Enough already about stupid, lazy real estate agents

Realtor Notebook

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So I read this article about how stupid and lazy real estate agents are, and it caused me to work harder and to be smarter!

Actually, it did no such thing.

I have to wonder if these articles ever inspire anyone. Am I the only agent who is tired of reading about how bad real estate agents are, and all of the things we do wrong?

I can’t help but think we could all benefit from some positive role models, some new ideas, and even a little encouragement now and then.

Criticism doesn’t seem to be improving the industry or I would not see the same complaints, year after year.

I have tried to explain why we don’t answer the phone, but I don’t think anyone got it.

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Maybe articles about stupid lazy agents don’t apply to me, and I shouldn’t take them personally.

But who DO these articles apply to, and are those people reading them? What is the point of just pointing out our many deficiencies without offering solutions? If I concede that we are stupid and lazy, who cares? And what are you going to do about it?

More importantly, if we are so bad, why have we not been replaced by technology? Our industry is in turmoil, but real estate agents are the ones who pay to support the technology that buyers and sellers want.

We need more heroes at all levels. Not just people who run companies or lead teams, but agents who are out there working with clients. It’s not always easy, or glamorous. But we can’t all be stupid and lazy. There must be some ambitious and smart agents out there.

I don’t know too many lazy people who have what it takes to be an independent contractor. It means looking for work everyday, and trust me — that isn’t something that lazy people like to do. It’s anything but easy.

The agents who work smarter instead of harder must really look lazy. So do the agents who only work 40 hours a week.

As for stupidity, our critics may have a point. There are days when I really question my choices.

There are easier ways to make a living than selling real estate. There are no benefits, and health insurance is so expensive that it makes being an agent scary.

The IRS doesn’t make things easy for us either. Most days it seems like the universe is screaming, GET A JOB!

I have read some excellent advice for agents from people who have never sold a piece of property. Usually they have some credentials in business or technology, or both.

But does simply having purchased a home qualify you to give advice? How can a buyer who worked with an incompetent agent be considered an expert, for example, when there are so many wonderful agents to choose from, and they are so easy to find?

There are people who have nothing but praise for their agent. Some people are better than others at hiring a good agent, or any kind of contractor.

There are also people who will screw up any home purchase or sale, even when they work with the best agent. Agents represent others — we don’t make decisions for them.

Of course, some of the criticism of agents comes from agents themselves. There are always "other" agents to complain about.

As someone who’s spent much of her life working for large corporations, I can tell you there are no industries or occupations where you will not be exposed to co-workers who are lazy, stupid or incompetent — even if those co-workers have advanced degrees or professional designations.

The best way to drive yourself nuts is to worry about how others do their jobs. It’s best to stay focused on our own job performance.

Complaining about the behavior of stupid lazy agents doesn’t seem to be helping the profession or the people in it. It’s demoralizing. Maybe it’s time to try something different. Maybe a better way to change the industry is to lead and teach by example.

Some experts don’t offer solutions because they don’t have any. Some of those who criticize agents don’t set a good example by being professional or returning phone calls themselves. Their own companies could use better management and marketing, and it shows.

Raising the bar begins by setting a good example with our own actions.

Teresa Boardman is a broker in St. Paul, Minn., and founder of the St. Paul Real Estate blog.

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