Put Your Foot Down

When you are at consumers’ every beck and call, doing business on their terms, you’re not valuing yourself.

March 4, 2015

Do you value your time? Well, if the consumer is more in control of it than you are, then you don’t.

When you drop everything whenever your phone rings to run out and show a home to a prospect whose last name you don’t even know, you’re telling that prospect that you have no boundaries or standards for your time. Even worse, if you don’t charge a buyer-broker fee to show homes, then you’re basically working for free, and you don’t value what you do, your business, and, most important, yourself.

Being a professional means acting like one, and no professional I know would run a business completely on the client’s terms. Show me any white-collar business owner outside of real estate who doesn’t first schedule an appointment to meet at the office and I’ll show you a dog who doesn’t like treats. Lawyers, accountants, doctors, and financial advisers all meet new clients at the office. And they don’t do any work — show up to court, file your taxes, perform medical tests, manage your portfolio — without charging a fee to do so.

I can already hear a collective groan: What if the buyer lives too far from my office; nobody wants to meet at an office; we work in the field, so it’s our job to meet customers in the field. Those are nothing but excuses. If a potential buyer tells you they live too far away to meet at your office, guess what — they aren’t serious buyers. It’s that simple. When I have to schedule an appointment with a doctor, lawyer, or insurance agent, I don’t call someone who is 60 miles away from where I live.

And if you think that no one will pay you a buyer-broker fee before they see homes, then you’re right. With that kind of attitude, nobody will ever want to pay you for your time. Once you view the services you provide as actual work and put a monetary value on those services, you will have no problem sitting with a potential buyer and explaining your fee. Everything you do before an offer is accepted is work, just like everything you do after an offer is accepted. Every second of every minute that you are doing something for a buyer is work.

Many agents become defensive when this subject is even brought up, and I’m not sure why. Don’t you realize how much easier your job would be if you made these changes? Think about it for a moment: You receive a call from a buyer who wants to see a property, and you say, “Great, Mr. Buyer, what day and time would you and your wife like to come into my office to meet with me?” Mr. Buyer says Thursday at 11 a.m. The couple actually comes to the office at that time. While you meet with them, you also have them speak to a lender to get approved for a mortgage. They sign a buyer-broker agreement, and, yes, they pay you your fee before they walk out the door.

There would be no more meeting anyone you know absolutely nothing about out in the field — which is a risk to your safety, mind you — and chasing them around showings to explain the Consumer Notice and buyer-broker agreement only to find out five days later that their credit is horrible, they have no money or job, and don’t qualify for a mortgage. Every minute of your time would now be worth something. You would be doing the most work for only serious buyers (you know, who will end up actually buying something).

I value my time much more than I value money, and thinking this way allows me to run my business with the utmost professionalism. Since I have implemented this way of running my business, I get the respect I deserve from the people who I’ve been working with. My clients have some teeth in the game because they are paying for my services and representation. Therefore, they respect my time. Plus, they’re better-educated home buyers, having gotten approved for a mortgage with me by their side during that first meeting in my office.

We need to take control back from the consumer and start valuing our own time more. When we do, we start deciding when we work, how we work, whom we work with, where we work, and how much we get paid for that work. I got tired of gambling with my income. Haven’t you?

Renee Porsia is an associate broker with RE/MAX Eastern in Feasterville, Pa.