As a Realtor, I have always been frustrated by the consumer’s perception of us. Inman has published research findings from studies done by the University of Central Florida that substantiated the consumer’s less than high regard of Realtors, as well as the service and expertise provided by them.
Realtors, to my knowledge, have never ranked higher than No. 25 on the list of professionals most highly regarded by consumers. We are typically nestled in between used car salesman and lawyer — no offense intended to the folks in those respective industries. My point is that we as real estate agents are in denial about how we are perceived by those we serve.
By and large the public’s perception of real estate is that it doesn’t matter who they hire — the outcome is going to be the same. Of consumers, 90 percent will not attempt to go through the home-selling process alone. But they don’t see any alternatives other than discount brokerages to ease the seemingly necessary commission pay to facilitate their sale, which they view in the same category as a tax.
Given that most real estate agents do not understand the impact they could have on the final sale price of a home, is it any wonder the consumers’ misguided belief that saving 1 percent in commission equates to more in their pockets is as prevalent as ever?
I have been in the industry for 22 years, and I don’t get the sense that real estate agents care a whole lot about consumers’ perception. Instead, their primary interest seems to be adding new and improved silver bullets to their business arsenals hoping to attract new business.
Given the culture they operate in, why wouldn’t they measure success by how much money they make or how many homes they sell per year? The title “Top Producer” is worn like a badge of honor.
Brokerages compete on the same level, with the mentality that a brokerage that sells more homes has better agents. This issue is clearly systemic in nature leaving the old guard of multinational brokerages exposed to the Redfins and MaxAvenues we are now seeing surface, with their new message to consumer’s: “You matter, and so do the results we achieve for you.”
As long as the rank-and-file brokerages and the agents who fill their cubicles continue with this agent-centric business model, they will remain exposed to those who see the need for a consumer-centric philosophy.
The necessary paradigm shift I see for real estate agents to adopt starts with going into the listing process with a different intention. Rather than extracting another listing to add to their inventory, the shift needs to be toward an authentic approach to creating a result for the consumer. An approach anchored by what I call the five home-selling fundamentals: care, educate, prepare, position and execute.
Stepping outside of the real estate sales industry’s modus operandi is uncommon ground and understandably foreign to agents. With that said, our consumers are demanding a different experience. It is time for real estate agents to change their vantage point and angle of approach; a philosophical shift to co-creating results with their clients rather than unprocessed outcomes we call sales.
How an agent sees the transaction process will change how they create the end result. Our industry and those of us who work within it, as I see it, don’t understand the difference between a sale and a result or the impact we have in creating both.
It’s as though we have treated home values as fixed rather than elastic, which they are, and, therefore, results are measurable and can be created strategically. In every market and any economy — good, bad or otherwise — homes will always have a value range of up to 10-12 percent. Understanding this makes it easier to see how, with clear intent and proper effort, real estate agents can impact the result of all their transactions.
What impacts where a home sells within its value range is in large part predicated by how well the listing agent expertly manages the 80 to 100 variables that go into the home-selling process. Most real estate agents will tell themselves they understand this, but the consumers discontent speaks clearly to the ongoing disconnect that exists.