10 Things Agents Can Do To Fix Our Bad Reputation


I came across a Harris Poll the other day that, unfortunately, was not shocking. It listed real estate as the least prestigious profession. The Day America Told the Truth, a book by advertising mavens James Patterson and Peter Kim, had real estate at No. 13 on the list of Top 20 Sleaziest Ways to Make a Living (behind drug dealer, crime boss, TV evangelist, prostitute, and eight more questionable pursuits), so there’s that. But it was written in 1992. Is it possible our reputation has only gotten worse since then?

I don’t know about you, but I’m not OK with it.

I’d like to think most of us are committed and considerate. But clearly that isn’t an opinion shared by the gen pop. In the spirit of a few bad Realtors spoiling the whole industry and in the hope that with knowledge, understanding, coaching, and maturity, that might change, here’s my list of things we can all do better.

It’s not revolutionary. But it is necessary.

1. Don’t miss appointments

Yes, things come up. But servicing your client should be a priority. It’s as simple as that.

2. Apologize

If you happen to miss an appointment (because you had a blowout on the 405 and your phone flew out the car window as you were swerving to avoid a semi, not because you blew it off to have a massage), say you’re sorry. Sorry goes a long way. Especially when it’s sincere. If you’re not sure how to be sincere, well, you probably deserve to be ranked along with crime bosses and evangelists.

3. Be on time

Your time isn’t more important than that of your client. But if you’re habitually and egregiously late, that’s what you’re communicating. If a client feels like they are not being appreciated, they might not be a client for long.

4. Listen to your clients’ needs

Showing a client a tiny two-bedroom condo in the city when you know he needs a five-bedroom single-family house in the valley probably won’t end well. Yes, you want to make sure your client knows there are options beyond what they might have considered, but veering so far from what they’ve asked for can make them feel like you’re not paying attention. Once the trust has been compromised between you and your client, it’s hard to get it back.

5. Pay attention to your client

This isn’t the same as listening. It’s staying in touch with updates. Returning calls/texts/emails right away. Actually being present during property tours instead of being buried in your phone.The trick is to handle your client the same way you would any relationship you care about. (This may also be helpful in figuring out why your relationships don’t work out.).

6. Be responsive

It would seem like common sense to suggest that Realtors respond to showing requests or offers on their listings right away…but it’s surprising how many times that doesn’t happen.

7. Don’t be lazy with listings

Some agents may think their job is to hang a sign in the yard and wait for the offers to roll in, and while that sounds delightful, it’s not very realistic as a long-term strategy. Depending on the market, you might have to do some actual marketing of a property. Or reach out to other associates to drum up interest. You might actually have to sit a few open houses (the horror!).

8. Provide counsel

Buyers and sellers are not real estate experts, no matter how many transactions they have been a part of. They shouldn’t be setting their own sales price, negotiating their own deal, or trying to determine if a home is a good value. That’s the agent’s job. You have to be willing to do the legwork and the follow-up. You also have to be willing to have some hard conversations. Your pretty face and spiffy suits are not adequate substitutes for professional guidance.

9. Don’t make a sale at any cost

Long-term success is what we’re all here to achieve, right? Pushing a client to buy something that isn’t a good deal or isn’t right for them doesn’t serve anyone well, and most certainly won’t lead to referrals or repeat business. Same goes for encouraging a seller to take the first lowball offer just so you can be done with them.

10. Be a human

Buying or selling a home is stressful. It can also be emotional for someone who’s going through a big life change—especially if they’re selling because they have to, not because they want to. Having a little compassion goes a long way.

Tripp Jones Real Estate for Santa Clarita and San Fernando Valleys, Call 661-733-4555 or 818-527-6292