Doctors and Lawyers ... and Real Estate Agents?

By
Education & Training with Sell with Soul

We real estate agents long to be respected by the general public. We ache to be considered as worthy of acclaim as our CPA, MD and JD friends. We fuss among ourselves when our clients appear to disrespect our time, our knowledge or, worse, our gasoline.

We claim that even though doctors and lawyers and accountants (oh my!) may have a few more years of education compared to our month (or maybe two) of real estate school, that doesn't mean they are any smarter, more dedicated or more qualified to practice their craft than we real estate agents are to handle one of the most important financial transactions most people will ever make.

We encourage our new agents to charge a full commission "because they're worth it!", even though they've yet to hold an open house, prepare a market analysis or successfully negotiate a low offer.

Okay - so now you know where my brain has been all weekend. I talked myself out of writing this blog a few times in the interest of winning the first annual Active Rain popularity contest, but after reading a few other blogs this morning (which shall remain nameless), I could no longer restrain myself.

So... finally... here's my point. Wander through any real estate forum... read your latest Broker/Agent news, even peruse the conference schedule of the NAR National Convention - most of what you see is advice on how to PROSPECT! More Customers! More Referrals! More Leads!

Apparently, that's what our business is all about. At least, as far as I can tell from the topics that seem to interest our industry. In fact, most trainers come right and say that Prospecting is Your Number One duty as a professional real estate agent. Hmmmmmm. Is that really why it's a licensed profession? Because our JOB is to be great prospectors?

But back to my opening statement. We want to be respected just like doctors and lawyers and such. But I'll venture to guess that the professional journals, the annual conventions and the online forums of these industries aren't focused on cold-calling techniques, farming campaigns and web-lead generation. I'll bet that their memberships' interests lie more in being BETTER physicians, more KNOWLEDGEABLE lawyers and more COMPETENT veterinarians. While there may be an article or a seminar or a thread devoted to business development on occasion, something tells me that it's a wee bit more, dare I say it, RESPECTABLE, than what we tend to obsess over.

Where are the sexy seminars on being an effective Buyer Agent? (And no, I don't mean the ones telling you How to Sell a Buyer a House in One Trip or Less or How to Convince Your Buyer to Offer Full Price so You Don't Waste Your Time). I mean the ones that actually teach you how to be a GOOD buyer agent. Where's the article on how to successfully negotiate a tough inspection, or prepare for an appraisal on a unique home? How to properly price a custom home in a tract home neighborhood?

Hey, we all know that doctors and accountants and veterinarians are business-people, too. They, just like us, need a steady stream of business to keep their doors open and their Beemers gassed up. They, like us, need to promote themselves and their services to the public. But somehow, they've managed to do it without being called a salesperson. They are "Professionals."

We real estate agents need to make a choice. Either we're salespeople, and we accept our role as such. Our job is to prospect, prospect, prospect. We'll leave the details to our assistants who actually care about the clients we bring in.

Or, we can leave the salesperson persona behind and strive to become professionals who attract business by being competent, knowledgeable and, most of all, RESPECTABLE!

 

www.sellwithsoul.com

 

copyright Jennifer Allan 2007

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Rainmaker
91,326
Sue Gabriel
Cleveland, OH

I still think I'll try prospecting with FSBO's and Expireds.  There are just SO MANY of them!!  Our instructor had some neat ideas about FSBO's, and I'm chompin' at the bit to try them out.  In my own, sweet, not-so-obnoxious way of course.  : )  That's warm-calling, right?  Afterall, we know they want to sell their house. 

The only cold-thing I think I'll feel comfortable doing is hanging newsletters and such on doorknobs.  Not knocking...just walkin' and hangin'.  : )

 

Jun 06, 2007 02:06 AM #13
Ambassador
1,371,672
Loreena and Michael Yeo
3:16 team REALTY ~ Locally-owned Prosper TX Real Estate Co. - Prosper, TX
Real Estate Agents
Just my take on this: I look at my profession just as serious as a doctor, lawyer and an accountant. I am the expert in selling houses. They are experts at what they do. Even a mechanic is an expert in fixing cars. It's just different animals we play with when we are at work.

Just because it took me 2 months and $600 to get the license to sell houses, it doesnt mean that over time, I get better at what I do. It's in the experience (sell houses, prospecting, etc). that I become better and better. Not because of my education classes.

I would never compare my education requirements to that of a doctor, lawyer or an accountant. It's like comparing apples with oranges.

If we do not respect ourselves as the experts in selling houses, then why should this doctor or your lawyer cousin select you becoming their expert in selling their houses?
Jun 07, 2007 12:41 AM #14
Anonymous
Soldier, Officer....Professional
Look.....you are salespeople, not professionals.  I know I'm wasting my breath but a profession is limited, has certain ACADEMIC credentials, self-polices (NAR, HAH!) and has a common language that only personnel on the inside truly understand.  1) No limit to who can become a realtor, 2) you cited the lack of education (I've met incredibly smart real estate salespeople and some of the dumbest as well) 3) See Hah! (this downturn is going to reveal an incredible amount of fraud by Real Estate salespeople) 4) I've read many books on real estate, the language isn't that difficult (no Latin, Greek or tactics).  Pile on....this isn't meant to demean but I will tell you in my demographic, high six figures, two graduate degrees, I'm immediately turned off when the first words out of a realtor is, "I'm a professional" when I ask why I need their services.  That is usually the limit of explanation as if it is self-evident.  When I attempt to engage in an understanding of supply and demand or the death of subprime, I get the dull look and how, "I've been selling real estate for 12 years."  I would use a real estate salesperson if they could clearly enunciate the legal benefit to me (buyer) in the transaction.  As it stands I will hire a real estate attorney and research the comps myself.  
Jun 08, 2007 08:13 AM #15
Rainer
119,269
Rob Robinson- Lehigh Valley PA
Bertrum Settlements (Title & Abstract) - Allentown, PA
What do you mean by 'LEGAL BENEFIT"?
Jun 08, 2007 08:18 AM #16
Ambassador
1,486,428
Jim Crawford
Crye-Leike REALTORS® - Atlanta, GA
Jim Crawford Atlanta Best Listing Agents & REALTOR

Real estate agents for years have espoused to be professionals!  They are not!  Individuals may achieve it, but the industry as a whole will never be viewed by the pulicas  professionals! 

Doctors and lawyers do not have an 80% attrition rate every two years.  Doctors and lawyers do not walk into a room trying to up one another saying I made $500K last year and this is the club I'm in to confirm that!  Doctors and lawyers and real professionals do not give their services away freely!  How about a group discount?   If you get the knee surgery, I'll discount my fee 50% on the next surgery!  Sorry!  The industry can want to be professional as much as it wants, but it is going very fast in the opposite direction!  I am not saying there aren't many hard working full time experienced agents that have this work ethic... they are in the minority these days. 

Nice post, but I will call this one the way I see it.  If I could envision Utopia, perhaps that is where we will find the image of a professional REALTORS!  Until then...

Jun 08, 2007 08:30 AM #17
Anonymous
Soldier, Officer....Professional

I mean a fiduciary obligation to the ONLY person bringing cash to the table.  As I see it, the main job of a buyer's agent is to convince the buyer to buy.  I have not had one agent tell me "Now is not a good time to buy."  All that they see is pre-approved, high income, no contingency, etc.  As it stands, I had one incredibly smart (I mean this, he knew his stuff and the market) tell me how he would negotiate a much better deal for me with homebuilders than I could get on my own.  I asked, "How?"  After all was said and done, it boiled down to he was a better negotiator.  Sorry, with the biggest purchase of my life, I'm going to be in the room and know what's being said.  

Final question, does a real estate salesperson bear any legal obligation in the transaction?  I think I know what the answer is..... 

Jun 08, 2007 08:39 AM #18
Rainmaker
484,282
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Sell with Soul - Pensacola Beach, FL
Author of Sell with Soul

Jim,

My point exactly. I don't think we're going to change that much (at least overall), so I really wish "we" would stop comparing ourselves to much high educated professions. It makes us look kinda pathetic, in my POV.

There's nothing wrong with what we do... some of us even do it exceptionally well. But... we AREN'T in the same league as doctors, lawyers, etc. Deal with it!

Jun 08, 2007 08:57 AM #19
Rainer
119,269
Rob Robinson- Lehigh Valley PA
Bertrum Settlements (Title & Abstract) - Allentown, PA
Realtors = Car salesmen sound about right? (Sorry - inside joke, MANY Realtors like to trash car salespeople)
Jun 08, 2007 09:15 AM #20
Ambassador
379,094
Karen Hurst
RICOASTALLIVING.COM - Warwick, RI
Rhode Island Waterfront!

hmmm, I can only speak for myself here and I am in no way representing any other Realtors views.

To Soldier,

When I am working as a buyer agent, I have never used the phrase "I am a Professional". I am a Broker. I find houses and I sell them. I do this for a living and because of this I am more apt to find one quicker than a lawyer. I am more apt to understand and empathize with my clients needs and help them over some of the humps that appear when in the process of buying. I supervise the entire process. I have talked two clients out of buying in the past six months because they weren't ready. Sure, I could have sent them to someone who I know would have gotten them a loan, but they would have lost the home within a year. I have ethics, not because I am a Realtor, but because I am me.

When I am working as a listing agent, I have never used the phrase "I am a Profesional". I am a Broker and I can and will sell your home for you. This is my job, I have quick access to comps that you and your lawyer do not because I am a Realtor and I pay for the SERVICE that the MLS provides. I can tell you the right price almost by instinct because this is my job. I do not take on your legal issues, yes you do need a lawyer for that.

I love my clients and so far, my clients love me. They all call me after the sale  and invite me to their new homes. We have built up a rapport that far exceeds the Professional/Client relationship. I find this very rewarding and a by product of this is less prospecting for me, which I despise.

Being a Real Estate Agent is not Rocket Science, however it does take a fair amount of prospecting, determination and good will, and to do it right, a good amount of intelligence to actually succeed in this business, which is what I think is at the root of all the talk about prospecting. We cannot just sit at our desks waiting for a client or we won't be in business.

I do agree with Jennifer about the general public's view of Realtors, it sucks!  My own personal opinion of Realtors before I became one was the same. I have met some personally that still suck!  We need to change this, but it's a daunting task, because people will not change if they are making money and they are a certain personality to begin with.

However, being Realtors, we are in a unique position of having to prospect for clients. There are many lawyers that have handed me their cards after a closing. Why? Because they are prospecting. They and accountants rely on word of mouth, just like we do. Doctors are a different story. Do you really choose your doctor, or do you get referred according to your health insurance?

I for one would definitely like to see more posts about negotiating skills. I have read books and listened to tapes. But there's always a new idea out there. I haven't seen too many here at AR, actually none.

And lastly, I have purchased and read Jennifers book and I think it gives a newer agent a lot of insight they might not otherwise find in the general maze of working with Realtors who are your direct competition! It is very thoughtfully written and I would reccommend it to every new agent.

 

 

Jun 08, 2007 10:02 AM #21
Rainmaker
484,282
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Sell with Soul - Pensacola Beach, FL
Author of Sell with Soul
Karen - you said that very well! I agree with you - I wish there was more focus on the skills of our job, especially negotiation. I've read a few books and nothing I've read really resonates with me. I'm putting together a course on Using Reverse Psychology in Real Estate Negotiation - I'll keep you posted.
Jun 08, 2007 11:52 PM #22
Anonymous
Soldier, Officer...Professional

Karen

 I appreciate the insight and you sound like someone who keeps the clients interests at least close to the front.  However, you have basically told me that you hold someone's hand and make them feel better.   While I know we have become an 'Oprahized' society, why should an entire industry be built around the control of information (MLS).  I have met many incredibly hardworking, industrious real estate agents, brokers, etc.  They are easily outnumbered by the slime.  Example....I have a servicemember recently go to an agent.  He was not told anything about the market.  She took him to a Lennar homesite and he proceeded to sign an intent to purchase with an IO loan.  His credit was good and he qualified for a VA 30 year fixed.  Oh, but you say (as she did) that it is not her duty to tell him about the loan or the co-broke (8%) or anything else.  Lucky for him, he only put down $250 and counted it as an expensive lesson learned.  I've shown him REO sites and other INFORMATION tools and now he is an informed buyer.  Unfortunately, these types of RE salespeople are the rule, not the exception.  I want Jennifer and Karen to win but they are swimming with slimy barracudas.

Jun 09, 2007 01:54 AM #23
Rainmaker
510,054
Ann Heitland
Retired from RE/MAX Peak Properties - Flagstaff, AZ
Retired from Flagstaff Real Estate Sales
Having been a lawyer for 23 years, I can attest that there is a lot of time spent on techniques to get and keep clients. The "trick" there, as in real estate done well, is to serve your clients with distinction and make them raving fans. Then the business comes, along with the respect you crave.
Jun 09, 2007 02:23 AM #24
Ambassador
379,094
Karen Hurst
RICOASTALLIVING.COM - Warwick, RI
Rhode Island Waterfront!

Soldier,

In some ways, I have to agree, but I am afraid that any "profession" is loaded with the barracudas. And these are the ones we hear about most! My last buyer representation, last week, happened to be a servicemember and his wife and infant. He  qualified for the VA loan and I had sent him to the RI home loan where he also qualified. However, he "chose" to go with a different Mortgage Lender. We discussed his reasoning and I told him about the pitfalls with each, but he felt he would get "more" out of the one he chose himself. That's about as far as I can go. Because he was my Buyer client, we already had a contract signed in which I fully explained how I received my fee. (He was one of those guys who did not expect me to work for free:) Since I also list REO properties I was able to bring him to a lot of those, but he simply did not have the time or inclination to do the work that is usually involved in these types of properties so I found him an "almost perfect" home:) 

I guess, the bottom line is for people not to "jump" at the first agent they find but to literally get to know them. If you feel uncomfortable in any way, or worse, do not feel you can "trust" that agent, then go elsewhere because there are many many good caring agents out there.

Since I feel like I am hijacking Jennifers blog, I will stop here. I hope that your friends experience has not spoiled your thinking on RE Agents and I hope that you will take to heart what I have said and Look around first if you ever consider using one.  I also have to say that there are some agents who may have been burnt by the public and maybe that's why they do what they do, but that is another blog altogether.

Sorry Jennifer, didn't mean to get off topic. And Soldier, hope you have a great day:)

Jun 09, 2007 02:37 AM #25
Rainmaker
484,282
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Sell with Soul - Pensacola Beach, FL
Author of Sell with Soul

Karen - you are welcome to "hijack" my thread any day! And this conversation is not a hijack anyway - it's the whole point of the blog.

Ann - thanks for the perspective on prospecting in the JD world. Do you feel it's focused on to the same extent as agents? Although - when you see the Personal Injury guys on TV, I guess that answers my question...

Jun 09, 2007 02:54 AM #26
Anonymous
Soldier, Officer....Professional

Karen and Jennifer

Thank you for the information and your hard work.  I may very well use a real estate agent but I will definitely interview them for the qualities I need.  I don't expect them to work for free but I do expect them to work for me.  Thanks again for the civil discourse.  Good luck in the future.

Tony 

Jun 09, 2007 04:12 AM #27
Rainmaker
1,317,601
Joan Whitebook
BHG The Masiello Group - Nashua, NH
Consumer Focused Real Estate Services
Thanks for writing this post.  I agree with you 100%  I specialize in buyer agency and I have many years of education and training.  With all due respect to REBAC it is very superficial and it certainly doesn't compare to the education of an doctor or lawyer -- I think it is unfair to the public for real estate agents to hold themselves out as buyer agents when they do not have the skills to perform the duties of a buyer's agent.  I think it is ashame that NAR is so focused on the selling side.  It does a disservice to both the agent and the consumers.
Jun 09, 2007 04:39 AM #28
Rainer
37,621
Robin Willis
Tucson Expert Agents LLC - Tucson, AZ
CDPE, SRES, Designated Broker
I think that if we  treat each client in a way that produces the best outcome for him or her, we would eventually not need to do as much prospecting because we'd have plenty of referrals and repeaat clients.
Jun 09, 2007 10:07 AM #29
Anonymous
Steve Stoddard

When you go the the doctor with an ache or a pain and he tells you there's nothing wrong, you still have to pay. If you have surgery to remove a tumor but you die anyway, he'll want to collect. If you go to the dentist and she says your teeth are fine, "that'll be $150.00 today". If you ask your lawyer if you broke the law and she says no, expect to be billed for her time. If you call a Realtor and look at 12 houses but decide not to buy you get a "thank you for your time". Unless this changes we will always be looked at as sales people, no matter how we may like to see ourselves.

Nov 01, 2010 01:55 AM #30
Rainmaker
484,282
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Sell with Soul - Pensacola Beach, FL
Author of Sell with Soul

Steve - thanks for the comment, but I don't think the two are directly connected. It's a chosen business model, not whether or not the doctor or dentist is a salesperson. Real estate agents can certainly charge by the job or the hour if they like and other professions can work on contingency. While a compensation structure might be an indicator of one's status of "being a salesperson or not," it's not the determining factor.

Nov 01, 2010 03:33 AM #31
Rainer
26,963
Raj Sharma
Verico Paragon Prime Capital - Port Coquitlam, BC
Secure Alternate Mortgage Financing

WOW. Thank you All. 

Nov 01, 2010 10:03 PM #32
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