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By Scott Einbinder

RISMEDIA, Nov. 11, 2008-The fall of some of the very best financial investment houses can prove to be a great lesson for many real estate brokers and agents. It’s the lesson of how the minority hurts the majority. With all the focus on the sub-prime mortgage market and the loans that have not performed, we often forget that 95% of Americans do pay their loans on time. Of course it is terrible that foreclosures are too high, but one cannot speak of foreclosures without the other fact that appreciation levels prior to 2005 had been at record levels.

That said, it is that 5% of the population that has upset the entire system. Wall Street firms that existed for decades evaporated in months. I do not wish to over analyze why, as we can pin it on greed, lack of vision, accounting rules, liberal underwriting guidelines..etc…I hope brokers and agents see another lesson, that is it the few who can disrupt your office, destroy client relationships, promote poor sales and transaction management performance etc…and drive your business and that of the other agents in the office to the same destiny as those elite Wall Street firms.

The subprime agent; it is that group of agents whom brokers hire and retain that lack any fundamental sales and professional ability to conduct the real estate business with the highest level of integrity and care.

The minority of agents who have no ability to be managed and will not respond to accountability by their Broker, manager, or even worse, their client. This is the cancer that flows through our industry must start to respond to. Do you step up to the plate and “FIRE” any agent who is below the highest level of the professional and accountability curve. Do you tolerate agents who are always late for floor time, don’t return calls, don’t respond to e-mail, do not want training, complain about everything, show up late to meetings, do not prospect, do not work a full week, use a 1998 cell phone, do not embrace technology, go to every catered broker open house, are always on time for company parties, are always on time to pick up their two commission checks per year, throw a fit if their commission check is wrong by five dollars, loom outside your door for hours for the one or two deals a year they do, ask you the same question twenty times and still don’t get it…the list can go on and on. Far too often we accept these agents and do not have the courage to let them go and let the real winners obtain the business.

Recruit, recruit, recruit! The lifeblood of the business? What litmus test do you place on those you hire? I see so many who are hired because they are nice, know people in town, retired, yet have little to zero ability to be in this business. They are hired under a false expectation and the need to “keep the desks full” compromises our values and allows these newly licensed agents to turn into the cancer of the business. Every new agent should be required to be a “disclosed apprentice” to a seasoned veteran. Only after a certain amount of time and success should the designation of “full time professional” be granted.

As the year comes to a close there will be countless conventions, seminars, forums and classes filled with far too many real estate agents who cannot comprehend the most basic attributes of high quality service. Thousands of dollars will be spent teaching far too many agents “ethics” who do not have the DNA to absorb it. It is the subprime real estate agent that must be shown the door. Brokers need to make a decision to focus on the agents in their office who are full-time, fully invested, fully accountable, full approachable, and fully committed to be the best the public deserves.

This is a sensitive topic in the real estate industry and when I speak to brokers and managers about this I can see the eyes roll. The focus on more bodies and those two commission checks has blurred the real vision. The vision to fill your office with productivity. The cost of non-productive agents is the cancer. The amount of customers that never get properly managed, the cost of lost phone calls. The cost of all the time you spend with these agents at the expense of the ones who give it a full time effort.

The barrier of entry into the real estate business is left intentionally low. The explanation I hear is that the country needs an employment sector that gives one the chance to make a lot of money without much education. Make it easy for anyone to get involved in one of life’s most important and expensive transactions! It is not the barrier to get in that is the exclusive problem, it is the barrier to stay in.

Brokers face a great time in this market. It is a time to cleanse your office of the non-producer. That is quite a statement that you will be making to your full time agents and most importantly your clients. You are saying you want only the best for them. You will invest your time and resources into those who will take the ball and run with it as opposed to those who just show up for the snacks.

Make sure your office and agents have: a consumer risk reduction plan, mortgage portability analysis training, a defined merchandising strategy, transaction management platform, an understanding of ROI assessment on list price, exclusive buyer agency options, buyer quality analysis. These are just a few of the issues that matter most to your client and your transaction.

Ninety-five percent of the American people pay their mortgage on time and should be rewarded for such. Your office hopefully has a large percentage of agents who do it right for you and your clients. If you find you have an office where the majority of your agents are subprime agents, talk to some of the ex-employees of Lehman Brothers and Bear Sterns who thought they were immune to disaster!

Real estate sales is an honored profession that should be treated as important as the transaction itself. An expensive and life changing transaction should be managed by only the best. This can only be done from the top down. The decision to embark on this path requires far more guts than money.

This market is the market of winners. The public needs winners now more than ever. Do you have the courage and vision to be one?

Scott Einbinder is a national real estate speaker and trainer. He can be reached at scott@scotteinbinder.com

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