Your home: Commodity vs Consultant

Royals Game Day

Last Wednesday our team had the privilege of hosting a client appreciation event for over 150 of our clients on the Pepsi Party Porch while watching the Royals beat the Pirates 5-1. It was awesome! Two home runs landed not 30 feet from the porch. Our clients had a blast, as did we.

That night and the following day, we watched as our friends and clients posted comments about the experience. One comment from a great client (and friend) Darcey Schumacher really summed up the purpose of such events. Darcy posted to Facebook, “Wow, Taylor Made Team is too amazing! Leah Taylor and Chad Taylor – thank you for inviting us to the Pepsi Patio VIP section at the Royals Game. Almost 4 years since we bought our last house and we still value the relationship and everything you did for us to land our dream home.”

Thank you, Darcey!

Our business has been built upon great relationships with our clients. And not just when they need to buy or sell, but all the time. We see ourselves as not only their friends, but as the consultants for their real estate portfolio. Even if their portfolio consists of simply their primary residence.

I have always said that any industry that is easy to enter (like real estate), typically has a low bar when it comes the level of service provided. It is up to each individual Realtor to set their own standard of service and to choose to provide a great client experience along the way. To me, this choice will determine whether a Realtor is seen as a commodity or as a valued consultant.

Here is the difference, as I see it, between and Realtor (commodity) and a Real Estate Consultant

Commodity:

  • Waits for you to call them
  • Is surprised by market trends
  • Is available 24/7
  • Sets you up on an auto search on MLS and lets you do the work of narrowing down
  • Is not a resource for you outside of the sale
  • Will tell you what you want to hear
  • If prompted, will give you an idea of your home’s value
  • Is a sales person

Real Estate Consultant:

  • Calls before you need them
  • Is aware of a shifting market and keeps you aware
  • Respects a work/life balance and is in high demand
  • Pre-screens all searches based on your criteria to ensure that you receive only the best properties
  • Is always a resource to you for any referrals that you need
  • Will tell you what you NEED to hear
  • Like your financial advisor informs you of your investments, will keep you informed of your home’s value
  • Is truly a consultant with your best interest in mind

Although the National Association of Realtors has a Code of Ethics and a minimum expectation when it comes to service, they are exactly that — the minimum. We are trusted daily to orchestrate one of the biggest life events for most people, the sale and/or purchase of a home. It is a huge responsibility and one that should not be taken lightly. Thus we are charged to be more than just a facilitator. We are charged to be a consultant when you really need one, and even when you think that you don’t.

As our market continues to shift, as it always will, I hope and trust that you have a real estate consultant to keep you informed of and ahead of the trends. And to be a resource for you for all things pertaining to home ownership. An advocate, if you will.

Your home: The right agent

In the last month, I have noticed a trend. We have retained several listings (homes for sale) that were listed with another agent prior to us, yet failed to sell. We are certainly thrilled to help, however, I cannot help but feel bad for the seller.

People hire Realtors for numerous reasons: They’ve worked with them before, they’ve been referred from a friend or family member, they’ve seen their signs around town, or perhaps the Realtor is a personal friend or family member. Whatever the background, I feel that most sellers enter into a business relationship with a Realtor for one true reason: To get their home sold.

This is where it gets tricky. The vetting process for finding a Realtor is very important. You want to hire the right one the first time around. Although for years I have heard colleagues say that they would rather be the second Realtor because at that point they think that the seller is more realistic, I disagree. It is my job to properly set expectations for our clients and make sure that what they expect, the market will deliver. And most importantly, back it up with facts and experience. I want to be the first Realtor on the job so I can get the job done.

Failing to sell the first time around is most certainly a “black eye” for the seller. Not only is there a history of the home in our multiple listing service, but also a home can begin to get “market tired.” After having people traipse through your home for months, it is only natural for a home to lose the sparkle that it had when it was first listed. Of course, you can always spruce it back up. Unfortunately, you cannot change the narrative that potential buyers will tell themselves about your home. Even before they see it.

You know what I am talking about. The old, “Something must be wrong with that house. Why hasn’t it sold yet?” Once a potential buyer starts telling their own story about your home in their head, you are then fighting an uphill battle.

As an example, I have a couple of current listings who are at a price today that would have earned them multiple offers in the summer market. Due to seasonality and the aforementioned narrative, we are now fighting that very same uphill battle. We will win the battle, don’t get me wrong. The seller’, however, will not financially achieve what they could have had they received the proper counsel the first time around with their first agent.

For me, the responsibility lies on the shoulders of the first Realtor. It is their job to know their craft and to help their clients achieve their goals. Otherwise, why be a Realtor? That is where the joy of being a Realtor comes from for me. I realize that we are all human and we all make mistakes. However, when the market gives a message loud and clear, it is the Realtor’s job to communicate that message clearly to their clients and to adjust the plan moving forward whether that pertains to price, condition, or both. Isn’t that the guidance that seller’s hire us for? I believe that it is.

As you can tell, I am passionate about this topic. I don’t like to see sellers leaving money on the table. Especially due to poor counsel.

If you are looking to sell your home in the future, please make your choice carefully. For a moment, let’s pretend that you have been diagnosed with an illness that requires surgery. It is completely curable, however, the surgery requires specialized talents. If this were you, the interview process to find your surgeon would be very detailed and you would look for a surgeon with a proven track record, right? Isn’t this time like that time? Except that now we are talking about financial surgery. So the question becomes, “Do you want a Realtor who is carefully working their way around your equity with a scalpel, or someone hacking at it with an ax?”

Your Home: How Do You Choose the Right Realtor?

Question: How do you choose a Realtor? Aren’t they all pretty much the same?

page0090

As our business has grown through the years and I have gotten better at asking good questions, I have been shocked by some of the horror stories I hear from clients concerning past real estate transactions. I’m talking stories that keep me up at night. It is important to me to find out what our clients have experienced in the past, and what they would like to experience with our team. It is from this “needs analysis” process that we define what our team wants to be, and what it does not want to be.

I am very proud of my vocation — and very critical of it at the same time. Please hear me out. I love the Realtor organization. I love what they stand for. The challenge lies with the licensing process. It is quite easy to get your real estate license. Therefore, it is quite easy for anyone who has the desire to be a Realtor, to be one. That said, it is one thing to be a Realtor. It is another thing to be a competent and successful Realtor. Understand, you don’t have to sell 50 million dollars in real estate a year to be successful. My definition of successful is that you are full-time and you are good at your craft.

So how do you know if someone is good or not? A “good” Realtor is in the market every day, previewing active listings, negotiating contracts, showing properties to clients and studying the trends in MLS. Again, doing all of these things on a daily basis. In addition, they should stay very current with their education. I am not just talking about their continuing education for their license. I am talking about education on topics like negotiations, coaching and consulting (to communicate effectively with their clients and other agents), scripts and dialogues, to name a few. At the end of the day, it is all about being better at what you do, and never accepting where you are in your business. There is a reason that leaders in any industry are always looking to improve themselves as professionals.

I do take a little heat sometimes from part-time Realtors. And I tell them all the same thing. I was part-time when I got started. My goal was always to transition to full-time at my first opportunity, which I did after six months. It is very hard to stay current in real estate when you work more than one job. It is very hard to serve two masters. Again, history leaves clues. Generally, people who are masters of one particular skill are only masters of that one skill. For example, when Steve Jobs returned to Apple in 1997 he took them from 350 products to 10. I would say Apple has done a great job of serving only one master.

Our team is designed to allow us to focus on our strengths. I have mentioned before that my wife, Leah, is our Lead Buyer’s Specialist. Her primary focus is our active buying client list and their individual housing needs. I am the Lead Listing Specialist, therefore I focus specifically on getting our current listings sold and conditioning our upcoming listings to get them market ready. And because Leah and I need some glue to hold this all together, we have Rebecca Holcombe (our Director of Operations) to take care of all the details in between.

Finally, let’s talk about deliverables. What can a Realtor truly deliver to his or her clients? Here are a few of our deliverables: a great client experience, an intimate knowledge of the market (locally and city-wide), a philosophy that no deal is worth our reputation and, most importantly, a passion for our business and our clients. As the listing specialist, I am proud of the fact that our clients are achieving 97.4 percent of their original list price in an average of 27 days. For me, the proof is in the pudding. And that is some sweet pudding!

Photo credit to: Keller Williams International