If I could encourage everyone to take one class somewhere between their senior year of high school and the age of 25, it would be Real Estate 101. Buying or selling a home is a BIG DEAL, and I am shocked by how cavalier some people are in their approach to this life-changing step. So for all you first-time or ‘I-haven’t-done-this-in-a-while’ buyers and sellers, I’d like to share some basics.
In grade school I always learned that in story-telling you need to address the 5 ‘W’s”. So let’s approach real estate the same way.
For starters, let’s talk about Who:
Who Will You Be Working With?
There are typically only two parties to a real estate contract: the buyer and the seller. But for that transaction to happen, there are a whole lot of people that step in and play a role. Chances are, you don’t know much about who these folks are, what they do, how to find them, what they charge, and how to know who to trust.
The Agent: In Arizona, there are real estate agents, Realtors®, and brokers. An agent is a licensed representative, a Realtor® is a step above that. To be a Realtor®, you must belong to the NAR, maintain specific continuing education credits, and commit to the Code of Ethics Pledge. Difference Between Real Estate Agent And Realtor | Difference Between A broker, in our state, has additional training, at least three years of experience, and often has a management role. All brokers and all Realtors® are real estate agents, but not all agents hold either or both of these distinctions. I am a Realtor® with a managing broker above me and the best broker in the state above her. That means you get three for the price of one, looking out for your best interests.
But there’s more to it than a distinction, a logo, or a title. For example, I got through my real estate classes in two weeks. I passed the pretty arduous realtor exam in one try. That doesn’t make me a good agent. It makes me a great test-taker (a skill I used to teach.) What you need from an agent can’t be learned in a classroom. You need this:
- Understanding of the community you are considering: Price point, freeway access, shopping and entertainment, growth and development… If you were to ask me about the West Valley or Superior, I would refer you to an agent more qualified in those areas. Just because I can help you doesn’t mean I should help you.
- Education: If I’m not explaining each step of the process, you aren’t being educated and you will feel managed, disenfranchised, or out of the loop. The process of buying or selling a home has to be collaborative. This is definitely a team sport! We will work together.
- Communication: Buying and selling homes can be scary. If you feel left in the dark, that fear and anxiety only worsen. Let me know how you like to communicate and how often. HOWEVER! Please keep in mind that I am running a business and you are not my only client. I get it. You work all day and address your real estate project in the evening. If you dpn’t reach me just leave a message, send a text, pop an email. If I don’t respond instantly (or until morning), it’s all good. I generally ask that unless it’s an emergency, I prefer having 9pm to 6am with my business set aside.
- Resources: All realtors® know this phrase: “Source of the source.” What this means is this: I know a lot about real estate. I don’t know everything. And some things, I ‘know’ but I am not in a position to be an authority. In those instances, a good realtor® is not a know-it-all. They are a resource. I can guide you to lenders, attorneys, plumbers, roofers, termite companies, inspectors. But just because I ‘know’ an answer or think I know, you are better served when I refer your questions to a qualified professional when something is outside my scope of expertise. You want a realtor with enough humility to know where those lines are.
- Caring: No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care. If I am not putting your interests first, I am betraying your trust as well as the code of ethics they swore to.
- Integrity: I got fired last year. My client asked me to cover up an issue with the home he was selling. And while I have a fiduciary responsibility to protect you, as my client, I also have a legal responsibility to disclose anything material to the safety of a home and the integrity of the deal. I shared the issue with the buyer. I lost my client but I did what was ethical and legally required of me. At the end of the day, I have to live with my choices. And as I told that client, If I am willing to lie FOR you, doesn’t it stand to reason that I would lie TO you?
Next up: Lenders, one of the keys to the whole process!