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Commentary by Scott Einbinder

RISMEDIA, Dec. 17, 2007-As I travel from state to state and office to office I am constantly picking up business cards of agents. I look at the picture and often see a much different face on the card than the person I actually meet. The photo usually shows a much younger person, smiling and happy. Or, they are holding a phone or leaning over a giant door key, or my favorite, holding a cat or a dog. I try not to dwell on that as my real interest is to see those golden credentials at the end of their title.

The credential

As one who is often at conventions, I have tremendous interest in watching this process, but I have greater interest in what it is doing for our clients and customers. I meet agent after agent who have more credentials at the end of their title as it looks like a scramble of the entire American alphabet. GRI, CRS, ABR, ABA. Now we all know that 100% of the public could not tell you what these mean. I would bet that a significant percentage of real estate professionals do not really know what they stand for either. Yet, at conventions the rooms are packed to obtain these credentials and the pursuit to comply with state laws for continuing education mandates attendance at many of these classes.

Education is critical and I commend and admire every agent who attends these classes. The fault does not rest with you as you are taking the direction of your leadership of what you need to know. But when we look under the hood of the quality of the content you are receiving, the roots of the industry struggle is revealed.

I cannot tell you how many CE credit classes I have listened to. Recently, before I was to make a presentation on a non-CE issue, I sat in the back of a CE class on short sales and foreclosures. This was a two and a half hour class on a topic that is filled with multiple laws, procedures, and an extensive understanding of banking and mortgage issues. There were 400 people in the room. I sat and listened to two very well informed attorneys deliver this session. I watched the room as agents sat with a look of utter confusion.

At the conclusion of this session, the teacher asked if there were any questions. And, as predicted, there was not one question. No one understood enough to even ask one question. I can assure you there was not a pop quiz at the conclusion that required a passing grade of 90% to earn that CE credit. Think about this, 400 people received credit for something they did not understand. The only directive made was to “make sure you sign out or you will not get credit for this class.”

Why are there thousands of agents with multiple credentials still heard screaming at the mortgage company the day before closing because something was not done. I ask this agent, “Do you have an electronic and automated transaction management and notification system layered with a protocol to monitor and notify all parties when mortgage conditions are to be met and satisfied”? Answer: “What’s that?”

Why are there thousands of agents who have multiple credentials but have no client risk mitigation policy? Why are there thousands of agents with these valued credentials still representing a proposed market value of a home at the listing appointment, yet it sits unsold because it was priced and positioned too high. I will ask that agent “did you complete a Return on Investment Analysis for your client prior to listing their home”? Answer “What’s that”?

The credential that I think counts the most is GUTS. The agent that has the guts to be authentic and apply the skill of giving sellers what they need not what they think they want. Guts are about doing business with the public in a way that overflows with value, purpose and satisfaction. Being a great real estate professional requires the guts and conviction to start living in reality instead of catering to the dreams, myths and false expectations that the public has in what will get the job done and get it done right.

I have talked to hundreds of residential specialists that are certified, yet they take listings without knowing in advance of a contract if there are any liens, encumbrances, or other title issues that could affect the quality of title, which could cost their clients thousands of dollars or the entire loss of the transaction. Why do we let the buyer’s title company or attorney find these costly issues days weeks or months too late? It comes down to the quality of what we are teaching real estate professionals.

I speak to hundreds of agents with all those letter credentials who have absolutely no clue of how to assess buyer quality prior to negotiations by way of analyzing the automated finding report, determining if the buyer is an agency or non-agency buyer, and if there is portability behind the approval. These are the things that matter most to our clients yet are going silent transaction after transaction.

Agents and brokers need to continue to find quality sources of education and training that will lift you, your associates and company to a higher ground. There is an important question being asked today, “Are you in the business of agents or in the business of customers?” Do you fear transparency or do you embrace it? This is a fundamental issue facing our industry. I ask the question to everyone reading this article; What is your strategy to become a transparent customer centric agent, broker and/or company? The best firms in the country have sought out this course. I love the look in the eyes of real estate professionals when teaching them things they know truly matter not just to them, but to their clients. Even Dale Stinton of NAR has acknowledged that today is a new day and its all about the customer now.

I am a passionate advocate of education and training. Continue with your education and never stop. However, as an industry, we must start teaching real estate professionals how to “speak the language of the customer” and also how to apply it. This is a new language in many real estate circles. While we are fluent in the “language of the agent,” do you have the guts to take a course in authenticity and true value? The guts to abandon false expectation on overpriced listings? The guts to demand risk mitigation from day one? The guts to be your clients partner not just their agent?

Place guts at the end of your business card and you will find a member of the public who actually knows what it means and your value will have already started to rise!

Scott Einbinder is a motivational speaker and sales trainer specifically to the real estate industry.

For questions or comments you can e-mail him at