In England the real estate agent is only working for the seller. They have no interest in the buyer other than to get the sale. They don’t even care about the product they are selling. Whatever it is, they work their creative spin on it to flog it. They have no interest in digging into the details of the property; they want to know enough to sell it and that’s it. And they do no aftercare. Just, pick up the keys at the front desk ’cause we are busy with the next one.
If the estate agent cared about the buyer, things like would be different. Beyond the basics of aftercare – are you happy with your purchase? How could we improve our service? They could provide a few simple guides. A guide to the local area. A guide to where key shops (food, clothing, pubs, etc.) and services (doctor, dentist, schools, etc.). But perhaps most useful of all, would be a guide to tradespeople they know and trust. Because we all know there is some law of the universe that states ‘the moment a new owner crosses the threshold, random things shall stop working as they should.‘ If an agency wanted to go a step further, they could even sell aftercare packages to homebuyers similar to car companies. However, this would mean they’d need to know their product better and be honest.
In other countries real estate incentives are slightly different resulting in different behaviour. However, just because the incentives are one way, it doesn’t mean we can not choose to behave differently. Incentives are often a form of short term thinking as they result in immediate reward of some sort. If real estate agents in England began to care about the buyers as well as the sellers. They could treat us as humans, understand more in depth about the property they were selling, provide forms of aftercare and so on. If this happened, it’s likely we would sing their praises to friends, family and would most likely use their services in the future.
Obviously this does not only apply to estate agents. Incentives are a part of all of our lives and tend to be integral in change. From the teller at the DIY store to the domestic violence worker to the politician to the technologist to the nurse in a clinic to the humanitarian worker. Understanding where your incentives lie (and why) is the first step. And yet, while incentives may encourage us to think short term, we can choose to play the long game. We can choose to ‘walk a mile in the others’ shoes.’
The choice is up to us.