I was wishing I would conveniently miss the first episode of Agent Anna screening on TV One this past week, and I almost did had it not be for an appropriate tweet at 9.25 by David MacGregor.
I was intrigued by his tweet and thereby able to catch the 1 hour delayed transmission and so doing waste another 30 minutes of my life cringing at the screenwriters stereotypical perceptions of real estate agents. Here are my 10 - did you spot any more?
1. Self help tapes - the assumption being that real estate is all about a positive attitude. It is a lonely business and you do need to motivate yourself as you only earn when you are productive, however motivational tapes only work to make money for the people who make the tapes. Over the years at almost every real estate conference I have attended there is always a 'guru' usually from overseas who is on stage to "get you gong - and become a top performing agent" - so the truth is there!
2. Real estate is a career option when you don't have a career - true, proven by the make up of agents with an average age in excess of 55. It certainly used to be the case (prior to the 2008 Real Estate Agents Act) that within 2 weeks you could go from packing shelves in Countdown to selling a million dollar property. Things have changed in respect to training and probationary periods but still industry sees the "newly redundant" and "newly divorced" as often if not more often than young graduates!
3. Pound the streets - this one is so true and yet so unproductive. Agents are training endlessly to "door knock" make telephone calls and push cards into peoples hands out on the street. Yet this is so unproductive and worse counter productive in giving the industry that desperate feel of sharks circling people looking for work - such a stereotype and so true. Set against this is the fact that more and more people select agents online yet in all my years in this industry I would have only ever heard a handful of speakers at conferences advising agents to build and manage their online profile and tender it carefully like tending a garden.
4. Leaflets in letterboxes - this dovetails with the prior one. Why do agents continue to destroy great swathes of productive woodland to produce flyers that nobody reads? - enticing headlines such as "I've just sold 36 North Street and I have a couple of active buyers still looking to buy your house" or "I've just started in real estate / re-launched myself in real estate and would really love to give you a free appraisal on your house".
5. Low social status - the difficult moment at social gatherings when you announce you have become a real estate agent and people quickly move the topic of conversation in fear that you will (as was seen in the show) thrust business cards or some proposal into your hands. Why is there this terrible stigma, why is the industry often down at the bottom of lists of respected professions vying with used car salespeople and politicians - I guess sadly it is a fact that it is how agents behave.
6 Agressive competitive behaviour between agents - they may well work for the same company but agents are cut-throat, dog-eat-dog individuals who are only after their own needs. This is a major source of missed productive opportunity as new agents are ostracised rather than being supportive and collegial.
7. Seemingly dead real estate offices - this is the reality of modern real estate. The high street office's only value would appear to be to house the agents behind desks that nobody sits at as customers. Buyers and vendors focus online and yet the industry through the competitive pressure continues to dominate the high street of every town and suburb. When was the last time you walked into a real estate office?
8. Stealing listings - the well know mantra of the stockmarket " buy the rumour, sell the fact" should have a real estate version "Pitch a listing on the rumour, profit on the sale". The industry is like a tightly coiled spring ready at a moment's notice to pitch their skills should a prospect suddenly appear through any contact. To delay could be to loose the business. In some other professions it is not unusual to have to wait a couple of days to see someone on an important matter, sometimes to wait is seen as a reflection of demand and skills - not in real estate, request an appraisal or indicate that you are thinking of selling and they will be round before you put the phone down!
9. Approach family, friends, friends-of-friends to get a listing - I did the real estate agents course many years ago and this was the advice. The last resort once you had exhausted your contacts as prospects was to sell your own house - in that way you at least had a listings to then promote to other prospects.
10. Why start a career in real estate- because you love houses? - that has almost got to be the worst reason to get into real estate. It is a sales business. You have to sell yourself over and over again just to get a meeting, then you need to sell yourself to get the listing, the you have to sell the marketing campaign and advertising campaign, then you have to sell the house to prospective buyers, then you have to sell the prospective right buyer on making an offer, then you have to sell the vendor on accepting or at least considering the offer, then you have to re-sell the prospective buyer on the revised offer and then hopefully sell the vendor on that "final" offer. Then back to square one again to sell yourself all over again. The house is irrelevant - real estate is all about sales, sales, sales, sales, sales.....