In this article, we will be breaking down the pros and cons of working with a real estate agent and how to find the agent who will be the best fit for you, even if that isn’t us!
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What I want to talk about today is how to choose the realtor that is the right fit for you. I’ve been wanting to make this video for a while and have been thinking about how I want to present it to you. And yes, of course, I am a realtor, but I want to give some scenarios where I might not be the right fit for you. Of course, you might even be questioning if a real estate agent is even worth having this in day and age. It is 2022, like, isn’t there an app for this? Isn’t there some way that I can do this myself? Can’t I just watch youtube videos and figure it out? All of those questions could be answered YES. And all of them have very different answers to how you would solve the problems associated with them, but there absolutely are solutions out there for you.
I do feel like it’s up to me and people in my industry to change the cliche associated with what it means to be a realtor or real estate agent. And just to clarify, the difference between those two terms is actually just just fact of belonging or not belonging to this one little group that you pay dues to to be a realtor, so the distinction doesn’t matter too much. Some people might think that realtors are similar to used car salesmen, that they are just trying to sell you something used. True, most houses are pre existing. But realtors should be more than that.
Having been in this position for about two years now, I have spent a lot of that time asking myself, “How can I do this differently than it was presented to me?”. And maybe that’s because I’m in my 30’s, which I am still considering young (even though my neck will just randomly start to hurt after holding my kids in a weird position). But regardless, being younger, I am questioning things all the time such as: “Can I do this differently” “Can I do it differently than my dad would think of it or differently than how I perceived it growing up?” “How many of these things are worth doing differently?”. I totally recognize that there are some things that are worth preserving from the way that they have traditionally been done.
Some of this thought process hit me a little harder when I started helping my brother in law and his family find a house. For a long time they were living in Manhattan as what you would call “DINKs” meaning “Dual Income No Kids”, which is a very unique position to be in. Having two well paying jobs and being able to live in a big city is a really cool, unique experience. Later, they had their daughter, who is just a couple months younger than my daughter, and that obviously changed some things. Then, skip ahead about two years and they had their second child on the way and decided to move down here to Florida. My family and his essentially relocated to Florida at the same time. Their decision was based on a combination of wanting to be closer to family and the fat that their city was kind of shut down in the midst of the pandemic. They originally moved here as kind of a safe haven for a little bit, but later decided to make their move permanent. At that time, my brother in law referred to himself as a “HENRY” meaning “High Earner Not Rich Yet”. So even though he still had this great job in Manhattan which allowed him to work remotely, when it came to the process of buying a house, along with the benefits or downsides of owning a house, he was clueless. This situation made me realize the potential in focus my business on slowing down the home buying process to be able to better educate clients, and let every party be entirely on their best interest, changing the more traditional mindset that we all know which seems to just focuses on the speed of deal.
Sometimes I think that using a realtor could be compared, in some ways, to using a mechanic. For example, there are a lot of different things on your car that you can fix yourself. Then there are another layer of car issues that you could figure out how to solve by watching a video or calling someone for a little bit of help. But other times, there are those issues that force you to call a mechanic. I believe the reason that we reach out to mechanics isn’t because we hate working on our cars, It’s because we need someone to solve a problem for us. And they solve it so much faster than we could! It takes less time, less money, really less of everything for them to solve the problem in our place. THAT is what a realtor should do. Because we are reading contracts all of the time, making offers on houses and missing, making offers again and getting accepted, negotiating, planning inspections, and having our hands in the whole process throughout the entire duration of the deal. We are talking to lenders and title companies and appraisers, we are doing this whole process very, very often and it becomes second nature for us. We can solve a lot of these problems very quickly with one simple conversation and we aren’t having to ask questions to understand all of the backstory and intricacies. But we all know those mechanics that, when you take your car in to them, call you and give you this big list of things wrong with it that kind of makes you feel like it’s your fault that your car has all of these problems. Or maybe that’s the dentist that I’m thinking about. But my point is, there are those mechanics that talk down to you, as the customer, in the midst of that process. Realtors have to set themselves apart, it’s still our job to keep our clients extremely informed and comfortable and financially protected in the midst of these big transactions. Sometimes, it’s honestly hard for me to think of it as a big transaction because I’ve bought and sold houses myself and I do it for other people all of the time, so I think of it as a pretty easy process. I also buy and sell high value shoes and it doesn’t seem that different to me, of course with real estate there is more paperwork, banks involved, lawyers at times, and all of those kinds of things but it is still a pretty simple process.
Really quickly, let’s talk about new construction, because these builders do try to draw you in and tell you that you don’t need an agent. And the reality is, you don’t. You don’t need an agent at all. But let’s think about why they don’t want you to have an agent. So, a typical commission for a realtor is about 3%, sometimes less. I actually have a new construction deal closing next week and they are paying me that 3% commission. If the builder was not paying me that 3%, the price would not come down for my clients. So that equals more profit for the builder, and of course the builder wants to make more profit. Even that person in the office for the builder is incentivized to make the company more money, they most likely get a percentage of that extra bit that wouldn’t get paid out to a realtor. But if you’re really savvy, you could totally do it on your own and maybe even negotiate with the builder to be willing to give you a 3% discount because you aren’t using a realtor. So let’s look at the life of the loan, how much money does that save you? For a $400,000 house, your monthly payment would be about $1,500 per month. So if they lowered the price to $388,000, minus that 3% ($12,000), your payment would go down about $50 per month. Then, if you add those payments up for 30 years, that is a difference of about $18,000. But that is over 30 years, and there would be a little bit of a difference in your cash out of pocket, it would be about $2,400 less out of your down payment that you would be giving if they agreed to give you that discount that lowered the price. That is actually a savings of a little over $20,000 over 30 years, which is not bad at all! By doing that process on your own though, you give up having an advocate on your side. And these builders are not used car swindlers, I definitely wouldn’t paint it that way, but they are trying to sell you something. They aren’t representing the transactions, they aren’t representing your best interests, they aren’t even taking the time to understand what your best interests are. These are just aspects to consider when deciding to go through the process on your own, or with the support of an agent.
With all of that being said, how do you find the realtor that could go into any of those situations and represent you and your interests in the way that you most desire? Of course, I think youtube is a great way to find this person for you. The reason I think it’s so good is because you get to hear a lot from a person, you get to know them pretty well before you actually reach out. You’ll find that there are a lot of people or teams that could be a really good fit for you. Also, maybe this ‘fit’ isn’t even that big of a deal to you, maybe you don’t really care and you just want someone to find the best deal, negotiate the hardest, do exactly what you say, and move on. There is nothing wrong with that, but if that is what you want, I am probably not the right fit for you because my team and I like to do things a little bit differently.
I have one other agent that works with me right now and we talk every day about being very client focused, being able to work for clients instead of working for ourselves. And the reason that we care about this is that it just feels better. And yeah, maybe that’s kind of idealistic, but why not be idealistic when you can be? We like this approach because we actually do feel more relationally connected to our clients in the midst of the transaction, it’s not so sterile and we are constantly thinking “What are their best interests?” “Do I need to advise them to walk away and rent for now?”. Whatever it is, getting to have this approach and better educate our clients, makes us feel really good about those interactions.
Here is a quick run down of what kind of client would not be a good fit for Ben and I right now, as of March 2020:
- If you expect us to dress up, we are probably not the right fit for you.We do things differently in a lot of ways, I mean, here I am making youtube videos! I’m wearing a t-shirt, which is typically what I wear when I meet with clients. I mean we are in Florida, it’s hot here, so it’s not uncommon to dress pretty casually. But, this usually isn’t the traditional norm for real estate agents, even here in the tropical climate.
- If you are always complaining about how you wish ‘they would’ve done it like they used to “back in the day”’, we are probably not the right fit for you.One time, I was showing a condo to a client’s grandfather. My client was the grandson and his mom had contacted me to see if her dad could come down from a different town to see this property. I met them there, it was really short notice but I made it work. Things went sour quickly, though, when it was brought to my attention that I didn’t come prepared with a paper printout of the property details for this client. Although I did have access to all of the information had he needed it, he felt that the lack of a hard copy was unprofessional. As he complained that I didn’t have the information on paper for him he asked, frustrated, “Well, where is it??” and I said,”I just didn’t bring one. This showing was pretty short notice and I had to hurry to make it work. I do have all of the information, though, if you have any questions.” He then shook his head and said “I miss the way realtors used to work.” and just walked away. I thought to myself, yeah, probably not a good fit. And it wasn’t, they moved on and found a different agent, which is totally fine.
- Another kind of client that would not be a good fit for us would be someone who thinks that we have all of the answers.We are more than willing to admit that we don’t know things at times and are more than willing to find all of the answers for you and support you in the process. But if you expect us to know the flood zone map by heart for example, we don’t know it, we don’t have it memorized, and it’s not that simple.
The way that I like to define our approach here at the Living In Tampa Team is as “Problem Solving Consultants”. The reason that I like to define it this way is because we get paid if we solve a problem. Anyone that solves the problem of finding you the house, at the right time, at the right price, gets paid. That’s what it takes to deserve a commission in this business. And if we are not able to solve that problem, we don’t deserve that. This is one reason that I don’t have people sign buyer/broker agreements or anything along those lines. I don’t like that and don’t want to think of our job as just a salesperson, that breeds the mindset of always just trying to sell. I want our business to be different.
You’re coming to us saying that you want to be under contract on a house so our job is getting you under contract, not just on any house, but on a house that fits your criteria and you feel good about. You shouldn’t feel pushed or pressured into any decision. It is a huge priority for us to ensure that you are as educated and confident as possible during the entire process. We do not view our job as just selling you something.
I know this information ended up being a little bit rambly, but I just wanted to share some of my perspective with you all of real estate energy, how we like to approach working with our clients, and how we are choosing to build this business that we love.
If you would like to reach out and talk about business, talk about the weather, or find a house here in the Tampa area we would love to connect with you! Our phone number and email are posted below and we are available most all the time. That being said, we are most reachable through email or text. We will get back to you as soon as we can, sometimes it may take a day or two to connect with you, but know your messages are very important to us. Thanks for coming by!