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The Clothing Store Versus Your Own Personal Shopper (and what does this have to do with Real Estate?)

Education & Training with Your Move Made Simple

Suppose you had an upcoming seminar next month and needed to buy a couple of nice suits. You have two choices: you can either shop at a leading clothing store or you can hire yourself a personal shopper.

If you go to the clothing store, the salesperson will probably do their best to sell you a suit. Hopefully, they'll be very helpful to you by showing you the inventory they have at their particular store. Of course, since they're working for the store, their focus is to move the merchandise. If they can please you at the same time, that's a bonus.

The salesperson is working solely on commission - therefore, they only get paid if you buy a suit THERE and NOW. If you have unique fitting needs and none of the suits at that store fit you well, the salesperson is not particularly inclined to tell you to go somewhere else. They also may not tell you that a suit you do love is going on sale next week. After all, if you come back in a week, they might not be the salesperson on the floor. This is not to say that the salesperson isn't ethical. It's just that they're paid to make a sale for their store, not to find the best suits for you.

Now, let's look at the other option: hiring a personal shopper.  Unlike a salesperson working for a store, a personal shopper is paid to find you the best suits for your needs.  Since no two customers are alike, they're going to spend a lot of time upfront really listening about your lifestyle, timetable, and price range.

Once they do a thorough analysis of your needs, they may target one or two stores over others to get you the right suits in the timeframe you need, and within your budget.  Since they know the marketplace and inventory, they might tell you not to buy your chosen suits right now since they'll be going on sale very soon.  Their goal is to use their expertise to find what's best for you.  They're focused on the long-term relationship, not just that transaction.

In terms of paying your personal shopper, they'll probably give you a variety of ways to do so:

  • You can pay them by the hour
  • You can pay them a flat fee to do a variety of shopping tasks OR 
  • You can pay them contingent on them finding you the suits that meet your approval but you would pay a premium for this choice since there's a risk that they will work and not ever get paid.

Therein lies the difference between traditional real estate sales and the new model of real estate consulting. Consulting is about providing quality, transparent choices to the consumer - both in what services they can receive as well as how those services can be paid for.

Consulting is NOT about discounting your contingent-on-a-sale pay or any of the other bargain-basement gimmicks that have been tried and failed. Consumers are not stupid and they see right through these types of come-ons. Consulting is not about making less - in fact our ACRE® (Accredited Consultant in Real Estate) graduates' experiences are that by providing choices, they earn MORE.

Most importantly, consulting places our highest value NOT on moving inventory, but on representing and advocating for our clients - value that can never be replaced by technology.

Evelyn Kennedy
Alain Pinel Realtors - Alameda, CA
Alameda, Real Estate, Alameda, CA


This is a good way to differentiate a sales person from a consultant.  I am not sure if people who want to buy a home are ready for this new way of shopping for homes.  I like the concept, I just don't think the buying public is ready yet.  I hope that someday hiring a real estate consultant to search for properties for a buyer will be the way to go.  Sugested.

Sep 05, 2011 06:38 AM
Brenda Mullen
RE/MAX Associates - San Antonio, TX
Your San Antonio TX Real Estate Agent!!

This is why I like the ACRE® model as it will give consumers a choice.  Problem is, is that it's confusing to consumers who haven't really seen this before and to other professionals who may see it as just another flat fee service, which it ain't.  Terrific blog Mollie.

Sep 05, 2011 08:36 AM
Mollie Wasserman
Your Move Made Simple - Framingham, MA

Evelyn, people who are selling their home are more and more ready for new choices. And as buyers realize that, contrary to what our industry has always told them, they DO pay for real estate services, (they bring the money to the table and pay thousands of dollars in interest on the loan), they are more and more looking for alternatives. 

Change doesn't come easily or quickly but like buyer agency before, when consumers demand it, change will occur. Those that profit are the early adopters. "Someday" will happen when we make it happen! Thanks for commenting!

Brenda, my experience is that consumers don't find it near as confusing as we practitioners do!

Sep 05, 2011 09:19 AM
Mollie Wasserman
Your Move Made Simple - Framingham, MA

One more thought: in the sales model, we tend to only think of income coming from transactions. With consulting tools however, you open up whole new streams of income because you can assist folks that need real estate advice and guidance when they are not involved with a transaction (or at least not now).

Sep 05, 2011 09:21 AM
Margaret Rome Baltimore 410-530-2400
HomeRome Realty 410-530-2400 - Pikesville, MD
Sell Your Home With Margaret Rome

Mollie, What a terrific analogy of the different types of fees.

Great way of explaining!

Your business model is growing with tremendous speed. How many ACRE® members do we now have?



Sep 05, 2011 03:11 PM
Barbara Heise
Keller Williams Realty STL - Saint Louis, MO
Search for Homes for Sale in St. Louis

Good advice to clients who are under water in their mortgage is to know your options.  It looks like that is not a bad idea for every client. 

Sep 05, 2011 11:54 PM
Mollie Wasserman
Your Move Made Simple - Framingham, MA

Margaret: Thanks my friend! ACRE® is closing in on 500 graduates across the US and Canada. And, we have another 200+ additional professionals who have enrolled.

Barbara: One of the things I stress in the ACRE® program is that choices are not just something you pull out of your pocket if you think you won't get the listing or buyer otherwise. Rather, providing choices is something that should be talked about with every potential client. Even if you're 100% sure that they are going the traditional route, letting clients know that you provide alternatives makes you stand out from the crowd, and you can be sure that they will talk about it to their neighbors and friends. Offering choices also secures business that you never would have had. Thanks for your comments!

Sep 06, 2011 01:50 AM