But Agents Wear Masks Year Round.
It was 1987. My sister was in a bat costume crouched down like she was a bat. She was 3. I was standing next to her in a clown costume. Red wig and big shoes. I was 7. This photo of us that Halloween is somewhere hidden in my mom’s house but I remember it perfectly. My younger sister, Kim, and I would look at this photo often growing up. We would laugh at ourselves and talk about how much fun we had as kids dressing up for Halloween.
As a kid, it was fun playing dress up, wearing a mask, and getting to be a clown for a day but, as time passed, that excitement faded. Halloween was fun but mostly it was an excuse to get together with friends. In college, I would dress up for Halloween parties or a theme party (think 80s party, luau, etc.) on random weekends. After college, I was over it, but some adults do still enjoy Halloween. It is a time for them to dress up, let loose, let their hair down from the stresses of life, and come out of their shell for the night. For me, it just became a night to pass out candy and an excuse to eat what was left over.
Halloween is Back
Fast forward about 10 years. I became a mom and I got to experience Halloween with Ford. Then McCall was born and I got to celebrate with them both and it is like being a kid again.
This year, Ford and I went to Wal-Mart and we walked each Halloween aisles for quite a while looking for the perfect decorations. He said no bats but anything else was ok. We got orange lights for the front of our house, a green light spider web with 2 orange spiders, window stickers of jack-o-lanterns & ghosts, and 4 pumpkins to carve. We also got his Spiderman costume complete with mask and built in muscles! We were set and ready for Halloween.
This year I also helped with Ford’s PreK class Halloween party. 24 kids all dressed up like their favorite superhero, princess, or animal. They had Halloween bingo, pumpkin play-doh, pumpkin decorating, and a Halloween snack to finish it off. When we first got to school, the kids all headed over to the rug like they do every morning and set down waiting on their teacher to get the day started. She started this day by having each child stand up and tell what they were for Halloween. When it got to Ford, he stood up, told the class he was Spiderman, and then proceeded to flex his muscles while slowly turning around to show everyone in the room. He wanted to make sure everyone got a good look at his new 6 pack and his huge guns. All the parents were laughing. It was precious.
Having kids has made me remember why I loved Halloween so much when I was younger. You get to dress up and pretend to be whatever you would like. For one entire day you can have huge muscles, bat wings, or even red clown hair.
How are Halloween and Real Estate Related?
I know we in the middle of the Christmas season and that Halloween is now behind us but I noticed something this Halloween I could not let pass. It occurred to me that many real estate agents are like kids at Halloween. They like to pretend to be something they are not. They put on their mask, their “sales face”, and do whatever is needed to get a new client. Whatever is needed to churn and burn and close the next deal. Not caring about what is in their clients’ best interests. They pull out all the stops to find new business and get a deal closed so they can collect a commission check. They do not care about their relationship with the homeowner or what that homeowner needs. It is just about getting as many clients as possible and getting homes closed to collect that paycheck. They may not typically be this self-centered in their everyday life, but in business and as agents, they put on a mask to “get the job done”.
Earlier this year I joined a new real estate group. This group consists of roughly 100 agents from different real estate companies and different parts of the country, but with the same problem. We are not proud of our broken industry. We are working together to create a better way. An honest way. A way that I am proud to teach my kids one day.
In this group, we often discuss the different types of agents we encounter. Specifically, the different tactics they use and the different masks they wear to get new clients and to make their paychecks. We refer to them as supervillains and give them supervillain names just like a villain Batman or Spiderman would fight. There is Captain Bait-and-Switch, Dr. Ego, The Cheetah, Mr. Mojo, and The Gatekeeper to name a few. I will tell you about one I encounter often.
The Cheetah- A Real Estate Supervillain
The Cheetah is known for his speed and determination. If you think you can escape him, think again. He’s faster than you, more persistent than you. He’s more determined than you, too. This supervillain possesses the evil superpower of pursuit. Once he has identified you as a potential client, a potential paycheck, you become prey. He is a predator. He must be the agent to catch you first or risk losing you to another Cheetah. He will call you, and call you, and call you. Email you, and email you, and email you. This supervillain is the king of jumping to conclusions- he assumes (and you can’t stop him from doing so) that YOU are HIS next client, when you are not. In the real world, this would be called stalking but in real estate it is called being a go-getter.
He sees himself as just being helpful. Personal boundaries and social cues mean nothing to him; they do not stop him. They only make him look for other ways to attack his prey. You say stop calling, he will email and text. He does not get the hint. This cheetah behavior is taught in many real estate sales trainings and by private coaches. Keller Williams is well known for teaching this type of behavior. Private coaches teach these tactics as well. I was once given a pamphlet titled “10 Days of Pain”. It proceeded to give step by step instructions on what you should do for 10 days to reach someone right after you get their contact info. Calls, emails, texts, items to mail, ways to find their social media profiles and how to reach them through these outlets! Stalking!
The only way to protect yourself from this supervillain is to safeguard your contact information. Your phone number, your email, you can’t let him get it. It is difficult when it is a friend or family member but for someone who would not already have this information, do not let him get it. The Cheetah is a telemarketer extraordinaire. He is an email and follow-up ninja. If you avoid him, he will knock on your door and peep through your window. (Yes, that does happen) As you can tell, I am describing The Cheetah in sort of a funny way but these Cheetahs are real, they are out there. If you have bought a home, you likely know all too well the truth of The Cheetah and the truth of the real estate masks.
Unlike kids dressing up for Halloween, real estate agents shouldn’t hide behind a mask. They shouldn’t have to wear The Cheetah mask to make a living. The foundation of a business should be built on strong relationships and based on truth and trust. Most people do not trust telemarketers and for good reason. You should not have to stalk someone to earn a living. Good business is about taking care of people, not just yourself and not just your bank account. The masks should only come out once a year.