I’m often asked questions from people who are thinking about entering real estate sales and after many of these discussions, I am continually surprised to discover how many misconceptions there are about what a real estate agent actually does.
Today, I’m going to share the first of a three part series entitled “The Top Myths and Misconceptions of Real Estate Agents”.
Let’s get into it…
- The Daily Schedule – I find it fascinating how often I receive a message on my mobile phone from a buyer who asks to see a particular property but then calls and leaves irate messages anywhere from two to twenty calls (no, I’m not exaggerating) within a 45-60 minute period. When I ask buyers as to why they tried me so many times within such a short period, I have found that many of them have visions that the life of a real estate agent involves coming to the office, making a cup of coffee, reading the newspaper, chatting with work colleagues and sitting around waiting for the phone to ring to maybe show a property or two that day, only to do it all again the next day. I can assure you that my daily schedule is about as opposite to this as you could imagine! If I don’t answer my phone, it usually means I am on another call or in an appointment and will always endeavor to call back within a few hours at the most. Many times, polite clients will say to me “Michael feel free to take that phone call” if my phone rings whilst I am with them but if I did that, I would end up frustrating the clients I am with, as a good agent has a phone that simply never stops – in my opinion, it also shows a complete lack of respect for the people I’m with at the time. I’ve had days where I’ve started at my desk in the morning with 4-5 phone calls to make and have literally made non-stop call after call only to find that after six hours of calling, I now have 12-15 people to call back as I simply can’t make as many calls as what is coming in. This is obviously where my team comes into play and over the vast majority of time, we have a designated team member available to answer calls and take enquiries so our clients are well-serviced but at times, they have appointments too.
- Accessibility – This one leads on from my first point. I recently had a potential seller decide to list with another agent and told me that their reason in doing so was that the agent they called always answered the phone first time but several times, they had to leave me a message before I returned their call. According to data that we have available, the agent they chose had no current listings and had not made a sale for more than four months. I would have been amazed had they not answered their phone every time if there was nothing to make it ring. The truth is that the busiest and most successful real estate agents are more likely to be the ones that may not be quite as accessible as average real estate agents…but isn’t this the same with everything? I recently visited an eye doctor and had months to wait before I could see him – that’s because he’s simply the best eye doctor around. The busiest restaurants are usually the best and the busiest accountants are usually the best. A few years ago, I first visited the ‘Apple’ store at Westfield Chermside and couldn’t believe it when they told me that I had to make an appointment just to buy a phone (many people tell me that I need to get with the times if I didn’t previously know this) but I know the reason is because they sell the best products right now (some would argue this point I’m sure). Now I don’t want to confuse this with not getting back to a client for extended periods of time or worse, not getting back to them at all – this is simply not acceptable. It is a fact that Australia’s most successful real estate agent John McGrath (judge on the hit TV show ‘The Block’) actually does not take any incoming calls. He has designated periods of time in his schedule where he makes calls and returns calls so that he can have a day that’s well-structured where he can provide the best possible outcomes for his sellers.
- Big Bucks – Every now and then, a buyer will say to me something like “Gee you guys make easy money” and I must admit that when I hear this, my initial reaction is to want to handcuff them to me for a week and see if they can survive. Sure the rewards are better than average and sometimes, we do sell houses within the first week and make reasonable commission cheques but this balances out those properties that don’t sell whereby we incur significant costs and end up out of pocket with nothing to show for it. Last year, I had a listing where I worked hard for 9 months on a particular property to secure a sale and spent hours and hours every week with the client on the phone, sending e-mails, in meetings, with buyers at private appointments and open homes, placing out and collecting open home signs (and I opened this home every week except one for the entire 9 month duration) and after I had taken them four offers that were all slightly short of their desired price, I finally presented them an offer that was the exact price they wanted…only for them to tell me that they had decided not to sell it after all. To be truthful, not many people can endure an experience like this where you can work for more than 100 hours and not get paid for it. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not whinging about this as I know that this is the game that real estate agents play and I choose to partake but I might not be smoking one hundred dollar bills like many people think. A real estate business (this includes any agent who is actually running a business within a business themselves) usually runs on a profit margin of around 20% (like many small businesses) so to ask an agent to reduce their commission by more than 20% is actually asking them to sell your home for a loss. Discount agencies can only survive by significantly short-cutting the process and in many cases, this has the effect of underselling a seller’s property but far more than the difference in the commission.
Next week, we’ll look at Part Two of “The Top 10 Myths and Misconceptions of Real Estate Agents”.
Until then, Happy Listing & Selling.