Back in 1996 the Unibomber was arrested and his 35,000 word Manifesto was published for all to see. I was discussing the Unibomber's Manifesto with my friend Chuckles one day. Probably over several beers. Chuckles was finishing law school at the time and they were trying to determine if the Unibomber was indeed mentally fit to stand trial. Chuckles opined that "if you have a manifesto, you get a pass." The ideal we developed was, if you have a manifesto and you say you're incompetent, who is the government to question that? Manifesto=free incompetence defense. So, to that end, I present The Realtor's Manifesto!
The Realtor's Manifesto
The real estate profession has been much maligned over the years. Much of that has been of our own doing. As Realtors we own our failure to police our own industry.
In contemplation of the above, it is time for us to shine God's flashlight down on the cockroaches of our industry and send them scattering into the night.
What a Realtor is not:
- A Realtor is not a taxi-cab driver, Über driver or a Lyft driver. Our job is not to drive you around. Our job is to find you the right home and help you negotiate both the deal and the avalanche of paperwork, disclosures and reports that go with a real estate transaction.
- A Realtor is a valet. We don't run around opening doors to locked houses all day long you so you can look at it. On demand showing apps like ArriveHome are arguably one of the stupidest and most dangerous innovations of our business. I will never open a door for some stranger who hits me up on an app because I happen to be near a house that's for sale. I don't know who they are and that violates every single common sense rule of Realtor safety. Sorry, ArriveHome, your app is stupid. If you want to buy a house and want to meet me in the office and determine if you and I should work together and then I'll find the right house for you...I love that. Running around unlocking doors for strangers, I'm off that.
- A Realtor is not emotionally involved in the transaction. Over the years I've had agents just scream at me over the phone because my client didn't agree to whatever it was their client asked for. You are the agent, not the client. Control your emotions, if you can't maybe a 9-5 is better suited for your demeanor.
- A Realtor is not going to move in with you. It doesn't matter if they like the house or not. Very few sell enough homes to be able to even intelligently discuss things like resale. You have to decide if it's the right house for you or not. If someone is spending a lot of time trying to talk you into a house, one of two things is going on. Either they need the sale more than you need that house, or you've seen 7-12 homes that fit your criteria and you need to get off the fence before the opportunity passes by. When this happens your professional Realtor knows that they've found the right house and will let you know, it's time, you need to man up. If I had the commission for every buyer who didn't do what I recommended and then called me to say they regretted their decision, I'd be sitting in a beach front estate in Malibu writing this.
- A Realtor is not about the commission. If we do the right thing we will do well in this business. It is not an easy business. There are thousands of punks sitting in front of their computers trying to figure out how to disrupt this industry and put us out of business. The onslaughts are daily. Part of the problem is that it is full of hacks who can't properly explain their value, take crap pictures that show up on the internet, do a lousy job of marketing, over price the home and wonder why it won't sell. They can't counsel the clients on what it takes to sell their home and what will happen if they don't follow the advice. i.e. You don't want to put away your Hello Kitty collection that takes up three rooms, that's fine, but your net is going to be much lower as the rooms appear small and the buyer is distracted by the Hello Kitty collection. You don't want to repaint "The Black Room", that's cool but buyers will think your house is dark and dreary. Professionals have professionals stage and take photos. I recently had a listing that was just a mess. It was a bad situation and they just couldn't get the house in shape, they didn't have the bandwidth. That's ok, and my photographer made it look so good that people got mad at me when they got there. Did I do the best I could for my seller under the circumstances? Yes, because a ton of people saw that home and I got them a great price. When I am surprised by the offer, we did good.
What a Realtor is:
- A good Realtor is a powerful advocate. They look for places in the transaction where they can negotiate on your behalf. They care that you are being protected and do everything they can throughout the process to help you meet your goals. I don't always tell my clients what I'm trying to get for them, just in case I don't get it, but I am always looking for some sort of window dressing for them. Maybe it's a free rent back, maybe it's a clock in the dining room that my client loved and I know the seller is downsizing. Earlier this year it was the patio furniture. The seller was downsizing and just didn't want to move it. It was a nice set and saved my buyer who didn't have much furniture from having to furnish the patio. You never know what it's going to be. I've heard of buyer's asking for and getting the dog. I can't imagine that, but if the seller is downsizing and the animal would be better off staying.... My cousin bought a farm in Indiana and the sellers asked if he wanted the dog as they were moving into the city. That dog had a great life with my cousin. The thing is, I know where to look for this stuff when a buyer or seller might not even think about it. I hear that you loved that rose in the pot on the patio, maybe the seller doesn't care about that rose and wants someone who will love it? That's a win.
- A good Realtor will point out when a buyer is looking at a home that doesn't fit their criteria. If a buyer says they need at least four bedrooms and 1500sf and then asks to see a 768sf 2 bedroom home, a good agent asks "What changed?" They don't just run out and show it. You said you wanted to be in the Heavenly Hills School District and this is in the Arcadia School District, a professional asks "What changed?". Not to be combative but to understand and if nothing changed it's our job to remind our clients of their goals.
- A good Realtor will market your home properly. Different homes need to be marketed differently. A fixer upper needs to be marketed in such a way that investors find it. A showplace needs to be marketed in a way that those buyers can find it. No home should ever go out onto the market with blurry pictures. Ever. Every home should have it's best foot forward and a good Realtor knows how to do it. One of my colleagues had a home with a pool in the living room. Seriously. The previous owner was from the South Pacific and that's how they do it there so that's how he did it here. It was a tough sale, so she had the local synchronized swimming team come and put on a performance for the open house. A good Realtor is always looking for the angle to sell your home.
- A good Realtor is with you after the transaction closes. They don't ghost you when things get sideways. I had a client recently who moved in and immediately there was a yellow jacket issue. He had owned the house for a couple of weeks before he moved in, so it had stood vacant for a bit. The yellow jackets were in the chimney, they had found a spot in the mortar and the queen moved in. The cable guy got stung right away. You couldn't walk up the side of the house without getting chased. I had been up that side 5 days earlier and they weren't there. They move in that quickly. I didn't know how to eradicate yellow jackets but I found several service providers to go out and assess the situation. I didn't leave him twisting in the wind. Funny thing, not a week after this happened some showed up at my home. They moved into a light over night. They stung a worker at my house. I eradicated mine with one of those hanging traps, today my advice would be different, but I know a solution. You'd be surprised at the weird stuff homeowners have had to deal with that I've helped them find solutions.
- A good Realtor is a full time Realtor. I'm sorry, you can't do this business part-time. It's just not possible. The market moves too quickly, there is too much to know and a Realtor needs to be available during business hours to conduct business. You want a part time job, call BevMo.
To that end, I encourage, no I demand, that all buyers and sellers hire a professional. Did you know that 90% of the business is done by 5% of the Realtors out there? Your mom's best friend is a very nice lady and makes a killer Cosmo but only sells two houses a year. She's not going to be your best advocate because she doesn't work enough to have Deal IQ. I know her egg nog is the best, and she tells awesome stories on New Year's eve, but when you're talking about the largest financial transaction of your life, you're better served hiring a professional.
OK, that wasn't quite 35,000 words but I think it'll get me off on a murder rap.
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