Walk a Mile
This is my story. There are many like it, but this one was mine.
From yard signs (people who almost always say “that’s a lot of money”), from Zillow inquires and from escrow officers. From agents asking fo feedback from a showing, from idx inquiries on other agents listings and from buyers who have to see a few houses “right now”. From loan officers telling you the appraisal didn’t come in at the right amount, from a buyer saying “thank you” or from another agent telling you that their seller went with “the other offer” instead. Answer in the middle of dinner with your family, at 11pm, on vacation.
Walk through some houses.
Look at 10 houses in 3 different price ranges and neighborhoods. Study comparable reports before you go. Touch the hand rails, imagine being in the shower or barbecuing in the backyard. Look at the staging, the cleanliness and the paint colors. Check out the neighbors (do they have dogs? kids? nice cars?). How old does the roof look? Has the plumbing been updated? Is there new insulation in the attic? Wood floors underneath the carpet? Is the foundation crooked? Cracked? Look at the buyers body language as they explore. Take notes when they make comments. Take pictures of anything suspicious or wonderful. Walk slowly through a few homes you’ll never be able to afford yourself.
Negotiate a contract.
Explain dozens of legal documents in layman’s terms. Remember to make sure the buyer asks for that stainless refrigerator, in writing. Is Friday really a good closing date, ever? Convince the buyer they need to pay over asking price. Convince a seller they need to accept less than asking price. Tell the other agent “this is my client’s final offer”, and mean it. Load the forms into your software of choice. Take note of all the sources needed to fill them out completely. Triple check your work. Are you going to write a cover letter? Should you meet the other agent in person or will an email do the trick? Work with a sub-par agent. Work with a great one. Tell your seller that the buyers financing fell through, 5 days before the closing.
Get belly to belly.
Talk to a first-time-homebuyer.
[Notice how they always think they can “just knock that wall down”. Notice how excited they are. Notice how they have no savings. Or notice how big their trust fund is. Notice how they want more space]
Talk to a 6th-time-homebuyer.
[Notice how they know everything. Notice how they really don’t. Notice how staunch they are about the details. Notice how they want less space]
Talk to a 4 months late on the mortgage homeowner.
[Notice how scared they are. Notice how scared you are]
A friend recently asked me “aren’t you glad you don’t have to tell people you’re a real estate agent anymore?” Funny, but this never occurred to me.
My brother read science fiction novels when our family went on road trips and I chose to look out the window and observe the world. I was a paperboy for a while. I knew all of my neighbors. I knew the details of every home on my route. I knew the details of every person on my route. I won the geography bee a few times. I love every house I’ve ever seen and I’m not sure if it’s a gift or a curse.
Being a real estate agent is one of the greatest privileges in the world. It requires a diverse skill-set of sales, compassion, empathy, marketing, organization, hustle, wit and patience. It’s connected me with people in ways unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before and is incomparable to any job I’ve ever had (and I’ve had a lot). It takes no guts to start but it takes all of them to continue.
The narrative of the agent is often lost in a sea of “look-at-me” marketing, in the churn of disruption aimed at the profession and in the daily grind in which we (they) willingly participate. It’s a narrative I hope we get right one day.
It’s a narrative that I’m proud, was mine.
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