This week I interacted with a couple of people who made some pretty nasty comments, slagging real estate agents. More specifically, they were insinuating that I was one of these heinous people they blamed for everything from their rent being too high, to the homelessness problem, to short-term rentals taking over buildings, lax security in caring for sellers’ property…. well, the list goes on and on. (Oh, and I must never forget the one that we are all rich moneybags, walking around, rolling in dough).
I did clap back at one or two comments, before I got my feet under me and realized that I should be invoking my grandfather’s rule: Never argue with a pig – you’ll just get dirty and the pig will like it. It still stung. We have a code of ethics as REALTORS®, and I’m careful to uphold that. Not everyone wants me to, and that’s fine. They can work with someone else. I’m very choosy about who I have as clients.
That’s the first myth, I suppose, that I’d like to dispel. We are under no obligation to take someone on as a client – whether they are a buyer, a seller, a landlord or a tenant. We get to choose. So if you come to us and ask to engage our services, know that if we feel we’re not a good fit with one another, we may politely decline. When this is the case, most often I’ll refer you to a trusted colleague who is better suited to your situation. But if you’re asking me to do something that is against my personal code of conduct, I may simply let you know that I can’t take you on.
Most agents don’t get rich. The majority don’t even make a great living. For some, this is because they find the hours are long, the clients demanding, and the rewards few and far between. (Let’s not start on the expenses). Those of us who earn a reliable income do it by putting in a lot of hard work, building our reputations and making connections. Helping our clients in ways that have nothing to do with real estate. And making sure that if we’re putting our nights or weekends into something besides our family and friends, if it doesn’t add money, it adds value to our lives and communities.
Another thing the trolls seem to have never learned, is how to fight fair. In today’s very partisan “us versus them” world, words like never, always, all, or none get thrown around a lot. The truth is that sweeping damnations rarely apply to any profession (that even goes for lawyers, bankers, accountants…you get the idea). Every profession has “good guys” and “bad guys”. And it’s important to get to know the people doing the work, to find the good ones. They’ll always be able to provide references.
Finally, a thought on blaming me, or any agent, for everything bad in the world of real estate and property: there are a lot of people involved in a transaction. Sure, there are occasional sales direct by the owner, but they’re rare. In a typical transaction, there’s a lender (maybe a mortgage broker/agent and a lender), two brokerages (one for the buyer, one for the seller), the buyers, the sellers, lawyers, and sometimes inspectors, surveyors, or other helping specialties. We’re also all governed by, well, governments, multiple layers – each of which has rules, regulations, laws and bylaws that impact the process.
There’s a lot of misinformation and uneducated assumptions about how real estate works and what we’re responsible for. I’m not going to say there are no bad actors – there are, and I’ve seen some of them. What I do know, is that there are lots of great agents who are making a difference every day, and we are just as unhappy as you are, when people can’t afford housing at all, much less dream of owning a home. We also know that we see “surprises” every day – people who have found smart, creative solutions to help them turn a house into a home.