As a real estate professional and a member of the local, state and national real estate organizations, I also am a Realtor® (which is a designation not all agents possess). I have other designations as well, which means I have additional education beyond the required hours to obtain licensure. In the state of Texas, agents are required to obtain additional continuing education hours annually. Depending upon how long a Realtor® has been working in this industry, we’re talking about hundreds of hours of education.
Most of that doesn’t mean much to a client. What does mean something to clients is my sales record, negotiation skills, strategies for pricing, marketing plan and market knowledge. My sense of humor is usually a plus, too. The countless hours of viewing homes, researching the market, making sure my technology is up to date and consulting with buyers and sellers and contractors has provided me a vast array of knowledge. I’m a walking real estate encyclopedia, dedicated to and passionate about my profession. And that’s the operative word: profession. I consider myself a professional.
Before I was a Realtor®, I worked in the corporate arena. Though I knew something about real estate, I certainly had not bought and sold hundreds of homes. I did not know how Realtors® “operated”. Because I wasn’t truly aware of the scope of their knowledge (which is a LOT), I was aloof and probably disrespectful at times when I had occasion to buy or sell a home. It was unintentional, but ignorant.
For the benefit of buyers and sellers out there, here are my suggestions for garnering the most benefit from a real estate professional:
- We are not a key service. Last-minute appointment requests to see a home are typically seen as disrespectful to an agent, who most likely has several clients with similar needs. And when an appointment is confirmed, please be on time.
- We want and appreciate commitment. Ask your Realtor® to represent you as a buyer or seller and sign an agreement to that effect. You can always cancel it if the relationship doesn’t work for you.
- We are not home tenders. If you vacate your home while it is on the market, it is not up to the Realtor® to maintain it. While we might provide that service to you, it’s an additional service beyond the scope of what is covered in a listing agreement and (IMHO) should be compensated as such.
- We love children (and pets) but we are not there to entertain them. Our time is best spent talking about the features of homes and evaluating comparable properties and market pricing. Please leave your children (and pets – yes, I have had clients who brought pets to showings) at home if at all possible. I’ve encountered hundreds of children who accompany buyers to view homes and only about 1% were interested in the process. And the 1% tired of it very quickly.
- You may know what your neighbor’s home sold for but if you don’t buy and sell homes every day, with all due respect, you are not the market expert. I have never presumed to tell any of my clients how best to do their jobs but many clients seem entitled to tell me how to do mine. And to give me advice from their relatives and friends.
- If you love viewing homes but don’t have to move right away, go to open houses, drive around, look online. When you are serious and ready to make an offer on a home, then contact your Realtor®. You may not think their time is valuable, but it actually is. They are a professional.
- Please provide as much information as possible. The more information we have about your likes and dislikes helps tremendously. Sometimes buyers say they want one type of home and end up actually buying something completely different. That’s OK. Just keep feeding information along the way.
- Be honest in your communication. If things aren’t progressing as you’d like, let’s talk it through. Maybe you think there haven’t been enough showings, maybe you’re frustrated that buyers don’t always show up (it happens), maybe you feel that we don’t communicate enough. Again, let’s talk about it. Whether we are representing a buyer or a seller, we want to keep the communication flowing in both directions so that we are all comfortable with the process. And if it still isn’t working, we can agree to part company.
- Let us know who’s involved in the decision up front. I once showed buyers twenty homes in one day and was told at the end of the day they needed their [parents, sister, cousin, uncle, etc.] to view them all too. I’ve learned to ask the question as to who needs to ride along, but in case your Realtor® doesn’t ask, tell them.
- Expect a long-term relationship. That may sound creepy but Realtors® truly have a lot to offer you and the best ones will stay in touch. We have connections to great contractors, are happy to provide you with market information, sponsor your child’s school activities, provide home-care tips and discounts to area restaurants and events.
The bottom line is that we are professionals and would like you to know that. We didn’t get this market knowledge or expertise overnight and we hope that garners some respect. If it doesn’t, we are still professional and will still do whatever it takes to help you meet your goals. But we’d rather it be different.