by Cynthia Cummins

reading time: 2 minutes

Cynthia is owner and founder of Kindred SF Homes and a top San Francisco Realtor. Check out RealEstateTherapy.org for refreshing reflections on the meaning of home and for more “best real estate advice” (since 2013).

In my business I often find myself alone with strange men – in bedrooms.

If you think that sounds sexy or creepy or scary, it’s not. I’m a Realtor.

Recently I showed a charming male buyer through one of my listings. His agent couldn’t be there because she was showing a listing of her own. He – let’s call him “John” – and I hit it off instantly.

There was an awkward meet-cute moment at the front door. I was fishing in my handbag for keys at the top of the entry stairs when I heard him call hello. I turned to greet him and watched him trip and stumble on the very first tread. His sunglasses went flying and I quickly lunged as if to catch them. Then my mobile phone bounced down the terrazzo steps and hit him squarely on the head.

We were both red-faced and laughing, and we hadn’t even been introduced – like a scene from a rom com. You’d have to have been there.

After that, the conversation was easy breezy as we walked through the house.

“Wow. I sure wish he was my client,” I thought, then censored myself because I’m not a homewrecker who treads on other agents’ relationships.

As if he’d read my mind, John blurted out, “My agent wants me to work with her exclusively. But I’d like to work with you, too. What would be wrong with that?”

With a wistful sigh, I explained that hooking up with two agents in San Francisco is like dating two people in a small town. It’s only a matter of hours before both objects of your affection discover they’re not the only one.

Our cool grey city of love is like a small town when it comes to residential real estate. We agents all know each other and there’s never that much for sale in any given price point. Your non-exclusivity will become blatantly obvious as soon as Agent Anna asks Agent Beatrice’s colleague Agent Celeste for a disclosure package.

They’ll all (subtly) dump you in favor of exclusive buyer relationships which are more likely to yield a positive return on their investment of time and caring. In other words, open relationships with multiple Realtors generally don’t work.

It’s not all about money. It’s about loyalty. Smart, successful agents know that if they serve their clients well, the money will follow – if not from a direct sale, then from the referrals to friends and family.

But we aren’t paid for our time unless there is a sale. Hence, it’s a dumb business practice to squander time and attention on a buyer who won’t commit. With no madam minding the door, we Realtors have to be our own souteneur. (Now, go look that word up!)

Photo Credit: Clay Banks

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