Piers van Hamburg

It makes me sick in the stomach...

by Piers van Hamburg | September 14, 2017
1 minute read

It makes me sick in the stomach...

September 14, 2017

He said, and I quote: “It makes me sick in the stomach how the real estate industry is obsessed with talking about money. All I hear, all the time, is people discussing how much gross commission they wrote last year and how much money they plan to make next year.”

Recently, I had the pleasure of attending the REINSW Future Agent Summit in Sydney, the launch pad for the industry’s pathway to professionalism, organised by John Cunningham, president of the Real Estate Institute of New South Wales (REINSW).

One of the speakers on the day was a good friend of mine, Shannan Whitney from BresicWhitney. Shannan always brings a different perspective to the table; he is a unique individual. On this occasion, he got up and made the statement above. And as he did so he spoke about something that I have been thinking about for a very long time.

It made me realise that our industry is totally obsessed about making money and we spend far too much time talking about it. Just go to any real estate conference and pretty much every real estate agent gets up and waxes lyrical about how much money they make, or plan to make.


No wonder real estate agents have a poor image with the general public; if all we talk about is “how much money did you make last year”, where’s the value in that for the client? It’s abrasive and unlikely to generate empathy with the wider community. It’s not healthy.


As a result of this obsession, the industry tends to focus and actively promote the agents who make the most money. My view is, while money is important, it’s only one small part of it [the industry].

Moving forward, why don’t we endorse the agents who do the most amount of work helping other people? We could focus on rewarding the agents who are most active in their community, or the agents who really put the clients’ interests before their own commission. What about the agent that continually gets amazing feedback from all their clients? There are so many worthy agents out there who don’t necessarily write the most commission, but are active, valuable community citizens who take pride in their client relationships, and will also seek the best outcome, regardless of whether it ends with money in their pocket or not. These are the individuals that will lift the image of our industry. This should be our future focus.

I recently purchased a car and, a month later, received a detailed survey asking me about every aspect of my purchasing experience. The salesperson whom I purchased off told me that his commission was based on customer satisfaction rather than sales volume alone. We should be doing the same in our industry if we are to improve customer satisfaction and genuinely reward exceptional service.


Don’t get me wrong, I have in the past been one of those agents up there talking about how many sales and how much GCI I wanted to write. However, with age and wisdom, I have realised that there is so much more to being a good person than your annual pay cheque.

Our industry has an image problem, and until we become humbler, and we give more than we take, this will not change. If we all focus on giving the client value for our service and an outstanding client experience, then our industry will remain healthy and relevant for years to come.

I hope you get some value from this article. I have been totally candid about how I feel, and I believe that if this resonates with some of you in the industry, then we are already on the pathway to change.

Something to think about.

(It’s interesting to note how many of the more successful agents tend to attend training, as opposed to some that could really benefit. In my opinion, there is a direct correlation between continual learning and success in any career, especially real estate. It does not matter what stage you are at; you simply must keep learning and evolving as a professional to perform at your peak.)

About the author

Piers van Hamburg

Piers van Hamburg

Piers van Hamburg is the director of McGrath Neutral Bay, Mosman, Northbridge and Chatswood.

It makes me sick in the stomach...
Piers van Hamburg
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