allow me to have have business constantly churning in the pipeline, which is something I highly value. By having prospects constantly in the pipeline I will be better able to work on my goals and have less anxiety.” By linking the task to the pleasure of being able to think clearly, you now have a reason that will motivate me to take action.

4. Plan your day every morning. This is not a big task. It should only take about 10-15 minutes of quiet time. Refer back to your master list. Do the most difficult and most important things first and work your way down to the easier stuff in the afternoon. You’ll feel really good if you do this. Focus on that to motivate you to wait to check email and such until after you’ve finished your first big task.

5. Plan by weeks, not days. Start every Sunday and fill in your calendar with all the big things that you’d like to accomplish for the week. Sometimes procrastination happens simply because a task is not scheduled.

6. Cheat and nap. Don’t be so hard on yourself about the timing of a task. And take short breaks, always. If you do, then you won’t try to escape through procrastination so hard in the future. Just reschedule and get back on track later or tomorrow.

7. Just do it.

8. Break down big tasks into smaller assignments. The novelist Anne Lamont said as a little girl she remembered her brother becoming frantic over a huge project he had due in three days. The project was to document and briefly describe dozens of birds in his local neighborhood. To keep his son calm and on track, her father often said, “Son, just do it bird by bird.” Take a few moments to think about how to break down a larger task and schedule it into your calendar in pieces. This is good for when you are feeling overwhelmed.

9. Get help making decisions. I like to use the pro/con method. I also recommend getting help from a friend that you know is good with making decisions. Once you’ve made your decision then break it down into tasks and schedule into your calendar.

10. Believe in yourself. If you’ve lost hope, know that you can turn things around. Release the fear of failure. Failure is just a learning experience. Slow and steady wins the race. A little bit done every day adds up to a lot over a year. If you have to, just fake your belief until it becomes real. Remember, you can do it!

In a nutshell:

  • Know your most important goals and values.
  • Only do tasks that contribute to those goals and values.
  • Mentally link tasks to the pleasurable outcomes you seek.
  • Plan your day & week.
  • Do, but don’t overdo. Rest when needed.
  • Break down big tasks.
  • Get help making decisions.
  • Believe in yourself!

What do you do to overcome procrastination?

Mastering Technology: How to Be More Effective in Real Estate

The real estate industry is historically behind when it comes to technology. Why is that?

In an intriguing post called “You Can Lead an Agent to Technology, but You Can’t Make Them Type,” Elizabeth Weintraub argues that an agent shoots herself in the foot if she ignores the web and what it offers.

Perhaps this has something to do with the demographics. NAR says average agent is a 57 year old female.

Then you have posts by Kelly Roark over at Future of Real Estate Marketing. She writes about Agent 2.0. She quotes her colleague Pierre Calzadilla, who’s trained agents for years on how to integrate technology into daily business, recently profiled what Agent 2.0 looks like:

  • Not “tech savvy,” but “technologically empowered”
  • Highly proficient in marketing, workflow and time management
  • Aware of and open to new innovations, and how they can fit into one’s business
  • In tune with consumer trends and changes in buyer/seller behavior (e.g., Gen X/Y)
  • Appreciation for “old school” techniques but with an understanding of the value in adapting these techniques to new mediums

Further on in her posts she does an excellent job pointing out the key to successfully using technology: adapt the best offline techniques to use online.

That’s good advice. So exploit these traditional techniques.

And the thing to remember is this: if a piece of technology–whether a blog, Facebook or Twitter– doesn’t some how save you time, save you money or make you money, get rid of it.

Furthermore, always make sure you are in control. You are the master and technology is the slave. You make the plan, then you work it.

Regardless if real estate is behind when it comes to technology…it is never to late to start. And it is not as intimidating as you might think. I promise.

If you haven’t already, subscribe to the Real Estate Marketing Blog.

Monday Mashup: Productivity, Listings and Eeyore

Michael Wright, Executive Editor of Agent Inner Circle, shares an ingenious listing agreement submitted by reader David Rake to close more listings. See the agreement that gets the whole family involved in selling the property.

One reader claimed that giving up prospects is an insane idea in the current falling market. I disagree. But you be the judge.

Time management professional Dr. Donald E. Wetmore shares five techniques to recapture a wasted hour or two every week.

In the March 1, 2006 article “Automating Showing Feedback” Michael Russer (aka Mr. Internet) demonstrated “a far better way to get valuable comments from showing agents without wasting time on the phone or cranking out reports.”

In May of this year we showed you how to automate showing feedback for free.

The Future of Real Estateblogger Joel Burelsom explains “anyone who gets into blogging quickly finds out – Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feeds are an indispensable way to keep on top of a tidal wave of information that exists out there.” But far from just simply keeping tabs on the industry, he shares five ways you can expand your blog habit, take it to the next level, better your day and improve your productivity .

All you can really expect when using Microsoft’s new Vista operating platform is an incremental improvement in productivity. Or so says David Berlind. In the meantime, stick with XP until 2009. Or 2014. Or buy that Mac.

And finally, Lifehacker Dustin Mix shares six ideas on how to kill that vile and despicable enemy of productivity: Eeyore.

One of an Agent’s Nastiest Jobs

Now wouldn’t it be great if your sellers were a fly on the wall and heard with their own ears what was going on during a showing?

Better yet, why not have the sellers involved in the showing, just like in that television program Designed to Sell?

Have you seen how they do this in Designed to Sell?

It’s an ideal way—albeit sometimes painful—to show the seller via a hidden camera (their “fly on the wall”) what buyers think of their home. Usually on Designed to Sell the motivated sellers are very receptive to what they hear and go with the recommendations.

This is because the buyer paints for the seller the exact picture that the market sees of their home. The trick, as you may know, is to offer this picture in such a way that sellers don’t bite the messenger. (Designed to Sell does it with a hidden camera.) Sharing negative feedback can be an unpleasant, if not painful, job. Now there’s an easy and automatic way to share feedback without getting bit. (And free.)

When the seller sees comments like “…the garage door is smashed up. Fix it, and I might put in an offer…” or “…worn carpet throughout. Looks terrible. Replace it and I’ll consider…” and when these comments aren’t coming from you but from the mouth of buyer’s who have shown their home, it’s likely sellers will rethink their price. The condition of the home. Or perhaps their terms.

And so they lower the price. The home is in better alignment with market demand. And it sells. Fast.

The cumulative effect is often a brisk and steady up tic in homes sold.

And isn’t it true the faster you can sell homes, the faster you can collect a commission check?