Dear Rookie,

I have followed the saga of the Rookie for several weeks with no pleasure. He/she represents one of many failings of the entire industry, starting with the typical abysmal lack of in-depth training and the rotten-to-the-core clichés that said Rookie will encounter and mistaken for the truth.

In one of the responses to the Rookie, some know-it-all said, “You have to list to last.” Garbage. The truth: you have to find what fits you, and stick to it. I started my own company in 1985 and we were the first in the Northwest to successfully focus on representing buyers. Our average income was several times that of the average agents in the area, and yet less than 15 percent of our business came from listings. My agents were doing what they enjoyed and believed in. Some of them were more idealistic than realistic and eventually had to admit that they lacked the follow-through essential to making it in a business where you have to boss yourself for the most part, but quite a number of my former rookies are still top producers. With gray hair, of course.

And whoever repeats that pathetic cliché about “Buyers are liars” should stand in front of a firing squad. That is an excuse for incompetence, which of course can be a result of poor training. Before my agents got involved with consumers they had spent as much as 100 hours in training that involved construction, architecture, financing and contracts. Isn’t it amazing that nowhere else can you find any training for agents in architecture, and yet that is something we deal with every day? Poorly, of course. And when consumers begin to realize how little the Rookie knows, they may not show much respect, even if said agent works like a dog.

Now, for one last kicker. We all know that if you keep doing the same thing, you will get the same results. So I challenge the Rookie to do something radically different that worked quite well for us. We sat our buyers down and had a nice long talk. We focused on them and what they wanted and all the usual stuff, and then we gave them a copy of our contract. If they wanted representation, they would hire us exclusively for 90 days and in many cases put down a $500 retainer. Agents who had worked for other companies before they came to work for me could not muster the courage to do this. My new agents thought it was normal, so they asked and they got. In fact, we lost very few buyers, and those we figured were the ones we didn’t want.

So, Rookie, ignore much of what the “old timers” are telling you, learn things that benefit your clients, and find the guts to eliminate people who will waste your time. Act like a professional and maybe some day you will be one. Where do I send the bill?

Jim Stacey

Dear Rookie,

It is far from unusual for brand-new, first-time buyers not to realize that they shouldn’t work with more than one agent. When they shopped for a new car or a dining room set, they never considered limiting themselves to just one salesperson. They simply haven’t become aware of the different circumstances that real estate presents. Early in your relationship, you have to confirm that you have an “exclusive” with them, and explain to them why that is best for both of you.

Glenn Peterson

Dear Rookie,

Maybe buyers suspect they’re being hustled. What kind of documentation are you using? It’s also possible they suspect that a housing bubble is about to deflate. There’s certainly a lot of buzz out there that backs up this kind of thinking. Anyway, good luck!

Carola Solomonoff
New York

Dear Rookie,

I’ve heard this statement many times over my 20-plus years in this business as a broker and trainer: “Buyers are liars.” I have pondered it and have refused to accept it. Yes, I’ve had my share of difficult deals and hard-to-manage clients, but I have never thought that, in general, buyers are liars.

What I really think is that Realtors need to ask better questions. It is, most of the time, our fault because we assume certain things. We also expect the typical buyer to know how things are done–this is a big mistake. During your very first interview with a buyer you need to ask the right questions and then determine if you want to work with them. Such as:

1) Are you already working with an agent?

2) What properties have you seen?

3) Are you stopping into open houses or looking at FSBOs?

4) Have you spoken with a lender yet? (If they haven’t gotten pre-approved then I direct them to do so before I take them out. If they refuse to take this step them I dump ’em like a hot potato.)

I think that most buyers really don’t know what they want, and they need you to help them sort it out. That way when they call you for a condo and they end up buying a ranch, you will be the one that gets paid.

Take care and good luck!

Lisa Bowser-Hanas
Century 21 All Professionals Inc.
Glen Ellyn, Ill.


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