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What Were They Thinking?

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Okay…I’ve got to get something off my chest. I’m frustrated and I can’t stand what I am seeing anymore. Seriously!…what in the world are people thinking?

Have I got you interested? Good…stick with me for a moment. Here’s a quick question for you. If I were to hand you $500,000 today and ask you to invest it tomorrow, would you go on-line to find your best options, or would you find a trusted consultant with experience and knowledge? Unless you’re a financial advisor, I would hope you answered with the latter, otherwise we should just stop this conversation right here. Now…let’s take it one step further. When choosing your consultant, would you pick the full-time advisor with the numbers and experience that demonstrates success, or your cousin who just graduated from school last week and might be offended if you don’t use him? Again, if you pick your cousin, let’s just sign off right now, as there’s really not need to continue further. How about when you get slapped with a civil lawsuit after accidently hitting another car while texting…the attorney who’s been handling these cases for years, or your best friend, the new law school graduate who’s taking on her first case? Truthfully, I hope these answers are no-brainers, which leads to the million dollar question…why in the world is it any different when choosing your real estate advisor?

I can’t understand it…I really can’t. Time and time again, I see people choosing someone to represent their largest lifetime investment based upon some ridiculous family/friend tie and the fear that they may offend someone by not using them. Why?? If that person is a rockstar advisor with experience to back things up, then I get it. But…if they’re a part-time advisor who likes to do “real estate on the side,” then what gives? It just doesn’t make sense.

Maybe my industry is partially to blame. Let’s be honest, the barrier to entry for this business if fairly limited. Take three classes, pass a test, and VOILA!!…you’re a licensed agent ready to handle hundreds of thousands of dollars in investments! If only it weren’t so simple, maybe the caliber of agents representing buyers and sellers wouldn’t be so varied. But it is that simple, and it will likely remain that way for years to come, all while leaving the unsuspecting consumer open to poor representation and a potential for thousands in lost investments.

Think it doesn’t make that big of a difference? Let me share a little story with you. Mr. and Mrs. Smith, whom I am representing, recently placed their home on the market and accepted an offer from Mr. Jones that was contingent upon Mr. Jones selling his current home. Sounds simple enough…right? Here’s where the inexperience of Mr. Jones agent came in. With any contingent offer, the seller is allowed to continue to offer their home for sale for back-up offers and should one be received, they may ask the first buyer to remove the contingency for the sale of their home or back-out of the deal. That is of course, unless the buyer’s agent checks a little box on the initial offer that creates a “delayed right to notify.” Simply put, it’s a time-frame during which, the sellers cannot accept a back-up offer and force the buyer to remove the contingency. In the case of Mr. Jones, his agent didn’t check the box, and guess what happened? Five days later, a stronger non-contingent offer came in and what do think Mr. and Mrs. Smith did? Yup…they asked Mr. Jones to remove his contingency, which he couldn’t do, and Mr. Jones lost the house. One little box that needed to be checked!…that’s all it was, and the agent’s admitted unfamiliarity with the contract paperwork cost Mr. Jones the home he so desperately wanted.

Folks…it happens all the time and more often than not, the consumer doesn’t even know what’s happening to them. If you think we, as full time agents making a living at this business, don’t check out the sales history of the agent we are doing a deal with, you’re wrong. If you think we can’t sense and see their inexperience, you’re wrong. If you think these things don’t play a role when it’s time to negotiate on behalf of our clients, you’re wrong. Let’s be very clear…I’m not insinuating that we take part in unethical behavior in attempt to manipulate another agent. Quite the contrary. It’s working within the ethical boundaries to negotiate the best deals for our clients and leave more money in their pocket. It’s about protecting their prized possession, and isn’t that what you’re hiring someone to do?

Look, we all started from the beginning and every agent came from a place at the table as the “new guy.” It’s not a bad place to be, and hiring a new agent isn’t necessarily wrong. The big question is whether or not their flying solo, or if they have a mentor or team members to assist them when things get sticky. Even the best don’t know everything, but they always know who to turn to when in need of advice or strategy options. It’s the agents that think they know it all that are truly the dangerous ones. There’s a lot to know in the business, and in owning my own brokerage, I understand that as well as anyone. I have to keep my knowledge up to not only protect myself and my client, but also the agents that work for me and come to me for advice. There’s more to this business than meets the eye…just keep it in mind the next time you’re making a decision on who will represent you and your investment. An experienced agent with a record and experience to prove it can make a world of a difference. Don’t be afraid to ask for their sales stats, and don’t be afraid to offend someone by not using them. Trust me…it matters!

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