Sunday, July 19, 2009

REALTOR® Selection—One Size Does NOT Fit All!

The Animation Building in Disney’s Hollywood Studios is my family’s favorite places during our bi-annual treks to Orlando. (Okay I still call this park what is now known as MGM Studios, but that is just me.) There is a spot after the animation tour where you (and 30 or so other would-be illustrators) can go for a half hour class with a Disney artist and be given step-by-step instructions on how to draw Mickey , Goofy, Pluto, Stitch or another beloved character. Talent is not a prerequisite. At the end of the session, everyone leaves with a drawing that somewhat resembles the character that is up on the screen.

As soon as we finish, we compare our drawings. Here are examples of my family’s drawings from one class on a previous trip when my sons were in grade school. Though all of our drawings look like Walt’s buddy, Mickey Mouse, none are identical to each other (and definitely NOT as good as the instructors!). Lesson learned? Everyone who can hold a pencil and follow simple instructions can draw, but it takes talent and experience to become a great artist!

Now in real estate, there is a similar situation; anyone can take a real estate class but not all REALTORS® are exactly the same.
Recently a prospect, not someone I was under contract with, asked me to write up an offer on an REO property for him. It was a home under construction that had gone back to the bank. This foreclosure property would require significant work and renovation to complete, so it was significantly overpriced. This prospect wanted to make an extremely low offer that I deemed fair considering the condition. He was ready to write a purchase agreement at our next meeting. As part of the preparation process, I went into my spiel of what is required to make an offer; we would first enter into a representation contract, please bring a checkbook for earnest money and preapproval or proof of funds letter…yada, yada, yada.

This guy was beyond shocked and I got an earful! In short, he stated that he was NOT going to prove his financial situation to anyone prior to the offer being accepted. It was his opinion that working with a REALTOR® to write and present the offer should carry enough weight alone to get the offer accepted.
Hmmm…let’s forget the financing aspect of this situation; I’m more concerned with the implication that all REALTORS® are created equal.

Though, REALTORS® do take the same required classes and tests to become agents and adhere to a very specific code of ethics, we are people not machines. As people, we are individuals with different life experiences and talents. Not every real estate agent does things exactly the same way. We all come into each experience with our own talents, abilities and backgrounds. Through education, we may become similar but not identical. From time to time, I see a contract from a fellow agent that is just not up to snuff so I know that there are a few that don’t do consistently do what is required to represent their clients it the best possible way. So I was taken aback by the implication that by virtue of working with a REALTOR® one would not have to justify their funding to a seller.

So what does working with a REALTOR® really mean to a buyer or seller?

REALTORS® do abide by a Code of Ethics. In my Minnesota real estate practice, I take these rules very seriously. It is considered the standard of practice that I work under as I truly believe it is the right way to do business. Although there are many details to the complete code of ethics, here are a few points I would like to highlight:

REALTORS® pledge to protect and promote the interests of their client.
REALTORS® do not mislead on property value.
REALTORS® must disclose material defects and facts on properties.
REALTORS® must not discriminate.
REALTORS® must disclose dual agency.
REALTORS® are required to be accountable for funds.
REALTORS® must disclose accepted offers.
REALTORS® are required to provide competent service.
REALTORS® are not lawyers and cannot offer legal advice.
REALTORS® preserve the confidential information of their clients.

When selecting a REALTOR® make sure that the person is on the same page with you and can draw up and present the contract in a professional manner. It is in the client’s best interest to provide the seller with a professional, sincere and concrete purchase agreement from the get go. Lowball offers without documentation do not get noticed, it gets tossed in the trash. As your REALTOR®, I want your offer to be given serious consideration by the seller and ultimately accepted. That doesn’t happen if it goes from the fax machine to the shredder in less than five minutes.

Take the time to research and select a professional REALTOR® that will be your partner and advocate. Work with a person you like and trust to help you understand the process and negotiate the best deal for you!

Copyright 2009 Teri Eckholm