Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

The American GeniusThe American Genius

Opinion Editorials

More than just a Client


You’ll need to excuse this intermission into the normal writings that I’ve been conveying here on AgentGenius. I enjoy writing about social media, technology, real estate in general, but this evening I’ve been stirred a bit. While watching a movie with my daughters, I had a “weak” moment, wherein the story unfolded a tragedy befalling the heroin. I was only half heartedly watching the movie, as I was working on a yet another didactic for yet another real estate class. But I was had a moment where the story captured me and I began to get a bit teary eyed. Now, I comprehend that this is not a venue for conversation about men crying and that was not my point. Whereas most professionals would never admit this weakness, to be moved by story telling, I embrace these moments – they remind me that I am human, with feelings and connections to people – that I still have an overwhelming sense of empathy for others. Humanity is an incredibly eroding virtue in our culture today, and it saddens me to behold this revelation. Moreover, I begin thinking of all the classes on rules, techniques and sales tools and yet the one thing that is more important is our ability to be human – and I’ve never been able to teach that.

We’re losing our benevolence and ability to walk in another’s shoes. What does this have to do with real estate? Everything.

The Person Inside

We have tricks, tips, techniques and training for everything in real estate. We’ve created a sub-culture in this profession and allowed it to become more important that those fundamental…no, human attributes that we all must posses. We talk ad nauseam in regards to alienation of unprofessional agents – or simply those who we consider troglodytes because they do not comprehend the realities of the industry, as we do (or better yet pretend to believe we do). We spend countless hours bemoaning the lack of indulgence our clients and customers have and why they can’t just take our advise, since we are in fact the “trained professionals.”

But there is more…. much more. Everyone of us has a story. Each story has it villains and its heroes, it’s successes and unfortunately, it’s failures. This culture dwells on failure and unfortunately make failures very public, and successes very private. For those agents who posses the ability to dissever the story being told to them, there is the opportunity to discovery a curio. You see, when a client calls you every day asking what is going on with their home, most agents immediate response is to try and dump the listing or more nefariously began complaining to everyone listening about how “crazy and annoying” this client is.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

I would predict that if you tended to listen more carefully to the story – what you see is a scared person who is asking you to repay their trust with comfort. That comfort may not be available, but stopping to really listen to the concerns…just listen to what the person is really saying can be more valuable to them than good news.

When did we loose the humanity of relationships? When did we stop knowing that our job is to serve and not be served? Those agents who have mastered this mindset may not have been the “Top Producing REALTOR®” but they did fulfill the task at hand. They did leave a positive legacy and they most certainly helped contradict the image that many people have. When was the last time that you thought of your “client” as more than the context of a commodity?

Mediocre at Best

I’m well aware that my writing is not the calibur of the company that I keep. I am aware to the fact that this type of self indulgent authorship is not received well in the I’m OK with that. Whereas some will see this as mediocre, some will care less, many will scoff at the naivety of treating people as more than a legal term that eventually yields a pay check. But if just one person reads this and stops the next time a client is “driving them nuts” and listens; recalls that this client has a story and treats them as a person – than it’s worth the effort.. Humanity is the most important tool in a practitioners arsenal. We can teach the rest – its up to you to care and connect with your consumer, who has handed you their trust.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.
Written By

Matthew Rathbun is a Virginia Licensed Broker and Director of Professional Development for Coldwell Banker Elite, in Fredericksburg Virginia. He has opened and managed real estate firms, as well as coached and mentored agents and Brokers. As a Residential REALTOR®, Matthew was a high volume agent and past REALTOR® Rookie of the Year & Virginia Association Instructor of the Year. You can follow him on Twitter as "MattRathbun" and on Facebook. Matthew's blog is



  1. Bob

    December 7, 2008 at 12:35 am

    what you see is a scared person who is asking you to repay their trust with comfort.

    In this market, that ranks as my quote of the year.

  2. George McCumiskey

    December 7, 2008 at 5:25 am

    A good point. I think any intelligent prospective buyers would appreciate an agent who expresses “human” emotions. It indicates the person will not just sell you anything, suitable to your needs or not (ie the realtors who sold millionaire scale homes to middle income families) but direct you toward what is good for both himself and the client.

  3. Amy Chorew

    December 7, 2008 at 10:54 am

    I was just thinking about this exact thing today. I heard the song “There is a season” where it says there is a time for everything. A time to build and a time to tear down. I realized it is our job to recognize what time it is and react as a real human being to everyone that we meet up with. It all starts with “listening”, asking questions. People are hurting, scared. Alex Perriello put the challenge forward at NAR to every REALTOR to find one person who has been affected negatively by the market and help them. What would happen if 1 million REALTORS did that? ALOT!

  4. Missy Caulk

    December 7, 2008 at 10:54 am

    What movie?

    The only thing I would add to this, Matt is that even if they are not your clients, even if you disagree with them politically on every issue, they should we treated with dignity and respect.

    Everyone has a story….so true.

  5. Monika

    December 7, 2008 at 5:25 pm

    Everyone does have a story Matt. I always stress to my re students that they should always strive to walk in their customers/clients and the other REALTORS shoes before they react. Treat everyone as you would want to be treated. Yes, the Golden Rule…rules.

  6. Paula Henry

    December 7, 2008 at 7:03 pm

    Matt – I believe humaness in this market ranks above all the preconceived ideas about one’s success. People do not care what kind of car you drive, your accolades, your previous successes, your million dollar pin, etc.; they only care that you care.

  7. linsey

    December 8, 2008 at 9:23 am

    ‘I’m well aware that my writing is not the caliber of the company that I keep.’

    I’m not so sure about that Matt. Wonderful piece. I’m currently working with a seller that is moving into a retirement home. This lovely women has really reminded me of so much that you said here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


American Genius
news neatly in your inbox

Subscribe to our mailing list for news sent straight to your email inbox.




The American Genius is a strong news voice in the entrepreneur and tech world, offering meaningful, concise insight into emerging technologies, the digital economy, best practices, and a shifting business culture. We refuse to publish fluff, and our readers rely on us for inspiring action. Copyright © 2005-2022, The American Genius, LLC.