If this blog goes where I think it's going, it might make me slightly less popular among the AR crowd...
A few months ago, I was interviewed by someone at RIS Media about my views on the current state of the real estate industry. Blah Blah Blah, we covered all the generic, pithy topics and then moved onto some juicier ones. Yeah!
He asked me "What do you think it will take to turn the public's perception from thinking of us on the same level as used car salesmen and politicians, to thinking of us as trusted advisors?
Great question. I'd never been asked that before, so I took a moment to think. And the answer hit me like a load of used cars.
If we want to shift the public perception away from thinking of us as people who just want to sell someone something, with as little effort as possible, we need to attract a different kind of practitioner.
A career selling real estate is much like a career as a financial planner, an insurance salesperson or a mortgage broker. Most people enter these fields, not because they have a passion for property, mutual funds, long-term care insurance or good faith estimates, but because they are drawn to the idea of working on commission, hopefully significant commission. They are, basically, natural salespeople in search of a product to sell.
Nothing wrong with that. Selling for a living can be an honorable profession if it's done ethically.
But the perception of the real estate agent as a salesperson will forever lump us in with other people who sell, and will always be held in general suspicion. No way around that - when you're paid on commission, our clients and customers are always going to wonder if we have their best interests at heart.
Especially if they aren't nearly as blown away by our service as they were by our sales pitch.
So, if we want to change the public's perception of us, we need to change our approach, which possibly means a change in our compensation structure. Are we ready for this? I don't know, frankly. I like being paid on commission as much as the rest of you do, and I love the idea that working harder and smarter brings more money in the door. But is there a compromise? A way to satisfy our entrepreneurial needs for performance-based pay without sacrificing the perception that our integrity might be for sale?
Do we care? Or, are we okay with remaining in that bottom five of the infamous list of America's most UNtrusted professions?
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