Saturday, January 26, 2008

Are Realtors or Sellers To Blame For Bad Service?

A few days ago I posted this article about the couple out of Carlsbad, CA that is suing their real estate agent for allegedly misleading them into paying more for their home than they believe they should have. Today, the Barry's over at Real Estate Radio USA ponder whether or not the real estate industry is already doomed and critically wounded due to consistent poor public image (Ranking last in "Prestigious Occupations Poll") and the 24/7 availability of real estate listing information.

But doesn't some of the responsibility lie with the consumer in choosing their respected Realtor? Aren't they interviewing them and asking them the pertinent questions like how much business they do yearly? What is their marketing strategy? Do they have a team or a full time staff? People don't ask these questions and most clients don't get the service they would get if they worked with a true professional. So instead of admitting they made a poor decision they sue or complain about how all Realtors are terrible. I posted this comment to them and I'm hoping I get a response.
I would also like to hear what you think about where the responsibility lies with the consumer and how they go about choosing their real estate professional. It’s unfortunate Realtors have such a bad wrap and I will not argue that there are MANY Realtors that deserve it. But isn’t the consumer the one who chooses the Realtor they want to work with? Just as the Barry’s choose their Realtors, consumers have the same choice and MOST get it wrong. They don’t work with the most business savvy or the one with the best sales record. They choose to work with their “cousin who sells real estate part time” or they use their “friend" who sells 2 homes a year. Shouldn’t the consumer take some of the blame for not doing their due diligence? I mean this lady allowed her agent to process her loan? I can give you hundreds of examples of people who list with agents that don’t even have email addresses much less know how to advertise a home on the internet using multiple pictures or a virtual tour. I would love to see someone confront those sellers and ask them why they chose the agent they did while bypassing the successful tech savvy one.

I have been passed up by potential clients for a myriad of reasons and in the same breath admit I am the more professional choice but yet, "I thought I would give my neighbor a try since she lives so close", or "This Realtor's office is closer to where I live than your office". Shouldn't they be saying, "The other Realtor has sold $10 million worth of real estate more than you in the last 12 months" or "The other Realtor has a better marketing strategy and a full time staff"? And how do I tell someone they're making the wrong decision without sounding like sour grapes? Help! Someone please enlighten me.


  1. I feel your frustration Jeff. I've lost listings to the blue haired 'mother of a friend' and the 'guy who owes me a favor'. And then when the seller ends up unhappy, they are usually too embarrassed to admit the mistake and give you a shot.
    I've started giving potential clients a check list to compare me to other agents. Then if they don't hire me, at least I can feel like they must have found another great agent.
    The only problem is, most folks hire someone they know or someone who is recommended to them - regardless of ability. We don't usually get a chance to throw our hat in the ring on most listings. If we did, you and I would be so busy our assistant's assistant would be writing our blogs.

  2. Good Morning Jeff,

    When I choose a lawyer, or a doctor, their credentials are exposed. I can see what university they graduated from. I can see what law school or medical school they graduated from. I can research jornals and law reviews. I can research case law and their outcomes, I can research malpractice complaint histories...there is much I can review when hiring a true professional.

    In hiring a Real Estate Agent...tell me just exactly what I can research to determine the capability of service to be provided, and I am talking 3rd party validation, not the canned answer of a real estate agent.

    While I personally can look up his listings in the MLS and see the history and check back to see days on market and marketing efforts, the average consumer can't.

    They rely on the agent with the glamour shot photo and the alphabet soup of designations to tell the truth.

    Can you imagine this conversation:

    Seller or Buyer: So can you tell me your credentials?

    Agent: Well, I took a class for a week, I obtained my license by only having to score a 65 or 70%, I have basically no budget available to properly market your house, but I am a GRi, ABC, CPs....

    I believe that NAR has done a great job, fantastic job into duping the consumer that ALL agents are professionals when that is not at all the case.

    How about NAR doing a commercial stating the truth. The commercial would state, "we believe that utilizing the services of a competent and educated professional real estate agent could protect you and provide you with a level of service that you could not obtain on your own, however, all agents are not created equal. Please make sure to ask these 5 questions to determine if the agent is right for you".

    Think that will ever happen? Of course not!

    The real estate business model is broken and it is absurd that a high school graduate, with little if any experience, with little if any capital, can fleece a customer for 3-6% of the sales price of the home and for the industry to be responding by saying the customer should have done their own homework.

    But in closing, I must agree with you. Surprised aren't you?

    I agree that the client should look into who they choose as an agent. The issue right now is after this Ummel case, they probably will. And when they begin peeling back the layers and asking the questions that need to be asked, I don't think most agents will have the answers necessary to respond and the likelihood of the business model will be upon us.

    Now that agents across the Country are responding with the answer that the customer should dig deeper. What happens when they do?

    Some agents will flourish and rise to the top and the rest will be out of business.

    If I were an agent in any market, I would buy billboards and begin marketing like heck and letting the public know I AM NOT LIKE THE OTHERS!

    I have credentials, experience and I can prove it.

    That agent will prosper. Jeff, from what I read on your blog, I think you will be one of those who prospers!