I had an interesting call today from a Coldwell Banker Realtor in Florida. He spoke to Sylvia yesterday and told her that he has a group of Florida investor buyers that want to come out to Austin in May and buy a bunch of rental homes. He’s trying to get them set up with a good buyer’s agent in Austin who knows a lot about rentals and investment property in Austin. He told me today that he’s done a lot of research, talked to different agents, and thinks we would be the best ones to help his buyers. That may or may not be true, but we’re flattered nonetheless. Just one problem – we don’t pay the amount of referral fee he wants.
We pay agents who refer clients to us referral fee of 20% of the gross commission we earn, and he wants more. He wanted to know if I would consider paying a higher referral fee to him, otherwise he’d have to send his buyers to another Realtor in Austin. I told him we have plenty of homegrown business and, no, I’m not going to match the referral fee that some other agent agreed to pay. He said thanks, and that he’ll send his clients elsewhere. I said “OK”, and that was that.
When this guy talks about his “clients”, who does he mean? At dictionary.com, one of the definitions of “client” is “One that depends on the protection of another.”
That’s the way we think of our clients – we are your servants and our job is to guide, advise and protect you. We work for you and look out for your best interests always, not our own. It’s not about money at all. When we do a good job and take good care of our people, the money takes care of itself and we honestly never even think about it. All the good Realtors we know share this philosophy.
So who is this Florida Realtor taking care of and protecting by referring his people to the agent that will pay him the biggest referral fee? Who is his “client”? It sounds like he’s his own client doesn’t it? He’s looking out for himself first and foremost, not his people. When he provides his “clients” with the name and phone number of the other agent, will he say; “Well, I did a lot of research and talked to a lot of agents and this particular agent agreed to pay me the highest referral fee of anyone else, so I think you should use them”? No, he’ll say something else and those folks won’t know any better. Hopefully the agent they use will actually be a very good one and maybe in the end it won’t matter.
It’s really sad to see agents who think like this. It gives all Realtors a bad name. The public, egged on by the mass media, seem to think Realtors are greedy, overpaid and only care about our commissions. Selfish Realtors like this one in Florida prove that, in at least some cases, the allegation is true. The rest of us just keep working our butts off to prove otherwise.
(Note: I orignally posted this as a “California Realtor”. Sylvia corrected me – he was from Florida)