WARNING: Real Estate Rant Ahead
POWERFACT: The higher your standards, the more referrals you’ll get, the more business you’ll close, and the more relationships you’ll build. The lower your standards? Is costing you your reputation and that of every other REALTOR®.
Look, I know I’m usually the smile guy. The glass half full guy. The motivator. And I still am – I just want to motivate a little differently this week, because some of what I’m seeing out there is costing us dearly in terms of our reputation and the integrity of our REALTOR® designation.
I cannot state this strongly enough: Stop being sloppy. Or lazy. Or taking short cuts. Or not fully and completely living up to the standards of service and code of ethics you pledged when you became that REALTOR.
Not long ago I had purchased an investment property here in Long Island and I was so appalled by the lack of integrity shown by the listing agent that I decided to file a formal complaint against him. That’s not something I did lightly — I understand the severity of the action, but I want to be completely clear on why I did this, and why after the formal hearing, the panel decided to unanimously honor the complaint, fined the agent — and most importantly, require him to now take courses specifically on ethics. Because ethics MATTER that much. Integrity matters that much. And when we just let things “slide” – turn the other way – ignore bad or unethical behavior — then WE ARE PART OF THE PROBLEM.
In this case, the complaint sited Article 12 of our Code which is “not to misrepresent property”. Let me be clear, misrepresentation doesn’t have to be malicious — it can be just sloppiness on the part of an agent. It can be a listing that has five bedrooms listed in one place and six in another in the description. It can be the wrong property taxes. It can be a incorrect characterization of the property type.
He was just sloppy, inaccurate, and careless with the listing and because of that did NOT serve in the best interest of the homeowner. Did not honor his fiduciary responsibility or the code of ethics.
Some might say, “No big deal”. Not me, and not most true professionals I know. Because it DOES matter. We’ve got to all start doing our part to protect the value of the reputation of the distinction of REALTOR, because right now in the eyes of consumers, especially in this age of disruptors, our reputation is suffering and it’s up to us to change that.
There’s a difference between being an agent and being a REALTOR®. That distinction is that we adhere to a Code of Ethics. We practice our business with a higher level of integrity. The very definition of the word integrity is: complete, whole, nothing lacking. When we DON’T live up to that — and just as importantly — when we don’t demand it from our colleagues who are not adhering to that code of ethics — we are part of the problem and we help to enable the code of ethics and our integrity and reputation to erode.
What can we do? Start by being more complete. Whole. Lacking nothing. In other words – hold yourself to that integrity level at all times in this business. ESPECIALLY when it comes to filling out your MLS listing properly. It is your “billboard” to most accurately and effectively represent the property and the best interests of your sellers. Leave nothing undone. Not a checkbox, detail, photo, fact, or data.
Why? Your reputation depends on it and you’re being paid handsomely to do the work. Let’s say we choose the LOWEST possible commission here for a house on Long Island. Let’s call that 2% on a $500,000 home. That listing is worth $10,000 in your pocket. That’s not pocket change, friends. That’s a good paycheck. Good enough that an agent should take care of the details.
Secondly, we live in a time where information is at EVERYONE’S fingertips. Any hip homeowner is going to CHECK on their listing. They’re going to head over to REALTOR.com or Zillow or your site and see what you put in there to market their home. If it’s 15 pictures of a door – they’re going to be unimpressed with your level of service. That means you WON’T have a happy client and it most definitely will mean they aren’t going to send any referrals your way. (We’ll get into the math about the lifetime value of a customer and what you’re leaving on the table when you don’t serve at the highest level on another rant.)
Next, your job as a listing agent is to market that listing to other AGENTS. And agents, by nature, are cynical, picky, and quick to judge another agent’s poor listing description and photos. If you can’t impress THEM – you’ve got a problem. Do a great job and get them excited, however, and the buyers will be lined up at the gate.
So, if you’re sheepishly thinking that maybe you see some things you might have missed, let’s go through the seven things you should stop NOW to be a better agent, earn a better living, and live up to your highest standards of service:
- Stop copying the last agent’s mistakes. Relisting an expired property? Use your own words and photos. Too often we see agents simply copy what the last agent did — which, when you think about it, is probably going to create the same results! An expired listing. Get creative and original.
- Stop posting 15 pictures of just the front door or just the outside of the house. (I know I’ve mentioned this three times, but you may be picking up on the spark for this article.) Visually represent the entire home — inside and out. That means all the rooms, the inside and outside — the works! (“But Darryl, some of the rooms are awful!” Pro tip: Fix the rooms or fix the listing price. Those are the options. Letting them SURPRISE people doesn’t work.) If you can include a virtual tour do it!
- Stop skipping the details. Did you verify the square footage? Did you choose the right property type for the listing? Did you check and double check the amenities?
- Stop taking terrible pictures. I’m not kidding when I tell you that one of the photos I saw had a Glad trash bag box as the focal point for the picture. Are we selling trash bags or a listed home? Another pro tip: If your pictures could end up as a prime example in the Bad MLS Photos Facebook Group – you’re doing it wrong. And for the love of Pete — stop taking pictures where you’re IN the mirror. Bathroom mirror selfies? Really? Check ALL of your photos for quality BEFORE uploading to the MLS.
- Stop not using the remarks section in the MLS. Fill out the ENTIRE listing description. Verify the information. Be robust. If you have room for 500 words – use 500 amazing words, not 62. Here in Long Island, the section we fill in to describe the property in detail is called remarks. Whatever that section is for your MLS – use that. That section is YOUR opportunity to make that listing jump off the page. Make it spectacular. Don’t skimp on the descriptions. And I tell you what — if you can get the seller’s permission, put in their why they are moving. That’s one of the first questions people ask! “Why are they selling?’ Motivated seller is ready to move to Florida! (Who could blame them after all the snow-right?) Think of this section as your billboard and put your marketing hat on when filling it out.That devil's in the details thing? Goes for how we conduct ourselves as professionals. #PayAttention #DetailsDetails #REALTORLife Click To Tweet
- Stop under-communicating on commercial or investment properties. Details matter – a lot. Put them in the description. Investors want to know the details. What’s the rent roll? How long is the lease if it’s currently rented? What are the taxes? Don’t make people guess–get specific!
- Stop forgetting to spell check. Really? There are SO many tools to help ensure your spelling and grammar are correct today. Use them and use proper English, not the text message shortcuts you see so much of now.
Listen. I care about you. I care very much. I speak to and coach thousands of people every year – and their success – your success – they matter to me. That’s why most of the time what I do is to help agents see a clear path to what they SHOULD do. Daily. Weekly. Monthly. So that they can design lives and careers worth smiling about.
Sometimes coaching takes a different turn though. Sometimes you have to show people what they should STOP doing first before they can see the path to what works. That’s what this is about. Pay attention to the details. Go the extra mile. Communicate at a high level. Take amazing pictures (of more than the door). Connect with your fellow agents in your market. Be the example others should follow.
When you do all of those things, I promise, your business will improve, your referrals will start to flow, and the respect for not just you – but our industry will rise as well. Challenge accepted? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Download a pdf of the Best Practices checklist here, and help me spread the word if you will about how very important it is to uphold our Code of Ethics, work from integrity, and help to ensure our fellow REALTORS do the same.
Our program is designed to take agents at any level of their business and help them double their income in a year’s time. Why? Because that significantly changes their lives, their businesses, and their relationships. That’s a whole lot to smile about! The best thing is — you can try it for 30-days for just $5. No contract, no stress. Just all-access to amazing tools that can help you grow. Get started today — learn how here. or contact my team at (800) 395-3905.