My brother-in-law thinks Realtors are essentially used car salesmen – unscrupulous, focused only on a sale, and willing to bend the truth to make one.  He doesn’t see value in our services, and is suspicious of the profession as a whole.  He let me know this during Thanksgiving vacation, when Steph and I were bemoaning that general perception.

I disagreed with him, and talked about how steering clients was against the law, how it served our interests for our clients to get exactly what they wanted, and how an unethical agent was essentially shooting himself in the foot.  I didn’t convince him.

As it turns out, he wasn’t entirely wrong.

Steph and I are at a real estate conference in San Diego this week.  We’re here listening to well-known coaches, who are sharing their methods with eight hundred of our fellow top producing Realtors from across the nation.  I’ve been uneasy through the whole presentation, and after I detailed what was bothering me, Steph suggested I sit out the afternoon session and blog about it.  I happily agreed, and so I’m sitting here typing to you from the hotel bar, armed with a laptop, a generous pour of Laphroaig, and what I believe is the truth.

The techniques being taught in this seminar are manipulative.  They are teaching how to use body language to build a rapport.  They’re teaching how to use pauses and emphasis on key phrases to subliminally implant suggestions like “buy a home” and “you are ready to sell”.  They are sharing methods for developing a semblance of empathy for clients so they feel comfortable and are more likely to buy or sell.  None of these techniques are described in passing – the entire course is designed around them.  Eight hundred Realtors are upstairs at this very moment, each running through scripts with his or her seat neighbor that are meticulously designed to convince someone to agree to a meeting, or to buy or sell a home.  They are making notes on the scripts where they should smile, or lean in, or reinforce a desired answer by nodding “yes” or shaking their heads “no” as they speak to a prospective client.  They are cheering for testimonials wherein the Realtors detail how much more money they have made this year by using these coercive techniques.

All of the methods being taught help fulfill the Realtor’s desire to make a sale.  Not one technique has been described so far that might help us serve a client more faithfully or effectively.  Steph tells me that many of the larger brokerages teach these same techniques to their Realtors.

When Steph started in real estate, I asked her what she was doing to succeed so quickly.  She told me she was just trying to give her customers what they wanted. 

When I joined her in the business, she cautioned me not to push a customer toward something, but rather to let them direct us to the choice they preferred.  She said we make money no matter what our client buys, and it makes more sense in the long run to leave them satisfied and let our compensation happen naturally as a result.  Through fifteen years of success in the Nashville real estate market, that philosophy has guided us and served us very well.

We are occasionally asked “why should I use you over another Realtor?”  To be honest, that is a hard question to answer.  We are knowledgeable about the market, we are capable negotiators, and we don’t mind hopping up at a moment’s notice to help a client view a property.  We are ethical, and we believe good and faithful service will naturally reward us at a fair level.  We believe time invested with a prospective buyer or seller is never a waste, and that it could be years before that time pays off.  We’re fortunate enough to know a number of Realtors of whom this is all true, though.

After this conference, I have a better idea of why you should use us over many others in this business.  When we build a rapport with you (and it doesn’t happen every time), it’s because we’ve made a genuine connection.  We aren’t trying to trick you into buying anything, and we’ll work to put your interests before our own, just as the National Association of Realtors Code Of Ethics demands.  If we don’t click with you, we know quite a few truly excellent people in this business we can recommend who share our commitment to quality service and ethical business practices.

Anyway, it’s time for me to get off my soapbox and run upstairs.  Steph is incredibly diligent in the pursuit of her craft and believes you can learn from anyone, and she wants me to listen to the rest of this presentation for marketing tips. I’ll do that, and then I guess I owe my brother-in-law a mea culpa email.

If you’re reading this and you’re looking for a Realtor, give our Zillow reviews a look.  We’d love the opportunity to prove our worth to you in the purchase or sale of your next home.

James Crawford

James Crawford

Realtor, Affiliate Broker

[email protected]