The Couch Looks Comfy

Kristn.jpgAnd it’s a good thing, because something tells me I may be sleeping there tonight. In a heretofore unprecedented move, I am going to take exception to something Steve posted recently. Actually, I am going to clarify what I think Steve meant, since I speak “Steve”.

Yesterday, Steve related a conversation he had with another agent in which she, in one sentence, violated her fiduciary relationship with her client and, dare I say, her ethics. In reference to her new listing, she had this to say, “It’s priced too high. The price will come down. You know sellers!” An amazingly irresponsible thing to say, for sure, and a story worth telling. Where my spousal unit blew it was by suggesting that this is just typical of those “Discount Brokers”.

While mentally scripting my verbal ambush, I was scooped by The Blue Collar Agents, who took (justifiably) great offense to the Discount Broker reference. Knowing Steve, I know that he was not using the term to describe a lower fee business model, but a limited service one (although the former is often a component of the latter). And by limited service, I mean, the smaller shops that have hatched and multiplied during the past several years offering to do… well, very little for their clients, because they didn’t have to. Homes sold quickly, often in spite of poor quality of representation, which left the more knowledgeable, professional agents on the other side of the transaction holding the bag of liability and responsibility for ensuring a successful transaction. On this point, I share his pain.

If PC Steve had chosen his words more carefully, he would have replaced the term “Discount Broker” with “Non-Traditional Broker”, and even then I would have challenged him. Many of my friends are of the Non-Traditional flavor, and I firmly believe that today’s Non-Traditional business model will be the Traditional model of the future. It will not happen overnight, but I suspect it will happen. But then, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Regardless of the inevitable evolution that we will see in the industry, there will always be great agents and rotten ones.

Concerning fees, there are no “traditional” models, as fees are negotiable and negotiated by nearly every agent with every company, big or small. Many agents may not find it politically correct to admit as much, but it is (and should be) so. It is the quality of the agent that matters and, yes, the culture of the company and particular business model that they choose to associate with. What training, marketing, legal tools do they have at their disposal? Are they carpet baggers viewing the profession as an easy buck, or are they professionals committed to providing an exceptional level of service to their clients? These are the issues that are and will continue to be of paramount importance. Yet, there have been too many agents during the recent real estate boom years who, armed with a License to Sell, ignored these little details. This was his beef. Now I’m off to the couch.

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