CAR aka California Association of Realtors publishes a helpful bi-monthly trade magazine. Whenever it appears I tuck it into my satchel and peruse it at my convenience – usually over lunch at my desk.

In a typical issue, photos of diverse but slightly-generic-looking agents are suited up and smiling from the cover. But the recent June-July issue departed from that format:

Printed in bold white type on a red background were the words, “It’s Real-Tor. Not Re-La-Tor!”

This stopped me mid-sandwich. As a stickler for proper pronunciation, I appreciate the reminder about how to say “Realtor,” but ReLaTor – as in “one who relates” – is delightfully apt (albeit phonetically inaccurate).

In choosing an agent to represent them, the majority of home buyers and sellers work with an agent referred by a friend, acquaintance or family member. If an owner is happy in their relationship with their Realtor, they’re inclined to share the good news. But if a Realtor doesn’t RELATE well, he or she doesn’t get referred.

By “RELATE” I mean they listen actively and they care. They think not in terms of “sales,” but about education and communication. They understand – as I do – that by deeply committing to a client’s well being, they earn trust. But they don’t always make a sale and earn money!

My practice of real estate has little to do with sales. It has everything to do with listening, teaching, guiding and seeking the best result for my people. There’s a lot of love and therapy involved. (As one dear client famously asked, “Do you do couples’ counseling on the side?)

Which is why I am surprised but forgiving (as I suppress a desire to either laugh or be offended) when anybody suggests I’m only in it for the money.

You see, I’m no dummy. I know that if I’m in it for the relationship, the money will likely follow. As long as I have positive regard for and act as a true fiduciary for those I serve – The Realtees – then my business tree will thrive.

I like the tree analogy. As a new agent, I started with nothing except the slenderest of saplings. I carefully tended that twig, watering and sheltering it until a tree flowered, and leafed, and its branches spread. As one relationship begat another and another and another, my tree grew. And it’s been growing for more than 30 years.

When I say it out loud I’m a Real-Tor. But deep down every day I’m a Re-La-Tor.

Cynthia Cummins is a Top Producer and Partner at McGuire. For info on SF real estate visit This article was re-posted at