I’ll just buy it from the agent on the sign…

Common misconception: It’s totally fine to buy a house from the listing agent.

Fact: It is fine, if you like being taken advantage of. There is this little thing called the Law of Agency, that states that the listing agent has certain obligations to their client, the entity selling the home. They have no obligation whatsoever to the person buying the home. Everything a buyer says to the listing agent can, and probably will, be told to the seller. This is also an opportunity for the listing agent to make the most money, because there isn’t another agent involved. The list agent is going to make the entire 6% no matter what. A listing agent’s duty is not to serve the buyer, it is to serve the seller. Which is awesome for the seller, but not so awesome for the buyer. Don’t get me wrong–listing agents are people, too, and they do great at their jobs, which is sell a house for their seller.

Buyer’s agents are abundant, and as a buyer, you can rest assured that there is an agent out there who will treat you the way you want to be treated, and who will look out for you. It’s a little tricky to find a good buyers agent, though, and that’s mainly because we don’t advertise the way that list agents do. Here are a few ways to find a buyer’s agent:

1. Teams. Real estate teams always have exclusive buyer’s agents who are waiting for you to call. These agents are trained to work solely with buyers, and the team setting gives them the resources to serve buyers better, and faster.

2. NAEBA. There are a few agents out there who are designated by the National Association of Exclusive Buyer’s Agents. The difference between these agents and the ones on teams? These guys paid for the membership, and they are part of a brokerage that doesn’t do listings at all.

3. Listing agents. Listing agents can also do buyer agency. Just be sure that you aren’t trying to buy a house that they have listed if you want the true benefits of a buyer’s agent.

Try to find an agent who you can imagine being friends with, or at least someone you’d like to represent you. You’ll be spending at least two months of your life with this person, and the process will be much more enjoyable if you enjoy the company of your agent. Remember, you are essentially hiring your agent, so treat the interview process as just that. You want the agent who you feel would be the best employee for the job you are offering.

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Faster, mom, faster!

Dire times call for dire measures.  If buyers only knew what they’re agents go through, they might be a little more appreciative.  

Two or three days during the week, I work from home with my kids to save on daycare. Typically, on a perfect day, my husband takes the only car we have to law school, and I text him when I have an impromptu appointment. On that same perfect day, he comes home to watch the kids for an hour while I do the real estate hustle. Yesterday was not that perfect day.

At 11:57pm, my team manager calls to ask me to meet a client, with listing printouts in 30-45 minutes. While seraching these listings, I text my husband. No answer. Text #2: no answer. #3: nothing. I call him five times in a row. Nothing. So what now? Give up and cower? Not me!

I did what anyone else would do. With time ticking away, I kindly told my four year old daughter that we were going for a bike ride, so she’ll need to get her shoes on, and grab a snack. While my listings printed, I gathered my one year old, and fastened him into the Chariot. Then my daughter crawled in and made sure I buckled her tight. Fotunately for me, they think bike rides are the best thing in the world. 12:23pm.

I packed my files, listings, and jacket into the back compartment, and off we went! Yes, I pedalled as fast as I could with my hells on, while my four year old cheered on the speed, “Faster, mom, faster!”  It took fifteen minutes for me to get to the office from my house. I dropped the bike and gave my little girl the “mommy has to sell a house, so watch your brother” speech. I left her with some Goldfish, and went in to meet my client, first stopping by a mirror to make sure my hair was perfect.

Fortunately, my manager was heading the meeting, and I didn’t have to be there long. I came in, turned over my listings, and flashed my smile (really, the only thing going for me at that point), and introduced myself. I prayed that I wasn’t visibly sweating.  It was over in under ten minutes.

When I got back to my babies, quietly munching their Goldfish, I couldn’t be more thankful for such amazing children. As for my husband, he’s lucky I didn’t buy a ticket back to Hawaii without him.

If that isn’t dedication, I don’t know what is. So next time you decide to use an agent, ask them how far they’re really willing to go for you.

Consultations: Preventing Decision Paralysis

Switch is a book written by Chip and Dan Heath. It’s basically about the psychological factors of change, and how to make positive changes by focusing on positive aspects. If you’re looking for a great read, I highly suggest picking up this book.

In Switch, the Heath brothers discuss something called Decision Paralysis. Decision paralysis happens to all of us when we are faced with too many decisions at one time. We suddenly freeze up and cannot make a decision, even a simple one, if we are given too many options.

I’m sure that if you’ve ever shopped for anything, including a home, you may have found that after looking at certain number of articles of clothing, types of shoes, or house options, you stop trying because it’s just too much to think about. For some of you, this may not be an issue because you buy the first thing you like, and keep it simple. I tend to brood over the pros and cons of an outfit, and try to make sure that I’ve seen everything before I make my choice. If I spend too much time looking, I just give up, and leave without buying anything. For the remainder of the day, I’ll ask myself why I wasted so much time at the mall for nothing. I obviously need to refine my shopping skills.

Routinely, I offer buyers an opportunity to meet me for a consultation. For one reason or another, this just seems to intimidate people (I like to think that they imagine I’m going to sit them down and show them slideshows of furry animals for two hours. Then I’ll make them pay me 500.00 and send them off with a pamphlet. That IS NOT what I do). They get a bit uneasy, and if I’m face-to-face with them, I can see them searching their minds for a white lie to tell me so that I leave them alone. Few buyers will take advantage of a consultation. Those who do utilize my consultation find themselves more educated, and actually spend less time looking for a home.

For a minute, let’s think about different ways to find listings. 1) the internet 2)real estate publications 3)signs in yards 4)Realtors. The internet is a phenomenal resource. But you tend to get bombarded by the vast amounts of listings that get thrown at you. Picture, Price, Next. Picture, Price, Next. Finally, you find something that looks great. But wait, it’s way over your price range, has one less bedroom that you need, and the neighborhood is too far from where you work. Next. And so it goes for an hour and a half, or so. Then you really find a house you like. You email the agent. You wait for them to get back to you, and it turns out the home has been sold. Next. You’ve probably wasted two days on this, and you’ve got nothing to show for it. I’m exhausted just thinking about it. The same goes with real estate publications. And signs in yards are just a waste of gas, aren’t they? So now you’ve got to (gasp!) talk to a Realtor. We are really not that scary. Good Realtors will offer you a consultation.

So what’s the big deal about these consultations? Well, despite having to sit in an office for an hour, it saves you time and resources. By the end of that consultation, you’ll leave with a list of homes that only fit your criteria, and a great agent that will do anything to help you get into one of those homes. There are thousands of listings in your city, and you’ll narrow everything down to under fifteen homes. About eight of those will be homes that you’re willing to spend your valuable time looking at. So you just saved yourself from having to spend days looking for nothing, and in one hour, you developed a plan and you have a direction. Not to mention, you only have to visit about eight homes before you find the one that suits you best. Now all you have to do is write and offer. Decision paralysis: FAIL

The Double Standard

When you sign up to be an agent, and you show up to your brokerage, license in hand, one of the first things they say to you is, “Stand out.” Naturally, the first thing you think to yourself after hearing that is, “I will stand out.” And very soon after that, you realize how truly monotonous everything, and everyone is.  Yes, we all have our own personalities. Yes, we all drive different cars. Yes, we all have our own approach. So why do consumers perceive us as the same person? Why do we have a sort of stigma?

Things need to change. This industry needs something to jolt it back to life. I’m not saying that it needs drama, or scandal. I’m saying it needs to stand out as the great profession it truly is. Agents are not (always) the idiots that the media portrays us as (although Modern Family’s Phil is funny as all get-out). We are intelligent professionals! And most of us do this because we love it, and we love working with people.

There are many double standards in our society today, and there is almost never a benefit to having to abide by them. But how does one break a double standard?