Clients who call at unreasonable hours with unrealistic demands are fairly common in the real estate business.

While their requests sometimes seem inappropriately timed, put yourself in their shoes for a moment. With hundreds of thousands — perhaps millions — of dollars on the line, any hiccup leads to panic.

Buying a home is one of the largest life-changing purchases someone can make in a lifetime. Is it so unreasonable that they expect you to be at their beck and call?

Actually, no, and history shows agents have usually complied with such demands. With the decline of customer service came the decline of the accessible agent.

Customers are still irreplaceable

Traditional agents were once some of the most readily available professionals in the client-facing industry. Most listed their home phone numbers on their business cards — precellular era, of course. Nonetheless, having access to your agent when they were off the clock was somewhat relieving.

The bank managed to screw up a down payment transfer? Clients could rest assured knowing their agent would communicate the issue with the seller to buy some time. But that request has to be made right away — especially for hot homes with multiple offers on the line.

Falko Matte /

Falko Matte /

Pre-Internet agents operated similar to bankers attempting to close big business deals — on call 24/7.

“Even though others sneered at the practice, I thought it represented the essence of the profession, ‘I am here to serve you day and night.’ Wow,” stated Brad Inman via the Inman Connect Facebook page.

The reasoning behind this unparalleled level of customer service had to do with quality over quantity. Once upon a time, agents had only a few clients under their wing at once, and they worked ’round the clock to tie up loose ends and ensure a happy outcome for all parties, including themselves.

An endless possibility of inbound leads via online marketing and advertising makes cultivating quality relationships difficult, to say the least. But it’s still just as important as it was 30 years ago.

Business is business. If you want to seal the deal and develop a long-term working relationship, work solely off of referrals and boast a flattering reputation, it’s wise to treat each client like your only client.

Where work-life balance becomes skewed

Being accessible doesn’t mean you have to forgo a personal life. There’s an erroneous assumption, in virtually every profession, that a hard worker doesn’t vacation, read books or get a full night’s sleep.

Working hard and working smart are two vastly different qualities, and managing your time diligently can give you the work-life balance you desire — and deserve.

The problem lies in those who take the life aspect too seriously. Face it — you’re on commission. If you aren’t having a good month, you can’t afford to take a break. Although big companies pride themselves on their “work-life balance” agendas, it’s usually in the form of in-office events.

It’s meant to feel like a break, but it’s really an excuse to stay in the office until 6 p.m. and create a better sense of community with your co-workers, and hopefully, strengthen the business internally. Don’t be fooled by every company review you read. Everyone’s working long hours.

Even so, out of the office vacations are easier when you’re working on a salary. Vacation days and sick days are not the norm in real estate.

But you’ll be happy you worked the day after Thanksgiving when the majority of agents are out of town — and when potential buyers have the day off to tour homes and apartments. You’ll essentially have the pick of the litter.

Technology has plagued our expectations

We live in the era of instant gratification, and being an agent doesn’t necessarily provide timely results. From initiating contact, sending listings, scheduling showings, drafting paperwork and closing deals, the process takes at least a few months.

But with technology making most aspects of our daily lives quicker, we’ve lost our motivation to wait patiently for the final payout. It’s no surprise that only 20 percent of agents are responsible for 80 percent of closings, according to the National Association of Realtors. The rest struggle with little or no business.

Technology has made the job easier, but also a lot more difficult. Easier access to listings gives consumers the opportunity to go over your head, especially with rentals where lessees can go straight to the listing agent or building manager.

Buyers and sellers have hundreds of agents to choose from at their touch screen-obsessed fingerprints. Simply put, less dedicated consumers fail to motivate agents. Well, at least the lackluster ones.

“Good agents have not changed their behavior, with or without technology. They contribute the most value in a real estate deal. Hands down,” Brad Inman concluded.

Don’t let changing times waver your dedication. Potential clients will seek you out based on your work ethic, making you an anomaly among many in the industry today.

Email Jennifer Riner.

Inman Connect San Francisco is right around the corner — register now and save $200!

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