Teresa Boardman is a long-time columnist with 400-plus Inman columns under her belt. She writes about her real estate observations and experiences as an officeless indie broker in Minnesota.
We all know that the real estate industry is made up of more than just agents and brokers, but no one can deny that it’s the agents who build the closest bonds with consumers.
Here are 25 realities agents have to deal with every day — and the rest of the industry should try to fully grasp them.
1. It’s about the seller right now
Marketing a home for sale is about pleasing the seller. In today’s strong seller’s market, finding a buyer isn’t much of a challenge (in most cases). This dynamic can change at anytime, and when it does, agents will focus on “wooing” homebuyers.
2. Buyers know when homes hit the market
Homebuyers usually don’t have any trouble knowing when a home hits the market. Many use apps with alerts and some even use real estate agents to help with that. Others notify their agent that they found a home they would like to see.
3. Dealing with disclosure vs. transparency
Real estate agents are required to disclose, which isn’t the same thing as “transparency.” When dealing with private property for sale, “transparency” isn’t a thing — but disclosure is and it is legally required.
4. Recommending neighborhoods is a no-no
Real estate agents cannot recommend a neighborhood. Recommending a school or school district is a gray area. Personally, I am not qualified to help someone decide how or where their child should be educated. The 120 hours of education I needed to get my licenses really don’t qualify me to do that.
5. A real estate license doesn’t automatically improve your skills
Having a real estate license does not improve photography, marketing or writing skills.
6. High sales volume doesn’t make agents the best
The agents who make the most money and the companies with the highest sales volume and the biggest teams in the real estate space are not always the best. Some agents are good at making money, but so was Al Capone.
7. Consumers don’t understand the broker
Buyers and sellers do not understand broker reciprocity.
8. Clients don’t know you pay for their access to portal sites
Consumers do not understand that real estate agents are paying for the portal sites that homebuyers and sellers use for free.
9. The company doesn’t sell real estate
Real estate companies rarely add value to the transaction, and they don’t sell real estate. Consumers are not aware of this.
10. Agents work under the broker’s license
Consumers do not know or understand that real estate agents must work under a real estate broker’s license and that it is the broker who is responsible for contracts with consumers.
11. Agents are independent contractors
Consumers do not understand that most real estate agents are independent contractors who pay for marketing and other expenses out of their own pockets and only get paid after the successful closing of a home sale.
12. Brands don’t always matter
Buyers do not choose a home based upon the logo on the for sale sign in front.
13. They who list it rarely sell it
Consumers are unaware that the person and company that lists a home for sale is rarely the person or company that actually sells the home.
14. We must be wary of new products
Every year, there are worthless products and services introduced to the real estate space by people who can get venture capital but do not understand the industry or the end user.
15. Involving more women is helpful
Most products for real estate salespeople could be improved upon by having women involved in the process.
16. Income facts to surprise you
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median pay for real estate agents in 2017 was $45,990. In that same year, the median income for Realtors was $39,800.
17. Realtor is not a job title
Realtor is the title given to members of the National Association of Realtors (NAR). There are Realtors who are not in sales.
18. Age ain’t nothing but a number
According to NAR, the “typical” Realtor is a 54-year-old woman, and the median age of first-time homebuyers is 32 years of age. There is no evidence that homebuyers prefer to work with people their own age.
19. Response time is everything
Real estate clients do not complain about real estate technology. They do complain about not having their inquiries responded to quickly — or at all.
20. Marketing experts aren’t always right
Marketing experts sometimes recommend strategies that are illegal or in violation of Fair Housing laws or dangerous to the agent or that are useless or stupid.
21. Social media followers don’t equal sales
Social media doesn’t sell houses. There doesn’t appear to be any data that confirms that having more social media followers translates into more sales or more business.
22. Local real estate can call for local tech
Real estate is local and so are some of the business practices. That means tech solutions invented on the west coast might be useless in other parts of the country.
23. Open houses are for lead gen
The purpose of an open house is for the real estate agent to get leads. Everyone knows one person who saw an open house, fell in love with it and bought it, which is a good thing because homesellers sometimes believe (or need to be convinced) that open houses sell houses.
24. Homeownership is getting harder to achieve
In spite of all the money and talent that has been thrown at the real estate industry, homeownership continues to decline and lack of affordable housing is becoming more of an issue.
25. NAR is not a democracy
Members do not have a say in how the organization is run.
This list could be much longer, but if you made it this far, you probably already know that. If you sell, speak or write to the industry, you might want to consider talking to real estate agents or even spending some time with them.
Having a few homebuying and selling experiences just isn’t enough to give anyone a clear picture of what an agent’s job is like.