When I first started in this business several years ago, I was pretty focused on earning a living. I had been through a rough ride because of the recession of 2008, and I wanted to be back on top again. Badly!
During the extensive training all Village agents – new and experienced, both – go through, our brokers repeatedly positioned real estate as a “helping profession.” At the time I thought this was just empty marketing blather. As I said above, I was in the business to make a living.
Well, I was wrong. One of the most basic and motivating features of this business is getting to help people. Make no mistake, I love making money and real estate is a pretty good way to do it … if you enjoy helping others. As it happens, I do.
So, how can I help?
Sometimes it’s helpful just to have someone to listen to you. Buying or selling a house can be complicated and fraught with emotion and anxiety. Many times folks – me included – aren’t really sure of what our thoughts and feelings are until we spill them out. Often they come out in a jumble, and a good listener can help put them back together in a more linear fashion.
Contractually and ethically, all decisions in a real estate transaction belong to the buyer and seller. I cannot make decisions for my clients. But I can advise them on what makes sense, especially by guiding them with questions and listening for the answers (see above).
The book The Middle Man Economy (I highly recommend it!) describes six ways service providers – like realtors – can help their clients by standing between opposing sides of a transaction, benefiting everyone involved – spanning the gap, keeping everyone on task, keeping everyone honest, negotiating conflicts, etc. I’m the middleman for my clients.
Because buying and selling property can be so taxing – sometimes even terrifying – it helps to have someone on your side helping keep things in perspective. While this is serious business, it’s rarely a matter of life and death. The fabulous Bobbie Noreen, my managing broker, has an absolutely wonderful response when an agent – including me on occasion – comes into her office, stressed out over something that has gone wrong with a deal. She asks, “Well, did anyone die?” Excellent question! And the answer, in my experience as least, has always been “Um, no”. So, I work to keep things in perspective and have a little fun. Jokes, war stories, cookies, coffee, cocktails and a few laughs are always on order, and things almost always work out the way they should.