I’m in Austin, TX on personal business, and thought I would take advantage of the trip to visit with my friends Krisstina and Gary Wise, and Jack Miller, at the GoodLife Team. Well, it just so happened that Keller Williams was holding a huge conference in town the same week, bringing a number of people to the city (something I found out on the flight down to Austin). The happy result is that I find myself sitting with the last two Inman Innovator Award winners for brokerages with a beer in hand, having some of the best conversations about real estate in recent memory.
One topic I’m curious to see what my readers think about was: What is the job of the real estate agent?
Fantasy Football, And Its Relevance
So of course, we’re going to start by talking about fantasy football. Bear with me a moment.
The tight end position in football is an interesting one. They play on the offensive line, and are usually thought of as blockers for either the running back or to protect the quarterback, but tight ends often go out to catch passes, like a wide receiver. For fantasy football, where you don’t get any points for blocking, but you do get points for receptions, you want to select a tight end who catches a lot of passes, like Dallas Clark of the Colts or Antonio Gates of the Chargers.
There are, as a result, a number of excellent NFL tight ends who almost never see the starting lineup of a winning fantasy football team. Bo Scaife of the Titans comes to mind; he’s almost always blocking for the dynamic running back Chris Johnson.
So if you’re a tight end, and you spend 90% of your time blocking for the running back, what exactly is your job? The answer, to me, is that your job is to block for the running back and you will be evaluated on the basis of how well you carried out your blocking assignment. You’re really more of an extra offensive lineman than you are a pass-catcher. On the other side of the coin, if you spend most of your time as a tight end running routes and catching passes, then you’re really more of an extra wide receiver and should be evaluated as such.
It isn’t the title, or the job description, but what you actually spend your time doing that dictates what your job really is.
Real Estate Agent: Job Description vs. Time Spent
According to Wikipedia, a real estate agent is someone who
assist[s] sellers in marketing their property and selling it for the highest possible price under the best terms. When acting as a Buyer’s agent with a signed agreement (or, in many cases, verbal agreement, although a broker may not be legally entitled to his commission unless the agreement is in writing), they assist buyers by helping them purchase property for the lowest possible price under the best terms. Without a signed agreement, brokers may assist buyers in the acquisition of property but still represent the seller and the seller’s interests.
It is this definition, that a real estate agent assists sellers in marketing their property or purchasing a home, that is the dominant understanding of what a real estate agent’s job is. Things like fiduciary responsibility, code of ethics, continuing education, and so on are all based on this job description.
Thing is… most real estate agents spend the majority of their time trying to get and convert leads. It’s just the nature of the business as it is today. Most of the brokerage models in existence today are based around this insight. Keller Williams, to name a major brand, is organized almost entirely around the concept that the real estate agent is a business unto herself, and the broker/franchise’s job is to support the agent.
So when realestistas talk about things like professionalism and competence, are they, in effect, evaluating a tight end on wide receiver standards?
What is the real estate agent’s job? Should that (whatever you think it is) be the agent’s job? What are the implications of whatever your answer is?
Curious minds want to know.