While driving between appointments a couple days ago, I called my daughter to check up on grandbaby Tyler. The car and traffic was quiet and it was a nice break in an otherwise hectic day. After learning about the latest baby accomplishments, inevitably we drifted into what my day had been like and what I was up to at the moment. To me, it was just another day … going to a vacant listing to meet with a plumber after water was found all over the kitchen floor.
I was struck by her comment “Mom, you’re always out there taking care of other people’s houses. I can’t believe you do that. It seems like they should be doing this stuff themselves.” My response was “Welcome to Real Estate!”
Thinking back, my open-ended job description has changed significantly over the last two-three years. Is this a result of the “economy?” A result of my own changing standards and desire to be of help to folks? Or just laziness by allowing myself to get sucked-into agree to tasks that maybe could be delegated. Hmmmmmmm
Certainly my business profile has changed:
- Most of the homes I list and market are vacant. Used to be they were almost never empty!
- The majority of my listings are the result of financial distress on the part of their owners.
- The majority of the Buyers I assist have never owned a home before.
- Most of the Buyers are young, just starting out in their real estate ownership lives.
- A significant chunk of my business (almost 40%) comes from internet exposure.
- Nothing is fast — not the marketing time of a listing, nor the “finding a house and closing the sale” time with a Buyer.
So what does that mean to the actual “practice” of real estate?
Well, it means that my job description continues to evolve. Buyers don’t jump as fast at a great house — we have to see lots of houses. And then once a house is identified, an offer is accepted, inspections are negotiated and completed, the whole nightmare of completing all of the financing tasks comes into play. Let’s see, over the last half-dozen Buyer clients I’ve had to:
- Run to a Buyer relative’s home to pick up copies of bank statements and send them to the loan officer. Why me? Well, the Buyers got called away on a family emergency and somebody had to do this now!
- Go to the local IRS office to try to get copies of tax returns when an underwriter demanded real copies at the last minute.
- Attended a oh dear! super fun septic inspection in the pouring rain only to find out that the pump didn’t work.
- Negotiated payment for the septic repair over a period of a week and ran it around to all of the various parties because, gee, we were already a week past closing and the bank was threatening to pull our short sale approval.
- And on and on ……….
Sellers generally need help. They need hand-holding. Some of them are desperate. Most are anxious:
- I spent the better part of a day mucking out a garage and yard. Why? Well, it needed to be done and the Seller was totally unable.
- Met repair people at vacant listings!
- Helped move extra furniture out of the house and into storage because … well, I have a truck available and these two single gals had no idea what I meant when I said “pack!”
- Supervised the cleaning of gutters
- Picked up replacement locks and had them changed out.
- Bought food for an abandoned fish pond and cleaned it out.
- Above all, I’ve listened and listened and listened to their anxieties.
Now WHY should an agent bother with this? My response is always … because it has to be done. Somebody has to do this. To serve my clients well, the house needs to be sold/bought, they need help to be on their way to their next step in life, to be their ear, sometimes to encourage, sometimes to nag. To serve my clients, I am their trusted advisor, their “do-er,” the one to whom they look when there are snags along the way … and sometimes even after the transaction closes.
It all comes down to service. Real Estate is a service business.
Welcome to Real Estate!