There was a time when the rules of etiquette governed everyday interactions, and breaking those rules was ground for (mild) scandal. Fortunately, social norms have relaxed over the years, and most of us operate much less formally than in times past. But even in this informal age — and in some cases, because of it — it’s important to observe a set of guidelines and best practices when it comes to real estate etiquette. That’s because, at its heart, real estate is, and always will be, a people business. And as the famous Maya Angelou quote says: “… People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” With that in mind, here are some simple rules of real estate etiquette that can help ensure you always make your clients and colleagues feel good about working with you.
Behave Respectfully Toward Colleagues — Real estate is a unique profession in that your competition is often also someone with whom you have to get along to reach a successful outcome for your client. Cultivating a reputation as someone who is respectful to all the parties in a transaction — other agents, lenders, appraiser, stagers, inspectors and everyone else — will only serve you well. That means being on time for meetings (or calling if you’re going to be late), quickly responding to messages, being willing to resolve issues as they pop up and never speaking ill of someone behind their back. If you’ve heard someone else is difficult to work with, give them the benefit of the doubt. Go in with an open mind and you might find that the two of you hit it off and get along great. By demonstrating respect for your colleagues at every level, you’ll become someone other agents and real estate pros can’t wait to have the chance to work with again.
Offer Feedback on Listings — You take your clients to a home, they decide it’s not for them and then what? Do you just move on or do you let the seller know what your clients liked and didn’t like about it? Not offering feedback is a little like going on a first date and then never calling the person again — they’ll get over it, but they’ll always wonder what went wrong. Offering polite, constructive feedback is not only the right thing to do, it could lead to a deal. If your clients like the house with the exception of a few small things or one big deal breaker, you might be able to get the seller to make concessions and create a win/won outcome for everyone.
Mind Your Manners on Social Media — Love it or hate it, social media is here to stay. And it can be a landmine for your business if you’re not careful. A simple rule of thumb, never (ever) write something on social media you wouldn’t say to someone directly, and never post a photo you wouldn’t want your mom to see. Even if you have separate business and personal accounts set up, clients and colleagues are bound to cross from one to the other. And while technically not social media, be careful with texting, too. Never talk badly about a person or a business via text; it’s all too easy to accidentally send it to the wrong person. If you simply must get something off your chest, call up a trusted friend — ideally someone not in the business — and talk about it instead.
Work Out Issues One-on-One — No matter who you work with or what size brokerage you’re in, at some point you’ll have a disagreement with a colleague. When it happens, don’t be the person who immediately escalates the situation by involving your broker or cc’ing half the office on a snarky email chain. Work things out one-on-one, preferably face-to-face (too much can get lost in translation over email). It won’t always be easy, but when you gain the reputation for being someone who takes the high road, there’s a good chance those disagreements will hardly ever happen.
Leave the House Like You Find It — Whether or not the listing is occupied, it’s important to leave it in as good (or better) shape, than you find it. Turn off the lights and water (if it’s approaching dusk leave one light on), straighten anything that gets moved and be sure all doors and windows are closed and locked; that includes interior garage doors and any exterior gates or security doors. Additionally, if you notice anything out of place, say, a leaky faucet or a trail of ants on the kitchen floor, do your best to remedy the situation. Then, be sure to contact the listing agent immediately to let them know what you saw.