Tinker vs. Specialist

Key Takeaways

  • There are few barriers to entry into the real estate industry; this results in a multitude of undereducated, inexperienced “accidental Realtors” offering little expertise to consumers. Minimal oversight exists to ensure consumers are privy to a positive transactional experience.

  • The task specialization method requires an individual to master specific aspect(s) of the service transaction, rather than scratching the surface of a myriad of tasks as a jack-of-all-trades. 

  • Deliberate practice at a particular task or series of tasks and a clearly defined role lead to confident mastery and a high level of service for consumers. 

  • Task specialists work as a team to cover all bases. Consumers need to understand that a multifaceted approach to the transaction, encompassing a team of specialists rather than a single individual, will give them an edge in the marketplace.

  • Consistent communication is key to successfully implementing this method.

“What makes ridiculously successful people so successful is that they’re experts at practicing.”
— Malcom Gladwell

Whether or not you are a fan of the book Outliers by Malcom Gladwell or are familiar with his Rule of 10,000 Hours, you may appreciate the notion that to become excellent at any given skill, one must undertake deliberate practice of the task in question. This is true of the game of chess, the art of medicine and the practice of real estate. 

While the typical real estate transaction is not life or death in nature, the minor details of a home sale or purchase are of the utmost importance. It is through the deliberate practice of each individual aspect of a transaction that excellence in knowledge, service and professionalism can be honed.  

The average Realtor closed 11 transactions in 2015.  A deeper excavation of the statistics points out that this number holds true for an active individual, but a significant percentage of the total US Realtor population completes 6 or fewer transactions per year. If you or a family member required a complex medical procedure, how many times would you like the surgeon to have practiced his/her technique before operating on you? One hundred? Fifty? Less than a dozen? 

The employment model of specialization (as seen in hybrid brokerage TRELORA) puts a lead agent, backed by a team of task specialists, in the position of handling 100-150 transactions annually. This is ten times (or more) the volume of transactions, giving the employed agent many more opportunities for specialized, experiential practice of a real estate transaction. Specialists working synergistically to serve clients will provide an edge over a single Realtor attempting to master every aspect of the transaction. When task specialization is combined with transparency for consumers, service level and consumer confidence both rise. 

In a service industry such as real estate, the modern consumer largely equates service with transparency and an element of control over the process. 

“When we ask consumers what they don’t like about Realtors, it is never that they find agents to be cocky, stupid, or anything derogatory, rather [consumers] complain that communication is terrible in their experience.” For real estate consumers, not having answers in a timely manner is stressful. When left in the dark, consumers begin to craft false negative truths about the state of their transaction. The level of stress associated with a typical real estate transaction is part of why consumers have continued to pay an inflated commission of up to 6% for services. The lack of transparency or systemized communication is largely to blame for this heightened level of stress, and overpaying for services does not alleviate the problem; instead, it perpetuates the service model that is the root cause of the issue.  

The answer is to create a system of not just communication but transactional transparency, which gives consumers full access to the details of their home purchase or sale. Realtors have historically been protective of information, disclosing the minimal amount of information necessary to the consumer. This level of secrecy has assisted agents in maintaining an air of mystery and convincing clients of the necessity of licensed real estate representation, but the advent of the internet has given consumers not only the expectation, but the right, to be an informed advocate on their own behalf. Keeping consumers in the dark about any aspect of the real estate transaction can only be harmful to both the consumer and the process. Rather than a hindrance or threat, informed consumers directly benefit their own transaction, the agent working on their behalf and ultimately the economy through robust and timely real estate sales and purchase transactions.

Simplicity is the key to removing friction and balancing out the inflated commission structure currently associated with real estate transactions. Task specialization involving a team of niche experts, communication and transparency are the methods by which simplicity will be achieved.