A Lawyer, a Used Car Salesmen, and a Real Estate Agent Walk into a Bar…
A few months ago I was contacted by a client to help her sell a property. We worked together the year before so when we met again we reminisced about all the hard work we put in the first time around and how in the end we not only had a successful outcome, we had a lot of fun. I thanked her for the opportunity to earn her business again and she said she didn’t even consider calling a different REALTOR® the second time around. Of course I was floating. Well, until she said, “Anyway, we don’t really know any other REALTORs®. You know, on purpose.” And then she made…that face. I nodded, threw in the knowing grin. But wait, what? What was she talking about? What did that face mean? Are we, as a profession, like – icky? As soon as we finished our meeting, I raced back to my computer and Googled “Do people like REALTOR®s?” Before my eyes appeared negative comments and generalizations about lack of communication, not listening to needs, being too salesy – even made a direct comparison to used car salesmen! Ack! I bowed my head for a moment of silence for the profession I love so dearly and then immediately got to work. Where does this come from? What basis is there for placing REALTOR®s in the Deliberately Avoid category? I must know the answers so that I can do my absolute everything to avoid being one of them.
Hello? Hello? Is anybody out there? Just nod if you can hear me.
One common opinion is that real estate agents are horrible communicators. Unanswered phone calls, ignored texts, emails going unreturned, even having to wait weeks to see a home only to find out it sold while waiting for their agent to make an appointment. “My son’s friend’s mom has her real estate license so we thought we’d give her a chance.” Right after I got my real estate license I was told it wasn’t possible to work a full-time job in addition to being a successful REALTOR®. Never one to shy from a challenge, I tried it. It turns out they were right. It was not possible to provide the level of service I wish to provide my clients while being distracted with obligations that were unrelated to real estate matters. Most of the time when people share frustrations about real estate agents who failed to make time for them, they are referring to part-time agents. For me, this is a full-time job. In fact, most of the time this is more than a full-time job because that’s what it takes to provide the level of service people deserve when making the biggest, most important purchase of their lives. So how do you avoid working with a real estate agent who will have to deal with unrelated distractions, and be unable to answer calls or emails in a reasonable manner? Ask questions. Read reviews. Work with a fulltime REALTOR®.
“How come you’re showing me a 2 bedroom condo when I have four kids, two dogs, and I told you I wanted a large backyard?”
Another accusation is that real estate agents do not listen to people’s needs, that they only try to sell their clients what will get them the quickest commission. I’ll tell you, it would be quite wonderful if my clients didn’t have to get their hopes up time after time, showing after showing, only to be disappointed that they still haven’t seen The One. I’ve helped a buyer purchase the first and only home she ever toured, and I’m working with a client who still hasn’t seen The One and we’re moving in to our second year. It’s part of the process. It would be a very short-sighted of a real estate agent to not put the needs of his clients over his own self-interest. I’m not saying it doesn’t happen; I’m sure it does. I’m just suggesting that when your business model is referral based, meaning you get most of your new business from recommendations from clients, friends, and people you know, putting your own needs over those of your clients, well, you won’t be in business long at all. And shouldn’t. In order to avoid this, ask questions and read reviews. Ask about their process.
“Excuse me, Mr. Real Estate Agent, did you just say everything you touch turns to sold?”
Another big complaint was how salesy real estate agents can be. Painfully, I must admit, it can be quite true. “Good God, real estate agents are worse than lawyers! They’re a bunch of vultures!” That coming from an attorney client a week after his listing expired (yes, it happens – rarely, but it does.) He was fielding so many phone calls from eager real estate agents trying to score his high-end listing that he stopped answering the phone. Reciting a script with feigned enthusiasm and artfully placed sighs for dramatic effect, I don’t know, it’s just not my cup of tea and I can’t imagine it’s successful most of the time. This is a sales business but it’s mainly a people business and people really do just want to connect. How do you avoid Salesy McSalesperson? Ask questions. Read reviews. Sit down and have coffee and let the real estate agent ask you questions. Do you like what they’re asking? Are they explaining their process? Or better yet, just sit down, chat, and get to know one another.
So yeah, we could do better as an industry, for sure. But you’re not stuck as a consumer. Ask questions, read reviews, get to know your REALTOR®, and most importantly, make sure everyone has an understanding of expectations up front in order to avoid frustration down the road. Choosing a professional REALTOR® you connect and feel comfortable with is the first step toward achieving your goals.
As always, if you have any questions at all, and you’re not currently working with a REALTOR®, I’d love to hear from you. firstname.lastname@example.org 317/752.6331. Until next time – Angie
By Angie Garard, talktotucker.com/angie.garard