By Lynn Minnick
When I was a new agent back in 2000, I took a rental call. It was a young couple, around my age, looking for a rental in town. Once we started talking, they told me they could spend $1,400 per month. That was higher than my mortgage payment at the time, so I asked them if they’d considered talking to a lender about being approved for a mortgage. It hadn’t occurred to them that they could be homeowners for the same payment…and so our relationship started! I got them into an adorable little house by the lake and they began to build equity.
Fast-forward to 2014, when this week I’m starting my ninth transaction for them (including all of the referrals they’ve sent me). There’s a possible tenth transaction on the horizon if I can find the dream home for a friend of their family. (Challenge accepted!)
I call them my “A+ Clients.”
We’ve been through a lot together – births and deaths, good markets and bad, and even though they’re now in their “forever” home, I know that all of the time and work I’ve put in with them will continue to bring business my way. I’m happy to help anyone they refer, because I know they are quality referrals.
As a side note, if my A+ Clients hadn’t been able to qualify for a mortgage, I would have put them into a rental and kept in touch, because eventually (as Laura Rubinchuk Schwartz points out in a previous Lounge post), they would have become buyers. It’s a mistake for agents to place renters and forget about them. They just may be your next A+ Client.
By Sammer Mudawar
Let’s face it, in the eyes of the consumer, especially the internet shopper, all real estate agents are the same. In fact, they don’t even know why you get paid since they find properties on the internet themselves. Does this sound familiar?
Regardless of experience level, 6 months in the business or 16 years, most agents are insecure when discussing income with clients, especially on the buying side. Why? We work nights, weekends, and holidays to earn their income, but if you cannot demonstrate value in yourself, the consumer will not see value in your service.
First, let’s separate seller representation from buyer representation.
Most agents have less difficulty discussing compensation when dealing with sellers. I’m sure many of you are thinking the opposite; the buyer side is easier because there is no discussion, you just accept MLS offered compensation and the subject is never brought up. So let me explain, this industry has trained sellers to understand two things: 1.) A listing agreement will be required; 2.) A percentage of the sale price will be paid as compensation. In a listing presentation, the expectation of payment is already there, half the battle is already won, now it’s a discussion of how much.
However in buyer agency, the consumer doesn’t expect to pay or they don’t even know how compensation works. Continue reading »
By Jay O’Brien
Do your clients view your commission as hard-earned income or a jackpot paycheck? I would be willing to bet the majority view a REALTOR®’s income as the latter. In fact, we constantly hear about the bribery and illegal kick backs awarded to those referring clients in the way of their friends or family. The idea of this should really raise the red flags. Are there actually consumers out there who feel comfortable earning a credit solely in exchange for doing business with a certain “professional”? Sounds more like a multi-level marketing philosophy than a legitimate sales technique. Why are so many real estate agents quick to offer their compensation to someone else? In simple terms, they need the cash.
Consider these staggering statistics:
- 90 percent of agents complete no more than 3 transactions a year (Orange County MLS 2012)
- 65 percent of agents sell zero homes a year (Orange County MLS 2012)
- Only 1.8 percent of agents sell a minimum of one home per month (Orange County MLS 2012)
- The median real estate income was approximately $39,140 last year (BLS.gov / May 2012)
Now consider this:
According to a 2013 MIT study, for a single adult, the least required annual income to survive in Orange County (before taxes) is $27,284. For a family of 4 to keep their heads above water—or above the poverty line—one must earn no less than $50,390 a year.
Assuming an average commission of 2.5 percent earned (excluding taxes and brokerage splits), this means only 11.6 percent of agents can afford to live off their income.
Enough with the jargon, here’s the real question: Continue reading »
By Laura Rubinchuk Schwartz
I met with a very nice couple looking to retire and relocate out of the area, which means selling their home of 20+ years. It had been many, many years since they needed the services of a REALTOR® or learned of the new way things are being done to sell a home, prepare for listing, and the paperwork involved in the process. After a brief tour of the home and some chit chat about their situation and goals for selling their home, we got down to the nitty gritty details, like commission.
After discussing commission rates and such, they asked my favorite question of every listing appointment: “Well, what would your commission be if you sold the house?”
My answer: “I never do dual agency. I think it’s a conflict of interest. I represent you and your interests in this transaction, and at the end of the day, I want to make sure you’re happy and you feel like you got the best deal possible. If I am representing both parties, I don’t think that’s possible.”
With total blank stares, and then a smile, the wife said, “You’re too honest.” My response? “I’m honest, but I also think agents have a bad reputation and we’ve earned it. It’s not about the paycheck in front of them, it’s about the long term happiness of both parties.”
I am sure this is bound to stir up some strong opinions on both sides of the argument, but I wanted to lay out my thoughts on dual agency:
- Agency relationships mean I sign a paper that says I represent the interests of the seller. I am trying to get them to meet their goals with this transaction. I always keep that in mind when reviewing offers and be sure to point out specifics that may be issues for them.
- I always show the property when asked, regardless of representation. Continue reading »
By Toby Boyce
It was a hot summer day in late July 2006 as I slipped down U.S. 23 to the Ohio Division of Real Estate testing center. I had made the jump into real estate without a safety net – quitting my job in higher education public relations and knowing that if I failed this test it would be a very-very bad sign.
Well, I passed the test. Actually, I scored a perfect 100 percent on the state portion of the test, a feat that none of the folks working that day had ever seen achieved. So I entered into the world of real estate with a swagger and confidence. “I got this.”
We got through two years when 2-out-of-3 licensed agents aren’t even using their license. And now about to hit the five-year milestone and the only thing I’m certain of is how little I really knew when I said, “I got this.”
While the last five years have been an emotional and financial roller coaster, I wouldn’t have traded it for anything. I honestly – even if naively – believe that I’ve learned more during this period than I could have in any other venture.
“I wish you’d made the jump a few years ago,” said a former agent. “It was so easy, the phone just rang and buyers were there.” That sounds like being an order taker to me, so why not work at a local fast food restaurant?
What have I learned in five years in real estate: Continue reading »
By Chris Nichols
About a week ago, I had a young couple looking to buy their very first home come interview me. I was quite impressed they were actually doing an in-depth interview to find the right agent to represent them in such an important transaction. It was a welcome surprise, and brought back memories of my experience with a consumer focus group that NAR had me observe. Those buyers had realized they hadn’t interviewed potential representation and had simply gone with the first agent they met.
I was really impressed with the preparation that this couple had put in to asking the right questions. We spent almost an hour together and I enjoyed every minute of it. One of their questions was of particular interest to me. They asked me if I was willing to give up some of my commission if they found the home they wanted to buy on their own and I just handled negotiations and contracts. I explained to them that I was not willing to do that. I told them that where I earn every penny of my commission is in the negotiations, the contracts and in protecting them throughout the process.
I continued by explaining that very rarely do I even get involved in the home searching process, that buyers know what they want better than I do and that using the various online tools allow the consumer to do that quickly and easily. I also made the point that someone who didn’t feel their services were worth every penny and would give up some of their commission for the most important aspects of the transaction, probably wouldn’t be the best negotiator on their behalf.
Fast forward a week… Continue reading »
By Subhi J. Gharbieh
A week or so ago, I was approached by a long time friend who I have known since elementary school. We grew up in the same neighborhood, went to the same high school, and even graduated from the same university. I remember as kids, we would always talk about how successful we wanted to be when we grew up, and how we were going to help each other become successful.
He called and asked me a few real estate related questions. He said that a relative of his had a property in mind that he was ready to move on, and needed some consultation. I thanked him for the referral, and gave his relative a call. We met, discussed the whole buyers representation process, and everything went pretty well.
A day or so later, I received a call from this friend of mine, saying that his relative was going to approach this property representing himself, without a REALTOR®. I respectfully accepted that and didn’t think too much about it. Immediately following that, he calls me again, this time saying he would convince his relative to purchase the property with myself as his REALTOR®, only if I gave him 50 percent off my commission. (The subject property listed at a little over $2 million dollars.)
Just remembering the friendship that this person and I had as kids, this “offer” felt like a slap in the face (I’m 22, it wasn’t that long ago). I explained to him that it might seem like he is dropping a large amount of money in my lap, but the process to acquire a property of this value takes a lot of time, knowledge, negotiation, and liability. He wasn’t convinced. Long story short, I declined to represent the buyer. Continue reading »