“Real Estate Agents are in it for the money”… Of course we are! Did Ms Alix think agents are independently wealthy or take up selling real estate as a hobby to keep busy? Not all of us are “bored housewives” looking for something to do. Did she think her readers would not know that Realtors® and real estate agents receive the majority of their compensation through commission without her investigative journalism?
Yes, some agents and some brokerages are not trustworthy, but they are in the minority.
Yes, we want our clients to like us and we want to like our clients… it makes the job so much easier and pleasant when likeability is shared. Good agents listen to their clients, I know I try to. I want to know what you, the client, want in a property. If I listen well, I can tailor a search and show you homes that are more likely to be chosen by you in a shorter period of time (and may seem like a miracle worker...an added bonus). Sometimes you (the client) do not tell me everything about what you want, where you are looking, what you can afford. It makes my job that much harder. Sometimes you do not know exactly what you want or are willing to purchase if most of your needs in a home or property are met. You might think about a different school district, even though you told me you would not. You might be able work with a small yard (with nearby parks) even if you told me you wanted “elbow” room.
And yes, I do show my clients some homes over their stated price range. I look at days on market and what I think the fair market value might be when I do choose a home over their stated price range (I hope to negotiate, but the final decision is the client's). However, I am a firm believer that my clients should own a house; the house should not own them. I show a wide range of prices and counsel my clients that they are purchasing their largest investment and what could be a future source of equity or income if maintained and managed properly (as with any investment). For some, their starter home becomes their first rental property and eventual real estate annuity. There are many articles on investment stating that homeowners outpace their non-homeowner households in wealth with the home as a large source of that wealth.
Yes, like most stockbrokers and journalists, I do not derive my compensation from a salary with regular hours. Yes, like the above, I sometimes use hyperbole. But, unlike journalists, the written words I use for work are legal documents and I have a written standard of ethics to uphold as a Realtor®. I work for my compensation. Sometimes I work for no compensation when the transaction falls through. I do wish Ms Alix had provided a copy of the pamphlet she referred to and outed the brokerage firm so she would clearly name the perpetrators rather than have the reader infer she was painting all agents with her broad strokes.
However, she is correct about one thing. People should educate themselves. There are great thoughtful articles on real estate and many first time homebuyer classes. Specific questions deserve specific answers, even if you don’t like the answer. If you have an agent who will not answer your questions, find another. If an agent tells you a property will not last, it may not. If you do not wish to act now, don’t. But please realize that particular opportunity may pass you by. In some cases, you may have to lose an opportunity in order to act on the next. Some people make decisions easily and others do not. Part of our job as an agent is to help you “pull the trigger” when you find the "right one" as well as help you navigate the transaction. What sets us apart from most sales is that our transactions take longer and are more difficult to navigate with financing, inspections, title work, disclosures, repairs and closing. Our more exacting work really starts with the contract, not before (though, with buyers, showings can take more of our time).
As for “buyer’s agents”, they started in the early 1980’s (when my mother was a Realtor®) so they have been around for almost 40 years. In my opinion, any inexperienced buyer or seller should be represented by his or her own agent who represents him/her only for a transaction. I represent buyers AND sellers, but not for the same property. I work together with many good and great agents in Central Virginia who feel as I do. Perhaps NYC is behind the times, but I do not think so. It is more likely that we "provincials" followed the example of our "metropolitan" cousins.
If you are thinking of engaging a real estate agent, ask for referrals. Any good agent should have people who would be willing to speak to the agent’s skills. Ask about the agents education. Ask if the agent is a Realtor®. Ask questions. Meet with the agent before looking at properties. Be ready to answer questions in return.
And… if you or someone you know is looking to buy or sell a home, please do not hesitate to reach out or send them my way. I am never too busy for you or your referrals!