Care and Feeding of your Real Estate Agent

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on

Good morning, my real estate friends!  I hope you are enjoying a wonderful Christmas season!  Listen, I saw another movie about a real estate agent…and things happened.  You know what that does to me.  It gets me going.  I know you guys laugh.  I hope you do.  But I GOTTA say this.  Why?  Because I worked throughout my holiday and I’m a bit tired. hahaha.  The life of a real estate agent.  Ready?  Let’s go.

First thing is this:  Remember that we are people too, and we have feelings and families and illnesses and joyful times and stress…just like everyone else.  Second:  Nobody else gets berated to the extent that we do.  Nobody ever resents your salary, or constantly says you don’t work, don’t deserve to be paid for your work.  No, it’s just us.  I blame a lot of that on how we are portrayed in the media, and that some people think we’re too dumb to do anything else.  If you think that, you’re wrong.  In fact (squirrel) when I worked part time in retail, where there’s a lot of bad treatment, ALL of my associates were college educated.  Not stupid!  Most of my real estate colleagues are educated as well.  Most of us have college degrees or multiple degrees, and most of us also have enough education in real estate to add up to another degree in terms of course hours we take.  Best of all, we know how to get you money, get your dream home, get you the best deal, get you in that house you want to see, keep you from making a mistake that will get you in trouble. 

And please don’t attach a dollar sign to everything we do.  “I know you won’t make much money on this” is one thing that offends me when I hear it.  I do not chase the almighty dollar; money is not my God. Some of the wealthiest people I know are di….I can’t say that word here.  Don’t say things like that, please.  Some of us are just as honored to help you buy a little tiny cottage as a huge million dollar home.  In fact, the ones buying the little cottage are often more appreciative of our help.

A couple of things got me thinking about this subject.  First, I saw a movie where the protagonist depicted real estate agents as ‘pretending to work’.  That shows an ignorance of the whole process, which is insidious in the industry.  We try very hard to both tell you about the process and show you through documents, so that you have the info you need.  We give you docs, we text you, we call you, we send emails, and we actually talk to you.  Nobody listens, nobody reads.  I’ve studied statistics and I can tell you that even the two folks who listen don’t make that stat change from ‘nobody’, statistically speaking.  So we get put down because others don’t understand.  Where else does that happen?  That’s rhetorical.  There are times when I ask my clients, “Can you tell me what you heard me say?”  That’s so I know that THEY know what I said. And speaking of ignorance of the process, once upon a time a client fired an agent because she put an ‘appraisal waiver’ in the doc package.  That waiver told the potential buyer, that yeah, you’re gonna pay above appraised value so be ready to bring that extra to closing.  It was there to protect that client, but he went nuts…because he didn’t listen, did not understand that document was there to get him more money, and listened to a work buddy who clearly was a genius. Probably cost him tens of thousands of dollars in this market.  

The second thing that got me to thinking was about me trying to help someone find a home, a person who would not do his up front ‘homework’ he needed to do.  I got a text from this guy at 10:30 Christmas Eve night, and in the morning on Christmas Day, with home addresses for places he wanted to go see.  He asked, “So I guess this means we have to wait until after Christmas?”  That was when the attorney closed their office for the holiday.  Christmas is the biggest holiday in our country, and even those who don’t believe in the reason for it, respect the ones who do believe in the reason. Usually.  When I got a text at 2:15 am on the day AFTER Christmas, I thought a family member died or was injured. The sound of the phone jolted me awake.  I was afraid to pick up the phone.  A death: That’s the only reason for a text at that time of day, period.  But no, this was a client with no respect for my need to rest, nor for my desire to enjoy my family and friends during my holiday.  Folks, that’s inappropriate.

I have very good radar for people who are trying to play games or pull one over on the system. I’ve had my license for a LONG time, have a lot of real estate experience, and more importantly, I have PEOPLE experience.  So when I smell a rat, there’s always a rat.  Not unusual for me to step away from situations that make me go hmmmm.  Yeah, we agents get to do that too.  But really, if you call us you are calling for a professional advisor.  Professional.  If we tell you that you have to have ‘this’ or you have to do ‘that’, we’re not saying that for fun.  We’re saying that to get you in a winning position!  It is POINTLESS to show homes to someone who can’t even do a simple phone call or answer a critical email from an attorney, and if you are trying to buy and won’t do the simple things, you’re going to have a terrible time in this market.  I love ya, but I’m not a tour guide; I’m a professional real estate agent and realtor.  So are my colleagues.  So please remember that when we ask you if you’ve talked with a lender.  If you have NOT done that, then you can’t make an offer on ANY home so WHY are you asking to look?  And if you have not done that, well, you showed up without having done your simple homework.  In this market, repeat after me, you MUST have a pre-approval letter to send WITH the offer.  If you don’t HAVE IT, that house will be GONE by the time you do get one.  Repeat that?

By the way, the first time we talk, I will go over your up front homework and get ready to jump when you are prepared to go.  Most times I start sending you homes online to look over and I will discuss many other things you need to know before you start.  I don’t expect you to wake up knowing what to do.  

Let me say that all of my favorite colleagues and actually everyone in my office, are in the business because we have a heart for service.  We actually like helping people!  I know!  Isn’t it great?  We’re servants, and we work.  VERY hard.  Every day.  And let me tell you, there are some of the MOST creative problem solvers I’ve ever worked with in my office, including me thank you very much.  We do some really good work! For you.   By the way, we have engineers, scientists, business owners, property managers…lot of smart people to help you.  And we have deep benches.  Lots of connections that can also help you.  

Let me share some things with you.  First, buyers, you don’t pay for our services, except in very rare instances that you agree to up front.  SELLERS pay us.  SELLERS pay our AGENCY commissions and those of their listing AGENCY.

AGENCY.  The COMPANY.  That big old number you see goes to the companies, BOTH of them.  And then that’s split at LEAST FOUR WAYS.  It can be a lot more than four.  And then your agent gets a PERCENTAGE of the actual agent piece, not all of it.  So because people think we don’t deserve to be paid, let me just say that we only WISH we made that much money.

Out of our cut comes gas money, wear and tear on the car, hourly pay, if you like, for the time we spend arranging showings, talking you through the process, doing the required paperwork for you and for our company, time we spend getting your documentation in order, time arranging appointments with attorneys, inspectors, times to get you in houses, time we spend meeting service providers for you.  We have to make sure you don’t miss any of your ‘time is of the essence’ dates because it is a rare client who actually notes those dates, and they are normally associated with a lot of money.  We make sure you get the checks you need to hand over, and we hand them over for you.  Each step of the process has its own set of real estate obligations and your agent does those things on time, every time.  Most of what we do for you, you never acknowledge or appreciate.  That’s not sour grapes; it’s just the reality.  Honestly you often don’t even know what we did for you most times.  Just know, we’re working.  We do actually guide the process, and yes, we are often working on YOUR transaction late at night and early in the morning…while you are still sleeping.  And remember, if you’re the buyer, you don’t pay us.  If it takes a year for us to find the right home for you, we don’t get paid for a year.  But we ALWAYS tell you not to settle.  Take your time to find the home that will make you happy.  Because that MATTERS to us. It honestly does.

If you’re a seller, we help you know what it will take to get your sales price (if you will listen to us) and then most of us help you do what needs to be done.  I’ve bought mulch, flowers, I’ve staged homes, touched up paint, weeded flower beds, cut dead limbs off of trees….BECAUSE for me, this is the cost of doing business.  If you can’t do it and I can and it helps you, I step up. I want your MLS photos to be fantastic.  Why?  Because aliens in outer space can see them!  I want them to be AMAZED!  And I want them to drop in and buy your house!  Again…service.  By the way, if your agent puts up crappy pictures to advertise you home, you picked the wrong agent.  Just saying.

But again, seller, you hired an advisor who knows how to read the market, knows what houses like yours go for, what kind of pricing strategy to use…yes STRATEGY…to make you competitive.  Please don’t tell us to price your 500K house at a million.  You hired a professional; listen to us.  At the end of the day, we can price it high for you, but it’ll take months and sometimes multiple price drops to sell it.  And, if your agent doesn’t talk to you about strategy, wrong agent.

One last thing.  It is expensive for us to be real estate agents.  Out of that little cut we get, we give back a LOT of it to use the office space and supplies, for dues and fees and for classes.  There have been times when, at the end of the day, I made under 10 bucks an hour for my work, for those who keep track of that sort of thing.  And I still love those clients whom I had the HONOR of helping to find their very first home.  My heart!  No I did not make a lot of money, but the happiness I felt for THEM was priceless.  That’s why I do this.  To help others.

I came home one evening before Christmas.  It was late, after dark, and I was tired and hungry.  I saw something on my porch.  I picked it up and saw that it was a gift basket.  One of my clients had bought me a beautiful gardening basket full of gardening gifts.  There was a watering can, gloves, three different kinds of pruning shears, flower pots, flower bulbs, a mister and watering stakes…I was shocked and so very touched.  Not ONLY did they give me gift to thank me, but they actually knew that gardening is one of my complete life joys.  I couldn’t wrap my brain around that.  They actually listened to me and paid attention, and they said thank you.  That sort of kindness from clients is rare.  I cannot WAIT to plant the bulbs and I will think of that couple every single time I see the flowers in the Spring.

Care and feeding?  Just remember we are people too, we work to pay our bills, just like you do, so yeah, we do deserve to be paid.  And, like you, we don’t appreciate being put down, talked down to or even berated.  Ninety nine percent of the time, agents don’t deserve that.  Yep, there are some bad ones out there, and they’re the ones who get us all downgraded in peoples’ minds.  Most of us, the vast majority, actually want to serve you well.