It seems every time I meet a new agent we talk about what the licensing process was like for them. There is always the same conclusion, OREA teaches you the moves but they don’t teach you to dance. At our company we have Bosley U, our own in-house training designed to give agents ( by my estimates) a two-year head start in the business. We do panel discussions on farming and marketing methods and we do a lot of drills and role-playing, listing presentations and mock offers. We even talk about the mechanics of booking showings and registering offers. My impression is that these critical steps get missed all to often leaving the new agent at a disadvantage and opening themselves up to possible legal problems with our trusted Registrar.
So, yes, some of the problem lies with the training right from the get go and some of the solutions should land squarely on the brokerage shoulders. The problem, unfortunately, is that some companies are not built to handle any additional training. To each is own. I’m not hear to judge but I would like to suggest that a good real estate etiquette course be a prerequisite to the licensing process. All to often the simple act of doing business gets mired down with poor communication, a lack time management skills and basic good manners. I was set off last week by a few complaints by agents in my office feeling bulldozed by some, in their opinions, rather shoddy business practices that, upon reflection, seemed rooted in a lack of etiquette. So, I decided to make that the topic of my meeting this week. A little lesson in real estate etiquette.
As I usually do, when asking for audience participation, I threw suggestions onto our front desk. The questions were simple; give examples of bad etiquette that needed to be fixed in order to make your transaction easier. I got some great responses. Have a look. (and yes, that’s fake blood dripping from my desk, courtesy of my Hallowe’en loving front office staff).
I’m sure after you look at our list you will get that feeling of frustration for each point. So why do this? Well here’s the thing, if we are aware of what frustrates us, we may take more time to avoid those frustrating mistakes. Simple. Naturally, I’m all ears. Please let me know if you have anything to add.
We had an interesting debate last week at Mastermind about taking an overpriced listing and who and how the price was determined. Have you ever asked an agent ‘Is that the Seller’s price?” because essentially what you are saying is ‘hey, that price is so far out in left field you either don’t know what you are doing or the Seller has chosen the price himself’. Anyway you slice it, no agent wants to hear this question. Sure, ask it as often as you want, but be prepared for the day when the shoe is on the other foot.
So, for a moment, let’s assume that you have taken a listing and the owner has insisted that you list it $100K over fair market value. You took the listing because it is in the neighbourhood that you want to farm and the Seller has agreed to revisiting the list price after a few weeks of “testing” his price. Perhaps you feel confident that you can keep hammering away at the home owner for price reductions. Eventually you get “that” call. An agent calls asks you if it is the Seller’s price. What would you say? To say yes would make you seem unprofessional and perhaps reveal that the Seller is in the driver’s seat but to say no might suggest to that agent that you ‘bought’ the listing. dilemma? Not really. Your best answer is “I would encourage you to bring an offer that you and your Buyer find fair”.
At the core, this whole conversation starts with the listing agent’s initial discussion with the Seller about why his value is so much higher than the agent’s own competitive market analysis. Perhaps you are missing something. Probably not, but lets keep an open mind. The Seller believes his home is more valuable for a number of reasons. Sure, you can see some of his points, even though they are dull ones, but as a duly appointed representative of the Seller, and since you agreed to take the listing, it is your job to go out and stand behind that price. Have you ever heard the term the walls have ears? Saying something negative about the Seller or the list price will come back to bite you. Recently I heard a story of how an agent lost a listing because during a showing she made negative comments about what a dump the kitchen was. The owner and proud kitchen designer was hiding in the pantry listening. We live in a time when nanny cams in homes are as common as dishwashers.
Treat your client fairly and don’t reveal your true feelings about their price. Hopefully you have put into motion a plan and timeframe to revisit your pricing strategy. I suppose the flip side to this argument is that you let someone else take the overpriced listing and let them spend money trying to market it. That is a personal decision only you can make.
Not a great week. I had to do something no manager likes to do. I had to fire an agent. Where do I begin? Well, first off there should be some information about my brokerage. We’ve been around for a while and consider ourselves a full service brokerage. I believe we have a sterling reputation in the city as an ethical, knowledgeable, and respected firm that has smart and successful agents. I hope I’m not pumping up my firm too much. A few years ago this agent approached us to enquire about joining our firm. At the time we had some reservations about her commitment so we were unable to offer her a role with our company. A year later she returned and pleaded her case to join our firm. Her current brokerage was not providing the support she required. Well, I thought, we are all about support. Perhaps all this agent needed was a guiding hand and a base from which to learn. I welcomed her with open arms under the condition that she attend our six-week training classes (known as Bosley U), committed to participating in our weekly office meetings and make an effort to come out once in a while to a Mastermind session.
For the first few months everything seemed okay. She came out to meeting, although often late, and was in and out of my office to talk about farming, websites, etc. I happily discussed her direction and offered suggestions and scheduled follow-up meetings. The wheels fell off the bus shortly there after. At Bosley U she seemed lackluster at best and wasn’t able to complete the basic homework. She didn’t spend much time at her desk or out touring homes and she seemed relatively oblivious to our emailed meeting minutes. As it turns out she wasn’t getting company emails because she hadn’t bothered to set up her (required) email address. As they say, you can lead a horse to water…..
I could go on, but what’s the point? It was clear that she was not interested in working in real estate. She just wanted a place to hang her license. The experience got me thinking about the brokerage business and the various business models out there and I wondered if one was better than the other. While some companies do everything to support your business; supply leads, provide training and skills development and give added value to the agent in exchange for a larger piece of the commission pie, others are content to take nothing and offer nothing. Then there is every variation in between. The truth is, whether we like it or not, every model has a place in our Real Estate World. I just wonder if agents are making the choices for the right reasons.
So in the end, my reasoning was simple. I would rather have an office with 40 hard-working professional agents who care about their careers. There is another, more self-serving reason too, if an agent isn’t coming to meetings they aren’t keeping up to date on current affairs, and that scares me. I smell liability.
A small part of me believes that I failed in keeping her engaged and motivated but the other part of me thinks I did the right thing for my office. While I can’t speak for other brokerages, our model presumes that you are in the business to work full-time.