I have a lofty and perhaps swollen opinion about the role of the real estate agent.
That a country’s land should be owned by its citizenry, is a concept not shared by many countries throughout history the world over. But it is an ideal fundamental to American society, an ideal that champions the individual. And therefore, for us Americans, the right to private ownership of real property is a patriotic ideal.
So, by extension, the Real Estate agent is a patriot. We men, in our polyester slacks with bulging pleats, un-tucked rayon shirts, and loafers, along with the women, in their Lane Bryant pant suits, and costume jewelry, are patriots. We facilitate the land ownership desires of the citizenry on behalf of the country as a whole. Closely connected to the development and history of all modern American communities, whether residential or commercial, whether big or small, are real estate agents.
The buying and selling of real estate is a very unique and powerful niche in our society. It seems odd to me that although it has what I think is a very noble goal, it is characterized by fairly dishonorable salesmen and saleswomen. The common perception of the real estate agent is that he is unconcerned with defending his clients, or serving his community, or with any moral position that would hinder the delivery of his commission check. Common perceptions can be inaccurate, but they, like clichés, come into being by being common. Real Estate agents do not, by-in-large, maintain a good reputation as vanguards of their communities and its people. I suppose they do not see the higher purposes of the field.
I like real estate for its higher purposes. I enjoy working in a field that, when served correctly, tends to improve not just my clients’ lives, but spreads good will cross the neighborhood.
I like people and I like taking care of people. I love helping. It makes me proud to lend expertise and hard work to a situation where I am needed, to support someone and see them through.
I believe in fairness. When I see someone being taken advantage of, even if it is none of my business, it is almost impossible for me to stay out of it. More than once I’ve gotten myself into some tight positions because I’ve thrown myself uninvited into a situation where someone wasn’t being treated right. We all deserve a wing man. We deserve to be expertly represented regardless of our economic, educational, or social status. Practicing real estate gives me that opportunity.
Being involved in real estate allows me to be close to people who are really engaged in their lives. Real estate is most often bought and sold at or near key moments in people’s lives. Birth, death, marriage, divorce, financial success or failure: All of these key moments spark real estate transactions. So just outside the issue of buying or selling the actual property, big issues swirl around the client, making them all the more vulnerable and anxious.
I feel honored to be invited into their lives for this typically stress-filled period. It makes me feel like I not only have a career, but a purpose. It is an opportunity to do more than make a living. It’s an opportunity to make a difference.
Oddly, tied to this is possibility of not selling real estate. Since serving the individual is the real goal, then it must be the case that sometimes it is in the best interest of the client to be advised not to buy or sell property. This is the real contradiction to the real estate agent of common experience. You would not expect a guy who lives on commissions to advise a client not to sell or buy.
Sometimes we get it into our head that a bigger house will somehow lead to a more prosperous life. We can make ourselves ignore the threat that higher payments will cause dangerous friction in our marriage or stress throughout our family.
My job, then, is to understand what the client’s greatest desires are, to advocate for those desires, and to remind him when he is threatening them. Once in a while that results in a decision to put off buying or selling, or to stay put indefinitely. So be it. Once the transaction begins, my job is to see it through to the best conclusion based on my client’s best interests. My job, whether I get paid or not, is to give the best advice I can to my client and to see his goals met. If I pull back on that in any way, then I am not being the professional, or the man, I am trying to be.