Part of what I love about Agent Genius, the contributors, the commenters and the rest of the active online real estate community is I have a sense of trust and camaraderie. This is my sanctuary when I need hope for this industry.
Unfortunately, over the last couple of weeks, I have experienced three instances of “transparency” that make me loathe this industry.
I’m Sorry, But Not Really…
Me: I’m looking to buy a place to move my mom into due to an unexpected death in the family.
REALTOR: I’m sorry to hear that. Have you found someone to list her current house?
Good job! You said you’re sorry! I came into your showroom to give you business, yet your first reaction was to ask for MORE business! If you had just chatted with me and shown me your demo units, you could have probably found a more appropriate time to ask about listing her current house. As it was, your greed and lack of compassion were what came through most. If I were moving to Austin, without a doubt Lani and Benn would have to be my representation. Do a search for “Help” on RE Revealed to see how much they care and help the community they are in. Many of you do the same. Supposedly that’s a common trait of Gen Y, we like to give our money and time and we respond well to others who do the same.
It’s Not So Bad Being Trendy
REALTOR (to employee of energy efficiency non-profit): I don’t really want to know all of this green stuff, I just want to be able to put it on my marketing so it looks like I do, could you create some catch-phrases for me?
Neat! You care about the environment! Could you tell me about solar power, non-VOC paint, Energy Star or rebates for energy improvements? No? But it’s all over your marketing materials that you’re a pro at this. Oh, I need to call someone else. So tell me again, why is this all over your marketing materials if you know nothing about it? Oh, “green” is trendy and you were just looking to capitalize on that. So you lied to me. Next.
I’m Super Busy…But Not Too Busy For Your Referrals!
LENDER (via email): Sorry it’s taken me so long to get back to you, I’ve been super busy lately. Scan to email signature. Oh, by the way, I’m never too busy for your referrals!
Okay, I understand that people get busy, so no problem. All the info here looks good, you answered my questions…here’s your contact information at the bottom…and POW…the gratuitous request to pilfer my address book, complete with the statement that you’re never too busy. So you were too busy to get back to me in a timely manner, but you can always make time for my friends. If you know they’re better than me, shouldn’t you know their contact information too?
Was This Just A Rant?
No, not at all. Yes, I wanted to vent a little, but please take a look at your marketing and your various forms of communication. If you, a business partner or someone in your office is guilty of any of these problems, please be the one to help them.
According to a Harris Interactive Poll, “a real estate agent” was the second least trusted profession. People can see through what you’re saying, especially when they already have a lack of trust.
As my grandfather always says, “you kids be good to each other.”
July 2, 2008 at 11:12 am
It strikes me that our present market conditions will slowly, but surely, marginalize these types of practitioners. It can’t happen fast enough.
An article like this causes me to stand before the mirror and ask “Is this me?” Thanks for the reminder!
July 2, 2008 at 11:40 am
NIck, I really was sorry to hear about your dad and I know it’s still a struggle to help the family get everything back in order. I am also sorry about the callousness of the agent you encountered. There’s just no excuse.
As for the rest… sigh
The agents encounter day to day, off line are exceptional folks who are great people, but from time to time I’ll hear them talk to clients or such and their “agent” salesy mode kicks in and it’s sad to watch. I can’t help but think if they’d just be themselves and treat the client as a person instead of a “deal” they’d all be better off and probably make more income.
July 2, 2008 at 12:06 pm
Fantastic Nick, just fantastic. But as great as you make us out to be, I know that in some of the most awkward moments in my life I have said the most horrible things.
Which reminds me so much of the outreach from the real estate blogging community (rebc) when so many of our profession reached out to Lani and I and lifted us up. Some of the folks that say things in the public eye that I don’t always agree with threw out the baggage and humbled themselves to our needs.
I guess what I am trying to say is that all of us do and say the most stupid things at the worst possible times, but thank God we all have the capacity to bring greatness thanks to constructive criticism such as the one you just delivered.
I’m human, and so are we all, and on behalf of the agent, I extend my most sincere apology for just being ridiculously human.
July 2, 2008 at 12:18 pm
Gosh, and here I thought I was having a bad week because the last three Realtors I called didn’t identify themselves when answering their phones… and I was returning their calls or responding to their e-mails. Nick’s right, there are a lot of cynics in the industry. I think it’s because there are a lot of coaching programs that attempt to turn otherwise normal, thoughtful people into cynics. Now let’s roll play a pop-by where we don’t really care about the person we’re visiting because we’re thinking about the stack of personal notes we need to write when we get back to the office.
July 2, 2008 at 12:40 pm
@Vance – I learned at some point in my life that every once in a while, we have to take an honest look at who we are at that moment and decide if that’s really who we want to be in the future. It’s been incredibly valuable for me to do so from time to time as it has completely shifted my life each time.
@Matthew – I did pretty cut-throat sales for quite some time and learned that by NOT using those salesy techniques you mentioned, I actually did better. I know the people who treat my like a person and not a deal, in every industry, will get my long-term business and plenty of happy referrals.
@Benn – I completely agree that sometimes we say things we don’t mean to, to me though, it’s the acknowledgment and attempt to fix it that is important. And people do need to be careful with what they say and offer apologies when necessary because word does get out these days and a reputation can go downhill very quickly. I could have named names on this post, for instance 🙂 Instead, hopefully they will read and learn.
@Frank – Your example of not caring because you have something else on your mind hits home. Being on the computer all day, I realized some time ago that I had to close the lid on my laptop when taking a phone call. Otherwise, I’m multitasking between blogs, my feed reader, Twitter and all the other crap we have going on. It’s tough to block out everything else, but sometimes that’s what needs to be done. When I sold $100 cell phones, I forced myself to do it, if I were selling $300,000 homes, I would definitely do it.
July 2, 2008 at 6:33 pm
“…see how much they care and help the community they are in. Many of you do the same. Supposedly that’s a common trait of Gen Y, we like to give our money and time and we respond well to others who do the same.”
It’s a trait of some Boomers too… I think human beings in general, regardless of generation, respond well to thoughtfulness and caring.
At least I want to think that. I’m sticking to it….
Sadly, many don’t seem to get it.
July 2, 2008 at 7:02 pm
@Jay – you’re definitely right, it’s not just a Gen Y thing. I’ve just been reading a ton of Gen Y books lately and they keep pointed that out as a common trait as though the others don’t, but I know you do.
July 3, 2008 at 5:09 am
@Jay Boomers Rock! We’re much more generous the Gen Y folks (who have only one letter to their name). But in any case good people try to do the right thing- of any age. And that you and I (and many of the people we value understand that generosity and caring are rewarding by themselves- I am so grateful I have and the people who enrich it from my wife, son, and daughter-in-law to my friends here – that it would be just wrong not to help someone if I could, or to care about someone else’s situation) But that comes from perspective, and the people that Nick recounts here didn’t have that.
@ Nick when I read this so many things ran through my head that it would be a post but I don;t want to write that one yet. I have agree with Frank and Matthew that some of its a result of people following scripts and thinking less about the situation then they are about the person in front of them. People are all the stars of their own movies, and it is that sad but true fact that sometimes allows them to forget that the other players in the movie are crucial to the succes or failure of the movie. Times are tough financially for many people ans they become so focused on form that they lost sight of the things that are really valuable in their interaction with people.
I have always believed in business that if you worry about taking care of people properly, the income follows. Too many people don’t get that and they parrot words in chase of a success that seems to elude them.On the flip side people you never met in person actually care deeply about you and your family – and that says something about people.
Glenn fm Naples
July 3, 2008 at 6:09 am
NIck – you may have ranted but it is the truth. Sometimes, we have to drop back and take a look at ourselves.
July 3, 2008 at 8:00 am
This reminds of the saying ” Noone cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.