For many years, I was on a self-centered journey where I thought all paths led back to me. I honestly believed during that time that the “sandbox” I played in was either all mine, or at least, a territory governed by my rules.

There is a common ugly behavior I see often in real estate. I call it, “not playing nicely in the sandbox syndrome.”

There’s no doubt that from time-to-time, we are all guilty of having this attitude; we all want to believe that the road to a successful transaction runs though us. The truth is that’s selfish. A successful transaction requires us to work together as co-creators of the deal.

As one of the personalities on Bravo TV’s Real Estate Wars, I know this all too well. We spent eight pompous weeks showing-off our amazing properties and glamorizing the drama and problems of the deal. But let’s be clear — that was for television.

As cast members, we had to create the all-about-me deal, as viewers would never hold on for one more episode if the cliffhanger for the week included us going over the results of the termite inspection.

In the real world, it’s imperative to be on top of your personal game and equally to have a strong working relationship with fellow agents.

So what does playing nicely in the sandbox look like? The National Association of Realtors has spelled out our professional conduct in its “Code of Ethics.” However, for the layperson, I have created my five rules for getting along with other agents.

The 5 rules for playing nicely in the sandbox

  1. Share your toys: There is a saying I have always embraced: “You don’t know what you don’t know.” Therefore, if and when an agent asks you for your professional opinion, give an intellectual donation to the industry and provide your knowledge. Many times you might be the expert in your area, and someone might need to draw on your years of experience to make a deal work. If you are called upon, share your wisdom, as someday you might need to call upon someone else.
  2. Allow others into your sandbox: No transaction can take place in a vacuum with only you. In other words, you are not an island. You are hired by your clients for more than your ability to put a home in the MLS (a monkey can do that). But you are also hired for your marketing prowess, your negotiating skills and your ability to connect the right buyers and sellers. In other words, networking with other people is a must for success in our industry.
  3. Don’t squawk: In our business, some agents feel that gossip is gold. In an industry that deals with the spillage of divorce or financial ruin that puts houses on the market, there’s no doubt that you will hear things from the other agents or clients that are as juicy as fat on a piece of steak. As a professional, however, you must be aware of inflammatory communications. Negotiations can get emotional enough as they are. Your job is to be the filter that keeps the deal between the railings.
  4. Be polite and courteous: Real estate is saturated with part-timers (or hobbyists as I have referred to them in a previous article), and it’s unavoidable to encounter an agent who is not on your level or who is not as accomplished as you are. When you do encounter these agents, rather than getting frustrated and speaking to them like they are in kindergarten, try remembering that you probably learned to climb the jungle gym years before them.
  5. Keep the sand clean: If you study the greatest leaders in the world, one of their common traits is “order.” As a Realtor, one of your jobs is to keep your files accurate and organized. This is especially important when an issue arises after the close of escrow. But more so, this important discipline will allow you to focus on managing your client and the deal, all while maintaining organization for a successful closing. For all you non-paperwork types, don’t use your lack of enthusiasm for detail as an excuse. There are transaction coordinators available for hire who can maintain the detail work for you.

As authentic industry experts, let’s continue to raise the bar of practice in our industry by this year committing to playing nicely. It will lead to less injuries in the transaction process and create a win-win for all.

Spyro Kemble is a Realtor with Surterre Properties/Relegance Group in Orange County, California. Follow him on Instagram or connect with him on LinkedIn.

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