If Real Estate is So Easy, How Do You Justify Your Fee?

Education & Training with Sell with Soul

Rant Cometh.A Rant

I am so sick of hearing people IN OUR INDUSTRY claim that our primary duty as real estate agents is to prospect. To bring in business. To make rain. To pursue buyers and sellers as our primary priority, even if that means we have to "guard against interruptions during our prospecting time from OUR CLIENTS" (don't get me started).

Here's what these folks imply, and sometimes outright say: That the vast majority of what happens after a listing agreement is signed or a buyer goes under contract can, and should  be handled by an assistant. In fact, some go so far as to call that stuff that happens after a listing agreement is signed or a buyer goes under contract "administrative" or "clerical."

I read a comment this morning on another forum that flat-out said that there really aren't that many details involved in a real estate transaction, so if an agent is getting "bogged down" in transaction-related details, she clearly needs to examine her systems and priorities.

Uh... HUH?

I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say that anyone who thinks closing a real estate transaction in 2010 (or 1998 or 2002 or 2005 or...) can easily be handled by an administrative assistant or even a licensed assistant isn't closing too many deals. Either that, or the agents on the other end of their deals are working doubletime doing both agents' jobs, while complaining bitterly (and justifiably) that the other guy is a lazy idiot.

But here's my real question of the day...

If you believe that the day-to-day functions of putting and keeping real estate transactions together can be delegated to an administrative or clerical support person; if you have so little respect for what actually DO that requires a license, HOW THE HELL DO YOU JUSTIFY CHARGING THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS FOR YOUR ASSISTANT'S SERVICES?

Okay, rant over for the moment. But I suspect there's more on the way...



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Karen Rice
Davis R. Chant, REALTORS - Hawley, PA
Northeast PA & Lake Wallenpaupack Home Sales

I would love an assistant to just do some things that take my time up but can be done by someone else....making sure signs are still up, printing new flyers for info boxes, adding listings to craigslist, postlets, etc., keeping me on track with things...

I just don't relish the idea of training such an assistant...like you I'm a control freak and would be bothered if it weren't done the way I wanted.

Aug 08, 2010 02:50 PM #52
John Zappia
Maine Custom Realty - Portland, ME
Maine Custom Realty

It's just the opposite for me...marketing the property is a piece of cake...the real work begins when the P&S agreement is signed...my deals close because I see to it they close...I wouldn't trust that part of my job to anyone.

Aug 08, 2010 03:01 PM #53
Brian Rugg
Rugg Realty LLC Sun City Texas 512-966-3200 - Georgetown, TX
Sun City TX Real Estate - Georgetown, TX Real Est

Hello jennifer:


I feel your pain.  It seems the the more we see real estate industry degrade into specialties of the super salesman "Lister" and the back office staff to actually make the deal happen we will cheapen our value not raise it.  I'm all for assistants as long as they are under the direct control and supervision of the licensee, just as sales people are under the watchful eye of their broker.

Aug 08, 2010 03:53 PM #54
Victor Eskew
Virtual Properties Plus - Dacula, GA

Jennifer I understand your frustration but the simple business matter of it is that if you are the bottle neck, then your production can only be as high as you are physically capable.  There's no doubt in your tone and comments, that you are deeply committed to your clients and doing what you think is right by them.  Being a salesperson and being a "manager" of people are extremely two different job functions, and each have their own separate set of required character traits.  And most often, a salesperson is a poor manager and vice versa for the previous reason.  Understanding what the job functions are is the best place the start.  If you are good at finding and getting properties under contract, wouldn't you agree that your clients would be better served if the other details were handled by someone that could do them better than you?  Now don't say that you are the best at every stage.  I can safely assume that you are great at ever stage given your passion, but there are always people out there who can do everything we do better than we do it.  Finding and hiring this talent is a REAL benefit to your clients and is actually the better service model for them.  The problem that a lot of us agents have is that we internalize the emotions of the clients and thus take ownership of their transaction and feel that no one could possibly see them to the end like "we" can.  Well, this just simply isn't true and sometimes our own best intentions actually harm our clients.

This doesn't mean you turn over your business to $10 an hour teenagers but to actually develop a business model, just all the other millions of businesses out there who employee people to work, interview and hire the talent that can do the job.  And if you've run into an agent who hasn't given his/her business model that much thought and it's made life a little frustrating for you then welcome to the wonderful world of commerce.  Not all are great and not all will be in business forever.

By the way, most sales people don't realize they are running two businesses together.  The business of getting business (hence the emphasis on prospectiong by the gurus) and the business of selling houses.  Two distinctly separate businesses that you must run together successfully.

Best regards,



Aug 08, 2010 04:27 PM #55
Pat Ogle
Champion Realty, Inc - Annapolis, MD
Associate Broker,CRS,GRI,ePRO - SEMPER FI!

The hardest thing to do is let go and move on to the next client.

Aug 09, 2010 12:40 AM #56
Pat Ogle
Champion Realty, Inc - Annapolis, MD
Associate Broker,CRS,GRI,ePRO - SEMPER FI!

The hardest thing to do is let go and move on to the next client.

Aug 09, 2010 12:40 AM #57
George Belleville

I love when people post rants like this.. always generates great responses, but as usuall, this one is based on a bit of a misconception.  You are comparing your experience working with a bad/unorganized/inexperienced assistant with working with a competent solo agent.  Not all agents are competent!

We have all had transactions with a solo agent where we would have had better luck grabbing someone off the street, handing them the file, and working through it with them.  We have probably also had deals with a team or assistant where neither the agent nor the assistant/team was effective.

But there is a great deal of space between those two extremes.  Personally, I have a virtual assistant who provides an awesome level of support to me and my business.  Database maintenance, listing entry, price updates, contract submission to my office, a 40 minute pre-listing interview with potential sellers... the list goes on.  Her doing all of this BETTER THAN I COULD allows me to focus on the things that I am good at, or avoid the things I don't like.  This is a fantastic model to get enough off your plate without becoming a manager.

Your potential is limited to the amount of work you can do...... if you are OK with that, good for you.  If you want more, you have to have leverage.

Aug 09, 2010 02:42 AM #58
Josette Skilling
Keller Williams Capital Properties - Bethesda, MD

George's comment above is exactly what Jennifer is getting at in this post.  All of the items he detailed allow him to acquire business that he can service well.  This is what you use specialized help for.  Her point was not that we shouldn't be delegating work but that the work you delegate should be well considered.  There is nothing in George's list that is client facing, all of which should be done agent to agent or agent to client. 

Maintaining my marketing lists, typing an entry that I've approved into the MLS, sending out postcards, ordering signs up, creating listing books, etc.  All of these can be done by someone who learns a system.  But you cannot turn over how to negotiate, how to keep a shaky buyer in a contract, how and when to get a home re priced, a failed loan, and the million other details that pop up when a home is under contract.  Or if you do turn it over I'll still submit it must be to someone who has the skill to handle that and is invested, like a partner.

Yes, you can only handle as much business as your capacity.  And that is the crux of this.  The more we reach to get business that we can't handle personally the more the public becomes jaded and disgusted with our exorbitant fees and lack of service.  It becomes a vicious circle of constant prospecting because we can't rely on past business if the level of competence wasn't what the consumer expected.

Just my two cents worth.



Aug 09, 2010 04:10 AM #59
Carolyn Roland-Historic Homes For Sale In Delaware and S. Chester County PA
Patterson-Schwartz Real Estate - Wilmington, DE
Carolyn Roland, GRI, CRS

If you are in a niche market, such as historic homes, sometimes there are no other licensed people available to be an assistant who have the specialized knowledge necessary to be the resource person who has to be there to answer questions.

Aug 09, 2010 05:16 AM #60
Jeanne Dufort
Coldwell Banker Lake Country - Madison, GA
Madison and Lake Oconee GA

Delegate the admin stuff, but not the responsibility. And never lose contact with the principals.

Aug 09, 2010 08:02 AM #61
Joy Carter & Jeff Booker Brother and Sister Team
Keller Williams Parkland/Coral Springs Realty-GreatFloridaHomes Team - Coral Springs, FL
Trust Your Family's Move To Our Expertise!

Thank you for ranting!  That is just crazy for anyone to think there isn't enough involved in a transaction for the agent.  Obviously they are not doing much follow up.  There is so much to do that I do not see how an agent can do it without an assistant!  Ours has been with us for 12 years because she is a crucial part of our team.

The Orlando board of Realtors published a list of 180 items that are done to complete a real estate transaction.  I still believe that selling is not that difficult, but you need expertise in getting the transaction to close.  Joy

Aug 09, 2010 08:36 AM #62
Ruthmarie Hicks
Keller Williams NY Realty - 120 Bloomingdale Road #101, White Plains NY 10605 - White Plains, NY

Hi Jennifer,

I came in when things were starting to slow down...so I may be skating on thin ice here - but isn't the emphasis on rainmaking a result of a very slow market?  It becomes an all-consuming process when the ability to generate business hits the skids.  And who can blame folks? We gotta eat and with no leads - we don't pay our bills!

I live in a lawyer state so an attorney draws up the contract etc.  It gets sticky - however, given the difficulites in this market I find that my activity level in dealing with a ton of roadblocks to closing is higher now than it has ever been.  And what buyers and sellers don't understand is that this is a critical point in the transaction.  These days we are usually putting out about 5-6 fires prior to closing.  The last two closings were more like an uncontrolled forest fire that was out of control for about 2.5 months....

BUT - I still have to generate business.  There is precious little to be had and although my former clients help - few know anyone wanting or needing to move.  With most people STILL sitting on the fence after a 3 year stand-still market - if I don't block time to generate business, I'm in big trouble.

Aug 09, 2010 09:48 AM #63
Samantha Smith
214.422.0729 www.SamIAmHouses.com - Rowlett, TX
Sam I Am Houses, Simply Texas Real Estate

Amen!  I'm a newbie in RE but have been in sales for awhile and 1 thing is a forever constant ... the Client wants & deserves nothing but YOUR best!  I strive to handle each client with personal care and be there for them every step of the way during this huge life event. I haven't had the experiences as the others who've posted but it was important that the broker I chose to sign with, shares this belief with me.  

Aug 09, 2010 10:06 AM #64
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Sell with Soul - Pensacola Beach, FL
Author of Sell with Soul

Thanks for all the well-thunked-out comments! For those who are (maybe?) a little offended by my ramblings, I'll just say this. If you believe that the details of a real estate transaction (no, not putting up the sign and copying brochures) ARE important and worthy of expert attention, then I was not speaking to you ;-]. If you've created a team or a partnership or a system that takes care of your clients as your first priority, whether that's by you or someone as or more competent as/than you, GREAT! Keep up the good work.

But if you're annoyed because I claim that managing the pieces and parts of a real estate transaction should NOT be delegated to a $10/hour assistant, then yes, I'm talkin' to you!

I don't think that applies to anyone who has commented on this blog.

Thanks again for your comments!

Aug 09, 2010 12:44 PM #65
Andrea "Andy" Tolbert
HD Realty - Sanford, FL
Broker, Safety Expert, Instructor

Hey Jennifer! Long time no talk!

I often end up doing a lot of the work for the other side of the transaction too... can I have their side of the commission too? :)

Aug 11, 2010 03:03 AM #66
Robert Vegas Bob Swetz
Realty ONE Group - Las Vegas, NV
Las Vegas Henderson Homes for Sale

HUGE post Jennifer and sorry I missed this one!

VB ;-)

Aug 14, 2010 11:26 AM #67
Evelyn Johnston
Friends & Neighbors Real Estate - Elkhart, IN
The People You Know, Like and Trust!

I agree with you whole heartedly. It is my responsibility to see the offer and sale to completion. Not a hired person.  The hired person can send out mailings pieces, lick stamps and address envelopes.  Does not take a license to do that part of the real estate business.

Aug 14, 2010 02:15 PM #68
Carrie Sampron
Home Smart Realty Group - Highlands Ranch, CO
ABR SFR & Kathy Sampron (303) 931-3629 Highlands R

Wow, sorry it's taken me so long to get to this one.  I couldn't agree more.  Sounds more like you're not paying attention to the details and something is going to come back and bite you in the . . .

Aug 19, 2010 09:29 AM #69
Alan Bruzee
Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc. - Rockville, MD

Our licensed assistant is a control freak just like we are and does an excellent job maintaining the paperwork and making sure everyone is communicating effectively and getting information to people lighting fast - we pay her whether we are profitable or not, because she is worth every penny!   This gives us more time to deal with the delicate negotiations and problem solve.   We work very hard for our money and our assistant enhances the experience for our sellers and buyers.  

Sep 04, 2010 09:08 AM #70
Wayne B. Pruner
Oregon First - Tigard, OR
Tigard Oregon Homes for Sale, Realtor, GRI

Prospecting is the hardest part of this business. It's critical to making a living. What comes after prospecting is not that hard. There are many very qualified assistants out there that just like getting the deal done in a very professional matter. Prospecting is not their thing.

Sep 24, 2010 05:23 PM #71
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