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Chris Stuart

The subject of real estate disruption has been a staple of most, if not all, industry education and “brainstorming” gatherings for years.

Occasionally, someone will stray from the thought of us needing to prepare for the looming threat of externally-driven disruption by declaring a need for self-disruption. Unfortunately, there never seems to be any ideas or strategies for how this act would be accomplished.

Yet, the need for listing agent disruption is routinely in evidence.

For example, just today (at press time), we were at an event where we heard a very impressive REALTOR® from Cape Cod say, “The buyer determines the price of what a home sells for,” and the person on the panel with her from Utah said the key to success in real estate is to be a listing agent.

To us, these two industry-wide declarations are crying out for listing agent disruption. When referring to a fellow real estate professional or oneself as a listing agent, it suggests the following:

Allan Dalton

A. I am a listing agent versus a marketing agent; therefore, my job is done as I have the listing. Consequently, I have no influence over the end result. Accordingly, the buyer or the market will determine the price…yet I want to determine the fee.

A listing agent definition stultifies reaching the understanding that the buyer, the buyer’s agent, the seller, the seller’s agent, the appraiser and the lender all contribute to the determination of the final price.

B. Myopically proclaiming listing agent status means that I’ll train myself to make listing presentations versus marketing proposals.

This behavior is a byproduct of being a listing agent even though, presumably, every homeowner on Earth would prefer a marketing proposal.

C. This is also why so-called discount companies will pointedly declare that they will “list” a home for a certain fee—instead of marketing a home for that fee—as the minimalism surrounding merely listing a home keeps the bar low, which invites limited-value companies into the arena. Why wouldn’t any home seller want to pay less to get their home listed?

D. When one identifies as a listing agent, this compels us to think that homes do not sell due to price, as this is all a listing agent, by definition, is capable of accomplishing—setting the price.

However, if one announces to themselves that they are a marketing agent, then homes do not sell due to price…because price is just one part of marketing!

When listing agents surmise that homes do not sell due to price, it essentially has our entire industry stepping on our own proverbial air hose and collectively reducing the professional significance of an entire industry.

For if the only reason a home does not sell is because of price, then the only reason a home does sell is because of price, thereby relegating the value of the listing agent to that of an overpaid and feckless appraiser.

We could share numerous other examples of the counterproductive consequences connected to the value-killing title of listing agent (as opposed to marketing agent), but hopefully you get our emphatically stated premise.

We need to disrupt the words, and, in many cases, the self-fulfilling behavior of the words we have long worshiped: listing agent.

You see, our industry does not possess an image problem…

We are prodigiously photoshopped.

We are resplendently dressed.

We invented both personal promotion and self-reviews.

And the streets within our local communities are brimming with our BMWs.

Instead, we need to recast our value, and it begins with disrupting “listing agents.” Listing agents, no. Marketing agents…yes. And it’s not about semantics—it’s about value.

Chris Stuart is CEO of HSF Affiliates and president of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices. Allan Dalton is CEO of Real Living Real Estate and senior vice president, Research & Development of HSF Affiliates. For more information, please visit and