Frequently Asked Questions

 
  • What exactly IS Real Estate Consulting and how is it different from what I’m doing now?

Real estate consulting is a mindset; a way of doing business that involves consulting WITH clients rather than selling TO them. A real estate consultant focuses on evaluating the client’s unique and individual needs and then offering intelligent solutions to addressing those needs. A real estate consultant offers quality, transparent choices, both in the types of services clients can receive and how those services can be paid for.

Real estate consulting is simply a different approach to a real estate career, distinct from the traditional “sales” model most licensees are familiar with. Perhaps the best way to explain it is to use an example from outside the real estate industry to illustrate the difference.

Let’s use the life insurance industry. Most insurance agents are in actuality salespeople. They are paid on commission and that commission varies by the product their customers purchase and how much they purchase of it. Term life insurance pays the agent very little; variable annuities pay much more. When you meet with a life insurance agent to discuss your own needs for insurance, that agent has a choice to make: he can take a consultant’s approach and objectively help you determine the best product and amount of coverage for your needs without considering his own needs for a higher paycheck, or he can take a salesperson’s approach and encourage you to purchase as much of the highest-commission-paying insurance as possible.

Do you see the difference? In one scenario, the insurance agent is simply pushing product to ensure himself the highest payday and in the other, the agent is objectively consulting with his client to ensure that the client selects the best product for her situation.

The parallels to the real estate industry are obvious. Because we are traditionally paid only when someone buys or sells a home, and the more expensive the home, the more money we make (or conversely, the quicker a home sells, the faster and easier we make our money) we are often put in an uncomfortable position of advising someone to take a course of action that may or may not benefit us; in fact, in some cases, our advice might ensure that we don’t get paid at all!

Real estate consulting, when practiced properly, solves this dilemma and is simply a better way to run a real estate business.

  • Do I need my broker’s permission to offer consulting?

Yes. In virtually all jurisdictions, any money paid by your clients must be paid to your broker (not to you); therefore, it is absolutely necessary that your broker be on board. Unfortunately, it’s quite possible that your broker has never heard of real estate consulting and may not be interested in learning about it at this time. We talk more about this in the ACRE® Designation course, but for now just know that yes, you must have your broker’s blessing to practice real estate consulting.

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  • How do I promote my consulting services?

You would probably promote your real estate consulting services the same way you promote your current business model – to your sphere of influence, in your blog, on your website, to your geographic farm, at open houses; whatever is working for you now will also work for you as a consultant. The great news is that real estate consulting opens up far more potential clients for you and gives you more services to offer them! Not to mention you’ll have something unique and special to say aside from the ho-hum marketing your competition is putting out there!

  • Is ACRE recognized by NAR or CREA?

No. And we’re okay with that. We don’t believe that it’s the designation itself that provides value; it’s what you do with what you learned to get the designation that will make a difference in your career. Frankly, we like the way we do things around here and at this time, are not interested in getting approval for our program from an outside entity who may or may not support the principles and ideologies we hold dear.

  • Will I make more (or less) money as a consultant?

Maybe! It’s completely up to you, of course, but if you’re asking how offering your clients choices in how they pay you will affect your overall compensation, the consensus seems to be among our practicing ACRE®s that offering choice improves their bottom line; it doesn’t detract from it. In other words, yes, you can make just as much money (or more) even if your clients don’t always pay you by commission.

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  • My business is floundering – how can having my ACRE designation help?

I wish we could say that once you obtain your ACRE designation, you’re good to go and you’ll see a magical turnaround in your business. But the truth is, no designation is a magic bullet and anyone who promises you it is – well, they’re lying. Simply reprinting your business cards to include the ACRE logo (as attractive as it is!) and showing up on the ACRE Locator Map will decidedly NOT save a failing real estate business.

That said, we hope that you are considering real estate consulting because you’re excited about the possibilities and believe that having the tools and training to Go Forth and Consult will give you that boost of energy you’ve been needing to make things happen in your business. That you see opportunities all around you and can’t wait to after them. That you’ll find yourself re-energized and excited about your business again.

The truth is, as a real estate consultant, you have the flexibility and ability to offer far more services to far more potential clients, and frankly, have a better “product” to sell (YOU!). You’ll also have a community of other real estate consultants to connect with as you’re building your practice; ones who really GET what you’re hoping to achieve and will support you 100%.

  • Explain your relationship with Jennifer Allan Hagedorn's Sell with Soul

The original ACRE® Course and Designation was created by Mollie Wasserman, the author of The End of 6%. In late 2011, Mollie handed the ACRE® baton over to Jennifer Allan Hagedorn, the author of the Sell with Soul series of books and the founder of the Exceptional Agent Project. Therefore the ACRE® Designation program is now under Jennifer’s leadership as a separate, but fully integrated division of Sell with Soul. Mollie is still around, just not involved in the day-to-day!

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  • Do real estate consultants frown on traditional commissions?

Yes… and no. How’s that for definitive?

Seriously, real estate consultants tend to have a love/hate relationship with real estate commissions. On one hand, we understand that being paid by commission is one option our clients expect and in many cases, it very well may be the best option for a home-buyer or –seller! When a client pays us by a contingent commission (that is, we are only paid if there is a closing and the amount of the commission is based on the price of the home), they have placed all the risk of the transaction on our shoulders and we have agreed to accept that risk… at a price. This is why real estate commissions are as high as they are – not just to pay for our service and expertise, but also to compensate us for the risk we assume in a traditional transaction. If a buyer or seller cannot or doesn’t want to take any of that risk (that is, pay us in part or in full on a non-contingent basis), then a contingent commission is probably the best choice for both the client and the consultant.

However, where real estate consultants often struggle philosophically with the commission approach is justifying the notion that our commission should be based on the price of the property bought or sold. We just don’t have a good answer to the question: “Why do I pay twice as much to sell my $400,000 home as I would to sell a $200,000 one?” And we don’t like not having good answers to reasonable questions ;-].

  • What sorts of advertising will you do to attract consumers to the concept of consulting?

At this time, ACRE® will not be investing in any national promotion of real estate consulting in general, or ACRE® specifically. What we’ve found is that consumers look for their real estate agent locally and, because most consumers have no idea real estate consulting is even an option for them it’s unlikely they’ll go in search of a real estate consultant from a non-local online resource. While the ACRE® website will eventually offer explanatory material about consulting specifically for consumers, provide a map and locator for consumers to identify ACRE®s in their area and help members create local promotional material they can use in your own market, we won’t be making any significant investments into national advertising campaigns.

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Why would anyone pay for services everyone else offers for free? Or related: Why would anyone pay upfront for services others offer contingently?

Excellent questions! Why, indeed?

These two questions are perhaps two of the most important questions for any aspiring real estate consultant to find answers to. In fact, they’re so important that we AREN’T going to answer them here; we’ll encourage you to think about it and answer them for yourself in a manner that satisfies you. But be assured these questions DO have intelligent answers that should satisfy anyone considering including consulting in their own practice of real estate. (HINT: think win/win).

Please keep me updated on what's happening at ACRE.

 
 

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ACRE 2.0 is HERE!

You have landed on the new website for the Accredited Consultant in Real Estate® community and designation program. New approach, new leadership and new coursework. Please feel free to browse around and share your thoughts, feedback and suggestions on what you see. You can join the ACRE mailing list here: www.TheConsultingProfessional.com. Thanks for visiting!