Some years ago I was sitting in a courtroom. I was working with a property management company at the time, and one of the tenants managed to really not pay their rent for a number of months. I happened to be friends with our real estate attorney at the time. If you’ve ever gone to court for an eviction, you usually see case after case come before the judge. A lot of times the tenants don’t even show up. The attorney and I were sitting there, and when another lawyer went to the bench, my attorney whispered to me, “see that guy, he’s a jerk. He is known to have challenged other lawyers to fights outside the courtroom, and his license is close to being suspended.” I took a look at the lawyer again. I didn’t see that he was a jerk, as there was no sign or anything above his head. After our attorney said that, however, I had the odd feeling that I didn’t like the guy, and I wouldn’t want him to represent my company or real estate clients.
Let’s fast forward to my real estate brokerage in St. Louis, Deerwood Realty. Would it surprise you to know that there are real estate agents in St. Louis that act like total jerks? It shouldn’t. The real estate community is full of great real estate agents, but there are definitely a few winners for jerk of the year. Let me tell you about some of the ways you can really be a jerk as an agent, and how that affects your business in the long haul.
- You negotiate every section of the real estate sales contract as if it’s your last day on earth. As a client, that sounds great right? It’s actually one of the dumbest things you can do for your clients. There are going to be times during a negotiation that you will need the cooperation of the other side. When you take and take and take, how do you think that is going to work out when you need that cooperation? Do you really think you are going to get it?
- You take every opportunity to say or write things to irritate the other agent in the deal. One agent sends me garbage about having a nice day after they’ve spent 5 minutes trashing my clients. They don’t mean it, they know what they are doing, and it gets noted. Again, negotiations are two way streets, and when the time comes to be more aggressive, based on another real estate agent’s jerk level, it will get settled.
- You demand that paperwork be signed when you’ve filled it out incorrectly in the first place. I’ve had other real estate agents curse me for not having my home buyers or sellers fill out paperwork that looked like a third grader wrote it. This is far from professional work. Buyers and sellers of real estate generally aren’t stupid. They see the errors.
- You don’t communicate with the people you are representing. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been through houses representing my buyers when the sellers call and ask me all sorts of questions about their representation. Communicate with your sellers! Having the listing and then leaving them hanging until there’s a contract is a jerk move. You know better.
- You don’t communicate with the other agent. This is an oddity to me. In a real estate negotiation, you are usually dealing with two agents. If one agent needs things to get the deal done, the worst thing you could do is avoid communicating with them. I get that some agents aren’t in real estate full time, and I also get that there are life events that may make you unavailable for a while, but there’s no excuse not to communicate with the other agent. You don’t have to be best friends, but you must work to keep the lines of communication open.
I’m sure over time that I will be able to add to my list of jerks in real estate and the things they do that ruin our tarnished reputation as real estate agents. If you think that being a jerk in real estate is a good business model, based on what I’ve seen, you may start off hot, but after a few years, karma catches up with you and you will be working in another line of work. The reason is that buyers and sellers see what their agent has to deal with, and they make a note of those real estate agents that are jerks. When a friend or family member asks them for a referral, they say, “we had success with this agent, but you should NEVER use this other agent. When you get enough people saying “never”, it’s a pretty good indication that you won’t be around for much longer.
At Deerwood Realty, we take a collaborative approach with our clients and the people in real estate that we work with. Some days aren’t great. Some vendors have to move on. And, of course, some real estate agents should probably be doing something else. We think it’s important that our clients know how we operate, and how they fit into our business. After all, they are the reason we have had success, and how we will continue to have success well into the future. Should you find yourself working with a jerk in real estate, ask yourself if that’s a good idea. If you decide it isn’t, there are thousands of real estate agents that are professionals and great to work with.