Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Under All Is The Land

You know how you always hear people say, "I've got two words for you...." and then they give you the two words to describe the situation, the person, the product, the feeling, the whatever?

Well, I'm hard pressed to come up with two words to describe realtors.

Lazy and incompetent?

Unprepared and inept?

Lackadaisical and feckless?

Useless and worthless?

Doesn't matter which words you use, they generally all mean the same thing and they all increase the level of frustration when having to work with somebody who displays those traits.  

Did you know that the National Association of Realtors has a Code of Ethics? It turns 100 years old this year.  I wonder if any realtors have actually read it.

Over 70 years ago, the National Association of Realtors president, Cyrus Crane Willmore, declared in a speech, "Property ownership is fundamental to our way of life.  The first five words of our Code of Ethics should be impressed upon the minds of every man, woman and child in our country. They are, ‘Under all is the Land.’"

Under all may be "the land", but deep under the exterior of many realtors seems to lurk "the universal character flaw".

And if I had to pick one word to describe that flaw, I'd go with LAZY.  Yes, in capital letters. 

If you're trying to sell a house, or a piece of property, let me fill you in on a couple of things.  I'll count 'em down for you.

10.  It would be nice if you've actually been to the house you're trying to sell.  When I call on a house or piece of property and the listing agent says, "I've never actually been to that property.", it's all I can do to not hang up on them mid-sentence.  In case you're not aware, there are a bazillion real estate agents and all I need to do is pick up the phone to find another.  If you're not interested in selling houses/property, find another profession. Maybe a night shift security guard where you can sit on your ass for the fifty-eight minutes of each hour you're not walking the property you're "guarding".

9.  You should never list a house without a photo.  Never.  Ever.  Seriously, people?  You're trying to sell a house on the internet without a picture??  It's bad enough I have to do 80% of your work by researching online, looking at listings, narrowing my options and presenting you with what I want to see.  If you didn't have the keys to these places, I wouldn't even need you.  So take a fucking picture.  It's the least you can do.

8. While on the subject of pictures, since almost everyone has a camera phone and/or an actual camera on their person at all times, why don't you take a few minutes and walk the property and take a few more pictures of the place?  And while you're doing that, keep in mind that I don't need to see eighteen pictures of the backyard patio.  I'd like to see the kitchen (from various angles), every bedroom, every bathroom, the living room, family room, garage, laundry room.  You know, the parts of the home I'll actually be living in?

7. If you're taking a picture of the exterior, try not to let me see the side view mirror of your car in the version you post on the listing.  Try to create some illusion that you weren't so lazy you couldn't be bothered to get out of your car.  Because if you're too lazy to get out of your car to take pictures, I'm guessing you're not going to be much of a fireball when it comes to looking for property for me.

6.  Listen.  Listen.  Listen.  If I tell you I hate kids, don't take me to a house next to a playground.  If I tell you I don't want a trailer, understand that I also mean I don't want a "manufactured" home.  That's not a home.  That's still a trailer, just without the wheels.  I will answer any questions you have, so try to have some questions.  You know, the kind you learned how to ask in all those real estate seminars you go to?  You can't determine my needs from a ten question survey your secretary hands out.

5.  I'm not your friend.  Even if I am your friend.  Because in this situation, you're working for me.  And as your friend, I do expect some special treatment.  Because I'm essentially giving you special treatment by choosing you to represent me.  You know, since we're friends and all.  But that doesn't mean you get to kick back and do less.  You should be using your pull and hopefully your knowledge, to get me the best deal.  Nothing is going to suck more than for me to know you're taking it easy because you think I'm so easy going.  Or because I'm fun at parties.  Or because I'm an awesome cook and you know you'll be getting some eggplant parmigiana out of the deal.  If you can't do the job, I'll be happy to go with someone else.  Because I'm capable of resisting your "c'mon, let me be your realtor" pout.

4.  If you can't provide the service I'm expecting, tell me up front.  Don't waste my time.  I'm very specific when it comes to what I'm looking for.  If you're not up to the challenge, don't take it.  And if you are up to the challenge, don't be surprised when I send you a list. 

3.  According to a joint study conducted by the National Association of Realtors and Google, real estate related searches are up 253% over the past four years and 90% of home buyers search online during their home buying process.  Try to remember that when you're crafting your ad.  Describe in detail - and if possible with correct spelling and grammar - the features of the home.  A garnite counter top is not as appealing as a granite one.  And if you can find someone in your office who's smarter than you, ask that they proof it before you post it.  And don't forget about the photos. In my case, 100% of my research is done online prior to looking at a place in person, and I want to feel as if I'm standing inside that house before I even get there.    

2.  Come prepared.  The first thing you should do is send me listings via email so you don't waste my time showing me stuff I've either looked at myself online, seen via drive-by, or walked through with another agent (yes, there have been others before you).  Then, once you know that I haven't seen what you have up your sleeve, come with print-outs.  You should have at least ten, but it would be nice if you did some of your own homework and presented me with a surprise or two.  Show me you really know your stuff.  Show me that your "I've been a realtor for 10, 25, 30 years and know this town like the back of my hand" statement is really true.  And don't try to bullshit me, because I do my homework.

And the most important, utterly essential, monumentally crucial and least utilized action of all, is the one I've saved for the number one spot.

1.  RETURN PHONE CALLS.  RETURN PHONE CALLS.  RETURN PHONE CALLS.  Is that clear enough?  And how hard is that to do?  If you did just this one thing, you'd probably have more business than you can shake a stick at as some country folk might say.  Seriously though, if there's a realtor out there who can give me a good reason - not a shit reason, a good reason - as to why it's so hard to return phone calls on listings with YOUR name on them, I'd love to hear it.  It's bad enough you're not available when I call on a property you have listed, it's even worse when you don't call me back.  Or you call me back so many days after that I've forgotten which property I even called about.  If you can't handle the number of properties you have listed, perhaps you should decrease your workload.  

Most people have a limited amount of time to dedicate to the endeavor of looking for a place to live, they have jobs, families, responsibilities.  Maybe they have one or two days a week to go out and look at stuff.  Or like me, has to make time to travel to the place I want to look for a home or piece of property.  You should be making our search easier.  And instill confidence in us by showing you can help.  Returning a phone call can do that.

House hunting is not a hobby for most people.  They're not shopping for shoes.  It's a big financial obligation, it's an emotional process, and it's stressful.  If someone is looking for a house, it's a safe bet they need that house.  Don't fuck with their time.

And don't forget to post photos, dammit.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

2012: Squinty Eyes? Check. Big Smile? Check. Ed, Happy? Check.
2011: The Last Great Italian
2010: That’s So Cherry
2009: Crouching Eddie Hidden Lamb Friday
2008: Help Me Understand
2007: Take Two Lattes And Call Me In The Morning
2006: It’s Never Too Late For A Good Sale
2005: The Original Goldfish


Gary Goulette said...

I have done 3 real estate purchases WITHOUT a real estate agent. They are a surly lot, like used car salespeople. Your post is spot on.If you have common sense, and practice due diligence and buyer beware, you dont really need an agent. On the other hand, a good agent will work for You, and do a lot of the ground work in finding something You would like. Wifi and Zillow are all you need, and a healthy downpayment !!

june in florida said...

WTG Salena.I think steam was coming out of your ears and your keyboard was smoking, but i do hope some realtors read this and read it again so it penetrates.I have been looking for an apartment and same thing, none or crappy pictures or the same pictures for different apartments.

Pat said...

As a REALTOR, I think this post is great. It is an easy entry occupation. Last month you were a school teacher, truck driver or nuclear scientist, you take the state test and now you are a real estate agent. That knows very little. Many agents do it part time. I worked with an agent that couldn't meet me in the afternoon because she had to drive the school bus then.

I agree with you on the photos. I go a step further and try to do professional pics on my listings. They look so much better, even though I think I can take a good photo. They have the right tools.

One misperception, I know a lot of my clients and customers have is that if it's on my website, it must be my listing. When you visit my website you'll find 16,000 homes for sale. They are not all my listings. We share listings using the Multiple Listing Service in our area. So, I can't control which agents leave pictures out, which agents leave vital data out. It drives me crazy too. Of course, I can't preview all 16,000 listings either, so I often times have to say, "I haven't been in that home." What drives me crazy is the listing agent that is listing homes for banks and has 100+ listings. They haven't gone to their own listings and can't give me the feedback I need.

I could go on and on. The best part of your post is about phone calls. The lazy agents don't return other agents calls either. My broker rants about it. I rant about it and many clients rant about it.

Keep looking for the right REALTOR, a good one is gold.

The Daily Rant said...

GARY: That's what I would do. And as far as not needing an agent to do the transaction, that may be true, but typically you need them to get into the house to see the place. And that's where the phonecalling and aggravation begins.

JUNE: Yeah, there was a little smoke as I was typing. This has happened all the times we've looked for property and I've heard the same from other people with their house hunting and dealings with realtors.

PAT: Thanks so much for weighing in! I completely agree with you about it being an easy entry occupation. There are so many people who do it part-time, which is fine, but their full-time life often interferes. And you can't possibly have full knowledge of a field you're not fully dedicating yourself to in this case.

The photo thing drives me crazy. What's even worse is when they do post photos and then you get to the house and the photos were really misleading. If the place is a piece of shit, try to describe it's state as best as you can. Taking a picture on a sunny day, or including the blooming rose bush out front to hide something else on the property is just annoying and deceitful. I know it's hard to sell a place like that, but as my grandfather used to say, "there's an ass for every seat." Maybe you'll find the person who wants an extreme fixer-upper. I'm not that person. Don't waste my time.

And I'm aware of the MLS and I know you can't possibly see ALL the properties for sale, but I really do think if YOUR face is on the listing, you should know something about the property...ah, wishing. But yeah, the phone call thing is a huge issue. Although I do feel a little better now knowing that you also have to deal with it from other agents. LOL

Unknown said...

You have many legitimate complaints about Real Estate Agents, whether they are an Agent or a REALTOR(r) and there is a really big difference. I am sorry you have had such a rough time with the ones you have worked with. We are not all like that...some of us answer our phones, hire professional photographers and have taken lots of educational courses, above and beyond what is required, to do a better job for you. Statistics show most Buyers and Sellers hire the first real estate agent they talk to. You at least, have a set of questions to ask about whether or not they work full time or are engaged in their local market. I wish you luck in your future dealings...if you are looking in Elkhart Indiana I would like to show you how Real Estate is done correctly!

Anonymous said...

Since this Rant was published in 2013, I found it today July 17, 2017, languishing on the world wide web. As a third generation licensed broker in Florida, I can honestly attest that nothing has changed in the residential brokerage community.

As for myself, I chose the commercial brokerage career path having completed post graduate studies in applied economics at a leading university, requisite studies for appraiser certification and involved in the mortgage banking industry for over 40 years.

By design I distanced myself from unsophisticated, unprofessional and downright lazy residential real estate agents. Above all, I have kept my distance from the dictatorial and heavy-handed authority of local and national real estate boards and their multiple listing services.

On a national scale, the boards operate as a self-serving bureaucracy with greed and incompetency woven into its fabric. They operate openly in restraint and defiance of free trade, while fostering incompetence and unprofessionalism in the industry.

On several occasions residential agents were seen, perhaps enroute to a showing, usually in an older model cadillac with their yappy lap dog leaning out the window, a Mary Kay sticker in the rear window and a magnetic sign with the name of the broker on the door. I have to ask myself where these people come from and why would anyone buy or sell anything with these people?

I'm looking forward to an industry wide shakeup, possibly involving a Justice Department investigation and prosecution of the trade group's leadership for restraint of trade. It's long overdue.

The Daily Rant said...

EVELYN JOHNSTON: I don't recall getting this comment (back in 2015! LOL) but I do appreciate you taking the time to read my post and respond to it. I know all realtors aren't like this, it's just been a real challenge to find people who are committed and thorough. As for Elkhart - that's a great area! I've spent a lot of time in Shipshewana and have been to Elkhart many times. We've been to the Renegade RV factory, and I buy my favorite cottage cheese at the Meijer grocery store there!

ANONYMOUS: Thanks for commenting. It doesn't surprise me that nothing has changed. Although, my mother recently purchased a new place and the realtor we used in that transaction was great. I would definitely recommend him and I'd use him again in the future.

This is my favorite part of your comment: "On several occasions residential agents were seen, perhaps enroute to a showing, usually in an older model cadillac with their yappy lap dog leaning out the window, a Mary Kay sticker in the rear window and a magnetic sign with the name of the broker on the door. I have to ask myself where these people come from and why would anyone buy or sell anything with these people?"

Thanks for taking the time to respond to my post!