Behind-the-Scenes Tasks

The reason dolphins have a reputation for saving drowning swimmers is that you never hear from all the ones they push out to sea.”


Electricians’ work product is literally hidden behind the wall.

So, how do you know if an electrician is any good? (barring a house fire or molten-hot service panel that would suggest otherwise).

Search me.

Meanwhile, what an interior painter does is visible in plain sight.

If the paint is uniformly applied to the walls — no streaks, drips, or spills — you know they’re good!

So, which category do Realtors fall into?

While everyone thinks that they’re painters, they — we — actually are much more like electricians.


It’s easy to see where the general public’s misconceptions come from.

After all, so much of what Realtors do is intentionally public: “For Sale” signs in front lawns; Sunday open houses; big brokers’ TV commercials (Edina Realty qualifies); splashy presence on social media; endless postcards and (spam) email — plus, in the case of a certain local agent, their visage plastered on acres of billboards.

Realtors always seem to be with people: showing them houses, helping them draft offers, greeting people at Sunday open houses, etc.

So, it might come as a shock that some of Realtors’ most valuable skills are invisible (at least to the public).

That includes things such as: knowing the science (and art) of doing a great CMA (Comparative Market Analysis) — and when to tear it up; optimally positioning a new listing on MLS, price and marketing-wise; drafting great ad copy — online and print; expertly negotiating a purchase agreement that protects their client’s interests; and all the “wholesale” networking that good agents do to build awareness of upcoming listings, then presenting them in the most flattering light (just not too flattering).

FSBO Hubris

My guess is that at least one subset of the public may actually appreciate, however belatedly, all the things Realtors do: people who try to sell their own homes.

Known as “FSBO’s” (For Sale by Owners), the vast majority of them throw in the towel and ultimately hire an agent to represent them, according to industry stats.

See also, “Realtor Job Description 2020“; “How to Tell if an Electrician — or ANY Contractor — Knows Their Stuff.”

About the author

Ross Kaplan has 19+ years experience selling real estate all over the Twin Cities. He is also a 12-time consecutive "Super Real Estate Agent," as determined by Mpls. - St. Paul Magazine and Twin Cities Business Magazine. Prior to becoming a Realtor, Ross was an attorney (corporate law), CPA, and entrepreneur. He holds an economics degree from Stanford.

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