Last month I wrote a post called “Fire Your Realtor; Fire Your Client,” and it is entirely coincidental that I found myself writing this post today.
This isn’t meant to be a public service announcement, but rather a question: why not have a Realtor working for you?
I was making my way through the Vintages section of the Queen’s Quay LCBO on Sunday night, trying to find true gems for under $20 (I highly recommend Catena Malbec for a mere $19.95), and as I mulled about, I was speaking on my cell phone with a colleague of mine who is new(er) to the business and who is working with some off-beat characters.
Depending on where you have a listing, and depending on what price that listing is, you may get some very astute, savvy members of the general public calling you, or you may get some utter beginners.
It is the latter segment that my colleague was dealing with, and I was beyond feeling her frustration as she told me of her woes – I was actually frustrated myself!
Let me work through a metaphor here, to put her problem into perspective.
Let’s say you take your car in for service as you need new brake pads. You leave the car overnight, and the next day you take your rental car back to Enterprise, and you jump in your own car with new brakes.
You immediately drive to another garage, and have them change the oil while you wait for two hours.
The next day, you take your car to a third garage and have them replace the transmission while you take the TTC to and from work every day for three days. At the end of the week, you pick up the car, say “Thank You,” and then go to a fourth garage and have them detail your car inside and out.
Does this make any sense at all?
Would you all agree that it would be much easier to just have one garage do all the work?
I think you know where I’m going with this, so let’s move ahead.
My colleague received a call from a potential buyer who was interested in one of our company’s listings, and she asked him, “So are you working with a Realtor?” He said he wasn’t, and she agreed to take him to see the property. As luck would have it, his wife’s family announced that evening that they were coming into serious money, and it changed their plans entirely. The man called my colleague back the next day to explain, and to apologize in that he had to cancel their showing.
My colleague congratulated him on his new-found wealth, and said the cancelled showing was no issue; she’d have done the same thing! But then he chuckled and said, “Yeah I just feel so bad because I have appointments with five other Realtors today and I have to cancel on all of them as well!”
That was what frustrated my colleague, and it frustrated me for a different reason.
My colleague was frustrated because she was losing a potential buyer and because all the while he was spinning his wheels with a half-dozen other agents.
But I was frustrated because it just goes to show that much of the general public don’t use Realtors to their advantage. They’re either scared of doing so, or they don’t know how.
I had drinks on Friday night with a young couple who were starting their real estate search as well, and they bemoaned the way most Realtors don’t call or email them back when they inquire about active listings. I was somewhat surprised to find that they were emailing and calling twenty Realtors for twenty different properties, and calling brokerages to ask about their listings.
The approach was somewhat scattered, in my mind. These were two young adults, very smart, incredibly successful, and yet they weren’t putting a Realtor to work for themselves.
And that’s really what I’m getting at here – put a Realtor to work for you!
I’m not trying to turn this into 101 reasons to hire me, but rather I question why more people don’t work with Realtors right from the get-go.
I know some people hate our entire industry, but I’ll never be able to satisfy them. And show me one industry where everybody is liked, the satisfaction rate is 100%, and where there are no bad seeds. Hey – I’m the first to admit that we could do without HALF of the 32,000 Realtors we have in the GTA, but that doesn’t mean that John & Kate McBuyer should do all the legwork themselves when looking for a condo!
I use a travel agent because I’m not in the travel business. I know nothing about it, and I don’t have access to a system or a database with thousands of packages, flights, hotels, and the like. My travel agent, who gets compensated by the airlines and NOT via my pocket (even if she did – it would be worth the $50), does all the legwork, and answers all my questions in due time. I’ll say, “Susan, I”m thinking of going some place hot over Christmas and I’m wondering what the best deals are.” She’ll email me back that evening with prices for five different resorts on five different islands in the Caribbean.
Could I accomplish that all myself by browsing Internet sites that are likely full of hidden fees like the much-maligned Expedia.ca?
And if I could, would I want to?
What’s very unique about the real estate industry in Toronto (which differs from that of, say, New York), is that buyers do not pay a commission. Realtors working with buyers are compensated by the listing brokerage, via the seller.
So I ask again: why would any buyer do all the legwork themselves instead of having a Realtor do it for them, for free?
The young couple I had drinks with on Friday night were enthralled in a lengthy conversation about real estate. We talked shop over multiple bottles of wine, they asked questions they always wanted to ask, got answers that desperately sought, and were excited by the prospect of me pulling out my laptop and going on TorontoMLS!
I don’t blame them for not hiring a Realtor because they just started their search.
But there are scores of buyers out there that think they’re somehow better off by browsing the antiquated www.mls.ca for listings instead of having a Realtor update them at the drop of a hat, and driving around on Saturday and Sunday going to open houses instead of having their Realtor book private showings when it’s convenient.
So at the risk of opening Pandora’s Box here – can anybody tell me about an experience they had where they felt better off searching on their own?
I’m sure I could think of a few common reasons.
Maybe some buyers are ready to “commit” to one Realtor, and they prefer to mull about on their own.
Maybe some buyers don’t trust Realtors in general and don’t want to work with somebody until they absolutely have to. That one, I can’t help you with!
Most Realtors don’t bite (I don’t…anymore), and although there are some annoyingly aggressive Realtors out there who literally put a pen in your hand at an open house and force you to write down everything but your social insurance number, I don’t think any buyer is going to accidentally find him or herself in a contract with an agent they don’t like.
I’ll tell ya – if my kitchen sink was broken, and I knew I could call somebody in to fix it for free, I’d certainly do that! It wouldn’t make much sense for me to take time away from work, investigate the sink on my own, and try to dabble in a field in which I know very little about.
Doesn’t buying real estate work the same way?
As buyer’s don’t pay commission, they can use Realtors for free, and more! Consider that a Realtor will drive you around in his or her car, and probably kiss your behind by showing up with coffee and a muffin. What’s wrong with that?
Of course, some buyers know this and seek to exploit it. We’ve all heard the same sob-story fifty times about a Realtor who shows a buyer twenty houses, and then that buyer purchases another property through a different Realtor. Well here’s something you probably thought you’d never here me say – that situation is always the Realtor’s fault. The Realtor didn’t earn the buyers trust, or their respect, or work hard enough for that buyer to fully commit him or herself to the Realtor. And if that buyer happened to be a sociopath that planned to use ten Realtors all along and screw nine of them, then it’s the Realtor’s fault for not finding this out sooner.
Realtors are here to be used – so use them! And if you use one and you don’t like him or her, then find a different one!
But why do all the legwork yourselves?
If there are any advantages, then please – let me know!