Post-Sitzer, The Opinion Of 8 People Doesn’t Diminish Agent Value


According to coach Darryl Davis, the opinion of eight people doesn’t prove anything about the reality of our industry. By staying positive, keeping perspective and being proactive, real estate agents can continue to demonstrate their worth.

This January marks Inman’s fifth annual Agent Appreciation Month, which culminates at Inman Connect New York in a celebration of agents at the end of January. Plus, we’re rolling out the coveted Inman Power Player Awards, as well as the New York Power Brokers and MLS Innovators awards.

The Sitzer | Burnett legal decision against the National Association of Realtors culminated in an almost $1.8 million judgment in favor of the plaintiffs and has sent ripples throughout our industry.

We recently hosted a leadership brainstorming session to help brokers and managers have an open and honest conversation about how to keep their agents focused, how to navigate the legal fallout, and what agents have been sharing with us about their fears and frustrations.

I brought up a critical perspective that hasn’t gotten much “air time”: This verdict came down to eight people. It wasn’t 8 million, 80,000, or even 80 people who decided against the defendants. It was only eight people in a box. Don’t allow the opinions of eight people in a box to define your worth or dictate who you are.

Reaffirming agent value in the face of misconception

In the aftermath of the verdict, there’s a palpable concern among agents that this judgment represents a broader public distrust of their profession.

They feel devalued, discouraged and deflated by every new glaring headline. It’s crucial to counter this misconception by reinforcing the inherent value and significance agents bring to the table. 

My message to every agent is this: You are essential. Your impact is profound; real estate professionals have been integral to our communities for over 150 years. You’re not just part of a profession; you are part of a legacy, making a difference in people’s lives. Stand tall and proud in your role, knowing the true value you bring to the world.

Leaders should echo this sentiment and ensure that agents understand their worth isn’t diminished by the opinions of a few but is instead affirmed by the countless lives they positively impact daily.

Understanding the verdict’s scope

It’s pivotal for agents (and consumers, too) to recognize that the judgment was the opinion of just eight people out of millions.

This small group’s decision, reached after just weeks of proceedings and a brief two-hour discussion, does not reflect a widespread sentiment or a universal indictment of the real estate industry.

The reaction within the industry should be measured and contextualized, understanding that this isn’t a reflection of millions but rather a focused decision by a few.

According to NAR, “90 percent of recent buyers found their real estate agent to be a very or somewhat useful information source,” and “92 percent of recent buyers were at least somewhat satisfied with their recent homebuying process.”

The opinions of those eight jurors are not a reflection of the general public’s opinions but a testament to your value. NAR says, “89 percent of buyers recently purchased their home through a real estate agent or broker, and 6 percent purchased directly through the previous owner.”

Help agents see their value

Real estate leaders have a responsibility to help agents navigate these turbulent perceptions. One of the actions, or rather inactions, that was challenged in the brainstorming session was that of leaders who were taking the “wait-and-see” approach to the legal fallout.

The problem? The “waiting and seeing” what other leaders, associations or local MLSs will do is not a sustainable approach to helping agents have conversations with buyers and sellers right now.

It’s also not an approach that is helping them have the internal conversations that so many are absolutely having when weighing the pros and cons to see if they want to stay in this business.

Leaders should emphasize that this profession’s value isn’t contingent on external validation but is rooted in the essential services agents provide — helping people buy and sell homes with more ease, less stress and a better return on investment for what is undoubtedly one of life’s most significant transactions.

Training and skill enhancement as tools for empowerment

In light of the lawsuit’s outcome, there’s an even greater emphasis on training and skill development, particularly in teaching enhanced transparency, documentation and, most importantly, communication.

As the market evolves and challenges surface, agents with the right skills and training will be resilient. Leaders should focus on providing agents with the tools and knowledge to not only adapt to the changing landscape but also see the opportunities that it presents and excel in it.

Thermometers and thermostats

The verdict serves as a reminder for agents to choose how they react to external events. Let me give you an analogy about the difference between thermometers and thermostats.

A thermometer reacts to its environment; the room’s temperature determines how the thermometer behaves. A thermostat sets the temperature in the room.

If the room is a little chilly, that thermostat tells the furnace to get to work, kick on and do its job. It tells the system to calm down, pull back and cool off when it gets too hot.

Agents in this market have to make the choice. They have to ask themselves a question: Are they going to be a thermostat or a thermometer? Will they be affected by the news and what’s happening passively, or will they take control of their conditions and be the cause of their business?

Every leader nationwide has an opportunity right now to help agents answer that question, to help them keep perspective and arm them with empowering tools and training to confidently have engaged and fruitful conversations with homebuyers and sellers. 

A moment for introspection 

The bottom line is that the NAR commission lawsuit verdict, determined by just eight individuals, is crucial for introspection in the real estate industry. However, it’s essential to maintain perspective: the opinions of a few should not overshadow the value and impact of the many dedicated agents.

By focusing on skill development, maintaining perspective, and embracing a proactive approach, agents and leaders can navigate this moment with resilience and continue to uphold the industry’s integrity and value.

Darryl Davis is the CEO of Darryl Davis Seminars. Connect with him on Facebook or YouTube

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