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Jon Strum is now following The Typepad Team
Mar 15, 2010
Marc, I completely agree with the spirit of your response to the article in the NY Times. It seems to me that the real obstacle to focusing on "...real issues like standards. Professionalism...." is that everyone already claims to be doing just that! With the exception of fee-for-service a la carte brokers, there aren't any agents who aren't already claiming to be "full service agents" -- certainly everyone commenting on your post has seized upon that title as a means of "differentiation". Of course, when everyone is claiming the "full service" title -- there is no differentiation! I have yet to meet an agent offering a discounted commission who claims that they do less -- that they are not offering the identical quality standard when compared to a full-commission agent. When everyone is "professional" and when everyone is offering the "highest standards of service" then those terms become commoditized themselves. They no longer carry valid meaning. If NAR is serious about producing true professionals, we can't just be having conversations about training and standards...we have to actually be willing to raise the bar. Create real barriers to entry so that "real estate" isn't the fall-back vocation for anyone who wants to earn a big paycheck without having any particular qualifications. If our industry wants to be perceived as "professionals" then we should be prepared to explain to someone from outside our industry exactly what it takes to gain that "professional" standing. What meaningful and credible training should we require in order to become a licensed agent? In reading some of the comments posted right here, it's hard to believe that agents are willing to justify their "full commission" status by reminding the world that we're willing to drive around to home improvement stores, deliver food and wash cars! Is this how a top professional in any other field would go about listing their credentials? And while I agree that full-service agents can gain an awful lot by observing the Starbucks business model, I'm not with you at all when you point out that people stand in line and pay $4 for a cup of Starbucks coffee because they perceive it as being "better". People visit Startbucks because it makes us feel good about ourselves. And that's what a "brand experience" is designed to do. As of this moment, only a scant few real estate brands (salute to Real Living) even have a clue about creating a brand experience for their clients. To me the good news is that as an industry, we have almost unlimited room to improve. If enough of us who care deeply about the future of this industry can help our associates uncover their heads and shake the sand out of their ears, we have a tremendous opportunity to affect real estate's future. Or we can just continue to whistle past the graveyard.
Since this was a company listing, I might have made an effort to get in touch with this buyer's agent...just to maintain peace & harmony around the office. If the same situation occurred and it wasn't a company listing, I would ask the buyer if they had signed a contract with their agent. If they hadn't, I'd help them as I would any client who called me. By the end of our first appointment, after I better understood their motivation, why the obvious reluctance to deal with their current agent, etc. I'd either have them sign a contract for exclusive buyer representation, or I'd move on. -- Jon Strum