Dear RE Net,
Sometimes you just have to say your piece and move on. So that’s what I’m here to do. There is no point in expending mental energy on something that isn’t going to get resolved as that is time away from friends, family, and whatever gives you passion in your life.
Like many people, I’m interested in improving the industry and creating a better experience for consumers. There are many groups that talk about improving the industry on Facebook, Twitter and various forums on the net. There is a lot of discussion about what makes someone professional or not. What makes a brokerage good or not. What does the industry need to change and what not to change. Sometimes the discussions are passionate, sometimes informative, and sometimes asinine. No matter what, the real estate industry can’t evolve effectively for one simple reason: judgmental behavior.
It is that simple.
There are several groups on Facebook that chat about improving the industry. I participated in the group for a couple of weeks but the ongoing superficial conversations secured my swift exit from the group. It is impossible to change or improve an industry if you aren’t willing to look at your personal contribution to the mayhem that lies within. Blaming others has been a favorite past time for a long time and isn’t specific to the real estate industry, but it impedes the ability of our industry to innovate and revitalize itself.
Recently an agent wrote in a Facebook group
Submitted an offer Sunday morning. Asked for confirmation of receipt from the listing agent. No response. Called LA office this morning. Was told that he won’t be in until around 11:30; that their office and banks are closed on Sundays. Yeah, banks are, but, Realtors aren’t. Couldn’t I just get verification it was received?..
…I gotta tell you, I am sick to death of having to make excuses to my clients for sub-standard, inadequate “Realtors”.
I’m not writing the agents name in the quote, but if she reads this and wants me to attribute it to her, I will gladly do so. In my Bizarro world, Sunday was Father’s Day. But put that aside for a minute because she said REALTORS® can’t be closed on Sundays. Huh? This is the problem we have in the industry. How can you possibly change the industry when there is such a non-sensical judgment out there about how to run a brokerage? Maybe the listing agent works for this brokerage because they are closed on Sundays. Maybe the listing agent has a strong faith and doesn’t work that day. Maybe the listing agent takes care of his sick mother on Sundays. Maybe it is a day he gets the kids as part of a divorce agreement. Where is the law that says real estate brokerages are operated 24/7? Other than emergency rooms which obviously need to be open, Walgreens where consumers need medicine, and 7-11 where that late night slushie calls out to you, what other industry runs 24/7 for services? The crazy part is if she all she wanted was confirmation there is a great program called Rpost, that does just that. For the whopping $35 or so a year, an agent can confirm to their hearts content while still respecting that some agents don’t work 24/7. So instead of saying “it is important to me to confirm receipt of this offer somehow so I will search for a solution”, the agent elects to trash this other agent online, in a public forum, about their desire to not work Sundays. In fact, the entire brokerage is closed on Sundays. Y’all do realize that Armageddon won’t happen if an agent doesn’t work on Sunday. With the Zombies coming it is probably a moot point, but…
I pulled out this one quote as an example, not to berate that particular agent, but to bring home my point. The real estate industry struggles to improve because the agents within the industry have to raise their internal bar first. If an agent doesn’t return my phone call, I can make some assumptions about that agent. I can assume they are a total inept jerk. I can assume they are really busy. I can assume they have a voicemail snafu (and for anyone that has gotten an iPhone voicemail message days later, you know what I’m talking about). I can assume that they have something going on in their personal life that takes precedence. On and on. Only one of the few I threw out there involves a person being a horrible person. The rest are about being part of the human race.
Me? I’m part of the human race. I admit it. I gave up my citizenship as a amoeba a long, long time ago, in a goo far, far away. I’m absolutely not perfect, occasionally dropping the ball. I’ve slept poorly. I’ve not eaten well. I’ve let stress get to me. I’ve worried about my kids. I’ve still gone to work the next day, not functioning at 100%, and hoping that my French Press coffee carries me through the day. I’m human. I admit it. What do I do? I apologize for my mistakes when I make them, and correct them quickly.
So my fellow members of the real estate world, the next time you feel the need to berate your peers, publicly, in writing, for the whole world to see forever, or until the end of the Mayan calendar, I suggest you take a deep breath and remember the golden rule. And no, it has nothing to do with the golden arches. Do you really know why the other agent is dropping the ball? Yes, there are those that are truly inept, but most people drop the ball because they are having a bad day or a bad week. They are, egads, human. Ssshhh…don’t tell anyone that we aren’t amoebas anymore.
Do you really want someone going online when you are acting your most human and trash you for that very act? This complete intolerance for human imperfection in the real estate industry is staggering. The inability of the collective to tolerate various business practices, brokerage models, and styles of communication is flabbergasting. I mean a hippo and a turtle get along, an elephant and a dog were bff’s, yet two agents can’t figure out how to tolerate each other? Really? It is this inability that holds the real estate industry back from truly providing an excellent consumer experience. All of us being alike and behaving like the Borg, isn’t raising the bar. Instead of looking at new ideas and getting inspired to do better, the collective gets stuck in the details of self-absorbed egos discussing ad nauseum about someone using a combo box over a Supra, whether it is okay to use the seller’s toilet during a showing, and whether or not someone returned their phone call as quickly as they would like.
Here is all you need to know to improve the real estate industry.
- It is okay that brokerages offer different models. In fact, it is best for consumers if we do. Choices are good. If a prospect chooses another brokerage or agent over you, then it just means you weren’t the right agent for them. Life goes on.
- If the only way you can express your value is to demean others, then you have little of value to offer. I’d work on that.
- Assume the best and prepare for the worst. Assume the agent making a mistake on the other end is having a bad day. Transactions have less drama when tolerance for being human exists. Compassion. What a concept.
- Let go of your animosity. Just accept that there are other agents you just won’t like and who don’t like you back. It doesn’t mean that either of you are bad people or horrible agents. You don’t need to rant about them online in public. I mean if you are entitled to not like people, it seems only fair that you get to be the recipient of someones’ dislike at some point. Right?
- Just be good at what you do. Do you know all the zoning terms for you city? Do you know where the flood plains are? Landslide hazards? Historic Districts? Can you look at siding and know what kind it is? Do you know what Orangeburg pipe is? Zinsco panels? Know what you need to know to help consumers make informed choices. If you don’t know the answers to these questions, quit your bitching and start learning.
Push aside your ego.
Offer clients knowledge. Demonstrate your value. Provide good service.
Raise your own bar. Forget the rest.