Should you choose a real estate agent based on the type of car they drive? – Singapore real estate blog
If you hung around social media long enough, you would have seen it – the supercars, high-end watches and other displays of material wealth.
And more often than not, it comes from… drum rolls
Real estate agents. (And maybe financial advisors.)
In a sea of over 30,000 real estate agents, this is a very competitive industry.
Social media is the online arena where people try to catch others’ attention and shine a spotlight on themselves.
It’s about selling and promoting yourself.
Am I going to start bashing agents who do this type of promotion? Of course not.
But the point of this article is really to help the general public get informed, especially if they are looking for a realtor in this hot real estate market.
Let’s start with a concept.
Here is a story from the book “Skin In the Game” by Nicholas Nassim Taleb.
Choose between the surgeon and the butcher
If you had the choice between choosing 2 surgeons who must operate on you to save your life, would you choose the one who is a bespectacled doctor in a white coat or the one who looks like an overweight butcher?
Both surgeons have a similar track record of success and referrals.
Guess the choice the author chose.
He will choose the surgeon who looks like a butcher rather than the one who looks like a doctor.
Because the butcher-like surgeon had to overcome a lot of perception bias to reach his level.
Your appearance should not be a measure of your skills and abilities.
For in-game skin:
All things being equal, he probably had to work harder and focus on his skills to bring the results his patients need.
When the results come from a direct treatment of reality – rather than via commentators – the image matters less, even if it correlates with the skills.
When nobody wants you… When you don’t look like you’re in the role, it means you have to be damn good at your job to keep it.
Makes sense, doesn’t it? You want the one that can save your life and not necessarily the one that looks good.
Let’s move this concept and apply it to the engagement of real estate agents.
What should be the basis for selecting a real estate agent to work with?
One of the emerging trends I’ve noticed is that landlords and real estate investors these days tend NOT to choose the first agent they meet.
In fact, it is very common for many real estate agents to interview before being selected.
What’s happening looks like a combination of comparison shopping and job interviews.
Even the best producers who achieved more than 7 figures last year are not spared.
These agents tell me that it’s common to meet prospects who say “oh, I spoke to a few agents before you”.
Agents are carefully assessed before being hired.
But what should the selection of an agent be based on?
- How do they dress and look like?
- Their level of experience?
- Their ability to speak on video?
- Their ability to communicate and relate well to the needs of their prospects or customers?
- Their ability to negotiate with buyers?
There are so many factors to consider. Some of these considerations are not easy to verify.
It therefore becomes even more necessary not to take the shortcut of determining an agent’s suitability by the way they dress or the car they drive.
The well-dressed “expensive” agent vs. the normal next-door agent
Personally, I wouldn’t hire the agent who drives a car more expensive than a 2-piece HDB.
In a time when one is smart and savvy with one’s finances, agents who drop a large chunk of currency in a depreciating asset like a car – well, I’ll be careful.
That being said, I know agents who are really on top of their game and these cars are literally small change for them.
For this small group of people, please spend your hard-earned money as you wish.
The country also appreciates their tax contribution – which is above annual median wages for most of us.
The problem arises when the “average agent” starts copying and doing the same.
And it gives an illusion of success when there really isn’t much substance underneath.
So how do you check the stuff?
Certainly not by the car they drive!
4 steps to selecting the right real estate agent for you
Step 1: Consult the CEA public register here: https://www.cea.gov.sg/aceas/public-register/sales/1
The purpose of this step is to check the activity level of the agent. You want an agent who is active in the market and has recently made a decent amount of trades.
This reflects their awareness of what is happening in the market.
The length of experience in terms of years can be misleading.
Some agents may have more than 15 years of experience but only less than 10 transactions per year.
Their experience may be more limited than that of the agent who has less than 10 years of experience but carries out around 20 to 40 transactions per year.
So don’t rely on years in the industry as a factor.
Step 2: Look for testimonials or comments or do online harassment.
Some agents share the testimonials they receive and make them available online.
But if you really want to step it up a notch, ask them if they have any past clients you can talk to.
Ask for a reference check if possible. Some agents should be comfortable sharing this, especially if they have established a good rapport and rapport with their clients.
Of course, you can’t insist on that for every agent.
But it’s a good way to check.
Step 3: Interview them and see if you like them
This is where all the articles you read in Stacked come in handy.
Ask the tough questions and watch how they react.
Maybe you can even pretend to be a bossy, demanding owner. If you are impressed with their patience, do not hesitate to hire them.
I’ve heard stories of agents who have encountered customers asking silly questions or pretending to be stupid – just to see how the agents react. (After the deal was done, they openly shared “oh actually, we were just testing you.”
Some tough questions you can ask:
- My neighbor sold his house at this record price. Do you think you can beat him?
- I think agents are not necessary in a real estate transaction. You do not think ?
- Do you think I can pay your commission in installments?
Watch and observe how they react.
Above all, don’t smile. Let them think you’re serious. Laugh to yourself if you must.
The purpose of the interview is to see how well they communicate and how genuinely they can connect with you.
Can I choose not to hire a real estate agent?
Of course, you can choose to DIY.
But I prefer to tap into their accumulated experience and expertise.
I don’t study real estate transactions for a living. I’m also not very good at arranging tours or negotiating the best prices for my house.
And as with many things, it can sometimes seem simple on the surface, but it’s usually never as simple as it seems.
For example, are you sure you are finding the right moment between the sale of your house and the renovation?
What if unforeseen scenarios occur, such as your buyer withdrawing due to loan issues (you don’t have enough experience to know how to screen serious buyers).
The standard 2% fee – I think that’s a small amount to pay for the services they render. Because for everything else, an agent has to accept this fact:
No compensation is received for anything an agent does – until a transaction is completed.
Gasoline fees, online listing platform fees, advertising fees, license renewal fees – these are payable upfront. Commissions are received only 4-6 months later.
So I agree with the commissions they earn.
With the support of a good agent, I know I can move on to other important areas of my life. Like raising my child well or becoming better at my job.
I don’t want to spend my life wondering if I got the best price for my house.
This should be a problem for my agent to solve.
That being said, of course, I will be watching closely and asking how the process is going.
If you’re a real estate agent reading this, don’t feel hurt reading this.
But going into debt for that high-end car in order to quickly impress potential prospects is the last thing you want to do.
You think it’s a shortcut, but it also adds extra financial pressure on yourself – for no good reason.
More importantly – when you’re selling to prospects to engage – that added pressure will manifest and amplify.
Prospects will smell it and detect it.
And I’d rather hire the real estate agent who focuses all of their attention on my real estate portfolio than have their attention divided elsewhere.
I can’t imagine meeting an agent thinking about their next car payment when they should be focused on helping their client get the best possible results.
At the end of the day, we just want someone who cares more about the interests of the client than the commission.
But hey, reality isn’t always pretty and ideal.
How many agents are willing to give up on the sale when they discover that the situation is not favorable – whether to buy or sell?
This business can be superficial – where like attracts like.
But it can also be a fulfilling career for those who truly care about their customers.
If you’re really unsure who to engage with, chat with us on Stacked.
The agents we work with have been carefully selected and considered for their industry knowledge, depth of experience and ability to advocate on behalf of clients.