Hey Phoenix Real Estate Brokers: Is Minimal Training Too Much to Ask?

My broker-owners don’t like when I’m cynical about my fellow profe … er … agents, so I’m going to be nice and positive about this one.

What real estate agents learn in real estate school helps them pass their exam and get licensed but has next to nothing to do with the actual day-to-day of the business. This is where the broker comes in, at least theoretically. New agents hopefully end up at a brokerage that will teach them the basics of day-to-day real estate 101. Since not all brokers do this, the onus falls on the agent to choose a brokerage with a training program. Some have them. Some don’t. Some are much happier if their agents pay their monthly fees and don’t ever write a contract – income for the broker without liability.

Having said that, I don’t think wanting these handful of topics is such an outrageous request:

1) The difference between the MLS and an IDX feed. IDX feeds are public-facing versions of the MLS listings and are formatted as such; the listing brokerage is mentioned as the listing brokerage but the contact information is for the agent/broker providing the feed. It’s called a marketing tool, one that helps agents get their websites indexed on Google, Yahoo and the other search engines.

The MLS is the agent-facing version and provides all sorts of useful information not on the IDX feed – full contact information for the listing broker, information on the commission being offered, lockbox codes (hidden in other parts of the listing, in theory) and the like. This is where agents are supposed to go for data on a given home – we’re paying for it, after all.

In more than six years in this business I have never, ever, EVER used Google to look up a home for sale for the purposes of showing the home or tracking down the listing agent. Why? Because there’s no reason to do so, unless of course you have no idea how the MLS works.

This morning I received a call from a renter. He was in the car with his agent and they had pulled up in front of a house, Googled it and my phone number came up through my IDX listing. “I’m here with my agent and we need the lockbox code.” I suggested that his agent pull up the MLS on line instead of Google and then call the listing agent. (I’m still wondering if there was a sign in front of the home – if there was, and it was from a brokerage other than RE/MAX Desert Showcase, shouldn’t have that been a hint that it’s not really my listing?)

Please, brokers, encourage your agents to at least pretend they’re professionals and use the real MLS?

2) Lockboxes aren’t for everyone. “I don’t understand,” he said, “my agent just gives me the lockbox codes so I can look on my own and not bother him.” If you’re an agent and you give out the contractors’ lockbox codes, please reply below. If you’re a buyer and your agent is doing that, please comment with their name and brokerage. You see, they’re breaking the local MLS rules and are facing fines and/or suspension from the MLS. But since they use Google instead of the MLS, this really shouldn’t be an issue for them, should it?

3) Directions made easy. North is the opposite of south. East is the opposite of west. Left doesn’t mean right. Double-check the driving directions you give for your listings, or at least make sure they’re right so when you give your client the lockbox code they can find the house.

4) Inside the contract. There’s nothing more frustrating than having to explain the contract to another agent … wait, actually the lack of knowledge many agents have about the contract works to my clients’ benefit, so forget I said anything.

Jonathan Dalton

Jonathan Dalton is a 40-plus-year resident of the Valley and has been helping folks buy and sell homes since 2004. He can be reached at 602-502-9693 or info at allphoenixrealestate.com.