A recent JD Power survey reported a trend in the real estate industry showing more homebuyers and sellers increasingly going without agents. It would seem that people are looking for cheap, convenient, and paperless transactions through non-conventional means.
However, sit-in at any closing table and you will find a room full of trusted people doing specialized jobs: the seller’s agent, the buyer’s agent, the buyer’s closer, the seller’s closer, attorneys, paralegals, etc. The priority of a cheap, paperless, and stress-free close seems 1,000 miles away.
Why? Because closing the sale of a home is such a major deal involving a large lump sum of money and a huge asset, the participants at either end are likely to want to look each other in the eye and verify one another as real, upstanding people. It comes back to trust. People will always pick trust over thrift and convenience when it comes to home sales.
But what if you could combine trust with convenience? Do you now have a complete and satisfying transaction? The future of the real estate industry (and human agents) belongs to those agents (and teams) that are most successful at serving both important attributes.
Why does it matter? Trust is the foundation of all relationships.
What exactly do you mean when you say you don’t trust someone? Do you mean you don’t think they are honest? Or, do you mean you don’t trust they have your best interest in mind? Or, do you mean you don’t think they can do the job? These are all different dimensions of realtor trust.
In a recent indictment of a local Minneapolis realtor husband and wife team, we sadly see another example of a violation of trust. It is alleged that these realtors devised a scheme requiring repair contractors to pay them kickbacks. In return, the couple used their position as realtors for the victim companies to steer housing repair contracts to contractors who paid the kickbacks. The indictment further alleges that they procured and submitted sham bids as part of the scheme to defraud the victim companies. The defendants created a scheme to siphon as much money as they could from these properties, no matter the method, no matter the victim. These scams victimize all of us. Trust is essential. These dishonest and untrustworthy criminals clearly broke the trust covenant that good realtors work hard to earn.
This concept is so important that an entire business model was developed by a popular radio/TV host to address the issues he had experienced in a real estate transaction. He developed a referral process to determine who you can trust and who you can’t…built on a proprietary vetting system. Trust is essential. But how do you define trust in real estate?
The Dimensions of Realtor Trust
Four dimensions of a trusted realtor
Integrity: Are they honest and ethical? The quality of honesty is the most important element and is the foundation of trust. Liars are not trusted. In fact, without integrity, the other dimensions of trust don’t matter.
Is there yes a YES and there no a NO? When your agent tells you something or promises something, do they follow through on those statements? Anyone can promise something, but people with integrity deliver on those promises.
When your agent tells you something and later you learn that it’s not true, how does that make you feel? Trust is like a bank account. You start with a certain amount of trust, and then over time, you add to that account by delivering on promises. And like a bank account, it can be emptied overnight if you’re caught under delivering and lying. Lying is a sure sign of someone who is in it for the paycheck and does not have your best interests in mind.
Does your agent demonstrate an awareness of other people? Are they respectful and courteous to others that are involved in a transaction? Integrity is also the quality of having strong moral principles and moral uprightness in how you treat people.
You can learn about a realtor’s integrity and reputation in several different ways. Start by checking online reviews. There are dozens of websites that allow users to leave reviews about realtors, so you should take the time to read some of their reviews prior to working together. If there is a single bad review and a handful of glowing recommendations, you shouldn’t put too much weight on that review. However, if there are reviews from multiple people that all say basically the same thing, you may see a pattern. With that being said, sometimes online reviews may not be complete or entirely accurate.
You can also ask for references. Better yet, ask people who work with your agent, their peers, or the vendors they associate with. Online reviews are helpful, but you won’t have the opportunity to ask the person who posted them any questions about their experience. If you want to engage in conversation with a former client to learn more about your agent ask him for references.
Competence: Do they know what they’re doing? If you hire someone to represent you, you want to be assured they know what they’re doing and can do the job well. What is their track record of success?
In other industries, a person’s level of success does not always correlate with his trustworthiness, but in real estate, it typically does. Trustworthy realtors have clearly won the trust of other clients and helped them successfully either buy or sell a home.
It’s also important to find a realtor who stays up-to-date with industry news. Does your realtor know what trends buyers are looking for this year? Does he know anything about the current interest rates on home loans? Are home values in your area expected to rise or fall in the next six months? These are areas that he should be familiar with, so if he doesn’t have the answers to these questions, he may not be as trustworthy as he claims to be.
Reliability: Can they be counted on to follow through on their commitments? Will they be there when they’re needed? If they agree to do something, are they dependable? Can they be counted on to complete things on time? Timelines and deadlines are absolutely critical in a real estate transaction. Missing important deadlines can cost you money and/or the possibility of losing your dream home!
Can you depend on your agent? Will they show up when they’re supposed to? Realtors who take a long time to respond to your emails or who say they will follow up with you on a matter but never do are not being professional. Likewise, realtors who are late for appointments or constantly reschedule with you at the last minute are not behaving in a professional manner. This is a sign of an unreliable realtor.
Concern: Are they genuinely concerned for your well-being? When we believe someone genuinely cares about our well-being, we are willing to open our hearts and become vulnerable. This is the deepest level of trust and is not to be taken lightly.
Part of showing concern for clients is having great listening skills. Trustworthy realtors are dedicated to finding you the home of your dreams. How do they know what your dreams are? During the first meeting with your realtor, he should ask you to describe some of the must-haves in your new home. If you mention that you absolutely must have a fenced yard for your three large dogs, but the realtor continues to send you listings for homes without a fence, he was clearly not paying attention during your conversation. This indicates he is more concerned with making a sale than he is with finding you a home that meets your needs. You shouldn’t trust a realtor who cannot demonstrate that he is able to listen to you and put your needs first.
Conclusion; does your realtor have your best interest in mind? Do they see you as an individual, and do they really care about your well-being? If they don’t, they may need to evaluate their mission statement or rethink their career choice. When you start to wonder whether you can trust someone or not, that is when you already know you don’t. Move on. Find a trustworthy realtor.
The sale of a home is a major deal. Don’t take shortcuts. Choose individuals with character, who are capable, and that you can depend on. It’s a matter of trust.