How Can Individual Agents Do More For the Real Estate Industry As a Whole?
There’s no arguing that the real estate industry gets a bad reputation at times. Back in the day, a real estate agent or broker held a very desirable position, and no one would ever question their experience and knowledge. But, these days, with the rise of technology and ease of access to information, people are finding other ways to buy and sell their homes, and many find it necessary to criticize the role of real estate agents in the meantime.
From explaining the purpose of a commission, to why you can sell a home better than an iBuyer can buy one, real estate agents have to constantly defend their position, while we work hard to cater to those that believe in us.
But, the reality is, real estate agents can only save the dignity of the positions we hold by sticking together as a unit. Yet, there are some things we can do as individuals to represent the entire real estate industry, and keep our reputation strong.
Always Look and Act Professional
There’s nothing that gives a bad name to real estate agents more than an agent who acts unprofessionally. Even when you can start to relax around new clients, you have to keep up the image. It’s just part of the job. You never know—just because it didn’t work out with them, they can still refer you to someone else. Maintaining good rapport no matter what is an easy way to represent the industry. Additionally, Get yourself some professional photos for your online presence, attend professional developments, and network with other agents—you’re in this together.
Consistently Share and Review Expectations with Client
A professional real estate agent knows how important it is to be transparent with clients, especially those who are first-time homebuyers or those who are selling their home for the first time. One of the main reasons a person hires an agent instead of trying to do it on their own is because they know that they can’t—they need someone to show them the way. So, that’s exactly what you need to do.
From the get-go, make commission and closing costs clear to your client, as well as how the process is going to work overall. After all, this is one of the biggest concerns that prevent people from seeking out an agent in the first place. And, even those who are perfectly aware of where your money comes from don’t like surprises, especially when they are about to make one of the biggest investments they will ever make in their lives. Just be upfront from your end, and ask your client their expectations, too, so that you can address them.
One thing you can do as an agent to improve the industry as a whole is to be that person to remind people why real estate agents are so essential. And, it doesn’t take much. When you first start working with someone, review their expectations. A good way to do this is to use a tactic called “future pacing”, which involves asking the client where they see themselves in the future. This can help you make sure you’re finding the right property for them, and that you two are a good match.
Of course, you should also do this for yourself.
Where do you see yourself in several years and how is the industry going to support you—and you them—in getting there?
Have Clear and Concise Communication, Contracts, and Paperwork
Speaking of transparency, covering (and meeting) expectations is no doubt part of the job, but a lot of agents won’t do the bare minimum, which can reflect poorly on the real estate industry. While it’s your client’s job to read their contracts and all the paperwork that’s part of the closing process, it doesn’t hurt to go the extra mile to make sure everyone is clear about what’s happening and what is going to happen.
As a matter of fact, how many real estate agents don’t know exactly what’s on their own contracts? Read them, know them, understand them. This is so you can explain everything to the client, to avoid any hiccups or miscommunications along the way.
Some advice is that when paperwork starts to go out from all parties involved in closing a deal, be the one to introduce all vendors to each other in an introductory email. Explain to your clients who is who (and, that if they hit the “reply all” email, they can connect to everyone at once). Don’t wait for clients to come to you with confusion; lay out everything for them at once.
And, for the love of all things holy, please, please, advise your clients about cybersecurity and how to keep themselves safe. This will not only protect them, but the entire real estate industry who needs to do their part in protecting their client’s data.
Social Justice and Advocacy
Legally, real estate agents are prohibited from commenting on the demographics, safety, and vibe of a neighborhood, but we all know that an agent has no problem saying when a neighborhood is “safe” and “good for families” etc. Real estate agents have been accused of giving unequal treatment, contributing to segregation, racism, classism, and redlining for decades.
Does this mean you’re part of the problem? No, not necessarily. But, it does mean that someone needs to be held accountable. The blame usually falls on the real estate industry overall.
It may not seem like much, but doing your part to be a fair real estate agent can actually go a very long way. After all, you’re actually in a position where you can help to break some of these boundaries. At the very least, educate yourself on these issues, the history of segregation in housing in the United States, and get active in your community. It starts with you.
Charity and Closing Gifts
Last but not least, all these things can and will come together to help you, your clients, and the clients of the real estate industry in the future. But, it’s not just what you do while you’re working with clients—it’s what you do after. Follow up after closing with a client (three days is recommended), and even sending a closing gift and an anniversary-of-buying-a-home gift.
And, while you’re at it, if you can donate some of every commission to a charity not just of your choice but one that your clients can choose from, you can work towards making a difference in how this industry is perceived.
Remember: The Client is Always First
At the end of the day, you need to worry about your own client and our own businesses, especially in a time when people are believing in the real estate industry less and less. But, by putting in a little extra effort here and there, you can do wonders for an industry that’s constantly being questioned.
When we go to work every day, we are the ones single-handedly representing the need for our jobs. So, put your client first, and think about how you can take that to the next level.
We’re here for you if you need help.