• Just because you’re self-employed doesn’t mean there are no rules to follow. Learn the unwritten rules of etiquette to stay on top of your game.
  • As a Realtor, our reputations mean everything. Keep yours sharp and flawless by being courteous and conscientious, and you will stand out as one of the top agents to work with.
  • Mutual respect -- make it an integral part of your business.

In every industry, there are unwritten rules on how to advance to the top of your profession. In real estate sales, in addition to closing deals, you want to gain the respect of your fellow agents as well as your buyer and seller clients. By using proper etiquette, you might just help raise the bar for the industry.

We agents have not exactly built a stellar reputation for ourselves — in fact, we’ve been described as a greedy, money-hungry, ambulance-chasing, in-your-face, pushy, lying, back-stabbing group who would run their mother over to get a deal.

We’ve also been reputed as bored housewives with wealthy husbands who just started selling real estate as a way to get out of the house, buy fancy clothes and cars and socialize at open houses.

The business has changed considerably. The younger agents are coming into the business, building teams, putting systems in place and running their teams as bona fide businesses while earning millions doing so.

We need to change our reputation.

In my book “Real Estate Etiquette,” you will find reminders of common courtesy and everyday manners. Just like there are “rules for home sellers,” there are rules for us. Below are 10 tips to help you conduct your business with respect and grace.

10 rules to learn or re-learn

1. Respect

Respect the homeowner, your fellow agent, your client and the property. Show up (on time) for showing appointments, or call if you will not make it.

Give feedback when asked by your fellow agent. Don’t take phone calls while you are with a client — that says loud and clear that the person you are with is not as important as the person on the other end of the phone.

When showing a home, leave it exactly as you found it — lights off, drawers closed and doors locked.

2. Confidentiality

Be very careful about what you say, where you say it and who is in earshot. How do you think your sellers would like it if they knew you burst into the office spouting off about how they wouldn’t take a perfectly good offer of $300,000 just because the buyer wouldn’t close on Sept. 1?

Now everyone in your path knows that this property will sell for $300,000 if they have a client who will close on Sept. 1. Keep your client’s motivation and confidential information just that — confidential!

3. The low-ball offer

If a buyer’s agent submits an offer on behalf of their client that is 30 percent off the list price, there is no need to faint, roll your eyes or scream in disbelief.

The buyer’s agent already knows it’s a horrible offer. Simply thank them for the offer, present it to the seller and respond accordingly. The buyer will get the message when the seller’s counter offer is $1 off the list price — or if there is no counter offer at all.

4. Be humble

So you got a full price cash offer with a 30-day close on a listing that has been on the market for three days. Fab! No need to strut around the office shouting “wahoo!”

There are other people in the office who might be struggling. Keep it to yourself — or perhaps share it with your manager. Besides, if you’ve been in the business for more than 10 minutes, you know “it ain’t over until it closes!”

5. Don’t be an expert if you’re not

If an inspector tells your buyers that the deck is not secure and needs further investigation, don’t jump in.

You don’t need to insert comments like “Oh, you’ll just need to reinforce the footings, which is very easy to do and won’t cost more than $200,” unless you know for a fact that they’ll just need to reinforce up the footings, which is very easy to do and won’t cost more than $200.

6. Dress like you want the job

If your area doesn’t dictate a three-piece suit anymore, that’s fine. But if you want to be respected, dress in a professional manner. In any marketplace, flip-flops and a T-shirt don’t cut it.

7. Keep it business

Just because you’re doing a deal with an associate who you had drinks with last week doesn’t mean your business acumen should be casual or sloppy. It’s fine to socialize, but when you’re involved in a transaction, remember who you represent.

8. Representation

Did I mention — remember who you represent? I’m always shocked when I’m in a negotiation with an agent, and the agent says to me, “This is the seller’s price, not my price — I know it won’t appraise, but I’m just the messenger.”

Truthfully if you’re just the messenger, you’re not representing your client in a fiduciary manner. And you’re not helping the industry either.

9. Texting and emailing

Be very careful. With emails, watch the trail. Make sure you’re not forwarding the seller’s response to the buyer’s agent if there’s a trail of emails behind the intended response.

Don’t be lazy. Either pick up the phone or start a brand new email with the relevant information.

Texting — it’s great for saying you’ll be 10 minutes late, but don’t negotiate via text. You’re not ordering a pizza, you’re handling someone’s most valuable asset. Again, pick up the phone, and make a call.

10. Own it

There is no one who is exempt from making a mistake now and then. If you didn’t get the listing or lost a deal in a multiple offer situation, don’t blame the client, the other agent or the business in general.

Learn from the loss, if need be, give yourself a very limited (private) pity party — and then move on.

With these tips, my hope is that you can emulate the brand that agents deserve to be known for.

Catherine Richardson is a Realtor with Keller Williams Realty. Find her on Facebook or LinkedIn.

Email Catherine Richardson.

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