8 Golden Rules of Real Estate Agent Etiquette

A solid track record is, without a doubt, crucial for winning clients and growing your business as a real estate agent.

But it’s not the only thing that matters. 

The manner in which you conduct yourself — real estate agent etiquette — is what will ultimately land you glowing testimonials and word-of-mouth references from your clients.

You may think good etiquette is obvious, but there are etiquette rules that are particularly important for real estate agents. 

Take a moment to brush up. These are the eight golden rules of real estate agent etiquette. 

Be Human

You’re a real estate agent but you’re a human first. Don’t let your business goals take the lead — lead with your heart and success will follow.

This usually all boils down to treating people in the same manner you’d want to be treated. It might look like…

  • Being respectful and considerate of a homeowner’s schedule and lifestyle when it comes to requesting showings and post-sale walk-throughs.
  • Sympathizing with the emotional aspect of selling one’s home or the anxious aspect of buying a home.
  • Taking a soft approach when offering tough advice or making recommendations that could be taken personally.
  • Avoiding real estate jargon and taking the time to explain any potentially confusing information.

Be Prompt

Arrive early. Return calls right away. Send emails when you said you would. 

Being prompt and timely in every aspect of your business is an essential part of good real estate agent etiquette. 

It signals respect and demonstrates professionalism and diligence. In other words, it shows you’ve got your act together. 

Chronically late? Employ time-management hacks to step up your game. For example, if a showing starts at 7 p.m., schedule it for 6:30 in your calendar to give yourself extra time. 

Always sending follow-ups later than you said you would? Build in more buffer room or refrain from giving clients such specific expectations. Which brings us to the next rule of real estate agent etiquette…

Be Realistic

Whether they thought their home would fetch a higher price, or that their budget would stretch further, or that things would move faster … a misalignment between expectations and reality is usually the key culprit behind real estate client disappointment.

That misalignment is sometimes firmly the fault of a client. But in many cases their real estate agent could’ve done a better job of managing those expectations.

That’s why being realistic is another tenet of good real estate agent etiquette.

What does it look like in practice? Generally speaking, it means not overpromising and not overselling. That applies to…

  • Listing prices
  • Purchasing power
  • Timelines
  • Renovations
  • The power of staging
  • Buyer interest
  • Open house attendance

Be Overcommunicative

Another way to avoid client disappointment: communicate, communicate, communicate.

The real estate agents with the best client relationships (and the best real estate testimonials) don’t leave room for misinterpretation. They overcommunicate to their clients.

That doesn’t mean repeatedly badgering your clients. It means never making assumptions about what your client knows, understands or remembers. It means reinforcing key messages for everyone’s benefit, ensuring everyone is on the same page.

To overcommunicate, you need to:

  • Communicate information frequently and concisely (don’t save everything for one long meeting or call)
  • Walk them through every step of the process
  • Explain laws, formalities and documents 
  • Use examples to illustrate your points
  • Send calendar appointments and reminders

Be Culturally Sensitive

Real estate is a people business. As a real estate agent, you will encounter people from all backgrounds and walks of life. 

It’s essential that real estate agents are highly culturally sensitive to ensure their business is inclusive and that they’re equipped to give anyone and everyone the same level of service. 

Being culturally sensitive means being aware, understanding of and respectful of cultural differences.

This could mean…

  • Recognizing that Friday night showings don’t work for a Jewish client who observes Shabbat.
  • Knowing proximity to various types of places of worship, not just churches.
  • Suggesting meeting for coffee instead of wine, as not to assume someone drinks alcohol. 
  • Being aware of slang and terms that are offensive (for instance, taking ‘master bedroom’ out of your vocabulary and replacing it with ‘primary bedroom’)

Be Fair

It should go without saying that fairness is a part of good real estate agent etiquette but unfortunately that’s not always the case.

Real estate deals can get messy. Everyone wants to buy at the lowest and sell at the highest. To get their clients the best deal (and themselves the commission), some real estate agents are willing to bend rules and look the other way.

Don’t be that agent. 

You and your business are better served by a reputation for being fair and honest than a reputation for stooping low to close the deal.

Be Humble

There’s no shortage of negative stereotypes about real estate agents. One of the dominating stereotypes is that real estate agents are arrogant. And clients don’t want to work with arrogant agents.

Real estate agent etiquette rule #7: be humble.

While real estate has, in many North American markets, been lucrative in recent years for many agents, it isn’t always the case. Conditions change. Client pools dry up. Easy money becomes hard-fought money.

Be grateful for your clients. Be proud of but humbled by your successes.

Be Kind

This is a competitive industry. “Trash talk” about other real estate agents isn’t uncommon; neither is gossiping about listings, buyers and sellers. Agents do it with each other and they do it with their clients.

Rise above. Resist the temptation to poke fun, engage in the rumour mill and be openly judgmental. 

Excellent real estate agent etiquette calls for kindness. Stay focused on your business, reserve criticism, be neutral and share compliments when they’re called for — your clients will notice.

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