I recently met with a seller who was attempting to sell his own home “for-sale-by-owner.” He told me, “The buyer can find their own home now because they have so many online websites to search through, so the real estate agent really isn’t needed.”
I had to pause and regret the mistake many of us real estate agents have made for making you, the consumer, think that all we do is find the house. Real estate reality TV has fed into that myth as well, and we haven’t done an effective job of educating everyone on why we are worth our hard-earned money.
Although searching for and touring homes is probably the fun part of the buyer agent’s job, that’s not the real work that we’re getting paid for. If that’s all it was, then the seller I spoke with would be correct and there wouldn’t be a need for REALTORS®.
It’s our job to help you avoid the obstacles that history and lawsuits have placed in the way. While we aren’t attorneys, we understand how to navigate these minefields. What happens when a seller doesn’t complete the repairs we agreed to in the contract, doesn’t have utilities on or available, doesn’t have all areas accessible for inspection, doesn’t leave the house clean upon moving out, leaves damage behind, didn’t make it clear what stays with the property and what goes, and about 100 other possible situations?
In the seller and buyer information packets that my agents share with their clients, there is a page titled, 88 Types of Turbulence: Things that might go wrong during your transaction. We don’t put this page in there to scare our clients, but simply to inform them. These are a few of the things we’ve experienced in the past. We believe the biggest part of our job is to prevent these things from happening with our client’s home sale or purchase. Our experience is what they are paying for.
Some of these things include:
- What’s the difference between a loan pre-approval and a loan qualification?
- What happens when the buyer loses his job halfway through the transaction.
- What happens if the interest rate increases and the buyer wants to back out?
- What happens if the buyers come up short of their down payment at closing?
- What happens if the seller changes his mind about selling halfway through the transaction?
- What happens if the sellers are getting a divorce and one party won’t sign the contracts?
- What if the sellers can’t get a clear title to sell the home?
- What if the buyers go past their allowable time on their home inspections?
- What if the sellers cause damage to the home prior to closing?
- What if the home appraiser values the home below the contract price?
- What happens when the closing costs were not disclosed and you didn’t realize what you were to pay and what the seller was to pay?
These are just a few of the tough situations that real estate agents are put into every year. The average person will never understand the consequences of not understanding the market and economic conditions and how it may affect their future investment. They typically do not understand about restrictions and covenants that could hinder their quality of living and/or ability to resale some of which come from the city or county, and some from the homeowners association.
I could write pages and pages on this subject, but I think you get the picture. REALTORS® are required to attend educational classes, read many books, and consult with their broker one-on-one to know these answers. These problems do not go away with the internet. Real estate buyer representation is a game of human relationship management. Human relationships get really, really messy. No algorithm, formula, or app can fix that; only a human can.
It’s painfully clear that a buyer or seller paying for agent representation to assure their safe navigation is money well-spent. It’s not about finding the right home; that’s the easiest part of the entire process. It’s about the knowledge it’s taken us years to perfect and the years it will take us to stay on top of an ever-changing human marketplace.