The way that Realtors and other real estate licensees market themselves may impact the way the home buying and selling public view them – or even which questions to ask during an interview. Ten or twenty years ago, realty professionals did a lot of “me, me, me” marketing. We were told to have career books to show to prospective clients so they’d understand our value and what makes us unique in the sea of competition. A lot of print advertising is still very much that way, as in “look what I sold”. Online, though, and in person, the trend is to turn away from agent-centric marketing.
We in the business are told that consumers don’t care about us, they only care about themselves, and to tailor our messages accordingly. “Don’t make it about you! Make it about your potential clients!” So many salespeople have little or no information about them, their experience, background, awards, etc. findable on the web or in the material they bring along when first meeting prospective clients.
To me, this is a very weird (but common) state. Why would a consumer want to hire someone to assist with an enormous financial decision, the contract, the marketing (if selling), the labyrinth of disclosures and inspections without a sense of who this person is or how qualified he or she might be? Who does this “make it all about them” marketing approach serve? In my view, it helps the new, inexperienced or not so successful agent to appear to be even with those who are much better skilled and better respected in their industry.
How can you know how qualified an agent is to assist you? If there’s good info on the website, you’re way ahead. But if it’s been stripped bare, or if nothing substantial is provided during your interview, you can ask to see a list of recently sold homes, or properties sold over a period of time in the areas which matter to you. Or make it more open ended than that – just ask him or her to give you the background info you want, such as how long in the business, if full time or not, etc. If this person is a total stranger, you may want to request references (many agents will provide testimonials on their websites, though). When encouraged to talk about themselves, most real estate salespeople are happy to do so. Just ask! If they dodge the question, though – let’s say you ask how long they’ve been in the business and they respond with “it feels like forever!” – consider that a red flag.