… To a Healthy Relationship with Your Real Estate Broker
Along the spectrum of happy, fun things to do, simply buying and selling real estate, by itself, is commonly held to be right up there with “divorce” and “death of a loved one”. After all, there is a tremendous amount of money involved and sometimes there are elements of the process that are confusing or poorly understood by many people. And some people are just pretty sure that real estate brokers can’t be trusted in the general sense but also don’t feel confident they can “go it alone” without experienced help and feel forced into an uneasy professional alliance, just like going to those “crooks” at the automobile repair shop. And so on.
Oh, it’s not ALWAYS that way. Occasionally I get some young, wealthy couple just starting out for whom the entire process is simply one of deciding which particular flavor of Wonderful! their life is now going to be. But that’s more of an exception; for most people, there is definitely a lot of stress involved.
Additionally, real estate transactions, as if they’re not upsetting enough by themselves, are very frequently associated with some OTHER sort of terrific, emotional upheaval in people’s lives. Death, divorce, unexpected change of financial situation, job transfers, and so on, very often pull a real estate transaction into a pre-existing mix of misery like some sort of emotional black hole. In those circumstances I often wonder which is worse for people: having a known friend who’s also a knowledgeable real estate broker paddle about in their lives, seeing things and being involved in details they were never intended to know, or having a complete stranger of a broker slice and dice chunks of their lives into re-salable packages with the clinical detachment of a butcher at the meat shop, apparently unaware that those pieces recently were parts of a living, breathing life someone loved.
Even older couples who’re moving to the next phase of life, having successfully raised and fledged their family and now want to “downsize”, have strongly mixed emotions about the whole real estate thing. It’s a happy, positive and forward-looking time, but deep and meaningful roots don’t come up easy even when you WANT them to.
Understandably at such times as these, people are feeling defensive about EVERYTHING, never mind a huge thing like buying/selling real estate. They feel exposed and vulnerable and ripe for being exploited. Depending on their circumstances, they may even be feeling that a part of their current troubles stem from being TOO trusting and TOO open in the past, and they’re certainly not going to make THAT mistake again.
Angst, confusion, fear, depression, possibly being forced by circumstance into taking action involuntarily, all wrapped up in many fundamental but common misunderstandings about the real estate transaction process all often contribute to a bumpy real estate ride.
Even when a real estate transaction is just a real estate transaction, uninvolved in a larger tapestry of emotional upset, real estate transactions are a stressful time for people, and this stress can express itself by making a person extremely reticent to adopt a state of mind that would permit them to be open, candid and clear with their real estate broker. Somehow, having a real estate broker in your life can feel more like part of a problem than a solution.
A real estate transaction requires your undivided attention and full focus. There will be more than enough distractions and discombobulating issues vying for your attention; you simply cannot afford to have an underlayment of fear or mistrust that your broker is some kind of fifth columnist working on an agenda perpendicular to yours. In other words, you will have your hands so full dealing with what’s coming at you from the front that you cannot to be worrying that someone you’re supposed to be able to trust is sneaking up on you from behind.
This is an introductory post in a multi-part set that outline the elements I believe are necessary to have a successful relationship with your real estate broker. In my opinion, if you can’t have and maintain these elements in your relationship with your real estate broker, it doesn’t mean that you should simply slog forward anyway, but rather it means you should consider negotiating an amicable breakup with your broker and move on to another broker/client relationship more confidence-inspiring.
I, a humble real estate broker, am neither a physician or an attorney. But as a broker I share with those professionals the operational requirement that I am morally, ethically, and legally obliged to look out for your best interests in my role as your “agent” or representative, even past the point where acting in your interests can be a detriment to my own.
There are very few circumstances where lying to your physician about your medical issues, to your attorney about your legal issues, or to your real estate broker about your real estate issues will be in your best interest simply because it is very difficult for any professional to do their best or most effective work for you without a clear and accurate grasp of all of the facts impinging upon your situation.
There is absolutely no point in engaging a real estate broker if you cannot have a relationship based upon trust, honesty and clarity. You are NOT obliged to have a broker represent you to buy or sell real estate.
- I have no hold on you that REQUIRES you to come to me or to any of my broker colleagues.
- It is perfectly legal for you to buy and/or sell your own real estate without my professional help or advice.
- The fact that I and my ilk have broker‘s keys and you do not does not preclude you from viewing properties because the listing agent is obliged to show you the property on behalf of their client which requires no professional relationship between you and the broker showing you the property. (Or the property owner themselves if they don’t mind or are associated with a helpy-selfy brokerage.).
- If you’re a seller, your FSBO listing appears on the very same MLS (again, assuming you use one of the available helpy-selfy services) as all of the listings represented by professional brokers.
- If you’re a seller, your FSBO listing, as a function of appearing on the MLS, is circulated across a wide variety of independent/private websites and the public portal for the MLS itself, just like broker-represented listings.
- And so on…
Remember, real estate brokers are NOT like stockbrokers; you are not OBLIGED to have professional representation in order to participate in the marketplace. You are NOT required to make use of my services (or a broker like me) to gain access to the same basic marketplace and listing infrastructure that I use. Nothing in the world prevents you from going it alone.
So if you don’t trust me, if you don’t believe in my professional and personal honesty, if you have suspicions of me that cause you to obfuscate our communication, what possible reason could you have to involve me in financial affairs as important as buying or selling a property? If you’re really convinced that I’m a member of a conspiracy of thieves, why would you become involved with me at all?
I believe the same basic logic that applies to your relationship with your physician or your attorney would or should apply to your relationship with your broker. If you don’t make it possible for me to do the best job I can for you, which requires trust, honesty and clarity, you’re wasting some part of the money I’m being paid (theoretically) to represent you. And you’re very likely compromising my ability to properly attend to your actual needs. There’s no telling what options or possible courses of action I won’t know to recommend or accommodate because I’m not operating with all the uncompromised facts. That’s not a good idea with doctors or lawyers, and it’s not a good idea with me. It doesn’t make sense and I don’t believe it’s in a client’s best interest.
In my next post, I’ll break down the necessity of trust for the real estate broker/client relationship.