Friday, August 7, 2009

How To Use A Realtor

Caller: I found a house online, can you tell me if it’s still available?

Me: Yes, I’m Realtor, I can look that up. Are you currently committed to another Realtor?

Caller: Yes we have a Realtor but she’s out of the country for 10 days. I just found the house online today and wondered about it.

Me: Our website shows all the homes for sale in the MLS, so the listing might not be ours. I don’t want to step on your Realtor’s toes. You should talk with whoever’s handling her business while she’s on vacation.

Caller: Well, we just wanted to see if the home was still available before we called our Realtor’s people and wasted their time.

Image ID 1098247 by agastecheg (picture credit to user agastecheg at StockExchange)

/rant ahead/

Apparently, it’s OK to waste my time. Caller, you aren’t my client and will never become my client. You already have a Realtor. But it’s OK to ask me to look up homes in the MLS for you for free.

Hold up.

The idea of “everything online is free” has gone too far. And we Realtors don’t always do a good job of letting consumers know three things:

  1. A Realtor’s website is designed to entice consumers into becoming clients of that Realtor;

  2. A Realtor’s website usually shows every listing for sale in the local Multiple Listing Service; and

  3. If you're already committed to working with a Realtor, don't ask other Realtors for help. Not even a little bit of help.

1. Websites Are Bait

The "job" of the Nike website is to sell shoes. So real estate websites sell houses, right? Well, no. Real estate websites run by Realtors are actually selling the Realtors. The houses are just The Shiny. They grab you and bring you in. We Realtors are waiting in the background, hoping to meet you and eventually one day become your Realtor. Some of us are nice, helpful folks. Some make used car salespeople look great. Life’s like that; get over it.

2. We’ve Got ‘Em All, But They’re Not All Ours

Our website (like most Realtor's websites) shows every single one of the 35,000+ properties currently for sale in the metro Phoenix area. We don't represent the sellers on every one of those!

It’s somewhat helpful to think of Realtors as attorneys, but only in this respect: If you see a house in the MLS, the sellers hired a attorney Realtor to list it there for them, and represent their best interests when the house sells. As a buyer, you should hire your own attorney Realtor to represent your best interests when you shop for and buy a new home. You wouldn’t go to court without an attorney. Don’t buy or sell a house without a Realtor.

3. If You’re Married, Be Married. If You’re Dating, Date.

Another tacky analogy, bear with me. Working with a Realtor successfully is a little teensy tiny bit like being married. You talk with that person several times a day about really big important things that impact your future happiness and financial well being. You trust them, and they trust you. You’re working together towards a very long term, very important, very expensive goal.

While you’re shopping for a life partner Realtor, you probably let folks know that you’re dating to find a future mate shopping for a Realtor. Once you commit to one mate Realtor, you probably stop dating others shopping for a Realtor. Unless you’re Jon and Kate or a Hollywood celebrity.

The Rules

Please keep these in mind when you contact us for help.  We at The Phoenix Agents are helpful people by nature. But we’re also people who have bills to pay. If you’re Realtor-shopping, that’s cool, just say so. We're happy to be interviewed and we usually stack up pretty darn well against our competition. If you’re already committed to another Realtor, think about your commitment before calling other Realtors for help. Even just a little bit of help.

/rant over/