Thank you for sending me the glorifying funny cartoon about what a Realtor does! I get a chuckle every time someone tells me that “they just know they’d be great as a Realtor! Why they love to look at homes online and to visit Sunday Open Houses! And they just love all the renovation shows on HGTV.” At one point, the Florida Association of Realtors put together a list that contained well over 100 different things that a Realtor does when helping a client buy or sell a home, and looking at homes on line and visiting Sunday Open Houses weren’t even on the list!
The easiest way to explain what I do in “business terms” is that I’m the project manager helping someone buy or sell (or sometimes both) a home. Note that I said “home”, not “house”. If I’m dealing with an investor who wants to buy rental property, there is no emotion involved. It’s a cut and dry process. But when I’m helping a person with a home they have lived in or are planning to live in, it’s totally different.
People need help sorting through the chaff, to find that home that fits THEIR needs and their lifestyle, and that’s part of what I do. Figuring out in a new city (and sometimes in a city they’ve lived in their entire life), where they want to be – close to work, school, church, family, or in one young man’s case, the gym he belonged to since his life revolved around going to the gym and the friends he met there.
It’s helping buyers to understand that the luxury master bath may seem fabulous when they are single or newlyweds, but anyone staying in the other two bedrooms would either be walking through the master bedroom to share the bathroom with them, or walking down 2 flights of stairs to get to the only other bathroom in the house.
As a Realtor, I have a responsibility to protect my client’s interests, so when I see something that will affect their being able to enjoy the home or to sell it in the future, I need to point it out to them. It’s still their choice on what to buy, but if I don’t do “due diligence” and they end up buying the “Money Pit” home, without my warning them about things I could see upfront, that’s on me.
While I’m not a mortgage lender and I don’t know all the ins and outs about the many different finance programs someone can use to buy a home, it’s still my responsibility to know enough, to help them ask the right questions. To know that someone who hasn’t owned a home in the past 3 years is considered a first time home buyer and may be eligible for special funding programs as a result. To know that if someone is using a home buyer program, there may be special wording that needs to be in the contract or special inspections that they will need to order. A young couple I worked with recently got approved for $10,000 to help them buy their first home, because I sent them information about the program. As long as they live in the home for 5 years, they won’t have to pay the money back, either.
When I’m working with sellers, it’s my responsibility to research the home and community, to help the seller price the home correctly so it sells rather than just sitting on the market collecting dust and getting stigmatized in the process. I have a responsibility to discuss what repairs or updates to their home should be done before it goes on the market, to help ensure they net the most for their home. Not the largest sales price, but the most money in their pocket after closing. I also need to be very cognizant of how the different “terms” in a contract will make a difference to someone. Perhaps they need to stay in their home until a child graduates from high school, or their health has deteriorated to the point that they need to get moved to a safer location as quickly as possible. The contract terms that affect when the seller gives up possession of the home may be more important to them than the net sales price they get for the home.
But all of that is really the easy part of what I do. Once someone has an accepted contract on a home, my job becomes one of juggling multiple deadlines and projects to make sure that everything gets done within the allowed time frame. If I don’t stay on top of the deadlines, my client will lose. For example, the buyer’s building inspection has to be done and sent to the seller within 10 days of contract acceptance, or the buyer doesn’t have the right to ask the seller to fix anything that’s broken. If the appraisal isn’t ordered in time, and it comes out lower than the sales price everyone agreed to, the buyer can’t ask the seller to drop the price, yet the bank won’t loan the buyer more than the appraised value for the home.
I’m there protecting my clients’ interests all the way through the process. I don’t help them “find the house”, then hand them over to someone else to “write the offer”, who then hands them off to someone who guides them through inspections and deadlines, and then hands them back to me to show up after closing to transfer the keys from the buyer to the seller. I’m there all the way through the process. I deal with the expected issues and the unexpected ones. When the final cleanout person or liquidator doesn’t show up, I’m there helping to make sure that the home gets emptied out before closing.
I see people at their most vulnerable. Sometimes excited and happy, like newlyweds moving into their first home and sometimes fragile and ready to break, like the 90 year old widow who just lost her husband of 70 years and now has to get rid of her belongings (and the memories they bring) and leave the home she’s lived in for the past 65 years to move to a “senior facility” where she knows no one.
I’m not there just to suggest homes to look at, or unlock doors and let someone in, or to fill out a template contract, though I do know some Realtors who are like that. I’m there to be the friend, the substitute daughter, the rock to lean on. To help my clients get into the right home to meet their needs and wants, on the timeline that works for them, with as little stress as possible. In the process I will probably do more than the 100+ items on the Florida Realtor Association’s list, but my focus is on helping the people involved, not selling a home.