Why I'm a REALTOR - And Why You Should Care
There's a common misconception that real estate agents only care about "the money" - their commissions. All commission-based compensation structures are an "easy target," no matter the industry.
Particularly in real estate however, the discussions tend to revolve around the expense of using an agent, rather than the benefits. This focus on "price" has led to "discount" agents and limited service listings (where the seller pays only to be entered into the MLS). While those options clearly have a place in the market, I do not believe they truly match the needs of most buyers or sellers. Whether they know this or not, is another matter.
Why the Focus on Commissions?
I believe potential clients (mostly home sellers) focus on commission because too many agents overlook the importance of first establishing trust - followed by a frank and detailed discussion regarding the benefits of our services. Agents also often make the mistake of steering potential clients towards their own (the agent's) biases and beliefs without any data to back-up their opinions, and worse... without truly listening to, or at least validating the desires of the client.
Furthermore, buyers and sellers all too often overlook the importance of assessing the personal and professional qualities of the agent. All agents are not created equal, and beyond knowing "real estate," it's just as important (if not more so) to know what truly motivates the agent to do a good job - besides just "getting paid." Why should you care? Well... because sooner or later in the course of the home buying or selling process, there will likely be multiple occasions when you'll take comfort in knowing your REALTOR truly has your back!
Earning the Business & Setting Expectations
When meeting with a prospective client for the first time, the possibility of compensation never enters my mind. Seriously... it's the farthest thing from it at that moment. Rather, my focus is demonstrating a high-level of professionalism, integrity and competence, while conveying to the potential client how my services will benefit them.
Notice I often say "prospective client" and "potential client." When first meeting people, while I'm completely confident in my abilities, I do not presume they will choose to work with me at that time - even if they've been referred. In fact, I'm often the first agent to suggest to home buyers that they "interview" more than one agent to find the right fit. Why? Because I strongly feel that all business must be earned - I do not feel I'm "entitled" to someone's business just because I hold a real estate license.
More to the point however, I want to make sure all of my potential clients recognize that the process of choosing an agent should in fact be a conscious decision. I'm not comfortable being an agent "by default." It is for this reason that I prefer a friendly and casual meeting before getting down to business, with the primary goal of simply getting to know each other. Of course, I realize that's not always possible.
Why I Became a Real Estate Agent
It probably goes without saying, that I like to have money in the bank just as anyone else. However, I am very proud to say that my priority is squarely with my clients, keeping-track and following-up on all fronts to make sure everything is in place for closings to happen on schedule. Yes... some elements (such as lending and the other agent's duties) are out of my control; but I can certainly attempt to make sure that all the other parties are working for the same common goal - and that includes motivating the client to take care of their own responsibilities too.
At the close of each transaction, I'm reminded of why I became a Real Estate Agent - and it positively has NOTHING to do with commissions. Beyond my true interests in real estate, the primary motivating factor is simple - it's the genuine satisfaction I feel knowing I've played an important role in the client's home buying or selling experience. Of course, the ultimate thrill is when clients sincerely express their appreciation to me - and better yet, when they refer me to family and friends.
Thus at the end of the day, the true "reward" is not the commission; rather, it's the simple validation from clients and others that I really have done a good job.