Our terminology is damaging the high standards we uphold as we serve our clients. Let’s bury these terms and make things clearer and easier for ourselves, our industry and our clients.

As Realtors, each of us work hard every day at raising the standards of our profession. We are not helping ourselves or our industry by using vocabulary that is contrary to the professional standards we are actually living.

The vocabulary our industry uses needs to change, and having a “wake” might be the appropriate ritual to put closure to a few of the words that need to be “buried.”

A new Redfin study found that average homeowners in 2019 have lived in their homes for 13 years.

It must be very confusing for clients when they hear us use certain words because many are so contrary to the vocabulary used by their other professionals, such as attorneys, CPAs, stock brokers, wealth advisers and more. They interact with these professionals multiple times a year as opposed to every 13 (or more) years.

Here are just a few of the words I am suggesting we bury as soon as possible.

1. ‘Commission’

The car salesperson I have used for 20-plus years chats with me about how little “commission” she is getting today because of how thin the margins are when cars are purchased or leased. Yes, she is paid a commission on each car purchase or lease.

In fact, she is merely in the transaction business as opposed to a professional services business. I hear from her every three years when I am considering my next car.

In real estate, we are in the professional services business. We are real estate wealth advisers. Our compensation is a “professional fee” that is earned, not a commission that is paid to us. Let’s use the term “professional fee” when speaking about our financial compensation.

2. ‘Deals’

When the word deal is used to describe the transactions or trades that we are managing for our clients it sounds as if we are referring to the TV show, Let’s Make A Deal.

The vocabulary used by our stock broker refers to the “trades” she is managing for us, not deals. A question that is often asked within our industry is, “How many deals have you done this year?”

Let’s bury the word deals and replace it with “trades” or “transactions.” Trades or transactions are the terms that are used by most all of the financial professional services we use. Consumers who use financial services are very familiar with these two terms.

3. ‘Comps’

What in the world do our clients know about comps? The words we choose when describing the properties we are using to determine the appropriate value of a home is the “relevant properties” for your home.

Don’t you agree that a consumer will have a better understanding of relevant properties than comps? Relevant properties is a term that is used by appraisers when doing their work to determine the value they are attributing to a property.

Realtors are the only ones using the word comps when referring to relevant properties.

4. ‘Offer’

There is no mention of offer on the California Association of Realtors forms, yet it’s the common word that references the contract that is submitted by a buyer for a residential real estate purchase.

What our homebuyers are submitting to a homeseller is a “purchase agreement” contract. Buyers outline the price and terms they are willing to purchase for a home in a purchase agreement they have carefully packaged for the review of the seller. Let’s bury the word offer.

5. ‘Counteroffer’

Unfortunately, counteroffer is the title of a California Association of Realtors form used by both homesellers and homebuyers. I respectfully submit it needs to be changed because of the confrontational atmosphere that is created when the form is titled in this manner.

A suggestion for a more appropriate title of the form is “Response to buyer/seller price and/or terms.” Counteroffer will not be buried easily; however, it is a suggestion for C.A.R. to consider.

However, it will be much more effective with our purchase agreement negotiations if we use the words “response to buyer/seller price and/or terms.”

6. ‘My business’

The word used by the professionals we have as our advisory team each call their businesses their practices. You have heard the same words from your professional advisers. Think about it: my legal practice, my accounting practice, my wealth management practice.

Isn’t it time we bury the words “my business” and replace them with “my real estate practice.” We are real estate practitioners and actively learning each day how we can improve our practice and the manner in which we serve our clients.

Let’s bury these six terms for good. I look forward to seeing you at the “wake” next July at Inman Connect Las Vegas.

I welcome your feedback on the words I am suggesting be buried, and you might even add a few more of your own in the comments section below.

Jim Walberg is a real estate agent with Compass.

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