Integrity is paramount for any professional, especially important for a real estate agent. More than likely, we’re being trusted to handle someone’s largest financial transaction of their life.
Violating this trust can ruin your reputation, cause unnecessary litigation and fighting and likely end your career. Here are five big fat lies that’ll sabotage your real estate career and the truths that will save it.
Lie 1: Always give the client an answer (even if you’re not 100% sure it’s correct)
Truth: My No. 1 rule since the start of my career is never answer a question that I am not 100% certain of, and more importantly, one that I am not qualified to answer — especially when it comes to a question that can result in litigation post-closing if I was wrong.
Never lie about things that would sway the client to purchase when the truth would be a deal killer.
Things like ability to renovate a particular way, adding something to the home that might not be possible to add, significant defects that should be disclosed, etc.
We are not attorneys, architects, contractors, zoning specialists, plumbers or any other service provider. We are real estate agents, and this kind of advice should come from professionals in that industry only.
This might all seem like no-brainers, but one moment of lapsed judgement can ruin your reputation, cost a fortune in defending litigation and get your license revoked — even if you were 95 percent correct in whatever advice or answer you gave that you shouldn’t have given. That 5 percent incorrect portion can end it all.
Lie 2: Every agent should invest in a Yelp page to attract clients and business.
Truth: There is always three sides to a story: your side, their side and the truth! An exaggerated or negative review from a client can tarnish, if not ruin, your career.
Businesses can be held hostage by disgruntled customers who can voice their displeasure with an experience behind the protection of a computer screen.
As customer service-based professionals, agents thrive on referrals and new business from positive reviews of our services. In theory, a business page on a site like Yelp seems like a fantastic way to show the public you have experience and handle your clients properly and allow potential clients to see this without even having to ask you for letters of recommendation.
However, all it takes is one negative review from a client not telling the truth, or at least the whole truth, to cost you your reputation and deeply impact your career.
I’m sure most of the agents reading this will agree, there are a lot of moving components with a transaction, and to crystallize a situation in 500 or even 1,000 characters is likely not possible if it’s about something that went wrong on a transaction.
So why risk this forever stain on your resume? Handle your clients with integrity and professionalism, solve issues, and do your best to fix situations when they arise, ask happy clients to write a letter about their experience with you, and put it on your firm’s website under your agent page.
But save yourself from worrying that one unhappy client will go to your Yelp page and undo years of hard work with a few keystrokes.
Lie 3: To attract clients and business, the more content you have on your social media pages, the better!
Social media posts dating back 10 years can be found by your existing and future clients, even with your personal pages set to private, so make sure whatever is on your social media pages showcase the professional you are today.
Caution in posting on social media might be No. 3 on this list, but it tops my list of social media do’s and don’ts!
Lie 4: It’s OK to embellish on your experience to a potential client.
Truth: The internet makes it incredibly easy to fact check now, so it’s never a good idea to do this. More about your life and experience is readily available online than you might even realize, and a potential client willing to peel back layers of the onion to find out more about you can find information to discredit your claims of experience.
Obviously, this will have you lose credibility, trust, and likely, the potential client. If you don’t have enough experience in the potential client’s eyes, you’re going to lose the opportunity. But it’s better to lose it in an honest fashion than look like a liar and lose any possible future opportunities.
Lie 5: It’s alright to overpromise.
Truth: It’s not only damaging to yourself, but it’s also damaging to the real estate community when an agent or broker does this.
As it is, real estate agents have a very low customer service record, and this likely plays a large role in that. Simply put, do what you say you will do, and don’t promise to do something you cannot or do not plan on doing, whether it’s marketing a home or helping a buyer find one.
Overpromising and not delivering is a surefire way to lose your client, and it’s also a surefire way to have the community viewed in a similar light. Work hard and with integrity, and if a deal doesn’t commence even with that, at least everyone walks away amicably, and your reputation will be intact.
There’s plenty of other challenges we face that can end careers: lifestyle changes, economic conditions, even simply burning out from long hours. Those situations are mostly out of your control, but be mindful of the ones that are, and you’ll enjoy a long and (mostly) happy career.
As a native New Yorker and seasoned real estate professional with Compass, Andrew Feldman has an unequaled knowledge of market trends. Connect with him on LinkedIn.