Although the average real estate agent barely makes a living and either has a second income source or a high-earning spouse, about 10% of agents earn a lot of money — and want to earn even more.
Myself, I make a very good living, as evidenced by the fact that I’m writing this week’s column while Rita and I are on vacation in Prague, capital of the Czech Republic. (I’ll be home by the time this column appears in print.)
But my business model does not involve doing every single thing I can to maximize my personal income. I get more satisfaction from trying to maximize my service to others, including my clients and the unknown readers of this blog. Since long before I became a Realtor, I lived by a motto that has mistakenly been attributed to Confucius. “Concentrate on giving, and the getting will take care of itself.”
My Denver Post column — what newspapers call an “advertorial” — is evidence of that strategy. As a former newspaper journalist trained on the metro desk of The Washington Post in 1968, I decided at the very beginning of my real estate career in 2003 that I’d spend my marketing dollars on buying newspaper space to publish a helpful real estate column.
It has paid off quite well. Unlike every real estate agent I know, I have never made a cold call or prospected in any way to get buyers and sellers to hire me. (This month, I just realized, is the 20th anniversary of getting my real estate license and starting as a broker associate at the Union Blvd. office of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, now called Coldwell Banker Realty for some reason I have yet to learn.)
That column, which also appears in three Jefferson County weekly newspapers, is my sole outreach to potential clients, and every week I get one or more calls from someone who says, in effect, “I’ve been reading your column for many years, knowing the day would come when I’d call you to sell my home. Today’s that day!”
The above is a long-winded way of saying that I’m happy to abide by the Realtor Code of Ethics (and state law) which says I should put clients’ interest ahead of my own. This brings me back to the question posed in this article’s headline.
Last week, members of REcolorado, Denver’s MLS, received an email detailing how easy our MLS has made it to withhold a listing from all syndication, including Zillow, Redfin, and even REcolorado’s own consumer-facing website, www.REcolorado.com.
That email cast its guidance in the context of a seller requesting such limited exposure, but why would any seller give his/her listing agent informed consent to limit the exposure of their home’s listing to only their listing agent’s own website or circle of prospects? I suspect the only reason a listing agent would convince his or her client to approve such a strategy would be to maximize the chance that the agent wouldn’t have to compensate a buyer’s agent, thereby doubling his own commission earnings. That is not what anyone would call putting their clients’ interests ahead of their own.