Bob Stephens



I have watched several ups and downs of real estate in my 38 years in the business but none quite like the feeding frenzy of around 2005-06. People were passing the state real estate exam and getting in but never really learning how to do it. Fat paychecks just fell into their laps and they thought it would never end.

The real pros knew it would end somewhere but no one really predicted it would bite as hard as it did. Most of us lost around 70% of the value of the property we owned. Some lost their homes and some were able to hang in there but it will take many years to even come to the break even point. Consequently around half of the folks that were licensed threw in the towel. Those that remain are the real veterans that know how to stay in the business because this was not exactly their first rodeo.

About 40,000 remain and 35,000 left the business in the valley. In my opinion, many left because they never learned how to do this business except to catch the money falling out of the sky and of course, there wasn’t enough business to support 75,000 agents. Of the ones that remain, many are doing nothing to regain their past triumphs and successes and remain with an apathetical view towards change. Some are settling for what they can get and use lines like this—“I’m not driving way over there”! They cannot seem to get out of the neighborhood that they usually work and will not adjust. But, on the plus side many are adjusting and adopting new methods and changes in this business.

I am writing this as I see it and not trying to tell agents what to do because they are in this business as independent contractors and they like it that way. However, I know that most of them will read and think about the effects of “tough love”. I wrote an article many years ago regarding MARKETING YOURSELF and will distribute it again as I
wrote it then.

Agents should read self help books and I have recommended many that I have personally read like PURPLE COW by Seth Godin. Learn new ways and learn why facebook works along with twitter and linked in. Today, 11-12-12, I am adding a "MUST HAVE" book that really gets to it to gain faster results, deeper relationships and a stronger bottom line as described by David Horsager, called The TRUST EDGE! He declares that "a lack of TRUST, is your biggest expense"! He is talking about you and Walmart at the same time. You need this book to help develop your life and business.
Do you still dress as you always did or would a makeover be a good idea? How a great and different haircut? Are you healthly and do you walk daily to keep in shape? If not, then quit cheating yourself and tend to your needs first. There is always time when you arise early in the morning to make it happen. Keep current, topical and do something REMARKABLE!


HOV lanes are a phenomenon of social injustice that promotes the old adage that “rules are made to be broken”.

And of course, it is our government at work supplying federal funding, as I understand it, to build highways over the
U.S. The idea for HOV lanes, I surmise is to promote high occupancy in vehicles to cut down on pollution in our country and it is called “carpooling”. It needs to have 2 occupants or more, to be able to use the HOV lane. If you violate this law, you could receive a ticket from a policeman and it will carry a fairly stiff fine.

Because this HOV lane has very few cars in it, the traffic flows at probably the speed limit or more while the other lanes of traffic are sometimes at a standstill, and so it promotes the “adventurers”
with one person in the car, to violate the HOV lane and use it as a single driver.

Would it relieve traffic if everyone could use it? Of course it would! But no one would get a ticket, thereby generating money for the state.

So what is the social injustice in this scenario? A driver takes a small child, who is 1 year old, in the car to create “high occupancy”. That means that the 1 year old has “left their car at home” so that pollution is cut down from that car, because it is not there. Brilliant!

Now then, if the carpoolers are driving in the “regular 1 driver space”, do they get a ticket? NOPE—and I ask, Why not?

Do carpoolers cause accidents?
Probably—because when they want to leave the highway, everyone has to get out of their way to exit, because they cut across 4 or 5 lanes of traffic, slowing everyone down to take evasive action.

Now then, since I cannot drive in that lane because I am only 1person, why do I have to pay for it?

AND, after taking 2 years or more to
build a road, why wasn’t the HOV lane done at the same time? Never is and then they begin another 2 years of adding it and so we have 3 or 4 years of construction and slow traffic building a road that I am not entitled to drive on, even though I pay my share to build it. Irritating!

Bob Stephens 


I was on a plane coming back from Wisconsin and talking to the lady sitting next to me. I found out she was a teacher back in St. Cloud, MN. teaching psychology and geography. I told her that the subject of teachers was one of my favorite issues with our agents and I had many of them tell me their best teacher story and what they had learned from that particular teacher. I received many great stories which I shared with the agents through email. I had also made a plea to agents to supply their teachers with supplies for students that could not afford some things. So I am bringing it up again, since school is now starting and many are in need of supplies. Even $10 worth of stuff would be much appreciated by your childrens teacher. I will even pick some stuff up from Costco and give it to a teacher--not the school, but to a teacher that can distribute to those in need. After all, teachers are the most important part of all of our lives and guides us through the rest of our lives, even though we may not realize it. Thank you for doing what you can, the teachers will appreciate it!


the time of this writing in August of 2012, I would daresay that the most
commonly encountered issues that a Broker receives are these 3 items.

Agent will not return
calls (NRC) or is not communicating with parties doing business with the agent.

Unhappy tenants call the
Broker because they have issues with their rental and their property manager.

Agents from other
companies make offers on listings and the listing agent will not update or give
an answer from the seller.

will address the last issue with this comment—An offer MUST be presented to the
owners, not the lien holders, of the listed properties promptly and the answer
communicated to the buyer’s agent ASAP! Many times these offers are rejected
but NOT communicated. Line 416 should always be filled in by the seller and
then sent to the buyer’s agent ASAP. The ADRE has a law that covers even more
on this at 32-2151-01-I that is rarely ever followed by agents and that puts
the Broker at risk.
Broker shall retain an original, a copy or a microfilm copy of any offer to
purchase real property as a matter of record for at least one year. In
instances that result in binding contracts, the Broker shall retain prior
rejected offers for at least five years.

rejected offers MUST be turned in to your office manager!

this—You, have absolutely nothing to sell except your ability to communicate
and make transactions happen. Therefore it is imperative that you communicate
effectively and do it before your Broker
receives the call as a complaint and has to answer it.





Most folks that receive email, read the subject line and delete if they don't get the whole message there. This is one that you need to read and perhaps gain some views you did not have before.

I know that folks need to make their own decisions and most of the time, advice is unwelcome.

No one can tell someone that they need to quit smoking or lose weight or quit drinking or work harder to have a great family life or many of the myriad of things that others decide to tell you that you need to do.

Another one is changing your association with a company, especially when YOU are the architect of what happens to you in real estate.

Agents have left seeking greener pastures or whatever but a great many of them return. They have found out that the real estate market is the same at another brokerage and nothing changes.

The answer lies within themselves and the decision to change their own outlook to the changing markets and the necessary adjustments. It takes commitment and will to learn and adjust. Ask your manager for the address to a good business planner and fill in the blanks.

Takes about 3 minutes and you get a 1 year plan. Then go to GOOGLE and click on "calendar" to make time for the plan. It syncs with your smart phone.

The next step is to do something REMARKABLE! For instance, buy the book "GAME PLAN" How real estate professionals can thrive in an uncertain future by Ian Morris and Steve Murray. AND, of course my favorite books on marketing, Dig Your Well Before You're Thirsty by Harvey Mackay AND Purple Cow by Seth Godin.

With all of this in mind, you can launch a very succesful campaign to be "REMARKABLE".


Read my email signature and go with it.



Bob Stephens CRB e-PRO
Managing Broker
West USA Realty






 This article may sound like criticism and it is, however, it is constructive criticism.

Let me start by pointing out something, to those that may not look at their business, as they should. You are an Independent Contractor in the real estate business and are the sole owner of that business. You should open the door to your business every day just as Dillards and Home Depot do, remembering that you are a professional, where communication is the key to your success.

When you call Dillards or West USA Realty, how do they answer the phone? The answer is: Very professionally and you know whom you are talking to without asking.

Now then, think about how you answer your own phones. Same way? Fantastic!

However, a few agents just say Hullo! (I always wonder if I dialed a wrong number). It is then left to me to inquire as to the identity of the person I am talking to. Not good!

A suggestion is that you answer with your name first or West USA Realty, this is______

Please try this and remember—the caller is calling your BUSINESS number no matter where you are. If you are at home, answer the phone yourself and do not let your children do it. Remember, professional communication is the key to your business success.












As mandated by the National Association of Realtors. I often wonder who dreamt up this inequitable idea and why do OVER one million members subscribe to it, including me.

The obvious answer is that we all want access to the Multiple Listing Service and Pro Cause actions are a part of the NAR package; put into place many years ago. An antiquated custom that may have been desirable and necessary at the time but I do not believe that it has any merit in this time of client representation for all parties.

I am not aware of any other trade organization where a member can demand another member’s paycheck and then get a hearing to see if they get it.

The following is a typical scenario that I have observed in my 36+ years as a Realtor.
Broker # 1 writes an offer on real estate property negotiating many items, usually with counter offers, gets it accepted, and opens escrow. Then follows through with a myriad of items, including a professional inspection, dealing with the resulting repairs, guides the buyer through the loan process, the appraisal and comparables and then, perhaps in about 45 days, a closing happens; if all the obstacles are overcome. This would include the “fun” of the final walk through inspection, turning over the keys, the hassle of moving out and moving in and of course other “surprises”.

The Broker then gets paid from escrow, but has these responsibilities: must pay errors and omissions insurance, maintain records of the sale for five years and also be the object of any buyer dissatisfaction and resulting lawsuits.

Wow, it was nice to get paid, but wait! After all this, someone else can come to you, via your local Association, WITHOUT A GUN and take your paycheck away from you.
How does this happen? Well here’s the rest of the story (as Paul Harvey says).

Broker # 2 who has previously driven the same buyers around looking at homes,
bought them lunches, burned a lot of gas and spent long hours at the computer, has lost contact with the buyers and cannot get any return calls. Who knows why!

For some unknown reason, the buyers have come into contact with Broker # 1 and have decided to write a contract on a home previously viewed with Broker # 2. They even go see it again just to make sure it is the one they want. (This makes it seem that the buyers are the actual miscreants). They close escrow and the action begins when Broker # 2 puts in a claim for the paycheck earned by Broker # 1 (even if he or she had no knowledge of what was coming down). This is absolute insanity; however, we are all bound by these crazy rules because we all want Multiple Listing Services!

And yes, some agents CREATE procuring cause situations by giving buyers a list of addresses with these instructions: Drive by and if you see something you like, call the listing agent to show it to you. But come back to me to write it up because I will work for far less commission than other agents and we can get the property for several thousand dollars less than asking price.

This scenario has been reported to me several times but is very hard to prove that it even happened because the beneficiaries of such savings are not willing to get involved.

I find another area of concern regarding procuring cause actions; Brokers that wait until the last week to file claims for arbitration even though they have 180 days to do so. Makes me wonder if they really think they have a claim or as one Broker put it; “Wouldn’t you put up $500 to win $5000? These odds are better than Vegas”! While others have pointed out that arbitration is a good way to get paid while doing no work, pay no E&O insurance, encountering no lawsuits with no problems after closing.

The solution? The utilization of Buyer Broker Agreements and collection of retainer fees should, substantially reduce procuring cause issues, therefore eliminating the need for the availability of relief in this area.

Usually, this then prompts the famous “agents whine”; “You can’t get people to sign those things”! Of course, they are right, if they never ask.
So then, answer these questions! Would you take a listing on real property, without getting it signed? Do attorneys go to work for anyone, without a retainer? Do you get past the admitting clerk at a hospital and go directly to a room? As a Realtor, are you worth nothing?

Actually, I have agents at my company that will not do business with a buyer without a signed Buyer Broker Agreement and they rarely fail to get clients to agree to sign one. (My daughter is one of these).

Following is a statement written by Julie Garton-Good for Today’s Realtor several years ago (perhaps paraphrased a bit). “The debate over signing buyer clients to exclusive agreements is very much alive; many Buyers’ Representatives view an unsigned buyer client as they would an open listing; a potentially unprofessional and unproductive venture to be avoided. Would you spend precious time and money marketing an open-listed home, only to have someone else, make the sale? Why would a Buyer’s Representative take on a similar relationship with a buyer client, especially after vowing to provide high level fiduciary services to the client? An open listed buyer client is not only an agency contradiction in terms but also bears the same level of liability as, and a higher potential for procuring cause situations than a signed client”. (End)

I believe if Brokers utilize Buyer Broker Agreements with retainer fees, procuring cause actions would never be necessary. And buyers need to know that Brokers services are not cost free. If the seller pays the fee, then perhaps the buyer won’t pay anything. If not, then the buyer must honor their contract with the Broker or perhaps forfeiture of the retainer may satisfy the Broker. In any event, it needs to be negotiated and collected.

Then I believe that Buyer Broker Agreements should be ENTERED INTO THE MLS COMPUTERS AS NOTICE TO EVERYONE THAT THESE BUYERS ARE SIGNED TO A BUYER BROKER AGREEMENT; JUST LIKE A LISTED PROPERTY! Take away procuring cause availability and Buyer Broker Agreements will become a way of life for Realtors.
If you have read “Real Estate Confronts Reality” by Dooley, Swanepoel, and Abelson,
You know that the world of real estate is changing rapidly and that a lot of practitioners, as well as NAR, need to change their ways. Clients are not waiting for us to change; they will go ahead without us. We must therefore get with the program of change or be gone to make room for those that do change. Brokers in the future (which is now) won’t let archaic rules of NAR take away their earnings. Less earnings and strong competition will make the survivors in real estate, very resolute about the unfair practice of procuring cause actions.

Therefore, I call upon the forces of NAR to legislate the removal of procuring cause actions from our by-laws. Most Brokers will then insist upon Buyer Broker Agreements with buyer clients, to be entered into the MLS, as insurance of a paycheck for services rendered.

Yes, it is now time to abolish procuring cause availability for the good of all Realtors.

Bob Stephens
Managing Broker
West USA Realty
Phoenix, Az.



 Buying or selling your personal residence is a highly traumatic


experience for most people and in doing so myself, it is easy to see why folks can get highly upset. From the very high feeling they have when buying or selling to the point when they feel that “everyone” is against them, people from both sides of a transaction can experience several highs, lows and very suspicious feelings.


I handle complaints on a daily basis from these people and understand it well but my very own experience in this arena highlights all of it in a very empathetic way.


When you buy a home it is a very exultant feeling which may soon be followed by feelings of perhaps we were too hasty in this decision. Then the questions arrive in your mind as you wonder if “they” are going to “live up” to the contract.


A lady client of another Broker, called me recently because she wanted to lease back her house that my agent had sold to our client, until she could close on her newly purchased one. She had tried to make a deal with our agent and of course the agent called the buyer and the answer was NO. So, since she is very frustrated, she called me and explained that my agent is not handling things right and wanted to lodge a complaint against the agent. By the way, she is represented by another firm and has her own agent but chose to deal directly with our agent since hers was out of the country. I do understand her frustration since she now has to move twice but the only one she really has an issue with is the buyer who does not want to renegotiate the contract. She wanted to ask me some questions which I declined to do because she has her own Broker.


This is just one of the many frustrations of a real estate transaction. I try to keep these things in perspective as I respond to complaints by remembering that we all have these feelings that can turn very traumatic in some cases.

In my own case, my wife listed our home for sale and put a lock box on the door. I felt uneasy about that as many sellers do. Then came the SPDS! Geez, why do they want to know all of this 6 pages of stuff. Then we put flyers out by the sign and I believe all of the 490 people who live in this subdivision got one as they walked their dogs past here.


Next thing we did was to find a great deal and so we bought a house. And then before I knew it, we reduced our price by $15,000 and I realize that I am feeling what others must feel when they get anxious for action. I am wisely not blaming the agent since she is my wife.


Another facet of this great experience is making SURE that everything in the housekeeping division is perfect. For some folks with kids, dogs etc. it gets a little tricky and that is why they need some time before showings. Of course you will get agents that call and say they want to show in an hour—GREAT. So we hold up dinner and wait for 3 hours for a no show and no call to cancel. I do handle calls from these irritated sellers or their agents for this kind of indiscretion from one of my agents. Frustrating!


A lady called me recently that was almost wild with frustration and wanted me to assign another agent to her case since our agent was not taking care of business. I interviewed our agent and found that she had talked to the owner less than 24 hrs. previously. The agent was equally frustrated with the lender trying to get loan docs to the title company and had NO control over the situation. The client wants a different agent and places the blame for the lenders failure directly on the agent. Traumatic for the seller? Yes, and so I smooth the situation over and proceed with the transaction.


So we bought a house before selling! Upon moving, everything that could go wrong—did so.

We decided to install 700 sq. ft. of tile prior to moving in. Found a fellow that would do it in 2 days. Never happened and after 7 days I fired him. Got my daughter Robyn and husband Jim to finish it in 2 days. Ordered new furniture from Roomstore and had to send some it back 4 times. Bought furniture from Costco and it was broke—had to take it back and exchange it. Phone, internet and TV ordered from an outfit called Orbitel in Maricopa—sent it all back within 3 days and ordered from Qwest. Took us over 3 months to get internet service properly connected by Qwest. Tech service is in the Phillipines and they have no idea what we wanted. They were reading from a script. Our new refrigerator was broken and forgotten by the builder people—fixed after 3 months. Garage floor was painted before we moved in and not done right. Finally they came out and did nothing. Ordered 2 security doors for $2000—got one installed and the other was the wrong size. After a month, I cancelled them and ordered from another company. THEY installed it upside down. Came back and reinstalled—still not right. Had front and rear patios installed with a sidewalk around the house to the front, 3 months ago and it still is not dry. Had to put the arm on the builder for landscaping that was in the contract but NOT provided, finally got them to pony up. Even the title company could NOT get it right and so I went to another title company to complete the job. And on top of all of that, our empty former home sits unsold even as we lower the price another $40,000.


And so what do we have here? Probably a typical transaction!

So is it any wonder why buyers and sellers get gnarly and try to make YOU the scapegoat for all the problems they encounter?

Certainly no reason why they should but they do attempt to attack everything that you said or they thought during the time spent with them.  Some day I will write about the sale of the former home.




WUSA AGENTS—Have you noticed that we do not have these “requirements” for you to get from OB’s?


Allright let’s get into this! OB’s seem to forget what we are here for and of course, as a reminder, it is to assist buyers and sellers in forming contracts for their mutual benefit. But some OB’s seem to think it is their mission to get paperwork signed for “their” benefit and even cross the line to invade the agency position of buyers brokers. They want a plethora of items signed to release and indemnify them and their company and then put the push on the buyers brokers to get their clients to sign the OB’s paperwork. THIS THEN, IS NOT WORKING FOR THEIR CLIENT BUT RATHER FOR THEMSELVES!

 Brokers need to represent “their clients” and let the BUYERS brokers represent theirs! Just like lawyers, each broker serves their own client—Don’t allow your clients to sign away all their rights to the OB.

So, we won’t get our client to sign their MOLD addendum for “their” benefit. Why? Because it is not part of the contract between the BUYER AND THE SELLER! Some companies are even sending over a form similar to our A-106 for our buyers to sign. NO, NO, NO! Stay away from our buyers!

I have seen OB’s ask our client to sign a “Buyers Advisory” at close of escrow for their records. NO WAY! This is our client and WE are the ones that need to get this signed and ONLY for our own records—never share it! And of course, it is signed PRIOR to entering into a contract and I would think that a buyer would need at least a day to investigate all of the web sites they are directed to.


And here is one of the dumbest of all that I find agents allowing—giving the OB your Agency form signed by your client. YOUR AGENCY WITH YOUR CLIENT IS NONE OF THEIR BUSINESS except on the contract that you fill out.

Most irritating is the call I get from the OB wanting me to explain all this to them and then their argument that they cannot get paid unless “OUR CLIENT” signs their stuff.

We are not doing it! So tell them no, and I really don’t care if they get paid or not—that’s their company position, not mine. If they worked here, they would not have these problems—soooo    RECRUIT THEM.

Now in recapping this article, the requirements are  the OB’s and not a requirement of the contract between the buyer and the seller.

In asking for signatures on these various papers for their broker, they are violating your agency arrangement with your client. On this side of the ledger, we get our A-106 signed, for OUR files, we furnish MOLD info the buyers to read, we have OUR agency agreement with the buyers which “is not” the OB’s business and we take care of our “OWN” client and not theirs. I wish they would do the same and back away from our clients.

And a really BIG NO NO is when the OB’s submit their documents to the title company asking them to obtain signatures. Some of the title companies actually do it. In one case the OB asked the title company to get 8 different papers signed “after close of escrow”.  However the title lady was smart and called us to get the negatory answer. The Broker was furious in her call to me and of course, got nowhere and then hung up on me.

In my opinion, the pursuit of signatures from our clients, is a violation of the code of ethics.

Bottom line: DON’T LET IT HAPPEN!