Finding a real estate agent who is good is not something some people consider important, or they don’t realize how to find a good real estate agent.
Pick a Real Estate Agent (Pick a Card)
A buyer decides he needs a real estate agent to buy a home, but this buyer makes a huge mistake, and the bad news is he has no idea he is making it. He’s in a very respected profession, and he’s a mature and intelligent man. He has a good friend, and his good friend’s wife is a real estate agent. So when he wants to buy a house, he automatically hires his friend’s wife. After all, she is a real estate agent. Notice that word “automatically.”
This is a true story. As it turns out, his friend’s wife is not so competent and not so ethical or professional. The details don’t matter for purposes of this brief story, but the bottom line is that Mr. Professional gets less than royal treatment, and that is the understatement of the century. I’m being polite here. At the time Mr. Professional had no idea how his own real estate agent sabotaged his transaction with her incompetence and unprofessionalism. He never knew, that is, until much later, when he subsequently finds out, and later tells me the whole story.
Real Estate Agent – Dime a Dozen?
What’s the moral of this story? Just because your friend’s wife is a real estate agent does NOT mean she is a great agent who will do such a great job for you. Why in the world would someone assume they must hire their friend’s wife or sister or friend? I’ll tell you why, and when you think about it, it just seems dumb. They hire that person simply because of that relationship. Period. That is the ONLY reason. It’s hard to believe, but this happens regularly, and I hear the nightmare stories.
[In my book on this subject I included this paragraph, and I included this in a response to a comment to this article: “As a small but important point of clarification, when I use the term ‘housewives’ I’m really talking about people, men or women, who got their real estate license but have no real estate education, no business education, no sales education, no marketing education, no legal training to draft legal documents, and very little to offer clients except time and a smile. As consumers tell me all the time, there are agents just like this all over the country. I actually picked up this derogatory use of the word ‘housewives’ from consumers themselves over many years. Do not misunderstand me here. This doesn’t mean a person I call a licensed housewife (or househusband) isn’t a wonderful person and a good person. This is not a character issue. It’s a professional competence issue. It’s not about the person—it’s about their lack of education, knowledge, experience, and professionalism. I get along with almost everybody, and I love almost everybody, regardless of their background or history. Anyone who knows me also knows that I am a strong believer in extending grace and mercy to everyone.” See more in the comments below.]
Your Real Estate Agent and Professionalism
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with hiring a friend’s wife as your real estate agent, if she is truly competent, experienced, professional, and ethical, but for goodness sake, do some due diligence first. Go out and interview at least three real estate agents, and choose those three carefully by filtering through the Internet to first read about them and find the one real estate agent with the best education PLUS experience PLUS a powerful Internet presence. The first two should be obvious, but don’t forget that 85% of all home buyers start their search on the Internet today according to a national survey by the National Association of Realtors, so if your real estate agent doesn’t have a powerful Internet presence, go somewhere else.
Honestly, I have heard so many stories from good people who hired a housewife as their real estate agent because she was a sister of someone or a brother’s aunt’s daughter, and after they have made the same big mistake that so many before have innocently made, they shake their head in disbelief as they talk about it.
Why would I be so blunt and honest in this article? Because I have seen this same scenario so many times as a real estate attorney and again as a real estate agent that I think I’ll scream it out–All real estate agents are NOT the same. Hire a good real estate agent, not just someone who has a license and is your friend’s wife. Many of these real estate agents have no business background, no degree in marketing or sales, no real estate knowledge, other than the little online courses required to pass the test, and virtually no experience in hard negotiating or legal documents, and you’re hiring this person to spend your $300,000? Egad!
Okay. I’ve said it. Now you have some choices to make. Hire someone who is professional, honest and has the experience, someone who will assertively represent you, or . . . hire Tom, Sally, or Jane who just happens to be a friend of a friend and got his or her license.
Not sure who to hire? Call me and ask me anything under the sun, and I’ll answer your questions honestly. Do the same with two other real estate agents. Then judge for yourself. If you don’t think I’m the man for the job, then hire someone else, but don’t you deserve the opportunity to find out for yourself before you hire Jane or Sally automatically?
Hire a good real estate agent, whoever he or she might be. A good real estate agent is not easy to find.
Last Updated on May 18, 2012 by Chuck Marunde
Chuck, Great points, thanks for sharing. Like any profession, there are good Realtors & there are not so good Realtors. Do some research and make sure you ask for references. Buying or selling a home is generally one of the largest financial decisions a person will ever make. Make sure you have the benefit of an experienced professional on your side. Your Realtor should be your advocate, your advisor, your negotiator, and your confidante throughout the entire process.
Your examples chiefly reference women who take up real estate sales as a means of generating part-time income, as opposed to either women or men who choose real estate sales or brokering as a career of dedication to people and the business. However, the best real estate agent I ever had the pleasure of knowing was, in fact, a woman who practiced the business of serving her clients in this field full time, as a career she clearly loved. She had also previously owned and managed a very large hotel and restaurant with associated businesses for years.
The key here is not the sex of the agents, but the experience and dedication to their work. I never had another agent, woman or man, who worked so tirelessly and enthusiastically on behalf of her clients, and who valued professional ethics so highly. I was extremely sorry when she passed away of brain cancer, it being not only a professional loss but a personal one.
There is no substitute for education, experience, dedication to people, and professional ethics when it comes to this kind of work. I have missed my realtor friend for years now, as my later experiences with realtors have so starkly driven this point home.
Thank you for reminding clients how essential it is to choose the best person for the job, even if they may risk enduring a miffed relative. The relative will eventually get over it!
Barbara, your point about the story referring to women more than men is a reasonable point to make. It happens that this story is true, and it was about a woman agent. I can’t change that. Does that mean there aren’t men Realtors who are not well trained or educated? Not at all. It actually has been clients who talk about “housewives” who got licensed. That term is not original with me. In my book, Buying and Selling Real Estate in the Rain Shadow, I wrote about this and included the following:
As a small but important point of clarification, when I use the term “housewives” I’m really talking about people, men or women, who got their real estate license but have no real estate education, no business education, no sales education, no marketing education, no legal training to draft legal documents, and very little to offer clients except time and a smile. As consumers tell me all the time, there are agents just like this all over the country. I actually picked up this derogatory use of the word “housewives” from consumers themselves over many years. Do not misunderstand me here. This doesn’t mean a person I call a licensed housewife (man or woman) isn’t a wonderful person and a good person. This is not a
character issue. It’s a professional competence issue. It’s not about the person—it’s about their lack of education, knowledge, experience, and professionalism. I get along with almost everybody, and I love almost everybody, regardless of their background or history. Anyone who knows me also knows that I am a strong believer in extending grace and mercy to everyone.
But what we are talking about here is not whether the person is a sweet or even a wonderful person: We’re talking about a person’s qualifications to do a good job for consumers. It’s not about me or my opinion. It’s all about consumers. It’s all about protecting consumers from negligence and giving them the highest professional service they deserve.
If that negligence comes from a woman, she should not be a real estate agent. If that negligence comes from a man, he should not be a real estate agent. There are comments that consumers make about women more than men and about men more than women. If a woman agent screws up, consumers refer to her most often as a “housewife who got a license,” but male Realtors who screw up or are not professional are more often referred to as “jerks” or “arrogant.” It’s interesting how consumers view and describe the profession. But the real power lies with consumers. They decide who to hire, whether competent or not. As I write elsewhere, consumers should do their due diligence and hire competent professionals, and as I write in my book and in a number of blogs, that may be a man or it may be a woman. I’m not prejudice against sex or race or religion, but I am prejudice against incompetence. In other words, I am very consumer oriented. I believe in consumer protection. I think the best consumer protection is a well educated consumer.
Well said. The language phenomenon you refer to when you write about how people label men or women whose unqualified work compromises a profession is called “language attitude”. Numerous linguistic studies have been conducted on the language use you describe! Yes, it shifts either direction: housewife realtors, or arrogant guy realtors.
I appreciate your expanded discussion on this topic!
“Language attitude.” I like that phrase. Fascinating. By the way, I just hired the best Realtor I could find to be my assistant and who I felt was not only well qualified, but also personable, professional, articulate, and honorable. Guess what? She’s a woman!
EXCELLENT! Glad you found the best person for the job! I liked the word, “honorable”, as a fine adjunct for “ethical”, because it better targets the missing quality of my last two real estate agents. I think that acting on your customers’ best interests requires not just manipulating the sale the way you think it should be, but asking your customers what they really need and helping them meet that need, honorably. It’s a quality that’s all too scarce today. Thanks!