Op-Ed article

Realtors “Competitors and Colleagues”

The Real estate industry is an extremely competitive arena, speaking from the brokerage point of view. There are over 1.3 million licensed professionals working at more than 87,000 brokerages. The medium tenure at the firm these agents work is 4 years. Over 90% of these associates are independent contractors and as independent contractors a real estate professional’s income is related to sales, not hours worked. It is a business in which agents are paid for doing transactions, usually paid per transaction closed. As an independent contractor, the licensed real estate professional is basically self-employed, in business for themselves so to speak. However, licensed agents and associate brokers must work under the license of a Broker. The broker is who owns the brokerage. Depending on the company, very often, the brokerage offers the Brick and mortar, tools, technology, training, support and advertising necessary for the agents to succeed as real estate professionals. Of course, as independent contractors, in business for themselves, agents often do contribute to many of these things as well, giving them the best opportunity for success.

This is where this industry and our independent contractor status fosters competition both inside each company as well as between competing brands. Healthy competition in any facet of life is usually a good thing though. Whether it’s in sports, between teams or business, between companies, competition very often brings out the best in people. Very often, it makes people train more and work harder. It’s when this competition gets in the way of doing what’s best for the public that I believe the competition hurts us all.

Despite working for competing brands, real estate is an industry, for the most part, in which agents will not be successful without working together. We need each other. Regardless of the amount of money we spend marketing properties, an extremely high percentage of sales come through our local multiple listing services. This means that a “competing agent” whether it’s a competing agent in your office or an agent from a competing brand, is most likely going to help sell a listing. Even your marketing of specific properties (open houses, websites, lawn signs etc.) will attract competing agents to the house who hope to help sell the property.

Many agents host events, hold “broker’ open houses (offer lunch to get agents to attend) send out emails directly to other agents etc. with the hope that someone else can help sell the property. We all have the ability to attract buyers, of course, and yes the listing agent or brokerage obviously does have many buyers, even buyers to purchase their own listings, but because we have a fiduciary responsibility to our clients, it behooves us all to do everything we can to bring in the right buyer regardless of who it is that brings them to us.

None of this can be done though without cooperating with one another. Returning each other’s phone calls, emails and texts OR knowing each other’s inventory, attending networking events and board trainings and getting to know each other are all part of this cooperation process.

We have great people in this business and the public should know that most brokerages and agents do everything possible to get a home sold in the shortest amount of time as possible, for the most or least amount possible (depending on which side they represent). We are professionals and because of that I believe that the public needs us. They need our representation and guidance through this emotional process of what is usually their most expensive asset. I also know many if not most licensed real estate professionals cooperate with each other already. Most do understand that we can’t sell properties alone. We can’t be “secret agents” as many like to say BUT there are still agents out there who want to do things in a way that not only doesn’t help them sell homes but actually stops them from selling homes. It’s bad for the brokerage they work for, it’s bad for our industry and most importantly it’s bad for the CLIENT.

We are in sales. Sales is a people business, it always will be. “People” doesn’t only mean Mr. Buyer or Mr. Seller. “People” also means the other licensed professionals in our industry. We are so important to each other’s success regardless of the brands we are with. Most companies have positive attributes that make us want to work where we work. I know our company does. Our company’s business model is conducive to” collaboration” and “cooperation”. The agents at our competitors have their own reasons as to why they work where they work, but the truth is, I hope many of them would come work with us some day.

Either way, until that day comes I will enjoy having all my fellow Real Estate professionals as both competitors and colleagues!