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What we get paid for

being a professional Apr 13, 2024

Last week we talked about consistency. 

My mentor used to tell me that what we got paid for in real estate was consistency. We got paid for showing up in a certain way, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year. If you did that, then over time, you built a business that consistently produced.

What I said yesterday - and last week - was that in essence, the thing most people have a hard time doing in real estate: being consistent! Except right now what mostly gets talked about on social media and elsewhere is a very jumbled, inconsistent, and misleading message on what we get paid for.

Yesterday I was at a realtor event, and the organizer had brought in three speakers to help motivate, inspire, and guide realtors. None of the speakers were realtors. None of them had ever sold real estate. Two of them were from the mortgage side. I have a lot of respect for these individuals, they are fantastic speakers, and have great track records for what they have done. So what I am about to say could come across as totally disrespectful (if there were to ever read this).

They have no fucking idea what it’s like to sell real estate. None. Zero. Most people don’t - including real estate licensees who have never really sold much real estate!

What most people don’t understand / have no clue / or often forget - we are hired as fiduciaries. That means we are “on the hook.” The reason we get paid and will continue to get paid, is not for the litany of details we do during a transaction, even though we do a lot of stuff. That’s not what we get paid for.

I have seen some thought leaders and speakers say that we should start advertising and telling our clients and prospective clients all the things we do during a transaction.

No one gives a shit!

Listing the services and tasks we do - commodity stuff. Ask your house cleaner what they do vs. someone else. Who cares? You simply expect your house to be cleaned.

Conversely, do you ask your accountant all the steps they do to prepare your taxes? Or the attorney who handles your estate planning? No, you simply hire people to produce the outcome you desire.

In our case, we get hired to help people buy or sell a home.

To the outsider, it always seems easy. For us, rarely does it occur that way. However, sometimes the transaction goes pretty smoothly. Many times it doesn’t. Seemingly, this year most transactions seem to be pretty difficult. We are the ones making it happen or keeping it on track.

Sometimes, months or years after the transaction, shit really goes wrong. There is a big leak. Mold gets discovered. The sewer pipe busts/backs up. After the client calls someone to fix it, who do they call next?


Are we responsible for the house systems breaking and/or wearing down? Of course not. But the clients turn to us as their real estate professionals, if nothing other than we were the one that “sold it to them.” Now, we didn’t ‘sell’ them anything. We represented them in the purchase of the home, except they see it as “we sold it to them.” BIG DIFFERENCE! In any event, we are used to seeing stuff break and solving difficult problems, so they call us.

I got one of those calls last night, on my birthday evening, from one of my longest-serving clients. Also, the only client I have that has no problem calling after hours and shitting on my evening. When he gets upset, he makes sure everyone else gets upset too. When he’s not being upset, he is the most generous, hilarious, and outgoing person.

Here's my point: we get paid to (1) become competent in the nature of selling real estate and (2) build a database of clients who trust us as real estate professionals. The only thing we need to be doing is expanding our skills and knowledge of real estate, and expanding the relationships we have and our ability to nurture and serve them. If you are doing anything other than those two things, you have permission to stop doing them.

The trick to longevity in real estate is being consistent at those two things, and...not being totally derailed by life - including your clients' lives!

This is a long way of saying that all the noise in the news and media about us being overpaid, commissions being squeezed, etc - is just that - noise. Publicly defending our commissions is probably pointless. Equally pointless, and useless, is listing all the things we do. Sitting in front of a client and demonstrating why we get paid a commission - is much more effective. However, I suspect most agents are not very good at this last point because it is rarely talked about, acknowledged, or taught. My belief is that the people who spend their time being experts in real estate and relationships... will have no problem continuing to thrive in real estate.