Thursday, 18 April 2019
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This Old House - Do-it-Yourself

The Ultimate Contractors: Real Estate Agents as Independent Contractors

Written by Lewis Fein Posted On Friday, 09 November 2018 10:00

Real estate agents are as important as the contractors who oversee the construction of buildings and houses. They make these buildings possible, not because of their engineering prowess, but because of their proficiency as marketers. They are independent contractors, builders of their own personal brands, whose expertise allows them to fill buildings with tenants and owners, whose experience permits them a degree of creativity greater than any building permit, whose effectiveness is the reason developers break ground in the first place.

It is this tenacity that warrants our attention—and deserves our praise—because each agent is an icon unto him- or herself. Each agent is responsible for how he represents himself to the public, regardless of his association with a firm of solid repute or a strong foundation.

Pardon the construction metaphors, as they constitute a description—they are a construct, pun intended—for the many ways in which real estate agents try to appeal to clients. This attempt is, first and foremost, an exercise in building an identity. It includes symbols that speak for themselves without the need for a single word, in addition to collateral materials that complement a message by their appearance alone. All of these things, and more, are the building blocks of success.

What, then, does success look like? As the image that accompanies this column shows, it looks customizable; which is to say it looks familiar—it is familiar—because familiarity breeds comfort, not contempt. It breeds confidence, not concern.

According to Janil Jean, Director of Overseas Operations for, real estate agents should embrace the familiar. She says: “Familiar is not a synonym for generic. For example: A house may have a particular style—be it colonial or contemporary, be it Georgian or Greek Revival—but personalization transforms a dwelling into a home. Real estate agents must stylize their respective brands with a similar amount of flourish.”

I agree with that statement, based on my exposure to failed marketing experiments in which style comes at the expense of substance, in which artists favor the abstract over the accessible, in which design denotes the wrong message (or no message) while it connotes feelings of remoteness.

I also agree that real estate agents can inspire us to be better marketers in general. Their work is a study in perseverance and a profile in the steadfastness necessary to succeed. They work by staging homes and taking clients on tours of various homes. They home in on the things that make a home, so to speak; the accoutrements and accessories; the decorations and designs; the symbols and signposts that adorn the streets and sidewalks along the byways of America.

Let us celebrate their work ethic—and emulate it, too.

Let us put real estate agents at the forefront of a movement, whose progress advances our common interests.

Let us do so with passion and integrity, in tribute to a profession defined by excellence and driven by exceptional people.

Let us transform the real estate industry.

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