Commentary August 5, 2012

The Transformed Real Estate Agent

One of the more unflattering stereotypes of real estate agents is that of a passive, uncommunicative person who does not carry their own weight in the transaction. It is, sadly, rooted in actual events, and I have head my share of these folks in my own deals all too often. You probably know the type. He or she disappears after contracts are signed. They are hard to reach, are never proactive, never volunteer an update, and never seem to break a sweat. They say things like “let the lawyers work it out”  or make excuses instead of work on a solution when a problem arises.

Little can be done in the current state of the industry. The Realtor Code of Ethics doesn’t really address it, there is no law against being a passive, unresponsive jerk, and being frustrated with one’s counterpart in a deal is often chalked up to the cost of doing business.

There is one phenomenon that does occur on occasion where the lame agent suddenly transforms into an inspired powerhouse. On the day of closing, these feeble people suddenly rise from the ashes of mediocrity and transform into an absolutely determined zealot for a piece of paper known as the “lead -based paint disclosure.”

It is a sight to behold. Instead of hiding behind their voice mail greeting or ignoring their emails as they have done the months prior, they become the pursuer, hunting down this piece of paper as if it were the Holy Grail or the antidote for some virulent poison they just ingested. The timber of their voice changes, they give you eye contact, and there is even a detectable measure of irritation in their voice if they perceive any lack of urgency on your part about the matter. Pure, determined hustle.

You see, the “lead based paint disclosure” is an item that must be submitted to their firm or they can’t get their commission check.

Once procured, they revert back from the Hulk to Bruce Banner. So long as the compliance model of many companies is simply the withholding of pay until a form is submitted rather than truly training agents to spearhead transactions professionally, competently and with initiative, this will always be with us. Except in homes built after 1978 when lead paint stopped being used. No transformation with those homes.