Alright, Noob Realtors, this one’s for you! I’ve compiled a list of the 10 things I’ve learned about real estate I consider key to getting through the day without either road-rage-ramming your car into the guy who just cut you off or going home and drinking yourself into oblivion every night (but you probably still will every other night. This is real estate, after all). Here is the first half (I’m long winded and sometimes more palatable in parts. Fact.):
1. Delegate, delegate, delegate* – Really? You’re going to spend an hour and a half picking that earnest money check up from your buyer who lives in Chandler and driving it to the title company in Ahwatukee? You’ve got nothing else better to do and your gas tank was just feeling a little extra full today? Hmm… well that’s your prerogative, but I would prefer to watch the latest episode of the MTV high school sitcom, Awkward, that I DVRed last night and make myself a burrito while the title company sends a runner to pick up that check. Or hey, show property or sign a new listing. Any of those things rather than run around the universe delivering things to people that someone else could be doing. But I guess that’s just me.
Real estate involves about 80,000 tiny tasks. It’s really most important that we, as the Realtor, can manage these tasks and make sure they get done, not that we do them ourselves. Allow your inspectors to inspect, your photographers to photograph, your sign installers to install your signs and your title reps to rep their title company by designing your fliers and marketing materials (I’ve never totally understood why this is the title rep’s job, but I’ve learned it is). Amass your team of people you trust and get out of their way.
* – the footnote on this one is that even though you should not be spending your valuable time doing stuff you can farm out, you have to recognize that 15% of the time, the people you delegated to are going to drop the ball in some way and you’re going to be responsible. Know this and be there to catch that ball when it drops. Check up on your people and make sure your tasks have been completed.
2. Always be learnin’ – Nothing in real estate is static. You can be an expert foreclosure listing agent who sold 143 houses last year and this year dry as a bone because nothing’s moving but short sales and you don’t know how to do them. Gotta stay cutting edge to survive.
“Have you heard I’ve closed more Ameridream deals than any other agent in the county?”
“No, but I heard Ameridream was outlawed by the federal government in 2008.”
“Oh. Maybe that’s why things have been so slow lately…”
3. Manage expectations – Correctly managed client expectations can mean the difference between a transaction that was an A+ in their eyes and one that was a disaster. If you tell your clients before you begin:
The lender is going to want every piece of financial paperwork that has ever existed concerning you and any person related to you by blood. Including the half sister you’ve been estranged from for 17 years. They might also want a list of every book you’ve ever read and any food you’ve consumed in the last 4 months. Just be prepared: this is going to suck.
Also? That date we just put on the contract for the ‘close of escrow date’? Is really more of a hypothetical date. The chances that you’ll actually receive the keys to your new house on that date are probably about as good as one of my kid’s chances of scoring a goal in soccer. It might happen, but there’s a general lack of coordination and athletic ambition that I’ve genetically passed down to them, so it just doesn’t occur very often. We’re all going to do our best to get this done as quickly as possible, but there are a gazillion moving parts and it’s going to behoove us to be flexible.
And let’s all keep in mind that buying a house is highly emotional, stressful and exhausting, so if you need to call me and cry or yell, I won’t take it personally. If we get through all of this and you have a house that you love and neither of us is dead or in jail, then the whole thing has been a successful venture. Alrighty then?
When you get to the end of the deal and nothing horrible has happened, they’re surprised and elated. And when the inevitably ridiculous event occurs that’s completely out of everyone’s control, they won’t be shocked and they won’t be looking to blame you.
4. Nothing’s guaranteed until the deed is recorded – I know this is the first thing every agent learns, but it bears repeating. Don’t let any lender or cross-agent talk you into believing any deal is a ‘lock’. Tell your clients often and emphatically that it’s not over till the fat lady sings. By the end, when the husband says to you, ‘So now that we’re through the appraisal, can anything go wrong?’, the wife should elbow him and say, ‘It’s not ours until it’s closed, Dummy!’
5. You can’t talk anyone into buying a house – You can help a buyer go through pros and cons, you can help them research and eliminate issues they are worried about, you can help a seller stage a house to show off its assets, but you can’t convince someone a house is right for buying. In the movies the real estate agent is always smooth-talking some poor shmuck into buying a property that’s not right for him, but in real life, buyers have their own minds. Even if you’re completely sure a property is right for them, unless they feel it too, you’re out of luck. The earlier you accept this and realize your job is to facilitate, rather than ‘sell’, the easier your life will be.