I entered the wonderful world of real estate when I was 26 years old (and Derek was 28) – almost half the age of the average real estate agent in the U.S., which is 51 years old now – and closer to 54 years old at that time.
Let me tell you… That is quite a hurdle to overcome! Not only did many “seasoned” agents feel the need to take on a condescending tone when they talked to us about … anything, but even potential clients did not know what to think when they met us for the first time. (And looking young for my age helped nada.)
How the heck could someone as young as I was actually help people buy and sell houses?
Mind boggling. Truly mind boggling.
(Is this where I bring up the fact that many doctors graduate and start practicing medicine around this age? Or should I save that concept for later?)
I have often brought up the “perception of real estate agents” in reference to how people distrust, dislike and flat-out “dis” them. Although similar, what I am talking about here is a wholly different facet of that perception.
The perception of real estate agents was/is one of an older, “Good ol’ Boys Club” persona … a persona of which I did not/do not even remotely resemble … in more ways than one.
I am now 33 and I am STILL overcoming this hurdle. And although I am still very young in the eyes of real estate, I am not alone and nor am I the youngest whatsoever. There are more and more people – people like me – (to include both younger, and young-minded older) – that are faced with an “industry perception” that can be difficult to overcome.
An interesting manifestation of how my age plays out in my career is figuring out how to overcome the perception that it takes decades of “experience” and “having the right connections” to sell a home.
Okayfine. Define “experience” and “connections” …
If by “experience” you mean: I have written a billion contracts and sold a billion homes and have a billion alphabet soup letters trailing after my name, then no – I do not have THAT kind of experience.
I have the experience that has taught me that no two clients and no two contracts and no two closings are EVER alike and that I need to approach each new situation with a WIDE OPEN mind and a desire and willingness to think “outside the box” to accommodate my clients’ needs in the best possible way. I have the experience that has taught me to surround myself with brilliant people who can walk with me into any situation and make it good.
If by “connections” you mean: I can pull some strings at the Title Company to get a closing date and time that you want, or I go golfing with the president of the country club, then no – I do not care about those type of connections.
I have the type of connections that actually bring home buyers and home sellers together. I have the type of connections that give my Buyer clients access to every home that is for sale that could meet their needs. I have the type of connections that places my Sellers’ homes in front of the maximum amount of potential buyers. I like to call it my “internet connections“.
I understand that the perception of real estate agents is misguided in more ways than one. Our industry HAS had our share of bad apples. Our industry HAS been dominated by the Good ol’ Boys Club for a looooong time. Our industry HAS been stuck in an Old School ways of thinking for longer than other service-related industries.
But, times are changing. Our industry is facing a paradigm shift.
If you are reading this, then you are already embracing this shift. But look around you… How many people in your office are still building their “Value Propositions” on things that are Ego-Friendly but not Client-Centric?
Until this shift reaches the tipping point, and more people understand the NEW face of real estate, I (along with my peers) will still have to overcome the hurdles of being young in real estate.
It is not an easy task, as it takes a type of dedication that goes beyond complete and total comprehension of contract law and local real estate market conditions. It goes beyond total fiduciary responsibility to each of my clients. And it most certainly goes way beyond the commission check.
I still have to, not convince, but educate each potential client as to what it really takes to be a competent real estate agent… TODAY. I have to educate my clients that it is not necessarily the designations that create a good agent (if the client even knows what they even mean …). I have to educate my clients that it is more important to advertise and market their home than to advertise and market myself. I have to educate my clients that because I am NOT a part of the Good ol’ Boys Club, I am forced to be innovative and always be looking for bigger and better ways to help my clients accomplish their goals. I have to educate my clients that being a part of the Good ol’ Boys Club just creates a false sense of security anyway, and it lets it’s “members” become lazy and justify their non-forward-thinking-behavior with pats on the back and another round of golf.
Fellow Genius, Matthew Rathbun, recently tackled the agent-to-agent side of this paradigm shift in his recent post “If you say that… it will ruin your career!” and also brings up an excellent point, in reference to the agent-to-client side:
“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.”
After explaining the “new face of real estate” I am often “rewarded” with clients commenting, “Wow. You are really different (better) than I expected. Thank you.”
However, if after all the education they STILL choose to go with Hairsprayetta Lookatme Lookatmenow ABC., RBIT., LOL., then I say “go” …
And in my heart, I know that my business card (that they casually tossed in their desk drawer) will eventually resurface … when jaded by their initial decision, they realize that MY experience and MY connections may actually be just what they need to accomplish their home buying and selling goals.