The public doesn’t know, nor do they appreciate, how often we work for free. Worse yet, they don’t know how often we work, pay for advertising and actually LOSE money on properties that don’t sell, buyers that don’t buy, or deals that don’t happen.
When I first became a real estate salesperson and I saw the part of the buyer agency agreement where you could specify a retainer, I laughed to myself. I didn’t take the idea seriously, mostly because I knew how difficult it would be to get buyers to do it. While homeowners just expect that we will put out gobs of our own money to sell their property, despite their stubborn resistance to our marketing suggestions and pricing advice. Then, without doubt, they will complain about our commission to whomever they speak — particularly when their house doesn’t sell in two weeks like it would have if it had been listed two years ago.
If it weren’t an antitrust violation, I wish that we could band together to demand retainers from buyers and sellers upfront, to help keep THEM as serious as they want US to be. The buyer who has some serious bucks invested in their chosen agent would be less likely to make that choice lightly, abandon that agent at the drop of a open house sign, or waste hours of time and gallons of fuel before deciding that the time just isn’t right for them to buy now. Thank you so much for your efforts. Buh-bye.
Imagine how open a seller would be to our marketing advice and suggestions on pricing if they had to pay a lawyer-style retainer upfront for our services — which they would only recoup out of the total commission when the house settles. I can foresee a lot fewer temper tantrums and unreasonable last minute demands at the settlement table if they had an initial investment in real estate services on the line.
But, of course, all of this is wishful thinking. Such appreciation for our services will never spread among the general public when many of our colleagues don’t have the same appreciation for THEIR own reputation, time and service. Given the ‘self-employed contractor’ model which is the standard in this industry, you have so many people willing to ‘cut corners’ or sell their soul for a commission that the amount of the commission itself always seems to be open to cost cutting.
We can’t expect the public to value our time and service until we do. Period.