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Public Service Announcement (PSA): this is likely to sound self-serving.

Many agents are trying to “get” business.  Often characterized as a scarcity mentality, they are trying to secure their next commission check.  Their focus is to find and convert leads/clients.

Now that is not everyone, however it happens a lot.  They see every potential client as someone they need to capture and convert.   

Don’t believe it?  Go walk through 3 to 5 open houses on a Saturday or Sunday.  Don’t have time to do that?  Call 3 to 5 agents who advertise online (like on Zillow).   

Many agents, and many people for that matter, spend little time honing their craft.  They spend little time working on becoming better at what they do.  That is hard work.  Taking time to learn, reflect grow, expand – that is very hard.  We as human beings are naturally drawn to do what is easy.  What is easy is to do open house and try and pick up a new client.  By the way – there is nothing wrong with working open house to find clients.  That’s not what is meant here.  

What most of the public also doesn’t know: real estate agents are constantly being solicited.  Companies and individuals are barraging them non-stop with sales and marketing systems.  New-lead-conversion tools or platforms for advertising, things like, “Use this ‘system’ to get 5 new listings a week.”  It’s kind of ridiculous.   

Now, if an agent’s goal is just to do a transaction as fast as possible to get a commission check, maybe those systems work, but that might also explain the low approval rating on many agents.  A sub-par agent has no concept or interest in being their client’s fiduciary (in fact many don’t even know that is their primary job when hired as someone’s real estate agent).   

Our job is to put our client’s interests first.  Always.  The reason agents get a bad rap:  often times they need to get paid and that becomes the primary motive (we’re commission based – we don’t get a regular paycheck). 

What about flat fee firms?

At this point you might be thinking a flat-fee firm that has salaried employees is a way around agents desperate for commission.  That might be an option, but of course the think about real estate: most people don’t get into real estate to go work “another job.”  In these ‘employee’ situations they still must produce and meet certain metrics, but they have no upside.  Those environments also typically have low tenure and high burn-out (along with low levels of experience).  

Back to agents needing a commission check: that can be a conflict of interest.  One way to figure out if the person you are speaking to is the right fit for your needs, ask yourself: “Is this person demonstrating themselves as someone who is capable, qualified, and committed to putting my interests first?” 

Beware of gimmicks

All the other gimmicks are irrelevant: marketing plans, food trucks, social media advertising, branded websites, etc.  Consider those are all distractions to take you away from the most important question:  does your fiduciary have the knowledge and skillset to guide and protect you through the transaction? 

Which brings us to commission.

Maybe not every agent is worth their full fee, but the agents who are on your side and looking out for your best interests are generally not the cheapest.  If you don’t want or need a trusted advisor on your side, then hiring the person with the cheapest fee might be your best option. 

Here’s one more thing to consider: when you work with other professionals (doctors, attorneys, accountants), what criteria do you use to hire them?  Is it only price?  Do you hire the discount heart surgeon?  The discount attorney?  The accountant that advertises the lowest hourly rate? 

As an aside:  we all know that in those previously mentioned professions, all members are not created equal.  We all know that some doctors are better than others, and the same for lawyers and accountants.  Same is true for real estate professionals. 

The only difference between those other professions and real estate is the barrier to entry.  The barrier to entry in real estate is very low.  Therefore the onus is on the client to determine if they really are getting a professional.  Sorry about that.  Now you know.