I met a very nice woman the other day.  We got to talking about what she did for a living and she worked in tech.  She asked me what I did, and I told her that I was a real estate broker.  Without hesitation, she said, “My parents were real estate agents; I knew that no matter what I ended up doing in life it wouldn’t be sales or real estate.”  My wife and I had a good laugh because we know what she’s talking about.  She might have thought she’d offended me, because immediately after she said, “Don’t get me wrong, I had a great life, we went to Hawaii three times, when times are good, they’re great, but when things are bad…..It’s just really hard to deal with the ups and downs, and I never want to be involved in that.”

The Perception Of Real Estate Agents

I’ve talked in the past about the perception of real estate agents and reality.  The perception of real estate agents from the general public really varies.  Sometimes, when I mention I am a real estate broker, people will just assume I’m wealthy.  Other times, people will think I am no better than pond scum.  Being wealthy and pond scum at the same time isn’t exactly the look I’m going for, so I write blogs and always try to work in a professional manner.   Yes, some real estate agents encounter success and with that comes some reward.  However, the vast majority never sees that huge check and others often leave the business frustrated, broke, and miserable.

Would You Rather I Look Destitute And Dirt Poor?

I’m pretty surprised that people actually believe the majority of real estate agents are out there just piling up wads of cash. But, I can also understand why people think that.  To provide a window into how your perception plays into your decision making, let me offer you this scenario.  You are going to list your home for sale in south St. Louis County.  You don’t have a cousin or brother who’s in real estate.  You decide to call me because you like my website, or you’ve seen something on Facebook, or one of my former clients had something nice to say about me.  We set an appointment.  I show up at your house in a rusty 1980 Ford Tempo.  When I get out of my car to come to your door, three beer cans fall out and I’m wearing a stained t-short, shorts, and flip flops.  Are you listing your home for sale with me?  I sell houses for a living; you can bet I am going to give you every perception that I’m successful, confident, and a professional.  That’s sales 101.

Do Real Estate Agents Overdo It?

Without a doubt, some agents look like parodies of themselves.  One of my favorite things to do is look at an agent head shot and then try to guess what decade that picture is from.  When I get a good guess, I figure that was the best year the agent had.  If that picture is from the ‘80’s it’s a sign that maybe that agent isn’t to be taken serious.  I was once in a conference where the real estate agent in front of me had really puffed out hair.  If it was only a decade earlier, she really would have had the style nailed.  I couldn’t see around her coiffed hair.  “At least she had hair to begin with!” my wife would say.

A Real Estate Agent That Fits You

Whether or not the age of social media and social proof is a good or bad thing, it isn’t going away.  We see highly manufactured images of “being real” or “being true” all the time, and that is supposed to lead us to the right car to buy or the right clothes to wear.  This only goes so far.  For example, do you really want to see a drain cleaner “being real” on Instagram?  I suspect not.  However, similar to choosing your home, you should look for a real estate agent who fits you and your style.  If you look at yourself as someone who is “going places” or has already been everywhere, you would probably do best with a real estate agent who moves in the same way.

A “Familiarity” with Real Estate Agents

It’s often a joy to run into people who have parents who were agents, or who had family members who were real estate agents, or people who were once real estate agents.  Until you’ve actually had to try and get business from the general public and have them trust you with one of the more important financial decisions of their lives, it would be really hard to understand the day to day job as a real estate agent.  I do think there are similarities with other industries, with restaurant owners and workers as kindred spirits.  Certainly, the traditional social walls come down quickly when you’re talking to someone who has shared some of the more negative aspects of jobs in real estate.  Working in real estate may be like stepping on a rake from time to time, but it has also proved to be intrinsically rewarding.