One good (Chilean) friend of mine says they are just lazy.

Nonetheless, I would like to think that Chilean realtors are also incompetent, uncreative, and not very good problem solvers. They have a hard time thinking out of the box, too.

They have no multiple listing service and are reluctant to share commissions with other agents, thus dramatically limiting the supply of homes that each office has to show. This fact also makes it better for sellers to take dozens of nonexclusive contracts out with different realtors so that many people are involved with the sale. Realtors have even told me that giving them an exclusive on a property for sale will not increase the amount of time or money they put into selling my property.

They do not do showings, staging or open houses, or if they do then they are rare. Most of the time they do not drive clients to properties for sale. They will meet clients on site, usually, where the customer signs an agreement to pay their 2% commission.

Whenever I have had to deal with realtors, their services have left something to be desired. They are all smiles to sign up to sell your property or to give you information on other properties for sale. But getting them to do work for you is another issue entirely. I also have found them to be dramatically uninformed about the selling prices of comparable properties, the value added by having quality inputs or features, and their unwillingness to be proactive about finding or attracting prospects.

In reality, my friend is right: they are lazy–even when I offer them 1% or 2% extra commission, they hardly seem motivated. Real estate services in Chile are more than a little bit mysterious and are a lot more than just frustrating.

20161122_174612Most of the time, the best that Realtors will do is simply open the door to the house or apartment for you that you might want to purchase, or put up their sign if they are selling a property for you. I have seen some in Santiago deal with the banks and help with the mortgage and appraisal process, but that is about it.

Really, I am totally underwhelmed by this profession in Chile. In my latest project, I have contracted dozens of realtors over the last year and not a single client or interested party has been brought to the table, while I have had many prospective buyers call or show up to visit the property just because I put up a couple of large signs visible from the street and several internet ads–the one in English being especially effective relative to the others.

20161007_173113In other words, I obviously have an attractive property that many call about and most visit. However, Realtors are unable to break into this market. Few buyers balk at or complain about the price, Realtors complain about the price sometimes because they want to sell fast.

It seems to me that Realtors are part of the social upper class that could never graduate from college and know little about sales and marketing. They do the job, like selling medical insurance, because it is a decent and respectable position for upper class folks that have few other job skills.

If I had to say which professional group in Chile is the most impressive it would have to be physicians in Santiago. The least impressive would have to be Realtors. Lawyers, architects and physical therapists fall in the lower middle of that range, with regional physicians, engineers, dentists and accountants in the upper middle. The bottom line is that when dealing with real estate agents, be prepared for frustration and underperformance, and be prepared to supplement their efforts with your own.

Be sure to become a member of Escape America Now and gain access to the monthly webinar. Details at Visit for discussion and forums about the country.

Dr. Cobin’s updated and enlarged 2016 book, Life in Chile: A Former American’s Guide for Newcomers, is the most comprehensive treatise on Chilean life ever written, designed to help newcomers get settled in Chile. He covers almost every topic imaginable for immigrants. This knowledge is applied in his valet consulting service–Chile Consulting–where he guides expatriates through the process of finding a place to live and settle in Chile, helping them glide over the speed bumps that they would otherwise face in getting their visas, setting up businesses, buying real estate, investing in Chilean stocks or gold coins, etc. The cost is $149.

For a brief introduction consider Dr. Cobin’s abridged book (56 pages): Chile: A Primer for Expats ($19), offering highlights found in the two larger books. Buy Dr. Cobin’s Public Policy books at