Should everyone be treated equal?

Real Estate Agent with South Dakota Real Estate Company

There is a new trend in Rapid City, South Dakota which I'm sure has been going on in big cities for years -- marketing to the elite, high dollar clients.  Obviously the benefits of reaching this market are higher commissions and most likely more demanding clients but I still find this marketing pill a little difficult to swallow.

If you can excuse my momentary jump to my soapbox I will explain my thoughts:

In my opinion, specilization in only one class of clients not only puts that agent at higher risk of violating equal housing opportunity regulations but also creates a tiny bit bigger wedge in the gradual class segregation that our country is experiencing. 

Who doesn't like to get the special treatment now and then but why a realtor would advertise their services in a manner that implies they only work with (or prefer to work with) the upper end, luxury clientele is a mystery to me.

If you read The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas J. Stanley, Ph.D. and William D. Danko, Ph.D. you will discover that the majority of the people who fit into the category of "Millionaire" live under very modest means.  Here is a small excerpt describing these clients:

  • * Most of us (97 percent) are homeowners. We live in homes currently valued at an average of $320,000. About half of us have occupied the same home for more than twenty years. Thus, we have enjoyed significant increases in the value of our homes.
  • * Most of us have never felt at a disadvantage because we did not receive any inheritance. About 80 percent of us are first-generation affluent.
  • * We live well below our means. We wear inexpensive suits and drive American-made cars. Only a minority of us drive the current-model-year automobile. Only a minority ever lease our motor vehicles.

I think Thomas Jefferson said it best in our Declaration of Independence, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal...".  I think we'd have a lot less jealousy and hatred in this country if we treated everyone as our equals, no matter what their yearly income is or what car they drive or who they know.



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Tania King
CIR REALTY - Calgary, AB

Deb, Well put.  I agree, coming from a social work backgroud as well. 

David, good point.

Aug 29, 2007 11:51 PM #5
Susan Raposa
South Dakota Real Estate Company - Rapid City, SD

Perhaps more lessons on personality types and how to work with different socio-economic clients should be added to continuing education opportunities or licensing requirements.  I have no problem selling a $7500.00 mobile home or a 1/2 million dollar mansion. Both clients receive my equal attention and respect.

Aug 29, 2007 11:56 PM #6
Judi Glamb
Coldwell Banker Hearthside - Hellertown, PA
Associate Broker, ABR

I think for most of us it is who we relate to and the reasons behind specializing in specific market niches. 

 The last book I read, You've Only Got Three Seconds by Camille Lavington, she had touched significantly on different classes - the fact that they exist, what they are and the movement between them.   I work better with lower and middle range clients - and that is where I get my highest level of satisfaction.  I don't feel comfortable around "most" higher end clients at least not the high society types.  From the book, I see my comfort range with going one level above to one level below - if that makes any sense.

I like the local story of two brothers who are agents.  One is a very high end agent dealing the other, is less publicly know and works in a slightly less affluent area of the county, but makes just as much money but on volume of lower end homes.  I'm not sure how much of this is true, but I think it could be.

I find it funny, especially with new agents, who focus only on the higher end listings yet complaining that they have no money (because they get no sales).  These are the same agents that won't go the extra mile (literally) if the commission is right (or complain every inch of the way).

While I'm at it,  I will proudly announce that I have "hopefully" just sold my lowest priced home of my career!    




Aug 30, 2007 12:04 AM #7
Mike Jaquish
Realty Arts - Cary, NC
919-880-2769 Cary, NC, Real Estate


Good post.  Your heart is in the right place.  We are all equals.  Absolutely!

But good niche marketing has nothing to do with Fair Housing, IMO.

I think that socio-economic facts support that blanket marketing may move a person into a sphere they are not prepared to serve.

I have seen agents stumble when they get into housing that is well outside their experience.  And I mean agents with lower and higher economic backgrounds than the property or client.  Often they are ill-prepared to discuss the issues that are impacted by affluent or less affluent lifestyle.

I don't think the starter home market will be under-served, and I think people who can't sincerely empathize with the realities of low-end real estate clients should not advertise to offer them service.

None of the above is to imply that people are not equals, or should be treated as less than equals in any manner.

Aug 30, 2007 08:21 AM #8
Gary Nelson
RE\MAX Components - Abingdon, MD

I have to agree with Mike, different strokes for different folks.  Great reply Mike...


Aug 30, 2007 08:57 AM #9
Debbie Johnson
REMERICA United Realty - Novi, MI
Novi, MI Real Estate Professional

I don't see a problem with a Realtor who chooses to specialize in marketing high end properties. 

Financial status is not a protected class under the Fair Housing Law, so as long as you are not violating any of the other classes when advertising or showing these homes, you should be fine.

Aug 30, 2007 09:19 AM #10
Armando Rodriguez
Orlando Homes 4 Sale, Real Estate Broker-GRI

Since you posted this blog to the "Christianity and Real Estate" group,

This is what James tells us,

Jam 2:1  My dear brothers and sisters,[fn1] how can you claim that you have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some people more than others?
Jam 2:2  For instance, suppose someone comes into your meeting[fn2] dressed in fancy clothes and expensive jewelry, and another comes in who is poor and dressed in shabby clothes.
Jam 2:3  If you give special attention and a good seat to the rich person, but you say to the poor one, "You can stand over there, or else sit on the floor"-well,
Jam 2:4  doesn't this discrimination show that you are guided by wrong motives?
Jam 2:5  Listen to me, dear brothers and sisters. Hasn't God chosen the poor in this world to be rich in faith? Aren't they the ones who will inherit the Kingdom he promised to those who love him?



Aug 30, 2007 10:38 AM #11
Alexander Harb
Knights Investing - Mesquite, TX
Dallas, Texas Real Estate Investing

Armondo hit the nail on the head with those scriptures......

I cannot add anything else to that comment....

Well done bro!!


I also see the same as Mike too.... niche marketing that is done correctly has nothing to do with fair housing issues.....

Deb has some interesting issues in her comment also......

Nice post!!


Aug 30, 2007 02:48 PM #12
Gary J. Rocks
Juba Team Realty - Jefferson Township, NJ


I would like to think that I treat everyone equally, that is the only way that I can sleep at night. I love to help people weather they are move up buyers or first timers.

Aug 30, 2007 03:11 PM #13
Susan Raposa
South Dakota Real Estate Company - Rapid City, SD

I think Armando picked up more on what I was trying to express.  I understand fair housing regulations and am all in favor of niche marketing -- if done properly and respectfully.   But since when does "niche" marketing mean its OK to make some people feel less important or inferior to others. 

I think its fine to advertise that you have experience in selling luxury properties without advertising that you work with just "luxury" clients.

Can you see the difference?  Niche without attitude and a sense of superiority is just fine.

Aug 30, 2007 03:27 PM #14
John Perez

You do not have to specialize in luxuryhomes, you can make your niche homes from $500K to $1,000K, this customers are not as demanding as you think, your commission check will be juicer, and in most cases you will have to work less or equal than a $200 or less Home. According to my experience customes who whant a a home for less that $200K are much more demanding, they want a $300K Home for the price of a $180K, they want the house to be in an upscale neighborhood, home in perfect conditions, seller to pay closing cost, may be the owner's entertainment center with his/her video collection etc...

You will not discriminate, you are a profesional, and you are free to chose who you work with (You will not see a Brain surgeon working on a liposuction). I have refused millionaires, and trade them for very modest customers, you will know what kind of people you are dealing with on your initial inteview, if you do not here the "ClicK"when you first meet them, probably you are better off without them. Do not forget to offer to refer them to somebody else before you leave. 

Finally but not least: Do not see your customer like he/she have a check printed in their forhead (I am not saing you do),  find what he/she needs, find some viable solutions and present them very clearly. They will be gratfull aa well as your pockets.

Check out to get what you want in life.

Aug 30, 2007 04:25 PM #15
David & Annette Rollins
Realty Executives SB - Shreveport, LA

Interesting topic... I don't care to work with the arrogant types either, but I've met nice folks and jerks in all classes. Attitude and income have very little, if anything, to do with each other. Just another opinion.



Aug 30, 2007 05:00 PM #16
Portland Oregon Real Estate | Alecia Barnes - Broker
Portland, OR
Very good post, I think that it is important to treat others equally, I don't find that marketing to the luxury crowd is discriminating, albeit a bit limiting.
Aug 31, 2007 02:37 PM #17
Jeff&Grace Safrin
F.C.Tucker 1st Team Real Estate - Valparaiso, IN

Great Post Susan,

I came from a Nursing Background where I cared for all socio-ecomomic classes of people I've Learned......

The Color of BLOOD is RED

 Jeff Came from a Business Background ( self-employed ) where he learned


we treat people no matter how much their home is listed for or they can afford....EQUALLY

Aug 31, 2007 04:22 PM #18
Lexa R. Montierth
Tierra Antigua Realty - Sahuarita, AZ
Real Estate Sales Agent and Marketer

I agree that marketing and ONLY working with the super-affluent can set you up to fair housing regulations.  If you start assuming that your clients won't like a neighborhood because of the majority of one of the protected classes, you could land yourself in some hot water!  

Great post, and thanks for you opinion, I love it!


Aug 31, 2007 05:18 PM #19
Diane Velikis
Coldwell & Banker Busch Real Estate - Luzerne, PA
Luzerne County Real Estate
I think good things come in large and small packages. I  like working with the first time home buyer. No matter how much they have been prequalifed for. They are the ones who I get the most satisfaction with.
Aug 31, 2007 09:12 PM #20
Kathleen Lordbock
Keller Williams Realty Professionals - Baxter, MN
Keller Williams Realty Professionals

In staging I work with all economic classes - they are all very different ,but I don't see a certain mind set that is exclusive to a class. We have demanding difficult people both poor and rich and nice easy to get along with as well.

I treat all their treasures as just that their treasures and try to help them get the most out of their home whether that is in the under $100,000 or over $2 million. I can't afford to get in a niche at this point but I don't think I ever will.  This is way more fun!

Aug 31, 2007 11:27 PM #21
Alan Kirkpatrick
Austin Texas Homes - Round Rock, TX
Alan in Austin
Amen! Great words. Give me a soap box.
Sep 01, 2007 12:57 AM #22

We must everyone be treated equal. We all have same quality. We had have a lot less envy and detestation in this state if we treated one and all as our social group, no issue what their annual earnings and   drive or who they know  



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Jul 23, 2008 09:26 AM #23
Anrik johnson

We must everyone be treated equal. We all have same quality. We had have a lot less envy and detestation in this state if we treated one and all as our social group, no issue what their annual earnings and   drive or who they know.



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Jul 23, 2008 09:28 AM #24
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