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Slaves to Real Estate



slaves to real estate

How many of you are slaves to your business?

Or better yet….how many of you are work horses and don’t realize you are slaves to your business?  Real estate is an industry where being easily accessible is not only the norm, but expected.  If a buyer calls you to help them on a property and you are not available, they will usually call the next agent that is.  So the tendency is to always answer the phone, always be willing to change plans on short notice and always be flexible with your schedule since the client is always first.

Guess what?  this is just wrong!

I know we all handle business differently and some have arrived at your “AHA MOMENT” much quicker than others, but the truth is that being easily accessible is not always the right answer.

The client that will not wait for your call back and will call another agent, will probably not be loyal, so it’s ok for them to walk away.  The client that expects you to answer the phone on a Saturday at 8:00 PM will probably be very rigid and not a good match.  We have arrived at these conclusions after years in business and wonder if it’s a Miami thing or if it applies to other market places.

It’s amazing to think that the more service prone you are and the more accessible you become, the more people will take advantage and the more slaved you will be.   Funny enough, I had great discussion a few years ago on Active Rain about this same subject – it was about taking time off and setting a working schedule.  Most agents that responded said that all their clients not only respected their schedule, but appreciate it.  We do have lives after all, don’t we?

Being Rigid is not always bad

We’ve had a couple of difficult listings lately where sellers set a very strict showing schedule and never deviated from it.  We found ourselves sounding a bit obnoxious when other agents requested showings outside of those parameters.  “What do you mean they won’t show at that time?”, “How do you expect to sell the property in this market if you are so rigid?”…….guess what?  We sold those properties for cash and above market value…  **more AHA MOMENTS**

Or how about those weekend calls that we wait until Monday to return – the answer is usually “sorry to have bothered you over the weekend” ** Music to my ears **


So what I’m saying here is that you have the power to control how people approach you, and the expectations you set for them from the first moment of contact.  I’m not telling you how to run your business either, you may be perfectly fine with the “slave mentality”, just know that you can change that. You can set the tone for your working relationship by setting clear limits from day one.  People will respect you more because of those boundaries.

Ines is all Miami, all the time. A Miami Beach Realtor® with Majestic properties, Ines authors,, and and is always on communication's leading edge. She goes out of her way to engage and be engaged, often using Mojitos to keep the mood light and give everything she does a Miami flavor. You can find her goofing off or instigating trouble at Twitter, Flickr, Facebook or LinkedIn.

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  1. Elaine Reese

    July 20, 2009 at 12:43 pm

    This is good advice. How many other professionals are as accessible as we are. I’m OK with the weekend afternoon calls because that’s when buyers may be out driving past my listings. So I don’t mind giving them the info. However, the ones that call on Sat/Sun night are likely to be inconsiderate as clients and not be respectful of us or our time. The worst are those that want to see the listing “RIGHT NOW”!

  2. Ines Hegedus-Garcia

    July 20, 2009 at 12:50 pm

    Elaine – funny enough, the “RIGHT NOW” people are usually the ones that can’t make decisions and are uncommitted….very rarely do those “RIGHT NOW” people turn into real/loyal/paying clients

  3. Erion Shehaj

    July 20, 2009 at 3:00 pm

    Our “Aha!” Moment came this April when we took a month long vacation to Europe. Guess what happened to our full pipeline? Nothing. Everything closed as expected, even though the iPhone was not an extension of my spinal cord for four weeks. Handled everything via email and Skype for which we set an hour/day.

    Lesson: In real estate, things are never as dramatically urgent as they may seem and sometimes it takes stepping back a little to realize it.

  4. Ian Greenleigh

    July 20, 2009 at 3:38 pm

    I would add that sometimes one can be too accessible. I’m thinking here of answering the mobile when inebriated, etc. That would be an interesting post. Anyone got stories?

  5. Austin Smith -

    July 20, 2009 at 5:21 pm

    I’m glad that a post such as this one has finally been published. My father the Missoula RE/MAX agent is also student of this school of thought, but after watching some of his colleagues I thought perhaps he was going about his client contact rituals the wrong way. This post set me straight.

    Ian has a great point as well: sometimes accepting a biz call is just a plain bad idea. Some of these situations include Friday night last call, family movie night, and basically anytime after 8:00 p.m. It’s not like real estate agents are bionic robots who have work on the brain every hour of every day. Agents have lives too, and if clients can’t accept that, do you really want to represent them?

    At some point you have to stop pleasing everyone and begin to help yourself. Accepting biz calls at 11:00 p.m. is nothing more than a recipe for burnout. Two cell phone features everyone should use more: voicemail and the ‘ignore’ button.

  6. Robert Worthington

    July 20, 2009 at 8:39 pm

    Great tips! As a young 27 year old, it really has given me inspiration to try your way. Right now I am the slave. It works but it is not preferable. Great post, great content.

  7. Ines Hegedus-Garcia

    July 20, 2009 at 9:04 pm

    OMG Erion – a month??? I swear I’m bowing to you right now – I can only wish for our team to work efficiently without us (SIGH) – that’s a sure goal for me.

    Ian – that’s hilarious! if you do, please tell us about it – LMAO!

    Austin – I do think that the hardest part is to realize that you are doing more harm than good – once you turn the page and start being less accessible and notice how business actually improves is the biggest eye opener.

  8. Dan Connolly

    July 20, 2009 at 10:40 pm

    The interesting thing for me was the realization that in my first incarnation as a Realtor who worked his sphere of influence, the typical “friend and family” client would think nothing of calling me at 10:30 at night, or asking me to pick them up at home when we went looking for houses.

    Now that 95% of my business is coming online from total strangers, I almost never get a call after 6:00 pm. When I do they invariably say OMG I can’t believe you answered your phone, I was going to leave a message!

    I agree that if someone moves on if you don’t answer right away, you probably dodged a bullet. The hardest thing for new agents to learn is who not to work with! Wasting time with demanding, hard to please clients is horrible.

    I finally realized if I could devote several hours showing property to someone who may or may not buy something, I sure the hell could devote several hours to my family.

  9. Doug Lytle

    July 20, 2009 at 11:31 pm

    In my experience, the people who have the hardest time accepting my schedule (9-5 Monday to Friday) are other agents. I used to get comments like those above, “How do you expect to sell this property…blah blah blah…” My response was, and still is, there is no such thing as a real estate emergency.

    I don’t carry a pager or accept text messages from the office, and when I decided not to work 24/7, my income went up, my stress level went down, and I started working with clients who were a pleasure to deal with rather than feeling like I ‘had’ to work with them.

    Great post; it’s nice to know I’m not the only one who has had the “Ah ha!” moment.

  10. Matt Thomson

    July 21, 2009 at 10:17 am

    Thanks for the reminder, Ines. I used to be great at this. Didn’t work Sundays, rarely Saturdays or evenings. When the market shifted I found myself getting a bit more desperate and am now working the slave hours.
    While my business has picked back up, I don’t think it’s because of my more accessible hours, I think it’s due to me being more focused during “normal” hours.
    Now to figure out how to jump off this ride and get back to my old way of life. It’s tough once you’ve made yourself a slave.

  11. Doug Francis

    July 21, 2009 at 2:19 pm

    I had just arrived at BWI airport on Sunday evening after a weekend trip to Maine when my phone rang… and, since it wasn’t my wife, it went to VM.

    When I listened to the message on Monday morning, it was from an agent friend who had called (7pm on Sunday) to tell me how bad the wall paper was in a listing of mine. What the heck?

    Now this guy is on the fast-track to burn-out.

  12. Ruthmarie Hicks

    July 21, 2009 at 3:21 pm

    I think there has to be a balance. Most people in my area are slaves to work and that’s the way it is – real estate notwithstanding. Doesn’t matter what the field, that’s the way it is – its a NY thing. Anyway, where I start to draw the line??

    Overly demanding and difficult clients get the least I can give. I foot drag with them because there is no point in pushing myself – they are never satisfied. Once they’ve shown themselves to be ridiculous and unreasonable, I shut down, do what they truly NEED but won’t move one more inch. Clients like this need strong boundaries.

    Clients who are decent and flexible and have a good sense of what they want I will bend over backwards for.

    This is a relatively new policy and I don’t know how it will work out – The reason for it came down to innate FAIRNESS – Fairness to my GOOD clients. What I found was that I was constantly greasing squeaky wheels at the expense of some of my best clients. You know, the ones that were willing to pay my fees without trying to get a discount, the ones who respected me as a professional and my time as well. The ones who didn’t nickel and dime and behave like civilized people. It wasn’t fair to THEM!!! The problematic clients were draining my resources. My decent clients deserve more not less – and my not-so-nice clients (the ones that slip through my screening) deserve my fiduciary obligations and the same service I give the others – but not MORE at the expense of others.

  13. AustinAaron

    July 21, 2009 at 3:37 pm

    Notice a lot of “let the problem child go” around here. Couldn’t agree more. I didn’t get into RE to work 24/7. I got into RE so I could hang out at the pool whenever I felt like it. But why not monetize those problematic clients? Sell those leads to “slave agents”. Don’t just let that lead walk away to someone who’s willing to take shit. Sell it to them! Find a couple slave agents, work out a lead deal, collect. I’ll take 10-20% from someone else’s hard work all day. Especially while I’m at the pool working . . . on my tan.

  14. Ines Hegedus-Garcia

    July 21, 2009 at 4:01 pm

    Dan, don’t get me wrong, there are some clients that I would move over backwards for because they have shown over and over again that they appreciate us – so I’m not as rigid as I may seem. The difference between on-line and friend business is huge….I find on-line business to be less loyal though.

    Doug L- I just wish my AHA moment would have come earlier in my career 🙂

    Matt – you mention a really interesting point because it happened to us as well. We definitely work harder now than we did before the market shift, what’s important to differentiate is those clients that waste our time. One thing is to double your time on a transaction and another to slave yourself to a ridiculous schedule. Take a deep breath and it will all become clear.

    Doug F – that’s insane! as if you couldn’t wait ’till monday for that feedback (send an email for God’s sake!)

    Austin – cracking up!! we have a couple of buyer’s agents that love difficult clients – you are absolutely right – I will take 20% before nothing 😀

  15. Ruthmarie Hicks

    July 22, 2009 at 6:40 am

    I don’t always pass along the “problem child” because I don’t want to dump them on a colleague. I tend to send them on their merry way. It takes a lot for me to dump a client. So, its pretty ghoulish if I do… I had one recently that was certifiable. I would never push that onto another agent.

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