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What We Say & What We Do

The other day, we had our annual company event, in the postcard setting of the Paul Masson Mountain Winery, in the hills of Saratoga. Big/happy production. It’s our way to celebrate togetherness and success. About 1,200 people, agents, staff and managers came early and left late. When you have the right venue and the right people, you have the magic recipe for the best party. Even the weather was in a good mood: the rain respectfully stopped in time for the presentations. The temperature did not get the memo though. Lots of noses started turning blue under the open sky an hour deep into the show. It did not stop the fun though. That’s Intero for you!

When my turn came to deliver what we may abusively call a speech, I chose to talk about the vast difference, in the real estate profession, between what we may say and what, in fact, we do. Difference between reality and fairy tales, if you will. Quite a subject really, one that I can touch on to tease the minds, knowing full well that a short blog is not going to change the way many agents go about getting a listing.

Here goes the story. We kind of know, although we don’t care to admit it, that all real estate agents say pretty much the same thing to seduce a home seller and eventually obtain the listing on his property. Granted, some agents are way better than others at “selling” themselves, often for valid and justifiable reasons. Let’s mention a few: some agents can successfully argue that they have more experience, or more comparable listings, or a better batting average, or they are just plain better at articulating those competitive arguments….

I can understand how a smart agent can leverage these attributes, although I have a hard time understanding how a seller can be satisfied with them. For three reasons:
They are just words. Words don’t do much. Words don’t pay the bills. At the high-end particularly, where sellers are known to be knowledgeable and smart, words can/should only go so far. Luxury home sellers don’t fall easily for the romance. At their price level, it is NOT what agents say that matters most, it is what they DO. Of course, if I am a seller, I love to hear pretty words about how beautiful my home is, or how gifted you are in marketing, or listen to lofty promises about how quickly my home is likely to sell…. But again, these are just words. Where is the beef? What, actually, are you going to do to market my home? Be specific, show me, what, when & how, and put a bona fide marketing plan black & white on paper!
When an agent rightfully brags about his past & present accomplishments, it does not necessarily mean that these accomplishments are relevant to the actual needs of a seller. Believe it or not, it is not because you have a bunch of comparable listings in the local market that you are the best at marketing & selling. Maybe you are just terrific at promoting yourself and at listing. The thing for sellers to realize and keep in mind is that the fact that an agent spends lots of time, energy and advertising dollars to promote himself/herself and get high-end listings is no guarantee that he/she will spend the same time, energy and advertising dollars to reach out to potential buyers regionally, nationally and internationally. The ratio could be as dismal as 80/20.
As a seller, you must also remember that the listing agent, as great as he/she may be, depends to some extent on the company’s marketing power to maximize sales opportunities. Let’s be frank: today, most agents are on their own to devise an ambitious marketing plan for an exclusive property… On their own to logistically implement such plan… And on their own to pay for it. Companies, as such, are not too keen on spending advertising dollars, leaving it up to the associates to burn their time, brain cells and money to do a job they are not really qualified to do well because of a lack of expertise, tools, manpower and financial resources (especially since they don’t know whether the property will ever sell, i.e. pay a commission). If the company is committed to the implementation and the funding of the marketing plan, at least you are 100% certain that the plan is more than a piece of paper.
Bottom line: we, in the real estate business, are only as good as what we do. Not what we say we do, but what we actually do! So let’s do it well, with integrity and humility.

Alain Pinel

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