The 7 Deadly Sins of Real Estate

by Leigh Brown


Leigh Brown is the CEO of Leigh Brown & Associates

The Internet is such a great place. You get to see how everyone you know is living such a perfect life! Their kids and spouses and parents are just perfect! Real estate is so busy! That house is so perfect!

And of course, in a perfect world here, when a consumer mentions having looked at 250 houses with eight agents before purchasing, well – that wretched consumer should be burned at the stake! What heresy! How dare a consumer treat professional Realtors like that!


Perhaps the issue is not the consumer. Perhaps, sometimes, the issue is the Realtor. I present to you that the Realtor of 2016 can indeed be an amazing advocate of the consumer. But perhaps – just perhaps – the Realtor of 2016 could do just a little better by getting absolved of these real estate sins, as seen through the eyes of the client:

7. Abandonment – “You worked your tushie off to earn my trust and my business, but after the sale? You dropped me like a hot potato. Cashed the check and went away. After all our time together? I told you all of my most intimate details. You were more than a Realtor, you were a counselor and confidante. Where did you go?”

Do not stop calling, texting and emailing your clients just because they had the nerve buy a house! Check in every so often. See how the kids are adjusting. See if there have been questions cropping up that you can answer. Call them when the county tax office does a revaluation, to see if they have questions. You know, be a resource forever. My clients know that unless they beg off or die, they are going to hear from me forever.

6. Cherry-picking – “I’ve called six different agents asking questions about houses in my bottom-of-your-particular-market price range. They won’t call me back! If they do call me back, they aren’t interested in helping me. Why don’t you like the cheap seats?”

I do believe that many agents learned not to do this during the bad years (2008-2012). The agents who insisted they only work the higher price points found out that when those price points are dead, it’s the cheap seats where folks continue to buy and sell, regardless of market conditions. Sure, it’s hard work to deal with a short sale or a nasty foreclosure, and sure, trailer houses are not the most glamorous side of real estate. But last time I checked, that money spends too – and the folks who did not receive help from anyone else but YOU, when treated with the respect they deserve, often turn into the best referral bird dogs you can imagine. Treat all price points well. It’s smart business.

Oh, by the way, if you’re so busy you can’t see straight? Set up referral partners among the amazing Realtors inside your own community and make sure that every potential client is cared for well!

5. Not Asking Enough Questions – “You asked my price range, how many bedrooms I want and how many bathrooms I need, but not why I’m moving. In your zest to stay clear of the Federal Fair Housing laws, you failed to ask what’s important to me. Therefore, I needed to see every single house in the MLS before I could make a decision – and even then, I did not feel good about it. I wanted to tell you everything, but when I talked, you were just waiting for me to take a breath so you could continue talking on top of me!”

Any of you old-timers remember the immortal Howard Brinton? He taught me to always, always go ‘Three Deep’ on questions. As in: Get one answer, then ask a follow-up question; then get another answer, then ask yet another follow-up question. Invariably, the truth spills out after that third question. I’m pretty sure all of those NCIS detectives went to StarPower once upon a time. Think about just how personal this homebuying and selling process is! We know more about our clients than anyone else in the world – more than their parents, kids, friends, colleagues – and we need to ask and then actively listen to answers to find out how we can serve their needs. If your folks answer with things that make you feel nervous about Fair Housing, you should have the resources available to direct their research (for example, if you can’t answer school district questions per your local laws, offer websites where your clients can do their own information gathering). Ask. Ask. Ask. Y’all keep fussing about losing ground to websites? Then ask questions so you can offer professional advice and expertise that buyers and sellers cannot find online.

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