Are There Friends in Real Estate?

PREFACE: This article certainly isn’t a reflection of ALL real estate coaches. However, if you want to be sure that the advice you’re receiving is unbiased and tailored to your needs, it’s best to find a real estate coach who earns their money primarily through coaching rather than endorsements. Affiliate relationships in coaching aren’t inherently bad, but they should be openly disclosed, as required by the Federal Trade Commission.

Real estate can be a difficult and sometimes shady business.

Low barriers to entry and potential unlimited earnings mean there are plenty of opportunities for folks to treat you poorly, all in the name of a few bucks or an ego boost. Certainly, not all agents are this way, but far too many are. And every single team or brokerage leader reading this who cares about their agents and clients knows this to be true.

Whether it’s undermining a friendship to obtain a listing, cheating an agent friend out of a referral fee, stealing listing photos, or something as severe as poaching your entire agent team overnight, examples of bad behaviors are too numerous.

Thankfully, Hypewired has the advantage of working with many of the top teams and brokerages in the business. I don’t doubt our clients’ ethics.

But sometimes, people in this business astound me.

Working With the Right Real Estate Coach

I was recently reminded why I’ve always shied away from obtaining business by referral through other vendors, especially “coaches.” It’s because, at some point, they try to assert power over you as a vendor. It’s just an ugly truth in the real estate business.

Further, and more importantly, they often don’t have a firm grasp of what they are recommending – or not. How good is someone’s advice on a product or service when they’ve not personally experienced the value or lack thereof? (Such is the case with SEO. Real estate coaches do not fully appreciate the opportunities or what a realistic financial commitment looks like.)

Recently, I discovered a former client-turned-coach started offering SEO services, leveraging the personal expertise they’ve (admittedly) gleaned from having worked with me for several years. 

I wouldn’t necessarily have classified this agent and former SEO client as a “friend” by definition, but certainly a trusted contact.

To make the situation worse, this “SEO Coach” is part of a larger coaching organization where many of our clients regularly participate. And while I’m not friends with the organization’s leader, many of our clients are.

So, we have a former client showing our current clients information and advice based on a single case study, one that in my experienced opinion oversimplifies the SEO process and sets entirely unrealistic expectations where personal time commitments, costs, and timelines are concerned.

Worse, they’re also offering SEO training to other agents who may compete with the primary coach’s existing clients, who have invested fortunes in location-exclusive SEO arrangements.


Was this a mistake or misunderstanding?

No. Bad judgment for sure, but not a mistake.

Due to the number of relationships involved, there’s no chance that the potential for “conflict” among our mutual clients just slipped their minds. They probably thought everyone was too out-of-touch to realize the potential seriousness of what was happening. Or, perhaps they didn’t think of that at all and let money guide them since that’s easier.

When I approached the organization’s leader about my concerns, their response was (paraphrasing) that they don’t spend any time worrying about what others think. 

That’s convenient. And arrogant. And it’s also proven untrue because since publishing this article they’ve called me a “coward” (in writing) for even posting this. I believe constructively stating my opinions in the open is the exact opposite of cowardice. Anyway…

When I approached the SEO coach, their initial response was that my email was “funny.” Their follow-up response was oddly positive and almost “sweet.” I believe their first response showed who they truly are, rather than the feel-good follow-up response that could have come from an Eckhart Tolle self-help book.

Again, they were attempting to exercise dominance and show superiority; they weren’t going to be concerned with what I thought. They were trying to lead by showing me the high road, so to speak, but it came off as condescension… because that’s precisely what it was!

“Taking the high road” should have meant giving a little more thought to the importance of relationships and not throwing people under the bus for a few dollars or attention-seeking.

I believe these are the types of people who go through life without caring about how their actions may impact others. And, to justify the behavior, they teach that not caring what others think or experience is somehow a good personality trait.

As long as they’ve made their money or gotten the outcome they wanted, the ramifications of their actions simply don’t matter.

^^That type of behavior represents EVERYTHING wrong with the real estate industry. And I believe it’s getting worse.

So, what to do?

First, as of the date of this post, I’ve decided we will no longer take real estate SEO work that has been referred to us directly by real estate coaches. While I will always appreciate our committed (and ethical) clients, there are too many others who don’t understand or appreciate the expertise required to do the work properly. We will judge who we think are the best fits for our services, and we will be responsible for those relationships.

The owner of the coaching organization told me that it’s “exhausting” worrying about what others think.

But, what’s MORE exhausting?

Trying to educate people on their best interests when they have others (including their coaches, apparently) whispering doubt in their ear while often funneling business towards other vendors they favor, likely because they stroke their egos better and/or pay them handsome referral fees.

Second, we are going full steam with our company projects and website assets. 

We also own a real estate brokerage. It’s something we’ve been sitting on for far too long. We have a growing website, one that presents a massive opportunity. And as a marketing agency, we have a team ready to forge ahead.

I became a real estate agent in 2010 due to the poor treatment and service we received from two agents in Austin. I thought I could do better then, and I believe that is more true today, with over a decade of experience. I believe we have something unique we can offer the buying and selling public, and especially in a shifting economy, there’s no better time than the present.

So, while some pretend not to care what others think, we will always care, at least where our friends and clients are concerned.

And knowing who your friends are is among life’s most important lessons.

Tony Gilbert

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