One of the biggest problems facing the real estate industry is the public’s perception of real estate agents. Some say it doesn’t take many bad apples to ruin the whole bushel; however, based on current research, there is only a 17 percent trust level of Realtors among the public.

These numbers go way beyond a few agents dragging everyone else down. It shows that the degree of service in the industry has become downright unacceptable.

To address this problem properly, a question must be asked: How did we get here? How has the profession of being a real estate agent garnered such distrust that it parallels the same level of admiration as a used car salesman?

I’m not trying to throw used car salesmen under the bus, but having a career in real estate used to command a fair level of respect. As a top-producing agent, I felt I was very well-respected, but that was only because I earned it.

It’s my belief that the industry has become saturated with a far greater amount of inferior or mediocre agents than those who want to stand out and be the best that they can be.

Right now, I’m going through a situation with one of my sales executives — his monthly sales are dipping. It would be easy to jump on him and point the finger, but because I know he is going through the process of buying a home, my blame is directed at the agent who is supposedly helping him.

My employee and his wife have been pulled through the wringer trying to get the house they want, and because of all this associated anger and frustration, his work performance is starting to slip. This poor service shouldn’t be tolerated.

A real estate agent is supposed to make the process of buying or selling a house as smooth as possible, yet far too many agents know they’ll still get a commission with a minimal amount of effort.

So, how do we change this?

1. Don’t tolerate average.

Give your clients the service you would expect if somebody else was working on your behalf. This stellar service starts by being honest with yourself.

Recognize the areas where you could bolster the service you provide from being average, to being exceptional. Continually try to one-up yourself in terms of what you are bringing to the table so that you, as a brand, never get stale or ordinary.

2. Be a true professional.

You are an expert in the industry and should know what trends are happening, the fluctuations in your market, interest rates and so on. Clients want an agent who they can rely on to fight for them, to negotiate and have their best interests in mind.

Dedicate yourself to your clients, and be available to meet their needs, but do so in a manner that exudes confidence and action.

3. Go above and beyond.

At the end of the day, ask yourself, “Do I treat my clients the best that I can?” and regardless of the answer, build on it to make yourself better. Take the current level of effort you put forth and then put it on steroids. Be sure to use action items that deliver a wow factor so that your clients come clamoring back wanting more of you.

There are basically three tiers of Realtors: those who are inadequate, those who are average and those who are killer. Unfortunately, things have gotten too comfortable in the middle, and agents aren’t willing to make the jump to becoming the killer agents they could be.

If this continues, the small positive perception real estate agents have will continue to diminish, and the public will continue to argue for our extinction. Agents have to stop doing the minimum and start doing something greater for their clients, themselves and the industry.

Tyler Smith is founder and CEO of SkySlope, and a former top-producing agent, and 30 Under 30 alumnus. You can follow him on Twitter or on his blog.

Email Tyler Smith.

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