Rising above the “Hobbyists”
(Raising the Bar because it’s Not Monkey Business)
The other day I met yet another person, who said something that has never sat well with me. It was, “Oh, I dabble in real estate as well.” Their nonchalant attitude about an industry I love, rubbed against my professional pride. Why? Because somehow they made it “acceptable” that my thirty something years of being a student and leader of Real Estate, put us on the same playing field of expertise, because we held the same license.
It’s a pity our industry responsibilities are taken so nonchalantly and that all agents consider themselves “equals” based off of merely holding the same license. Clients are trusting us with their most important asset, and yet somehow it is “okay” for anyone to hold the position who can pass a test – which is easier to pass than a cosmetology license.
If you doubt the validity of what I’m saying, think about this: We would never go to a doctor with our important health issues who “dabbles” in medicine; nor would we hand-over our pressing legal issues to a lawyer, whose primary income stream is yoga instructing.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m a champion of new agents entering our profession, as well as part-timers who are raising their families, or making a career move. As long as they have an authentic soul, meet or strive to exceed fiduciary duties, and take the steps to evolve and stay current on the latest trends with education that is necessary to be at the top of their game, I welcome them with open arms. But as the outspoken critic on raising the state of our profession, we need “buyer beware” warnings that differentiate the seasoned agent from the Hobbyist.
Some might scoff at my opinion, but consider this. Webster’s dictionary defines a Hobbyist as: (n.) a person who regularly or occasionally engages in an activity as a pastime rather than as a profession. It’s synonyms are dabbler, amateur, layman, nonexpert, nonprofessional, or my favorite, a tinkerer. Unlike other industries, our profession is saturated with the Hobbyist.
Think how often you see a substantial listing with an inexperienced agent who turns out to be a brother, sister or relative of the seller? Or, though I love to mentor, think about how much time you “donate” to educating the Hobbyist on protocols, or to keep the deal alive, by being forced to give them advice on their business, which is not always well received?
The question then becomes, “How did the bar for entry into our profession become so low, and the rate for failure so very high?”
It’s Not Monkey Business
There is a unrealistic expectation that claims that once someone passes the real estate exam, all that’s required to close a deal is to put the property in the MLS, place a sign out front, and sit back and wait for the money to flow. Well that my friend, is a task an evolved monkey can do. As I have said in my prior writing, this business is much more than that.
The truth of the matter is that with the ever-emerging competition and online entities, we as “Blood, Sweat and Tears” Realtors, or as my PR Agent Paula Steurer (Sterling Public Relations) says, “Those with skin in the game”, have to stay on top by ever-evolving, and making sure our primary goal is to protect the wellbeing of our client and their asset or investment. In other words, as a non-hobbyist, we need to constantly work on the things that set us apart from the Hobbyist.
So how does one make the transition from a Hobbyists Realtor, to a respected and evolved Realtor, who is worthy of every dollar earned by the commission associated with the deal? I have a “Raise the Bar”, Six-Step Guideline:
1. Know Your Product: This means not being the evolved monkey, but instead to know every property in your area that is listed, every property that is in escrow, and every property that has sold; as well as understand the valuation behind each transaction.
2. Invest in your Marketing: In other words, be prepared to invest in your brand. That means making sure your Social Media presence and other marketing pieces are clean, concise, and up to date.
3. Manage your Client Expectation: This means that at all times, to be prepared to tell your clients the truth in all aspects of the transaction. You might lose a few listings in the short run, but this one integrity move will set yourself apart from those that give inflated values just to get the listing and waste valuable market time.
4. Know Your Industry: This means never placing your client in a compromising position because you did not pay attention to every detail in the contract. This means knowing the RPA (Residential Purchase Agreement) inside and out. This means making sure every disclosure that you and your client is offering is filled out with the utmost care and detail, so that your file has strength and traction for all possible scrutiny.
5. Know Your Place: This means always remembering that you are a Realtor. Meaning, you are not an attorney, nor are you a contractor. So play within the lines of your professionalism and keep your advice limited to your role as a Realtor. If you are doing your job professionally, that within itself will be more than enough to keep you engaged and busy for the duration of the transaction.
6. Most important, Know Your “Why.” This means, knowing why you became a Realtor. In other words it means knowing why you have chosen to be the Real Deal, versus a Hobbyist. This means having not just skin in the game, but as I like to say, it means having “S.O.U.L. in the game” where beyond the commission, as a professional Realtor, you take that 1 am call when your client is anxious about their life’s investment, and needs assurance that their dream house is possible. Or most importantly, it means being a facilitating dream-maker, who goes that extra mile because you genuinely care about the deal, about the client, and most obvious as a non-Hobbyist, you care about the memories you create for real-life human beings, who have real life dreams. And you do it, because you are a proud, licensed, professional, Realtor.
So, don’t just raise the bar on yourself and on our profession but instead be the bar that others will aspire to.