In Realtors We Trust...I'd Rather Ask My Parents

Real Estate Agent with Allen Tate Realtors Chapel Hill, NC 919-819-8199

Trust is vitally important with our clients. In fact I would make the argument that it is the ONLY thing that matters in any client relationship; but with first time homebuyers, real first time home buyers, it is an absolute imperative. It is never comfortable to take advice from someone you just met. Imagine how it feels when you don’t even know what to ask or how to evaluate the answer!Money House

The great majority of my business is referral. Yep, I’m lucky. I’m also very experienced. But there would be no referrals if my clients didn’t trust me. This is not about what to do to MAKE my clients trust me. It’s about earning their trust through my actions. It’s about understanding where my clients are coming from and giving them the information they need, as intelligent human beings, to be certain they do not have to wonder whose side I am on.

In this world of high tech, immediate gratification, ‘tell me something I couldn’t find out on the internet’, there is still a place for experience. So how do we get them to not only listen but expect that advice? You absolutely must put yourself in their shoes…walk their walk…I’d say talk their talk but I’m a southern girl and not everybody talks my talk. But they definitely understand my point. My point is that their best interest is central to my agenda!

The average age of the first time homebuyer has gone down, way down, since the advent of technology. And why not? First time homebuyers have access to information the rest of us only dreamed about when we were their age. Heck, I don’t think I even dreamed about it. They can check facts, evaluate information and ask for opinions with the click of a mouse. I had to ask my folks. Which brings me to my first point…young people today STILL ask their folks for advice.

I address, pretty quickly, the fact that I know they will be asking for input from parents and others. I invite them to do so and to let the influencers in their life feel free to either join us or contact me if they have any questions. The amount of information I give a first timer is extraordinary and to expect them to be able to present it succinctly to a parent, once they are excited about a house, in such a way as to assure the parent that I have their child’s best interest at heart, is asking a lot. (I know I said child, but I’m the 50+ ‘child’ of my parents and some things never change!)

At our first substantial meeting I do a very thorough and easy to understand explanation of buyer agency (If I do say so myself) and how the process works from today all the way through moving in. I explain the job of all the professionals they will come in contact with throughout the process. It’s a long meeting but TRUST is the goal here.

The time comes swiftly when I need to make my promise to advise, good. We have all been there when a buyer has told you they want x, x, and x….absolutely…and then they fall in love with something completely different. I never judge because sometimes the process is, in itself, the change agent. But would I be doing what I promised to do if I did not point out the disparity? If they know they have made the decision because they are educated, let’s rock on. If we have lost our way, let’s get it back.

When first timers fall in love with things I know they can buy cheaply later (like new countertops or pretty bathrooms) but those things are in a house that will be a tough sell in a few years, I will tell them; absolutely. And I will make sure they hear me when they are picking a home in an area that has any number of other issues: builder controlled HOA fees that will need to go up quickly when the project is built out, highway noise in a market that doesn’t have to accept it, a family home in an area that has less than stellar schools … you name it. My clients can trust me to play devil’s advocate. It is not my place to tell them what they want. We all learn and adapt with more and better information. But my job, no, my obligation is to tell them what they need to know to make an informed decision.

I will never be sorry to list a property I have sold to a client. Never. Can I predict everything that will ever happen? Hardly. If I could I’d be doing something besides selling real estate. But do my clients trust me and send me referrals? Absolutely. Trust is an imperative. It isn’t anything new and it isn’t exciting. Is it novel these days? I hope not.

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SarahGray Lamm is a licensed, full time, residential real estate professional in the Triangle area of North Carolina with over 100,000 hours of experience. She specializes in serving the real estate needs of home sellers, home buyers and investors in Chapel Hill, Carrboro, Durham and Northern Chatham County and is proudly associated with Allen Tate Realtors, the Carolinas #1 independent realty company.

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Disclaimer: Comments and contributions via (or other electronic or print media) do not establish an agency relationship with any third party. Blog posts are intended to be informational only. Please be advised that real estate practices vary by region, from state to state and from market to market. The information contained herein does not constitute legal advice. All parties in need of legal, accounting, tax, or real estate guidance are directed to consult with the licensed professional of their choice. Please seek specific guidance from a retained professional in the specific field(s) required to service your interests.


Comments (29)

Vickie McCartney
Maverick Realty - Owensboro, KY
Broker, Real Estate Agent Owensboro KY

Hi Sarah~ Without trust, really what do you have?  It takes time to build it.  It just doesn't happen overnight.  My kids are all grown and still call home for advice.  With experience comes wisdom and even I still call my mom for advice sometimes. 

Apr 20, 2009 04:41 PM
Joanne O'Donnell
Chic Home Interiors - Oakland, CA

I have to disagree with you Sarah... your feeling that you need to: "tell me something I couldn't find out on the internet"

You told me everything I need to know... If I was looking to buy or sell a house, or refer a client... I woul chose you...

Apr 20, 2009 04:49 PM
Allison Stewart
St.Cloud Homes - Saint Cloud, FL
St. Cloud Fl Realtor, Osceola County Real Estate 407-616-9904

The problem is many Realtors® look at building relationships like speed dating.  They value their time more than the client. If the answer isn't yes yesterday, they are too quick to dismiss them as not viable.  As you said trust takes time-sometimes the buyers will give it to us..and other times they won't. 

Apr 20, 2009 10:34 PM
SarahGray Lamm
Allen Tate Realtors Chapel Hill, NC 919-819-8199 - Chapel Hill, NC
Realtor - 100K Hours of NC Real Estate Experience

Marcus - I like the idea of fans! Sounds like a Sally Field moment...They like me, they really LIKE me!

Patricia - I LOVE your tag line...we have the same job, girl!

Paula - yes, it doesn't happen often but some people just don't trust...ever...and it's as important to me as it is to my clients. Thanks.

Christianne - Glad to hear it. I always have to put in my .02 when I hear others complaiing about parents showing up!

Mark - The two are absolutely inseparable, at least for us!

Chris - My favorite AR colleague! I think we are twins separated at birth!

Roland - Thank you! I agree!

Julie and Vicki - I called my mom for everything until I lost her a few years ago. I still miss her advice and support!

Christine - I wish I had a dime for every parent of a client who is now a friend! Oh, I guess I do!

Joanne - I actually meant that some new clients come in with the idea that they don't need me 'cuz they got the internet!' but that goes away quickly ;-) Thank you for the compliment!

Florida Pines Realty - What's your name? You seem like a really nice person and I love putting a name with nice people!

Apr 20, 2009 11:02 PM
Kevin M Breeland

Good Post amazes me how many Realtors don't listen to their clients and it is always refreshing when one does.

Apr 20, 2009 11:07 PM
Barb Szabo, CRS
RE/MAX Above & Beyond - Cleveland, OH
E-pro Realtor, Cleveland Ohio Homes

Sarah, Excellent post! If you have earned a buyer's trust then they are more likely to listen to your advice. When I was selling new construction, I encouraged buyers to spend money on items that could never be changed or changed with a great deal of difficulty and/or expense instead of some of the extras they could easily put in later. I think they really appreciated the wisdom of that and that when I built my own home I followed my own advice.

Apr 20, 2009 11:55 PM

Sarah - Great post and so true. I am currently working with four different First time homebuyers, and with each their parents are involved. I totally support them being there, it actually makes me feel more comfortable too, knowing that down the road, I do not get a call from the parents saying that I took advantage of their kids or that something was not disclosed. I really enjoy working with the first time homebuyers, they have so much enthusiasm and many times put a whole different spin or outlook on situations, it is very refreshing.

Apr 21, 2009 12:17 AM
Tim Maitski
Atlanta Communities Real Estate Brokerage - Atlanta, GA
Truth, Excellence and a Good Deal

Good post.  I had an experience that you kind of touch on here.  I showed two condos that were the exact same floor plan.  One was cluttered, dirty and a big mess.  The other one was clean, organized and staged.  Of course he was gaga over the clean one.  But I had to make him realize that both will be completely empty and looking pretty much the same when he moves in.  A cleaning service before closing can make the dirty one look exactly like the clean one. He needs to look past the decorating and decide about location and price.

Apr 21, 2009 12:20 AM
Bruce & Mary Smith
Savannah Lakes Homes - McCormick, SC
REALTORS, Savannah Lakes Village McCormick SC

Hi Sarah - Very good information.  Thanks.  I enjoy reading your posts.


Apr 21, 2009 12:44 AM
Bettina Settles
Greenwood, IN
Your Indiana Connection

I like your title of this page. Great post and great information. I have had many times to pull in the parents and other family members to create and earn the trust with buyers.


Apr 21, 2009 12:53 AM
Michele Lundgren

"...a family home in an area with less than stellar schools.."

April is FAIR HOUSING MONTH and I'd be really careful about words like that!

Apr 21, 2009 01:49 AM
Norma Brandsberg
Marks Realty Co. Inc., Lynchburg, VA, 540-586-9496 - Forest, VA

Trust is earned. I love to get referrals and listings from past prospects. Trust does not always translate to remembering you. Memories are very short these days. It is important to stay in tough with past prospects.

Apr 21, 2009 02:32 AM
Darin Osenberg
Funky Quail Vintage - Nashville, TN

Sarah, WONDERFUL post!  I wish I was good to lend in NC!  I would LOVE to work with you!
I actually did a BLOG some time ago on the TRUST FACTOR between REALTORS & LENDERS!  Would love to reblog with you on both ends, as it CROSS applies to this one!  I think that MOST REALTORS truly are wanting to do the best for their clients!  You are clearly one of them!  As I have always said...experience DOES COUNT TODAY!!!  

Thank you for some great information!!! I have bookmarked this!!

One Source Mortgage, LLC

Apr 21, 2009 05:04 AM
Joe Pryor
The Virtual Real Estate Team - Oklahoma City, OK
REALTOR® - Oklahoma Investment Properties

Trust goes both ways. Just because we put a buyer or seller contract together, trust isn't automatic. If an agent can create comfort on the part of the client where they will give a full disclosure, then it is happening because they are not being judged by us, they are being truly helped. I found this out years ago when a seller  called me back as I was going out the door. She then said I was embarassed to say this but we did a 125% second mortgage. Helpful knowledge don't you think?

Apr 21, 2009 05:27 AM
Sharon Paxson
Sharon Paxson, Realtor® EQTY Forbes Global Properties - Newport Beach, CA
Newport Beach Real Estate

Sarah- excellent post and you are right trust is everything with clients. I have clients right now who are rely on their parents and I appreciate it.

Apr 21, 2009 06:55 AM
Bernice Dubon

Excellent Post.  That's what makes this line of work so rewarding.  We're not here to sell anyone something that they don't want or need.  It's not a product that must move no matter what.  We're here to help inform our clients so they can make the best decision for their future.  I really enjoy the fact that if my client doesn't like the home we're looking at, or we discover there are factors involved that might add unwated risk to the purchase, we move on.  It's my pleasure to help my clients find the right home for them.

Bernice Dubon

Royal LePage Solutions, Calgary Alberta


Apr 21, 2009 07:15 AM
Kathy Baker, GRI Tennessee Realtor
Realty 1 - Jamestown, TN

Hi Sarah,

Great point, regarding disclosure! If there is a new 4 lane coming in and the home you are showing is within spitting distance, you better know about it, and you better disclose it.  Culpable negligence is a huge issue, the well informed win.

I'm so proud to be part of a group of consummate AR professionals such as yourself.

Congratulations on a great post!

Kathy B

Apr 21, 2009 11:32 AM
Gene Mundt, IL/WI Mortgage Originator - FHA/VA/Conv/Jumbo/Portfolio/Refi
NMLS #216987, IL Lic. 031.0006220, WI Licensed. APMC NMLS #175656 - New Lenox, IL
708.921.6331 - 40+ yrs experience

Sarah:  Your post was amazingly right on the money.  Young, first-time buyers need support from their most trustworthy sources during the entire process of buying their first home. 

I do want to mention though, that on the flip-side of the first-time buyer coin, is the Reverse Mortgage client.  Once again. as with my younger buyers, I strongly urge my customers to include a loved one or someone they infinitely trust to attend any informational instructional sessions needed or appointments with me regarding the actual financing.  It puts the senior at ease and they are many times more comfortable knowing that two sets of ears and eyes are hearing and seeing the information given.  

Building trust between myself and my customers, no matter the age, is extremely vital.  If I fail at that, neither the transaction or my business survives.

Gene Mundt, Professional Mortgage Banker                                     Chicago Bancorp 

Apr 21, 2009 11:53 AM
SarahGray Lamm
Allen Tate Realtors Chapel Hill, NC 919-819-8199 - Chapel Hill, NC
Realtor - 100K Hours of NC Real Estate Experience

Gene - Please elaborate!  Amazingly I just had a conversation today with a senior agent about reverse mortgages. I do not know how I could be of assistance with that issue, although I certainly see how you could be! I completely agree with you that family/loved ones are most definitely important for many decisions and your point is well made that the "other side" of life is equally important. I would LOVE to read a post from you on the subject!

Apr 21, 2009 12:50 PM
Phyllis Brookshire
Allen Tate Realtors - Raleigh, NC
Allen Tate Realtors

Another great post Sarah Gray!  You are so right about building trust.  A committment to being a trusted advisor and all that encompasses is going to be the secret to success in the coming years in our industry.  Congrats on greating "raving fans"!

Phyllis Brookshire

Apr 22, 2009 01:37 PM