Real Estate Lesson: Keeping My Boundaries Intact

Real Estate Agent with Sutton Group West Coast Realty

I’m not talking about those imaginary lines that run from survey peg to survey peg.

I’m talking about the imaginary lines that we draw between ourselves and our prospects and clients. The line that states this is were I am and the line that states where you are. The space between is where we interact. My ego stands here and your ego stands there.

When I started in this business my boundaries were in need of repair. I needed to define my boundaries, establish where I wanted them to be, dig the post holes, put up the fencing and put up a gate to which only I had a key.

Boundaries are dynamic. My boundaries look different to my loved ones and friends than to my business associates and customers. The gate I open for the love of my life is not the gate I open for my prospects and clients.

I am aware that for some people the concept of boundaries seem harsh. Societal influences, religious teachings, family dynamics tell us to love and care for our fellow human begin. For those of you that are an oldest child, as I am you, will understand that I grew up believing that I was responsible for everything and it was my duty to fix what is wrong. This is no way to do life and there plenty of other examples.

As children our boundaries are blurry as our identity is dependent on our parents. When we grow into adults we grow and establish our own distinctive boundaries or we ought to. Scott Peck in his book, The Road Less Travelled, does an excellent job of describing how, in relationships; we too often have our identity rings hooked into the identity rings of others. We lose touch with our identity and grow resentful of the other,

I see this occur in the relationships between some Realtors and their customers. These types of relationships are exhausting for the Realtor, don’t serve the client and often end poorly. Have you not seen a fellow Realtor upset because of all that they did for a client? Heart broken because, … “I thought they really like me.”. (Sob, Sob)

Without boundaries in this business Realtors find themselves saying Yes to clients and situations that do not support them emotional, financially, ethically or their state of integrity. The absence of enforceable boundaries can result in manipulation and exploitation by others.

Find yourself a Realtor with enforceable boundaries and you will probably find a Realtor who knows who they are, has high self esteem, and a clear vision of where they are going and how to get there

Find yourself a Realtor with weak boundaries and you will most likely find a person whose life and career is controlled by those people that invade their boundaries.

I found a mantra that helped me gain my boundary independence. If I encounter a nasty clerk, bad driver, a rude person on the phone, met a disrespectable person at an open house,  I repeated this words, … I do what I do … they do what they do.

Borrow them. Use them. They work.

There are still times I use them.

There are plenty of people who have no awareness or respect for our boundaries.

Like the line rider on the open range mending fences (read boundary) maintenance is on ongoing task.

Comments (4)

Marcie Sandalow
Marcie Sandalow, Compass 301.758.4894 - Bethesda, MD
Bethesda Chevy Chase DC real estate

Bob- Such a good reminder for those of us in real estate.  As a younger agent I used to get caught up in just plain bad relationships with clients because I hadn't yet figured out my boundaries.  My expectations were high, certainly for myself, and for them.  Only with time have I learned to recognize the warning signs of a lousy match, or an over-indulged client.  It's SO much easier to cut the cord now, or just say no.  Phew.

Feb 12, 2010 10:10 AM
Ty Lacroix
Envelope Real Estate Brokerage Inc - London, ON


Well said and so true. Choosing to choose can make this business a lot more easier.


Feb 13, 2010 12:25 AM
Janice Ankrett
Janice Ankrett Home Staging - Burlington, ON
Staging Professional

Good advice Bob. One has to retain a sense of oneself. I had to learn to give sellers options and then move on. I can't take their rejection of an idea to heart. I also learned to put up a fire wall for myself when dealing with divorcing couples ... phew!

Feb 13, 2010 07:31 AM
Brian Madigan
RE/MAX West Realty Inc., Brokerage (Toronto) - Toronto, ON
LL.B., Broker


That was an excellent analogy. Now, I'm just waiting for your next post on just where they are. However, the most important step is having them.



Feb 14, 2010 07:31 AM