I am basically either your dream client or your worst nightmare, depending on how you look at it. I have spent the last 18 years teaching Realtors how to be Realtors, so when I suddenly found myself in the position of being the Buyer, my first thought wasn’t, “which Realtor should I use?” but rather, “which Realtor is actually going to want to work with me?”
I never set out to buy a house. I just did what everyone does; I stalked the MLS on the daily like it was an ex-boyfriend. (Everyone does that, right?) I was recently out of a long term, serious relationship with a house that I loved. I was renting short term, which is basically the real estate equivalent of casual dating. I wasn’t even sure that I could love another house the way I loved my last one. I was pretty sure that I needed to stay house single for a while. And I certainly did not want to end up in a rebound house. But then, one day, it happened. A daily notification in my email, a click on the ‘see photos’ button, and there it was. The One.
Most Realtors, when they find out that I bought a house, say to me, “How did you ever choose?” I laugh, and then they say, “No, seriously, who did you use?” (By the way, I never Realtor and tell.) It’s par for the course, given that I know literally thousands of Realtors on a first name basis. In this case, given the extreme sellers market that I live in, I chose based on one thing: I needed a friend that understood exactly how emotional this would be for me. I needed a bulldog who would negotiate without emotion and firmly keep me where I belonged - out of the negotiations.
In my opinion, choosing a Realtor is an extremely personal decision for a buyer. It’s not like a listing agent, where you may just want or need the best in the neighbourhood. As a buyer, you want someone who speaks for you, as you, at the offer table, during negotiations, through inspections, appraisals and all of the stressful moments. If I can give buyer’s agents one piece of advice, it’s this: find out how your client communicates and realize that you are their surrogate in this process. They want to know that you get them, and in this case, you are acting as them.
It wasn’t all sunshine and roses. The listing agent lived a full 90 minutes away and neither knew how to use digital signatures nor wanted to learn. The negotiations took days longer than necessary as everything had to be faxed from the seller to the agent, then scanned and emailed to my agent, and so on. By the final signatures, the paperwork was illegible. (Authors note: it’s time to get with the times, people. This kind of behaviour does you more harm than good.)
But in the end, I bought a house, and I love it more than I ever thought I would. I also learned a pretty big lesson along the way.
Your job is not just to make the deal happen. It’s to be there in the moments of impact. It’s not just about the moment when the deal is accepted and I am thrilled, or at the closing table, when I am smiling. Those are the feel-good, slow-music, romantic moments. When I really want you there is when the deal is tenuous and I am scared, or when the water heater isn’t working on move in day and I just need to vent. But I am going to let you in on a secret here. The biggest moment of impact is moving day. That horrible, terrible day when everything I own is in a box and has to be physically moved down stairs, across driveways, and back up stairs. When I am exhausted, broke, and would literally cut off my right arm for a pizza. That moment, my friends, is when you can shine. Show up. Text. Send a pizza. Be there. Because that moment is the absolute worst, and we always remember who was there for us in our worst moments.