This has been the year of the real estate short sale: Too many agents are selling themselves short.

The horror stories are everywhere.

Who hasn’t heard the one about the real estate agent’s commission being reduced, then reduced a second and third during negotiations? Or the seller deciding not to sell at the last minute.

Short sales are taking a toll on buyers, sellers, lenders, and attorneys, but the one who gets hit in the pocketbook the hardest and the fastest is the real estate agent who has worked months for nothing.

This has been the year of the real estate short sale: Too many agents are selling themselves short.

The horror stories are everywhere.

Who hasn’t heard the one about the real estate agent’s commission being reduced, then reduced a second and third during negotiations? Or the seller deciding not to sell at the last minute.

Short sales are taking a toll on buyers, sellers, lenders, and attorneys, but the one who gets hit in the pocketbook the hardest and the fastest is the real estate agent who has worked months for nothing.

There are no stats to prove it, but broker-owners will tell you that many agents are leaving the business because, as one 10-year real estate agent put it, "We didn’t come into the business to sell short sales."

Some agents are doing fine with short sales, but this group does well with whatever comes along. They adjust, they train, and they keep moving forward.

It is that other 80 percent or so that this column addresses. This group needs escrows to close, and the will to keep going in the face of about every obstacle a real estate sale can throw at the agent.

Getting the contract signed is a negotiating nightmare, especially with homes with second and third mortgages, but the real disappointments set in when inspection reports call for more negotiating and another round of commission cuts may be a required. It gets downright disgusting at times.

"Quitting" may be the way you feel today. We have all had those days. Or changing offices may cross your mind.

It’s not that you can’t sell, it is not that you are not a hard worker — it is probably the frustration of not being paid or being paid less for a lot more work than you had to do in the past.

There might be something more serious going on than the fact your short sale just canceled or you just had to lower your commission for the third time. It could be that you are losing sight of your vision.

If real estate gets in your blood, which it does with so many of us, you need to take a break and get some rest.

Because if you lose your vision, you will lose your passion, and if you lose your passion, you will lose your discipline. Don’t sell yourself short.

Conduct the following attitude checkups:

1. Get the facts. One of my mentors taught me this years ago: "If you get the facts, 95 percent of the decisions you need to make will become obvious. The other five percent will be not be as obvious and you will need to hasten slowly with those."

Is that good advice, or what? Get the facts. Hasten slowly.

2. Lower your expectations of your service providers. I know. You have high expectations of yourself, and that’s great. But everyone on the support team is overworked and undertrained. Expect mistakes, delays, and "redos." It is the way it is. You cannot change it. You don’t have to like it, but here’s a thought: Look beyond their faults to their needs, just like you would like them to look at you. They need encouragement, a kind word … just like we all do.

3. Are you comparing your production to others in your office? Don’t do that. You will either come away proud on envious, neither of which help you focus on your need to improve.

4. Be honest with yourself about your skill level, commitment to service, and understanding of the process.

My daughter’s fifth-grade teacher gave me some advice, during a parent-teacher meeting, that I never forgot. I made the statement to her that my daughter had room for improvement. Her teacher looked me right in the eye and said, "Mr. Fletcher, we all do."

More than most of the advice I got through the years, this reminder that I had room for improvement motivated me to continue working to get better at my craft.

It’s a tough but wonderful world out there. Do not let the short-sale world short-sell yours.

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