By Laurel Price

Yes, there are some dishonest real estate salespeople out there, just as there are terrible people in every profession. These sales reps have hurt the public financially and broken the public’s trust. They should be fined heavily and banned from real estate.

But there are also many real estate salespeople who are trustworthy and work hard every day. They demonstrate their integrity even when it costs them a paycheque. They will tell you the truth even when it’s something you don’t want to hear. That’s how important it is to them to be upfront and honest.

To every one of you who have been hurt by a dishonest sales rep, we grieve with you and offer our humblest apologies that you’ve been through that. It makes us sick too and angry that our reputations are lumped in with the bad guys.

We work hard to make ourselves available to you…evenings, weekends, holidays and late at night. That means we give up family time to make sure you are getting what you need as our valued buyers/sellers. But there are times we need time away with our families, so we pay another trusted salesperson to look after you while we are unavailable. Then we stay in close touch with them to make sure everything goes well.

Clients who worry about wasting our time are never the ones who do. Please don’t call the listing agent to see their listing because you don’t want to bother us. It puts the listing agent in a conflict of interest working for their seller, but not knowing they are being expected to look after our buyer. Call us and we will make sure you can see the listing as soon as possible.

And the reverse is true. If we are the listing agent, please be honest when we ask if you are working with a Realtor. We don’t want to interfere with an existing relationship…and we don’t want to waste our time when you are working with someone else.

We value our relationship with you and your family. Buying/selling a home is often a strangely emotional and intimate experience…we spend a lot of time with you and usually get to know you well. We grow to love your kids because we see them so often (and face it, they are great kids, right?). That’s why we treasure your referrals to family, friends and coworkers…it means you treasure our relationship too.

We are only human, and there are times when we fail, but we do our best to do our best for you and your family. If there is a problem, please talk to us first and give us a chance to solve the problem. Expectations are a funny thing…it’s impossible to meet them if we don’t know what they are. And remember, we have expectations of you too, so let’s be upfront about how to work best together.

Although we can pick out problems with a property just because of our experience, we aren’t roofers, plumbers, electricians or foundation experts. That’s why we ask you to get a home inspection done. Home inspectors don’t pay us to refer you to them…we just think it’s wise to have an independent set of eyes looking at this huge purchase you are making. And yes, home inspectors miss stuff all the time, but they do their best too.

Being a Realtor is an expensive business to be in. Unless you are self-employed, it’s often hard to understand the risks we face financially every day and the expenses we cover just to be in business. Sometimes we go months between pay cheques, then get several in one month…so we must manage our money well to make sure we can be responsible financially. We pay for everything ourselves, from our liability insurance to advertising, car expenses to staffing, professional dues and fees to continuing education (which are required to keep our licensing). We must work for a brokerage, and they get a substantial portion of every dollar we make. So that great big pay cheque you think we get is a whole lot smaller than you imagine. Most of us do this job because we love it, and the people we get to meet and work with.

We do a lot of work we don’t get paid for behind the scenes…from advice given to research done, then miss the paycheque because the seller sells their home privately using the information we gave them. Or the buyer we showed a gazillion homes to goes and buys privately. And yes, we can go after them for commission, but that doesn’t build good customer relationships in the end. We usually just sigh and move onto the next client.

We value you. You’re important to us and we respect how difficult buying or selling a home can be. Please be patient with us as we work hard on your behalf!

Laurel Price is broker of record at Price and Associates Realty in Sarnia, Ont. “We believe in a non-traditional approach to our business of supporting buyers and sellers through the exciting and stressful process of buying or selling a takes more time, but we want our clients to understand and enjoy the process,” she says. “Referrals are always welcome, but we would also be happy to share our experience in a non-traditional real estate practice. Call 519-383-5050.
  • Old Timer

    perhaps the ‘common misconception’ about Realtors is because we are not seen as true professionals. That is why lawyers, doctors, architects, specialists in other fields don’t have to justify their existence. When we spend much of our time justifying our existence and our fees, the public starts to get suspicious. Maybe we spend too much time and effort telling the public how ‘professional’ we are and not enough time and effort in actually acting like professionals. As a very long time Realtor, I can honestly say, the first few years I was in the business, I never had a client question my commission or my qualifications. Our clients simply looked to us as the ‘experts’ when it came to Real Estate. Most addressed me as ‘Mr”…not unlike calling your medical caretaker: ‘Dr.” ….

  • Brian Martindale

    This is a good article which highlights how good, publicly-spirited Realtors are negatively impacted within the public mindset by not-so-good Realtor behaviours (when and ‘if’ the miscreants are ever caught at it). It is beyond time for ORE to willingly work hand-in-hand with government types to eliminate the riff-raff from Realtor ranks (both current and wannabe riff-raffters). It is about time for Realtors in-the-field to stop protesting what is inevitable…government intervention. Cooperation with the government by ORE may over time diminish ongoing interventions.
    The only thing that I would have changed within this piece is the title; I would have entitled it “What I, As Your Trusted Realtor, Would Like You To Know”. It is not wise to speak for anyone else, especially on a topic like this one.

  • Jozien Vet

    Great Article Laurel, I would send this to any potential buyer, it would avoid many common misconceptions. Jozien Vet, Sutton Expert Montreal

  • Neil Bosdet

    Love this. I say much of this to clients on a daily basis. With all that is happening in BC right now, it rings very true.