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If you say that… it will ruin your career!


 As a life-long possessor of the minority opinion, I am not surprised that people disagree.  That’s fine, our opinions are traditionally defined by life experience and not everyone has had the same experiences.

However, I am always amazed at the lack of tolerance that others can have, when they disagree.  Too many people will simply shut down when they hear something they don’t like, as opposed to considering that maybe there is a better way. 

In my job as an educator, I can’t help but have some of my personal opinions shadow the topics that I teach.  In the past two months I’ve been cautioned by third parties, that two agents were upset.  These agents have both made the comments that “If Matthew keeps teaching against dual agency’ -or- ‘If Matthew keeps teaching that on-line marketing is more effective than print media and floor duty’ than no one will come to his lectures and it will hurt his career.”

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Am I surprised, no not really.  However, I do want to ask a question.  If I only tell people what they are comfortable with and don’t try to give light to change and progression than what’s the point?  Education is a modality in which someone should be able to change behavior and improve their practices.

Am I worried about these two individuals coming back to classes?  No, and here’s why.  In both instances these individuals were offended because of their experiences and beliefs.  In both instances we’re talking about generational issues.  I’m not referencing age; but of the industry.  It seems to me that we have entered a new generation of real estate in the past five years or so.  Yes, the average age of the Realtor is getting younger (and I am not sure that’s a good thing – more on that in a later post), but I know many, many brokers and seasoned agents (regardless of age) who are adapting to meet the consumer where they are now.  Unfortunately there are far too many people who are trying to meet the consumer where they were 10 years ago.  I am leaving room for the fact that they maybe right and the talents of open houses and playing solitaire during floor duty maybe back in vogue… but I think it’s unlikely and only time will tell.

I am not clever enough to give a title to the different generation of Realtors, but I know that there is a difference and for too long we’ve been addressing it as physical age and not by a willingness to adapt to a changing industry.  Age is beginning to be less of a factor for me.  I know many Baby Boomers who are exceptional bloggers and very tech savvy. 

So, am I worried that there are some who are unwilling to change?  Nope, because for every 1 who is offended there are another 30 who are embracing the change and look forward to another experience to provide services to the client where the clients are now.  That is the emerging generation of the industry.  I have to concentrate my efforts on those who can be reached and hopefully influence the industry leaders of tomorrow.

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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. Stephen Wolfe

    March 15, 2008 at 7:46 am

    Matt, as a former educator now realtor, I get your point. Educators have the charge of transformation through information. As an agent, I try to keep that approach with our clients. Yes, it may loose us some clients, but we would rather people have a great experience than us just try to see how “many we can get” if the experience is good all else takes care of itself! Keep up the work of being a literal “change-agent!”

  2. monika

    March 15, 2008 at 7:46 am

    I agree, Don’t worry about teaching or reaching those that are closed…just keep reaching the ones that embrace change and new ideas. Those are the ones that will make a difference.
    Often I face the same issues especially so when I teach things that traditional brokers don’t want their agents to hear. Like self branding, online marketing and anything that flies in the face of their often times old school beliefs. It’s a hard line to not cross but you have to do what feels right for you.

  3. Missy Caulk

    March 15, 2008 at 8:03 am

    True, Matthew the problem is as at this point theirs not yours. When the pupil is ready the teacher will come in something I have seen in my own life and the lives of others. I’m a bummer.

  4. Mike Farmer

    March 15, 2008 at 8:59 am

    Agreed, however, don’t fall into the trap of being like these two and shutting out information outside the “new way” because we might find before all this is over that many old methods can still be effective. The jury is still out on best practices in this evolving industry.

  5. Toronto neighbourhoods

    March 15, 2008 at 9:29 am

    I fully agree with what you’ve written. I work for a real estate agent and I am dealing with Toronto neighbourhoods. I think that for someone who wants to succed in the new age, the adapting to a new industry is crucial. People have different opinions, but it is important not to shut down when we hear opinion that is not like ours. I think that we should at least consider the possibility that other people’s ideas may be true. Even if they’re not, they broaden our view of the world.

  6. Faina Sechzer

    March 15, 2008 at 9:40 am

    Mathew, I see very successful agents who are doing same old, same old. They say -it works, so why change something that isn’t broken? (their point, not mine). May be agents who don’t have a repeat business client base, or the established personal brand, are more eager to embrace the “new” ways, as a way to differentiate and to carve out a niche. Many real estate markets are so saturated with the old guard, it’s extremely difficult for new agents to find a foothold.

  7. Matthew Rathbun

    March 15, 2008 at 9:48 am

    MIke, your point is well taken. I am reminded that what we’re doing now to reach our clients maybe be “old school” in the not to distant future. I just hope we’re all open to new ideas each time we hear one. Even if we don’t incorporate it into our own practice, it’s beneficial to know what others are doing.

  8. Mariana Wagner

    March 15, 2008 at 10:00 am

    ” I am reminded that what we’re doing now to reach our clients maybe be “old school” in the not to distant future. I just hope we’re all open to new ideas each time we hear one.”

    Exactly. This is a paradigm shift. We are not only changing WHAT we are doing, but we are changingthe entire fundamentals of HOW we are in business. And a large part of that change is realizing that “change” in and of itself is not always a bad thing.

  9. Cyndee Haydon

    March 15, 2008 at 10:03 am

    Matt, I agree with Mariana – I just hope I can keep up – I know I went through a period where every new “social network” seemed like was coming daily with invites to join.

    We all know it will continue to evolve – hope I day open to the “new”

  10. Jonathan Dalton

    March 15, 2008 at 10:20 am

    Heard at a lender’s office the other day about a mass mailing to go out.

    HIM – “You gotta send them, right?”

    ME – “Hey, whatever works for you.”

    HIM – “Oh, it hasn’t worked but you still gotta do it.”

    ME (internal dialogue engaged) – Why?

    The Internet and the web-based consumer is creating new opportunities and new challenges all at the same time. At happy hour yesterday one of my office’s top producers was disparaging web leads as flaky. Many are. Many aren’t. The percentages run about the same as floor calls, sign calls and all of my other lead generation efforts. But there’s an added perception colored by a lack of understanding of the medium.

    (Wow, did I really write that last sentence after being awake only 40 minutes? COOL!)

  11. Hi Matthew!

    Whether Old school or New school:

    “You cannot teach a man anything. You can only help him discover it within himself.” – Galileo Galilei

    Re: Old school vs. New school Experience – I have a similar conversation going on here:


  12. Jacksonville Real Estate

    March 15, 2008 at 11:49 am

    The more things change, the more things stay the same.

    Although the medium of conversing with clients has moved to the internet through blogs and social media, it is still “spending face time” with a client. Furthermore, the old ways of calling and holding seminars still work.

    It just a new marketing medium.

  13. Mike Farmer

    March 15, 2008 at 5:19 pm

    “MIke, your point is well taken. I am reminded that what we’re doing now to reach our clients maybe be “old school” in the not to distant future. I just hope we’re all open to new ideas each time we hear one. Even if we don’t incorporate it into our own practice, it’s beneficial to know what others are doing.”


  14. Sue

    April 12, 2008 at 4:41 pm

    I don’t think a realtors age matters, but its important to embrace new technology and different practices if they clearly offer value. In which case, its easy enough to show clients and create an awareness. Believe it or not, I work with realtors that do not use email. Now that is hanging on to tradition way too long.

  15. Dotti Driver

    September 10, 2008 at 10:21 am

    Keep teaching it anyway. I have learned a lot about the internet and have actually sold homes to some of my web leads. I think Realtors should keep doing the things that are working for them, but also listen to the teachers who can see where real estate is headed. Most buyers are finding their home on the internet these days, so it pays to listen up.

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