When buying or selling a home, we know that working with a regulated real estate professional is in the consumer’s best interest. That message has always been central to the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO) consumer outreach efforts. From the consumer’s perspective, your professionalism, knowledge and skills are what makes you an asset for real estate guidance and advice and reflects on the profession.
With that in mind, it’s important to reflect upon what defines professionalism in the industry.
There’s no denying that the well-defined rules within the profession are crucial, but the unwritten expectations are equally important. As experts in your field, you must respect your industry colleagues, despite competing with them, while putting the best interest of your clients first. A great way to go “above and beyond” what’s required is by engaging in continual learning to supplement mandatory continuing education. This will help keep you ahead of the curve and well-prepared to provide knowledgeable and conscientious service.
A few examples of learning outside of mandatory training include seminars and courses, as well as keeping up to date with industry news through websites, magazines, books and articles. Listening to industry podcasts and networking with peers are also valuable development opportunities.
The true value of what you bring to the table goes well beyond what can be found in textbooks and process. Professionalism isn’t instinctive – it requires conscious effort and learning from experience, and often mistakes. It is something that must be actively pursued and exercised until it becomes second nature.
For example, professionalism requires sound judgment. Knowledge and skill might get you a long way in your business, but if you aren’t able to routinely exercise good judgment, you won’t be recognized as a professional. Your knowledge and skill reflect your education and training. Your judgment reflects your character and experience.
Professional judgment is about doing things the right way, even when that means doing it the hard way. A professional recognizes that the right way exists for a reason – typically to reduce risk and better protect the client or themselves. While the perceived risk of a shortcut may appear small, a professional recognizes that they can’t control everything, and even a small lapse in judgment can create major problems, if not managed quickly and effectively.
Doing things right may take longer and require more effort, but by exercising good judgment you’ll reap great rewards.
Additionally, when it comes to being a professional, few things are as important as communicating clearly and honestly. Doing so shows respect for your clients, other registrants, coworkers and for yourselves.
When dealing with a client, it’s crucial to ensure that you are both on the same page. For example, when signing up a client, simply discussing the services you will provide is not enough. Putting the list of services in writing confirms what is expected from both parties and provides a written record you can refer to later. Conversations are great but confirming in writing is even better.
Using plain language also goes a long way. When you’re dealing with clients, you can’t assume that they understand technical terms or industry jargon. You are the expert and should break down technical terms to ensure your client has a comprehensive understanding of the situation. You should always assume that the things you say or write will be taken at face value.
Communicating clearly makes a big difference when it comes to client satisfaction. Failing to communicate properly with your client can have undesirable consequences and can certainly undermine your reputation as a professional.
Additionally, a true professional takes accountability for their actions by following through on verbal and written promises. For example, before taking on something by a certain date, consider when you’ll realistically have time to complete the task. Demonstrate your integrity by providing an honest timeline, even if the deadline is a few days later. Over promising and under delivering is not a good strategy.
And if the news isn’t great – like a showing that has been cancelled – it’s best to keep the lines of communication open and honest, to demonstrate that you are following through on your professional commitments and doing your best to sell the home.
Communicating frequently, providing sound, accurate advice and fulfilling your promises are keys to your success in raising the bar of professionalism. By doing so, you will reinforce the integrity of the profession and ensure that consumers see the value of working with a regulated real estate professional.