My good friend Charlie Oppler, the 2020 president-elect of the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), and owner of one of America’s most prestigious regional brokerages, has been asking REALTORS® to become more political for years by following his lead in generously contributing to RPAC, the REALTORS® Political Action Committee. His mission, designed to keep this industry from becoming dangerously disorganized and fragmented, is most commendable.
That, however, is not the aspect of the word “political” I will now address.
I believe real estate agents from sea to shining sea need to do more to emulate the one profession that arguably even surpasses our industry when it comes to unflattering polling results. That, of course, would be politics.
Here is why. According to the impeccable research from NAR, only 12 percent of consumers do return business with their real estate agent. Congresspeople, on the contrary, are historically re-elected 95-98 percent of the time. What this level of enviable loyalty reveals to me is that although we prefer analogies involving doctors and lawyers, perhaps we should first aspire to become more like politicians—when it comes to their methods for prospecting, their strategic use of social media and their overall marketing!
I realize that in our unprecedented, politically polarized world, the mere mention of politics might be stress-inducing for some. Politics-related anxiety notwithstanding, the potential economic success for many in real estate might make this controversial comparison justifiable. Imagine a congressperson—and I cite a political career as it accurately mirrors real estate agents in terms of its local community-centric nature—announcing the following:
- “I am not going to do mailings because it is junk mail.”
- “I am not going to knock on doors or have my team members knock on doors because people don’t like to be bothered.”
- “I am never going to have my team call local residents and do surveys.”
- “I am not going to work on my stump speech and messaging daily.”
- “I am going to brag about myself more than the consumers or the community I serve.”
- “I am not going to do seminars. Instead I am just going to attend seminars and listen to other politicians.”
Now, there is one major difference between what most congresspeople do and most real estate agents do not do, which might be prudent to emulate: Politicians all seek to convey that they are driven by a higher purpose or mission, even when it is utterly unconvincing. Convincing themselves and/or others that they have a mission leads those on their team—and consumers—to believe they are part of this same mission.
Armed with a consumer-centric raison d’être, political operatives are now able to move past concerns of personal rejection and knock on doors and become more assertive—even evangelical—in all facets of prospecting.
Many real estate agents (while also not doing mailing or telemarketing) will never knock on doors because they don’t believe that they, too, are on a mission. Parenthetically, this is because seeking to secure more listings is tough to convert into a Mother Teresa- or save-the-whales-like personal crusade.
But how about this for a mission? Your mission (should you accept) is to become more political by having your prospecting—by phone, mail, social media or door-to-door—be for the following reasons:
A. You knock on doors to get testimonials about what it is like to live in the neighborhood, because this is part of how you market your clients’ homes in the area. This way, your mission is about maximizing marketing to promote your client’s property. Now, obviously, this will lead to more listings, but that is not your mission.
B. You wear your name badge (just like political campaigners) because your mission is to have people approach you to talk about real estate, which might lead to selling one of the properties you represent and providing the buyer with high-level professional value…and if this also leads to more business, all the better.
C. You send mailings because you are on a mission to save consumers from less-talented professionals.
D. You prospect through social media because your mission is to provide your loved ones with a more financially secure life.
E. You conduct seminars because you are on a mission to educate the public.
F. You are on a mission to raise home values by better marketing the entire community via videos, social media, newsletters, etc.
Lastly—and if you will forgive the irony—the most important political thing you can do is to not talk politics! Instead, be more political.
Do I have your vote?
Allan Dalton is CEO of Real Living Real Estate and senior vice president, Research & Development of HSF Affiliates, and former CEO of realtor.com®. For more information, please visit www.realliving.com.