A REAL ESTATE EVOLUTION OR REVOLUTION??
When I started out in real estate 20 years ago, there were some of the most professional agents in the business. At least that is the way it appeared to me at the time. I started out in New York City which was very different than any other housing market, very different from the mainstream marketplaces and totally unlike any other real estate market today. I learned from them and I gained more respect from the public at that time because there was real appreciation for what we do as real estate professionals.
There was a continuity to the way this industry operated then--that was the late 1990's and early 2000's-- and most real estate marketplaces were well accustomed to the daily grind and hard fought battles by those of us who earned our livings that way and that is what made our accomplishments the epitome of what "Independent Contractor" means.
THE FALL FROM GRACE
Somewhere between those early years of the business and today, the real estate agent fell from grace. Somehow our profession hit the bottom of the scale measuring the most trusted and the least respected of most professions. We ended up ranking somewhere between a used car salesman and a lawyer when it comes to "trust"!!
This was not good. Not good for the profession certainly but even worse for those of us who were out there breaking our backs to become the best at what we do--to become the most informed, the most polished agents in the history of real estate sales.
Recent years in the real estate profession have revealed that the treatment of agents is Legend! I hear agents frequently now stating: "If I could write a movie script I would write these horrible stories of how we are treated in real estate!"
WHAT HAS GONE WRONG?
I have started to keep a log of the way things have gone wrong--
- of the deals I have lost to unethical fellow agents (mostly)
- but then there are the buyers who buy a house, that I showed to them, through another agent.
- there are the sellers who list with me and after a time, after seeing that the marketing, correct pricing and advertising has moved the property quickly, they pull the listing, leaving me with nothing but the bills!
I was reading a NAR report that appeared in the Washington Post in 2015 and it was all about how agents are viewed by the public. It contained all the standard complaints that agents hear, but this time there were dramatic statements about real estate agents, their qualifications and dis-qualifications and it was a devastating commentary by the NAR: http://www.washingtonpost.com/realestate/realtors-issue -a-blunt-assessment-of-problems-facing-their-business/2015/06/09/7c27dbe6-0deb-11e5-adec-e82f8395c032_story.html
Because of this report and even though it is now 2years old, I have decided to take the approach of a "Revolutionary"...I am refusing to allow the old ways and the old abuses to continue in my business; after all, I am in my own business in spite of the fact that I have chosen to be part of a collective (Brokerage)!...AND I MAKE MY LIVING THIS WAY!!
The NAR report did nothing to disclose what we, as licensed professionals have to put up with! Even though it was a 2015 report, I am finding that the treatment we get has gotten worse not better--this report only serves to justify our being mistreated by the public and our fellow agents in my humble opinion!
The idea that we have to treat our buyers and sellers in a certain way in order to maintain a good reputation, is not working for me any more! Although I have complete respect for the ethical treatment of all people, I do not intend to be mistreated any longer by anyone.
I lost a total of five (5) deals in 2016 due to the fact that I did not protect the "investment" of my time and efforts.
WHAT I CAN DO TO HELP PREVENT LOST REVENUE
Below is a list of things I am now instituting in my attempt to thwart any other unethical individuals from pulling a fast one on me. The best I can hope for is that I cut down on the number of incidences.
- I now keep a "call list" (not to be confused with my customer/client base) and I make a special effort to stay in touch with customers who have stopped looking at properties with me. These are the ones who have "disappeared" on me. I make sure to discuss all properties that I have shown to them in my follow-up --and I put it in writing in an email for their records and mine.
- I make sure to let the prospective buyer know that as a standard practice, I will keep a record of what I have shown them and that now will require them to sign a statement that they saw these houses with me as I show them. I believe that will let them feel less likely to want to go against the "rule" of buying something that I showed to them through another agent .
- When I take an exclusive listing now, I make sure to let the homeowner know that I will be putting a lot of time and effort into creating the listing, to say nothing of the costs of advertising their home.
- I use a "14 DAY ACTION PLAN" to identify the things I will be doing for the new listing in the first 2 weeks on the market. The first 2 weeks on a new listing are the most critical for it to get the most and best exposure. It makes an impact on the homeowner and they are now aware of exactly what I do when I market their property!
- I inform the seller of the value of keeping consistency with an agent and a company to maximize the potential sale of the listing and I always get a head start when doing a renewal of a listing agreement, usually three weeks in advance of an exclusive expiring. This can prevent another agent from stepping in with a different pitch and capturing a homeonwers attention with a new song and dance.
- I now include a clause that the seller will reimburse me for all the costs of marketing their home if they cancel their exclusive agreement short of the agreed-to time period in all my new listings.
- When an owner has an "exclusion" with a buyers name inserted into the listing agreement, I allow a certain time period for that individual to exercise the right to buy said property. This is usually 30 to 60 days from the starting date of the term of the exclusive agreement. A contract in that buyers name must be fully executed in order for the exclusion to be considered exercised.
With these new tactics in my tool kit, I hope I have found the key to avoiding any more bad experiences. The real estate market has made a sea-change with the quality of it's agents and with the level of disrespect for those of us who rely on income from our sales.
I am sorry to say that there are no rewards for integrity in this business and in fact there is a better chance that you will be mistreated in a real estate deal than you will receive accolades for a deal well-done!
I can only hope that things are the way they are currently because of the relative discord and chaos in the whole political arena and that things will get back to some normalcy now that the election is over...
WHAT CHANGES ARE YOU FINDING IN YOUR MARKETPLACES? DO YOU SEE AN EVOLUTION OR A REVOLUTION HAPPENING IN REAL ESTATE TODAY?
**ALL INFORMATION AND CONTENT IN THIS BLOG IS ORIGINAL TO PAULA I. HATHAWAY. The views expressed herein are my personal views and do not reflect the views of Douglas Elliman Real Estate
Paula I. Hathaway, Senior Broker Associate, Douglas Elliman Real Estate
Southamtpon Village Real Estate Specialist since 1995; Also Specializes in North Sea, Noyac, Water Mill and Bridgehampton, New York
Diamond , Gold and Chairman's Circle Awards; Top Producer since 2005
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