Real Estate Agents Aren’t Created Equal

Listen Intently

Conversations Include Listening

Please don’t jump to any strange conclusions by the title of this message. By no means do I discriminate against anyone. The key word in this title is “created.” People aren’t born with natural abilities perfectly aligning themselves to become real estate agents. A career in real estate is not nearly as appealing to children as becoming a policeman, fireman, pilot, astronaut, or to play for the NFL or NBA. For whatever reason we decided to get into real estate, the only similarities we have are the educational requirements and the fact that real estate sales people are licensed through their respective state. How and if we develop our career is an individual choice. The level we take our sales production is solely dependent upon our desire to become successful. I liken our industry to most others in that we can go to a real estate office, we can dress and talk like a real estate agent, we can drink real estate coffee, we can speak the real estate language, but that doesn’t make us good real estate agent; anymore than sitting in a hen house makes you a hen. Like other professions, all real estate agents are different. You don’t know what you’re getting until you unwrap the outer covering to see what’s inside. Sort of like Forest Gump and his box of chocolates.

My long career in real estate confirms that all agents are not created equal. Not all agents provide the same services. Not all agents provide the same quality of service. Not all agents have the same knowledge. Not all agents are committed to the ethical standards we are bound to uphold. This sounds like a warning to not trust real estate agents, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. A real estate agent can be the best friend you can ever have when buying or selling your home but you need to see through the outer wrapping to view what type person you are dealing with.

In training real estate agents, one of the first things I encourage them to do when first meeting a prospective client is to sit down with them and have a heart to heart conversation. Likewise it is just as important to the consumer to have the same type conversation with a possible real estate agent who may represent their best interest. This is a two-way conversation that should be based on total honesty from both parties. One of the most important traits to having a good, meaning conversation is to listen to what the other person is saying. They should be very open minded to discuss any and everything that might be important to their future relationship. A person would be foolish to hire someone off the street without knowing anything about them; wouldn’t they? However, it’s done every day. A real estate agent contacts a home owner that is interested in selling their home and in a very short time, the agent leaves with a listing contract in hand, a sign in the yard and the seller committed to pay for services they may be disappointed with. This might have happened because they knew of the company but in reality what did they know or learn about the agent they are actually doing business with. Just as importantly, what does the agent know or what did he learn about the owner that could possibly help him sell the home.

For some reason the real estate agent fears having this type conversation with the consumer and the consumer doesn’t want to give of their precious time to have such a conversation either. When in fact, it is to the best interest of both parties to have such a conversation so that they are all on the same page, with the same goal in mind that will produce the same desired results. Why do we have such difficulty conversing with other people? It appears to be a lost art. In today’s society people can txt other people without a fear of saying anything but they can’t say the same thing in person. People can quickly tell you where to go and what to do in an email but when face-to-face they seemed to have lost all their intestinal fortitude. Have we ceased talking to people so long that we have forgotten how, or maybe even how much fun it is to have a conversation with someone?  Our forefathers didn’t have all the fun things to play with that we have, so they had plenty time to talk to others. Matter of fact, it was considered a real treat to have a visitor stop by for coffee or tea, and sit down for a nice conversation.

Professional real estate agents have a responsibility to protect the consumer who is buying or selling real estate. We have a fiduciary duty to protect the consumer’s best financial interests. How can I protect those interests unless I know what the interests are? I am legally bound to uphold the duties of a fiduciary. The consumer is legally bound, through the judicial system, to abide by certain state and federal laws when buying or selling real estate. The consumer doesn’t know about these laws unless the real estate agent or an attorney explains them. Can you see how important it is for the consumer and the Realtor® to have such an honest and open, heart-to-heart conversation? Alabama law requires this conversation to be conducted as early in the meeting process as possible. Having such a conversation eliminates assumptions from both parties that could result in damages to either or both parties.

Whether you are a real estate agent or a consumer that is possibly interested in buying or selling real estate, the next time you have the opportunity to meet with someone to discuss real estate, take the initiative to invite the other party to have a good conversation so you can get to know one another. Stress the importance of total honesty and be up-front with one another so that you might engage in a more fruitful relationship.

Should you have specific questions concerning various issues, please let me know and I’ll research the answer for you. I also want to encourage you to subscribe to our “News & Updates” weekly report so you can stay abreast of issues that might affect you when buying or selling real estate. If you haven’t visited my website, please go to  and view previous articles.