Just 10 Good Agents?
There’s a Biblical story of Abraham and God fighting over God’s wrath against a city. In the story God has had enough with a particular city’s disregard for morality. He tells Abraham to get his hommies and get out, so that they won’t incur the wrath. Abraham attempts to barter with God and asks that He spare the city, if Abraham can find just 50 good men. When God recants and says that He will not destroy the city, Abraham realizes that he cannot think of 50 good guys. Abraham then starts to push his luck (impressive when you’re arguing with God) and says how’z about just 45, 30, 20, and finally he whittles God down to 10 good men. To no one’s surprise Abraham cannot find even 10 good men. ….I am starting to think Real Estate is much like this story and I am having a hard time finding 10 good agents.
Now, understand – I am not talking about 10 agents who use technology (being “tech savvy” works against many agents and not for them), I’m not talking about 10 who write a lot of blogs or even know the rules. I am talking about 10 people who will study to know their craft and put the CLIENT FIRST. Ok, ok….maybe I’d just be happy if they would put one photo in MLS and answer the phone/email at least every other call.
An Industry Lost
I sit and listen to experienced agents, about how the industry used to be; where everyone knew each other. When agents would sit with you and your clients to present an offer, where people took the profession more seriously and they were working collaboratively to bring a better name to the industry. Now, we have stopped looking toward improving the industry and just to alienating those who don’t do it as we do. I’m starting to feel like we’re on the LOST island and it’s a few stranded folks; and those folks are surrounded by the “Others.”
I want to run around to all the listings in my neighborhood and say “Here, go buy a lock box at Home Depot and put your listing on Postlets and Trulia; because no one will protect your best interest better than yourself!” (I don’t usually feel that way, but this week I am starting to wonder…)
Lowering My Expectations
Perhaps it’s because my role is varied that I have become so jaded this past week. I am a licensed Broker, I have a wife that still deals with clients one on one, I teach almost weekly and I am the center point of contact for people with complaints in our Realtor Association. This week alone, I’ve just about given up any hope for our industry. I’m now just looking for a few good Brokers and Agents who can convince me that my expectations aren’t too high. To me, raising the bar, is not just a matter of holding new agents to a higher standard. It applies even more so to the current culture of practitioners.
I hear so much from people who want to “raise the bar” in real estate – but do you really? I mean if all the people who say this really wanted to, couldn’t it be done? Would you succumb to raising the bar? I address the Brokers, because they are the actual authorities in their offices, they create the culture and frankly most of Association leadership is far more concerned with Brokers, than agents.
Brokers, how about if I told you that raising the bar means that we would have to change some things:
- Would you agree to disallow online education? It’s been proven time and again, that online education is less that 20% the effectiveness of a classroom.
- Would you take 50 hours of CE a year, as opposed to 10 or none?
- Would you train, develop and pay good mentors who were assigned to new agents for a ONE YEAR internship, before releasing them to the unsuspecting consumer?
- Would you limit yourself to no more than 20 agents to oversee, as some business consultants will tell us that a manager / executive can not oversee more than 20 people at a time, in this type of setting? (I’ve read as little as 8 in most traditional office settings)
- Would you really staple the little license to the agents forehead and shove them out the first open window upon finding they have neglected to properly protect the client?
- Would you agree to stop pampering “top producers” and turning a blind eye to their non-sense just because they bring in more money than the rest?
- Would you agree to stop “nurturing” an agent who can’t seem to get it, or make money for years at a time?
- Would you agree to stop allowing dual-career agents to work in your office, unless their second career allowed them the flexibility to serve the client as any full-time agent would?
- Would you boot an agent who professes to be a full time agent, but simply doesn’t behave as one?
- Would you agree that agents who witnessed a violation of a rule or regulation be held responsible for reporting it? How about if I said that if they declined to report it, they would fined $5,000 per instance of neglect?
The Wild West
I’ve seen some of the dumbest decisions this past month and frankly the insane market is just making it worse. I was in a conversation recently (not at my office) with a Broker who manages an office, has agents and SERIOUSLY didn’t know what a Shortsale was or what REO meant. I’ve been told a story of an agent who withheld a offer that was 30,000 higher than the first; because he didn’t like the second agent and hated presenting multiple offers. We’ve got listings in our MLS that have been on the market for 120 days with no photos and listed in the wrong cities. Homes with $20 combo boxes’ listed by agents 2 hours away from the market area are prevalent. There are agents who are working two jobs and can only work on their various listings after 5pm and “need to take Sunday off.” The list goes on and on… We get frustrated while discussing these things, we love to blog about it (although I’ve caught a few “bloggers” being the agent they rant against), talk about it in the office (when actually working would be far more productive) and calling the broker to complain.
Are you Culpable?
Here’s a higher standard issue. For all the people who spew rhetoric about how ethical they are and how disgusted they are with the behavior of some agents, how many have reduced their grievance to writing and submitted it to someone who can actually do something about it? Every state has a regulatory board (to the best of my knowledge). Are you not culpable for being negligent to take action when wrong is committed? Some of you have seen things so egregious that it qualifies as a mugging of the client, behind the guise of representation. How many of you who actually saw a mugging in the alley would intervene or at least call 911?
I’ve heard all the arguments before. “I don’t want to write a complaint, because they’ll only get a slap on the wrist….it’ll take too much time….nothing will happen” Yes, they may (in your eyes) get a slap on the wrist, but most people deserve a second chance. Many people only need a fine or to have to encounter discipline in order to set them on the right path. And yes, first offenses are typically treated lightly; but the subsequent time they are typically not treated as benevolently. Yes it takes time, but I will submit that it takes equal or less than to sit around, gossip and complain about it. Lastly, if “nothing happens” it may mean that you weren’t right in the first place… so, be right!
I honestly feel that Real Estate Boards should hold liable those agents who knew of wrong doing, yet took no appropriate action. Appropriate action is not rumors, gossip and ranting online. Appropriate action is utilizing the self-policing options available. If I can’t compel the ill-behaved agents to represents their clients well; perhaps we can compel the self appointed “ethical” agents to step up to the plate.