Dear Realtors: STOP IT!

Real Estate Agent with Windermere Real Estate 11741


I've been here for a few days, I feel like we're all friends here, so I've got some simple advice.  Stop complaining to the consumer about your expenses, please.

On the front page of activerain today:

A very well written article, and spot-on expenses are tough in this business.  However I felt like I needed to respond to this, because Realtors complaining about their expenses to the consumer drives me insane.  Here's my response that so far appears to be getting ignored:

"While it is a good and in-depth list, put yourself in the consumers shoes.  What would the common consumer today say about this?  I could guess... a big "so what?"  Consumers today want to know about the service you'll give them not about the bills you have to pay as a professional. We don't hear about any other salespeople of other professions complaining to us about their operating expenses, and if we did, we probably wouldn't care.

Does having or paying these expenses guarantee over the top service, or will it make you adhere to a standard of practice that other Realtors will not?  Will it make your systems so air-tight that you're replying to any phone/web inquiry within 20 minutes regardless if you're in a meeting, with clients, or just at home on the weekend?  You could argue yes to many, however consumers care about service, not the bills we pay."


It's the truth people, consumers care about the experience they go through, the knowledge of the agent, and the service they receive.  I know our expense of doing business is nuts, believe me, however the fact of the matter is nobody cares, at least nobody who you'll make money from.  I firmly believe this is one reason why independent web sites are flourishing in real estate and why Realtor image continues to stay low.  We're busy trying to justify the money we're spending to our consumers while the truth is they don't really care.

Think about how cars are marketed and sold.  Do we hear about the cost of each part in the car?  Do we hear about the salesperson's monthly costs of doing business?  Nope, we hear about quality, experience, lifestyle, etc.  Focus on service and a high standard of practice and you'll go much further in this business than the agent who is continually talking about their cost of doing business.


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You would be surprised of some of the complaing they do about certain things.  One Realtor was complaining about her clients calling her during the Holidays and she said she was a starving agent.  Who would want to work with her after those comments? 

Jan 09, 2009 03:28 AM #1
Brint Wahlberg
Windermere Real Estate - Missoula, MT
The Wahlberg Team

And we wonder why Realtors get mocked in the press and the general public perception of us isn't that high....

Thanks Tony!

Jan 09, 2009 03:35 AM #2
Li Read
Sea to Sky Premier Properties (Salt Spring) - Salt Spring Island, BC
Caring expertise...knowledge for you!

Good advice!     Good service, positive feedback, communication skills, knowledge of the adds up to a professional image, and that's what attracts business our way.

Jan 09, 2009 05:04 AM #3
Brint Wahlberg
Windermere Real Estate - Missoula, MT
The Wahlberg Team

Well... It looks like three of us get it.  Great.



Jan 09, 2009 05:16 AM #4
Fred Light
| Nashua Video Tours - Nashua, NH
Real Estate Video Tours for MA and NH

Realtors are entrepreneurs. They are business people.  They have expenses.  So what else is new?

Nobody cares about your expenses, most especially your customers.  They care about what services you provide and how well you provide them.  I absolutely agree! 

I am also an entrepreneur.  I have huge gas bills. I have GPS expenses.  I have tens of thousands of dollars in photographic and video equipment.  Insurance.  Website, software, high end computers, 10 terabytes of hard drive storage space, blah blah blah.

It's called overhead and it's just part of doing business in this world.  Every business has it.  The key to being successful is in managing your overhead and expenses with your income in order to be profitable.

Welcome to business!  Real estate is absolutely NO different than every other business out there.  In fact, realtors are lucky.  They don't HAVE to have the overhead of an office.  They CAN work from home.  They CAN be completely mobile.  Zero overhead!  How great is that? 

I think the biggest factor is many realtors just aren't fully prepared to BE in business.

Jan 09, 2009 08:05 AM #5
Kristal Perrone
Hunt Real Estate- Columbus Division - Rochester, NY
Associate Broker

Hi Brint- I did not ignore you.  Maybe you didn't see my response:

"Brint-I think you have a point, some may not care.  But for someone thinking about getting in to the business, I think they would care.  I agree that consumers care more about service, and that's understandable, but it's never a bad idea to learn, or put yourself in someone else's shoes."

I agree with you 100% with this statement you wrote  "consumers care about the experience they go through, the knowledge of the agent, and the service they receive."

I was talking with a cashier recently and she stated that she thought allagents make   of money.  She said she has considered getting in to the business.  I told her about Active Rain.   My post was more geared towards people like her.  It was not to complain.  It was to give an honest assessment of Realtor expenses.  I figured there was no better place to put it than here.  The reason I added the part about clients asking us to lower our commission is because I don't think the general public understands how the business works.  And like you said they might not care.  Let me ask you this...when a seller asks you to lower your commission do you explain your split or do you just say Ok because you don't want to upset them?

PS- Fred, I learned about your expenses just by reading your post.  I never really thought about it before.  And I guess that is my whole point.  I don't know one agent that does not have overhead.  Even the agents who work from home still have a broker that takes a large chunk of their commission to pay for the office he's sitting in. 

Jan 09, 2009 09:47 AM #6

Don't you think part of the problem is that many REALTORS tend to 'flaunt' their success or at least APPEAR to be successful?  I know MANY REALTORS driving around in very expensive Mercedes, Lexus, etc.  I know many REALTORS who own TWO cars - their work car and their "fun" sports car.  Many live in quite nice homes.  Many take month long vacations.  Many have vacation homes.  And it's those same people who do all of their own marketing, design their own websites, take their own photos - anything to save a buck.  Anything for free. My 16 year old can do more professional work.  REALTORS are notoriously tight with the dollar.  Ask anyone who works in the industry.

So you make lots of money, spend lots of money on yourself and then complain about your expenses in marketing homes for your seller, which for many REALTORS costs nothing.

I don't get it.


Jan 09, 2009 10:42 AM #7
Elizabeth Bolton
RE/MAX Destiny Real Estate Cambridge, MA - Cambridge, MA
Cambridge MA Realtor

I do think there is value in some explanation to consumers about how the business works in terms of who pays for what. In fact, thanks for the link to the post with expenses listed - I've bookmarked it to use when I get that part of my presentation together.

Many sellers, and buyers for that matter, don't understand how the commission is divvied up and about the expenses the agent takes on.  Since it often feels like this is "their money" and you're getting way too much of it - you need to explain the expenses involved and the value that they gain from those expenses.

Yes - it's a business - and sure it's overhead - but we need to do a better job of educating consumers about how the business actually works.

Jan 09, 2009 11:43 AM #8
Margaret Woda
Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc. - Crofton, MD
Maryland Real Estate & Military Relocation

I thought the same thing when I saw the title, and I didn't even read it.  That being said, consumers don't "get" it and I can see why some folks may be inclined to write an explanation.  It's my opinion that they've got their fingers in their ears and they're making sound effects to block it all out because they just don't care... EVERYONE has costs for doing business that eat into their gross revenues.

Jan 09, 2009 03:32 PM #9
Sasha Miletic - Windsor Real Estate
RE/MAX Preferred Realty Ltd. - Windsor, ON

Hi Brint, Thanks for sharing. Keep posting best.

Best - Sash

Jan 09, 2009 11:58 PM #10
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Brint Wahlberg

The Wahlberg Team
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