As many of us know, real estate agents have a reputation similar to that of sleazy used car salesmen. They frequently rank amongst the least trusted of the professions – right down there with politicians. (I was an agent once, and yes, my family and friends couldn’t look me in the eye for a while)
The good news is that someone is finally doing something to change that impression (actually I know quite a few amazing real estate agents, but I’ve got a point to make here people!).
Meet Gerald Leonard, owner of Coastal Elite Real Estate. This guy has created a commission donation program that is not only innovative, but also quite generous. Mr. Leonard will reduce his commission by 50% under the condition that his clients will donate that commission-savings to a mutually-agreeable charity, paid out of escrow at closing.
Leonard points out that commission-donation programs help realtors in three ways:
1. Differentiates via Cash Back from the IRS and State government (when applicable): When commission rates are identical, clients save more money by working with an agent that will give them the credit at escrow for a donation to charity (which generates a tax deduction for the client)
2. “Closes” New Clients by Building Trust: During the “beauty contest” when real estate agents try to sell themselves to prospective clients as worthy of trust, they offer similar stories of civic-minded involvement in their communities. But a commission-donation program to a mutually-agreed charity shows who to trust, in actions, not words.
3. Turns Former Clients into Enthusiastic Referrals: Past clients will be happy to tell future prospects, “I sold my home through XYZ, supported a good cause, and got a terrific tax deduction.”
Gerald Leonard appreciates the considerable marketing benefits, but at this point in his career, his primary motivation is simply giving back to his community and encouraging other realtors to do the same.
Leonard has set the bar quite high for others to follow. Hopefully others will follow his lead in their selflessness, and maybe the real estate agent can once again be looked at as a respectable authority in our communities.