My pal Linda Davis and I banter back and forth about politics. We are rarely of the same political philosophy but good friendships survive that! Linda says I am Carole The Realtor® This tag has been blogged about on Active Rain (social network for the real estate profession) over the last few weeks but I have my own take due to public perception about agents. And it still ain't pretty. Our company, Howard Hanna, bought Realty One/Real Living over the past few days. Shaheen Samovati from the Plain Dealer has been on top of it, she's a sharp cookie and a good writer. She did a story about it here. The PD columns get a lot of strange commentary, but since this time it was about real estate, it hit home. You can go read all the comments but here is an excerpt from one:
"For the most part, Realtors are the laziest and least ethical people out there, doing everything to make a commission for themselves without regard for the homeowner. Do yourself a favor, don't list with a realtor. Whatever you think your home is worth, lower it by 10% - 15% and sell it without the hassles."
Brokers and agents like Linda Davis have written about what we really do as have a lot of you. Still, stereotypes persist. Carole The Realtor® doesn't feel like a stereotype to me. Why?
1. Greed and only working for the commission is not part of my equation. Yes I need to make a living just like Sally the Secretary and Diana The Grocery Manager. But there is no greed in wanting to pay my bills and keep up my house.
2. Unlike Joe the Plumber I could not buy a business this year for $250k nor would anyone give me a loan to do it. And this with having a steady stream of business for quite some time now.
3. I don't snark at other brokers or agents from other brokerages. I don't try to steal their clients either.
4. I don't only show my own listings and I don't only market listings to agents in my company.
5. I DO network with other agents and have great relationships with people in other brokerages.
6. I have never tried to cut another agent out of a deal, held back offers from clients so one of my clients could buy the house instead or any other strange behavior of the same ilk. And frankly in six years in this business I have only ever seen maybe two or three agents who are like this.
There are bad peaches in every bunch (and don't ya hate when that happens) but this is true whether or not you are dealing with real estate, telephone companies, grocers, or any other business! What is my career really about and what do I do all day? I learn! Agents are like investigative reporters. What do I investigate and learn?
1. The history of neighborhoods, how each one came to be. Maybe a factory is close by and therefore housing for the workers sprung up like flowers in a garden back in the day. Maybe there was an active religious institution; a school; maybe it's on the transit line. Who chose to live where and why, back in the day, is fascinating to me. I wind up at the library a lot because of some tidbit of info I've found out in the different ‘hoods.
2. I ferret out what's vibrant in each of our neighborhoods. Is there a long time hardware store or bakery? The Brothers Lounge was dormant in one of our neighborhoods for a few years. Now Cudell Edgewater residents (and people from all over the city) are ecstatic that it re-opened. Gordone Square Streetscaping is happening in Detroit Shoreway and the Capital Theatre will be open in about six months. That neighborhood is becoming more vibrant by the minute. And the tid bits go on and on.
3. Real estate nuances. Why is one street more sought after than the one right next to it? Why would a house sell more near a transit station and one on the other side of the community not?
4. Government regulations and how they play out in house sales and house market values. Do you have to have a city point of sale inspection if you sell your house? Are you going to be a landlord? Do you know you need an inspection? Did you know the city will come out and do a weatherization checklist for you to help you save on fuel costs? There is a lot to learn that is helpful to buyers of homes.
5. Through many people/clients I have learned how to refinish floors with boat paint, where the best (insert culture) restaurants are that people of that culture frequent. Where there is a leather tailor to fix my briefcases or purses or coats. Where are their neighborhood block clubs and where are the dog parks?
6. What communities have point of sale inspections and which ones don't. Which communities have land banks of vacant land and how they can be purchased and who to contact.
7. Sometimes I even find out what companies are hiring in a community, which ones aren't. What cool new business has moved into a neighborhood. (We have one person who makes ‘thingies' for guitars and has a patented way to keep strings from needing to be tuned as much. Keith Richards, among others, buys this stuff from him). Where are the best independent coffee shops? All of these things make for a vibrant neighborhood. I get to learn where they are in each community. And then I get to pass this information on to folks looking to buy a home.
8. Something different every day. This is not an exaggeration. Every single day. If you get right down to it, almost every job allows us to learn something every week, challenge ourselves. But in real estate I get to do it every single day. Being somewhat geeky that makes me feel even better about getting up and going to work every day. Probably helps keep me young too!
Agents are like matchmakers. I keep thinking about that. We help match up clients to homes. I always have ideas running around in my brain and one of them is to set up monthly meet ups for agents of every brokerage so we can talk with each other and find out who has clients that might be good for our listings and vice versa. God knows we all work hard and taking time off is difficult so why not match up a social event with some good work networking? This may sound like a digression (lol) but it's not. Because being an agent allows me to think up creative ideas.
They may or may not work, but throwing the ideas out there for sure can't hurt. We all do this, and isn't that another wonderful side benefit to our careers? This week, I look forward to welcoming, one on one, agents from Real Living who will be working under the same umbrella brokerage as I am, and celebrating the fact that I can count on thinking about or learning something new every day. And hopefully matching up a few people to homes. There really is no stereotype to our career is there? Peace Out - 3C