Stories From The Street – May 2016

It’s NOT my JOB!

Get this…

We were at our first of four settlements just the other day.  There is a ton of stress when we have one settlement in a day.  Is the lender ready?  Loan docs arrive on time?  Title work clear?  Is the house ready for the final walkthrough?  Have repairs from the home inspection been complete?  There are about 20 variables that have to run smoothly to ensure a successful settlement day.

Imagine the stress of having to ensure that all is good for all four transactions in one single day.  Our whole day almost fell apart because of an agent and his laissez faire attitude.

Maybe we care too much about our clients.  Maybe we know the stress of moving your family to a new location.  Maybe we know that buying and selling real estate is one of the most stressful times in a person’s life.  As my partner, Marla, always says and has always taught me, “A real estate transaction is right up there with death and divorce on the stress meter.”

So, we take care of making sure that all the “i”s are dotted and all the “t”s are crossed for our clients.  We even double and triple check with the other side of the transaction and the other lenders, title companies, etc. to make sure that “all is good” on their side.  It’s just who we are, how we are wired.  Too many agents just don’t know what they are doing, leaving us no choice but to hand hold through the transaction.

Back to the story…

When you buy a home, the settlement company ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS requires that the purchasers bring “Certified Funds” to buy a home, be it a cashier’s check or a wire transfer.

While sitting at settlement the other morning, we had the seller on this transaction.  She was selling her home and then immediately driving to Frederick to buy her new home.  This is called a back-to-back.  All the pieces have to be in place to pull this off.

Sue Mart came here, because this should have been smooth.  On the seller’s side, you sign six or seven documents and you are done.  I had checked with the lender and the settlement company the day before, and they both gave me the thumbs up.  I thought I had every base covered—this should have been smooth with no issues.

We paid careful attention to these transactions to make sure that all was running smoothly.  At the settlement table, the purchaser pulled out a personal check for $23k.  Sue Mart (who was attending settlement, as I was attending another settlement) was so shocked that her eyes almost popped out of her head.  She knew that this was an ISSUE.  She started texting me, “Oh sh*t.  The buyers brought a personal check.  What do I do?”

I first told her to tell the settlement company to FIGURE IT OUT!!! This could not get delayed.  Our seller was scheduled to purchase another house immediately after her sale.  Sue Mart then texted back to tell me that no one seemed to think it was a big deal.  But she and I knew that it was!  No way will a settlement company take a personal check for $23k, so I told her to RAISE a FUSS. Start asking everyone—the lender, the settlement attorney, the real estate agent—how this happened and how they could remedy the situation.

So she asked the other agent, “How did this happen?  How are you going to fix this?  How do the buyers not know that they have to bring certified funds?”

He should have apologized, taken responsibility, started researching where the buyer’s closest bank was located so that they could go get certified funds.  In these situations, you have to adjust on the fly and figure it out

His response was, “It’s not my JOB!”

And he had a smug attitude about the whole thing.

Huh?  What?  Not your job???  Not your job to what?  Represent and guide your client through the home buying process…that’s not your job?  That is EXACTLY what your job is!!!

Most buyers are nervous.  They have no clue about the process.  They buy a house once or twice in their lifetimes.  They don’t know the intricacies of purchasing a home. That’s why they are hiring professionals—and I use that term VERY lightly—to advise and guide them through the transaction.

This is the problem with agents and why people despise our industry.  Because of people like this.

Do you know that all you have to do to get a real estate license is take 60 hours of classes and pass a test?! To help someone with one of the most important investments of their lives— 60 hours, that’s it.

No wonder people have a distrust and distaste for the real estate industry.  Frankly, after 13 years, I have that same feeling.  Not everyone in our industry is as laissez faire as this agent.  We do have some real leaders and innovators—agents who go to bat for their client and protect their best interests.  But we unfortunately have many more who treat real estate as a hobby and/or just do the minimum to get by.

All that said, the public is to blame, too. 

Why?  Because they don’t properly research the agent before they choose to work with them.  They don’t ask the tough, pointed questions.  They don’t ask for references or referrals.  They think, “All real estate agents are alike.”  But that couldn’t be further from the truth.

This particular agent works for a company that prides itself on giving a rebate to their client.  Basically, a discount brokerage.  These clients seek out these discount brokerages because they think that they are going to save on commissions.

What they come to find out, however, is that, yes they save on commissions, but what they also save on is service, expertise, guidance, knowledge, professionalism, and results.

You see, with these “discount brokerages,” all they care about is the next lead.  They are always chasing the next lead.  Lead.  Lead.  Lead.  Once they get you, then the service STOPS.  They are lead generation companies that provide discount results.

Their margins are so slim because they discount everything so much that the service suffers.  They just want to churn and burn through the transactions.  They don’t spend time forming relationships with their clients.  They don’t advise and assist throughout the transaction.

That’s “NOT THEIR JOB.”

Nope, his job—at least how he saw it—was to go chase the next lead.  Like the ambulance chasing the lawyer.  Want a pest?  Want a gnat?  Want someone who will hound you for business?  Go seek out these discount companies.

We do it differently.  We invest in our clients.  Emotionally, financially, and with our time, we build a relationship.  There is a trust.  It works both ways.  I trust my clients and they trust that what we tell them will happen.

I tell all of my clients that I’m here throughout the entire transaction and even afterwards.  You have a question?  Call me.   Something doesn’t sound right, ask.  Need help with something, we are here for you.

But this quality of service, guidance, expertise, and results come at a price.  My clients gladly pay the premium commissions.  Never, ever, ever at the end of a transaction has a client said to me that I didn’t earn my fee.  They understand the time, commitment, and coordination that goes into a smooth transaction.

Now, are there bumps and bruises along the way?  Almost ALWAYS!  But we get through them.  And we keep the relationship going after settlement.

My “job,” unlike the discount agent whose job it is to chase leads, is to provide as smooth and successful of an experience as possible.

Thanks for letting me vent.  I get just as frustrated with the unprofessionalism in real estate as you do.