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An Open Letter to New Agents…

Some things have begun to bother me recently

I know that in many ways, I am preaching to the choir by writing this sort of thing here on AgentGenius, as the people that have made their way here (in my opinion) are a cut above the rest, because they are taking the necessary steps to move forward in their careers and learn more than most, but I feel the need to get this off my chest.

I’ve been running back and forth lately with a few clients and have begun to notice some disturbing things. So I want to correct them. I want to correct them now. Some agents will never change (some will). So I want to concentrate on us. The new agents. The ones who have the power to change real estate for the better and move it in new directions. That is not to say that non-new agents can’t do the same (and many of them right here at AgentGenius are doing just that). We have a chance to break old habits passed on to us by our peers. We have a chance to make new rules and push real estate to new places. And its happening. Look around you at any post in here and see some of the innovation and ideas already at work.

Five things I want us to do to improve our business as a whole

  1. Communication. A no-brainer really. We all know communication is key to building a successful relationship with our clients. Except, I’m not talking about clients. I’m talking about inter-agent communication. Let’s start calling each other back when we leave messages. Let’s send emails to give the info the other agents seek. Heck, you can even text message most of us. I’ve been chasing agents a lot lately. More experienced agents who don’t want to return my phone calls about a rental, only to return it two days later to tell me its been rented for weeks (despite the fact that is still shows “active” in the MLS). Brokers who have a cell phone as their only phone line, don’t answer it, and still haven’t returned my call. A few extra calls a day will make our lives a bit more busy, but in the long run, the karma of it all will be returned when everyone catches on.
  2. Accuracy. Nothing drives me nuts more than having to chase agents down, because I can tell the information in the MLS is inaccurate. The kitchen is 15×1? The lot size is 48 acres, yet I can see the houses next door? The list price for the rental is $900, but the monthly lease is $1000? Really? Help me out a little here.
  3. “Call agent”. If you dare type these words in any part of your listing, you better expect me to call and want an answer. Don’t tell me you don’t know what the deed restrictions are when you clearly put in the MLS that I should call you.
  4. Photos. This has been covered a million times. First, use as many slots as are available to you in your MLS. Today’s buyers want information. They want to know all they can know before they go see your property. And at the moment, they have plenty of homes to choose from. Your lack of photos can easily result in a firm “no” from a buyer before they even see how awesome the house really is.
  5. Photos Part II. If your photos look like some proof that there are ghosts in this world, then you probably should be calling for help (no, don’t even say it…hold it back…oh alright… “Who you gonna’ call?”). Blurry, out of focus, crooked, sideways, poorly framed; whatever the problem, you can fix it. I like saving money like nobody’s business, but I will not take my own photos. Why? Because I suck at it.

So there you have it. Five simple steps to make me happy. Five simple steps that will improve our business drastically, without really doing much of anything (other than using some common sense). Five simple steps that you can do without even thinking. Five simple steps that are easy and don’t cost a thing (except the last one).

I have hope for this industry

At one point in my life, I was among the group of people that thought real estate agents were slimier than lawyers. I thought everyone of them was out to cheat me out of my money and only looking for a fast buck. I was wrong and it took a great agent to show me that. Now that I’ve entered the industry, I know I was really wrong. There are tons of great agents out there. Agents I admire, respect, look up to, and in some cases, call my friends. These agents combined with the new agents who are looking to change the industry can make change happen. It has to happen. So let’s make it happen.

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Written By

Matt is a former PA-based rockstar turned real estate agent with RE/MAX Access in San Antonio, TX. He was asked to join AgentGenius to provide a look at the successes and trials of being a newer agent. His consumer-based outlook on the real estate business has helped him see things from both sides. He is married to a wonderful woman from England who makes him use the word "rubbish."

14 Comments

14 Comments

  1. Missy Caulk

    November 5, 2008 at 9:38 pm

    Matt, like you said, some agents will change and grow and others…well.

    This is all so basic not sure why they don’t get it ?

  2. Steve Simon

    November 6, 2008 at 5:17 am

    Matt your numbers; 1 through 3 have been issues since licenses were required, doubtful that there will be a change for the better in those regards (human nature has not been moving positively in those directions). The last issues, 4 and 5 I actually have seen improvement on (of course I was here when they were using big black Kodack boes and then waiting for Walgreens to develop them):)

  3. George Wynn

    November 6, 2008 at 10:54 am

    I believe there are still honest and diligent real estate agents out there who are willing to serve properly to clients.

  4. Jonathan Dalton

    November 6, 2008 at 11:28 am

    Respectfully disagree on the photos, or at least the request to use all the slots.

    In our local MLS, for example, we can enter unlimited photos. Realizing that’s not a set limit, here’s my take – you want to have enough photos to entice buyers, but not so many photos that buyers have no reason to walk in the front door.

    On an 1,100-square foot townhouses, for instance, 20-plus photos just doesn’t make any sense. Almost no one selects a home online, but most everyone eliminates homes they don’t want online.

    As a listing agent, I’m far more interested getting the buyer in the front door to see a property’s potential than chasing them away because they didn’t like the close-up of the built-in microwave.

  5. Ozarksagent

    November 6, 2008 at 12:15 pm

    Well done Matt, you have a good perspective and one that I hear, heed, and appreciate. Keep on writing about what we need to hear, you have a gift.

  6. Matt Stigliano

    November 6, 2008 at 1:31 pm

    Missy – It is rather basic and that’s why I felt the need to write about it. It surprises me how much of the basic and common sense things get overlooked, not just by agents, but in training as well. These should be no-brainers, but they obviously aren’t all the time.

    Steve – Although I agree that those (1-3) will probably always be issues, I refuse to believe that that can not change. I think agents and brokers let too many details slide and as a result, we all suffer. If I were a broker and found out any of my agents were doing these sorts of things…I’d find myself some new agents. As for the photos, I’m sure you’ve seen some HUGE changes based on the film to digital move, but even so, I think its important for new agents to think of photos a lot. The fact that everyone owns a digital camera does not make us all professional photographers. Given the tools, you still need to know how to use them well or know when to bring in someone who does.

    George – I strongly believe that. And I also believe that there are many of us that are just getting our feet wet that just need the gentle reminder before we wind up with bad habits. Its easy to be sloppy, it takes work to be great. And great is where I want me and the rest of the industry to be.

    Jonathan – Well I can see where using all the slots in your MLS would be a bit hard! We have 16 here in San Antonio. I guess my problem is that clients are passing on houses without enough photos. They’re busy people with busy lives and they want as much info to narrow down their choices before they go see in person. I know there are great houses that get missed because of this mentality, but it is a real thing happening (I even did when searching for my house). I do understand your perspective of giving them enough to entice them, since we all know that no photo is ever going to show the house perfectly the way it really looks anyway, but I wonder how many agents know exactly what the right amount of “show” is to entice. I don’t know if I would. I know you through here and my guess is that you’re pretty good at it. I guess my biggest complaint is the recent 4 photo listings I’ve been seeing that don’t give me anything to entice me.

    Ozarksagent – Thanks, I appreciate that.

  7. Brad Nix

    November 6, 2008 at 8:09 pm

    LOL ghostbusters! This is why I love The Rockstar. Preaching to the choir my friend, but it sounds good from here.

  8. Danilo Bogdanovic

    November 7, 2008 at 4:02 pm

    Matt – Great list, though there are probably another 20 I’d love to add to it.

    There is way too much incompetence running around in the RE industry and one of the reasons why is the very low barrier to entry and lack of higher standards to be held to (and the CoE is not what I’m talking about). But that’s a whole ‘nother topic and long discussion all in itself…

  9. Paula Henry

    November 8, 2008 at 9:44 am

    Matt – There will always be the agent who sticks a sign in the yard and hopes the home sells without much work required.

    I am one who publishes a lot of pictures. I, too have seen my clients pass on homes without enough pictures. Like you, I did the same thing when I recently bought.

    Time is a huge factor and buyers don’t seem willing to drive too far out of their way to check out a home when there are so many available.

    I do find the buyers who come by my homes are more interested and it takes fewer showings to get a contract.

  10. Kristin Moran

    November 8, 2008 at 10:36 am

    Hi Matt,

    Great list! Number 2 drives me completely & hopelessly insane. Even if you don’t put your own listings in how hard is it to take a quick glance @ it after it’s in to ensure accuracy?

  11. Erica Ramus

    March 23, 2011 at 3:20 pm

    Good post, as usual, Matt. It’s amazing how UNcommon common sense is. I think some of the complaints (not returning calls, not answering the questions I have so I can bring you an offer) are so simple. Yet in our office we are seeing more and more of the frustrating stuff every day. Why? Some are because agents are getting 2nd and 3rd jobs to pay the bills. They cannot return calls until their break. Others are because this business seems to attract too many “hobby” realtors. The ones who get into it for a little extra money or something to do while the hubby is playing golf.

  12. Iris Stuart

    August 26, 2011 at 2:16 am

    I AM a new agent and let me assure you, every one of those items has already irritated me to the point of teaching me not to do them myself.

    I'm currently handling leases, working to find homes for tenants and it's horribly frustrating the amount of time and gas I've wasted between the total lack of photos, or dark, blurry photos, the inaccuracies (uh, it's a 3bd home, not 4), and the worst – the lack of communication between agents. When I call another agent and they actually answer the phone, or return a call, I'm so excited that I want to jump up and down. I sent an agent a thank you note because she consistently and pleasantly answers her phone during business hours! Its nice to send thank you notes but sad that it has to be for something that should be a common courtesy.

    Thanks for posting this article!

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