Archive for November, 2007

Reports on Foreclosures for October


Is the sky falling? Or, is the media stirring up a frenzy?Derek Overbey Talk of the increase in foreclosures is scattered all over the news this week.

According to RealtyTrac, October’s foreclosure findings nearly doubled from the same month a year ago. A total of 224,451 foreclosure filings were reported last month, up 94 percent from 115,568 in October a year ago.

But, compared to September (month-to-month) the rate of filings is up just 2 percent, and the number of default notices is down 9 percent from what it was at this year’s high in August. To read the full release, click here.

The media would make you think the sky is falling, but consider this. Even with all the foreclosure activity that’s happened in the last few months, the national foreclosure rate for October was 1 home for every 555 households. That’s 0.18 percent. It’s not D-Day just yet.

Still, foreclosed properties can have a negative impact on neighborhoods by reducing home values, and as it turns out, it can go even further than that. RealtyTimes writer Broderick Perkins wrote an interesting article titled "Foreclosures Undercutting Social Benefits of Homeownership." It paints a pretty stark picture of the overall effect foreclosures have on society:

Studies have long associated homeownership with reduced crime, better educated kids, higher incomes, less reliance upon welfare, more politically active residents and even reduced teen pregnancy, among other benefits.

It’s not surprising then that the positive effects of homeownership are vanishing with growing declines in homeownership, especially where there are concentrations of lost homes.

Bottom line, it’s in our best interest as real estate professionals to try and help at-risk homeowners to keep their home. If you know anyone who needs help, HUD is a good place to start. Click here for more information.




The top grossing real estate agents at InteroFor October 2007, here are Intero’s Top 10 REALTORS® for the year. There’s definitely been some change in the rankings from last month.

Congratulations to everyone. We’ll continue to announce our Top 10 producers each month (for the month prior), so watch for it to see who’s made the list in December. For last month’s list, click here. Grow for it!

  1. Minhua Jin, Cupertino
  2. Rob Faris Team, Cupertino
  3. David Troyer, Los Altos
  4. Dan Gluhaich, Morgan Hill
  5. Ethel Green, Los Altos
  6. Eric Fischer–Colbrie, Los Altos
  7. Catherin Qian, Cupertino
  8. Alana Lam, Cupertino
  9. Susanna Wong, Saratoga
  10. Andy Wong, Los Altos

Top Realtors October

Intero News from No Limits in Las Vegas


Derek Overbey’s dailies from the REALTORS® Conference & Expo 2007Derek OverbeyYes, I’m here at No Limits in Las Vegas, with thousands of REALTORS®. There’s 744 exhibitors at this conference, and they are telling us more than 2,000 attendees have pre-registered from 60 countries. And, that number will grow as people show up and register onsite. It’s pretty hectic, and as crazy as you’d expect it to be with that many  REALTORS® in one place.

I’ll be joining a panel this morning for a seminar called "Marketing 2.0," where we’ll talk about how technology is transforming real estate marketing. I’ll bring notes from the discussion tomorrow.

Gino and Bob are given the RISMedia National Homeownership Award

Last night, we went to the 12th Annual RISMedia Power Broker reception, which is attended by all the big, national brokerages. Gino and Bob were completely taken by surprise and given the National Homeownership Award. Sponsored by Bank of America, the award is given in recognition of "outstanding achievements among residential real estate’s most influential and charismatic leaders."

Gino didn’t have a speech ready (I think that made him a bit nervous). But he got up and did great job, talking about the Intero Values and what that means to our business. Announces Free Listings Feed

The other big news here is that has announced they’re going to allow brokerages to feed their listings for free to the Zillow web site. Intero is currently one of the only brokerages in the Bay Area right now who is working with them. Here’s a brief from their press release.

Real estate Web site this week launched its much-anticipated Zillow® Listings Feed program, allowing brokerages and Web vendors nationwide to feed all their for-sale listings to on an automated basis for free. The program launches this week with numerous industry partners and approximately a half million for-sale listings, with more to be added in the near future. Zillow CEO Rich Barton will discuss the program on stage today at the National Association of Realtors conference in Las Vegas.

If you want to read more about what’s happening at the conference, check out the No Limits Live blog.

Real Estate Texas Style


Broker/Owner Lisa Marie Contaldi talks about launching Intero in AustinLisa Marie Contaldi

Broker, MBA, GRI, EPRO
CEO, Intero Austin

In 2006, real estate agent and broker Lisa Marie Contaldi was chosen as one of 30 select individuals to pursue the Acton MBA-E, an intensive one–year entrepreneur–based program out of Austin. The Princeton Review calls  the Acton program one of the “most competitive" in the country, with professors rated among the “top three business faculty in the nation.”

Lisa’s decision to accept and study at Acton was one she says changed her life, because it helped her reinvent her career and led her to launching Intero Austin. Here, Lisa tells to us about her experience in the program and why she thinks Intero and Acton have a so much in common.

Let’s talk a little bit about your background and how you came to study with Acton.

Austin, TXI got my real estate license in 1991 and then in 1993 I became a broker. I started in relocation, working with companies like Dell and IBM with their corporate leasing needs.

I then moved onto a well–known independent brokerage on Lake Austin where I was named as one of the top producers when I started, but by the time I left, I was suffering professional burnout. The truth was, I really didn’t like was how I was working in the field. I have been in sales for most of my professional career, specializing in real estate for 12 years. I felt a need to shift gears. That’s why I entered Acton.

Acton is a one–year program of full–time study—we’re talking 100 hours per week. I was one of the only students who attempted to work while attending the program. I was also one of only three women.

It was definitely one of the hardest things I’ve done in my life. It was like being in boot camp. You had to give up every personal thing in your life and dedicate yourself entirely to the program. I was also crazy enough to keep selling real estate, so I averaged only three hours of sleep per night. I really can’t explain how much commitment it took to get through. There were definitely times when I didn’t think I would make it.

Having gone through a prestigious program like that, you could have gone anywhere. What made you decide Intero?

I’d say that the Acton led me to Intero. Going through that intense period really helped me to reinvent myself. I came out of it with the drive to change something in the industry and offer what I felt was missing in Austin real estate. I recognized the need for a high–end boutique agency, with a national infrastructure. That combination, which is what I believe Intero represents, is very rare.

Life of MeaningOne of the courses we completed at Acton was called “Life of Meaning.” What I was living before was not a living a life of meaning. It was a monetarily–driven life. My interaction with Intero was more inspirational. When you learn to love what you do, the amount of time you devote to it is immeasurable. When it’s transaction based, the only time you’re up is when you make a sale and when you’re not selling, you’re down, really down.

I also wanted to be a part of a company that focused on coaching and training. And, those are the building blocks of Intero. In fact, Intero’s Value Pyramid is very similar to the values taught at Acton, which is interesting because Acton is a Harvard–case based program focused on three things: 

  • Learning how to learn
  • Learning how to make money
  • Learning how to live a life of meaning

Values like integrity and discipline are core to being in the Acton program and to being a part of Intero.  These are the things I’m mentoring in my agents today.

Launching Intero in Austin was a logical progression for me.  Gino’s values and mission statement were completely in line with the moral fabric of my MBA program.

What are some of the key lessons you took away from Acton?

It empowered me to reinvent myself.  I’ve always felt the need to lead others and to help others achieve their goals. Acton gave me the toolkit to run a company and Intero provided the brand and infrastructure.  Everything was perfectly aligned—the idea, the people, the economics and the timing.

It also taught me to understand the role of an entrepreneur in this industry. It sharpened the tools I have to manage a successful business and to choose a path that inspired me and had purpose. I also learned the importance of organizing an exit strategy. My professor and one of the founders of the Acton program Jeff Sandefer, often quoted Stephen Covey from Seven Habits of Highly Effective People:

“Begin with the end in mind.”

You opened your office this last April. What have been your biggest challenges?

I chose to bring a new franchise to an area of the country where it is not known. And so, I’m trailblazing right now to create brand recognition in the Southwest. Just because the idea was in line with everything that I was seeking professionally, that doesn’t mean the process is going to be easy.

I think that my initial hurdles here are to let people know who Intero is and the great things they have already done. Actually, I’m fighting two fronts: brand recognition and winning over agents who clearly would think this kind of firm is too good to be true.

I’m not in a position to move the masses in terms of agent recruitment. I opened this office with a background of sales. I don’t have the same momentum that Intero had in the Bay Area. I am creating relationships rather than tapping into and changing the course of existing ones.  When great managers move, great agents follow. 

This is just another hurdle I have to make it over. If in five years, I have 50 agents selling 20 houses per year, I’d be on the road to success.

I’ve realized how tremendously difficult it is to find people who have the discipline to work in real estate. Most enter this industry because they don’t like going to work.  The irony is that you need an even stronger work ethic and sense of discipline in real estate due to the competitive nature of the business.

What you do everyday is predicated on disciplined activities within a strict schedule. Gino and I connected on that. It’s the same discipline you need to have in a workout regime. If you want to be fit and healthy, you have to work out everyday. Well, if you want to have a healthy business, you have to workout in it every day. 

How have you coped with the changes in the market this year, while trying to launch your office?

We’ve had about a 30 percent drop in sales year–over–year. The way I see it, attrition in the industry improves the quality of players who remain. To be honest, I’ve had to be back and forth between sales and recruiting. It’s difficult to recruit agents to an unknown brand. I am completely convinced that other choices don’t compare.  They may have a great pitch but they don’t offer the tools for growth.

In Austin, Coldwell Banker and Keller Williams are the main players, but half of the market is still controlled by local independents—50 percent! This area is ready for the next national brand—the Intero brand—to enter and control market share. It is the perfect opportunity for agents, new and experienced and Austin is still a young city and so there’s a ton of growth taking place.

Intero has done things to help me become a better manager and leader. They offer management coaching and I hired a professional coach who has managed an office and sold real estate. When you pay a significant sum on a monthly basis, you learn how to get with the program of being better at both quickly. I am sold on every coaching principal that Intero espouses. I think having mentors in this business is key.  There are times when I feel the need to succeed on my own, but knowing I can jump back in to sales at any time is what makes me know that I can survive the growing pains.

You’re one of the few women in ownership roles in this industry. Has that ever crossed your mind? Or, is it something that’s incidental to you?

I’ve been involved in things like the Women’s Council of REALTORS®, but to be honest, I’ve never looked at myself as being unique in an ownership position.  Women have always been prominent in the real estate scene.  I feel lucky to a woman in this particular field.

Somehow, I think the stereotype of men is more incorrectly characterized. As women, we have no images to uphold and when we succeed in business it’s more of a surprise.  This makes it more inspiring to people.  On the competitive landscape, this can be a great advantage.  

At the office level in real estate, gender is unimportant. My greatest goal is to be recognized by the achievements of both men and women and to continue to broaden the reputable name of Intero in the Southwest.

Intero Resorts Hosts Meet and Greet with Developers


Compare today’s best real estate investment opportunities side–by–side
Gino BlefariI’m inviting all of you to join us on  Friday, November 16th for a great event that will bring together more than a dozen of the world’s premiere vacation, resort and investment properties in one location—everything from villas in Mexico and ski cabins in Lake Tahoe to extravagant resort properties in the Bahamas and Costa Rica.

The Intero Resorts Meet & Greet Expo will be held at our Provizio office. (If you haven’t heard about Intero Resorts, click here.

Here are the details:

Intero Resorts Meet & Greet Expo
Friday, November 16
2:00 to 6:00 p.m.
Intero Provizio
155–C Moffet Park Dr.
Sunnyvale, CA

If you or your clients are interested in investing in full and fractional properties, this Expo will give you the chance to compare some of the best side–by–side, with no commitment. We’ll also have representatives from all the developments there for you to speak to. Here’s a list of some of the properties that will be represented.

John Thompson’s Advice on Motivating Real Estate Agents


The managing officer of Intero Los Altos says inspiration must come from withinJohn ThompsonJohn Thompson, or JT as he is known to most, is the co-founder and vice president of Intero Real Estate Services. He’s also the managing officer for one of the company’s most successful offices, Intero Los Altos. JT has been working alongside Intero founder, Gino Blefari, for more than two decades and was one of the guys who sat with Gino in rented office space back in 2003 to map out a vision of what a great real estate company should look like. Today, he’s one of the most respected managers and executives at Intero, known for his ability to motivate and inspire others.

We talked to JT about his management approach, an easy-going, participatory style that focuses on leading by example, communicating openly and inspiring others to find their own motivation to reach their highest potential.

InspireWhat do you think the biggest mistake is that managers make in trying to motivate their agents?

They aren’t inspiring themselves. That’s definitely the biggest mistake. If you’re not inspired, nobody working with you is going to be inspired.

The other thing to consider is that it’s almost impossible to motivate somebody who doesn’t want to be motivated. They have to want to do it for themselves. What you can do—in fact the only thing the you can commit to—is to be inspiring so that other people see it, are attracted to it and will be motivated to jump onboard.

What’s the hardest thing to do in motivating agents?

The hardest thing for me is to be motivating even on the days when I’m not feeling particularly great myself. But, that doesn’t matter. As a manager, I’m not allowed to have an off day, even though I have the same mental challenges to overcome and issues to work on. People are looking to me for leadership; so it’s that much more important for me to do the things that get me to the place of feeling inspired. Because of the role I have accepted, it is a requirement for me to work harder at this than everyone else, otherwise you have no credibility.

What do you do to get to that place?

I read more books. I focus on my health. I make sure I am having conversations with other inspired people. I review my vision book to remind myself of the things that are important to me and what I’m working for and towards—the people, my family, my friends, places I’ve been, things that I’m excited about doing down the road. Jim Rohn has a line I am fond of . . .

You look back for experience and
forward for inspiration.

It is important for me to always be looking forward without losing sight of living in the moment.

The truth is, I still have to go through days and put on a strong face when I’m not feeling strong, but I can’t let the people around me down, not when they’re looking to me for that spark.

It seems like you focus on helping people address the “big picture” almost as much, if not more, than the details of selling. Why?

I do that because it’s all connected. Listen, we’ve all worked with the agents who seem to be working smarter and more efficiently than everyone else. People ask me “what’s the secret?” The secret is, there is no secret. There are two things those agents are doing differently. First, they’re focusing their activities on the things that generate results. That’s pretty clear. But more importantly, it’s who they’re being while they’re engaged in those activities.

I’ll give you an example. Two people hold an open house. One gets five appointments and the other gets zero. Do you know who the person who gets five appointments is? It’s the person who’s energy is positive an attracts others. And you can only be that person when you’re internally happy with the things you’re doing and how you feel about yourself.

It’s the same concept as motivating your agents. You can’t force someone to take an appointment with you. The only thing you can commit to is motivating yourself, and if you do that from deep inside, people will be inspired by it and will always gravitate to you. That’s why I focus on the big picture–because it’s all connected.

This business is about connecting with people, and so you’d better make sure that you’re the kind of person others will want to be around.

What specifically would you say to an agent who’s not doing well with their sales?

Tell me right now what you think you can be doing better? What time did you go to bed? What did you do between 9:00 and 11:30 p.m.? That’s two hours. Should you be in bed or doing something to promote your business?

If you’re happy with your results, then whatever you’re doing is not bad, but you’re sitting in my office unhappy. The secret to getting better results is that there is no secret. You have to change all these small things that will add up and have a big impact on you. Shake up your routine. Do something, anything, different.

It can be as small as getting people to drive to work differently. The pattern needs to change. Get yourself out of the pattern if your current routine isn’t producing the results you want.

When people get results, they seem to be happy with life. I didn’t get to the office today until 8:15am, but I was up at 4:30am. I’m not going to say that you have to get up at these hours, but it is an option. Maybe you can do if for 60 days. If you did work harder, what do you think the odds are that you’ll get the results you want?

You say that you read quite a lot for inspiration. Any books you would recommend?

That’s a tough one. I can throw out a couple of books that were fabulous for me, but books are very personal. Some books hit home to one person and land on deaf ears to others.  The key is to keep reading, since you never know which one will speak to you.

For example, so many people love Stephen Covey, they always recommend his material to me and I have tried but I just don’t respond to it.

I think anything by Jim Rohn is worth reading. He’s my favorite author and speaker. I like that his concepts are very simple.

The Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwartz is also good.

A non-business book that’s great is Viktor Frankl’s a Man’s Search for Meaning. He was a Holocaust survivor who went on to become a renowned psychiatrist. His whole thing is about how our mind, our search for meaning, motivates everything we do.

Jumbo Loans: Are They Dead?


Southern California homebuyers need jumbo loans, but are they still being financed?Ron ArioFor those of us in the Southland, jumbo loans are a reality of life. (Jumbo loans are loans that exceed the definition of conventional, conforming loan limits set by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, $417,000 in 2006 or $625,000 in Alaska and Hawaii.) Many of our buyers wouldn’t be able to afford the price tag of a home here without them. For example, in September, Dataquick says the median price of a home in the Southland was $462,00.

There’s a lot of speculation out there as to what is going to happen with the jumbo moan market for the remainder of the year.  Many want to be positive, but others point out that we’ve not hit rock bottom yet.

According to DataQuick, the number of homes in SoCal purchased with jumbo loans in September dropped by half compared to August. Read more here. Of course, that’s due to the fallout in the mortage market that took place this summer. September was really the first month we saw the direct effect of that. Many think those loans will pick up toward the end of the year, though.

Edward Lazear, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisors also recently told C-Span that “We expect [the jump loan market] to take off in the near future.” This is after a two to three week “stopping” period in mid-summer. Read more here.

And, the Fed’s chief told congress that regulators would take steps to curb the fallout related to the mortgage craziness of this summer.

Of course, about 2 million adjustable-rate mortgages are still on track to reset to higher rates at the end of the year, so what happens after that is anyone’s guess.

Here in LA, there are still lenders who continue to fund jumbo loans. My best advice to agents is that you treat every case individually when it comes to getting your buyer financed.  We can’t assume a buyer will or will not get a loan based on the market in general. Our job as REALTORS™ is to get on the phone and do our best for that one person so that we can move the sale forward.

Here’s a lender we’ve been working with for jumbo loans. Maybe they can be of help to others. If you’re a lender or are working with one that’s originating jumbo loans, let us know.


(818) 343-3599 ext. 461

The Intero Foundation: A Short Video of Our Work


Helping children in need builds communitySince its founding in 2003, the Intero Foundation has given away more than $1.5 million to support charities that help children. That money comes directly from donations given by our agents and employees.

In addition, the Foundation is managed through an all-volunteer Board, made up of Intero people who donate their time because they are passionate about supporting the community.  Every year at the Intero Awards Banquet, we show a video of the work they do and how the Foundation is helping others.

Here’s the video we put together for our 2007 awards banquet.