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Realtors, I Want You to Like Me… Or Do I?

Is There a Secret Handshake or Cool Club I Should Know About?

secretentranceAs my real estate licensing test date approaches, so does responsibility and opportunity. I think I’ve got a few things going for me. They would include an advertising background, a great company to work for, and of course, getting inside information from the Agent Genius crew.

Wait. What kind of information?

Well, I get inside information from you. You, the people who are reading this right now and will hopefully leave a comment to provide even more inside information. I appreciate the insight you give. You’re the “in” crowd and your opinion is extremely valuable to me. I was blessed with the opportunity to be a part of this community and get to know some pretty awesome people. So, now that I’ve got you guys, my online real estate network, how do I establish that network locally? What sort of relationships do you have or lack with other real estate agents in your area?

What We’re Really Talking About is Networking With Realtors

About these relationships and networking… how does it work in the real estate community? Now, I’ve got my ideas, but I’d like to hear it from you all. In most cases, you can’t generalize the relationships because they aren’t all the same.

Take advertising agencies for example. One client needs branding and three local shops want to win the business. The agencies are competitors but it usually doesn’t go any farther than that. They don’t really have to work with each other. In real estate, three or more agents may interview the same seller, trying to win the business – in this case, the listing. They too, are competitors. But, the difference is that they will probably work together again at some point. Agent A has a listing that Agent B’s client loves and there you have it, together again.

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When it Comes to Real Estate Peers, Do You Bump Knuckles or Go About Your Business?

If you sit and think about it, you’ve probably got a favorite real estate agent to work with. There are probably a few you dread working with as well. Do you avoid them at networking events or do you nod, smile, and move on?

Let’s face it. There’s a good chance in this business that the agents in one area are going to work with each other at some point. So, how do I become that agent that everyone loves to work with? Or, do I even want that? I imagine it definitely beats having people dread working with me. I’d take the warm fuzzies over that any day.

So, what have you done to establish a network offline, in your community? Perhaps a better question is, what have you not done to ensure that your network is healthy?

Let me know what works in the comments. And while you’re here, thanks!

And by the way, I passed the exam today! Praise the Lord that’s over… But, more on that later!

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Written By

Michael is a copywriter turned social media maniac who digs marketing. A graduate of the University of Alabama, he has a degree in advertising with a minor in psychology. His theory: combining traditional advertising and old school values with the technology of today is a great way to go about your business. So what's he doing here? He's a real estate agent trying to find his way. He's taken his license and marketing ideas to @Homes Realty Group in Huntsville, Alabama. He's here to learn from you, the AG community, and hopefully share useful information with you in return. You can find Michael talking marketing at MichaelBertoldi.net and his real estate blog is ThisisHuntsville.com

43 Comments

43 Comments

  1. Joe Loomer

    March 18, 2010 at 6:18 pm

    Michael,

    There will be agents in your career you absolutely dread working with. They are opportunities to learn how not to do things. Your broker will be your biggest mentor in this arena.

    You will meet bullies who look down their noses at you, and you will meet the most amazing, helpful agents from other firms who are more than happy to help you.

    The single biggest piece of advice I can offer you would be to never, ever (did I say never) forget who you represent. Your clients – post transaction – will become your biggest advocates or your biggest detractors. A bully is a bully, a great agent to work with is a great agent to work with. Neither one are on your radar in the first place without a client.

    The other tip I have is never compromise your ethics – if a big-dog agent in town makes an offensive or God-forbid racist remark – call them on it. This ensures you like what you see in the mirror every morning. People do not wake up in the morning deciding to become unethical. It happens by creeping in to a corporate culture and being allowed to happen in larger and more damaging ways. Never put up with it.

    • Duke Long

      March 18, 2010 at 6:56 pm

      Michael.
      Exactly what Joe said..with a little addition…I say it all the time …”Is it legal, moral, ethical”.

    • Michael Bertoldi

      March 19, 2010 at 3:24 am

      @Joe,

      Great points Joe.

      You put things in perspective by saying in the end, it’s the clients who become your biggest advocates or biggest detractors. I imagine one great transaction/relationship or even one bad one and a client can build your reputation up or break it down faster than another agent.

      Ethics first – always. I’m with you there as well. Keep it coming Joe!

      @Duke

      Thank you sir. That’s a great way to remind yourself to question what you’re doing if it seems… well, questionable. If I’m not sure, I’ll want to remember to ask myself those three questions. Thanks!

  2. Kevin B. Morrow

    March 18, 2010 at 6:41 pm

    Joe covered so much in his comment and it is all correct.

    My only input is in the agent networking and being an agent people want to work with.

    Three things come to mind

    1. Being active in your local board of Realtors. Go to all the general meetings and join a committee. Very old school but still effective.

    2. Facebook – Realtors LOVE Facebook. I did more to establish myself as a peer in 3 months on Facebook than it would have taken me 3 – 5 years to using traditional methods.
    Participate professionally and Personally. Comment on their posts and updates. You don’t have to talk about your family and personal life but be personable and connect.

    3.To be an agent other agents want to work with. BE PROFESSIONAL, Realize there may be more than one way to put a deal together and they may all be the right way. Return other agents calls, keep them in the loop. Do your side of the job to make sure the transaction goes smoothly including anticipating potential problems on EITHER side of the transaction. You can do all of this and never compromise your responsibilities to your client.

    Good Luck

    • Michael Bertoldi

      March 20, 2010 at 12:12 am

      Thanks for the tips Kevin. I anticipate getting involved with the local board to a certain extent. I guess my question would be, how do you maintain that when things get really busy? Seems like you could get covered up (hopefully because busy means business) and not have time for offline networking. I assume it’s valuable to some extent, just curious how the time crunch is going to work.

      I love the real estate agents are learning the ways of social media, including facebook. It’s a powerful tool if you use it right.

      Thanks again Kevin!

  3. Ted Mackel

    March 18, 2010 at 7:59 pm

    Michael,

    Sales is a contact sport. (I’ve said that twice today). You need to get out an meet ans many agents as possible in your trade area. Get involved on a committee at your local association and meet more people and let them see how you work. You are going to meet some very terrific people in the business and some not so good ones. The best quote a can give you from a seasoned agent:

    You can deal with the devil if you know the devil you’re dealing with!

  4. Erica Ramus

    March 18, 2010 at 9:22 pm

    You will indeed LOVE working with certain agents and HATE working with others.

    I also come from an advertising/marketing background. People will hate you for that! Ha! You can write killer ads, know how to play up a property’s strong points, and know how to schmooze like crazy. You’ll do great. Really.

    Just approach this like a BUSINESS and not a HOBBY and you’ll do circles over the other agents. Now, that’s not the goal, but it’s the truth.

    Playing nice in the sandbox is hard. When you see success, not everyone will be happy for you, the newbie. Just hold you head high, always operate in a professional manner, and remember who you represent.

    Being best friends with the diva at the next desk is not the goal. Providing Five Star service to all your clients is the goal. Get the deal done in a smooth professional manner.

    Treat all agents with respect. Return their phone calls. But don’t ever breach your client’s trust or secrets or fiduciary just to join the popular club (which is what many of them want). You are not best buds with the agent on the other side. Go out to drinks later, but don’t spill your client’s secrets or say something you shouldn’t just to make it “in” the in club.

    • Michael Bertoldi

      March 19, 2010 at 3:38 am

      It’s a business, not a hobby. Check. I understand what you’re saying. Although, you can love your job and have fun, it is still a business and I’ve got to work very, very hard.

      Honestly, I see your point about success as well. I’m not saying I’m going to be some hotshot, but I’d like to think I’m going to be successful. And of course, when you’re “on top” as much as a new guy can be, I imagine some people won’t like it. Hey, I’m a competitive guy, I think I can handle that.

      Great point about keeping my mouth shut. Definitely don’t want to say anything to jeopardize the relationship I have with my clients for the one I have with other agents.

      Thanks for stopping by Erica!

  5. Dan Connolly

    March 18, 2010 at 9:55 pm

    There are some simple things that will win you huge mad love in the industry:

    When another agent’s client stumbles into your open house, call the agent tell them their buyer came by and that you would be happy to co-op with them. Don’t try to “steal” their client.

    When a buyer that you showed your listing to, comes back with another agent to write the offer, don’t sue or “arbitrate” the buyer or his agent. (The buyers really do have the right to decide who represents them).

    When you are interviewing for a listing don’t say anything negative about another agent. Talk about what you bring to the table.

    Return the other agents phone calls promptly.

    Don’t make a vacant listing “appointment only” and then not return any phone calls for 24-48 hours.

    Don’t make up lame excuses. Own up to it if you make an error.

    When the property is under contract let the MLS know.

    Don’t harass a buyer’s agent for feedback. (one, inquiry and see if they call back) It makes you and your seller look desperate and the agent who showed 50 houses this week doesn’t necessarily have 6- 8 hours to discuss with the 50 listing agents what they should already know.

    That’s all I can think of for now.

    • Michael Bertoldi

      March 20, 2010 at 12:15 am

      Thanks for the comments Dan. I especially seem to be drawn to the one about a prospective buyer stumbling into your open house. Care to elaborate? For some reason I’m want to know more about how you’d handle that situation.

      Thanks for checking out the post!

      • Dan Connolly

        March 20, 2010 at 5:50 pm

        What I was talking about was when a person comes into your open house and tells you that they are already working with a Realtor. Believe it or not, some agents will try to get them to drop their agent and come directly to them to buy the house or any other house, asking if they are happy with the service etc. Word of that spreads like wildfire. Agents are a talkative bunch.

        Also because some agents will be afraid that because you showed the house first you will fight with them over the commission, you gain a lot of points by assuring them that you don’t play like that.

        • Michael Bertoldi

          March 20, 2010 at 6:54 pm

          So, are you saying they try to talk them into dropping there buyer’s agent and go directly to them (holding the open house) and create a dual agency?

          I don’t see me ever trying to steal clients. That indeed seems crummy.

          • Dan Connolly

            March 21, 2010 at 1:56 am

            Yes its crummy, but the other point of that comment is that a lot of agents out there will fight with the buyer’s agent for some portion of the commission if the listing agent shows it first. (in an open house)

            They may not go all the way to atempting dual agency and stealing the client, but a lot of agents in our area post in the agent’s private remarks “if we show your client first your commission is 1%”. Others will go after the agent with arbitration about “procurring cause” (after the closing) and try to recover the buyer’s agent’s commission.

            If you make it clear that you don’t do that, and that you will protect their commission, then you are working well with your fellow agents. Otherwise they will frequently try to talk their clients out of buying your listing because they are afraid they won’t get paid.

  6. John Sullivan

    March 18, 2010 at 10:43 pm

    Hey Michael

    I think Joe Says it Best . Be Unique , Work For Your Clients , Keep a strong character and don’t be bullied. Love Learning from other Agents and Teaching Other Agents . It is a Give and Take Business. Just like any Company there are those that work and those that come to socialize. Generally the Private Club you speak of is not the workers but the Social Climbers and Bureaucrats . The Workers keep Separate , Keep Involved, and work to Solve Client Problems. The Social Climbers make Problems to feel important. Don’t worry the Secret Code Club is not the Success Club.
    Congrats on Passing your Exam .
    Sully

    • Michael Bertoldi

      March 20, 2010 at 12:17 am

      That Joe is a smart dude isn’t he? And I see you are as well.

      I see your point about socializing vs working. Clients first, always. Success club members aren’t always in the secret code club… I got ya John!

      Thanks for the advice, but keep it coming! haha

    • David Pylyp

      April 10, 2010 at 10:05 am

      Some of the responses here are hilarious and dead on!
      1) No One in my brokerage will buy or sell a house with me. That said, Go have lunch with a client, prospect friend, business associate.
      2) Generally the bigger dog don’t want to show the younger pups whats working. Emulate those that are successful and ask questions. Take them to lunch A learning Lunch.
      3) Take a hand full of business cards and go out into the wilderness that is populated by FRONT DOORS. Knock gently, but firmly and ask… “Hello My Name [insert your name] When are you planning your next move? Smile. Receive your real estate lead. Follow up question? Do you have any friends or family considering a move in the near future? How may I contact them?

      Do this for an hour or two a day and you will be busy. Everyone in your office will whisper How did they get that prospect?

      Try it! Welcome to the secret club The secret? Meet People Greet People Find their Need then provide a solution.

      David Pylyp
      ShopTOism Living in Toronto

  7. Mike

    March 19, 2010 at 8:08 am

    Make yourself easy to contact. Agents that don’t have ALL of their contact info in their email sig puzzle me. Use ONE email to use for business. I actually had an agent use 3 different email addresses within one transaction, and it she didn’t check them all regularly. Don’t use a broker specific email to build your business on, (ex mohara@cbmove.com) because most likely you will move on eventually and you can’t take the email with you.
    Don’t have a full VM box on your phone, or worse yet, have a VM system not even set up yet.
    Not only are there many bad agents, you will learn very quickly which brokerages have the higher percentage of bad agents in them.
    A must for every agent is to build a large, high quality sphere of influence, (I’m still trying to build that myself) and then work it correctly. A steady diet of quality leads and referals is an absolute must.
    Always be nice.
    Don’t spend too much time on RE blogs.

    • Michael Bertoldi

      March 20, 2010 at 12:24 am

      Great practical advice Mike. I don’t see an avatar for you, so I’m going to need you to sign up and become a regular if you’re going give solid advice like that!

      I never really thought about the email address, but you raise a good point for agents. And the voicemail inbox – haha – that reminds me of someone. But, are you saying I’ll get so popular my voicemail inbox will get full!? If that happens, I would assume I’m doing pretty good. Again, great practical advice. And actually something I haven’t even thought about!

      Similar to the voicemail inbox, I’m going to add – Keep my phone charged at all times. It’s my phone, email, twitter, facebook, all that in one device. If it goes dead – not good.

      Thanks for making me think Mike.

  8. Bruce Lemieux

    March 19, 2010 at 8:27 am

    All good advice. Work hard to develop very positive and professional relationships with your peers. This can be really hard work.

    The only other thing I would add is that you should work hard to be a good agent. Define your target market and know it. See every home that comes on the market. Learn about the neighborhoods. Learn about the schools. Especially starting out, you’ll have a lot of time. Don’t waste it sitting in an office — get out an become an expert in your area. If you do this, you’ll be well positioned to represent your clients when pricing homes and negotiating contracts. And it will help you earn the respect of your peers.

    Good luck. This business is a lot tougher than it looks from the outside.

    • Michael Bertoldi

      March 20, 2010 at 12:26 am

      Thanks Bruce. You’ve reenforced what I’ve been told – find a niche and see the homes. I’ve heard the caravan is a good way to see the homes.

      I’ve been in this city for 27 years, so I know it pretty well but I know getting out there will make me an expert. I’ll definitely be working my tail off outside of the office walls.

  9. Joe Sheehan

    March 19, 2010 at 9:21 am

    It is always best to be excellent at what you do and be yourself. As Dr. Seuss said, “Those who matter don’t mind, those who mind don’t matter”.

    Best of luck,

    Joe Sheehan

  10. BawldGuy

    March 19, 2010 at 11:21 am

    Michael — In 40 years not once have I attended a local board meeting. I don’t actively network other agents. What I do is produce results for my clients. My local listings sell quickly cuz they are almost always the prom queen of the neighborhood, whether a rental home, or multiple units.

    Yeah, I’ve been the lone wolf all this time, but almost every year, other agents/brokers list their own income properties with me instead of their own firms. Why? Again, they know I’ll produce the desired results.

    Sure, I socialize with agents on Fridays sometimes. (You’ll score points by knowing the unwritten rule: Nobody is in the office after 2 PM on Fridays. 🙂 ) Next week some of us are going dancing to our favorite oldies band. But I’ve rarely found it worth my time to aggressively ‘network’ other agents. Frankly, most of ’em won’t be there next year anyway.

    If you develop the rep for the best listings, and/or smoothest buyer-side deals, they’ll come to you. Work your ass off, be organized within an inch of your life, and never let a chance to learn pass you by. The rest is happy-talk nonsense, which is merely an opinion, of which we all have one. 🙂

    Congrats on passing your exam, and the best of luck. I doubt luck will have much to do with your success though, as you impress me as an almost sure winner.

    • Michael Bertoldi

      March 20, 2010 at 12:31 am

      Thanks BawldGuy. You impress me as the kind of guy I’d love to mentor with if I was in your area. You’re one wise guy – the good kind.

      You and Joe make great points that I take in summary as – it’s about the clients, not the other agents. Not that I should ignore other agents, but I get your drift and I not only hear you, I’m listening!

      By the end of this year, I’m hoping to work so hard that my backside will be non-existent.

  11. Matt Stigliano

    March 19, 2010 at 11:29 am

    Michael – Great advice from Joe at the top of the comments. I have yet to work with anyone truly unbearable, but my thinking always goes like this:

    I’ll do what I can to make the transaction run smoothly as far as the agent-agent relationship goes. I don’t want to fight and bicker with an agent.

    I, however, am not here to make friends as far as other agents go. I play nice, but I am working for my client and no one else. I will not let that relationship suffer in order to appease another agent. If I need to stop playing nice with another agent, I will.

    If you want to be unethical or do something out of line, perhaps illegal, you really don’t want to have me on the other end of the transaction. I believe in this industry and will take action when necessary.

    When the transaction closes, let’s shake hands and say “good job.” If we can do that, then I hope to work with you again in the future. If not, I’ll still work with you…as long as my client has an interest in your listing or your client has an interest in my listing, and I’ll do it with a smile – I’ll keep my personal distaste for you in my head.

    PS Congratulations on passing the exam!

    • Michael Bertoldi

      March 20, 2010 at 12:36 am

      Thanks Matt. Seems like you’re saying be cordial, but remember you’re here to take care of your client’s needs, not the other agent. Which is essentially what being their agent is all about.

      Unethical and out of line have no place in the Stigliano Chronicles – I hear you loud and clear and I’m right with you. I’d like to close transactions with “good job” or even a respectful “that guy’s good,” but if that doesn’t pan out, well, I’ll keep it to myself.

      Thanks for checking Matt.

  12. teresa boardman

    March 20, 2010 at 7:19 am

    I don’t pay a lot of attention to other agents. There are a few who work in the same area that I have gotten to know over the years and we get together for lunch now and then or call each other for advice or insights. Many agents with the big brokerages won’t network with anyone outside of their company. They are taught that they are the best and that other agents are inferior. I don’t have time for that.

  13. Brad Cullipher

    March 20, 2010 at 1:02 pm

    Michael,

    Honestly, I don’t socialize with other agents a lot. I’m more inclined to let my work speak for itself and let my clients be my biggest advocates. With that said, however, I also work in the mortgage industry, and in that regard, I am beginning to expand a networking and referral campaign with local Realtors. I guess ultimately it depends on your position and strategy. If you’re like Bawldguy, who’s been in the business 40 years, then there probably isn’t a need to go and socialize with other Realtors–especially if you’re not fond of some of them. However, if you’re getting started, it might not be a bad idea to try and get out there and make some connections. Like many other people said, you’re going to like some agents, and hate others. But in the end, to each his own. Good luck!

  14. Charity Weeks

    March 22, 2010 at 12:15 am

    Congratulations on passing your test!

    WOW! I wish that I’d been given the kind of advice you received here in comments when I was a newbie 2 years ago. Many great points to consider, as I embark on a journey with a new broker starting tomorrow.

    On the social networking venue: it sounds like you have the online stuff down Michael, but don’t forget; real estate is a people profession and I believe in this market, you still need to put yourself ‘out there’. There are all kinds of groups to join for networking or personal growth, be it Chamber of Commerce, Lions, Rotary, Toastmasters, Master Mind etc. It’s always good to put your face ‘out there’ as a newbie and meet others in the industry-not just Realtors, but lenders, title people, appraisers, inspectors…you get the picture.

    Good luck!

  15. Missy Caulk

    March 22, 2010 at 8:28 am

    Great discussion. One thing I have learned is to keep your emotions out of the negotiating. Doesn’t matter if it is the price, the inspections…whatever.

    Be a problem solver for your clients. If the other side of the contract is being stubborn, no reason to bring your clients into getting an attitude. If the other agent is not calling back, answering the questions your clients have, I have found it is best to just tell your clients, you have not heard back but you are trying to get an answer for them.

    If you start railing against the other agent, or the buyer/seller on the other side, it creates more disharmony and negatives vibes at the closing table.

    If you foster good relationships with other REALTORS in your area it goes a long way to being the REALTOR, they want to deal with in multiple offer situations. They will respect you and know you will get the job done in a professional way.

    One thing I noticed a long time ago, was to look at lawyers. They fight strong in the court room for their clients but afterwards they go out for drinks with each other.

  16. Kevin Baker

    March 22, 2010 at 1:25 pm

    Real Estate is unique within itself that you compete for business with the same people you sit beside everyday. Networking with other realtors in your marketplace is a vital piece of business that one should never overlook. These people often have pocket listings or know of homes that will be coming up on the market that could be the perfect fit for your buying clients.
    Yes we are all in competition but we also all have to work together. As in any industry you have to take the good and the bad but remember we all play in the same sandbox so it always pays to be nice.

  17. Erica Ramus

    April 10, 2010 at 10:43 am

    Interesting comments — it seems many top producers don’t spent lots of time schmoozing other agents. In 11 years I think I have been to less than 10 local board meetings/functions. I am used to attending Chamber of Commerce breakfasts, mixers, Rotary Club, etc. which I find very productive. I actually get business and DO BUSINESS at these events. However, I find the local board breakfasts a waste of my time, and only attend when there is a provoking topic.

    I was turned off when I attended my first breakfast and sat at the “wrong” table. I was told that agents don’t mix at tables. Companies sit together (yes a b— agent told me this my first breakfast). So “go sit at your own company’s table” she said. I thought she was joking. I sat down and she stared at me. Okay. We are back in high school.

    Another time, the people at the table spent the entire time talking about what other agent were wearing, and how different outfits were “out” or made someone look fat. Repeat: we are 16 again and the Mean Girls rule the school.

    Once I brought an offer to a breakfast because I knew I could track down an agent, and she told me to take the envelope to the office as she doesn’t do business at breakfast. (Diva?) I told her I do business wherever I go, and left the offer on her seat when she went up to the food line.

    So I hope your board functions are more productive / grown up. I refuse to play these games, and spend the 2 hours working while the other agents are out eating and dishing on each other’s outfits during their monthly cattle call.

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