There are a lot of myths that should be dispelled about real estate agents.
Myth – An Agent Will Find Your Property
First and foremost, is that a good agent is going to be the one to find your ideal property. That’s how real estate was done, eight, 10 years ago. Now we all have access to the same information. Zillow, Trulia, realtor.com, all these agent websites. We all have good access to what’s available for sale. A good agent is the one that is going to tell you the pros and cons of a property, investigate the property, help you get through the transaction, but more and more and more, it is the clients that are finding the property and facilitating and helping.
We’re all using Zillow. We all have access to the information now. The process is ever changing. Concerns are ever changing. What’s going in next door is always changing. Financial contingencies are always changing, so that’s what was have a little bit more access to, but the actual inventory, we’re all on equal footing now. Another myth is that we work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We work a lot, I mean I work a lot, I think I work more than most. I’m putting in between 50 and 60 hours a week and I have staff that helps me and takes messages and does some other tasks for me, and so if you combine my staff, I’m at 250 or 300 hours a week. But again, going along with the internet, if there is a snow day, our phones ring off the hook and we get tons of emails. If there’s a holiday … it used to be, between Christmas and New Year’s was time off for a real estate agent.
But now, because so many people are home and on the internet, that’s probably one of our busiest times. It’s not our busiest time showing real estate, it’s not our busiest time putting things contract, but it is … it’s one of our busiest times as far as getting back to clients. So I think one of the things we need to be aware of is the incredibly short attention spans of the average client. We have data from Zillow and realtor.com and the internet that your chances of obtaining a client if you respond within 90 seconds, are like 60%, but if it’s five minutes, it drops down to 20%, and if it’s 15 or 20 minutes, it’s almost to zero, and that’s just incredible that the public has such a short attention span right now. They want immediate responses.
That’s difficult for the agent, but real estate agents have family members, they’re going to basketball games, they’re going to baseball games. They too like to eat dinner on Christmas, or Thanksgiving. Really, I had calls on Thanksgiving day this year, and then when I didn’t respond, I got a text that they just had a quick question and … we’ve got to have some days off. We’re not working 24/7.
Myth – Your Real Estate Agent Has a Great Deal
Another myth would be access to great, great deals. You hear about some … oh, my friend bought this $200,000 property for $30,000, but then you also hear about the lady that bought a $1 lottery ticket and won … it just doesn’t happen. There’s not huge deals out there, and the other thing people need to realize, the public needs to realize is that it’s not even legal for us to greatly, greatly discount something. We have to make the client aware, this is what it should sell for and everything.
If there was a $100,000 property and someone said, I just want $50,000, you have to tell them, okay, well the market value is $100,000. If they insist then, at listing it for $50,000, you could, but how often is that going to happen? I think something hugely important is that people realize if it’s too good to be true, it is. If it’s next to a hog farm, if it’s next to a atomic power plant, if it’s … there are reasons for things, so. We don’t have inside information to great, great deals as far as that’s concerned.
Myth – Real Estate Commissions
Another myth is everybody thinks that we get all the commission, so if it’s a $300,000 house, they’re like, “Oh, I know the commission’s 6%, they’re getting $18,000,” and that’s just not true. First of all, the commission is split between a buyer and a seller. Most agents, if they’re on both sides of a transaction, have some kind of variable rate commission, so if they were to have both the buyer and the seller, which is very rare, the commission’s going to be less than 6%. And then a really, really, really good agent is on an 80/20 split, so we’re at 3%, and then 80% of 3%. Then that agent has a lot of expenses, I just want to make sure that people don’t think, oh, this is so easy.
The average agent in this market when they sell a house, is taking home $3,000. That’s a lot of money, but if you break it down to an hourly rate, it really doesn’t come out to all that much. And then, one of the unfortunate things about real estate is those that sell pay for those that don’t sell. I know this is hard to believe, but sometimes we take listings that don’t sell, and sometimes we drive around buyers that don’t buy. If you look at the cumulative hours, it’s a good living, I’m not poo-pooing that at all, but it’s not as much as people think. That’s another thing, people think that we get paid for listings. We don’t get paid for listings. Listings are an expense. When you list a property, you’re going to shell out a couple grand just in signage and time and advertising. That’s your base right there, my average is between $1,500 and $2,500 is what each listing costs me.
But we don’t get paid until it actually sells, so I think there’s some sellers there that soon as you sign, they believe that they paid you. We’re fortunate to have the inventory, and we want to help our clients, but no money’s exchanged hands until it actually sells, and so both sides are happy then.
Myth – We Can’t Offer Legal Advice
Another myth is people think that we’re lawyers sometimes, and we’re not. Throughout the contract, it says agents aren’t lawyers, and they can’t write anything into the contract. We are just fill-in-the-blank transaction people as far as contracts are concerned, and there are many times when a client wants something specific done, and a good agent will know that that’s a legal question that needs to be directed toward a lawyer.
Myth – We Are Not Property Managers
Another myth is that we’re property managers. I have some out-of-state sellers, I had a sweet little old lady, when I listed her house, she told me where the leaf blower was so I could come out every week and blow off the leaves. She’s such a sweet lady, I wish I could do that, but I really don’t have time for that and I can’t do that. With this cold weather, we’ve had people say, will you please turn the hot water on for me and let the faucet drip and check the pipes. We do the best we can, but it’s better to have a neighbor or a friend check on that than us. A lot of agents think that we work for the other side. No matter what, they think that we work for the other side, so [inaudible 00:08:59]
If I’m working with a buyer, they’re like, “Oh, you work for the seller.” Or if you work for the seller, they’re like, “Oh, they’re just working for the buyer.” North Carolina is so, so very specific about where our fiduciary responsibilities lie, and so agency is very important and a good agent will let the client know exactly who that they’re working for.
Myth – We Do Not Hate Other Real Estate Agents
Another myth would be that we hate other agents. Other agents are our competitors, but I make a lot of money from cooperating with other agents. There are some agents when you see that they submit an offer, you sigh, because you know they’re going to be difficult to work with, or if you show a certain property and it’s listed by a certain agent, you might have a little bit of hesitation, but we generally really like other real estate agents. It’s important for a good agent to have a good working relationship with the other side. Certainly fight for your client, but if not, it’s not a you versus them thing as far as who wins and whatnot, it’s to represent your client well, fiercely, but with respect to the other agent and shouldn’t be about them.
Myth – We Don’t Know When You’re Lying
The last thing would be is clients don’t think we know when they’re lying. I’m not going to say we know all the time when they’re lying. A lot of us have been in this game a long time, and we know if you say, “Hey, I just want to take my house off the market for a week or two.” That’s because someone down the road said that they might have a buyer or whatever, or if you say, “No, I don’t think we’re going to be looking for real estate any more,” that means you found another agent that you think would represent you better. We’re rather thick skinned as far as that is concerned, but definitely think honesty’s the best policy. Just be up front with your client.
It’s very unfair if you’re a listing agent and through your marketing, you have somehow gotten access to a potential buyer and then you lie to us and say, “Hey, I just want to take the property off the market for a week or two,” and then you’re actually cultivating the buyer and … we’ve heard all the tricks before, and most of us are seasoned enough to know. Those are some of the big myths.