Are Real Estate Agents pretty door openers? Insights into an agent's checkbook register

Real Estate Broker/Owner with 3:16 team REALTY ~ Locally-owned Prosper TX Real Estate Co. #9001154

A consumer said this: (result of my poll) I was really disgusted at the obvious consumer mentality behind the cars both of the realtors I worked with drove - one a Lincoln, own a BMW. I thought it was disgusting, and I wasn't sure what they were trying to prove, except to go BuyOwner when we sell, because obviously they make too much commission.              


The general public do think that real estate agents do make alot of money. Again, we (the real estate people) understand the perceived image of success. Hence, our fancy car, nice suits and definitely big hair-do.


There are more into "real work" to become a resourceful agent. It's definitely more than opening a few doors on a Saturday afternoon and sticking a For Sale sign on a Sunday afternoon. While there are a few who puts in minimal effort, most are hardworking - even much more than a regular 8am-5pm position. Sometimes working over 60-80 hours may not seen uncommon. We eat, sleep and think real estate. We constantly think of better ways to serve our clients whether it's through education, parties or reading on the internet. Sometimes in the middle of our sleep when a great idea strike, we jump out of bed to write it down. In some extreme cases, this field have cost the high price of our families.

We "invest" in a website, we purchase leads and we pay our real estate dues. We purchase health and disability insurance. Most of the time, these are purchased at a much higher premium than a regular employee - where majority of the insurance costs are beared by the company itself. Like any good planner, we invest in retirement accounts too. We save for our kids' college education

In this Internet age, consumers expects us to deliver information immediately. We purchase office supplies and equip our business with high-tech electronics and machines - not just to be cool, but to "wire" ourselves so that we can responsively serve our clients in this instantaneous society.

Advertising and marketing costs are enormous to say the least - even before receiving the wonderful opportunity of serving our clients. Print media can be expensive and internet pay-per-clicks are not cheap either. An agent can spend well over $500/month and yet still may not be as productive.

We attend parties and we go to networking meetings. We visit other real estate offices to sell our listings. We certainly dont just put our houses on the Multiple Listing Service for sale and they magically sell (yes, some do but majority of them dont). We sit through countless production meetings even when we rather watch TV or spend an extra hour at home. Some of us work with mentors, or join high-quality real estate training. Such classes often cost thousands of dollars and help us get ready to work with clients serving with top-notch knowledge and enthusiasm. 

We study our markets, we preview houses after houses even when we dont have a client to work with in the specific market. We read through email alerts of houses that comes on the market. We get up early in the morning, we go down late at night.

We continuously put ourselves through education. Some are used to meet the minimum state requirements for holding our licenses, but most agents carefully select courses (some take additional classes) so that they can acquire knowledge to assist their clients better. Most consumers are not aware of the designations that real estate agents hold. Most don't care. Yet, I'm taking this opportunity to bring an awareness to this issue: there are alot of effort that goes into getting such accreditation. Some courses like ABR (Accredited Buyer Representative) and ASR (Accredited Seller Representative) have specific educational and experiential criteria guidelines to meet. A new designtation called Quality Service Certification (QSP) is consumer-oriented program where past clients rate their agent's quality service in a survey. These accreditations are additional costs that service-conscious real estate professional choose to engage in. Then, there are yearly dues to pay for maintaining such accreditations.

We hire office assistants to handle the volume we serve. We understand that clients expect high-quality, responsive service. These assistants work behind the scenes. They help us keep our transactions rolling smooth, they help us get answers for our clients. Their awesome help relieve us from day-to-day operations so that we have time to return our clients' phone calls ourselves.

I do hope that this post will let consumers peek into the world of a resourceful real estate professional. There are more examples to think of. I know I am barely scratching the surface. Just like any good ie high-quality gem, we get what we pay for. We perform all these activities and more. Yet we only get paid when a house successfully sells. So, are we worth the 3% we charge?

Why purchase a Lexus, Acura and Tahoe when we can purchase a Sportege, Elantra and Cobalt since all of them takes us to the same place? Why would a consumer choose to eat at a steak restaurant when a fast food chain serve the same purpose of feeding that hungry stomach? Why would a consumer want to work with an ordinary agent when the best of the best in the market is available? Would the best of the best charge not deserve the commission we make?


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Daniel Lowery
1st Choice Real Estate - Jefferson City, MO
e-PRO, Broker - Owner
Very insightful, thank you for posting,
Jan 01, 2007 01:11 PM #1
M. Suzi Woods (Gravenstuk)
NOW Sharing the life and spice of the GC one day at a time - Grand Canyon, AZ
Suzi Woods, Prior Independent REBroker in MS
Wow, Loreena--excellent, well said, well put. well...
Jan 01, 2007 02:48 PM #2
Don Fabrizio-Garcia
Fab Real Estate - Danbury, CT
Owner/Broker/Trainer - Fab Real Estate
Hi Loreena - Great post.  Most consumers don't realize how expensive it is to be in this business.  I once sat down with a former client, with whom I had become friends, because she wanted to become a real estate agent and had lots of questions.  She was amazed when I detailed how much money I spend each month just to stay in business.  Suddenly, the commissions I earned from helping her buy and sell homes didn't seem that high anymore!
Jan 01, 2007 11:21 PM #3
Robert Smith
Preview Properties, PC - - Brighton, MI
SRES, Search for Homes Brighton-Howell-SE Michigan

Compare that to the owner of a very successful construction/remodeling company that I did business with some years ago.  He arrived punctually in a very, very modest car.  It was clean and well maintained.  This was his 'quote' car.  He drove it to the homes of prospective clients and to do his on-the-job supervision.  He was a well established company with a very good reputation, by the way.

However, he drove his personal car (back then a monster Lincoln Towne Car) to the office and back home.  I asked him why he just didn't drive the Lincoln and he said that it gave the impression he was making too much money and it actually *hurt* his business.


Jan 02, 2007 12:09 AM #4
Ava Anderson
A-Z Atlanta Realty - Snellville, GA
Selling Atlanta from A-Z!
Great Post!  Very Well Said!  I couldn't have said it better myself.  As a new agent I decided to purchase my luxury car this summer and with the slowing in the market I wish I waited.  Afterall my old car was paid for, but I felt I had no choice.  My 10 year old car did not fit the image of a Realtor. 
Jan 02, 2007 04:09 PM #5
Loreena and Michael Yeo
3:16 team REALTY ~ Locally-owned Prosper TX Real Estate Co. - Prosper, TX
Real Estate Agents

Ava - Have you checked this out? I wrote this recently and received a good response.


Jan 02, 2007 11:14 PM #6
Lee McFatridge
The Wells Team at Keller Williams Realty, Augusta Partners - Augusta, GA
Really an eye opener.  The money one must spend isn't "advertised" to new recruits in the business either.  Once you get your license you find out just how hard it is sometimes to make ends meet in RE.  Now if we can just educate the public about how much we spend vs. how much we really take home, they wouldn't be so quick to judge us.  Thanks again for a wonderful article.
Jan 03, 2007 10:43 AM #7
Loreena and Michael Yeo
3:16 team REALTY ~ Locally-owned Prosper TX Real Estate Co. - Prosper, TX
Real Estate Agents
Thanks for all that cared to leave a comment. I really didnt know how much REAL WORK is put into being an agent until I became one myself.
Jan 03, 2007 01:20 PM #8

I think it's a much better idea to drive a modest car when working. Many people worked very hard for their homes. If they even assume that the agent is driving a nicer car than they can afford, there isn't anyway this person will want to work with that agent.


My girlfriend got a beautiful new car some years ago. It was an IROC z28. She needed a second job to help pay for the car loan so she started to deliver pizza at night. She found that many people were not giving her any tips. She started to ask why? Some of the replys were: "You drive a nicer car than me, why should I tip you?" Don't get a car that provides an image; get a car that people can relate too. Many people can't relate to somebody if they feel that they are doing much better financially than them. That's just good business and common sense!


The only people that will impress is a very wealthy client.

Mar 28, 2007 08:34 AM #9
Judi Morgan
RETIRED - San Antonio, TX
San Antonio, TX Real Estate
Loreena, Great Post.  When I first started in Real Estate, my then husband bought me a Cadillac Seville.  I thought I had to have a luxury car to show that I was successful.  That apparently was a mistake.  I went on a Listing Appointment and when the client walked me out to my car his comment was, "Why should I list my property with you, you already have a Cadillac?"  As soon as I could, I traded the Cadillac in for a Chevrolet Impala.  Many of my clients have a car equal to or nicer than mine.  Some, hesitate to get into my modest Impala but once they're in my car and we're on the road, they usually comment on what a nice, comfortable car it is.  Now my little Impala has 60,000+ miles on it and it's time to start looking for a replacement -- sure would love to be driving a Lexus but thinking a Camry or Avalon would suit my image better.
Mar 28, 2007 03:21 PM #10
Karen Otto
Home Star Staging - Plano, TX
Plano Home Staging, Dallas Home Staging,

"The best things in life aren't things at all"

Think on this - Before you even get to a client's home - they have no idea what kind of vehicle you drive - you have established a rapport with them via phone ( usually - correct?), maybe they've checked your website, they either get a feel for you and your personality and like you or don't and probably you won't be arriving at their home anytime soon. 

I don't think all people judge you based on your car - but your "vibe" and personality - If your car is clean and the air/heat works and not a "flintstone mobile"(what my husband drove when we first met floor board gone in some places and gatoraide bottle collection in back - his car wasn't what mattered to me at 19 but HIM) I think most people will respect you for who you are and what you represent.  "Buying' into an image that you may not fit only gets you noticed but it's what's on the inside of YOU that matters more than any worldly possession you own.  We all get too caught up in appearances and forget we are all the SAME on the outside and in - human, with feelings and emotions and just want to be respected and heard and YES taken care of in our personal life and business relationships as well.  No fancy car can replace that bond.

Mar 29, 2007 01:30 PM #11
Linda Box Taylor
Castle Connections Realty - Plano, TX
Your Plano, TX Realtor
I think each agent has to be comfortable with the car they drive.  I drive a BMW because I love the car and if that hurts my business then I don't want to deal with someone that shallow.  I want to be who I am and enjoy my car.  Most of my clients are not high-end clients, most are first time or second time homebuyers looking at homes between $150,000 - $200,000 and no one has ever said anything about my car.  I think if you have a good marketing plan with the right personality then consumers won't care what kind of car you drive.  I know there are a variety of views of this topic but I just wanted to add my two cent.
Mar 29, 2007 03:42 PM #12
Bob & Carolin Benjamin
Benjamin Realty LLC - Gold Canyon, AZ
East Phoenix Arizona Homes

Too much flash and fancy cars makes for a bad image in many client's minds -- too much excess. Our 2 cents.

Dec 18, 2008 03:28 PM #13
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