As a group, there are definitely a few things real estate professionals — and by that, I mean those of us who sell real estate — should avoid. We don’t need headlines like “8 reasons selling without a real estate agent is a recipe for disaster.”
We should sell ourselves and let potential clients know what we have to offer rather than telling them that they need to hire us or there will be dire consequences.
The other guys
Telling customers they need to work with us because we are better than the other guy doesn’t help any of us either.
We also need to acknowledge that there are a lot of great and qualified agents out there for every homebuyer or seller. This year, there are far more agents in my market than there are listings, and I know many who do an excellent job.
The better approach is to let people know what you can do for them. It is even better if you can go beyond the same laundry list of generic-type services like advertising on the internet, providing a for sale sign or having an open house.
I have heard agents explain how bad those “discount brokers are” and why consumers should work with full-service brokers. Usually discount means limited service for a flat fee. That kind of a service is perfect for some homeowners. It’s exactly what they are looking for, and that’s why it exists.
We don’t need to fight each other over which business model is the best, that is for consumers to decide — and they often choose the higher-priced, full-service agent rather than the flat-fee limited service provider.
Some of those flat-fee companies advertise what a rip-off full-service companies are, and I have even seen marketing from them that suggests working with a real estate agent is a waste of money. In most cases, those flat-fee services are being offered by a real estate agent or a Realtor.
Not a secret
I occasionally take a listing on a flat-fee limited service basis, and real estate agents in my market have been downright hostile toward me when they find out that for a flat fee I put a home in the MLS and let the owner sell it himself. I was told that I was making it harder for everyone else to charge more.
It was as if they were saying “Shhhhhhh! Don’t let people know that they don’t need me, it isn’t good for business.” People do need us, they hire us all the time, and they are happy with the services we provide.
I once entered into a non-exclusive contract with the owner of a condo. Exclusive contracts are the norm. We had a kind of race to see who could sell it first. I won by a landslide with a full-priced cash offer, and it was a great learning experience for both of us.
Last year, I worked with a new agent who was listing a relative’s home. Several issues came up during the transaction. The listing agent had no idea how to handle some of the issues revealed by the inspection.
I ended up guiding her through the process, and we worked together on a few things, which is how it should be. The sellers said that they could not have done it without me.
As long as we have agents like that working with clients, we will, as a group, have a reputation for being incompetent or crooked. It would have been wonderful if her broker would have taken an interest or if she would have asked him for help.
The idea that homesellers always come out ahead if they use the services of a real estate agent is absurd. Those incompetent agents are yet another reason we need to refrain from making statements about the dangers of going the for sale by owner route.
We need to focus our marketing on what we can do for our clients. There are people who can sell their own home without any difficulty, and we need to acknowledge that.
We also need to do a better job educating consumers, so they understand that those questions they are supposed to ask an agent are stupid and are mostly written by industry writers — not by people who actually know how to interview a real estate agent.
We also need to stop putting brand new agents out there with no supervision. It’s rare that an agent admits to being new. I usually find out after I look them up.
It might be a good idea to stop telling clients we are doing something for their benefit when we are really doing it for our own benefit. Experienced agents know exactly what those things are.
Marketing a house is easier than ever and so is finding a home that is for sale. I like to sell our clients on the fact that we have a lot of experience and that experience matters. We have seen a thing or two — or 12 — and we use that experience to help our clients.
Experience is valuable especially when we pair it with a strong desire to help our clients and the attitude that we are working for them and that it’s our privilege.
Your value proposition might be different than mine, and that is alright as long as you don’t go with scare tactics or try and get business by putting down other real estate agents or business models.
Teresa Boardman is a Realtor and broker/owner of Boardman Realty in St. Paul. She is also the founder of StPaulRealEstateBlog.com.