By Cory Brewer
In the past year or so I have run across several examples of REALTORS® (myself included) being tempted to be a “jack of all trades” when it comes to serving their clients. Let’s face it, we don’t want to give up control and we are also worried about potentially giving up a paycheck.
However, is it really in your best interest to step outside your area of expertise? More importantly, is it in your clients’ best interests? Sometimes the answer to these questions is no, and that’s when you have to step back and think about giving up a little bit of that control.
I had an eye-opening conversation with a local colleague of mine recently who focuses his entire business on short sales. I have closed my fair share of them, but that is virtually ALL he does. The point of the conversation came down to a key statistic: Success Rate. This REALTOR® closes about 90 percent of all short sale listings that he puts on the market, whereas the national average is somewhere around 25 percent.
Here is the food for thought: Are you better off busting your hump to have a 25 percent chance at a 100 percent commission (which could very well be reduced by the lien holders, especially if you’re not a seasoned short sale negotiator) or are you better off referring it out and having a 90 percent chance at a 25 percent referral commission? Think about all the time, effort, and marketing dollars that go into a listing. Now think about how much longer (and how much more work) it takes to see a short sale through to closing successfully. And finally, think about who is truly doing a better job for the client…you, or the specialist that you trust to take care of them?
Short sales are just one example. The point of what I’m saying is that I’ve learned to recognize a situation where I’m better off referring it out as opposed to stepping outside my area of expertise. At the very least, when a seller client (for example) presents you with a situation that you don’t specialize in, perhaps it’s best to at least co-list with someone who specializes in that area. I’m not saying you can’t do it yourself, but by aligning yourself with the right people you give yourself (and your client) a higher probability of success. On top of that, you expand your referral network AND you have a happy client at the end of the day who will sing your praises.
As a branch manager, I often fielded questions from my agents about what to do in a situation they weren’t familiar with (whether it be short sales, commercial property, rental management, etc.) and I learned that the best policy was to either co-list with an expert, or refer it out to an expert (and sit back and wait for the referral check to arrive). I am probably speaking heavily from the branch manager perspective (with risk/liability management as one of my priorities) when I say that I truly believe this is providing the best service for your unique clients.
P.S. – I have one other piece of advice to offer: Become an expert yourself! When taking your clock hour classes, take them with a goal in mind. Work toward a designation or a new area of expertise. Soon you’ll be the one receiving the referrals.
Cory Brewer is a REALTOR® in the Seattle area and Operations Manager at Windermere Property Management / LGA in Bellevue. Connect with Cory at www.wpmnorthwest.com.