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Is Not More Expected Of Us?


We’ve all done it…

…walked into a property for sale that has no sign in the front yard, a 6th grade version of a “brochure”, the directions and the information in the MLS are wrong, and there are even typos in the remarks.

If a consumer were reading this, they’d probably say,

“That’s not possible! What seller would go with an agent that was that sloppy and unprofessional!”

Well, it may surprise you that it’s not a rare occurence. In fact, it happens fairly often and even in the upper price bracket of luxury homes that are $1M+. Obviously, those sellers are satisfied with their agent because they went with them in the first place and haven’t switched to another agent after seeing the level of service they’re getting.

Do consumers not expect more from us?

Is it because consumers think that’s the best service they can get? Do they not base which agent to hire on service or professionalism, but rather on friendship or relation to the agent?

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It baffles me that consumers don’t expect more from us as a profession. If they did, agents would have to step up their game or find another job. If we were held to a higher standard (not talk about CoE here folks), the real estate industry would improve as a whole. Consumers would received better service, agent’s lives would be made easier and the higher standards would eventually trickle over to lenders, title companies, appraisers, etc.

How about…

…NAR or someone else come up with “Minimum Standards” that all agents have to adhere to (and I’m not talking about the CoE)? Things such as spelling, basic marketing tools and services provided, etc. This list should be given to all consumers across the US so that the least of what they should expect.

Then maybe…just maybe…we’ll see agents being held accountable for providing the very basic of what they should be and what consumers need.

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Written By

Danilo Bogdanovic is a Real Estate Consultant/REALTOR(R) in Northern Virginia and author/owner of LoudounScene.com and LoudounForeclosures.com. Danilo serves on various committees with the Dulles Area Association of REALTORS(R) and the Virginia Association of REALTORS(R).

22 Comments

22 Comments

  1. Chris Shouse

    July 2, 2008 at 1:51 pm

    OH I SO AGREE Danilo there is a company here in Las Vegas that is taking on massive REO’s I went to show a condo the other day they had listed. The building numbers on MLS and their remarks did not match so I called to ask. Switched around to several people I finally was given to some girls they said they were pretty sure it was MLS part. I got to the place and their directions were wrong. The description of the place was all wrong. I came to realize the person inputting the information had never been there. So it was the agent that feed them all this information and I was so embarrassed in front of my client.

  2. Jason Sandquist

    July 2, 2008 at 2:02 pm

    It’s a struggle to add these numbers up correctly when submitting the comment and you want me to spell right now. JK. Great point, totally for a minimum standards.

    Time and time again when I see it I just pause for a second and think to myself ‘huh’ WTF. I don’t know why more homeowners don’t step up and say something about it

    It can’t be that hard to hit a spell check with all the technology available or double check your comments in the public remarks so they are not broadcasted to the world as typos.

  3. Ken Smith

    July 2, 2008 at 2:03 pm

    There will never be a set min standard, but consumers should expect one. It amazes me how many listings in the MLS have only 1 photo…heck many don’t have a photo at all. We can add 9 photos for free, so the agent can’t even use the excuse that it’s costing them money. This is PURE laziness.

    Our MLS is moving towards at least 1 mandatory photo for each listing. If there isn’t a photo after 15 days (don’t know the exact number of days for fact) they will go take one and charge the agent. At least this will give the sellers something, but it still isn’t enough.

  4. Jason Sandquist

    July 2, 2008 at 2:07 pm

    @Chris Touching on your comment about REO’s. I get a kick when REO agents use BPO photos from a year earlier when they did the drive by.

  5. Matt Stigliano

    July 2, 2008 at 2:21 pm

    Hooray! I am not alone.

    (Although I must admit, while reading a previous comment a left on another post, I realized I screwed up “their” and “there”….Idiot!)

    Our MLS is plagued by the same typos, lack of information, and mis-information. I frankly am here to save the world from that (now everyone will go through every post I make with a fine tooth comb I’m sure). I’m not looking for perfection, but at least give me something to work with.

    On the MLS a lack of photos really drives me nuts. We get 16 and so many use 1 (and poorly taken I might add) if any at all. Do these agents not care about their listings? Are they lazy? Too busy? Bad photographers? Insane? Not very visual in nature? If I had an answer, I would give it to you all, but I don’t know why people do it (or is that “don’t do it?”). I for one promise that I will give every listing 16 photos and will do my best to spell everything correct and make sure the information is accurate (unfortunately, I will NOT promise that I will adhere to the rules of grammar, as I am a big fan of the comma and wind up getting myself into run on sentences constantly…see what I mean?). If I don’t adhere to these rules, I ask that you, the agentgenius staff and readers, hold the real estate world’s first world wide internet-only shunning of an agent (I grew up near Lancaster, PA – can you tell?).

    One more rant about bad info…if you’re going to spam my inbox with info about your latest listing, please make it understandable. Otherwise, its going in the trash and you’ve wasted your time…and mine.

    (I have to try and get a photo of the local car wash that has the sign that reads “Comming Soon” (and no, I didn’t spell it wrong)…would make a great photo for a post.)

  6. Ken Smith

    July 2, 2008 at 4:48 pm

    @ Matt – “(I have to try and get a photo of the local car wash that has the sign that reads “Comming Soon” (and no, I didn’t spell it wrong)…would make a great photo for a post.)”

    I can’t count how many times I see signs with incorrect spelling. Kind of shows it isn’t just our industry, then again many of the places with signs like this are hiring minimum wage employees.

  7. Dan Connolly

    July 2, 2008 at 7:12 pm

    Danilo, When you ask why our customers don’t expect more, I think you would be surprised how many clients never see the listing or advertising the agent does on their behalf. That is why they hired an agent they trust to take care of whatever needs taking care of. The clients frequetly don’t know what to expect or where to look.

    I called a owner listed with a discount broker and arranged a showing. The directions were wrong, the house was so new it didn’t show up on the map (pre-GPS). When I called listing agent for help, he said he had 300 listings and couldn’t possibly tell me where it was. The seller called me peeved because we didn’t show up so I told him what happened. He had a s#!+ fit!

    What kills me is agents with foreclosure listings that have mechanical lock-boxes, who don’t publish the codes in the agent private remarks and don’t return phone calls.

  8. Jonathan Dalton

    July 2, 2008 at 8:25 pm

    Interesting thought, Danilo, but somewhat misguided. Minimum standards assumes that there are universal marketing solutions for all types of properties and that these “minimum” standards are the most effective methods …

    Cases in point …

    1) If you have a listing in an area where vandalism is likely if the property’s advertised for sale, would you want to be required to have a sign? (Try having a listing where every window has been broken and a dozen fire extinguishers set off inside … I’ve had it happen.)

    2) Why require flyers when they aren’t particular effective? If I happen to believe that an 800 info line with call capture is more effective (which I do), who is to say I’m wrong?

    3) Let’s say you have a 900-square-foot condo for sale. 2 beds, 2 baths. Realtor.com allows up to 25 photos to be added … should I have to add them? Does one photo for every 36 square feet really make sense? “Look … this 2-foot area is where you can put a toaster!”

    4) Open houses. Never mind. Don’t even want to open this one up. Except to say I don’t do them and will not do them. It would be more productive to chew on tin foil.

    Frustration over poor spelling or incorrect directions is understandable. But telling agents what they “must” do to satisfy the theoretical desires of a seller.

    There’s one agent in Phoenix who has a sign on their car … “We don’t just sell your home, we market it!” Hey, buddy … I don’t give a fig if you market my house, just sell the damn thing.

  9. Greg Cremia

    July 3, 2008 at 5:35 am

    I’m all for minimum standards but not in the level of service. I want to see minimum standards in an agent’s abilities.

    Forget spelling and pictures. Way too many agents don’t have a clue about comps, contracts and negotiations. The most basic elements of real estate. These are the things that either make or cost our clients serious money.

    I have been seen where Barry Cunningham claims listing agents don’t deserve the commissions they are getting and in 80% of the situations I have to agree with him.

    Our industry is so lacking in professionalism it is embarrassing.

    Flame suit on.

  10. Danilo Bogdanovic

    July 3, 2008 at 6:00 am

    Good arguments about a minimum of standards not working across the board. Do you guys think that raising the barrier of entry would be more appropriate? I don’t see many lawyers or doctors making typos or not knowing the basics of their jobs…

  11. Glenn fm Naples

    July 3, 2008 at 6:05 am

    Danilo – I think the brokers should hold their agents to a higher standard. It is truly a sad state when agents can’t spell correctly or add a picture to a listing. Unfortunately, WE, as a profession do not hold our fellow agents to higher standards.

  12. Danilo Bogdanovic

    July 3, 2008 at 6:29 am

    Glenn – I agree. But the problem is that brokerages firms are built on the business model of quantity, not quality.

    I’ve actually heard (from credible sources) of brokers telling an agent NOT to report another agent on blatant CoE and Fair Housing violations because it would create “bad blood” between the brokers. That’s sad…

  13. Mack in Atlanta

    July 3, 2008 at 6:30 am

    Sure spelling, directions and pictures are important, but being better educated with how to price a home would be a more important factor. The other thing that really bothers me is the agent that lists a home as 4 bedrooms when it actually only has 3. That little storage area without a closet is NOT a bedroom.

  14. Paula Henry

    July 3, 2008 at 8:05 am

    Danilo – The sad truth is, I’m not sure the consumer knows what they should expect. They believe we are all the same.

  15. Matt Stigliano

    July 3, 2008 at 8:08 am

    Greg – I have to agree about “minimum standards in an agent’s abilities.” I left school and felt ready to take on the world, but then looked at a real contract with an agent in the office and had 10 million questions that I hadn’t learned the answers to in school. It took me awhile to get my head around the real world of real estate and I’m still learning. I do think its rather easy to get licensed (in the state of Texas), but luckily, the time commitment and money commitment keep some people away that might otherwise flood the state with licensed agents without a clue. Of course, I also am a big fan of hands on learning. I can read a book, take a few tests, do a few sample contracts, etc., but that in no way compares to a real life situation. Even if I did this for months and years and got a degree in it, it still wouldn’t compare to the real thing in my opinion. Sure, this can cause a dangerous situation, where an agent might not be doing things correctly, but a GOOD new agent will know to ask a few questions to fellow agents or their broker (who should be available to them) before putting their foot in their mouth, their clients in harm’s way, and their license at risk. Maybe we as agents should demand more from the brokers? I like my broker, so this is not from personal experience, but I know a lot of brokers take the “throw it at the wall and see what sticks” approach to recruiting. They knowingly pick 10 agents hoping that 1 will be good. (Of course, I am not speaking of all brokers and my numbers are random numbers for the purpose of illustration only.) Sorry, I feel like I’m rambling a bit. My coffee has yet to set in this morning.

    Danilo – While I haven’t heard a broker say to not report someone, after reading that and thinking about it, I think I would have to walk away from a broker if I heard that. My business needs to be based on reliability and trust, but I don’t want to base it on fear of “bad blood” or “no agent in town will like me.” I’m here for the client not for the other agents. I want to like and be liked by other agents, but its not the only or highest goal I have. After seeing some of the social aspect of real estate (the various lunches, grand openings, etc.), I think some agents do put that social aspect high on their priority list. I, however, am a firm believer that those same people that are in it for the wrong reasons will be gone tomorrow (hence the high drop out rates for Realtors).

    Ken – Wouldn’t you know I drove by the place this morning and the sign is gone? I guess what ever was “comming” already “camme.”

  16. Matt Stigliano

    July 3, 2008 at 8:51 am

    From the G-approved box in the right hand column…
    dsSearchAgent is a fantastic Web 2.0 IDX Solution for Agent & Broker Sits alike!

    Sits?

    I had to do it, I just had to. Now I’ll never be able to spell something wrong on this site. Me and my big mouth.

  17. Danilo Bogdanovic

    July 3, 2008 at 9:00 am

    Good pull Matt! Though you may just have painted a target on your forehead…

  18. Bill Lublin

    July 3, 2008 at 9:12 am

    Danilo – Interesting post, but as Jonathan points out and you acknowledge later, Minimum Standards doesn’t work well in an entrepenuerial business.

    All each of us can do is work on our own skills. When we manage or own an office, we can work on our own skills and the skills of thise people that work with us (but even then, we can’t be with each of them every minute of every day – Look for a future post on “Stupid Agent Tricks) and if we own a larger company, we can work on our skills, and the ckills of our managers, and our agents, but the larger and more effective an organization, the greater the difficulty in micro-managing.

    As far as there being something beyond the COE from NAR, there is also Pathways to Professionalism, which actually does talk about business etiquette, and how to handle returned calls, showings, etc.

    Me, I just want to be proud of my work product – whatever it is 😉

  19. Ken Smith

    July 3, 2008 at 9:27 am

    @ Matt – “Sits” Nice find.

    @ Danilo – “I don’t see many lawyers or doctors making typos or not knowing the basics of their jobs…” In that case you don’t deal with enough lawyers (no experience with doctors so I won’t comment there). Lawyers spell things incorrectly everyday and I have dealt with more then a few that don’t know the basics of the law they are practicing. We have attorneys on every transaction so I have had the pleasure to deal with hundreds of them and some just shouldn’t be allowed to practice law.

    Even with that said I feel the barrier to entry into this business is WAY to easy. For a few hundred dollars and a self study course (for agent or broker), you can then go take a state test that only requires a 70% grade to pass. In IL a brand new agent that has never seen a contract can open their own office and start managing other agents (even worse then being able to sell).

  20. Holly White

    July 4, 2008 at 10:27 am

    It’s easy to make typos. There are several in this post and stream of comments actually. The important thing is to fix them (where possible). With our MLS (and I’m sure ours isn’t the only one) we can change anything about the listing we want to at any given time. What’s awful is when agents are made aware of their typos and still do not fix them. That’s a complete lack of professionalism is my opinion.

    We have seen so many really awful photos in listings that it’s become sort of a past time for us. A few days ago we saw a photo taken by an agent where someone was caught in the photo trying to get out of the camera’s view. Did the agent not realize they had a review button on their camera so that they could within 2 seconds take another photo WITHOUT someone in it? Apparently not, because they used it in the MLS listing and marketing materials!! That was the last straw. We have now decided to start a “Stupid Realtor Photo of The Week” blog. 🙂 This is going to be fun!

  21. Eric Blackwell

    July 4, 2008 at 9:18 pm

    Actually, Holly — there is a blog built specifically for that! Athol Kays blog has the bad REALTOR photo of the day…and he offers tips on how to correct it…

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