Yes, I AM one, and I’m writing this? I wasn’t always one, and stood on the side of the fence you’re on. Maybe you’ve never bought or sold a house, or you’ve done one or the other, but had a less-than-pleasing experience. Believe you me, we Realtors have those ‘less -than-pleasing’ experiences working with some other agents ourselves!
So why would I write about NOT using one on your home buying or selling needs?
Absolutely I’m going to try to shift your thinking, if you are in the NO category. But there are legitimate times when you DON’T need us there. Not many, to be honest, that don’t involve your possibly getting the short end of the stick, but admittedly we are not needed ALL the time. “so, tell me, already” you say…
When NOT to use a Realtor:
When you are buying a relative’s property
Believe me, getting in the middle of family, and the issues and pressures it can present, sometimes doesn’t make my opinion worth anything to either side. IF you desperately want Aunt Bertha’s old farmhouse, even if Auntie is asking a price far out of line with the market, a.) I can’t change her mind usually(she has YOU as a captive audience already, and if she isn’t ‘the nice auntie’, she may not care if it’s too much), and b.)YOU are too involved/enamored to want to do anything like negotiate to jeopardize the situation. Be aware that sometimes there are more issues with ownership/inheritance situations that may pop up once you get that purchase to a title company. Especially if dear Aunt Bertha has passed, and the property hits probate.
When you are SELLING to a relative
Aunt Bertha, we know you know what you want, but maybe we could advise you if the price you are asking is too low, which may jeopardize your plans to move to the Bahamas and leave it all behind. If the price is too high, see above…a Realtor can help smooth the upcoming paperwork process, but so can a real estate lawyer to some extent. Maybe that is all you need. RE lawyers tend to charge a flat fee for this, or perhaps a percentage. Be sure to ask them before you commit so you know what is coming.
You are only a little bit serious about looking to buy/sell
Uh oh, here it comes. Don the flak suit now.
Sellers, perhaps the market seems to be in your favor as a seller (“the neighbors just sold their home for $75,000 more than they bought that place for 15 years ago! wow! Bahamas, here we come!”). You don’t have any concrete reason to move other than that, but it sounds like a good idea at the moment. What you may have overlooked is… the WHOLE MARKET has gone up, not just your house. Can you buy a replacement home and put cash in your pocket, in the area you need to live? Maybe you can move out a bit further and hope to get more for your money. Maybe. A Realtor can help you figure that out. Once you’ve made a decision to sell, be SURE about it. When we list your property, we start spending money marketing and helping get it sold. If, two weeks into the listing, you decide “WAIT! I LOVE this house! It’s where all my children were born, and I can’t leave it!”, and ask us to pull the listing, you have cost your Realtor money and time (which usually, but not always, translates to ‘money’…ask your lawyer about those hourly fees). We will be more than a little disgruntled if we have pro-actively asked that question “Are you SURE you really want to sell?” and you replied “YES”. If you’re not SURE, don’t call us….yet. Or call us, ask about the market, get educated on your idea, then let us know BEFORE you actually want to list your home. We need that time to get your market values right, and make sure your home shines, the cream of the crop on the market.
And Buyers, we love ya, and really do want to help. We should be asking YOU as well “Are you SURE you are ready to buy?” How can you convince us? Find a lender, and get pre-qualified. That means have a good lender (ask us, we have a list of good ones you can contact) take a look at your current surface financial situation to assure that, yes, you are pretty good to go. They won’t be completely sure until they dig deep once you have a contract on a property. A good Realtor will ask many questions those first few days to help assure both you and them that this IS what you want to do. Please trust that we are not trying to pry, or get too personal. Buying a home is a BIG decision, and if you haven’t done it before or in a long time, it can seem so easy, like buying a car. It’s not. Gone are the days of Barney Fife’s idea of buying real estate. You can’t just write a check and hope for the best. Owner Financing has become more sophisticated, and it no longer means “I’m desperate and will take any old Buyer”. They are just as hard on you and your ability to pay as a bank.
Buyers, we also are not a personal home viewing taxi service. Now that may sound as if coming from a place of grumpiness, but it’s just reality. We love to look at homes as much as you might, but we are BUSY. We’d LOVE to help you find the perfect home, but you have to show that you really want to do that. Some Buyers will look at 40 homes, finding fault in everything, simply because they are comparing it to some ideal that 1.) they can’t afford, or 2.) doesn’t exist. Perhaps looking at a new home build would be beneficial, if you really want THAT exact thing.We can help you there, too. We look out for you so that the builder doesn’t take advantage of you. (Yes, most builders are honest, but that doesn’t mean if you offer too much they won’t say “SURE!”) And 3.) they are not really serious about buying. Sigh….
Almost every other situation, you really should have a GOOD Realtor by your side. We know and can research the market with information you just can’t get, and the good ones know the right questions to ask you to make sure the journey of home Buying/Selling is as easy and rewarding as it can be. We look out for YOU (read: What is a Buyer Representation Agreement and why should I sign one?” ) when you trust us with your real estate experience.
OK, I heard that; that topic is destined for another blog entry very soon. We are people, too, some trustworthy, some not, some out for their own interests (against the Natl Association of Realtors ethics mandates), most not.
There aren’t very many reasons on that list. Why? Because the real estate transaction is a complex process; no longer like it was before the 60s. We Realtors are here to be your guide, your consultant, your research expert, and your liaison between the many professional parties that will be involved in this. We know how to market your home in the best light, and we will give you the hard truths when you need to make some changes to assure you get the best price. Yes, we make some money on the transaction, but we (the good ones) EARN it.
We hope to earn back your trust from the last time you gave real estate a try. Shop around for a Realtor you feel comfortable with, not just the ‘top producers’ or big teams that look so impressive. I’ll provide a report on how well smaller agencies do against the Big’uns soon, so you’ll see that it often just does not matter, as long as your Realtor takes the right steps.
This is a lengthy relationship we will be in; I want you to feel that I can look out for you, and will listen to you. We will be a team for at least 3 months. Let’s be the right fit for each other!