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 a home, 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 the objectives, 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 no two transactions are the same. Inevitably, problems arise and solutions must be brought to the table, negotiations made, and resources brought to bear.
The right agent will have intuitive insight directed by considerable experience, either their own, or from their team of professionals.
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 about 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 real estate agent is advising home sellers 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 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 you may not find out until after you 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. So, in the process, it is still your choice.
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,
- Underpriced home, costing you thousands, or even 10’s of thousands,
- Not vetting the buyer and having your transaction cancelled at the last minute,
- Being a lackluster negotiator, costing you the things you wanted most,
- Lack of experience which leaves you without the necessary solutions to problems,
- Missing important knowledge and understanding, which can put you in jeopardy legally,
- The list can go on…
We Have Real Estate Stories!
After 26 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. Lots of farmland in Frederick has been turned into homes for a swelling population in the last 25 years. We’ve sold real estate though 3 recessions.
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. She was a successful research scientist, very bright and capable. Unfortunately, recently divorced, 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 upset, I can’t even report to you what the @#*! response was from them. Hey, it happens. Emotions run high sometimes. We’re all human beings with LIFE happening to us. That’s what makes a real estate transaction so different than other types of sales, imo.
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. They weren’t intractable because they were angry about an insulting offer!
Remember, the negotiations continue after the original signing of the contract. The experienced agent will have the beginning, the end and all the steps along the way in their strategy.
Barnie Rubble, the Navy Doctor
Barnie and his wife Betty were looking for a small farm in Frederick County. The had four children and were looking for property for horses and possibly some smaller animals, goats and chickens. There are many farms and farmettes in Frederick County, so finding something wasn’t the problem. The problem is sometimes financing a farm.
The first farm they saw was a short sale, but determined it really wasn’t what they wanted. They had an $800,000 budget. After showing a few farms, they came across a $1.5 million 40 acre farm. It had a guest house for their mother, a small horse barn and enough bedrooms for a basketball team. It belonged and was being marketed by a local Realtor® that we had known for 22 years. This was going to be great!
The problem? It was non-conforming. Finding the financing was a real problem.
Barnie and Betty’s Realtor® on the sale of their home in Montgomery County was the other problem. This agent was intrusive into every aspect of the purchase of the farm. She even went behind our backs and called the seller! Several times during the process she tried to undermine our credibility, even blaming us letting a contingency expire. She had no idea that we had a 22 year professional relationship with the owners. They honored our relationship and bent over backwards to make the deal work.
Fortunately, we also had a relationship with a small community bank. We suggested they contact our guy at the bank. But, their other agent was intrusive into every aspect of the process. She had them looking for financing with several of her lending contacts. After trying 20 lenders, no kidding: 20!, they called our contact. The local bank created a portfolio product just for them. There were some bumps in the road, but our buyers closed on their dream home in 45 days.
- Local know-how can never be trumped. Frederick County is a very different place than Montgomery County, in many respects. Wherever you are, make sure you use a Realtor® who is local and knows the market.
- Professionalism is all important. There are times in real estate when you experience bumps in the road, and the goodwill and trust between agents, lenders and title is what keeps the train on the tracks.
- Agents, lenders, title, and buyers and sellers need to stay in their lane. A real estate agent should never practice outside of their specialty. That’s much easier to do when you have a team of professionals and your agent is a trusted adviser.
- Professional relationships are so important. Successful transactions are usually the result of a win-win attitude on the part of all involved.
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. Within our national company, eXp Realty, through social media and through networking, we meet outstanding real estate professionals regularly. Here are some of their stories.
More Real Estate Stories:
- 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?
- What’s a Little Last Minute TRID Drama to a Professional?, by Wisconsin Realtor® Adam Frank. Representation means having a caring, hard-working agent at your side.
- I hope you enjoy this video from Kristina Smallhorn, eXp Real Estate Agent in Ascension Parrish, LA. She puts a fun spin on a terrible real estate agent named Tiffany Selling:
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.
The choice is yours.
Find Out What Your Home is Worth (takes 15 seconds)
Need A Real Estate Agent in Your City? We Can Refer a Great Agent!
Chris Highland, Broker eXp Realty Maryland
Cell: 301-401-5119 Broker: 888-860-7369
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. Incidentally, 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:
Interviewing A Real Estate Professional