Good news and bad news come in degrees. Each appointment I attend involves a multitude of dialogues and activities unique to that client, respective to their needs and their wants and their hopes and dreams. In the end, even when the transaction goes their way, many have lingering doubts about their degree of “success”. That’s because real estate involves some of the biggest dollar amounts that any given client will likely transact in their lives– and this is along side all those hopes and dreams. It’s very hard not to have a strong emotional investment in the total outcome.
Almost EVERY seller, in any kind of market, believes in the end that they should have gotten a little (or a lot) more for their home. And conversely, almost EVERY buyer thinks they paid too much or could at least have gotten a better deal. Occasionally, one of them is right. Market conditions are generally favoring one side or the other, which is purely indicative of the “direction” of the market, not the actual market “quality.” Quality can really only be measured relative to the objective of the one interpreting it. One who is selling and buying (vs. selling OR buying) is most neutrally affected, although there are a series of pluses and minuses on both sides of their move too. Therefore, no move is without some stress.
Let me see if I can make sense of all this double-talk by use of some specific examples.
The good news for buyers is that there is a lot of inventory from which to select a home. The same news to sellers is bad because more inventory means more competition. The good news for everyone is that today’s low interest rates enable all buyers to afford more house, and allows lower income buyers in at the bottom rung, price-wise. That also “shores up” the entire move-up market. The bad news for everyone is that low rates are indicative of a sluggish economy, which includes job instability and low consumer confidence. This equals fewer buyers– bad for sellers, and job insecurity, which is not good news for one who is considering a home purchase. Our soft market isn’t seeing prices fall – good for sellers, nor rise very quickly – good for buyers. Isn’t it interesting how different a single coin can look from one side to the other?
In the balance of all this is a seemingly elusive reality that, in spite of anyone’s wish that they could cut a dream deal on either side of the transaction, real estate is still a commodity. It’s not unlike silver, gold, Microsoft stock, or pork bellies and FAIR price is established by market supply and demand. There will almost always be some tug-of-war in the negotiations, but if the parties don’t come to agreement it will be because one or more of the parties in negotiation has expectations which are out of step with the aforementioned “market reality.” While there is such a thing as poor handling of negotiations by real estate agents, more often than not we are doing our best to find fair and reasonable resolution of opposing wants and expectations, while keeping our respective duties to our clients in full focus.
Probably the greatest frustration we Realtors experience is being penalized and criticized for delivering information contrary to our client’s perceptions and aspirations, however realistic or unrealistic they may be.
So here is the real message. Real estate agents are people too. No question, there are good and bad people in every profession, and it’s hard to love a “middle-man”, but in my vast experience most Realtors bring valuable service and are well intentioned, far beyond their own incomes. We don’t get paid unless and until we succeed in our client’s objective to sell and/or buy, as the case may be, and the time, money and energy spent is much more than most of our clients realize. In truth, a good agent will get things done without the client being bothered by everything we do-and the result is a seemingly “easy” transaction. Now I’m not suggesting blind trust by any stretch of the imagination, but I do suggest an attitude of open-minded cooperation with the agent that you ultimately do determine is trust-worthy and qualified to assist you professionally. A little patience can go a long way too when your agent falls under the gun, as all of us do with some frequency, while (necessarily) serving several masters at once. If your agent seems too busy sometimes, remember the adage that, “if you want the job done, give it to a busy person.”
In the spirit of the season, I dedicate this column to all the good and professional Realtors with whom I’ve had the honor and privilege of cooperating with either in passing information, transacting a sale or serving our industry. Let us keep to the high road and ever demonstrate the highest value of service to our clients and community. Happy Holidays!