I bet you are thinking to yourself, "What does Kindergarten have to do with real estate?" Believe it or not a lesson I learned in Kindergarten was put to use in my real estate business.
When we launched Lime Green Realty in May 2009, we became controversial because of our new commission models. Our models are designed to reduce the cost of the listing commission from typical rates while still providing full service to our listing clients, saving consumers thousands of dollars in commissions. And on the buying side, we give away 25% of the commission we earn to a buyer who uses us to write their offer on any property listed by any real estate agent. It was the first like it in Red Deer and Central Alberta and because it was upping the ante for competition, my colleagues were nervous, which, for the record, I completely understand. Although we had many congratulatory phone calls from our colleagues and didn't have one single agent say anything negative to our faces, there was a whole lot of gossip going on behind our backs. It was only a matter of time before I would hear what was being said about us. Although I had prepared myself for the long days and hard work to establish my company, I wasn't prepared for the ugly side of competition which apparently includes name calling. After just a few weeks of us operating as Lime Green Realty, I found myself talking to one of our colleagues who tells me that he heard we had a new name amongst our colleagues; Slime Green Realty.
I'll be honest, when I first heard those words in June 2009, it hurt. Although I am a confident business woman, I am still human and although you are prepared to defend against negativity from your competition in a sales presentation, you don't expect kindergarten tactics to enter the picture.
After I hung up the phone with my colleague, I realized in that moment that I had a choice and reflected upon my experiences in kindergarten. As a five year old child, when another 5 year old was picking on me or calling me names on the playground, I had a choice to ignore them or to allow them to hurt my feelings. If I allowed them to hurt my feelings, they won so at 5 years old I learned to ignore them and even at the tender young age of 5, this reasoning empowered me.
As recent as the day that I am writing this blog, I continue to hear through the grapevine that some of our colleagues still refer to us as Slime Green Realty. One colleague even went so far as to write in his 2011 Christmas letter that he sent to various agents that he did a transaction with throughout the year "may you not slip on anything green or slimy." And he also wrote "If you are reading this letter, it means you are one of the better REALTORS® in town, as we did at least one transaction together." Ironically enough, of all the agents that did a transaction with him by selling one of his listings, I did the most besides himself. I sold 3 of his listings in representing buyers which was the most for any other agent that represented buyers on his listings. And you probably guessed, I wasn't one of the lucky recipients of his Christmas letter but by his definition I am one of the better REALTORS® in town which makes up for his green and slimy comment.
Despite the controversy we have created with our new age commission models, other agents continue to show our properties and sell our listings because it isn't about their personal feelings, they have a legal obligation to act in their clients best interests. Consumers who are making a purchase expect their agent to put their personal feelings aside and assist them in a professional manor when buying a home. In a world where the consumer has access to the internet which gives them the same information that their agent has, an agent should not want to risk losing a buyer client because they refused to show them a property listed by Lime Green Realty. Not only would it make the buyer suspicious and question the intentions of their agent, it would be the loss of a sale for the agent if the buyer decided to find a different agent. And if that same buyer decided to call Lime Green Realty directly to view the property, they would find out that we give free cash on possession day to all of our buyers and provide exceptional service so what consumer would give up awesome service and free money when buying a home?
From a business perspective, one important strategy we use to ensure that other agents are just as interested in selling a Lime Green Realty listing as another brokerages listing is that all of our programs offer a typical buyer's agent's commission of 3% on the first $100,000 and 1.5% on the balance to the buyer's agent. This is a typical rate that is paid to a buyer's agent in Central Alberta. Calgary is slightly higher at 3.5% on the first $100,000 and 1.5% on the balance. So regardless of which property a buyer decides to purchase, it is irrelevant to the buyer's agent from a financial perspective. And buyers do not purchase a home based on who has the property listed, they buy a home based on what their needs and wants are!
In reality, the interactions we have when working with buyers agents on our listings are no different now than when we worked in a Royal LePage franchise office. Given how gracious and kind our colleagues are to us when dealing with one of our listings, we would have no idea the kindergarten shenanigans were going on behind our backs if it wasn't for the other colleagues that tell us these things. So the name calling and other rumours that may be floating around are a result of our success which is a symptom of the jealousy and fear by our competition...especially when the competition is powerless to control the consumer, who is the one ultimately responsible for our success.
I share this story with you, the consumer, because if you are looking to hire a professional to represent you in one of the largest decisions you may ever make in your lifetime, I have to ask: do you want the agent that acts like the 5 year old at the playground to represent you or do you want the empowered business woman from Slime Green Realty on your side?