OpinionBrokerage

Opinion: Why consumer behavior will eliminate the part-time agent

Only agents who work hard all the time will be able to keep up with consumer demand

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Takeaways:

  • The three things we know about consumers.
  • Why consumers will eventually weed out part-time agents.
  • How customer service can help you keep your clients.

My recent article on the negative perception of Realtors stirred up a lot of conversation on how and why we’ve gotten ourselves to such a level of distrust with the public.

In the ensuing conversation, one of the things that stuck out to me was the notion that part-time agents are ruining the business by muddying the waters with mediocre service.

There are some definite downsides to having one foot in and one foot out of the real estate business, and they can all be traced back to changing consumer behaviors.

This begs the question: Can part-time agents continue to compete in a market dominated by consumer demands for instant gratification, information and customer service?

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Here’s what we know:

1. Consumers require instant gratification

Part-time agents are, by definition, less available to their clients. If you’re working a full-time job during the day, how can you squeeze in a midafternoon showing, respond instantly to buyers’ requests or run keys over to the home inspector?

If your real estate day starts at 5 p.m., you’ve likely missed a lot of opportunities to provide the instant gratification today’s consumers need and require. With a sea of agents to choose from, if clients aren’t feeling the love, they’re jumping ship.

2. Consumers are more dialed in than the part-time agent

Homebuyers are hyper dialed in during their home search thanks to changes in technology. National portals are giving consumers instant access to listings.

They’re getting email notifications of changes and new properties delivered to their smartphone, and market data is more readily available than ever.

If the part-time agent doesn’t have the time to be fully immersed in the daily intricacies of the market, how will they prove their worth to dialed-in consumers? How can they provide the market insights learned from being all-in all the time?

3. Consumers want the Four Seasons

Today’s consumers expect you to provide Four Seasons-level customer service. You must anticipate their needs and instantly provide solutions.

It’s also about giving clients confidence that you’re the expert who will fight for them while having their best interests in mind. How can you give the client five-diamond service if you’re not completely invested?

Are part-timers the primary source of the public’s negative perception of Realtors? Probably not, but they certainly can’t help. Our industry has become overridden with subpar agents, and it’s the subpar ones – whether full-time or part-time – that we can thank for the public’s distrust.

As consumers continue to gain access to information, and it becomes harder and harder for all agents to demonstrate their value proposition, the part-timers will be the first kicked to the sidelines.

Changing consumer behaviors will demand more. Only those agents who ultimately rise to the occasion by carving out a niche of truly exceptional service, market knowledge and passion — that I believe can only be achieved by a full-timer — will be able to see the success needed to stay relevant.

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.