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By Dan Krell
“Tin men” was a term used to describe con-artists after the 1987 movie by the same name became a nationwide hit. The movie was about aluminum siding salesmen who did whatever they could to sell home improvements in 1963 Baltimore. The story revealed how everyday “schnooks” created the façade of a successful sales person, as well as revealing their unscrupulous sales tactics. The main characters are flawed and likable, so much so that you’re rooting for them as they are cross-examined at their MHIC license hearing.
Modern versions of tin men still exist. They exist in all professions. They are constantly refining their tactics to get your business. They will often tell you what you want to hear. When it comes to buying and selling a home, beware of the tin men.
Many real estate agents still use tin men tactics. Real estate sales are difficult and many agents will do whatever they can to get a leg up on their competition and a chance at a sales commission. There is a subculture in the industry that is focused on pushing the ethical envelope to make money. This philosophy is spread by “gurus” and coaches who teach sales tactics, persuasion, and income strategies.
Unlike the world of 1963, when a salesman could easily lie to make the sale, today’s easy flow of information makes it unlikely that a real estate agent would flat-out lie. The internet has created a savvy and knowledgeable consumer by allowing easy authentication of information. However, the internet has not changed the real estate agent’s reputation for bending the truth, otherwise known as “puffery.”
Rapport is often built on appearances. Like the 1960’s tin men, many real estate agents also employ smoke and mirrors to help them appear successful. Although some still drive cars and dress beyond their means to “fake it,” many agents rely on technology for their trickery. The art of deception is widely used by agents who dare to manipulate data. Many real estate agents, who supervise other agents, take credit for MLS sales they had nothing to do with so as to appear they have many more sales (than they actually do). Likewise, many agents pay for fake internet reviews. Although many platforms screen for false reviews, agents continue to find ways to get fake 5-star reviews on websites, including incentivizing unsolicited otherwise 5-star reviews from clients.
Many real estate agents rely on gimmicks as a means of getting business. A popular agent promotion is “I will buy your home if it doesn’t sell.” The reality is that although the agent may offer to buy your home if they can’t sell it, the conditions actually don’t make it a viable option. Another oversold gimmick is “cutting-edge” marketing. The promise of cutting-edge marketing used to mean advanced and new. However, today cutting-edge real estate marketing is overshadowed by the truth that homes are primarily viewed on real estate internet portals, such as Zillow (all MLS listings are posted to these portals).
Most Realtors are ethical and do the right thing. A recent article by Jim Dalrymple II even touts broker (and agent) humility as the “new method” and business model (Humility, not arrogance, is the new real estate leadership trend; inman.com; October 17, 2017). And although real estate agents have increasingly been leaning towards transparency and authenticity, you should still beware of tin men.
Dan Krell is a Realtor® with RE/MAX Success in Potomac, MD. You can access more information at DanKrell.com