Is your real estate agent a trusted adviser…or a useful idiot?
Yes, you read that correctly. Buying or selling a home is one of the largest financial transactions that most people will make in their lifetime. The complexities of buying and selling real estate have increased over the years, making it also one of the most difficult transactions most people encounter as well. Having a real estate agent who is your trusted adviser is the most important aspect of buying and selling, and can often make or break a successful transaction.
Although it can be unnerving to trust someone else for counsel in this important decision, most buyers and sellers realize that they need a professional to help them through the complexities. After all, the average home owner buys and sells a home about 4 or 5 times in their lifetime. The average real estate agent will do that many transactions in months, or even in weeks. Needless to say, expertise is useful, no matter what the profession.
A Trusted Adviser
Your real estate agent does more than just help you find a home, if you’re a buyer, or help you sell your home, if you’re a seller. Although those are very important first steps in your real estate process, there are many moving parts still to take place after the contract is signed. All along the way, you should have confidence in your Realtor, such that you see them as a trusted adviser.
An experienced agent who has helped numerous people successfully buy and sell homes, will have seen multiple scenarios, and will have helped solve many problems. A seasoned agent realizes that two transactions are rarely the same. Inevitably, problems arise and solutions must be brought, negotiations made, and resources brought to bear. The right agent will have intuitive insight directed by considerable experience. They also will know the real estate trends of your local market. All Real Estate is Local, and you want to use someone who works locally day-in and day-out.
Real Estate Industry Requirements
Most real estate professionals are hard-working, ethical and competent. As with any industry, there are only a few rotten apples that seem to spoil the bushel. Many feel that the problem is the low entry requirements. All it takes to get a real estate license, depending on your state, is 60 to 135 hours participation in a pre-licensing class, passing a licensing exam, and about $1000 in fees, give-or-take. It’s one of the easiest careers to get started in…but one of the hardest to master, imo.
Getting a real estate license is just the beginning, there is so much to learn about the process and the business. For most agents, the first year of practice shows them that the license does not fully equip you for the business. Mentoring, being part of a team, continuing education, and having a supportive brokerage does more to help an agent succeed and become competent than a simple beginners class and a test.
When you consider that a Realtor is advising homeowners and buyers on their largest investment, easily between a quarter of a million and 1 million dollars in most locations in the country, that is a responsibility that is not to be taken lightly. Unfortunately, not everyone with a license is worthy of your trust.
Trusted Adviser or Useful Idiot…There is a Difference
A useful idiot is someone who either, A. You don’t feel you need to take their advice, or B. They are inept and their advice is not worth taking. The first choice is yours as a buyer or seller. If you want your Realtor to be an order-taker, someone who just fills out paperwork and does just what you say, and no more, then that is certainly you’re right. But keep in mind, the buyer or seller on the other side of the transaction is probably taking the advice of their trusted adviser. The advantage will be there’s.
Choice B may not be yours at first, because buyers and sellers may not find out until after they start working together that the agent is not the best choice. However, you have the right to fire that agent and find someone whose advice you can trust.
Having a trusted adviser on your side in a real estate transaction can make the difference between success and failure in significant ways…the truth of which, most buyers and sellers aren’t aware of…until something goes wrong. Having an agent who is incompetent, lacks experience, or doesn’t pay attention to details can cost in any number of ways:
- Not understanding the local market, causing you to miss out on your dream home,
- Bad advice in pricing your home, costing you time on the market, or worse,
- Not getting the full value for your underpriced home,
- Not vetting the buyer and having your transaction cancelled at the last minute,
- Not being a good negotiator, costing you the things you wanted most,
- Lack of experience which leaves you without the necessary solutions to problems,
- Lack of understanding and knowledge, which can put you in jeopardy legally,
- The list can go on and on.
How Do You Know if You Have a Trusted Adviser?
- Ask them for stories and examples. Let them tell you about how they’ve solved problems. Read some stories below↓
- Ask for referrals. Ask friends and family, co-workers and neighbors.
- Do a Google search and read their profiles for referrals.
- Check out their blog and see what kind of advice they give. Blogs are a great resource to learn about the agent, as well as learn about the process.
- There are any number of great articles written about how to interview a real estate agent…take a look at some of my favorites:
We Have Real Estate Stories!
After 25 years of real estate sales in Central Maryland, the Highland Group has experience in every kind of residential real estate…condominiums, townhouses and single-family homes, short sales and foreclosures, estate sales, farms, land, new construction…you name it. We’ve seen lots of farmland in Frederick turned into homes for a swelling population. Here are some of our stories: (the names have been cartoonized, to protect the innocent;)
Wilma Flintstone the P.H.D.
Wilma found us by researching on the internet about neighborhoods and about the real estate process. Wilma was a successful research scientist, very bright and capable. Unfortunately, coming off of a divorce, she was not in a very trusting place. We found the perfect house for her and she insisted on making a seriously lowball offer, in spite of our advice that it would most likely anger the seller, given what we knew about the situation.
And guess what? The seller was so pissed, I can’t even report to you what the @#*! response was from them. Hey, it happens. Emotions run high.
When we found the next best home, she was very interested in our advice about the offer price. In this case, we thought the list price was unreasonably high and we advised her to make a lower, but reasonable offer.
The husband had moved on to his next job and the wife was staying back to sell the home. They were weary and ready to sell. Wilma got a good house for a good price. And when the home inspection revealed some issues, the sellers readily fixed them, because they weren’t intractable because they were angry about an insulting offer! Remember, the negotiations continue after the original signing of the contract.
It Takes One to Know One
An experienced, hard-working Realtor will know another experienced Realtor with a few well-placed questions. We’re happy to refer buyers and sellers to any one of our real estate associates in other parts of the country. Through social media and through networking, we meet outstanding real estate professionals regularly. Here are some of their stories.
More Real Estate Stories:
- Andrew Fortune, Colorado Springs Realtor, tells a story about his buyers losing out on a home because of some very sketchy actions from the listing agents. Trust is one of the most important factors in choosing a real estate professional. Read: Can You Trust Your Realtor?
- Lynn Pineda, South Florida Realtor, tells a story of an unfortunate seller who trusted their short sale to a Realtor who obviously proved to be inept. Realtors should never promise to help a client with something that is out of their specialty. Read: I trusted you to short sell my home in South Florida
- Rich Cederberg, Albuquerque Real Estate Agent, has some excellent vlog posts, telling stories about real estate life. This one is pretty incredible, a real estate agent in the 21st Century who shuns the most basic technology: No Email, No Text…Are You Kidding Me?
If Your Agent is Not A Trusted Adviser…
…If you find that your agent’s advice is not useful, it may be time to move on. You should never feel obligated to continue with anyone in business if you lose confidence in them. Granted, sometimes things happen that are beyond the agent’s control, but if you give them a chance to redeem themselves, and still don’t see them as a useful adviser, then it may be time to move on.