A famous, oft-quoted movie line is ‘You can’t handle the truth.’ Yet have you ever considered how that statement might relate to hiring a Realtor? In other words, since agents provide information that can help your bottom line, are you interested in being informed with the truth, or might you prefer not to know? It’s no surprise that some sellers and home buyers aren’t always willing to deal with certain issues, even given the prospect of a significant payoff one way or another. And the list of those possible challenges is endless.
Enter the Real Estate Problem Solver
Some examples of significant real estate issues include the results of a home inspection, such as a leaky roof, crumbling foundation or rampant mold. Alternatively, it might be something completely different, like an unreasonable loan underwriter, or even a low appraisal. A myriad of issues can throw real estate transactions into seeming chaos. But without mutual trust between the client and their Realtor, even the best of relationships can become needlessly more challenging if trouble comes. But by hiring a Realtor, you’ve got a real state problem solver on your team. A good Realtor is like a Swiss army knife-very handy to have around in a variety of circumstances.
Ask yourself if you actually want honesty in a Realtor and if so, be prepared for circumstances where the truth may hurt, at least temporarily. For example, do you want to know about that nearby just-sold comparable property that suggests your home may not be worth what you thought? The alternative may result in overpricing your home for months. Or when buying, will you disregard your Realtor’s suggestion that the home you so desperately want is located close to a freeway and is likely to have issues upon resale? So whether buyer or seller, when your Realtor is being open and honest with you, can you handle it? Do you really want an honest real estate agent?
The alternative is to ‘fly blind’ when it comes to avoiding issues that might come back to haunt you later. After all, if you’re going to hire a professional, whether it’s a doctor, lawyer, architect or real estate agent, it makes sense to seriously consider their input. So if you’re in the market for an honest Realtor, what are the kinds of things to look for and how do you locate one? Find out today, in this insightful Oregon real estate podcast!
Honesty, Trustworthiness & Integrity
Honesty is about telling the truth. Trustworthiness involves deserving someone’s confidence. Integrity is being honest with strong moral principles. Most homebuyers and homesellers agree all three of these qualities are what they’d like their real estate agent to possess. And while these concepts are somewhat different, the words honesty, trustworthiness and integrity are sometimes used interchangeably in describing our comfort level with certain professionals. And speaking of professionals, one interesting aspect is a general consensus among most Americans on those professions deemed most trusted.
How Trusted Are Real Estate Agents?
Overall, a recent poll shows the public most trusts nurses, doctors and pharmacists. On the low end of trusted professions are members of Congress, car salespeople, telemarketers and attorneys. So while polls show Realtors at neither extreme, as with any profession, if you find someone who does a great job, consider yourself fortunate.
Speaking Truth to Power
It’s helpful to clarify what we mean by the term ‘honest.’ For our purposes here, we could use it interchangeably with ‘transparent,’ ‘guileless,’ ‘above board,’ and ‘open.’ Yet don’t stop there. Better add forthright and direct, since real estate agents sometimes must speak truth to power. That’s because Realtors are sometimes called on to help keep clients out of trouble, which may mean saying something that client doesn’t want to hear. Yet this situation isn’t limited to Realtors. Most professionals are sometimes in positions that call for a heart-to-heart discussion.
With real estate, some examples of potential landmines might be a home buyer who takes shortcuts, like not ordering a home inspection. Buyers frequently get upset after buying a house upon discovering defects, so while a buyer can certainly refuse to have a house inspected, there’s good reason why agents suggest having them performed. Another landmine example might include a home seller who decides to ‘fudge’ on a property disclosure form and leave out pertinent facts, like flooding some years ago, or their house mold problem that never seems to go away.
Market Realities & Wishful Thinking
Some consumers have a difficult time when their real estate agent provides information they don’t want to hear. That situation might involve an offer to be made on a property. For example, let’s assume John & Jane Buyer have fallen in love with a house that’s been on the market for less than a week. But rather than consider the recent comparable sold information on homes in the immediate neighborhood, John is certain he can get the house for less. Enter the honest Realtor.
Yet Jill, their Realtor has explained that sellers usually won’t take a considerable ‘hit’ on price so early on in the homeselling process unless desperate. Regardless, John is sure and Jane doesn’t know what to do. So rather than write a competitive offer, John and Jane write a lowball offer. Instead of an acceptance or even a counteroffer, they receive a rejection instead. That’s because during that time when the property was new and ‘hot’ on the market, other more motivated buyers wrote a very competitive offer after reviewing their Realtor’s similar sold neighborhood comparables that confirmed the home’s value. Are Realtors always right? Of course not. But ignoring their information and expertise (often decades worth) isn’t using their for maximum leverage. Not availing yourself of an experienced agent’s assets is a bit like carrying a machete to hack through jungle, but using a butter knife instead. Still workable, but a lot more work.
One main consideration Realtors frequently examine for buyer clients is resale. Here’s one example and why buyers may not want to know the truth. If a property is ‘cute’ or ‘beautiful’ and priced right, appears to be in reasonably good condition and has some other satisfactory features, like the appropriate number of bedrooms, baths and living space, what’s not to like? If that home is located right next to a busy highway, or located in a desolate area. Resale, for one.
That’s because even when a home is ‘partially acceptable,’ sometimes it’s just better to keep looking. So if your agent explains that you may be happy now, but are likely to have difficulties selling the property later, consider the fact that Realtors are trained to focus on certain key factors like location. So while you can improve a home, add bedrooms and put up a fence, but where your home is located isn’t likely to change much, if at all.
Sometimes it’s easy to conflate the term ‘honest’ with other words and here’s one example. Let’s say that you meet with an agent very early on in the home search process and describe your dream house. You mention your desired home size, bedrooms, features (like hardwood floors, perhaps a swimming pool) and general price range. Yet what you leave out is that your spouse isn’t quite ready to move and besides, you would need to first sell your current home first in order to buy.
Some Realtors, especially newer ones, may respond differently to your conversation. That’s because while an experienced agent is likely to have gleaned the contingency requirement of selling your existing home, some Realtors won’t. As a result, they may begin sending you information on properties to consider. While there’s nothing wrong with that, if you as a future homebuyer are still early in the process, you may feel ‘rushed’ or ‘pressured,’ which is different than ‘dishonest.’
Aside from perhaps being a newer agent, many Realtors are problem-solvers and also realize how competitive the search for good homes can sometimes be. As a result, the desire of some agents to help can be taken differently than intended. This is one reason why it’s helpful to be clear about your expectations to your agent, even if you aren’t sure what they are.
It’s human nature to avoid problems. But problem solving is one big reason to work with a Realtor. That’s because while a particular problem may seem new to you, or otherwise insurmountable, the reality is that frequently it is neither, given a Realtor with sufficient training, experience and the right problem solving skill set. Especially helpful are agents able to help orchestrate a feel good result where both sides win. Enter the honest Realtor.
How to Find an Honest Realtor
It really shouldn’t be that difficult to find an honest real estate agent. Did you know Realtors even take an oath to be honest?
There are multiple ways to locate an honest Realtor who’s also responsive and a good listener, with a proven track record. Among the best ways to find one? Referrals. Ask your friends and family members about the real estate agent they recommend. Many outstanding, honest real estate agents depend upon such word of mouth for a significant portion of their business. When consumers return and keep recommending a Realtor, that’s a sign he or she is doing something right.
Another way to find an honest Realtor is to check them out online. While not all Internet sources are reliable, if a Realtor suggests they’re an expert agent but were licensed a few months ago, that may indicate more puffery than proof. So while some online information about Realtors is opinion, there are some helpful fact-based sources.
In Oregon, some reliable methods to check on a Realtor include the Oregon Real Estate Agency license lookup, which confirms an agent’s license status and also shows if the agent has any disciplinary actions on file. Yet another source for outstanding Realtors are advanced Realtor designation databases like CRS and CRB. Agents earning these designations are typically not only professional and experienced, but on their way ‘up the ladder,’ they leave behind a significant ‘paper trail’ for researching them.
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