Realtors Are Their Own Worst Enemies

Why is it that, hardly a couple of weeks on the job, real estate licensees think that they can play Realtors and tell people what to do?... Just because they are supposed to know more than the average client about the process of buying or selling a home does not mean that they do. Just because they are supposed to know more about the market, the inventory of active listings, the real estate values, the cost of mortgage money and the trends… Does not mean that they do.

A license does not guarantee much of anything when it comes to expertise and professionalism. It’s a piece of paper which may only mean that you now know enough to be dangerous, that you now have the right to practice real estate for a living. Now, officially, you can prejudge with an alibi. You can show  & sell only what you like, good or not. It’s your show. You are the guide. You are the guy.

I am a Realtor; I have bought many homes and sold many homes for my own account. When house hunting, nothing irritates me more than listening to an agent who tries to convince me that I should not be looking in the area I like, or buying a particular house because it’s either too big or too small, or avoid an ideal property because of street noise, etc. What do they know about what makes me tick? Everything in life is a compromise. I am a big boy and I know my priorities. All buyers know their priorities. Up to them to judge with their own eyes the pros & cons of each property they can get for the money.
I don’t know about you but I never ended up buying the exact house I had in mind when I started looking. Sounds familiar?

The exercise of selecting a few properties for a buyer is now more complicated than ever. For one thing, the choice is very limited in a market where listings are scarce. Even more challenging is the fact that more and more buyers come from foreign countries and their priorities are entirely different from what most Realtors even understand or care to consider.

In many parts of the world, as an example, living on a busy street is a big plus and commands a premium price. These buyers don’t care to be shown homes in quiet streets, but the agents’ prejudging stands in the way. Good Realtors are those who have the ability to truly understand cultures, read people’s minds, listen to buyers’ real motivations, and think outside the box.

When I started my real estate career, many (Many) moons ago, I remember one advice a great professional gave me: “To be successful, you must have the ability to translate dreams into realities”. Frankly I had no idea what that meant, but I found out soon enough.

Once upon a time, on a sunny January day in Los Altos, California, as I was sitting at an agent’s desk (I did not have my own yet), I saw a middle-aged man and a young girl who probably was his daughter, walking into the office. They told the receptionist that they were relocating in the Bay Area and were looking for a home. Without any further due, the receptionist guided them to my desk and told them that “Alain Pinel will be happy to take care of your needs”. I have never been more terrified in my life.

You see, my license was only a month old, I was fairly new to the country, I did not know real estate, I did not know Los Altos, I was still waiting for the MLS book and had no clue as to what was on the market. Don’t even mention prices. So I did what little I could do: ask $5 questions, something like “what kind of home are you looking for”?

The guy told me he just sold for about $120,000 his 60 acre property in Minnesota, with a lake, a 12.000 sft home, a guest house, a barn and… and… and… You name it. And of course he wanted something similar here and would agree to pay roughly what he got from his sale. Welcome to California! Remember, it was a long time ago. Granted I was not much smarter than a stone then but I kind of knew, based on the small $90k Los Gatos condo I lived in then, that for $120k, you could not quite invite an army of friends for a picnic at the estate! 

I did not sell this man a house, just in case you wondered. But I learned the meaning of dreams & realities.

Over the years, I even taught or coached hundreds of agents on how to interpret dreams instead of merely think in terms of number of bedrooms, lot size and dollars. I know that this man from Minnesota did not end-up buying a huge house on a huge lot with plenty of lush greenery to admire from the windows. Not within his budget. But I am sure he got himself a charming ranch-style home away from downtown, on a quarter-acre lot with a couple of fruit trees, a nice backyard with a small pool or a pond and a nice white picket fence for privacy. 

The links in between dreams & realities are called feelings. Do you know feelings?