Every week, we ask a real estate professional for their Short List, a collection of tips and recommendations on an essential topic in real estate. This week, we talked with Melanie Collins, a marketing consultant and co-founder of One Opening Door, about what she describes as the “Realtor Bill of Rights.”
When you do a Google search on “Realtor Bill of Rights,” you get a lot of articles returned about consumers’ rights, clients’ rights, brokers’ codes of conduct, etc. Of course these are absolutely crucial to raise and uphold a profile of professionalism and unshakable ethics, both as individual agents and as an industry. It’s important that real estate consumers know that in a marketplace inundated with information and complicated by constant change, they can expect their Realtor to provide full transparency, expert knowledge, actionable advice, and diligent and friendly service. As Lee Collins, the founder and CEO of One Opening Door puts it, “The consumer needs to know we’re on their side, that we’re their partner, the same as an attorney, or any other respected professional.”
So what about the Realtor’s rights? What can we expect as professionals in a very dynamic industry where emotions can run high, and major decisions are at stake? We believe that a Realtor’s Bill of Rights is important too, not only in service of ourselves, but of our clients who expect our best.
As a Realtor, you have the right…
5. To Be Treated with Courtesy – This one should be obvious, but because the process of buying and selling property, especially a primary residence, is often an emotional and stressful one, we Realtors often get the business end of our clients’ personal frustrations. We listen, and try to solve problems with real-estate solutions. But at what point does harmless venting become inappropriate or even abusive? No one should expect to be shouted at, sworn at or slandered. And while we always want our clients to be candid with us about how we can improve our service, we deserve it in a courteous, honest and fair manner.
4. To Work Within Regular Business Hours – Realtors certainly aren’t strangers to long or even odd hours. We are business owners, often operating as a team of one, and we put in the time required to be successful. We also get that a lot of our clients work nine to five jobs that don’t allow them to meet during regular business hours. But it shouldn’t escape our attention that it’s a modern world, and most people are empowered by technology to take time away from the office to conduct personal business. While there are always exceptions, and we should expect to accommodate them to meet our clients’ needs, we have families and things to do on evenings and weekends too. Which brings us to No. 3.
3. To Be Unavailable – Most Realtors completely understand how important the transaction, and the process, is to the consumer. Buying and selling real estate is one of the biggest financial moves a person can make, excuse the pun, for reasons affecting virtually every aspect of their life, from career to family and everything in between. But if we weren’t working with several clients at a time, we wouldn’t be in business, and although we would be completely available at all times to a single client, it wouldn’t be fiscally advantageous to be. “We commit to responding to all emails, texts and voicemails no later than the following business day,” Collins says. “But there are times when we can’t respond right away, or the same day, like if a call comes in during dinner or a doctor’s appointment or, full disclosure, during the season finally of ‘Modern Family.’” Realtors have personal matters, other clients and even take time off from time to time, just like other professionals. A good agent will provide backup and set expectations in advance where possible, but clients need not expect 24/7 access. After all, we don’t expect it of them.
2. To Receive Adequate Notice and Feedback – As professionals, agents work hard to meet client expectations; it’s the lifeblood of a strong referral business. But there are times and situations where things don’t work out. It could be frustration over the things we can’t control, like market conditions, inventory shortages or mortgage hassles. Or it could simply be a personality clash. But when it doesn’t work out, for whatever reason, it’s reasonable to expect to know the reason(s) why. As Collins puts it, “We’re running a business, and as much as we love the rave reviews, the constructive feedback is just as valuable. It’s not always something we can change, but we still like to know.”
1. To Refuse Business – Hopefully the majority of transactions result in happy clients and referral business. But most agents have had to make the judgment call a time or two that a particular relationship or transaction wasn’t in the best interest of all involved parties, for personal or professional reasons, sometimes even ethical ones. Although we are running a business, we aren’t obligated to do anything that conflicts with the other items on the Bill of Rights outlined above. We simply should not be expected to do anything even bordering on illegal, unethical or distasteful. At the end of the day, our reputation, our business and the law depend on our willingness to do the right thing.
Good agents go above and beyond and often sacrifice personal time or lend an ear to a client who just needs to vent, but integrity is our driving principal, and in order to respect our clients, we must also respect ourselves. Unless we deem ourselves and our profession as legitimate and valuable, then we can hardly expect the same of the consumer.
Melanie Collins is a marketing consultant and co-founder of One Opening Door, where she blogs about local businesses and real estate in the Northern Atlanta Suburbs. With a 12-year background in corporate marketing, which included helping Fortune 100 and 500 brands market their products online, Collins uses her extensive knowledge of social media and marketing techniques to help Atlanta agents establish their professional brands online. You can find her restaurant reviews, listings, and real estate tips at MoreThanOpeningDoors.com. To contact her for marketing proposals, please visit www.analogiemarketing.com.