Do you remember when you were a new agent and how fun it was to be out with buyers looking at properties?

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I still have that! Here are the two main reasons it’s so much fun for me:

  1. I like people – all kinds, all ages, all walks of life – and I thoroughly enjoy meeting and spending time with them and chatting about all sorts of things, not just real estate.
  2. I like looking at properties – all kinds – even the junkers! Sure, it’s amazing when we get to see a super-cool listing, but sometimes it’s great fun to laugh about the weird and ugly ones, too.

The truth is, out of all the different tasks we do every single day, there’s nothing I’d rather be doing than showing properties to clients whom I like and enjoy being with. It’s fun!

If you don’t feel the same, that’s an awful shame.

I was talking to a newer agent the other day and she was lamenting the fact that she had buyer clients who “just couldn’t make up their minds.” I asked her how many properties she had shown them.


Wow. Big hairy deal! This agent needs to change her attitude and start enjoying the experience.

A little more discussion revealed that her main focus was to collect a commission cheque… as soon as possible.

I’m here to tell you if that’s your focus, your clients can sense it and you’re probably self-sabotaging. What you really need is a major attitude adjustment – not a commission cheque.

If you’re thinking, “Easy for you to say, Ted,” that’s a fair statement, especially if you are struggling financially.

But bear with me, please. Continuing from the topic from earlier columns – mindset –

I’m going to repeat my favourite quote one more time: “Try not to become a person of success, but rather try to become a person of value.”  – Albert Einstein

Near the end of his life in 1955, this was advice that Einstein gave to a young man who asked him what he should do with his life. What I take from that quote is that success naturally follows if you concentrate your energy on doing an excellent job for your clients (rather than chasing after commission cheques).

I’m not saying that you should just suck it up, and show your clients 100 properties, and stumble around at their beck and call. That’s not being a person of value.

If you genuinely want to create value, you need to be willing to learn and master new skills around setting proper expectations, taking charge in a natural non-bossy way, using your time effectively and guiding your clients through the process with effective systems and procedures, so they will feel eager to pull the trigger when the time is right.

If you’re a newer agent, try to adjust your mindset to learn something from every property you show, and every experience you have interacting with clients. This increased knowledge will pay off in the future, even if you’re not collecting a commission cheque right away.

I’m still learning every day. What about you?


  1. Good piece Ted.
    Thanks to the other contributors too.
    In Behavioural Science we learn of the paradox choice. Too much of choice, kills choice. It sounds better in French “trop de choix, tue de choix”. Showing too many homes could lead to this n’est pas ?

    Thanks again.

  2. Well said! I too have been at it for years (over 40) and when friends ask me why I don’t retire my answer is always “because I like people and I like what I do so why give it up”. Selling outside of urban areas all my life has made it really really interesting, i have fallen into lakes from bad docks, been bitten by friendly dogs, stepped in meadow muffins, had to order kid not to put sister in the dryer, laughed at both buyers and seller antics when viewing, watched the awe on kids faces looking at a possible new home with parents, seen the looks of pure joy and happiness from both buyers and sellers on successful sale. Why would I ever want to stop doing that.

  3. Bill and PE:

    It’s too bad there aren’t more like you licensed to sell real estate. Your kind of altruistically minded personalities aren’t usually attracted to becoming a Realtor. You both could obviously afford to take the time to develop your business procedures, knowing in the end that you would eventually complete enough transactions to enable you to carry on comfortably, financially speaking. You also did not display manipulative control-freak personalities, a facet of the stereotypical Realtor that consumers absolutely hate. I too was taught how to ask seven questions that would obviously generate seven “yes” answers in order to get a “yes” on the eighth that would box in the mark. Disgusting, which was why I soon ditched that strategy upon seeing the uncomfortable squirming on the parts of my first mark that left me squirming uncomfortably as well. One either has a conscience, or one does not.

    I was lucky, financially speaking, when I started out in the business during the late summer of 1980. I was newly single, had no immediate money worries, and that was key to my not having to desperately try to snag commissions from every potential client that came my way. I had recently quit being a tradesman (licensed steamfitter/unlicensed plumber). Becoming a real estate salesman was like getting into the big time for me at age thirty-five. I loved it. I never knew I could enjoy working with people so much, seeing as how I had always worked with inanimate objects before. After one month in the saddle I instinctively knew I would do well in this new adventure. Second month in, six transactions found me. I couldn’t believe it. All I did was tell people the truth about everything they asked of me. I didn’t try to sell anyone anything. But I went to bat for them big-time once they zeroed in on their properties of choice, well aware of any deficiencies therein that I educated them on. I was a buyer’s agent through and through. It was simply more fun for me to work with buyers vs sellers.

    Here’s one true story that highlights the issue at hand:

    I was awarded a young couple looking to buy by the office manager/broker. They were renting, and wanted a farm that would support owning horses. I drove them all over hell’s half-acre inspecting farms of all descriptions. I burned more gas in my land-yacht Caddy driving them around than I thought possible. I was ready to buy shares in Shell Oil. Then it became obvious that they could not find what they wanted…or could reasonably afford. On the last day of many whilst driving back to Peterborough where they lived, I drove past a little two bedroom bungalow that I knew had an expired listing from the day before. I stopped in front of it. The real estate brokerage’s for sale sign was still stuck in the front lawn. “What do you think of that?” I asked.

    They looked at the property, and asked “How much?”. (This was 1980 don’t forget.)

    “Forty-two thousand. Do you want to have a look?”


    I parked in the driveway, got out, trotted up to the front door, and knocked. An older lady answered. I introduced myself, asked if the house was still for sale, and that I had interested folks in my car.

    “Well, we’re not sure if we’re going to list it again, and we’re not sure if we want to sell, and move into an apartment. We’re just not sure.”

    “I understand. See that car out there? There’s forty-thousand dollars sitting there. Would you like to have them take a look at your home?” I had already cleared that figure with my clients should they want to make an offer.

    “Oh my! I don’t know. I’ll have to go ask my husband.”

    “OK. I’ll go wait in my car.”

    She returned a few minutes later. “Yes, please bring them through.” she advised, and I did just that.

    When all was done, I asked the sellers if they would sign a one-day listing if I brought a offer suitable to them.


    (The listing agent had not yet pursued renewing the listing because as I later found out the sellers were not particularly pleased with her service and she (the agent) thought it a waste of time.)

    We had a deal that evening. Everyone was happy.

    From a farm supporting horses to a small two bedroom bungalow in the city. Go figure.

    I would run into the young couple occasionally over the next couple of years, always asking “How is it going?”

    “We love it!”

    I pulled together six transactions that second month in the saddle, never once bemoaning how much time I was spending ferrying buyers all over the place. I naively thought that was what the job entailed! What a time-wasting dope I was!

  4. Seven houses (7)????? Once had some elderly clients (I’ll call them Dave and Gladys) with a very specific set of requirements in a home. You see, they were just remarried. Met them at an open house and began the journey of searching for that “perfect” home. We needed a double detached garage, kitchen in the back of the house with room for a small kitchen table, and L-shaped living room / dining room, fully finished with at least two bathrooms, good condition. This was to be their “forever” home. So off we go. Looked at about 30 homes to start and couldn’t find anything. Had another meeting to discuss their needs, but you guessed it, no changes. Looked at about another 20-30 homes. Basically I was showing them anything. At this point we were more than realtor / client. Took them to an appointment in a building with an elevator. “Dave” collapsed on the way up. Fortunately, I was able to catch him from falling. Turns out he had a stroke and spent two weeks in the hospital. Well, I thought we were finished looking and they would stay in Gladys’ place. So then I get the phone call and Dave says “have you found anything yet”? Off we go. In the end, we found that perfect home, wrote the offer and got it together. It was only then that I found out he was 84 and she was 77. I calculate we saw about 100 houses. It was early in my career (year 2 out of 30 in the business) and I was too eager and showed anything. It taught me these things: listen to the needs of the client, be concerned with those needs and don’t be concerned with a paycheck. It is the story I remember the most, including the apple pie, hot tea, cookies and on and on. They lived to be married 16 years. He passed at 100, she at 99. This story is true and one of the most joy in 30 years. I was fortunate to have this experience early. Never worried about a check after that, only the service to the client. This will be in the book I write soon, probably a whole chapter. Thanks for letting me share this wonderful memory.

    • Love this story Bill.

      In 2014 I clocked 50. That was an awesome time. We laughed all the way through the house hunt and have been pretty much blessed with such clientele since. In 2016 it was 56 showings in numerous parts of Toronto and 7 offers that was very stressful but so very rewarding for my client as it was near impossible to find a suitable property in 2016 and when we did, well 20 others thought so too. 2021 is numerous times worse for inventory. Currrently, I’m currently at 72 in 10 towns for various reasons including life intervening three times that turned our first 5 failed offers into a good thing for them. 7 offers now and we’re plugging along, they’ve learned a lot about real estate and had to deal with a few psychological roadblocks they hadn’t shared between themselves – It did require more than a gentle nudge for them to see that reality and then I took charge of business. If it’s 100 so be it. They like the other 2 were in the most competitive percentile of buyers, so as long as my clients give it 100% I don’t care if in the end I net 0 to find them a safe home they’ll love living in.

  5. Perfect. Couldn’t have said it better.

    Commission-chasers are the bane of the vocation. I believe dreams of big commissions is what attracts far too many to real estate school. Partaking of the courses further entrenches that mindset. If you don’t enjoy the process of showing properties that don’t result in offers/successful transactions, then by default you are a money-monger. There are too many who try to sell everything they show, thus exposing themselves as crass salespeople vs trusted advisors. They need more than an attitude adjustment; they need to be shown the door.


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