Illinois REALTOR® Magazine | July 2013
By Stephanie Sievers, Associate Editor
REALTOR® Deb Campbell has some advice for agents who think that because they have gotten busier in the rebounding market they can let slide some of the professional courtesies they should show the public and their peers.
Think again, says Campbell, a broker with Concept Real Estate in Columbia, Ill. Professionalism has never been more important. How REALTORS® approach their jobs and present themselves to the public can shape their reputation, both good and bad.\
“Being a professional is very important. That’s what we build our reputation on,” Campbell said. “If you don’t follow the rules, you won’t be trusted.”
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the REALTOR® Code of Ethics, which establishes the enforceable standards of professional conduct for REALTORS®. But “professionalism” encompasses more than following the Code.
For REALTOR® Chris Read, managing broker of CR REALTOR® in Naperville, presenting yourself as a professional covers three tiers: business skills, ethics and professional courtesy.
“Professionalism is a decision that every individual makes,” she said. “What level of service do you want to provide? What kind of image of yourself do you want to put out there?”
Consumers will gravitate toward the trusted advisor who is going to provide a value proposition to the transaction and part of that includes having the knowledge, skills, trust and image that people want to be associated with, said Read, who is vice chair of IAR’s Professional Standards Committee.
In the past, REALTORS® were the keepers of information and consumers came to them for access and information on homes and the market, Read said. But today, buyers and sellers have so much information at their fingertips that the REALTOR® role has changed.
Now they want someone who can help them wade through all that information and put it into context. They want a REALTOR® who knows the industry, knows the market and knows the community, Read said.
“There’s a huge amount of homework and preparation in order to have the level of professionalism that the consumer is going to expect and demand in today’s world”
Part of being professional, Read says, is keeping up and staying current with what is happening in the industry. REALTOR® education courses and designations are important but so too is staying on top of real estate news and trends. That also includes being an expert on your local community and real estate market.
“You have to earn your reputation with every single new person that you are dealing with,” Read said. “You have to be on top of your game every time.”
You can never go wrong by treating your clients and other REALTORS® the way you would want to be treated, REALTOR® Mike Drews said. Not only is it good business practice, but good common sense.
If you don’t have a good business relationship with people, chances are you’re not going to get more business, said Drews, a broker with Charles B. Doss & Co. in Oswego. It doesn’t matter if you do one transaction a year or 200. What matters is making sure you do each transaction in a professional manner.
“You don’t get a chance in the real estate business to do something over,” Drews said. “If you’ve messed up a transaction, it could have a lasting effect on your business, your reputation and whether or not you get referred down the line.”
The National Association of REALTORS® has outlined a list of professional courtesies that REALTORS® can follow in the document, Pathways to Professionalism, which includes tips for respecting the public, property and their peers.
Drews, who has chaired IAR’s Professional Standards Committee three times and is a member of NAR’s Professional Standards Committee, said REALTORS® and brokerage companies would be well served by reviewing the Pathways to Professionalism more often. Scan it before you meet with a new client or refer to it in office sales meetings.
The Mainstreet Organization of REALTORS® produced a video that became a popular training tool highlighting key elements of professional courtesy. NAR recently remade the video, “A Pathway to Professional Conduct” featuring some of the same Chicagoland area REALTORS®.
Sometimes it’s the little things that can make a difference. If you know you are going to be late to an appointment, let the other person know. Follow through with providing feedback on a listing. If you are showing a listing, make sure the sellers know, but also alert them if plans change.
The market may be picking up but that is no excuse for agents to ignore professional courtesies. Your actions on the job not only reflect you but also other agents and the industry as a whole.
If you view a listing with your buyer and wait a week to respond with feedback, or don’t respond at all, the seller wonders why the listing agent can’t get information and it impacts their perspective of the transaction, Campbell said. The same is true when there is miscommunication and sellers aren’t notified that a showing appointment has been made and they are surprised to find a potential buyer on their doorstep.
You wouldn’t cancel a doctor’s appointment without contacting someone. Why should it be different if
your buyers change their mind at the last minute about touring a property, Drews asks. It just leaves the impression on sellers that the agent isn’t being professional in business.
“Most of the problems that come up between REALTORS® and even the public come down to communication,” said REALTOR® Laura Martin of RE/MAX Unlimited in Peoria. “Always return a phone call even if it’s for simple things like letting them know you don’t have an answer yet.”
No one wants to be “that agent,” with a reputation for not following up, missing appointments and not communicating. People have long memories and if a transaction goes well with another REALTOR®, you and your clients will remember it. If it goes badly that will leave an impression as well.
REALTOR® Lauren Mitrick, a broker with Newman Realty in Chicago, said she wants to be the REALTOR® who when other agents see her on the listing sheet, are excited to work with her again.
“I’m helping someone with one of the biggest decisions they are going to make in their life,” Mitrick said. “I would want to make that big decision with someone who is detail-oriented, diligent and professional in all capacities.”
Professionalism and a REALTORS®’ reputation are their calling card in what is often a referral-based business. How you present yourself to the public and your peers reflects not just on you but on the industry as a whole.
“I think it makes it a smoother, less stressful process for buyers and sellers when we’re all professional. The public has their own perception of what our industry is and I like to pleasantly surprise them.” says Martin.
“Often we hear, ‘why use a REALTOR®?’” Let’s give them the reason why through our actions.”
As the IAR Legal Hotline Attorney, I hear our members sometimes air their grievances about their colleagues’ less than professional behavior. As a result, I have compiled a list of “simple suggestions” that could be employed in a broker’s everyday practice to foster cooperation and congeniality:
Note: Most REALTORS® don’t need these reminders and follow these simple suggestions already. But since this is “Focus on Professionalism” month, we are posting them at this time.
“You don’t get a chance in the real estate business to do something over. If you’ve messed up a transaction, it could have a lasting effect on your business, your reputation and whether or not you get referred down the line.” - REALTOR® Mike Drews
Pathways to Professionalism