The Polsinelli Report

Blame the Broker: It’s a Thankless Job, But Someone Has to Make the Deals

Being a broker can at times be a thankless job.

In many cases, no good deed goes unpunished, and sometimes the rewards must come from within. If you’re hoping for a pat on the back when you’re awarded an assignment, an offer is accepted, or a deal is running smoothly, you may be in for a disappointment. More often than not, recognition only comes when a problem arises.

A broker is the most sought-after participant in a deal when something goes awry. The broker—a likely scapegoat—usually bears the brunt of failed sales, missed appointments, deals retrading, buyers misrepresenting their financial abilities, sellers exaggerating the income of their property. Right or wrong, it all comes back to land on the shoulders of the broker.

Adelaide Polsinelli silo for webIn order to be successful, you really have to love being a broker. After all, why else would anyone consciously put herself in the middle of hailstorms of bad news, deals imploding, agreements broken and even commissions being renegotiated?

However, if you look at the above situations with a paradoxical perspective, you can choose to view it as an honor to be called upon when there is a problem. That means you’re considered a problem-solver. Take that as a vote of confidence—your pat on the back, as it were.

Let’s examine the case of a deal about to implode. The buyer has cold feet, or the seller comes down with a case of separation anxiety, and one of them begins doing the backpedal tango out of an accepted deal. Naturally, all fingers will point at the broker. It was the broker who misrepresented some relevant detail this transaction was hinging upon. The fact that you were proactively meticulous in your distribution of information doesn’t matter to either side. If there’s a problem, and there is a broker, the broker is to blame.

Most of the time, it really may not have anything to do with you. However, being super-diligent in interpreting and disseminating the relevant issues involved in a deal is never a bad idea. You may find yourself promising to make sure this doesn’t ever happen to you again. You may promise yourself to be more detailed-oriented in the future, going so far as to memorize every word said and keeping careful notes. However, you won’t be able to use them. Why? Because how else will anyone be able to blame the broker?

By now, you have learned how to be painfully meticulous in doing your own due diligence. You can never be too careful. You can hope and wish and pray that no one will disregard the authenticity of black-and-white, linear information. Additionally, it would show true brokerage excellence if you had a strong network of highly regarded industry professionals at your disposal, whom you could refer your clients to on issues that are out of your area of expertise. Having reputable contacts in all realms of a transaction—appraisers, attorneys, accountants, environmental experts, engineers, architects, mortgage brokers and bankers—will speak volumes about your commitment to getting a deal done as professionally and intelligently as possible.

Hard as it may be to accept, sometimes a deal just isn’t meant to be. You must be able to anticipate when you won’t be able to fit a square into a circle. You should consider having a back-up plan in the event your original deal doesn’t work out. Anticipate every problem and have an appropriate solution. If the deal can’t be resuscitated, identify who the next buyer will be and be prepared to move him into position.

Put yourself in the shoes of the clients. Leave no brick unturned. Understand, verify, anticipate, formulate and consummate. If you begin to hear “blame the broker” type rumblings, you can stand confident that you were fully prepared and accept that it’s now show time! If the rumblings fade out into nothing but the coffee being too sweet, give yourself a round of applause. Remember, the less serious the complaints, the better you did your job.

A broker’s job is to shoulder the blame. A real estate license is another name for “the buck stops here.” With the job must come the knowledge of how to graciously accept this gift of blame. Quiet acceptance and a smile work better than fighting. You are the buccaneer who must walk the plank. You are the clown in the dunking booth. You are the sounding board, the whipping post. If you were blamed, you were acknowledged. Take it as a compliment.

Think of the young child learning to swim for the first time. He is cold and wet. Each failed attempt adds to his frustration and anger toward the person who put him in the water in the first place. Yet once the goal is accomplished, it is that very same person that gets the thankful hug. I can’t promise that you will always get a hug after you’ve put a deal together, but take a bow anyway, because someone, somewhere, is sure to blame the broker for it!
ap@easternconsolidated.com

Adelaide Polsinelli is a Senior Director at Eastern Consolidated, where she heads the retail sales division. She is a seasoned sales professional with over 26 years of experience in the sale of every real estate asset class.