What is the Agent’s Job?

Lambert's in Austin, TX -- just amazing brisket

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. :)

-rsh

  • http://www.honeybeeconsulting.com startabuzz

    First off, I’d like a Shiner Bock to go with that brisket, thanks.Second, this is gonna erupt into a “raise the bar” debate, so I’m gettin’ in early, that I might escape unscathed.The real estate agent’s job is, as you say, whatever he/she believes it to be. If he’s a listing agent, he should be that. A buyer’s agent? Be THAT. Or be both. But don’t be a real estate agent AND a florist … or a real estate agent AND a restaurateur. Real Estate, as a profession, requires a lot of know-how, requires a lot of care and feeding (of the business itself, and of clients) and, to my mind, isn’t something that someone should be doing on a part-time basis.Decide what your job is. Do everything that you can to do it in the best way possible. Whether you’re college educated, are an attorney, or neither, you have the ability to do your job well. You owe it to yourself, and to your clients, to do nothing less.

  • http://www.SanDiegoJeff.com/ jeffreydouglass

    A real estate agents job is to serve his Clients interests above all others, even his or her own.

  • http://www.realcentralva.com Jim Duncan

    A real estate agent’s job is to represent his clients. Everything falls under that. A few of the items in my job description:

    – know the market – inventory, micro and macro trends.
    – know more than the client – which is harder than ever.
    – show residential property and land
    – be able to analyze the market, demonstrate said analysis and communicate effectively.
    – market, negotiate, listen, interpret …

    Above all else, represent one’s client honestly, competently and as effectively as possible.

  • http://www.Kens411.com Ken Brand

    Austin’s cool, like the company you keep.

    Let’s see.

    It’s a multilayer cake.

    Of course, if the Broker belongs to a REALTOR association, the agent (and broker) has to meet the associations minimum standards of conduct, and everyone is required to follow minimum TREC (Texas Real Estate Commission) regulations.

    If a broker is sponsoring you, then as an agent, your job is to take care of the broker’s clients (in Texas, the clients are the brokers clients – the listings belong to the broker, etc.) in the manner directed, or promised to the clients. This could be high, or low. If, or when an agent doesn’t like, believe in, or appreciate a brokers business model, brand, or style, they move on.

    Depending on the business model, the broker may have some minimum production, or service delivery requirement, or perhaps their won’t be any production, or service requirements, as long as the agent pays their fee-fees, and subscription fees, and they follow the Associations, and TREC minimum requirements.

    I don’t believe there is a universal job description, it depends on the broker’s business model. When an agent doesn’t meet standard, whether it’s production, service levels, or fees paid, they get terminated. If they violate the official board and RE commission rules and regulations, they may get a wrist slap, 13 demerits, fined, suspended, or their lisc. is revoked (in theory).

    That’s my two cents, the football coach assigns the position, and draws the plays. The player executes. Some players train and play harder, and smarter than others, and some are more gifted.

  • Antonietta Graziosi

    Perfect. Thank you Rob. Everyone needs to understand what their roles are. For a moment, forget about the “benjamins” and understand who your client is. And the laws that govern the relationship of sellers as clients; buyers as clients or buyers as clients;and sellers as customers (the latter is under a buyer’s agency in NYS). If you represent the seller you are bound by state licensing and real property laws to disclose in advance. Same practice for representation of buyers. It baffles me that Realtors and its’ association, proudly say they adhear to Ethics… and they don’t understand exactly what they are abiding to. This post is very relevelant. In my humble opinion, I see real etate changing in this direction. No longer will it be seller’s agency practice as it was for many years. Those times have passed. Instead of spending and investing so much money and time on websites geared to capture leads (under seller’s agency), they should be spent on how to handle the representation of buyers. Without buyers today, you have nothing. Thanks for posting. -toni

  • Antonietta Graziosi

    Correction:

    Perfect. Thank you Rob. Everyone needs to understand what their roles are. For a moment, forget about the “benjamins” and understand who your client is. And the laws that govern the relationship of sellers as clients; buyers as clients or buyers as customers;and sellers as customers (the latter is under a buyer’s agency in NYS). If you represent the seller you are bound by state licensing and real property laws to disclose in advance. Same practice for representation of buyers. It baffles me that Realtors and its’ association, proudly say they adhear to Ethics… and they don’t understand exactly what they are abiding to. This post is very relevelant. In my humble opinion, I see real etate changing in this direction. No longer will it be seller’s agency practice as it was for many years. Those times have passed. Instead of spending and investing so much money and time on websites geared to capture leads (under seller’s agency), they should be spent on how to handle the representation of buyers. Without buyers today, you have nothing. Thanks for posting. -toni

  • Antonietta Graziosi

    New York State Agency Dislcosure in its’ entirety. http://www.dos.state.ny.us/forms/licensing/1736-a.pdf

  • Antonietta Graziosi

    Definition of Agent taken from Modern Real Estate Practice in New York for Salespersons and Brokers:

    One who understands to transact some business or to manage some affair for another by authority of the latter.

    Definition of Real Estate Broker: Any person, partnership, association, or corporation that sells (or offers to sell), buys (or offers to buy), or negotiates the purchase, sale, or exchange of real estate, or that leases (or offers to lease) or rents (or offers to rent) any real estate or the improvements thereon for others and for a compensation or valuable consideration.

    Defination of Salespeson: A person who performs reale state activities while emploed by or associated with a licensed real estate broker.

    Reference New York Real Property – Article 12-A – § 443 Disclosure Regarding Real Estate Agency Relationship; Form
    http://law.onecle.com/new-york/real-property/RPP0443_443.html

  • Brian Hickey

    The job of an agent is to help consumers buy and sell real estate – simple brokerage. However, to use your football analogy; isn’t value more important to the question than simple job description? Is Dallas Clark worth more or less than Dustin Keller? Why do agents most often share commissions equally – aren’t some agents more valuable than others? If I owned a football team, I certainly would understand the tight end position – but, definitely would not compensate equally.

  • Antonietta Graziosi

    please delete this post. The corrected one with typos is sufficient and the posts following. thanks.

    • http://www.notorious-rob.com Notorious R.O.B.

      Done!

  • http://www.RichLeeRE.com Rich Lee

    The real estate agent today is all that is mentioned above. Sadly, we have to do a lot of getting and converting leads rather than spending our time studying the market and helping clients.

    I’m not sure that the getting and converting leads aspect will ever go away; I think how much time spent getting and converting leads changes with how hot the real estate markets are and how many people become agents. Being a real estate agent is as my broker says, “It’s too easy to get in. It’s too easy to pretend to be an agent. It’s too easy to get out.”

    Cheers,

    Rich

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  • http://www.DesertMountainHomesOnline.com CarmenBrodeur

    As a relative newcomer into the real estate world I am quite amazed at how little of my time is spent face to face with clients. Seeing clients and actually showing homes is a very small part of my week. I assumed I would be doing more of that, but in reality I am on my computer 30 hours per week working on my websites and following up with leads. Much different than I expected.

  • http://www.PhoenixCommercialRealEstate.com Marc Brodeur

    I believe like with any professional, the client is buying knowledge and application of that knowledge. A doctor provides the client/patient expert knowledge on the human body and the application of healing the body, an attorney, knowledge of the law and its application. A Realtor, knowledge of real estate and application of that knowledge in a transaction. The way to differentiate yourself is knowledge, and then apply that to help your client sell or buy a property. That may be local market knowledge, marketing to a specific demographic, etc, etc.

  • http://twitter.com/PapaGrande Jonathan Dalton

    This seems like it’s being presented as if one effort is detrimental to the other when they’re both part of the package … What’s the primary purpose of a sandwich shop? To serve sandwiches. Of course, if no one knows the sandwich shop exists – if no marketing takes place and no “leads” (read: customers) are generated, then the sandwich shop will fail. Without clients, it doesn’t make a difference how well you know the market because you’ll have no one upon whom to impart that knowledge.

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