Reputation and trust are everything in real estate and lets be honest a good reputation is very hard to create and very easy to ruin. It doesn’t get much worse than losing someone’s trust and it can take a lifetime to regain it and even then it is still never forgotten. Nick Ploubidis discusses the topic of ethics from a Young Agent’s point of view.
As a young real estate agent in Australia I often talk with people from all walks of life who make passing comments about the reputation of real estate agents and the industry in general. While I try not to get annoyed with these tongue in cheek comments I think in many cases they have a point.
It is pretty damning to read polls and surveys and see that real estate doesn’t often rank very high in the reputation and trust stakes. The old adage ‘where there’s smoke there is often fire’ springs to mind when discussing these issues.
As an industry I believe we all need to work harder to right some of the wrongs of the past and ensure that we are not tarred with the same brush as our predecessors. There are many examples of how certain agents have made it difficult for the next generation of agents coming through the ranks but as with everything with hard work things can change.
We all know the stories of agents severely underquoting and creating false offers. While in certain cases this may have had a positive impact for that particular agent it causes irreparable damage to the industry on the whole. Even worse are the stories of agents underselling properties to friends and families or not officially declaring offers. It is absolutely mind boggling that they truly believed that was the best line to take when dealing with someone’s most prized asset.
Unfortunately much damage has been done thanks to a handful of agents, which has made it difficult for the rest of the hardworking and most important ethical agents in Australia.
I feel it is up to the next generation of agents to clean up the industry and regain consumer confidence in the industry. In today’s digital world word spreads very quickly. From Facebook to Twitter to You Tube we are all under intense scrutiny and if you think you are going to continually get away with ‘shonky’ practices you are surely mistaken.
So we need to regain the trust, much easier said than done. We need to start focussing more on the customer’s needs desires and interest and guess what… a large part of this consumer group are Gen Y’s. Start speaking their language, from social media to providing content that is spruiking what you can do for the client, suburb or local community. Avoid content that simply exists to blow your own horn – it is time to take ego out of the situation.
Gone are the days where you will amass clients because your children attend the same private school or you play squash together. It is tough times and people are only looking for agents that can squeeze every ounce out of a situation. Buyers and sellers are much more savvy and switched on to the ins and outs of the industry these days so avoid the ‘know it all’ and ‘pushy’ techniques…it is likely they know exactly what you are trying to do and will take that impression home with them where they have access to the rest of the world though Facebook, Titter and online blogs.
It is also time to lose some of the real estate jargon. I have seen many cases where clients are bamboozled into making decisions due to confusing, pushy and deceptive language. Like anything simple, honest communication is always the way to go. Ensure the client understands the process and there are no surprises that pop up along the way.
If you are new to the industry and your Principal asks you to handle a situation that might question your morals, ask him or her about it. If you still are still not comfortable with the situation then this is simply not the place for you. You will enjoy a longer, more prosperous career by keeping it clean and above board.
Real estate agents are vital in the larger scheme of things but people are more hesitant and competition is fierce…if you start getting a bad reputation it is highly likely it will stick!
Nick Ploubidis is the Director of Professionals Norwood in South Australia.