If You Want Higher Standards in Real Estate, Speak Up

avatarthumbnail.jpgMatthew Rathbun on Agent Genius yesterday raised the issue of standards of performance for real estate agents. It’s a broker-focused post in as much as it asks whether brokers – those ultimately responsible for all the transactions the agents working under them consummate – care about standards.

The buck doesn’t stop there, though. Until the general public demands more of the real estate agents they hire, there’s no need for the brokers to clean up the seemingly eternal mess that is the real estate industry.

In his article, Matthew asks whether the brokers who claim they want to raise the bar really want to raise the bar or simply are paying lip service. I can say the same of the general public. Do you truly want an agent with experience, with knowledge and with a track record of proven results, or are you content spending six figures with an agent who is a friend, a friend of a friend or a family member?

What is more important to you as a buyer or seller, discussions or results? Years ago I saw what to my mind was the most idiotic real estate slogan ever produly displayed on the window of someone’s care: “I don’t just sell homes, I market them!”

Guess what, son. There’s not a seller out there who gives a damn about your marketing plan if it doesn’t result in a sale. You’re being hired to sell the home and it doesn’t really matter how you accomplish it as long as you accomplish it.

Buyers – there’s a ton of bad information out there on the web these days, including but not limited to the “too good to be true” short sale listings filling the MLS. My good friend Heather Barr discusses one such situation on her website in sufficient detail that I’m not going to repeat everything here.

Suffice it to say these short sale transactions still are a long shot – only one in six or so close, more often than not due to the the intransigence of the bank – and even then, it’s a several month process to get an approval.

The only agents who will tell you otherwise either a) don’t know any better or b) know better but are prepared to lie to you to get your business. In either case, does this sound like where you want to place your trust?

How much business is your agent doing? Is one transaction a month too much to expect from an expert in this business? I wouldn’t think so, at least not here in the Phoenix market. My peers likely won’t like the statement but to my mind if you’re not closing at least one deal a month, you’re a part-time agent. You may think you’re full time but you’re fooling yourself … and the public as well.

It sounds like such a low hurdle yet you’d be amazed how many agents are nowhere close to that mark and haven’t been near that mark since 2005, when any blind squirrel could gather enough nuts to succeed.

Basic economics says these part-time full-timers eventually will run out of money and without business coming in will wash out of the business. Far fewer people were buying JDS Uniphase at 75 cents than at 75 dollars, else it wouldn’t have been at 75 cents.

But it doesn’t work that way in real estate. The public as a whole is content to be fooled, mollified by the snakeoil salesmen who will tell them only what they want to hear and not what they ought to know.

Expecting the local boards or the brokers to break this pattern is misguided. The change needs to come from a public willing to vote with its collective purse strings.

Caveat emptor. If you’re content to follow the inexperienced and inactive and keep them in business, thereby weighting down the bell curve, how can you expect the bar ever to be raised?

[tags]Phoenix real estate[/tags]

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.

1 Comment

  • heather barr 9 years ago

    “The public is content to be fooled” indeed! Too many consumers think of Realtors in the same category as used car salesmen (we’re trying to huckster them out of their $$), and/or expect fast food style service (I want to see that house NOW). It’s frustrating to encounter these folks, which makes it that much sweeter to work with clients who value their Realtor’s time, expertise and advice.

    Maybe instead of asking satisfied clients for a testimonial to slap on our websites, we Realtors should start asking clients to send a note to the AZ Assoc of Realtors explaining what they valued about our service. It might give our Boards a clue about the ocean of difference between the marginal and the exceptional.

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