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Saturday, September 1, 2007

Arrogance in real estate

I saw this saying (or words that said the same thing anyway) recently – “Self-confidence is arrogance restrained.” I thought, how appropriate for real estate and for many of the Realtors that I know. There are a good number of very professional, very self-confident Realtors in the area. And, there are a few that have unrestrained egos and are just plain arrogant. That’s not just my opinion. I hear it from their ex-customers, too.

Unfortunately customers don’t always realize that the bravado and bluster that they are getting during an agent interview is arrogance and not just confidence or even competence. When Mr.(or Ms.) Bluster (how many of your can identify where that name came from – see below) comes in and throws down a stack of ads or real estate books with their ads or shows you a few dozen pages of houses that they have sold, they’re just trying to bully you into signing with them - “they must be the best, because they said they were.” They won’t want to discuss open houses with you, because they’re too busy for that. And, they’ll likely be fairly high-pressure about getting you to sign right then and there. They really don’t have time for another trip to your house.

All too often that’s the last time that you’ll see that superstar agent, unless he/she needs to come back to get you to re-up the contract. You’ll get assigned to one of their “assistants”, while they’re off to bully the next potential client. I find that to be a display of shameless arrogance, but it’s also based upon one of the prevalent business models that many Realtors use – book as many listings as possible, spend as little time and money as possible and let the buyer agents do the work. To them it’s just a numbers game and your home is one of the numbers.

If that were the only road to success in real estate, I’d never get there from here. I’m much more attuned to getting to know my clients and understanding their needs. I prefer to work with a smaller number of listing; usually under 20 at any time, so that I can get around to each one every week. I’ve also shifted away from the old paper-based advertising model into a more Internet-oriented model – multi-pictures and virtual tours. So, I don’t have lots of real estate books to throw down, but we could go visit the 120+ Web sites where your home will be featured and were today’s buyers will see it. I may miss the crowd that grabs a real estate book on the way into Leo’s Coney Island for breakfast, but I’ll catch the young professionals who sneak some time on or Yahoo or Trulia at work at lunchtime; and, I’m OK with that. I’m confident that my sellers are getting the best exposure for their homes, without being arrogant about it.

By the way, Mr. Bluster was a character – a puppet actually – on the old Howdy Doody Show. If you remember that, you’re about my age. Call me and we’ll discuss what real estate transition you might want to make as you head into retirement. Me, I've decided to age in place, see my post of August 24 on "Aging in Place."

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