July 27, 2016 by Jeff Lowen
I received a call yesterday from a woman that felt she needed help. Her home was on the market, let me be clear; her home IS on the market. So you can imagine, when I heard this – because I am a licensed professional, for me to have any conversations with her regarding this or whatever issue she feels she has with her potential home sale, I must turn her back to her current agent.
Or should I?
I know for many agents, especially those chasing expired and canceled listings, this can be a fine line. Having dealings with a client of another agent is not against the law, but if you’re a member of the National Association of Realtors, giving you the right to call yourself one, Article 16 of the Code of Ethics states a “REALTOR® shall not engage in any practice or take any action inconsistent with the agency or other exclusive relationship recognized by law that other REALTORS® have with clients.”
What if I’m not a member of the NAR?
Many consumers, obviously, do not know this Article do they? Most, don’t know the difference between a REALTOR® and a real estate agent. As a REALTOR®, would you expect a non-REALTOR® (just a licensed agent) to adhere to a code of ethics they don’t subscribe to?
Many Multiple Listing Services echo the same as NAR’s Article 16.
For some time now, the number of agents that are not members of NAR are very low indeed. Not being a member of an MLS… Well, that’s just bad business sense. However, if your business plan only subscribes you to activities that membership in NAR or an MLS is unnecessary, then that’s a horse of a different color. I would think these types of real estate agents are few and far between. Yet agents who put their license in a referral status may fit into this box.
Let’s just stay on point and assume that the agents we’re dealing with here are NAR members and MLS subscribers.
Many agents feel that if your client is calling me, then I can have a candid conversation with them. Others, including myself, believe the letter of the Article and regulation is clear, and although I’m sorry someone else’s client is feeling the pain of the roller coaster ride of real estate, I believe my duty, notwithstanding adherence to regs, is to point the client back to his or her agent. No matter how messed up the situation is.
I know that’s not what they want to hear, but that’s how I roll. Of course, if there were some gross misconduct or anything that might be suspect to the health, welfare or safety of any individual or situation, then I would follow suit accordingly and bring in the proper authorities to save the day. As much as I like to think I’m a superhero… I have little proof of it. Other than the image included here. 🙂
Consumers sometimes don’t understand the importance of choosing an agent and how to do it effectively. They choose them because they’re friends or a friend of a friend or they like the agents’ picture. Or, in a sea of real estate agent marketing noise, they somehow stood out of the crowd.
Perhaps this is the beauty of free enterprise, huh? The value of making a name for yourself. Still, many consumers throw us all in a bucket together. A quick look at US News’ 100 Best Jobs, didn’t even include us! What’s up with that?
Getting back to my duty, I might call the other agent and explain to him or her that their client is reaching out to me and obviously either has a serious problem or there is some sort of miscommunication or both. I have done this in the past and many times it’s fallen on deaf ears, or the agent blames the client. Rarely, on the other end of the phone is an agent that’s appreciative and takes heed that their client has some sort of need that they are not fulfilling. A bright shining star.
Personally, I think it’s all about coaching your client and staying in communication with them. I know they don’t teach that in real estate school, nor do some agents learn this after 37 years in the business. There is such a push to get a brokerage agreement signed in the industry, that signature apparently acts as the climax and then the agent goes for a smoke break!
So how do you coach your clients and stay in communication with them? Do you have a policy in place that automatically puts dates on your calendar to have a conversation with them on a weekly basis? Bi-weekly? Daily? Is this up to you or do you ask your client how interactive they want to be? Do you also share what them signing a brokerage agreement means, not only to you, the agent but to them and each of your respective responsibilities?
What would you do, if you received a call from me letting you know that your clients and I have been talking? Would you be mad or would you try to listen? It’s just one professional having a conversation with another. Don’t take it personally, and don’t blame your client. You did choose to do this, remember? YOU are the professional. If your clients are having any issues, take care of them! I think I heard many moons ago from Earl Nightingale in ‘Lead the Field,’ that the customer is always right.
I know some agents think there is only so much business to go around and I’m better than you and I don’t want any other agent talking to my clients, but this type of “LACK” mentality only hurts the industry. There is an abundant amount of business to pursue and there is much value in the positive dealings with another professional. I know this because the Great Real Estate God in the sky told me so. Seriously, it just makes good business sense and practice.
I leave you with what I offer agents I coach and a quote from Ernest Hemingway: