October 17, 2019 | real estate agents
I work in a profession that is largely distrusted. On the trust-o-meter, my career calling likely falls somewhere between a used car salesman and a politician. The basic bundle of trust, reliability and honesty often go under the bus in many people’s minds when it comes to real estate agents.
In fact, a recent British real estate survey found out that only 14% of consumers trust their real estate salespersons.
In Canada, I’m sure we’re the same.
It’s a strange place to start a working relationship with someone. It’s not that consumers just don’t know you or they are unaware how you work, but they often start at a place believing you may try to deceive them. And in many ways, I don’t blame them. Let me illustrate this initial distrust in something I come across from time to time. With some of my buyer clients, I will have a buyer who is interested in a desired property. I may suggest a certain approach to buying this property. I may suggest a strategy to compete and buy this property or maybe a different strategy based on how desirable the property is to others. If it’s early in my relationship with the buyers, my advice is not always taken. The buyer may not believe this property will sell in the price range I suggest, or they may feel a different strategy is better. At first, the buyer doesn’t feel they can trust my strategy. If they lose out on buying the property, and my approach then appears better after the fact, then they begin to trust me at that point. Fair enough… Trust does need to be built.
Still, it’s strange to start in a positions of someone not having any appreciation for your experience and skills. I do welcome skepticism and a challenge, and of course, I’m not always right! But I do have a better understanding of the process. Buyers may have experience buying 0-2 properties in their lives. I would have hundreds and hundreds of sales.
But why? Why do people distrust agents? I think there are some good reasons why buyers distrust real estate agents.
CULTURE OF SALESPEOPLE
Though I do like to see myself as a consultant who advices on how to sell a property for maximum profit, I’m still a salesperson. But the culture of sales can be a problem. Many real estate agents have more concerns over turning over their numbers or leads instead of cultivating good relationships with their clients. Though I do quite a bit of business with professional real estate agents, I’m still surprised at how poorly some of the top agents communicate, or even how poorly they work for their client. Then there are the lazy ones. Some selling agents do very little else than drop your listing on the MLS. And if you have a bad experience as a buyer or hear of one from friends or family, then those stories are shared, and people start to build a negative impression of their agents.
NOT ENOUGH TRANSPARENCY IN THE SYSTEM
I think consumers find it frustrating that they are not able to obtain data the same way that real estate agents currently do. To obtain accurate sold prices, most consumers need to go through their agents. Agents should not be guardians of the gates when it comes to real estate statistics and information. I have never supported any real estate board that aim to block consumers from finding out more information on their property. I know some argue that this is a question of privacy, but in this day and age, I think it is clear that people will sacrifice their privacy (to an extent) for access to more real estate information. I do believe we are going to start moving in that direction of more transparency, but at this point, not fast enough.
LACK OF EXPERIENCE
The Toronto Real Estate Board has 70,000 agents, and more than 75% do less than 2 deals a year. Many don’t do any any deals. So, you have very large number of inexperienced salespeople. Understandably there are new agents who do need time to learn about their trade, and they will learn at the “School of Doing” over time. Many real estate agents, however, just don’t have the chops. And that’s where mistakes are made. This lack of experience may lead to a less favourable client experience. I would also add that some people (not all) come to this industry believing they can make a quick buck. When they learn this can be a more challenging career choice than they expected, then we see a lot of turnover in agents. 70% of all real estate salespeople will drop out of the business within two years. Add to this the number of people who do this job part time, and you can see how carefully you need to pick your person.
So, it’s very understandable why real estate agents as a whole are not trusted. Make sure you do your real estate agent search wisely. Talk to people who have had a good experience. Google your agent for reviews, the kind of web sites they have and even consider interviewing a few before you make your choice.