We trust the hand that feeds us, but not the hand that steals from us.
The concept of trust forms part our DNA wiring.
Trust can be defined as “confidence in the honesty or integrity of a person”, and the synonyms associated with the noun are confidence, dependence, belief and credence.
Trust is about both character (which includes integrity) and competence (your strengths and your weaknesses).
There is a saying that “Nothing is as fast as the speed of trust”, and this can refer to every real estate agent’s most valuable asset: recommendation by word of mouth. The thing about trust is that if you lose it, it is gone forever. But if you have it, it spreads like wildfire from person to person.
The maxim “Know me, like me, trust me” is often used in real estate training to explain the process of gaining trust. It doesn’t happen the minute you first meet someone. To be recognized as “trustworthy” you have to earn it first by demonstrating your honesty and integrity, and only then will you gain a person’s confidence.
It’s no secret real estate sales agents are held in low regard in the public perception. In fact, in one recent poll in Australia they ranked at the bottom after doctors, firefighters and prostitutes. The main reason appears to stem from the initial meeting with a property seller when the agent gives an estimate of market value, but there are also accusations of agents being inexperienced, unqualified or downright dishonest.
From the very beginning of the seller/agent relationship there is an element of mistrust, often compounded by an over-inflated “valuation” of a property. This is the greatest dilemma faced by real estate agents every working day. If they under-appraise they may lose the listing, and if they over-appraise they may lose trust and their own reputation. Over-appraising is often referred to as “buying a listing”.
The crux of the issue appears to lie somewhere between an understanding of the industry code of ethics and good real estate training, and generation Y real estate agents may get caught up in material values rather than traditional fundamental ones.
In an article entitled “Can you trust a real estate agent”, Kevin Turner of Radio 4BC’s Real Estate Talk predicted that 60% of the people in real estate at the start of 2009 would be gone by the beginning of 2010.
In the current climate of uncertainty in the real estate industry in Australia, Turner’s predictions may also come true in 2012. Aspiring young agents are leaving the industry in droves, while principals of real estate agencies are going back to listing themselves to cut down on overheads.
At the end of the day a real estate agents reputation is everything, and his or her success or failure depends on it.
Tim Mansfield is CEO of Sydney-based buyers’ agency PrimePropertyBuyer, and author of a personal blog where he writes about business and life under his Nom de Plume Jack Hammersley.