I am a real estate agent, and so is my lovely bride. I happen to think we are pretty good at it. Helping people buy and sell real estate is our job. It’s how we pay the mortgage and feed the children. Given that, it’s important that we do it well. So we always “give it 110%”.
There are a lot of real estate agents. Something like 9,000 in the Phoeinx area. That’s a lot of competition. Competition is good–it encourages everyone in the profession to do better.
Why then are there so many lousy, horrible, lazy, no good agents out there?
Part of the problem, in my opinion, is that it’s far too easy to get a real estate sales license. Ididn’t know diddly squat about real estate when I went to real estate school. 90 classroom hours later (I did it in three weeks. 2 classes a day, 3 days a week. It sucked, and I don’t recommend it. Francy took her course over a more reasonable 6 week period). Anyway, after three weeks of class, I sat for the real estate licensing exam. Passed both parts the first time. (you don’t have to be a genius, you just have to listen in class). Found myself a broker, signed a form, went to the local MLS and REALTOR associations, filled out a couple more forms, wrote more checks and BANG! I was a licensed real estate agent–I could call myself a “real estate professional”.
But let’s face it. Other than learning some obscure real estate law that I haven’t used since, and other than learning that there are 43,560 square feet in one acre (which I do use), real estate school really didn’t teach me squat about selling real estate. Real estate school has one purpose–to take people at $350+ a pop and teach them how to pass a test. And they do a good job at that. But they DO NOT teach you how to help people buy and sell real estate. They DO NOT teach you how to do this job!
So there is the primary reason there are so many bad agents out there. People get their license, make NO EFFORT to learn thier profession, and the next thing you know you’re trying to get a tricky deal closed with an agent who is completely clueless.
A total lack of common sense seems to also be the norm in this industry. I can’t begin to tell you how many agents I’ve dealt with that didn’t have a lick of common sense. OK, I’ll admit that the language in the Arizona Residential Real Estate Sales Contract can be a little tricky. It was written by attorneys in that way that only attorneys can write. But here’s some freindly advice for real estate agents out there:
READ THE CONTRACT! When you are done reading it, read it again. Then, take a highlighter (that’s a thing like a pen that you can color over printed text and still read it. Available in many colors at any office supply store) and READ IT AGAIN, highlighting the parts you don’t understand. Then take your highlighted contract to your broker and sit down with him and have him/her explain the colored parts to you. What, your broker doesn’t have time for you? Find another broker. They are everywhere and some are horrible and some are great. Find a great one. You’ll know they are great after a 2 minute conversation.
It’s incredible, unbelievable, amazing how many agents haven’t read the dang contract. Ever! That contract is your lifeblood. You should understand EVERY LINE OF IT. Wouldn’t good old-fashioned common sense tell you that if you’re going to take a job that involves filling out a bunch of paperwork, THAT YOU SHOULD AT LEAST READ THE PAPERWORK??? Apparently not…
Other than understanding the contracts, there is one more thing that aspiring (and seasoned) agents need to know……
You really, REALLY, need to answer your phone. If you don’t know how to turn on your phone, ask any eight year old to show you. It is absolutely incredible how many agents are simply horrific at answering their phone or returning messages. If you don’t want to have to answer a phone, then you need to get the heck out of real estate.
True story #1 : Francy and I have a client interested in a large parcel of land. List price is $1.25 million dollars. The listing agent puts right in the MLS, “To show, or for questions, call listing agent”. Fine, no problem. I understand. We want to see the land and we have some questions. So, as instructed, we call the listing agent. He doesn’t answer the phone. So we leave a message. He doesn’t return the call. We call and leave several messages over several days. The initial call was placed 4.5 days ago. He **STILL** hasn’t called us back. It’s a freakin’ $1,255,000 dollar listing, we have a client that will write an offer on it if we can get some simple answers and this clown won’t call us back!?!?!????!????!!??!? Someone PLEASE explain that to me.
True story #2: I have a client very interested in buying an apartment complex and converting it to condos. We want a copy of the leasing agreements–a reasonable request if you are going to be spending over $8 million dollars. So I call the listing agent. Of course, she didn’t answer the phone. So I left a message… guess. Called again and she answered!! Yoo hoo! I’m thinking we’ll get somewhere. I asked her for some leasing info. *Really* basic stuff she should have known off the top of her head since she was, after all, the listing agent. She didn’t have a clue. So I asked her to GET the info and fax it to me. “Oh yeah”, she says. “I can do that!” She said she’d get it, “as soon as I can”. 48 hours later I still don’t have it. Called her (no answer, leave message, no return call. Repeat 4 times). Finally reach her after 5 or 6 days. She has NO IDEA who I am. None. So we go through it all over. NOTHING. Get her again, and at least this time she remembers me. “Oh, sorry I didn’t gat that info to you. I’ve been busy”. Busy???? Too busy to put 10 pages on a fax machine, punch some buttons and hit SEND???
I never did get that info. That was almost three months ago. That $8M complex is still listed for sale.
Bad real estate agents. They are EVERYWHERE. Please, if you need an agent, try to avoid these dolts. Here are some tips to help you weed out these idiots:
Ask your agent what kind of training they’ve completed since real estate school. I don’t care if it’s been 40 years since they went to school (trust me, experience does not equal ability in many cases). There are a TON of formal course REALTORS can take. But I’d rather see informal training: mentoring with a broker or experienced agent. Shadowing another agent, inter-office training classes, etc.
Test your agent by trying to call them. Does their cell phone go straight to voice mail? Do they answer email in a timely fashion? Do they return phone messages quickly. Do they ever even answer the phone? No agent can always answer the phone when it rings. I usually don’t answer my phone if I’m with a client. A lot of times I’m looking at land and am out of cell phone range. But I ***ALWAYS*** return a message or an email. Sometimes within minutes, sometimes hours. But all calls and emails get a response. Period. If you are thinking about working with an agent and YOU can’t reach them, how will anyone else?
Whew, that was a looooong post, and I have more to say. But I’ll save it for another day.