'Just Say NO to Listing Agents!'

Real Estate Broker/Owner with VRI HOMES

During the seminar on Strategic Thinking that Michael Oppler and I conducted at the National Association of Realtors® in San Francisco last week, I passionately beseeched the audience to support my following assertion and emphatic suggestion…that we never again refer to anyone (unless, of course, they are not a Realtor®) as a 'Listing Agent' – as doing so is destructive, demeaning and undermines our entire Industry.  Here’s why!

Regrettably, since many Home sellers are not fully aware of the tremendous negotiating, marketing, merchandising and social media skills of Top-Notch Realtors® , they understandably and mistakenly conclude the following:

“That if I am paying such a handsome fee to a mere ‘Listing Agent’, then a Real Estate transaction must be a fee inflated event which I must subsidize in order to promulgate an inefficiently run Industry.”

This is a totally incorrect assumption in my view.  Why the misperception?

It begins with our Industry (and therefore consumers) referring to the individual representing the seller or marketing the property in the dreadful, if not horrific, following fashion...


Do you think, as I do, that it would be more strategic, correct, and impressive that after saying the aforementioned, for over a century, we consider gifting ourselves a 'Professional Upgrade’?

Why not collectively rally instead in support of...

“Who's the Listing Agent,” or worse yet, “I am the Listing Agent” implies:

A. My job is complete...I already have the listing.

B. I do no marketing.

C. I represent the Listing (a piece of paper) vs. the Client.

D. Consumers can ‘list’ their own properties with very little skill involved.

E. I am not a Realtor®, just a Licensed Agent (What’s next, the National Association of Listing Agents vs. Realtors® ?)

F. I am one step closer to a For Sale By Owner (or For Listed by Owner).

G. That Buyers determine the price...because Listing Agents, and, therefore, the listing side of the transaction, have no value and therefore, due to their modest role, cannot influence or contribute to either value or outcomes.

H. Because I have no value, I will use words like ‘Comps’, ‘Similar homes’ and ‘Commodity’ to refer to and marginalize your Home...because a Marketing Agent uses the Four P's of Marketing (product, price, place and promotion) and views each property as a customized opportunity – unlike a Listing Agent, who by definition, must view properties either as a ‘Commodity’ or, worse yet, an ‘interchangeable widget’.

I. When MLS's mimic one another by their use of L.A. to refer to Listing Agent or S.A. to stand for Selling Agent, this also, tremendously exacerbates this problem and undermines the Realtor® brand.

When a million plus Realtors®  pay their dues (a bargain of the century) at the very least they should use the brand they are paying for in every way that is informative to the consumer/client.
While the word 'Agent' might connote agency to some, there is a reason why Doctors and defense and prosecuting attorneys memorialize their brands even when agency is involved much more fulsomely than many Realtors® seem to be doing.

Now, of course, one will always use the word ‘Listing’ as it is an agreement.

Such definitional minimalism however...’Listing Agent’...should not be used unwittingly as a weapon to minimize the enormous value of Realtors®  willing to assume and complete the complex Marketing role.

Suggestion: Next time, try asking, “Who's the Marketing Realtor®?" or "Who's the Selling Realtor®!" I think you'll like it...and you will create greater respect, not only from consumers or clients who need to be illuminated as to how sophisticated and skilled Realtors®  truly are - also yourself.

Please spread my suggestion...if you agree with my recommended change,

Allan Dalton

P.S. – Perhaps if all Realtors®  would ask "Who is the Marketing and Selling Realtor®?" there'd be fewer folks saying "Real-a-tor".  There may not be a better way to honor the greatness of state and national Realtor® Associations than by better honoring the brand Realtor®.  Isn't this the strategic way to think?






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