Last week I shared what Chat GPT spit out when asked about the top 10 complaints about real estate agents. One of those was “unprofessionalism.” So what are they talking about? What do real estate professionals do that unprofessional agents don’t do?
The computer gave me a list, but I’ll add to it here from my own observations over years of dealing with both professional and unprofessional real estate agents.
Most obviously, real estate professionals:
- Communicate with their clients and keep them informed at all times.
- Know their territory and know the real estate market in that territory.
- Market their listings diligently.
After that, real estate professionals:
- Follow through on all commitments and promises.
- Disclose all of the material facts that a buyer should know about a property.
- Prepare adequately for showings and meetings.
- Are well organized.
- Continue to learn.
- Pay attention to details.
- Follow the Code of Ethics (whether they are Realtors or simply agents).
- Follow Fair Housing and ADA guidelines.
- Exhibit professional behavior.
- Know how to “read” the prospective client.
- Dress as a professional.
Follow through on commitments and promises.
Promises are easy to make if you’re trying to get a new listing, but I’ve known a few agents who made no effort to keep them.
Quite often the promise deals with marketing, but it can also be promises to preview listings or to look at the comps before preparing a market analysis. It might be a promise to keep the bugs swept from a vacant house or to winterize.
When an acquaintance passed away a few years ago, his daughters came to town and had his house totally re-done and staged, ready to sell. They then listed with an agent in another town who had been a friend of their father’s, and they returned home. One to California and one to Florida. He assured them that he would take care of things and that they didn’t need to winterize because the furnace would protect the house. It might have done so, had he paid attention and hired someone to plow the driveway so the fuel truck could get in. And, had he stopped by now and then to notice the door hanging wide open.
If you live where pipes can freeze, you know the damage a broken pipe – left unattended for weeks – can do. The sheetrock from the basement ceiling was floating in 2′ feet of water. The upstairs carpet and sub-floor was completely soaked. In short, the house was ruined.
The shocking part of that story is that they didn’t sue him.
Disclose all material facts.
This can be a tough one, especially since different states have different definitions of material facts.
Everyone knows you must disclose things like mold, underground fuel tanks, a leaky roof, or flooding in the basement during rainy season.
But what about a death in the house? And what if the death was a suicide? What if the current owners believe the house is haunted? Your state has guidelines regarding this, so be sure you know what they are.
My take? Ask the sellers for permission to disclose. Because if you don’t, and the house is sold, some neighbor will do the honors of disclosure. If nothing else, it will hurt your reputation.
One more that came up back when I was an agent: What if the neighbors are truly awful? I passed up on a listing once because the seller complained loud and long about the neighbors having a telescope constantly pointed at their house.
Real estate professionals prepare adequately for meetings and showings.
Those who are unprofessional just show up and try to “wing it.”
Are well organized.
If you can’t find your paperwork, or forget to file it, or don’t meet deadlines, you’re not a professional.
Continue to learn.
Real estate professionals continue their education far beyond continuing education classes required for licensing. They take optional classes, read books, and follow blogs such as this one. They keep a close watch on movement in their own markets and pay attention to new developments in their neighborhoods. They also learn from each other. Some become active in their communities – attending City Council and Planning and Zoning meetings to have advance notice of changes in their markets.
Real estate professionals pay attention to details.
This is so important, because something as simple as one wrong word or a missing comma in a listing agreement, a purchase and sale contract, or a counter-offer can completely change the meaning. It can also confuse the meaning, so buyers and sellers may come away from reading it with completely different understandings.
A real estate professional checks his or her work carefully – checking for misspellings, misused words, grammar errors, and typos.
If you seek to be a professional but know you have trouble with grammar, do get a copy of my Grammar Guide for Real Estate Agents. It could save your career.
Follow the Code of Ethics.
I don’t agree with everything in the code of ethics, but there it is. Most of it is simply a guide to the kind of ethics we should all practice as citizens. If you haven’t read it lately, you can access the REALTOR® Code of Ethics here.
It does include client confidentiality, and this can be tough for some, because it means being careful where you are when you are speaking with clients about confidential matters. That shouldn’t happen in the local coffee shop or in an office where other agents can listen.
Follow Fair Housing and ADA guidelines.
This isn’t just the mark of a real estate professional, it’s the key to keeping your license!
Real estate professionals exhibit professional behavior.
This covers everything from showing up to appointments on time to using appropriate language and refraining from gossiping about other agents or clients.
Know how to “read” potential clients.
After I let my license go and my son wanted to sell his investment property, I became his person on the ground to meet with agents. (He was working out of state, so that left me.)
I had the displeasure of meeting with a pair who was bound and determined to explain every detail of their marketing plan, and why each was necessary. They also wanted to explain how listings worked, how showings were arranged, and on and on.
I explained that I had been an agent for years and repeated “Yes, I know” at least a dozen times. I also made it a point to keep looking at my watch. Yet they droned on.
I don’t know if they weren’t listening or if this was just their spiel and they were going to finish it no matter what. Whatever the reason, their behavior showed total disrespect for a potential client.
I finally got rid of them by telling them I had another appointment in town and had to leave.
Professionals pay attention to how prospects react to their words, and adjust their presentations appropriately. That might mean saying less, and it might mean explaining more.
And finally, real estate professionals dress appropriately.
This is a fun and somewhat controversial topic, so I’m saving it for next week. I wrote about it on Active Rain several years ago and it became my most popular post ever, with 349 comments.
A NOTE ABOUT CHAT GPT:
While this is a tool that many are embracing, do be careful. All it does and can do is pick up what other people have written on line. And as you know, much of what is written on line is simply opinion – not fact, although it may be presented as fact.
An article this past week revealed that someone had published an AI-written article in a men’s health magazine on a rather serious topic, and that article was riddled with errors. So be careful. Before you rely on information that includes facts that could affect your health and well-being, do some more research. Find out who said so and if they are a credible source.