Legendary motivational speaker and sales guru Zig Ziglar might have been ahead of his time when he advised aspiring salespeople to “stop selling, start helping.”
Good real estate salespeople teach clients about their rights and responsibilities and walk them through every line of text on any document the clients are asked to sign, explaining in plain language what everything means. They’re the kind of salespeople who know a healthy real estate market depends upon maintaining strong consumer confidence. The kind of salespeople who understand the value that consumer protection and regulatory oversight brings to their profession.
In other words: they’re the kind of salespeople who demonstrate their value to satisfied clients and get positive word-of-mouth referrals. They are also the kind that other registrants like to deal with.
Most real estate representatives I meet get it: when the public understands that real estate salespeople, brokers and brokerages are regulated, and somebody is enforcing the rules, it builds confidence in the industry.
Think about it. What level of confidence would you have in a car if you didn’t know the federal government mandates safety standards for automobiles? Would you personally invest money in the stock exchange if it wasn’t regulated? There are no guarantees in life, but that knowledge significantly raises one’s confidence.
For most consumers, buying a home is far more expensive, and much more complicated, than buying a car or stocks in a company. Very few consumers have either the confidence or the expertise to perform a real estate transaction entirely on their own from start to finish. That’s why the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO) regularly reminds consumers of the benefits of working with a registered real estate salesperson when they’re ready to buy or sell a home.
Consumers know they’re protected when they work with a registered salesperson or broker, because RECO’s mandate requires us to regulate the real estate profession. We establish educational requirements for salespeople, enforce both the Real Estate and Business Brokers Act, 2002 and Code of Ethics, investigate complaints from the public and from members of the industry, inspect brokerages to ensure they’re complying with the law and administer an insurance program that includes consumer deposit protection.
But our most important responsibility might very well be educating Ontario consumers about their rights and responsibilities when they buy or sell a property. An informed consumer is a protected consumer. It’s also a lot easier for a salesperson to work with an informed consumer, because you can really show your value by drilling down into complex and substantive issues, rather than spending a lot of time explaining more basic information.
RECO communicates with the public by participating in consumer shows and directing buyers and sellers to our website (www.reco.on.ca). We also engage consumers through a combination of paid advertising, social media and traditional media outreach. Those tips include:
- Interview at least three real estate salespeople before choosing;
- Look them up, using the search tool on the RECO website – it will tell you if they’re registered in good standing; and
- Read and understand any documents you’re asked to sign, and don’t be afraid to ask for clarification.
Some of that may sound a little obvious, but many consumers aren’t aware of the protection available to them, or they’re too embarrassed to admit they don’t fully understand a document. That shouldn’t happen.
Additionally, RECO helps salespeople and brokers talk to their clients about consumer protection. For example, we created a Registrant Toolkit of educational messaging that salespeople can access to provide helpful information to their clients on a variety of topics such as open house safety, the pros and cons of buying or selling first, and the value of using a registered salesperson. We also have a lot of useful and interesting content on our social media feeds.
Using RECO’s materials is a great way for a brokerage to reach out to potential clients, as they demonstrate the brokerage and its employees take consumer protection seriously, and the brokerage employs the kind of salespeople who take their legal and ethical obligations seriously. You know – the kind you want to work with on your team or as a co-operating sales rep.