Real Estate Agent with Lenn Harley,, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate 303829;0225082372

MIKE IN TUSCON inspires me to write about TRUST.  Real estate agents in MD and VA

Trust is the basis for my business.  In any given year, year after year, I refer about 1,000 home buyers a year to agents in my market area.  I am always, always seeking experienced real estate brokers and agents I can trust to:

  • (1) do a good job for the buyers and sellers I refer, and
  • (2) pay me the agreed referral fee. 

The number 1 criteria for including an agent or broker in my referral network is TRUST.

WHY REFER?  Referrals have been a recognized and respected component of real estate brokerage for as long as there have been real estate brokers.  We are not and can never be all things to all people.  In fact, the REALTORS® Code of Ethics specifically advises:

  • REALTORS® shall not undertake to provide specialized professional services concerning a type of property or service that is outside their field of competence unless they engage the assistance of one who is competent on such types of property or service, or unless the facts are fully disclosed to the client. Any persons engaged to provide such assistance shall be so identified to the client and their contribution to the assignment should be set forth. (Amended 1/95) (Emphasis added)

REFERRALS ARE AN INTEGRAL PART OF MANY BROKERAGE MODELS.  Many large real estate companies have entire divisions devoted to referrals:  incoming referrals, outgoing referrals, buyer referrals and seller referrals.  These "RELO" divisions generate an income stream that can be an important percentage of the company's overall profits.  I was inspired by my very first real estate broker who generated about 50% of her annual income from outgoing referrals.  Since she was a productive listing broker, she communicated with many home owners who were selling through the company's relocation services.  This smart broker also offered her experience and services to assist her seller clients in finding a good agent to help them find a home in their new location. 


Field of competence.  I routinely receive contacts through my web sites from consumers seeking brokerage services that are: outside my "field of competence", which in my case would be commercial, land, multiple-family real estate. 

Outside your market area.  I also routinely receive contacts through my web sites from consumers seeking brokerage services that are outside my market area.  Due to a comprehensive Internet presence, consumers from across the country contact me for information about or help with purchasing or selling real estate.  My #1 resource for locating and referring consumers for real estate services outside my market area is ActiveRain. 

Do you have more business than you can handle?  Since about 1995, my answer to this question has been an unqualified YES.  I advertise real estate brokerage services on the Internet and do, indeed, generate more business than I can handle.  In past years, I have employed real estate agents to share in the benefits of this flow of business.  When I referred buyers to agents in my company, all settlement checks were processed by my office and my broker split was retained as a bookkeeping transfer.  However, for referrals to agents/brokers not in my brokerage, I rely on the referral agents to make sure that my referral fee is paid fully and timely.  This is where trust becomes important. 

WHY DO SOME AGENTS NOT PAY?  Beats me!  Many agents or brokers appear to believe that trust means that they pay if and when they get caught.  However, when I find an agent or broker whom I can trust, I not only refer good business to them, I work hard to generate good business for them.  I have the on-line platform and the ability to focus advertising in specific market areas and fields of expertise.  Since my focus has been buyer brokerage since 1994, I generate more buyer referrals than seller referrals.  So, I rely on the wonderful agents and brokers in my network to help these buyers succeed in finding a home. 

Experience is a great teacher.  Over the years, I've had to track sales and confront agents who didn't process my referral fee when they sold my referrals.  It's not fun.  The agents become very defensive and, of course, I've lost a referral resource.  Sometimes, the agents process payment to me on several sales and then fail to do so.  Sometimes they fail to pay the referral fee from the very first referral.  One of the reasons I prefer to refer to brokers is because I know that they have a policy of paying referrals.  Some brokers are clearly better than others.  One local broker has made me chase and wait for referral fees to a point where I believe it's a company policy to delay payment of referral fees.  I found out that one broker in Florida doesn't pay referral fees to out of state brokers.  Fat chance of collecting a fee from him if I referred to one of his agents.  Fee are broker to broker.  While agents can assist the payment, they don't write the checks. 


  • Brokers who were once agents in my company,
  • Brokers and agents I've known over the years as experienced practitioners who communicate timely with telephone and e-mail,
  • Agents and brokers I've met through years of participation on on-line networks, most recently ActiveRain, and
  • Partnerships with brokers outside my market area to generate business for their company. 

Bryant Tutas

Why Bryant Tutas, Broker Bryant, Tutas Towne Realty?

About a year ago, I contacted Bryant Tutas about referring home buyers (or sellers).  My thought was, with prices of homes falling so dramatically, that retirees in the Maryland and Northern Virginia area would respond to the web site and contact me and I, in turn, would refer the consumers to Bryant. 

The idea was for me to create a few web pages for his market area, Central Florida and refer any contacts from the web site to him for a referral fee.  We agreed and a week or so later (we speak Google), the web site was prominent in Google SERP for important keywords.  This web site was a cooperative effort.  Since Florida is outside my area of expertise, content and expertise was provided by the Florida Real Estate Broker.  My contribution was technical and creative.  Yes, I created a Florida Map

florida state map Click to enlarge. 

Over the next year, these web pages generated a few referrals, but nothing substantial.  Of course, real estate sales in Florida were not setting any records either.  However, we did generate a wonderful buyer couple recently who purchased a home that closed  just a couple of weeks ago. 

WHY BROKER BRYANT?  All of the above comes down to one word - TRUST.  

Courtesy, Lenn Harley, Broker,, 800-711-7988, E-mail.  Real Estate Talk

Visit our Martin County Florida Home Site.

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Marilyn Katz
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties - Westport, CT
ABR, e-PRO -

Lenn-  As a REALTOR®, working for a large brokerage, I have never had any trouble paying or receiving a referral fee.  Trust, however, also extends to my clients.  I work hard to earn their trust and I, in turn, trust them.  Although it has been a rare occasion, I have had some of them stiff me.

Oct 14, 2008 01:44 AM #12
Janet Guilbault
Guild Mortgage - Walnut Creek, CA
San Francisco Bay Area Direct Mortgage Lender

Lenn: You are my heroine. You have figured out something that most people can only dream of: having an unlimited supply of leads and making money from blogging.

Not paying referral fees is stupid even more than a breech of trust. Paying on time and willingly could be your ticket to getting many MORE leads from Lenn. Are they too stupid to know this?

Oct 14, 2008 01:53 AM #13
Melody Botting
Broker Associate PenFed Realty - San Antonio, TX
You Deserve The Best

Trust is the most important thing when sending referrals.  I had to chase down two last year and got miffed.  Why should I have to fight to get what is owed?  When I receive a referral you can bet the check will be delivered FED X next day with a thank you card included.

Oct 14, 2008 02:05 AM #14
Lenn Harley
Lenn Harley,, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate - Leesburg, VA
Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland

Jon.  That's why most of the agents in my market are my former agents.  I got them through broker school, kicked them out of the nest and now they are their own broker and my primary source of referral agents.  I love them. 

Teri.  You are right.  It's all about ethics.  We can't teach it.  By the time a person has a real estate license, it's much too late for that.

Margaret.  I'm sure you'll love it.  I do.

Marilyn.  Isn't it sad when you have to chase a referral fee? 

Janet.  They are not too stupid to realize this.  They are just too greedy to resist.  Of course, they believe no doubt that I'm too stupid to know.


Oct 14, 2008 02:06 AM #15
Mike Jones
SUNSTREET MORTGAGE, LLC (BK-0907366, NMLS 145171) - Tucson, AZ
Mike Jones NMLS 223495


Thanks for the mention here; I know who I trust in your marketplace!  That would be YOU.

Mike in Tucson

Oct 14, 2008 02:08 AM #16
Lenn Harley
Lenn Harley,, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate - Leesburg, VA
Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland

Melody.  Agreed.  Miffed?  Just a tad more.


Oct 14, 2008 02:08 AM #17
Scott Cowan
RE/MAX Professionals - Olympia, WA

Lenn- You have discussed referrals on previous posts and each time I am stunned that you have any problems receiving the referal fee. I'm disappointed that there are so many people out there that simply do not have the common decency to hold up their end of the bargain. I am glad that you  continue to send out referrals and that you continue to document your successes here for us to learn from.



Oct 14, 2008 02:31 AM #18
Lenn Harley
Lenn Harley,, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate - Leesburg, VA
Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland

Scott.  Thanks.  I love what I do and about the only things that spoils it is the difficulty collecting referral fees from a small percentage of the agents. 

Oct 14, 2008 02:56 AM #19
Lenn Harley
Lenn Harley,, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate - Leesburg, VA
Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland

Mike.  Thanks.  I appreciate and value trust. 

Oct 14, 2008 03:18 AM #20
Fran Gaspari
Patriot Land Transfer, Inc. - Limerick, PA
"The Title Man" - Title Insurance - PA & NJ


Trust is a wonderful takes hours to create and seconds to destroy!!! Thanks,   Fran

Oct 14, 2008 04:04 AM #21
Petra Norris
Lakeland Real Estate Group, Inc. - Lakeland, FL
Realtor, Lakeland FL Homes for Sale

Lenn - money and greed goes hand in hand with some agents and how far really does this person carry, not far, I'm sure. Trust takes time and one can really build a long-term fruitful relationship. Trust can also be wiped out instantly - so be careful with who you mess with.

Oct 14, 2008 04:06 AM #22
Bob Cumiskey
A1 Connection Realty, Inc. - Sun City Center, FL
US Army Retired, Your Sun City Center, Florida ~ Realtor

Lenn, Excellent post.  It's what it all come down to "Trust" and it's a two-way street.

Oct 14, 2008 09:26 AM #23
Kevin Wood,
Keller Williams Southern Arizona - Tucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ Realtor


Great business model. Thank you for sharing.

Oct 14, 2008 10:37 AM #24
Bryant Tutas
Tutas Towne Realty, Inc and Garden Views Realty, LLC - Winter Garden, FL
Selling Florida one home at a time

Hey Lenn, I play and I pay. Me likes referrals and I hope we do many more.

Thanks for the link love too!!!! 

Oct 14, 2008 10:39 AM #25
John MacArthur
Century 21 Redwood - Washington, DC
Licensed Maryland/DC Realtor, Metro DC Homes

Lenn - I believe that one of the large brokers in this area has made great strides in making sure that you are paid in a timely fashion. Of course, if I don't trust them, I can understand your reluctance to do so....................the process has created more angst than one could imagine.

Karma is a bitch..................notice the hurricaine blowing through the big L&F trip?

my interview with ReMax is monday.

your friend


Oct 14, 2008 03:13 PM #26
Sharon Alters
Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty - 904-673-2308 - Fleming Island, FL
Realtor - Homes for Sale Fleming Island FL

Lenn, I enjoyed your post about the referral to Broker Bryant and this one as well.  Trust is the foundation. I just closed a referral from Weichert up your way and the guy didn't send a referral form. You bet I contacted him and he was paid even though I had to fill out the paperwork for my company on his behalf. I have to sleep at night :)

Oct 14, 2008 03:50 PM #27
Judy Greenberg
Coldwell Banker Long Grove - Buffalo Grove, IL
Coldwell Banker - Buffalo Grove - Long Grove Homes

Someone gave me a referral a year ago, and it is finally going to close this month.  When I informed him that it was really going to close and he would be getting a huge chunk of change, he was astonished that I didn't forget my source.  Im sure there will be many more where that came from now that he trusts me

Oct 15, 2008 12:05 AM #28


Referrals are most beneficial when based on trust.  A new site called Referral Key offers a tool to help small businesses build and manage TRUSTED referral relationships...check it out! 

Oct 15, 2008 04:28 AM #29
"The Lovely Wife" (Broker Bryantnulls Wife) The One And Only TLW.
President-Tutas Towne Realty, Inc. - Kissimmee, FL

Dearest Lenn...

No matter how many times I find out my trust was misplaced I continue to place my trust in others. Humans, we are so special that way :)


Oct 15, 2008 01:07 PM #30
Robin Rogers
Robin Rogers, Silverbridge Realty, San Antonio, Texas - San Antonio, TX
CRS, TRC, MRP - Real Estate Investment Adviser

Lenn, I love finding good agents I can trust with my referrals even more than receiving referrals from them. It always reflects well on me (and my ego) when they do a great job, like Kay Trimbath did recently. My clients loved her!

Getting the referral fee without having to hound the agent is nice, too.

Pay pup



Oct 19, 2008 11:02 AM #31
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