Counseling – What Is It?

Editor’s Note:  This article first appeared in the August 1975 issue of the Real Estate News Observer.

Most real estate practitioners believe they are counseling now. Nothing could be farther from the truth.The common concept of “real estate counseling” is that of a nose-to-nose confrontation with the prospect or client.

Let us examine a dictionary def­inition of counseling: “A practice or professional service designed to guide an individual to a better understanding of his problems and potentialities by utilizing mod­ern psychological principles. and methods, especially in collecting case history data, using various techniques of the personal inter­view, and testing interests and aptitudes.”*

Did you notice the words, “A practice or professional service?” Is that your description of the real estate field today? How profes­sional is the modern broker’s practice?

Translated to broker language, we offer in our classes, “The Art of Real Estate Counseling,” Courses No. 500 and No.1,000, the follow­ing definition: ”Counseling is a real estate practice on a profes­sional level, designed to guide a client or customer to a better understanding of his real estate ownership problems and their probable solutions, utilizing mod­ern principles and methods of questioning and listening to estab­lish ‘Client Management.’”

These definitions require an at­titude almost completely foreign to the modern broker and sales­man. They require a listening, questioning, probing attitude, which is dia­metrically opposed to the attitude believed absolutely necessary in expert salesmanship.

The real estate industry’s 50-year search for the key to profes­sionalism has been rendered non-productive, because no one recog­nized that real estate professionalism is dependent upon the principles of counseling, and contrariwise, expert counseling is dependent upon the policies of real estate professionalism.For some inexplicable reason, everyone connected with the real estate field has assumed it can be successful only through the ex­pert execution of the rules of salesmanship.

The concept always has been that real estate is “merchandise,” and must be sold as though it were on the merchant’s shelf. All of the other errors commonly made and condoned in today’s real estate practice continue to feed, and occasionally flourish from, this premise.

In the writer’s opinion, the real estate field has been blessed constantly with far more than its share of sincere, devoted, and in­telligent individuals who love the principle of helping others. However, the methods believed necessary to sell “merchandise,” to beat out the competition, to control faithless and sometimes dishonest clients and customers, con­stantly have extracted their toll of these earnest practitioners.

In fact, there have been times in the history of real estate, when the “turn over” of old and new licensees has been as high as 50%! The reason for this high mortality rate has been that good, conscientious people many times can not tolerate what has to be done in order to be successful. They can not -will not – adjust to the type of salesmanship re­quired to survive in the “real estate jungle.”

Fortunately, thousands of us have proven that salesmanship’s tricks and techniques are an ab­solutely unnecessary ingredient of a successful real estate practice.In fact, salesmanship itself is the major disastrous ingredient, causing tens of thousands of fail­ures each year.Those of us who wish to make real estate a productive, profitable, and respectable career must change our entire method of op­eration, our basic concepts of what real estate is and is not, and shift our standpoint from one of selfishness to one of selflessness.

*Merriam-Webster’s Third New International Dictionary.

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