I fear this job of real estate is a no-win proposition. There is very little left to do here, little left to prove, little that can be done to change the outcome. The profession is a miserable one. It is miserable because it must be, because any profession that so easily takes the blame cannot ever be a noble profession. If I were a plumber, this would be noble. I could hang out a sign, Dave’s Plumbing. What a sign it would be. I would have a truck, a big four door truck with leather seats so that when I was done with work on Friday I could clean the seats and take my family to Chili’s. Then, on Monday, the phone would ring and I’d need to go fix a leaking sink. The lady who would call would be frantic. I’d rush over, fix the leak, be a hero. And I’d charge $129 for the visit, which would be paid quickly and happily by the leaky sink owner. My effectiveness would be tangible. When I showed up the faucet leaked, then I fixed it. I fixed it. Without me, the sink would still be leaking. I’d do that five days a week, this hero work, and then I’d clean my truck and I’d go to Chili’s. That would be rewarding work.
This real estate business is not rewarding. If you hear of a Realtor who says their reward is in the smiling faces of their clients, they must not have very many clients. It’s very easy to be happy in the business when you get to sell a few houses a year, and each one is a splendid surprise. It’s different when you must sell many, constantly and without pause. There are no victories in this business, only temporary breaks from the battle. The breaks last hours, if that. That’s because the industry has never, ever, created an environment of respect. There is no respect for the Realtor. This is not a grievance, nor a litany of self pity, this is only an accurate observation. There is nothing noble about this profession, about this work. There is no level at which the job of Realtor could be elevated to be something meaningful. It is a position filled by those who either have little else they are capable of, or by those like me, who felt they could excel at the post and perhaps, just perhaps, change a few perceptions along the way. I was right about the excel part, wrong about the shift in perception.
No level of proficiency can shift the perception. No level of effectiveness, of success, of individual service. I closed a transaction recently that was a win for all parties. The buyer found the rare bit that fit their needs. The seller sold quickly, easily, efficiently and at a market rate. There were no losers in this sale, only different sorts of winners. The job of Realtor was administered by this guy, and the job was done with proficiency. Everyone succeeded in this sale, yet, for the success, there is a bad guy. Lest you not understand the business, the bad guy is always, without fail, the Realtor. That’s not because Realtors are, by nature, bad, it’s because the Realtor is the link that holds these individual transactions together, and it’s the Realtor that bears the brunt of the unrealistic expectations that the different parties bring with them through a transaction. Realtors might make lots of money on television, and they might wear super pointy shoes and drive sportscars, but the business, even at that outrageous level, requires a serious dedication. Dedication to the deal? Sure. But really it’s dedication to being treated poorly, as an overpaid, unnecessary cog in the transaction. The irony here is that most times the transaction would not exist without that cog.
Most of the trouble in a real estate transaction involves perception. Buyers and sellers, perceiving what they will, understanding the business and the process as they will. Their understanding is not universally accurate. The customer is always right, except when the customer is usually wrong. But it’s about the perception and the way different parties enter into an agreement to sell a home. There are showings, which are good and tedious at once. There are offers, some bad, others good, most requiring work to bridge. The game of real estate is, up until the point of accepted contract, just that, a game. It is a game to find the properties, to list the properties. It is a game to negotiate a deal. Negotiations are games with serious outcomes, but they are most obviously a game. This is the game that some clients love to play, and this is a game that I’ve become quiet capable of winning. But the process ceases to be a game at the point of contract. What comes next is the work of actually selling a property. The point of contract is not the end of the process, but it is the end of the game playing.
When a party to a transaction adopts the juvenile approach that sees the entire process as a game, the transaction will, without fail, turn ugly. Will the buyer see the seller turn ugly? Will the seller see the buyer turn ugly? Well, that depends on the Realtor. If the process is being handled correctly, the ugliness that is pettiness will be masked by the go between, by that unnecessary cog. This morning I am not intending on whining, though I can hear the whine coming through the keyboard with each new letter. This morning is intended to serve as a reminder to the parties of a transaction. There is a goal in this game of real estate, and that’s to sell or buy whatever real estate is in focus. Play the game, negotiate, win. But once the dust of a contract has settled, recognize the task at hand. Complete the transaction. Be flexible to understand the situations, be attentive to a buyer’s request. When selling real estate, do so with a grain of salt, knowing the goal is not to win each individual battle but to win the war. When buying, think of the process in the same way. But just know that if you’re unreasonable or otherwise inflexible, it will, at the end of this day and every day, be the fault of that unnecessary cog that made the entire thing happen.