Are you helping your clients through the maze, or are you a stumbling block?
I am fast closing in on my eleven year anniversary in real estate (Jan. 2008), and I am still constantly amazed by how many agents and brokers I come across who are either misinforming their clients or simply allowing the client to set their own pre-conceived expecations. We are the professionals, and as such it is our job to guide our clients through the maze of the transaction.
It seems to me that there are many agents who are content to let me do their job for them, and I'm sure that many of you have also experienced this before. Typically, I end up doing this because:
- I care about my clients and I want to get the deal done if it is humanly possible
- I want the paycheck
- I am good at what I do, so I can't help myself
- I refuse to let a bad agent interfere with the process
As a recent example, I sold a ranch property to some clients relocating from Maui. They didn't even have a chance to see the property before they got it under contract, so I took LOTS of pictures and tried to be as upfront as possible about the condition of the home. I wanted to minimize the potential "surprise" effect, so that they wouldn't arrive and be horrified. This is what I mean by setting the correct expectation with a client. They immediately fell in love with the place when they arrived, and the buyer actually told me that "I don't think you have ever had a client who was happier than I am right now." Clearly, I would love to hear this all the time, because I feel that I am providing a service and helping people achieve their dreams.
During some recent negotiations on a contract, we quickly reached an agreement on price, then we were hung up on a leaseback (i.e. seller wanted to stay for a few days after the closing). I received a proposed leaseback from the other agent, and it had a suggested leaseback amount of $25/day. This was a ridiculous proposal, as my clients' actual payment for those days would be $113 daily. The other agent told me that the amount I mentioned was just too high and that it was above the rental market. I had to explain that it didn't matter what the normal rental market would bear - this was an ACTUAL expense, and my clients would be losing over $80/day if they accepted it. This is a situation where the agent should have set the correct expectation, rather than allowing the client to bulldoze and set their own terms.
I had a deal years ago with a single mom who was a nurse, looking for a home in north Austin. We made an offer on a home (which was very reasonable under the circumstances - I really don't allow "lowball" offers with my clients). I heard back from the agent, who told me that she was surprised that it wasn't a higher offer, and that they had just reduced the price recently. She was essentially trying to get me to convince my buyer to come in at a higher price, yet she had ZERO leverage.
After speaking for a few minutes, this brief conversation transpired:
ME: ________, do you have people beating down the door to buy this house?
OTHER AGENT: No. No, I don't.
ME: Have you had any other offers?
OTHER AGENT: No, we haven't.
ME: Then just talk to your client and get me a counteroffer and I will see what I can do.
We closed on the property about three weeks later.
As you can see, I had to coach the other agent (who was actually a broker and in the business a lot longer than I was) on how to present the offer properly. She didn't set the right tone with her clients, and it made it more difficult for her to return and do her job correctly.
Do you want to be a "SUPER-AGENT"? My advice is to assert yourself in your real estate dealings as the EXPERT. How else can you hope to gain the confidence of your clients and associates? I know that there is a learning curve in any business, and perhaps real estate is one of the steepest. That being said, if you are not experienced, surround yourself with good people - a knowledgeable and "hands-on" broker, a good lender, good escrow officer or attorney, etc. This makes learning a lot easier.
If you are an experienced agent or broker, you don't have excuses here. If you want to make a good living in this business, you must always position yourself as the one in charge of the details. Ultimately, you are not the one making the purchase or selling decision, but your opinion should matter and have some weight in the process. Otherwise, you are merely an order-taker, and not a real estate professional who is adding some value with your services.
P.S. I am all about "paying it forward". If you have any questions, feel free to call or email me. Thanks for taking time to read this longer post.
Copyright 2007 Austin Real Estate