A friend asked me one of those questions that instantly empties the mind of all ideas – you know the kind I mean?
Her question was, “What inspired you this week?”
I was surprised by how empty my mind suddenly became. I won’t say whether or not my mouth hung open while I waited for a thought – any thought – to come.
(( cricket sounds ))
But… eventually the gears started turning again, and I remembered a few things. Not big, earth-shattering moments, but interesting moments all the same. As I recalled them, I felt more connected with my life somehow, and refreshed by seeing the good. What a great exercise!
One of the small moments was when I worked with a young couple who had offered on a house. Their offer was conditional on the sale of their own house. They were so in love with this new property, and eagerly awaited the approval.
Someone else came along and offered though, with no conditions. The seller chose that offer of course, and my buyers had to move on. What I loved though, was the maturity this young couple demonstrated. They did not whine or mope or even complain. They took it in stride, wisely understanding that’s just life. They reminded me of that other sweet couple who seemed to know the secret to life’s happiness.
Probably the most moving for me was a meaningful moment I shared with a friend. She lives in Alberta, and we were chatting on the phone about my mom’s 70th birthday party. Two hundred people had shown up to celebrate with our family. She, on the other hand, was missing her mom that Mother’s Day week. She had wanted to place flowers at the gravesite in memory, but the grave was in Manitoba and she couldn’t make the trip. I offered to bring flowers to the site on her behalf. She was deeply grateful.
There I stood at the grave of my friend’s parents, lain side by side. Clasping a bouquet of Daisies, I realized how blessed I am to still have my mom. I can still hug her and touch her hand and hear her voice. We laugh and smile and celebrate together, and I know whenever it ends, it will feel like our time together was not long enough.
I laid the Daisiesin front of the headstone, and imagined what it might feel like to do this on my own behalf one day. I felt a deeper empathy for my friend, and left with a refreshed appreciation for my family and friends, and for being alive.
Like I said, they were not earth shattering moments, but they did grab my heart in their own ways.
Now it’s my turn to empty your mind – what inspired you this week?
The older I get, the less I care what other people think, and the more I’m comfortable in my own skin. (Where was this confidence twenty years ago!) Once upon a time I cared a great deal what others thought, and was very careful not to offend. Now I care more about being real. Loving, tender, and thoughtful of course, but not pleasing others if it means pretending to be someone else – even if that someone else is would-be clients.
I showed a house recently that had a floor plan with the master bedroom on one side, and children’s bedroom on the other side. I commented to the couple that it was a highly practical floorplan.
“That way you can make some noise” Their mouths parted in surprise, and then turned to grins. They probably didn’t expect someone with grey hair to talk like that. Of all the houses they’d have looked at, they’ll surely remember the floor plan of that house. It’s the house where you can make some noise.
My sense of humor may be a bit off, and I’m okay with it. I enjoy potty jokes, think rednecks are adorable, and like our family’s Christmas tradition of shooting off rifles from the deck. Some people wouldn’t hire me because of my weird humor, and I think that’s fantastic. If someone is offended by my sense of humor, they’ll probably be offended by me the whole time we work together. What fun would that be for anyone?
The other day I was in an open house, and two women came in to see the home. As they headed up the stairs, I mentioned, “There’s a private deck off the master bedroom, by the way.” They stopped and look at me, confused. “Yeah, you know, for those who smoke after?”
They darted away up the stairs. I soon followed, finding them in the master bedroom, hovered by the deck door, snickering and giggling. Of all the open houses they attended that day, they’ll remember me, and this house – the one with a deck, for those who like to smoke after…
3 Things That Would Never Happen If We Delivered Pizzas:
1. Last Minute Cancellations
We have been summoned, and in a hurry. We pack our box, load the car, and race off. We dart through traffic, shake a fist at every red light, and hurriedly make our way there. We arrive, tires screeching, only to see another pizza delivery car parked in the drive. Confused, we phone the one who summoned us, to hear, “Oh. Yeah. Umm… I decided to get a pizza from somewhere else. I hope you don’t mind.” Yes. Yes, I mind.
2. Multiple Price Checks
While manning the phone between deliveries, a call comes in from someone with a low, drawling voice – not unlike Rocky – asking, “Yo. How much for uh – an extra large?” We quote, he hangs up.
Every two minutes thereafter, low and drawling calls back with a new question. “Yo – how about two larges?” “But what about three mediums?” “Is there a deal if we get garlic bread?” The poor man is clearly confused, so naturally – being great at customer service – we ask him how many people he is trying to feed. He assumes we’re prying, and refuses to answer. He continues to call though, for another twenty minutes. He never places an order. (We find out later though, that he is a regular customer of a competing pizza parlour.)
3. The Racey Strategy
A pizza order is placed, but with conditions. “I have ordered two pizzas – one from you, and one from your competition. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to race over here to earn my business. We will then hold a reverse auction on my doorstep. Fastest one with the lowest price wins. Ready? GO!” You resent being treated like a circus animal, but this is how pizza delivery guys are treated, so you dance.
Why this ridiculous behavior is par for the course in the Real Estate industry I may never understand. But maybe, with your help spreading the word, we can put a stop to this craziness.
Even if you love your job and the people you work with, sometimes it becomes a grind, doesn’t it? Sometimes work is… well, work. And it’s especially tough in a service job, where you’re working with people. How do you give when you’re empty, and serve when all you want to do is hide under the covers for a week? Admit it, you know what I’m talking about.
When work becomes a bit of a grind, it’s high time for refreshment. Sometimes all I can fit in is some social media unwind time before bed, or meeting a friend for coffee. In summer, the moments I spend in my garden are richly rewarding. Sometimes though, I get to break away completely for a day or even more, like the conference I went to recently in New Orleans. Now I know why they say a change is as good as a rest. I came back brimming with energy and ideas. (I can’t wait to implement those fantastic ideas by the way!)
Yes, just as in any industry, Real Estate has its bad guys. (Bad ‘people’ doesn’t have the same ring to it, but trust me, this is men and women) The existence of bad guys is not the surprising part. Although, if it does surprise you, and you can’t imagine what a Real Estate Bad Guy might do or look like, read this, this and this. Bad guys exist in every other area of life, why should Real Estate be an exception? The surprising part is why they continue to succeed. Who is to blame for their continued success? Why do bad guys win?
Because you let them. I know, it sounds harsh. But this is actually an empowering piece of information.
Here’s the deal. The only people that really see what goes on behind the Real Estate stage are agents and brokers. Even if they witnessed injustice, their hands are tied. They are legally not able to report 3rd party problems. They are tight-lipped about the behind the scenes because they must be.
Then there are buyers and sellers. These are the people who experience injustice firsthand. They are the ones whose agent buys their house at a deep discount, then turns and sells if for a huge profit. (Did you know it is illegal for Real Estate salespeople to flip houses?) The client feels robbed – as they should. They were robbed. But alas, they do not know they are the hero in the story, so the bad guy gets away.
Because you are the only one who can. You are the only one who can stop them, who can say, ‘hey, this happened and it’s wrong’. And if you don’t, the bad guy roams free, and continues to inflict these woes on others. Widows. Daughters. Young couples. Emotionally vulnerable. The elderly. The unaware.
I’m talking from personal experience here. Decades ago, long, long, loooong before I was ever a REALTOR®, I was a victim too. The fraudulent misrepresentation that happened costed me aprox. $15,000. It was a difficult time, and I was dealing with other things, so I left it. I didn’t say anything, and now it’s too late. I wish I had said something. It would have helped a lot of people.
To this day, I see that same agent inflicting the same thing on others. And I can’t do anything about it. Except this. I can tell you where it’s at and show you the cape you’re wearing.
You are the hero in this story, but only for a time. Then your turn is over and the cape is passed to the next person. And passed and passed, until someone does something to stop it.
Please pass the message along, so others know their rights and options too.
They probably don’t know that they’re the hero in the story.
Did you know you can authorize your Real Estate agent to do all the negotiation for you – even counter offer or close the deal – without your input? And it can be a big relief, or a big problem if you don’t know how to handle it.
Why You Might Want To Give That Authorization:
*If you’re too busy to take phone calls or sign papers
*If you do not like making decisions and prefer someone else do it for you
*If you trust your agent implicitly with your life, finances, and decision about the home in which you live
Why You Might Not Want To Give That Authorization:
*You want to be involved in choosing your home and how much you will pay for it
I can’t think of any situation in which I would recommend handing this power over to the agent. (Conflict of interest much?) If there is inability to meet these demands or make these decisions, that’s what trusted family and friends are for. I do not recommend handing over authority. I also prefer not to work with clients who want to assign this authority to me. I want to work with clients, not make their decisions for them.
Scary Truth: Some agents assume this power without their clients’ knowledge.
It really upsets me when I bring an offer to an agent who immediately rips it open (that’s for the clients to do, not the agent), and then proceeds to dismiss the offer without presenting it to their client. They assume decision-making power, and their client never knows the offer they missed out on. (or, if they do find out, it’s far too late) It happens often, and it really, really bothers me. A lot. That’s why I write – to let you know what’s happening and hopefully equip you with ways to protect yourself.
How can you protect yourself? Unfortunately there is little chance you’ll catch a sneaky agent. The best protection is found waaaay at the beginning of the process when you’re choosing them in the first place. Be careful. Study them. Test them. Find agents of integrity. (I can recommend several!) Awareness and wisdom are really your best protection.
Real Estate is a tough, competitive industry, whether you’re an agent, a buyer, or a seller. As happens in life, there are those with integrity and those without, and those motives impact your transactions whether you like it or not. For buyers to navigate these waters smartly, there are several vital tools to have on board, one of which is negotiation.
The best thing a buyer can do is get a professional in their corner to help them navigate these choppy Real Estate waters. An Accredited Buyer Representative (ABR) is a sea captain, sail, and compass all in one. You’ll be informed, protected, and valued as a person. You’ll be served, not sold.
If you still plan to set sail on the high seas of Real Estate on your own though, I’d like to at least send you off with a few tips on Real Estate negotiation. There are a lot of elements to negotiating, like drafting effective offers, collecting all the necessary information, and generally knowing what one needs to know.
Here are a few tips to get you headed in the right direction with your Real Estate Negotiatons.
Be Prepared: It’s More Emotional Than You Think
Buying and selling homes is a strange mix of business and personal. We’re buying and selling homes – places where families create memories and express themselves through décor – yet we are also negotiating a transaction. To walk the line between guarded browser and compassionate human being is tricky, tricky, tricky. (Which is probably why there is a whole industry assigned to mediate these deals)
Try to leave your emotions at the shore – don’t get attached to the house, the people, or your desire to compete. Instead, look at it as “just a house” from your own purchasing perspective. The less emotionally attached you are, (while still respecting the emotions of others) the more logical and effective you’ll be in the process.
Risks, and Other Ways To Accidentally Cripple Your Transaction
This is where what you don’t know will bite you. You’re the swabby among captains. You’re outmatched, it’s that simple. You won’t win with tactics, but with some knowledge and understanding, you might be able to defend yourself against the unforeseen.
These tips are helpful, but the safest, most effective (and painless) way to buy a house is with your own seasoned Captain of the high seas, and ABR. Why? These are people who sought out specialized training in how to excellently represent buyers.
When you work with an ABR, you’ll be served, not sold. Your interests become their interests.
You can expect your ABR to:
Understand your specific needs and wants, and locate appropriate properties.
Preview and/or accompany you in viewing properties
Advise you in formulating your offer
Help you develop your negotiating strategy
Provide a list of qualified vendors (inspectors, attorneys, lenders, etc) for other services you may need
Keep track of every detail throughout the transaction-to-closing
When you have bought in the past, did you use an agent, or go it alone?
Go in as a warrior, and you`ll get a war. Go in haughty, and you`ll be the fool. Go in as a beggar, and you`ll get crumbs. Don`t let greed cloud your judgment. Instead, try approaching the agent like you would an acquaintance or friend. Basically, treat them like they`re human, because they are.
Master BOTH Communications
Be personable, and communicate your needs clearly. This part may be easier for you than the second part, which is to then be ready to hear the agent`s needs. Speak, but also listen. Hearing what they have to say will give you clues about what kind of person they are, their motivations, level of service, and also help you understand what you can expect from this particular agent.
Know These Key Things
No matter what you`ve heard, be aware that: a) each agent sets his own commission. Offices do not have a house standard – it`s actually illegal to plan together what your commissions will be or state there is such a thing as a standard commission. Anyone who says otherwise is either tricky or dangerously ignorant of the rules that govern their industry. Either way, avoid those people.
b) Commissions are not a simple number. Agents consider many factors when deciding what commission to work for. How long something will likely take to sell is a huge consideration. (Agents`expenses continue as long as a listing is active – the longer it`s listed, the more it costs the agent). Other considerations include things like what the marketing plan might be for your particular property, expenses to be covered like driving long distances for showings, etc
(This graphic illustrates just some of an agent`s expenses – just in case you were wondering )
Interview Several Agents
By interviewing several agents, you get a feel for what range of commissions you can expect for your area and property. You can also begin to identify which personalities, skills and characteristics each agent offers, and which best suits you. Here`s a piece I wrote on how to interview them.
These tips will go a long, long way to help you negotiate in a way that gets you the best deal, the best service, and hopefully also the best agent. This is the way to strike up a mutually beneficial relationship that you`ll both enjoy.
If you follow me on Facebook, you have probably noticed my outdoor-themed posts recently. I just adore living in the country, and I’m drinking in as much of the outdoors as I can before it ends and, well… you know …the white stuff appears (whose name I dare not speak in early October).
I may wear city clothes, and a city do, and drive into the small city I work in, but I’m a country girl through and through. At times, I’m even a bit of a redneck. Maybe that’s why I love working with rednecks when I get the chance.
Is loving country life something that one is born into? Can one grow to love it? I don’t know. I only know it’s an awesome place and way to live.
*Our pets. Sure, you can have pets in the city, but these guys run wild and free on our acreage.
*Space – to work, rest, or play.
*Wildlife – check out the cackling Canadian Geese that collected in our tree before jetting off to places without… the white stuff whose name I dare not speak.
*Wood piles – the evidence of hard work, the promise of heat in a fireplace.
*Firesides – you know they’re better in the country right?
*Enormous gardens! I have this large flower bed in the center of my yard. Sometimes it’s a job to keep up with, but mostly it’s a little haven. I love watching it change shape and color through the year.
*Quiet. The bigger the acreage, the quieter your space is. When the neighbors have their screaming grandkids over, I think about buying more acres. But most of the time, it’s peaceful and quiet. Aaah
Do you see why I enjoy selling RURAL Properties?
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