Are You Overstepping Your Boundaries as a Real Estate Agent?
Being a real estate agent is a tough enough job on its own, yet dealing with wishy-washy clients can make the job even more difficult. As a real estate agent, you are held up to some degree of a moral compass. After all, people are coming to you to help them manage what, for many people, is a very critical time in their lives. Assuming that you’re a good person, you will probably have many clients throughout your career that you will form a rather strong bond with and, therefore, you may feel compelled to give them as much advice as you can regarding their decision.
But, how much advice is considered too much? How do you know what’s okay to say, and what’s considered overstepping your boundaries as a real estate agent?
Examples of Inappropriate Advice
Let’s say a young couple walks into your office and tells you that they are looking to buy a house. You start with some basic introductions and small talk, to get to know a little bit more about them. This is when you find out that this couple has just graduated college less than a year ago, have only been dating for a short time and currently have no plans of getting married.
The red flags start going off in your head. All you can think about is, “Why on earth are these guys making such a serious financial commitment together at this stage in life?” You may be cringing as they tell you all of this, and you’re trying your absolute hardest not to be judgmental. You like this couple, but you really, really want to tell them that they should go home and reconsider this decision.
But, you can’t. You’re in no position to tell your clients your personal feelings on the matter, even if you think they are making a horrible mistake. If you do, you can be violating the code of real estate agents. This goes for any situations that are similar to this. For instance, if you think your client is looking within a price range that’s too high in relation to their income, that’s not really your concern. Or, if your clients tell you that they are planning on starting a family and they are insistent on buying a home that isn’t built for more than two people, that’s also something that you should keep to yourself.
Anything that doesn’t have to do with your role as a real estate agent is simply out of boundaries. If you’re not sure, don’t answer. You are not a doctor, psychologist, life-coach, family planner, or their parent. You are a real estate agent, and you have one job to do.
What You Can Say to Your Client
The only time you can and should give your client advice regarding somewhat personal matters is if they ask, and it relates to the actual job you’re doing for them. Even if they do ask, it may not be appropriate to answer, and it’s perfectly okay to tell them that you, unfortunately, can’t answer their question. If it doesn’t relate to the process of buying or selling a home that you’re responsible for, then you might just need to seal your lips.
If you’re wondering what kind of advice is appropriate, (keeping in mind that if you have to question whether or not the advice you’re giving is appropriate, it probably isn’t) remember that anything related to choosing a home the clients are looking at, how much they should be trying to sell their house for, your opinion about the location, how the weather is in the area, or whether or not it’s a good time to buy or sell a home in the neighborhood, are all things you can offer advice on.
Often times, there can be a fine line between what’s considered appropriate advice and what’s not. Usually, if it’s a casual, “What do you think about this?” you have to use your judgement to gauge whether or not it’s okay for you to answer the question. In most scenarios, you’re not going to get yourself into trouble with these subtle questions. But, just in case, make sure you have your E&O insurance to cover you.
Don’t Forget What Your Job Entails
At the end of the day, you have one responsibility, and that’s to help your clients either buy or sell their property. This is how you get paid and make a living for yourself and it’s necessary that you don’t forget that. While it may be difficult to bite your tongue, not only are you not obliged to give advice to your clients, but if you give the “wrong” advice, you could be putting yourself in jeopardy. If your clients look really conflicted on a particular matter, you can suggest that they visit with friends and family to find a better answer.
Have you ever wanted to give advice to a client but you were worried about overstepping your boundaries? Let us know what happened in the comments below!